Friday, August 14, 2015

The Silver Chair

Our family finally finished the 6th book in The Chronicles of Narnia series and I was sadly unimpressed. The story line, though somewhat interesting, was very slow and seemed to drag on. For me the last fourth of the book was the only exciting part, with a couple of others thrown in. For an adventure, it did not come across as real adventurous. My kids seemed to like it OK, but my husband did not like it much either. After the 1st and 3rd books in this series, this one was just a let down like most of the others. I found the ending too abrupt also, though an element of it was neat.

I would give this one 3 stars.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Very Funny, Elizabeth!

I read this book with my daughter after reading the Felicity series with her earlier this year. We found it at the library and Lillian was so excited! It was an interesting story. It's primary focus was on Elizabeth (Felicity's best friend) and her family. It is about Elizabeth's sister, Annabelle, getting engaged and Elizabeth playing jokes on her sister who is all about being prim and proper and becoming a lady in England, hence the title, though I feel like the title is not the best for this book.

I did enjoy reading about the engagement and seeing Elizabeth's view on it. I also enjoyed reading the historical view of marriage during that time. It was interesting, but not that great.

I would give it 3.5 stars as a whole.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Call To Renewal

This is the second part of Jude that we studied this week at Sojourn, with the continued theme of renewal that we are called to as Christians. Pastor Mike reminded us today that every true Christian is a convert, that is we are renewed and changed as an individual. Yesterday we looked at Jude 14-25:

14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with [p]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These aregrumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; [q]they speakarrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, [r]worldly-minded, [s]devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith,praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of Godwaiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and [t]forever. Amen.

The Dangers of Not Renewing
It is evident in verses 14-16 that there is a final judgement coming where God will separate the Righteous from the unrighteous. We cannot take sin lightly. This can be a hard word in our anything goes culture, but you cannot take hell out of the Bible. If you pluck out hell and judgement, the whole Gospel Truth unravels and Jesus died for nothing. It cost God everything to send His Son to earth to die for us and make us righteous. The more we understand judgement, the weightier the cost of the cross is.

The Call to Renew
We are commanded to keep ourselves in God's love by building up our faith and praying. We are wired to build things as we are made in God's image, so instead of focusing on building our house/garden/car etc, let's build our faith. Our souls are the most important things we can build up. How do we do this? By reading the Truth of God's Word and praying in the Spirit empowered by Him.

Pastor Mike encouraged us to start a Bible project. What is a Bible project?
Pick a book of the Bible and study it. Make a plan on what you want to read, memorize and study more in depth, then implement. He gave a 15 minute a day basic plan to help you start.

1. Read a chapter/passage
2. Meditate on what the chapter/passage says. (Meditate means to chew on, mull over, think about, contemplate) This is where our hearts are effected
3. Pray about what you read

Take 5 minutes for each to begin building your faith and see what God does with it.

Renewal is also a community project. We are to go after the lost, those who are doubting, those who are wavering. We also need to be willing to share our struggles, sin, and doubts with those around us. Do be on your guard so that you do not get sucked into sin yourself. Be wise in pulling others out of the fire. Renewal happens when you reach out.

The End of Renewal (The Purpose of Renewal)
Renewal begins with God's grace and ends with God's grace. The purpose is sanctification as God grows us in the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. All of our effort is underwritten by God's grace. There is often contention between it being all God or all us in renewal, but it is clear throughout Scripture that it is both. It's 100% God's grace (v 2,24) and 100% our effort (v 3, 21). It all works together for our sanctification. We persevere in doing our work by God's grace.

Our chief end and purpose is to live a life that brings glory to God.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Blueprint For Renewal

Last Sunday Pastor Mike talked about the first half of the book of Jude and a blueprint for renewal.

Jude 1-16

[a]Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of [b]James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the [c]saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand[d]marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that[e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with [p]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; [q]they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

The Source of Renewal
Right off the bat in verse 1 we are reminded of our identity in Christ. We are called, loved and kept by God. It is important to note that all of these are passive, meaning that these things happened to us, we did nothing to attain this identity. God called us. God loved us. God kept us. Our identity is based on what God has done for us alone. We cannot earn our place or His favor. It is given to us.

Gospel renewal starts with Jesus.

The Call to Renewal
Grace meets us right where we are, and it changes us. When Jesus renews us, He changes our hearts. His grace meeting us where we are is not license to do whatever we want, it gives us the grace to live the way He designed us to live. (Titus 2:11-12)

We are called to contend for the faith. Contend means to exert great effort. God's grace gives us the ability to extend the effort to say no to the flesh and the world and yes to God's ways. When we darken our hearts in some way, we cannot see God clearly and can easily fall into sin. When we deny the authority of Jesus, this will happen. He is the example of how we are to live and to contend.

The Danger of Not Renewing
God does not play around with sin. Jude gives 9 pictures of judgement from the Old Testament and Jewish history to remind us of this. If we are not renewed, then we will face eternal judgement and darkness.

If we do not continue in faith with Christ, then we are not saved. 

Contending for the faith is both external and internal. Internal contending is Jude's main focus, because if we are not contending in our hearts, our external efforts mean nothing. We are simply coasting.

Great Intentions
Agonizing Forward
Tossed back and forth
Deepening Convictions
Unconcerned about sin
Putting Sin to death
Faithful to externals
Internally Striving
No leadership in home
Leadership in home

Are you coasting or contending? How can we contend together?

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Blessings

July has been full of challenges, but also full of blessings as God teaches us everyday. It's nice to look back during this crazy month and see how God has given us so much that we don't deserve.

  1. Getting 4 hours of sleep
  2. Taking a nap
  3. Getting adjusted
  4. Getting the ball rolling for taking care of lead outside
  5. Going dress shopping with the girls
  6. Frozen yogurt
  7. Time to read and pray
  8. Free Chick-fil-A breakfast sandwiches
  9. Nehemiah having a good doctor appointment
  10. Time to nap
  11. A little time with Jim
  12. Gabriel greeting Nehemiah in the morning
  13. Lillian doing catechism with Nehemiah
  14. Taking J, L, R, and N to see "Inside Out"
  15. Thinking about emotions more and what mine are doing
  16. Sleeping in
  17. Panera for lunch
  18. Hanging out
  19. Watching the kids and my sisters dance
  20. Sam dancing with everybody
  21. Great sermon on prayer
  22. Remembering prayer is about relationship
  23. Restful afternoon
  24. Taking a short nap
  25. Robin bringing us dinner
  26. Watching the women's World Cup final
  27. Nehemiah doing 2 four hour stretches
  28. All of the kids napping in the afternoon
  29. Pizza and a movie
  30. Nehemiah only getting up once to eat
  31. Going to playgroup for a bit
  32. Starting Nehemiah's calendar
  33. Going to CG
  34. Talking with Jim and spending some quiet moments together
  35. Working on journals
  36. Nice and productive date night with Jim
  37. Ice cream pie
  38. Sharing my heart
  39. Hearing great news from Robin
  40. Sleeping until 9
  41. Lazy day at home
  42. Reading together
  43. Jamey reading to his siblings
  44. Gabriel sleeping in the bunk bed
  45. Nehemiah sleeping 6 hours
  46. 9 hours of sleep
  47. Meeting with Dawn
  48. Meeting Josiah
  49. Yummy sandwich
  50. Jamey getting school work done
  51. Relaxing family day at home
  52. Having Ryan over for dinner
  53. Watching "Mom's Night Out" for a double date night in
  54. Learning about God's Kingdom and what it means to pray for it to come
  55. Attempting to take family pictures
  56. Getting to sleep until 10:30
  57. Robinette's bringing us dinner
  58. Writing some blog posts
  59. Good conversation with Jim
  60. Nehemiah sleeping 7 hours
  61. Going to playgroup
  62. Good conversations with friends
  63. Fun girls night
  64. Getting more blog posts written
  65. Family outing to Krispy Kreme
  66. Groupons
  67. Sam turning 15 months
  68. Getting a few more pictures made
  69. Making it through Jim's first day back at work
  70. Everyone napping but Lillian
  71. Lillian reading all the books downstairs
  72. Sarah and Klyde coming to hang out
  73. Making it through Jim's second day back at work
  74. Encouraging words from Audrey
  75. Sara and Kelsey bringing a delicious dinner
  76. Positive answers to prayers
  77. Getting our to-do lists done
  78. Going to the library for a bit
  79. Great sermon on Radical Faith
  80. Reception for the Honay family
  81. Being around international missions people
  82. Making it through the day on little sleep
  83. Time with God
  84. God never leaving me
  85. All kids napping for 4 or more hours
  86. Book Club
  87. Jamey changing Sam's diaper
  88. Kids' playing well together
  89. Sleep until 9
  90. Really sharing my feelings with Jim
  91. The kids playing on a sprayground and enjoying it
  92. Nehemiah sleeping 8 hours
  93. Fun time at CG
  94. Making it through the day without extra hands
  95. Jamey caring for Nehemiah
  96. Wanting to be with Jim
  97. Being able to share my heart with Jim again
  98. Having a God who knows and understands me perfectly
  99. Reading with Becca
  100. Dancing
  101. Talking with Jim about irrational feelings
  102. Learning to be OK with the unknown
  103. Kids playing in the water at the park
  104. Time to talk with Ashley
  105. Meeting another co-op mom
  106. Time to work on things
  107. Good date night
  108. Talking with Jim
  109. Meeting with other women to talk about food and glorifying God
  110. Productive afternoon
  111. Relaxing evening
  112. Learning more about prayer
  113. Taking a nap
  114. House napping
  115. Reading with Jim and talking
  116. Signing up for co-op classes
  117. Sleep
  118. Really productive day
  119. Cleaning and organizing
  120. Getting coffee with Jim
  121. Just talking and laughing together again
  122. Breanne bringing us dinner
  123. Spending time with Audrey, Gemma and Jasper
  124. Getting calendar and journal done
  125. Nehemiah turning 1 month
  126. Jen bringing dinner
  127. Getting stuff ready for yard sale
  128. Sam making it through a long day away from home
  129. Julianne bringing dinner
  130. Half-priced cheesecake
  131. Jim and I growing in communication
  132. Nehemiah sleeping 7 1/2 hours
  133. Sam giving Nehemiah kisses
  134. Really encouraging visit with the Felix family
  135. Making it the majority of the day by myself
  136. Getting emails written
  137. Nehemiah sleeping 7 hours
  138. Taking 6 kids to the park solo
  139. Reading with Becca
  140. Talking to Brit
  141. Finding out she is expecting a healthy baby girl
  142. Jamey telling me I'm the best mom in the world even when I get mad

July Evaluation

Due to circumstances this past year, I'm not really changing my goals. Some will go that are not top priority, but I'm keeping the ones that fit with the overarching goal of having a God-centered life and the things I see Him leading me to right now. So thus far this is how it goes:

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes, I'm working more directed prayer into my day
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Yes! 
  • Memorize verses with the kids - Not doing real well with this right now, a little hear and there
  • Memorize Scripture- Not much
  • Go out for a date once a week- Yes
  • Go on a night away once this yearYes we went away for our anniversary!
  • Read 3 books together this year- Have started 2 books this past week
  • Discuss plan weekly on Sunday Saturday afternoon- Doing much better with this on Saturdays and have begun making weekly schedules.
  • Spend 30 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- still need to work on this
  • Go to playgroup each Tuesday- I think we made it to all of them for at least a little while
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this year- Staying on top of them
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- Finally went through some of the stuff and looked at what I need to do with what I already have, nothing additional
  • Keep up with cleaning schedule- gotten off on this with adjusting to the newest one
  • Keep up with my calendar- Much improvement and continual scheduling
  • Being fully present when with my family- Getting better at this, but still struggling
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
  • Read a book a month for myself- I've made it half way through "War and Peace" and read "Very Funny, Elizabeth" with Lillian
  • Journal 5 days a week- Yes! God has really been giving me opportunity to do this in the morning
  • Write (books) 3 days a week- Did not work on this 
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing and research publishing options- No additional work on this during the month
  • Finish Rosetta Stone Russian level 1 - Have not worked on this
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- This did not happen this month
  • Blog 3 days a week- Between both blogs this happened
  • Go to water aerobics once a week- Not able to do this post-partum
  • Maintain weight until birthDid well with this, still gained some but far better than other pregnancies
  • Lose weight after giving birth- Have started this, but it's slow
June 28th we welcomed Nehemiah into our family, which was a joyous time. July has been adjusting to having a new family member. When in transition, many of these things go to the wayside temporarily. It has been a challenging month in many ways, but has also helped us in growing as a family. God is teaching us so much as we transition to a family of 8. I'm still working to keep up Childbirth Conversations  and seeking what else God would have me do in the months to come. Mostly we are seeking what God wants our family to look like and how He wants us to spend our time and resources. God has been so good to us as we work through things. We still have so many questions, but daily God is helping us to overcome and figure things out.

What was July like for you?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Praying With Jesus

This week Sojourn completed their sermon series on the Lord's Prayer, looking at the passage as a whole, Matthew 6:5-15

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [a]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day [b]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [c]evil. [d][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
14 For if you forgive [e]others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive [f]others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

What is the goal of the Christian Life?
A life with God restored by Jesus
Being made fully alive
Remade into the image of Jesus
A transformed life right here, right now

The Orientation of Prayer
God and His Kingdom is where our prayers are to be oriented. Before we start asking for things, lets praise God and orient our prayers towards Him. Prayer is about orienting ourselves with God and the life we are doing together.
Let's get away from performed righteousness and establish a relationship and intimacy with God. We are being invited to live in another world, a world with God in His Kingdom.
Orienting our prayer towards God and His Kingdom confronts the language of choice. We subordinate our will to God's will who is over all things. This is asking for His Kingdom to come.

The Ordinariness of Prayer
We are to ask for what we need and seek forgiveness. These are everyday things and makes prayer part of the everyday life we live. Asking for daily bread reveals a heart of one who has seen provision. We are confident that God will give us what we need for today. We can trust God!
We live in a world of abundance that is given by God who loves us and takes care of us.

The Outcome of Prayer
We are bearing witness to a King and a Kingdom. In prayer we are making a connection between a the Kingdom of God and the ordinariness of life. God has given us life and His Kingdom comes in our everyday life.

God gives us a life worth living.