Thankful Thursday

This week is crazy!!! It is back to school time and the beginning of soccer and football. So, this week I have , 6 soccer practices to shuffle kids to/from, 5 football practices, 4 parent meetings at school, 2 haircut appts. to get kids to, one confirmation meeting to attend (and a partridge in a pear tree!). WHEW!

I am so thankful for the grace of God that enables me to do it with His peace and His sanity! His grace is sufficient for ALL of my needs. He reminds me to look at the calendar and be very organized about planning my day.

I am thankful for a sweet husband who helps in all of the running!

I am thankful for a carpool that helps with football practice so that I only had to drive once this week!

I am thankful that Thursday's schedule, the busiest this week with 3 parent meetings and 2 soccer practices, is staggered in such a way that Brian and I can "tag team" and all is covered! Thanks, God!

I am thankful for my sweet children and their activities. I LOVE watching them play sports and there are always valuable lessons to be learned while playing!

(AND in case you are thinkin' "OK, Martha, slow down!", our kids are really not that busy! But, with 5 kids, 4 of them in ONE activity, it makes for a busy schedule.)

I am thankful that our schedule is NOT usually like this. I know many parents who run like this as the norm. Oh, how thankful I am God has brought me to a place of simplifying!

I am thankful that Brian is taking Andrew this weekend for a very special weekend together. They are doing "Passport to Purity" and seeing a Cubs game. Please remember them in your prayers!

And, as always, please visit Iris this week for more thankfulness!

I'm thankful for exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wordless Wednesday

WHO IS this guy?????
This is a shot from our trip to Chicago last month.
We love the Lego store! This is a bench in the mall outside of the store.

OK, if you have never been to Millennium Park in Chicago, you have to go!!!
Where else can you go to be SPIT on~ and enjoy it?????
Happy WW!!!!
Please visit 5 Minutes for Mom
the hub
to check out more WW fun! other words!

Today, Nina has given us a wonderful quote to meditate on~ our calling as mothers.
Please visit Loni at Writing Canvas for more inspiration!

This quote speaks to me and has been an area where God continues to "work" with me!

As a Christian speaker and writer, I can sometimes forget my first and most important ministry is my family! I can get caught up in ministering to others when I am first needed at home. God has convicted me of this and it is something that I am so aware of now.

Sometimes it is much more "fun" and "rewarding" to be writing, preparing for a talk, and studying God's Word than laundry, wiping up messes, or changing poopy diapers!

But, God has entrusted these precious little ones (and my "big one"- my husband) and our home to me. He has given me the incredible privilege of taking care of them. In the "dailies", the daily chores, the mundane....I can lose sight of what I am doing~ the impotance of nourturing, teaching, loving these little humans that will grow up and become men and women!

I am "training up children in the way they should go." When I am speaking at women's events, I encourage the ladies to seek Jesus, to have an intimate relationship with Him. I am passionate that they would fall in love with Jesus. BUT, I don't want to be "on fire" in my ministry and "lose" my children! I want my own children to have an intimate relationship with Him! So, if I am passionate about and for these "strangers", shouldn't I be even more so with my own family?

You may be thinking, "Well, I am not a Christian Speaker, so I don't have to 'worry' about that!" But, the same principle applies to whatever you are involved in- career, volunteering, a project or cause..... How many times can we get so involved with a very worthwhile project, but in the end, our family suffers? We try to justify it by saying that the project is so important. But, aren't our children MOST important?

I think that our generation is losing sight of the importance of parenting. We are pushing off our responsibilities to day care, coaches, church youth programs- expecting those outside areas to raise up our children.

God us entrusted US- not the church, not school- to train up our children- to help them to love the Lord with all of their hearts, to discipline in love, to teach them the Word, to teach them to pray, to show them that victory in life is only through the power of Jesus Christ working in our lives.

Oh, may I truly believe and live out the words of this quote. May I always consider my children the greatest ministry, the greatest gift and honor God has entrusted me with.

“Dear Lord, I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me some high work of thine, some noble calling or some wondrous task. Give me a little hand to hold in mine.”

Worshipping.....At the Well

"Here I am to worship...
Here I am to BOW DOWN..
Here I am to say that You're my God.
You're altogether lovely.
Altogether worthy.
Altogether beautiful to me."

Father God, we are here to worship You- at the well, in our homes, taking a walk, enjoying our children....even in the beautiful setting of Church with the lovely sounds of other worshippers all around.....May our worship today be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear...

Do you think that "worship" is "just" singing together at church? The first 12 minutes of a service...

Worship is so much more than that! It is entering into the presence of God....bowing down to honor Him as King, as Lord of our hearts and lives. It is expressing to Him how much we love Him, our devotion to Him. It is coming to God, telling Him that we surrender our hearts and lives to Him. Telling Him that we want to know Him more...

AND, that should be ALL OF THE TIME, not just on Sunday mornings! I want to live a LIFE of worship. I want m life to be a "Life Song" to Him!

Laura Lee of Laura Lee's Life Song asked, "What do you do or think you should do at the start of each day to prepare your heart and mind as a woman living a life of worship?"

I begin my day, like most women with a "Quiet Time." I know not everyone is a "morning" person, but I believe it is VITAL to start our days with the Lord in a spirit of worship.

I begin my time by inviting God IN. I pray first, asking the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me. I ask that He would help me to pray. That He would help me to love God more. Sometimes I listen to a few worship songs. Chris Tomlin is one of my favorite leaders. But, usually, I begin in the Word. Psalms is full of worship songs. I like to read them very slowly, pondering them and praying them. When a psalm says, "Praise the Lord." I will say, "Amen, Lord! Praise You!"

Psalm 19 is one of my favorite worship psalms.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

After I spend time in the Word, I go outside on a WALK. Being outside draws me into His presence. It is early and there aren't many people around. I bring a scripture journal of my favorite verses with me and meditate on these while I walk. This is time that I talk to God. I don't listen to music at this time, but will sing songs (quietly!!) that come to mind. The air is crisp and fresh. When the breeze blows my hair, I know it is His breath on me. This is sweet time and I MISS it when I have to miss it!

MUSIC is important to me when I worship. Sometimes a song will speak so intimately to my heart, capturing the exact thing I want to express to God.

My worship song that I want to live out is "Here I am to Worship" by Chris Tomlin.

"Light of the world,

You stepped down into darkness.

Opened my eyes, let me see.

Beauty that made this heart adore you

Hope of a life spent with you

And here I am to worship, here I am to bow down,here I am to say that you're my God

You're altogether lovely,altogether worthy,altogether wonderful to me.

King of all days, oh, so highly exalted.

Glorious in heaven above.

Humbly you came to the earth you created

All for love's sake became poor.

...I'll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

I'll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

And I'll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

No, I'll never know how much it cost...."

Please join Laura Lee at the well for more wonderful inspiration. If you are wondering about the well, please visit Chelsey at Joyfully Living!

AND, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE scroll down for exciting news!

I have such exciting news!!!!......Speaking Thru Me and Compassion International

Wow! In this wild, crazy summer with the flood, schedules, routines, and TIME seemed to disappear. "Life" has just NOT been "normal."

But, two absolutely EXCITING things happened with me and my speaking ministry this summer and I haven't taken the time to share them with you yet........UNTIL NOW!

If you only "know" me through blogging, then you may not be aware that God has also called me into a speaking ministry. He has placed such a PASSION in my heart to speak to women's groups, sharing the love of Christ with them. As I have the opportunity to meet new women, some of their stories break my heart, and each time I speak I am again reminded that this is a world that needs the healing, forgiveness, and freedom of Jesus Christ. Each time I go, it is truly a blessing and an honor.

Well, this summer I had the amazing privilege to be invited to join the Speaking Thru Me ministry team. These women are AWESOME! Many of them you may already know through blogging. If you don't know them, please take a few minutes to visit their blogs and get to know them a little better. It is so cool to see how God has brought us all together on this team. And, although we are all very different, we are similar in that we are all passionate for JESUS! We all desire to see women cultivate a deep relationship with the Savior. We all are women who love the Word and know the power of prayer.

If you are looking for a speaker for your next women's event, please consider one of the women from Speaking Thru Me. And, after you have checked us out, would you be willing to put our button on your blog?

AND, please keep this ministry in your prayers!!!

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upload and for
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AND......more EXCITING news!!!!!!!!

I am sooooo honored to be asked to be a ministry partner with

Compassion International!

If you are not familiar with Compassion, please take a moment to visit their website. This organization is dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus' Name.

I love that I am able to make a difference in the battle against poverty!

Do you ever feel discouraged when you think about the children in the world who need help? Do you wish that there is something you can do? Do you ever feel like you want to do more to make a difference in the world?

You CAN make a difference in a child's life. You can build a relationship with a child by sponsoring her.

Would you prayerfully consider sponsoring a child today? You can simply click on the button. And, please leave a comment if you would like to add a button to your blog!

And, could I ask one more thing of you? Would you consider praying for me? Please pray that I continue to seek Jesus with ALL THAT I AM. Please pray for protection as I minister to others. Please pray for spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know Him better. Please pray that the Word would be written on my heart. Please pray that God would open doors of opportunity so that I may go out and speak His Word.

Thank you so much and God bless you!

Thankful Thursday

Welcome to another week of thankfulness to our AWESOME God! This week, Iris is talking about PEACE, and being thankful for His peace.

I, too, am so thankful for His peace that passes all understanding~ we can't fathom it, can't explain it, don't understand it, but it fills us with life and hope.

I am thankful that when I have a hard decision to make, when I take it to God, His peace will guide me. Do I feel anxious about saying "yes" to the volunteer request? Is the decision causing conflict with my family? There is a verse that says that God's peace will referee our decisions. When we trust in God, He will keep us "in perfect peace."

I am thankful that God's peace is one of our greatest ways to witness to the world. We can experience God's peace when it doesn't make sense. When our circumstances shout out that we should be stressed, depressed, hopeless, His peace whispers a calm that ministers to people.

How do I "get" God's peace?

Trusting in Him and praying about all the things that I am anxious about.

"Do not be anxious about anything. But in
everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your
requests to the Lord. THEN, the peace that passes all understanding will
guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus."~ Philippians 4:6-7

Do you see the flow? We choose NOT to worry, but to pray. With a thankful attitude we pray about our situation. THEN, God fills us with His peace. THEN, this peace guards our hearts and minds in Christ.

Lord, I am so thankful for Your peace. I am thankful that whatever is going on in my life, I can be confident that You are seeing me through, filling me with calm, strength, and hope. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Please visit Iris for more inspiration!

Wordless Wednesday

At the Well

Today we are discussing one of my favorite topics at the well~ our words and the power of them! Our host is Cindy Beal. Please visit her- she has a great post to get you thinking and lots of other Titus 2 women are linked there with their thoughts.

If you are married, how well do you sweet-talk your spouse?

If you are not married, do you sweet-talk other important folks in your life?

What are some things you can say TODAY to let your spouse and others close to you know that you think the world of them?

Oh, oh, oh how I have lived out this topic! You see, it is so common for us as women to bash our husbands, with think it is the norm. Turn on the TV or watch any "chick flick" and you will see a behavior that makes it seem perfectly normal to complain, put down, belittle, and make fun of our husbands. Men are stupid. We (women) are obviously the more intelligent sex. At least that is the impression you get from watching TV or reading the women's mags. Before I walked with Christ, I, too, was one of these women. I complained about Brian. I made fun of him, both behind his back and in groups of friends. I took him for granted. I was better than him. How did I "put up" with him, anyway???????

Is it a wonder that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce?????

Even before I began walking with the Lord, I met a woman who intrigued me. I was an aide in her BD classroom. I am not sure if she was a Christian (I think she was.....). But, she always referred to her husband as "Mr. Wonderful." When he would call her (at least twice a day), she would say, "That was Mr. Wonderful." She would praise him constantly. I liked it. It made me feel good. I made ME feel happy to be around her and her pleasant disposition.

I also knew a woman who would call me every morning and begin the bashing. Everything her husband did was wrong. Men were stupid. Husbands were not measuring up. Brian was a jerk. How did I put up with him? I felt like the life was being sucked out of me whenever she called. I felt "icky" when I got off of the phone. I found myself talking to her less and less.

Then, I met Jesus, truly met him (I had been going to church all of my life, but this was a relationship!) and He began to work on my heart and in my words!

I began to go to Hearts at Home conferences, where I heard speakers talk about honoring our husbands. God began convicting me of my words and my attitude. I read "The Power of the Praying Wife", expecting to "pray" Brian into behaving the way I wanted him to behave, but instead got a wake up call! The first chapter talked about ME and the first prayer was for ME to be the wife God is calling me to be! I began studying Proverbs 31 and the book of James (lots of MOUTH verses there!). God also used Ephesians 4:29 to convict me of my speech.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helpful in building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit
those who listen."

So often, though, I would plug along, doing my best to speak life over Brian, complementing him, lifting him up, encouraging him.... and then, I would hear that sneaky little voice say, "But what about ME???? When am I going to get the same sweet speech? Shouldn't Brian be encouraging ME???? When is it my turn?????"

Oh, God would have to speak to my heart. It wasn't about ME getting compliments and sweet speech in return. It WASN'T about me giving to GET was about loving my sweet husband and honoring him.

The interesting thing was....when I started honoring him with my words- doing things like thanking him for working so hard (I was able to stay at home!!!), being a great dad, and telling him how much I love him- my attitude began to change! I began to realize how much I depended on him, how much I love him. I began to see him as "Mr. Wonderful". It became soooo fun to honor him and the kids to honor him.

I have come to realize that my words will either bring life or death, blessing or curses. I choose to either tear down or lift up with my words.

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears
hers down." Proverbs 14:1.

Father God, forgive me for past attitudes and words. Help me to love Brian with kind, encouraging words. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Wordless Wednesday

I'm at Laced With Grace....August 12

If you would like to read about this movie and how it relates to us living in the NOWS, please visit me

over here today!

At the Well

Welcome back to the well! I pray that you will be refreshed as you stop to get a drink of encouragement and inspiration. This week, our host is Lisa at
A Second Generation of Homeschooling

She came up with the awesome and practical topic this week:
Welcome Home Daddy

(Preparing your home for Daddy's homecoming at night, training the children in preparing the house for Daddy and making Daddy feel loved and appreciated)

Discussion Questions:
How can we lay a welcome mat of love for our husbands after a long day of hard work?
How can we make our homes inviting places where Daddy longs to be at the end of a long day? How can we involve our children in this process and teach them to show reverence to their Daddy?
I love this topic! God sooooooo convicted me of welcoming Brian home several years ago. Honestly, though, it can be a habit that I "fall out" of, if I don't purposely make the effort to do it! I first "heard" this idea of sending husbands off to work/welcoming them home at a Hearts at Home Conference.
What a revelation!!!!!! I had never realized how important it was for ME to honor Brian by letting him know that I valued him and his contribution to our family.
I had selfishly focused on ME and how I was working so hard at home, and how I needed HIM to come home and help me! I was the one taking care of babies all day. I had to do everything!!!!! I needed some help!
Pity Party!!!!!!!!
And, then I heard a speaker talk on this subject and OUCH! God convicted me of my selfishness. I had never thought about how Brian needed to come home and unwind and feel appreciated. He had just been out in the world, (in the marketplace, not the most Godly place!) and had the stress and pressure of work. I realized how fortunate I was being at home, listening to Christian radio most of the day while I went about my work. I was able to snuggle the kids and rest. I was even able to get a little devotional time in the afternoon while the kids napped.
So, I changed my focus!!!!!!!
I have always felt it is important for Brian to come home to a nice home and dinner. And, I feel since I am AT HOME, it's my responsibility to take care of our home. My 1st ministry is my family- taking care of them- not volunteering at church or school; not taking care of a friend, not small group bible study.......I am involved in all of these things, but after I have taken care of my family. If/when they begin to interfere with how well I take care of my husband, children, or home, something has to give!
Here are some guidelines I try to follow:
1. Stay off the phone when it's time for Brian to come home!!!!!!!!
It would never seem to fail- at 4:45 someone would call the house. And, Brian would pull in at 4:50. Ouch. How does that make Brian feel? Not good. I'm sure he wondered why I couldn't finish my phone conversations sometime in the 9 hours he was gone! That definitely did NOT communicate that I valued him more than whoever was on the other end.
This is the biggest area I have to train my kids in. They think they MUST answer the phone when it rings and that it is "rude" when you don't. I am trying to teach them that whoever is on the other end can usually wait. We can call back. Whoever is on the other end is NOT more important than our family.
2. TV off!!!!!!!!!!
Again, what does this communicate to Brian if we can't turn off the TV for 10 minutes when he comes home???? Priorities???? And, again, this can be hard for the kids to follow- if they are in a middle of a show. So, I need to prepare them in advance, warning them in advance and turning it off in plenty of time!!!
3. Snack ready...
We usually don't have dinner right when Brian comes home, so I like to have a snack ready for him. This really speaks to him!!!! And, it usually is so simple~ carrots and dip, fresh veggies, crackers and cheese....
This can be hard, too! The kids love to eat these snacks, so saving some for Dad AND it still looking nice can be hard!
4. Surprise Party!!!!!!!!
I know it sounds a little strange...... But, the kids love to hide and jump out and "scare" Brian. When it's dark (the winter months) we even turn out the lights! We all jump out and scream, "Surprise!" Brian isn't surprised or scared, but loves to play along!!! It's fun for all of us!
I think the most important thing for me is to pass on this attitude of welcoming home. When I read the awesome book, A Woman After God's Own Heart, I also was convicted about doing the same for my children. Wow! They so appreciate being welcomed home~ it makes them feel special and loved.
I get the fancy glasses out and they get to drink juice out of fancy glasses and have snacks on the good china. Wow! Do they know they are missed when they are away.
Elizabeth George had awesome, practical ideas in her book.

The coolest thing is that the kids (and Brian) have internalized this habit of welcoming home. When I speak and am gone for the weekend, I return to a clean house and posters about how much they missed me. I get to see first hand the care and love one feels when you know you are missed when you're gone!!!!

Thank you, Lisa for this week's great focus. I have to confess I have gotten lazy and sloppy in welcoming Brian home, (and thus, the kids, too.....) So, I am recommitting to making hubby feel special and appreciated by welcoming him home. Will you join me?

Please visit Lisa and Chelsey to get lots more encouragement and inspiration!

Summer Fun Photo Contest

What does summer mean to you?
.....running in the sprinkler, of course!

5 Minutes for Mom is having a photo contest!

Check it out here!

Thankful Thursday

Today Iris has given us the theme as "hope" to ponder for TT.

I am so thankful for Jesus Christ, where ALL of my hope comes from! If it weren't for His saving grace, I would never have had the hope I now possess!

I have hope in a future spent with my precious King forever!

I have hope in the glorious inheritance I possess as a Child of the King.

"Praise be to God! In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade..." 1Peter 1:3-4

I have hope that my amazing God will bring to pass all of the promises and plans He has made for me and my family.

"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord. "Plans for hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you." Jeremiah 29:11

I have hope that He will bring my dreams to pass in His timing. Through all circumstances, even trials, He is working and hope will not disappoint me.

"...suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit..." Romans 5:4-5

I have hope that no matter what my eyes my SEE, I have hope in God's Truth.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day bu day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outreaches them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Hope is the "unseen," we can't see it with our earthly eyes, but only our eyes of FAITH.

"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But, if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:24-25

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Please visit Iris for more celebrations of HOPE!

Wordless Wednesday~ Scroll down for WFW!!!!

Camping Fun 2008!

2nd Post today~

I have just read 2 great posts that I would love to share with you! Both spoke to me, as these Truths burn in my heart!!! I wrote about similar topics awhile back.

Passion and Purity

I believe God has a call on this generation, women today, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to change this generation and to teach the next generation. God is raising up women who have hearts desiring change. We have been a generation belonging to this world. We have been distracted, deceived, and led astray by our longings for the worldly. But, that time is over!

In this generation, we have been so entangled with worldly pursuits. We have been obsessed with our physical beauty, trying to have a perfect body, younger looking skin, and a beautiful wardrobe. Our generation has been on a pursuit of perfection- perfect bodies, perfect husbands, perfect children, the perfect career or volunteer career, and the perfect model home. In the process, we have traded in what is “perfect” for God’s best in our lives. We have missed out and gotten “sucked in.” But that time is over!

Many of my friends are just now coming to a relationship with the Lord later in life. As Christians, we feel a sense of relief for finally knowing the Truth, but a sense of loss for our wasted time and the many mistakes we’ve made. This generation needs to EMPOWER the next generation- our daughters, our young women in the church, to be mighty women of God! 2Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or fawning fear, but a spirit of power, love, sound mind, and self-discipline.” We need to be awesome Christian examples! The world’s view of the Christian woman can best be illustrated by Saturday Night Live’s “Church Lady”- paranoid, hypocritical, and unattractive. That is not how I want to be seen, and it is not how I want my daughters to be seen. This is not what a woman of God looks like.

But, Christian women MUST look different than the rest of the world. Peter tells us to live as “aliens and strangers in this world.” And then says in 1Peter 2:12, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” I want the light of Jesus shining so brightly in me that everyone around stops and says, “I want what SHE has!” I want to “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” (2Corin. 2:14) I want my life to point the next generation to the Lord!

Two areas of ministry that speak to my heart to empower women are 1) having a passionate relationship with the Lord and 2) living a life of purity. First, we should hunger for a wild, crazy love for Jesus! We need to be completely abandoned to Him. We need to surrender to His love and allow Him to “allure” us. In Hosea, God says, “Therefore, I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

Why does God need to lead us into the desert before speaking to us? Because we are so distracted and caught up in the world, God needs to get us alone, away from telephones and commitments, away from the busyness of life. Then, He can speak and be heard. We need to seek our Lord to fill our desires and longings- not food, money, alcohol, clothes, exercise, or earthly relationships. We need to break free from the chains of bondage and begin living for the Lord! We need to “love the Lord with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength!”

The other passion God has placed in my heart is living a life of purity. I believe God is bringing the Church back to this ideal. For so long we have shied away from the idea of “purity.” We never wanted to be “stuffy,” and now we want to be “politically correct.” As a generation, we ran from the image of “Puritans” and today we embrace our “tolerant” views. We don’t want to be seen as “holier than thou,” and we think anyone who strives toward this ideal of holiness is being hypocritical.

But, God is calling us to a different standard. He is calling His Church back to purity and godly living. He is calling us to be sanctified- set apart in Him and for Him! Again, we need to live differently than the “world.” We need to have the aroma of Christ. “He has anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” We are His dearly loved children and His bride. We need to take that position, and take confidence in it! We need to “clothe ourselves” with the Lord Jesus Christ! We need to put on the robes of His righteousness and “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.” (Colossians 1:10)

God is raising up a new generation- a generation of godly woman who are totally and completely in love with the Lord! He is empowering Christian women to lead the next generation to a life full of godly passion and purity.

Two of these amazing women are Gina and Leah. Please visit Chats with an Old Lady and The Point to read more!!!! Chicago or Camping!

We have been blessed to have taken two vacations this summer~ one in Chicago. I recently blogged about it here. And the other, camping, we returned from on Sunday. We had a blast!

We are of the crazy kind that actually TENT camps~ 5 kids, 1 dog, 2 tents, 3 air mattresses, 1 porta crib and 1 screen house!!!

As I was enjoying some DELICIOUS, peaceful alone time (Abby was sleeping while Brian had the kids at the pool), I chuckled at the difference of the two vacations. It made me think of when Paul said that he learned to be content in any circumstance.

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have
learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed
or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him
who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

If you have ever been camping, you will understand why this comparison struck me.

In Chicago, we had plenty!!!!! Camping, we were in need!!!

In Chicago, when we arrived at Embassy Suites downtown, the doorman (who we are just sure remembers us from last year!) wouldn't dream of allowing us to open our own car doors. As we all get out of the van, he greets us with a smile, saying "Welcome home, family!" and "assists" us through the revolving door. Once inside, the bellman loaded our bags (a ton as you can imagine!) and wouldn't even ride the same elevator as us~ we may be a little cramped with him. In our room, the bellman unloaded our bags, putting each one in the proper room of the suite. (I think he would have unpacked them, too if we would have asked!)

Aaaahhhh, camping...... When we arrived, we began to unpack the tent. Within 10 minutes, a huge thunderstorm rolled in, pouring rain. Brian and I thought, "We can beat it! We can get the tent up in time." Wrong. We got it about half way up when the pouring rain chased us back in the van for cover. No smiling faces welcoming us home. No one helping us with bags or putting up tents. Nope. Just the snickering campers nearby (who already had their sites set up) who watched us foolishly try to beat the storm instead of waiting it out in the first place.

In Chicago, we had people waiting on us, serving us. We went out to eat for every meal. The sweet maid straightened our 14 pairs of shoes daily. She made our beds.....took wonderful care of us. Camping is definitely a "working vacation." We unload, set up the tents and screen house, blow up our beds, make the beds with sheets and sleeping bags, set up our little kitchen, unfold chairs, hammocks, and cots. Fill citronella torches so that we don't get eaten alive. Make our fire pit, chop the wood, start the fire.....Here's our awesome site!

In Chicago, we went out to eat at the Rainforest Cafe. Camping was like BEING in the rain forest, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Camping, you make every meal you eat AND do the camp dishes! (Thank goodness for paper plates!)

But, oh, how content I am to be camping! I love being outside ALL of the time, spending lots of time with the kids, the sense of accomplishment, the delicious food cooked over the fire, roasting marshmallows, telling stories, laughing, snuggling, staying up late together......

Just like these two very different vacations, there are seasons in life that will be so different....seasons of lack and seasons of plenty. We must learn (as Paul describes) to be content in both seasons.

There were pros and cons of both vacations. We PAID for all of the "perks" of Chicago. All the nice things came with a price. Camping was dirt cheap, especially for a family of 7. And, as nice as it was to be "waited on" in Chicago, making us feel "like royalty," we had to be very watchful and careful of our kids' attitudes. We did not want them to take anything (or anyone) for granted. We wanted them to be thankful and appreciative to God for the incredible blessing of being ABLE to go. We wanted them to understand that not everyone is able to go on a vacation and to be thankful that we could. We didn't want them to have an attitude of "that's this person's job" and make a mess in the hotel room. They needed to pick up after themselves, not taking advantage of the maid. With camping, everyone pitched in and it was hard work, but we all reaped the benefits and enjoyed it.

Seasons of lack and seasons of plenty in life also have pros and cons, and God will use both seasons to teach us, mold us, and grow us.

Brian and I were struggling, poor college kids. We both paid for college ourselves, so it meant working while in school. We lived on ramein noodles, mac and cheese and hot dogs. To this day, Brian can't eat ramein noodles!!!!!! I can remember walking by Garcia's pizza, smelling the delicious pizza, but not having the $1 to by a slice!!!!!

But, how God used that season to develop character traits in us. We learned to be grateful and thankful for the "little" things (like all you can eat buffets that cost $6.99!) We learned what it meant to work hard and the value of hard work. We learned to appreciate the money we had. We learned how to be content in the little things.

God can use these seasons of lack to develop humility, to break through stubborn walls we have built around our hearts, to teach us important lessons....

But, why does Paul say he has "learned" how to be content????

Our flesh doesn't WANT to be in lack. Our first reaction in lack is NOT contentment. But, Paul says he learned "the secret" of contentment in every and any circumstance? What is the secret?

Christ Jesus.

He says, "I can do all things through Christ." The power of the Holy Spirit helps us to be content. And, it is in the promise of our inheritance, the future glory to come, that brings peace and a settled heart. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, when we depend upon Him as our strength, when we surrender our hearts and circumstances to Him, He will fill us with the peace that passes all understanding. Jesus says that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world.

It is in Jesus that we have hope, peace, contentment.....Paul concludes in verse 19, "and my God will meet ALL your needs (any need you have! He isn't unfamiliar with what we need....He is aware of our needs) according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Where are our riches?

They lie in Christ Jesus.

Lord, help me to be content in every circumstance. How I want to be like Paul, who says the secret to his contentment is Christ Jesus. In the world we live in, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of being content in who we are and what we have, but that is NOT true contentment. True contentment only comes from our relationship with Jesus. MayI always look to You, Jesus for my true contentment. I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Well, when the camping trip is over, the packing UP begins.......

How did we fit it all in????????

The campsite all clean and readi for the next camper!

At the Well

Monday, August 4, 2008
Your host:
Natalie at I AM (not)

Your topic:
Having a Family Vision

Your Discussion Question:Do you have a vision for your family? If so, share it with us. If not, what do you think it would be?

What an amazing challenge Natalie posed to us today! She writes:

Why does having a family vision matter?Well, I've learned over the years from many people, including my pastor, that (and I might be botching this up pretty darn good) everyone ends up somewhere, but few end up somewhere on purpose. (that was close)

Meaning, unless we set a vision before our family on all levels, we might not end up where we thought we should. We can have ideas and dreams for what our family and our kids might look like 5, 10, 20 years down the road, but without defining those vision in concrete and purposeful ways, we'll probably not look much like what we dream.

Proverbs 29:18 (in the good ol' King James Version) says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

Whew! I am one of the "everyone who ends up somewhere, but not on purpose!" :( I often have a VISION of what I want us to be, how I want us to be, WHO I want us to be..... it is the follow thru, planning, and organization that "gets me." I tend to be a "dreamer" and can fall prey to living my life in the future if I am not careful. I tend to procrastinate, thinking I have plenty of time to do this or that. I often wait to the last possible minute of a deadline..... Ugh!!!!
It's not that I don't know better! I have seen the statistics on setting goals, making plans, etc. I try, I really do! So, all this to say, when I read Natalie's "challenge" (she doesn't call it such, but I am taking it on!!!!), I felt a pang of conviction!!! I want to land somewhere "on purpose!" I desire that our family would be a light shining in the world... I desire that, like Natalie's family, we would be "Kingdom Minded". I want US as a family to live for the Lord! I want US as a family to make a difference for His Kingdom! I want to leave as a legacy a family that is IN LOVE with the Lord Jesus Christ, on fire, crazy, radical "Jesus Freaks", living life for Him!
Hmmmm....... How does that happen????????? (Especially now with a middle schooler who would shudder and turn 3 shades of red being known as any kind of "freak"). How do we as a family make Jesus our center of life? How do we do this as a family, when I struggle with it at times as a person??
I like how Natalie recommends to sit down and write out goals and the how to. A few years ago we began writing out family New Year's Resolutions together. It has been a highlight for us each year. But, I have to say, we struggle with the follow thru. I can't even tell you what our resolutions were for 2208!!!!!
I know it is important to keep things posted where you can read them every day- like the bathroom mirror. And, I know it is important to back up goals with scripture.
So, what I want to do is have a date with my family and write a vision. I want to put into practice real life, practical ideas, like the kids have devotion time, reading the Word together, serving together, and coming up with some "ground rules" of things that glorify/don't glorify God. (Like watching the movie "Hellboy" or any other weirdo thing an almost teenage boy can come up with!).
I am excited to read ideas of other wise women of the well! Thanks, Natalie for an awesome topic and thanks, Chelsey again for obeying God's call to bring us to the well!
Father God, thank You for this beautiful family You have blessed me with. I surrender it to You, knowing You are the Vision Caster. I know You have set a dream in my heart for what we should BE and by Your Grace we will be transformed from Glory to Glory into the family You have created. Give us wisdom and discernment, especially Brian and I....Give us strength to be "different" than other families we may know. Thank You that You have amazing plans for us. We trust in You, Lord, with all of our hearts, leaning not upon our own understanding, but in all of our ways, acknowledging You and You are making our paths straight, You are directing our steps. Praise You, Lord! In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.