Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When I want to run away

Do you ever feel like escaping? Running away? Just yesterday I did. It wasn't for bad reasons or really terrible trials, but I found my heart constantly wanting to flee, and I had to fight to keep it in line.

While washing dishes, I had to sing to avoid complaining. While doing laundry, my daughter laughed as I repeated over and over, "I'm thankful that we have clothes."

I finally succomed at rest time and escaped into a book. This is a Christian Fiction book that many friends have raved about, but I just didn't like it. It was gruesome and harsh, and it left me feeling worse than when I started. I finished it, because that's just how I am when I read a book, and I was left empty and irritable.

After the bedtime and pick-up routines were over, I longed to run away to a resort in Cancun that I loved so much. I dreamed of just packing our bags and catching a plane that very night.

Where do you run when you want to escape? I was reminded yesterday that all of our "escapes," though not bad in and of themselves, are just temporary pleasures that cannot satisfy. An evening with friends. Reading. Movies. Vacations. Parties. They all bring temporary joy, but not joy that lasts. That only left me feeling discouraged as I plopped into bed, ending the day.

I woke up this morning with a groan, and then immediately cried out, "Oh God, I don't want to start my day this way!"

I turned in the Psalms to chapter 71, and I was encouraged with verse 1. "In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge." The Psalm goes on to praise God for all that He has done for us. That's what I needed, more than a night out with friends or a trip to Cancun. I needed my heart to be renewed in thankfulness.

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nethertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your Counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:21-28

Here's the funny thing: All of those good things I escape to only bring joy when I am already filled up with the joy of Jesus. I don't understand it completely, but when Jesus is in the center of my thoughts, everything shines brighter.

"Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." Ps 34:5


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Praying in the new school year

As I begin to plan the next school year, I've claimed this as my theme verse:

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. (I Samuel 12:23).

Prayer and teaching - pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Prayer. When your children wake early and your husband comes home late, when do you pray?

God knows the heart of a mother. I've found that posting scripture around the house is a huge help, reminding me to pray for them. In my bathroom, I have a sheet posted on the door of scriptures to pray for your children. I also have been trying to pray over them at night as I tuck them in, rather than giving a quick kiss and running off to do my own thing.

Often, I will wake in the middle of the night for no reason, and instead of tossing and turning, I ask God, "What do you want me to pray about?" These have been sweet times with Him as I sit in the stillness and listen for Him. If we're memorizing scripture, I'll pray through the verses. Sometimes I'll be convicted of an area of sin, and other times a name will come to my mind.

"On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night." Psalm 63:6

And though all of this is good, I'm going to attempt a concerted effort to reclaim the morning time for Him. I've cleared a special spot in my closet for prayer, and I hope that if I'm quiet enough, I can slip in there and pray without waking the family! We'll see how it goes. :)

Reading through the Psalms has been a huge inspiration. It essentially a prayer book for the believer!

"Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life!" (69:1)
"God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us." (67:1)
"Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer nor his lovingkindness from me." (66:20)
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (51:10)
"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places." (43:3)

I mark prayer passages in green in my Bible. This is another way that prayer becomes a natural thing instead of a forced habit. Praying the words of God gives me confidence to approach Him.

When do you make time to pray? I'd love more suggestions. The more I talk to our Heavenly Father, the more I want to talk to Him!

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly, my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  (63:1)


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cleaning out the pantry - update!

I need to blog more. I have so many ideas bouncing in my brain, when I finally sit down and write them out, it will be one long post that no one will read!

No time for that now, but I will give a quick update on my toddler's eating habits. After a day of screaming at me for juice, granola bars, and candy, he gave in. He's drinking water (with a drop of lemon juice) and eating raisins, pineapple, soft tacos with re-fried beans, apples, carrots, blueberries, and more!

Can you say... amazing??

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cleaning out the pantry!

Goodbye Granola bars, chips, cereal, crackers, cereal bars, candy, and other crunchy snacks.

That is just about the list of everything my toddler eats.

For two weeks, (notice I'm not saying forever), I'm going to only offer fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and whole grains. I'm also removing sugar and juice. Eventually, he'll get hungry, right? At least that's the plan. And then hopefully he'll eat.

When my oldest daughter was two, I removed all processed food from the home. No boxed pastas. No instant meals. It had to do mostly with a food coloring issue. But recently, convenience has been winning the food war. It's just so easy to grab a granola bar and be off instead of peeling and bagging veggies. To take a Gogurt out of the freezer instead of blending blueberries in plain yogurt. To throw corn dogs in the toaster oven instead of making a fresh salad.

So for a couple of weeks, I told my kids that I needed their help to fix Kevin's terrible eating habits.

This morning, I made steel-cut oatmeal and frozen fruit smoothies. He didn't eat either of them. Then at lunch, I offered watermelon, meat, cheese, and a few whole wheat crackers. He ate the watermelon and the crackers.

It's going to be interesting, especially with a day camp next week that I'm working and all the kids are attending, but I'm going to give it a good try.

Any tips? I'll have to let you know how it goes!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Psalm 33

Praise to the Creator and Preserver.
Got a minute? Read Psalm 33 out loud, to yourself or your family. It was one of those Psalms where I couldn't pick just one verse to highlight! 

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
          Praise is becoming to the upright.

Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
          Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
          Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the LORD is upright,
          And all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
          The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
          And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
          He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
          Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
          He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;
          He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
          The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
          The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
          He sees all the sons of men;
From His dwelling place He looks out
          On all the inhabitants of the earth,
He who fashions the hearts of them all,
          He who understands all their works.

The king is not saved by a mighty army;
          A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory;
          Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
          On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
          And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
          He is our help and our shield.

For our heart rejoices in Him,
          Because we trust in His holy name.

Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
          According as we have hoped in You.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Draw through the Psalms

I am loving the challenge our church gave to read through the Psalms this summer! Reading them out loud has been especially helpful. If you want the guide, you can find it here: Psalms Reading Plan.

I've been inspired to teach the Psalms to my children using this tool: Draw to Learn the Book of Psalms. This can be done after dinner, before bed, at breakfast... but for my family, we will use it as a part of our home school day.

Here's a review from the website:

Looking at this series reminded me of Bible study when my siblings and I were younger. For every chapter of the Bible we read, we’d draw a picture and put it in a binder. Boy, were they fun to go back and look at after a few years! This series from Notgrass takes that same concept, and elaborates on it somewhat, giving drawing instructions to accompany specific Bible verses. Each page contains a scripture reference at the top, a summary idea from the scripture, and a large empty frame with instructions underneath. Students begin by reading the referenced scripture, thinking about it, then drawing a picture following the instructions beneath the frame. The pictures are sure to serve as a great reminder to students in the future about the verses and their meaning. For example, my sample is for the Book of Proverbs, and several of the assignments are: drawing a gorgeous crown for Proverbs 4:7-9, drawing a person who has been on a long search and has finally found treasure for Proverbs 2:1-5 and drawing highway signs for Proverbs 15: 18-21. Each volume in the series contains 150 lessons, and is designed to complete throughout the school year. Because the lessons include drawing practice, the authors recommend taking this portion seriously, using drawing pencils and a good set of colored pencils. Advice for drawing the best possible pictures and suggestions for expanding the Bible study into a unit study are included in the introduction. – Jess

Psalm 18:1-3
1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
   my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
   He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
   and I am saved from my enemies.