Posted in Reflection

2 Things You Should Never Do on Memorial Day

It’s almost that time of year! The pools will open. Your neighbors will start grilling. We will all celebrate the unofficial opening day of the summer season and it all starts with Memorial Day.

Sadly, this is one of the least understood and most frequently mishandled holidays on the American calendar.

More than just a day off work and an excuse to hit the lake, Memorial Day is a day of reflecting and remembering great loss and ultimate sacrifice. Its purpose is often confused with Veteran’s Day while its activities often resemble 4th of July celebrations.

However, Memorial Day is not about thanking our Veterans or celebrating our independence. Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen.

And so I present to you, 2 Things You Should Never Do on Memorial Day

2 Things You Should Never Do on Memorial Day

#1 Do Not Say “Happy Memorial Day”

Memorial Day is not a celebration, it’s a day of remembrance. You’d never know it by the advertisements on TV or the displays in your favorite stores, but Memorial Day isn’t supposed to be a big commercial day of celebration and patriotism.

Can you imagine showing up at a friend’s funeral or memorial service with a cooler and a frisbee, shouting “Happy Funeral Day” to people you love? It would be horribly insensitive and wildly inappropriate. Saying “Happy Memorial Day” is no different.

If you’re searching for an appropriate way to wish someone well, consider wishing someone a “safe holiday weekend”. While you and other empathetic citizens may understand the gravity of this day, there will still be others who take advantage of the 3 day weekend for drinking and driving or boating, putting us all in danger.

#2 Do Not Thank a Veteran for His or Her Service

Nobody appreciates a thankful citizen more than I do, but Memorial Day is not the day to verbalize our gratitude to our Veterans. Honoring our military Veterans and their service is important and November 11th, Veterans Day, is the day that is designated for this recognition and appreciation.

While many well-meaning Americans thank our Veterans on Memorial Day it can be a difficult exchange of words for them to embrace. While you are thanking them for their service, they are most likely thinking of those heroes they served with who never came home.

What You SHOULD Do

If you’re wondering at this point what you CAN do and SHOULD do on Memorial Day this year, I have some suggestions:

  1. Enjoy your picnics and your barbecues and your boat rides on the lake, but say a prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes and a prayer of comfort for those they left behind.
  2. Set a Missing Man Table. You can read about the significance of this honor here.
  3. Take a trip to your local cemetery and point out Veteran headstones to your kids. See how far back the tombstones are dated and talk about the different wars and conflicts the Veterans may have served in.
  4. Clean a Veteran’s headstone at the cemetery. My husband created Uncover Our Names to show tombstones he’s cleaned and to encourage others to show our fallen Veterans the honor and respect they are due.

There are many other things you can do, but these are just a few ways that you can enjoy your day, remember the fallen, and be thankful that you live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Faith-Filled Gifts for Grads

It’s graduation season and the celebrations are filling up your already-busy calendar. You want to give a meaningful gift to your favorite grads this year but you’re running out of time and ideas.

Stop scrolling through Pinterest. I’ve got 4 perfect faith-filled gifts for the graduates in your life and the links you can use to order them. (These are not affiliate links. I get nothing if you choose to purchase these items.)

Gift #1: College Survival Guides

Seriously, where was this book when I was in college?

From Amazon:

Hanna Seymour, a mentor to thousands of young college women, provides a plan for success in college based on experience, illustrations, and biblical principles.
Each year millions of young women enter the college scene and are surprised to find their glittering preconceptions shattered. College isn’t exactly what they had imagined–it’s a lot tougher. Social challenges, a demanding schedule, pressure to succeed, shifting family dynamics: how do girls tackle these issues, learn to thrive, and really enjoy this new phase of life?
THE COLLEGE GIRL’S SURVIVAL GUIDE is packed with experienced-based advice that can help. Written by a mentor with ten years of experience helping college girls succeed, it’s like having a big sister along for the journey. With proven tips, scripture, and inspiring illustrations, this book will coach, comfort, and inspire young women so that they can make the most of the college experience.
Thousands of young women have asked Hanna Seymour what to do about roommate drama, boyfriend trouble, choosing a major, balancing family and school life, and so much more. She’s poured her best insights into this book–answering the top 52 questions she has received–so that readers everywhere will be armed with the knowledge and inspiration to make college the most epic, enriching time it can be.

And here’s a great survival guide for guys or girls!

College 101 is filled with practical advice on how Christian students can be preparing for the challenges of life on campus. Developed by college students, the words of advice and counsel are genuine, honest, and insightful. Based on the authors’ personal experience as students, friends, and active leaders in campus ministry, you discover a unique perspective on college and campus life that only Christian peers can provide.

Gift #2: Journals

Journals are great gifts for young men and women, alike. Graduation is a time of transition and growth. What better gift than a tool they can use to pour out their hearts and preserve the memories they make in what will be some of the best years of their lives?! Buy the journal alone or in a cute set with a coffee mug, bookmark, ink pen, etc…

Gift #3: Coffee

Coffee is an essential part of life for most college students. Grab a gift card for a favorite coffee shop and slip it inside a fun and inspiring mug for the perfect practical gift for every graduating girl and guy on your list.

Gift #4: Letters for Later

This is personally my favorite graduation gift idea ever. I’ve learned from having my own recent high school graduate that money might be what most graduates want, but they’re not always good at saving it. The solution? Letters for Later!

Grab a stack of cute note cards and write out words of encouragement for different situations they may encounter throughout the school year and stuff them with cash, a memento, or gift cards that fit the situation. Then make notes on the front for when they should be opened.

For example, one envelope might say Open Me When You’re Tired and inside you may write a word of encouragement and enclose a Starbucks gift card. Another envelope might say Open Me When You’re Homesick and it may include a photo of you and the graduate. Or maybe you include an envelope that says Open Me When You’ve Aced a Test and it includes a gift card to an ice cream shop for celebrating.

I love this gift idea because you’re combining practical gifts they can use, spread out over time, just when they need them most. It’s thoughtful, practical, and the grads in your life will love it.

Do you remember a specific meaningful gift from your high school graduation? Do you have a go-to gifts for graduates? Please join in the conversation!

Posted in Cooking

Buffalo Chicken 4 Ways

It’s hard to find meals that all five (or currently six) of my kids will like. I have frequently found myself stuck in a rut of always making the same meals over and over. And when I do venture out to try something new, I inevitably find myself making a handful of PB&J sandwiches halfway through the meal for the kids that don’t like my newest creation.

Rather than fighting at dinner every night about expanding their palates or making the same boring meals night after night, I decided to take what they like and shake it up every once in a while. Over the years they have grown to enjoy some new dishes, but I still have my handful of tried and true flavor combos that I know can produce any number of delicious meals my children will love.

The next few Kitchen posts will cover some of those flavor combos that they love, the basic recipe, and a number of dishes you can make from them!

First up- probably our family’s favorite- buffalo chicken!

The Ingredients

*Cooked, shredded, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*Cream Cheese
*Shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese, or a combo of both
*Blue Cheese Dressing
*Ranch Dressing
*Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
*Blue cheese crumbles, optional
*Chopped celery, optional

Directions

Forgive me, but I rarely use an actual recipe when I cook. I prefer to mix things together according to our taste preferences. So…. melt the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Stir in all other ingredients to form the flavors and consistency that you desire. Not a big fan of blue cheese? Omit it or only add a bit. Love your cheddar cheese? Be generous with it, then! This is your flavor combo. Flavor it up any way that you like! Add the buffalo sauce last and add it in slowly, tasting the mixture as you go. Consider the whiniest member of your family and how much heat they can tolerate.

Dinner Options

Now you have the base of one of our favorite flavor combos! So what are you going to do with it?

Here are some suggestions that our family loves:

*Spread the mixture on top of homemade (or store bought, if you prefer) pizza dough. Buffalo Chicken Pizza!
*Spread the mixture inside a tortilla shell. Roll tight. Cut in half. Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups!!
*Put mixture in a dish, top with extra shredded cheese, bake until melted. Serve with chips. Buffalo Chicken Dip!
*Add some chopped celery for crunch. Be generous with the ranch and blue cheese dressings. Spread on sandwich buns. Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

You get the idea! The possibilities are endless.

How would YOU serve up our buffalo chicken flavor combo??

Posted in Homeschool, Reflection

3 Ways to Make Your Homeschool a Treasure Trove

Through skillful and godly wisdom a house, a life, a home, a family is built, and by understanding it is established on a sound and good foundation, and by knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasure.”

Proverbs 24:3-4

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! (I know you sang that in your head.) If you homeschool with the traditional school year you are most likely wrapping up the second semester and you’re looking forward to some fun in the sun. If you’re like us, you homeschool all year round and take breaks when it’s most convenient for your family. Either way, there’s a good chance that you’re re-evaluating your homeschool, deciding what worked and what didn’t, and making adjustments accordingly.

I’m right there with you.

If we take Proverbs 24:3-4 to heart and apply it to our homeschool, we will be looking at more than new curriculum or healthier lunch options as we plan for the next school year. Instead, we will be looking for ways to make our homeschool a treasure trove filled with the rare and beautiful.

That sounds nice and poetic but what does that even mean? What does that look like fleshed out?

When I re-read this passage again, I immediately saw that I needed to inspect my foundation before I start filling rooms with treasure. Upon first glance, it seemed pretty obvious that God was the foundation of our home and our homeschool, but upon further inspection I realized that it was my own desires that held up the framework of our homeschool.

3 Ways to Make Your Homeschool a Treasure Trove

My desires were mostly godly, but they were still mine. They had my fingerprints all over them. No wonder the ground shifted occasionally and we often lost our balance. It’s hard to fill a room with treasures when the floor is wobbly beneath you.

That’s when I realized that I had not been using God’s blueprints to build our homeschool but I had unrolled my own plan that was similar to His, but not exact. Maybe you’ve made the same mistake. If so, here’s 3 ways both of us can re-lay a solid foundation and begin building a treasure trove in our homeschool.

#1 Examine Your Reason for Homeschooling

I know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s the most foundational aspect of everything we’re looking at today. Does God want you to homeschool? When you list your reasons for homeschooling, do they include a calling on your life or is this just something you’re wanting to try?

Are you tired of paying for private school and worried about sending your kids to public school or do you sense God moving upon you to invest in your children by educating them in the safe, encouraging, Spirit-filled comfort of your home? There’s a difference, so make sure you examine your motives closely.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with giving homeschooling a try or shifting to a home education for safety or financial reasons. Not at all. That’s exactly how we started out! What I’m saying is that after five years of doing this crazy life of ours, I’ve realized that God has so much more for us and He wants you to swim in His abundance, too.

#2 Determine Your Starting Point

When we began this journey, I sat down with 2 homeschooling friends and asked them to share everything they knew about homeschooling with me. That’s not a bad place to start.

The next year when we moved to Florida I went straight to the state website to learn what would be expected of us and I began building our schedules around their recommendations and requirements. I looked at the state’s guidelines and then looked for Christian curriculum that would meet those objectives. It seemed like the only logical way to go about it, but I was slightly off-base.

I did manage to graduate our oldest child this way and she’s moved on and is doing well in college right now but I missed the opportunity to properly lay her foundation.

My starting point this year is Christ, our Foundation. Instead of adding Christianity to our homeschool, I’m going to add a home education to our Christian walk. Our education will start with Bible study and prayer and then learning about the world God created. A deeper faith and closer walk with God will be the expectation and a solid education based on a Christian world-view will be just one of the ways we go about achieving it.

#3 Recognize the Treasure

We’ve all heard of fool’s gold and cubic zirconium. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a treasure when we see one and sometimes it’s easy to overlook a rare and precious stone. As we build our lives, our houses, our families, our homeschools on Christ the Solid Rock, it’s easy to misidentify the accessories that we collect along the way.

The above-mentioned passage in Proverbs tell us that it is by knowledge that our rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasure. Knowledge. We must be walking close with the Father, spending time in prayer, spending time listening for His voice if we are going to acquire the knowledge and ability to discern what is junk and what is jewel.

Is your daughter’s strong will an asset or a liability? Can you help mold her into a confident leader or do you need to teach her to soften her heart and bend her will towards God? Only God can answer that.

Is your son’s constant curiosity an attempt to stay off-task or is it a God-given gift that will motivate and encourage the rest of his life-long quest to learn? Only God can answer that.

When we see our children being kind, showing compassion, putting others first, using good manners, or serving others, we are recognizing rare and beautiful treasures that God has given us. Our work as parent educators is rewarded in the maturity and Christ-like development of our children.

Please join me in prayer for our homeschools and our families.

Father God, You are the foundation of everything that is good in our lives. Help us to build our lives and our homeschools upon Your Truth. Help the mama who is reading this post learn to recognize the treasures in her home. Fill her homeschool with laughter and love. Give her wisdom to lead and instruct her children so that they will follow after You for all their days. Help us to keep Your blueprints front and center so that the things we build here on earth can bring You glory and further Your Kingdom. Amen

Posted in Politics, Reflection

2 Reasons Why Christians Should Be Appalled by the New Alabama “Heartbeat Bill”

Before you get your holy knickers in a twist, let me start by affirming that I AM PRO-LIFE. I am VERY pro-life. I’m pro-life to the point that I chose to ignore medical advice to carry my baby to term even though I was told that it would probably result in my own death. I have spent the past 20 years being a voice for the unborn and sharing my story. Being pro-life is the reason I abhor these “heartbeat abortion bills” and you should, too.

Reason #1: The Exceptions Clause


This bill would make abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses except in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act

As a pro-life advocate, I love and fully support the idea of a ban on one of America’s greatest tragedies: abortion-on-demand. Sadly, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act (and many like it elsewhere) is not one. The so-called “heartbeat bill” bans all abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, for any reason except to prevent a serious issue with the mother’s health or if the unborn child would be stillborn or die after childbirth.

Again, as a Christian who is pro-life, this sounds quite reasonable. I, personally, found myself facing the probability of death when I was pregnant with my first child and I chose not to abort my baby but to trust God with our lives, instead. But I can’t expect everyone to make that same decision. In fact, there are many strong Christians that would struggle with that decision. How could we, as Christians, possibly expect the world to rely on a faith that they do not have.

Sadly, what is NOT mentioned in this bill is an exemption for cases of sexual assault.

According to this bill, if a 10 year old child is raped by her father and becomes pregnant, that little girl would be forced to carry that baby to term and then watch it be taken from her because a 10 year old child cannot raise a baby. That may seem like an unlikely scenario but it happens and it’s heartless.

In cases of rape or incest, this Alabama law is telling women that their life is less valuable than that of their unborn child. Is that really the message we want to portray as conservative Christians?

When situations get complex and turned around in my mind, I ask myself the simple question that much of the world balks at: What Would Jesus Do?

If Jesus encountered a woman who had been raped, what would He do? More than likely, He would bring healing to her heart and life so that she would decide to keep her child and trust in Him. That should always be our ultimate goal, right? To bring the world to a saving relationship with God. But what if Jesus was put in charge of making a law about abortion? What if He couldn’t personally minister to each woman? Would He really ban it without exception? Would He really cause further pain to those who had been victimized?

Jesus made exceptions to the rules all the time. In fact, in Matthew 23:23, He called the Pharisees a bunch of hypocrites because they were so focused on tithing but ignored the “weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith”. I have to think that Jesus would have mercy on a girl who had been raped.

The Bible is full of examples of exceptions. God said that He hated divorce but then gave reasons that He would permit it. Jesus violated the Sabbath law by healing people. He commanded believers to be baptized but He told the thief on the cross beside Him that he would be with Him that very day in Paradise. Jesus came so that God’s love and mercy would replace the old law. I have to believe that He still wants His love and mercy to reign concerning women who have become victims of rape and incest.

The liberal left is crying out that this bill shows that Republicans don’t care about women. They’re proclaiming that Republican men only want to have control over women, their bodies, and their decisions. As a conservative Republican woman, I’m wondering if the left is right on this one.

Reason #2: The Wrong Goal

Not only does the Alabama Human Life Protection Act allow no room for exceptions for victims of rape and incest, but both the Alabama House and Senate rejected amendments to the bill brought by Democrats earlier this week that would include these exceptions. So much for reaching across the aisle and working together.

Politically, this bill may look like a huge win for Republicans but as Christians, it is an embarrassing act of merciless oppression.

Representative Terri Collins who sponsored the bill said that the bill was intended to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision in the infamous 1973 Roe v Wade case. Rep Collins believes that adding an exception for victims of sexual assault would “dilute” the argument that an unborn child is a person. Personally, I feel that not including that exception shows women that lawmakers in the great state of Alabama believe that an unborn child’s life is more important than a mother’s.

I pray for the day that Roe v Wade is finally overturned for God’s glory, but this is not the way to do it. This is not the battle we want to fight. This is not the goal.

gavel

We want a ban on abortion-on-demand. We want to establish that a person is a person from the moment of conception. We do not want to diminish the pain that victims of sexual assault experience. We do not want to get into the business of determining whose life has the most value. That is not up to us.

We want our fellow citizens of this great nation to love God and to value human life. We want people to join us as voices for the voiceless because God has touched their lives and impassioned them to join our cause. But Jesus never bullied anybody. He wanted people to follow Him out of love, not by force.

As Christians, our goal is to stand up for the rights of the unborn, not to take away the rights of women. Our goal is to teach our peers that life begins at conception, not to determine whose life is more valuable. Our goal is to do no harm, not to bring more pain to the victims. Our goal is to love, not control.

And until He returns or calls me home, that’s exactly what this pro-life, conservative, Christian woman is going to do.

EDIT TO ADD….

I’m going to throw in a bonus reason, here…

Reason #3: It’s Bad Business

I know next to nothing about politics and my use of logic may have no place in the political world, but humor me, if you will.

The liberals, the left, the pro-choice all want to keep Roe v Wade intact. They want to celebrate abortion and a woman’s right to choose one until the end of time. They look at the conservative, the right, the pro-life as oppressive, controlling monsters that are leading the war against women.

So, in response to that, we (the conservative pro-life Christians) write a bill than bans all abortions for any reason except the mother’s death? Really? Way to convince them that they’re right!

On one hand, we have politics. I may not know much about politics, but I know enough to know that it’s a world of give and take. It’s supposed to be about creating laws to govern the entire body of people, regardless of their beliefs or opinions or gender or status or religion or place of birth.

On the other hand, we have faith. We have the Bible. We have an absolute black and white Word from God that tells us that abortion is murder. There’s no gray area there. And as Christians, we should absolutely NEVER compromise our faith. We should NEVER compromise or water down the Word of God. We should always stand firm and declare Truth to a hurting world.

So when it comes to being a Christian in a political world, we have choices to make and it seems to me that we ought to be able to find a way to declare Truth without hurting people. As my pastor always says, “Lead with grace, land with truth.”

If we want to overturn Roe v Wade and be light to the world, we need to compromise our politics, not our faith.

If we want to sign an out-right ban on all abortions, it should come with extra funding for foster care and adoption services as well as counselling for the victims. We have to offer other solutions to the problem.

If we want to overturn Roe v Wade AND bring others to Christ, we need to stop fighting for abortion to be illegal in sexual assault cases and start setting up more Pregnancy Resource Centers to help women who find themselves victims of such heinous crimes.

If we want to show the world love instead of the things that they see (oppression, control, and hatred of women), then we need to show them that we’re logical, rational, and willing to work together.

As it stands now, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act doesn’t stand a chance. Sure, it was signed in Alabama but it will definitely be challenged and sent to the Supreme Court. It’ll be found to be unconstitutional in some way and it’ll be dead in the water. If not right away, soon. Then we, as pro-lifers have lost ground and lost respect as reasonable, logical people to work with.

Instead, it seems to be better business to accept the Democrats’ amendment to allow exceptions for rape and incest victims, which, by the way, is a very nominal percentage of abortions in any state. It would be a huge victory for pro-life conservatives and a tolerable alternative for pro-choice democrats. Rally the troops and raise the funds to provide counseling and options to those few who are victims of sexual assault and you’ve almost completely eradicated abortion in the state of Alabama without declaring war on women.

But like I said, maybe there’s just no room for logic in politics.

Posted in Reflection

God Forgive Me

When God gave me the idea for this blog, I began making a mental list of all the “rooms” in my heart and life that I might want to dig deeper into on the blog. Obviously I needed a Motherhood Room and a Wife Room, a Homeschool Room and a Health Room, a Kitchen and a Craft Room, a War Room and a Prayer Closet. But never once did I think about adding a well.

Until today.

For the past 5 or 6 years, our family has had the joy of sponsoring a child through Compassion International. We chose an older child because we know most people are drawn to the younger ones. We sponsored a girl in Mexico for a few years and when she became 18, her circumstances changed, she no longer needed sponsorship, and so we were able to sponsor a new girl who lives in Colombia.

Our family loves to read her letters and learn what life is like for her in Colombia. She shares her interests with us and sends us Bible verses. We send her pictures of our life in Florida and prayers to encourage her in her faith. Sponsoring a child is such a simple thing to do and aside from my daily prayers for her health and heart, I must ashamedly admit that I don’t think a lot about our sweet girl in Colombia and the trials of her life. God forgive me. I am changed.

You see, two weeks ago my husband flushed one of the 3 toilets in our home and an ugly brownish, rusty looking flow of water poured into the bowl. A quick flush of the other toilets and a turning of the sink handles showed that we indeed had a water issue.

I immediately picked up my phone and began texting neighbors to see if this was a big problem or if it was just in our house. I was relieved to find that the county had hit a water main and that they were working quickly to repair it because that meant that the solution wasn’t going to be paid for out of my pocket. Still, I grumbled about having dirty water and not being able to wash our dinner dishes right away. I got annoyed every time one of the kids asked me (again!) if it was ok to use the bathroom and if they should still flush the toilet. I was put out and I wasn’t happy about it.

God forgive me.

Today I rifled through the mail, looking for a check I’ve been waiting on, disappointed to see that it wasn’t there but happy enough to see another letter from our sponsored child. I smiled as she told me she bought a beautiful new purse with the birthday money we sent her. I nodded as she explained that winter was coming which meant lots of rain and that she really prefers rainy days most of the time. I like rainy days, too. But it was what she said next that lunged my heart into my throat and brought tears to my eyes.

Most of the time, I prefer rainy days. Maybe, one of the reasons is because we lack water when it’s summer, so I have to go search for it in the wells that are far from my house. How accessible is the water in your community?”

God Forgive Me

Oh Lord, forgive me. Suddenly, every thought that I should have had about her before came to the forefront of my mind. How far away does she have to go for water? Does she go alone? Is it safe? Is the water safe? Is it enough? How often does her family wash clothes or bathe? Does she have safe drinking water? How far away is “far”?

As I sit here in my comfy chair at my desk, typing away on my fancy computer, protected by a nice house with a new roof and refreshing air conditioning, I wonder how I can possibly tell this child that the water is extremely accessible in my community. How do I tell her that I have 3 bathrooms with running water in my house and that I have complained that I wish we had 4 bathrooms like we used to have in our last house? How do I tell her that I haven’t walked anywhere far from home to get anything for a very long time? How do I tell her that I sit in a hot tub of water every single night and then drain it all away when I’m done?

I can’t. And while I reach out to her local Compassion workers to find out how we can help get clean water into her community, I can also tell her about the Well that never runs dry.

Jesus was no stranger to wells of water. John 14 tells us the story of Jesus asking a Samaritan woman for a drink from Jacob’s well. In that conversation the Son of God tells the woman that whoever drinks from the water that He gives them will never thirst again. He gives eternal life that satisfies our soul and quenches our thirst.


Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

John 14:13-14

As I make note of the various rooms in my heart and life, I pray I will never neglect to pay special attention to the Well. The next time my water pipes are rusty or the county needs to repair our lines, I pray that I will remember the Fountain of Living Water that resides in my soul. And the next time I take a hot bath or grab a drink of water in my kitchen, I pray that I will remember our sweet girl in Colombia who is excited about collecting rain water so that she doesn’t have to trek far from home to draw water from a well. God forgive me. I am changed.

Posted in Reflection

To the Woman Who Has Lost So Much…

To the Woman Who Has Lost So Much…

I see you. And God sees you. Your pain does not go unnoticed. Your tears do not fall in vain. You are not alone in your sorrow.

I know that your grief is an unwanted companion, draped over you like a wet blanket, holding you entirely too tight. You want to shake it off but it’s so heavy. I understand. I know the weight of its bulk, the heaviness of its enveloping hold on you.

I know the hollow ache in your chest from crying, the throbbing pain in your head, the puffy swelling and burning of your eyes. Your grief has left tangible evidence of the havoc it has reeked. The numbness in your heart is grief’s calling card, as if you could ever forget that he was here.

And you are never going to get over it.

No, despite what well-meaning friends may say, you will not get over this. You will move on. You will move forward. But you will never forget what you have lost and you never should. The pain may decrease over time, but what you lost was precious to you, far too beloved to dismiss from your mind. Memories of feelings and faces and friendships are what keep your loss alive in your heart, so don’t push them away. Treasure them and they will never leave you.

The Lord is near the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). He is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain. (The Passion Translation). If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath (The Message).

God knows. God cares. God loves you. God grieves with you. God is near you. And only God can heal you.

Grieving

To the woman who has lost so much, there are no words to make this better. Only God can offer any kind of real comfort. Only His Word can soothe. Only His love can heal. Only His plans can give you a future and a hope.

Father God, You know the hearts of the women who are hurting today. Hold them closely. You know the cries of the women who are grieving. Love them tenderly. And in due time, replace their sorrow with joy and gladness. Help them to love again and laugh again. Help them to move forward. And help them to never forget their loss. For something so precious and so treasured is simply a gift from You that You’ve allowed them to hold for a time. May they know and love the Giver as much as they loved the gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Posted in Motherhood

What Does Your Motherhood Room Look Like?

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it seems appropriate for me to open up the Motherhood Room of my heart and home to you first. After all, when I meet someone new and they ask me who I am, I ALWAYS start my response with, “Well, I’m a mama of five and…”

It doesn’t matter what else follows because Mama is the name I answer to most and it’s who I think of myself as most of the time. But I haven’t always been someone’s mama and I know a day will come (sooner than I’d care to think about) in which nobody who calls me Mama will reside in my home. If I only know myself as Mama, I’m going to miss out on many great rooms in my heart that our Father God wants to fill.

So, Motherhood is a great room to start building in as long as we don’t try to camp out here and neglect the rest of our hearts.

Before we start to open the door, I think it’s only fair to remind you that motherhood is sticky business. It’s one of the few rooms in our hearts that comes with baggage. Whether you grow up with a healthy mom, a hurting mom, an absent mom, or a replacement mom, you come into your own motherhood with beliefs, standards, norms, and expectations.

Welcome to Motherhood

When we build our Motherhood Room on the foundation of Christ the Solid Rock, we know that we are about to build something beautiful and holy. Have you ever thought about your motherhood as being holy?

I’ll be honest, when I first became a mama I read all the books and asked all the questions and I filtered everything through my own world view and developed my own theory of motherhood. I got a few things right and a lot of things wrong. I’m raising some amazing kiddos and I’ve left some permanent scars. The amount of therapy these children will need someday will likely pay for some counselor’s summer condo on the beach. And that’s because I’ve spent the last 18 years trying to figure out how to be a Christian mama. I knew my own philosophy of motherhood and I thought I was doing a fairly good job of living out that philosophy as a Christian.

But that is NOT who God called me to be.

God called me to be His. God called me to glorify Him in everything that I do. God called me to live a life of obedience to Him while enjoying communion with Him. Being a mama was just a blessing that He gave me along the way. Over the last few years I SHOULD have been asking Him how He wants me to be a mama while I’m serving Him rather than asking Him how I can serve Him while I’m busy being their mama.

When we get this backwards, none of our building goes quite as planned. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to try to construct the walls and ceiling of a room and THEN pick it up and place it on the foundation? With a great deal of effort you might be able to get a few walls to stand and the roof might look fairly stable but nothing will be completely secure unless it’s built ON the foundation.

Remember that baggage I mentioned that shows up in our Motherhood Room the moment we start to build? If our faith comes secondary to our motherhood, that baggage gets strewn around the room and no amount of decorating can make our room look cohesive. The rare and beautiful treasures God has promised us get lost among the clutter we have yet to deal with. Even the cute bags of precious memories that we’ve toted along from childhood seem to clash with the plans God has for us unless we seek HIS blueprints first before we open the door and step inside.

When we consult with the Master Builder and Designer before we erect the walls of our motherhood, He graciously issues us priceless treasures to adorn our room. But if we start building and decorating on our own, we’ll start to notice many rags among our riches.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve had it backwards this whole time. Maybe you’ve never even thought about asking God to help you be the mama He wants you to be. Please don’t leave this page without realizing that there is precious hope for each one of us weary mamas.

Regardless of your past, regardless of your childhood, regardless of your motherhood, our Father God wants to bless you with rare and precious treasures. It is never too late to surrender your motherhood (and every area of your life) to Him. I mean it. Yes, I’m talking to you. I’m talking directly to the mama who lost her cool and screamed at her kids today. I’m talking to the mama who doesn’t even know where her teenage son is right now. I’m talking to the mama who wasn’t ready to become a mama and made the choice to end her child’s life before he or she was even born. No matter what your mistakes have been, no matter where your sins have taken you, they can end in hope today.

Our God is a good, good Father and He loves you more than you’ll ever imagine. If you don’t already know Him as your personal Lord and Savior (or if you don’t even know what all that religious stuff means), please click on that CONTACT button above and reach out to me. I want to tell you all about the Father who loves you SO MUCH that He was willing to give His Son for you.

If you already know God and you’ve walked away from Him or maybe you’re walking with Him but you realize that you’ve been looking at motherhood backwards, you can reach out to me, too. I’d love to pray for you, as well. And would you do me a favor? Would you pray for me? I don’t have this motherhood thing figured out just yet but I know the Savior who does.

Welcome to Motherhood
Happy Mother’s Day!

Father God, thank You for being a good, good Father. Thank You for loving us right where we are and for giving us hope on our darkest days. Help us to shift our priorities so that our motherhood falls perfectly in line under our desire to be the women you’ve called us to be. When we build upon You, our perfect foundation, You are so faithful to give us the wisdom and understanding we need to raise godly little people, our greatest treasures of all. Bless our babies and call them into a saving relationship with You. Amen.

Posted in Bible Study, Cooking, Crafts, Friendship, Homeschool, Illness, Marriage, Motherhood, Politics, Prayer, Reflection, Uncategorized, Writing

The Blueprints Behind the Blog

Every well-built house started in the form of a definite purpose plus a definite plan in the nature of a set of blueprints.”

Napoleon Hill

When I look back over the path of my 40 years on this earth, it is hard for me to imagine that any kind of strategic planning ever occurred before I drew my first breath and plunged head-first into my awkward existence. Like many babies, I was a surprise, and the plan and purpose of my life have remained unclear ever since I arrived.

Sure, I was taught that ultimately my greatest aspiration should be to bring glory to God in all that I do but I have wondered for years exactly what that should look like. It’s like telling someone that their assignment is to build a beautiful house without telling them what kind of design might appeal most to the future occupants of the home.

A few months ago I found myself in an overwhelming and frantic search for my dream kitchen. Water was leaking into my kitchen floor caused by a leaking pipe between my exterior wall and my kitchen sink. The initial assessment indicated that we would need to replace a wall, our cabinets, our countertop, and our flooring. In short, I needed a new kitchen.

While this sounded like an absolute dream come true at first, I quickly found myself overwhelmed and frustrated. My judgmental spirit is quick to decide if I love or hate something whether it is a piece of art, a book, or a tiled back-splash but I found that I have absolutely no earthly ability to design anything. None. I know what I like but I am not good at creating something from nothing.

This should not have surprised me because this has been an overarching theme throughout my life. I have strong opinions but I don’t know how to build anything out of them. I’ve struggled with my identity and been embarrassingly envious of women who have found their niche, their purpose, or their dream come true. I’ve prayed that God would give me something that would steer me in a clear direction. I’ve asked Him to pick a path and set me on it. Yet, for years I’ve felt stuck in the middle of the crowd, wandering aimlessly towards nothing.

Instead of meticulously sketching out my dream kitchen, I found myself pinning countless kitchen cabinets and counter tops to my Pinterest board declaring, “I like this one the best” about ten different times. Seriously. I made up my mind and changed my mind and made up my mind again over and over until I no longer believed in my own ability to make a decision. I took every “What Is Your Design Style” quiz I could find online and shook my head in dismay when the only style match that I received repetitively was “Eclectic”.

When the final inspection revealed that the massive air dryers in our kitchen had done their job and removed all the moisture from our cabinets, walls, and floor and that a kitchen re-model would no longer be necessary, I sighed with relief like a prisoner who had just been pardoned. Deciding what I wanted most was no longer my responsibility and I was relieved.

Over the past 20 years as an adult, I’ve embraced a plethora of architectural and decorative design styles for my life that have never felt complete. I’ve tried to paint myself as a military wife or a wounded warrior wife. I’ve attempted to drape my motherhood with my experience as a homeschool mama and co-op leader. I’ve wired my heart for being the mama of a child with cancer and for being a lupus warrior, myself. I’ve adorned my walls with this ministry and that ministry and many fun hobbies that I picked up along the way. I’ve furnished my life with everything from expensive investment pieces to flea market finds and nothing has ever felt cohesive.

And then I re-read this verse.

Through skillful and godly wisdom, a house, a life, a home, a family is built, and by understanding it is established on a sound and good foundation, and by knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasure.”

Proverbs 24:3-4

That’s when I realized my life wasn’t quite as disheveled and mix-matched as I thought. Yes, my interests and my choices have been quite eclectic over the years but that does not make me any less Me.

The rooms in my house match the rooms in my heart. They are varied in size and style and color but they are each uniquely and beautifully mine. I can change up the paint and the flooring and the furnishings as often as I like but that won’t change who I am because I will always have the same solid foundation.

My faith.

My faith is my foundation and it is what my entire life is built upon, no matter what it looks like today or tomorrow. Storms have come and gone, knocking down walls and breaking out windows but my foundation has never wavered because my faith is built upon the Solid Rock. Jesus Christ is a “sound and good foundation” and by my hungry quest for more knowledge of Him, the rooms of my life are being filled with “rare and beautiful treasure”.

The foundation was poured years ago and I have fabricated rough walls and doors along the way, but they never connected cohesively because I wasn’t looking at the blueprints. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tie in my faith with my role as a mom or as a writer or as a student, when all along I should have been trying to figure out how to tie in each of those roles with my faith. A builder never builds a room first and THEN sets it on the foundation. A room is always built ON the foundation.

So today, with the launching of this blog, I’m unrolling the blueprints that God has given me. I’m not focused nearly as much on the decorating right now as I am with the foundation and the structure of each room. I have been neglecting the passions that God planted in my heart years ago out of fear that I could never make them match with the rest of the life I was building. Now I know that the passions of my heart are part of the foundation of my faith. They are God-gifts and if I don’t use them, I could very well lose them.

Welcome to She Builds Rooms of Treasure. I hope you will examine the blueprints of your own life as we do life together, filling the rooms of our lives with rare and beautiful treasure, for the glory of God.

May 25th will be my 41st birthday and with that, I will be making an exciting announcement. It will be the wall-raising of a new room in my life upon the foundation of my faith and I cannot wait to share it with you.