Tuesday, March 29, 2016

THANK YOU, MOMMY!



Today is my mommy's 70th birthday!  There is no way that I can express adequate thanks for all that she has done for me or the positive impact she has been on my family, but on her birthday I wanted to express a few of the thank you's that are on my heart.





THANK YOU, MOMMY.  Thank you for always taking us to church.  Even when you had to take us alone. 






Thank you for teaching us how to make holidays feel special.  For remembering to include M&M candy canes in our stockings and for showing us that a little garnish can make things prettier. 







Thank you for teaching us that love is the thing.  That we will always have all that we need when we have each other.   







Thank you for always cheering on our children.  Whether it was their first jet ski ride or their first year in college.  You will never know how much your encouragement means to us.








Thank you for teaching us that a little poise and a fun spirit can take us far in life.  And not to run with scissors.  Thanks to you we never poked our eye out.  Not even once!


 



Thank you for being willing to love us while we were a work in progress.  And really, we still are.  Knowing that you care for us and pray for us every day is such a gift. 






Thank you for gingham tablecloths, for doll cakes and for back yard bar-b-ques.  We didn't have a lot of money but we always had a lot of love.






Thank you for remembering what it was like to be little.  For always sending our children cards for every birthday and holiday and for taking the time to get down on the floor to play a game with them. 






Thank you for always being a positive example to us in exercise.  When I was a girl I remember exercising with you to a record and going on walks.  Now my girls exercise with me to a DVD and go on walks as well.  We think of you often when we do.  






Thank you for so many life lessons that could only have been taught by you.  For being the prettiest room mother at school.  For driving me to Girl Scouts and for encouraging me to try out for the school plays.  For letting me be alone in my room with the music way too loud on hard days.  Thank you for believing in me; for always being my listening ear and for your tireless example of hard work and perseverance in Christ.  You really have been the best mom ever.






For all the millions and millions of thank you notes that should have been written, but will always be written in my heart.  Thank you!  I love you so very much, Mommy. 




I think you will agree, she is a pretty special lady.  Happy Birthday, Mommy!   


Love,






Monday, March 21, 2016

EASTER EGG HUNTS, CHRISTMAS TREES {and other straining out of gnats}





 
Little Sarah with her Grammie enjoying Easter traditions




Egg Hunts for Easter; Christmas Trees in December and all of the holidays in between.  Are these examples of Christian liberty or a shocking worldliness that must be addressed? 
It seems that every time there is a holiday, conservative Christians want to bring up these issues and point to the fact that if you will simply take five hours to research the subject on the internet, then you too will be convinced that everything you are doing is pagan and must be avoided.  But if you spent the same five hours studying the Bible you would never come away with such convictions.     
It certainly seems fastidious and religious, but without a focus on what God calls us to emphasize, we are easily distracted and miss the point. 
The New Testament never tells Christians they need to celebrate any day.  So any day we choose to celebrate (birthdays, anniversaries, the Fourth of July, St. Patrick's Day, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Christmas and so on) are under no more religious requirements than any other day on the calendar.  We celebrate all things simply to the glory of God.


Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  Romans 14:6



Under the Old Covenant, God instituted observing of new moons, holy days, Sabbaths and so on, but those were fulfilled in Christ and have passed away.
Colossians 2:16-17 teaches that we should “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, in drink, or in respect of an holyday or of the new moon or Sabbath days which are shadows of these to come but the body is Christ.”
As New Testament believers we observe the Lords supper (not on a specifically assigned day), but beyond that we have liberty in accordance with our conscience. 
In fact, in the book of Galatians Paul challenges the gentiles of his day not to put themselves again under bondage with the Judaizers (Jewish legalists) to keep certain days or requirements related to certain days.  He called those beggarly elements to be avoided. 
We also have the clear example of Christ when dealing with the folks that strained out the minor things—which always leads to the avoidance of the major things.  Christ condemned these diligent hoop jumpers saying: 


You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

-Matthew 23:24






The Pharisees of Christ’s day were so very concerned about keeping the laws that could be seen by men that they would strain their water or wine with their teeth rather that gulping or sipping it the way we would.  That way if a gnat (the smallest of the unclean animals, Leviticus 11:42) got into their drink during the wine making process or while it sat at the table, it would be caught on their tooth and they could remove it.
But Christ said they were so busy law keeping (counting out herbs for their tithes and straining gnats) that they were swallowing the largest unclean animal of all (Leviticus 11:4); the camel. 
And what was this camel they were gulping down according to Christ?  It was the weightier law:  "You have omitted the weightier elements of the divine law," implied divine, "justice, mercy, and faith."
Isn’t that always the case?  The more we work to strain out minor things, the less grace we tend to give others.  The more minuscule we get in focusing on minor themes of Scripture the less time we have for the things that God has put in the foreground. 
So why do people worry so much about the minor?  Because it tends to make us feel pious and righteous.  It seems like the “extra” work or dedication of abstaining (at least in the mind of the law keeper) demonstrates how really devoted we are.  The fact that it might bring a greater respect and approval from men doesn't hurt either.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day and ours are usually really, really good at sacrifice in these visible areas.  Really good at counting out dill seeds and really bad at what God wanted even more:   justice, mercy, and faith.
John MacArthur in his sermon series, The Condemnation of False Spiritual Leaders says:


Listen the Pharisees and the scribes didn't do justly, they were inequitable. They were unfair, unjust. And they were merciless, brutal, unforgiving, unkind, ungenerous. They abuse the people. Piling, as it says in verse 4 of this chapter, heavy burdens on them, grievous to be born and not even moving one finger to help lighten the load. And they had no faith. They walked by sight. They walked by works. They walked by law. They walked by their own efforts. And so He says you're real great at counting out kitchen seeds used to flavor food and you've missed the whole point of what is really important, justice, mercy, and faith.



Those are not the words that we want describing us!  If you are spending time focusing in on whether a Christian can wear green on St. Patrick's Day or can hunt eggs on Easter- just stop!  Because chances are while you are straining that gnat you are missing what God calls greater or weightier. 
These are areas of liberty before Christ and do not impact the world or the gospel- except in distracting us from doing the work we were called to do.  Our unbelieving neighbors have no such questions or concerns rolling around in their minds and we do them a disservice if we teach them to strain out gnats even if we have been taught to do so. 
Just give grace and liberty to the Easter egg hunter or the Christmas tree decorator and focus on those things that God desires more.   


"He hath shown thee oh man what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."


-Micah 6:8

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.

Blessings,



Thursday, January 14, 2016

OUR MOST IMPORTANT WORK











Children are not distraction from more important work. 


They are the most important work.



-John Trainer, M.D.






___________________________


Someone asked what cards we are using here for Hailey's magnet work.  I believe they are these are these free cards:  





Baking pan from the Dollar Tree.  Magnets from Amazon.


Also, if you haven't used Teachers Pay Teachers yet, check out these! 





You will love their free and inexpensive resources! 
smile emoticon



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"INNIES" FOR INSTAGRAM!








Are you an "Innie?"  Over the years, I have realized that I am much more of an introvert than an extrovert.  As I have learned more about introverts, I realize that I too recharge in quiet.  I am not anti social by any means, I love my friendships!  But I tend to enjoy deeper talk, the one on one type.  And I find that I have less social stamina than the extroverts I know.  I need mental margin in order to be the creative person that God designed me to be.

Over the years people have contacted me asking for a list of blogs I would recommend for them to read.  That is always a really hard question for me to answer because for myself it's quiet that I crave for inspiration.  You would be far more likely to find me cuddled on a couch reading aloud to my kids than reading a blog.  And yet I blog... is that a contradiction?  Ha!  Probably. 

Even Facebook is too noisy for me most of the time.  While I love to check in to see how I can be praying for or encouraging people, I find that I am more often met with too many posts that demonstrate how easily offended we Christians can be by an unbelieving world.  I just don't have the emotional energy to be offended by red cups or the latest upset.  As I remember the Lord's command in Proverbs 22:24:  Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man.  Do not associate with one easily angered.  I find it is easier to simply log off and find quiet.

I will literally go weeks without even opening Facebook.  Did you know that if you don't open Facebook for weeks, they will begin to send you emails to try to entice you back with all you might be missing?  It's true!  I get those emails all the time.  

With a couple of my dearest friends on Instagram, I finally succumbed to joining them.  I really did not want more noise in my life, but one of my friends who had left Facebook for Instagram convinced me it would be a good thing.

It's been about a year now and I realize that I really enjoy the quiet of Instagram.  It's just photos.  I don't follow people with loud political opinions or axes to grind.  In fact, I don't follow many people at all and it's not personal because unlike Facebook that doesn't mean we are "friends" or not friends.  We are just following or not.  It's quiet allows me to share simple and creative moments that I would ordinarily tend to just keep to myself.  

I enjoy looking back over the year and the thought that I can easily make a photo book from our little square photo moments at any time. 

As 2015 winds down, I thought I would share some photos from this year's Instagram feed.  No words, just moments for those of you who enjoy photos.  

So, here's to finding quiet in a noisy world, my friends.  May you be blessed.  :)

Love,








"Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." - 1 Thessalonians 4:11