Over at YouVersion, they've put up 20 different Bible reading plans. From read the Bible in a year to read the Bible in 90 days to read the Psalms in 30 days or the gospels or... the list goes on... And the plans range for maturity, such as read the Old Testament in two years. You know that is some serious study! Or quicker, lighter reading for those just getting started.
Last year, I aimed to read the Bible in a year. I've never done that. And last year wasn't the year for it either. In fact, I don't think I made it to March. I was still reading not quite daily, but I didn't manage to read the entirety of the book.
Well, this new year, I've challenged myself. To read the Bible in 90 days! If I get behind this way, I'll still have 3/4 of the year to catch up! But, really I'm going to try to read it in 90 days. I totally think I can do this!
About a year ago, we found our new church home. And I love it. I love the worship. It edifies. I love to serve. It edifies too, but differently. And I love the new relationships. I am a new person. Christ makes me new each day, each day that I submit my will to His spirit. Well, in these new relationships, I'm seen for who I am now, who Christ has continually transformed me to be. These new people don't see my baggage: my pain, my sin, my shame. They see who Christ has made me.
Here's how I know. The leader in the elementary room, where I serve, wrote me these words in a Christmas card. It blessed me so profoundly, I have to share.
I am so amazed as I sit back and watch your gifts unfold before my eyes! Thank you for allowing the Lord to use them for His kids. you are a very special woman and I consider it a true blessing to serve with you. You have a purity and tenderness that is so unique. I can't wait to see what God has in store for you next!
I think it is so profound, because there are bits in there that I don't fully believe about myself, yet Christ has made me: pure and tender. If she can see that and Christ, who has created that in me, can see that in me, then shouldn't I see that in myself?!
And, if I were to embrace this truth, what a profound impact it could have on my life!
Until now, my life verse has been from Romans. That God can take my life and the hurt and the shame in my life and he can use it for good, because I love God and He loves me.
As I say goodbye to this year, 2009, I embrace that verse and I believe it fully. I believe God has healed my brokenness and that He can work it all out for good. Now, I am going to start living it. I'm focusing less on the hurt and more on the promise.
My goal this new year is to live my life, submitted to the spirit, embracing all that He has in store for me!
Over at our church, we are raising hope. The goal is to raise funds to purchase water systems in partnership with Water Missions International. A few weeks ago, we came home with some water bottles full of 'dirty water.' I talked to the children about people in far away places who gather dirty water to drink; even to clean. We agreed to take the water challenge. Although we rarely drink anything other than water, we've been committed to water these last few weeks. And we've been mindful to give thanks for its' being clean. We replaced that dirty water in the bottles (it was actually tea) with coins, saved from beverages not purchased. And at night we prayed for the children and their families who need clean water.
Today, I was distracted with the making of breakfast, only to turn around and see that my young son, in all his 2-ness (is that a word? I'm making it up, if it isn't. I shall use it more. I'm sure I have the stories for it!), had filled his bottle with water. All his coins were soaking in water. He made clean water dirty. Good thing there were no bills in there. Grrr... And proceeded to dump it down the sink drain. Thankfully, the coins did not escape the sink. And they are currently drying, to be bottled again and delivered at the Christmas eve celebration. If only the water crisis were this easy to fix...
The birth of Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, so I really want to find ways to focus our celebration on Him; to create family traditions centered around this value. We do this in many of the ways other families with similar values do (birthday cake, using a child- friendly Nativity, etc.)
This year, I want to focus on giving. For the children's grandmothers, a special gift was made. At church, the children selected an angel from the giving tree and helped to select items for the child. We've been reading stories like the Charlie Brown Christmas story, and Winnie-the- Pooh's Christmas story.
We were reading this last story tonight, in which Pooh forgets to get gifts for his friends. After some help from Christopher Robin, he selects stockings for his friends. But, he is much to exhausted to put anything into these stockings. On Christmas morning, his friends are all delighted with their gifts, which they have repurposed from stockings to other useful things. The overall message is about giving and I just love that.
I love that my children can learn from their favorite literary characters that Christmas is about extending love; giving gifts. Oh sure, they are anxious to see what lies under the Christmas tree (or in our closet, as the case may be). They are eager to point to the things which they want too. Thankfully, we've only had them out in the madness a couple times!
And, I love when these ideas enter their pretend play, where they make the ideas real. When they go about their play, wrapping up toys or random items w/ tissue or a t-shirt or whatever is suitable for covering and present it to one another- or me. And to point out how good it feels to give- even if it is just in play. These are the things I treasure.
I love my church. Being home most days with my children means on the weekends, I have to make wise choices about where we go and what we do. I want every moment to count. Church is high on my list and the grocery store with it :) I am so encouraged there and I love the worship. I live on worship. It is my daily bread... and too often through the week, I go hungry.
Recently, I started volunteering in the elementary room. It's the age I taught when I was a teacher, an employed teacher. And it's good for me to be around these guys, a little like that daily bread bit.
The point of this all is:
Tonight there was a volunteer appreciation deal going on, and I was invited! So, it rained all day, and my husband got home late... And I was still wearing my pajamas from the night before- ewe! But the week before I had been strongly encouraged to go. So, I went for it. And I am so glad I did!
First, I put my kids in bed, so they wouldn't suspect anything. Then changed clothes, because- ewe! I have a little self-respect and I went. Lots of fun conversation and yummy treats... some giveaways. Which I seemed to miss out on the giveaway ticket bit, and I would have won, if I had entered a ticket, but I didn't and it's hard to win with no ticket.
And then there was singing! One reason I really love being at church is the opportunity to sing. We have an awesome worship leader. The Bible says, 'Make a joyful noise'. And I let all that is in me PRAISE! And sometimes, I have a sore throat afterwards, but it is totally worth it! So, tonight, I really enjoyed the band's music and I really wanted to sing along, but I had respect for the people around me, and since noone else was singing so much, I just kept that all to myself... .
But, then she invited us to sing along... And you know something?! It blesses me to sing praises to my Lord.
And some days are hard. Being a mom is a hard job. IF all I'm living for are the full tummies and the happy children and the clean dishes and the clean laundry and the ___ and the ___, I am setting myself up for some serious disappointment. And I have been disappointed, in myself and my struggles with mothering.
BUT, to live for something else, to live to Sing and make joyful praises to my King, my Lord, my Saviour, my God, lying in a manger and hanging on the cross, but most of all redeemed and preparing a place for me... There can be no disappointment in that. And, it fills me up and keeps me going for another day. So, when I sing, I SING. And, I don't know what it sounds like when it comes out of my mouth, but I pray that the Holy Spirit makes it pleasing to His ears.
And tonight, someone noticed. And that is a little embarrassing, because I don't want to draw attention to myself, only to Him. So, maybe He can take this talent, and use it for His purpose and His kingdom. That'd be good.
I didn't post my thankfulness last night, because we were doing this:
And I don't have an excuse for the night before... exhaustion, perhaps?!
I'm linking to Fight Back Friday. I haven't done that in a long time... but I'd like to get back into that habit.
Last night, we used the Arrowhead Mills cookie kit to make Christmas cookies. There were sugar cookies and little gingerbread men. I loved this kit!
The ingredients were all natural. They also didn't include any dairy or egg or nut products. I was able to substitute oil for butter and egg replacer for eggs and not worry about my boys having an allergic reaction.
I love to bake with my kids; there are many lessons to be learned throughout the process. However, I really appreciated the convenience of adding a couple ingredients and being able to get to the fun part quickly! The cookie cutters were small enough for my kids to comfortably use and be independent. And small enough that they could eat a few without having to much sugar.
You could purchase or make icing for these cookies. A recipe was included for icing. I chose to add some all natural sprinkles and a little sugar before baking, and the toppings stuck on just fine.
Merry Christmas! Thanks for reading.
P.S. I wasn't paid for posting about Arrowhead Farms. I just really liked this product, and my kids did too!
But tonight, I won't be writing a thousand words.
The mother of the young lady I am tutoring is a photographer for a local studio. She borrowed a camera a month or so ago and did some photos of my children. I have been itching to see some of the prints. Email me, why don't you?! I even asked if I could give her a disc and get them copied?! PLEASE?!!! You see, I knew they were really great photos and I was so eager to see them- and make some copies to send to grandparents for Christmas. But, wait I must. And I did.
Because today, y'all. She gave me a gift. A most beautiful gift. She had done some editing to these precious photos and made my children look so beautiful... Really. They are beautiful, but these pictures captured it like no picture I have ever taken. And you know what she did? She had them made into a book for me! A real book. It is so beautiful, I about cried.
Because some days are tough. Parenting is tough. But to see my children in this light. Beautiful photos. Well, words just can't say it. It just makes me think about them for the way God wants me to think about them- blessings. Real. Life. Blessings.
This evening I'm so thankful for my church. We've been attending for about a year now (after leaving a church split a few years ago and looking around for just the right place), but I've really gotten involved in the past six months or so. It's so fun to build new relationships. There are a few ladies, slightly older than me who are encouraging and uplifting to be around. I am so thankful for them and their direction.
This past weekend, the children's church hosted a special service for the families. We got to watch our preschoolers sing and dance on the stage. My little boy just stood there on the stage, mouth gaping, looking all around him, seeking out a familiar face (even though he knew the words!!!). It was so sweet! And my little girl, who normally is so careful and LOVES to dance all around, stood their stiff as a board, but still singing her heart out. And trying to clap. Poor thing, she's got my lack of rhythm.
Having an active role in an environment which blesses me is an extra blessing!
I am tutoring a young lady in reading and writing. My goal is to make her a life long reader/writer because now she just isn't into it. So, I've given her an assignment and by giving it to myself too, I hope to get blogging again. Here's my assignment:
Take 5 minutes at the day's end to write about one of these things
- Something which happened and I'm thankful for it,
- Something which happened and it challenged me or made me grow in some way,
- Some way in which I saw God working in my life to teach me something or to bless me,
- or anything else along these lines...
My assignment begins tonight! Here's hoping I don't get too repetitive or boring, but hopefully this will get me back to thinking each day! Writing is thinking.