God has been dealing with me this summer. He’s pruning my heart and guiding me into a more perfect relationship with Him and my family.
Here are the lessons I’m learning:
What is God teaching you lately?
We’ve all heard the lesson and seen the lovely images with the call to action about how we have to get out of the boat to follow Jesus.
And many of us do get out of the boat and then get bogged down in life and start to doubt and sink in despair. Some cry out to Jesus but others, too proud to ask, tread water and thrash and flail on our own rather than admit we need any help.
How far are you from Jesus?
Let’s look at how far away Peter was when he feared the wind and cried out to Jesus to save him:
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
I assume Jesus was only an arm’s length away. Certainly, He was close.
Peter looked away from Jesus. He saw the wind. He was afraid. He cried out to Jesus.
Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
Jesus is never far away. He’s always right there, waiting for us to cry out to Him.
And He will immediately catch us.
How often are we in a storm and overwhelmed with watching the wind and waves and rain in fear – and we don’t see Jesus right there in front of us? He’s waiting, watching us, ready to come when we call.
How often are we distracted by emails, tablets, smartphones, husbands, children, chores, friends, church activities, family events, social activities…
And we don’t see Jesus because of all those distractions. He’s waiting, watching us, ready to come when we call.
“You of little faith,” he said, “why do you doubt?”
We often start walking on the water towards Jesus. We begin on the right path, then we get distracted. We get confused. Why do we doubt?
He’s waiting, watching us, ready to come when we call.
Stop watching the wind. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
My girls and I love to read about Esther. We love the story of a real-life princess who did wonderful things for her people and for God.
A list of Books, Videos, Music, Activities, and Crafts to go along with an Esther and Beauty Bible study.
My kids love to celebrate Purim and retell the story of Esther, complete with costumes and props and much noise.
We read the Bible story and recite the blessings and prayers in English and Hebrew. The holiday is usually in early March. And we eat.
Visit my Pinterest board on Purim activities:
Click here to receive the free Esther Unit Study.
Elizabeth really likes the general overview of Apologia General Science. She’s breezing through it – even after having forgotten most of what she learned from the Apologia Exploring Creation series. This mama perhaps wasn’t as diligent as I should have been with taking advantage of all the fun experiments and learning experiences as I could have been. But I had three babies and we did what we could.
Liz is especially enjoying the anatomy modules – much to my chagrin since she really wasn’t on board when we studied it a couple years ago.
She’d been asking me to get her a more advanced book on body changes. Of course, at age 12, she knows the basics of human development. I certainly wouldn’t wait until she begins her first menses to let her know what’s happening! Not sure what she was wanting, I half-heartedly searched for an appropriate book online to no avail.
I’m not pleased with the secular emphasis in even so-called Christian books. They seem to skim over the implications of premarital sex and lust and not address important issues from a Biblical perspective.
When she asked about it again, I questioned her. I was frustrated because all the sex books I’ve found are blaringly inappropriate for her. She doesn’t need to understand the issues of abortion or homosexuality or teen pregnancy yet. She didn’t even know anything about those until very recently.
Alas, my little geeky girl wants a book that explains in detail the chemical changes in the body that cause the physical changes. What a relief!
I like that most of the experiments in General Science are simple enough that Liz can do them by herself. We’re all pretty fascinated by a branch of ivy that we are rooting.
Which brings to mind the verse:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Like we are branches on the vine of God, so are our children extensions of us. When I get frustrated with behavior or attitudes, I must remember that they are His children first and I cannot change their hearts. I can only pray for them to accept His teachings and internalize them in their own hearts. I pray that someday I can sit back in my rocking chair and see the faithful tendrils growing forth from my legacy.
My 11-year-old daughter commented on a Christian singer with tiny plain gold earrings in both his ears: “He’s a boy. He can’t have earrings. And he can’t be Christian.”
My four- and five-year-old daughters chimed in, “Yeah, and boys can’t have long hair!” (The singer had a shaved head, praise God, so I guess he’s half saved?).
After resuscitation from my husband and a crying jag on both our parts, I barely recovered enough to query, “Wha-?! Why can’t he be a Christian?” She could offer no explanation other than boys shouldn’t have earrings or long hair. I think she couldn’t really refute the irrational logic behind the earring/Christian analogy.
This conversation scares me.
And also sorta made me want to go out and get a punk makeover…What are my kids learning (and where are they learning it?) – about image and etiquette and society and Christianity?
Lord, help me counter this bigotry that my children have been taught by ignorant people. Help me to not judge others by their appearances and not to raise my eyebrows when I see that dude at Target who has real horns growing out of his head and an actual metal zipper in his tongue (we smile at him, but he may try to eat us).
Oh, and what about club clothes in church? If you feel the need to purchase stripper shoes and miniskirts, that’s between you and God. Maybe you’ve been out all night and came direct to church. If you wear your red patent leather platform stilettos with your black pleather silver studded halter mini dress to church so my kids can stare, it makes me uncomfortable. It’s inappropriate in a teenager and I wonder what your mother would say, unless of course, she’s sitting beside you in a matching ensemble. And when my four year old tells me she thinks your shoes are pretty and she wants a pair just like them, I just threw up a little in my mouth.
But I can see why she thinks they’re pretty.
Some churches stare at newcomers who aren’t dressed “right.” And other churches claim, “come as you are.” It shouldn’t be about numbers or a secret handshake to get in. We’re teaching church and not Christ.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. ~Maya Angelou
Our society has gotten so casual. While appearances shouldn’t matter, they do matter. Perhaps too much. Or perhaps, people are just concerned about the wrong things.
Casual Fridays, casual relationships, casual dining, casual décor, casual church…
I think we’ve missed the mark. This whole casual attitude has distorted what’s really important.
It’s all about respect. There just ain’t no respect no more.
I don’t think so.
I know the Bible says that appearances shouldn’t matter as much as the heart, and I agree, but surely there must be a line drawn somewhere. (And I desperately search for that line when my 4-year-old wants stripper shoes and my 11-year-old thinks all earring-wearing boys aren’t Christian.)
Do we imagine Jesus, wearing surfer shorts and a ball cap, sitting in a teal and orange restaurant playing raucous rock and roll music through its speakers, eating his cheesy garlic biscuit while discussing how we should pray to Daddy God or explaining the parable of the sowers to the Hot Topic-clad apostles?
Can we imagine Jesus wearing distressed jeans and biker boots and a silk shirt unbuttoned to there with a blinged-out cross necklace (bigger than the medallion the French maî·tre d’ wears at that trendy bistro downtown), preaching to the thousands in a church café stadium with laser lights with a chai vanilla skinny double shot no foam latte in one hand and a PowerPoint clicker in the other, and a pricey mike headset on his perfectly styled hair?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
And what about Paul? I wonder if he wasn’t so casual. I’ll bet he was so uptight. He probably wore conservative clothes and all that. He was respected (except when that one dude fell asleep and out the window from boredom…and all that persecution he dealt and received…) And he and Peter didn’t get along at all.
Did you want Madagascar cinnamon or organic molasses syrup on that latte?
John the Baptist wouldn’t fit in so well, I don’t think, as far as images go.
I think the whole image thing may even be worse in Utah (perhaps it’s a certain subculture here). And often, I just don’t have the energy to braid up three girls’ hair with flowers and ribbons while dressing my 18 month old boy like a Gap ad. Is it really worth it just to go to the grocery store or library? I’m always the last one to get ready and it’s haphazard, at best. I’ve gone out with my hair unwashed in a ponytail and different socks on and no jewelry (gasp! seriously, without the wedding ring, what will people think?!) while my 4 kiddos look like little Land’s End angels…for about 5 minutes. And my husband has on his 5 year old jorts and torn up tennis shoes with a holey T shirt he’s had since before we were married. And he still manages to look ok. I always feel judged whenever we go anywhere. No one cares what guys look like. At least my husband can’t wear earrings or long hair. He’s in the Air Force. whew! Should we just wear family uniforms like that weird family over there (khakis and matching polos)? It’d be SO much easier, and cheaper!
Jesus called the Pharisees vipers and hypocrites. What would he call the girl at church in the stripper shoes? What would he call the Pottery Barn indebted people or the moms who stress over their daughter’s braids being ruler perfect? What would he call the preacher in his trendy clothes with his latte? Of course, their hearts may be in the right place, but if they’re so concerned about their image, then I wonder.
And what are they portraying to my kids or anyone else? I’m working to learn myself and how best to teach my kids about love and respect.
And why does the Christian singer have to look like every other emo rock star? Why do the lyrics have to be so suggestive? Is Jesus supposed to be my boyfriend or my Savior?
I think we should dress for success and be respectful. Church is a place of respect because it is the house of God. As Christians, we should honor Jesus however we can. As Christians, we are called to be separate from the world. If all you own are T shirts and jeans, or stripper shoes, then wear your best T shirt and shoes to church to show respect to God.
And who cares what others think?
So, since we’re being real here…The only quiet I get is when those four little rascals are sleeping. Which means, I get to go to bed around midnight and/or wake up before dawn. If I do both, I am rather a tad bit grumpy. So, lately, I have been greeting my pillow around midnight. And I dread leaving it all alone in the morning.
I know this will have to change when my deployed husband returns home next month. (Many things will have to change when he returns…)
So, I am not a morning person. At all. When I can get the little darlings tucked away in their beds before 9 PM, I am happy to finish some chores and settle down to read. By then, I struggle to read what I should read. I often have to discipline myself to read the Bible instead of the latest Kindle freebie. I try to read a Psalm and/or Proverb every evening before getting too comfy and reading something else. I’m also reading a couple books with online book clubs.
Here is my great, almost brand-new La-Z-Boy recliner I found used on KSL classifieds for only $60! My husband is so jealous. I think he wants his own recliner. He may share, but since there is no TV in the bedroom, I doubt he will. I also found the neatest little table at the thrift store that has a built-in book rack on the bottom. Voilà! My quiet time/reading nook. Yes, my Rubeus kitty loves his new chair! Didn’t you know he rules this house?!
This was great when my kids were very young, and we still incorporate lots of this now that my kids are teens and tweens.
We all come together as a family on the living room sofas after breakfast for read alouds, prayer, Bible study, scripture reading, missionary stories, music, and more.
We’ve done SOAP journals. (S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.)
I am NOT a morning person, so we often “do” Bible in the afternoon or evening if we have a busy day.
We did Leading Little Ones to God one year.
Glow in the Dark Fish is a nice book for families.
We’ve read through The Dig.
We’ve completed The Talk series about biblical sex ed.
We often read a proverb and psalm every day (there are 31 of those guys, so that works out nicely most months…)
I need to find something short (Sure, I’d love to meditate and pray for hours on end, but let’s be honest… Who has time for that?) and powerful to do for my own devotional time. I’ve been reading and praying and journaling before bedtime. Mamas have to fit it in when we can. It’s sometimes so hard, especially when dad is deployed and I’m exhausted from doing it all.
Great Kids Bibles:
We have a Charlotte Mason Bible Scripture memorization box. The kids read the cards to us at dinner each night. Each prays for a missionary from missionary prayer cards.
We also have a prayer cube.
My daughter made this darling little prayer wheel in AWANA last week and we will incorporate that into our Bible time.
We love reading and learning about missionaries.
We loved Hero Tales.
We now read through Christian Heroes missionary stories along with our chronological history reading.
I think I’m going to start stepping it up with some character traits study.
Homeschool Share has some great lapbooks.
These are some awesome character cards to use in all sorts of ways.
Education Cubes really engages the kids!
We love incorporating our picture study into morning circle time.
We love to read poetry that coincides with our chronological history. We also read poetry and listen to classical music with tea time.