He will make your paths straight.

It’s funny how many turns a year can take, isn’t it?  I guess that’s just part of life.  And I can’t even handle that it’s nearly mid-December.  But I am so glad that God promises us in Proverbs 3:6 that if we acknowledge him, he will make our paths straight.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you may know I set goals at the beginning of every year.  I never posted them, but here were my goals for 2015:

  1. After losing a paycheck and feeling like my house (and in turn my mind) were basically in chaos, one of my goals was to (daily) make sure my kitchen table and dining room table were cleaned off.  In January, I did great.  In the same vein, I wanted to reduce clutter so I joined a clutter free challenge (link here in case you’re interested) and it went really well.  With each piece of “stuff” I got rid of, I felt free-er and lighter. Then life happened.  Ha!  You should see my kitchen table this morning, piled up with papers and books and bags and mail, and whatever else my kids dropped there!!  But in between there has been what my favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, calls “imperfect progress”.
  2. Another of the things I wanted to work on this year was being a more constant pray-er.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually” and I really wanted to have a more constant connection with God in my daily life.  Again, there has been imperfect progress here.
  3. Enjoy life more.  I tend toward seriousness and I wanted to lighten up a little.  One way was to try to play more games with my kids and that has definitely added a bit of fun to our lives.  We’ve been playing backgammon a lot this year and now my two youngest usually beat me!

As 2015 wore on and I was having some health issues, I added another focus for the year – to be more content and thankful for what I have.  Laying on the couch all of July made me realize that there is so much to life that I take for granted!!

So here’s what’s so neat about the way God works.  As my kids started school in September and I was struggling to get everything in order (even the kitchen table!).  I was going to write 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on my chalkboard in the kitchen so I would be reminded to abide with God each moment during  week.  As I looked it up, I read the whole passage:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that interesting?  I started just with intentionally working on just verse 17 at the beginning of the year but what God has really been working in me has been all of verses 16-18!  Through the course of the year these themes of rejoicing, prayer, and thankfulness have just been rewritten on my heart over and over again.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Amen and amen!

 

 

 

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what’s been happening around here

I totally feel like I have to rewind here.  I haven’t posted in a while – we have been so busy!

So let’s start with some summer stuff…

We started a fairy garden, just for fun.  It looked pretty pathetic for most of the summer, but by September, the ground cover we added had grown and now I’m thinking it looks pretty cute.  It’s a fun summer activity for little ones – even more fun if you make an event of searching your backyard for things to use in it (pebbles, rocks, wood pieces, bark, moss, ground cover, etc.).  Search fairy garden on pinterest – you’ll be amazed!  Here’s a pic of ours:

Fairy Garden

I also bought this secretary at Goodwill in August… and finally painted it the first week the kids were in school.  I’m loving how it looks in the kitchen.  I had hoped that it would solve the problem of papers piling up on the kitchen table, but apparently you have to actually put things in it for that to work.  ha.

Secretary

Then school started.  So far, so good.  Kids have been doing well, with the slight exception of one phone call home regarding a 10-year-old boy who talked too much.  I guess that’s normal boy stuff – but definitely a first for me.  I hope it’s the last.

Let’s see, what else?

This seems to be the year where I have officially become the mom taxi.  Kids have activities three nights a week.  Then you add in my activities and my husband’s… and we are running around a lot.  But they are all good things – Bible quizzing, irish dance, MOPS, etc.

One of my oldest daughter’s activities are advanced math and science classes (for which she is actually getting college credit!) at the local community college.  I must say it felt weird to drop my 7th grader off at a college campus!  She has started rolling her eyes at me when I remind her not to talk to strangers or go anywhere alone every time I drop her off.  But I still do it – ha ha!  After all, she IS only 12!  But I’m finding a fabulous side effect of all this growing up she’s doing – she no longer has to be woken up!  she gets up on her own!  and showers every day without reminders!  Let’s just say I’m a little happy about that.

Then in October came MOMcon (previously known as the MOPS Convention) in Kansas City.  As always, it was amazing.  I got to see/hear Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Lysa Terkeurst, Ken Davis, and more.  It is always a spiritually refreshing few days away for me.  The challenge is letting what I heard sink in and change me.

Halloween came and went, and my littlest was just the cutest thing ever – Madeline:

Madeline

She thought no one would know who she was – but so many people commented and loved her costume.

Then our computer hard drive crashed and all our files were unrecoverable (is that a word?).  Sad day, people.  Because even though you KNOW you should back stuff up, like all those precious photos of your little ones, do you really do it regularly?  Well, we did not.  Over the years I’ve been pretty good at actually printing our photos, which I am thanking God for.  I hadn’t gotten any 2013 pics printed, though, so I’m pretty bummed about that.  Not to mention all our other files besides photos!

My P.S.A. for today – back up your files, you never know.  

 And so November is here now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  I love this holiday and everything about it!!

The kiddos and I will be doing this week-long “giving thanks” activity from Ann Voskamp.  I think this is great for older children who can write – it stretches out the thanksgiving for all week!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/7Gifts.pdf

And a nice little video how-to for folding it into a little booklet are here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGf3y6nFww

So now your turn – what’s been happening in your neck of the woods?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank God For Dirty Dishes
 
Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well
With home, health, and happiness,
I shouldn’t want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God’s been very good to us.
~Author Unknown
 
I’m also thankful today for God’s abundant love and care, my family, my dear friends, and the beautiful sunshine this morning!  Enjoy your day!

Thanks and Giving Giveaway!

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d have me an itty-bitty giveaway on the old blog!!

This week for some reason I had been thinking a lot about giving thanks to God (maybe thanks to all my friends who are posting what they are thankful for on FB every day for the month of November??).  And I was thinking that when I have a proper attitude of thanksgiving to God, it very often spills over into an attitude of giving to others.  Then I found this verse…

2 Corinthians 2:14

“14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Amazing!  When we are thankful for all that God has given us, we are able to submit to Him and be led by Him – and that in turn glorifies Him to others!  Let’s be so thankful each and every day and may that urge us to give, and may that glorify Christ!! 

So to get started, I want to give away a handmade crocheted shawl to one of you!!

Here are some pics:

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And here are some details: 

It is hand-crocheted in Red Heart Symphony yarn – “a worsted weight, brushed acrylic yarn with a soft, mohair look and feel” – in Persimmon.  It is a beautiful fall pumpkin-y color that reminds me of pumpkin pie!!  And it’s soft – so soft!

It is about a women’s size small or medium.  (I wear a large or extra-large and I think it’s a bit small for me!).  It can be machine washed (cold water) and machine dried at low temperature. 

This would make a wonderful gift (for yourself!!??) or someone else!  This is open to anyone who lives in the continental U.S.A. and who follows ledbytheshepherd either through an RSS feed or e-mail subscription (click on the link on the left hand side to follow / subscribe!  If you win, I’ll either mail it to or if you’re local, I’ll drop it off!  If you would like to win this shawl, please leave a comment letting me know if you’d keep it for yourself or give it away (and to whom!).  One entry per person.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner on Sunday evening, November 13th. 

Yay!  I’m excited to see who wins!!

(P.S.  I have to add this.  I had this post written as a draft – and then I read this post this morning.  Amazing.  And powerful.  How thankfulness to God can change us, can help us submit to Him, can turn our selfishness into serving and reaching out to others.  Read it – you’ll be blessed!)

the things of men

Two and a half billion people around the world were estimated to tune in to watch the royal wedding today.

I didn’t.  I have to say that I’m just not that interested in it. 

(Please know that this post is not meant to put down anyone that did.) 

A couple of days ago I read this article from a publication from my alma mater.  THIS is what I cannot stop thinking about.

http://www.sph.umich.edu/news_events/findings/spring11/rights/congo.htm

It is horrifying and heartbreaking at the same time.

I find myself thinking about it over and over… and my response so far has only been to humbly thank God that I am so blessed to have been born in the United States where I don’t have to worry on a daily basis about my own safety or the safety of my children. 

Women and girls – young girls – brutally raped as part of war.  As a mother of young girls, this hits home.

How is it that our society can spend time, and certainly all sorts of money, being preoccupied with the royal wedding, but not with this?

I may not have been preoccupied with the royal wedding, but I’m definitely guilty of burying my head in the sand when it comes to things like this.  Being preoccupied with anything in my own little private world is easier, less scary, less burden on my own heart.

But thisThis has caught my heart and for some reason God won’t let me forget about it.  This verse came to mind:

Matthew 16:23 (New King James Version)

 But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

I imagine Jesus’ heart is with those women and girls in the Congo.  Although I know He cares about each and every person, including royalty, I’m pretty sure He’s not spending any time thinking about what dress Kate Middleton wore this morning.

So this is my prayer today:  Lord, let my heart be aligned with yours.  Let me be mindful of the things of God.  Don’t let me be preoccupied with the things of men.  Thank you for the blessings you’ve poured out on me so lavishly.  But don’t let me use that as an excuse to focus on me and not on the needy and hurting people in the world.  Show me how you want me to get involved .  Amen.

 

on praying

I have had an unbelievable amount of conversations this past week that touched on prayer. 

From someone who was rejoicing in answered prayers, to someone who was going to start writing down dates of answered prayers in their prayer journal (which is an awesome idea, by the way!), to someone who felt God speaking to them through prayer, all the way to someone who believes in God but doesn’t think praying is for them.

Interestingly enough, the previous week I had been thinking about blogging about prayer.  So I guess with God’s nudging, now’s the time.

I know I’ve posted this before, but the following quote is the way I feel about prayer:

“I was reminded of the profound truth that prayer isn’t something I had to do, rather, prayer is something I get to do.  I get to bring to God every worry and concern that is on my heart today.” ~ Hope MacDonald

I didn’t always feel this way.  In fact, when I re-dedicated my life to Christ about 12 years ago, I really struggled with prayer.  I prayed, but it was more of an obligation, and it was a couple of minutes of me asking God for what I want.  I think I remember someone saying to me that they prayed for a half hour every day and I wondered if I could even pray enough to fill up 5 minutes!

But one of my early prayers at that time was for God to instill a desire in me to want to read his Word and spend time with Him every day.  And I can gladly say now that He has done that for me.  Most days I am interrupted by the “end” of my regular prayer time (a.k.a my kids) – while I feel I still have a lot more to talk to God about!

So why do I pray?  Considering the Bible says that God is omniscient and knows my prayer requests, why pray?

These are my reasons (in no particular order)…

  1. To order my day before the Lord.  To get myself in the right frame of mind – God’s perspective on things.  (2 Chronicles 27:6, “Jotham grew strong because he ordered his ways before the Lord.” NRSV)
  2. To hand over to Him my burdens – and let Him carry them for me. (Psalm 68:19, Phillipians 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7)
  3. To ask for help – right here and now. (Isaiah 30:19 “How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.”)
  4. To hear what His plan is for me. (Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”)
  5. To confess my sins.  (1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”)
  6. To thank Him and praise Him.  (Psalm 100)
  7. Because God tells me to.  (Philippians 4:6)

I’ve heard it said, often, that to know God we must spend time with Him.  As with any relationship, if you want to get to know the person, you must regularly spend time with him/her.  The same goes with God.

If you are new to praying or find staying on track during prayer, here are some tips for getting started.  It’s really as simple as talking to Him just like He was a friend sitting beside you on your couch.

For some more verses in scripture about prayer, go here.

I will also add a couple of new tips here –

  • This is something I’ve been trying lately and it’s really helped focus me on what God is doing in my life.  Rather than everyday thanking God for the same things over and over again, I’ve made a point of thanking Him for those things, but also trying to thank Him for three “new” things from the past day.  Did He answer a prayer?  Did He help the morning routine with my kids go smoothly?  Did he protect me from a car accident?  I thank Him for those things – things that otherwise I might have missed as blessings from Him.
  • If for one reason or another, my prayer time is interrupted or I don’t get an extended period of time to focus on prayer, I use the Lord’s prayer.  I say each line slowly, and if I have time, I then try to apply that to my life directly – the biggest item for each line in my day.

And lastly, I want to leave you with the following poem by Ralph S. Cushman…

The Secret

I met God in the morning

When the day was at its best,

And His presence came like sunrise

Like a glory within my breast.

All day long the presence lingered,

All day long He stayed with me;

And we sailed in perfect calmness

O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,

Other ships were sore distressed;

But the winds that seemed to drive them

Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,

With a keen remorese of mind,

When I too had loosed the moorings,

With His presence left behind,

So I think I know the secret

Learned from many a trouble way,

You must seek God in the morning

If you want Him through the day.

(From Spiritual Hilltops, A Pocket Prayer Book)

So what about you?  Are you devoted to prayer?  Why do YOU pray and how do you fit it into your day?

Teacher Christmas Gifts 2010

Tim Horton’s gift certificate

Crocheted coffee cozy (Lionbrand “half caf cozy”, instructions here)

Tin of white chocolate fudge-covered oreos, decorated like ornaments.

And Lindt truffles. 

I am so thankful for my children’s teachers!  They are top-notch and have such a positive impact on my kids.  Hopefully they’ll enjoy their gifts!

And I ask, who can go wrong with truffles?