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For the Love of Brothers and Sisters

Living in a house with people is all kinds of good preparation for all kinds of whatever life is going to bring. That’s what I’ve been trying to communicate to my children this summer, anyway. As it has been impressed upon my heart to learn what it means to love my brothers and sisters in Christ, I’ve thought, maybe I can use teaching my children to love one another well and transfer that into loving their brothers and sisters in Christ well as they grow. 

So, the conversations have gone a little like this:

“You know the ‘one anothers’ we talk about in scripture like ‘love one another,’ ‘serve one another,’ ‘forgive one another?'”

[Insert blank stares from everyone]

“If you learn to do those with your siblings, it is great preparation for learning to do those with your brothers and sisters in Christ.” And if you learn not to slap each other in the face and play tug-of-war with the bag of Boom Chicka Pop and scream ‘I hate you’ at the top of your lungs, this will be great preparation for learning to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, as I was reading 1 John this morning, I got a good reminder:

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (5:2)

What?

John has strong words about loving our brother, Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness (2:9). Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (3:10). If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar…” (4:20)

But, how does loving God and obeying his commandments show [by this] that we love our brother/sister?

I think the answer is in verses 8 and 16 of Chapter 4. God is Love. He is the exact definition, representation, manifestation, initiation, fulfillment. His law and his love are not exclusive of each another. When we love God first, we love his people.

Sound impossible?

It is. In and of ourselves.

What’s so incredible is that God never leaves us to carry out his commands on our own. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God (4:7). By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit (4:13). Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (4:16b). We love because he first loved us (4:19).

I will keep training my children to love one another well, of course. I will continue to model loving The Body well, hopefully. But, knowing these flow from the love of God that flows through us is key.

What We’re Taking In

I love summer!

I love for my kids to be out of school. A slower schedule, sleeping in and choosing what we “take in” recharges life. Sometimes, the things of this world consume us, and we consume right back. Summer seems to be a good time to unplug, retreat, reflect and consume extra time with God…

Probably the most meaningful activity we’ve done together is reading. I know, sounds boring. Sarah, who turned 12 this summer, will make it sound a little better to you:

During the summer, my family and I have read “One Great Purpose.” The book is about a missionary named Jim Elliot and his four friends, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming and Roger Youderian. Together, they carried out a mission that no one had ever accomplished before. Teaching the Auka Indians about Jesus. They raised their families in Ecuador. Their goal was to share God’s Word with wild indians who speared every foreigner in their path. When the men felt like they had shown the Aukas that they were their friends, the Aukas turned on them and killed them. From this story, the most remarkable part to me was that the five men had guns with them but they refused to fire them because they didn’t want them to die without knowing God. Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” It means we cannot keep our lives, but we gain Jesus within us. The great thing is that their families didn’t just pack up their things and leave when their husbands died. They lived with the people who killed them and changed their lives forever. They taught a whole tribe that killing is not right but that Jesus is the only way to live eternally in heaven. After teaching them that, they said there were more grandfathers than there had ever been in that tribe. The man who killed Nate Saint became like a grandfather to Nate Saint’s grandchildren. The thing is, don’t let a bump in the road hold you back from something God is telling you to do.

Y’all this is the first time I’ve read what she wrote. I think I need to run to my bedroom and cry for a while. May these children never lose sight of what God had impressed on their malleable hearts this summer, and may I.

http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Elliot-Purpose-Christian-Heroes/dp/1576581462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373645929&sr=8-1&keywords=one+great+purpose+jim+elliot

The Gift of Heart-Shaped Biscuits

I’m sitting in my chair thinking back over the week. It didn’t start so great, but it’s Wednesday afternoon, and the gifts in my life have increased beyond number already. As I’m thinking about the gift of children, I hear Celie, Abby’s friend, playing in the back of the house say, “Time is precious.” It melted right into my thoughts. Time is precious. It’s grace given to us by God, and when we have it with our children, our entitlement should never rise above it. But, that’s what happened to me so many times early in the week. My entitlement swelled bigger than my gratitude; I was under the impression I should be getting more.

Christ paid the ultimate price – his life – and did not utter a word. He came to serve and was never entitled in his serving. These are the truths I have to lean into when my deserving-mentality rises up. And, in this reminder, I am better able to see that my children are a gift. Teaching Abby is a gift. And lots of other unexpected gifts have been granted this week…

  • Going to get the mail and running into Ashley, when I needed adult conversation
  • Abby learning to make biscuits on her own
  • Sarah soaking in numerous conversations about faith and how it applies to her life
  • Fitting in exercise while I listen to my favorite music because Abby had a playdate
  • 30 minutes of really good coffee with my friend Kelly
  • A table of young adult girls discussing creative ways of sharing the Gospel

Entitlement easily blinds us from seeing that we are surrounded by little gifts that really aren’t little at all. We forget that time is precious, fleeting, valuable. Knowing that Christ humbled himself and suffered, so that we can enjoy all good things he has to offer, opens our eyes to the truth that he is deserving. He is worthy of more becomes our focus, and our entitlement shifts to praise and gratitude.

Have you struggled this week with entitlement?

Can you shift your thoughts to praise and gratitude?

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What Is It?

“And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’” Exodus 16:14-15

My latest recipe does not look all that appetizing. So, I’m thinking back to Tuesday’s blog about manna and looking at the picture below and thinking What is it?

However, it actually made for a great meal! It was easy, and everyone liked it. I will be making it again.

This is where I hijacked the idea from this week, but of course, I changed the recipe to fit my pantry.

In the crock pot, I threw

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 jar salsa
  • Sprinkled with cumin and chili powder

Cook until chicken can be shredded with two forks. In the end, I added steamed rice (seasoned with cumin, chili powder and lime juice). You can serve over rice, in a tortilla or with chips. Add cilantro for topping.

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Daily Bread To The Full

The Lord’s Prayer has been on replay in my mind lately, specifically “Give us this day our daily bread.” Looking ahead to all that has to be done overwhelms my life. When I look at each day, I may feel somewhat troubled, but when I observe the week on my calendar, and especially the month, I could break out into hives. So, I’ve tried to focus more on the day at hand, asking for strength, provision and guidance for each day. In doing so, I’ve thought back to the Israelites wandering in the desert. Here is Exodus 16 in its entirety, but I want to share a portion:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked towards the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’” Exodus 16:4-12

The Lord gives us our fill daily. More is often the case, but never less.

When we seek him for help, we are able to see his provision and declare that He is the Lord our God. 

What I’ve realized is that in asking for help, I’m more aware that I’ve received help. When I’m aware that I’ve received help, I’m grateful. I’m also overwhelmed, but not with despair, with awe. The Lord is faithful to give today what is needed for today.

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First Things First

“First thing at my desk, I make a list of all the fun things I get to do later. Then I get to work. Makes the work easier.”

Author of “Blue Like Jazz,” Donald Miller, posted these words on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. They have gone a long way with my 9-year-old who loves to have fun. We are on our second full week of homeschooling, and every morning before we start, we look ahead.

We look ahead at what we get to do for fun.

We write that one thing down.

We put our heads down and work hard.

Discipline is our theme.

(In our peripheral vision we can see what we’ve written down).

We check-off our list as we go.

Then, we have fun!

(And, sometimes our work is fun, too).

The motto of looking ahead to fun is encouraging us to work hard — for now anyway!

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Copycat Recipes

One day, I’ll quit mooching and come up with my own recipes, but for now, I’m enjoying using everyone else’s.

This is one of the greatest snacks I’ve found! I’m always looking for opportunities to hide flaxseed in my kids’ food, so I jumped on this recipe for “No Bake Energy Bites.” There are several more ideas for add-ins on her website if you want to check it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C dry oatmeal
  • 2/3 C toasted coconut flakes (I just used some straight from the freezer)
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 C chocolate chips
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 t vanilla

Stir ingredients well. Let chill in refrigerator for about an hour. Roll into balls (1 inch diameter). Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

This is easy! And, you probably won’t feel bad about giving them to your kids! (Unless they have peanut allergy like one of mine. He’s exempt!)

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Scooters Are Not For Quitters

For physical education today, Abby and I took a walk; she rode her scooter. We went down a new street with a new hill, and you know how new hills beckon a 9-year-old on a scooter… She couldn’t resist. Momentum was high, hair was flowing, and you guessed it! Arms and legs went flying! Screaming and crying, Abby got up from the ground and diagnosed, “Mommy, I think I broke my arm!”

I was proud of Abby when she was soaring down the hill. Honestly, I didn’t know if she would fall or not. In the moment, I was just glad she wasn’t afraid, and it was encouraging to watch her try something new. But, best of all was the walk home. After the screaming and crying, bleeding and swelling, she climbed back on her scooter and rode home. It wasn’t easy. Her knees hurt. Her [broken] arm was “quitting” on her. She struggled, but she didn’t give up.

Want to know the worst thing about homeschooling? (Hang in. I’m going somewhere with this).

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m going really fast down a big hill. I haven’t taken a big tumble yet (4 days in), but there has already been some crying. I’m pretty sure screaming, bleeding and swelling aren’t far behind. I know for sure that I will have to get up and keep going, when I do fall, because I have 9-year-old (who is full of endurance) counting on me.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

The Lord provides strength. The Lord provides endurance. And, his provision is sufficient. I’ve been reminded greatly of these truths over the last few days. I may be a terrible PE teacher, but I’m going to keep showing up no matter how hard it gets.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

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A Dinner Too Easy To Pass Up

I’m evidently on a Pinterest and recipe kick!

This, I can’t help but share. Everyone in the family loved dinner tonight, and I barely lifted a finger.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

  • 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 large refrigerated flaky biscuits, cut into bites

Place thawed chicken in crock pot. Top with all ingredients, except the biscuits. Cook 4-6 hours, or on low all day. (I cook until I can shred the chicken while in the crock pot with two forks).

Add the biscuits and cook for another hour. Enjoy!

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Marshmallow Frosting – Sortof

The kids and I decided to try a Pinterest recipe last night.

The family time was fun.

The taste was great! (We added different sprinkles for extra flavor – chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon)

BUT

It looked like someone let the air out of our balloon.

See what I mean…

Here’s the recipe if you want to try. Maybe you’ll have more success.

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