Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Okay to Be Happy!

As you may remember, my husband and I went on a trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We went to our favorite theme park destination that has always brought joy to us and our children. A couple of days into the vacation, I began to feel guilty for enjoying the time with my husband and with our son who graduated from high school last May. I was having fun, laughing, being silly, and just relishing the moments with my middle son and husband, but I felt bad for being so happy.

That isn't the Lord's way, though. He doesn't make us feel guilty. Guilt is feeling remorse, regret for wrongdoing. Wait a minute! God wants us to enjoy life and be joyful. So why was I feeling this way while having a wonderful time with my family? In short, because Satan uses our minds to cause us to doubt God's love, goodness, and awesomely amazing plans for our lives. Satan wants us to believe that we can't be happy unless we aren't suffering for Christ. That is a lie from the Prince of Darkness!

God wants to give us good things, even vacations, that will rejuvenate us, refresh our passions He's given us, and to empower us to pursue Him more deeply and zealously! 

So next time you're feeling guilty about being happy, enjoying your life, and celebrating wonderful trips, remember, the Lord wants good things for you! Don't feel guilty about being thankful and joyful for that!


Friday, August 28, 2015


Joy…It is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, but what do we really know about this thing called joy?  In his book “Surprised by Joy”, C.S. Lewis embarks on a lifelong journey to discover the facts behind the word.  He says, “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting” (C.S. Lewis).  I asked my Youth Group teens if they had experienced joy today, this week, this month or any time in their lives thus far.  Two of the teens could not say that they had.  In discussing how parents refer to their children as their “pride and joy,” one of the young teens said she knows her parents don’t think of her that way.  Her dad favors her sister and her mom favors the other sister, but neither show any pride in her.  I was heartbroken for this girl and had no idea what to say to her.  I made sure at the very least she knew I appreciated her, but still, somehow her joy had been robbed. 

I began to analyze my own utterances to my children and how I view them.  Have I told them they are my pride and joy?  I tell them I love them often, but do they need more?  Am I stealing their joy somehow? 
Nehemiah 8:10 in The Message says: “He continued, ‘Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don't have anything: This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!’”  When I speak these words that the joy of the Lord is their strength, I’m empowering my kids and blessing them with esteeming joy.  I am adding to their joy every time I say those words.  Today, I would encourage you to tell your children how proud you are of them, how they are your joy and esteem them for who they are and whose they are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

Originally published July 2, 2014...

Recently I was talking with a newer homeschooling mom. She was feeling bad that it was coming up on the beginning of July and her son still had not completed his workbooks for the school year. They had been through a few family illnesses and unexpected turns of events in their life and schooling just got off. Have you ever felt that way? Like life just got in the way of doing school or at least staying on schedule?
I mentioned the homeschooling laws of our state and also reminded her that there is far more to school than simply the academic aspect, too. She told me she felt she was teaching him more life skills and character building than she had his academics. I brought up that creating a desire to learn within our children is a good investment in their education, too.

Then, we talked about how much of each school book her son had left and in the end, she realized that she was worrying over not finishing because that's how they had viewed doing work. You work until it is completely finished. But that's not how textbooks are designed. Do you remember when you were in school? It seemed like the things you were learning before summer break were the same things that you were learning when you started back to school in the fall, didn't it? The reason for that is because the textbook writers have a built-in remediation to their book's skills and tasks. They actually take into account the fact that students might not have retained everything they learned at the end of the year and work those same skills into the first several lessons of the new school year!
So I reassured my friend that even if they didn't finish, her son would still learn those skills because he would see them again in the lessons of the next textbook.
Try not to get so wrapped up in finishing the book that you forget all the other learning your child is getting, too!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Doing the right thing...

This article was first published on July 26, 2012. It is so timely for today, and I decided to share it once again!

Recently, I received a deposit of a large sum of money. It was more than my husband earns in a normal month for his job, and even though we needed to put the money into more practical areas, this regular sum of money has always been a thing for us to use to buy our wants more than our needs. As usual, I had already decided what I wanted to spend the money on for myself this time, my splurge, if you will, and I have really enjoyed it, especially as a writer! There is a problem, though. You see, I realized I'm feeling just like Paul when he wrote: "I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?" (Romans 7:20-24, The Message). Is there no one who can do anything for me? The good news, YES, there IS someone who can do something for me, to help me!! "The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different." (Romans 7:25, The Message).
You see, my purchase, no matter how much I wanted it (and really, I still do!) takes from what I really should be putting that money towards. And the confidence I have in doing what my flesh is fighting against, is that if I head toward God in my daily decisions, HE will restore that gesture of doing what is right and one day, I will have the thing that I thought I so badly wanted and needed in the first place. My mind is conflicted with my heart, but in my heart, I want to please the Father and listen to Him more than I have in the past. He knows my wants (Psalm 23:1), my desires (Psalm 37:4) already. All I have to do is align myself with His Will, His plan for my life, and all the things I have need or want of He will bless me with when it's the right time! It will be far better when it comes from Him, than when I try to do it in my own time and power. And there is no shame, no condemnation for doing the wrong thing and then going back to fix it, especially if your heart motives are right and focused on the Lord! "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1, NIV).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday 'Fess Up

Last week I made a pledge to live in the now and not necessarily look toward tomorrow. The Bible tells us that tomorrow has enough worries of its own! But I have not been very successful in staying focused on today. But there is a very good reason for that!

You see, my husband and I are traveling to Disney World to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and our middle son is coming along to celebrate his high school graduation. How can I possibly stay focused on today when TOMORROW I'll be on a plane with two of my favorite guys and will have 8 full, uninterrupted days of making memories with my husband who is a truck driver and my son.

So today my 'fess up is that sometimes, no matter how you might try, it's difficult to live in today. Even beyond my upcoming trip, I find it difficult to not think about upcoming appointments, meetings, classes I'll be teaching, etc. So how is it that we are to live in today?

The answer is more complex than what I'll address right now. But it begins with staying in the Word of God. I realized last night, while I was excitedly thinking about my trip and the things I want to make sure I pack, that to stay in today, to maintain that focus above all the distractions and upcoming events, I must be in the Word. 

Stay in the Word and stay in today!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

We've talked before about thinking outside the box when schooling our children. Today, I want to talk about the benefits of a more structured curriculum with textbooks and workbooks.

A structured curriculum makes sense for homeschoolers if you are uncertain how to begin. Many curricula come with lesson plans and walk the parent through the teaching process. Textbooks can be used for more than one child and families with a lot of children like that. Workbooks that accompany the texts will need to be purchased for each child as they enter that particular grade in school. But the cost is reduced as compared to purchasing all new, full curricula for each child.

Another feature of textbook and workbooks is that there is a stronger degree of accountability for accomplishing school work. There is a record of completion for the student and test records can be recalled to quickly identify and address any learning gaps.

If you are new to homeschooling, this is a great way to begin because the curriculum companies often supply homeschooling parents with the tools they need to use the curriculum correctly and successfully.

If you are a veteran homeschooler, do you use a structured curriculum? Please feel free to add your opinions of textbook/workbook curricula, too!

Structured curricula options (Just a few!):

Abeka Book 
Bob Jones University
Christian Liberty Academy Press
Answers in Genesis
Hearts of Dakota
And many, MANY more!!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Expect Surprises!

This past Wednesday, our church bought the building we had been renting for seven or eight years. The Lord worked everything out and it was in His perfect timing. When we went to church for services on Sunday, there was a very different feel than when we were not the owners of the building. And to top it all off, the chairs we had donated to another church, were returned to us and all set up for when we came in for praise and worship! It was a wonderfully, unexpected surprise and took me back to the past 19 years we've been partnered with our pastors. But the surprises our church family experienced this weekend are not just for the church; they are for its members and in fact the whole body of Christ, too!

Did you know God wants to surprise you with good things? And He wants you to be excited about every part of your life expecting those surprises! Recently, I surprised my husband and son, in a little way, but it was so fun to be holding on to something until just the right time, knowing it would make them smile and a bit more happy that day and for days later. Our Father God is no different! He's holding on to surprises for us for just the right time, too.

Let's look at Job 5:8--

You see, there's no end to what He can and WILL do to surprise us in our lives! This week, be expecting those surprises and give Him glory for them!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

I love summertime homeschooling with my kids. There is always something new to be learned and discovered no matter what we are doing. For me, the overall goal of homeschooling is to teach my children how to learn, to be inquisitive and to try new things. Summer is a great time for that, especially as public school children head back to school.

In the summer, you can include lessons on health with regard to staying hydrated, sunburn, water safety and more. You can study a local lake, forest or other area inhabited by wildlife and use that as the basis for seasonal observations. Go for a tour of the local grocery store (many of ours in Colorado still do this!) to learn about management, commerce and supply and demand, use a trip to the grocery store to focus on math by finding the best value. Even a visit to a theme park can be included in learning operations, customer service skills, character traits and much more. The opportunities are limitless when you think outside the classroom box!

When you consider that we, as adults, learn in a non-stop manner, it only makes sense that our children would naturally gravitate toward that as well. Becoming a lifelong learner opens doors for our children that will never close as long as they continue thriving in learning!


Monday, August 10, 2015

One Word Check-Up

Earlier this year, I encouraged you to choose "One Word" to guide your year and help keep you focused. How has you "One Word" helped? Are you staying focused on what the Lord has for you? Have you struggled with reminding yourself of your "One Word"? Maybe you've even forgotten what word you actually chose for the year! Or maybe you're drawing nearer to the Lord? Is your calling becoming more and more clear? 

In this "One Word" check up, take time to re-evaluate how your year has been going. Look at the focus of your last several months. Remember, your "One Word" is supposed to help you draw closer to the Lord, keep you focused on what He has for your life this year, and drive your actions and purpose for the Kingdom of God.

How has your "One Word" allowed you to pursue the things God has for you? Take time to evaluate and look back on your year so far. He's got far more in store for you than you could ever hope, think or imagine!!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday 'Fess Up

My confession today is not one I would ever hope to be admitting. But on Monday, I was in a car accident...and it was my fault.

You see, I work with a youth organization on Monday nights and my husband is often leaving for work as I come home. I was hurrying to home to see him before he left. I was also on the phone with my older son who was in another car just ahead of us. I got distracted and ran a red light crashing into a turning vehicle. Praise God, no one was hurt!

The past several days I've been reflecting on how many "wrecks" I've gotten myself into by being distracted from God. How often have I been spared by the Lord because He has a purpose and plan that I have yet to fulfill?

Today, I want to encourage you to take time and make time for God. Don't let the things of this world distract you and cause you to wreck in life. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,  and all the things you need will be added to you (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Homeschool Hump Day Encouragement

If you homeschool year round, your schooling has likely already begun for the school year. But if you prefer a more traditional school year, you and your children are gearing up for a new year of homeschooling!! With that comes a lot of new things for you and the textbooks or workbooks, new skills, new topics, new challenges, new school supplies. Some of these are exciting and some not so much. The good news is that they don't have to steal your joy or your children's joy in learning.

There are number of ways to teach children new skills and introduce new topics. It's simply a matter of finding different ways to use them with your kids. Maybe manipulatives are best for a visual learner or a video that describes the steps for adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing will work for your auditory learner, those who do better by hearing the instruction. Or maybe your kinesthetic learner, who has to put his hands on everything to understand it, will do best when he can use a variety of objects to understand the mechanics of powering a light bulb with a battery. 

Mama, don't get discouraged if you try to teach your child one way and he just isn't catching on! Try to find a new way to show him, ask fellow homeschoolers for ideas and check out homeschooling blogs. Start this year off great by being prepared to teach differently and being flexible while they learn to take in the new topics and skills. 

Own this school year, homeschooling mama! You've so got this!!


Monday, August 3, 2015

What Are You Expecting This Year?

When my children and I go out to run errands or go on a school field trip, there is a level of expectation along with that. I expect my children will behave in the manner I have trained them. I expect the field trip to be informational and educational. I expect to learn something new on a field trip. I expect prices at the grocery store to be labeled correctly. But sometimes, the unexpected happens. A jelly jar is dropped and shatters across the aisle. It rains before our outdoor field trip. The elephant show that your kids wanted to see is cancelled because the sound system isn't working.

Our lives often look like that, don't they? With God, we can expect so much more. We can expect His favor on our lives. We can expect to see answers to prayers. We can expect Him to show up through visitations, manifestations and demonstrations. The Word says that "some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." (Psalms 20:7, NKJV). We can't put our expectations in people or things or situations or paychecks or the government or anything...except God! 

The Scriptures tell us that "this is the confidence we have in Him, that whatever we ask, according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14, NKJV), and "...whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" Mark 11:24, NKJV). We can expect to experience God's favor:

Where are your expectations this year? Have you asked the Lord to reveal His plans for you this year? It's not too late to seek Him! Start today!!