Monday, December 30, 2013

A mother's secret hideaway...

There is a place where mothers often seek refuge from the struggles of the day.

Sometimes we hide there to catch a brief moment of peace, make a phone call, read a book, etc. Although, I never remember feeling like I needed this place of refuge until I started homeschooling my oldest. But it doesn't really matter why we hide there as much as the fact that we actually do it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't usually take long until the yelling for "mom" and knocking begin, especially in a house like ours that only has one bathroom. Happy hiding, busy moms. :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Motherhood Changed Christmas

Tonight as I sat and watched our Christmas program at church, I couldn't help but think about how motherhood has permanently changed Christmas for me. As I child, I thought of the things that we would do, the people we would visit, and the gifts that we would open. We would gather at my grandparents' house on Christmas eve for the reading of Luke 2, singing of carols, and opening gifts with extended family. Then we would spend Christmas Day as a family, opening gifts and, yes, cutting wood. :)

But there was something about Christmas 7 years ago that has made me view this day with different eyes, the eyes of a parent, and more specifically, the eyes of a mother. Seven years ago I was closing in on my due date with Mr. R. I'd had steady contractions for over a week and was anxiously awaiting his birth. I felt I could relate to Mary in a new way, as an expectant mother. I could just imagine her traveling to Bethlehem with Joseph, thinking of how uncomfortable it must have been to do so. I wonder if she new how close she was to delivery?

Then as each of our children came along, motherhood further changed my view of Christmas. Sitting tonight listening to our choir sing about the birth of Christ and seeing the actors portray the visit from the shepherd, I became so overwhelmed with emotion. How much did Mary understand about what her precious baby was sent to do? Did she realize the agony that He would one day feel as He hung on the cross bearing the punishment for her sin and the sin of the rest of the world - past, present, and future? Now that I have children, I cannot hope to imagine how she felt as a mother watching God's son, the son she'd carried and cared for, suffer and ultimately die. Then I think about the love that God has for me, a love that made Him willing to give His only begotten Son to save me from suffering the punishment for my sin. So, I guess, motherhood has helped me to realize how grateful I am that the God of the universe would stoop so low as to be born into the world as a human child, to live a perfect life and die a horrible death so that I might have eternal life. Thank you, Lord, for the greatest Christmas gift ever to be given, your Son.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

[Guest Post] A.P.P.L.Y. our Hearts unto Wisdom

We have a dear lady at our church whom I have really come to appreciate. For sake of privacy, we'll call her Mrs. R. She has seven children and still teaches the younger five, which range in age from 11-17, at home. She gives me hope that I can not only learn to survive life as a homeschool mom but also thrive. A month and a half ago she shared a devotional at our ladies mission society meeting and it really blessed my heart so I asked if I could share it with you. She agreed, so here it is. I hope you are blessed as much as I was.

"A.P.P.L.Y. our Hearts unto Wisdom"
Written by Mrs. R.

Our theme this year is “Apply our Hearts Unto Wisdom” drawn from Psalm 90 vs 12 and 17, with the emphasis on verse 12 today. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” 

Looking briefly at some thoughts on Psalm 90 written by men of God from the past: It is a Psalm written by Moses. 
Title. A prayer of Moses. Moses was an old and much tried man, but age and experience had taught him that, amidst the perpetual changes which are taking place in the universe, one thing at least remains immutable, even the faithfulness of him who is "from everlasting to everlasting God." How far back into the past may the patriarch have been looking when he spake these words? The burning bush, the fiery furnace of Egypt, the Red Sea, Pharaoh with his chariots of war, and the weary march of Israel through the wilderness, were all before him; and in all of them he had experienced that "God is the Rock, his work perfect, all his ways judgment" (De 32:4). But Moses was looking beyond these scenes of his personal history when he said, "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations." (De 32:7), and we may be sure that he was also looking beyond them when he indited the song, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Yes; he was casting in his mind how God had been the refuge of Jacob and Isaac, of Abraham, Noah, and all the patriarchs. Moses could take a retrospect of above a thousand years, which had all confirmed the truth. I can do no more. At this point of time I can look back to the days of Moses and Joshua and David, and descending thence to the days of the Son of God upon earth, and of Paul and Peter, and all the saints of the Church down to the present hour; and what a thousand years avouched to Moses, three thousand now avouch to me: the Lord is the dwelling place of those that trust in him from generation to generation. Yes; and to him who was the refuge of a Moses and an Abraham, I too in the day of trouble can lift my hands. Delightful thought! That great Being who, during the lapse of three thousand years, amidst the countless changes of the universe, has to this day remained unchanged, is MY God.—Augustus F. Theluck, in "Hours of Christian Devotion", 1870.
Looking especially at verse 12,
Verse 12: So teach us to number our days. Instruct us to set store by time, mourning for that time past wherein we have wrought the will of the flesh, using diligently the time present, which is the accepted hour and the day of salvation, and reckoning the time which lieth in the future to be too uncertain to allow us safely to delay any gracious work or prayer. Numeration is a child's exercise in arithmetic, but in order to number their days aright the best of men need the Lord's teaching. We are more anxious to count the stars than our days, and yet the latter is by far more practical. That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Men are led by reflections upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things; they become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be their bed, their passions cool in the presence of mortality, and they yield themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom; but this is only the case when the Lord himself is the teacher; he alone can teach to real and lasting profit. Thus Moses prayed that the dispensations of justice might be sanctified in mercy. "The law is our school master to bring us to Christ", when the Lord himself speaks by the law. It is most meet that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated by wisdom's hand. A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright.
Verse 12, from Hints to the Village Preacher
1. The Reckoning. (a) What their usual number. (b) How many of them are already spent. (c) How uncertain the number that remains. (d) How much of them must be occupied with the necessary duties of this life. (e) What afflictions and helplessness may attend them. 
2. The use to be made of it. (a) To "seek wisdom"—not riches, worldly honours, or pleasures—but wisdom; not the wisdom of the world, but of God. (b) To "apply the heart" to it. Not mental merely, but moral wisdom; not speculative merely, but experimental; not theoretical merely, but practical. (c) To seek it at once—immediately. (d) To seek it constantly—"apply our hearts", etc. 
3. The help to be sought in it. "So teach us", etc. (a) Our own ability is insufficient through the perversion both of the mind and heart by sin. (b) Divine help may be obtained. "If any man lack wisdom." etc.—G.R.
And finally from the Plain Commentary
Verse 12. To number our days. Number we our days by our daily prayers—number we them by our daily obedience and daily acts of love—
When the Bible says we need teaching…that means we need to LEARN. I believe that the Bible instructs to our weaknesses so if there is a command to “DO” it is because we are very prone to “NOT DO”.

In this Psalm we are asked to learn to number our days so that we can apply our hearts to wisdom. I am a mom of 7 and have been homeschooling for 16 years. I thought at the time I would be schooling forever but now with 2 graduates, 3 high schoolers, and 2 middle schoolers time actually seems short. Time flys and as Christian Ladies we need to number our days so that we can serve God in whatever capacity he has us. 

Applying our hearts to wisdom - 

Our Hearts are the center of our mind, emotions and will. Martha Peace in the Excellent Wife used this illustration. I like it because it reminds me to acknowledge all three parts of my heart but also to keep them in balance so the heart is wise. Sin in any of these areas divorces the heart from wisdom.

Here is an acrostic that I came up with with help with the concept:

Attitude: How I feel and respond (Mind and emotion)
“This is a day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is a act of the will that rules my emotions. I have a choice when things are good or bad. I can choose contentment, I can bring my thoughts and emotions captive to Christ, or I can act in pride, selfishness, fear, and anger. Its my choice.

Perspective: My view of the situation (Mind)
“ All things work together for good to them that Love God….” Do I believe that? Does my view of the situation show that I believe that. When Jesus healed the man with the whithered hand he asked him to stretch it out. He was asking him to do something impossible that He then enabled him to do and healed him. One thing to ask God to do is to reveal any blind spots in my perspective…..they are not blind spots because I can see them!

Perseverance: An act of the will in which I choose to keep going
We are to press for the Mark of our High Calling in Christ Jesus. One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament is when God tells Moses that he put them through the wilderness for all those years to test them to see if they would obey and walk in the way God wanted them to. Sometimes we just need to do the next thing….

Love: The Greatest of these is Love
Love is an emotion but it is also an act of the will! Read I Corinthians 13….memorize it, meditate on it…LIVE IT purposely with vigor!

Yield: Giving it all to God 
Applying our hearts to wisdom takes the yielding of all things to God. Our Mind, our wills and our emotions. I cannot yield to God if I don’t know him. I need to get into the Word and see what it says to me. The Bible tells me that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. We know the way, we need to choose to walk in it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Menu 2013: December 2-January 5

It has been incredibly busy the last few weeks, which is why I am posting so late. Jared and I had the wonderful privilege of organizing our church's annual Christmas banquet so that took precedence over blogging for a bit. I did try to post weekly menus on my Facebook page for those of you who also follow me there. Here is a recap of the past couple of weeks and also a start to my list of the rest of this month's menus.

December 2-8
  • Crockpot venison roast, sweet potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls
  • Sausage and bean soup with dinner rolls
  • Chili dogs, fries, and carrot sticks
  • Grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches
  • Pizza
December 9-15
  • Venison Stew
  • Tacos (well, Taco Bell anyway)
  • Our Christmas banquet menu (with recipes) will be posted soon, but this is what we prepared - apple cranberry stuffed pork loin with a cranapple balsamic glaze, pepper crusted roast beef, baby gold potatoes, garlic almond green beans, and dinner rolls. An assortment of salads, relish/veggie trays, stuffings, and desserts was also provided by our church ladies and gents.
  • Date night - one family at church gave us a gift certificate for dinner and another offered to watch our kids (and then they even did most of my dishes)
  • Leftovers
December 16-22
  • Chicken and stuffing bake
  • Pulled pork, cheesy potatoes, and green beans
  • Potato soup
  • Chili and cornbread
  • Crockpot meatball subs, side salad, and veggie tray
December 23-29 (Merry Christmas)
  • Pumpkin pie pancakes and fresh fruit
  • Tater tot casserole
  • Ham, potatoes, veggies, and rolls
  • Subs
  • Pizza
December 30-January 5 (Happy New Year)
  • Turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn, and fresh bread
  • Spanish chicken with chorizo and potatoes
  • Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies
  • Spaghetti, green beans, and French bread
  • Turkey BLT paninis and side salads