Thursday, February 28, 2013

1000 gifts: teaching my children

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings from February, 2013. 

580. My daughter taking notes in church.
Blaze is old enough, I guess, that she prefers sitting with us in church rather than going to children's church. I love having her with us, and I encouraged her to write down at least one thing that she learned from the message. This what she wrote one week:
"The greatest prayer a person can pray is to seek His face. It's about God's grace, he will give us the grace. The world is not our home, heaven is. Are we going to be found faithful? He saved us on purpose now its our turn to help others believe"

581. Psalm 78:6-7  
In my morning time in the Bible, these verses really struck me: 
He commanded them to teach their children so the next generation would know them [all that God did for his people], even the children yet to be born, and they would in turn tell their children - then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds, but would keep his commands.
Yet another instance, I think, of God's prompting me to homeschool my girls, which I'm planning to start in the fall; my husband still has some reservations but is willing to let me try. 

In the meantime though I need to make more effort to teach them beyond just helping them memorize their AWANA verses and ask them what they learned in children's church. I teach children's church for the 3 year old class every other Sunday, which is so much fun - lots of acting out the Bible stories and review games. With just slight modifications I could teach those same materials for my own kids, even though they are older (6 through 11 years). 

Challenging myself to list what we've done together in my next month's list!

 582. A lazy birthday
For my birthday, I took the day off from work, stayed home to write. See that picture above? That was me (except I somehow managed to fit a laptop on my lap too, along with the big quilt, the cup of tea and a good book).  Later in the week B took me out to dinner.  My two oldest daughters had lovely presents for me, too (Blaze made a clay wizard; Stars bought me yummy vanilla candles).

583. My girls cleaning the house

The twins picked everything up, Blaze vacuumed, Dreamer mopped the floors! Sweet!

584. Pocket horses 

The girls have an obsession with toy horses; over the years they've collected several dozen, all sizes. One day Dreamer made the comment, "wouldn't it be fun if we could take real horses and make them small enough to stick on our pockets."  But then you wouldn't be able to ride them anymore, I told her. "Oh, they'd grow back to regular size when ever you wanted them to."  Cool idea! I especially like it because miniature manure would be a lot easier to clean up!

585. Challenge to read the Word daily

From my Made to Crave devotional: 
One day we are satisfied with a large dinner, how long does the satisfaction last? The next day we need another large dinner.  In the same way the Word fills us up to satisfaction one day, but we can't expect one serving of truth to feed us for a lifetime, or even a week! We need the word daily. 
Why do I starve myself spiritually? Another challenge to myself: determined to read the Word every day, taking the verses listed in my devotional and reading the full chapter.  I haven't been in the Word daily since my last Bible read through a couple years ago.Will report progress here next month!
586. Elvis skits

My daughters had their annual school show, where all the grades sing two songs (the theme this year was Route 66), and the older kids narrate and do skits in between songs. Blaze is in 5th grade (the top grade at our elementary school), so she was one of the narrators and also one of the "fan girls" in the skits which were all related to Elvis some way or another.(Including Elvis getting chased by fan girls, and once by a kid in a gorilla suit!)

587. Psalm 62:11,12 

Have started my challenge to read the Word daily, at least one chapter. Here was one of my WT's (wonderful things from the Word, see Psalm 119:18). 
One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, Oh God, are strong, and that you, oh God, are loving.

588.  Starlet's great day

One day when the girls got off the school bus, Starlet raced in to find me with this announcement: "I had a great day!" - grinning and wiggling her hips. Considering that most mornings she clings to me and insists she doesn't want to go to school, it's nice to see that some days, at least, she loves it.

589. The power of His Name

From my Jesus Lives devotional, by Sarah Young:
There is great power in My Name: simply whispering "Jesus" can turn a hard day into a good one.

590. Taking time to talk about your goals with God

Another quote from Jesus Lives, by Sarah Young: 
The light of My presence illuminates your pursuit of your goal so you can see if from My perspective. As your perspective lines up with mine, you gain a growing desire to please Me. This desire produces benefits far beyond the task at hand. It deepens your relationship with me.  
This made me think about how I've been so, so, so focused and excited about getting through the 2nd draft of my novel, especially since the feedback from my critiquers (three of them) has been really positive (e.g. "can't stop reading, send me more!"). But is there an eternal benefit to this story I'm writing? It will last long after I am gone (even if it doesn't get published). I want to be remembered for a story that is worth while, but how much of it is driven by "I want" versus what God wants? Stuff to pray about, lining up my will with His.
591. Fun at the library with the girls

Lately I've been going to the library almost every week to pick up a book on hold (I might hold the library record for most inter-library loans). This week Dreamer checked out a kid's joke book (oh, the cheesy puns! I can't laugh at the jokes, but the girls laugh at them, so then that makes me laugh, so it's totally worth it). Blaze checked out the 2nd Harry Potter book (I was wondering when she's get hooked on HP - this Friday night she was up till 11pm reading it!). And in addition to my latest book discovery, Code Name Verity, I found a bonus:  a whole stack of free National Geographic magazines in the lobby - this geographer's favorite magazine! Which reminds me, my mom got me a subscription to National Geographic for my birthday, which should be starting soon.

592. Accomplishing mini-goals

From the Made to Crave devotional: 
Each mini-goal  you accomplish today is a victory. Victory = being in God's will. I Thess 5:16-18. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Every time you look for something to rejoice about, be thankful for, or have a temptation or situation to pray about, that is a mini goal accomplished = victory. 
Frustrated about not losing any weight this month, even though I have been carefully following my eating and exercising plan. But trying to look at all the other things I've gained, including a sponsor at Overeaters Anonymous (someone committed to daily check-ins with each other). Truly it is miraculous that I no longer eat or binge to satisfy emotions.  So instead of focusing on my long term goal of losing another 25 pounds, I'm trying to teach myself to focus on mini-goals.  Accomplishing my healthy eating plan each day. Time to go for a walk. An encouraging verse. Exchanging texts or emails with my sponsor.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

1000 gifts: farther horizons, higher peaks, greater depths

 Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey. I write these down on my calendar, and when I get a chance I add them here to my blog. These are all blessings are from January, 2013.

 567. Siesta Scripture Memory challenge 2013 
Beth Moore has started this challenge again at her Living Proof blog, in which we memorize a verse every two weeks for a year. 

Here are my two verses for January:

2 Corinthians 3:16,17   But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:18   And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (or reflect) the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His image, with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord. 

568. Editing progress
I've proved through five Novembers now that I can get the first draft of a novel written and finished. It's the editing and polishing subsequent drafts that always stalls me out. I'm 10 chapters (or about 1/3 of the way) through editing my latest novel into shape. I list this also as a challenge to myself to keep working away at it. Hope to have it finished in April and ready for beta readers (which will surely mean more edits, but it's still a big step). I really want to query it to agents by this summer or fall.

569. Three reasons to write

"I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of."  — Joss Whedon
570. Kisses From Katie
This is an autobiography by a 22 year old that blew me away. Katie J. Davis left her wealthy home in America and has been living and ministering to the poor and starving in Uganda since she was 18, adopting/fostering 14 children. 

I hadn't realized what a transformation had taken place while I had been in Uganda, the spiritual richness I had experienced in material poverty and the spiritual poverty I felt now in a land of material wealth.
The place God calls us to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
I've had people ask why I think Africa is so impoverished, but these children are not poor. I, as a person who grew up wealthy, am. I put value in things. These children, having no thing, put value in God. I put my trust in relationships; these children, having already seen relationships fail, put their trust in the Lord. This nation is blessed beyond any place, any people I have ever encountered. God has not forgotten them. In fact, I believe He has loved them just a little bit extra.
I sit here freezing and wet in this pitch-black room as the rain beats on the roof, and God is so close I feel I can touch Him. My deepest prayer is that I could know the Lord as well as the first grader next to me. All my senses are full of His greatness. God's glory has fallen down into this place and is soaking us even deeper than the rain. I never ever want to be dry.

570. A conviction challenged
Last November during a communion service at church, I had quite the conversation with God over homeschooling. I laid out my arguments and doubts; He responded with "am I not God?" One of my fears would be that I soon as I committed to homeschooling, something would happen with my job that would complicate matters. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened this January. At first this caused a lot of fretting on my part, and disagreement between B. and I. But prayer is my theme word for this year, so I took it to prayer. It's not resolved yet, but I am waiting in prayer, and no longer fretting. It's in God's hands. So, sometimes a challenge (even unresolved) can turn into a gift, too, because it pushes us to follow God more closely.

571. Questions about Genesis
B.'s nephew called us one night, he and his wife had been studying Genesis (!!!!) and he was having issues with it, and wanted to know where Cain's wife and other spouses for Adam and Eve's children came from? That is a tough question, because incest (siblings marrying) is a likely answer, and whatever you might say about how it was "okay" back then, it's still a tough thing to swallow.  B. pointed out how it's also a tough thing to swallow about what the evolutionists propose instead: that we all ultimately evolved from a chemical brew. Then it also occurred to me, no one calls Adam and Eve incestuous, even though she was made out of Adam's rib. What if in those early days, God made all the spouses out of ribs? Or just breathed them into existence? God is a Creator - and he's not limited by the means we are limited in our own procreation.

572. Cat-herding
A co-worker shared this cat-herding commercial with me, and I shared it with my family - the girls didn't "get it" the same way adults too, but they thought it was hilarious, anyway!

573. A certain person drinking apple juice instead of something stronger
I'm not even going to try to explain this. Maybe 20 years from now I won't have a clue why I listed this as a gift (I don't even like apple juice!) but right now, it makes me smile.

574. Vitamins in the tea canister
It's that time of year again where I'm most vulnerable to seasonal depression.  Last year my doctor advised I triple my daily Vitamin D dose, and I never did get depressed last year, so I've been trying to remember to take my vitamins. Problem is, I remember for a week, then forget for a week. So I tried to think of a way that I wouldn't forget. Where could I put those pills that I wouldn't forget them?  Well, I NEVER forget to have my tea in the morning, and since I've been keeping the vitamin bottle in the cannister with my tea bags, I haven't forgotten once! (hmmm, maybe I should keep my bible in there, too?)

575. Texted prayers
My O.A. friends and I text prayers back and forth when facing temptation or other tough times (keeping C. in prayer for health issues, both her and her daughter). Friends from church have also been texting me "praying for you" since I shared with them the complication that's come up with my job that's at odds with my conviction to homeschool. H.L. and Helen (see gift #529 for more about Helen's prayer) have been praying about my job/homeschooling situation too, as well as N.L.W. and K.A. 

576. A cute pair of smaller jeans
Bought my first pair of a-size-smaller jeans in a long time! (15 pounds lost at end of January!) Also nice that I got them for $6 at Goodwill with tags still on them!

577.  A "you're thinner!" hug
Eight-year old Dreamer loves to give hugs, and one night when she hugged me she stepped back in surprise - "Mom! you're thinner!"

578. Sharing theme words
During lunch with H.L., I shared my theme word for the year (and the story behind my words for 2011 and 2012) and I was delighted that she's been using a theme word for the past two years, too. Her words, Humility and Glory and Joy, are particularly poignant considering the tremendous trials she's faced in the past two years: breast cancer, fostering and trying to adopt two girls, and an undiagnosed neurological complication that puts one of her sons in a wheelchair some of time. 

579. Farther horizons, higher peaks, greater depths in God

O Lord, You are the God of the early mornings, the God of the late nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea. But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature. You who are the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot discover, dreams I cannot realize. My God, search me.”