Unabated Vigor ~ Not Your Typical Valentine’s Post

During my morning quiet time with the Lord, for a few months now, I’ve been camping out in the Old Testament.   First I was in Deuteronomy and now I am in Joshua.  These two books are full of the confirmation that we have a promise keeping God.  I love Deuteronomy 37 where Moses goes “from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, …opposite Jericho.” (Deut. 34:1) and the Lord shows him all the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In verse 4, the Lord tells Moses that he will not enter this promised land.  And in verse 5, Moses died.  I wish I could remember the first time I learned that Moses didn’t make it to the promised land.  I imagine that I probably felt disappointment for him.  I mean, he’s the one that led the people for all. those. years.  He’s the one that faced Pharaoh.   He’s the one that was chosen to write the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone.  To me, Moses is pretty special.  So I wonder, was he disappointed that he wouldn’t reap the benefit of his efforts?

Verse 7 actually gives a little clue to how Moses reacted to not making it to the promised land:

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Being the word nerd that I am, I wanted to be sure that I understood the meaning of “unabated.”   According to dictionary.com, it means:

with undiminished force, power, or vigor

That led me to being double sure I knew what “vigor” means.  Again, according to dictionary.com, vigor is:

active strength or force…healthy physical or mental energy or power; vitality…energetic activity; energy; intensity

So here I am, reading about Moses not reaping the benefits of his proverbial sowing.  AND THEN God’s Word tells us that Moses died with power, active strength, force, vitality, intensity.  He died knowing that he had received his inheritance.  And I personally think he was probably very satisfied.

This has me wondering if I would be?  My human, and sinful, nature desires a reward when I’ve worked hard.  I’m not one for fanfare but a subtle pat on the back goes along way with me.  I venture to say that there’s a little of that feeling in all of us.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Hang with me – please – I promise I’m getting there.

As I have been studying Joshua, I have marveled (my word of the year) at the keeping of God’s promises.  He is ever faithful!  He was to His children as the crossed the Red Sea, the dessert, took Jericho, and more.  And He is faithful to us today.  Once we get to Joshua 22, the land that God promised to Abraham has been divided among the tribes – the promise fulfilled – and the people were settling in.  Challenges still arose and that’s not really that surprising considering all the grumbling in the desert.

One of the verses I underlined in chapter 22 is verse 5.  Joshua gives these instructions to the Israelite’s as they settle in:

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Joshua could’ve just said, “be like Moses.”  But he spelled it out.  He reminded them of the commandments.  He reminded them to walk…and keep…and cling…and serve….with ALL their heart and soul.  These qualities – to me are a beautiful explanation of the “unabated vigor” that Moses had.

I often cruise along in my Christian walk.  I wax and wane in my Bible reading and prayer time.  But this!  This is how I want to be.

So as Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am just plain blessed.  God gave me the most wonderful man to be my husband.  We’re into our 23rd year of Valentine’s days (22 of those married).  And we have 2 beautiful children.  The stores are full of cards and flowers and balloons.  Facebook and Instagram are full of Valentine wishes and dates and gifts.  In our house, every day is full of love that is just plain special.  Some years we pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day.  Some years we don’t.  This year, we chose to celebrate as a family.  And I’m really good with that.  But I began Valentine’s Day reading Joshua 22:5.  I began my day reminded of the love that I am to have for my Heavenly Father and the promises that He still keeps today for me.

So this isn’t a typical train of thought for Valentine’s Day but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

I hope that you had a wonderful day with your special someone. And I pray that every day you love the Lord with “unbated vigor.”

Joy to You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Time Has Flown By

Here it is the middle of February and I’ve only written one post in 2017.  So much for my goal to blog more!

On second thought, maybe I need to move the goal a little further down the list.  I’ve always been one to write when I feel the Lord has something I really need to share and not to write just to be writing.  That’s a better goal, right?

Today I felt like I needed to get a few thoughts down.  So here goes…

January was full!  My one post in the new year was to declare my “word of the year.”


I’ve thought a lot about this word and yes, I’ve “marveled” at many things thus far.

We began 2017 on a family vacation joining my side of the family in Florida for a week.  We hit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and both sides of Universal while we were there.  It’s not the first time to Disney parks for me, however, it was the first time to Universal.  Anyway, there really is a lot to “marvel” at in an amusement park.  Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • The people – both employees and visitors.  Disney really does it well.  They know how to handle crowds and  their staff are courteous and helpful.  And those playing a character…well, it’s just really fascinating to me.
  • The rides – I don’t think explanation is necessary; however, I will say that although I don’t understand the technology and mechanics of it all, it’s absolutely amazes me!
  • The lights – there is something about Cinderella’s Castle covered in lights.  Not to mention all the other lights all over the parks.  It really is a wonderland.
  • The landscaping – I just had to mention this one because, well, I just love the Mickey head made of flowers or the bushes trimmed into the shaped of our favorite characters.

We were treated to a character breakfast.  That was a new experience for me!  Both of my children and my sister had birthdays that week so birthday cupcakes came with breakfast.

character-breakfastAs mentioned, the first two weeks of the month also came with birthday celebrations.  Our daughter turned 13 and our son turned 18 within the first 10 days of January. Those two days, more than many other things, cause me to “marvel.”  I am so proud of my kids.

Shortly after our FL trip, we took our church youth group to Gatlinburg, TN to a youth conference called Winter Crossroads. The conference is put on by Clayton King Ministries.  It was a wonderful time of worship and teaching.  I saw the Lord working in the lives of the kids, and adults, in our group.  What a MARVELous blessing.  Lives were changed.  To God be the glory!  A side note is that I ran into a long time friend, who lives in another state and was at the conference with her church.  What a sweet reunion!

While in Gatlinburg, we took the opportunity to drive through the areas that had been devastated by the fires in late 2016.  I promise we weren’t just out to gawk at the severe devastation and loss that those who live and work there had experienced.  We actually prayed for the people as we drove.  It’s was something I will not soon forget.  If you think of it, please continue to pray for them.  Some will be able to rebuild.  Some have lost pretty much everything.  All of them need prayers as they move forward with their lives.

As if we hadn’t traveled enough, my hubby and I had the opportunity to go to a retreat for pastors and their wives at the end of January.  It was a time of refreshment and encouragement in ministry.  Such a blesssing to be with so many other pastors and wives from across the state!

I have been reminded at just how good the Lord is to us.  I have, for sometime now, had a desire to try my hand at becoming a Virtual Assistant.  Yep, it’s really a thing!  Anyway, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work for two wonderful ladies for a few months now.  I’m learning so much and enjoying it too!  At some point I may go into more detail but for now, the opportunity to assist these ladies with their businesses AND be at home to continue on our homeschool journey…well, I just MARVEL at the Lord’s care for me.

But that’s the thing about God.  He does care for us.  I am so thankful for the truth of Scripture that I see working in my life and the lives of those I care about.  As I continue on this year, I’m looking for things to MARVEL at.

How about you?  I’d love to know what the is doing to catch your attention.

Until next time!

Joy to You!

 

Surrounded ~ A 31 Day Post (day 4)

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It’s day 4 of this 31 Day Challenge.  When I decided to accept the challenge again this year, I had my topic and I was ready to write.  At 10:30 PM on September 30th, the Lord slightly changed my focus.  Sharing lessons learned was still to be the focus but I felt the Lord telling me that I needed to share from all that I have learned as we’ve traveled this road called “full time ministry.”  Someday, I may write a post about the last year specifically.  And then again, I may not.  I look to the Lord to guide my words in this this little corner of the internet.

Yesterday I shared a little of how we entered into ministry full time.  My hubby attended Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.  I had lived my whole life in the Upstate of SC – near family.  Moving was hard but we knew that it was what God wanted us to do.  I remember the first time we drove to KY.  It snowed!  Really big flakes!  The entire time we were visiting the Seminary.  When we pulled onto campus, I knew that we were home.  God is really just cool that way to give confirmation when we need it most.

It took us about a year to get to Louisville.  We had to sell our house, you know the one with white walls and no pictures hung?  The Lord was gracious in that process.  As we moved and began life in this new BIG city, we were excited and scared but we never questioned why we were there.

Fast forward a year into living in KY.  My hubby was hired part time as a children’s pastor at a wonderful church.  The sanctuary was like a retreat center with a gorgeous view of a lake.  Every Sunday for 5 years we worshiped while having this beautiful view of God’s creation.  Something wonderful happened while we were there.  The people in that church became our “family.”  When you are 7-1/2 hours from blood kin, you need “family” where you are.  God richly provided that for us.  To this day, they remain special and dear to our hearts.  We left that church for my hubby to take a full time position back in our home state.  We served there for 5 wonderful years.  And we gained new “family.”

Back in August, I picked up A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson.  It’s just a fabulous book to read.  Sophie shares stories from her life while intertwining the truth of the gospel in the pages of every chapter.  As I was reading, something she said hit me hard….

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These few sentences described exactly how I felt about our Louisville “family” and our “family” in our SC church.  It described how I felt about being in ministry.  The Lord graciously provided the friends we needed to love and support us.  He landed us in places that we were able to love and be loved.   What a blessing!!!

Now we are in a new place and I have to say, God has already begun the process all over again.  He has already surrounded us with people that I know will be “family.”  Surrounded us with people that will cover us in prayer and allow us to do the same for them.

Isn’t it wonderful being a part of the body of Christ? In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the body of Christ.  He shares that we are “one body with many members.”  We all have gifts and talents that compliment each other.  The Lord surrounds us with the other members of the “body” that we need.

I pray that you are surrounded by exactly who you need for encouragement!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


Peaceful Rest

In my last few posts, I have alluded to the fact that our family has been through a major change. It’s been life-altering for all of us.  To be honest, it has been just.plain.hard!

We found ourselves in a situation where my husband would be seeking a new ministry position.  Sometimes you choose to change jobs and sometimes, especially in ministry, God moves you.  That was the case for us.  There are many details that are just too much to go into.  Lots of lessons learned.  Lots of asking “why?” and “what’s next?”

During this time, the Lord was very gracious in many ways.  He gave many provisions that we never asked for or expected.

He’s just good that way!!

One such provision was time spent at a little cabin…on a pond…in the country.

My hubby’s new job began before our homeschool co-op ended.  The kids and I needed a place to stay for a few weeks and our precious friends offered for us to stay at this cabin that belongs to their family.  It’s such a neat place that I jumped at the offer.  Others offered to have us at their house but this gave us a place of our own.

Confession: I’m a wimp so being separated from my husband for weeks was hard.  I just don’t like being in my own.  I find strength in walking alongside of him.  Not that I can’t do it on my own, I just really value the way we do life, and parent, together – as a team.  Plus, it’s just harder to make decisions that effect the whole family when you’re not together…in the same room.  Or in our case, the same state!

About 3 weeks into staying at the cabin, I was just having a bad day.  Honestly, I felt like I was going a little crazy.  We homeschool so I’m used to being with our kids 24/7.   I love being with my kids all day, I really do.  But, as lovely as this cabin was, there was some added stress due to being in a small space…realizing daily that I forgot to pack this or that for the weeks we would be there…being apart from my hubby…you get the idea.  By the way, I should mention that those missing items from my packing weren’t accessible since the moving truck had already taken our furniture and everything else 509 miles away.   The kids missed their dad. I missed their dad.  Daily phone calls just weren’t the same.

I remember telling a friend whose husband travels a lot that I just don’t know how she does it.  This experience gave me a new appreciation for single parents.  But, I digress….

One night both kids were out with friends and I found myself alone.  I decided that I would go out to the porch and just enjoy the quiet of nature around the cabin. This was my view, as the sun set, (through the porch screen):

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

I sat on the porch with my Bible.  At the time, I was in the process of looking up verses that included the words JOY, HOPE, & PEACE.  I was concentrating on PEACE that day and found myself in Isaiah.  I read several verses and then I found the one that I am sure the Lord wanted me to see that night.

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That was exactly what I needed to hear.  He was providing EXACTLY what I needed ~ “peaceful habitation.”  I made a note in my Bible and then texted a photo of the verse to my friend.  I had to let her know that our staying in their cabin was a gift to us.  Yes, a gift from her family but ultimately it was a gift from the Lord.  He put us there so that we could rest.  He put us in a “secure dwelling” where the very loud sounds of nature created a “quiet resting place.”

Now that our family is together in one state, under one roof, there are days that I long for time on that porch.  I long for the sound of the bullfrog under my bedroom window, the crickets, the geese as they flew in and out of the pond.  I long for the sound of “quiet.”

I’m looking for my “quiet resting place” in our new place.  I’ve not exactly found it yet, but that’s okay.  I know that I will.  Like all things in a new place, it takes time.  I have wonderful memories, and photos, of the place that He provided.  The property around the cabin was just gorgeous.

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The scenery over the pond was a sight to behold daily!

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But the sunsets!  Well, they were the epitome of Psalm 19:1 ~ “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

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The song “Near to The Heart of God” has been on my mind a lot lately.  If you’re not familiar with it,  it was written in 1903 by Cleland B. McAfee.  It’s a beautiful song, however, I like the third and fourth verses the best:

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
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There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.

These verses remind me that wherever my quiet place is, it’s a place that I can fully release my burdens and my joys to the Lord.  It’s a place I can find peace.  It’s my prayer that you also have a place like that.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.  

Joy to You!


 

 

By the way:  Beginning October 1st, I’m joining with many other writers as we blog our way through the 31 days of October.  I’ve participated in this challenge the past few years and really enjoyed it.  This year, I am sharing some of the lessons I learned in our time of transition.  I’d be honored if you joined me. 

Mission HOME

Every July our church does what we call “Mission Hartsville”.  It’s a week-long, church-wide mission trip, in our home town. There are approximately 21 ministry areas that are carried out during this set week in July.  It’s a sweet time of service to our community and a great time of fellowship with other church members.  For some, we are stretched out of our comfort zone. For some, a passion for a particular ministry area is ignited and then carried out continuously throughout the year. For many, it’s the only mission “trip” that is feasible for them.  No matter the outcome, it truely is a beautiful time in our city. Matter of fact, there are some that have come to expect, or I should say anticipate our mission efforts.  It’s a really good thing.

The down side to our mission week is that although we are at home, we are not at home.  We are in and out.  Breakfast is on the fly, lunch is at odd times, dinner….well, 8 or 9 p.m. seems a good time to eat.  Laundry doesn’t get done.  The kids rooms become a mess and the hubby and I are piling clothes on the floor because the laundry basket is full.  We run out of milk, the trash doesn’t get put out for weekly pick-up…….

You get the idea!

This year, the week after I admit I was in a bit of a tizzy.  I wanted the house clean.  The laundry done. The groceries bought.  My poor kids!!  They just wanted to rest a little.  Read a little.  Watch a little TV.  Have friends over.  I confess that I was frustrated with them!

That’s when it hit me.

I spent a week pouring my heart and soul into ministry after ministry.  I participated in random acts of kindness. I loved on people that I don’t know and, honestly, weren’t very lovable.  I gave grace to people that I may never see again. (Actually in our small town that’s unlikely, but you know what I mean).  I prayed for those I came in contact with.

But my kids….my husband?

When was the last time I loved on them in their unlovable moments? Showed them grace whether they needed it or not? Really prayed over them?

OR….did a random act of kindness for my kids?  My husband?  I mean why shouldn’t I put their laundry away instead of piling it on their bed? Or do their chores instead of nagging for the chores to be done?  Not all the time, mind you, but randomly.

I’m convinced that missions should take place in the four walls of our home.  I’m not living out the example of being the Christian wife and mom I claim to be if I am not serving those that the Lord so graciously gave me to be my family.mission_home

What about you?  Does your heart for missions come to fruition in your own home?  With your extended family? In your circle of friends?

I am praying about how I can serve my family more.  Knowing that they may read this, I’m held accountable {smile}. Knowing that the Lord knows my heart is accountability enough!!

I pray that you will be on “mission” in your own home.

Joy to You!

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Taking A Look

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It’s 2015!

I am still processing how quickly 2014 seemed to pass by.  What a year it was.  We began the year visiting with our precious friends in Louisville.  What a way to ring in the New Year.  We missed their party this year but they were in my heart!

I decided to take a look back at the 2014 calendar to remind myself of how the year was spent.   It went something like this:

our kids hit ages 10 & 15…..we celebrated with good friends as their son was married…..my hubby and I went on a marriage retreat…..snow in our little SC town….our niece got married…..stanford testing and the PSAT on the homeschool front….teach them diligently home school conference…..both kids participated in TeenPact for the      first time and loved it…..ladies prayer retreat at church…..ballet recital…..annual family beach trip…..camp for      my daughter…..vbs…..youth mission trip to NY for my son…..trip to charleston….mother/daughter trip to NY/NJ with my mom and sister…..long weekend at the beach…..both nephews got engaged…..extended family medical        issues….drama camp with our home school co-op…..first voice and piano recital…..met new friends…..spent time with long time friends…..trusted the Lord to direct our steps and sought to honor Him in all

As I look ahead, our kids are about to be 11 & 16.  This happens in the next 10 days.  It seems like yesterday that we were beginning our journey as parents.  It’s really overwhelming.   I will continue to home school my kids and will soak in every moment that I am blessed to have with them.   My hubby and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage.  We will celebrate weddings and births with friends and family.  Some of the events of 2014 are traditions that will happen in 2015 and more years to come.  I am thankful for those.

God’s Word tells me that He has plans for me.  I am glad and I look forward to following Him into this year.  I pray that your 2015 is full of joy and peace.  And that you trust the Lord in all He has for you!

Happy New Year!

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The Family Toolbox ~ A Review

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I am excited to be able to review a new tool made available by the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  The Family Toolbox is a resource for parents and teens, ages 10-18, encouraging conversation that leads to family discipleship.  
The “toolbox” contains 8 lessons consisting of 16 videos and a workbook.  There are eight videos for parents to view where a scene is portrayed followed by authors of the Toolbox, Dr. Scott Turansky and Mrs. Joanne Miller,  discuss the life lesson being taught in the particular session.  After viewing this, parents will then sit down with their teens and watch a longer clip of the same scene and then use discussion questions and prompts in the workbook.  Each lesson has two “life success principles” that Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller explain in the video for parents.  What I love most about this tool is how practical these principles are and how scripture is intertwined throughout to back up the principle being discussed. 
Topics covered in the Family Toolbox are:
  • Lesson 1 ~ It Starts with the Heart
  • Lesson 2 ~ Follow Instructions Well
  • Lesson 3 ~ Handle Pressure without Losing Your Cool
  • Lesson 4 ~ The Value of Correction
  • Lesson 5 ~ The Importance of Responsibility
  • Lesson 6 ~ Accept No as an Answer
  • Lesson 7 ~ Deal with Your Own Anger
  • Lesson 8 ~ Consider the Needs of Others
 As mentioned above, the advice and direction given by Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller in these lessons is practical with an intertwining of biblical principles that are so important and life changing.  As I listened to them discuss the topics, I was both encouraged and convicted.  My goal as a parent is to raise my children to love and serve Jesus; to raise them to honor Him in their lives every day.  I was encouraged to discover that my husband and I do some of the things suggested in The Family Toolbox lessons.
Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller share with us that seeing our children change in effective ways comes from focusing on the heart.  Mrs. Miller says, “The heart is where the lasting change will take place.”  The concept of a “heart issue” is not new to me.  When we found out we were to be parents, I began to read parenting books.  I’ve been to parenting seminars that encourage dealing with the heart.  Working on and dealing with heart issues are for all of life not just the toddler or teen or all those in between years.
The practical tips are things like making a chart of negative behavior, then thinking and praying through to address the heart issue that the behavior is a result of.  They also suggest having an “action point”.  This is when you stop talking and start acting as a parent.   Involve your kids in setting new patterns and habits for the way you give them instructions and the way that they obey. Weave scripture into any discussion you have about behavior.    God made us and our children; He has a lot to say about who we are, and should be, as His creation. 
Another really practical piece of advice is to be sure to have some margin, i.e. extra time, in our schedule for unplanned things.  If we are so rigid in our daily schedule, there is no room for the unexpected joys that might come our way.  We might just miss them.  Setting checkpoints in our daily routine to be sure that kids are staying on task is another great way to keep behavior and attitudes where they need to be.  They help keep us to our “plan” and can have the positive benefit of building teamwork in the family.
The conviction I felt came around Lesson 3.  After 15+ years of parenting, I am still learning to handle pressure and not losing control.  I have a temper.  It’s sin on my part and I know it.  I am learning, with the grace of God, to not lose it when I do get upset.  This is where perhaps the most practical advice from Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller really hit home for me.  They said to expect problems, expect delays, and expect interruptions.  Be ready for them and then our reaction is not emotional.  AND our reaction is honoring to your children and to the Lord.  These three things are just part of life, family life.
Correction was discussed in Lesson 4.  There is value in correction.  When we, as parents, have a plan for the way that we correct our children it really benefits the entire. Having a plan for how we correct shows unity between parents.  It also give opportunity for the correction to be done right, teaching the kids in the process and then the child and the family are able to move forward.  I really like that Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller encourage discussion with our kids when correction is taking place.  They suggest three questions:
  • What did you do wrong? (this helps the kids take personal responsibility)
  • Why was that wrong? (this question deals with the heart)
  • What are you going to do different next time? (this helps our kids learn from experience)
These questions could also benefit us as parents and adults in our everyday lives as well.
Something that I think is very important in their discussion on correction is that once we, as parents, have discussed these questions with our kids, we should encourage them to go ahead and try again.  This gives them encouragement and can teach them forgiveness.
Throughout all eight lessons, Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller emphasize how these principles are beneficial for a life time.  Things like looking for and encouraging positive qualities in our kids that we can link to life goals, following directions, accepting no for an answer.  All of these are skills that can be used in the workplace and in their own family when the children leave our homes for their own.
I am so grateful to have been able to review this product.  For the purpose of this review, I watched this on my own, however, I hope to go through the “toolbox” as a family activity with my husband and kids very soon.  I am sure that we will benefit from it. 
The Family Toolbox is available for download on the National Center for Biblical Parenting‘s website for a suggested donation of $79.95 or you can purchase a home kit which features a DVD and hard copy literature for $99.95.  
Joy to You!
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