Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Real Life

Because of Alegra doing a vlog of our family, I really don't need to post too much on this blog.   Every now and then, I get a hankering to write what I'm feeling and being guided in.  So, here it is.  My life as of late.  My real, not perfect family vlog material, struggles in life. 

We all want everyone to see our best and can usually get by with that happening.  It's easier to fake happiness and success than truly let others see what's going on.  Some people have no problem showing others all their drama, but not me.  I like to look like I have it all together.  I have the perfect big family, who are home schooled, always get along, my husband is always perfect, we never bicker, and there isn't a day that goes by that I feel down.  REAL LIFE isn't like that. 

I'm finally feeling like I have a grasp of my life right now, this week.  You see, a couple weeks back, I had a break down, full on anxiety attack, couldn't control my thoughts kinda situation.  My husband held me while I cried, sang worship music at my request before bed to help calm me, and I'm sure spent time in prayer while driving around for work.  Does this look perfect?  No.  But it was real life for me.  There were several things that set me off- finances, sickness in family, marriages falling apart, children struggling, and not feeling secure in where life is at for our family right now.  What???  How could I feel that way when my little family seems so perfect? 

Real life.  It took me a good couple weeks to finally break out of the horrible pit in my stomach and tightness in my chest at any random thought of uncertainty.  If my strength comes from God then why am I so unstable feeling?  I blamed spiritual warfare, fear, and worry.  I'd say all three played a part.  If I were to say that all of life is perfect for me, I'd be fake.  If I were to say that I hold myself together always, I'd be fake.  If I were to say that I don't struggle with my husband and children, well, more fakeness. 

We all have struggles and real life happenings.  Don't be so ashamed or proud that you can't let those struggles show some, to allow others to help you.  Don't feel like you'll never have things right.  Well, you might be right on that one, but how do we choose to handle not having things right all the time is the key.  Do we remember that God truly does care for us and takes care of our every need?  Do we know that He provides what we need not what we want or even think we need?  In the moments of darkness He will show Himself.  He will remind you that He is near.  He will remind you that He wants you to just trust Him if you'll let Him be in control.  Control.  Boy isn't that a tough one.  When I can't keep things under control or some situations are completely out of my control, but they still affect me and my heart, that's really hard for me.  Am I remembering that He holds the world in His hands and has all things in place just where He wants them? 

Oh, the lessons.  Oh, the hardships.  Oh, how He loves you and me.  Real life.  Don't feel ashamed of your struggles.  Pick yourself up and take one step forward, then another, until you're out of that pit.  It's not a fun place to be in.  Sometimes the enemy uses it to really mess some BIG plans up.  Take charge of letting God win the victory in your life.  It takes some effort sometimes to let Him have His way.  It's totally worth it though. 

Real life.  It can stink.  It can be hard.  It can cause lots of questioning of why.  It can make us proud.  It can make us fake.  It can break us.  In the brokenness, let it cause us to get up and press forward til we reach the next step.  Even if that next step is saying "yes" to something that seemed so difficult to do.  We all have struggles.  Don't be fake to hide them.  Be real and reach out for encouragement.  Share your real life experiences with someone else who just might need to know that it's ok and that nobody has a perfect life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Passport to Purity Weekend

It seems that the subject of purity and waiting for sex til marriage is one that is a hard topic for parents to discuss and often times isn't even first heard from the parents but through the school, whether it be a special class on it or by peers.  That is something that we wanted different in our family. Obviously since we home school, our children wouldn't be hearing about it through a public school, but we still wanted it to be a time of special reflection and learning just between us.  I found this pack that looked like it would fit what we had in mind perfectly.  Passport to purity starts out with basic concepts for youth such as peer pressure and following the herd and works its way to talking about relationships, both in friendships and in dating.  It ends with the parents and child discussing what boundaries they want set for dating/courting and what goals the child would like to commit to in staying pure.  

 Here's just a few pages from the journal.
We actually buy a special journal for our children to write in as they go through the weekend that they can keep and continue to write in as they grow and develop their own ideas and thoughts in Scripture concerning it.  This way we can use the book over and over again for each child.

 Something special we do with the journal we give is Jonathon and I take a page each and write a letter to our child in it.  I think it's special to give our love in writing that the child can always look on as they continue to journal and look through what they've written over the years.  

Some things we do during our weekend?  We make our weekend during a time when my parents are gone on vacation.  We can stay in their house for the weekend and it just be the two of us without other distractions.  It works out perfectly and saves money!  

Generally we stay on Thursday, all day Friday, then leave after lunch on Saturday to join back up with the family for Sabbath fellowship.  I have 2 movies, one for each night to watch.  I can't remember what Alegra and I watched (I should have written it down), and this time my movie pick wasn't very good, so we turned it off after the first 5 minutes.  We ended up watching Diella's pick of Esther, which is definitely a suitable movie for the topic.  We also found one that we didn't know what it was about but it ended up being perfect as well, Princess Cut. about a girl who wanted so badly to be married and found herself in wrong relationships until she decided to completely give herself to God and wait for Him.  Then a wonderful young man came along and was a blessing to her and her family.  So, movie nights consist of snacks and pjs, which is always fun.  We always make sure there's plenty of chocolate and ice cream.  :)

I do make some food ahead to take along to eat, but we also plan a couple meals out for fun.  She wanted to go to East of Chicago in Shipshewana and Olive Garden, so we scheduled our meal plans according to when we would be around those restaurants.  

We desire our children to choose to have a party like a Bat Mitzvah to give them blessing and as a way for them to make a statement of their faith in walking forward according to Yahweh's Word.  Diella hadn't been interested in having her party from fear of having to speak and be in front of others.  We've been praying for her in this and during the weekend she decided that this summer would be her party.  We give a ring of purity and devotion in hearing God's voice and their parent's voice of counsel until they are married, where we have hopes to hand that off to her husband.  So, we take time to go to a jeweler and get her finger sized for a ring.  We also have a blast finding a dress for the party.  We took some great footage of our day doing that, which you can see over at our family vlog spot on youtube, The Grateful Chronicles (it's posted below).  That day is always filled with fun, food and great memories of time spent together.  We were tired after all the shopping (we're not shoppers at all!), so we were glad to get back to rest, do another session and watch a movie.  

Along with the journal in Passport to Purity, there are also CD's that we listen to for each session.  The speakers have great stories and relate so well to the youth and their daily situations with friends and relationships.  I love how they make the Bible, God, and the parents the guides to life.  They make the parents look like we are the helper, assister, and overall encourager in the dating to marry journey.  I realize that we haven't faced those days yet as neither of our girls have expressed interest in it, but hopefully, we've well established our ideas and what the Bible would encourage, so they can make the path easy and not have rough spots along the way.  We want them to keep their hearts and bodies for the one person God has for them.  Time will tell if our teaching and directing will pay off in helping them through those days ahead. 

The kit also comes with great activity ideas that go along with each session.  It's a hands on activity that shows them the concept in a real way.  Both of the girls loved this part of each session.  It takes a little prep work on my part to gather the supplies and do ahead what needs done, but it's totally worth the extra time.  

The kit encourages planning one fun activity for you to take your child to, such as  play or music concert.  Take them somewhere that they have an interest in or would enjoy seeing.  We didn't do anything special except spend the day shopping.  That's usually what our fun activity is.  Diella hates shopping for clothes, so I was so worried our day wouldn't be fun.  By the end she was grabbing dresses to try on that she just thought would be fun to try on, not that she was interested in the style.  That was fun for her to get out of her comfort zone and just have fun.  I also enjoyed helping another lady with a dress she was trying on for her daughter's wedding.  That was interesting to throw that in there as we were spending the weekend preparing Diella's heart for those days ahead and here is a mom who is planning for her daughter's wedding.  It was fun to help her and talk with her as she tried on dresses.

So, that's what we do.  By the end of the weekend I ask if they have heard about any of the stuff we'd discussed from friends or others.  Both of my girls hadn't heard anything and was evident by the questions they asked and the way they handled the information.  I know our culture is changing in this world and children get exposed to more and more worldly things, but we talk all the time about why that has to happen.  Why do we have to conform to the ways of the world because we are surrounded by it?  Why do we have to do things the way the world does things to keep our children up to speed with what's going on around them?  Why do we have to let them hear and see what's going on in the world to prepare them for the bad?  WE DON'T!!!!  We limit our children's internet time, though as they get older they get more, but it's still monitored.  We don't talk with them about every detail of life when they are super young.  They can't handle the information and then don't know how to properly process it to fully understand what it's about.  We choose the families we are around so that our children are being influenced by other families who think the same way we do.  I applaud all the families we are around on a regular basis that my children didn't hear anything from their children.  That's one thing I appreciate about home schooling is that we can direct that area a little and as they get older and start to choose their own friends and are around others in the work field, they have a good foundation of what type of people are truly good people to choose as friends.  

Will all my children walk this part of life out perfectly?  I doubt it, but I sure hope so.  We have a part to play in actively teaching and training them in the way they should go.  It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes some purposeful decisions to lead them in a certain direction and not let the world influence otherwise.  If  you have wondered how to handle these subjects with your youth, I highly recommend this kit.  It's so well put together and makes it easy for discussion with parents and child.  I hope this has encouraged you to direct your family how you want, not how others around you walk out this part of life.  Make the choice for you and your children!!!   

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SEAL- Word of the year.

I don't usually do the word of the year that I've been reading about people doing.  I am always intrigued though by what people pick.  Lately I've had a couple words come to my mind and keep being brought forth to my thinking.  The words are WRESTLE and SEAL.  I've been studying these a bit the last couple days and here are my quick thoughts on it.  I do want to keep the word SEAL as a word that I continue to reflect on this year.  I know it's not a typical word that I hear mentioned, but there is something in it for me, and I want to find out what the Father is trying to show me.

Most of us know the story of Jacob in Genesis 32:22 where he wrestled with someone until he received the blessing he was hoping for.  There are many different ideas on who he wrestled but the Scriptures mention God.  One interpretation is that he literally wrestled with God, hence getting the name Israel, which means "one who struggles with God".  "Struggles with God" doesn't seem like a positive thing to do.  As I studied and as I look at my life and how I walk out my faith, I'm seeing that it is a healthy thing to struggle or wrestle with God. 

At one point in the story, Jacob was not going to let go of the person until he received the blessing.  When two people wrestle there is always contact of some kind, whether it's their whole body or even just parts like legs, arms, shoulders, etc.  Jacob did not allow separation of their bodies until the blessing was received.  His wrestling was essentially the SEAL.  His wrestling was the seal before the blessing.  Future blessing, the promised land, could not be separated from the struggle that they went through to get there.  There was struggle before the blessing.

In Job 41:15&16 it says, "Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between."  No air can pass through because of the seal.  They are tightly together.  When two people wrestle they are tightly together.  When we wrestle with God, we should be tightly together with Him seeking to know Him more and seeking to understand His Word more.  We are so tight with Him that no air can even pass between us.  That's the seal.  As we wrestle with God a seal forms, never to be broken.  It draws us closer to Him.  It blocks out germs, evil, and untruths. 

Why do we think that we must be confident in the Scriptures and have answers to everything?  Wrestling with God in the Word seals us for blessing ahead.  Seeking the truth of His Word, wrestling with what it says, with what He's speaking to us that our flesh wants to ignore, is showing our love to Him.  Isaiah 8:16 says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples."  I can picture wrestlers getting bound up together as they wrestle.  Bind up the testimony.  Wrestle with it.  Study it.  Prove it over and over from one portion to another, and as that happens, the seal that takes place will be the law among His disciples written on their hearts in love.

He wants us to give all of ourselves to Him.  If that means wrestling what He's trying to teach us or with what His Word really says, than that's what He wants.  He will not stop putting things in front of us until He has all of us.  He will not stop pursuing us until He has all of us.  He will not stop.

This song has touched me and spoken to me and caused me to pursue my search on what Yahweh wants me to see in this word SEAL.  I hope it blesses you and encourages you to give it all to Him.  Let Him seal you, so nothing comes between you and the Father.   You Won't Relent by Jesus Culture