Sunday, December 30, 2012

New blog posts on the horizon...

This year I am taking my blog in a new direction!
I will be posting two book reviews a month--one fiction and one non-fiction. I am also going to begin with a year of learning, doing, and/or writing something new. By that I mean I will be writing posts on creating fun and easy homemade things (Probably one a month!), new exercises to try, homeschooling strategies for newbies as well as veterans, and stepping outside of my own writing comfort zone!!

 One thing I have also done is to compile a list of things to pray for and ask the Lord for this year. It says in John 14:13-14 that He (Jesus) will do whatever we ask in His name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. He then repeats that! He says it in verse 13 and then the very next verse, He repeats Himself: verse 14, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" Isn't that great to know that all we have to do is ASK?! How many things have I let pass me by because I never asked?

  I would encourage you this weekend to write down those things that you will ask the Lord for this year. Maybe it's a particular trip or to travel more or for a financial breakthrough or to live out your vision or go to a conference this year. Write it down, as Habakkuk 2:2 says, write the vision clearly so that you can see it as you come and go. Throughout the year, as the Lord gives you these goals, these visions, passions, and dreams, check them off your "ASK" list, and then be sure to tell all of us here at Super Mom the Illusion!!

 Have a very happy, faith-walking, prosperous, and blessing-filled New Year!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful for the freedom to assemble...

During a regular Wednesday night prayer meeting, our pastor did something unusual.  He had us turn out all the lights in the home we were meeting in, and we sat in silence as we considered what it might be like for brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who must worship our Savior this way.  It was a bold, dramatic thing to be sitting there contemplating the feelings they must have each time they gather.  I was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness for my fellow Christians, a bit of anxiousness as I thought about what it would be like to sit in prayer when a member of the police or government stormed the door and arrested us, and about how much I take for granted that we can assemble anywhere, anytime here in America.  My heart was overcome as images of brothers and sisters in the Lord who have visited us tell about the persecution they often dodge in their homelands, but I am also reminded of the way those things have changed over the years in previously Communist, Iron Curtain countries!  These situations, the rules, regulations and policies are subject to change!  And that is the Hope of Glory, Christ in us!!

Things that we discussed during this time were that women who attended the meeting without a male family member would be arrested, female members attending, with or without male family members, who did not have their heads covered would be arrested, and having Bibles would cause the others to be arrested.  This is deep...It is also a great reason to hide the Word in our hearts!  If we have the Word in us, nothing can separate us from the Lord.  It doesn't get much better than that, right?

Well, thankfully, we live in a country where open praise and worship, regular church attendance, and prayer is acceptable and accepted!  We should be thankful for that and mindful of those who do not enjoy this freedom, too.  We are called to intercession for our fellow Christians who are under persecution for their faith, and to fight the good fight alongside them in prayer.  It is a spiritual battle we are fighting here and we must maintain our assembling at church, at home prayer meetings, at Bible studies, any time our brothers and sisters in our church gather, we should be there!!!  There may come a time soon when we no longer possess this awesome freedom...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Miracle of Christmas

I cannot imagine what God must have been thinking and feeling when He sent Jesus to live on Earth among us!  On the one hand, he certainly felt joy, excitement, peace, great pleasure, and a wealth of love we can never comprehend.  On the other hand, He knew Jesus would only be here a few decades, that he would die on the cross, that there was no way that God could do that for Jesus, and that he would die but also, although seemingly impossible, he would come alive again. It's difficult to wrap my head around the events leading up to Jesus' birth...

There are many things I have mixed feelings about in my life as well, just as God did.  I know I am called to be a writer; that really gets me excited, happy, bouncy (if I can be that!), and ready to see what stories He has for me to write next.  But I think about how many people my blog reaches, the process involved in publishing, the many types of publishing and it all starts to seem impossible to me!  Sometimes, it's like a sign telling me to STOP!

The good news is it's not least not to God!!  Just as He sent His Son as a babe in a stable to save the whole world's population from sin, watched Jesus die and raised Him who conquered death, God can and will do the impossible in your life, too!

Think about your most impossible Christmas miracle or highest expectation of the Lord in your life...what does that look like?  Is it something you might be able to do yourself?  If it is, you're not thinking big enough!  Think bigger!!  Maybe it's restored relationship, the supernatural healing of a loved one, a significant increase in finances, the opportunity to do your dream job or career, a trip you never thought you could take, the life you always dreamed you would have.  Give all those things to God, and ask Him specifically for those things!  Get a vision for those things now!!!
Several months ago, I talked about vision boards.  Read Habakkuk 2:2, and get the vision of those dreams, those ideas, those miracles and impossibilities down in print and in pictures to help you keep them in front of you all the time!  You were born, just as Jesus, for such a time as this!  What is the Lord laying on your heart to do? 

Though this year is nearly over, the New Year and new opportunities the Father wants to put in your path are just ahead of you!!  Opportunities others may view as may even feel that way at times.  But remember the events of Jesus coming to save the world...born of a virgin; laid in a manger; only a few knew and believed in Jesus' true reason for coming; fully God and fully man.

May you find the impossible possible with the Lord this Christmas season and all throughout the New Year!!!


The Parker Family-2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas music: Junk food? Or Food for the soul?

For the past few weeks, I've been listening to my Pandora holiday stations:  Beach Boys, The Carpenters, White Christmas, Disney Holiday, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Casting Crowns.  It occurred to me that while some of the songs create feel-good moments, they weren't saying much about what I consider the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus' birth!
Songs like "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Merry Christmas, Darling," and "White Christmas" remind me of my son in the Navy missing his fifth Christmas away from home and fourth while out of the country.  They create a sense of bonding and memories, which are all good during this time of year.  Some of my other favorites to listen to are "The Happy Snowman" (Bing Crosby), "Frosty, the Snowman," "Holly Jolly Christmas," and "Grown Up Christmas List."  But they don't remind me of why we even have these songs of longing for loved ones, being kind to strangers when we pass them, fun in the snow, and dreaming of happier times and peace in our community, state, nation, and the world. It's just junk food that fills the emotions, but doesn't satisfy the soul.

 Why is this season delegated to being kind, acting differently toward strangers, purchasing gifts to show loved ones they matter?  The heart of Christmas is to honor the birth of the Savior of the world!  So why is it that we take this time of the year to (in some cases!) change our outlook on others?  Change our treatment of the homeless?  Take the opportunity to  help a family who is struggling during the holidays?

It is a sacred time, for sure, that we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, and I think because we are reminded of God's love for us, sent in the way of His only Son, that we feel compelled to help others.  As a parent, I make a point of teaching my kids to be generous, hospitable, and compassionate all throughout the year.  I challenge them to be nice all year long, think about gift giving in any month of the year, not just Christmas time.
Consider these popular carols:
"Silent Night"
"O Little Town of Bethlehem"
"The First Noel"
"Angels We Have Heard on High"
Each of these songs is the gospel message in its purest, simplest form.   These songs speak of the Savior coming as a babe, humbly placed in a manger in a stable, while Heaven celebrated, and the rest of the activities of the world continued seemingly without notice of Him whose birth angels proclaimed!  Jesus came right then and there, and everything changed!  THAT is such rich, spiritually filling food!!

This Christmas season, while you have your favorite Christmas music playing, remember that some fun music is good.  But just like a healthy food diet, consider exactly what you're putting inside your mind, body, and spirit...


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Speak LIFE!!

I am a Grammar addict!  I don't like when people use words incorrectly, and unfortunately, it goes along with not liking when people don't fully understand the meanings of words either.  We were each created with an innate need to be right.  But as Christians, we must discern when to stand up and make that assertion that says, "Look here!  What I'm saying is right, and what you're saying is, well...NOT!"  And we must know when it is best to hold our tongues.  

In the book of James3:3-5, it says, "A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!" (The Message)

This is HUGE!  When we consider that we can accomplish anything we say, because it's seed we are sowing into our lives, we get excited at the possibilities!  But then, I personally am reminded of the times that I begin to say, "We can't afford that.  We don't have any money."  Or when I begin to second guess one of MY books being published because I've let Satan tell me lies about them, and then I start to agree with what Satan is saying!  I have to consciously stop myself from saying those things and replace them with words of encouragement that empower me to continue writing...start saying what the WORD says about me and my gifts and talents!!  I have to dig up that rotten seed I just sowed into the destruction of what God has predestined me for with writing.

Once I set my mind to agree with the Scripture, I can't go back and say, "Well, that's not what my bank account says" or "that's not how I'm feeling today."  Even if my bank account doesn't agree with what God says (He said He shall supply ALL my needs according to HIS riches by Christ Jesus!) or my body aches don't agree with what the Word says (His Word says that by Jesus' stripes I AM healed!), I have to make a decision of whose words I'm going to agree with!  We walk by faith in God, not by what our natural circumstances seem to dictate to us!  
Praise the Lord, we don't have to live according to this world!!
 Am I going to agree with the one who caused the sickness, caused the lack, caused the relationship to be destroyed, and orchestrates the killing, destroying and stealing of my personal health, wealth, and relationships?  
Or am I going to agree with the one who said He WILL supply my needs, He HAS bore all my sickness and diseases, He is the giver of life, and He HAS redeemed me from the curse of the Law?  

For my husband and I, the choice is clear, but we do have to stay on top of what we are saying about our finances, our relationships, our health.  May these verses encourage you and remind you that your Father in Heaven gives you a choice over your life...

Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Proverbs 18:21:
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it shall eat the fruit thereof. 

Joshua 24:15 (paraphrased):

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No time for excuses...

I was thinking this week about my family and friends who are away from the Lord.  Some were raised knowing the Lord, accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, were baptized, prayed, saw visions and prophecies over their lives begin to come to pass, yet walked away from God.  Some were not raised in homes where a need for a relationship with Jesus was ever discussed, and there is no understanding of a reliance on the One who created them, no need for Him to see them through situations, and a sort of self-reliant "I can do this on my own" or "I can take care of myself" mentality. 
As I was meditating on these people whom I love, I believe the Lord gave me these words:

As long as we see no need to rely on God, have faith in Him, or believe in His Son Jesus, we will always find reasons, excuses, different meanings to suit our actions, and others to blame for our current situations, and we will bypass our own role and responsibility in the destruction of ourselves and our nation.

As long as God plays no role in our lives or the lives of loved ones and friends, we will always find someone else to blame for our situations in life and will turn away from acknowledging our own responsibility and faults in our actions.

But the good news is, we can turn from that life of blaming others, of making excuses, of seeing no need for God in our life, and of not realizing what we could do in life if we just had a relationship with Jesus!!  
I invite you to simply say this prayer, "God, I know I'm a sinner.  I know I need you in my life and I can't do this on my own anymore.  I ask Jesus to come into my heart and take my sins away.  I know now that I need You in my life for my situation to improve, and I invite you into my life today."   
You can turn your life around RIGHT NOW!  And if you prayed this prayer today, your life WILL turn around for the better; His Word says so!!

If you prayed this prayer today, I would love to hear from you!  I have a gift for you as you begin your walk and new life in the Lord!!



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for the little things...

My husband and I have eight children, and taking family pictures every year has been one of my favorite events of the year.  From the time our children were little and we had only two or three or four kids, I absolutely looked forward to the day we set aside to capture our family at that moment!
As the years have passed, our oldest son joined the Navy and was stationed in Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida near Jacksonville.  He was there over the Christmas holiday, and I remember sobbing because he wouldn't be in our family picture.  The next year, he came home on leave in October before he was deployed to Iraq.  The highlight of him being there was an opportunity for us to take family pictures.  It was a precious time for each of us to have that constant reminder that we were all together.

Just last year, my husband and I and our five children under 18 years old were living in north Florida (our son was, and is now, stationed in Cuba, and our 20 year-old son and 18 year-old daughter stayed in Colorado!), but we still took family pictures.  I'll admit it helped being at Disney World, but my heart still ached for the family pictures with ALL our children!

This year, our son came home after being deployed to Honduras for over a year, and just guess what was on my list of things to do while he was here!  YES!!  That family picture!!  And I got it!  This year was even more precious because it included our daughter-in-law!!!  Next year, our family picture will include our first GRANDBABY!!!!

I am so thankful that the Lord is mindful of us and that even the little things we desire are on His mind!

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Balancing act

Ever since I can remember, I've enjoyed balancing.  I was a gymnast in my younger days and the beam was my favorite apparatus!  Then came the time following my parents' divorce when I felt, at 14 years old, that I needed to balance my display of affection equally for my mom and dad.  As the years passed, I became a victim of rape and balanced being a socially functioning high school student with the very real feeling of wanting to hide away from everything and everyone in the world.  (See my earlier post Revealing the Illusion).
After I graduated high school, and accepted the fact that I was pregnant (NOT a result of the rape, fyi!), I also accepted that God had a plan for my life.  I began dating my now-husband when my son was just five months old.  Within three months, we were engaged, and I began a new balancing act:  mother and soon-to-be wife.  Eventually, I felt as though I was doing pretty well with the whole balancing thing, especially as our family grew from just one child to eight children in just over 12 years!  I balanced homeschooling, breastfeeding, sickness (the kids and me at different times), homemaking, meal planning, taxi driver for the activities our children participated in, Sunday School teacher, singer on the praise and worship team at church, even going back to college at age 34!

But I felt a gentle prompting of the Lord telling me there was something I wasn't balancing quite the way He had planned.  I had neglected the gift of writing He had given me!  I would write news reports, write research papers just because I enjoyed doing that, and spent a lot of time writing essays, poems, and non-fiction pieces for college, but had still not done what HE had called me to do.

Well, I am thrilled to say that when our church decided at the beginning of 2012 to challenge everyone to a 90-day challenge that could include anything from reading the Word more, spending time in intercession, or even writing a book, I accepted that challenge!  I didn't complete my book in the 90 days, but accepting that challenge gave me the opportunity to say, "Yes, Lord!  I'll do what you called me to do!"  I continued to write that story, but then felt the Father telling me it was time to put my schooling on hold.  It was a distraction and something I wanted to do; it wasn't something God had planned out for me. 
It was kind of scary letting go of what I wanted to do and relying fully on the thing He wants me to do.  But I have never written so much in my whole life!  I can see this book, the characters, the little fictional town I created, and it's all through the goodness and grace of God that I am able to do that!
I also positioned myself with an amazing group of fellow author/writer moms and people who will build me up in my walk with the Lord, my journey as a rookie writer, and as a wife and mother.
Regardless of what you may be balancing today, make a point of positioning yourself with people who will come along side of you to steady your walk, help keep the plates spinning, or keep your from falling off the tightrope!  And of course, lean on the Father when you feel as though you are starting to fall...HE will catch you! 

"When I am weak, that's when you are strong.
When I let go, I fall into Your arms..."-- Jon Thurlow, "Divine Love"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When days just don't go quite right...

As a mom of eight children, there were days we would get up on time, be dressed and ready to start school at the scheduled time, complete work ahead of the planned time, and have only wonderful positive teaching times of solid, strong learning.  But those days are also marred by days when I woke late, the kids were tired and still hadn't eaten breakfast by 10 a.m., schooling was a struggle, and I just got irritated more and more with the lack of understanding of certain concepts and skills we had already learned! 

I know now that I wasn't alone.  I felt like a homeschooling failure some days, barely able to complete one lesson for each child!  But our God is a gracious and merciful loving Father, and He positioned me to receive guidance and knowledge from other moms who said they had experienced similar things during their homeschooling journeys.  So how do you combat those days when nothing goes quite right?

Well, I have a few suggestions:

Take time to do one thing, no matter how small it may seem, just for you!  The Lord wants us to be wholly prepared each day and if we need to take a step back and get ourselves "unfrazzled" that's okay!  If we're frazzled, our souls aren't prospering, so we need to refresh that by doing that thing that will restore our souls.  Maybe play music, dance for joy, pray, take a bath (if you don't have little ones and can!), read, make a cup of your fav coffee/beverage, do something that makes you feel better (for me, it's cleaning!), or just take a walk and have some alone time.  Realize that there is only so much you can do in a day; stop trying to be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman!  Ask the Lord to strengthen you and praise Him for days that you accomplish much, and days you accomplish little!!

Remember, tomorrow is a new day!  God's mercies are new every day!!  And you are NOT alone in these days, so don't allow the enemy to sell you that lie!  Just as no one has perfect, harmonious work days, we as homeschooling parents struggle with that, too...and it's okay!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Week 4--Entertain!!

As promised, this final week of my theme blogs will end with the final post--Entertain!  I thought I would share with you one of my first stories I wrote back in 2007 six weeks after my oldest son left for Navy Boot Camp.  My writing muse has changed since this writing, but the overall message comes across loud and clear...I hope you enjoy the piece of the originally titled piece "Camp Wannabe" later titled "A Light in the Darkness"!!

“Tom, hurry up!  The kids will be here soon!”  Beth yelled to her husband who was busy preparing for the new campers in the barn.  Their secluded mountain home was a retreat and refuge for many, but for the next two weeks it would be a school for a group of teenagers.  They would learn how to rock climb, become disciplined, and most importantly, the youth would learn to work as a team and be confident in their own skills.
“I’m coming!  I wanted to make sure the climbing wall was ready for our guests!” Tom hollered back.  He was in the barn readying the ropes, carabiners, and harnesses for the day’s events.  Beth was walking towards him looking as beautiful as the day he had met her.  Her long blond hair was tied back with a baby blue ribbon that waved across her face as the wind blew gently. 
Tom and Beth had operated Camp Wannabe as a self-confidence camp for youth who had troubled pasts, whose parents needed some place to send them for the summer, or for those kids who truly needed to belong.  Tom had grown up in an orphanage after his parents were killed in a car accident and his elderly grandparents were not able to care for him.  They felt it was the only option for the boy at the time and later would apologize for the pain it caused him.  Tom’s grandparents lived to see their grandson join the Navy and then his grandmother passed away within two years of her husband’s passing.  It was as though they needed to see him come out of that orphanage and be alright.  He forgave them and understood, but the emotional scars he carried from being bullied and teased would linger for years.  The confidence he received from being in the military was the reason he wanted to create a place where kids like him would be able to gain the inner strength they lacked.  It was then that they decided to open Camp Wannabe.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Week 3--Empower!!

I looked up the definitions for empower and was surprised, especially from a Christian perspective. 

1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable.

The Lord has invested power and official authority in you when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior!  That means that if you put your faith with Jesus’ Name, you can move mountains, overcome situations, and live a victorious and prosperous life.  The situation you may be facing today may seem bigger, deeper, and worse than anything you’ve faced until now.  But the good news is that God sees you where you’re at.  He sees the pain, the hurt, the frustration, and the crying out of your heart.  He has empowered you with official authority to use His son’s name as a weapon to defeat the one who has tormented you, stolen from you, killed relationships, finances, health and other things, and destroyed your life.  You have been equipped to overcome the situation by the power of Jesus’ Name and your faith in God!  Say today, “Cease your activity, Satan!  You must stop your efforts in (whatever area of your life—finances, health, relationships, addiction, etc.) in the Name of Jesus!”   

When your breakthrough comes, give God the glory and share it with someone. 
Matthew 5:16 (The Message) says:
I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Birthdays With Empty Arms--Shared from "One September Day" blog

September's story will bring you to tears, but it is the true seeing of God's much bigger picture that will also allow you to see the grace and love of our Father in Heaven!!

Birthdays With Empty Arms

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Week 2--Engage!!

The words and actions of others do indeed tend to shape us, good or bad.  I remember growing up, my grandmother would say things to my mother like, “I don’t know why those girls are wasting their time and yours going to Fort Lauderdale to a performing arts high school.  No one in this family ever amounted to a hill of beans, and they won’t either!”  Well, my twin sister and I aren’t performing on Broadway, but I am involved in community theatre and my sister…is a teacher!  She’s got performances Mondays through Fridays with a captive audience from about 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.  And I may not be the actor I had once aspired to be, but I am a writer; that is the thing God called me to be so many years ago as a child. 
When my sister and I were little, we played two things: newsroom and school.  I was always the big TV news anchor and she was the weather girl, then we would switch; she was the teacher and I was the student!  I’m not writing or reporting news for a big network either, but that’s not what God has called me to do.  I am a writer.  I AM a writer.  I did major in journalism in college, and took classes that interested me very much!  One class I had was called “Voice and Presentation,” and my professor very kindly attempted to point out that since I was an older, non-traditional student...I had a beautiful face for radio.  Wait a minute!  Did he just say I wasn’t pretty enough to be a television news anchor?!  In a manner of speaking, he did.  But that’s not what God called me to be either!
I was created to write!  Ever since I was a child, I remember writing just for the fun of it.  As I grew older, I investigated things that piqued my curiosity and wrote about such things as multiple sclerosis, foreign and domestic adoption, space, and James Michener—just because I wanted to write about what I had discovered!  I was also a script-writing maniac!  I wrote several plays throughout high school, but sadly, those have been lost.  Casualties of my parents’ divorce and then at some point mine and my husband’s moves across the country.  It was in 2005 that I felt the Lord prompting me to begin writing a book.  After three years, that original piece was published in my college literary magazine, and it felt amazing to have my work in print, not just printed from my computer!  Today, I am working on completing one book while in the process of writing another.  I know the Lord has plans for these books, and I put them in His loving and merciful hands. 

I ask you to consider these questions:
·         What were you playing as a child? 
·         Is that something that has followed you throughout your life? 
·         Have you asked the Lord how that “thing” might be preparing you for your calling at an appointed time and place?
       How can others pray for you in the realization of your calling?

      If you feel comfortable to do so, I would love for you to share your thoughts, questions, or experiences on the Super Mom the Illusion Facebook page!