The Journey

This blog began in an attempt to provide resources and encouragement for homeschoolers. However, during this homeschool adventure, I've found it's also about life. Specifically about losing my own life, that I might find it in Jesus and thus discover the joy of REAL life. (Matthew 10:39)

In March, 2012, our family stepped out in faith again as we moved out to the country. The first step of faith was trusting the Lord to sell our other home before our emergency fund ran out. He is faithful, and though I was hoping this would happen sooner, He knows what we needed.

I just know that He is going to use these 5 acres and this old house to teach me even more lessons in abiding with Him...and I look forward to the Adventure!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Overflowing Bathtub or Coffee Maker?

This morning, as I lay with my warrior with the hope of helping him go back to sleep, I was thinking, praying and asking God what I could do if he fell asleep, and I got up for the day. (In other words, if I didn't get back in my bed!) Laundry, cooking, and sewing went through my mind. I told Him, of course, I could always spend time with You, but I was trying to think of something Productive to do.

Yes, I answered Him, I KNOW spending time with You IS productive, and I LOVE to do that, in fact, I could do that while the rest of the house fell down around me! However, I don't think the Lord put me here to spend all day having quiet time with Him. Please hear me, sometimes I need to do that. And, as I mentioned, I can do that VERY WELL! However, if I do nothing but let Him pour into me, how am I glorifying Him?

This brought the passage from James to mind about having faith, but no good deeds. James 2:17 says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (NIV84) That is something the Lord has been teaching me lately. 1 Corinthians 13 has been resonating with me also.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV84)

[Aside: I DO need to be sure that I'm being filled by the Lord. If asked how one can change, I'd wave my hand frantically in the air and say it's His Word alone that gives you the power to change. Praying and memorizing Scripture is the best (possibly only) way to connect knowing what we ought to do (the “rules”) to our hearts in a way that makes obedience personal. It's His Word and abiding in His Word with every step you take that makes a difference in your life. I say this to be sure you all know that I'm not one to take lightly the idea of spending quiet time with the Lord daily. I'll move on now...]

I could go on (okay, I did a little), but that's not where my thinking and praying led me. As I thought of overflowing the God's love and Spirit, a bathtub overflowing with water and bubbles came to mind. What good does that type of overflowing do? None, except to provide work for your hands! : )

I then asked the Lord to give me a better analogy. A coffee maker came to mind. Our coffee maker always has hot water in a reservoir, ready to brew some fresh, HOT coffee at a moment's notice. I put the FILTER in, then the grounds and slide the basket in above the carafe. Then I pour some fresh, cool water in the top of the coffee maker.

I don't swing the cover closed yet, because I've not put the pot under the basket to catch the coffee. There is no waiting for coffee, it will begin to “pour forth” as soon as I swing that cover closed! No, first I put some HOT water in the thermal carafe and swish it around. Why? Because when I heat up the carafe, the coffee stays hotter, longer! And I like that!

Once I put the carafe under the basket, I swing the reservoir cover closed and check the position of the carafe. I like it to drip right into the opening. The hot water sprays into the ground coffee, passes through the paper filter and into the carafe waiting below. In about 3 minutes, the coffee is ready to be poured out into my waiting mug!

I want to be like that water. First, I need to become hot - heated up - on fire - by the Holy Spirit. Next, I need to pass through the coffee grounds. Would that be the Word of God or bitter things in life? Maybe they represent the bitter things, the trials we've endured in life. Because the filter must be the Lord and His Word. Why? Because He filters out all those grounds, only allowing the water, now flavored by those grounds (trials), to pass through into the carafe waiting below.

And at that point, you begin to smell the sweet aroma of coffee filling up your kitchen. Ready to be poured out for myself and others to enjoy. WOW! [The wow was what I felt as I realized what a good analogy the Lord had given me. Especially for the challenges we've faced over the past year!]

I am reminded of all the verses in Scripture which speak of trials in this world. But, Praise God, he will turn those trials into something with a good aroma, clear and good to drink IF we add a good quality filter. (You know, there are some filters which are too short and end up letting coffee grounds up and over the side right into the carafe. That's not a pleasant way to end a cup of coffee! I don't think we ought to use that kind of filter with life's trials you?)

The best filter I know of is His Word. He's used it to filter out all kinds of things in my life! Jesus uses these words when praying for His disciples, shortly before being arrested: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17, KJV

Here is one of my favorite passages on living life, from the book of Psalms.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
Psalm 119:9-16, NIV84

Thank You, Jesus, for answering my off to shower! (I wrote this in my journal this morning.)

P.S. The best coffee filter I know of starts with a B and ends with an N. I'm not advertising here, just telling of my experience.

P.P.S.  I guess this was the answer as to what Productive thing I could do when I got up!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Musings on Roosters and Men...

The joy of guinea fowl! Last Friday I was in a hurry to get the chicken and guinea fowl back into the coop because we were leaving for the evening. I had already sent my princess and warrior inside to change their clothes, thinking I would just get the chickens and guineas into the coop, close the door and back inside I would go to change my own clothes. However, the guineas had other ideas.

All of the chickens were in and two of the three guineas. Every time I would go to grab at Snowball (our white guinea), she would duck right out of the way. To make matters worse, some of the chickens were beginning to come check out the happenings so I'd stop the chase and shoo them back in. Our rooster, Blackie, took up his spot right in the door way. How was I to encourage Snowball to go up the ramp on her own when HE was blocking the way?!? As you can imagine, I wasn't too pleased with our resident rooster...

I finally caught Snowball and put her inside the coop. As I did so, Blackie comes walking down the ramp into the chicken run! Oh, boy! I went inside the coop and, thankfully, he came back inside, and I closed the door. I hurried in to change and off we went.

My man was at the restaurant, and we were still 15 minutes away. He got seated, we were 10 minutes away. He ordered and my salad had just arrived when we sat down at the table. All in all, things worked out fine...though I did relate the story of the guineas to him with considerable emotion.

The next day, I went to let the chickens out again. As Blackie rushed out the door, he liked to be first, I thought of what had happened the previous night. I watched as Blackie walked, okay he's beginning to strut, around in the middle of the chicken run. In the middle of HIS flock. And I thought.

I thought of the many stories we've heard about mean roosters. I thought of the comment, “Roosters are good for one thing, stew!” I thought of how we wanted a rooster. I looked forward to hearing a cock-a-doodle-doo on summer mornings. After all, what's a farm without a rooster?

And as I thought, I realized something. Last night, when he was standing in the door way. And when he came down the ramp after I'd gotten Snowball inside. He was protecting HIS flock. He was helping me keep those hens and guineas in order. He was doing what our Creator created him to do...lead and protect.

And that may be the reason he's first out the door. It may be the reason he struts around, with his head held high, in the middle of the hens. It's not because he thinks he's so grand. He has a job to do. And that's another reason we wanted a rooster, to help protect our hens from predators! How's he going to do that if I'm shooing him away while he's doing his job?

I think you can guess where I'm going with this. The Lord has a way of taking something you're looking at and applying it to other areas of our lives. I thought about men. I thought of how many times they are maligned in our words and actions. Just like the comments about roosters being good for stew, we comment that our husbands are only good for <fill in the blank>.

Oh, you're being too harsh, you might think. It's not really the same thing. We don't talk that way about our men. If you doubt me, think of some of the recent sitcoms that have been on. “What about Raymond?” comes to mind. How is Raymond portrayed? A strong leader of his home and family, whom his wife respects, appreciates and looks to for wisdom. Or a doofus, who couldn't find his way out of a paper bag. Are his children learning to look up to him or laugh at him? Admittedly, I've only seen that show a few times, but the general impression I got was Raymond is a blockhead!

We, women, cry out for a man to lead us, but when they do, we scold and nag them for not doing it right (read: our way). No wonder our culture has problems! Just as our Creator made roosters to protect their flock, He made our men to protect their families and those who have no protector. They are problem solvers. They want and need something to focus their attention and energy on that will serve their loved ones.

How can you say that, you might ask. Well, I'm learning about it with my 7 year old warrior. When he has productive work, he does great! He helps me in the kitchen. He lets the chickens out. He helps me with the laundry. He goes out to the mailbox and brings in the mail. He also does his school work well, often with much enthusiasm. And he plays well too, as long as it's grabbed his attention.

However, when he's left to his own devices and has yet to find something to engage him, watch out! It's then that he annoys his sister. It's then that he throws a ball around the room. It's then that he generally wanders around aimlessly and ends up trying the patience of all who are around. He needs purpose. (Don't we all?)

And when I was pushing Blackie back into the chicken coop, I wasn't letting him do what he was made to do. And when I get on my son's case for getting up from the dinner table to get us all napkins (or climbing on counters to get cups), I'm not letting him do what he was made to do. And when I tell my husband, no you're not doing <that> right, I'm chipping away at his confidence and desire to lead our family the way God created him to.

So, the next time you see a funny commercial involving a “dumb guy” in any number of possible scenarios, ask yourself what message is being sent to our sons and husbands. Is that what you want them to think of themselves? Is that the kind of leader you'd like for your family? I'll pass on that. I'll take my man just the way God made him, quirks and all. I'll thank the Lord for His graciousness in allowing us to grow together in our faith. And I'll keep praying for Jesus to help me be the wife He wants me to be, the wife my husband needs to be the leader in our family.

When Blackie has pecked my man, his response has been to pick our rooster up and pet him. When recounting this to someone, they recalled that they'd heard that's a good thing to do. Perhaps I ought to apply that to my son and husband. Instead of pecking back when they're a little out of sorts, I ought to love them more. I think I've heard that somewhere before...

Lead on, Blackie, lead on...

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33, NIV84

P.S. Since stories of persnickety roosters first reached my ears, I have been praying over our rooster. I've prayed that the Lord would make him a good rooster with an amiable personality. I trust Him to answer those prayers, after all, He's the One who gave Blackie to us.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Raise Your Hand if You're Good...

I got to thinking about being “good” again last night. It is so tempting to believe that if we're “good enough” we'll go to heaven upon our death. It brought to mind the song about Santa knowing if we've been naughty or nice. Because he's only going to give good gifts to those who have been nice for the previous year. If you've been naughty, though, the consequence will be a gift of coal. How many people do you know of who woke to find coal in their stockings?

How does this image of Santa affect our view of God? And how does it affect our view of our own “goodness” or “worthiness?” We are bombarded with messages like, “You deserve a break today” and “Have it your way” from fast food chains. As moms, we're encouraged to take time for ourselves, away from our families and the stress they cause us. Is this all really true?

Will the Lord be like Santa when it comes time to enter those pearly gates we hear about? Not to say that everyone will be able to enter those gates, after all, we all would agree that those who murder innocent children and adults will be rejected, right? I'm sure there are a few names spinning through our heads right now of those who fit into this category. But as for the rest of us, are we, in our basic human nature, inherently good? All we have to do is be “good enough” to step right through those pearly gates, right?

This might be a good time to define good. Here is an applicable definition of good according to, “2a (1): virtuous, right, commendable <a good person> <good conduct> (2): kind, benevolent <good intentions>.” That sounds good, I mean we all want to believe that, don't we?

But the Word of God tells a different story. We might have a tendency to think of it as a harsh story, one filled with outdated rules, wrath for disobedience, and a life devoid of fun and adventure. But that's not true! One only has to look at Paul's life to find a God who loves to extend mercy and forgiveness to sinners, including murderers, like Paul. And talk about adventure!

Paul boasts in 2 Corinthians 11 about frequently being in prison, being flogged, beaten with rods, and stoned. He continues to say he's been in danger from rivers, bandits, his own countrymen, Gentiles, in the city, in the country, at sea, and from false brothers. He worked hard and often went without sleep, food, and drink. That sounds far from living a boring life. And he's not talking about video games or movies either, he's living them out because of his faith in Christ as his Lord and Savior!

The Word of God also tells us the truth about ourselves. We've all sinned and have fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). What do you mean we've ALL sinned? What have I done wrong? I am a nice person. I do all kinds of good things. What do you mean by “sin” anyway?

According to Jesus Himself, murder is not just killing someone and adultery is not just...well, you know. Read the following two passages from Matthew 5 to see what He says about these two items of law found in the famous Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22, NIV84)

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28, NIV84)

Perhaps you're one of the few who has not fallen in either of these ways. What about lying? You might say, I don't lie! What about the so called “white lies?” (Why are they called white anyway, are they somehow more pure than other lies? And are there “black lies?”) Another commandment given is to not give false testimony about your neighbor. In a nutshell, that means we may not lie. About anyone. Anything. To anyone. Ever. So what, you ask? What's the big deal about a little lie?

Well, it's a really big deal according to the Lord. James, who was a brother to Jesus, writes that if we break just one point in the law we are considered one who has broken the entire law. Read it for yourself:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point
is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10, NIV84

Knowing this, is there anyone who can claim to be without sin? Not really, but we do love to turn a blind eye to this truth. The Lord knows this too! We read in 1 John that when we say we haven't sinned we are lying to ourselves and “the truth is not in us.” In claiming this, we are calling Jesus a liar. James says if this is so, the Word of God has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:8,10, NIV84) BUT... “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, NIV84)

It is Jesus Who purifies us. He makes us righteous. Through faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe that He is the Son of God. Wholly human. Wholly divine. We must believe that His life had to be sacrificed for ours. He made a way for us to be reunited with the Lord Himself. (Romans 2:21-26).

You see, it's not about our good works, it's about His Grace. We've been saved by His Grace, through faith. And this faith doesn't come from us. It's a gift from Him. It's not through our works. Why? So that no one can boast that he did it himself. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God does it all. Past. Present. Future.

When we are ready to leave our darkness of sin behind and walk in the Light of His Truth, His Word, then it's time to come to Jesus. As we confess our sins and ask Him for forgiveness, we can look forward to a new life in Him. (1 John 1:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Then we need to receive the gift of faith and seek Him. For “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV84)

Do you believe He exists? Our Creator put knowledge of Him inside of all of us, all you have to do is look around to see evidence of His handiwork. We are without excuse! (Romans 1:19-20) So seek Him earnestly. Look for Him as if you were looking for lost or hidden treasure! (Proverbs 2:4) Seek Him wholeheartedly and you will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13) God is faithful, and if you seek Him, He will be found by you. Praise the Lord!

When you put your hope in Him and look to Him for help, you will find a happiness that lasts longer than that new outfit (jewelry, car, home, etc.) you bought. Or that party of the year you were invited to. Or that game you won. (Psalm 146:5, NKJV)

And then, if someone says to raise your hand if you're good, you can raise your hand, not because you're good, but to announce, “I have Jesus as my Lord. Apart from Him I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:2) And you will know true joy and the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) Because you have given the reigns of your life over to Him. All of your joys. All of your sorrows. All of your sinful tendencies.

**If you have more questions about following the law and being good, may I invite you to read the book of Romans? If you do, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your heart to His goodness and the gift He is holding out to you.**

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:9, NIV84