So, this week Pastor Fred preached on Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

He challenged us to take this week to spend our time and energy in conversation with God – listening & talking (ie. reading the Bible, being still before God, praying) rather than watching television or being online. So, I’ve accepted the challenge, and therefore will not be conforming to the pattern of this world, at least for this week and will be offline. I hope you will enjoy your week and will spend a little extra time reading God’s Word and allowing Him to transform your life and renew your mind!

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Child-like Faith

This is the kind of faith that just accepts things because without really needing lots of intellectual reasoning or good logic or tangible proofs – or so they say.

My child does not have this kind of faith. She often tells me that God is not here and can’t help us because she can’t see him. Eyes peering all around, she cannot find him anywhere, so he can’t be here with us.

Yet, she is currently laying her bed singing “Father, I adore you and I lay my life before you. How I love you.” It is a beautiful, calm, soothing song that we often sing before bed, so just a lullaby…

This is something that I really struggle with in parenting (along with so many other things): wanting to control how my kids turn out. I know in my head that the choices they will make as they get older will definitely be influenced by Brian and I, but we really have little say in how they will ultimately live their lives. I struggle with not making one of my main goals in parenting to raise kids that love God. I can live as an example, but I cannot make it a goal for them to feel a certain way… Instead, one of my goals is for them to know God’s love for them. Although, I pray that both of these things will take place in their lives!

The verses that I pray over them regularly are: Philippians 1:9-11 9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. and Ephesians 3:16-19 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

(The Ephesians passage is also part of the theme of Adventures in Mothering for MOPS for this coming year, which I am really excited about. And as a side note, if you are free on Friday mornings this fall/winter, we’d love for you to join our group if you are pregnant or have a child who is in Kindergarten or younger or as a MOPPETS worker with the kids!)

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I am not currently involved with regular ESL teaching, but I do know of a couple of options. I used to teach full-time at a local university and really enjoyed the students and the teaching, but making a living in ESL is really hard, especially in my local area My training was a B.A. in Linguistics and French with some teaching part-time along the way. My real training came on the job as is usually the case with ESL. I think for volunteering, the only real training needed to a willingness to

Most university ESL programs and community classes need classroom volunteers, often for 1 hour 1 day a week to do small group activities, role plays, discussions with students as well as conversation partners to meet 1-on-1 with students at a time that works for both of you. This was a great experience all around for me (fun, getting to know the students, relaxed, no prep), the only con was the drive & the unfortunate fact that meeting with my kids didn’t work out (too crazy especially with their kids) and I couldn’t find regular childcare so I’m not volunteering right now, but probably will in the future.

I’ve also volunteered with the Arab-American Friendship Center, which is a local missions organization trying to build bridges to reach Arabs with God’s love. They offer free English and citizenship classes to women during the day and free classes in computers and business English in the evenings. The classes are M-Th for 2 hours and usually a teacher volunteers for one day per week. With the commute it was about a pretty big commitment, plus prep time. They do have childcare at the center for the women in the class and I used that a couple of times, but had a friend who watched my kids for free while I volunteered (as my kids didn’t do well at the center and they had tons of kids in the room there, so I didn’t want to add more kids for them.)

One thing that I liked about the AAFC was that my kids were able to see me helping others and share me with others, which was good in some ways. I want my children to develop a heart for helping and caring for others and giving to others, even sacrificially. In my opinion, volunteering is difficult, but worthwhile in the the long-term as well as short-term benefits. Right now, my volunteering is with a MOPS group, which I love, and my kids love MOPPETS, so the only sacrifice is the time I spend preparing and making it all work. One day, I’ll return to ESL, because I love that too!


Clear Night

Shaky shot of the lunar eclipse from our deck.
Last night was the most amazing and rare treat in our backyard. We were able to see stars! Since the Wal-mart and Target went in around the corner, with their excess of lights, we have had very few nights where there is not a single cloud to deflect light and allow us to see the sky in all its glory… Even more amazing was the lunar eclipse, which I was able to shiver and share with my husband, the geek. In my opinion, there is nothing more clear than seeing the wonders of the heavens to inspire praise for God and His magnificent creation! I hope you were able to enjoy it too.



Last year was the first time I “gave up something for Lent”. Having grown up in a Baptist and then Presbyterian church, I didn’t really know much about Lent at all except that my Catholic school friends didn’t eat meat on Fridays or eat chocolate in the month or so before Easter. It seemed strange, but sparked no further musings at that time.

In college, I read Richard Foster’s fabulous book The Celebration of Discipline, which made me start to think about fasting and prayer as more than just something that real fanatics would do. More recently, as a nursing woman fasting isn’t really a healthy option for me, so I wanted to do a sort of modified prayer and fast. In the end, I decided to fast from something that I had regularly and use that time to meditate on Scriptures and pray. I realized that this is exactly what Lent is all about.

Fasting is a way to focus on Christ and the sacrifice He made for people everywhere to have a right relationship with God. Giving something up for Lent is really fasting and preparing for the celebration of Christ’s death and victory over death and all evil in His resurrection – a time when many people who might be really in need of hope might be likely to look in the only place they’ll find the real deal.

So, again this year, I’m fasting and praying with a focus on family. Last year, I gave up cookies, which was really tough. This year is proving to be an equally well-chose vice: hot chocolate. Apparently, I have been drinking a cup of hot cocoa every night this winter and so now I won’t be drinking my hot chocolate, but I will be enjoying a time of refreshing and warmth with my God despite the cold around me.

Are you giving anything up for Lent?

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What Has This World Come To?

So, I’ve been wondering about how much worse things could get in this crazy world before the end is here…

Every time I turn around, I hear about someone else who is dealing with some horrible situation. The problems range from spousal abuse to sexual infidelity to freak accidents to drugs and addictions to hopelessness and depression. It is sad and scary to hear about friends who are dealing with such serious issues – that really hurt.

I was thinking about what I could and should do to help. First, I’m praying for them and for real and lasting change in their situations. Also, I’m trying to be a friend, whether that means listening or watching kids or providing meals or money or a safe place – whatever physical needs I can meet, I will. And, then I realized that I could provide some resources for help. I enjoy researching and so it makes sense that I would find the help that others have already provided and point those who need it in that direction. In my opinion, the best source of info is always the Bible and talking with God!

Here are some of the sites that might be interesting to anyone or helpful if you know someone going through a really hard time right now:
Are you an Abuser? (Quiz)
Are you being abused? (Quiz)
Suite 101
You are a Target, not a Victim
Living with Someone in Depression
Addiction Help

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Theory of Discipline

There are untold numbers of books on the subject of discipline and no end to the variety of opinions. As for me, in theory, I am completely against spanking of any kind (even hitting on the hand, which I have done a few times) and all for raising kids with grace. This does not mean that I am permissive, but it basically follows the thought that I am under the new covenant in Christ’s blood (not under law) where God lavishes His grace on me in love. So, in turn I love those around me and treat them – including my children – with the grace that overflows from God.

Therefore, in theory, I respectfully offer reasonable choices to my kids that are appropriate to their level (as God does to me) and when they make a poor decision or blatantly disobey one of the house rules (to come in another post), I allow the natural consequences (when safe, even if upsetting) or logical consequences (appropriate to the problem) to teach the lesson (just as God does for me).

At times, I will have to discipline, in love, for my children’s best – even though it may be inconvenient or difficult or painful for me. I cannot see how spanking would be for my children’s best, as it wouldn’t teach them what is right only punish them for what was wrong. With grace as the foundation, Christ already died for my sins and theirs, so punishment is not needed – He took it all on the cross.

Training in righteousness, ie. helping my children learn to choose what is right in all situations at all times, whether that be sharing toys with others or speaking with respect or not having fits of rage when things don’t go as they hoped, also teaching what behaviors are socially acceptable, like wearing shirt and shoes in the store or having good manners, or protecting their safety are the goals in discipling my children. Along those lines, the Bible is useful for training in righteousness and teaching and correcting, so memorizing verses with signs and songs or just on their own is probably my first priority.

Also, being proactive is essential with grace. I can’t just wait until things get out of hand, I have to anticipate what might happen and try to keep the environment safe and secure for my kids. I need to think about what I say and when there is a problem on the horizon, I need to stop and immediately address it before the problem happens. This doesn’t mean that I don’t allow my children to solve their own problems, but that I am paying attention and when they are headed for something beyond their abilities, I help just enough. I really believe that it is important for kids to learn from the experiences, just like we adults do, so that sometimes means getting disappointed or failing. What I’m talking about would be times when discipline might be necessary and gently stepping in to help prevent that.

Here’s an example of Active or Proactive Parenting: Eila is taking cushions off so she can jump on the couch (which is a common and acceptable practice in our house), but Josiah is eating and starts getting down with his food. So, I quickly stop him and tell him that he can eat at the table or he can jump on the couch. He puts his food down and scurries away to safely jump on the couch. Discipline (being taken off the couch) was averted because he wasn’t jumping on the couch with food.

I could go on and on, obviously as this post is already far too long! Basically, I really like the grace-based approach to discipline. If you’d like to read more, here are some good resources that I’ve found:
Arm of Love family fellowship has a lot of great articles and has been really helpful for me.
I loved the book Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel and Clay Clarkson’s book Heartfelt Discipline is next on my list to read.
Gentle Christian Mothers

I’ll try to follow up with more practical info, but the whole theory of grace-based parenting is that we, as parents, are living each moment in the grace of God and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, so He will give us the wisdom and know-how as we seek Him for it!

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Eila’s preschool curriculum has a large portion devoted to teaching her about stewardship. When I started looking at it, I really liked it but didn’t think it was so important to start with that principle when being kind and respectful are so lacking in the average preschooler. However, the more I think about the idea of stewardship and with what I’ve been learning as I teach her and study on my own, I realize that it is very important. In fact, it was one of the first commandments really. God told Adam and Eve to name the animals and care for them and the garden (and to be fruitful and subdue the earth) – that is what stewardship is all about – taking care of what God has given us.

Until recently, being a good steward for me meant being smart/thoughtful about how I spend money. It might include how I use the gifts God has given me, like organization skills to help out with needs at church along those lines, but it didn’t involve being environmentally conscious at all. Now, that seems like a tragic misunderstanding of this term as well as a horrid undervaluing of all that God has created and entrusted to us. I often thought that those who were interested in taking care of planet earth didn’t have their priorities right (and sometimes those folks do not, but it’s not for me to judge…) because they must care more about this world than the people in it or God. Lately, though, I am beginning to see that caring for God’s creation in nature is not separate from caring for God’s creation in people or loving Him, but really an extension of that and obedience and respect to Him.

I am glad that the preschool curriculum has stewardship has the first character trait being taught and learned. It is exciting to understand that stewardship conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care m-w.com I still have a long way to go toward being a good steward (with money or anything else) and I’m taking little steps each week, sometimes being pushed into it and sometimes dragging others along.


Hearts at Home

Last weekend in Grand Rapids was a fabulous convention with 2000+ moms. We sat and listened to several speakers and went to workshops and talked to other moms. The whole point of the conference was to encourage and equip moms in they’re various roles within the home. For more info, visit their website.

I came away refreshed after a break from being home and all of those responsibilities, but also renewed in my commitments as wife and mother. I recognize that I am only hurting myself and those I love most when I try to help in every possible way outside the home. It was really encouraging and a little frustrating at the same time to attend workshops and know that I am already implementing most of the ideas and strategies suggested for raising great kids; although, I was really hoping to get the detailed prescription for how to get perfect kids.

One of the most profound and simple themes for me was to love my very ordinary kids and our very ordinary life – and delight in it all. In the evening session, the speakers reminded us moms that we are all unique and that we should not and cannot compare our insides with someone else’s outsides. It is so easy to see others as having it all together, but we don’t know what’s going on in their lives and most likely they are pretty similar to us anyway. Ordinary isn’t bad, it’s just what most of us are – otherwise it wouldn’t be ordinary… So, I’m embracing my ordinary life and delighting in all of the routine, regular stuff that we do and struggle with as well as all the normal stuff that we enjoy and get excited about.



I have a lot of responsibilities. We all do. Almost all of my responsibilities are things that I “signed up” or “volunteered” for, but some are not, which doesn’t make them any less necessary. The ones I “chose” include: being a wife, mom, MOPS coordinator, preschool teacher, friend. The ones I didn’t exactly pick include: being a child, housekeeper, cook, errand runner/shopper, and almost all the ones listed under things I chose… Insane time commitments, messiness, humility, and sacrifice are parts of every responsibility that I have – that make it challenging and often make me want to quit or give up.

Fortunately, there are also great rewards that come with every responsibility. Cleanliness, love, joy, seeing God’s glory and being a part of His work, as well as being able to survive are just a few of the benefits of fulfilling my responsibilities. Best of all is the growth and change in me as I live up to the responsibilities that I have and see God’s hand shaping me as a result of the sacrifices and humility and messiness in it all. It is amazing that just doing what I’m supposed to do can have such positive results personally, but also for everyone around me as well!


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