Thursday, December 29, 2011

My favorites of 2011

These are a few of my favorite things of 2011...

Blog Entry
"I am a works-based assassin trying to kill the me I don’t want to be in the city of my life."
I've been on a journey of grace this year as I re-learned what it means to be covered completely and only in the righteousness of Christ. That is why my favorite quote of the year is...

In Christ, “We have no penalty to pay for sin, including past, present, and future sins... we are not subject to any charge of guilt or condemnation.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 724-725)

I blogged about it here:  Looking for Joy 

And that's why one of my favorite sermons of the year was "The Grace Greater Than Your Past" by Pastor Mark Vroegop, November 13th.

"Run, John, run, the law commands,
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far greater news the gospel brings,
It bids us fly and gives us wings."

I have loved 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
Honestly, I haven't finished it yet, but I'm nearing the end. It's a great reminder to live our lives full of thankfulness to God. I love the fresh and unique writing style.

Blessings by Laura Story

Aldi! Really, I don't know how we'd feed our family with out this amazing store. Thank you, Aldi!

Online Store
Shutterfly. Just when I thought they couldn't get any better, they made their photo books even more customizable so that I no longer design my pages in Photoshop! Also this year, I took 6 of my 3" old fashioned photo books and converted them into 2 slim 12x12 albums that fit nicely on the shelf. I love Shutterfly! :)

This is a tie between two things: Lightroom, which is a software that has cut my photo editing time down considerably. Google Calendar, so that Lee & I are always synced.

Easter Sunday. It was my last day with my grandma. It was a rainy day, so we had the egg hunt inside at my parents' house. She sat on a chair and watched, and so we covered her with eggs and hid them all around her. She thought it was a riot! I have a video of me asking her what her favorite thing is, and she said, "All my family, and all the craziness." She was one special lady.

That is why my favorite person of the year goes to Doris Stelzer, GG, my grandma. Jesus brought her home this year, and it is still hard to believe she's not here. Man, I miss her.

Home School Resource
Teaching Textbooks for Math. Abby just wasn't catching on with workbooks and Shiller, so I took a step back and ordered these. So far, so good!

I finished my essays for becoming NANC certified, and now I'm on to the supervised counseling phase. They were a blast to write! If you're interested, I can send you a copy.

TV Show
Once Upon a Time looks promising. I like it so far.

I'll do another post about my favorite verses of the year. So for now, goodnight! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What's Noel?

Sitting in church last week, my niece turned to me and asked, "What's Noel?" We'd just sung it about fifty times in the recent song, and yet I couldn't tell her. I immediately thought of this Animaniac song, though. (Here it is... my Christmas present to you!)

So, back to the church service, I typed it into my phone before the refrain was over and discovered that it means, "Christmas." Oh yeah, I think I learned that sometime, somewhere. She was satisfied with the answer.

It seemed a little funny then to think of singing the word Christmas over and over. "Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, born is the King of Israel." It doesn't sound pretty and it doesn't rhyme either.

What's Noel?

That's a good question for everyone to be asking right now. Just about every parent I talk to is looking forward to January, when the business of the season is over. If we are truly celebrating the event that means, "born is the King of Israel," are we supposed to be doing it this way?

What are we reading that inspires us to love Jesus?
What music are we listening to that makes our hearts well up with praise?
What are we buying that shows we want to give our all to him?
How are we praying for others that shows that His love is in us?
What are we watching that motivates us to share His truth with the world?

It's Christmas Eve. Mary is full of the life of God, and yet experiencing all the discomforts that pregnancy brings. Joseph is in a protective mode, looking for how to care for this child and where they should stay. The shepherds are going about their daily jobs, taking the sheep out to pasture for the evening. The angels are staged and ready to burst forth with a loud cry. The wise men are on their way to Herod in Jerusalem, the city of David, to inquire about a star and a king who was born. And Jesus is about to bring His light into the world for all to see.

Let's pause tonight to the wonder of the birth of Christ. God became a man FOR us. As my pastor, Mark Vroegop, said last week:

"Jesus became a man in order to purchase our redemption. Who? Jesus. What? Redeems people. How? Through the humiliation of becoming human. Therefore, the call from this text today is behold the beauty of the incarnation and to celebrate this season not only on the basis of what he did – but to marvel and meditate on how he did it. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!"  (Sermon Here)


Merry Christmas! And my the light of Christ shine in you this weekend and for eternity.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 
John 8:12


Friday, December 16, 2011

Unpacked Boxes

Well, we've officially moved to our sweet little home on a sliver of country. Moving was as big of a chore as I expected it to be, having moved our stuff around seven times in our 13 years of marriage, (as my brother pointed out while carrying a large piece of furniture out our front door), but it's finally over. Or mostly over, as those of you who've moved can understand. There are always the nagging few boxes of stuff you didn't want to deal with at your old house, that you still don't want to deal with at your new house!

We made it with surprisingly few casualties. There are a couple of missing toys and a hard drive cable that hasn't appeared, but having things drop out of  sight along the way or break into bits is par for the course.

This all started happening at the end of October, and since then, my life has been consumed with activity.

Planning, sorting, purging, purging some more, selling, making lists, donating, freecycling, planning some more, waiting...

And now~


Ahh, a nice word. Rest.

I don't want to do this again for a long time! Whew! Time to make a cup of tea and sit back and enjoy the Christmas Season.

You wouldn't know it were Christmas around here. No lights. No tree. Occasionally I play some Christmas music on Pandora when I'm feeling festive. But the simplicity of the time is actually quite refreshing.

It's 8 AM. The house is quiet. Except for my my oldest who doesn't sleep in - ever - all is still.

I sit back and smile, knowing that one day we'll have eternity to rest. To rest from striving. The battle. The fight against sin. Sickness. They'll all be gone.

I sip my tea.


Resting on His promises.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And as I wait, help me to rest in You.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is modesty?

(Note: This is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation I hope to have as I wade through what the Bible says about modesty.)


The word "modest" is only found in the Bible once. Are you surprised? People make such a big deal about it, it's as though it's the number one sin. Maybe even the 11th commandment.

Here is the one occurrence:

"Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works." (I Timothy 5:9-10)

The word for modesty there is kosmios: well arranged, seemly, modest.

That Greek word is only found one other time in the New Testament, and in that instance, it is talking about men, and it's translated instead "above reproach."

"Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach." (I timothy 3:2)

A simple word study, then, does not shed any light, really, on this touchy topic.

So what is modesty?

I do believe that the Bible contains everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), but it's going to take a little more digging for me to see for myself God's plan for our wardrobes. I'm up for the challenge. Want to join me?


How do you feel about sheep?

On the way to church, my 8 YO daughter was studying her memory verse.

Isaiah 53:6
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, 
each of us has turned to his own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

After a few moments, she said, "I think this is a really funny verse."

Of course I asked her why. I didn't see the humor in it. In fact, it's pretty serious.

"Because," she explained, "it says that everyone likes sheep, but I don't think I like sheep."

You can imagine the laughter from my husband and I as we explained the importance of the commas in that verse!

Have you ever read a Bible passage and done a double-take? This morning I read:

"Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night." 
I Chronicles 9:32

It brought back memories of my grandpa at our family reunions. He and the other older men would always be crooning out the lovely parts on an old song. My favorite story is when we found them in the bathroom -- because the acoustics were better! I wish people sang all the time like that now.

The Matthew Henry Commentary says that the older men sang all the time, symbolizing the praise that goes on at the throne of God day and night, always singing, "Holy, holy, holy!"

So maybe in eternity singing will be back in style. In fact, I can picture my grandpa now, standing before the throne, singing the harmony to Amazing Grace. It will be fun when we join him, praising the true lamb of God who took the iniquity of us all.

So if Jesus is the lamb of God, and knowing that one day we all will bow, I suppose it is true that we all do indeed like sheep.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Because you prayed

My heart is full. I read II Kings 18-20 this morning, the life of Hezekiah, a man who was praised above all others. "There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him." Before or after? Really? Even David?

Read what it says about him:

 5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. 
There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.  
6 He held fast to the LORD and did not stop following him; 
he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.  
7 And the LORD was with him; 
he was successful in whatever he undertook. (Chapter 18)

I looked up the word "held fast." The NASB uses the word "clung." It also means "abide." It reminded me of what Jesus said in John 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."

Hezekiah's life was marked by prayer and trust in God. When he received word that an army was about to attack, he prayed. When he was told he was about to die, he prayed, and God gave him fifteen more years of life.

Oh, to have that be my first response!

The phrase that made me look twice was God's response to his prayer.

"Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you."

Because you have prayed.

I was recently challenged, "What if God only gave you today what you prayed for?"

Because you have prayed.

That's enough to chew on for the day, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wow, God!

Three stooges. Three muskateers. Three amigos. Three Blind Mice. Many things come in groups of three.

It's true for my life as well, as three separate areas are currently pointing in the same direction, leading me to declare, "Wow, God!"

1.) I & II Kings

In reading through I & II Kings, I see that over and over, God promises to do something great, people doubt, and He does it above and beyond all they'd asked or thought was even possible. (And an important note: Those who doubted usually met with a hard end! Just read II Kings 6 and 7.)

In these books, laws of physics are defied, nations are rerouted, and even bears are sent to do His will! It leads me to ask, "Is anything impossible with God?" And of course the resounding answer that shouts loudly from these pages is, "No!"  I am consistently inspired to say, "Wow, God! You are amazing!"

2.) True Woman

I attended the True Woman conference this weekend here in Indianapolis. I came away with pages of notes, but there was one single lesson that settled on my heart for me to grasp and take a hold of:

I need to pray.

Oh, I pray. I pray for my kids. I pray for my day. I pray through my quiet time and for my own issues of sanctification. I pray before meals and I pray here and there. All of this is good!

But it was more: my prayers need to be less self-focused, and I was inspired to be an intercessor for others and God's work here and around the world.

I was also encouraged to not rely on my natural giftedness but on the super natural power of God. I should be praying that God would never let me get to the place where I can do it without Him. I should be asking for a ministry that can only be explained by God, rather than relying on tools, resources, and programs. Then I can step back, look at the work He's accomplished, and say, "Wow, God!"

3.) One Cry.

Have you heard about One Cry? I was exposed to it at the conference this weekend. The message: A call for Spiritual Revival through prayer. 

The aim? To gather 50,000 prayer warriors to band together, seeking the face of God for revival.

Their goals?
  • to engage in earnest, intercessory prayer for revival
  • to walk in brokenness, humbly repenting of every sin God reveals to us
  • to seek the manifest presence of God, believing that a revived church will advance the gospel of Christ throughout the world
  • to unite with others who share this revival vision 
"If my people, who are called by my name, 
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face 
and turn from their wicked ways, 
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin 
and will heal their land." II Chronicles 7:14

I asked myself: Why wouldn't I get involved in something like this? Why wouldn't I sign up and tell my friends? What do I make more important in my life than seeking God's face on behalf of others?

OneCry from Life Action Ministries on Vimeo.


Combine these three elements and you have a recipe for praying in faith! What is this going to look like? My brain wants to immediately go to the details: When I should pray. How I should organize my prayer journal. What tools I need. But I'm trying to avoid letting all of that delay my obedience. I'm just going to pray. Do you want to join me?

We'll then be able to stand back together and say, "Wow, God!"


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Organized Simplicity

On my path to simplification, I just read a great book: Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider.

Can I just say that this is a must-have on every book shelf? Not only is it very readable, it's practical and inspiring, without being over the top. She has a chapter about finding your family's purpose and then arranging your life around that. At the end of the book, she has simple, natural cleaning recipes.

It reads very quickly. If you have a heart to simplify, this is a guilt-free read that could set you on the right track.

Here's what Tsh says about her book: "Organized Simplicity‘s the name, and yes, it’s about getting organized and simplifying things. But really, it’s about being intentional. Intentional living — making your life on purpose – is what revs my juices, what gets me up in the morning."

What does that look like for our family? It means making space for art supplies and drawing paper, since that is something the kids and I all love to do. It means having a few more board games than the average family. It also means not feeling like we have to fill our lives around sporting events and extra curricular activities out of social pressure. It means saying no to evening activities so we can have dinner as a family or impulsively invite friends over.

Simple means something different for everyone. What does it look like for your family?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Simplify: That word sounds like a perfect pair of jeans with my favorite soft t-shirt. It's a cup of tea with milk and sugar and a black and white movie. My heart's desire to simplify is so that I will be freed up from the clutter of things and activities in order to make room for what matters most.

We're in the process of simplifying right now in a big way with a move. (Not far, just a local jaunt back into a little piece of country.) I'm selling furniture, digging through files, sorting through kitchen gadgets, and pairing down our toys. My mantra:

"Only keep my favorite things! Donate or sell the rest." 

I want the new place to be like a vacation condo, where you have everything you need, but that's about it, and you can relax easily without all the stuff.

It's hard to do, though, and I don't know if I'll succeed. Clothes are a big problem, as well as my stock-piles of things I've acquired through sales and deals, like an entire shelf of first aid supplies that will last us quite a few years. That stuff is expensive, so I don't want to just donate with it.

And, I'm a home schooling mom, so don't even get me started about books!

As I painstakingly pick through boxes and totes and tubs and junk drawers that have hidden the items I don't usually want to deal with, I'm trying to optimistically look ahead to a simpler life.

Now switch gears...

I left my moving boxes and piles to have dinner tonight with missionary friends from Asia. They showed us pictures of how they and others lived. They talked about their daily lives and the work they are doing. And when I got into bed tonight, it hit me: I have not even begun to simplify my life!

Reducing my skirts from 21 to 12 seems insignificant when I hear that once, when she was at the hospital having a baby, she came home to find ALL of her clothing stolen from her closet. Narrowing down my beloved kitchen gadgets to just my "needs," debating about keeping one crock pot or two, is nothing compared to the single spoon many families share while sitting on the ground around a fire.

I felt so proud of my friend, but honestly, I left very unsettled inside.  At 3 AM I woke up with this thought:

You have not yet resisted in sin to the point of death.

You know that passage in Hebrews 12?

I'm on the grace-filled road of sanctification, but that verse is right--I have not yet resisted sin to the point of death! The striking contrast between my life and my friend's is immense, but it is nothing in comparison to the contrast between my puny struggle against sin and the perfect example Jesus set!

What does that look like? 

It's dying to myself on a minute by minute basis so I can live as God wants me to live. Throwing off every sin that hinders and entangles me. Allowing myself to be trained by God's discipline instead of rationalizing. Making every effort to live in peace. Not allowing bitterness to grow. Not craving the "one thing" I am not to have, while forsaking the entire garden of life God has planned for me.

God woke me up tonight to tap me on the shoulder. He pulled me aside and said, "Becky, I have something I really want you to learn." It's a lesson not only about simplifying but about complete, unwavering, unquestioning, sold-out obedience.

Sins were confessed. Changes must be made, and by God's grace, I want to be different. I have a long way to go.

I'm so thankful that He loves me enough to correct me, for His patience as I deal with things He's been trying to teach me for years, and that He enables me by His Spirit to even have a heart that wants to change. I'm so thankful that He's already forgiven all my sins--past, present, and future--and that He cares enough to instruct me in the way I should go.

What a loving God we serve! Let's simplify our lives, by reducing the "stuff," but also the sins as well. Throwing off everything that so easily entangles.

What are you going to throw off?


"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:10-11

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Bravely Saw Courageous, the Movie

I walked hesitantly into the movie theater last night. I skipped the popcorn, being way too stuffed from our dinner at Texas Road House to enjoy the buttery goodness. I think I had one too many roles with cinnamon butter, but they were so worth it!

We took our seats and the previews began. Still, I wasn't as excited as I had been when I went with friends to watch Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 (I was a HUGE Alias fan) or the new Star Trek Movie. I might even have been more excited to see Cars 2. But I wanted to support the film, so there I was, a little disappointed that the movie was $7.50 instead of $5 because I had gotten the details wrong.

The previews were nothing to speak of. (We think they usually say a lot for a movie.) My friend took out her kleenex packets, having been warned by her mom, and I just laughed. I was not in an emotional mood, and I was not planning on crying. It takes too much energy.

Then the film began. I was prepared for mediocre acting, but I knew I'd be proud of them for trying really hard. I was prepared for awkward pauses in the cinemetography that leave conversations dangling in a strange silence. I was prepared for a cliche storyline that tells men to be good fathers. I was prepared to hear the song, "Courageous," that's been playing constantly on K-Love.

I thought I was prepared. But I wasn't prepared at all.

The actors did a believable job, and within the first moments, I forgot that they weren't straight from the red carpet. The cinemetography was so excellent, I completely forgot to notice it. Now that says something huge!

And the story line... I couldn't wait to see who the writer was during the end credits. He wove a tale so perfectly that included realistic characters you grow to love, scenarios that worked, drama that was relatable, humor that had the whole room laughing multiple times, and he included a message that came across clearly without being over the top.

This was a movie with top-notch acting, fimmaking, story-line, AND message, all in one! I have never been more proud!

We walked out the theater hand in hand, and my husband's first words were, "Wow, convicting." He's only cried two times in his adult life, so there were no tears from him, but he did get emotional, and when speaking about one particular scene, he said, "Yeah, now, that just wasn't fair!" Meaning, it almost drew a tear!

So yes, bring your kleenex. I had to borrow a few from my friend. And it's ok to keep your expectations low, but prepare to be challenged. As they said, we all might be good enough parents. But that's not good enough.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who Was Hitler?

A president? A rockstar? When asked "Who was Hitler?" many people stuttered and stumbled through their answers. As my 9th grade history teacher Mr. McIntosh said, if we don't know history, we are destined to repeat it.

Please take 33 minutes of your day to watch this eye-opening documentary. Thanks!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Free Bible Memory Tools

I'm a big fan of learning Bible verses with songs. Seeds Family Worship has a series of CDs that only use the words of Scriptures. The best part: The songs are well-done and pleasing to a parent's ears! A few of them I wish we'd sing in church as a congregation. They're catchy and enjoyable to listen to.

And now, I just learned that they have a memorization check-list and Bible Memory Cards on their website! I just printed out the cards for the first CD we're going to memorize, Seeds of Courage. We already have most of the songs memorized from listening to in the car, so this will just be added reinforcement.

What a great resource! If I focus on these songs alone this school year, my kids will have learned about 60 key memory verses, and we will have had fun doing it!

Here's a link to the memory cards.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just a little sentimental moment...

I was born a sentimental person. When my parents sold our old piano to get a new one, I asked if I could keep a key. Of course I couldn't keep a key -- the new owners needed it. But my six-year-old mind didn't understand that.

Life has made me much less sentimental. It could be that I'm married to a visionary who is, well, he isn't sentimental. It could be that I've learned to value people more than things. It could be that age has given me perspective. But still, occasionally, I think it's good to be a little sentimental.

Tomorrow is a big day in the life of our church. We are having our last service in our current sanctuary before moving into our new one. The current auditorium will be converted into a two-story educational space. That was always in the plan, and I'm thrilled with thoughts of the future!

But as I think about the current space, I can't help but spend a little bit of time reminiscing about memories I've had there, of how God met me time and time again. And maybe -- just maybe -- if I blog about it tonight, I will be able to hold back the tears tomorrow.

I've been at this church for over twenty years. We started in a warehouse, and I remember the night we moved into this space. We each grabbed our chairs during an evening service and walked them into the new sanctuary. How fun was that? Then we circled around and sang praise songs, giving God the glory.

Major life events have happened there. We were married there, Lee and Abby were baptized, we had a parent dedication, and we had my grandma's funeral service, among other funerals and weddings we attended.

God moved in my heart Sunday after Sunday.. I've cried so hard that I couldn't sing a word. I remember one song in particular was "Blessed Be Your Name." I stood in the front row weeping. There have been other times that we've sung that particular song and my hands were raised and I was full of joy. God has been in all of it - the ups and downs!

I've been so filled with praise I felt my heart would explode. At the end of one musical, the "airport one," I was onstage but in the dark. The choir was singing the finale and the dancers were praising. The lights went up brighter and I wanted to fly away. Praise God!

Conviction has struck like a knife. I've knelt at my chair and asked forgiveness many times. The Word has certainly been powerful and effective.

And other times, His healing has poured down on my soul and given me peace beyond understanding.

Some of my favorite sermons series's were when we went through Hebrews as a church. Trusting God in the wilderness. Pastor Nate's Stubby stories. Doug Paybody and his gentle way of saying, "Beloved." Joe Bartemus encouraging us with "But God" and "Lettuce Eat Meat." Jim Nossett's contagious enthusiasm. Then when Pastor Mark taught us about the Supremacy of Christ in Colossians. "Jesus Can!"

I have memories, of course, from moments not on Sundays too. Like when I first joined the worship planning team, we'd meet in the auditorium. I brought Abby, then a baby, with me. For almost two years she came with, playing in the midst of us as we planned the services. My, were the others patient with me! :)

Rehearsals for dramas, choir practice, late nights sitting and talking with friends, ladies teas, Couple's Banquets, children's productions, NANC meetings, VBS and Fine Arts Camp, youth group events... if those walls could speak.

They are just walls. I know that. And the church is not made of bricks and stones but of the people of God. And yet, I don't want to forget how good God has been to me over the years in that place. I don't want to forget His love, His lessons, and the life I experienced with Him there. He has been good, and I'm so very thankful for every moment of it.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home School Resources and Plans

I've updated the Home School section of my website,

Now, you'll have access to free resources such as copy work documents and journaling prompts. You can also check out what our school year looks like and see our family's favorite books.

Have fun browsing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Free Family Devotional

Gossip. Slander. Exaggeration. Lying. Boasting. Encouraging. Building-Up. Edifying.

Great topics, huh? Who doesn't struggle in his words? The Bible says that if we can control our tongues, we are a perfect man!

Our church recently went through a series on the tongue called, "Oh Be Careful Little Mouth." You can listen to or read all the sermons here.

To go along with the topics, I was asked to write a family devotional for our congregation. It's available as a free download here.

There are three lessons during each of the five weeks, exploring the different elements of how we use our words. My family has been greatly helped during our time studying this important topic. I hope it blesses you and your family as well!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Free Literature

A chill was in the air, and after a few morning chores on Labor day, I snuggled into a comfortable chair outside, wrapped in a blanket with a book in one hand and a cup of pumpkin coffee in the other. Ahhh, fall.

I didn't get very far in the daunting 700 page novel Les Miserables that I'm attempting to read. My sons wanted to snuggle next to me, and they brought with them their own books they wanted to hear. So I set aside a classic for silly stories about pigs in the mud and a whale who wants to be a tugboat.

I was thinking, "Why can't I find time to read?"

But the next day of school, I realized that I read all the time. Right now, to my children, I'm reading Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, Archimedes and the Door to Science, and Paddle to the Sea. We just finished The Trumpet of the Swan and will begin the first Little House on the Prairie book series tomorrow. I love learning through literature! For my NANC certification, I'm reading through two Jay Adams books, and I read magazines when I sneak away to the bathroom. So I suppose I should clarify: I'm not reading any exciting fiction of my own choosing. Therefore, attempting to read Les Mis might not have been a good choice in this season of my life.

But if you have some time, I've stumbled across a website that has a treasury of free literature resources online!

Classics are my favorite, and that is what you will find when you browse the author list. So slip on a sweatshirt, pull up Little Women, and pour yourself a glass of tea. That's just what I plan to do... eventually. :)


Monday, August 29, 2011

E-books for my PC? No way! So excited!

I am so excited!!! It's like Christmas day over here at the Emerick house. My kids think I'm crazy.

I just learned that for free, I can download a Kindle-for-PC on my netbook! So instead of buying Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott to read to my daughters, or borrowing it from the library which is expensive, (yes, it's free, but not when you lose it or turn it in late, but that's another blog), not to mention the time of waiting for the books to arrive... I have it instantly!

After downloading the ap, I downloaded a collection of Louisa May Alott books - eight of them - for just 99 cents, and they're here, portable, on my netbook.

I know this is probably not new to most of you, but it is to me. I've never wanted to spend money on a Kindle or Nook or Reader, and now I don't have to!


Here's the link. It's been available for a long time, I'm just now stepping out of my cave to discover it.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing Contest with American Girl

I wanted to let you know about a writing contest American Girl is having. My girls are both working feverishly on their stories, hoping to win the two new dolls.

Here's a link:

Good luck! And happy writing. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Give-away Winner!

Congratulations to Judi Chesshir, the winner of the give-away contest we had last week. I was Kelly Hagen's guest author, and we ran a contest for a free copy of Duncan's Journey: A Little Lamb's Adventure through the 23rd Psalm.

You can read my interview here!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let the School Year Begin!

It's been a little quieter here on my blog. Probably because we started school the first of August! I like to begin in the heat of August so that when the beautiful spring days roll around in April, we can be done.

I'm in the middle of updating my website with home school resources, tools, plans, etc. As soon as it's finished, I'll let you know!

School's done for the day. Time to hit the pool!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Author Interview & Free Book!

If you haven't checked it out yet, I was interviewed this week on Kelly Hagen's site:

Author Interview

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free signed book! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

When No One Understands

Have you ever done anything with good intentions, but it was misunderstood? Or you really tried to do something well, and it either wasn't appreciated or it was taken the wrong way? Has anyone ever second guessed your goodwill or judged you for your actions?

Yes, there are many times when we sin and our accusers are correct, but there are also many times when other people don't understand. People like to judge motives. Sometimes there is an element of truth in what they say, but sometimes they are just plain wrong.

The only way to truly see who we are is to bring our lives before Jesus.At the end of the day, we take our moments into our hands and raise them up to Heaven. We say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." (Ps 139:23-24).

And you know what? He understands!

"You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar." (Ps 139:2)

Isn't that what we long for? To be understood? Motives and plans and actions and words often can get so jumbled up in human relationships,what we really want is to be understood.

Jesus understands.

I paused there in reading that familiar Psalm in order to look up the word "understand." Do you know what it means? It means understand! Yes, deep, I know. To discern, know, consider.

No one around may understand. They may misconceive, judge, criticize, mock. But take your thoughts and your heart and your desires and bring them to Jesus. Speak truthfully to Him. He understands.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I Peter 5:7

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is My Spiritual Life as Thrilling as a Roller Coaster?

I went to an amusement park last week with the kids. It was fun, but in a much different way than when I was in 6th grade and going on roller coasters for the first time.

I had always been terrified, but when going with another family at the age of 11, I succumbed to the pressure and went on every ride that was on the souvenir cup. And boy, am I glad I did!

But this time, as a mom, was definitely different. You see, instead of enjoying the ride in a purely selfish fashion, I was on with my kids.

As we were zooming through the loop, upside down, I was watching my son's face as it turned white, trying to decide if this was a good idea.

As my daughter screamed at the top of the hill after the endless "click click click" I reached out and patted her hand.

And later, when it was dark because the sun had set (the BEST time to ride coasters!), I would strain my eyes to see what was coming so I could call out to her, "We're about to turn left," or "Small drop ahead!"

Then, near the end of the night, the adults took a turn on a ride that was for 54" and older. You know what that means... it was a SERIOUS ride.

As I sat down, my feet dangled in the seat, unable to reach the floor! The "click, click, click" was four times longer than the other rides we'd been on all day, and my heart beat faster as I reminded myself that this was, indeed, safe! I double checked the seat to be sure I was in tight.

Then down we flew, literally, I felt like I was flying, with my feet swaying like a little kid on a stool at the kitchen counter, savoring an ice cream cone and licking it off his hand as it drips. I screamed with abandoned. I laughed and raised my arms as high as they would go. I never wanted the ride to end!

As we walked down the exit ramp, I was still skipping and jumping and shouting. What a thrill!

And then we headed back to our kids, took a few of them to the bathroom, and life set back in.

For a moment there, though, I tasted freedom. Not from parenting. I love being a mom. But freedom from worries. Stress. Cares. Managing the feelings of other people. I felt completely safe in that seat, I loved the ride, and I trusted where it was going.

I so wish I could say that this was a picture of my spiritual life, but I can't. It's more of a battle between knowing the right thing and doing the right thing, even though I don't feel the right way about it. It's a struggle between flesh and the Spirit. I wish I trusted God with that abandon and let all my worries fly away so I could soar with Him wherever His track led.

That's probably impossible right now. Because there ARE worries and cares. Just when we cast them on Him, we get hit with another. And I cannot live in a selfish bubble, thinking only about the fun I'm having on my track with God. I have children and friends and family and my church family, and we are to hold each other up.

But... one day. Oh... one day! I truly believe that the freedom I felt, the joy and complete abandon I tasted, will be a reality! When we can live each day in perfection! Not fighting sin! Not battling with self. Not reacting to the sins of others! Can you taste it? Can you see it?

One day, we will go HOME. And then, we'll be starting the RIDE that will last for eternity.


Psalm 119: The Word in My Life

And today, the final post about Psalm 119. What a gorgeous Psalm about the Word of God! I hope you've been encouraged.

I have a card that's called, "Personal Prayers from Colossians" that is on my desk. I think I'll post next to it the prayers gathered from this Psalm.

Today's post is about how the Word affects -- or should affect -- or could affect -- my life.

The Word in My Life:
A collection of thoughts from Psalm 119

- I love His commandments and delight to do them.
- I am to delight in His statutes and not forget His word.
- God’s testimonies are my delight, my counselors, my comfort.
- I lift my hands up to His commandments, which I love.
- I sing of His statutes in the house of my pilgrimage.
- My lips utter praise and my tongue sings of His word because He teaches me His statutes and all His commands are righteous.
- Even though trouble and anguish surround me, I delight in His commands.

- Even though others sit around speaking evil of me, I meditate on His statutes and His wonders.
- Speaking my testimony before Kings, I will not be ashamed.
- Stand strong in the word, even though the arrogant utterly deride me.
- I esteem right all His precepts concerning everything, and I hate every false way.
- I weep, my eyes shed streams of water, because others do not keep His law.

- I remember the name of the LORD in the night.
- I meditate on Him during the night watches.
- At midnight, I rise and give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances.
- I love the law and meditate on it all day!
- I rise before dawn and cry for help; and then I wait for His words.
- Seven times a day I praise him because of His righteous ordinances.


More About Psalm 119:


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Psalm 119: My Commitment to the Word

This is part 4/5 of my dissection of Psalm 119.

My Commitment to the Word
(Or what my commitment to the Word should look like.)

- I have promised to keep Your words.
- I consider my ways and turn my feet to Your testimonies.
- I hasten and do not delay to keep Your commandments.
- I am to meditate on His precepts and regard His ways.
- I must choose the faithful way, clinging to His testimonies, running the way of His commandments, always putting His ordinances before me.
- I am to trust in His word, waiting on His ordinances, keeping the law continually forever and ever.
- I am blessed if I walk in the law of the LORD, observe His testimonies, seek Him with all my heart, and walk in His ways, longing for and keeping His precepts diligently.
- I am to tell of the ordinances, rejoicing in the way of His Testimonies, as much as in all riches.
- My companions are also those who fear You and keep Your precepts.
- Affliction can be for my good, because then I learn to keep Your word, and God is faithful to afflict me.
- When the word is my delight, His compassion gives me life.
- Sometimes I have to wait with longing, but I must never forget or forsake His statutes and precepts.
- I must restrain my feet from every evil way, not turning aside from His ordinances that He has taught me, in order to keep His word.
- I hope for His salvation and do His commandments.
- God graciously deals with me according to His word.


Read the other parts to Psalm 119 here:

The Word Is...
What the Word Does for Believers
Prayers of Psalm 119


Monday, July 25, 2011

Psalm 119: Prayers for guidance, renewal, and strength

I like categorizing and sorting things. As you can see, that's how I've been working through Psalm 119. Today, I'd like to share the prayers of Psalm 119, sorted into three categories.

“Teach me Your Word”
- Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
- Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statues.
- Teach me Your statutes, and make me understand the way of Your precepts, so I can observe it to the end.
- With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments.
- I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me.
- Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart.
- Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.
- Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.
- Remember the word to me, in which You have made me hope.
- Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
- I cried with all my heart; Answer me, O LORD! I will observe Your statutes. I cried to You; save me and I shall keep Your testimonies.
- Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word. Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word.

“Be gracious to me”
- Strengthen me according to Your word.
- Deal bountifully with me, that I may live and keep Your word.
- May Your lovingkindness also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word.
- May Your compassion come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight.
- Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
- Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
- Uphold me that I may be saved, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually.
- Turn to me and be gracious to me, after Your manner with those who love Your name.
- Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
- I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts.

“Forgive me, and keep me from sin”
- Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies.
- Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Your law.
- Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to dishonest gain.                                                                         
- Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, emptiness, falseness, worthlessness, and revive me in Your ways.
- Turn away my reproach, shame, which I dread, for Your ordinances, decisions, and judgments are right.
- May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed.
- Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep your precepts.
- I have gone away like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.


You can see my two others posts about Psalm 119 here:


Friday, July 22, 2011

Psalm 119: What the Word Does for Believers

Gathered from Psalm 119...

Walking according to the Word established my footsteps, keeps my way pure, and keeps me from going astray.
Treasuring His Word in my heart keeps me from sinning against Him.
God rebukes the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from His commandments.


When I am grieving, the Word strengthens me.
Your word revives me and gives me comfort in my affliction.
Running in the way of the commandments enlarges my heart.
His lovingkindness comforts me according to His word.


It produces reverence for God.
The Word gives me hope.


It gives me an answer for those who reproach me and lie about me and set traps for me.
His word redeems me from the oppression of man.
It provides courage when speaking before rulers.
When I wait for His word, others who fear Him see me and are glad.
His commandments make me wiser than my enemies.
Meditating on His testimonies gives me more insight than all my teachers.
Observing His precepts gives me more understanding than the aged.


Seeking His precepts helps me walk at liberty.
The power of His ordinances sustains the earth, causing it to stand.
Those who love the law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.


See previous post on this Psalm: Psalm 119: The Word Is...