Monday, March 21, 2011

Struggle & encouragement

For those of you who read my blog & have wished I’d post more, it’s your lucky get 2 blogs in one dayJ.  This spring has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.  With only one basement so far in 2011...we’ve been relying heavily on finding other work to try & pay the bills.  The key word here is try.  God has provided work for us in numerous ways.  We’ve also had numerous weeks with no work.  The combination of less work, working by the hour, & still being behind from last year because of the economy, has felt like a slow death.  It hits me in waves.  Some days I don’t think about it much & feel peace about it.  Other days I feel like I’m drowning.  Discouragement & hopelessness overwhelms me & I struggle to breathe.  I have been extremely thankful for friends who have helped hold me up on those days.  We definitely appreciate your prayers if God lays us on your heart.

Yesterday afternoon I was listening to music & when this song came on I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my cheeks.  I think it was God speaking directly to me & I just had to share itJ. 

Believe Me Now
Steven Curtis Chapman

I watch you looking out across the raging water
So sure your only hope lies on the other side
You hear the enemy that's closing in around you
And I know that you don't have the strength to fight
But do you have the faith to stand and...

Believe Me now
Believe Me here
Remember all the times I've told you loud and clear
I am with you and I am for you
So believe Me now
Believe Me now

I am the One who waved my hand and split the ocean
I am the One who spoke the words and raised the dead
And I've loved you long before I set the world in motion
I know all the fears you're feeling now
But do you remember who I am?
Do you..

Believe Me now
Believe Me here
Remember all the times I've told you loud and clear
I am with you
And I am for you
So believe Me now
Believe it's true

I never have, I never will abandon you
And the God that I have always been
I will forever be
So believe Me now

I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure
My words are true, and all My promises are sure
So believe Me now
Oh, believe Me now

A side note...I believe this has been more of a struggle for me since I’ve started doing Lent with the kids.  A month ago I still had days when I struggled, but nothing like what it’s been lately.  I fully believe that Satan is not happy about us drawing closer to God & he’s doing whatever he can to stop it! 

Closer to HIM

I’ve had this update floating in my head for a while now, but haven’t had a chance to write it.  I wanted to give you an update on how Lent is going for the kids & I.  Like I explained in my last post, the kids are switching what they’re giving up each 10 days.  The first “segment” was sweets.  When I first told them about Lent & that we were going to do it together they weren’t all that impressed.  I second guessed myself a little...yet I really felt like God was asking me to do it with them, so I pressed forward.  It was about the middle of last week when I asked them how they felt it was going & what they were learning.  Almost immediately they all agreed on one thing...that they had learned that sweets weren’t that big a deal.  They hadn’t thought about it that much.  Made my heart soarJ.  Not that that’s the ultimate goal here, but it was a start. 

Along with Lent we’ve been working through a book together called “Seek God for the City”.  The idea is, that there are people all over the world praying for the same things on the same day...and that by the end of it, we will have prayed for everyone on earth.  Each day it gives us about 5 countries to pray for...along with a “category” of people (teachers, men, homeless, etc)...and a few ways to pray for people in our community.  It is 40 days of prayer (Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday) for our community & the rest of the world.  There is a kid’s version of the book as well which I love.  The kids & I have been working through it together each day...and I’m thrilled with the outcome.  Not only are we praying together...which is wonderful in itself...but I’ve really noticed a change in the way the kids pray.

I’ve struggled for a while now about how to teach the kids to pray...really pray.  Not just saying the same thing night after night.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t repeat things...but I want them to pray from their hearts...not just saying some words they’ve memorized over time.  Well, we seem to have taken one small step in that direction & it’s so fun to hearJ.  After we read through the “Seek God” thoughts for the day, I give each of the kids something different to pray about.  It seems that having to think about that extra thing & remember it, has made them think more about what they’re saying.  Whatever it is, I’m just so excited to see that little step forward.  It has encouraged my heart this week...and confirmed that I am indeed doing the right thing in doing all this with them. 

Jesus please continue to use these weeks leading up to Easter to draw us closer to You.  Make Yourself real to the kids Lord.  Help them to know Your love for them.  Help them to understand who it is they’re talking to when they pray.  Give me wisdom as I do this with them.  Give me words to say when they have questions.  Help me to know when to explain something & when to just let Your Holy Spirit work in their hearts.  Work in my heart too Lord.  I want to grow closer to You.  I want to know  You more.  I love you Lord!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Little Update & Some Thoughts

I know it’s been much too long since I wrote...but I don’t think I’m even going to apologizeJ.  Feeling guilty won’t make me write I’m just going to enjoy this opportunity to write again.  I’ve been kept very busy with being a mom, doing bookwork, running a household...and homeschooling.  This year has been a bit more of an adjustment than I expected.  Suddenly teaching all 3 kids & needing to keep them all busy has definitely pushed my ability to multi taskJ.  I am however, thoroughly enjoying it.  Having my kids home & being able to be a part in those everyday parts of their lives...I just love itJ

Did you grow up giving up something for lent?  Or maybe seeing your parents do that each year?  I didn’t.  I don’t remember ever hearing about it or...once I did hear about it...understanding what it was...until sometime after we got married.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing...that’s just not something that was a part of our family.  Or maybe it was & I totally don’t remember!  At first I only understood it to be a Catholic tradition & didn’t think much of it.  In the last few years I’ve come to realize that many Christians use lent as way to draw closer to God.  No, it’s not Biblical, but I really like the idea of giving something up in order to focus on my relationship with Him.  I never knew how people knew when lent started...and I would only hear about it the day it was starting.  In my mind I used that as an excuse not to do it the last couple of years.  Really there’s no reason I couldn’t have started a day or two late!  Anyway...all that to say that I’m going to do it this year...and I’m really excited about it.

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I wanted to deepen my relationship with the Lord...but have felt kind of lost as to how to go about it.  Or maybe I just felt like I didn’t have motivation.  I know that sounds terrible.  If He’s #1 in my life then He should be motivation enough.  I know that...and I guess that’s why I knew something needed to change.  I just wasn’t sure how to go about it.  I also feel strongly that I haven’t been setting a very good example for the kids.  Not that I’ve been doing anything’s more what I haven’t been doing.  How am I supposed to pass on to them a passionate love for Jesus...if they never see that in me?  Benjamin is already 9 (yikes!)...and they say that we only have till they’re 12 to really influence them...till they start looking at all the “options” & weighing them out themselves.  That means I only have 3 more years...double yikes!  So what kind of view of a relationship with Jesus will Benjamin have?  What have I passed on to him (& the other kids)?  Yes we do devotions together (although I have to admit it’s not always daily), yes we pray together daily, yes we have many, many God related discussions (one of my favorite parts of homeschooling)...but really what have I shown them about what it really means to have a RELATIONSHIP with JESUS CHRIST?? 

This is something I’ve been pondering & wrestling with for a few months now...but it hit home again on Sunday.  Pastor Kent has been preaching through a series called “Not a Fan”.  In a nutshell it’s about the difference between being a fan & a follower of Jesus.  It’s easy to be a fan...but I want to be a follower.  In the video clip he showed on Sunday it talked of a father whose daughter had walked away from her faith.  The father wasn’t asking “why”?  Instead he made this statement, “We raised her in the church, but we didn’t raise her in Christ.”  This statement put into words what I’ve been feeling the last few months.  Yes our kids go to church nearly every Sunday & we do all that other stuff...but how on earth do we truly teach them who Jesus is & what it means to have a real relationship with Him?  If you’re hoping for an answer you’re in the wrong placeJ.  I definitely don’t have one.  But I do know what I’m going to do to start.

The kids & I will be doing lent together this year.  It’ll be a first for all of us & I pray that we can all learn something from it.  Based on some online research & what my “gut” says I’m going to break up the time for the kids.  40 days is a long time for kids to give up one thing...and I think would be setting them up for failure.  So we’re going to break it up into 10 day segments, giving up something different each 10 days.  I haven’t figured out just how we’ll arrange it yet, but sweets & screen time will be in the mix.  In order to do somewhat the same thing as them so that they don’t feel like I’m asking something of them that I won’t do...I’m going to give up 2 things.  I know it’s a big step from never having done lent before...but I really feel God asking me to do this.  I’m going to give up sweets...and I’m going to give up my “during the day” facebook time.  That may seem half hearted...not to give up facebook altogether...but it’s really a huge sacrifice for me.  Since I’m home all day with the kids, I’m quite used to checking facebook 15-20 times a day.  I won’t be on for long, but I’m on often.  Anytime I sit down at the computer to look something up for the kids, I check facebook.  So I’m going to limit myself to once a day for a maximum of 20 minutes.  This will allow me to stay in touch with numerous family members who live across the province, the country & the world...but will still be a big sacrifice for me.

Why?  What’s the purpose for all this?  First & foremost because I feel God leading me to.  I pray that God will use this time to bring me & my kids closer to Him & to each otehr.  I want to be purposeful about using that extra time to spend time with Him.  I want to spend daily time reading the Bible with my kids.  I want to seek Him about how to make Jesus real to my kids.  I want to start thinking about the meaning of Easter now instead of waiting till 2 days before & then trying to make it meaningful for the kids. 

So why am I telling you all about it?  Well, I’m hoping that you can help hold me accountable.  Ask me how it’s going.  What we’re learning.  Let me know your thoughts!  Offer any advice you may have.  Maybe it could even be an encouragement for you to give up something of your own.  Not because it’s “lent”...but because you want to deepen your relationship with Jesus!

Side note:  Did you know that if you actually count the calendar days, lent lasts for 47 days?  I never knew (I’ve never counted) till I was researching last night.  It’s 40 days not including the Sundays.  The Sundays are supposed to be a break from the fasting because that’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with that yet.  In one way I can see it being nice to have that “break” from the fast...but it would also make it really easy to “over-indulge” on that day...then again maybe that would help prevent over-indulging at the end of the 40 days.  Like I said I don’t know, but I’m not worried about it.  Like I said, this isn’t Biblical.  It’s a choice I’m making to draw closer to my we’ll deal with that when the time is right.  I just thought it was an interesting tidbit of infoJ

I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re my friend on facebook & you don’t see me throughout the day you’ll know why.  Also, if you use facebook to get ahold of me throughout the day, you may want to email or phone instead if it’s something you need before the end of the day.  I’d love to know your thoughts on any of this!