Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back to reality

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Today, on the P31 Blog Hop, we're getting real.

Talking about the real "us." The "me's" God's created us to be.

Because, you see, our sense of "me" gets a little lost in the noise of the world. We're bombarded with media messages about how we're "supposed" to look, to act and to feel. We see airbrushed bodies, smiling, well-dressed children rehearsing scripted lines in picture-perfect commercials. And we start to compare. We see our stretch marks. The crumbs on our kids' jackets that we managed to miss in the morning "get them out the door school rush." We realize we'll never measure up to what we see around us.

And we begin to lose sight of who we are in God's eyes.

Special. Unique. Individual.

With weaknesses and shortcomings for sure, but also with incredible strengths and talents.

In chapter 8 of her book, "A Confident Heart," Renee Swope points out:

"The only way you can break free from the comparison trap is to embrace the reason you are who you are. '(You are) God's masterpiece. He has created (you) anew in Christ Jesus, so (you) can do the good things He planned for (you) long ago' (Eph. 2:10 NLT). You can do things the way you do because it is part of your unique, God-shaped purpose." 

So, today, I'm celebrating the "real" in me.

The reality is, God created me to be:
- A communicator - I love writing and I love talking.
- Creative - but in my own way. I can't sew like my mom, or make scrapbooks like my sister, or create amazing, Pinterest-worthy crafts like some of my friends, but, I can make DIY costumes, design basic digital art and put together an awesome Powerpoint presentation!
- A stay-at-home spouse and mom - I don't get to "have it all" (by the world's standards) like I initially wanted, but I do get to pour into my husband's and kids' lives through my availability. I appreciate that so much more now than I used to.
- Generous. Oh, how I've attempted to push this quality to back burner of my life in the past decade! I majorly bought into the lie that I needed to look out for myself first and foremost - and give anything I had left. But, that's just not me! I'd rather give. A lot. Particularly to non-profit organizations working in ministry around the world. Luckily, my husband is the same way and we've really grown in this area. We now pick a new Christian organization to support each year and we also contribute to emergency funds for believers as we see them arise.

How about you? What "realities"do you need to get back to? What real qualities did God give you that you've maybe forgotten? I'd love to read about them in the comments! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Think - > Feel - > Live (Proverbs 31 Blog Hop)

It's Thursday - and time for another Proverbs 31 Ministry Bible study post!

P31 OBS Blog Hop

I love these "blog hops" - we get several topics to choose from each week and here's the one that spoke most to me today:

4. Think–>Feel–>Live ~ Let’s continue transforming the way we live by changing our thoughts.  Renee talks about AM (against me) and FM (for me) thoughts on pg. 112.  Similar to our When/Then and From/Toward discussions, replace any AM thoughts you’ve had this week with FM promises from God’s Word. 

"Renee" is Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart, the book we're studying right now.

We're reading chapter 6 of the book this week and in that chapter, Renee talks about the messages that play in our heads that wreak havoc on our lives.

I love her radio analogy on page 112 :

"In the same way a radio has AM and FM frequencies, so do our thoughts. They are either AM (against me) thoughts or FM (for me) thoughts. Many times we can be our worst critics, and we have a lot of AM thoughts." 

She goes on to illustrate how we can change our frequencies - to drown out the AM thoughts using the FM promises contained in the Bible. 

I decided to put her idea to the test this week. 

When my AM frequency tuned on on Tuesday during a health crisis, saying...

"This is it, your lupus diagnosis is confirmed, life is going to be hard and miserable...."

I turned my FM dial to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11...

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

When my AM doubt machine turned on about my husband's job (and our upcoming move), I heard ... 

"Argh! This is too much stress - you're never going to move! It's just way too hard to live the expat life! I really don't want to be here!!!"

I flipped to my FM dial to the hope of Isaiah 58:11...

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

And finally, when my AM insecurities about my abilities as a mom came up after I lost my patience with my son, I remembered the FM promise of 2 Corinthians 12:9...

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

I loved exploring this topic this week and I definitely plan to make these types of exercises routine as my insecurities and doubts about myself inevitably come up. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mommyhood Monday: Breathing the Word into Your Home

I love (and believe!) this verse: 

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 
2 Timothy 3:16-17

And I love the idea of breathing Scripture into my home. Because, let's face it, Mom Friends - we have so much power over what comes into our homes! Our kids and our husbands notice what we bring in (even if they're not always so good at expressing their recognition) and I believe one of the most precious gifts we can give our families is the gift of Scripture. 

Bringing Scripture into your home is super easy - and no matter what your time commitment level, profession, budget or type of home - there's a resource (or two, or three, or ten...) out there on the www (World Wide Web) to help. 

Here are a few of my favorites, categorized to make them easier to browse :)

Home Decor 

Hanging verses on your walls throughout your home is a great way to incorporate Scripture into your daily routines. You can build a collection over time that you can rotate seasonally to help keep verses "fresh" - or - you can find a few key pieces featuring your "life verse" to have a more permanent place in your home. 

My favorite home decor sources: 
Mary & Martha - I love the art and table decor that incorporates Scripture in really pretty details. 
Branch and Vine Prints - Scripture prints in really fun, clean designs. 
Wise Decor - wall decals available in a wide range of Scriptures and design styles. 

Memory Verse Info & Family Challenges

Memorizing Scripture as a family helps build the family bond and will give kids in the home a chance to take breaths of the Word with them, wherever they might go. 

There are literally thousands of blog posts on how best to memorize Scripture with kids, but I've found the following plan to work best for our family: 

1. We pick a verse to memorize each week. 
2. We write it out on the Good Morning Girls prayer journal that we use to keep organized each week. 
3. We practice the verse as often as possible. My goal is once a day, which sometimes happens and sometimes doesn't. I never want memorizing to become a legalistic task for my kids, so I don't get too stressed if life prevents a daily review. I want them to come to truly love and appreciate God's words for what they are - precious, affirming, life-giving and full of grace. 
4. We share our verse of the week with our friends and family.

Our son is 4 and our daughter is 18 months, so we're focusing on working through this list of 30+ Easy Verses for Children at the moment.  

In the future, we plan to give these lists a try as well: 
- All of the "5 Verses for Kids" lists from Intoxicated on Life 
- ABC Bible Verses from Delighting in Today (free download!)

Music and Entertainment 

I love music and entertaining CDs/videos as teaching aids - and there are some wonderful Scripture-based options available on CD and on iTunes, all of which help kids (and parents!) learn the Word via catchy tunes and fun videos. 

Our favorites:  
- Psalty - you really can't beat the singing songbook! I love Psalty music because the writers incorporate complete verses into their music - so kids learn the NIV versions of Bible verses, while they're enjoying the music. 
- Seeds Family Worship - another great family of Scripture musical options.  
- Adventures in Odyssey - a family-friendly radio drama featuring Christian themes and Biblical messages. My 4-year-old loves hearing his favorite characters use Bible verses he's already memorized in the stories - and often picks up on new verses to memorize after hearing new (to him) episodes. 
- THEO - a wonderful video series packed with Bible verses and heart-to-heart messages for kids. 

I hope many/all of these inspire you to bring more of the Word into your homes and lives!

What do you think? Did I leave anything out? Can you help me add to this list?