Friday, June 30, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Season of Change

When I chose my word for the year I should've chosen the word change but I didn't realize how much of it I'd be seeing in the days ahead. And we have more of it coming.

Some of you know I've been a CC Director for the past five years and transitioned into SR {Support Rep} this past January which has led me to step down from Directing = change.

We lost the church we were meeting at for CC and we know God will provide but we'll be meeting on a different day = change.

Emily will be entering 7th grade and we will still be homeschooling and participating in CC but it will mean a change in our schedule and routines of school. And Samuel will be in Essentials for the first time this year as a rising 4th grader.

Mainly I've been thinking about change as it relates to our home/school schedule. We have been pretty deeply settled into our current routine for a number of years and as we all know change is not bad but it is still change and requires some adjustment!

I've been thinking about how to adjust our schedule and rearrange things like when to go to the grocery store and when to have Slow Day in light of these changes coming our way. And one thing that has jumped out at me this summer is a reminder of my need to journal. This is something I have let fall through the cracks in the last year or more - probably since finishing my book.

Speaking of books, a little update is that my book is still on Amazon. We did have sort of a breakthrough in things with the publisher and although we did plan to stop working with them, it is still there and I'm not entirely sure why and that is ok for now. Thank you for your support in this!

I have a second book in the works although I say that loosely because I wrote about half of it last summer and have only added one chapter since then. I'm praying that God will provide the time and motivation to finish as He did on my first book! I'm so excited about it and look forward to sharing more in the future!

Where was I? Oh yes, journaling. This is something I want to prioritize time for when we get into our back to school rhythm.

Essentially I'm taking what has been working for me for years and trying to see it as a recipe - what ingredients need to be regularly present in our successful home schedule:

- Mondays are my most productive day
- Slow Day has been the day after CC
- lots of time at home
- one day for errands
- Fly Lady chores
- menu planning and shopping once a week
- time for beauty {hint: see second book mention above!}
- Quiet Time and journaling

Another thing that has worked for me is to work at something in daily chunks. For example I want to finish a blog book, I will set a daily or weekly goal and then chip away at it making steady progress.

Another key ingredient for me is good time in the Word before my day begins. I get up early though it is hard to get up before everyone else as there are a couple of early risers in our home! The hardest thing for me is that once I get going, I don't want to stop and never feel like I have enough study, process, read, pray time! Again, I remind myself that a few minutes here and a few minutes there add up to a consistent investment of truth.

During this season of life, I know that my time is more limited with the callings I have on my time as a wife, mother and home educator not to mention many other smaller things. When I prioritize this time with God, it does make a difference in my day and the other things that threaten to overwhelm me fall gracefully into His care of me.

Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

A few other thoughts I'm keeping in mind as we continue in this season of change:

God's purpose will succeed and His Word will accomplish His purposes: Isaiah 55:11, " shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

John 5:36, "But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me."

Romans 15:17-18a, "In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me..."

Ezra 7:10, "For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel."

Psalm 27:11, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path..."

Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."

Deuteronomy 6, "Now this is the commandment - the statutes and the rules - that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.

Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you - with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant - and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 

It is the Lord God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you - for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God - lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested hi at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.

When your son asks you in time to come, "What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?" then you shall say to your son, "We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.

And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be a righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he commanded us.'" 

Talking about home and routines and such is a topic I'm really interested in so now I'd love to hear what works for you and/or what isn't and what you are praying about adjusting this Fall!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Thoughts on Sibling Bickering Part 2

We've had a chance to let all the input simmer a couple of days, now I have some ideas for how to practically work this out in our homes.

Here is my list of steps as I'm thinking about how to manage this with grace and truth:
- memorize any/all of the verses we looked at on Tuesday; I'm thinking of starting with Ephesians 4:29-32
- talk through these verses together in a neutral time: not when something is needing dealt with; define words, discuss God's Word and what it means in our home and hearts

In the midst of a disagreement:
1. take a deep breath, pause, ask God for help
2. consider asking any of the questions below
3. keep it brief and then move on

- Are you doing everything you can to live at peace with each other?
- Are you considering others as better than yourselves?
- Are the words of your mouth pleasing to God?
- How can you replace your attitudes/actions/feelings?
           Put off:                                                       Put on:
           * bitterness                                                 * tenderheartedness
           * wrath, anger                                            * forgiveness
           * malice, slander, clamor                           * imitate Christ
- Consider your words:
   * Are they building up?
   * Are they fitting?
   * Are they full of grace?

Another idea is to learn a song or hymn together as a family - let that be in our hearts and minds so that when we come to a situation we have something to draw on.

Steve Green: Encourage One Another
Steve Green: Think About Such Things
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Pass It On
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Take My Life and Let It Be

Choose a consequence:
- no dessert: no sweet words come out, nothing sweet goes in
- no technology privileges
- mouth washed out
- taste something bitter
- write verses {Proverbs especially} about the tongue
- other privileges or outings revoked

Please share your ideas and thoughts!

PS: If you are looking for encouragement on taming the tongue, check out the 30-day Power of Words challenge from Nancy Leigh Demoss Wolgemuth and Revive our Hearts ministry starting July 1st!

Also I love this list of Scriptures found on Pinterest!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Slow Day

Mud Pies with nature goodies
Reading books
Blooming lavender
Mini Golf - my Dad won!!
Sunset and mountains
Free figure skating exhibition one Friday evening
Croquet in the backyard
A bunny living in my parents backyard - named Maple or Buttons depending on which of my girls you ask ;)

* these photos are not from one single day but a collection of slow moments over the last week or so

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Thoughts on Sibling Bickering Part 1

After my hike, I headed to my usual spot on the Castle Terrace. It was empty and quiet when I arrived and very inviting with sunlight filtering through trees, the dishware of the Tea wafting through open windows and the trickle of water from the fountain nearby. But shortly after sitting down, a group arrived and I struggled to concentrate - so I moved to yet another spot next to the creek. The water moving provided a lovely natural noise barrier to other things going on around and also a peaceful sound to sit quietly with.

One of the things I really wanted to spend some time thinking through was how to handle little arguments and bickering between my children. My children are just like yours and all other children everywhere and even me when I was a child. They don't always get along with their siblings!

As their mom and one who helps to lead and shape them, I have felt very inadequate lately at how to respond to this. I know that these moments are golden in how I respond and I want to utilize them wisely to help them learn and grow. Often in the face of another disagreement, I find myself almost paralyzed. I take a deep breath and pray for wisdom and then sort of fumble my way through it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and shut down - another disagreement?

So while I had some time alone to process, I really wanted to ask God about this - how should I be handling it? What is the lesson here? How can I be more effective as a mother in discipling these souls in my care?

Before church, I did a quick search online for suggested Scripture to use in guiding my time of processing this dilemma. One verse that came up quickly was Ephesians 4:29-32,

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

So first of all, I dug into these verses:

- v. 29: let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for:
* building up
* fitting for the occasion
* full of grace

- v. 30: the very next thought expressed is that we not grieve the Holy Spirit; think of what we have received from Him and how our response should be to live a life set apart for Him as much as possible.

- v. 31: get rid of the following:
* bitterness
* wrath
* anger
* clamor
* slander
* malice

Consider how Jesus did not tattle on others or try to get them in trouble and He did not wear Himself out trying to defend Himself. He spoke TRUTH and He offered forgiveness. Keep in mind truth is not an invitation to say what you want to get it off your chest - truth is God's Word.

As I was thinking about this - a couple more verses came to mind:

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

Teach my children how to give the Phil. 4:8 test:
- is it true?
- is it noble?
- is it right?
- is it lovely?
- is it admirable?
- is it excellent?
- is it praiseworthy?

Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." 

Luke 6:45, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." 

Philippians 2:14, "Do all things without complaining and arguing."

- v. 32 {now back to Ephesians 4}: replacement theology - we saw in verse 29 what to get rid of and now we see what to put on:
* be kind to one another
* tenderhearted
* forgiving one another
* follow Christ's example

Think of this: what has God forgiven me for? How would He respond? In fact, I just looked down at Ephesians 5:1 {the very next verse} and it says, "Be imitators of God, as beloved children." And verse 2 begins with "walk in love."

Be a fragrance/an aroma of Christ's presence in our hearts.

Ok, one more passage for today:

Mark 8:11-13, "The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from Heaven to test Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit and said, 'Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.' And He left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side."

I really appreciated coming across this passage. Jesus is dealing with arguing! Yes, please show me how to handle it! I take a couple of simple things away from these verses:

* Jesus sighed deeply {I envision this like a deep breath - you know the kind like you are trying not to say something you shouldn't!?} and the best part is that we know He never sinned. So while He may have been frustrated or aggravated, He did not sin. He took a deep breath - a pause.

* Jesus replied simply: He did not get caught in an hour long debate or discussion over the matter. He questioned their lack of faith and simply said no. The end. I can learn from this not to drag the matter out longer than necessary especially needing to consider if my audience is even receptive at the moment. Keep it short and to the point addressing the heart if possible.

* Jesus left: again He did not belabor the moment, short and sweet and then on His way. I get so emotionally involved in trying to handle these situations that it is hard for me to keep it short or to walk away but what an example.

Now that we've taken all that in, let's consider how to practically apply. That part is coming Thursday!

Side note: I wonder sometimes what to share here and what to keep in my journal, but the bottom line for me comes when I think of my children as adults and parents reading through these thoughts of my heart. I want them to know me, to know the struggles and realities of what I've gone through and if they can learn something from this and it helps or encourages them in any way then it is a success to me and why I share.

So how do you handle arguing in your home?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Sunday Afternoon Hike

I started my annual afternoon retreat Sunday after church and dinner. The quiet drive is the first deep breath of my time alone. This year, I started out a little bit differently - on my way, I stopped at my favorite overlook for a couple of photos of the stunning beauty I miss seeing on a regular basis. I used to occasionally take my lunch break at this overlook and it remains one of my favorite views!

It was overcast and not chilly or overly warm. The yucca blooms seemed such a lovely focal point with the backdrop of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. But I didn't want to spend too much time here as I was eager to get off to my retreat.

A few minutes later, upon arriving at my home for the afternoon - I sort of impulsively decided to do something different. I parked in a new spot and took a walking path for the first hour. I noticed rock formations and wildflower blooms of Indian paintbrush and little mountain bluebells, many shades of the color green, various cacti and various rugged mountain nature embellishments.

When taking a retreat like this it can be easy to have too high of expectations. Wanting it to be a spiritual mountaintop, expecting to hear something life-changing from God and His Word, looking for a breakthrough on something specific. I had a couple of small things in mind that I wanted to process but mostly I just wanted to retreat and to refresh.

I was reminded by the burned trees in the distance of the raging fire a few years ago and how this place was generously spared though extremely close to where the fire destroyed so much. I was reminded of walking this trail years ago as part of a staff meeting. And I was reminded of how much I love the mountains, remembering our wedding in the Castle and so many lunch breaks on the grounds in various places.

This place has held a special place in my heart for a long time and it continues to be a place that I love to come. I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to visit and take these afternoons to be restored and in God's presence.

Every corner on the trail that I rounded brought a new perspective as the trail rose gradually higher. The layers of mountains became more visible. Colorado air has such a sweet and fresh smell to it almost all the time but when on the trail, it is more pronounced with woodsy scents. The scrub oak seems familiar and adds a spicy scent along with pine trees and more.

When I see the high foothills, I feel small and yet so safe as I ponder the majesty and beauty of the Creation we see before us which points my heart to its Maker. The various shades of red dirt and rock, the ruggedness. I know every place has its beauty but there is something about this place for me. Do you find that in the place where you spent the majority of your growing up years? It holds a special draw and place in our hearts for years to come?

I also thought of this: from this perspective the Castle seems so small but when you are right up on it, it is so big I get distracted thinking of how the original plan came to be, how all those stones were cut and moved to this location and built so elegantly and beautifully. The craftsmanship that has held up over time with quarter sawn oak walls and innovations beyond its time. Isn't this sort of like life? When I take a different path or even just a few steps back, it can really change or widen my perspective that is so narrow up close.

I was sort of wishing I'd brought my journal and Bible with me on the hike - but as I came back to my car, the sun came out and I was eager to find another spot to sit and reflect. More tomorrow!