Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Unwelcome Stress and God’s Mercy

Do you ever start “evaluating” your life and making plans for the future even when you don’t really want to?  Someone mentions to you something they’re doing (on what you assume is a regular basis) and you’re thrown into a mental panic: Oh, no!  I should be doing that TOO!  And if you’re a homeschooling mom, you add, I’m probably ruining my kids by not doing this already! And THEN I think, I’ll have to add that in the future—but how will I do it all?

Well, this happens to me ALL THE TIME!  So I was encouraged when I read the following devotional the other day…this is most of it, but it’s not very long…

God’s mercies are new every morning because each day only has enough mercy in it for that day.

This is why we tend to despair when we think that we may have to bear tomorrow’s load on today’s resources. God wants us to know: We won’t. Today’s mercies are for today’s troubles. Tomorrow’s mercies are for tomorrow’s troubles.

Sometimes we wonder if we will have the mercy to stand in terrible testing. Yes, we will. Peter says, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). When the reviling comes the Spirit of glory comes. It happened for Stephen as he was being stoned. It will happen for you.

When the Spirit and the glory are needed they will come.

The manna in the wilderness was given one day at a time. There was no storing up. That is the way we must depend on God’s mercy. You do not receive today the strength to bear tomorrow’s burdens. You are given mercies today for today’s troubles.

(This is from Desiring God’s Daily Devotional app, which features over 30 years of John Piper’s teaching.  It’s free!)

We need to focus on the mercy that’s given for TODAY and remember that NEW mercy will be given for tomorrow—whatever that may bring.  So keep going today, even if you feel like you’re only plodding.  Or even “failing.”  (I’m preaching to myself.)  J

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)


Swimming Lessons and Simplicity

Every Christmas for the past several years, my mother-in-law has given my kids swimming lessons for their Christmas present–and then she picks them up and brings them once a week for the next eight weeks.  This is a great idea for several reasons…

  • We don’t want our kids to associate Christmas with a lot of presents
  • We don’t need any more toys in our house
  • The kids are learning a valuable skill, and it counts as Phy Ed
  • I get a quiet morning once a week in January and February (this is the best one!):) happy

So each year I usually work on a big project on these quiet Thursday mornings, such as painting.  But this year, I’ve been decluttering, mostly because I don’t want to paint with my three-year-old around!  (He was still taking a morning nap last year.)  This morning, in addition to doing general decluttering in my bedroom, I went through a whole box of stuff in the storage room that we haven’t even looked at since we moved–six year ago!  Now I have room on my storage shelf for a box that’s been sitting in my bedroom for six months (cloth diapers–and I’m saving them for now; maybe one of my kids will want to use cloth diapers for their babies!)

Final Thought:
I’ve been doing much better at decluttering as I go (and you can get a LOT done in five minutes, as it turns out), but in order to tackle the “laziness” (or busy-ness) of the last fifteen years, it’s nice to have some chunks of time.  So I’ve decided that even after swimming lessons are over:( sad, I’m going to spend part of every Friday (a lighter school day) going through at least one box!  I don’t want to leave a huge mess for Scott and the kids when I die!  (Nor do I want to look at it for that long!)

I’m always inspired by images of simple homes, like this one…if one or two people can live in a house this tiny, then maybe my nine-person-family could live just a little bit like this–in a bigger house!  (Although the owner of the house in this image obviously doesn’t homeschool!)

Adoption – Hard (Maybe), But Not Joyless

Our sermon on Sunday (and my subsequent post about it) made me think about adoption, and I’d like to encourage any of you who might be thinking about it to take the first step.  It’s a great way to “tend to things temporary with a mind on things eternal.”

For those of you who didn’t know, we adopted two of our seven children.  (And I bet you can’t tell which two from the picture…it’s the girl holding the boy–and the boy.)

Here’s a link to an article about adoption; I got it from a friend’s blog, Abilgail’s Leftovers.  Here’s an excerpt…

If you want your “dream baby,” do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe. Adopting an orphan isn’t ordering a consumer item or buying a pet. Such a mindset hurts the child, and countless other children and families. Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love…

Children are alive. Children are persons, with individuality that can’t ultimately be suppressed. Children, of all sorts, are, by definition, unpredictable. Children shatter your life-plan. Adoption certainly does.

It’s worth it…

If what you like is the idea of a baby who fulfills your needs and meets your expectations, just buy a cat. Decorate the nursery, if you’d like. Dress it up in pink or blue, and take pictures. And be sure to have it declawed.

BUT…if you want a challenge that also helps another soul in need, spreads the gospel, shows the love of Jesus, makes you trust God more, teaches you about yourself, AND GIVES YOU JOY, then adopt!  God will not give you more than you can handle.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

The Results of Our Family Recording Session – John 14:2-3

Our family loves to sing together, and last week we recorded a Fighter Verse Song  we’ve been working on.  (I am SO HAPPY we now have a tenor in our family; we have a choir!)

It’s going to be tweaked a little more (mostly to hear the kids more than me), but it had to go online today because it’s our church’s verse this week.  Scott joins us the second time through.  THANK YOU to everyone who helped us with this!

Here is John 14:2-3…

“Hard Does Not Equal Joyless” and other inspiring quotes

“Hard Does Not Equal Joyless.”  

This is a quote from our sermon this morning, which I thought was very inspiring!

John Piper said that “nothing hard is done in vain” and that every “hard” thing found in John 12:20-26 also has a corresponding “glory.”

See if this doesn’t inspire you:

The seed DIES (it’s hard to die)… The seed BEARS MUCH FRUIT

We are to HATE our lives in this world…we get to KEEP our lives for eternity (not a bad deal)

We are to FOLLOW Jesus to Calvary/death… We are WITH HIM wherever He is (very comforting)

We are to become SERVANTS… Servants are HONORED by the FATHER.

In Pastor John’s opening prayer, he said something like, “Awaken in us a profound willingness to be dead.”  He also said, “There’s no such thing as ultimate self-denial in the Bible.”  Denying ourselves in this world means we love ourselves, because we’re thinking about eternity.

Doesn’t this inspire you to do something hard?  Something that the world would call crazy?

(This reminds me that when I was pregnant with our fourth child, a mother of four said to me, “Having four is REALLY HARD.”  Little did she know, I find joy in a God-given challenge, so now I have seven!)

Do you feel like a leaky bucket?

Do you ever feel like a bucket with holes?  –Like you just learn an important life lesson, only to forget it the next week?  So did the writer of this prayer:

“My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
with no spiritual understanding…
always at the gospel-well but never holding water…
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
so I forget easily the lessons learned,
and thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.”
(From The Valley of Vision)

I pray that my leaky bucket will hold enough gospel grace to pass on to my children–and that when they’re discouraged about their leaks, they’ll know where to go!  I don’t feel adequate for the task, but “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift [of grace]!”  (2 Co. 9:15)

How “substitution” is freeing me today

In today’s sermon, John Piper said, “Substitution” is at the heart of the Christian faith.”  Essentially, God killed Jesus so that He wouldn’t have to kill me, a sinner.

So I got to wondering, How often do I condemn myself for little things as if Jesus was NOT my substitute for EVERYTHING?  It’s as if I believe, Sure, Jesus paid the price for my sins and saved me from eternal death, but it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY to have a clean kitchen at all times!  It’s MY responsibility to make sure my kids learn their spelling words, etc.  I admit, I have a problem with beating myself up over little things (little things compared to eternity, anyway.)

So as I’ve been walking around my house today, I’ve been doing this:  See a mess that I normally blame myself for instantly (because I didn’t plan my day wisely enough or did not train my kids well enough), and instead say, “Substitution!”  As in, “Jesus’ death paid for this, too!  I’m free from the guilt of this AND I can trust God even with this mess (or whatever failure I happen to be viewing)!” ( Now, if I were actually were being completely lazy, that would be a slightly different story. :))

Note:  I’m not saying I’m perfectly free of laziness.:)