Black Friday Giveaway by the Time Warp Wife

I love reading the Time Warp Wife e-mails and blog. She’s having a black Friday giveaway here:

That Ye May Know

For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. – Exodus 12:23-27
I was reading this this morning and something struck me. I guess it’s something I’ve always known but never really applied it to my life. I have probably read these verses about a thousand times through my life. I suppose this is a testament to how real the Bible is and how it’s a living and breathing book, not a book full of antiquated stories and fables. But, I digress. When you read the story of the children of Israel through the Old Testament, you can’t help but wonder how does one keep his faith when he’s going through such hard trials. Seriously, how can you be whipped and forced into hard labor and still say “Praise God”? The first time I read through the Bible, I kept thinking, “Man, don’t these people EVER stop sinning? Don’t they get it??” But, it doesn’t take much for me to get off track and lose sight of God and turn to worldly things. The older I get, the easier I find it to keep my eyes on the Lord, but when I was younger, everything took my eyes off of the Lord. I mean it, everything. I guess I can’t be too hard on the Hebrews for their lack of faith. In this verse in Exodus, God is telling Moses to use the Passover as a memorial to God’s deliverance. It is meant for the children of the children of the children, and so forth down the line, to remind them of God’s power. Here’s what really grabbed ahold of my heart today: all of this was done that they, the Hebrews and the Egyptians, would know God’s power. So, what does this have to do with homeschooling or life? When you look ahead a few chapters, God says to Moses, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” Hmmmm, that ye may know. Think about that a bit. What are you going through in your life? What are you in bondage to? Is one of your kids giving you a hard time? Maybe it’s not just one thing: it’s a hundred different things. What is it that is making you take your eyes off of God? Let me tell you a bit about my testimony of God’s power. This summer, we were going through a tough time financially. My husband’s business was dropping significantly because of the economy and then we had some large medical bills to pay. I prayed and asked the Lord for help. I kept praying, ‘Lord, I don’t see how we can get out of this. Show me what I need to do to help us get out of it.’ That’s me. I’m such a control freak, but I’m learning to let the Lord be in control. So, I prayed for the Lord to take care of it for me and I just let up and let the Lord take control of it. Of course, He did. He provided for the bills we needed to pay and He gave us a way out. I didn’t need to run out and get a job. I didn’t need to do anything but let God be God. Looking back, I realize that He was showing us that He is Lord. He was showing us His power. What an awesome God we serve! So, my encouragement for today is to just let God be God. Don’t look for a way to take control of a situation. Let God show you His power and let it be a testimony for generations, that they may know that He is the Lord.

A 9/11 Devotion

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. -Psalm 33:12

It’s hard to believe that it was 11 years ago that 9/11 happened. I still remember that day. It was a day not unlike today: beautiful sunshine with a bit of fall coolness to the air. Leah and Adam were babies and Luke wasn’t born yet. I was downstairs exercising when Larry called me up to tell me to turn on the TV because a plane had just crashed into the world trade center. So we were watching it together over the phone when the second plane hit. My first reaction was to call all of the people I knew who were in the military because I knew that our lives would probably be never the same. Now, I was born on the fourth of July and all my life I had embodied all that that meant. My favorite colors were red, white and blue when I was a kid. I was probably born with a baseball in one hand and a slice of apple pie in the other. The United States was a great nation, unmatched by any other. But, like any great nation throughout the Bible, we had our weakness. We were falling farther away from God, eschewing the heritage of our forefathers, and living on our own pride of excellence. Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t lost hope for our nation. But, let’s face it: we’ve gone from our leaders on the steps of the capitol praying to our leaders demanding that we remove the 10 commandments from all public places. This is a quote from the First Charter of Virginia written in 1606 for the first colony in the New World: We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God… I know, everyone has their philosophy about the freedom of religion and separation of church and state, and whether or not Jefferson was a true Christian, and blah, blah, blah, but we can’t deny or forget where our heritage comes from. Proverbs 22:28 says, Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. If we lose sight of our landmark, our heritage, we lose our way. My daughter prays every night, really, every night, for our leaders to be saved (including Obama) and for revival in our country and for the protection of the United States. I hope she’s not the only one. If you don’t, you should start. Don’t just sit out on the front lawn waiting for the Lord to return. Pray for our country. Pray for revival. It may seem impossible right now to turn this country back to the Lord, but our God is a God of impossibility.

Great is His Faithfulness

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-22

It’s that time of the year again. You know, that time when discouragement in homeschooling sets in. Historically, for me, it has always been this time of year when I lose my steam. Usually, there’s something else going on that heaps on top of my tiredness, something in my personal life that just pulls my attention away from that prize and makes me tense and unfocused. I think that satan knows that this is the time when I lose steam and he tempts me to take my focus off of God and think about my own problems. I know I can’t be the only one that goes through this. To top off all of this discouragement, I usually go through this self-doubt and wonder if I’m doing the wrong thing and am I ruining my children’s future. It’s usually the time that I take my eyes off of God’s will and look at my life through the eyes of the world.

Discouragement is a slippery slide. First you take that step, that ‘woe is me’ step. Next thing you know, you’re slipping downhill on a great big slip n’ slide. All of a sudden, you think that you’re not good enough. Then you start thinking that God just doesn’t care about your insignificant problems. Next thing you know, you’ve lost heart and just don’t care about anything anymore. It’s a slide that everyone goes down every once in a while. And right now, you’re probably saying, “But you just don’t know what I’m going through.” Maybe you’re right. Maybe I haven’t been through what you’ve been through, but Jesus has. The Bible says “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5) Jesus bore more than we can possibly imagine and He did it alone. Why? Because He had you on his mind, He had us all on His mind. In our worst trials, we can look to Jesus and rest assured that He knows what we’re going through. How many people throughout the Bible did God speak to in the midst of a storm? Remember, ‘the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm.’ (Nahum 1:3)

I have to admit that this year I haven’t been going through that discouragement time, but I’m in a different place spiritually than I ever have been before. I’m constantly in the Word. I read the Bible at least twice a day. I’ve learned to pray for the people I’ve been having issues with (and, no, it’s not a prayer of asking God to judge them). I’m not saying I’ve arrived. I’m just learning how to get there. And, I’m not saying that you’re wrong if you’re going through a time of discouragement. It happens. I just want you to know that I can commiserate with you. I know how it goes. Just be patient. Listen for God’s speaking in the whirlwind. Be encouraged that God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

Check out my latest song.

It’s been over a year since I’ve done a song on youtube.  Here it is:

http://youtu.be/SpgKJJTsgEA

Hope it’s a blessing!

 

Rising Above the Valley Experience

I’ve been reading some of my old devotions lately and thought I would share this one with you.  I wrote this a year ago.  God is a gracious God, full of mercy.  While I’m not in the same boat, spiritually or physically, as I was at this time last year, this is a good reminder to keep on going.  Even though I’ve simplified my life this year and am much more at peace, I get busy.  It’s so easy to lose sight of what really matters when everything else seems so important.  So, this devotion is just a reminder to keep focused on what really matters and the rest will fall into place:

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
-Matthew 25:21

I have to admit – I’m stealing this devotion, loosely, from a devotion I was reading this morning. I like this idea, though, of just staying faithful.  Rebuilding my files onto my computer has been a long and stressful task. I know – next time, don’t wait a week to back up your files only to lose them. Okay, okay, I’ve learned my lesson. But, just having this monumental task plus still having to do the everyday tasks that I already had has been a bit overwhelming.  Man, I don’t think I’ve slept more than 4 1/2 hours on any given night because I’m up late to catch up on housework and up early to catch up on schoolwork and I’m still not caught up yet. Now, follow my train of thought here: the last couple of weeks have been nothing but absolute drudgery. It’s times like these were those ‘give-up’ thoughts creep into your head. You know, those justification thoughts for not continuing to serve the Lord – satan whispering in your ear: ‘You don’t need to go to church tonight. It’s JUST Wednesday night.’ ‘You don’t need to go to the prayer breakfast this morning. You’ll see everyone tomorrow.’ You know those thoughts that start you thinking that the Lord won’t mind if you miss this or that because He knows that you have to do this work. He gave you this job to do, so He’ll give you a little grace in having to go to church this time……Well, thankfully, God is a gracious God and IF I did miss church, He would give me grace. But, is that being faithful? Or, is that taking matters into your own hands to get something done and not letting God take care of the details for you? I think so often we see these mega gatherings on tv, or even experience them in person, and everyone’s singing praises to the Lord with their hands raised and completely enraptured and we want that all the time. When we don’t have that all the time, we get bored, or we wonder if we’re doing the right thing because we’re just not FEELING it. I think that often women fall into this trap of wanting to feel everything and when we don’t, we just give up. Life is 10% of the mountain top experiences and 90% of the everyday stuff, what I call the ‘valley experience.’ Look at Moses. How long did he have to endure  dragging a bunch of whining Hebrews through the desert before he got his mountain top experience? Boy, give me two days of that and I’d want to give up.  Imagine, day after day of “we don’t have enough food” (you have to say it in your best whine) or “we don’t have the right food”. Ugh! Drudgery! But Moses was faithful over more than a few things, through all of his doubts and misgivings, and so he was allowed that mountain top experience.  This week has been a good test of my mettle. I’ve been staying faithful, though, even though sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I’m staying prayed up and read up and I’m getting through the drudgery. I challenge you to do the same. When you think that you don’t have time for your devotions, just do them. When you think you don’t have time for church, just go. Rise above the valley experience.  God will work out the details. Just stay faithful and God has promised that you will enter into the joy of the Lord.

Get Caught Up

This is a devotion I wrote a year ago. Praise God that He is faithful and sees me through the hard times: Devotion Revelation 2:4-5
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” – Revelation 2:4-5

I’ve been in a funk lately. Man, it seems like everything just gets to me. I was always fretting over what I wasn’t getting done. I just couldn’t seem to get caught up. I was caught up in not being caught up. There’s stuff at church I’d like to do and then the stuff I need to do: homeschooling, running the homeschool group, teaching four classes at homeschool group, general housework, having time with the kids where I’m not doing some work, trying to not seemed harried when Larry would get home. I was caught up in busy-ness, caught up in a pity party for myself, caught up in trying to be perfect in everything in my life. So, last Wednesday in church, Pastor was preaching about the return of the Lord in Thessalonians 4: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) He talked about the meaning of ‘caught up’ and how it means a caught up that is emotional and spiritual as well as physical, the most rapturous feeling you could ever have. Can you imagine? In my most wild imagination, I can’t imagine what that will be like. I think my heart would burst if I could really imagine it. Remember what it was like when you first got saved – how you felt free and happy and, well, kind of rapturous? Well, take that feeling and multiply it by infinity, and there you have ‘caught up’. It’s time to return to my first love, to that rapturous feeling of being free in the Lord. It’s time to be caught up in the Lord instead of the trials of life. A favorite verse of mine is Isaiah 40:28-31 – Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Haven’t you heard? When it seems like there’s an ending pile of work to be done, just lay it on the Lord. Wait on the Lord. Last week I started just giving my whole day to the Lord, and slowly the work whittled away and what seemed to be a burden eased. I’m learning to just say to the Lord, ‘I know what I think needs to be done, but, Lord, show me how I can serve you best in my busy-ness. I want to be in Your will in all areas of my life and show me how to be there.’ It’s like creating your own solar system – start with the Son and let everything else revolve around Him and everything will be orderly and perfect in the eyes of the Lord. It’s time to get caught up. It’s time to get back to your first love.

Just Hold On

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:22-23

I’ve been praying a lot over the last few weeks, asking God to show me how I can be a blessing to other homeschoolers. This year we chose not to go to our homeschool co-op for various reasons. For the last four years I had been the leader of the group and I was always praying to be an encouragement to the people of our group, but by last winter I was burned out and really needed a break. I was leading the group of about sixty five families, plus teaching three classes on top of that and trying to homeschool my three. Then, to top it all off, my epstein barr hit with full force and I started to get pretty sick. I needed a break to recoup and get healthy. Praise the Lord, He gave me a break at our Christian school in our church. I was able to lead two of the children to the Lord there and had the opportunity to lead the music there. It was a blessed time, but the Lord led us back to homeschooling because that’s just where our heart is. So, without the co-op, we tend to be a little isolated in our schooling and I wanted to continue to minister to homeschoolers and that’s what I’ve been praying about. This is why I blog.
Last fall, when I was getting sick (and tired – but not necessarily sick and tired), I got to the point where I was praying on a daily basis “Lord, please just give me one easy day. Please don’t let anything go wrong today, even if it’s only just today.” I had so much co-op work to do. Our schooling had begun at a snail’s pace, and then I had to deal with other issues at the co-op. I was so overwhelmed that my head was spinning. I was doing my memory verses and opened to Lamentations. What a relief it was to find this verse. It was like the heavens opened and a dove came down and landed on my Bible. (okay, everyone sing ‘ahhhhh’ like an angelic chorus) I sat doing my morning devotions, just in awe of God’s goodness and mercy towards us, thankful that each morning was a new morning, a new opportunity see God’s glory shown toward me.
For anyone who is struggling out there: hold on. Are you off to a slow start, or no start at all? Are you tired of yelling at the kids because they’re just not doing their work? Are you tired of chasing the little one around and not being able to devote your time to teaching? Does the housework seem piled up and you just can’t catch up? Does it seem like every time you sit down to do school an emergency pops up? Are you just too tired to do anything? It’s okay. God knows your needs. He won’t let you fall. He is a faithful God, full of compassion and mercy. When it just seems like you can’t go on, God is there. Great is His faithfulness.

Working with a Strong Willed Child

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you…” – II Chronicles 20:17

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? I don’t mean to air any dirty laundry of our family out in the open, but I’m using this example as an encouragement to others, because I know that there are times in your life when you just don’t know how to handle a situation and you feel like your weapons are spent and the enemy is gaining strength. My youngest son, Luke, is very strong willed – has been since he was born. He’s the loud, dramatic one in the family. I tend to be quiet and un-dramatic, so sometimes I just don’t understand him. With the school year coming up, I know he will be my biggest challenge. He’s the one that’s the most excited about school, but he’s the one that will question me the most and have the biggest attitude. This morning I was praying for wisdom in dealing with Luke, and for wisdom in speaking to him in his language. It finally dawned on me that I’m just a, well, I don’t know, I guess I’m a steward of my kids. I’m raising them for God’s glory. I finally prayed, “Lord, I don’t know where I’m sick, but you’re the Great Physician, you know what needs to be changed. Show me and guide me.” Praise God that He will fight our battles for us. I don’t need to know the battle plan or what weapons to use, I just need to show up for the battle. I need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

Let God be God

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
-Job 1:20-21

I’ve been reading the Bible chronologically lately. This affords me a view of God’s plan from creation on through. I’m really in awe of God. It’s neat to see all the little chess pieces God lines up in the chess game of life. Reading chronologically, you start in Genesis and then about halfway through, you read Job and then go back to Genesis. It’s easy to appreciate the line of events leading to Christ. It’s also easy to appreciate God’s sovereign will. For instance, do you think that Satan would have carried out his plan to try Job if he had known that Job’s story would be a source of inspiration and show of God’s omnipotence for generations upon generations? Do you think Sarah had a clue that, in giving Hagar to Abraham, that the descendants of that son would be the ones that bring Joseph into Egypt, which would eventually place the Israelites in Egypt, which would eventually lead them into bondage, which would eventually create one of the greatest leaders Israel has ever known (Moses)? I think we all go through life unwitting accomplices to God’s plan.

I laugh at myself as I prepare for our homeschooling year this year. I am an uber-organizer. I have my spread sheets and the weekly assignments all on the computer and the syllabus for the year for all three kids, along with a list of supplies and materials needed on a week to week basis. I’m a little crazy with planning. I’ve learned, though, after 9 years of homeschooling that those are all just goals, not necessarily intentions. I’ve learned that the day’s assignments can easily be put aside to minister to someone in need. I’ve learned to that the most important thing I need to focus on as a homeschooler is to keep eternity’s values in view. It’s all about the Lord, and giving Him the glory. And it’s about learning to say “blessed be the name of the Lord” when we just don’t see the direction that He’s taking us.

We have an awesome God.

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