Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

The best!!!!

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1/2 C baking cocoa
1- 1/2 t. Baking powder
1- 1/2 t. Baking soda
1 t. Salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1-1/2 C oil  (I use coconut, but has to be warmed to liquid when mixing you can use vegetable oil too-just not good for you!)
2 T. Butter, melted
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
3C Grated zucchini
a big heaping helping of semisweet chocolate chips.
*optional* raisins or pecans

Mix all of the dry ingredients (first seven).  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, butter, vanilla and mix well.  If you are using coconut oil, you might have to gently warm the mixture to make it liquid before adding to dry ingredients. I used a metal bowl and held it over an empty pan over the stove top to prevent the eggs from cooking.   Stir well into dry mix until moistened throughout.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.  I would say a cup of them, but I won't lie, I add more than that!!

Grease and flour two 8X4X2 loaf pans.  Divide equally and bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Mine never really come out clean.  That's okay, it is rich and decadent!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Story

I became a Jesus-follower somewhere between 1992-1994.  If you attend a Baptist church like I do, you might have trouble with that statement because you think that there has to be a date and and hour when you "sealed the deal."  But I truly believe that for some it is more of a process than it is a prayer.  I love how John Piper explains the process as an electrical system.  People come into our lives and help to install the wiring tracts for the system, but one day God flips the switch and turns on the lights, which only God can do.  I can pinpoint the time in my life with much certainty that God "flipped the switch."

It is different for everyone, I am sure.  My story is not a condemnation of any one's belief systems, nor is it a commentary on the faith of those I grew up with, it is simply a story of someone who came away from a particular system empty and scared.  Not all people have the same response that I did-I can only speak for myself.

When I was little, my parents were faithful church attendees.  We went to a close-knit Church of Christ.  I think that back in the day, there was a fairly good sized congregation, but the perspective of a child I have found is sometime skewed when it comes to size and proportion.  But they were family. They still are.  The church no longer holds the name "Church of Christ."  I don't know why they changed the name, but I wondered if it had anything to do with that denominations beliefs on salvation and baptism.  I really don't know for sure.

I remember Sunday School and Junior Church and VBS.  We learned to memorize Bible verses, the books of the Bible, and so on.  I have some very fond memories that reach back to those events.  But as I grew into a teenager, I was a bit worried.  I had met people who I had believed had a real connection with God that I seemed to be lacking.  If you would have asked me back then what it meant to be a Christian I'm not really sure what I would have told you.  I found comfort in a lot of things that I don't see as edifying now.  My choice in music was one of them.  My choice in relationships was another.  I have never had any experience with drugs, but I did drink a few times well before I was of age.  I spent a lot of time telling my mother that I listened to heavy metal for the music, but I didn't care for the lyrics-which was a lie and I knew it.

I went through a lot of traumatic things as a child.  Not in my family-they were wonderful.  I had loving, faithful parents.  My trauma was more with friends and it started with a neighbor that decided one day to raise an army against me.  You know how girls fight?  They are never content just to be mad at you, they have to take all of their friends with them and form an army.  My adolescence started that way.  I have had some great friends, but my experience with just one friend left me wounded and raw.  I spent the rest of my teenage years looking for acceptance and love.  I was loved at home, but I needed more.  I needed love from  people who were not blood-related and obligated to love me!  In retrospect, I think I just wanted to be worthy of love.  That led me to seek out love in the wrong places. (remember that song?  Looking for love in all the wrong places?  I always get that song stuck in my head when I tell this story!)  What I did not know then was that I had a hole in my heart that would never and could never be filled by people.

So let me rewind for a minute.  When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be baptized.  I saw that everyone else around me was doing it, and I really wanted to take communion.  My parents called the pastor and he came out to our home to talk with us.  I don't remember a single word he said.  What I do remember was that after our meeting I was scared. I was scared that I would not make it to the church to my baptism.  What if I got hit by a train, truck, or swept up by a tornado?  Then I would be condemned to hell for sure! I don't know how long it was in between the meeting and the baptismal service-let's just say 2 weeks for the sake  of argument.  Two weeks is a long time to sit and worry about death!  I needed my sins washed away now!  But the two weeks passed, and I lived.  I made it to the church and I walked down the isle.  I stood in front of our small congregation and made a profession of faith: that I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, I believed He died and rose again, and I believed that I needed Him for a Savior.  And I really did believe that.  Now time to wash those sins away.  I remember one of my first thoughts when coming up out of the water: what now?  All those sins are gone, does that mean I can never sin again?  How can I be "good enough" for this God? How bad do I have to be to lose this salvation that I just earned by baptism?  These were all subconscious questions I had.  They weren't answered for a few years.

So fast-forward now to those teenage years.  Several years of attempting to "be good" had found me flat on my face.  I had failed so many times.  I didn't even desire righteousness.  I made my own form of it.  I supposed that there were people out there who were much worse than me, so I must be doing okay-even though my soul knew I wasn't okay.  I won't lie to you, I was tormented.  I used to cry at night knowing I wasn't good enough.  When I was in high school and struggling with the "friend thing" I had a thought that I would rather be dead.  I never tried to accomplish that-I just wanted it.  Yet through the day, I wore a confident face for my family and justified everything I did to myself and others.  I never would have described myself as "empty" like I know that it was now.   I just didn't know.

After learning the ways of the world through a miserable relationship with a man, I decided that it was time to change myself.  I resolved to be better.  God brought a wonderful man into my life.  He was everything that I wanted, but he was also something that I hated--Baptist.  My thoughts on denominational lines now are different, but that is another subject for another time.  I went to some of his church gatherings and he came to some of mine.  In less than a year of knowing him, I knew that I would marry him-but I would never go to a Baptist church!

God has a great sense of humor.  But I digress.

My husband and his family introduced me to the doctrine of grace.  This was something totally new for me.  I didn't remember hearing much about it growing up.  I struggled with it at first--because it is a totally un-natural, radical thing.  I asked a lot of questions but still couldn't grasp the idea that I could accept Christ as my savior and then live my life any way I wanted and I would still be His.  Asinine.  For the record-I still don't believe that, but I understand now the transforming power of grace and how God takes a heart of stone from us and transforms it into a living, warm heart of flesh.  Remember when I talked about laying the ground wire and letting God flip the switch?  It's coming soon. All of the things that I learned about God over the years, all of the things that were continuing to wire me was about to be activated by God.  In all of my questioning and confusion, He led me to this verse:

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been  saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God and not by works, lest any man can boast."

I didn't read that and say:  "oooh!  I get it!" No, when I read that I realized that what I had believed all of these years could possibly be wrong.  So one night, somewhere between 1992 and 1994-I don't even remember if it was spring, summer, whatever- I was lying in bed crying.  I prayed to God and told Him that I didn't know what was true, but I just wanted Him.  And I wanted truth.  I needed Him to open my eyes and show me because my "self" wasn't figuring this out and I certainly had never had the peace I desired.  God is faithful.  And when we humble ourselves before Him, He gives us what we really need.  He knew that this was the cry of my heart and that it was genuine.  That night, I believe that He performed a work in me.  I believe that the next morning I woke up with a clean slate.  The work of baptism that I hoped to wash my sins away failed, but my desires were accomplished by a simple act of faith.  I didn't know it immediately, but I began to see God change me.  I lost the desire for some of the music I once loved.  My thoughts in other areas had changed.  Others noticed a difference and commented on it.  I wasn't super-Christian, flying around with my sword of righteousness--no it was a bit more subtle than that.  But it was a change.  And I knew something that I had never known before:  I was His forever.  Nothing I did was ever going to change that.  My dirty self was now clothed in the righteousness of Christ and one day I would show up at the gates wearing His righteousness-not my own.  And when I got there and He asked me "Why should I let you into my heaven?"  I would start to speak and Jesus would interrupt and say:

"Father, this one is Mine.  I did all of the work for her, she simply believed."

I now believe that salvation doesn't depend on what kind of church you go to.  We attend a Baptist church simply because we like it and find it to be Biblically sound.  But I have learned that my beliefs don't have to lie within Baptist boundaries-just Biblical ones. God has used the past 19ish years to transform me, mold me, and change my wrong-headed thinking on many things.  And I am still open to that.  I am learning all of the time.  (Hence the blog title)  Despite the things I don't know, I still know one thing for sure:  I am His forever and nothing will change that.  Nothing, self included, can remove me from His hand.  Amazing love. I have found rest from my works in the arms of a loving Savior.

Do you rest in Him too?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Becoming a Mermaid

I remember the day when I stood on the shore,
So unsure of what was out there, afraid to dive in.
I dipped my toe in the water to test it, but it was too cold.
Content to feel the heat, I sat in the sun for a while.
I built a castle in the sand and played on the shore.
Until I couldn't stand it anymore.
The draw of the ocean was just too strong.

I walked back to the shore, leaving my castle behind.
How bad can it be? 
It has to be refreshing in there-
Look at all of those happy people enjoying the surf!
I wanted to know the same joy it brought them.

So I put my foot in.  It was cold, but refreshing.
And there I stood, ankle deep watching people dive and swim.
It must be great.
But what was out there?  You simply can't see from the shore.
Was I willing to risk losing myself to find out?

I waded in up to my knees.
I felt the gentle feeling of the waves pushing and pulling my legs
Back and forth.  And I stood, wondering how difficult it would be to go deeper.
But still, there was an urge to push on and dive into the refreshing waters.
I watched the sun dance and sparkle on the surface.
And I took a step.

Now I was in up to my waist.
Waves came crashing against me,
Threatening to knock me over.
I don't know what the waves have against me,
But I am tempted to turn back.
I fear getting caught in an undercurrent.
And what about sharks?

I turn back and look at the shore.
There is nothing left for me there now.
My sand castle was washed up in the surf
And I know it is hot and uncomfortable there.
Yes, my life on the shore is over.
The water around me is soothing, but dangerous.
Can I just stay here in this spot forever?

But there are a few brave ones.
They are in deep, and loving it.
There has to be more,
And now I am up to my neck in the water.
This is as far as I could possibly go.
I don't want to drown.
The ocean is so deep, so unsafe and powerful.
I feel something brush past my feet.
I am tempted to turn and run back to the shore.

I see people standing between me and the shore.
They don't look as happy as they looked
When I was standing on the shore.
There is a longing in their eyes.
Maybe they are longing to go deeper too.

The deep blue water is still drawing me like gravity.
What can it want from me now?
I am as deep as I can go without drowning.
I don't understand this need to see what's under there.
What about air?
I am about to lose myself.
Can I really do this?

I take a deep breath and put my head under the surface.
There are people swimming down there!
I wonder how they are breathing.
It isn't natural.
But the soothing water is all around me,
And I can't help but go deeper.

I close my eyes and dive in.
There is nothing there but me and the water.
It surrounds me like an embrace.
I swim and swim for what seems like an eternity.
Discovering new things I never knew existed.
How long has it been since I have come up for air?
Is is possible to stay down here forever?

I have to put my head above the water.
I look back and see so many people standing on the shore,
And in the shallow water.
And I know that right here is where I want to be.
I close my eyes and dive back in.
It doesn't matter that this doesn't make sense,
And I am still alive.
I want to be here forever.

The water is all I need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

God is FOR You

I love the Psalms.  What a place to go when you need encouragement in your heart!  I started re-reading the book when my heart was troubled and I have been so encouraged.  I loved the gentle reminders to have a broken, contrite heart before God.  I love how David cried out to God with every ounce of His soul and God called him a man after my own heart.  The Psalms are passionate pleas, gentle reminders of who God is, and heart cries of praise.  This passage stuck out to me today:

Psalm 56:8-13  
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;

This I know because God is for me.
In God (I will praise His word)
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I will put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?

I know that different Scriptures speak to us at different times in our journeys, but I hope this one blesses you today the way it blessed me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Love, Correction, and Judgment: My Interview with Rachel Winchester

Those who know me know that I am not afraid to ask the hard questions!  I enjoy thoughtful conversations with people and tend to learn much from asking questions.  I do not try to be controversial, as some would describe me.  But I do have a passion for truth.  And truth is not always popular!

God has blessed me with some amazing and wise friends!  I have learned much from them, and I do cherish a friend who will always point me to truth no matter what the cost.  Rachel has been one of those friends.  She has an amazing passion for God, and it shows in her love of His Word.

I hope that you are blessed by her words! 

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

I am a daughter of the King, a wife of an amazing husband, and a mother to 4 crazy kids! My days are filled with loving my God, working in my home, serving my family, and training my children.

I homeschool my 3 older children in the midst of babyville with my youngest! It is a rollercoaster ride in our household but we love it and love how God makes everyday unique while teaching us to have character traits like patience, grace, mercy, love, attentiveness, and courtesy. Those are hard daily lessons but ones I find joy in as I see my kids develop.

My hobbies are sadly lacking right now. I love to sing, to play the piano, to take pictures, and to read. But, most of my time is taken up with schooling my kids and just overall keeping up with life. The life of a mom!

I do enjoy speaking at ladies' functions or leading a Bible Study. I have had the opportunity to speak at Parent Meetings in the Calument Twnship schools, Building Blocks- a Women's Center Outreach, Mother/Daughter functions, a Women's Retreat, and at a Mom/Daughter retreat focusing on purity. Everytime I speak I am amazed at the opportunity given to me to share Christ's love and my love for the roles of mother/teacher and wife/helpmeet. I enjoy Bible study because it teaches me and stretches me!

I love friends. I think that life was made to live and grow with others. I have many friends and it is quite an amazing accomplishment that I do find time to spend with as many of them as I can. Of course, those friendships are all wrapped around the beauty of our salvation in our Lord and the craziness of all our kids! It is a wonderful gift when your friends sharpen you and point you to the King!

I guess you could say I live life busy and I love it!

2. How would you define love?

Love defined is hard, Love as a noun is simple- Love is a person, God. To then understand love one must learn WHO GOD IS. This is complex. I have learned God's characteristics and I find that everything about him even his discipline and his punishment is because of his love.

I also think love is described beautifully in I Corinthians 13. The hardest part of that description is the action involved. Which brings me to the other part of what love is. It is an action. It is a choice.

I think it is a must that we separate love as a choice and love as a response. Love acting on choice looks slightly different than love as a response.

Love as a choice is one that always seeks the best for the other person regardless of the other person's response or actions toward us. Love is a choice when the easiest thing to do is lash out or ignore but love goes in and works for resolution and peace.

Love as a response can be a pure and beautiful thing. It can be described as cherishing that which has been done for us. And that looks different for everyone.

Love is best shown to us by what God did for us through His Son. Romans 5:8 states: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Love is going to point of death and even death for those you cherish.

Love as an action also cares about the life of another. If I see someone saying they love God and are not obeying him or caring for the things of God then as a sister in Christ I am to love by pointing out gently what I am observing. Love doesn't judge. It reproves, corrects, and then brings about restoration whether that be with another person or with God.

Love is full of grace (giving us something we do not deserve but we desire) and Love is full of mercy (withholding something we deserve but do not want).

Love is not easy. Love is not empty words, it is by definition action. It is who God is.

3.  Biblically, we are called to correct, instruct, and encourage one another to righteousness. In what circumstances should we do this? .
I think we get confused as to what this means. We think that by doing these things it will always bring conflict. But, if we do these things with the Fruit of the Spirit then it is done gently with meekness (humble understanding of our own faults too) and surrounded by self control. It is done with patience realizing that correction and instruction takes time. Encouragement is done through the way we talk, interact, and can be part of correction and instruction.

At first correction or instruction come when you can do it one on one not in a public fashion. Our goal is always righteousness not humiliation or embarrassment. I think it needs to be done when we have our own emotions under control so we do it out of love and not anger or indignation.

There are some circumstances when it involves false teaching that a person might need to correct while in the presence of others and in that instance you do it with the assumption that their teaching is motivated in love and therefore when corrected they will comply and change or study upon what you have given them.

How do we balance that with our call to love?

I think this is an interesting question because by definition love corrects, love instructs, love encourages. If I did not love someone I would not correct them, I would let them head into trouble and not care a bit about what happens to them. If I did not love someone I would not instruct them, I would let them continue in ignorance. I did not love someone I would not encourage them, I would leave them to figure out what they are doing well in. So for me you cannot have correction, instruction or encouragement without love. If one does these things without love then they should be the ones having someone coming to them to question their motives. :)

4. The big phrase we hear today is "don't judge me!" The Bible instructs us not to judge, lest we be judged. What does this passage mean to you? Is there ever a circumstance when we are called to judge?

This question intrigues me. I find it honestly quite humorous because everyday, every hour, and minute by minute we judge. We judge what is good for us, what is bad for us, we judge whether our friendships are honoring, we judge how our children are doing and so on. We need to read those words that come from a verse in God's Word in the context it is given and then match it up to all of Scripture.

Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This particular passage is NOT saying, "Do not judge at all". It is saying that when you judge or correct so to speak make sure of your attitude and your motivation and most of all your own righteousness. Because when you judge realize that you will then be judged also on the same points and will you be called out as a hypocrite? If so, do not judge! So do not judge until verse five is taken care of in your own life! The last part of verse five is what I draw this conclusion from, "...then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Luke 6:37- 42 is the parallel passage and it again explains that it is the intent, the righteousness in your life that is actually be judged when we "rebuke" or "correct" another. If you are have the same sin going on in your own life then how can you take care of someone else? Take care of have the ability to go to the sister that you see sin in.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Look at this passage on judging:

I Corinthians 5:11-1211 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[b]

Is this not judging? Yes, it is. We are told to judge the sin around us and to separate from it, correct it and then restore.

So, what shouldn't we judge? Freedoms in Christ. You see God has laid out clearly for us what IS SIN so that we CAN judge the sin and call it what it is so that we can then CHANGE our behavior and save others from the consequences of the behavior. But, freedoms are a different story. What if I would like to worship God in a way that is different from you? Or what if I should take drink of wine with my meal but I do not get drunk? These things are freedoms. They are talked about all over the New Testament.

BUT...a huge but here....God speaking through Paul has also told us that even if we have a freedom it doesn't mean it is best to use it. We must constantly be thinking as Christ, meaning we make sure that any freedom we have does not make another person stumble. Not all people have the same freedoms because of where they have been in life before the Lord took control. Some of us have to refrain from freedom because we need to keep our lives tightly controlled by the Spirit so that sin does not overtake us. And if I am in a relationship with someone that needs those boundaries then I as a sister will respect those boundaries and not cross them when I am with that person. I will do it graciously without judgement. Just as at other times I have been in the presence of Christians who are doing things unknowningly in front of me that hurt me, I do not judge them. I give them to the Lord and ask for strength in dealing with those issues as they come up.

I would encourage all my brothers and sisters to read through the epistles to understand what is to be judged and what is not to be judged and how to go about judging.

I think that I would go back to 1 Corinthians 13 again and read again how love is to be accomplished.

I would encourage all to read this passage- Galations 5:13 through Galations 6:10. It is the passage I heavily rely on when I am faced with any type of circumstance with another Christian. It is my "check and balance".

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

After reading that passage if I still feel the Holy Spirit spurring me on to talk with someone I do it! After reading this if I am convicted of my own hyposcrisy I stop and work on that first and ask the Spirit to soften my heart toward the other person! I think the above passage speaks for itself.

Love is what all our communication should be based on! Or you could state it, "God and his Chararcter is what all our communication should be based on."

"What does love got to do with it?" EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Your Sanity While Home Schooling- Getting Your Kids on Board

We have had our ups and downs of training in the Devine home!  Over the past few years, I have faced issues that I have found that many other home school mothers have faced.  We have tried many different solutions and have found some systems that work for us.  I thought I would share some of them with you today, and I hope you will also feel free to share what has worked for you!

I have heard many people say that they could never home school because they could never get their kids to listen to them.  While not an expert on the topic myself, I do know how important it is to tackle this issue!  As Christian parents we are called to train up our children and teach them right from wrong.  I will admit, that I have not always known how to do that so well, but I have found a few resources that have really made a difference in our home!

1.  Biblical Character Training is Essential!
Start your day every day with a character training tool!  If you are adept at using the Bible for this and are able to find the verses you need....great!  If not, consider some of these resources:

For Instruction in Righteousness:

This is a wonderful reference book!  It breaks character flaws down into categories and gives Scripture references to illustrate the problem, gives Biblical examples, and teaches what the Bible says will happen in the lives of those who choose to continue in that particular sin!  Very comprehensive.  I have used this book to write devotion times for my AWANA girls in 5 minutes flat!

Discovering Jesus in Genesis:

This book is a devotional book that is more about doctrine, but illustrates each truth with a great story that you can see transform your children's thinking quickly.  It made a huge difference in our home.  Other titles by the authors are just as useful, especially Big Truths for Little Kids which teaches the shorter catechism beautifully!  A word of warning, preview chapters before presenting them as you might disagree with some of the conclusions of the authors! ( I disagree with their views on baptism.)

The If/ Then Chart:

This is a great idea!  We bought this from a home school convention, but it is just as easy to make your own!  The idea is that you are able to sit down as a family and decide on a list of consequences for certain actions such as  complaining/whining, picking fights, teasing, etc.  Your child first needs to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable and why!  Together you can decide on consequences for various infringements.  If you child is part of the decision making process, then he can't say he didn't know!  As time has passed, and we have experienced reoccurring problems, we have sat down as a family and addressed the problems and made our own if/then charts.  Very, very effective for us!

2. Discipline is essential!

I am not one of those moms who say that you have to spank your kids for everything.  I believe that we have to decide for ourselves what is working-not forsaking Biblical instruction.  I have a few techniques that have worked for me.

When kids resist doing work:  You can't physically force them to pick up a pencil and start writing.  What's more, I think we all want them to enjoy learning and not see it as a punishment!  I have a daughter that would sit at the table with her arms crossed and complain that she hated school.  My first response was to apply the Biblical "rod" for disobedience.  However, it proved ineffective with her and a battle of the wills ensued.  One day I was exhausted and tired of lecturing and tired of disciplining and I simply said to her:  "I can't make you want to do anything.  I can't make you enjoy what you are doing.  That is up to you.  But you will sit here in this chair until you decide you are ready for me.  You will not play with toys, write, color, eat, or get up until your work is done.  So the choice is up to you how long you want to sit here alone.  I have many things to do today and I can't sit with you, so I am going to go and ________ and when you decide you want to cooperate, let me know and I will help you." 

Well!  What a difference that made in my sanity and my daughter's attitude!

Shortly after, we instituted a treasure box.  We sat down and picked an area that we needed to work on (for her it was obviously not arguing or complaining about school) and we set a goal with a date.  We discussed why it is important to allow God to work on our areas of weakness.  When the goal date was reached, and the child had rid herself of the behavior, she was able to pick a treasure out of the box.  This was great incentive for the both of them!

For my other daughter, letting her have a little control was the key.  She was not able to skip anything that I required of her, but she was allowed to do it in the order of her choosing and with as much independence as she desired. (within reason)  It is my goal to raise self-directed learners, not ones who lean on me for everything, and I saw this as a way to get her on her way. A rigid schedule would be a source of contention with her, and they are just not that important. 

It is definitely key to have your child's heart.  I liked Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp, but I found it essential to have For Instruction in Righteousness to help me along, as he assumes you know where all of the verses you need are located.   I think Ginger Plowman one-upped him with this book:

Don't Make Me Count to Three

Don't let the title fool you, Ms. Plowman would never count!!!!  This book was even endorsed by Ted Tripp.  Don't forget to order the behaviour chart! 

I have deeply enjoyed watching my kids grow spiritually over the last year.  God is certainly good, and He gives us what we need!  Please feel free to share any great resources you have found for this topic in the comment area!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This Side of Eternity, The Joy and Pain of Being a Nurse

"Come in now.  Get here as fast as you can."
Tears fill my eyes as I speak the words.
Then loved ones arrive,  so broken.
"Will you stay with me?"
Of course.
Hugs and condolences,
But words really fail.
Sitting at the bedside, holding her hand
As she steps into eternity.
A pain comes over me,
This moment is awesome and overwhelming.
I don't know her.
I don't know if she knows Him.
With all of my heart I want to praise Jesus that she is with Him.
But I don't know for sure.
My only consolation is that there was no pain.
But it is a small consolation. 
Such is the life of one who is dedicated to caring for "life"
Life on this earth comes to an end, that is for sure.
But life beyond this earth is where my heart rests.
And today my heart is heavy for her.
And for the loved ones she left behind
on this side of eternity.
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