I’ve Missed You!

It’s been way to long since I’ve written here. Almost two months! Life gets busier than ever this time of year with the holidays fast approaching. As a stay-at-home mom who homeschools, there is little to no quiet time for me to sit down and write. In fact, I’m only writing now because my son is at a play date and my daughter got busy with drawing.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to check in and let you know what’s been going on in my world lately. With this time of year comes all the wonderful fall flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg, egg nog, and pumpkin. Although we’re not big on pumpkin pie, I make a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap cookie crust every Thanksgiving; and my kids love the pumpkin bread I make from a recipe that originally calls for sweet potato. We do the sweet potato version too when I don’t have pumpkin in the house. But that’s rare, and here’s why…

dsc018101

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t she a BEAUT?! I take a pumpkin that has not been cut into and roast it whole, let it cool, scoop out the seeds, then puree the flesh. This is one of the largest pumpkins I’ve ever roasted.

In addition to some pumpkin eating, we’ve been enjoying the new activities that come with cooler weather and shorter days. I’ve been looking for handicrafts that my kids would enjoy. After giving my daughter some options, she decided on knitting. In order to help her, I started to learn along with her. Let’s just say that two little inexperienced hands on two slippery knitting needles makes for a frustrating moment. I did suggest crocheting which seems to be slightly easier with just one hook. She tried it, but decided to keep trying knitting.

My grandmother taught me a little crocheting about 20 years ago, so I started to get back into it and enjoy it very much. It’s quite therapeutic to sit (which I don’t do often or for long!) and repeat stitches over and over and watch it become something gorgeous…like this cowl neck scarf. I just love the colors in it. Isn’t it cute? (Can you spot my son passing by?)

dsc018251

I prefer cowl neck scarves over regular scarves because they keep your neck and chest area warm without fiddling with the long ends of a scarf. Am I the only one that cannot figure out what to do with those long tails? Tuck them in your coat or leave them out? Wrap it around one more time or let it hang? I much prefer the cowl neck scarf.

 

 

I saved the most fun activity for last. My beautiful girl turned 9 years old! During this past year, she has collected over 100 Shopkins, so clearly I had to make her a Shopkins cake. In my opinion, the cup of cocoa was a little too short and the cupcake was a little too tall. She was thrilled with it though, and that’s all that matters.

dsc017661

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you been up to? How are your holiday plans coming along?

Hope to be with you again soon!

Predestination vs. Free Will

I haven’t been able to post in a week or so as I’ve been busy with other things (county fair, sewing projects, homeschool field trips), but there has been a topic that is coming up in my various social circles and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a topic that people spend hours and hours studying and still struggle to understand. I am no exception to the struggle, but the Lord did reveal something to me after some thought, prayer and bible study on this topic. I do not consider myself an expert (or anything close to knowing much on this topic), but since it can be a stumbling block for some people, my prayer is that the revelation I had can be helpful to someone.

bible2

It is the idea of predestination – that God selects his chosen people. If God has chosen me, than do I not have a choice to be His or not? How does predestination reconcile with our free will? This really does not pose a problem for me. Let me explain.

Although there are several other verses that directly or indirectly point to the idea of predestination, Ephesians 1:4-11 is the one the first comes to mind. Verse 11 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”. He chose us. He predestined us. He is able to change the course of events if He wanted, but instead, He allows us to make our own choices, remaining sovereign over everything. He has a foreknowledge of what choices we will make, and lets us make them. He predestines us.

Our ability to makes choices is our free will. Again, there are multiple verses that identify the fact that we have a choice, but the first one that comes to mind is Deuteronomy 30:19 – This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…”.  He has set options before us (life and death). Although He highly recommends that we choose life, He is not forcing us to chose one over the other.

The Lord showed me that these two ideas of predestination and free will do not oppose each other. I’ll take an example from a parent-child relationship. My daughter loves potato chips. She would eat them for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner (don’t worry, I highly discourage that 😉 ). If I were to leave a bowl of chips out on the counter, I am 99% confident that she would take a chip from the bowl and eat it. (If I were God, being omniscient and having foreknowledge, I would be 100% confident.) My confident does not take away her free will – she is still faced with the decision (albeit an easy one) of whether or not to take a chip.

wooden-cross

 

Jesus is not going to drag us into heaven kicking and screaming. We have a choice to make. Will we choose to believe in Jesus and submit every corner of our lives to Him? It’s not an easy road. But at the end of the road is a reward greater than we can even imagine.

Like I said, I do not claim to be an expert on this, and I honestly do not intend to spend much more time considering these principles. There are more basic commands in the bible that I need to focus my energy on (ahem, endurance, patience, loving your enemy, ouch!). However, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have you considered the verses on predestination? What does it mean to you?

My Favorite Breakfast Right Now

I love cereal. I try to purchase cereal that has 13 grams or less of sugar (and I only use that guideline because it’s virtually impossible to find cereal with much less than that). Even the healthier versions are loaded with carbs which our body converts to blood glucose, aka sugar. I don’t mind some carbs, especially complex carbs, to fuel my day, but I definitely want some protein with it.

Today, I had this nest of deliciousness! I call it a nest because it’s an egg all snuggled up in a slice of ham. Oh, was it good. And simple. I am also loving simple these days.

dsc016511

Today I had one with a slice of buttered Ezekiel bread with some strawberry jam from the Farmer’s Market (I probably should’ve left off the jam, but I couldn’t resist).  Yesterday, I had two egg nests without the bread. Sometimes I like to beat the eggs and mix in veggies like leftover broccoli or spinach, but we just returned from vacation so I didn’t have any leftover veggies. I simply topped it with cheese and scallions. Oh, and my favorite hot sauce.

I haven’t tried it, but I’m told you can do this with bacon too. I opted for sliced ham. Dropped in my egg, topped with cheese and scallion, then baked at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Done. Simple. Easy. Delicious.

In case you are interested, I used these silicone muffin cases.

What is your favorite healthy and quick breakfast?

Our Chore System

The word “chore” automatically puts kids in a bad mood. I don’t know of anyone who wants to do chores, but they help make the household run more smoothly and feel welcoming and comfortable. Who wants to go search for an item of clothing they need that may or may not be clean? Who wants to settle down for the evening in the living room with clutter on the coffee table in front of them? Who wants to walk through the kitchen kicking pieces of foot and dust bunnies around? Now you know what our home is like when chores are not done. Can you relate?

dirty sinkSince we homeschool, there is no reason that they cannot do chores on a regular basis, but when I ask them to do their chores, you’d think I asked them to eat snails while washing my car (hmmm, washing cars may actually make a great chore, or consequence…I’ll have to remember that one!). When the neighborhood kids get off the bus and my kids go running to their house to see if they can play, the standard response is that they have to do their chores first, then homework, and if it’s not dinner time by then, they may get to play. You would think this would invoke a feeling of gratitude in my kids that they were home to get all that stuff done and can now play. Instead, it invokes grumbling. “I can’t believe he has to do chores!”

Like it or not, chores are a part of life, here and forever. So get used to it kiddos! We have tried multiple ways to accomplish chores. We first tried with me asking them to do a chore and giving them a few options to choose from. When the end of the day came and I realized I forgot to ask them to do chores, I realized that method was not going to work. The times when I did ask them, they would fight over who gets to do which chore. Another method I tried was typing them into a spreadsheet with cute little icons (for my daughter who could not read at the time) and placed them in a frame so that they could check off each one white board marker. As with anything new, this worked well for maybe a week. Then they would forget to do the chore, forget to mark it off, forget, forget, forget. I wonder where they get their forgetfulness?

The system we are using now is the simplest method we have tried so far, and it has been the most effective. It ensures that they are doing the chores that need to be done (no more dusting the living room for the third time this week); and since they are unable to have screen time before completing their bible study, school and chores, there is no more forgetting. Win-win!

chore board

I write chores on index cards. If it needs further instruction (such as which specific items to dust so they don’t, ahem….forget…), those details are written on the back. To avoid fighting over who gets to pick first, one child picks first on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the other child picks first on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. (We also use this system for who gets to ride in the front seat each day.)

We don’t have the system quite down yet for when the chore is complete. One child will just re-post the chore on the board, but turned backwards (like the cards in the top row), or just leave it somewhere around the house which I usually end up finding later and re-posting it. The other child usually leaves the card on my desk or brings it to me when the chore is done so that I can check his work and make sure it is done well. After chores are done, I will go to the board and make sure the chores that can be done the next day are displayed for them to see.

So, as you can see, it’s nothing fancy, but it has been working well for us. It also enables me to easily add and take away chores as our needs change. Well, I’m off now to make sure the chores are re-set on the board for tomorrow before I, ahem….forget. Have you tried this method before? What has worked well for you?

Free Workouts that are Quick and Challenging

Getting some form of exercise into my week is important to me. It is something that I do for myself; but a healthier me also makes me more available to my family. Since I am a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler of two kids who need me to shuttle them around to other activities (Tae Kwon Do, basketball, play dates, etc.), my exercise routine needs to be quick yet challenging. I also need to change it up every so often because I can get bored and unmotivated.

physiotherapy-595529_640 (2)Before I share some of these online resources, I just wanted to say that at the time of this publication, these links led to appropriate content; however, the internet is constantly changing, so please proceed being aware and alert of this fact. Also, just a reminder that when we view workout videos, we may see people who dress according to different standards than our own, so proceed accordingly.  With that said, let’s move on….

I’ve worked through the T25 program, loved it and stuck with it for awhile. When I started itching for something different, I happened upon Betty Rocker.  Most of her workouts meet my requirements of quick and challenging and can be easily found on her YouTube channel.  They do not require special equipment other than the occasional set of weights. She offers paid resources for meal plans, workouts and other coaching opportunities, but I’ve only used her free resources so far.

If you are looking for a little longer workout (but there are still some less than 30 minutes), check out Katie at Dashing Dish. Click on the Workouts link to see a list of free workouts – you can even sort them by type (Cardio, Circuit, Strength), Difficulty, Length of Time, or other tags such as HIIT, upper body, etc. By the way, her whole website is a great source of nourishing recipes and spiritual encouragement.

Also try MASHUP. Their motto is FUN.FAST.TOTAL FITNESS.  They offer three different levels to choose from.  Again, minimal equipment is used, usually just hand weights.

If you check any of these out, let me know what you think! Or if you have other resources for quick and effective workouts, please share them!

Sword of the Spirit – Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series on Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the Sword of the Spirit. In Part 1, we established the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and what we should and should not do as Christians fighting spiritual battles. In Part 2, we looked at why the sword is so powerful and effective. Today, we’re going to see that although it is the sword of the Spirit, it is for us to take up and use.

sword
First, we must acknowledge that there are spiritual battles within our lives and all around us. Although the armor of God provides us with multiple weapons of defense (helmet of salvation, belt of truth, etc.), Spurgeon says that the best defense is to attack. “You have to slay your foe, or your foe will slay you.” Where do we start with learning how to use the sword/Word as a weapon?

Spurgeon tells us that to use it effectively, we must know it. To know it, we must read it and study it. The best place to start using the Word as a weapon is in our own spiritual lives. He says “inside your own heart you will find a band of bandits which should be exterminated.” The Word has been known to slay unbelief, doubts, temptations, pride and more. Then we will be able to use it in our homes and in the world.

One tool that has been helpful to me, and I think every Christian should have access to one, is a topical devotional. These books are organized by topic (anger, forgiveness, patience, self-control, etc.) and provide bible verses that correspond with each of these topics. The Bible Promise Book for Women is one that I have and only one example of many great ones out there.notepad

Another idea is to start your own topical list of verses. Take a few pieces of paper and as you read the bible, write down whatever verses inspire or encourage you, listing them under the appropriate category. For example, I was recently reading in Romans and came across Romans 12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to each other in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” I wrote this verse down on the page I titled “Love”.  I also came across 1 Corinthians 1:8 “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I listed this one on a page titled “Strength, Power”. Doing it this way ensures you are noting verses that are applicable to you and speak to you personally.

What other ways are you reading and studying the Word? How are you storing the Word in your heart?

Sword of the Spirit – Part 2

sword-41036_640 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ephesians 6:17 “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

In the last blog post, we were talking about how real the spiritual fight is and how only a spiritual weapon, the sword of the Spirit, can be effective in the fight. Spurgeon elaborated on what we should do and not do, based on his understanding of spiritual warfare.

Today, we’re going to look at the points he makes about the power of the sword of the Spirit, and why it is so effective.

  1. The Holy Spirit wields no sword but the Word of God. Force, bribery or coercion is never used. The Spirit certainly uses other mediums, such as sermons and books to speak to our hearts, but even those are only as effective as much as the Word of God is in them.
  2. The Word is the sword of the Spirit because it is of his own making. All scripture is God-breathed, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  3. The Word is the sword of the Spirit because he puts the edge on it. The sword is sharper than a double-edged sword, cutting through bone and marrow. It is keen and cutting because the Holy Spirit is present in it.
  4. It is the sword of the Spirit because he alone can instruct us how to use it. Only those of us ordained and trained by God can use it effectively. (Have you ever heard an unsaved person quote scripture? Sometimes it’s taken out of context; sometimes it’s not quoted accurately; and sometimes it just has no effect, or power.)
  5. It is the sword of the Spirit because he is the great master in the use of it. The Spirit is such a master of the sword that it has killed fears, doubts, despondency, pride, and much more. In fact, he is capable of more than we can imagine.

Wow. The power. The power of this sword, the Word of God. When we recognize this power, we can never get enough time reading the Word, studying it, meditating on it, and letting it sink into the depths of our hearts and souls. I pray that you are encouraged to spend time in his Word each day, to access its power. Have a blessed day!

Sword of the Spirit – Part 1

sword-308836_640 (2)In my daily time spent with the Lord, I’m currently reading a Charles Spurgeon sermon on the Sword of the Spirit. Although it’s only one sermon, it’s so rich with spiritual insight, it’s taking me several mornings to get through it. Spurgeon begins by affirming our call to put on the full armor of God and fight (not just defend).  He points out that there are several pieces of armor, yet only one offensive weapon – the sword, the Sword of the Spirit which represents the Word of God.

Spurgeon includes what Christians should be doing and should not be doing. There is some duplication in this list, but it serves to emphasize the importance. Here are my notes:

Do not:

  • compromise
  • discuss terms of peace through policy (this only returns to us disgrace)
  • patch up a trust with as good of terms as we can
  • offer concessions
  • be neutral
  • be agreeable with foes by tasting their dainties or assembling with them
  • be quiet, take matters easily
  • continue with talk and debate, parley (talking with enemy to end conflict) and compromise

 

Do:

  • stand and withstand
  • put on heavenly armor
  • assail (not just defend but fight!)
  • put on the helmet (salvation) to protect your head
  • use the sword (the Word) to annoy the foe
  • be strict and narrow
  • narrow-minded
  • let God make peace
  • grasp weapon, go forth and fight
  • pray always
  • watch constantly
  • TAKE THE SWORD! with clear, sharp and decisive firmness, courage and resolve, asking for help from the Holy Spirit

On the surface, some of these may appear controversial. For example, do not compromise? Be narrow-minded? Aren’t we told that in relationships, especially in marriage, we often must compromise? Shouldn’t we do anything to seek peace and pursue it? I believe what Spurgeon is saying here is that we don’t compromise on what the Word says, what we  know to be truth. For example, a spouse should never compromise the sanctity of marriage by ignoring an affair (even if you are hoping it will just resolve itself and go away); but instead, speak truth in loving kindness and seek restoration. A parent should never compromise on honesty and allow her child to accidentally walk out of the grocery store with a pack of gum without going back to return it or pay for it.

study-862994_1280 (2)

If we believe the sword, the Word of God, is so powerful as to convict hearts and overcome evil, why do we spend so little time reading and memorizing the Word? why do we not pray Scripture? Really think about possible answers to those questions.

As I thought about those questions, I learned some things about myself. Some things I didn’t like. Something that may be called a lack of faith, or at the very least weak faith. Since then, I’ve been intentionally praying Scripture during my prayer time. For example, there was a time when I was training my son to replace his “it’s good enough” attitude with diligence and hard work. I would pray “that whatever he does, he does it for the Lord and does it with all his heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).  I suggested he memorize Proverbs 12:24 “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” He was able to recite that verse in his head whenever he was tempted to breeze through a task too quickly and carelessly. I often pray out of the book of Psalms for myself. When I am feeling lackadaisical about my time with the Lord, I pray “as the deer pants for streams of water, may my soul pant for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

Well, those are my initial thoughts on the beginning of Spurgeon’s sermon. I could share more, but I know you have other things to do, like spend some time in the Word 🙂

Go below in the comments and share your thoughts on the Do and Don’t list above, or Spurgeon’s sermon if you have read it. Have a blessed day!

When My Kids are Sick

sick boyWe are on the third straight week of sickness with my kids. Three weeks ago, Pickle started a persistent cough that didn’t cease until the end of two weeks. I was grateful that it didn’t keep him up at night. When he finally started feeling better, Gemma started coughing and we are 7 days in, so if it’s anything like Pickle’s sickness, we have another week to go. Gemma does wake up at night with a coughing spell sometimes, but she seems to get through it in about 20 – 30 minutes, then drifts off to sleep.

Remember my post about Summer Fun and how I’m being intentional to get engaged in having fun with them this summer? Well, as you can expect, that type of fun has simmered down quite a bit while they are sick. However, it has provided a lot of quiet time in our home. Normally, we are hustling and bustling from here to there, whether it’s to the pool or beach, a Tae Kwon Do class (they both practice this martial art), the library, a visit to great-grandma Queenie, the grocery store or another errand. The last few weeks have given us an opportunity to be content with what we have right here in our home, which has been an immense blessing.

I’ve taken this opportunity to have more time with the Lord than normal (hooray!). We’ve also been reading a lot together. Sometimes we read our separate books while we sit quietly next to each other in the same room (Gemma has started to want to escape to the privacy of her own room to read – that’s a big booo for me because I love having them sit quietly beside me, but at least she’s reading). Sometimes I read aloud to them – we are currently reading Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse, a fiction story based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. We’ve also played many board games – actually, it’s usually Life because it’s Gemma’s favorite. Although she’s not feeling the greatest, when she’s feeling up to it, we’ve been doing some sewing. We were fortunate enough to get involved in a beta class (a.k.a FREE!) specifically for young beginner sewers. Look at what she’s made so far!

DSC01580[1]

DSC01616[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although my kids have been sick, it’s been a blessed time. I’m hoping that the benefits of this time will carry forward to when they are both feeling better; that is, I’ll remember to take frequent opportunities to spend focused quality time with them when our schedules get busier. Have a blessed day with your family!

This entry was posted in Family.

Be Not Afraid

hope-dispairHappy weekend! I normally do not write on my blog during the weekend, but this article came across my email inbox and it really resonated with me. I recently wrote about having hope in our dark world, so it was timely. This is a Christian blogger who I’ve recently discovered and her blog has been a great encouragement to meg. Enjoy!