Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Can't Be Quiet

No, not in that "I'm talking and I can't shut-up" kind of way, but stick around, you're bound to come across that here from time to time! ;-) A different kind: 

"To them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the Gospel might continue to be [preserved] for you [in its purity]." Galatians 2:5 (Amplified)

Here, Paul is talking about some "false brethren" who had slipped into their midst who were basically trying to oppose the work of the early church.

As my eyes scanned this verse a few mornings ago, I noticed that I had already underlined it previously. I read it again, kept reading, then paused. I thought, "why did I underline this?" I went back over it, and then the meaning was glaringly obvious.

I live in a culture, where every place I turn, someone is contradicting Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection. Someone is refuting the Word of God. People mock other people who know and follow Jesus. I see it on social media nearly every day. People post things as if to shake their heads and say, "silly Christian!" If you don't know what I'm talking about, just venture onto any kind of mainstream website any time they feature an article about anything to do with faith...then scroll down and read the comments. It doesn't really matter what it's about. As long as it portrays Christianity, Christian people, the Christian church, or Christian ideals in any kind of positive (or even neutral) light, and there are bound to be some troll-ish people hanging around in the comments.

I really shouldn't read them, but I do on occasion. It makes me painfully aware that there are many people who would do away with Christianity altogether if given half the chance.

This is the culture in which we live. The ones who don't reverence God, are the ones who seem to be the most outspoken. When those who do love God speak out, or live their lives in front of others to be a witness, it soon seems like everyone jumps on them to squash their "hate and misguided views." Seeing things like this sometimes makes me want to not share my faith lest I be labeled and judged. I don't want people to think I'm "hateful" or a "bigot" or any other thing that Christians today are accused of.
But...I can't be quiet. I cannot "yield submission" as Paul says. I must let my light shine before men. The Gospel must continue to be preserved for those who haven't yet accepted Christ. To neglect that would mean selfishly hoarding the truth and freedom found in Jesus for myself. I'm so glad that so many others were obedient to preserve the Gospel!

I must speak, and this blog is just one way for me to speak.

I'm well aware of the "numbers" that my blog reaches, but I can't see the people on the other side of the screen. I can't possibly know every single person who happens upon this site. But even in it's own tiny way, this blog perpetuates the Gospel. Like a small pebble in a large body of water, it makes a difference (I'll leave it up to God to make it a bigger difference). Yielding submission would mean fists full of tiny pebbles jammed stubbornly in my pockets...and somebody, somewhere, never reading the words that God might use to change their life. I don't know how God will use me, but I must be available for Him to decide.

What about you? How are you making yourself available to preserve the Gospel?

Linking up here:
What Joy Is Mine

Thrive @ Home Thursday

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What I'm Into this Month- November 2013

Boy, has it ever been a while since I wrote one of these (or any blog post, really)! But...since I really want to start blogging again, what better way to start again than to jump right in and pretend like nothing ever happened? Ha!

November has been a good month for me. I'm feeling a pull to do more. To "get my act together" and blog, and let this voice be heard once again. Also, just an all around desire to be more intentional. With our homeschool, with homemaking, and all that stuff. We're well into the toddler stage with our youngest, and that kind of has a way of making you want to be more orderly and such. He's into SO much! But also, now that he's not a "baby" anymore and doesn't need constant attention, I feel like I have a little more room to do other things. Unless he's teething. Which he's doing a lot of right now.
(Birthday feet on their way to a mini-celebration). ;-)

I celebrated my birthday this month too, and I always begin thinking about what I want to accomplish in the coming year right around this time. It's different for me when I have an infant in the house (like I did last year at this time), I sort of feel all consumed with baby care and catching up on sleep and whatnot. You know? But now, it's a fresh new season. I'm feeling ready to jump back "in the game". Yay!

Books- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting Seriously...if you have ever yelled at your children (and subsequently experienced the dreaded spiral of self hate and parental shame) you need this book! Parenting has a way of drumming up long forgotten hurts and forcing you to confront them (doesn't it)? I like how Dr. Laura offers real (read: practical) help and wisdom to break the cycle of anger and disconnection and correct your path right now. It's really good! (And I think I'm less than 30 pages in!) Note: while this is not a Christian book, I feel that it is in line with, giving yourself grace, and that sort of thing. I think that it really empowers a parent to overcome anger and other bad feelings as a parent and helps us to walk in love.

This month, I also finished Prayer-Saturated Kids: Equipping and Empowering Children in PrayerI love how this book shows you how to help your child become a prayer warrior. Children are so important to the work of the Kingdom- should they be relegated to "children's church" where they are babysat so their parents can receive in "big church"? The message of this book is a big "NO". Kids can pray. And they need us to pray for them, too! This book was definitely an encouragement to me as a mother and a children's ministry worker to pray for and teach my children how to pray.

Want to Read- Hmm...WELL...I still have more than 20 books on a list I wanted to read this I may just close my eyes and point...

Television- I finished all the episodes of Last Man Standing on Netflix this month. Love that show! When I first discovered it on ABC, I was so glad to find a (mostly) wholesome sitcom to watch. Then I lost track of it and I thought for sure it had been canceled. But then Netflix added it and I was excited to see the rest of season one, and then season two. I guess it's currently in season three, so it seems to be doing well.

Also, I've been watching 19 Kids and Counting, a couple episodes of Extreme Cheapskates (folks, there is a fine line between frugality and...oh em gee!), and Dirty Money (NOT family-friendly- there is some crude language and such- but such a neat show). I guess I like reality shows. Sheesh.

Films- Well, since I'm not much into watching movies these days (next month should be different with all the Christmas movies...) I'll share all the documentaries I've watched and found notable. (What? You didn't know I was nerdy like that? I so am.)

Vanishing of the Bees was really informative and kind of sad. The conclusion, I think, was that GMO crops are really hurting us (duh!)...not just by our consuming them, but by the other creatures that consume them as well.

Stuck is a documentary I watched about international adoptions. I never realized the process was so complicated and drawn out and expensive! It's so important to see a glimpse of the lives of these children (and the process to provide loving homes) so things can change!

American Teacher is another film that shows the need for change. While I think the whole school system needs changing in general, I think teachers are certainly due for some improvements to their compensation and support. This doesn't much affect us as homeschoolers, but I feel for the American teachers who spend hours and hours of their day, as well as money from their own pockets for the teaching and inspiration of America's youth and yet they struggle to have decent lives outside of the classroom. This should not be so. I don't know what the answer is, but it sure seems that we could do more for them.

In My Kitchen- A toddler! Man, that little boy is finding all kinds of stuff to explore in there! Ha ha! Pots and pans, trash cans (yuck!) and other stuff.

Oh, did you mean Oh! Well, I do have some recipes I'd like to share when I can get around to it. I think I've finally perfected my version of shepherd's pie, and there are a couple of other easy dishes that have been in heavy rotation lately. I'd really like to share those recipes too. Baby steps!

Also? I just prepared my very first Thanksgiving dinner! All by myself! I had actually never cooked a turkey before and I was a little intimidated, but thankfully I found a good method that worked out really well! (Breast side down, for those that want to know. Here's a link in case you're having turkey for Christmas- or want to save it for next year).

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month- Well...Christmas! I'm pretty excited about it this year. I'm already listening to Christmas music (some old favorites like Harry Connick Jr.and of course Christmas with the Chipmunks.I also rediscovered Jewel's Christmas albumlast good!)

I'm excited about all the coming festivities and fun things to do with the children. It's getting much more fun as they get older...have you found that to be the case as well?

What are YOU into this month? (Share your answer in the comments or feel free to share a link if you've written a "what I'm into" post or something similar!)

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Linking up with:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MacLarry and the Stinky Cheese Battle- A Review!

Recently, we had the opportunity to watch and review the latest release from VeggieTales, MacLarry and the Stinky Cheese Battle (out today!) I'll start off by saying that I've been a big fan of VeggieTales ever since I heard Mr Lunt crooning about a cheeseburger, so you won't see much of a critical review here. If you're looking for that, I'll give you my mother in law's phone number! Just kidding. ;-) (But seriously, I don't know anyone else who says things like "how is he putting the quarter in that thing {said of King George trying to get a glimpse of the forbidden ducky through the coin operated viewer}?! Nobody in this show has any arms or hands!" (Never a dull moment while watching television with that one. Ahem!)

"MacSon" and "MacDaughter" really had a great time watching MacLarry and the Stinky Cheese Battle, while "MacMommy" watched along and tended to "MacToddler". "MacGrammy" came to visit toward the end of the movie, and she enjoyed what she saw as well (shh, don't tell her I said that!) I have to wonder if we are the only ones who underwent name-changes after this movie (ie MacBob and MacLarry, MacTunia). I think it is particularly telling that "MacSon" used one of his "Mac-TV tokens" to watch MacLarry the next day. With their downloadable coloring and activity sheets, this would also make a great MacChildren's Ministry lesson too! (I'm going to have to keep that in mind next time I'm asked to help out.)
MacLarry and the Stinky Cheese Battle and some popcorn (of the non-cheese variety). 

Review time! MacLarry is the son of Chog Norrius, a revered Scottish warrior who happens to be in the middle of a seemingly permanent battle with the Romans. Pranks abound in this tale, with the Scots being "Barber-barians" who seek out opportunities to administer bad hair cuts to their Roman enemies. Enter MacLarry. His father supposes that he will follow suit and become a Barber-barian as well, but MacLarry's heart longs to invent things. In my opinion, he might have actually "made the cut" if his father allowed him to try his Flowbee-like invention to give an acceptable bad haircut during his test. MacLarry fails to deliver yet again and just can't seem to fit in, and ends up leaving on a journey to meet and become apprentice to an inventor hero of his.

MacLarry's plans go awry and he ends up in the hands of his enemy, meanwhile Chog Norrius and the other Scots are on a mission to find the Cheese of Attila to force the Romans to finally call a truce. Long (ish) story short, both sides are threatened by the stinky cheese and MacLarry and his inventive mind save the day!

What I especially like about this video:

References to real places- As a homeschooler, I embrace any opportunity to teach my children about the world they live in. Every time we see a real-life place mentioned on screen or in a book, I show them where it is located on a giant map of the world in our living room. As a result, my six year old is aware that Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife (a couple of my current favorite shows) take place in England (parenting win, I say!), as well as the fact that much of the literature we've read lately comes from that area too. I'm sure "MacSon" will be delighted to realize that MacLarry and friends inhabit the same big island as Winnie the Pooh, and James and his giant peach and other literary friends (as well as some of mommy's fictional friends.) Rome and Greece are referenced as well (though not quite accurately location-wise).

References to scientific stuff- MacLarry's passion for inventions leads him to talk about simple machines like levers- things my children have already been exposed to from other sources. I think that they will enjoy seeing them in action elsewhere. MacLarry uses his science smarts to ultimately bring peace to the people.

Laughs for the grown-ups- Seriously? Chog Norrius? Though I will say I was really expecting them to take this joke a little further. That would've been so awesome! The Flock of Seagulls hair cut given to one of the Romans during a raid amuses my inner 80's child. There's a lot more, but you have to watch!

Relatability to real life- How many times in the Body of Christ have any of us felt that our gifts were of little value? We feel that we are urged to act or look a certain way, and feel like we should conform to the "standard". This story shows us the importance of having differing gifts. One never knows when your difference ministers to someone and wins them to Jesus (and that's the ultimate goal for any Christian, right?) MacLarry and the Stinky Cheese Battle says to little ones and big ones alike "be who God made you to be! You have a purpose in the Body of Christ, and it may not look like what everyone else is doing- and appreciate the differences in others!" While I relate a little more to an underdog like MacLarry than the other characters, I'm also challenged to value the strengths of those who are not like me- we all have our place. I think this movie will help children to cherish their emerging gifts and talents and unique personalities, as well as those of other people.

What could be improved on:

Seriously, more Chog Norrius jokes- the end.

This movie is definitely one that you should consider adding to your collection. It is funny and encouraging and entertaining. But I've come to expect that from VeggieTales!

*Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this DVD, but all opinions are my own, and no other compensation was received.*

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Meditate on These Things

This morning I sat with my five year old while he was watching television. Suddenly, the network was having what we grown-ups call "technical difficulties". (Children call it "the-world-is-coming-to-an-abrubt-halt", by the way). Something was wrong with the audio, as in the program went completely silent. We switched the audio selection to the Spanish option (which in this case, for some reason, wasn't actually Spanish, but an option for the visually impaired- so the program played with the usual audio plus a running narrative of everything taking place). My son was happy with this, even though I kept telling him to check if the regular audio was working. Thankfully, it starting working properly again after a few minutes.


Apparently we hadn't seen (or heard) the last of the issues from our (usually) trusty public television station. The signal started getting interrupted, and we saw the digital equivalent of static for several minutes.

"Mom, it isn't working! I'm never, ever going watch TV for the rest of the day!" he declared, with tears nearly welling up in his eyes. (He could totally win an Oscar someday).

In my mommy-wisdom, I quickly suggested, "but think about all the times you watch TV and it's not messed up."

In that moment, I saw myself in him, and recognized all the times I have had the same reaction to my husband over silly things (and of course, the not silly things too!)

"Oh-my-word-our-marriage-is-in-serious-danger-how-could-you-make-such-an-awful-mistake-and-believe-that-we-could-still-be-happily-married-how-DO-you-live-with-yourself?" (Ahem. I never claimed to be totally mature. At least not publicly.)

God is always challenging me to look for the positive in the situation (I confess, I sometimes have trouble with this one). To keep track of the good things my husband does, they ways he exhibits good decision making skills, and whatnot. I think as humans, we usually have the tendency to focus on the negative and let it paint the whole picture for us. To view the world through smoke colored spectacles. But if we'll regularly take notice of the good, we will find that it far exceeds the bad, or unpleasant. We should have logged in our memory all the great things they've done and when they make a mistake (like we often do! Hello.) it should be no big deal. That's just one reason why the Bible instructs us to meditate on good things.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."  Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Today, I'm challenging you (and me) to pause for a moment and take note of the "true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy" things your husband has done and quickly overlook the momentary static. Think about all the times your marriage is right!

Do you struggle in this area too? Let's start here. What is something admirable about your husband that you'd like to share?

Linking up with:

Thrive @ Home Link-Up

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Day in the Life

I interrupt this (unintentional!) blogging hiatus to bring you a day in our life! I'm linking up with Simply Rebekah- she says, "The concept is simple, but the results are awesome. Take one picture every hour, for one day, and an unique hour by hour snapshot of your day is created." 

Oh boy, this was a hard one for me to remember! I finally left myself a sticky note reminder to take pictures, but then quickly forgot to take them every hour. I remembered yesterday to take pictures and ended up having to set an alarm on my phone to remind me every hour (mommy brain, anyone?). 

Yeah, so I stared at this reminder near my bed for about a week, and then my husband asked "why does this say to take hourly pics?" Ha ha. *Ahem* (Yes, that's my handwriting. No, it's not normally so chicken-scratchy).

This is my 10:00 am picture. Making oatmeal for breakfast. We've been getting up pretty late recently. I think I can attribute that to me weaning off of caffeine. It has done wonders for my mood and overall well-being, but I think as my body is adjusting, I'm just sleeping as much as possible. Lest anyone be jealous, I'm usually awake super early to make sure my husband gets off to work, and then take a while to actually get back to sleep since the baby normally wakes up for a feeding during that time. Since my babies stay asleep pretty late, I'm afforded the opportunity to catch up on my rest!

11:00 am- My five year old and three year old got balloons from the movie night at our church the night before. Oh, balloons! So much fun. Until two children are playing a round of "hit the person with the balloon" and only one child knows about it!

12:00 pm- I had gotten the baby down for his nap, and now sneaking in some quiet time while PBS Kids is still on. Normally, I would choose to do this earlier in the morning, but everyone pretty much wakes up at the same time right now. (See 10:00 am photo).

1:00 pm- Lunch for the little ones! Peanut butter and jelly, and sun butter and jelly, respectively. I reheated some leftovers for my lunch.

2:00 pm- By this point, the older two children and I had read our children's devotional together, and then we began reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. We are doing Five in a Row for school, but still trying to find our "groove" with that. This was our first time reading this particular book, so obviously we aren't going to read it five times in a row this week! (I had to include a picture of the next page, since it so aptly described the scene in our home a few minutes before {minus the finished cellar, of course}- brother and sister had gotten into a squabble of some kind, then when I rounded them up for our devotional time and book reading, everyone calmed down, thankfully!)

3:00 pm- We were still in school mode. Brother was playing with his number cards and counting with the glass gems, and sister was playing with the letter cards. Baby brother was exploring the living room, and when I found that he had made his way under the futon, he was kicking excitedly and could not sit still for a good picture. (You'll notice that apparently, sister had forgotten to get dressed today. Thankfully, mama is secretly a fashionista and also handy with Microsoft Paint. Hee hee!)

4:00 pm- Trying to get this guy to sleep. He paused for a picture, naturally. Then, it was off to the shower for me (I know, I know! You just gotta get them when you can around here!) and time to get ready to go out.

5:00 pm- Off to one of the five and under programs at the library (the baby didn't fit in the photo, he's actually next to my daughter). I'm so happy they added some evening sessions. Did I mention mornings have been rough for us lately?

6:00 pm- Busy at the library- forgot to take a picture!

7:00 pm- About to finish up at the library, but still had time for a quick puppet show before the baby was D-O-N-E!

8:00-11:00 pm consisted of putting the baby down for one more nap, cooking dinner, refereeing the five year old and three year old, greeting the husband as he arrived home from work, eating dinner, and getting the big kids to bed. Needless to say, I completely spaced on the pictures!

11:30 pm-ish- Nursing the baby to sleep for the night while getting "caught up" on Facebook.

12:00 am- All's quiet in the house. Time for this mama to go to bed!

And there it is! A day in my life. What do YOU do all day? Don't forget to click over to Simply Rebekah to take a peek into some other people's days!