Monday, January 31, 2011

stopping to count

I don't really have time to blog today, but I don't want to miss posting my gratitude list.  It is definitely a Monday and I am feeling the need to focus on the positive things right now ...

5th Sundays fellowshipping with friends over a good meal

Sunday afternoon naps, even the ones interrupted by small voices

A Sunday evening spent at home

Watching an "old" (from the year I graduated from high-school) movie with my kids

A good night's sleep

Quiet mornings with coffee and my own thoughts before I wake up the kids

A school week completely planned out (yay!)

D looking forward to his school work every day

Children copying scripture while I count my blessings!


I hope you all have a wonderful week, full of blessings to be counted!

Friday, January 28, 2011

who flipped the switch?

Something amazing has happened in our little family.  It means much more to me than to anyone else, mainly because I never thought it would happen.

LB has become a reader.

Okay, of course she's known how to read for years and has never had any trouble reading at grade level.  But she was missing that spark, that desire to lose herself in a book and it made me sad.

You see, I didn't read books as a child, I devoured them. 
My favorite teacher was the school librarian, Mrs. Puckett.
By the time I was in junior high, when I had read everything else in the house that Mama deemed appropriate, if I had no new library books, I would read my older brothers' school books (okay, I know that is odd, but I promise it is true).  I still remember reading I Heard the Owl Call My Name.  I don't remember much of the story, but I do remember that it made me feel things that I didn't understand at the time ... hmmm, maybe I should go back and read it again ...

Anyway, back to LB ... I am not sure exactly what happened, but it is like someone flipped a switch in her brain labeled you want to read a book!  I took her to the library last Friday while the boys were getting haircuts with their Daddy and she checked out two books, both of which she had read by Monday.  Granted, they weren't challenging books, but suddenly something is different and now she wants to read more than a chapter at a time and when it comes time for her to read during school she wants to know how many chapters she can read, rather than how many she has to read.

In case you can't tell, I am very excited about this new development in LB.  I can't help it because I know how wonderful it is to be able to just lose yourself in a good book and not even realize what is happening.  I am also thinking about books that she and I can read together ... books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables come to mind.

Now, my husband wants to know where that switch is and if we can turn it on for him ...

Monday, January 24, 2011

shoutin' time ...

I may have covered this topic on this blog before, but it bears repeating ... I love music.  Specifically, I love the music of the Church.  I believe that it is one of the best gifts that God has given to the Church.  It is only in recent years that I have come to understand the power of music and how we as Christians can and should worship through music.  For years, I saw the music part of a worship service more for entertainment than worship.  Now, one of my favorite parts of singing in the choir on Sunday mornings is seeing the worship that is in the hearts of the congregation reflected on their faces.  I can't explain it and it may sound strange to you, but it lifts my heart and encourages me in ways that I just don't have words to describe.

With all that said, I want to share a song that we are practicing in choir.  I don't think I had ever heard this song before a few weeks ago and I know that I had never heard of this group that is singing in the video, but it is a great song and this group is amazing ...

...our choir won't be living up to that performance, but we will worship our Savior when we sing it and really, that is all that matters.

Continuing to count the innumerable blessings ...

The gift of music

Worship, in spirit and in truth

Witnessing the moving of the Holy Spirit


Being challenged to move out of my comfort zone, even when my fear is strong


Children singing


Thursday, January 20, 2011

a new favorite quote

Some books are to be tasted,
others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested.

Sir Francis Bacon from his essay Of Studies

Saturday, January 15, 2011

hidden treasure

I only have a few minutes to post tonight, but I've been wanting so share something I came across while looking through old greeting cards for a craft project I am working on (actually, it is almost finished and I can't wait to share pictures when I am done!).

I have a habit of keeping things for very long periods of time and sometimes I find real gems hidden among the things that I probably should have gotten rid of years ago.  This is one of those times.  I am pretty certain that I know which of the ladies at church shared this in our Wednesday night devotion time, though I am not sure exactly when it was done ... sometime around 2004 or 2005 I would guess since the cards I was looking through came from those years.  Anyway, what I found is a small white card with the following printed on it.

When hopelessness, despair, and apparently impossible crises come into our lives, there are three things we can do:

1. Receive and believe in the love an delight of our heavenly Father. 2. Never cease to pour out our hearts before Him, crying to Him.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry ... But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. Psalm 88:1-2, 13

For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places....For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me. 2nd Samuel 22:32-34; 40

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31*
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, [even] of thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Psalm 71:16-17
In the day when I cried thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul.  Psalm 138:3

* This verse isn't on the original list, but I thought it fit.
This little card encouraged me the night I found it.  I hope it brings you encouragement as well.
3. Encourage our souls with His promises daily. (Here are just a few)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11 ... daybooking again

For some time I have been wanting to get back to my weekly daybook posts, so today seemed like a good day to start.  The fact that there will be four times this year when the date is all ones has stuck out to me and so I'll commerate the 2nd of these dates with my first daybook of the new decade.

Outside my window ...
it is dark and very cold.

I am wearing ...
brown sweats and an old Old Navy t-shirt.

I am hearing ...
LB singing in the shower, probably could be blackmail material for her teen years,
but I won't go there.

I am going ...
to Book-It! tomorrow morning and to take LB to the eye doctor tomorrow afternoon.

I am noticing that ...
I am becoming more and more of a homebody.

I am thinking ...
about some rearranging I want to do in the house.

I am hoping ...
to get in bed earlier tonight than I have been the last few nights.

I am reading ...
the book of James and bits and pieces of
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.

I am creating ...
a calendar journal ... thank you Rie, for the idea!

I am remembering ...
that I have to teach British Lit again on Friday.
I have enjoyed my break, but I think I'll be glad to get back to it.

I am thankful for ...
the worst of the winter weather missing us this past weekend.

On my mind ...

Words that I am pondering ...
The work of God can only be carried on by the power of God. 
The church is a spiritual organism fighting spiritual battles. 
Only spiritual power can make it function as God ordained.
Jim Cymbala from Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

From the learning rooms ...
trying to get back in the swing of things

From the kitchen ...
the mess from supper waiting on me to come clean it up.

Around the house ...
rooms in serious need of purging

A few plans for the rest of the week ...
Book-It and eye doctor tomorrow, church tomorrow night,
monthly homeschool group meeting on Thursday night, 
hanging out at home this weekend.

One of my favorite things ...
listening to Ronnie and the kids playing (bowling on the Wii) while I blog.

A picture to share ...

Visit the Simple Woman's Daybook to join in or to find other daybooks to visit.

continuing to count

I sit in a (very) warm classroom on a cold Sunday morning and glean insights from unexpected places.  The group is a mixed one: men and women; married, divorced, widowed ... some old friends and some new.  Each one approaches the scriptures open on the table from their own unique point of view.

Verses 9 and 10 of chapter one are the jumping off point ...

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
The discussion moves around a bit and then comes back to faith.  But not faith alone ... faith with feet. 

My feet are slow, sluggish ... not always willing to move in the direction that my faith seems to be leading.  I want to confess my struggles to those in the room with me, yet I hesitate and generalize ... I take the easy way out.

I have not learned to count it all joy* when I am tempted because I fail too often and into the same temptations over and over again.  I share this general struggle and the one about money ... they are easy because we have all confessed to them at one time or another.

*James 1:2-4

And then the conversation turns and I realize that I have become so self-absorbed that I have lost sight of the struggles around me and I am ashamed.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:4
But, there is an unexpected blessing hidden in the words that follow...

Where one person sees only pain and fear, others see His Light reflected.  One of the new faces in the room describes it in military terms ... the soldier in the midst of the fight cannot see whether he is winning or losing the battle, only the general on the hill can see the big picture and knows where everyone stands. 

And this is where the beauty hides ... we are all in the trenches in our own lives, lost in the muck and mire, but we can still see the beauty in the lives around us if we are just willing to take our eyes off our own mess and look.

In this imperfect beauty is where I find my blessings for the week: 

My Sunday School class
  • our teacher or, more appropriately, our facilitator ... the youngest man in the class, yet showing wisdom beyond his years and, more importantly, a teachable spirit
  • the old friends ... the only other couple in this young adult class when we began several years ago ... they are the ones who know us better than any of the others and the ones we have come to rely on ... the struggles they have walked through have made them stronger and even now they are stretching their faith in new ways
  • the one who has been through more than most of us can imagine and yet is still faithful, still serving and still growing, even when she cannot see it in her own life
  • the new faces that we are just getting to know and yet sometimes feel as though we've known for a long time
  • my husband ... my sounding board after the final amen ... someone has to let me know when I have said too much ...
  • most of all I am thankful for the community that is being created and the sense of belonging that I have never experienced in this way before
#'s 8-14

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

community of gratitude

The coming of each new year seems to bring into focus the need for change in our lives.  As 2011 dawned, my thoughts turned, as if on autopilot, to the things that I didn't accomplish during 2010.  My first instinct was to berate myself for not having the guts intestinal fortitude (as my Daddy would say) to do what needed to be done.  But, while there is a definite need for self examination, I have come to believe that the more productive course of action is to look for forward progression among the items on the list I made last year.

Honesty being a necessity in this process, I must report some that I have moved forward in some of the areas of my life that are most in need of overhaul.  But there are a couple of glaring trouble spots in which I am afraid that the only progress may have been in the wrong direction.  One of the things most troubling to me is in the matter of contentment.  This was the focus of this post that I wrote on New Year's Day last year.  Oddly enough, both of the things that I had planned to focus on in the beginning of 2010 are areas that I am not happy with where I was with them at the end of 2010.

It is easy to diagnose the problem with reading through the Bible in one year ... it was simple ~ the readings were too long each day for my kids (especially D) to handle in one chunk each evening.  And, reading through the Bible with small children brings up some very interesting questions that I don't think we were prepared to handle with kids as young as ours.  We have chosen a different route this year.  We are planning to choose a book of the Bible and read through it, a chapter a night, until we finish that book and then choose another.  We began with the book of Daniel and are planning to alternate between New Testament and Old Testament books.

There are no simple answers to the issue of contentment.  But, I am beginning to see that contentment and faith go hand in hand.  Our pastor has claimed 2011 as The year of Faith for our church.  Based on Hebrews 11:6, he has asked us to seek to grow in our faith and I am beginning to realize that I must grow in my faith if I am ever going to be content with my life.  I continually seek to make force changes that will bring contentment, but that isn't what I am supposed to be doing, is it?  Life isn't supposed to be about making myself content, it is supposed to be about following Jesus anywhere He leads and being content on the journey.  While thinking and praying about this issue on Monday morning, God led me to this verse and it is the first I plan to memorize this year.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14
So, what does any of this have to do with a community of gratitude?  For me, as for several of my blogging friends, one way to be content is to practice gratitude for those things ~ tangible and intangible ~ that I already posess.  With that in mind, I have decided to join in with Ann @ A Holy Experience as she and many others count the endless blessings God has poured into each of our lives.  If you have never visited Ann, let me encourage you to click the link above and prepare to be blessed through her words.

The list begins ...

The awesome sacrifice of my Savior and the gift of salvation provided for me

The beautiful family I have been given ...
   A husband who loves me and allows me the freedom to stay at home
  Bright, healthy children who are teaching me even as I attempt to teach them
  Loving parents who started both Ronnie and me on the road to following Christ
  Brothers and sisters-in-law, many nephews and a few neices to gather with and  celebrate family

The church family that God has placed us in and has used to teach me what Church is truly supposed to be.  I don't have words to express how important this group of people is in my life and in the lives of my children.

New friendships that have been forged and strengthened through the new homeschool group we were part of forming last year.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011

Happy New Year!

We may not know what this new year holds for each of us,
but we know Who holds this new year and
that changes everything.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work
in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6