Friday, December 19, 2014

Recent Happenings

Isaac is finishing up some school work, which means I have an extra few minutes to catch you up on our most recent happenings:

A few weeks back, our family celebrated a major milestone in Matt's career.  We adore this man, and if you don't know Matt very well, you should. He is truly wonderful! It's a good reason, too, to jet down to the beach! His family visited for about a week. See, they love us. :) We shared a delicious Thanksgiving meal together and spent time hanging out at the pool and beach. The kiddos loved seeing their cousins and look forward to more family time at Christmas.

We're feeling more and more settled in our new sunny state. It takes a bit of time to plug in, find a church home, and get to connect with others more deeply. We believe we've found our church home and continue to pray for unity and the Lord's leading and guidance. We checked out a connect group/Bible study 2 weeks ago. They welcomed us with open arms, and we'll certainly visit again after the new year. We are falling in love with our little town and envision living in this area permanently. Don't hate!
Our homeschool co-op, Classical Conversations, started out nicely this year. Isaac's tutor is patient, loving, and all around a great fit for his class. We are grateful for her sweet spirit and willingness to invest into each child. His friendships are blossoming, and he enjoys the time away from our "classroom" setting. He's growing academically and emotionally, and I daily witness firsthand how the classical model takes root at this stage. To give you an example: Each cycle, we drill skip counting all the way through 15x15. We also memorize many other math formulas and laws. This is our third year in the program and our first year using Saxon math. Through Saxon, he is now learning to multiply, and it has come with great ease. The framework laid through memorization of skip counting, greatly aided this process. He gets it. It's a tangible way that I see fruit in his academics and in this method. We take each year as it comes, but I highly emphasize this grammar/foundational stage of learning. For that reason, I foresee us homeschooling at least through 3rd grade with each kiddo. As his mom and teacher, my heart rejoices knowing what a solid foundation he'll utilize as he learns more complex subjects and ideas. And, let me tell you, Malayna is learning alongside her big brother simply from exposure. She's getting a head start in school and ample opportunities to tap into that knowledge. Malayna's the cutest little thing reciting memory work!
The Lord laid upon my heart a need and urgency to start a prayer group for our campus. Believers live for a Savior who cares for our deepest needs and the most seemingly mundane needs. He yearns for our hearts to grow more intimately toward him and in love toward one another by inviting us to His throne of grace. CC days are packed full of academics. It's difficult to connect with one another, share burdens, or praises during class time. Yet, each of us has specific prayer requests and praises daily and weekly. Our connections as moms and women who love Christ matter. Our attitudes matter. Our words matter. Our joy in the Lord matters. The Adversary seeks to destroy these precious relationships and instill doubt in our minds as homeschooling moms. The Lord prompted me with such clarity. I knew I must follow in direct obedience. And wouldn't y'all know--others desired the same type of intimacy. Have you ever been there? When you know you cannot ignore such nudging? He is wise and good to us in His leading. Discern and then follow His prompting; often times, your obedience results in others' blessedness.
Isaac writes me love notes about 2-3x/week. Surprises always brighten my day. He brought this to me only an hour or so ago. I keep every one of his notes. Mamas love these gems! Maybe he's buttering me up as a pre-Christmas strategy. :)
Overall, our family is doing well adjusting to school and work life in a new state. Bit by bit, we'll turn this house into our home. Jehovah Jireh--the Lord provides for His people. In this season and always. May your heart rejoice this weekend as you await His coming.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Then and Now

October 29, 2014, Matt and I celebrated nine years of marriage. Nine years of grit and gladness, languish and laughter, trial and triumph. The Lord has been our rock and strength amid a world vying for our affection and attention. Matt exemplifies humility before Christ and sacrificially accepts the low seat. He models the way in our home with patience and sacrifice. He inspires me to love others the way Christ has lavishly loved me. I love you, Matt. And with you, I certainly married up. I thank the Lord for our arranged marriage and pray for many, many years of future celebrations!

~For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.~
~1 John 3:11

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Abundant Faithfulness, A Treasured Moment

My heart is overwhelmed with Your faithfulness, sweet Lord. I love You and thank You. You know I cannot adequately express my thankfulness for who You are and how You lead our family. You are the heart knower; You see into the depths of me. Your grace truly abounds. We experience it day in and day out. You humble us by your perfect, unfailing, always seeking, restorative, gracious, abounding love. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You.

Since becoming parents seven years ago, Matt and I began praying for our children to know the Lord at an early age. Neither of us, as children, had a personal, abiding relationship with our Maker. We knew of Him, but we did not know Him--a vast and eternal difference. As adolescents, we wreaked havoc in our lives, letting sin and flesh rule and reign. This is the state of our fallen, fleshly selves--always seeking after something or someone yet falling infinitely short of any sort of lasting, faithful, unconditional love. My heart yearned to know and be known. Piloting my own life only brought despair, destruction, and destitution to myself and those around me. I hurt others and I hurt deeply inside. How different my early years may have been had I given my life to the Lord without delay! When the Holy Spirit takes residence in our hearts, He leads us to Truth. He points us to the Father, convicts us of sin, and leads us to repentance. Our hearts' desires are for our kids to follow and fully trust in Christ's complete work on the Cross for their sins. We desire the Holy Spirit to lead them personally through life's treacherous waters.

Over the past year, Isaac has grasped more deeply the holiness of God and the depravity of himself. We praise the Lord for his unwavering belief that God is real, true, above all, and in all. Recently, he's learned the difference between monotheism and polytheism. We've had countless talks about Jesus, sin, Satan, the Fall, rebellion, disbelief, idolatry, creation, redemption, and almost anything in between. The Lord is growing our hearts and stretching our minds as we lead and teach our kiddos in the ways of the Lord. We treasure the conversations we share: the gentle, the tough, the sentimental, the corrective, the mundane, the silly, the serious, each and every one of them. God works all of it for our good and His glory. Every night, we pray for the Lord to bring salvation to our kids. We pray for the Holy Spirit to make them new. Only HE can bring about a work that miraculous.

My heart rejoices in the Lord's faithfulness. Two nights ago, through a discussion on the polytheistic worship of the Assyrians, Isaac made the unashamed, bold decision to follow Christ! Up to this point in his life, he believed with his mind in the One True God. Now He believes with his heart, a belief through faith and not by sight. Through the Lord's grace, we, as his parents, and others have sown seeds of Truth into His heart. Friends and family have watered and nurtured those seeds. The Body of Christ encouraged him, led him, shared Jesus with him, and ultimately, the Holy Spirit called him out of sin and into Light. He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Thank you to everyone who loves Isaac and celebrates this wonderful news. We thank our Lord Jesus for how he has used you as a vessel for Truth to teach and love our son.

Isaac, my precious son and brother in the Lord,
May you forever trust and believe in God's goodness to you. He saved you from eternal separation from Himself and invites you to abundant living on earth. Trust His leading and sanctification as you love him more and mature in knowledge and wisdom. We are elated to have you as a part of the Body of Christ. We treasure the gift of your life. The Lord has good things planned for you--not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future! We look forward to witnessing the gifts he lavishly bestows upon you. He clothes you in Christ, calls you to peace, and commissions you to make disciples. Be bold, son, for the Gospel, seeking ways to share God's love with those in need. He will provide everything you need for a life of godliness. Seek to please the Lord in all you do, in every phase of your life. As you shared your joy with me the other night, "I'm excited, too, my sister in Christ!"--share the same joy with others. Let your light shine brightly as you proclaim His faithfulness. He will keep you, and no one can pluck you from the Father's hand. I love you and thank the Lord for your salvation, which is found in Christ alone.

For those who are reading and want to know more about committing your lives to Christ, please call or email us. It is our honor and privilege to share this amazing love with you! Today is the day of salvation!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Birthday Fun

Isaac and his two best friends here in our new town had a wonderful time at his simple, informal birthday party. You would never assume that this crew of four met only two months ago. They live as if they've known one another for a lifetime. They love and argue and resolve and get into all kinds of mischief. These four loves bring a new level of noise to our lives. Glorious, awesome, loudness! We love each of them dearly and thank our Lord for giving our families a mutual affinity. I'll write more on how our families met in another post, but for now, here are a few snapshots from his party. We feasted on pizza, salad, and our favorite classic cake: Hershey's chocolate cake. You'll find the recipe on the back of the cocoa can. I've made it numerous times. It has not failed me once and is great in cupcake form as well. Mama might need to gobble down one last piece this afternoon!


Happy Birthday, Isaac! You are soooooo dearly loved!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Seven Beautiful Years

Dear Isaac,
Seven years ago, the Lord graciously blessed your dad and me with your birth. Our lives forever changed the moment we heard your first cry and locked eyes and heart with you. And how gorgeous those deep sea blue eyes were! A sweetness filled our souls. A glimpse of heaven flooded our minds. "Lord, you're choosing us to parent this tiny, helpless person. Be with us, Lord." What a weighty gift and responsibility! His calling into parenthood brought both fear and fascination, intimidation and intimacy. The beginning stages of motherhood revealed every ounce of pride and anxiety deep inside my bones. This is a calling no one can muster alone. Tears were shed. Hugs doled out. Pride stripped bare. Invasion of love permeated. All of this while in a new state, as we forced reliance solely on God's provision, protection, and providence. He stretched my heart and love for you in ways I never deemed possible.

My, oh, my how you have grown and changed over these seven beautiful years. You are solid in your beliefs. You believe in the One, True God. You witnessed to an unbelieving friend this summer and graciously pointed her eyes to the One who loves her the most. May the Lord use that conversation to plant fertile seeds and bring forth an abundant harvest. My heart overflows with thankfulness by your example.You advocate for all things justice. You see black and white, right and wrong, this way or that way. Fairness for all sums up your thoughts toward your peers. You stand with fortitude for others and make friends easily. You are smart. Brilliant, actually. God gifted you with a knack for mechanics and designing. Your brain is stunning; I stand in amazement of the connections you make! As of now, you want to be a mechanical engineer. You most certainly have the ability to press through Calculus and to teach your mama something about math! You love your sister with a fierce, protective love. She is your best friend and oftentimes your greatest source of annoyance. No one will get to her without going through you. You help and serve within our home with a good attitude. I appreciate your regular, "Sure, Mom!" response when I ask you to retrieve something for me. You started school this year with a better mindset and heart. Growth. I see much growth. Not perfection but progress. You complain less and say "Okay, Mom" more frequently in school. I am thankful and take note--please forgive me when I don't. We'll never experience a last battle, but we're trekking along, side by side.. I'm right there with you, buddy. We are constantly learning, and it is a joy and utmost privilege to teach you. The Lord sanctifies me through you, and I absolutely cherish this role of motherhood in your life.

Isaac, you light up our family and your life is a continual reminder of the Lord's love and goodness to us. Remember, God made you fearfully and wonderfully. He knit you together in the secret places. He brought you forth for His good pleasure. May His face shine upon you. May He bless and keep you  and watch your going out and coming in all the days of your life. May you trust that He is always good no matter the circumstances, what others say or do, or the state of our fallen world. May you trust Him fully as your Lord and Savior and grow in knowledge and wisdom. May your life be a shining light, showcasing His brilliant radiance to an unbelieving world. May you love others and bear burdens. May you repent quickly and seek forgiveness humbly. He holds you, son, in the palm of His hands. His love for you is unfathomable beyond human comprehension. Hold fast to Him; He perfectly loves YOU!  He is coming! Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

~1 Timothy 4:12~

I love you more than you'll ever know,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blessed is she who believed. ~Luke 1:45

Happy Monday! How is your Monday? Currently, I hear squabbles between two siblings all stemming from one little girl's "rights" to her toys. The other sibling held his head up and walked away calmly from the situation. Now I hear, "Mom, I think you need to give her a consequence!" He has equipped me to handle this. Lord, give me Your words and wisdom today!

This weekend, Brittany and I attended Beth Moore's live simulcast. Living Proof Live estimated 190,000 women attended this event. "What if we did womanhood well?"

The Lord certainly revealed Himself to me in a specific way and now calls me to respond in obedience to Him. In case you weren't able to attend, I want to share with you the 7 main points of Beth's firecracker teaching. She is a hoot!

1. "We are one gathering of many women yearning for God to speak."

2. "Jesus changes the story of every woman He meets."
        Acts 1:24--Jesus is the heart knower.
        Jere. 7:24--Give attention to it. I either move forward with Jesus or go backward.
        Lean in and respond.

3. "Jesus wants a woman to know who she is and what she is not." Beth gave us an identity declaration to memorize. What if 190,000 women believed this? What kind of change would happen? (You can find this on her blog along with 2 other pieces from the Simulcast. I encourage you to read them. This woman is such a gift to us.)

4. "Sometimes a woman needs a clean sweep to find what she's missing."
        Luke 15:1-10 vs. 8 "her friends" She immediately shares her joy with her friends.
        "tas philas" Greek for girlfriends (If you've heard Beth teach, you know she loves this word!)

5. "A woman's joy is not the same without girlfriends to share it."
        Every reference of "make my joy complete" in the NT, is always in the context of sharing it
        with someone.
        There is a direct correlation between our joy deficit and our girlfriend deficit.
        "Rejoice with me" We need friends who will rejoice with us.
        Many women need healed from relationships with other women.
        Get rid of "mompetition". Comparing and competing with one another comes from a place of
        3 characteristics of unhealthy bonds in a friendship:
            1. exclusivity: cannot be friends with more than one person.
            2. possessiveness: if a friend is doing this, she needs to move back.
            3. jealousy: if you have to hide going to dinner with another friend, then that's a problem!
        Hypersensitivity: If I'm a "walking wound", I need wounded up. Shift hypersensitivity
        toward other women to sensitivity to the Spirit.
        Fight FOR one another, NOT with one another. (Phil. 1:27) Strive for the faith, side by side.

* Beth spent much time on this point. "You can cut competition and comparison in your relationships with other women by 50% if you quit doing it!" Women must stop hurting women. We are His. He calls us to unity through the bond of peace. We are on the same team, ladies, and are called to live separately from the world system. Stay as far away from that line as possible. I've hurt others, and I've been hurt. And nothing hurts us more than when it comes from someone in the Body. Let us be women who quickly repent and seek forgiveness from one another. Freedom comes through confession. Healing takes place when we humbly confess our sins and ask for restoration. Satan's tactic is to keep women in a constant state of comparison and jealousy. This leads to bitterness and resentment. It is not of the Lord and not fitting for any of us who have placed our faith in Christ. Let us be one another's biggest cheerleaders. I want to be that in your life. Will you be that in mine? I will clap my hands for you and rejoice over all the goodness He displays to you--in all your success, triumph, and joy. I will root for you, sweet sister. I will ask for His blessing to pour out abundantly on your life, your marriage, your children, your interactions with others, your everything. He has a deep, abiding, faithful love for each of us. Let's remind one another of that when we feel less than anything He has for us. We have no condemnation. His blood paid the price, and we are sisters through Him. That is worth rejoicing!

6. "All of heaven rejoices over a lost woman found."

7. "Every woman is well able to share how Jesus is changing her story."

To conclude the conference, we spoke these words to one another:

My Beloved Sister,
Jesus drew you to this day
To call you to respond.
What will you do
With what He has said?
God chose you and gifted you
For this very generation.
You are the exact woman
Jesus came looking for today.
Stop telling yourself
This is about someone else
You are the one He wants.
You’re not too young.
You’re not too old.
You haven’t strayed too far
Or waited too long.
Let Jesus step fully into your story
And write a narrative for your life
That does the world good
And gives God glory.
People out there need what you have to offer.
Quit listening to your fears and insecurities.
Stand up and step out and meet some needs.
You are my sister.
I’ll cheer you on.
I will support you and love you
I’ll stop competing and comparing.
I want to be a woman women can trust.
Let’s do this thing side by side.
We’re so much stronger together.
Sister, stay in His Word
Fight for love and keep your faith.
Follow hard after Jesus
All the rest of your days.
He will never do you wrong.
He will never reject or betray you.
He will make something beautiful
Out of all your pain.
In every loss
He will be your gain.
A lost world is waiting out there.
The darkness is aching for light.
Get out there and serve with all your might.
Because, my beloved sister.
A woman
Of God.
Go show somebody what she looks like.

I hope you each have a wonderful Monday knowing how deeply loved you are by our perfect and faithful Heavenly Father.  May He equip you for all that you need this very day. I love you.

We thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.
~Colossians 1:3~

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Church of Brotherly Love

Currently, Matt and I are working through John MacArthur's Revelation study with our dear friends, Dru and Brittany. We have loved every minute of it. In addition, I listen to online sermons of Revelation by one of my most beloved pastors, Jon Courson. The studies complement one another nicely. Jesus had no correction/admonishment for the church in Philidelphia. They kept His name. They followed Him. They loved Him. I pray that we, as His Body, will steer clear of divisive debates and focus on evangelism and love for one another.  Theology discussions are edifying and often necessary, but we must not lose sight of unity within the Body of Christ--good lessons for us all. How easy it is to go there if we're not mindful. Eternity is what's at stake for every soul--not denominationalism. Take a listen if you have time this week. I believe it will strengthen your walk with Christ.  I'm thankful for teachers who lovingly yet firmly remind the Body of Jesus' great love and His call for all believers to witness to the ends of the earth. Jon shares a tender story of evangelism and brotherly love in action at the end, so be sure to listen all the way through! I hope each of you who listen find joy, comfort, peace, and grace today in the arms of Jesus. Much brotherly love to you all.

** His son, Ben, teaches frequently. You can find studies/sermons from both Jon and Ben on the side links.