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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blessings #43-75

Jan 15, 2014 a gift worngiven away, shared
#43 socks from my Mommy :)
#44 making a quilt for my cousin
#45 a cookie with my son

Jan 16, 2014 3 witnessed blessings
#46 a wedding
#47 a baptism
#48 a helping hand

Jan 17, 2014 a gift bringing laughter, prayer, quiet
#49 my son's interpretation of a British accent ;)
#50 a text from my sister
#51 my boys sleeping in

Jan 18, 2014 3 gifts from God's Word
#52 James 1:2-4, 12 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing....Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
#53 Isaiah 41:10 "...fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
#54 Jeremiah 29:11-14 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord , and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord , and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."

Jan 19, 2014 3 gifts that might never have been
#55 my children
#56 my marriage
#57 my thirties

Jan 20, 2014 3 gifts only seen close up
#58 my feet in the sand ;)
#59 the real color of my husband's eyes
#60 the wrinkles on my hands

Jan 21, 2014 a gift in the sky, water, memory
#61 the moon on a clear night, knowing my mom sees the same one many miles away
#62 stones from the river bed made smooth over time
#63 walking in a frozen lake for the first time

Jan 22, 2014 a gift wrinkled, smoothed, unfolded
#64 baby clothes packed for years in my hope chest
#65 new fabric
#66 a handwritten letter

Jan 23, 2014 3 gifts found in Christ
#67 my salvation
#68 unconditional love
#69 peace

Jan 24, 2014 3 things blue
#70 my birthstone
#71 the ocean
#72 my son's new shirt

Jan 25, 2014 a grace borrowed, found, inherited
#73 a book
#74 a ring
#75 a handmade quilt on our bed from my husband's grandmother

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Forgetting

Philippians 3:13-14 says-
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

My husband read these verses to me this morning and short commentary from his devotional book. Even though I have heard these words many times, I had him read aloud to me once more. Something about it bothered me...my husband could see that, but I couldn't explain why "forgetting what lies behind " troubled me so much.

As I discussed this frustration with my husband, one thing became clear...I don't want to forget what lies behind...
Oh. THAT'S what it was.

I grabbed my bible. I'm no theologian, but I wanted to read it in the right context. I wanted to know what Paul said before and after, who he said it to. Maybe that would help me. And I prayed... Surely God would give me wisdom to understand this!

I have to say, it made me very uncomfortable to read God's Word telling me to forget what lies behind and then realize I had no intention of doing so! Here's why:
By remembering the mess I left behind, the nightmare I was rescued from, I have a clearer picture of who I am today because of Christ. By forgetting, I felt that I wouldn't give proper glory and honor to Him who deserved it all. I needed the contrast of light vs dark, good vs evil, LIFE vs DEATH. I needed it to see clearly.
I don't ever want to forget.
But I also don't want to burdened by it. I have freedom in Jesus that allows me to move forward, to press on toward the goal.
Is that what this means? Or am I inviting trouble? My desire is to obey God...

I welcome your thoughts on this too.

Photo: My husband and I, just a month or two before we were saved. Despite our smiles, we were not "happy" and were each a wretched disaster. God is good. :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homesick

God is good.
Although I have moved over 30 times in my lifetime, I have been privileged to live in some very beautiful locations over the years. My current home in southern Oregon is no exception. Tucked in a little valley along the Rogue River, surrounded by mountains and trees, I am blessed.
But...
I'm homesick like crazy.
 
From the my childhood days in Lake Arrowhead, running wild and free in the mountains, listening for my dad's whistle to call us home.
 
And those dazed and confused years bumming around the beaches and bars, yet finding such strength and peace in the crashing waves on the shore, spending my quiet time sitting on the sand. Little did I know that God was calling my name even then.
 
To my years in Orange County, making a mess of myself in the hustle and bustle of city living, but later finding Christ there in the midst of it all, saving me from myself forever.
 
I'm a cali girl at heart. I grew up all over southern California, and while I don't miss the "speed of life", I miss the warm beaches and sunshine. Even more than that, I miss my family and friends.
But God is good...all the time!
 
Praying for a visit home soon. It's been much too long...


Photo: Oceanside Pier, artwork by yours truly, circa 1994
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Work Heartily

We've all been there.
·Customer service reps that are too busy socializing with co-workers instead of attending to customers.
·A cashier that doesn't bother to greet you or make eye contact after you've loaded hundreds of dollars worth of groceries onto the belt.
·A phone call put on hold...and forgotten.

Good customer service is out there, but it is experiences like these that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Or at least that's how I feel.

This week, my cell phone bit the dust. Since my husband is the "primary" on the account, he has to be present to make any changes. We coordinated our schedules to meet at our local cellular store after work. And to make our visit go faster, I stopped in a day earlier and Mr Friendly&Helpful told me my options and showed me the phones I was eligible for. Thank you very much! We'll be back tomorrow.

Typically there is a short wait, so when we arrived, we gave them our names and took a seat. When the young man called our names, we followed him to his desk, sat down, and explained the problem. Since I had already been informed of our options, we wasted no time in telling him which phone I was interested in getting. So far, so good.

Then he asked for our phone number to pull up our account.
Ding ding (buzzz)... what was that?
Ding ding (buzzz)... oh. It's HIS phone.
I was shocked to sit there and watch Mr CantBeBothered slide his phone across his desk and check the message. And then he asked us for our phone number again because he wasn't listening the first time.

It was so cute when he asked me if I wanted all my contacts transferred to my new phone! Seriously? All while he was returning a text. 3 times this happened as we sat there in shock.

God bless my husband. I left him there to handle the rest of the details before I made a scene. I just couldn't believe it.

Colossians 3:23-24 says-
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

I don't know if Mr CantBeBothered is a believer. I know he certainly wasn't working heartily for his employer, left alone anyone else. Sadly, this type of "service" is quite common, yet there still is an expectation of reward. Why?

All of my years of employment were spent in customer service: retail, food service, tourism, hospitality, sales, and as an event coordinator. My husband's resume looks similar. Neither one of us can relate to this even being called "service".

I like to think that God's Word gives us a great example in Luke 12 of the type of workers, or servants, we should aim to be.

Luke 12:35-37, 42-43 says-
“Stay dressed for action  and   keep your lamps burning,  and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.  And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Be like the faithful and wise manager. Be ready. Work hard. Receive the blessing of the Lord!


Photo: borrowed from The Time-Warp Wife at timewarpwife.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blessings #34-42

Still counting my blessings!

Jan 12, 2014
Something Above, Below, Beside
#34 the roof above my head
#35 the pillow beneath my head
#36 my wonderful, beloved husband :)

Jan 13, 2014
3 Things About Myself That I Am Grateful For
#37 my willingness to keep learning new things
#38 my hair (yeah, I'm weird like that. I hated it as a kid!)
#39 my resourcefulness

Jan 14, 2014
3 Startling Graces of God
#40 a potential car repair that turned out to just be user error ;)
#41 a "quick chat" with my sister that turned into a 2 hour phone call that never got interrupted on either end! A Mommy Miracle ;)
#42 a broken cell phone meant less distraction while doing errands today with my son- for both of us

Photo: My husband, who has oddly developed a slight fear of horses (???), has the amazing ability to draw them to him like a magnet. I love him :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mythbusters: Why I Can't Homeschool (Part 2)

Mythbusters: Why I Can't Homeschool (Part 2)-
10 Reasons Not to Homeschool
(and why I do it anyway)

Part 1: http://ablessedseason.blogspot.com/2014/01/mythbusters-why-i-can-homeschool-part-1.html?m=1

5. "My kids need socialization!"
Consider this: Webster's dictionary defines socialization as "the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status". Are you sure that was the word you meant to use? Other sources define it as "To place under government or group ownership or control" (freedictionary.com) Hmm...does that mean you were only good enough for training and educating your children from infancy through age 5 or 6? From there they need the government to "own or control" their learning. If you're half as confused as I am at that one, let me just say (for now) that God thinks quite highly of the FAMILY and He says it's for the parents to train their own children. A hard task of your child's gone all day.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says -
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.
If you're still thinking your little social butterfly princess is going to need her peers' influence more than yours, I invite you to visit your local middle or high school, shopping mall or other popular teenage hang out. Are you sure that's where you want your child's "habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society" to be formed? Let me know when that sinks in.
4. "I'll never have time for ME if I'm with my kids all day, every day."
Yes, this is true. You will be sacrificing your time, your ambitions, your vanity, and probably a touch of your sanity for the sake of your children. Is it worth it? Absolutely. And you, like Moses, will discover the importance of finding a supportive friends and family, like Aaron and Hut, to "hold up your arms" when you grow weary. And you will. They will be the same ones who celebrate your victories.
Exodus 17:11-12 says-
Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Before you know it, your children will be grown and you will have plenty of "me" time that you'd rather sacrifice to spend...with your grandchildren.
3. "I'm not disciplined enough."
Discipline requires training. It requires repetition and consistency. Think of what it takes to train for a marathon or even just training from a sedentary lifestyle to running your first 5k. It's generally not something you jump into without preparing and conditioning yourself. Weeks or months or maybe years of training. It's an ongoing process to continue improving and strengthening your body. You wouldn't consider doing doing it without the proper gear and preparation, would you? Once you make the decision to do it, you have to start somewhere, whether talking to a seasoned pro or researching "how to" books, to get a plan of action in place. Then you do what Nike's been telling you for years: "Just do it!" Oh, and the awkwardness of doing something new will pass.
The same is true with homeschooling. Over time, it gets easier, feels more natural, and you begin to see the lifelong benefits that emerge from your hard work.
2. "I don't have the patience."
Neither do I. Every day I turn this struggle over to God and let Him deal with it. REALITY CHECK: Sometimes I pick it back up and see if I can do it on my own, but I can't. Homeschooling and fulltime parenting have been The #1 thing to grow me closer to the Lord and totally dependent on Him. I do not have the patience to do this, but God provides for my every need...if I let him. I have learned to surrender control over to Him, even as I create my lesson plans and organize my calendar. I make plans, but let God direct my steps.
Proverbs 16:9 says-
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
And, the #1 reason why I can't homeschool...
1. "I'm afraid I'd make a mess out of my kids."
FEAR is an ugly thing. It will rob you of your most precious dreams. It will lock you in bondage, unable to move freely. It will hold you captive as the Enemy whispers lies of incompetency and inadequacy in your ears.
Isaiah 12:2 says-
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord  God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (emphasis mine)
Choosing to homeschool means taking a huge leap of faith. It means going against society's "norm" and choosing the road less traveled. It means trusting God in all things, no matter what. It means drawing your strength from  God Almighty. Remember that He loves your children even more then you do and He choose YOU to be their guardians here on earth.
I am aware that homeschooling is not for everyone. I'm just hoping to encourage anyone who has considered it, but hesitated or talked themselves out of it. If it is God's will for you to homeschool, I pray that you would trust Him to equip you for the journey.
I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Photo: Building a rollercoaster in a physics workshop

Blessings #26-33

The blessings keep on coming!
Thank you, Lord, for the God gifts you give :)

Jan 9, 2014 - A gift held, passed by, sat with
#26 a bowling ball at my son's birthday party
#26 the horses in the field as I go down my driveway
#27 my family together at church

Jan  10, 2014 - A gift sour, sweet, just right
#28 kombucha ;)
#29 this morning's coffee
#30 an "Arnold Palmer" while out with friends

Jan 11, 2014 - 3 yellow gifts of fresh mercy
#31 lemons
#32 daffodils
#33 the blooming color of the rising sun

Keep counting, my sweet friends!

Mythbusters: Why I Can't Homeschool

Mythbusters: Why I Can't Homeschool -
10 Reasons Not to Homeschool
(and why I do it anyway)
10. "I have to work."
I'll be the first to admit that supporting a family on a single income is not easy to do in a double-income society. Much like the camel passing through the eye of a needle, it sounds impossible. It requires sacrifice and planning. It definitely requires trusting God and His plan for our good. What most people don't realize is that the sacrifice is well worth the reward of a trimmed budget. When you no longer spend money on work clothes and shoes, gas and auto maintenance expenses, grab a coffee or lunch with your co-workers, suddenly you'll see a shift in what you need to life within your means. Maybe you don't need to work full time any more. Maybe you could get away with part time work  for now while you spend more time with your family. I realize that some families aren't able to do that, perhaps a single mom or a disabled dad, but I've seen against-the-odds families like that homeschool anyway. And no amount of money can buy back the time I'd miss with my children. Trust God: It is possible.
Mark 10:27 says-
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
9. "I don't have a teaching degree."
Neither do I. I also do not have a culinary degree, but I cook for my family daily. I don't have a degree in theology either, but that doesn't stop me from actively studying God's Word. So what makes you "qualified" to teach, you ask? Well, how does experience sound. I'm pretty sure if you're reading this that you know your alphabet, how those letters form words. Those words are strung together in an organized fashion to make sentences to express thoughts and ideas, then grouped together into paragraphs. And so on. It's like building blocks. You have to start at the bottom, lay a strong, supportive foundation, and then build upwards and outwards from there. Trust me, if you have kids, you've ALREADY been teaching them for years. How to brush their teeth, button their pants, tie their shoes, say "please" and "thank you" at appropriate times. All of those things take practice. Homeschooling is no different. Ask God to give you wisdom and trust that He will equip you.
James 1:5 says-
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
8. "I wouldn't know where to begin."
That's okay. Most veteran homeschoolers, if they're honest with you, will tell you that they had that same thought 5 years in a row come mid-summer. This is (only) my 9th year of homeschooling and, let me tell ya- just when I thought I was getting the hang of it for the elementary grades, my kids were in middle school. Then I blinked for a minute or 3 and now high school's on the horizon. When you're just getting started, it's helpful to have a mentor or even someone who's a few years ahead of you, to encourage and help answer what will seem like a million questions. That's one if my favorite things to do now that I have a few years of experience. Truly a Titus 2 opportunity!
Titus 2:3-5 says-
Older women...are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
7. "I can't afford it."
When I started homeschooling, my husband worked full time and I worked 30 hours a week PLUS babysitting 2 of the neighbor's children. We lived in a "fixer-upper" that needed a lot of TLC. We did what we could to stretch what little we had. I had little time and even less money for homeschool supplies. We started with the basics, using supplies we already had at home, a couple workbooks from the dollar store, and several freebies I found online. ALL of our books came from the library. My school budget for the whole year was about $50. Most of that went towards printer ink. Since then, our income and budget have varied from year to year, but I've found that even when I could afford the all-in-one box, complete curriculum, I didn't stick with it and it was a waste of money. There is rarely a one-size-fits-all that works for each student...or each parent. They all require "tweaking" them to get the most out of them. Like #8 and 9, ask God for wisdom and seek a mentor for advice. Both with save you tons! I still borrow or buy used when possible to save even more. The way I see it, I can't afford not to give my children the best possible education.
6. "My kids will miss out on so much!"
Let's see...by choosing to homeschool, my kids are missing out on bullying and conflict resolution, recess, school lunches, field trips, dances and parties, building friendships, riding the bus...
Um, no. They've actually experienced ALL of these things, it just looks a little different.
• Bullying gets minimized, but that can happen even from an older sibling or neighbor! We get to instill our family's values when we are present and able to guide them through conflict.
• Recess happens at parks and in backyards and open fields and the beach and...the list goes on.
• School lunches. Really?
• Field trips, big and small, are a regular part of our homeschooling. Just an example of a big one, I organized for 150 homeschoolers to get a behind the scenes look at the local movie theater before watching a family friendly movie. And small, we went to a glass-blowing demonstration from a local artisan and got to work with hot, melted glass. Trying squeezing 30 kids into something like that! Can you spell danger and liability?
• Dances and parties- there are so many opportunities for these when you get connected with a homeschool group. They are as big or a small as your imagination and usually just require a volunteer to plan them.
• If you feel your kids are missing something by not riding the school bus, send them to youth camp with your church or, better yet, show them how to ride the city bus. A skill everyone should have "just in case".
5. "My kids need socialization!" 
Consider this: Webster's dictionary defines socialization as "the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status". Are you sure that was the word you meant to use? Other sources define it as "To place under government or group ownership or control" (freedictionary.com) Hmm...does that mean you were only good enough for training and educating your children from infancy through age 5 or 6? From there they need the government to "own or control" their learning. If you're half as confused as I am at that one, let me just say (for now) that God thinks quite highly of the FAMILY and He says it's for the parents to train their own children. A hard task of your child's gone all day.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says -
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. 
If you're still thinking your little social butterfly princess is going to need her peers' influence more than yours, I invite you to visit your local middle or high school, shopping mall or other popular teenage hang out. Are you sure that's where you want your child's "habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society" to be formed? Let me know when that sinks in. 
4. "I'll never have time for ME if I'm with my kids all day, every day."
Yes, this is true. You will be sacrificing your time, your ambitions, your vanity, and probably a touch of your sanity for the sake of your children. Is it worth it? Absolutely. And you, like Moses, will discover the importance of finding a supportive friends and family, like Aaron and Hut, to "hold up your arms" when you grow weary. And you will. They will be the same ones who celebrate your victories. 
Exodus 17:11-12 says-
Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 
Before you know it, your children will be grown and you will have plenty of "me" time that you'd rather sacrifice to spend...with your grandchildren.
3. "I'm not disciplined enough."
Discipline requires training. It requires repetition and consistency. Think of what it takes to train for a marathon or even just training from a sedentary lifestyle to running your first 5k. It's generally not something you jump into without preparing and conditioning yourself. Weeks or months or maybe years of training. It's an ongoing process to continue improving and strengthening your body. You wouldn't consider doing doing it without the proper gear and preparation, would you? Once you make the decision to do it, you have to start somewhere, whether talking to a seasoned pro or researching "how to" books, to get a plan of action in place. Then you do what Nike's been telling you for years: "Just do it!" Oh, and the awkwardness of doing something new will pass. 
The same is true with homeschooling. Over time, it gets easier, feels more natural, and you begin to see the lifelong benefits that emerge from your hard work. 
2. "I don't have the patience." 
Neither do I. Every day I turn this struggle over to God and let Him deal with it. REALITY CHECK: Sometimes I pick it back up and see if I can do it on my own, but I can't. Homeschooling and fulltime parenting have been The #1 thing to grow me closer to the Lord and totally dependent on Him. I do not have the patience to do this, but God provides for my every need...if I let him. I have learned to surrender control over to Him, even as I create my lesson plans and organize my calendar. I make plans, but let God direct my steps.
Proverbs 16:9 says-
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. 
And, the #1 reason why I can't homeschool...
1. "I'm afraid I'd make a mess out of my kids."
FEAR is an ugly thing. It will rob you of your most precious dreams. It will lock you in bondage, unable to move freely. It will hold you captive as the Enemy whispers lies of incompetency and inadequacy in your ears. 
Isaiah 12:2 says-
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord  God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (emphasis mine)
Choosing to homeschool means taking a huge leap of faith. It means going against society's "norm" and choosing the road less traveled. It means trusting God in all things, no matter what. It means drawing your strength from  God Almighty. Remember that He loves your children even more then you do and He choose YOU to be their guardians here on earth. 
I am aware that homeschooling is not for everyone. I'm just hoping to encourage anyone who has considered it, but hesitated or talked themselves out of it. If it is God's will for you to homeschool, I pray that you would trust Him to equip you for the journey. 
I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Photo: Science co-op at my kitchen table

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'll pray

"I'll be praying for you."

I used to wonder if the well-meaning people that said this to me really meant it. Did they really take the time? Did they remember? Were they just saying that to be nice or because they thought that's what I wanted them to say? Do they really care?

I can't answer that. In fact, I can't speak for anyone but myself. I suppose it doesn't really matter if they do. God knows my heart and He hears my prayers, even if I pray alone. And thankfully, I don't worry about that about more.

But I want to be a woman of my word. I strive to keep my word when those words cross my lips. What would be the point of telling someone I'll pray for them if their need is not my concern. If THEY are not my concern. And then I think... If God has placed this person in my life, at this time, and brought their need to my attention...how can I not?

So, I do. And I will. I will pray for you. Any time, any place. I will gladly pray for you. Because I love you. So does Jesus. And I believe that's exactly what He wants me to do.

So, when I drop by your house and you tell me you're nervous about a recent doctor visit, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When I run into you at the library and you tell me you're trying to sell your house against the odds, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When you're pregnant or sick, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When you're worried about your child, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When your mom's in the hospital, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When you're facing a big move and new people and nothing familiar, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray. When your job is not all you'd hoped it'd be and you don't know what to do, and I tell you I'll pray, I'll pray.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says-

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

By allowing me to pray for you, I also get to rejoice with you when those prayers are answered, to give thanks, to lend a hand when you need it, or a shoulder to cry on.

Thank you for the privilege!

Photo: a peek at my Prayer Board. My way of keeping track of who I'm praying for and how, as well as prayers that have been answered. How can I pray for you?

And my 3 gifts of the day:
Dusky light
#22 afternoons in my house, a reminder that the day is drawing to a close
Surprising reflection
#23 my husband's face reflecting off a picture as he plays his bass guitar
Lovely shadow
#24 the ceiling fan shadows spinning as it pushes the warm air through my house, keeping us warm and cozy

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

12 Years Old

Today, we celebrated my "baby" boy's 12th birthday. 12 years of his slow but sweet smile. 12 years of his silly little belly laugh. 12 years of being his Mama. 12 years...

What a handsome, intelligent young man he's becoming! I love his fun personality and seeing him grow in the Lord.

Happy birthday, Nathan! I love you so very much :)

3 Graces from People I Love
#19 a friend's thank you so precious
#20 my son's delight at his birthday gifts and foods just what he asked for
#21 my husband's praise of my pie crust "prize worthy" :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Planning

I have learned in life that that the powers that be tend to laugh at the "plans" I make, so we are doing what we can and hoping for the best.


My long-time dear friend, Christa, said this recently. She and her family have struggled this past year and are trying to get back on their feet. (She was kind enough to give me permission to quote her.☺)  I can totally relate to her feeling, mostly because I've been there too. You know, that dark and dismal place where dreams burst like bubbles? Yeah, that one. The Land of Despair. I took up residency there for years. Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself lost, without direction, and heading right back there for another visit.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lordplans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Wait a minute! This doesn't sound like someone who would laugh at me. This sounds like someone who is looking out for me, protecting me, taking care of me. Like a parent. Like a Father.

I've learned to turn my plans over to God, my Master Planner. I told my friend, Christa, that these days I prefer what God has to say about my planning.


The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. ~Proverbs 19:21
May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans~Proverbs 20:4
It is my understanding that God does still want us to make plans. How else would we take steps forward or prepare for the future? But He wants our hearts aligned with His. We need to be willing to trust Him at the helm, to let Him lead us, knowing that He sees the full picture, knows the full plan, knows the best route for us to take to get there.

Letting God lead us means LETTING GO of the control we only think we have. Just look at the mess we make of things anyway!

So, this is my prayer when I find myself heading back to the Land of Despair, and my prayer for Christa, and for anyone else who is struggling with this:

Father God, 
Thank you for the days you've given me...even the ones I just couldn't walk through...that you were right there beside me. Thank you for letting me fail...again...so that the victory will be that much sweeter. Thank you for the promise that you give to protect me...even if that means protecting me from my own plans. Help me to remember that You know what You're doing, even if I don't. Help me to find You, even in the dark Land of Despair. Thank you that I don't have to live there, but can choose instead a place that's hope-filled and happy, innocent and imaginative, of Your Creation, not mine. Help me to live life to the fullest!
Amen.







Lastly, here's my blessings from the last 3 days:

A Gift Old, New, Blue
#10 old, old books -the look, the feel, the smell
#11 my fairy godmother from my fairy godmother -such a special gift from a special lady!
#12 my heart-shaped bowl that I made with a friend 20 years ago

Something I'm reading, making, seeing
#13 To Kill A Mockingbird -I love Scout's spunk!
#14 my son's birthday cake -I can't believe my "baby" will be 12 tomorrow!
#15 the view from my sewing table come late afternoon

One thing in my bag, my fridge, my heart
#16 fingerless gloves I made from an old sweater
#17 frozen summer peaches...in January!
#18 hope for a family getaway...soon?
Blessings #10, 11, and 12

Friday, January 3, 2014

Purposeful

One thing I have learned this past year, a year I am so thankful has come to a close, is that I fail repeatedly to truly appreciate all that God has given me, done for me, and saved me from if I don't view it against the contrast of pain, loss, and failure.This is what it means to me that Jesus is the Light of the world. This world is DARK. I need Him to light my path EVERY day, in EVERY way.

Last week, I started thinking that I needed to fine-tune a few things. I mentioned here a few goals, or resolutions if you will, that I have set for myself, but I needed to make it even simpler than that. And then I read this from The Better Mom, I decided I needed just one word.

PURPOSEFUL

That's my word for the year. And here's what it means for A Blessed Season:

To seek God with PURPOSE.
To take care of my family with PURPOSE.
To take care of myself with PURPOSE.
To count my blessings with PURPOSE.
To write and share with PURPOSE.

Starting next week, I hope to bring you a little something special each day. From an encouraging word to some of my homeschool endeavors. Since I aim to spend more time this year creating beautiful things to share with others, I'll share my latest projects with you and I may just throw a tutorial or two in there! And since I spend so much time in the kitchen, I better share some recipes with you foodies out there and other household tips I've found useful in my own home.

That's just a little glimpse of what I'm hoping to do this year. I look forward to hearing how you are making changes for this new year!

Oh, and before I forget, here's my 3 gifts for today:

3 Graces Overheard
#7 my husband's encouragement as I learn to play guitar
#8 my sister's reassurance and constant
#9 a song on the radio

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Strength

I pray that today you are finding YOUR strength in Him!

**There are changes going on over here at A Blessed Season! Stay tuned for an official announcement :) In the meantime, enjoy the "view"!

A Gift Outside, Inside, and on a Plate
#4 a beautiful sunset
#5 a fire in the wood stove
#6 a healthy, home-cooked meal

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Renewal

renewal -the act of being renewed, to be restored to a former state; become like new again

2014- Happy New Year!
Today marks the beginning of a new year, FULL of possibilities. It is an opportunity to let go of the old ways and embrace the new. To be renewed.

Romans 12:1-2 says-
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I know it seems cliche, but I, like people everywhere, am making a few resolutions today. You are welcome to hold me to them...I need the accountability. And your prayers!

My New Year's Resolutions 2014:
• to treat my body as a sacrifice, a temple of the Holy Spirit, allowing renewal and restoration of health
• to seek God's face daily, with all my heart and an open mind, allowing transformation and renewal
• to increasingly trust God in every area of my life, a renewed commitment, seeking His Wisdom and peace for my restless soul
• to faithfully use my God-given gifts and resources to bless others as He has blessed me
• And lastly, to start counting my blessings again via Ann Voscamp's Joy Dare of 1000 Gifts (Join me!)
Blessings to you and yours in this new year! My hope and prayer for you is that each season you are in is a blessed season.

How can I pray for you as we jump into this new year?

Gifts Heard
#1 my children laughing
#2 my husband's voice
#3 the washing machine running ;)