2.24.2014

Serving joyfully


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I've been doing a word study on joy. That is, I looked up every time the word joy occurs in the Bible, and then I am studying that passage to see what is happening and try to learn from it.

It has been so good. I am by nature a glass is half full kind of person, so any help I can get with joy I'll take!

One of the most powerful lessons I learned came from 1 Chronicles 15:16. "Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy."

Here, David is bringing the ark of the covenant to the city of David. They tried this once before and failed. 

David puts it this way in verse 13 of the same chapter "because you did not carry it at the first, The Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek him according to the ordinances."

They hadn't done it God's way, and so they were punished. 

Now, they were doing it God's way. And a part of that doing it God's way was joy

Notice, doing it the right way didn't produce the joy; joy was a key ingredient in doing it the right way. 

Paradigm shift. I shouldn't think of joy as a result, but an element. In other words joy is an ingredient in the recipe of godly living

I've had it backwards. I've been serving, serving waiting for the joy to come as a result instead of serving joyfully, all along. 

Here is another verse that emphasizes the importance of serving God joyfully. 

"Because thou servesdt not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which The Lord shall send against thee in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed thee." Deuteronomy 28:47-48

2.17.2014

What happens when the obstacles on the track are people?

Photo credit - run.com

I have started running. And, because of the nature of winters here, I've been running at the gym on an indoor track most days. 

Which can be aggravating. 

Here's why. In spite of a very clear sign posted in several spots around the gym, to walk on the inside of the track and run on the outside of the track -  people don't.

In other words, there are obstacles, and they are all human.

I've tried to think of clever phrases to throw out as I pass. "Walkers on the inside."  "Read the sign."  "Passing."

But then I thought better of it. 

I'm not the indoor track police. And I don't want to be. Really. 

I just want to run and relax and enjoy myself.  I can't be responsible for them.  I can only be responsible for me. 

I decided to adopt a new philosophy, just run. Dodge the elderly and the teenagers who can't or won't read. And the primpers who are swishing their hair as they glance in every reflective surface they pass. ;) 

Just run. 

It reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

2.10.2014

Mom Heart Conference 2014

My littles. 

I recently went to the Mom Heart conference in Denver, CO.

 I enjoyed every minute of it -well except for maybe the panicky few minutes I spent fearing they were only going to feed us a salad for lunch on Saturday and trying to figure out how to sneak out to get something more substantial to eat - but I digress. (They served chicken too, whew!)

All of the speakers were terrific, but my favorite talk was the one Sally Clarkson gave on Friday evening. I really hope it is available to purchase soon because I could listen to it over and over and learn something new each time. 

I'm a big note-taker, but I'm afraid I didn't even take very many notes because I was so mesmerized by her passion and energy and vision of motherhood. It is beautiful. 

I did take away one thing though, that I want to share here. 

Raise your kids in a way that they want to be with you. Not just now, but in the future too. Make a home so great that they want to come back to it - that they want to be in it now. 

My sister in law and I had a conversation over the holidays about asking older women if this is as good as it gets. If this time at home with our little kids is it, then maybe we want to pay closer attention or enjoy it more. 

I think Sally did a beautiful job of answering that question for me. Not only is NOW the only time God gives us -so yes, we should enjoy it more - but NOW sets the tone for everything that comes next. NOW turns into days, which turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years, which turn into a childhood. And then they are gone. Will they want to come back?

And no, you can't possibly do it alone.  But with God you can do any thing. I can do anything. 

"Build generations of people who take over the world with the kingdom of God message." Sally Clarkson Mom Heart Conference. Denver, CO 2014

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1

2.03.2014

The Snow Shoveling Good Samaritan


Where I live, it's snowy. As you can see from the photo above. 

I live in a neighborhood, as you can also see from the photo above. And that is new to me. Yes, I used to live in a neighborhood before, kinda, but we were on 1 acre lots with no sidewalks and no city services. 

So, when I went to check my mail in this neighborhood, where I now live, with all the services, I was not sure if what I was seeing was normal or not. You see, the area around the mailboxes had been shoveled. 

I was perplexed. 

The roads hadn't been plowed, the mail hadn't been delivered. Had the city sent out a special crew just to shovel around the mailboxes?  

Absurd. Besides, mail is like a federal thing right?  And we all know how bad the federal government is at executing things. (Think Obamacare.) Can't be them. 

So who was this mysterious snow shoveler?  Who on earth would shovel snow voluntarily? 

Well, it took a few weeks, but I finally caught her in the act. I saw the woman who lives across the street come over and shovel the area the last time it snowed. 

How lovely. How kind. How thoughtful. 

Now, we could spend a lot of time speculating as to the motives, but really, it doesn't matter. I have an actual Good Samaritan living in my neighborhood. 

And I want to go and do the same. 

"Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the bandits?" Jesus asked. 
The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy. "
Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."  Luke 10:36-37





1.27.2014

Clutter free with Kids


Drumroll please.    

Joshua Becker is launching his new book, Clutterfree with Kids today. I am thrilled to have been asked to review it.  I've read three of his other books about minimalism and enjoy reading his blog at www.becomingminimalist.com. I am happy to be able to recommend his latest book to you. 

"What if there was a better way to live life? . . . . . One that boldly declares there is more joy in owning less than can be found in pursuing more. That truth would change everything about us. . . . . And it may just line up with everything your heart deep down has been telling you all along." 
                                                                      -Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids

There are not too many books out there that give advice on minimalism for parents. Most of the popular minimalists are sort of young and hip and able to live in tiny houses - or bigger houses with nothing in them. Clutterfree with Kids is practical minimalism for the rest of us. 

Mr. Becker does a great job in this book of encouraging people to pare down out of a desire for more of the things that truly matter in life.  This book is full of practical suggestions, covering kid centric issues such as toys, clothes, artwork, sentimental items, collections and more. 

"Less is different than more. Owning nothing is not the goal of Clutterfree. Intentionality is."
                                                                    -Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids

He also tackles the tough issues of screen time and schedules, moving from the concrete world of decluttering "stuff" to prioritizing activities and optimizing schedules. 

Do you have teenagers? A reluctant spouse?  Preparing for a newborn? Maybe you are interested in minimalism because you long to leave the workforce and come home to be with your kids. Great news. There are chapters in Clutterfree with Kids that deal with each of these challenges. 

"Living life is more enjoyable than managing and organizing stuff." 
                                                                  -Joshua Becker, Clutterfree with Kids

Whether this is your first introduction to the concept of minimalism, or you've read extensively on the subject, I'm certain you will find helpful strategies for decluttering, prioritizing, and generally enjoying life more in Clutterfree with Kids

You can purchase a Kindle copy of the book today for only $2.99. Just click on the book cover pictured above and you'll be taken straight to Amazon. 





1.20.2014

A good gift for an obedient son

  


     We have just recently moved. 

     Which makes us feel sorry for other people who are moving and want to help them. (Well, at least the adults in our household -more on this later). 

      So when we heard that some new acquaintances here were moving, my husband volunteered to go lug boxes. And I volunteered to let him. On my birthday. As long as he took our son with him. 

      Said son is 5 years old and would probably have been more enthusiastic about helping someone else move if he hadn't just lived through a move himself. He wanted to do anything BUT help move. Even though it meant leaving the house with Dad, which he usually loves. 

      Needless to say, lectures about helping others and "Don't you remember all the people who helped us and how much we appreciated them?"  "God loves when we serve others." 

     Nothing. 

     Finally we got down to "Get dressed and get in the truck."  

     Obedience. 

     And away they went. One cheerfully and the other begrudgingly, but at least they were going. 

     When they got there, a surprise was waiting for them. One brilliant Momma who was helping organize the move, had planned for all the little kids to be taken to a jump/fun/play room/
restaurant kind of thing. (My apologies for the lousy description, but having never set foot in one, it's the best I've got. No plans to remedy that anytime soon, by the way.)

    And so, our reluctant mover's assistant was rewarded with a day of play surrounded by other littles and potentially new friends!

     Isn't that just like God? I love it when he does things like this in my life, but I love it even more when he does it in the lives of my kids. He rewards obedience. 

     And you can be sure I pointed that out to my boy when he got home that afternoon. 

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21


1.13.2014

Grandpa


I stopped blogging last May when my Grandpa died.

Suddenly nothing I could say seemed very important.

And how could I possibly start writing again without writing about this man who meant so much to me? Whose loss I am certain to feel every day for the rest of my life?

It hurt too much for too long and I knew that whatever I said would be inadequate.

But the time has come.

My dad wrote a great story about Grandpa that my son read at the memorial service. Be sure to have him tell you about it the next time you see him. It told a simple story about my grandpa that related a profound truth about him. He was always there when you needed him and went to extraordinary lengths to be sure he was.

While I'm not near the story teller Dad is, I want to share my own story about Grandpa.  The profound truth is that he had a way of making everyone he was with feel special. Important. Good at things. Loved.

When I was a teenager I was attacked by the ugly tree. Some kids go through an awkward phase, but mine was more like an awkward decade. I grew really tall really all at once, had pimples, didn't have a clue how to wear my hair or do makeup. I was a mess. And I knew it. Even those closest to me knew it. And I could see it in their eyes.

They had hope for the future, but were clearly aware that the once moderately cute little girl that I used to be had morphed into a painfully awkward and ugly teenaged mess.

Except Grandpa.

He came to visit us (as he did often) and we all went for a horseback ride (as we all did often). We rode past a patch of lavender colored flowers and I was wearing a lavender colored shirt that day. He asked me to get off my horse and go sit in the patch so he could take some pictures of me. He loved taking photos and had a really nice camera at the time.

You would have thought I was a supermodel the way he oohed and aaahd and had me sit this way and that.  He made me feel great; silly at first, but ultimately great. 

Loved.

It wasn't an act. It wasn't something he schemed to do to encourage me or anything. It was just him. 

He was so kind that it filled his eyes and through that filter I actually looked beautiful.

To him, most people did.