Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tirzah: A Book Review

Words for Wednesdays

Sometime Bible characters get stuck in the Bible and all lumped together. When we imagine the Israelites in the wilderness, we smash them into one person, as though with a single voice they cried out, "We want meat!"

We forget that they were people, just like us, with individual minds and choices and lives and actions.

That's probably why I loved the book Tirzah so much.

I read it to my children as a part of our history of Ancient Times, and through it, we were able to step into the shoes of a young Israelite girl as her people were freed from slavery in Egypt and began their hike to the Promised Land. We experienced the excitement of the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea.  We felt the immense disappointment when they learned that they would not enter the land... yet.

We were all inspired by God's great love in spite of our own failures. It also reminded us that Bible characters were people with daily lives, like us.

This is an excellent read-aloud for younger children or a read-alone for upper elementary and above. I highly recommend it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Get Less Comfortable

Mommy Monday

As our children sit in "big church" with us, I often forget to talk to them about how we are all, as a family, going to apply what we learned. But last week, I was challenged to do just that for our church's blog. 

Pastor Willson's sermon was about praying for the nations. It was a good exercise with my kids, to take the sermon and decide what was going to change in our home based on what we heard. We don't want to look into the mirror of God's word and then walk away unchanged.

You can read the blog, Less Talking, More Praying, here:

Less Talking/More Praying

But what about this week?

We are still in the middle of Reach|12, our Missions Month at College Park Church. Our Global Missions Pastor Nate Irwin gave a soul-searching message about the heart of God for the nations. His question to us: Do we have a heart for the lost around the world? He explained that as we grow closer to God, our fire will be lit for what Jesus is passionate about.

In the sermon, Nate explain that as the Israelites moved into the Promised Land, they grew comfortable and settled in, and they no longer wanted to send their men out to war to conquer the rest of the land God had for them. Caleb, however, looked at a mountain of giants -- a strong hold -- and decided to take on the mountain for God.

Are we too comfortable?

Between this sermon and reading through Ecclesiastes lately, I want to take time to pause and step back and reconsider our priorities. Why are we doing what we are doing? Why are we learning what we are learning? Why are we in the activities that occupy our time?

It's a good question. Ecclesiastes says our lives are like a shadow, a breath. We can take nothing with us. Earthly pleasures never satisfy.

So practically, what are our family's application points, beyond the call to prayer we heard last week?

We aren't hopping on a plane for India next week.

But we can take steps now to begin serving others. I don't know what this is going to look like, but I do want to see how we can get involved in the heart of God right here.
  1. For ideas, I'm going to actually read a book that's been sitting on my shelf, Becoming a World Changing Family by Donna Thomas for ideas. (I'll share what I find out!)
  2. We may attend a JIM (Journey In Missions) night at our church which meets monthly. I'd like my kids to see what people who want to GO are talking about.
  3. Ideas?
If you aren't a College Parker, listen to Pastor Nate's sermon, and then come back here and share your ideas for spreading the hope of the Gospel to the nations as a family. How can we get involved - right now? Because doing nothing - well, it doesn't even seem like an option.

Mark 16:15
He said to them, 
"Go into all the world
and preach the good news
to all creation."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Losing My Voice


(Five Minute Friday: Unscripted. Unedited. Real.)

Growing up, I'd lose my voice to Laryngitis multiple times a year. Though I have mostly gotten a handle on my allergies, I got laryngitis as recently as this spring while my family was in Disney World. For someone who talks a lot like me, this is a big deal.

While I'm silent and without a voice, I have to learn to gesture calmly with my hands. To get my point across without a word. And most importantly - to listen.

I used to say, "God knows when I've been doing too much talking, and He takes away my ability to speak."

Even in my times with Him, I need to make sure I read - listen - to Him more than I journal back - talk - to Him.

I've just finished spending some time in the Proverbs. I think the biggest topic that stood out to me was the subject of words. What we say, how we say it. As dificult as laryngitis is, I think it would be easier sometimes to live sinlessly without words!

Here are a few of my paraphrases from Proverbs:

  • Words can separate close friends.
  • Whispers can tear others down.
  • Words can start fires or build upon them.
  • Words can show your own folly.
  • Words can show your arrogance.
  • There are numerous cautions about speaking too much, about speaking the right thing, about not speaking to some people, about failing to speak to others.

Wouldn't it be easier without words?

And yet...

  • An appropriate word can bring joy to the heart.
  • A good word is like a perfect medicine.
  • A word rightly spoken is valued above the greatest riches.

Words are important. And as my five minutes draws to a close, I remind myself to use my voice to bring Him honor, and not myself. To build others up, and not tear down. To put out fires, rather than stoke them. To bring grace, and not condemnation. To speak truth that is heavy with mercy. To love. To use my voice, not for me.... but for Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

When not to sing

Thoughtful Thursdays

Is there ever a wrong time to sing? Isn't music uplifted in the Scripture? The Psalms are full of songs of praise, and a joyful heart is good medicine.

But my daughter doesn't think so.

The other day when we were having a heart to heart, I asked her for feedback. She said, "I don't like it when you sing to me when I'm mad. You always sing to me."

Well, she's probably right, and I started catching myself.

I think I do it to try and lighten her mood. She gets so down and dark, I try and cheer her up. Little songs, like "Smile and show your dimples" and "I want to be happy, but I can't be happy, til I make you happy too."

I know better than to sing the old Music Machine "Have Patience" song. Who wants to hear that when they're impatient?

This morning, a verse jumped out of the Proverbs like lightning.

"Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day,
or like vinegar on soda,
is he who sings songs to a troubled heart."
Proverbs 25:20

I can't wait for her to wake up. I'm going to share this with her, and then I'll see if she can hep me come up with other ways to lighten the mood. Usually, she just wants me to listen to her side, to understand. Boy oh boy, I've said those very things.

So there are inappropriate times to sing. Lesson noted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teacher Tuesday Humor

A little humor today for Teacher Tuesday. This would be my child. :)

Does LEGO Rockband on the wii count as a musical instrument?

Bringing Exodus Home

Teacher Tuesdays

I was recently asked to blog on our church's website about how to take our current sermon series on the book of Exodus and apply it at home. What a privilege!

It just so happens that we're studying Exodus from the ancient times in our home school right now. I love how God coordinates things. :)

So for your reading pleasure and enlightenment, here's the blog: Bringing Exodus Home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mud: A Child's Playground

Mommy Mondays

Mud. Is there anything more fun for kids?

Across the street, some warehouses will eventually invade our country fields, but in the meantime, they're building a "green space" and giant berm that is supposed to block our view. To the kids, it's been an adventure. Giant construction machines fill our kitchen picture window daily.

We'll be in the middle of studying the Shang Dynasty when a child will pipe up, "Look, the excavator is stuck, and the dump truck is coming to the rescue!"

This weekend, we went rock climbing on the berm. Well, mud climbing. It smells a little like manure, but kids don't care. Mud under finger nails. Brown streaks on jeans. Dust in their hair.

It's pretty awesome.

I did this as a kid too. We went in the back fields where a quarry now sits and swam in a swampy mud hole. My mom just hosed us off outside.

What is it about dirt that is so fun for kids and so undesirable for adults? I tried to play a little in it, but after I fell and about smashed apart my hip, I became a strict observer.

Maybe kids remember that we're from dirt, and they're ok with it. But as adults, we don't like to think we're from dirt. Maybe we were fashioned from something more beautiful, like marble. Or granite, that is hard and unmoving. Maybe I've been made of something more modern, like plastic.

I'm glad God remembers where I came from. He created me! He's patient and understanding with me, remembering that I'm from dust. On this Monday morning, I'm thankful for that. For His forgiveness and longsuffering with all my faults. I pray that I can share with others the same grace He's given me.

When my dirty three year old wanted me to carry him back to the house, I lifted him up and allowed his dirt to cover me. Because I love him.

Jesus got dirty for me, because He loves me.

When I get annoyed at the "beep beep beep" of the backing up machines, I'll use it to remind me of this truth. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Do you have a passion?

Mommy Mondays

My friend asked me yesterday, "What are you passionate about?" I didn't have an answer right away.

The word zeal might be a better word, defined as "strong, enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance."

I don't know that I really have a passion. Not like other people. Not like you read about. Not a single driving mission.

I said, "I guess that every day, I want to be doing what God wants me to do."

But it isn't as though God says, "Good morning, Sunshine," and hands me a neatly written to-do list.

So that passion is rather vague. I love things -- my kids, my husband, the Bible -- but is that the same as a passion?

Passion. Zeal. Calling. We chatted about Moses in the wilderness as a shepherd for 40 years before the burning bush called him. Most days, we just need to feed the sheep and haul the water from the well.

What about you? Do you have a passion?