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When the Write Door Opens -Matthew 7:7

God's lessons to a writer, teacher, wife, and mom

Is Your Full Armor On?

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and it’s nice to be back! We’ve had quite an interesting couple of months. After almost 10 years in the same place, we now have new jobs, new dwellings, a new church hunt, are in new states…and my “new” list could keep going on and on. Thankfully, there is one part of our lives that has stayed the same–home schooling.

We are getting to that point, though, of having “spring fever.” The point where the weather is was just starting to get warm, the days are getting longer, and the days of school are easier to count down, then count up. Yipee!!  Summer is coming, but it’s not here yet. I think I’m having to tell myself this even more than my son. I felt like we needed something to break our routine. We needed something interesting, but also something to refocus our hearts and minds so that we could keep ourselves from growing frustrated with each other, and complacent with our spiritual walk.

My son is memorizing Ephesians 6 for school. In this chapter, Paul speaks of putting on the whole armor of God. Since my son is very interested in the military, I thought it would be fun to study the armor of God from a soldier’s perspective.

I searched the Internet and found a curriculum a church used for VBS, but it wasn’t exactly what we needed, so I altered the idea and made our own “Soldier in the Army of God” field guide and study.

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Click here to download the guide book: Armor of God

This is a short two week study. I’m going to touch on some of the highlights for each day, but you can click on the link below and have all of the instructions and information to help with the daily lessons.

Click here to download the lesson guide: Guide for Armor of God lessons

Although this video is based on ancient warriors and battle armor, it is so inspiring that I had to include it. Please watch and be inspired to put your armor on!

 

Here is just an overview of what we did in our 2 week lessons:

Belt of Truth

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Background: In ancient times, the belt was the most important part of the armor, because all of the other pieces of the armor were attached or fitted to the belt. If the soldier didn’t have his belt, he wasn’t going to make it in the battle. Soldiers today also have a belt. They have their guns attached to their belts, as well as some forms of protective vests.

Application: We know the Bible is true. The belt of truth is the Word of God, and it is the only true foundation we have. If we don’t have it, then we will never win the battle. Without it, none of the other parts of the armor even matter.

Breastplate/Chestplate of Righteousness

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We chose to do “Chestplate,” because of my “manly” son

Background on Kevlar vests (bullet proof vests):

It was accidently invented by Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist who was trying to invent a light-weight fiber to use in tires, to help a car have better gas mileage. What she invented was a fiber that is 5 times stronger than steel. It is used in many things, but for what we’re studying, it’s interesting to note that Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, army helmets, and even gloves, boots, and other body “armor.”

Interesting facts about a bullet proof vest:

-If a soldier is shot wearing a vest, it still hurts. Some explain it as getting hit by a hammer (In our Christian lives, the Devil’s darts can hurt our feelings and “wound” our spirits, but if we are God’s child, the Devil can’t get the ultimate victory.)

-Soldiers have to inspect their vests daily (just as we have to maintain our righteousness each and every day)

-Vests can wear out and need to be replaced. Sometimes we get tired and weary of the Devil’s tactics. We can’t give up though. We may only need to refresh our vests and start clean again.

Boots of Preparation and the Gospel of Peace

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We, as Christians, are to be prepared to always give an answer of “the Hope that is within us.” Christians have the opportunity to go and spread peace in this “war zone” that we call the world.

Shield of Faith

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We cut the edges and taped them, so they wouldn’t be sharp. Remember, Carson “designed” this, so it’s very unique😉
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We used Velcro and stuck the sticky side to the shield. He wanted to use a glove, because he said the Velcro poked him.
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He loved the hammering part, of course.

Soldiers/ police officers, etc. use shields even today. They are sometimes nearly as tall as the person holding them. In ancient times, they were made out of many different types of metal, depending upon what they had available in that time period. Some were even made like tightly woven baskets. The soldiers would put the shields all together to create a type of wall to hopefully keep the “fiery darts of the wicked” from piercing through the shields. The shield was vital to the soldier. Without it, they had no hope of survival.

Application: This is true for our Christian life today. We must have faith that Jesus has risen from the dead and that he is victorious over death and hell. To keep us from being discouraged by the Devil, we need to take on the shield of faith each day.

Helmet of Salvation

Helmet Info: In ancient days, the helmet was personally created for each soldier. The soldier couldn’t just pick a helmet off a shelf and use it for battle. Every detail had to be tailored to the unique person, or the soldier would be unfit to fight in the battle.

The blacksmith would take many different measurements to ensure that the helmet would be comfortable and functional for each soldier, allowing the soldier to see through the eye slits, to have his cheekbones, nose and neck protected by the intricately molded metal.

This can be compared to our salvation. We have to make the personal decision for ourselves. We can’t rely on the “helmets of salvation” of our friends or family and just slip those one, expecting to be protected. Like a soldier, we are only protected by our own helmets of salvation. We have to make a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, in order to survive the spiritual warfare of our land.

Sword of the Lord

Note: This, of course, was my son’s favorite day. He loved using the dagger. I felt alright with it, as long as we stressed that we were “cutting” out evil and not just stabbing everything we saw!

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We used our “swords” to destroy the lies of the enemy.

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Praying Always

We can pray sincerely anywhere and everywhere. We need to pray in the Spirit of the Lord and not just have a memorized prayer that is meaningless.

ID Tags (IDentify with Christ) – See the attached page of the Field Guide for the information about the ID tags.

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The Bible says that when we are saved we become a new creature. We “die” to ourselves and we start living for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

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If you write your info backwards, when you turn it over, it’s raised up. It was easier for me to write what Carson wanted on a piece of paper, and then he copied it on the foil.

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You can use the pictures of ID tags in the Filed Guide instead and have your child write on them, if you don’t want to fool with actually making them, but my son LOVED making them with the aluminum foil. When you write on them, they look raised up like it’s actually stamped on the metal. Pretty cool.

I hope this is as meaningful to you and your child as it ended up being to us. I learned a lot in the research, and Carson loved relating it all to a soldier. We have referred back to these truths many times, in dealing with his attitude and Christian walk and how he should be “suiting up” in the armor each day.

So, get your armor on and enlist in the army of the Lord!

 

 

 

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My Life-Friend

Day #5 and Day #8 – Author Life Month –

Inspiration for my novel’s cover and an Awesome Moment

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I took this picture on my first trip to see Cana Island Lighthouse.

I decided to combine a couple of days, since they are very much related.

The inspiration for the lighthouse picture on the front of my book came from visiting Cana Island itself. I actually took the picture the first time I visited the lighthouse. The cover designer from my publishing company had contacted me about the lighthouse pictures she had found on the Internet, saying that she would be seeking the permission needed to use the pictures. I mentioned to her that I had taken some when we were in Bailey’s Harbor. After showing her the pictures I took, we decided on the current one below.

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Cana Island Lighthouse, Bailey’s Harbor, WI

These pictures were taken the very first time I stepped onto Cana Island. It was just the most beautiful day.

The next few pictures are what I’m attributing to my Day #8 – Awesome Moments. After my husband, Chad, and I were first married, we went on a vacation back to Bailey’s Harbor with our best friends, Alicia and Ryan Estes, and Alicia’s parents and mine. This was just a dream to me–visiting this place with my husband and my loved ones.

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My husband will kill me for including this, but I couldn’t resist!

I must share just a little background with you.

From the time they were little, my parents and Alicia’s parents grew up together in a little town village (my grandmother always reminded me that it was a village, not a town) in Ohio. They became life-friends. When they married and had us, of course we also became life-friends (or as Anne of Green Gables put it) bosom friends. We did everything together–camping, went to church and school together, had sock fights together (don’t underestimate the sock fights–they were brutal). We were more together then we were apart.

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Alicia is on the left, and I’m on the right.

But one day the Lord decided we’d had enough sock fights, and Alicia’s dad was transferred to Wisconsin for his job.

My little 9 year old world suddenly came to a screeching halt. And even though it was 26 years ago, I still remember my first day back to third grade, after Alicia left. It was recess time and the other kids had just left the room. I was supposed to join them, but I remember just laying my head down on my desk and crying. I missed my bosom friend.

You would think that would have been the end of our friendship. What would keep two little girls’ friendship so strong, especially when they’re 400 miles apart?

It could have only been the Lord.

Well, he also used our parents to help out with the foot work. They encouraged us to write to each other, and they also took their vacations to take us to visit each other, helping us continue to create lasting memories. And it was on one of these vacations that I was introduced, for the very first time, to the lighthouse on Cana Island.

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This was in one of my scrapbooks. It’s one of my favorite pictures with my friend, Alicia.

Truly, the Lord was in control all along. I know he created us with the intelligence to make wise choices, but I also believe He orchestrates our paths, leading us to the ones that will spread His message the farthest. The message I hope to convey to all who read A Light in Bailey’s Harbor is that no matter where God takes you, whether it’s a physical distance or whether it’s spiritual, He can always give enough grace to get you through it and enough peace to keep you moving on.

And we did move on.

At each move, God kept our friendship strong. He knew I would need a life-friend, and He sure did choose her well. Here’s one example of our special friendship. I had just finished my senior year of high school, and we were getting ready for my graduation. My Mom had me go up to my room to get something, and when I flipped on my light, there was Alicia!  She had just had her wisdom teeth out a couple of days before, but she’d still come all the way from Wisconsin to be at my graduation.

Over the years, we were always able to find a way to be together and share the moments that bind friends together, despite the distances. And boy did we test out this distance thing.

I lived in Ohio. Alicia lived in Wisconsin. She went to college in South Carolina, and then got married and moved to Indiana. It was then that we thought we could kind of pick up where we had left off those 15 years earlier, since she was now only a couple hours away.

This lasted for about 3 years, and then my husband and I moved to Tennessee for his job.

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The cheese head who separated us again (just kidding, darling😏)

 

But even then, we remained best friends–taking trips to the beach, celebrating the births of our children, and hosting each other in our homes.

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Going golfing

And now, to watch our children play as friends, it’s almost too much for my sentimental heart to take.

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In all honesty, what choice do they have? Life-friends only produce more of their own kind, at least that’s what we’ve decided. God definitely had, and still has, a plan to foster this friendship that he began in our families nearly 60 years ago.

I think of the friendship of David and Jonathan and the moment that they had to part ways for David’s safety, running from Jonathan’s father, King Saul. Secretly warning David, Jonathan called out to his runner the heart breaking phrase, “Is not the arrow beyond thee? Make speed, haste, stay not…” (I Sam. 20: 37-38)

Even though it broke their hearts to leave each other, God had a plan. Because of their friendship, David befriended the family of Jonathan, despite all his father did to utterly destroy David. Because of this, others saw David’s forgiveness and loyalty and followed him. Because others followed him, he was able to accomplish God’s will in battle, conquering many nations for Israel. With these men who respected and followed him, he also paved the way for his son, Solomon, to one day build the most holy dwelling place of the Lord–the temple.

How exciting to think what he’ll do in our futures, in our children’s and what he can do in yours. I realize now how wise it is to choose good friends. They don’t just affect a moment in your past or your present, life-friends affect your life forever.

As Jonathan said, “Go in peace, for…we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.'”

Cherish your life-friends. They will change your life.

 

Author Life Month

I thought this was an interesting and fun idea. I was made aware of it by some other authors and thought I’d jump on the band wagon.

Of course, I can’t honestly say I will be able to post every day. I’m finding out that potty training my two year old and homeschooling my seven year old are two things that just don’t work well together.

“Yes, Carson, Homer wrote about the Trojan War…Cole, do you have to peepee in the potty?…No, Carson I know you just went to the restroom. I was talking to Cole….Yes, the Trojan War was about all the guys hiding in the horse…No, Cole! Don’t empty the potty chair!…” Multiply these interruptions by maybe, hundreds?

Let’s just say today was a very long school day.

So, when I respond to the ‘Author Life Month’ questions, I’ll be grouping the days together. This will also save your Inbox from filling up, not that you mind, of course.

Without further adieu, Days #1-3:

Day #1 – My novel

onsale2.jpgIf you are interested in purchasing or reviewing a copy of my novel, please click the picture above.

Day #2 – First Person Who Inspired Me to be an Author

This was supposed to be my author photo, but I liked the idea another author had. I wanted to share a photo of the person who first inspired me to be an author. My mother, Vicki Lawson.

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Though I often had ‘too many words’ (as I put it, when I was 4), my mom never swept them aside. Instead, she brushed each word into her hand, like a tiny grain of sand, and bottled them for another day. And when Mom knew I was ready, she uncorked the bottle and slowly poured it out in front of me, spilling the grains of sand–the countless words. “Now,” she encouraged. “Use these to build something amazing. Write, Bethany.”

And I did.

Thanks, Mom.

Day #3 – My Last 5-Star Read

Does Mickey’s Tractor or Farmer Boy qualify as a 5-star read? It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to read for just pure pleasure, but I do have two ‘big people’ books that I would recommend.

Dawn Crandall’s The Everstone Chronicles

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I’ve only read The Hesitant Heiress, so far. It was very compelling, and I loved her style of writing. Click on the picture above and check out Dawn Crandall.

Here’s the other book. Although it’s more of a Bible study, it’s such a wonderfully written study. I’ve been through it once and am going through it again. All but one of the women in this study are in the line of Christ. It’s such a wonderful reminder that God can use anyone to accomplish his will.

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Stay tuned for more fun facts as the month goes on.

 

Love is…(according to two kindergarteners)

What is love to you? I dare say the answers would surprise all of us. Why? We think differently, value separate ideas and live in unique ‘worlds,’ so it makes sense that what causes one person to feel loved may not even bring a smile to another person’s face. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it?

I love the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. You’ve probably read it or at least hear of it. His theory is that each of us respond best to one or more of these five types of love languages–words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. And if you are high-maintenance (not that I am–don’t ask my husband) you may respond to all of the above.

Obviously, we know that men and women are usually on opposite poles with this topic. I guess this is why we have so much miscommunication. We try so hard to love each other the way we feel loved.

One of my love languages is words of affirmation. I like to hear a “Thanks,” or a “I know you worked hard to…” when I’ve accomplished something. I guess it just makes me feel loved to know someone appreciates what I’m doing or how hard I’m working.

When Chad and I were first married, I began loving Chad in this love language. “You did a great job with the quarter-round molding on the floor.” or “That’s a great paint job.” He finally looked at me with a face of embarrassment and whispered, “I don’t need you to be a cheerleader. You’re embarrassing me.” What I saw as love was actually embarrassing him.

I found out that his love language was/is acts of service–remembering to pick up the dry cleaning, making his favorite meal, etc. In my mind, whether I completed these tasks or not was not a big deal, but I found out that they were things he valued and made him feel loved.

Children have different love languages, too.

Carson’s favorite thing to do with his dad is work out in the garage. Any time he writes in Chad’s birthday card or writes him a little note he’ll mention something about how he loves to do jobs with him in the garage. He views this time as love. I’m not sure if it’s the acts of service or the quality time, but working with Dad is the ‘love of his life.’

So, this brings me to the picture at the top of this post. This was a drawing that a friend of mine sent me a picture of. Her grand daughter had it in her ‘special things.’ Carson drew this when he was in kindergarten. It just cracked me up. It is a perfect illustration of Carson’s love language. Love to him is working side by side on a traffic light high above the road in a cherry picker. What could be more romantic?

The funny thing is that I remember seeing the drawing that Addie had given Carson in return. I wish I could find it, but we couldn’t. I remember it clearly, though, because of the sharp contrast between it and Carson’s. Addie’s was full of colorful rainbows joining frilly red and pink hearts. She had written, “I Love You, Carson” in curly cue, fancy letters.

I began to think these two were on to something. Oh, how much simpler life could be, if we would be as direct with each other as Carson and Addie. “Listen, Pal, you need to love me with frills, rainbows and hearts. Got it?”

But of course, God knows we need balance. We need a help-meet, a partner. I guess it’s good to remember that love isn’t always frills, rainbows and hearts. Like Carson’s drawing, sometimes love is work-truck tough. It’s hard work, but the work is so much sweeter working together, side-by-side.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow…” (Ecc. 4:9 & 10)

 

 

 

 

Nomination for the INSPY Award

I just got word from my publisher that my novel, A Light in Bailey’s Harbor, is eligible for nomination for the INSPY Award.

The INSPY Award was created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith.

So…here’s where you, my faithful readers, come in. By clicking the INSPY icon below, you can nominate (or I really think it should say ‘vote’ for ) A Light in Bailey’s Harbor for this award!

Before you click, there are a few things you will need to know in order to enter the information. When you click the icon, it will open a new window. This will allow you to toggle, or jump back and forth, between this post and the nomination page. If you want to cut and paste, I’ve included the needed information below. Here’s what you will need to enter:

Title: A Light in Bailey’s Harbor

Author: Baker, Bethany

Publisher: Click ‘Other‘ and type in: Mantle Rock Publishing. The company is small and has just recently attained the publishing status to be included in these types of awards.

Category: You can enter me in Debut Novel and/or Historical Romance. You have to do 2 separate entries, though. You can only click one at a time. It would be wonderful if you have the time to do both!!

Publishing Month: October 2015

ISBN: 9780996173476

Reason: This is just supposed to be 1 or 2 sentences. For example: This is the best-est book I’ve ever read. Of course, I’m joking 🙂

I think it ends with your name and email, but this will not be shared.

Voting ends on January 16th, so if you have a moment, please click below and vote away!!

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One more exciting opportunity I just had to share. Some of you have seen this already, but I was blessed with the privilege to share details about my novel with a reporter from the Citizen Tribune, our local newspaper. I wasn’t sure how much of the interview they would actually include, but I was pleased to see that they hadn’t cut out any of the spiritual content in my responses. This was such a wonderful way to, once again, share the Lord’s message through the printed word.

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If you’ve had a chance to read my novel, please take a minute and review it on Amazon.com! That really helps with my sales!

Thanks, so much. Have a wonderful week.

Bethany

 

 

What I Learned From a Half-Priced Nativity Set

It all started with a carved nativity set I found marked at half price at an after Christmas sale. My husband had given me a gift card, and I had already filled my basket with lots of goodies at this little specialty shop near our house.

I was over my limit, but really wanted the nativity set. Without much thought, I asked the lady at the counter to ring up everything and tell me the total, before adding the set.

As she was ringing up sparkly snowmen, wooden stars made with berries and pine cones, fat fluffy cardinal ornaments and owl salt and pepper shakers, I noticed the temperature of my cheeks rising along with the rising numbers on the cash register tape.

I had literally made no room for Jesus.

How had I done it again? It was only one day after Christmas for goodness sakes, but how quickly and easily I had already let other things take precedence. Despite my chagrin, I did buy the nativity set, took it home and set it up on my kitchen counter.

Turning the figures of Mary and Joseph toward their precious baby, I began studying Mary’s face–the calm look of her tiny carved features. I wondered, how had Mary made room for Jesus?

She married Joseph, so it’s safe to assume that the couple would have had a home together. Before making this journey to Bethlehem, would Mary have been preparing for the birth of her baby? Until this year, I had never thought about this aspect of Jesus’ birth.

Did she have those ‘nesting’ tendencies like all expectant mothers seem to have–the feeling of urgency to prepare everything for the baby’s arrival?  Did Mary ask Joseph to make a cradle for the baby? We know Joseph was a carpenter, so imagine how it could have looked. What might he have carved on it? The angel that had appeared to him in the dream? The baby’s name, Jesus? And how special to think that both Jesus’ earthly father and His heavenly Father would have worked together to create this cradle. God created the tree, and Joseph shaped it to fit the Son of God. Amazing.

Did Mary sit up late into the night cutting cloth to swaddle Jesus in? Researching the care of infants in ancient times, I found that swaddling clothes were used in place of cloth diapers. They would just replace the soiled section of wrapped cloth. I feel almost irreverent talking about it, but it was a fact of life. Jesus was human and would need all of the typical, human baby necessities.

So as Mary cut strips of cloth, how far did she allow her thoughts to wander? Did she dream only of caring for this chubby, dark-headed infant she would soon hold, or did she dare to let her mind wander to the words the angel had spoken to her and to Joseph?

“He shall be great…the Son of the Highest…He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever…the Son of God…the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David…He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:32-34)

If her son was to ‘reign over the house of Jacob’ or be given ‘the throne of His father David,’ then Mary could assume that her son would one day be a king. And if He would ‘save His people from their sins,’ then he would also be a Savior? But when? And how?

I don’t know about you, but my mind would have been running a million different directions–one direction would be assuring myself that God was going to pave this path to His son’s kingship with ease, with fanfare, and with the absence of hardship. This was the Son of God. He was even more privileged than a typical king’s son, and the children of typical kings have little or no hardship in their lives. Everything works out seamlessly for them, because their fathers see to it. If I were Mary, I think my finite mind would have had to naively assume that God would make the path ahead smooth and nearly problem free.

Boy would I have been wrong. In 12 brief words we can see that the path for Jesus was anything but smooth and problem free: census, eighty miles, Herod, Egypt, Satan, Pharisees, kiss, Roman soldiers, cross, death.

This had to give Mary much to think about. We know she took time to think and analyze what was going on around her, because of the verse in Luke 2.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

In the verses before this, the shepherds had just left the stable, “…making known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

And then we get to verse 19, and it begins with the conjunction “but,” so we know there’s going to be an opposite viewpoint. Everyone in town heard these things about the angels appearing to the shepherds and about the Christ Child’s birth, and they ‘wondered’ about it. The word “wondered” means amazed, in awe, astonished, in disbelief. It was so astonishing, that they weren’t quite sure they even believed what they were hearing…

“But Mary kept…” The word “kept” means retain, use for the future, guard, protect. She may have been in awe, but she also believed. She was going to protect and guard all she had seen and heard and felt.

“…and ponder it in her heart.”  I love the word “ponder.” I found that it comes from the Latin word for “weight.” Here Mary is storing away all that she is seeing and hearing and feeling, having no idea that in 33 years she would have to recall it all and weigh it against the plausible, the believable, and the sensible lies of the Evil One.

How does any of this apply to you and me? Well, I felt like the moral of the story was screaming to me as I studied this. How many times have I forgotten what I knew to be true–what I’ve kept in my heart? How many times have I loaded up one side of my scales with the Devil’s lies–this doesn’t make sense, this can’t be God’s will, God wouldn’t allow one of his children to go through this, if this is God’s will, why is it so hard–and on and on they go. I step back and throw up my hands and say, “See? God’s forgotten me, again.”

And of course that still, small Voice will begin to speak and to prod and to remind me of all that I have kept in my heart. All the promises He’s made and kept. All the promises in His word. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart…” (Ps.119:11) The scale begins to squeak.

“…thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) The scale begins to move.

And who is the truth? Who is the Word?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6) The scale begins to tip.

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…”  (John 1:14) It tips further.

Who is the truth? Who is the Word?

Jesus.

Truth itself, tips the scales. The Devil is defeated, along with his age-old ploy of trying to make us forget all the Lord has done in the past, all His goodness, all His leading, all His guiding, all His truth.

“Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

She kept them. She weighed them. She knew the Truth.

We must do the same. I must do the same–in every situation, in every walk of life. No matter the heavy weight we bear, Truth will tip the scales every time.

 

 

 

Taming the Christmas Crazies

 

The other day I was watching Cole play with an old sour cream container I’d washed, slit the lid, and provided different items he could push through the slits.

All went well until he slid the last object through the slit and realized he couldn’t get them back out. At this realization, he grabbed that container and shook it for all it was worth, banging the contents around loudly. After at least twenty shakes, he would stop, peek through the hole for a few seconds and then, Whoosh! He’d start those twenty shakes again. This went on for a good five or ten minutes until he finally got frustrated enough that he chucked that container as hard as he could across the room. The lid popped off at that point, and the contents flew everywhere.

With the craziness of the Christmas season surrounding us, the image of those objects flying in all directions came to mind. As moms, especially, you know how it feels to be pulled in a million directions. You’re shaken up until you don’t think you can see straight, and then suddenly it stops. You get a moment of peace to catch your breath, not realizing the little eyes that are peeking at you through the slit in the cup, contemplating their next move. And then, whoosh! Here you go again!

 

The other night I had reached my shaking limit. My husband was on a trip, Cole, my 19 month old, had the croup and had been to the ER once and the doctor 3 times (shake, shake, shake…). Then, of course, he decided to be a kind brother and share his sickness with his 7 year old brother (shake, shake, shake…).

So, we had just left our 3rd doctor’s visit in a week and were heading to the pharmacy to pick up ear drops for Cole’s newest issue–an ear infection. But there was a mix up at the pharmacy and we had to go to another one across town. While in the drive thru, there was another mixup with the insurance.

Everyone knows how frustrating it is when you have multiple sick children and then have to deal with doctor and insurance issues. But what happens when you add just one more issue? Hmm, how about the guy in the car behind you laying on his horn for a good 5 seconds? Does that qualify as an issue? Well, I’d had enough. I snapped. It was not my best Mommy moment. I hung half way out of the window yelling, “Are you kidding me? My babies are sick. What do you want me to do about it, huh? Huh?” Then of course as all sleep deprived moms do, I started crying during my apologies to the ladies at the drive thru, while they were vowing to me through the speaker that they would make the guy behind me pay for all he had done.

This was only 3 pm. The night was still young.

Anyway, we got home and thankfully, had a much better evening. We were getting ready for bed, and I gave Carson his dose of Prednisone (AKA Juice of the Devil). He had only been on it one other time and I swore that I’d only give it to him again if he was dying. Well, (the day before) we were about there.

Last time he was on this medicine he became an evil child. He was 4 years old, and we were in the bakery at DollyWood and had to wait in line. He yelled out in the middle of a huge crowd, “Next time we are just going to steal this bread! I hate waiting in line!” I told him to be quiet and he yelled “No!” like I was murdering him or something. It was insane!

You can see why I was hesitant to put him on this again. Well, this time time he was just dramatic to the nth degree–almost like he was coming down from the effects of local anesthesia. He was weepy and whining, with this operatic cry.

So, as I was getting Cole ready for bed, Carson yelled for help from the restroom. I stuck Cole in his bed with books and toys and went in the restroom to find Carson sick. The sick that comes from both ends. It had hit suddenly and he hadn’t reacted fast enough. So…you get the picture.

Carson begins his operatic, high-pitched whining as I was trying to get him in the shower and get things cleaned up. He was  waving his hands and  flopping around, whining, “But what will we ever do?”

After finally after getting him cleaned up and settled in bed, I cleaned the restroom and went back to Cole’s room to finish putting his pjs on.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a crib and blankets and sheets and toys and and books coated in a layer of (you guessed it…) throw up.

I think that was the moment that the lid came off the sour cream container, and all the objects went flying. I just stood there, not even knowing where to begin.

And for some reason, all that came was laughter. The day was just too ludicrous for anything else.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

I think it took my lid flying off and all of my getting used up and poured out and emptied, in order to make room for joy to flood in. I was forced to step back and evaluate everything, and even though it was just a couple of seconds, it was enough for me to realize a few things:

  1. Yes, I had issues with the doctor and insurance company, but within two hours I was able to get Cole to a doctor, have him treated, given medicine and take him back home. Mothers in remote areas of the world would probably give their lives to provide this timely care for their children.
  2. Yes, my kids were very sick, but they will get better. So many other children all over the world won’t.
  3. And yes, my little world was swirling all around me, but Psalm 46:10 was still true. “Be still and know that I am God.” He was, He is, and He always will be.

So, hopefully, in all of this madness swirling around you this Christmas holiday season, you can find a moment to just be still, laugh, and know that He’s still God.

 

Just a “Doggone” Cute Idea

One of the ‘giving’ ideas for Carson’s advent calendar is to make dog biscuits for the neighbor’s dogs. So, last night we tackled it. It ended up being the easiest little project we’ve done. So simple and so cute! This recipe is only 2 ingredients: 2 -4oz. Containers of meat baby food and 2 cups of oats or flour. See? Simple, simple, simple.

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First, we measured 2 cups of oats. You can also use flour.

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Next, add the 2 containers of baby food. We used Beef Vegetable. You can use any kind, just make sure it’s 2- 4oz. containers.

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Then, you just line a tray with Parchment paper and form whatever shapes you want…

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Carson wanted to make the first letters of each of the dogs’ names. We also tried to make snowmen, dog bone shapes and a Christmas tree. The recipe said to roll it out and use cookie cutters, but our dough was a little too sticky and somehow I didn’t have flour. How could I not have flour? Shows what a made-from-scratch cook I am. Oh, well.

Put the biscuits in the oven on 350 for 20-25 min. (We did 23)

After the timer goes off, leave them in the oven until the oven cools. This dries them out and makes them hard.

And that’s it.

Carson is so excited to deliver them today. Hopefully, the dogs like them😊.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend, and happy giving!

 

Table Talk Tuesday – Advent Ideas

Well, there’s nothing like waiting until the last minute. I just finished up my preparations for Carson and Cole’s advent calendars/ideas. Who knew December 1st came the same time every year? Every year I determine to prepare for this early, and every year it sneaks up on me!

I’m probably into Advent overload, but really, can there ever be too much sharing of the Christmas Story and the Christmas Spirit? Surely not, unless my ornery 1 year old throws his wet blankie on my creativity. Like right now. He is sleeping, but has awakened multiple times with a croupy cough. I think this may be a very long night for my little buddy and his Mommy. But while he’s sleeping, let me tell you my big plans…

Since I’m homeschooling Carson, I have the freedom to alter our schedule when needed. I decided, despite my Type A, control freak, stay-on-schedule personality, that what better time to change things up than Christmas time, right? So, here’s what I’m planning. I hope you may get inspired and try some of these ideas. These ideas aren’t my own, except for the unspiritual ones (figures). So, I think that means I can brag about them. I am so thankful for some of my dear friends for passing some of these ideas along to our family!

Schedule:

1. First thing in the morning, Carson moves his LEGO man on our LEGO advent calendar. He designed this last year. We took a picture of it and kept all of the pieces in a Ziplock bag for this year.

2. Cole and Carson open their advent boxes. This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations. It has little doors to hide small items for each day leading up to Christmas. My husband got it for me the first or second year we were married. IMG_0007

For Carson:

Carson and I started a Giving and Receiving Advent two years ago, and it has become such a special tradition. Each day I put a little note in his box that tells whether it’s a ‘Giving’ or ‘Receiving’ day. I usually alternate them, but some times we need to double up, depending on what we are doing. Here’s a list of what we’re doing this year:

Giving:

  • Write a thank you note for your Basketball coach and deliver it tonight at practice.
  • Call the great-grandparents.
  • Deliver homemade dog biscuits to the neighbor’s dogs
  • Pay for a person behind us in the McDonald’s drive-thru and leave a note (see below-this is Carson’s favorite)
  • Leave a $1 at Dollar Tree in the toy aisle and put a note with it.
  • Bake and take cookies to the librarians
  • Bring candy canes for AWANA friends
  • Leave a card and treat for the mail lady
  • Tape quarters and a note to the newspaper machine at the grocery store.
  • Deliver gifts to our neighbors.

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“Ho, ho, ho!” From the ‘Ding-Dongs’ next door. (Pinterest–This cracked me up! Can’t wait to deliver them!)

  • Give 3 people compliments today

Receiving:

  • Skip one subject of school
  • Make dog biscuits for Roscoe, Luna, and Daisy (neighbor’s dogs)
  • Stay up 30 min. later
  • Do your spelling activity/practice on the window with Expo Marker.
  • Sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed
  • New chapter book!
  • No jobs this week (except take out trash)
  • Watch a Christmas movie BEFORE school
  • Anything you want for lunch!
  • Bubble gum contest
  • Decorate a Christmas tree for the birds
  • Christmas Eve box: popcorn, movie, new pjs, early Christmas present

For Cole:

I was trying to come up with something very simple to teach Cole a little about giving. He loves chocolate, so I decided to try putting 2 Hershey Kisses behind each door of my advent box.IMG_0009

Everyday Cole will get to open the door, take out the 2 Hershey Kisses, but only keep one. IMG_0011He will give the other one to Bub Bub (Carson). I know it’s simple, but every day we will make over the idea that he is sharing and that Bub is soo happy when Cole shares. Hopefully, some aspect of giving will stick in his little brain.

3. Bible/Prayer Time –

I’m so excited about both of these! The Compassion Experience we went to a couple of months ago really made an effect on Carson, so I think this Advent for Orphans Calendar (Thanks to my dear friend, Jodi) will be a great thing to use to guide our prayers for children all over the world.

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We will also be reading, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (thanks to another dear friend, Melissa), an advent book giving stories and showing the family line from Jesse (David’s father) to Jesus.  “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1) The really neat thing about this book is that it comes with a free download of ornament templates that you can print out so that your child can color them and create their own Jesse tree–telling the story through pictures from Jesse to Jesus.

I’m planning to use our roll paper and have Carson design a tree. We’ll cut it out and hang it on the wall and attach our ornaments to it. I was going to get a branch from outside, but It’s been raining here for 2 days, and I waited until the last minute, remember? Another option would be to use a small artificial tree. I was going to do that, but can’t think of a place to put it where my 1 year old wouldn’t be able to get to it.

For those of you who homeschool, some of these stories are lengthy, so you may even want to use them for Literature time. We’ve somehow gotten ahead in Literature, so I thought I may take a break and read and do the activities in the book for this month. There are some great ideas at the end of each day!

Anyway, I know this was a long post, but I just had so many good things to share. Whatever you do, remember the reason behind it all. I often get excited about the projects and forget to slow down and enjoy the true Inspiration for them. I’m determined to  SLOW down this year and enjoy every moment!

One quick reminder. Don’t forget about the Facebook Launch Party on Thursday! There are some really neat giveaways! Check it out more by clicking the picture below.

 

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