Saturday, May 31, 2014

Are your True Colors Showing???

Our Community Group recently finished studying the book of James.... what a wonderful book to dig in to!!!  Seems like I spent most of that study thinking wow... just... wow!!!! I mean, come on... the first chapter starts out powerful! No "sliding in to a topic", BAM... right to the point!

James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
 not lacking anything. ... NIV

That is powerful.... but I LOVE looking up different versions, they sometimes make things a little more clear. The Message translated these verses this way :

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its 
true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work 
so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 

This is one of those instances where I feel that the message really opens up the Word, in particular where it says your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. That really makes me sit back on my heels to ponder what colors (if any!) I show when I'm under pressure?

How true it is that when our lives are going great, and we have "balance", our faith-life looks pretty good. We go along saying the right things, doing our best to do the right things. We go to church, we smile, we sing songs of praise, and then we leave the building with God tucked right back in that little box, all safe and snug, to be taken out again the following week. From the outside, we look pretty good to those around us. We 'have it all together', so to speak. It is pretty easy during this time to have our colors shine like a sunset... calm and serene, the picture of contentment.

What happens when we come under fire? When the pressure is on? When our life starts to resemble a roller-coaster ride instead of a leisurely ride on a carousel? What do we look like when our faith-life is forced into the open then? During times such as these do people look at us only to find a total lack of color? Do they find that our contentment is gone? That our smiles falter? That our songs of praise have lost their fervor?

What is MY true color? Have I become mature in my walk with Christ? Am I deficient? Where will I stand when the "heat is on"?? These are really hard questions... and I think that James is right on target when he says that we must "consider it pure joy... a sheer gift.... when we suffer trials... when we are tested... when we are challenged". I think it is then when we learn how deeply our faith is Christ is rooted. It is then that we either choose to  draw closer to the one who sustains us and let HIS light shine for the world to see, or we choose to keep Him in that box we've created for him and only take him out when it is convenient.

The gift we receive?? Christ IN us... where he holds us up... where he gives us peace and comfort... where His light shines through us so that others can be drawn TO Him.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Art of Waiting

If there is one thing I know about myself it is this.... I struggle at times with patience, I am NOT good at waiting.

 The quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

There are some areas where I am VERY patient. Waiting.... now that is an area where I definitely need some work. Oh, I can wait to be called back for an appointment. The other day I sat in the waiting room for over an hour before I was called back to the exam room. There were those who came in after me who made no bones about the fact that they were hungry, tired of waiting, had other places to be, and that their time was valuable. Was I happy about the wait, no.... but was I patient? I think so.

I have fibromyalgia, and while I always have pain, there are some days that are just worse than others. Most of the time, no one knows. It is just something that I have to live with, and I do. Now, there are times when I might say that I've had a bad day/week. I try not to let my irritation show...I  try not to complain ALL the time. My patience can run thin, it is annoying. It is life.

I do, however, struggle with waiting. I hate waiting to schedule a test. I want it now. I hate waiting to find out the results. I want them now. I hate waiting on other people to do what THEY have to do, so I can do what I have to do. I have always been a "take charge" sort of person, and when I see that something needs to be accomplished, I don't wait around to make it happen, I do it. So it is very hard for me to relinquish control of things, to let them happen in another person's time frame. It is in this situation that I complain, lose my temper, and become irritated. I do them all, and this accomplishes nothing. I must still wait.
Today, the chorus of a song runs through my mind... over and over.... and it based on this verse:

 those who wait upon the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will rise up on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Another translation uses the word hope in place of the word wait. I like that.... hope in the Lord. If I say that I am turning all things over to God, that I am placing my situation in HIS hands while I wait, then I can have HOPE!!! He already KNOWS the answers to the questions that are being asked. He is already IN my situation. He will renew me daily. He will give me strength to face anything that life throws my way. 

So today I choose to wait with hope, knowing that my Father has me in the palm of his hand. Today I rejoice that he walks beside me, even when I am walking through the unknown. As the chorus to the hymn ends.... " teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait".

Have a Blessed Day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Conversation that STILL has me wondering!!!!!

I recently was in conversation with a group of people about the use of technology. Is it good? Is it bad? Do people rely too much on it? Are kids really getting what they NEED in life by constantly utilizing their cells, I-pads, and Kindles?  You get the drift, right???

So I happened to mention that one of the kids in my 4th grade Sunday School class recently asked me if there would be technology in heaven. He wondered how he would manage to be in heaven if he couldn't have his phone (yes, 4th grader with a smart phone!!!). I told him that I doubted that we would have need for our devices in heaven, as our sole purpose will be to glorify God.

Well, one of the ladies in this conversation just looked at me and said, "Oh, I think we'll have technology in heaven. The bible says that we will all have mansions and that they will be filled with the things that we love, or are good at, in this life. So if I use my phone or computer a lot here on earth, and it is important to me, then I will have it in heaven."

I sat there, dumbfounded... as I've read the bible through completely once... and other portions many times... and I just can't seem to place where that is in scripture!!!! John 14:2 tells us, "In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."  I'm just not sure that we will have access to our gaming systems, cell phones, or The Hopper!!!!

So, what are your thoughts??? Pretty sure I know which side of the fence I'm standing on, how about you????

Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Only Eight More Days

After Michael is finished with today's work, there are only 8 more days of school. He is excited... to say the least! He is really looking forward to some time off. We are going to be changing things up a bit for the upcoming year. He won't be getting as much time off  between sessions as he would like, but I think it will make a huge difference!  We are going to go in to year round school beginning in June.

In Indiana, one only need to keep record of attendance to homeschool a child, and you have to show that they have "attended" 180 school days. That's it... nothing more. Which makes Indiana a great state for homeschooling! As long as I keep track of our days of schooling, I can choose what Michael is taught, which often includes lessons about Christ!!! Another bonus! We can do those 180 days any way we like!

We will start in mid-June, and we will be doing a 4 day week - Monday through Thursday. He will get a three day weekend every week! We will also take a week off in October, a week in December, and a week in April. All of those breaks coincide with the breaks of the grandkids, so they can come and spend time with us! I really believe that going year round will help with his retention.

We are also looking forward to attending Community VBS this year. I'm going to be teaching Michael's group, and love the opportunity to meet a few more kiddos in the community. He will also be taking swim lessons again in July. I think we are going to go ahead and get a pool pass, too. Summer, even with school mixed in, is shaping up to be a fun time.

Have a Blessed Day!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Another year... come and gone!!!

Ahhh... yet another year of blogging failure!!! Why is it that for so many years I kept up, and now... I fail!!!!


We are at the end of yet another school year... our fourth. SO hard to believe that the boy will be in the 5th grade soon! As he reminds me often that he will be 12 years old in September. Time just seems to keep flying past me, and there isn't a thing that I can do to make it slow down!

This has been a year of more surgeries and dental issues. He has had numerous teeth removed... not once, but twice! His bone graft has healed wonderfully, and we are preparing for the next phase of the game - orthodontics. I have a feeling that we'll be waiting for some of these permanent teeth to erupt before we move on, and that is fine with me. Think he is ready for a break!

On the school front, he has made some progress this year. We've been working on reading comprehension, and it has really made an improvement in his understanding of what he reads. I began using Spectrum Reading mid-year, and I really love the way it works for him. Even though he is "techically" in the 4th grade (you know, in homeschool it REALLY doesn't work that way?!) he has been working through the 2nd grade book. I am a firm believer that you need to meet a child where the need is. These workbooks are filled with short, one page stories that are followed by questions he must answer. It is really helping with his comprehension skills. He still has a way to go, but I see progress.

Math has gone much better since we made the switch to Singapore math. He just started working in the Primary 3A book. Again, I went right back to the beginning when we switched. There were skills he was lacking, and he was able to pick them up by doing this. When I first thought about going so far back, I had a hard time with that... I felt that I was admitting to failure. But then I remembered that it was OKAY to meet his needs where they are. That is part of the reason we decided to homeschool!!! So back we went, and I'm so glad that we did. His frustration level (and mine!) saw a sharp decrease almost immediately!!!

In reading, he finished Farmer Boy a few weeks ago and he really enjoyed it. We've had to go back to "reading together" as he was 'cheating' a bit on his reading. He was just wanting to get finished so he could play or watch TV. Now he has to read TO me again, but that is okay. If he has a GOOD day, then he can have cartoon time in the afternoon. If he isn't concentrating, then he gets no TV until after supper. That has really had him working harder! And on an "exceptional day" I might let him have an hour of Wii or Xbox during the week!!! (We have found an incentive that works for him.... and we're not afraid to use it!!!) He is currently reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and we're discussing what makes this a fictional book!!

This year we've also found some great unit studies to "fill in the gaps". He has also completed some lap books as well. He is a "hands on" learner, and those have been a great way to get his brain in the game!! If you're looking for unit studies, Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett is a great resource ! (  There are sales often!  With a little searching  you can also find many studies that are free!! Above was one of Michael's favorite projects this year!!

In other news.... Mickey retired in March after 30 years with the Indiana State Police. He had 35 years total in law enforcement. To celebrate he and I took a trip to Jamaica! Since our return he has had plenty of  jobs in the "job jar" to keep him busy, and he has taken a part-time job. We're happy to have him home more often. However, if I keep adding more jobs to the jar he might be out looking for a full-time job so he can get some rest!

Well, it has been nice "visiting"! I hope it isn't another year before I get around to another post. I'll try to do better.

Did I mention... only 10 more school days until we take our break??? Excited?? Yes.... we're counting down the days!!!

Have a Blessed Day!