Friday, February 25, 2011

Hearing His Call

Have you noticed that the Lord knows just how to get your attention? I guess I don't notice it sometimes until one of those "light bulb" moments occurs, and then I realize that I've been either ignoring the signals or maybe running from them because I feel I don't have the time. Ouch!

Well, I have been intentionally trying to devote more time to God's Word this year in 2011...not because I have to but truly because I want to. As I mentioned in this post, there just has been this unbelievable tug on my heart to seriously spend some time with the Lord! I love how He nudges me to be closer to Him!

Lately, though, I have slowly been convicted that, not only did the Lord want me to devote my attention to Him first and foremost, but He also wanted me to devote my time and attention to my husband. No matter how hard I try...or how hard I think I try, am I fulfilling my role as wife as I could or should be? Sometimes, I get so caught up in the easy things like making my husband's coffee in the morning and packing a lunch, sending him out the door to work with a kiss, having the house in order and supper ready upon his return....I check those off the list each day, and those are truly the easy things in my marriage....the expected. But what have I been doing above and beyond this call of homemaker in my role as wife?  Have I been making my husband feel special? loved? cherished? appreciated? Have I been welcoming him home not only with a warm supper but also with a warm heart?  Have I been creating an atmosphere that makes him look forward to walking through that door each night? Have I been making mountains out of mole hills about silly things or have I been willing to overlook simple faults or flaws that don't amount to much and instead look at my own? Have I been taking the time to marvel in my man as I used to? ......or....have I plain been wrapped up in my own to-do lists and lazy about this?  How could I ever be lazy about loving this special man the Lord has so graciously selected for me to spend the rest of my life with? Well, I don't know, but I tell you I don't want to ever take him for granted!

I think it all hit me recently because he is leaving again in a couple of days. I pray for him and check off all the normal wife "to-do's"...but I found myself in a place of discontent in my heart with my own actions. The Lord was drawing me nearer to Him so He could teach me to be nearer to my husband. He called me closer in a few ways, but one way the Lord drew me was through the blogs of some cherished friends!!  Over the past few weeks, especially, several of the blogs I read quite regularly posted something in some way having to do with marriage!! I even found myself "starring" some of them to refer to later as the message so profoundly spoke to my heart.  And after not one, not two, not three, but several heartfelt posts on the subject that I encountered, I realized it was the Lord who was calling my own heart to His and to action for my husband's.

Just to share what I am speaking about in the Lord using others to draw me closer, I wanted to illustrate how so many of my blogging friends shared some great testimonies and stories about marriage. Thank you dear friends! All praise to Him! Ok, here are some links to a post or two from several dear friends that have so beautifully illustrated the importance of different facets of marriage and why it is so worth fighting for and building up. Now tell me this is all just a coincidence??

  • This post and several in Tracey's series on a "Virtuous Woman" have been convicting and encouraging me right along. I also loved this reminder about being flexible and spontaneous!
  • I have long been a subscriber and regular reader of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's "Revive Our Hearts" ministry...and wouldn't you know that just recently she has zoomed in on wives loving husbands?
  • Melissa has been a special blessing this past year online and offline, and the Lord used her recent post to speak straight to my heart! I love her bold yet gentle way of speaking the truth in love.
  • I've read Mrs. Julie Fink's blog for a few years now, and she is a powerful and dynamic writer on many subjects important to God's calling for women. Most recently, however, she wrote some posts here and here that I knew the Lord placed in front of my eyes for a reason!
  • Carrie is a very special blogging friend, probably the blogging friend I've had the longest, and her posts are always such a blessing and challenge to me. I bookmarked this series of posts in my mind which the Lord brought to remembrance recently, and the creativity she has posted about both here and here in her relationship with her husband continues to inspire me!
  • Heather is a sweetheart and fellow military wife and homeschooling mother and recently posted this just when I needed to hear it!
  • Sharon is a dear blogging friend the Lord crossed my path with recently, and wouldn't you know she wrote a post that nudged me to talk with the Lord about what was on my heart?
  • I was introduced to Sherry's wonderful blog this past year and we have a lot in common. Wouldn't you know that over the past month she wrote this and this which encouraged me so much?
  • I just love Connie's blog. She always writes such challenging posts that leave so much to ponder and always cause me to evaluate my relationship with the Lord. Just this past week, she wrote this post that sent the message ringing loud and clear to my heart! 
  • Sweet Monica always speaks from her heart about topics that are so important in the home. Her latest series on "To See Like My Savior" has been hitting right to the core of me, but it was this post that pushed me to evaluate not only my role as mother but as wife and how much I was truly giving my family.

 So after taking in all of those convicting posts one after another that were just placed in front of my eyes because I read them regularly, is there any question that I should be evaluating my role as wife? Wow! Titus 2:4 states "that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children." Thank you dear friends for doing just that! Is there any question why I am so fond of blogging?? :-)

The Lord is so good and so very creative!! I have truly had my eyes opened to His creativity this using others to draw me orchestrating events to be a special blessing or a wake-up just speaking to my heart like only the Creator of a creative universe could!

I wanted to share this so I could look back on this time when I felt like I was stagnating in my role as wife as a reminder to never let myself get there again and to remember how (and Who) got me out of it, and I also wanted to thank those friends whose words were used in speaking to my heart on this issue.  That is just one thing I love about blogging.  I have found a community of friends who love the Lord with all their hearts and share them often and frequently they encourage and convict me! The Lord knows I will be reading! :)

I also wanted to share this to encourage anyone out there that may find herself in such a position as I did. So if you are feeling that way, I urge you first and foremost to bring your burdens to the Lord. He is ready and willing and most likely calling you to listen! =) As you draw closer to the Lord, may He draw you closer to those around you! ♥

"But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God." ~Psalm 31:14

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Open Bible in Every Room

I read online somewhere that the average American household owns five Bibles. I don't know how that statistic was determined nor if it's completely accurate, but I'm pretty sure that most households in the United States have close to that number. To think that there are homes on this Earth that don't have any! How rich we are to have unlimited access at our fingertips ~ both in tangible pages and on a computer screen!

This morning in an email I was writing, the wheels got spinning in my mind about this very fact. I was writing in the email about how I was just thirsty for God's Word and how having an open Bible in my kitchen has been amazingly welcoming to sit and read some Scripture whenever I have the opportunity. Well, then I got to thinking. It's been such a blessing to have this open Bible in my kitchen (the most frequented room of the day), but what about having an open Bible in EVERY room? We have quite a few Bibles in this household...some given as gifts, some purchased brand new, some secondhand, but I know that we have more than enough Bibles to fill every room in the house.  According to that statistic above, we are blessed to be way above the average! (I also keep my eyes open when I'm out and about for deals on Bibles!) So, then my thought progression led to a light bulb moment...why only have one Bible open and out...and have the rest sitting on shelves collecting dust? That's it!  I'm going to go collect the Bibles around the house and leave them out and open! Then I think to myself, why haven't I thought of this before???  I've heard missionaries say that some of the countries they minister to have families give just about anything to get even a copy of the New Testament or a particular Bible book that has been translated in their own language. I remember one missionary sharing that all one family had was a slightly burned copy of the New Testament that was very incomplete, but it was the family's most cherished possession. Wow! How very convicting to know that I have numerous Bibles around my home that are being unused! How could I not at least have them open and available and using them as often as I can when I know there are others out there that would do anything to have even one full Bible at their disposal? Am I truly treasuring God's Word with that same passion? Ouch!

I also remember how refreshed and encouraged I was last summer when we stopped for a night at a lovely hotel along our travels and there was an open Bible waiting on the table inside to greet us! How many hotels can I say this has happened at before? None! What hospitality! I was absolutely tickled!

Well, all this thinking sprung me into action, and I immediately went to the bookshelf just in our bedroom. 

I quickly skimmed those four shelves alone and found eight Bibles

I do admit that I have a tendency to collect Bibles to have on hand. I not only like to have these for our family, but I like to keep some to share with others as I have the opportunity. I also like to keep a pocket one in my purse and some in the car because you just never know when you might be given the chance to share God's Word with someone else! I also like to give them as gifts sometimes, and well, plainly spoken, I just love God's Word! :-)  We have several translations on hand, and I like to reference different ones sometimes when diving into a passage I'm not so familiar with. However, I exclusively read the King James Version now. I have recently been studying the origins of the current translations available and I was shocked at what I found out! Maybe that will be another post in itself!

I also like to support businesses, organizations, churches, and missionaries that help get God's Word into other people's hands. There are so many wonderful projects out there that help in this endeavor to spread the Gospel. In our old area up north, there was even an auto glass company that had so many dollars of every service purchased on a vehicle go towards a project in sending Bibles to Africa. All the customer had to do was request this at the time the service was purchased! How neat! Not too many businesses I know do that sort of thing!

Anyway, seeing as I have been able to grab many minutes here and there by having an open Bible in the kitchen, I'm going to see how many more minutes I can grab by having them open in other rooms as well! I had fun selecting various Bibles for different rooms just this morning. What fun!

In our living room...

 In our kitchen...

 In our dining room...

In our bedroom...

 In our two youngest children's bedroom...

 In our oldest son's bedroom...

...and I'm going to gather some more to distribute in other rooms! This is going to be so fun! I pray the Lord will help us to devour His Word as often as we can! How about you? I'm curious how many Bibles your household has? How wonderful that we have such easy access to the greatest Wisdom we could ever own!!

"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." ~Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

   Happy Valentine's Day from our home to yours!
We are gone from Grandma's house and back at ours.
Thanking God for a wonderful time with family 
and a safe journey home!

My son's Valentine to Jesus written this morning...

I'm so thankful for everyone that stops by here! May the love of Jesus fill your heart today! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." ~Matthew 22:37

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homemade Valentines and Decor

We took a trip north, and we have been staying at my parents' house. With Valentine's Day around the corner, we decided to decorate Grandma's house! :) 

I love homemade valentines! Here are some very simple ones we made a couple of years ago for our homeschool group friends for a Valentine's Party. This year, we decided to add a little beauty to our valentines for friends and family, and they were made with just a few materials probably every household already has on hand. This idea was born from a science experiment we did with coffee filters about a month ago. 

We used some regular paper coffee filters, some water-based markers, a bowl of water, a few paper plates, some scotch tape, and a few sheets of printer paper. 

First, the kids helped me to scribble some red, pink, or purple colored ink on each coffee filter. 

Then, we folded the coffee filter in half twice and laid it in a shallow bowl of water for about a minute. We poked it a couple of times to loosen the ink. 

We didn't leave the filter in the bowl too long as all the ink could easily wash out. Then we carefully picked it up and let it drip a bit and then placed it on a paper plate to dry.

We did all sorts of different shades of pinks and purples. I really like the pale pink ones.

I think we ended up unfolding the filter all the way to allow it to dry easier. They took about two hours to fully dry. While we were waiting, we folded a few pieces of printer paper in half, and cut out some large simple hearts. 

Then the fun and beautiful part! We took each dried coffee filter and gently twisted them in the center to make a simple flower. 

Then, we took a single piece of scotch tape to adhere it to the paper heart. Then you just fluff the flower a bit to hide the tape. 

Wa la!  A simple and pretty valentine. We then wrote a simple message around the flower as a valentine to someone.  

We also decided these would be pretty to hang up in Grandma's three-season porch. So, we taped on a few more flowers to some other hearts and hung them up! I thought it was a neat accent with the pretty sage green walls.

Then we noticed the paper plates that we dried the coffee filters on were also covered in pretty shades of pink and purple.

So, naturally, we didn't want to throw these pretties away...we decided to use them to cut out more hearts! We folded each plate in half and cut out a heart. Then we cut again around the perimeter of our original cut.

Yay! More hearts for valentines to give or decorate! We strung hearts in Grandma's windows and found they made fun heart shadows on the walls!

All in all...with just a few coffee filters, paper plates and pieces of paper, I think we added a little touch of *love* to Grandma's porch. :-) Grandma's house is always filled with love, but it was nice to leave a special touch of our own, since we don't get to see them as often. We also cut out some mini hearts in the scraps of paper and made a little garland with the Psalm 19:8a written on it. 

Hope everyone has a lovely Valentine's Day filled with God's blessings! May He fill your home and hearts with His amazing love!

For more Valentine inspiration, here are some posts from the archives:

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple." ~Psalm 27:4

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pajama Picnic

A picnic in February? Yes indeed

The weather has been bitter and cold, and we haven't left the house in days. We have been cozy and warm indoors...watching in amazement at the ice and snow that has passed by our windows. "Pa" has been away for a spell, and he's due to be home as soon as the weather cooperates.

I thought I would surprise my children with a picnic tonight...on a cozy picnic blanket in our family room. A little imagination and soon the sun was shining and birds were singing. My crew ~ they're a creative bunch. They were so thrilled when they saw we were having a picnic inside! Eyes lit up, and cheers were let out! Even though the cold was stirring outside, our hearts were warm inside.

Little hands quickly raced to open up the basket to see what was on the menu! 

We had ham'n'cheese sandwiches, bananas, apples, carrots, celery, grapes, and muffins. There's just something about simple foods on a picnic blanket with smiling children and fun storybooks...indoors in our pajamas. :-)

Dinner was thoroughly enjoyed. :-)

Stories were read...

Memories were made.

Blizzard 02.01.2011.

My heart was indeed melted by the enthusiasm of three little ones I am privileged to call my children on this very snuggly occasion.  I praised God for such tender moments made and for providing us safe and warm shelter. Yet while we were so cozy inside on this bitterly cold evening, my heart couldn't help but go out to all the folks who were out in those elements, weathering the storm to help others ~ law enforcement, power company lineman, emergency workers, city snow/salt truck employees... Thank you to all you selfless folks who work or volunteer your time in such harsh conditions! You are appreciated!

Above all, thank you Lord for your goodness in so many ways! 

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." ~Colossians 3:17