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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Sale Is On!

Right now as we blog, Christa~Taylor is having a summer sale! Click here to check it out!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Its Strange

A picture of 30 little toes never looked so good before:)

What Does God Want?

Kevin Swanson,...was homeschooled himself in the 1960's and 70's, and now he and his wife, Brenda, are now homeschooling their five children. Since graduating from his homeschool and then serving as student body president of a large west coast university, he has gone on to other leadership positions in corporate management, church, and other non-profits.

Kevin has 35 years of experience in the homeschooling movement and serves as the Director of Generations With Vision, a ministry he founded to strengthen homeschool families around the country. I've been reading his website recently in an effort to learn more about homeschool. I 've been struck by his thoughts on education. He writes;

"A study performed by UCLA found that the highest value of college kids is to get a good job and make boatloads of money. What are our highest values? Should we seek academic excellence in order that our children might “get into a good college,” so that they will make their $52,000 a year on graduation? What values are passing on to our children?... Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” If we seek what God wants first, He’ll take care of the grades and the college education, and the 52K per year, or whatever junk they’ll need in life.

So what does God want us to focus on? In all our academic studies, we want to focus on things like “the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom,” humility, faith, and character. We want to make sure that our young men become the men of God that He envisions in passages like 1 Tim. 5:8, Eph. 5:23,25,28, Eph. 6:4, Neh. 4:14, 2 Samuel 24, and 1 Tim. 2:8.

This is what God wants! And He so highly values our precious daughters who become beautiful cornerstones configured in passages like 1 Pet. 3:4, 1 Tim. 2:9-15, Titus 2:3-5, and Gen. 2:20. These things are important to God. I don’t really know why. But if He thinks they are important, let’s focus on these things first - and I guarantee that He’ll make sure of our academic and economic success."

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Music That Can Uplift The Soul.

"Music has a profound effect on the listener. It even has the power to lift spirits and change lives." 

~Singer, Matt MacDonald

Music has such a profound effect on the soul. It's amazing how we can hear a song that we may not have heard in years and suddenly be mentally "translated," back to the time and place we were in when it first impacted us. A song can "take us back" to times that were happy or sad, fun or boring, stressful or relaxing, weary or celebratory, uneventful or defining, defeating or victorious. When we are truly impacted by a song we can no longer just hear the song without feeling the emotions that have been connected to it through our experiences.

This is so very true for me about so many songs. The one I have posted below is a song introduced to me by my dearest friend shortly after we both became born-again Christians(John 3:3-5). 

During that time, we were beginning to learn how to trust God through the hard times. Because we were in college, some of those hard times included the end of every quarter when the notorious finals week would come around!  We would sit in the student center writing papers and cramming for test while we listened to this song. All the while, praying and sometimes literally hoping for a miracle when it came to our grades!  But, guess what? God came through every time!

This song was also one that I listened to often during the summer that I was seeking God for his will for my life, concerning courtship and marriage. I listened to it while I prayed and cried out to God, feeling that with just one wrong decision, I could forever alter the course of my life and pay a very great price. I remember being so overwhelmed by it all and praying, "Lord, just tell me if this is your will for me or not! I'll do whatever you say!" But, you know what? God spoke! He guided me and helped me to make a decision that has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.

This song was also one I listened to over and over again when I spent my summer studying in New Jersey. I was far away from home and was so lonely. I was having trouble finding a church to attend and kept praying that God would send me to the right place. I was studying in an intensive program and also planning a campus revival that I wanted to be a blessing to others. But, I'm sure that I don't even have to tell you how God ordered my steps to just the right church for me! The church ended up being very instrumental in helping me with the revival. People came and experienced God in a brand new way! God came through...again!

So, when I hear this song I'm fascinated with the way it "takes me back" to all of these experiences, and how I feel all of the emotions that accompanied them. I don't have it on CD, but Hubby and I recently dug it up online and have been listening to it. I don't know if you're into gospel, but I hope this blesses you too. Its an oldie but a goodie!

Medley - Kim McFarland

Friday, July 24, 2009

Are You Meek?

Our culture puts a great deal of pressure on women to be physically desirable. While I believe that God is glorified when we take care of ourselves and try to look our best, physical beauty should not be esteemed higher than our inward qualities.

1 Peter 3:1-4 reads,
Likewise, ye wives... Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

God values "the hidden man of the heart" more
than "outward adorning." Our confidence can't be based on how we look. Looks fade. The bible says, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who feels the Lord shall be praised"(Proverbs 31:30). It behooves us to turn our attention inward and cultivate the kind of spirit that God says is so valuable, a meek and quiet spirit.

How do we know where we fall on the "meekness" scale? Nancy Leigh DeMoss offers a beautiful series entitled The Beauty of Meekness. She points out that this quality is often misunderstood and mistaken for weakness; when in fact, “Meekness is an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward people, springing from a recognition that God is in control.” Meekness is often defined as strength under control. Nancy explains that a meek person...

...holds their peace, is obliging, has a cool spirit, is calm, is unperturbed, is yielding, gives a soft answer, is sweet, peaceable, forgiving, gentle, peaceful, composed, tolerable, quiet, patient, restrained, undisturbed, unruffled, and accommodating, submissive, bridled, swift to hear and slow to speak.

Perhaps for some, these qualities are easy to emulate when things are going your way. If we judge our meekness by those times, we may fair well. However, Nancy challenges us to think about the times that it doesn't. She asks, what happens when...

...someone criticizes you unfairly?

...someone insults your child or your mate?

...when your plans are blown by someone else’s insensitivity? They didn’t plan, and their lack of planning or their changing plans threw your plans into total disarray?

...when your authority is challenged?

...when your boss corrects you for a mistake that someone else made?

...when someone else gets credit for a great idea that you had?

...when somebody cuts you off in traffic?

...when the person in the express grocery lane has 37 items in their buggy?

...when somebody takes advantage of you, rips you off financially?

...when an authority makes what you consider a poor or unwise decision, and it impacts you and your family?

Its during these very times that God wants us to have a meek and quiet spirit. The world does not value meekness; however, Jesus was meek (Matthew 11:28-30). When we are being meek, we are being like Jesus.

Meekness goes against the cultural tide as well as our sinful nature. It is something I have to continually keep before God. Meekness is not for wimps! Actually, " requires just the opposite of that weak, spineless, mousy personality to have true biblical meekness...It takes courage. It takes enormous strength and grace and faith to be a meek woman, and a meek woman is one who has great power and influence in our world and in the world around her"(DeMoss, The Beauty of Meekness 6/19/09).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Unplanned Homebirth

My husband picks up a cell phone to dial 911.

I can hear my doctor on the house phone, “Hello? Hello? Hello, hello, hello?”

“Dr. XXXX – I’m delivering.”

“Right now?” he asks calmly.

“Yes. The head is already out.”
This is just a snippet of my friend's most amazing birth story. She recently gave birth to her 8th child. The labor was so fast that her husband had to deliver the baby at home!

Check out her entire birth story here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Third Day Concert at Alexian Field ~ Schaumburg, IL

We spent a little time in the parking lot preparing Noah for his very first concert!

He didn't look so sure about it.

But, I assured him it would be awesome:)

This event actually served as a date for hubby and I. (At this point, husband+wife+only 1 child that can't talk, qualifies as a date).

We were just in time to get a great spot close to the stage. Do I look excited enough about that?

Mac Powell made the entire audience his designated background singers for the night. We sang, we clapped, we jumped, we rocked, and we gave God some praise!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Third Day Rocked It!

Hubby and I had SO much fun at the Third Day concert! This was one of the best gifts he has gotten for me yet!

I hope to post some of the pictures we took soon. In the meantime, you can get your own sense of a Third Day concert experience by clicking on the videos below. Enjoy!

King of Glory

Behind The Scenes

Call My Name

Friday, July 17, 2009

In which I am reminded of a brilliant quote.

"Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots." ~Forest Gump, 1994

I'm Back!

Our local church has been having a Prayer Revival this week. The revival called for a corporate fast from media (including the internet). I can do no television, but my precious internet is hard to do without!

So, I'm glad to be back. I have to catch up on all of your blogs!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Have 7 Children...

...for today, that is.

Hubby's grandma usually has the pleasure of keeping his cousin's kiddos on Fridays. However, today she had a special event and needed a "back-up plan." Guess who that was?

Our guests are ages 10, 8, 4, and 2. Thus far, we have enjoyed a walk to the McDonald's indoor playground. Everyone had a chance to burn off some energy there;) We have had lunch, devotion, and now everyone 8 and under are napping.

Hubby should be home in about an hour. I hope that it won't be raining so we can take everyone to the park for a game of tag!

BTW: I find it ironic that my line of questioning in yesterday's post was addressed through my experiences today. I've actually found the extra arms of the two oldest children to come in quite handy when it comes to holding the baby while I deal with other things.

In addition, its been fun to be around all of the different personalities and qualities of each child. I must say I have enjoyed myself. I know its only been one short day, but this experience has made me look forward (even more) to one day having my own large family.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Art of Multi-Tasking


Some claim that women are naturally better at multi-tasking than men. After having 3 babies, I really don't doubt that. It makes sense, especially when you think about nursing moms. In fact, with every baby I have perfected my ability to complete tasks while nursing the baby at the same time.

At this point, I can nurse the baby and simultaneously...
  •  Type an email.
  • Prepare (some) meals.
  • Dial the phone.
  • Brush my hair back.
  • Comb and style my girl's hair (while balancing the baby on my lap, while I sit in indian-style on the floor).
  • Wipe down the counters and table in the kitchen.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Put away dishes.
  • Use my foot to move clothes and toys back into their designated rooms.
I suppose that once I have children who are old enough to hold a baby and/or do more chores, the need for this level of multi-tasking will all become a thing of the past. Won't it? I'm right about this, aren't I? You who have older children: please tell me I'm right!

But, I digress.

At any rate, how about you? Do you work "single-handedly" while nursing? What have you learned to do? I'm wondering can one of you top this list? Any takers?  

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What He Must Be- Courtship Series Part 3

In Part 2 of the Courtship Series, I mentioned that since I did not have an active Christian father to set standards and guide me through the courtship process, I sought God for wisdom in this area. I listed some of the biblical standards that God illuminated during that time.

By contrast, Dr. Voddie Baucham is a very involved Christian father who is concerned with and has written a book on this topic.  

"What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter outlines ten qualities parents should look for in a son-in-law, including trustworthiness, a willingness to lead his family, an understanding of his wife’s role, and various spiritual leadership qualities."

Although written from the perspective of a father, Baucham's book can benefit anyone seeking a better understanding of biblical standards for husbands and the courtship process. Learn more about the book here .

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Media-Centered Home

The television that I have had since I was about 12 years old is the same one that hubby and I have used for the past 5 years. Despite the fact the we occasionally had to give the side of it a good whack in order to avoid uncontrollable static, the thing held up pretty well. Nevertheless, a little over a week ago it took it's last whack and went out altogether.
In all honesty, I'm not upset about this. In fact, I'm actually a little relieved because I was working to "demediaize" (ahem...yes, I made that word up) our family anyway.

We are commanded to "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).  Nevertheless, "Wherever we look, technology blasts us with the world's values, attitudes, and false definitions of reality. The popular media lie to us about the nature of goodness, truth, and beauty. They offer counterfeit versions of what a family is supposed to look like, what romance is, what success is all about, and where we should spend our money" (Joshua Harris in Media Discernment 101).

My desire for our family is that instead of spending endless hours watching, lusting after, or thinking like "the world" that we will spend more time acting, seeking after, and thinking like God. I think that this is true for most Christians families. However, there is some real work and real sacrifice involved in achieving it that doesn't come easy for most of us. In order to do this we must be willing to take the necessary steps in order to create a home-life that is not  "media-centered" but "word-centered."

In Media Discernment 101, Joshua Harris writes, "...consider changing the setup of your home so that entertainment technology, particularly television, is neither omni-present nor central. Let's not allow movie and television watching to become our default free-time activities. You may also wish to abstain periodically from different forms of media in order to test their influence on your life and increase your focus on God." I'll admit that whenever I am extremely busy or tired, my first inclination is to "pop" a movie in for my children to watch or to let them spend entirely too much time in front of the television watching cartoons. Sometimes after a couple of hours it seems like they start acting like cartoons!

However, without a television to use as a "crutch" I am more likely to have my children do something more productive during those times. For example, since the television broke, I have been more inclined to have them do chores, "read" books, and to use their imagination while playing. I find that I am much more likely to go for a walk, talk, sing, play, teach, discipline, hug, kiss, and laugh with my children during the day. Automatically, I realize that there becomes a larger emphasis put on God and His word because I use that time to testify and sing songs of praise to God with my children while we do other things. 

In essence, the lack of television lends itself to my doing more to fulfill Deuteronomy 6:6-8 which says, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." 

I'm not saying that all media is evil or that we may not get a television in the future; however, I do hope to keep our viewing time to a minimum. Not only does it limit the amount of "worldly" influence coming through our home, but it also causes us to put more of an emphasis on relationship with God and each other. As I look down the line to 10 or 15 years from now, I think this will have been a vital part in becoming the godly, close-knit family I hope we will be.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bring On The Tea!

I'm finally registered and will be on my way to the 2009 Mother Daughter Tea next Saturday. The Tea is sponsored by Family Reformation Ministries and the description reads:

Our mother/daughter one-day retreat gives you and your daughters (of all ages) the rare opportunity for a day away together. Be refreshed and renewed with an exciting day of inspirational teaching, testimonies, music, and fellowship; as well as a delicious gourmet lunch! Be inspired and encouraged by mother/daughter speaking teams who share from the heart the tremendous part mothers and daughters may play in shaping their families and society as a whole.

Speakers include: Maggie and Jessica Erber, Stacy and Tiffany McDonald, Katherine and Melinda Sanford, and Hope Ware.

Sounds like a grand ol' time, does it not?

My mom and I are so excited to be attending this event! Now that I am an adult and raising my own children, I can appreciate my mom so much more. When I reflect on some of the ways I treated her and took her for granted growing up, (especially during those dreadful teenage years) I could just hang my head in shame! I often find myself calling to apologize to her for those things now that I'm older! Thankfully, she's quite gracious about the whole thing and chooses not to hang it over my head:)

When I found out about this Tea, I figured it would be a great opportunity to show my mom I appreciate her by carving out some "mother daughter time" just for the two of us. She loved the idea! She loved it so much so, she bought a new dress! Now that means she's seriously looking forward to this! I pray that by attending this event, we bond and create a special memory that we can look back on for years to come.

How do you go about connecting and bonding with your own mom?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Speaking of Marriage Preparation...

...Bethany at The Apple Cider Mill recently dedicated a post to the following questions:

If you are married, how did you prepare for marriage--or did you? What advice would you give to an engaged or courting couple to help them prepare for married life? If you're engaged or courting, what sort of advice would you like to have as you prepare for marriage?

Bethany lists 10 important issues that one should consider when preparing for marriage. I must say she makes some VERY good points! Read the entire list here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ending My Divorce Practice- Courtship Series Part 2

“Modern American dating is no more than glorified divorce practice. Young people are learning how to give themselves away in exclusive, romantic, highly committed (at times sexual) relationships, only to break up and do it all over again. God never intended for His kids to live like this. And instead of stepping in and doing something, many Christian parents simply view these types of relationships as a normal and necessary part of growing up. Unless your child is wiser than Solomon, stronger than Samson, and more godly than David (all of whom sinned sexually), they are susceptible to sexual sin, and these premature relationships serve as open invitations.” (Dr. Voddie Baucham in Family Driven Faith p. 21).

At 18 years old, toward the end of my freshman year of college, I reached the same conclusion that Dr. Baucham describes in the above quote. God had drew me into a closer relationship with him and after receiving the Holy Spirit, I was determined not to go back to my former way of doing things. So, that summer I decided that I was going stop dating. Instead, I would trust God to reveal who my future husband would be in his timing. Essentially, I put an end to my divorce practice, as Dr. Baucham would put it.

Honestly, this was no easy endeavor for me. It meant cutting off former inappropriate ties and relationships, some of which were really strong. In addition, I knew that if I was truly going to guard my heart as commanded in proverbs 4:23, I was also going to have to be diligent in preventing new inappropriate ties and relationships from forming. In efforts to do this, I went to various extremes.

I ended "friendships" with members of the opposite sex that seemed like they had the potential to turn into more. I stopped listening to and watching media that "fed" my desire for romance and companionship. I began to dress more modestly as to not attract ungodly attention from men or to send the wrong message. Instead, I saturated myself with christian music, prayer, and the word of God. God blessed me to maintain emotional and sexual purity and I had never felt closer to Him than I did during that time.

Nevertheless, there were still temptations and sometimes fear that my "waiting on the Lord" for a mate wouldn't prove worthy and I would end up old, alone, or with someone who would make my life miserable. I was also concerned because I was realizing how naive I had been when it came to men. I wondered how I would know when God finally did bring "Mr. Right" along. I had no christian father who was active in my life to cover, teach, or guide me and I didn't know anything about what to look for in a husband.

Nevertheless, James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

I began to seek the Lord for wisdom in this area. I asked him to show me what standards I should hold a potential husband to and just like a father does for his daughter, God began to speak during my prayer and study time. Here are some standards he illuminated to me through the word of God:

Salvation - "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 COR 6:14, NIV).

Are you convinced this person is a born-again Christian? How do you know?

Like-mindedness- "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"(Amos 3;3, KJV)

Are you both of the same mind when it comes to major issues such as salvation, doctrine, sexual purity, priorities, biblical womanhood, manhood, children, ministry etc?

Influence- "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners"(1 cor 5:33 , KJV).

Does this person have a a positive influence on your life and that of others? Are they the kind of person you can learn from and look up to? Will they cause you to be closer to God or further apart?

Relationship with Parents- "Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness" (Proverbs 20 20).

How does he treat his mother and father? Is he obedient? Respectful? Does he have open communication with them?

Faithfulness- "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6).

Is he consistent in his character? Is he committed and loyal in relationships and business?

Integrity- "The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him" (Proverbs 20:7).

Is he honest? Does he stand up for what's right regardless of the cost? Is he ashamed of Christ and the gospel or does he stand up for it openly?

Soon, I began to feel more confident that not only would God bless me with the one he had for me, but that he had given me some wisdom and standards for what kind of man I should be praying and waiting for.

I've been away from the computer for awhile; however, stay tuned. I am working on Part 3 of the courtship series!