Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Joy of the Morning

Hey There! So I missd the entire month of November with the business of the season, but our family was focusing on Joy for October so here's one of our memory verses from way back then.;-)
Psalm 30:5 "For His anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning."

There's something about a new day. I've only recently started getting up before all of my kids and getting Some time for quiet and prayer (and a workout) before encountering the first mishap, request or basic need of the day. With young children, those mishaps can come very early in the day! It took me having 5 children to make this change. I wish I would've made it sooner, because for a few moments, I haven't made any mistakes in a new day. I haven't yelled, given a short, snippy answer, chosen my own agenda over my little one's needs for attention. That all faded with yesterday. I find joy in that! On the flip side, I've had nights filled with sorrow so deep that the morning seemed to bring no joy. Only heartache. That is when I have to trust in His plan and his favor! His favor is for a lifetime... how sweet is that! I'm not really sure how to engage my kiddos young minds with this verse. What I'm thinking is instilling that God  is for them (to communicate His favor). I think I will just keep it that simple. As they mature I'll be able to introduce the concept that His will, not YOU, are what He is ultimately for but what an amazing blessing to be invited to be a part of that!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

No Greater Joy

Hi Friends! It's been such a beautiful, chilly fall day in southwestern PA. I got to enjoy coffee with a sweet new friend today. It's amazing what a couple hours out of our home and in someone else's can do for me. It's a cycling lesson in my life. The more we focus on caring for others and reaching out to others, the happier we become. That's where some of our deep joy can be found... serving and doing life with others. I say that to say that I was encouraged by my friend and her precious kiddos and felt excited to write today, so here comes week 3!:-)

Our memory verse for this week gets at the core of why we're raising our kids the way that we are... Why we're teaching them to memorize God's word, why we long to teach and train them well in who God is and why that matters.

Our verse for week 3 of this month is, "I have no greater joy then to hear my children walk in the truth." 3 John 1:4 
The truths in the scriptures are timeless. The principles, unchanging. The life-changing movement of the Savior in our hearts, undeniable. We long to look at our children in 25 years and be able to say, they're walking in truth. A good family friend of ours, Pastor Chris, likes to call it C.A.S.H... Character, authenticity, substance and humility... but that's for a different post.:-)

 As we hide His word in our hearts and minds, our prayer is that TRUTH shines through in our lives! When we walk in truth, we are able to impact every single human being we encounter because, at base level, we all need the same things. Under all of these layers, it becomes quite simple. So simple, that people tend to doubt the truth of this "gospel" because it seems too easy. It's too straight forward to actually be true. The fact that Jesus came and lived a perfect life, died for our sins and rose again for us; all we have to do is believe in that to be saved to an eternity in heaven with God, our creator and Father? No, it couldn't be, right? Yes, it is. But it's not too simple to be true. It is too simple to deny. If you've been denying it, it's time to believe. Today is the day! It's time to be forgiven, handed a new life to live and live it on purpose... for Him. The One and only Lord of all. It's time to walk in TRUTH and swim in grace. If you want to read about when I made the decision to believe with all of my heart and surrender my life, you can read the My Story post here.

There is no greater joy!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Week 2
Memory Verse: Psalm 16:11
"You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

I absolutely love this verse! It's so true! At one point in my life, I thought I had everything I needed to be happy. Then The Lord opened my eyes to the depth of joy and purpose found in Him and let me tell you there is nothing better... nothing even compares to the pleasure His presence!  When I realized who I really was and who He really was, I was heart broken over the amount of time I had lived without knowing Him and being on His agenda, rather then my own.
  You have probably heard it before...that J.O.Y. stands for Jesus, Others, You. You remember in our verse from last week that Jesus tied joy and love. Last month when we focused on love we learned that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. When we love as Jesus loves, not only will we have Him first, but we will prefer others above ourselves. In doing so, we will have joy, which we define as, "being excited no matter what." All of our definitions will carry an unconditional quality because we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit, and His production is not based upon our circumstances. Therefore, we want our children to know that God's presence is the first place where they need to find joy. If Jesus is not first, others are certainly not second, and we forfeit our joy. But when Jesus is first, we will desire to see the best in life and in others, regardless of the circumstances.  
I've got this one down! Psalm 16 is one of my favorites so it was very familiar to me. The kids are super close. Today will be the last day for them to get it!:-)
I'm curious to know if anyone else has strategies on scripture memory that are working for you? One other thing that has been great for us are scripture songs! We love Steve Green's "Hide 'em in your heart", Linda Biery's "Living Lyrics" and Jamie Soles "The Way My Story Goes". I'd love to hear and learn from you!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Joy of October

One of my dearest friends is named Joy... I love it! Hopefully I'll get the chance to use it as one of my children's names in the future. :-) I have to remind myself not to get it confused with happiness. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy runs deeper than circumstances. It's unavoidable when you run into it. I find myself thinking, "There's just something about... so and so..." There's a peace that goes along with it and a touch of humility. Joy is not something we look outward for, but something we reach inward for. As Christians, we have UNLIMITED reasons for joy and hope in our lives.

October is the month for JOY! We will focus on teaching our children that we can possess joy, even when we aren't happy and the things going on around us aren't what we would like them to be. We have joy, simply because of who Christ is, who He says we are, and the future that He promises. Nothing can take that away. It's protected by God's covenant with us. We'll spend our time pointing them to the reality that when we love one another, as Christ has loved us, and abide in that freeing love, JOY will flow freely.

Some questions I'm asking... What does joy look like? When you think of joy, what do you see in your mind? How does Jesus love us? What can we do to show others that same kind of love?

Some cute answers I've gotten... What does Joy look like? GOD (Kayla-with the Sunday school answer;-)) Jumping up and down and smiling.... it looks really nice. (Simeon)

October - JOY
Definition: "being excited no matter what."

Week 1
Memory Verse: John 15:11-12
"These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

When Jesus said this, he had just finished teaching about abiding in Him and His love, keeping His commandments and bearing fruit. We have the most joy when we abide in Him. During that time, I feel the most free and the most loved. They haven't been the easiest times-not by a long shot. But they have been the best. Jesus shares His love for us and reminds us that when we abide in that love that our joy will be full and complete. When I start looking elsewhere for joy, I may find some happiness, but will always end up lacking in the end. In the deep places of my heart, there will be no joy. Joy is completely wrapped up in knowing Christ and His love. As the pastor at our church said, "We mistake a pursuit of pleasure for happiness. And in our pursuit of pleasure we often forfeit our happiness."

This week, the kid's were not successful at memorizing the verses completely, without prompting. They were very close! But, guess what, I GOT IT DOWN... and I got my candy.;-)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Plan-Here's How We're doing it

If strategy is not your strong suit (it is not mine), I hope these types of posts are helpful. If strategy is a place you thrive, you can be even more diligent in this. Here we go...

As I shared in yesterday's post, September's focus is LOVE. We define love as "the decision to give at all times no matter what to have a right relationship." We use one memory verse per week. Keep in mind the age ranges of your children. Ours are all under 8 years old, so we pick verses that are manageable for them to learn in a week, but not too easy. We used some of 1 Corinthians 13 last year. God's Word is packed full of verses about love so take your pick! Below are our verses and some examples of questions we might ask. I love this because it also challenges me to deepen my knowledge of the Scriptures in order to explain them thoroughly to my kids. Not to take them out of context, but teach them each according to the full counsel of God's Word.

Week 1
Memory Verse: Mark 12:29-31
"This is the most important, Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is:Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these."

We discuss briefly what it means to love the Lord with all you are and love other people as much as you love yourself. I ask them things like, what are some things we can do to show God that we love Him? How do we love Him with all our hearts? What are some things we can do for other people to show them that we love them... specifically family, teachers, students and those we cross paths with each day? We also talk about showing others preference before ourselves.

If your kids are a little older or you want to go further, my husband uses 4 "D" words to explain loving God with ALL the...

Heart: That's our Desires. How do we love God with what we want?
Soul: That's our Delights. How do we love God with what we enjoy or take pleasure in?
Mind: That's our Decisions. How do we love God with how we make choices? When given an opportunity to make a choice ask 3 simple questions. Is it wise? Is it best? Does it please the Lord? (Our kids actually made this into a small song)
Strength: That's what we Do.

Week 2
Memory Verse: 1 Peter 4:8
"Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins."

This week we covered loving people SO much that even when they hurt us, we can forgive them because of our great love for them and having received God's grace toward us. We address loving another person when we're hurting and don't feel like loving and loving another person enough to apologize when we have hurt them. Ask any questions that may further your children's understanding of the verses and define terms they may not understand. Definitions are very important for our children to understand and for us to explain them to make sure we understand.

Week 3
Memory Verse: John 13:34-35
"I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

We focused on how this command is distinct from loving your neighbor as yourself and loving as Christ loves. When we love our neighbor as ourself, we do for our neighbor as we would want to be done for us. "But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). We expanded upon the idea from the previous week of loving unconditionally, being willing to give up our lives for others regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they have done.

Week 4
Memory Verse: Romans 13:8
"Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

This week we focused on two major questions: 1) What does it mean to owe someone? 2) How does love fulfill the law? We rehearsed the Ten Commandments and specifically asked the question, "If we love God and love others would we do the things God has said not to do? Would we do the things God has commanded us to do? We described owing someone as someone providing a service or doing something to you or for you and you having the burden, responsibility, and duty to pay or repay them. We linked that to discussions about finances and the reality that being a Christian provides us the righteous duty of giving to others. After all, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," (Acts 20:35).

My prayer is that we would be faithful in communicating the wonders of The Lord to the next generation and that starts in our homes. I hope you'll join us in doing the same! In October, we're taking a look at Joy!:-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day Two - The What

My husband directs a Christian sports camp for urban youth, which means our kids are saturated in ministry during the summer so with a desire to teach them God's Word day-to-day, we asked what might fit our schedule best, as well as be practical and befitting children under 8 years old. In the fall of 2014 we decided that September through May provides us 9 months and there are 9 attributes named in Galatians 5:22-23,

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law." 

We chose this passage to remind ourselves of how we are able to live because God's Spirit lives in us! Our three oldest children have professed faith in Jesus Christ and we want them to know that they have the Spirit of God living in them to produce that fruit. This exercise also provides them the opportunity to practice living out these passages, as well as provides an immediate standard when they live outside of the expectations. I've noticed that it doesn't only help my children, but it helps me stay focused on the Lord and His Word each day.We decided to take 1 attribute a month and 1 passage of Scripture each week. It went really well in 2014, so we're doing it again this year. We changed the scriptures in order to broaden their knowledge base of God's Word, and plan on changing most of the verses each year. Obviously, we will repeat some because it's all beneficial.

I have a small chalkboard in our entryway. I use it to write the fruit focus for the month. This month, Love is the focus. We go in order of the text. I also have a dry erase board in our kitchen where I write the verse for the week each Sunday. We rehearse the verses at the breakfast table and on our drive to school and most of the time, the oldest 3 (and ME!) have them memorized by Friday! So cool! Whoever gets it memorized gets some sort of reward. Candy is a hot commodity at our house because we don't eat it often, so last week it was gummy worms! Whatever you use, make it something special and different and make sure they know they are receiving it for learning God's Word. And don't forget that if YOU also learn the memory verse, you can demonstrate enjoying the same reward you give your children. BUT, if you do not know the verse it may cheapen their experience if you find yourself indulging in the reward. I'm talking to myself as well.;-)

It's such a fun way to make sure I'm still growing and hiding God's Word in my heart and demonstrating that for my kids. God's word WILL bear fruit in our lives AND our children's! You can take that check to the bank and cash it.;-) Tomorrow we'll detail the nuts and bolts even more so you can have a strategic monthly plan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why God's Word?

In my "And Then There Were Three" post about the kids heading off to school, I confessed some fears I have as a public school momma. While I am praying and trusting The Lord with my children being at the school, that's not the only thing I'm doing. We want to hide the word of God in our children's hearts because the Lord commands parents to teach children about Him wherever they are and throughout each of the days activities. This helps calm my fears as well. : ) As they're learning math, spelling, and reading, I want to feed their little spirits with the life-giving food of God's word. I'm sharing what we're doing to provide a framework for anyone who would like to do the same, but first I want to give you other reasons why this is so important to us.

We believe God's Word is "alive and active" (Hebrews 4:12), but never changes and will always remain the same. I know that sounds redundant, but in today's world, where the stories change and people think that they are the same, or people change the ageless stories to put their own spin on them, I thought it worth saying. God's Word teaches, guides, corrects, and challenges us throughout life. His Word will never pass away (Matthew 24:35) and is like a mirror showing us how we spiritually look (James 1:22-25). God's eternal truth lies within every page of the Bible, including principles, laws, wisdom, and the history of His chosen people. Most of all, it's the greatest love story ever written about an everlasting Father who created a perfect world for humans to use to bring Him glory, a fallen people who loved the creature, more than the Creator, and a fallen world waiting, hoping, and longing for a Savior (Romans 8:18-25). Even after Jesus came, many rejected Him, but others saw the glory of His miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22-24) including His life, death, and resurrection. Because of Christ, those who believe in Him receive His grace...His unrelenting grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

As David said in Psalm 19:7-10, "The Law of The Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of The Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of The Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of The Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they then gold; yea, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

For these and many other reasons, we are passionate about our children knowing God's Word inside and out, and desire to see them enjoy it for the rest of their lives. Over the next two days, I'm going to share a few of the ways we are teaching our children how to hide God's Word in their hearts. Check back tomorrow!: )

Friday, September 4, 2015

And Then There Were Three...


Well, it's the end of the first week of school and we made it!! Three Pope kids are now in school! It is SUPER weird to only have two little ones at home, but there are a lot of things to look forward to in that. I have to be honest, there have been a ton of tears shed this week. Letting go of complete control over my children's environment is a HUGE struggle for me! Not, only that, but I just miss them. I love my kids and I miss them terribly.

God has been continually whispering to me a verse from Philippians that says, "Don't worry about anything, but in EVERYTHING, through prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:6-7) He keeps reminding me that although many of our schools have tried to squeeze Him out, He is there! He does not leave my children when they step through the doors of their school and I can rest in that. THANK YOU LORD!

So, here are three things I'm looking forward to for this school year. 1. I get to spend more one-on-one time with my youngest two children! Reading books, learning shapes, colors, numbers and even Bible verses with these two will be a blast! 2. I get to invest in helping other mom's of young children by leading a Mops Bible study. 3. I will be able to see my three oldest learn what it's like to stand out and stand up for their faith in our local school which is a lesson that will help then stand firm for the rest of their lives!

Three things I'm trusting The Lord with in prayer are 1. My fear that my children will be harmed. I'm trusting Him to protect my children... Their minds, bodies and spirits. 2. I'm giving up trying to be everything to everyone and trusting Him to simply use me as a vessel of His love and grace wherever He sees fit.  And 3. I'm laying down my right to control every area of my children's lives and allowing Him room to work through different places and people... Remembering that it is what my children see and experience at home with their own parents that will impact them the most. Father, help us as we trust you with this school year! In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Sorry about my hubs in the background... We, of course, were in a hurry, but needed to capture the moment!:-) 2nd, 1st and Kindergarten... Look out!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Where Did July Go?

Is anyone else asking themselves that question!! SHEESH!! We've hit August and all the stores are putting back to school things out on the shelves and I'm like, "Hey, I'm still trying to enjoy my summer here!";-) No, but really, we've enjoyed our July FULLY! There have been ups and downs for me as a camp wife and mom, but God has been on the move. He's been drawing me to himself in the midst of all of the Chaos!

The kiddos enjoyed a week of VBS at a local church, but I didn't get any cool pics! We've hosted guest after guest at our home and though we wouldn't have it any other way it has been exhausting. It's that deep down, GOOD type of exhaustion though. When you know you're spent on the RIGHT things! I LOVE that about the ministry God has called our family to. There are plenty of sacrifices we make, but at the end of the day, they are minuscule in light the blessings we receive! I don't always do a great job maintaining this perspective, but when I get before the Lord, the proper perspective ALWAYS reappears!

Which brings me to what I'm super excited about this week... I got wind of this free app. called First 5. You can find out more about it HERE. But the gist is getting with God for the first five minutes of your day. My typical "quiet" times with the Lord are after breakfast is cleaned up and the kiddos are distracted with activities and toys. I always find myself getting interrupted and although I'm refreshed by the time, it wasn't enough for me. It's always better to be serving out of overflow then trying to conjure up the right attitude...

So, about the app, they have SUPER SWEET alarms to wake up by and a scripture with a short devotional to focus on with a simple question at the end to answer in your "moments" notebook (also provided by the app.) People, ok, I've only been doing it for four days, but I have been so REFRESHED! God is totally honoring a commitment to getting with Him FIRST. Yep, before even putting my feet on the floor! It has given me perspective for my day and even speaks purpose into my day early in the morning. It makes the Psalmist so wise when he writes, " the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." Psalm 5:3

Anyway, this is really working for me right now!! Praise God!! Since I started having children, I have struggled (well, actually all of my Christian walk) with spending time with Him FIRST. I always just figured, hey, if I get in the word TODAY, I'll be good. It just makes so much sense to me now to do it first thing. My time with Him can blossom into every decision I make throughout the rest of my day.

Hey now, no pressure for anyone out there who is not getting it in with the Lord in the morning because as you can read, I totally get you, but I'm super pumped that this is happening in life right now and would encourage everyone to give it a try (after all, even Jesus was up early communing with the Father Mark 1:35), so GO CHECK OUT THAT APP!!:-)

Wanting to post some summer pics soon!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hopes for Summer

Hi All! I wanted to post a craft we did a couple of weeks ago in case you'd like to do something similar. I got this activity from The Confident Mom summer activity calendar that I purchased from her blog back in April. If you'd like to get one, they are SUCH a great resource and VERY inexpensive. You can go HERE.

The craft was supposed to be dream catchers, but I modified it because being the detail oriented person I am not, I picked up a couple of supplies that were not in the original idea and they weren't going to look like dream catchers so summer hopes and prayers it is!:-)

I have 5 children 7 and under so if we're doing any kind of craft my 20 month old needs to be strapped down or asleep and I have to be organized... at least to start. So I sat out all the supplies and gave each of my 4 oldest a space to start. This is a craft I had to be pretty involved with because of embroidery hoops and hot glue guns, but when we were done, the kids were proud! These are hanging on our art wall and they can look at them as the summer passes and see if they're hopes and prayers are coming true.

Table to start...

Work in progress. We colored our doilies with marker first...

Then placed the doilies on the hoops and added feathers and jewels with hot glue. I had the kids write their hopes for summer on cut outs and I attached them to the bottom with string I had on hand.

They all turned out completely unique and each is beautiful in it's own way.;-) 

If you didn't notice, my 3 year old isn't in this pic. Turns out it was a little much for him, but he was totally content to scribble and draw super heroes on his paper doilies with markers so that turned out to be just fine. We added a few jewels to his with regular glue too. 

Ultimately, it is NOT me to craft and compared to the pics on the blog this idea came from, ours were less then perfect, BUT the kids were creative and made something they were proud of and I got to spend time with them helping the process, so it was SUPER worth it!!

Embroidery Hoop
Paper Doilies
hot glue gun
card stock
string (any king, but the thinner the better)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A month later...:-)

Oh my goodness!! Is it really almost the end of June?? And I'm just getting to my first summer post?? Wow, as you have probably experienced, time is FLYING right now! I'm loving having the kids home and filling our days with activities together and plenty of resting and relaxing, catching up on movies and doing lots of crafts and reading together. I'm going to throw it back to the day they got out of school when we had our little party to welcome summer and share some pics!

All I did for prep was pick up water guns, a bubble kit and water balloons at wal-mart. I used a couple of hours in our morning to fill water balloons while the kids were at school. Did you know they have the kind that seal themselves?? Am I in the dark ages because I just found out about these. No more knots! Unless of course the little stopper malfunctions, then you have to tie the not, but STILL. They're great!. The younger kids especially loved helping fill the balloons!

It seems like months ago... but I guess it's just been one month, right??:-)

We had lots of water fun... they loved every minute of it! I tried to snap some pics amongst the water splashing...

We welcomed summer with a bang and I can say I'd like to make this a tradition. Not just water activities, but the welcoming summer party. It's a great way to make a land marker of memories for the end of the school year and the beginning of summer!

Next post will be some things I got from my 2015 summer activity calendars over at The Confident Mom. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Confident Summer!

Hi Friends! It's been SO long since I've posted! Some day I do hope to get more consistent at this... I think my plan for this summer will help. The plan is to log what we're up to as a family here on the blog, with pics and updates as we spend quality time together and make the most of the summer. A lot of you know our summer's are super consumed with CAMP! Our ministry at camp is SO important to us and we absolutely LOVE spending our summer's here at Citikidz where God has called us. With daddy's longer summer hours it helps to have some things on the schedule for the kids and I to enjoy together. This summer is no different EXCEPT that I have a PLAN in order to help the kid's and I thrive.

Let me be the first to say, I'm not bent toward planning and especially having a written plan, which is where The Confident Mom comes in.

I'm pumped to share what tool I'm using to help! There's a hint in the title of this post!! It's "The 2015 Confident Mom Summer Survival Calendar!" This thing is AMAZING! Click HERE to go and check it out. Susan has been a great encouragement to me! I should tell her that!:-) She is super empowering and offers tons of GREAT tools and resources to help mom's be amazing and keep families healthy. I hope it's helpful to you too! I'll be picking up my first week of supplies this weekend! I'm not planning on following it to a "T" as our summers here at camp give us chance to do some things I get to add in, but it is SO great to have all the activities she suggests WITH lists of what you need to pick up and a date to do them on! AHHH! Thank you Susan!!

My kid's finish up school on the 5th of June and I'm planning a "Start the Summer Party" for when they arrive home that afternoon. Complete with water guns, water balloons, popsicles and we'll see what else I decide to throw in there.:-) Shhhhhh... don't tell them.;-) I'm really looking forward to getting started and am hoping to inspire someone else out there to do the same!

Happy DAY!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

You're Hurting My Ears Mommy

Every month, about the same time, I find myself losing control of my emotions with my kids. Speculate all you want, but we all know why.:-) By lose control, I mean when I get overwhelmed, I yell. Yes, it's terrible. Before I'm done vomiting my words, the guilt is already gushing in. Last month, I happened to yell at my third, sweet daughter, Kayla MERCY. Side note, I love that her middle name is Mercy. It is always such a good reminder to me of second chances. She responded, "Mommy, you're hurting my ears." I froze. Oh, my heart! It broke. Of course, I apologized and told her that this was unacceptable behavior on my part and nobody deserves to be spoken to this way. I asked for her forgiveness and received it immediately (children are such a great picture of how we should forgive) with a hug and kiss, but that phrase struck me so deeply... "you're hurting my ears." I still can't get it out of my head.

The things entering my daughters ears can also hurt her heart, mind and spirit. If I don't gain control over my tongue, it will have lasting negative effects. Think about your own life. We have all heard words that have scarred our hearts, our souls, permanently.  Let's not pass those on. The worst thing about words are, once they're uttered, then cannot be withdrawn. Forgiveness can be given, but there is no removing what has been spoken. Our careless words can hurt all of the ears they fall upon, even God's. God's word teaches that words are extremely influential, even to the point of life and death. Here are a few verses about that...

 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
 Ephesians 4:29 

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." 
 Proverbs 15:1-2 

 "The words of the reckless piece like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Proverbs 12:18 

"A fools lips enter into contention and his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his destruction and his lips are the snare of his soul."

"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." 

James 1:26

WHOA! My lack of control over my tongue renders my religion worthless! Ouch! There is NO DOUBT that God takes our words very seriously and we should too. Our tongues can reveal a ton about what we're dealing with in our hearts. We can use them to bring healing and life to people or injury and death. Let's not even get started on how gossip can ruin a persons life!

There are too many scriptures to list here about the power of our words and the types of people we are when we cannot control them... sometimes, we're just hormonal or foolish people and please don't think for a second that God's grace has run out for you, especially if this is a daily struggle. Ask God to reveal what is in your heart and heal it..."for the mouth speaks what the heart if full of." Matthew 12:34

I need to ask the Lord each day to bring the fruit of the spirit to life continually in me, especially SELF-CONTROL.  Do take a second, or a few solid minutes thinking about the kinds of words that are coming out of your mouth each day. The words you speak to or about God, your family, your friends, strangers. All of them can have great and lasting purpose for the good of those we encounter or for the bad. We need to make a decision about which side of that we want to be on. There is also no doubt from scripture that the mouths of fools bring about their demise. All fair warnings to each of us who confess Christ as our Savior. I'm more and more convicted as I type. Help us Lord!

What words can I use today to build life into the people around me? Do I need to apologize to anyone I have injured with my words? Will the words I speak today build people up or tear them down? Will they please God or hurt Him? My prayer today is that I will not hurt anyone with my words, but in fact do the exact opposite and build them up! Can you imagine the endless good we can produce together by simply paying attention to our words? It is immeasurable.

Monday, January 26, 2015

When There Isn't Enough

"...For every animal of the forrest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills." Psalm 50:10

Have you ever been in a place where there wasn't enough? Maybe it is money, food, friends, joy... I know I have. In many ways if I looked at all that was lacking in my life today, according the the world's standards I would get discouraged pretty quickly, but that's why I'm writing. Today, I'm going to look at all that we do have and where I feel we don't have "enough" I'm going to be grateful for what we have!

I'm reading through Exodus right now with Good Morning Girls over at Women Living Well. I read Chapter 15 today and God's people the Israelites have just been freed from slavery in Egypt. A few short chapters ago they walked across dry land in the midst of a sea when before their eyes, the Lord parted the waters and closed them again, drowning their enemies. The Lord provided a way through and a way out.

In this chapter the Israelites are in the dessert with no food. They begin to grumble and complain because they are hungry. Don't we all!:-) We have no right to grumble and complain to the Lord but in our pride, we do. He is good and in His faithfulness he provides them with the food that they need each day. First with quail and then with manna. Why? Is it because the people were doing a great job serving Him? Was it because they were such loyal followers of Him and were faithful to Him? NO. In fact it appears that they were acting opposite of that and even after The Lord provides, they do not keep His commands. No, He does not provide according to our faithfulness.  It is because He IS FAITHFUL to HIS PEOPLE, regardless of how we act.

All our lives we're taught to be good and we get good. After we've lived for a while, we find that this is not true. Sometimes even when we are "good" we end up with the short end of the stick. His actions toward us are dependent on His goodness and perfect love for us, not on our performance. 

Before you take it too far and say, "well, I guess I can just do whatever I want and He's gonna provide." It doesn't work that way.  He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5) and we are not to take His grace and trample all over it. (Rom. 5:19-6:4) He will not stand for it. He died and rose again so that we may live in newness of life. No longer slaves to sin, nor to ourselves and our deceitful desires. He will bless obedience. What He wants me to know and call to mind is, His provision for His people comes from His goodness. (Phil. 4:19, 2 Tim. 2:13) If it were dependent on me, I would never be provided for. For apart from Him, every good work I do is "as filthy rags." (Is. 64:6)

I want to remember today all of the ways He has provided for us and continues to. Then I'll be grateful. I'm also going to ask Him daily to continue to provide for us in the future. Why? Because I deserve it? NO. Because He's in control of it. (Is. 43) Much to people's surprise God own's everything and He gives and takes away as He pleases. (Ps. 50:10, Ps. 24:1) From and to His children and from and to those who do not believe. This is a hard truth to swallow at times, but when we are believers in Christ and know God is good, we can know that we'll always have all that we need. If we had all we wanted, our lives would be a mess. We'd be like little kids who want more and more candy and end up with a terrible stomach ache in the end. Fat and sloppy and miserable, to make the picture more clear.:-) When it feels like we don't have enough, He will always provide the grace we need to be content.  Sometimes it all comes down to the simple choice to believe that.

Let's ask Him today for what we need and praise Him today for all that we have.