Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One in Christ

This week our GMG group has started the fourth chapter of Ephesians and we are all over one of, if not the, main message Paul is trying to convey to the church. 

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  Ephesians 4:4-6.
One body
One Spirit
One hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God and Father

See a pattern?  Paul is telling them to lay aside their differences. Because of Christ they are now ALL one!    We can have peace and unity through Christ.  His blood made us ALL one! 

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3:11

Christ himself even prayed for unity in the church:

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:  that the world may believe that thou has sent me.”  John 17:21
So Christ died for it, Paul was thrown in prison for it but we still struggle to live in it.   We may blame it on others and the words they say or things they do.  But is it really them or is it us?  Paul gives us some guidelines and characteristics we should live by to help us live in unity:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3
First of all he tells us to walk worthy of being a Christian. In other words walk like Christ.   Then he gives us some specific characteristics:  lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance.  Here’s a little on what Matthew Henry says on each of these in his commentary:

Lowliness – The opposite of pride, humbleness.  “By pride comes contention, by humbleness comes love.”

Meekness – not provoking others, not easily provoked or offended; showing patience and humility, submissive

Long Suffering – patient bearing of injuries, without seeking revenge

Forbearing One Another  - Loving them despite their faults as Christ has loved and forgiven us

That’s a lot to live up to and look at our own lives before we start blaming someone else!  If we truly walked like Christ, had these characteristics and focused on what unites us not divides us then we’d find ourselves dwelling together in unity.  

If you’re attending a church regularly then I’m afraid to say that I can just about guarantee there will come a time when someone is going to say something that’s going to hurt your pride or offend you.  I know they have me before.   The difference comes with what we are going to do about it.  Our first instinct is to lash back, hold a grudge, or just pack up our bags and head to the house!  When really what Paul is telling us here is that it’s often our own selfish pride that causes the confusion and discord.  Chances are the person who said or did something did not mean to intentionally offend us but because of our own selfish pride we were easily provoked and took it that way. 

I hope the next time this happens to me I can evaluate my own life and respond as Christ would.  Focus on the things that unites us not divides us!  If necessary, give the other person grace, forgiveness, love and prayer just as Christ would.  We can accomplish SO much more when we are working together for Christ as one!  After all,
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Psalm 133:1

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

31 Days to Clean: Day 2

There are a lot of things I've shared on this blog that I thought I never would!  And today this is one of those-my messy refrigerator!  Our cleaning task for Day 2 is to clean the refrigerator.  Lucky for me at least it's the end of the month and I only buy groceries at the beginning of the month so at least there wasn't QUITE as much in there but it was still a mess!!!

Here's a few before and after pics:


Dirty shelves :(

Clean Shelves :)


I love accomplishing something like this early in the morning!  I feel like I can tackle anything today now.  So how are your first two days going?  Take some before and after pics and share!

Monday, February 27, 2012

31 Days to Clean: My Mission

"It's not so much how busy you are, buy why you are busy.  The bee is praised.   The mosquito is swatted."  Mary O'Connor (taken from 31 Days to Clean)
Are you ready to be challenged spiritually and physically?  Do you long for a housecleaning routine that you felt didn't take up ALL of your time?  Does your home need a good "spring cleaning"?  Then I have a challenge for you.  Today I'm starting the 31 Days to Clean Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  Call it an early start to spring cleaning or nesting, but since it's been almost a year since I've done it the first time I've decided to tackle it again. 

My goal is to blog about this challenge at least once a week. I'm hoping that blogging along with a few friends joining me, like Abby from Trusting in Him, will help hold me accountable!  I also hope that we can share hosekeeping tips and tricks along the way to make all our jobs easier!  Then by Easter my house will be in order and I can enjoy a couple weeks before the new baby gets here!

So today's just our first today and we'd love for you to join us too!  Each day Sarah Mae gives you a spiritual (Mary) and houscleaning (Martha) challenge.  We'll be doing this Monday through Friday and taking the weekends off.  Simply purchase and dowload the e-book here and let's get started! 

Today our first Martha challenge is to think about why we want a clean house and create a mission statement.  Each year I taught I always had my students to create a mission statement at the beginning of the year.  Why it's never cross my mind to do one myself until I read this I don't know??!  However, it's great to sit down and really think about why cleaning is important to you.  You're a lot more motivated to do it if you have a good reason and understand why it's important to you! 

For me I want my home to be organized and clean so that we can enjoy it as a family!  It's hard for it to be a "happy place" to come home to if it's a mess and disorganized!  I want myself, my husband, children, and everyone to enjoy walking in my home not feel stressed or uncomfortable!

I took my mission statement from where I did this last time.  Here it is:

My mission is to create and foster an environment that puts God first.  I want to strive to make our home our "happy place!"  Not only to us but so that others will find it welcoming.  I want to "look" for ways to encourage and make a better life for my husband, my daughters and all those around me.

Unfortunately, last time I never got around to actually displaying it so this time I doctored it up just a bit by adding some scriptures (Joshua 24:15 and Proverbs 31:27) and words to describe how I wanted my home to feel.  I typed it in Microsoft Word using some Word Art and placed it in a frame.  I wished I had a prettier frame but I'm all about using what I already have and I had this simple black one so here's my finished product:

I'm going to place it in my kitchen window so that I can constantly be reminded of my mission!  So will you be joining us? Do you have your mission statement yet?  How do you plan on displaying/remembering it?  Please share!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Comprehending God's Love

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole fmaily in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."  Ephesians 3:14-19
As we continue in Ephesians, I am more amazed with every verse at Paul’s love and concern for the church.  I love what he is praying here.  He’s asking God to let his fellow brothers and sisters truly comprehend God’s love.   A love that has no limits – it is unconditional, boundless, powerful, pure, sacrificial, and inseparable-just to describe it in a few words.  A love that Francis Chan describes as “crazy” and I’m quite sure that if we truly loved like Jesus in today’s world that’s exactly what we’d be called-crazy!  I wonder how many of us truly “get” it or even try to understand it?  I’ve wondered if I truly understand it. 

I think Paul did, as much as this mortal body can anyway. Here he was imprisoned yet saying “Don’t worry about me.  Don’t become discouraged because of what’s happened to me.”  Instead of praying for himself or drowning in self pity he was praying for the “inner man” of his fellow brothers and sisters.    It’s too much for this selfish outer man to understand.  In verse 19 Paul says “it passeth knowledge.”  It doesn’t make sense to this outer flesh.  That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. 
So why would Paul even be praying for them to comprehend God’s love?  I think he wanted his brothers and sisters in Christ to understand God’s love so that they could show His love.   If we’re a Christian, that pure, unconditional love is in us because God is in us.  We’re filled with it but do we allow it work in us and to show forth in our lives?  Loving each other isn’t simply a request from God it’s a commandment. 
“This I my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”  John 15:12 (emphasis added).
  That’s some serious love and when we begin to even slightly comprehend that love then we can understand the love we should show to one another.   Still not convinced he literally means love like Jesus? 
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  1 John 3:16
Love involves sacrifice.  Love involves action.  One of my personal favorite verses on love is:
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18.  
  In some ways I think God slowly reveals it to us – as much as we can handle at one time.   For example, has someone ever tried to teach you something just by telling you and you think you get it.  However, once you really start practicing and doing it on your own then you start to fully comprehend it.  I’ve always learned more by doing than hearing.  I think that’s how God’s love is.  We can read our Bibles all day and even memorize it; however, the more we experience and exercise his love and trust in Him then the more he fills us with a greater understanding of His love.
It’s not always easy to love others, just to be honest, some try to make it difficult.  But have you ever stopped to think that’s the ones that may just need God’s love the most?  How about those times you neglected to put God first until something came up then you hit your knees?  Did God say “Sorry you’ve not put me first even after I’ve told you time and time again-even after I’ve already helped you out of this same circumstance?”  No, he didn’t.  Instead, God was still there right where you left him and once you were back in his grace you felt even more loved and closer to Him.   Maybe that’s why Paul understood God’s love better than others.  God’s love had reached him when he was about as low as someone could get.   When you don’t feel others are being “fair” to you or treating you like you want to be treated then that’s when God’s love can shine the brightest.  Do you we get that?
What if you loved like Jesus in your relationships?  What if …
Ø  We loved our spouses like Christ loved us? 
Ø  We loved our brothers and sisters in Christ like He loves us? 
Ø  We loved our children like God loves us?
Ø  We didn’t wear our feelings on our sleeves or “puff up” when things didn’t go our way but instead expected and willingly gave more than we received from our relationships. 
Ø  We didn’t judge or criticize but prayed more for the “inner being”.  
Ø  Instead of giving up on each other, we gave more of ourselves.   

What if we really started to comprehend God’s love and to do what the Bible says-show it!! 
 Novel idea huh?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Bolder Witness

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Be not though therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:  but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 1 Tim. 1:7-9

As I've been studying the beginning of Ephesians 3 this week this scripture, also written by Paul, has been on my heart.  Paul was called by God to deliver an unpopular, politically incorrect message.  A message that as he said had once been a mystery but had been revealed to him through the Spirit.  (Eph. 3:4-5)  The message was "That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." Ephesians 3:6

The Jews certainly did not want to hear this!  They had referred to the Gentiles as "dogs" and certainly didn't see them as their "fellowheirs".  Even though it wasn't easy for them to hear, did that keep Paul from spreading God's truth?  No-not even when he was thrown into prison for it!  Instead he continued  proclaiming the message from prison!  Why? 
"Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.  Therefore, I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." 2 Timothy 2:9-10

How I long to be a bolder witness as Paul was!  There are SO many things accepted by today's society that are wrong!  Why?  Because my Bible and the Spirit tells me so!  But do I stand up and speak the truth or do I just shy away from it to avoid "hurting someone's feelings" or for fear of what they'll think about me?  It's my prayer that next time I'm faced with this I'll be a little more like Paul!  Instead of fear, I'll have the spirit of power, love and sound mind and not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

God's Valentine Gift for You

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

Happy Valentine's Day!!  Just thought I'd share one of my favorite Valentine's poems with you all as a reminder of the greatest love of all!

God’s Valentine Gift

God's Valentine gift of love to us
Was not a bunch of flowers;
It wasn't candy, or a book
To while away the hours.

His gift was to become a man,
So He could freely give
His sacrificial love for us,
So you and I could live.

He gave us sweet salvation, and
Instruction, good and true --
To love our friends and enemies
And love our Savior, too.

So as we give our Valentines,
Let's thank our Lord and King;
The reason we have love to give
Is that he gave everything.

By Joanna Fuchs

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tot School: Jesus Loves Me/Valentine's Day

We've been talking all about love in Tot School these two weeks!  Since I didn't post last week, I thought I'd just do one post combining what we did last week and what we're planning to do this week.  Our theme last week was "Jesus Loves Me" and this week we are doing "Valentine's Day".

Table Time:
  1. Memory Verse - 1 John 4:9 - Made a heart collage with the memory verse
  2. Jesus Loves Me - Mini Book
  3. Jesus Loves Me Coloring Sheet
  4. Make Valentine Cards
  5. Sweetheart Candy Color Sort-Simply took a papertowel and drew circles to let her sort by color.  We attempted to use some small tongs but she quickly got frustrated with those and just picked them up!
  6. Made Chocolate Play-doh (Use your favorite play-dough recipe and add cocoa)- Used heart cookie cutters and created valentine chocolates to put in a box
  7. Heart Size Sequence
  8. Tracing Sheets
Floor Time:

  1. Jesus Loves Me Puzzle
  2. Tea Tray - practiced pouring beans from teapot to cups
  3. Valentine Tea Party - practiced setting table, pouring from teapot, etc.
  4. Blocks
  5. Kitchen

  1. Jesus Loves the Little Children
  2. O How I Love Jesus
  3. Will You Be My Valentine
  4. Jesus Loves Me with additional verse "I Love Jesus"

I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus likes to hear me say,
That I love Him every day!

Yes, I love Jesus!
Yes, I love Jesus!
Yes, I love Jesus!
Because He First Loved Me!
  1. Heart Sugar Cookies
  2. For our Tea Party - PB & J Heart shaped sandwiches, Valentine Cupcakes, Strawberry Kool-aide

Jesus Loves Me by Laura Logan
God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren
Will You Be My Valentine by Dr. Holly
The Biggest Valentine Ever by Steven Kroll
A Heart Full of Love (Tag Junior Book)

Mixing up our Chocolate Playdough

Jesus Loves Me Coloring Sheet with watercolors

Making Heart Sugar Cookies (Yes, we are still in our PJs)

Sweetheart Color Sort

Additional Valentine Links:

1+1+1=1 Valentine's Day
Joyful Learning - Valentine Tea (And Other) Activities
Homeschool Creations Valentine Early Learning Printables
Confessions of a Homeschooler - Jesus Loves Me Lapbook
Over the Big Moon Valentine Pre-K Pack

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day-Our Simple Way

Curt and I in our carriage on our wedding day!
"Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry."

— Tom Mullen

Some people don't believe in Valentine's Day.  They say you should show your Valentine you love them everyday.  (I call them Valentine Scrooges.)  Yes, in an ideal world you should and in ways we do.  But in reality, I think it's wonderful to have one day to do something special for your spouse.  Why not use Valentine's to do something extra special?  Why not break out the fine china or plan a special evening?  And I'm not talking about just going out to eat, really put some time and effort into creating a custom evening for just the two of you. 

We usually celebrate fairly simply (I know you're surprised right?).  I'm not a jewelry/flower kind of girl.  My husband knows the real way to my heart-chocolate covered strawberries ;)  The first year we were married I came home from work and he'd made chocolate covered strawberries himself with white and milk chocolate.  He'd arranged them in a heart on the table with a card and single rose.  I loved it and I guess he thought-"Why mess up a good thing?" So chocolate covered strawberries have kind of been a tradition since then.  I don't always get them the same way or even on Valentine's Day but somewhere around there he'll dip them himself and leave them somewhere, usually along with a little something else (card, flowers, DVD, book, etc). 

My gift to him is to prepare a dinner for us.  Most years I go all out and plan it somewhere special with music, lighting, etc..  For example, one year we got in the car and I didn't tell him where we were going but we went to the beach area at Lake Guntersville and had a picnic.  I had a special CD of "our songs" made, candlelight, etc.  Another year I transformed our backyard at the time.  It was a small, fenced in area and I hung lights all around the fence, white tablecloth, etc.

Like I said nothing that costs too much-it's really more about the extra effort and time spent with each other.  Sure, he could just stop and buy me something but to me it means so much more knowing he took the time to hand dip each of those chocolate strawberries!

Now I'm trying to come up with something for this year.  Maybe just a picnic under the stars in our own backyard?  Any ideas?  Just curious how do you and your Valentine celebrate?

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm Drinking From My Saucer

"I'm drinking from my saucer cause my cup has overflowed." 
-John McCay

I have been very blessed and my saucer has truly overflowed with some very special ladies from our church.  This weekend we had an opportunity to show a  little gratitude to some of them that have meant so much in my life.  They have been such an inspiration and strength to me, many from the time I was just a little girl until now.  My Mom, sister, and I had talked a couple months ago about doing something special around Valentine's Day for these ladies.  My great-grandparents came from England and my grandmother was raised on hot tea.  She always had hot tea with her meals.  For quite awhile, Mom had been buying tea cups, saucers, teapots, etc. at yard sales and thrift stores with plans on having a tea party with her family.  Then we decided since she already had most of the stuff why not host a tea party for the ladies at church.

This was the first thing just the three of us have ever hosted and we had such a good time just planning it all-going to thrift stores to find a few more teacups, discussing place settings, decorations, the menu, and what we were going to wear!  We had a blast and created some wonderful memories together!

My sister, Mom, and Me all wearing something special that was my grandmother's

Mom having a trial run before everyone arrived :)

For decorations we used a lot of pink tulle, pearls, roses, and a few angels. Nearly everything we used we either already had or found at a thrift or antique store.  A lot of it (like the candle holders) didn't even necessarily match but Mom cleaned them up and then sprayed them with a light pink spray paint so that they did! 

A picture of one table

It was an afternoon tea so we just kept our menu simple: cake squares and tea cakes (by Mandy Makes Cakes), chicken salad sandwiches (The Cupboard), strawberries, grapes, chocolate candy, tea (English breakfast, peppermint, peach, blueberry, wild berry) and water. 

Here's one picture of some of the ladies...almost a table full of past and present Sunday School teachers and pastors' wives. 

We had a wonderful, relaxing time!  It was the perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day with some special ladies whom we dearly love!  I actually enjoyed drinking hot tea more than I thought I would and think I may do it a little more often!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Tot School: Brown Bear, Brown Bear

This week we've been reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle  I actually purchased this book a couple of years ago from Kohl's.  For those of you who may not know or do not have a Kohl's in your area, Kohl's has a program called Kohl's Cares.  Every few months they will feature classic hardback children's books by a certain author and a stuffed animal that goes along with it for $5 a piece!!!  Not only is it a great deal but it's also a great cause.  100% of the proceeds goes back to kids.  This month the featured author is Eric Carle.  The last couple of years in March they have offered Dr. Seuss!  So you may want to keep a check on it!

I think this has possibly been "Miss Priss'" favorite book yet.  Especially after doing Polar Bear last week she had learned the rhythm and words to the book and loved "reading" it herself!  It is also perfect for her age level and a great way to review colors.  There are TONS of activities to do on this book.  In fact, I'm hoping we can go back and do some more later.  I found all of our activities linked to A to Z Teacher Stuff but I'll try to link each individual activity too.

Table Time:

  1. Created a Paper Plate Brown Bear Mask.  We then used it to retell the story and to play I Spy.
  2. Created a Yellow Duck Necklace.  After reading the book several times I let her choose which animal she wanted to create.  We colored it and then added yellow beads to each side.
  3. Painted a brown bear with pudding paint.  Then we got to eat some of the pudding! Yum!
  4. Brown Bear Candy Sort - Actually made to use M&Ms but we had colored Tic Tacs and Reese Pieces so we used those.  She LOVED this activity.
  5. Color Word Flip Book - Before we even put this book together, we used just the cards to match the colors.  You could also use them to play Memory.  Then we assembled the book and she could flip and match it that way.
Floor Time:

  1. I Spy - With and without our Brown Bear Mask
  2. Color Hunt - She would draw out a crayon and then see what else she could find in the room that matched the color.

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear Turn Around (Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Turn Around)

Matching our Candy according to Color

"Miss Priss" with her Brown Bear Mask and Yellow Duck necklace

Book and Bear from Kohls

Painting Brown Bear With Pudding (just a little on her chin :)

 Addiontal Links/Resources: - Author Bill Martin reading Brown Bear

And I could go on and on....Have fun with this one!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazing Grace: My Story

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  Ephesians 2:4-5

This week in Ephesians I have been taken back to a time when I was 7 years old.  A time when even though I was a sinner God still loved me and showed me mercy and grace.  A time when (as my Daddy says) it became personal to me.  God was no longer just  Abraham, David and PaPaw's God-but through Christ he became MY God

I'm thankful that I can look back 24 years later and still be amazed!  There are so many things we get excited about and want to share with others.  God's grace should definitely be here's my experience of grace...

My parents always took me to church as a little girl.  If the church doors were open then we were there!  I'm thankful for the church I went (and still go to) where the truth and the whole truth was (is) preached, including hell. I'd never done anything incredibly bad yet by nature I was a sinner (Ephesians 1:3) and just as guilty as anyone else.  Soon conviction set up and I was terrified of dying and going to hell.  I can remember asking my Daddy to wait until I went to sleep before he did.  One night he even took me outside and we walked around the house as he showed me there was nothing to be afraid of outside.  However, it wasn't what was on the outside I was afraid of it was what I DIDN'T have on the inside!  I was living dead.

Then on Sunday, January 17, 1988, we were having a wonderful service with testifying and then the church was singing a song and fellow shipping.  I remember looking around and wishing I had that joy and peace all of them were talking and singing about! 

Our pastor came to me and honestly I don't even remember what he did or said-I know what he DIDN'T do-he didn't drag me to the altar, tell me what to pray or just to sign a card.  All I really remember is him coming to me and then I went to the altar on my own free will.  I don't even remember the exact prayer I prayed but I do remember the feeling when I came up from the altar.  It's impossible to put it into words.  You'll never know until it happens to you-until it becomes personal to you.  But just to name a few-free, peaceful, joyful, loved, and accepted!  I had received God's amazing GIFT of salvation. 

Paul also says in Romans:
For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with him; Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Romans 6:7-10

I who was once dead to sin became alive in Christ!  How about you? Has it became personal to you?  Do you have an experience with death and then God's grace to share?

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