Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Little Rest

{"But these I plan will not happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely
the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, 
do no despair. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!}
Habakkuk 2:3

I have been in a transition over the past several months. Its the good kind, where God is actively moving me from one place to another. Both were/are good places, but change is always a bit hard. 

I feel like God has been clear about some things, so much so that my heart aches for the time when all those things come to pass. I want so much for those visions to be fulfilled, and those good things to take place. I know they are coming, and my heart is ready for it. 

It seems though, that His timing is not my timing. And that is okay. I see that God has a plan that he will work out in his timing, and so for all my wanting I want it to be that way.

So, I want to wait for a bit. 

I want to quietly trust in his timing, and not work so hard to make it happen in mine. 
Part of that is that I need a little rest. I need rest from the things that distract me from the purposes he is preparing me for. I need to use my mental, emotional and even physical resources to prepare for the road ahead by resting and waiting for now. 

There is a bit of relief in the decision to rest, more than I would have thought. I didnt realize how I was forcing something that wasnt God's plan and his timing until I decided to simply submit to it.

Now is rest time. Quiet time. 

I will be taking a break from blogging for the rest of the year. Assuming God's timing allows for it, I will be back the first of the year. 

May your holidays be blessed and the anticipation of the plans God has for you be inspiring!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stress N' Things ...2

I have learned that there are some physical things that help inspire a peace by allowing me to manage what I have well. "What I have" may be limited time, limited money or limited energy but physical things that help manage these better, are things worth having.

I have spoken about a few of these things, calling them "Less Stressed Tools" ...a few of those are my Car Bucket, my Study Bag,  and my Haan Steam Mop.  These physical things help me decrease stress in different ways but all help me to order my world a bit better.

One of the others is my Large Utility Tote, by ThirtyOne. This tote helps relieve stress that is created when I take three busy boys to the grocery store. I place my Large Utility Tote in the top portion of my grocery cart, and fill it with groceries as I shop. When I get to the checkout, instead of juggling kids, groceries and coupons I simply pull out my tote and place it directly on the conveyer belt. As the cashier rings up my groceries, she empties the groceries. By the time its time to bag them up, the bagger can place them directly back into the tote. My Large Utility Totes makes for an easy transfer to the car and the house.

My laptop also is a physical thing that helps me manage my tasks, and thus my level of stress better. Being able to take my laptop wherever I need to write, check emails, look up homeschool resources, or follow an online recipe that I am too lazy to print.  It also helps me manage my budget, my home business and keep in touch with my far away family on a regular basis.

Project Life is another physical thing that has much potential for peaceful inspiration. Project Life is a physical thing that represents things far from physical ..namely memories, family, friends and allows me to recount all the reasons I have to be thankful. Read about Project Life here.

Another ThirtyOne product that inspires peaceful management of my home is my Square Utility Tote. This little guy has 1000 uses, but the way I find myself using it the most is at the library! The library is an essential part of any homeschool and ours is no different. It is often a stressful chore, however with an 18month old trying to escape and his brothers piling books up like their candy!  I have found that I can carry the max number of books our card will allow with ONE arm using this tote!  It has made this chore MUCH less stressful for me :)

Oh, and I almost forgot BINDERS ..these are some of my favorites. Read about them here! I love them!

Certainly physical things aren't the source peace. Peace can only be found with the Spirit indwelling in our hearts. I believe, though that God has blessed us with the ability to create and enjoy physical things that add to the joy we get to experience on a more spiritual level.

Thank you for letting me share some of mine ...I would LOVE to hear some of yours!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stress n' Things

Stress and things have a strong partnership. They are as notorious as Bonnie and Clyde.

Stress goes with lots of stuff...or does it necessarily?

Of course, any discussion of getting one's life in order should start with what you have that you dont need. What you need to get rid of, what clutter can you eliminate and what things can you dispose of in effort to simplify and cleanse your life of unneeded stress.

I think that getting rid of things is most refreshing myself.

One thing I have learned though, is that some things are worth having if they help to decrease your stress instead of add to it.

It's not necessarily a matter of a less stressed you needing no "stuff", it's just that you need the right "stuff".

Having the right items around you that help you stay organized and feel less frazzled, these are good things to hold onto. Some things can add to your overall sense of peaceful living, and these are things worth having.

In the course of the last few years, as my focus as turned so much to decreasing stress in my own life I have been very purposeful in looking for and keeping things that help inspire peace, and getting rid of the ones that don't.
Some tips I go by ...

* If I don't have a place for it, then it's not worth the stress. If I think it IS worth the stress, I will get rid of something else to make room for it. But I dont have place for it, no matter how fabulous it is I dont want it.

* If having it helps me manage my resources well in one way or another, keep it...the key to that one is not to keep it if you THINK it should help you manage your resources, but if it actually DOES help you manage your resources well (that treadmill in the corner collecting clothes? ..yeah, I have one too, but it it worth the stress it causes?)

* If it stresses me out to look at it ..get rid of it. If its clothes that havent fit in 5 years, a picture frame I hate, dishes dont match or a purse that is ugly. ..get rid of it.  There are too many things to love out there, lets not waste our space or pennies on stuff that we dont like!

* If I dont have the resources to take care of it or maintain it - nuh uh. If it creates stress by how much attention it needs, then its not worth it.

* If it makes me smile when I see or use it, keep it. Its a winner.

Having things is not a bad thing. It's being choosy about what things you have, keep and maintain. All things require resources at one point or another, its up to you to make sure the resources they require are worthy of what you have to give to it.

Over the next week I want to share some things with you that I have deemed worthy of my resources. Some of them are things I have talked about before (i.e., "Less Stress Tools") , some I will share for the first time.

To get things started though ..let's do a giveaway of a thing that just may help you live more peacefully ..what do you say?!

{Welcome ifellowshippers glad you came to visit!}

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Congrats Christina!

ChristinaD is the winner of our Happily Ever After Me, LLC giveaway!

Christina says she will use her FREE Poetry Print to celebrate her little man ..."I would have a poem created for my adventurous 19mth old Caleb, his stuffed monkey Curious George and his favorite activity...climbing. :)"

If you would like to learn more about this wonderfully unique Mom-Based Business click HERE ...

Congrats Christina!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happily Ever After Me...Giveway

I am so excited to share a giveway with you for a Mom-Based Business that you will LOVE!

I would like to introduce Stacey, the mom behind Happily Ever After Me...a most wonderfully unique way to remember the most precious things about those you love. 

Stacey creates totally customized storybooks, poems, posters, and coloring pages. She is unique in her art because she can take a story your child created and illustrate it, or create a story around them.
She makes them the topic of stories and beautifully written poetry, complete with details that only can fit them and their little personalities.

Each product is 100% customized to the client from concept to illustration, creating a beautiful work of art that perfectly represents him or her.

Stacey works closely with her clients to learn the most treasured things about your child or loved one, be it what they call their favorite blanky or what their favorite shirt looks like.

Happy Ever After Me products are perfect for gifts for children, mothers, fathers, grandparents ..anyone who treasures a person in all their uniqueness. She loves to create in celebration of adoptions, weddings, holidays; or any day, experience or relationship worth remembering. She can create personalized books on shapes and colors, or simply illustrate a story a child has already brought to life in their own imagination...the possibilities are endless!

Stacey is giving away one of these precious works of art! She is sharing with one very blessed gal a Poetry Print in any size of their choosing*!

She tells me that .. "The winner will provide information and pictures of what they would like the poem to be about. It will be "framed" with a full color high resolution image done by my illustrator Joyee. ...The winner can request anything they would like to be included in the poem and illustration (favorite color, blanky, shirt, tree, flower, etc.) It is ALL custom. "

You can see some examples of her work at: Happily Ever After Me on Facebook 

What a WONDERFUL I am SO excited to share with you!

To enter:

 Mandatory Entry:  Leave a comment here describing what or who you would create your Poetry Print about ..tell us what is unique about them!   Be sure to leave an email with your comment and each additional entry so we have a way to contact you 

Optional Additional Entries:

* Like HEAM on Facebook, then come back and leave us a comment to let us know you did
* Follow HEAM on Twitter and let us know you did it!
* Check out HEAM on YOUTUBE ..where one of the newest HEAM creations are narrated! 
Leave a comment on the video, and then come let us know you get an extra entry! 

We will draw in ONE WEEK, the winner will be chosen at random...November 8th!

 (*11x14, 12x16, 16x20, 20x24, or 20x30)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pride Before Stress ..2

Thinking of our Stress List, how many things on there can we attribute to things that are there because of pride or lack of humility?

How many things are there because we don't ask for help, because we cant admit a plan doesn't work or that something is out of control, because we can't get over something or because our pride won't give it up?

I can think of a few examples from my own Stress List ...

I am having some difficulty with my neighbor. There have been letters, angry phone calls, threats of calling animal control (my dumb dog), actual visits from animal control, cd's made of my dog barking ...yeah. its been a good one. I stewed about it for a few days, trying to plan my response that needed to be graceful yet pointed.  One day I realized it was being incredibly prideful by not simply apologizing for  our part in her frustrations and work more diligently (we had worked hard to start with, but it wasn't enough to really relieve the situation).

It was not easy (I got me some pride)...but a little humility has allowed me to mark several things related to that situation off my Stress List (not sure about hers, but here is hoping).

Mount Laundrymore is a big issue in our house. I constantly struggle with keeping it under control. But managing the laundry of four boys who seemed to create dirty clothes exponentially was just more than I could handle, but it took some humility to ask that. This week, I finally asked my husband to help me with it. I have enlisted my boys' help too. A little humility has helped me stay caught with my laundry all week, which helped that part of the Stress List.

How often have I not let go of processes, plans, subscriptions, unfinished projects and outgrown clothes to the detriment of my Stress List? Many times, I can tell you.

Pride can be a huge contributor to our stress ...and it takes some humility to recognize it.

It takes some humility to use our Stress Strategies ..each and every one of them. It takes humility to get rid of, get done, get control of, get over, change our plan and be willing to change our perspective on things. It takes humility to realize that God is only one with the divine power to give us our "everything we need" and to be willing to accept it.

What is on your Stress List today that you can relieve with a bit of humility? ..comon' you can admit it ;)

Pride Before Stress

I have been mulling this post for a couple of weeks now. It is inspired by someone I don't know, who shared a struggle at a meeting of moms that I was guest of earlier this month.  She shared her heart regarding a need for support and a confession of the pride that had prevented her from seeking it for far too long.

The struggle itself was one I can relate to, at least in small part. But it was the emphasis on pride that affected me the most. She spoke of how pride had kept her from sharing her burden with others, how it had prevented her from reaching out to those who loved her the most and how it was the reason she had suffered through it for so long.

I can completely relate to that struggle.

It has began a root of thinking in my own mind, as I have realized myself how pride can keep us from fully accessing our "everything you need" of 2 Peter 1:3. I have realized the last few weeks how pride can stand in direct opposition to situations when God desires to bless us, and we deny him the pleasure of doing so because of our lack of humility.

We girls do this alot I have noticed. We like to be martyrs. We like to be the ones that are juggling it all, and somehow like the satisfaction of knowing we did all ourselves. I have had several situations arise the past few weeks in my own life, where I realized God was giving me what I needed in the moment and I pushed it away for the sake of pride.

Maybe a friend offers to watch the kids on a day when I am frustrated and overwhelmed ..."no, no ..I am okay." 

Or maybe my husband offers to do whatever he can to help .."no, no I got it."

Or maybe we take on more than we can handle because "should" be able to handle it or because if we don't we will look bad (or so we think).

Maybe we don't admit we need help because then people will know we are overwhelmed, frustrated and weary.

Maybe we don't let others help us because it would give them upper hand somehow.

I know it takes a considerable amount of humility to be able to accept what God has given us, when we need it. Pride can easily get in the way of what he gives us on a daily basis, both in our own spirits and through the support of those around us.

I know my pride has, many times.

And, while we are at it often does pride effect our Stress List?  That warrants another post for sure ....

{hey ifellowshippers ...hope you will check out Pride Before Stress...2 before you leave :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tis the Season

No, I am not thinking Christmas...yet.

I am thinking of a season of another kind. I am thinking of the seasons that King Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes "..there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.." (3:1)

I love the extremes of the passage that follows that truth ..."a time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..."

These extremes remind me that such influx of emotion, experience and seasons are just part of the life ..some days are good days and some are bad.

That is a good reminder for me, because I am up early this morning trying to mentally shake off the day I had yesterday. It was one of those days when all bad extremes were "in season" ...uprooting, weeping, tearing down, giving up, throwing away ...whew, it was a doozy.

It was one of those days when it all comes crashing down, and the unfairness of all my tasks and my inadequacies collided. I was trying to be productive, but literally for everything I got done someone was undoing or creating more work for me. I would gather a load of laundry, while the 18-month old was emptying out his dresser drawers. I was dusting my bedroom (that never happens) while he was in the laundry room spreading dog food all over the floor, and filling the dogs water bowl with it as well.

When I was upstairs getting something done, they were all downstairs tearing up previously decluttered spaces, emptying cereal boxes or escaping out the front door (oh, what my neighbors must think of me!).

At every point of the day one or all of them were screaming, yelling, tattling, jumping off stuff, destroying things, pulling on me, demanding something, crying get the picture.

All the while I was mentally beating myself to a pulp over being overweight, inadequate, frustrated, ungrateful, irritable, impatient ...

It was a doozy.

It was in the middle of this perfect storm that my sweet husband returned from his much deserved morning of golfing with a friend. His quiet, stress-free morning of leisurely walking from hole to hole, not one person undoing a single bit of progress he had made on the course {sigh}.

Since it was pretty clear that I was on the edge of the cliff of insanity, he sweetly emptied the dishwasher and puttered a bit, before he asked "Is everything okay?"

Bless his heart.

What followed was an ungraceful display of martyrdom at its best. There was whining, crying, arms waving and foot stomping,.. I am not gonna lie, it was ugly.

I wish I had a bit "but...I learned" at the end of this mommy-confession. BUT, I don't a super great one.

Except that despite the frustrations, despite the willingness of my sweet hunny to do whatever I needed to feel better, despite my kids' apparent lack of notice of my hissy fit ...this is just a season.

Its part of it. Its part of the joy of having an abundant life, full of kids, a home and hormones. Its part of doing my best to run my home. Its part of my desire to use my resources wisely (ironic, I know). Its part of the craziness of my life.

Sure, there are things I can do differently to help myself not get there again but I am sure that the stress will mount at least one other time before my kids are all out of diapers. I can work to better control myself and doing everything better but I am sure that my inability to balance it all will come together in a dramatic fashion again at some point.

Tis the season, afterall.

"...a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."  Ecclesiastes 3:5-8

Monday, October 10, 2011

Less Stress Tool: Steam Mop

Its funny, I have started this post about 3 times over the last year and I am not sure why I never finished it. I think because I wanted to give this tool its due and I wanted to take the time and do it right.

This is one of my favorite "less stress" tools because it is something that I use on a regular basis to help me with one of my must needed, but much hated chore of cleaning my floors. I have LOTS of wood floors, like both floors of my house ..wall to wall, everything but the stairs.

I also have three boys, a husband, a cat and a dog. That is 24 potential muddy feet whose owners are acutely unaware of the degree of messiness the underside of their feet carry into my house on a daily basis. If you were to do a scientific study on my floor you would all manner of things in your sample, water, mud, various and assundry bodily fluids, and an unidentifiable sticky substance throughout.

All these things require me to sweep, and (blech) mop it regularly (which is a relative term, btw).

Since I hate this chore (it seems sort of pointless?) I have added in a great tool to make it less stressful for me.

My steam mop.

There are several of them out there, I have used a few of them. Only one stands up to my high standards in the area of cost versus quality. High, because if I am going to spend the money on it I want it to work and last more than 5 minutes.

That one for me is the Haan Steam Mop.

It uses steam to clean the floors, using a microfiber pad that is washable. The one I bought came with two, so one is always available to be used.  You just turn it on, it heats up and you can mop away. 

I do not stress over using chemicals around my kids, but I love that it uses water only because water is cheap.  If you do stress over using chemicals around your kids, you will love this thing.

I love that I can mop while my kids are running around because it dries as I mop - no wet floors to worry about. That is helpful, since I usually clean my kitchen floor as I am working on supper or something.

Its super light. I can carry it up and down my stairs with no problem. It has an adjustable handle that works great for me or or my super tall husband (if I can convince him to 'mop' :)

I purchased mine about two and half years ago, haven't needed to purchase any replacement anything. It still works great. I still use it all the time. I am still thrilled with it.

It retails at about $86-99. The best deal I found was on (disclaimer ..I get NO compensation whatsoever for using this link, its just a link from one housekeeper to another) for $86.

 Anyways ..thought I would share. I was using it in my boys bathroom this week and thought I should share that one with you really is a less stress tool for me :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Showing Grace

Wow. So, I am having to remind myself of what grace is today's undeserved favor to and from us to others.  Grace to me, is when I have been given something (salvation) and daily receive blessings in abundance that I certainly do not deserve or have not earned.

Grace to others is the same. Grace to others is when I offer something, like kindness or gentleness that is not earned or deserved. Perhaps because it is not asked for, or would even be well received. Perhaps that in giving it you are not given any 'credit' for the gift, or maybe that your role in the giving is not appreciated.  Perhaps it will be misunderstood, or misinterpreted,

Grace to others means to extend a hand of favor, or even simply not act out what your first reaction would be based on hurt pride, anger or frustration. Grace to others is a decision that must be made, to put to death that fire that rises up when one is offended, frustrated or feels they have been unfairly treated. It means to realize that surely there are times when one 'deserves' a harsh word, a hurtful response or an unkind reaction ...but that we have the power in us to chose something that is not deserved.

It means extending the favor of a kind word in return or a gentle response to those who may not appreciate it, who may not desire it even.

Grace requires humility on our own part. It's part of the dying to those natural reactions. Its how you can offer grace without being haughty or self-righteous about it.

Humility allows for understanding why a person says the hurtful words, why they respond in a hateful way, or why they react they way they do that offends us.  It paves the way for compassion, love and forgiveness.

Its not easy. It takes every single gift of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes requires that you write a blog post about grace so that you can talk it out and be reminded of how to love people they way we ought to be loved :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seed of Faith Giveaway

 If you are visiting from Seeds of Faith ..welcome! 
This week LPLS is hosting a giveway of one of my favorite Thirty-One products, the Organizing Utility Tote. I wanted to share how I use this bag on a daily basis to help me live
...peacefully less stressed :) 

{originally posted  June 11th, 2011}

I am in my hiding place again today, and I brought with me something that just dawned on my as being a wonderful tool.  Even after my hiding place goes away (a.k.a., when the neighbors get home from vacation) I am going to keep using this tool as a great way to store and tote my study stuff.

The last two days I have been using a "study bag".  This morning, it was so great to grab my coffee that I had set up on an automatic timer, my Study Bag and head out the door to go hide :)

I am recalling now, Emilie Barnes, in her book Spirit of Loveliness encouraged a woman of God to have a "prayer basket". This is a basket that holds all you need for your prayer time, so that these quiet moments with God can be anywhere that you can carry your prayer basket.

The same idea, I filled up my Study Bag with the things that I would use in my quiet time, and the things that would help me get my mind working in the right direction this day.  I used my every faithful Organizing Utility Tote by Thirty One. I chose this one because it can handle my slue of books without falling apart. It also has a ton of pockets, so I can put my pens, highlighters, small notebook and phone (for when my hiding is more than my family can bear :).

I didnt read or even look at all the books in my bag in one sitting, but because I never really know which way my quiet time will lead I make sure to have lots of options :)

Having this bag ready to go helps me be able to take my quiet and study time anywhere in a moments notice - to a hiding place, to my bedroom, or to Starbucks for a cup of coffee with God :).

I am also loving that I have a place to store my stuff, instead of all of it just being stacked all over the table all the time :)

The only problem, is that the bag I am using  for my study bag is the one I use ALL the time for other stuff also ...SO, I think I just found a great excuse to get another Thirty One bag! :)

If you would like to enter the giveaway for your own Organizing Utility Tote, head on over to Seeds of Faith and leave a comment! 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sink Scriptures

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."  Deut 6:6-9

During this past summer, when I was studying a different passage in depth each week, I started writing the verses of the week above my sink in my kitchen. I have a tile backsplash, and I have found its a great place to write God's words where I will be sure to see them. 

 I used an erasable marker, and use difference colors so some of my favorite phrases and keywords can stand out better. I have noticed that my eyes go to those naturally, so I find myself often recalling the words God spoke to me so wonderfully before and continue to speak to my heart now. 

I want to be more in the habit of writing God's word about my home. A friend of mine told me she filled the walls of her laundry room with pages of scripture so that she was doing her most unfavorite chore she could have something to read and meditate on instead of complaining. I love that. 

She shared with a bible class I was in once one of the pages of scripture she uses. I have it tacked on the inside of my laundry room cabinet so every time I get some detergent out of there I find it and smile :) 

Where do you place scripture where you will see it the most? What scriptures do you have there? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ladies Day ..a way to encourage

I love Ladies Day's and Ladies Retreats!  ...I love planning them and I love participating in them. I wrote over on my Everything You Need blog about that very topic, having just got to participate in great one this weekend.

Have you had a chance to participate in a wonderful Ladies Day or Ladies Retreat? ..tell me, what was your favorite part? What activity did you love the most? ..silly? thoughtful?  ...I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No! No!

Ah, yes. We are moving swiftly into the months where my less than 2 year old (18 months, actually) is learning how to say an emphatic "no!no!" ..which, truthfully is still cute at this point because he is also learning to couple that with a pretend mad face (no worries, we arent letting on ;).

It's a good lesson to be learning along with Joshua, because saying "no!" is a huge part of living peacefully. 

Depending on your personality, it may be easier or harder to say no in gernal ..but we all have to do it in order to keep any degree of order in our lives. We must master the ability to say it at the right times, in the right ways just like our little ones do.

How do we know though? How do we know when to say "no, thank you", when to say a more firm "no." and when to say adamantly "no! no!"

Here are some rules I live by ...

* If it is not a good use of your resources ...say no. 

It may be because the activity in question is ungodly, or because it has no value in the kingdom of God but if it is not a worthy use of what God has given you for his work - then dont use what you have for that activity.

* If you don't have the resources ..say no.

How many times have you known full well you didnt have the time, energy or ability to do something and you still said 'yes'?  Don't deny it. I know are me.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and for your family is to admit you are out of resources. It doesnt do you any good to add more to what is needed from the limited resources you have.

* If you are doing it out of guilt ..say no.

This is one is easier said than done, I know. But, if you are only saying 'yes' because you will feel guilty otherwise, don't do it. Chances are, you will be using resources that you either don't have or can't afford to use towards it...and for all the wrong reasons.

* If it takes away from something better ...say no.

A friend told me once that  'not every good thing is the best thing.' ..that has helped me say no to many things that I may have been tempted to otherwise.

There are alot of "good" things we can do, but if it keeps us from doing the "best" things then it isnt worthy of our resources.

So, how?

I think that is specific to the situation and the person. I have found that some people need to be let down more easily than others. Some, have to be given a more direct approach.

I have found that saying in whatever way they need, "to be honest, I do not have the resources for that right now" usually gets me out of most things they a request to do a job, to participate in an out of the house activity, a friend's Thirty One party or whatever!   I find that most people can relate to that!

Saying no is a necessity if you are determined to use your resources the best way you can.

Do you have other tips on how to say no? tell! 

{Welcome, ifellowshippers glad you visited!}

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pear Budget: Update

I have been using Pear Budget now for 6 months. I can say that I love it now as much, if not more than I did when I reviewed it 6 months ago! It has made easy work of keeping up with my monthly budget and keeping track of my pennies.

The system is simple, the program is very easy to use. Pear Budget does all the math for you, every calculation you can think of to keep up with things. It makes it easy to know what your current and past budgets look like, keeping track if what you are spending where ...all through simple receipt entering.

I say simple receipt entering because I have used programs like Quicken and MSMoney that both required more info that I really wanted to enter in order to track my receipts. This entry system is easy, requiring minimal info that I have no trouble keeping up with - even if I put my budgeting of til the end of the month (or two weeks into the next month ;)

Pear Budget support is also great, my having gotten very quick responses to any questions I may have had in the course of my learning the program. 

Basically, I still have found that this tool is one with spending the $ on - the work it does for me is worth paying for!

Pear Budget costs about $5 a month, or $50 a year. That is after one month to try it out for free (all you need at any point is your email address other personal info is needed, aside from payment info). This service is absolutely worth it ...a worthy use of my financial resources :)

{while I have received a few months of free Pear Budget use in appreciation for my past review of this online tool, I do not review any product I do not use myself and feel comfortable endorsing.
Basically, I would say the same things even if I didn't get it!}

Friday, September 16, 2011

Be Careful

I have a cycle that I go through about every 6 months.

At the beginning of the cycle I am a harried mess of having too much to do. I am feeling overwhelmed with my to do list, my days feel overfull, I am frustrated and feel as if my most important jobs are not being done well.

In the middle of the cycle I start feeling inspired to action, and I start sweeping away everything. I withdrawal from people and tasks I have taken on, and I do what I call "crawl in a hole."  Its my defense mechanism for those moments when I realize I have created a monster of my busyness.

The last part of the cycle before starting all over again, is when I have cleared my schedule, have had a moment to rest, feel capable of adding things back in and re-emerge from my hole. I start adding on again, start picking back up commitments and returning to my busyness one little bit at a time.  Thus, the cycle eventually starts over again.

I know that about myself. I know the extremes that I can go to and I honestly have been fine with it. At least, until this last time around.

I was a the peak of the cycle, where I start actively getting rid of everything and I crawl into my hole. I started giving things up in the way of commitments, mentally checking things off my list that were resource-consuming and working back towards my hole where we get back to basics again.

This is not a bad thing - honestly, I feel like we need to do it sometimes. But I have learned something this time through that I didn't really know before.

Its not always possible to clear my board and start over again at square one. There has to be a balance between nothing, and getting things done. There must be a balance between crawling in a hole and being productive. I must find the right balance between doing too much, and doing too little.

I started to crawl this time around, and realized that while I did need to pull back a little it wasn't time to withdrawal completely. While I did need to mentally let go of some feelings of being responsible for certain things, I have some tasks I need to complete.  It seemed that each time I let go of something to free up those resources something that I feel that God needs of me right now would fill in its place. I feel like as I am letting go, there is more there I need to take hold of.

I read this this morning ..."Be careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."  Ephesians 5:15-16

I love the messages I read here ...

1. Be careful how you live Purposeful
2. Not as unwise Wise
3. Making the most of every opportunity Active
4. Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is Discerning

In this phase of my life, I have whirlwind of busyness. Busyness is necessary to maintain the good work I am called to right now. In order to find the balance, we must all consider our days in light of the Lord's will for it. We must be purposeful in each use of our resources, we must be wise and discerning in the choices we make ...but we must be active in His kingdom.

God's active and the world's active aren't the same - God's "active" says to be discerning in what we do, not foolish. It is not blindly doing for the sake of doing. It is attentive to opportunities to advance the work of the kingdom, but in so much as it is God's will for our lives.

I pray that today you find the balance ...I know its hard some days, but God is faithful! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy Pep Talk

Hip Homeschool Hop Button I am coming to learn how much homeschooling is a lifestyle. Its not just a way to educate our children, its an actual day to day way to live.

It's not a simple as getting the kiddies to the table for math lessons every morning.  Not so much.

For starters, we are with them 24/7,  day in and day out.  That is something.

* Home is the center of action 24/7/365. There is never a point when it is empty, available to be overhauled or square one achieved so to speak.

* Errands are a family event about 99% of the time.

* Grocery shopping and coupon juggling involved everyone.

* If I get time with my girlfriends, it is with the soundtrack of many small screaming voices in the background.

Then, there is the actual schooling part ...

* Math lessons include baby brother's cheerios ..might as well, since he is throwing them all over the place anyways.

* Science lessons may bring us to the refrigerator since only God himself knows the last time we had time to clean it out.

* History is a good subject to discuss while doing laundry, since it has been years since I was caught up on it.

These are not bad things. I dont say them to complain, I am blessed to be here. But to note that homeschooling is part of life now. 

Its the lifestyle we have chosen, and I will not lie that I am still working on figuring out how to do it. I am learning that I have to adjust my expectations of myself to fit this lifestyle, and I need to figure out to work within realistic guidelines for me, my home, my marriage and my kids.

Logically, I know that my house is not the most important thing yet it still must have a level of functionality to it. I am with my kids 24/7 yet I must find some time to myself to recenter and focus my mind and my spirit. Each child needs his own personal attention but where do the other brothers go while I do that?

We will figure it out, and we are a little at a time.

It's times like this when I am reminded that like any lifestyle change, it has to be by making small changes at a time. We have to learn what needs doing, and what needs doing now. I need to learn what to give outside of the house, and what i need to hold on to for my and my kids benefit.

We need to fully apply the the full arsonal of Stress Strategies ...Get Rid of It, Get it Done, Get Control of it, Get Over It, Get a New Plan, Get a New Perspective and ..most importantly, GIVE IT TO GOD, AGAIN!

As per usual - when we are called, God gives us what we need when we need it. We need to look for it purposefully and adjust as our callings change...but we have it!

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

This homeschooling thing is a good work girls, may you abound in it today! :)

I'm a Hip Homeschool Mom

I was featured at HHM I am excited to say that I got to be featured on one of my favorite blogs this past week. The thoughts I wrote there are ones I have been having alot as of late, and am excited to get to share those with you there and expand on them alittle here.

Being a homeschool mom has its ups and downs and as Galatians 6:4 says, we each have our "own load to carry." But, at least we get to carry it together as we encourage and uplift one another on the journey. I have found homeschool moms, as well as my non-homeschool moms are mandatory for me to fulfill this task that God has called me. Thank you all for your love and support ...I literally could not doing it without you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In a Hurricaine

Whew. That was a rough one.

I feel like the winds are starting to die down, but man ...those winds were ahowlin'!

As a friend put it, after I blogged about my whirlwind a few weeks ago, it suddenly shifted into a full blown hurricane.

How appropriate, since the physical weather and my spirit seemed to be matching each other as we watched Irene creep closer to the east coast, and then eventually bypass Charleston, South Carolina. As her winds picked up, the intensity around here did too.

Still much blessed, over the past several weeks I have had my heart full of the struggles and frustrations of many of those close to me. I have at times felt the most overwhelmed I have felt in a very long time, as I have watched many DIFFERENT loved ones struggle with profoundly difficult experiences ...divorce, death of a 4-month old baby, loss of a job, illness of a child, church turmoil ..its been a doozy of a month.

There have been times when the wind has been howling in my ears to the point that I wanted to just curl up in a ball and let it all pass over me.

The winds are starting to settle, though certainly there is still a significant breeze and wake of damage behind it. There is much recovery to be done, hurting hearts that need healed, new job positions to seek out, houses to sell, moves to make, relationships mended, grief to journey through and a continued monitor of precious little bodies that need physical healing as well.

It's in the moments of both the overwhelming kind and the moments when they pass, that you realize how great a God we have.

If you have ever been in a natural disaster, you know that when it passes you turn in awe at the incredible power and damage that these forces can create. You would most likely be in awe of the degree of devastation and then are so thankful that you survived it...and then worship God for how powerful He is.

In some ways I feel that way now - as I look to see how God has been present and accounted for in each and every difficult situation of the past several weeks. He will continue to do so, we have a ways to go in every situation. But, God has already demonstrated his power by getting us this far; by being faithful to this point, and by remaining close by throughout.

I am reminded this morning of one of my favorite images ...

"The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave." 1 Kings 19-11-12

May we always seek God in the howling winds and the gentle whispers, and may we find Him wherever He is ..for it is only through Him that we will survive these storms ...

{Welcome ifellowshippers ...I am blessed to have you here!}

Monday, August 8, 2011

In a Whirlwind

I am reading a book right now called, "Between Waldon in the Whirlwind" by Jean Fleming. Its an older book..and I havnet read much of it because I am in the whirlwind she talks about.

Right now, this whirlwind is a flurry of physical, emotional, mental and situational craziness ...leaving me feeling like I must reach out for something stable and real and hold on until it passes.

This are natural times, a part of a cycle that comes with living an abundant life for God.

Its times like these when certainly we must evaluate what things we need to give up, if there is anything that we can let go of for the time being. We need to be honest about what we can delegate and what things we simple do not have the resources for.

Often, though we are in the midst of the winds that come from change, from Spirit movement, from circumstances that simply cannot be avoided for all our organization and planning.

I am there now, with many of the things I know God wants of me colliding into the need for focus and attention to all of them falls at the exact same time.

Its at these times when the promise of provision, for having "everything we need" becomes the most real and the most desired to be truth.

From the midst of my whirlwind, I am reminded that God promises us that he is "able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Cor 9:8

That promise is assuring, as I plant my feet and prepare for the wind to die down.

Maybe you are in a whirlwind right now as well?  Here are some things I am learning as I stand inside my own ...

* I truly have to evaluate if I can give anything up or away. As there is such a strain on my resources I have to honest about whether this whirlwind is one that is a natural result of my good work, or if it is a natural result of my not managing my resources well.

* I need to be okay when I can't do it all ...I am three weeks behind on my Women of Grace blogging, it has to be okay with me. I am working on it ;)

* I must stay in contact with the ground ...while everything else is spinning, I must remain connected to the first foundation. I must read, pray and remember who I am riding the whirlwind for.

* I must take advantage of every momentary lull in the wind - steal quiet moment when I can to recenter, reground and refocus. 

May your whirlwind be a blessing and a result of your abundantly blessed life. In the midst of it I pray that you are made more aware of God's grace and provision, and that rest from the wind will come soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week 11: Philippians 4:6-7

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  Phil 4:6-7 (NLT)

This is one of may most favorite passages of scripture. This, and the proceeding verses are such simple promises, yet God is so faithful to their truth. 

Continuing the idea of being thankful, which leads to a sense of peace, is carried over to from our passage last week. He calls us so simply to give our reasons for worry and fret to Him. He calls us to do it thankfully (again, so we dont forget what he has already done) and promises to allow His peace to overwhelm to the point that it doesnt even make sense that we are are feeling that way!

One thing that is striking to me about this being thankful/get peace idea is that it requires something from us. It is a purposeful awareness, not a passive experience where we focus and are filled with a sense of peace.

Peace is something that requires we are aware of our reasons for anxiety, that we purposefully give them to Him and in the process we be thankful for what has already been done for us. He promises peace, but asks us to do this part in order to be blessed by it. 

It presents a challenge that will carry over to the next passage your heart and MIND, so that both will be guarded against the anxieties that can easily take over in both places. 

Again, a wonderful and precious promise to keep in mind and heart.

{Blessed to be part of ifellowship and Women Living Well blog hops this morning!}


Week 10: Colossians 3:15-17

{"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you were called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all with all wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts and whatever you do or say do it as a representative of teh Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God."" Colossians 3:15-17}

I let myself get a bit behind on posting for our Women of Grace bible study this past week! My perfectionism dictates that I post something for this verse that is well thought out and inspired ...But, I have to tell you that I just dont have the resources to catch this one up right now :) 
I will say that this scripture was a wonderful reminder to allow the peace that is part of who we are as Christian women to permeate everything we do and say...and do to it in a way that is thankful.  Ever thankful.

The thankfulness/peace connection has always been a fascinating connection to me. Our human nature is so inclined to forget how we have already been blessed and cared for. Being thankful reminds us of exactly all the ways. Peace is a natural progression when we recall how he has kept his promises all along. 

I also love who that peace is meant to encourage and uplift my brothers and sisters in Christ. My peace is not simply for my benefit. It is in order to nurture that bond of peace that we talked about in Ephesians 4:3  ..."Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."  

We do that only by being thankful no matter what we are doing or saying, letting the peace of Christ fill us richly. Wonderful challenges with wonderful promises.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

She Does it All.

I think that as women we really struggle with looking at others and finding that we are short of what we desire to be. We see women around us who juggle so many things, and often in our perception, better than we ever good. We compare ourselves and we are tempted to look at ourselves and be found wanting.
* Maybe its a mother of many, who seems to have endless energy, patience and grace as she  adds to her family and nurtures her brood. We think does she do that?

* Or, a mother who homeschools her few or many, but does it a way that you are left wondering
 how in the world YOU ever thought you could do this thing?

* Or, the working mom who has to supplement her hard-working husbands job, who ALSO
 homeschools AND is a Cub Scout mom does she not lose her mind?

* Or, the newly single mother who is going through the pain of loss and betrayal, who is learning to support her and family on her own, who is ALSO homeschooling AND going to school to  prepare for their is it possible one woman can do all this?

* Or, the minister's wife who raises many children, while running a home business,  homeschooling, and preparing for the mission field ...when does she sleep?

* Or, the mom who is home alone for days,  weeks or months on end, while her husband serves his community or country, while nurturing and teaching her own children, serving her church family,
ministering to new mothers, homeless, friends and family does she do all that?

* Or, the mom who nurtures or own children, beautifully manages her home, supports and participates in her husbands ministry with youth AND volunteers at community outreach programs, including advocating for abused and neglected children ...when does she find the time for that?

* Or, the mother of many who loves to minister to mothers who have given up their children for adoption, by adopting their little ones and reaching out to these moms ...where does she get the resources to accomplish all these things?

We can easily look around and find woman after woman who seem to have more than we have, more than we could EVER have least in our own estimation. What we need to remember though, is something that God has told us over and over again...

{"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it is He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.." Ephesians 4:7 and 11}

And, He reminds us that .. 
{"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that in all in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8} 

These girls have all that they need because of the grace given them for the benefit of the work that God has called them to, just as He has you sweet sister. 

When we look at ourselves in comparison to those sisters in Christ, it may seem that we fall short. But it is not that we fall short, it is that our good work is not theirs. Their good work is not ours. Grace has them where they are, has provided all they need to accomplish the abundance of tasks they have been called to. 

He has provided them with "everything [they] need" (2 Peter 1:3), but it is specific to what they need for the work God has called them. 

The same promise is yours, and God is faithful. 

May your heart be directed toward YOUR good work today, so that you will know to seek out the grace that He will give you to accomplish those tasks. Look not to what he has given others, but to the blessings of abundance He has promised you this day.

Blessed to be linked to Living Well Wednesday!

Week 9: Hebrews 6:17-19

{Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who would have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged   - we have this hope as a anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:17-19}

I love the mental picture of a person tethered to an anchor, being tossed by the waves and yet secure in that fact that they will not be taken under. 

How like that guy I feel so often! Our world is so unpredictable, our standards so variable, our spirits so tossed and chaotic...if we are lashed to the wrong things. Left to ourselves, we would follow the false hope of anything that would seem to sooth our anxiety in the moment, in one way or another. Left without an anchor, our soul would drift to people, things and an endless search for meaning and hope in a world that offers so little of it. 

This HOPE we talk of, is hope that is worth holding ourselves to like an anchor holds on to a ship. It is stabilizing and secure.

I also love the thought leading up this metaphor, "we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us".

As calming as the idea of the secure and firm, is the idea of fleeing the things that are not that.  We cannot attach ourselves to the security of this hope we profess AND the unstable desires and expectations of the world as well.  These less than secure promises must be fled from, rejected and left behind. 

There is only one hope, one Lord, one Spirit and one God who is in all, through all and over all (Ephesians 4:3-6)...and what a firm and secure God and Hope we have!

The Women of Grace bible study is moving onto verses that remind of us of the peace that comes from this HOPE, starting tomorrow. If you would like to join us as we move into that new part of our study, we would be most blessed by your sharing with us!

{Welcome ifellowshippers! blessed to have you here!}

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thirty One ...for Me

After being in love with these products for a LONG time, I finally decided to become a consultant so I can share these great things and this great company with other people just like they were shared with me!

Do bags make us more peaceful? Well ..not on a spiritual level, for sure. But I have learned to appreciate simple, beautiful things even more since I have been on this journey to less stress and more peace.

Somehow, a pretty bag to put my bible and reading materials in makes me smile. Being able to see "Swagger Wagon" on the side of my Car Bucket makes me feel a little bit of joy in the blessings of my wonderfully crazy life!

I also love being a partner in a company who loves to encourage women to bless their family through striving to be like the Proverbs "Thirty One" woman, by creating an industry. I love that their company is debt free and that they seek to manage what they have been blessed with well.

I would love to share these beautiful things with you!

You can check out my Thirty One website here may want to check it out today (before midnight!) because my favorite product is on sale for $9 just for June!

This is what I use for my Car Bucket ..the Large Utility Tote.  Its $9 if you spend $31, which you can achieve pretty easily because monogramming ($6 per item) goes towards that $31!  ..that is just through the end of the day so you want to get on that ASAP!

You can also work towards that $31 with the Organizing Utility Tote ..which I use for my Study Bag, and about 1000 other things! :)

May your day be blessed with beautiful things that you find much joy in! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 8: Ephesians 4:3-6

{Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one home when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God the Father who is over all, and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:3-6}

Women of Grace ..this is a great one!

I know I say this every week, but seriously its like the same guy wrote this entire bible! :) The messages intertwine so wonderfully, from verse to verse and from concept to concept. Its amazing. Its like it is alive or something :)

As to context of this verse, the entire chapter is absolutely amazing. It is such a beautiful message of how to live with people in real life.

The verses that follow this passage, though are incredibly encouraging and powerful...

{"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." vs 7}

and vs 11.,

{It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teacher, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach all unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of fullness in Christ.}
How interesting that he made us all different, gracing us in different ways to different degrees so that we may reach all unity!

I cannot help but remember the verse in 1 Peter 4:10 ..."Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."
I think that when we think about what God has given us, and what tasks he has for us to do we are tempted to keep the focus on us. We consider how our service affects us, our relationship with God if it is just between us and him. 

If we truly consider what grace is,  a power inside of you that undeservingly blesses you ..not for your own benefit but for the benefit of the kingdom, we will realize that our what we do is not for ourselves or even our one on one relationship with God. 

Its about bringing out about unity for the sake of the kingdom. Not to say that our relationship with God is not important, of course it is ...but when we are given a blessed gift (to be a teacher, prophet or pastor) its not only for the good of your interaction with him. 

He blesses us with grace and abundance so that we are able to bless His kingdom. We are given what we need to be part of that unity of be able to mingle with people who are so different than we are. To be able to minister along side someone our polar opposite. 

We, the stay at home moms, get to be on the same team with the drug abuse counselor in the shelter downtown, or the missionary in Nicaragua. We get to work beside the men who minister to hardened criminals, and the women who hold a women's hand when she is birthing a new baby. We share the same spirit with the women who fosters children who need a home, and the mother who gives her child up so that she can get control of her drug addiction. 

We share one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one God. Our God is in all, through all and over all. 

Over all of us, no matter what our circumstances, strengths or weaknesses. None of us are greater than the other, because we are all under one Head. 

What a wonderful reminder to remember where we stand, who we are and whose we are...
If you are interested in a study of grace, hope, faith and peace, we would love to have you! You are never behind, each week is a new scripture! ..and each one is such a blessing! ..see the sidebar for all the info you need! :)

Blessed to be linked to: Women Living Well Wednesday and Ifellowship at Seeds of Faith for Women

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Everything You Need person

I have known for a bit that God would eventually lead me to share the promises of his providing "everything we need" to women of God just like me.

It has been a process over the past four years of nurturing that message, studying, experiencing, learning and refining this promise in my own life. I feel, finally that it is time to share those lessons in person!

Its a bit of a scarey move - as it brings to the surface all kinds of insecurities and fears in all sorts of things ...BUT, I nonetheless feel like God is moving me very specifically to offer myself this way.

Introducing {drumroll please!}...  Everything You Need, the written and spoken series

{Everything You Need *}
I am very excited, along with the nervous ...but I know that God will bless this new ministry!

"Everything You Need" is a collective series of the lessons I have documented in LPLS. It is a set of lessons, to be given in person that will guide a women of God into believing and living the promise of 2 Peter 1:3 .."His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness..." 

These lessons have been created with a ladies retreat or ladies day in mind, being made up of several lessons that are interactive, challenging and personally applicable.

The Everything You Need  website will help you will learn a little more about the series, find that I am writing an "Everything You Need" bible study and hope to have a sample of that available soon!

Please check it out, look around and share as you are able!  While you are there, I would so appreciate any comments, suggestions and of course your prayers for this new ministry ...I am excited to see what God will do with it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week 7: 1 John 3:18-22

{"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater thanour hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if your hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." }  1 John 3:18-22

This one is a longer scripture for us this week ..and so much great info to be gained as a result! 

The past couple of weeks, and the next one or two we are looking at HOPE ..while this scripture doesnt speak specifically to hope it certainly gives us an "answer for the hope that is in you." 1 Peter 3:15 (our verse from week 6).

I think the message of this passage is a wonderful one - speaking of love, truth, being guilt free, confidence ..its got all the good stuff! 

John instructs his readers to love with actions and in truth. Looking at the keywords of this passage, this mimics the message that he heard in-person as Jesus was preparing to leave his disciples in John chapters 14-16.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another."  John 13:34-35  How interesting that this was a central message in all three of his letters First, Second and Third John.

This lesson is clearly an important one to John. It wasnt the only one that made an impression though, because only a few verses later Jesus reminds his disciples (John included) ..."If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth." ch 14:15-16 

But, as Jesus continues to speak ..the similarities continue ..."If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. "  ch 15:10

And, "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." ch 16:23 

John lived and taught the words that he was taught face to face from Jesus!  ...and his message is so pertinent to us today, especially to God's women as we struggle on a a daily basis with "our hearts condemning" us!

I love how matter of fact John is ..."Its pretty simple folks, if you love God then you will show it in your actions, which will release you from guilt so that you can come before him boldly and not be worried to death, and he will listen because you obeyed him by loving him and his children and showing it through your actions."  Pretty simple, really. :)

One more contrast between that last long talk between this disciples and Jesus before he died, and this passage when Jesus says more than once "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you...Do not let your hearts be troubled." (John 14:27) and "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace." (16:33).

How appropriate then, that John would be encourage his readers to this same place of calm - encouraging them to not allow their hearts to condemn them and to set their hearts at "rest" in his presence. 

As all these verses that we have been studying in the Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith series these two passages intermingle so beautifully to show an integration of teaching and learning, of truth taking root and God's word being alive!

...if you would like study with us as we continue to learn of God's grace, hope, faith and peace please join us on Facebook!  We can certainly benefit from your insight!

{Welcome ifellowshippers ....I am blessed that you are here!}

Also, sharing on: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Less Stress Tool: a Study Bag

I am in my hiding place again today, and I brought with me something that just dawned on my as being a wonderful tool.  Even after my hiding place goes away (a.k.a., when the neighbors get home from vacation) I am going to keep using this tool as a great way to store and tote my study stuff.

The last two days I have been using a "study bag".  This morning, it was so great to grab my coffee that I had set up on an automatic timer, my Study Bag and head out the door to go hide :)

I am recalling now, Emilie Barnes, in her book Spirit of Loveliness encouraged a woman of God to have a "prayer basket". This is a basket that holds all you need for your prayer time, so that these quiet moments with God can be anywhere that you can carry your prayer basket.

The same idea, I filled up my Study Bag with the things that I would use in my quiet time, and the things that would help me get my mind working in the right direction this day.  I used my every faithful Organizing Utility Tote by Thirty One. I chose this one because it can handle my slue of books without falling apart. It also has a ton of pockets, so I can put my pens, highlighters, small notebook and phone (for when my hiding is more than my family can bear :).

I didnt read or even look at all the books in my bag in one sitting, but because I never really know which way my quiet time will lead I make sure to have lots of options :)

Currently, on the menu is: a couple versions of the bible (today, its the NIV and NLT),  What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancy (because our study on grace has really sparked an interest in the topic!), Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis (for Sunday School), a couple books by Dallas Willard (havent started these yet), and my Women of Grace notebook.

Having this bag ready to go helps me be able to take my quiet and study time anywhere in a moments notice - to a hiding place, to my bedroom, or to Starbucks for a cup of coffee with God :).

I am also loving that I have a place to store my stuff, instead of all of it just being stacked all over the table all the time :)

The only problem, is that the bag I am using  for my study bag is the one I use ALL the time for other stuff also ...SO, I think I just found a great excuse to get another Thirty One bag! :)

What do you do to make your study time mobile? What do you use in your study time?...what versions of the bible do you use? What books are you reading right now? Tell us about your study time ..I would love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I am hiding.

I have a wonderful spot. While I live in a neighborhood where the houses are only a stones throw away, my neighbor has created a great hiding place in her little square of space. On the other side of the fence from mine, which is covered in thick climbing vine, she has created this place that is a forest of plants, trees and flowers. She some wonderful seating, and I have claimed one of her comfy spots.

She is out of town (yes, I asked!) - and I am taking advantage of an early morning wake up to get out the door and hide before the kids woke up. I was expecting to spend some quiet moments to collect my thoughts before my day started. I was hoping to get refocused after several days of guilt-worthy, hormone-induced, mommy temper tantrums that have left me feeling defeated and frustrated with myself.

I need some quiet to refocus, recommit, realign and get back in the game.

What is amazing though, is that quiet is not what I have gotten at all! I am amazed with the degree of sound that is coming from the nature around me. No people are around yet, and yet its so loud I am having a hard time thinking! ...there are birds of every shape and size, they are fighting, mating, calling, antagonizing the cat, etc. The squirrels are hopping all over the trees around me, and the vine on this side of the fence is teeming with lizards and bugs of every shape and size. I hear bees buzzing around the flowers around me. There are dogs barking in the distance, and then not in distance when I hear my own dog barking at the aforementioned squirrels. I give away my hiding place when I hollered at him, and now he is on the other side of the fence whining.

Quiet? Not so much.

Yet,  this is still a good hiding place.

Me and God are here. He reminds me that it is never perfectly quiet. There is always something that needs doing, someone who needs me to comfort, teach, touch and guide them. My days are always full of busyness because they are full of people that I love, and who love me (though slightly less when I am such a bad  mood :) In this season of my life, there will never be perfect quiet. But God is still accessible through the noise and the chaos.

Certainly, seeking quiet is a blessed thing. And, there are ways to surround ourselves with less noise (as we should surely seek to do). But God is reminding me this morning that my life is busy. Its chaotic. Its crazy. Its the life He has for me today, in this season.

I have to hide in him, even amidst the chaos. I must seek the quiet of my soul, even when the world around me is far from quiet. My spirit need not mimic the craziness of the world around me ...because I have everything I need.

God knew what I needed to hear today.
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