Saturday, December 29, 2012

2. The Empty Butter Dish

Project #2: Clean out the storage container cabinet

1. I read somewhere that you should only keep 10 or less plastic storage containers for leftover food. Get rid of the rest. Well, I probably have 50+ plastic containers sitting in the cabinet waiting patiently to be used - time to purge.

2. Give away the nice ones - filled with goodies of course! I know several elderly ladies that could use a little extra love - Yippee! It's time to bake!

3. Use them to organize art/craft supplies - my craft shelves need to be "contained" - hmmm, sounds like project #3

4. Throw away the misfits - goodbye to all those lids that don't fit on anything

(Any that didn't fit the above categories I put in the garage sale/donate pile)

Wow! Now I have a nearly empty cabinet!



Friday, December 28, 2012

You, Your Family and the Internet

David Clark's book, You, Your Family and the Internet, is a helpful resource that should be in the hands of every parent and grandparent. It is a quick read with a great impact. The subtitle, "What every Christian in the digital age ought to know" is an accurate assessment of this book.

Clark's 30+ years of experience with technology paired with his strong biblical worldview will help people make informed decisions about how to utilize the Internet. I appreciate that not only does he clearly warn of the many dangers of the Internet, he also gives great examples of how to use the Internet to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, Scripture is used throughout the book to help the reader think biblically about how they present themselves online.

Although I was familiar with many of the aspects of the Internet that Clark discussed, now I more fully understand how it all works together. Realizing that advertisers see me as the product has made me think carefully about where I go and what I post online. The main point I took away from this book is that as a Christian, my virtual life needs to reflect Christ in same way my physical life does - my words and actions online and off need to point people to Jesus.
Image credit:

* Disclosure: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews  in exchange for my honest review.

1. Out of my Inbox

Project #1: Cleaning out my Inbox
Ok, so one goal in getting organized it to keep my online home free of clutter just like my physical home. I have 3 email accounts. 1 work, 1 personal, 1 for junk mail (like when I sign up for freebies) - yikes! Who has time to keep up with all of that?

Lesson 1: Unsubscribe - all those e-newsletters I never have time to read and aren't really interested in - I will unsubscribe - sorry, it's not you, it's me - please don't take it personal, random health e-news!

Lesson 2: Delete immediately! After I've read an email and it requires no further action - delete it!

Lesson 3: Respond immediately! If an email requires a response, don't delay, do it now. Then create a folder for that subject and move it out of the Inbox.

Project Organize 2013

Hi, my name is Taryn and I am a packrat. I come by it honest, though. When my grandma gave me the first cookbook she purchased after her wedding in 1951, it still had the receipt in it - she keeps everything!
We're not talking an episode of Hoarders here - let's just say I'm sentimental and have a keen sense of future creativity. I have my piles and I know what's in them. Plus, it never fails that when I get the nerve to throw something away, a week later I realize I needed that!
However, to honor my husband (who is a neat freak, compared to me) and to better care for my home - I hereby dub 2013 as "Project Organize". I have everything I need to get started - a Pinterest board full of organization tips and ideas, my Kindle is cluttered with ebooks on organization and I have a really big trash can in the garage. I hope maybe by posting my goals and progress here, it will help me stay accountable to the task! Great ideas and encouragement are very welcome and needed - so please share!! So, here's to organizing my life - may the new year bring a successful endeavor!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet

Image credit:

Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet, by John Currid would be an excellent addition to the library of  any preacher or Bible teacher. I wish I would have had this resource when I taught through the book of Ruth earlier this year.  I found his explanation of the text thorough and yet easy to understand. Most importantly, he points to Christ as the reason for this beautiful narrative.

Currid gives a detailed analysis of the Hebrew language and practices good Bible interpretation by cross-referencing Scripture to make his points. But he also explains the text in a manner that someone without a seminary degree can understand. I appreciate that his "Points to Ponder" at the end of each chapter are easily applied to people today and stay within the context of the storyline.

The author clearly has a great appreciation for 17th and 18th century writers and preachers, as he often uses quotes and anecdotes from their lives. These quotes and stories make nice transitions to the point he will make about the text and would be easy to insert into a sermon or lesson. However, I found that having a prior knowledge of these men helped in gaining the full impact of the author's purpose in quoting them.

Too often, when using a commentary to study, I find that there is a huge gap between the theological interpretation of the Scriptures and the level of understanding of the ladies in my Sunday School class. It is then left up to me to "translate" great insights into understandable application to my students, and I often wonder if I'm doing the writer justice. I think Currid has done a beautiful job of filling in that gap with his commentary on the book of Ruth.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of the From Bitter to Sweet – Ruth (Welwyn Commentary Series) Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review.

Christmas Letter

I gave this to the ladies in my Sunday School class today. I thought is was a wonderful reminder of who we are in Christ.

My precious daughter,
I choose you according to my will (Ephesians 1:5). You are not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:16). And it is my desire to lavish my love on you because you are called my child (I John 3:1). Every good gift you receive comes from Me (James 1:17). I will meet all of your needs according to my glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). My thoughts toward you are precious and outnumber the sand (Psalm 139:17-18). Delight yourself in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). I am able to do more for you than you can even ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). I will give you comfort and strength (II Thessalonians 2:17). I will comfort you in your troubles (II Corinthians 1:4). When you are brokenhearted, I will be near (Psalm 34:18). I love you even as I have loved Jesus (John 17:23) For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26). His death shows my love for you (Romans 5:8). Remember the reason I sent My only Son is so that one day we will be together forever (John 3:16).
                                     Merry Christmas,
Your Heavenly Father            

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mom Connection - Disconnected

I was very disappointed after reading Mom Connection by Tracey Bianchi

I find this book random and confusing. It was meant to be a devotional for MOPS but there is nothing inspiring to share with the group - just random thoughts and cliches. I love the idea of a  guide to creating mom friendships with "Mom tested-tips" at the end of each chapter - but they are repetitive and wacky.

The most disappointing part was Chapter 12 "Flannelgraph". The subtitle: Here comes the Jesus chapter. This is ironic because she only mentions Jesus by name three times in the whole chapter. She has the perfect opportunity to explain the gospel and instead compares God to "a giant tambourine-playing hippie" (183)
There is no mention of repentance or salvation - just a journey of faith. If someone asks if she's a Christian her answer depends on the adjectives used: horrible - no; good - yes(182). What about telling us what a Christian is suppose to be?
Her Christian experience has a very New Age feeling:
"Motherhood - divine dance with God"
"What is your dance like with God?"
"Will you get up and dance?"
Unfortunately Bianchi doesn't understand the gospel and treats God very disrespectfully.
I am shocked MOPS endorsed this as their Recommended reading/Devotion book for the year!
Image credit:

Missional Moves

Image credit:
I opened Missional Moves by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder expecting "hey, we're a megachurch, look at us and copy what we did." In some ways it is that. But more than that, I found this book to be full of challenging and thought-provoking ideas about how the methodology of church that seemed to work in the past needs major renovation.
With creative examples and personal anecdotes, the authors present 15 reasons why and how the local church's view of missions needs to change. I was impressed with many of their ideas, such as:
  •  Instead of just throwing money at missions organizations, we have to learn how to build relationships that will transform lives with the gospel of Christ.
  • With an understanding that missions is not just for "professionals" but the job of every member of the local church, everyone needs to know the vision of their local church and how to be involved.
  • Our gospel impact will be much deeper if it is focused in a few areas instead of spread thin across many ministries.
I think every Christian should read this book to truly understand the extreme makeover needed in today's churches to reach the lost. However, with it's visionary thinking and technical jargon, it appears to be geared toward church leaders and most people probably will not attempt to read it. I think their "Seven Metaphors of the Fractal Core"(p. 215-217) are a good summation of the major points they are teaching and would be helpful to everyone trying to catch the vision. So, I would recommend this book to church leaders who are ready to think outside the box and lead their local church in creative, yet focused ministry.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Cross Focused Reviews as part of the Missional Moves Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review.
For more information on Missional Moves, visit their website at:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Organic Outreach For Families

Image credit:

I am so thankful for the opportunity to read and review this book. My husband, as the pastor of our church, has been teaching that sharing the gospel with your family and friends should be a natural part of daily living. In Organic Outreach for Families, Kevin & Sherry Harney give practical advice for doing exactly that.

The goal of their book is to encourage and equip you to reach your own family with the gospel, then to create a home that is a lighthouse of truth for the world around you.

I greatly value the local church for worship and discipleship but, for too long parents have depended solely on church programs to evangelize and disciple their children and youth. I know many people who don't understand why their grown children don't attend church anymore. I truly believe it is related to a gospel focus not being at the center of their home life.

"Something is very wrong if we reach our neighbors with the love of Jesus but our children feel forgotten and marginalized. We have confused our priorities if we invest more time in our church than we do in our own children." (17)

After thoroughly discussing the priority of reaching your family with the gospel, the authors transition into creating a home that is that is welcoming not because it is physically attractive but because it is a safe haven filled with love, prayer and fun.

Too often people expect churches to be a community center of programs and events in the hope that people searching for God will come through their doors to find Him. In contrast, the Harneys suggest that our homes and our family's involvement in the community be the natural place people see the hope of Christ lived out.

I appreciate how the Harneys are gentle and kind in helping us rethink our approach to outreach and evangelism, unlike some parenting or outreach books that come across as bossy and finger pointing. At the end of each chapter they give practical ideas to move your family toward "becoming a lighthouse". They also include testimonies from their sons of the effectiveness of the organic outreach lifestyle in their own home.

They have clearly done much research and study on parenting and personal evangelism as they quote many well known writers as well as personal friends who have lived out the truths they are promoting. My only complaint of this book would be the over use of the words "organic" and "lighthouse" - but I get it, that's their theme.

This book has been encouraging and enlightening to me as I have been reminded about the great responsibility I have to my children in sharing the gospel with them. I have also learned about making my home a refuge for my kids and welcoming to those I hope to reach with the gospel in my community.

*Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
For more information on Kevin & Sherry Harney check out their websites at:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homeschooling with Humility

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

 I thought I was a good teacher, after all I have been homeschooling for 7 years. My oldest daughter learned to read just fine. My third child, a boy, learned to read very easily before starting Kindergarten. But for some reason, my second daughter is really struggling with learning to read in 1st grade this year. As part of a Virtual Academy, my daughter's advisor has to do state standardized testing with her and had serious concerns about her progress. I was humbled to admit that maybe we needed some help and should back up and reteach.
Of course I want what's best for my little girl. I know every child learns differently. I want to work at her pace and make sure that she comprehends the material and feels confident in her abilities. But I took the adviser's concerns as a stab at my ability to teach. I mean, how dare she question my ability and devotion to educate my children? I took it personally. But after some prayer and wise insight from my husband, I had to confess she was not attacking me or my abilities - she had the same desire I did - the best education for my daughter.
Although for awhile I struggled with submitting to the reteaching plan, God's grace has enabled me to admit a need for extra support. I have no doubt that my little one will become an excellent reader, but my real prayer for her is that the Lord will use this refining moment for me to teach her respond to advice and correction with humility and grace.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind

Image credit:

I have to admit I have not listened to very many audiobooks before and boy, have I been missing out! I downloaded this book from as part of a review for Christian Focus 4 Kids. I put it on my MP3 player and listened to it while cleaning, working out, and checking my email. I've never "read" a book so fast!

Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind by Australian missionary, Paul White is the story of part of  his time as a doctor in Tanzania. He faced many trials such as malaria, a dysentery epidemic and a troublemaker who stole medicine and distributed marijuana. Although overworked and exhausted, the doctor takes advantage of every teachable moment to share truths of the Bible in ways the natives understand.

I really liked that each character had a distinct voice so I could easily tell who was speaking. The fact files at the end were also very helpful in giving more information about the author, Tanzania and the epidemic they faced. I love missionary stories and this one is definitely worth listening to!

*Please note: I received this book free from Christian Focus 4 Kids as part of their Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind Audiobook Review Blog Tour. The opinions I have expressed are my own.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sights and Sounds of Chirstmas

I know it's a little early for Christmas Devotions, but I'm so excited to be publishing my very first ebook!!! I wrote this book about 3 years ago for the ladies of my church and my family. I love all the sights and sounds of Christmas, but in all the chaos I don't want to forget the purpose of it all, which is Jesus Christ and this book has become a yearly reminder of focus for me. I would be greatly honored and appreciative if you purchased my book. If you don't have an ereader yet and would like an old-fashion paper copy - leave a comment and I have 10 copies to give away.

Sights and Sounds of Christmas

Monday, October 15, 2012

George Whitefield: The Voice that Woke the World

George Whitefield
Image credit:

 "...I am not sorry I’ve been poor, or despised, cast-out, and now am almost a worn-out itinerant. I would do it all again, if I had my choice.”

George Whitefield was extremely passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone who would listen. With his loud and powerful voice he preached to huge crowds of people all over the American colonies and Great Britain as often as he could. His preaching was always a priority over sleep, eating, safety and even his health because his view was that "the whole world  is now [his] parish".

Author, Lucille Travis has done a wonderful job of chronicling the life of this itinerant preacher in her book, George Whitefield: The Voice that Woke the World. Beginning with his childhood and schooling, she explains his conversion experience in which the gospel message is made very clear. Her description of Whitefield's realization that salvation is not by good works but only through trust in Jesus is very powerful.

Travis continues the story with Whitefield's ministry in England, his missionary journeys to the American colonies and the establishment of the Bethesda Orphanage in Georgia. During his life, Whitefield faced many trials, such as religious persecution, helping orphans, and opposing slavery. The author carefully addresses these conflicts and mature topics with honesty and at a level that is appropriate for the elementary-aged audience.

This is a great resource for homeschool families or for further study in American History. I was greatly disappointed in the attention given to Whitefield in my daughter's 5th grade American History class last year. I would love to have her read this book to truly understand the impact George Whitefield had on his generation. This book is perfect for a 3rd-5th grader to read independently or to read out loud to younger children. There are also discussion/review questions at the end of the book. I also appreciate that in the "Author's Note", Travis states that direct quotes from Whitefield are in italics and that certain characters, conversations and situations were fictional for the purpose of clearly communicating the story.

*Please note: I received this book free from Christian Focus 4 Kids as part of their Trailblazers Book Review Extravaganza. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shopping for Time

Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed
Image credit:

At our MOPS meeting this morning we talked about how to prioritize our time so that our values are reflected in the way we spend our time. The conversation reminded me of this book I read a few months back that was extremely helpful in making my values a priority and getting the most out of my time.
Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters do a wonderful job encouraging women, especially busy moms, to evaluate if their time is well planned, if their priorities are based on Scripture, and if their relationships are honoring to God. I will confess, I'm not a member of their 5a.m. club - yet. But, I do often reflect on my goals as wife, mother, teacher and friend to pursue time management that honors God and blesses my relationships.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Really Good White Chicken Chili

One of my goals in being a good mama and wife is preparing good food that everyone enjoys...which can be quite challenging with 6 people in the house all with different tastes and a couple of picky eaters. But this recipe always gets rave reviews at my house from everyone, so I thought I'd share. Hope your family enjoys it too!

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can northern beans
1 can of corn
1 cup milk
1/2 to 1 cup water
3 chicken breasts cubed and sauteed with chopped onions
1 tsp. each of garlic salt, cumin and oregano (more or less to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer on low 20 minutes to 2 hours.
Optional toppings: tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded mozzarella.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Books for Mamas

I just finished reading a couple of really great mom books that encouraged and inspired me in my role of motherhood! (Find links to their blogs on my "Blogs I Love" page)

Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis
This first one really helped me remember that my kids are a blessing, not a burden and to treasure these gifts God has shared with me. Seeing my job as MOM as a sacred role helps me do all the cooking, cleaning, correcting and other daily tasks with joy and with the goal of bringing honor to God in all things.
Image credit:

Together by Carrie Ward
The second book is about reading through the entire Bible with your kids - I love that her plan was simple and she tells her personal story of accomplishing the goal. Sharing God's word with our children is such a vital part of parenting. I've already started with my kids!

Image credit:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Poem: How to Love a Friend

The Bible says love is patient
Patience means I will listen to you tell the same story for the 20th time and still be interested
Love is kind
            Kindness means I will take you out for lunch even if it’s not your birthday
It is not jealous, is does not brag, it is not proud
In other words, love is humble and humble means if you are having a bad day, I will save my good news for later and just listen and be there for you.
It is not rude or self-seeking and keeps no records of wrong
Love forgives – I won’t bring up past mistakes, I won’t let your shortcomings be my pet peeve and if we have a problem, I’ll talk to you first
It does not rejoice in evil, but in the truth
Love bears all things – I know your most embarrassing secret
Believes all things – I know you can accomplish your goal
Hopes all things – I will always pray for you
Endures all things – I will put up with you when you are grumpy
Love never fails
I may fail as a friend at times, but God never fails because HE IS LOVE. He brought us together and will keep us to the end. Praise God for friends like you!

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Just Want Some Peace & Quiet

For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 66:12-13 (ESV)

I recently saw an ad for a Ladies Retreat that boasted, "This weekend is nearly perfect.
There are mountains of chocolate everywhere. We have a massuese that caters to your every massage need. Beautiful horses parade across autumn pastures... The food is made with love and care all day long...
The chapel times are both relaxing and encouraging, as [our speaker] speaks right from the vibrant Word of God. And at night, as the day winds down, your memory foam bed hugs you as you drift off to sleep,  dreaming of the next day of shopping, chocolate, beautiful country and fresh air.
The only other thing [we] need to make this weekend retreat absolutely perfect... is you!"

 Wow! You sure packed your bags fast! That's ok, so did I. Doesn't that sound so relaxing and peaceful? My problem though is I want that to describe every day. However, reality is very different: housework and errands never go away, raising children in a promiscuous society, loving friends and neighbors who don't always love back, health concerns for family and the list goes on...Life is busy, how do I find peace in all of that?

In Isaiah 66 God offers peace for Israel, who had been in exile, their temple destroyed, their towns & homes desolate. Upon their return home, there was frustration and despair. In the final chapter of Isaiah God offers peace like a river and comfort like a mother. As author of all creation, He's the only one who can give peace when everything's a mess. Notice, God didn't say He would take all their problems away and replace them with chocolate and shopping. He offered peace while life was overwhelming and chaotic.
If joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God, then peace is not the absence of conflict but the calm/contentment no matter what the situation. Peace comes when we understand that "...for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV).

A Pure Heart is a Joyful Heart

1Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
     blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
     wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
     let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11  Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Psalm 51:1-13 (ESV)

It is pretty much impossible to live joyfully when there is unconfessed sin my life. Sin is often accompanied by feelings of anger, bitterness, pride or shame, depression, stress, worry and fear. I don't know how anyone can be joyful with any of those feelings dominating their emotions - we are much more likely to be grumpy and mean. How can I love my family and teach my children truth when I'm acting like the Wicked Witch of the West?
In Psalm 51 David confesses his sin after being confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding David's affair with Bathsheba (and all that follows it) . In verse 2 David asks God to cleanse him from his sin and in verse 10 to create in him a clean heart. David knew that the joy of his salvation could not be restored (v. 12) until his heart was right with God.
Thankfully the source of our joy is Jesus who is also the reason for our joy because in Him alone we can be set free from our sin and live to do as verse 13 says, "teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Attitude of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.             Philippians 4:4-5 (ESV)

"Christians believe that God is sovereign over all things, including even those circumstances that they find unpleasant and undesirable. When we complain and grumble, we are telling those around us that we believe God is doing a very poor job, and, if given the opportunity, we could do much better."

Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining. Boy, is that hard? It is so easy to find something wrong with, well, just about everything! But, if we desire to live a life filled with joy our attitudes must be joyful not disgruntled. Living joyfully doesn't mean your life is perfect or that everything turns out your way. On the contrary, having joy usually comes when we resolve that things aren't going our way, and that's ok. When we recognize God's rule over our lives, we can be content, even joyful about our circumstances, relationships and challenges, knowing that the all-powerful, all-knowing supreme authority of the universe has our best interest and His kingdom expansion planned out perfectly. This should give us joy!

 Quote from: Ellsworth, R. (2004). Opening up Philippians (41-47). Leominster: Day One Publications.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Joy of Worship

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.                         Psalm 100:1-5 (ESV)

Who said Sunday morning was easy? I mean breakfast isn't even finished and you are already stressed out! Your pre-school son refuses to get dressed, insisting on wearing pajamas to church. Your grade-school daughter can only find one shoe and the baby just spit-up all over her dress. Everyone is finally dressed and out the door and on the way to church: the kids are fighting, the baby is crying and you just realized you didn't bring anything for the potluck after the service. As you pull into your normal space, you tell everyone to put on their smiles and walk in calmly. You greet everyone with the standard, "Hello! How are you? Doing fine." But, inside your head, you're screaming, "Is this really the way it is suppose to be?" 
Sound typical or bring back memories? Psalm 100:4 says to enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise, but how often do we do that when we go to church? What value are we placing on corporate worship when we fake it? Friend, there is joy to be found! When we truly seek to worship God, by placing our focus and attention on Him, we can experience the joy the of the Lord that is our strength - to admire His power, to praise His goodness, to rejoice in His mercy. We do this through prayer, song and hearing His word proclaimed in our church gatherings and we encourage one another in the body of Christ to stand strong in Christ. So the challenge is, how can we change our patterns and habits to make corporate worship joyful for our families? We must plan ahead and remember that our focus is "the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever..."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Risks of Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.      I John 4:7-11(ESV)

Let's be honest, loving others is not easy. It requires a lot of effort and sacrifice on our part and it may or may not be reciprocated or even acknowledged. There are many things we risk if we are really willing to love others - our time, energy and money. Do our kids see us willing to sacrifice these things? Are we ready and willing to feed the hungry and give money to the poor? Kids get so caught up in "I want" and "I need" but they rarely  have a case of "let's give". We need to teach our kids to be generous not just by being an occasional giver, but by making a lifestyle habit out of loving others by sharing what we have. What if we take it a step further? If we are willing to get out of our comfort zone and love others besides relatives and friends, then we may also have to risk our agenda, position, or safety. It is easy to give money to a non-profit  or serve a meal at a shelter to strangers and faces without names. But, what if we really invested in someone in need: welcomed them into our home, got to know their family and situation, shared the gospel and took them to church? As I John says God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to be the payment for our sins. If God loves us like that, shouldn't we do everything we can to share that love with others?

A New View of Love

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.     I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)

There are many opinions about what love is - is it a verb, emotion, feeling, expression? The best definition I have found for love is from Voddie Baucham's book, Family Driven Faith, which says, "Love is  an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object" (57). This may sound complicated, but let's break it down a little bit. The world views love from a "Cupid" point of view. This view sees love as a force that is random, overwhelming, uncontrollable, and sensual- meaning we can't control who we fall in and out of love with or when it's going to happen and it's all based on romantic feelings. I don't think this is the kind of love the Bible teaches. This "Cupid" kind of love doesn't work in real life because it's not applicable to all relationships. If we really want to love our spouse, kids, friends and neighbors, we are going to have to change the way we think about and act out love. Based on the definition above, in order to love we must be willing to put others' needs/desires/wants in front of our own. It is a choice that has to be made daily (or sometimes moment by moment). This kind of love is not based on feelings that you may or may not have for a day or even season of life. Love is always about someone other than yourself. Consider how God loves us (John 3:16)...

Quote from: Baucham Jr., Voddie T., Family Driven Faith. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007.)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Theme of my Life

Every year around my birthday in December, I come up with a "Theme for my Life" for the upcoming year (I got the idea from event speaker, Naomi Rhode). I do this to focus on an area of spiritual growth or to watch how God is working in my life throughout the year. Then I read books and journal about that theme all year. Sometimes I go back through my journal to see how I've grown in my faith and all the things God has taught me along the way. Some of my themes have been:

  • Jesus Loves Me - Longing for Passion
  • The Ways of God - Following the Narrow Path
  • A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart
  • The Love Dare
  • Growing an Orchard: Living out the Fruit of the Spirit for my kids
  • Anointed: Daily Living Through the Power of the Holy Spirit
  • A Healthy Lifestyle: Inside & Out

Try picking a theme for the year - you might learn something about yourself, who God is and how you should respond to Him. Leave a comment and tell me your theme ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Ways of God are Sovereign

God is sovereign over Creation
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will - to the praise of His glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:4-8 

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. Daniel 2:20-21 
God is Sovereign over Worry
"When believers worry, they may actually be trying to control a situation or believe that the situation is too difficult for God."(58)
"God's purpose in working through us is not to help us be successful or even worry-free, but to use our lives as a means by which He reveals Himself."(59)

God is Sovereign over Circumstances
"The difference between the daily lives of believers and those who are not Christians ought to be an incredible sense of peace."(61) 

 God is Sovereign over All We Have
"Having faith and trust in God is a choice. We can either worry or trust God who is sovereign. We can insist on going our own way or we can accept His wisdom and His guidance to know what to do. (67)

If we truly believe that God created and controls all things - there's no room for worry, only trust. When we can really let go of worry and start trusting God, He fills us with a peace that can only be experienced in Him. This kind of peace is not a "health and wealth" kind of thinking. It is a "no matter what the situation, may God be glorified in me" attitude.

Quotes from: Blackaby, Henry T. & Roy T. Edgemon, The Ways of God. (Nashville, TN: LifeWay, Church Resources, 2001.)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Ways of God are Supreme

 Several years ago I did a Bible Study called "The Ways of God" by Henry Blackaby & Roy Edgemon. In reviewing my notes, I underlined and highlighted so much of the book that really I just recommend you read it for yourself, but here (and in the next few posts) I will share some of my favorite quotes and insights on understanding the ways of God.

"We are flesh and blood, created by God to serve God, and placed in the context of time by God."(9)
"When God speaks, He is already in the process of doing what He says." (13)
"Faith is the confident expectation that God will do what He has said He will do." (14)
"Holiness is the moral excellence of God." (17)
"Unbelief is significant. Do not treat lightly what God treats seriously. God alone is truth. What God says is always true-with no exceptions." (19)
"God's ways measure only our obedience or disobedience in doing His will. The ways of God do not accommodate substitutes. Substitutes are the reasoning of the world." (26)

 My (former) Ways:                                                 Obeying God's Ways:
1. Complain about extra work/feel overwhelmed      1. Accept challenges to bring glory to God
2. Daydream about a different life                            2. Be thankful for family who care about me
3. Expect credit for accomplished goals                   3. Humbly let others receive recognition
4. Be grumpy because it didn't go my way               4. Praise God for His perfect plan & timing
5. Gossip & grudges toward people I don't like       5.  Show appreciation to everyone

Quotes from: Blackaby, Henry T. & Roy T. Edgemon, The Ways of God. (Nashville, TN: LifeWay, Church Resources, 2001.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Ways of God - Following the Narrow Path

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

I once was a little girl with dreams
I hoped would come true someday
Of being a ballerina
Or the princess in a parade
Maybe I'd be the president
Or just mayor of my town
I would be a teacher
Or a doctor with a cure to be found
But as I grew up my dreams began to change
The things I once thought possible
Are now completely out of range
God had something else in mind
A place for me in His will
If I seek after Him with all my heart
My desires He will fill
The world is more complicated
Than I ever thought that it could be
But thanks to God's eternal plan
His ways are higher than me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Psalm 32 Love through Forgiveness

The weight of sin (v.3-4)
When I kept silent about my sin:
 -my body wasted away
-for day & night Thy hand was heavy upon me
-my vitality was drained away
Freedom of Forgiveness with Confession (v. 5-7)
I acknowledged my sin to Thee:
-Thou forgave the guilt of my sin
-Thou art my hiding place - preserve me from trouble
-Surround me with songs of deliverance

 Through Christ's sacrifice, I've already been forgiven of past, present & future sin:
-I feel freedom through confession to God
-I grow in Christ through lifestyle change (repentance: turn away from sin, turn to Christ)
-Christ's blood has atoned me, His resurrection gives me eternal life: so live like it!!

Longing for Passion: Psalm 42

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God...why are you in despair, O my soul? and why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help for His presence... (v.1,2,5)

If I truly want to experience the joy of my salvation & passion for life in Christ I have to:
let go of the past, my sin, worry, doubt, confusion, frustration & impatience.

God give me passion for: YOU, Scripture, my family, caring for my home, building friendships, serving in church.

God, please fill me with LOVE for: YOU, my husband, my children, my friends, my church, my community. Let my focus be on showing humility, grace and kindness to others so I don't have time for pity parties.

God's Love for Me

John  3:16 - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Proverbs 3:12 - For whom the Lord loves, He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom He delights.

John 15:12-13 - This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I John 4:16-19 - ...God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us...there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear... we love because He first loved us.

God's love, real love is nothing like the culture portrays it. It is not based on emotions or feelings - those are always changing. It is not listening to our heart or gut or even head. God's love is constant, never changing, never ending and nothing can separate us from it. Based on His Word, because of God's love, He will save us from our sin through the death & resurrection of His son, Jesus. He promises to correct/discipline us to make us more like Jesus, and to abide in us so we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to know how to show real love. We are only capable of love, because He first loved us. If we want to know real love, it can only be found in the one who made us and takes care of us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This is T Time

As a homeschool mom of 4, a few quiet moments to myself with a hot cup of coffee or tea are a treasure. It's so hard to decide what to do with my alone time - crafts, baking, reading - this blog could be about so many of those things I enjoy. But, I think I will focus on one that I am most passionate about and that is making the truths of God's word applicable to every area of my life. Through books I read and my personal Bible Study, I hope to share with you some of the things God has taught me about living the abundant life promised in my salvation through His Son, Jesus. Of course, the best way to learn is by having fun, so I'm sure my hobbies will find their place here too. I hope you will join me for a little "T Time".