Friday, November 28, 2014

We Wish You a Merry Christmas...

It's Black Friday, y'all!! :D I am home from a crazy early morning (not to mention late night last night) of shopping till I'm dropping - and believe me, I'm a droppin'!

My tree is up, the decorations will be up this weekend, and I am officially in the holday spirit! So to celebrate, I gave my blog a makeover, too. Merry Christmas to you all - now go do something festive!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Visit with a Feathered Friend

I love our homeschool co-op. I often think about what our homeschool journey would have looked like without Lighthouse Christian Academy. We have made so many friends that are as dear as family, and my kids have received an excellent supplemental education to come alongside what we do at home. The moms at LCA engage with the kids and care for them as if they were their own. They put time, effort, and love into every lesson. We have had a lot of fun, hands-on experiences over the years, and today was no exception. For my 1st grade history class, I have been teaching the children about American Symbols this month. We have talked about the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the Flag of the United States of America, and the bald eagle. To top the study off, we had a visitor from the zoo - our country's brightest and most recognizable symbol - the bald eagle. (We also invited the other elementary classes to join us!)

Her name is Phoenix. She is a 25-year-old female, and she has been in captivity since she was found at 12 weeks old nearly starved to death. By the time she was healthy enough to be released, she had imprinted on humans, meaning she would not have an easy time bonding with other eagles in the wild. The ladies from Dickerson Park Zoo gave us a wonderful demonstration. They talked about our nation's history, how George Washington and 3 other men worked long and hard to determine what bird would symbolize our great nation. They discussed many things about the eagle, including how she was designed for hunting from head to toe. And they introduced us to this beautiful bird...who had a lot of things of her own to tell us! :) The kids learned a lot, and of course, they had a bunch of questions! The ladies took their time and answered them all. It was a great day of learning.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beauty From Ashes

So many things on my mind tonight. Praying for friends and family who are struggling. Praising with those who have seen blessings this week. It's always something, isn't it? Remembering to look up, to be still and know...sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. I want to see His hand in all situations - the good and the bad. It's just so hard sometimes...but then I remember, we don't walk alone. I am reminded of that by a very special lady quite often.

One of my dear a warrior. I simply cannot think of her without that word going through my mind. Oh, she's so much more than that - she's feisty, she's funny, she's a little wild (I sometimes wonder how much trouble we would have been in had we known each other in our teens or early 20's! LOL), and she's a fiercely devoted mother. But warrior is first in my thoughts when I think of my sweet friend, Cori. She is one of the first ones I go to when I am in need of prayer. She is also one of the first to kick me in the pants when I'm down in the dumps, constantly pointing my thoughts upward to the Heavenly Father.

Oh, to have walked the road she's walked...I don't think I would have survived. But she's done much more than survive. She has thrived. She has looked straight into the devil's eyes and claimed Jesus' victory over him. Time. And. Again. She is fearless. Don't get me wrong, I know she struggles. She was struggling this very morning. But even in her darkest moments, she never lets go of God's promises. She is confident in His presence, in His power, and in His undiminished love and protection in her life. She knows what it means to have plans that are good and godly, only to have God reveal HIS plans that are altogether different. And when she picked up the pieces of those shattered earthly plans, she trusted in His promise that all things work together. He is in control. She may crawl into a ball in the wee hours when the night is darkest...but she crawls into the Father's loving arms and seeks His reassurances. Then she comes out to face the morning with a will as strong as steel.

I have a lot I am praying about tonight. I have some serious concerns flooding my life right now...others not so serious, but still weighing me down. I'm so thankful for my friend's prayers in times like these. She never makes anyone feel that their needs and concerns are frivolous or miniscule. She doesn't compare her burdens or her journey to anybody else's. My friend is a sweet and constant reminder to me and unto all she ministers to find rest in our Heavenly Father's arms. The fire we each go through will be different. Some endure much more than others. But He can and will make beauty from ashes. He is faithful to us all. And He is always good.

Isaiah 61:1b-3 "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Start a Fire In Me

This week has been full of awesome revelations. Our church has been hosting a missions conference, where missionaries from all over the world have come to be refreshed and renewed, and to also share their testimonies and the stories of their mission fields. We spent Wednesday night in prayer for the conference, the missionaries, the unreached souls, the workers, our church body. Never have I been part of a congregation who takes the Great Commission so to heart. I am humbled. Then Friday night through tonight, we had speakers, services, breakout sessions, and lots and lots of prayer. This week has made me reach on my bookshelf and dust off a book I bought a few years ago, but never got around to finishing: Radical by David Platt.

I am in the 4th chapter, and boy, do I feel overwhelmed! Humbled. Challenged. Seeing and realizing how much we as Americans trade off for simple comforts. Paying the gospel message lip-service, but never following through. Picking and choosing which parts we are COMMANDED to obey, and which parts we can choose to obey. The American Dream and the Gospel Message are practically polar opposites, but we try so hard to mash them together. I am not pointing fingers...well, actually I am. But they are pointing straight at myself. Our church has a local mission field, Freeway Ministries, that I have been honored to take part in. I am beginning to be more and more passionate for these people! A spark that I hadn't heeded in a while is beginning to burn brighter. I am seeing the need in my own back yard, and at the same time, it is opening my eyes to the world beyond. There is much work to be done, and He is calling all of us to take part.

Walking through our foyer tonight, I stopped at every booth and picked up a card for each missionary present. I am hoping to put these all on our schoolroom wall, and I want the kids to start praying SPECIFICALLY for these missionaries and the countries and people they are living among. I want to see the connections being made. These missionaries are no longer names on a list on the back of our Sunday bulletin. My kids have met them. They have seen their children. They have heard some of the stories. Now, they will know who they are praying for, and I pray their eyes will be opened. That their hearts will be pricked. And that their passion for lost souls grows. We will see where God leads us as a family, or as individuals, but until then...we will pray.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fellow Blogger Spotlight

Have you met my friend, Adrienne? Well, if not, you are truly missing out. This amazing lady is such a blessing to me. She is a few years younger than me, has a few more kids than me, and balances her family, homeschool and at-home business WAAAYYYY better than I could ever imagine doing! Her children are sweet, well-mannered, and oh, so hilarious! From sweet spirited Liberty, to angel baby Ellie, this family has my heart. There is not much I wouldn't do for this precious friend, but she never asks for a thing! If you have a few spare minutes, go check out her blog, A Big Little Family. Here is the link. Adrienne has such a way with words. Her dry sense of humor constantly has me in stitches! Her husband is a fantastic photographer, always catching the most beautiful moments of his family's life. And Adrienne's simple actions of living out her faith will inspire you when you most need it. So go check out my friend and follow this uplifting blogger. I'm sure she'd appreciate the traffic! ;)