March 29, 2013

The Cost of God's Love

We most certainly could not celebrate Resurrection Sunday if we did not remember Good Friday.  What a horrific day our Savior had to face 2,000 years ago.  I cannot completely imagine all of the physical agony he went through, but something that I have tried to make very clear to myself and my kiddos this week is that it wasn't the physical agony that killed Jesus.  It was my sin and the awful separation from His Father - a separation which he had never before experienced - that caused Jesus to take His final breath.  Jesus bore God's holy and righteous wrath against my sin for me.  It is overwhelming when I think of how difficult it must have been for Jesus to take my punishment from His Father knowing He had done nothing.  Why did He do it?  The answer is simple...He loves me.  While He was on the cross bearing my punishment for my sin, he was thinking of me and of the wonderful, eternal and abundant life that I would be able to receive because of His sacrifice!  

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:2

I don't know why Jesus loved me, but I am so glad He did!  Today, I will remember all that my sin cost Him.  Thank You, Jesus for enduring this day for me!
Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Below are a few things that I have listened to or watched that have helped me focus on the awful cost of God's love.

It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming - S.M. Lockridge's sermon combines with footage from The Passion Of The Christ for this powerful video.

The Father's Cup: A Crucifixion Narrative - a powerful 23 minute description of Jesus' death

Via Dolorosa with clips from The Passion of The Christ

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted - beautiful song with amazing words to meditate on.

March 28, 2013

God in Heaven

I have mentioned the book Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing several times this last week because I have completely fallen in love with it.  It also goes right along with the book our M&M's group is studying - Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.  You need to read both of these books - even if you have no children.  They are both excellent books for growing in your faith in God's grace.  Since today is my sweet Mr.'s birthday, and we are kind of a little extra busy preparing for his special night, I thought I would share with you one of the readings from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.  

God In Heaven
It was never meant to be this way.
When the first human beings, Adam and Eve
ran from God, they broke his heart
and his world-and tears and sickness and 
pain and death came in.

God made his world to be our perfect home.
But sin has spoiled everything.
We have made a terrible mess of God's world.
We lost it all!

Did God abandon us?  Did he just look
down from heaven at the mess we made?

No.  He didn't just look down. 
He came down.  God himself came down.

Not as a judge to punish us,
but as a Rescuer to save us.

Aren't those beautiful thoughts to meditate on all day long?  This book should definitely be enjoyed by children and adults alike!  I am so thankful that God came to rescue me - even though I only deserved His punishment. 
Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Counting God's Little Blessings - 3 Every Day:
49.  The quietness of quiet time!
50.  My sweet Mr. - I don't know how I would live without him!
51.  God is my Rescuer!

March 26, 2013

The Depth of God's Love

The more I think on God's love and how deep and vast it is, the more I realize how incomprehensible and immeasurable it truly is!  In preparation for Resurrection Sunday,  I have been reading John Piper's free e-book devotional Love to the Uttermost.  I would encourage you to download and read it yourself.  It has been wonderful to dwell on the magnitude of God's love...for me.  

I thought I would share a few verses that I have been meditating on this week.  

Romans 5:6-8
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  BUT GOD commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Even knowing the depths of my sinful heart, God gave.  What love!

John 13:1
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

A beautiful description of Jesus' love for his disciples, and it gives me a wonderful look into His heart of love for me!

Luke 12:32
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

This plan of saving my sinful soul - of punishing His righteous Son in my place - pleased God!  

As I have meditated on the love of God this week, I can only say over and over, "Thank You, God, for loving me in a way that I can never understand or even return. Thank You for loving me in spite of me."

Isn't our God abundantly and overwhelmingly good?   I praise Him today for His unconditional love for me!
Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Counting God's Little Blessings - 3 Every Day: (a few extra today because I keep forgetting to add them to my post!)
43.   God's love to the uttermost
44.   That God is my hope in spite of all my sin
45.   The pleasure God has finds in giving to me
46.   Jesus' willingness to die even though He knew I would reject Him over and over.
47.   My little Gavin's jabber - he had a long tale to tell this morning when it was just him and I awake.
48.   My Mr.'s willingness to help out - my neck has decided to not stay in its proper alignment these last 
        two days!

March 25, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Read To Your Kids

Counting God's Little Blessings
Happy Monday to all of you!  Today is our Joyful Mom Monday post!  One thing that my kids and I love to do together is READ!!!  It gives us topics to discuss, endings to imagine, words to discover the meaning of, characters to relate to, situations to work through, and so much more!  Our family reads so much together that I do believe we measure our time more by our reading schedule than by the clock!  I hope that you take the time to read with your kiddos!  As a mom, it is a wonderful opportunity to build dreams, imagination, ideals and character into your children, and there really is nothing I look forward to more in my day than sitting in my chair with a kiddo on each arm of the chair, one in my lap, and two left (pouting) in the floor at my feet while I read to them about all kinds of daring adventures.  Here are a few ways we incorporate reading throughout our day.  You may or may not be able to read this way with your kiddos because every family is different, but I would love to hear your ideas on this well as some of your favorite books!

BIBLE - We almost always begin every day with reading from the Bible.  I always read a few verses straight from the Bible because I want my children to love the Bible itself, and I want it to be their favorite book.  However, they are young still, and so I also read Bible stories from various children's Bible story books. Some of our favorites have been The Child's Story Bible, 100 Ways to Know God Loves Me. The Big Picture Bible and Egermeier's Bible Story Book.  Right now, we are using Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones.  This is an excellent book to have as an adult and gives many wonderful reminders of the beautiful truths of what we have in Christ.

POETRY - Most every day during our morning snack, I read the kids some poetry.  We began with Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.  Now, we read from many different sources and authors and even enjoy memorizing some of our favorites.

FICTION - Each day before quiet time, we read a chapter...or two (I'm a big sucker for "let's read one more chapter...please?") of a fiction book.  We have read many, many books because of this lovely time set aside each day.  Little House on the Prairie, Old Yeller, The Wizard of Oz, Anne of Green Gables and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are just a few!  We are about to conclude the first book in a series called The Peleg Chronicles.  The kiddos are extremely disappointed that I forgot to order book 2 last week. 

TALES - Each afternoon, during our afternoon snack, we read historical tales that inspire character that is noble, true, honest, courageous, and pure.  We are reading Pilgrim's Progress, Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales as well as The Children's Book of Heroes.  These have provided many lively discussions for what could and should be done when characters are placed in different situations.

 FAMILY CHOICE AND MISSIONARY BIOGRAPHY - We read as a family each night before we go to bed.  We always read one chapter of a missionary's biography from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now Series.  We also take a poll between several different books and together choose another book to read in the evening.  Right now, we are reading Swiss Family Robinson and the biography of Jim Elliot.

We also enjoy checking out smaller "just for fun" books from the library such as Amelia Bedelia, What Do You Do with a Kangaroo?, Roxaboxen, The Little Match Girl, and many, many others.  I will read these to the younger ones during the afternoon free time or while the big ones are taking baths in the evening.  Evvie also reads to the younger ones 10 minutes every day while I work with Andrew in math.  The little ones enjoy listening to the chapter books although I do let them color or play quietly with legos or blocks as I read.  

Our family has found that since we have begun reading more intensely, our children do not ask to watch TV nearly as much as they used to.  They are not interested in computer games but instead enjoy using their own imaginations as they reenact the stories during their play time.  It has brought joy to me as a mom to watch my children letting go of the distractions and time-wasters of the world and engaging their minds and imaginations.  We also have happier play times and bed times.  Reading as a family has brought much joy to our home.  Again, this may not be how your family implements reading in your home, but I do hope you take time to read as a family so that you can reap the joyful moments and memories as well.  We are off to finish the tale of The Minotaur during afternoon snack now.  (By the way, another bonus is that I am always reading while everyone else is eating!  You would think I could lose a few pounds that way!) :)  Happy Reading!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

March 23, 2013

Homeschooling Journal - 3/22

In my life this week...
I have been diligently working on sticking to our routine, and it was worth the effort!  I have also been trying to finish up a few more big jobs on the spring cleaning list.  The warmer weather has been a nice change, and the kiddos are more than happy to be able to finally enjoy more time outside.
In our homeschool this week...
There is not much new happening in school right now.  We are continuing through our read alouds.  We have almost completed Swiss Family Robinson, and we just began a new missionary biography about Jim Elliot. We have also enjoyed reading Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones during our morning Bible time.   Evvie and Andrew have been making mini books of each planet we have studied.  They have had fun doing this and have surprised me with how much they remember.  We have almost concluded our study of Mozart and will be moving on to Bach.  Andrew is beginning multiplication, and Evvie has been breezing through fractions.  I am hoping this is a sign that she got her Daddy's math mind...not her Momma's! :)

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice...
I always remind myself that I cannot teach my children everything.  It is my responsibility to give them such a love for learning that they will always have a hunger to learn as much as they can for themselves.  If I will do this, they will continue to learn long after they have left our home.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
All the kiddos had a dentist appointment this week, and we left with no cavities!!!  YAY!!! Apparently, I can brush my children's teeth better than my own because I went to the dentist two weeks ago and had FIVE cavities!!!  We also went shoe shopping because everyone desperately needed play shoes and dress shoesThat was a long evening, but we accomplished the goal!

My favorite thing this week was...
Hearing Garrett and Madelyn read words!  Also, Andrew, out of the blue, told me that it would be really neat if I had twins but asked if it would take longer for them to get here since there would be two in my belly.  I don't know where that came from because, as far as I know, we aren't expecting a baby - much less two! :)

My kiddos favorite thing this week was...
Reading the quiet time book I mentioned above for our Bible time.  We had much discussion, and they couldn't wait to read the next day.  They have also enjoyed reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales this week.  We are reading The Minotaur, and they can hardly stand the suspense while waiting for the next story time.

Things I'm working on...
I am trying to find a way to motivate my 9 year old Evvie to read more on her own.  She reads well, and she loves to be read to, but she does not pick up a book and read for pleasure.  She will read assigned books on her school check list but she procrastinates with that as well. I'd love to hear some of your ideas!

I'm grateful for...
The opportunity to teach my kids at home, and the way God has led me through this process of homeschooling.  It is always stretching me to what seems to be my limits, but as I look back, I see how I have learned and grown more than my kiddos have!

That has been our week!  We are enjoying a lazy Saturday morning but are about to begin the Saturday cleaning!  Hope you all enjoy a beautiful weekend and a wonderful day of worship tomorrow!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

March 18, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Being Consistent!

Counting God's Little Blessings
Well, if you read the title to this and went UGH, I am right there with you!  My most popular prayer seems to be, "God, please help me be more week!" :)  As my children are getting a little older, though, I am able to see where consistency in certain areas has paid off and, much to my dismay, where inconsistency in others is KILLING me now! ;)  The previous month in our home has just been off, and I do believe, I finally pinpointed the problem - INCONSISTENCY!  My goal for this week is STICK TO THE SCHEDULE; BE CONSISTENT!  

When I think of consistency in parenting, I think of two areas in particular - routine and discipline.  I have learned that having a routine, especially with smaller children, helps tremendously.  Because they know what to expect, there are not as many temper tantrums or whiny "why can't I's."  We just do what we do because that is what we have always done.  If you are experiencing more contrariness than usual, you may need to think through your routine and work out the rough places that could be causing problems, or you may need to make a new routine altogether.  

Once you have a routine established and are sticking to it, then you can begin addressing those disciplinary "issues."  I have found that the closer our family stays to our normal routine, the fewer issues we have.  Everyone knows what to expect.  All are fed and well-rested.  There is a happy balance of work and play.  However, despite the lovely routine, there can be "issues," and when these "issues" arise, I find I can discipline more consistently and with a clear conscience because I know I have done my best to make the home environment appealing.  In other words, when I prepare supper two hours later than usual, I cannot, with a clear conscience, discipline my 4 year old for throwing a fit during supper.  If I prepare supper on time, I probably will not have a fit...well, it's a good theory on paper anyway! :)  If I do have a fit, I feel as though I can go to the heart issue without having to deal with the surface problems as well!

I have also found that consistency in discipline is more easily achieved when you only try to conquer one problem at a time.  Last month, I truly wondered (and you would have to) if my children had ever seen the inside of a church!  I finally took the time one morning to write down each child's name and one problem that I wanted to work with them on for that day.  I focused on only that one thing for each child all day.  Unless there was an issue of direct obedience or defiance, I ignored all the other problems.  I am finding my home much more pleasant after just a couple of weeks of this kind of consistent focus.

We have very rigidly kept to our schedule today, and I am finding that I and my children are much more joyful!  Yes, there are times/days when the schedule needs to be thrown out the window, but our children will not be self-disciplined if we are not.  How are you being consistent in your home?  Do you have areas you would like to be more consistent in?  What motivates you to stick to your schedule/routine?   Well, I am 10 minutes off schedule and am supposed to be preparing supper right now.  I better go before the 9 year old catches me and reminds me of "the schedule." :)

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Counting God's Little Blessings - 3 Every Day:
40.  The laughter of my kiddos
41.  The wink of my Mr.
42.  The wisdom God gives each day when I take the time to ask for it!