Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Welcome to the New Christian Living Link-up ~ #GraceTruth

I’m beyond excited to introduce you all to something that has been in the works for several weeks now. Faithful readers and Lofter buddies know that we’ve hosted a link-up called #TheLoft for some months now. Recently our hosting group was offered an opportunity to merge with quite a few other like-minded faith bloggers in a new, bigger weekly link-up. Although we’re sad to lose a little of the intimacy that a smaller group allows for, we are enthusiastic about the opportunities this new link-up brings for all faith bloggers.

So, without further ado, I invite you to join us for Grace & Truth, a weekly Christian link-up!

Jen 🙂

Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

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Satisfaction Through Christ
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Arabah Joy
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1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels.

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted.

3.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured next week.

4.) Visit 2-3 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

5.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week. See requirements above to be featured.

6.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

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Reader Favorites ~ 2014

I’m so thankful for you, my faithful readers, my sisters in Christ (and let’s not forget the brothers, too).  You have made this space a friendly zone for sharing my most personal writings, and 2014 was just the year for it.  All year long, the Father has been challenging me to “Take Courage.” and having encouraging readers certainly helps me to do just that!

Often this space is mostly for me, a place to share what is on my heart, what I want to write about and hear about. But today I want to share YOUR favorites from 2014.  If you haven’t read these top posts before, just click on the individual pictures. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite. 🙂

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Most time in the #1 spot:

marriage, Christian marriage, how to love an unloving spouse, feeling unloved, want to feel loved, loving a difficult spouse

“I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.  I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me?”

Most comments in 2014:

confidence, fat girl insecurities, insecure, overweight, fat, trying to lose weight, obese, heavy, healthy body image, health

“I’ll never forget the first time I heard the word aimed at me.  He spewed it out like vomit, his eyes filled with disgust. “Fat,”  the boy accused me, and I believed it even though I wasn’t anywhere near “fat” back then.

I always was a…”

Runner-up for most comments in 2014:

That New Girl: Finding Confidence

confidence, finding confidence, that new girl, no condemnation, identity, loving yourself, identity in Christ, self-acceptance, imperfect progress

“Sin temporarily hijacks our child-of-God identity, the world teaches us that we will never be enough, and the pride and insecurity of self often confirms the lies. But the truth, sisters, the amazing truth is that we don’t have to be enough because He is already everything for us. It’s this Christ-confidence that sets us free!”

Most comments of all (even though it’s from 2013):

marriage, imperfect progress, perfectionism, grace, through my grace-colored glasses, work in progress

“Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again.  He just won’t leave me alone.

He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord… He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”

I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different…”

The Top 5 written in 2014:

#1

big list of energetic indoor fun, high-energy kids, boys with energy, stuck indoors, cabin fever, school break, I'm bored, kids bored, get energy out

Are the kids driving you crazy? Do your boys have too much energy to stay cooped up indoors? Need a cure for cabin fever?  Is the weather outside frightful?  This huge list of ideas for expending pent-up energy while stuck indoors will help you stay sane!

#2

7 ways to teach bible verses to kids, teaching bible verses to kids, memory verse, preschool, toddler, children, homeschool, church, creative ways to learn memory verses, scripture

For moms, dads, Sunday School teachers, homeschooling families, Children’s Church leaders and anyone else who works with little ones – here’s how to help them hide the Word away in their hearts.

#3

dollar store deals, cheap homeschool supplies, early childhood education, preschool, toddler, preschooling with dollar store deals, what to buy at the dollar store for homeschool

This isn’t just a list of what to buy for the littles at the dollar store. It’s also a list of how to use the items you buy!  Great deals + great activities=happy learners.

#4

Saving money on kid's clothes, clothing budget, frugal, stewardship, single income family, clothing budget, tight budget, saving money, frugal living

This is part one of two posts on how to save money when buying clothes for a large family.  With three boys and one girl in the house, our tight budget really gets stretched when it comes to purchasing clothes and shoes for the kids. Over the years, I’ve learned quite a few tricks for working within our small clothing budget to make the most of it.

#5

keeping Christ in Christmas, kid friendly advent free printables, The Christmas Adventure Box, family advent activity, homeschool, church, AWANA, youth group, easy advent, flexible advent, advent fun

Kid-friendly Advent with Free Printables!  I created these as a companion to the Christmas ADVENTure Box that we do each year as an advent activity with our children. Our boys especially love the adventure aspect of it.  It’s an easy, flexible way to keep Christ in Christmas!

Thanks for making 2014 a great year for Being Confident of This!  And even though this isn’t a reader favorite (yet!), I want to leave you with one last post as you head into the new year. It’s close to my heart and really sums up what this year has been about for us.

Courage to Face a Giant

courage quote, fail or succeed, take courage in the Lord, be strong and courageous, facing a giant

Take Courage in the new year, my sisters!

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: The Pin-it Party, Grace and Truth,

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How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself this morning, sorry for my family, too.  It hasn’t been the Christmas season we expected or wanted, and I’m left wondering: how do you give your kids a good Christmas when nothing seems right in your world?

We’ve spent the entire month of December ill now.  Influenza spread slowly from one family member to another.  Several children ended up with sinus and ear infections. My asthmatic lungs were hit hard and our physician threatened me with hospital time.  Thankfully, it was just bronchitis and not pneumonia.

Just bronchitis, ha. 🙂

A pharmacy worth of medicines clutters our kitchen counters still – fever reducers, cough meds, antibiotics – you name it, we probably have it right now. Or at least that’s the way it feels.

How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Advent, trials, suffering, joy, salvation

Then, this weekend during our church Christmas program practice, our middle boy began complaining of stomach pain. By the time we had removed costumes and were ready to leave, he was on the floor curled up in a ball, crying. It frightened me because he is our tough cookie, the kid who rarely complains of pain.

So, when he started to scream that his stomach hurt, I left immediately for the closest ER!

We spent a day and a half at the hospital under observation, with many people praying – the world over. The surgeon mentioned appendicitis, but his symptoms didn’t fit exactly. Finally, his white blood cell count dropped, his pain subsided and we were able to go home.

We were overjoyed!  He talked about playing with his little brother and sister and how happy he was to come home in time for Christmas.  I grinned in the front seat, glad to have my funny, enthusiastic boy back. We were almost home.

All seemed right in the world again.

And then, suddenly it wasn’t.

Our oldest son woke in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. Then, I got sick and so did he.  On top of that, the only little one who didn’t get an ear infection before complained that his ear hurt.

I’ll admit, friends, my heart travelled straight from rejoicing to complaining because it’s almost Christmas and it just doesn’t seem fair, really.  Our children were back at school for a week, and already ill again!

How can you give your kids a good Christmas when everything goes wrong? How?

 

I know I’m not the only one struggling for joy right now.  In fact, I’m certain that many of you are experiencing trials much deeper and more painful than ours.  If I really knew the depth of them, I’d probably be ashamed of my own complaining.

And maybe you’re a mom like me who doesn’t really mind so much for herself, but for the kids!  Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about life circumstances.  Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of loss or separation from loved ones. Maybe you catch hold of joy for a few moments only to  quickly lose it again.

Whatever your lot might be this Christmas, know this: you can still give your kids a good Christmas.

You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas in spite of pain, loss, broken relationships, and whatever other trials you might be experiencing.

You can because He came.

Luke 2

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He came!  Emmanuel, God WITH us – that’s what Christmas is really about. Christ, the Hope of the world, in human flesh, for love of our wandering hearts.

We have to let go of this expectation of holiday perfection and embrace the reality that human life is flawed, messy, painful, even at Christmas. Christ came right into the midst of that mess, born in a stable – there’s nothing clean about that.

You want to give your kids a good Christmas? Let go of the worry.

Embrace Christ.

How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Advent, Jesus, Hope, Salvation

Show them Hope, Love and Peace.

Teach them of the Savior who willingly left Heaven’s splendor to suffer alongside us here on Earth. That’s a Love like no other, my sisters in Christ. He chose us. He chose pain. He chose death, so that we might experience life in abundance. He did it for you, for me, for them. He did it “for all the people.”

The wonder of Christmas has little to do with presents and food and fun. The wonder of Christmas is the keeping of a thousands-of-years-old promise, hundreds of promises, really.  The wonder of Christmas is Christ.

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Do you feel it, sisters?  The joy of Christmas is spreading right through us. It cannot be contained. The whole of creation leaps with joy – He is born! Promise fulfilled, salvation at hand, redemption nigh. Hope in human flesh.

How to Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Christ, trials, suffering, hope, joy, peace

Here’s how to give your kids a good Christmas: tell them the story of Jesus.

It’s the only thing that truly matters.

Clinging to hope and joy along with you this Christmas season,

Jen 🙂

Also sharing with: Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Mom’s the Word, Wholehearted Home, Missional Women

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Courage to Face a Giant

Have you ever asked the Father for something big, something miraculous, and been so afraid that He might choose to say no that you avoid His presence altogether?

I have.

So you hide away, like the original sinners amongst the leaves in the garden, and when He calls, you cower because what if you don’t like what He has to say?  What if you don’t have the courage to face what’s coming?

Yeah, that’s me lately.

Courage, fear, cowering, hiding, avoiding

You feel this yearning to give in and stumble to His arms, yet your stubborn heart resists with questions like why? and right now?

My sisters in Christ, have you ever felt like David before Goliath,  wondering what happened to your army, praying for the courage to “fight the good fight” even if it means you’re doing it alone?

Yeah, that’s me, too.

And perhaps, like me, you feel more than a little lonely standing there with your simple slingshot in hand. Maybe you long for a superhero sidekick or two…or three.

As you stand there, wind in your face, jeers wafting through the air from the Enemy’s camp, you hear a still small voice speak, “Courage!”

“Take Courage, my daughter.”

That’s the message I’ve been receiving from the Father all year long.

He’s been sending it to me a million different ways. Through a Beth Moore simulcast.  Through Bible Study.  Through a talk He had me prepare for a MOPS group. Through prayer and quiet time.  Through facebook posts and pintrest pins… you name the method – He’s used it.

At times I’ve soared gloriously on that message, that promise.  Other times I find myself a doubting Thomas, looking for evidence, asking for proof.

And I keep looking for rescue to come in human form, but He tells me, “Courage.”

Galations 1:1-0

 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

At first, I thought He meant the message for me in one specific area – that of pursuing writing and speaking.  But after a while I began to see that Courage applies to so many other areas of my life – marriage, parenting, trusting God, finances, and lately… well, this potentially life-changing  Giant.

Here’s the thing I’m learning about Courage, sisters: it’s not supposed to come from me or you or any human source.

Surprised? I was.

When you search for the word Courage in the Old Testament, you often find it used in connection with the phrase “be strong,” especially in the early years of Joshua’s leadership.

Keep in mind that Joshua was new in his leadership role, and he had some big shoes to fill. I mean, who wants to follow Moses, the man with the burning bush experience and the credit of leading the Israelites out of slavery?!

In addition, Joshua faced the enormous task of leading the people of Israel to conquer the Promised Land – hooray, right?!  Well, sure that sounds good after wandering in the desert an extra forty years, but something I didn’t realize until this year is that the Promised Land wasn’t empty.

No.

The Promised Land was filled with “giants” and well-fortified cities.  Joshua faced this very land.  No more Moses to look up to and learn from.  He was flying on his own set of wings now with a seemingly impossible task lying before him.

I’m sure Joshua was afraid. I’m sure he wasn’t completely certain that he was up to the task.

I’m positive because the Lord reassured him again and again in the first chapters of Joshua that He would be with Joshua.  He commanded Joshua four times to “be strong and courageous” in the first chapter alone!

And I’ve realized something about myself this year: I’ve taken the world’s view on Courage – you know, chin up, man up, just do it, what’s the worst that can happen, and all of the other sentiments we use to get past fear.

Maybe you have taken that view, too, without even realizing it.

But that’s just not God’s view, my sisters;  that’s not what He’s telling Joshua. It’s not what He’s telling me or you, either. Because when you look up the Hebrew for “strong and courageous,” you find both words or phrases (be strong, take courage) linked back to the Hebrew root “chazaq”  (pronounced khaw-zak’).

Last year I wrote about that root, but I was more focused on waiting patiently.

This year He’s telling me, “Take Courage!”

We must take it, you see, because “chazaq” doesn’t come from any human source. No, chazaq comes from a supernatural act: as in David’s triumph over Goliath, as in Samson pushing down the pillars, as in angel armies going before Joshua as he led the Israelites in battle for the Promised Land.

Don’t you see? The courage comes from Him, sisters!  He doesn’t expect us to muster courage up within ourselves. He offers it from His very nature, for our taking!

courage quote, fail or succeed, take courage in the Lord, be strong and courageous

It’s true. We’re destined to succeed in whatever He sets before us when “chazaq” comes into play.

So, I’m asking for some BIG things right now, Father.  And I’m a little afraid, so I’ve been hiding out, avoiding your Presence.  Hiding has only served to leave me feeling lonely and a little bit miserable. But like my friend Arabah Joy wrote, I’m asking for “rain” and I’m taking my umbrella with me.  I know I’m lacking in the courage department right now and the fear seems to be winning a little bit.  But I hear you say, “Courage, daughter,” and I know that means that You’ve got this. Chazaq – it’s Your Courage, not mine.

It’s Your battle, not mine.

Suddenly that giant doesn’t seem so big.

And I’m crying, but I’m grinning, too, ‘cause I’ve missed you, Father.

I’ve missed you.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lordyour God is with you wherever you go.

I hear Him whisper Courage to me, and to you, too, sister.

Do you hear it?

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: #TheLoft, Cornerstone Confessions, Rich Faith Rising, Missional Women, Jennifer Dukes Lee/Tell His Story, Work in progress Wednesdays,

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Kid-friendly Advent~Free Printables!

Last year on the blog, I shared about our favorite family advent activity, called The Christmas Adventure Box, and this year I’m adding another component – free printables! If you haven’t read that post, I highly recommend you start there (just click this link).

I also recommend visiting my friend Lana’s site, which is where the idea originated. She gives more detailed instructions in a lesson-plan type of format which would be very helpful for teachers, homeschoolers, children’s church leaders, AWANA leaders, and so forth.

One of the things I love best about this kid-friendly advent activity is that it is very flexible – choose to do every day or just a few days a week, spend as little as five minutes or as long as an hour, and if you get behind (that never happens to us…haha), you can always do multiple days in one evening.  Do what works best for your family!

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This year, I wanted to be a little more organized since last year flew by so quickly that we never actually completed the Christmas Adventure Box.  It was the year I called myself a holiday hypocrite.

So, I created some free printables to attach to the items in the box (like the one below) with simple instructions for how to complete each day’s activity of advent for kids. Using this method will prevent me from having to look up the blog each day or print out a new set of instructions when ours gets lost (which also never, ever happens, right?). 🙂

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And I thought if I was going to take the time to make printables for this advent for kids, then I might as well share with you all. 🙂

So, Merry Christmas to you, my faithful readers – here are free, downloadable printables to go along with your Christmas Adventure Box advent for kids. Just click the link below to download.

The Christmas Adventure Box free printables

 

I plan to print ours out on card-stock, cut them apart and attach them to the wrapped items in our box, making this family advent activity even simpler than it already is. I’m all for simplifying the holidays for less stress, especially with four kiddos in the house (okay, three kiddos and one young man).

Don’t forget to visit last year’s post for details on how to get started and a list of needed items. Once your box is filled and the cards are attached, you are all set to go for this easy, kid-friendly advent that that whole family will enjoy.

Teach your children the stories behind holiday traditions

and, most importantly, how Jesus is the Greatest Gift of all!

Jen 🙂

If you find yourself worried about how to give your kids a good Christmas, read here.

Sharing with:

A Group Look, Cornerstone Confessions, Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Wholehearted Home

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Tales From the Backseat (and #TheLoft)

Last week we shared our insecurities, and boy were you all brave! This week at #TheLoft we’re lightening things up a little with our real life funny stories.

I’m not sure if the fact that my babies were going off to kindergarten caused me to pay more attention to their words lately or if they have just reached the funny stage of childhood – either way, kids really do say the darndest things and with four in our house, life can be a real hoot at times. 🙂

Tales from the backseat, kid humor, funny kids, kids say the darndest things, funny kid stories

On our way home from the park during the last week of summer, our princess was exceptionally and unintentionally funny.  Of course, at first she was just really whiny because the water in her bottle was gone and she was really, really, really thirsty.  So thirsty, that it sounded as if she might not survive….

Trying to console her, I said, “We’re only a few blocks away from the house. It’s not the end of the world.”

She grew quiet for a moment, then muttered to herself “It’s the end of the WORLD??!! …I have to tell S– (big brother)!” I dissolved into silent giggles in the front seat.

Not even two blocks later, she began whining again about something she wanted behind the backseat of the van. (It was the longest few blocks of our life, at that point.)  Her twin brother graciously offered to get it for her, unbuckled his seat belt, and stood up while I was driving!  I quickly pulled to the side of the road and gave him the you-must-have-your-seatbelt-on-or-you-might-die speech.

Moments later we finally pulled into our driveway and princess piped up cheerfully from the back seat, “It’s okay, Mom. He didn’t die.” I guess she was waiting for the driveway to see whether my claims about death were true or not. 🙂

Backseat Humor, twins, funny, kids are funny, kids say the darndest things

As I waited in line to pick up our children after their first day of school, I was anxious to hear how it went, especially for our kindergarten twins who were trying out separate classrooms.  After everyone piled into the van and buckled up, I asked each child how the day went. Our third-grade son was brief and very matter-of-fact, as usual.  On the other hand, Princess used all sorts of flowery language to describe her wonderful first day of school.

Then it was her twin brother Daydreamer’s turn.  The thing about Daydreamer is that he lives in his own little five-year-old world much of the time, so you never know what sort of response to expect from him.  I was pleasantly surprised by his answer when I asked how his first day of kindergarten went.

“I didn’t get in trouble.” He grinned at me, dimples showing.

“Good! I’m so happy to hear that,” I smiled back at him.

Then he said it again. My praise was a little less enthusiastic this time.

And again.

And a few minutes later, again.

I thought, Okay, son, I believed you the first time, but now methinks thou doth protest too much!   Thankfully, there were no notes from teacher in his folder. 🙂

And one last bedtime funny….

One evening after school as I tucked our princess into bed, she told me she was afraid of the shadows on her wall. Attempting to calm her fears, I showed her that most of the shadows were actually coming from her. I told her to wave her hand and the shadow waved back.  She reached for me quickly and said, “I know, but I just hate my shadow because it always copies me.” Then she crossed her arms in her signature pout. I tried not to snort as I stifled my laughter and explained that’s how shadows work! 🙂

I hope our tales from the backseat made you smile and brought some cheer to your day!  Don’t forget to share your stories in the link-up below (or in the comments if you don’t blog) – be sure to read the guidelines first, of course.

May your week be full of smiles and laughter!

Jen 🙂

 

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post.


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic 🙂

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah
Kathy
Arabah
Jen
Rebekah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Something Funny” (Laughter is good medicine and after this week’s topic, we all need a belly laugh. Or as one co-host put it, we need to spit in our coffee. Tell us a funny story, share a funny quote, post a funny picture or video, crack a funny joke. Just be careful with that coffee because this is going to be good 🙂 )


Next Week’s Topic: “Fighter Verses” (What are some of your favorite, well worn scriptures? Which ones do you find yourself going back to again and again? Tell us what spiritual warfare looks like for you and how you use God’s Word to be victorious. We look forward to learning from each other!)

 

Add Your Link Here:

 

 

Also sharing this post with: A Mama’s StoryCornerstone Confessions

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All the Words That Need Telling

“You’re the best Mom ever,” she proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my heart nearly bursts for the joy of hearing it.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best. I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.  I need the “I love you”s, and the “your the best”s, and the “your the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s.

So, if I, the grown up, need those words to be told, how much more does my little five-year-old bundle of sweetness crave those words?  So much more. So much more.

So I tell her all the words that need saying – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.  She may only be five now, but soon enough she’ll be heading to high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that need saying then?

We’ve only a few years, sisters, a few short years to tell all the words that need saying.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.  And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate.  Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, all the words that need saying.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on

your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

And do it today!

Jen 🙂

It’s Five Minute Friday and after taking a few months off, I’m so happy to be joining my sisters in Christ over at Kate Motaung’s blog.  We gather there ever Friday (some of us on Thursday evening) and write a fast and furious five minutes on a one-word prompt.  No planning, no editing, no second-guessing.  Just the written word.  Come join us!

I’m also sharing this post at:

Missional Call, Essential Thing DevotionsMissional WomenMom’s The WordA Mama’s Story, Monday Parenting Pin It PartyCornerstone Confessions

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When Gratitude Comes Hard

It’s Five Minute Friday once again, where we gather at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place and free-write for five(ish) minutes on a one word prompt. This week the word is Grateful. Join us if you like!

Grateful, gratitude, hard times, motherhood

Some days the gratefulness comes easy like those lazy days of summer when the sunlight lingers and the breeze flutters warm and balmy. No deadlines looming on the horizon. No crazy schedule. Those are the days when the kids frolic outdoors like all of the Wild Things that they are. We’re happy and healthy and carefree.

On other days, the story isn’t quite so bright.  The winter lingered a little too long and leftover cabin fever rules the day.  Laundry piles up in one messy mountain, and the littlest boy who’s been potty trained for more than a year now, wets himself not once, not twice, but three times in one day for some unknown reason.

These are the days when children bicker and whine and complain, and we find ourselves unable to help them because the bickering and whining and complaining is going on in our hearts, too.

But in Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Unglued, I read about turning that attitude into gratitude, and I know it can be done.  Because who wouldn’t feel grateful for a healthy child, or food in the fridge, or soft beds to sleep in?

So even when the gratitude comes hard and we must dig deep to find the good in our day, it still comes. It still comes.

And I’m so grateful.

Grateful for grace and the promise of a God who will never give up on me, never quit working in my life (Phil. 1:6).

Grateful for the blessing of a Mom (and Dad) who love the Lord and taught me the truth of salvation.

Grateful for a house full of rowdy, messy children who simultaneously make my days exhausting and wonderful.

Grateful for 15 years wedded to a man who continues to seek the Lord and love me even when life gets a little crazy.

And for so many other things,

I give thanks.

No more attitude, just gratitude.

Because He is good.

All the time.

Jen 🙂

You may find me sharing at any of these lovely places or here:

Christian Mommy Blogger, Missional Women, My Freshly Brewed Life,

Beauty Through Imperfection, Managing Your Blessings

 

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Fighting Fear With Pre-approval

In just two days time, I’ll be bearing a bit of my heart here on this blog.  I’ll be sharing my story, my part of the Thursday series – Verdict on Value.  And once again, I find myself a little afraid. 🙂

It happens sometimes when you write, especially when the subject matter brings up conflicting emotions. You may feel confident at first, but then you begin to doubt. Will the words really matter?  Will others understand?  Have I handled this subject fairly?

And the worst of all fears. What will people think?

That’s really what it boils down to: how others might receive those carefully penned or typed words, some that brought forth smiles and fond memories and others that brought forth tears and sorrow.  I’ve been learning my whole life it seems how to let go of that pressure, the pressure to be perfect.  And not that anyone ever told me I had to be, because they didn’t, but that I convinced myself it was necessary, like so many other undesired sacrifices.

I wanted to be the good girl, the best girl, and if I’m being really honest there is still some little part of me that wants this, too. I wanted to be praiseworthy, a flesh-strong desire for recognition. I wanted to be perfect lest anyone find a reason to fault me, a defense mechanism of sorts.

I see it now even in one of my young sons.  He yearns for praise.  I often catch him bragging because he yearns for others to see how wonderful he is.  And truly, he is wonderful (at least in this mama’s eyes!), but it hurts me to see him striving so at such a young age.  At the same time it reminds me that I still struggle myself.  So, how can I help him to see the truths that I’m still learning to recognize?

I can only hope that being honest, taking down the facade, and admitting my own failings will help him to recognize that we all fall short, we all do.  Ever since the days of paradise and a forbidden apple eaten, we all fall short.

I can only hope that teaching him of a Savior who turns those weaknesses into strengths, who has a plan for him, who loves him just for who he is and not what he does, who cherished him even before he was born, who welcomes him with open arms when he fails – I can only hope that such knowledge will sink deep roots into his young heart much earlier than those truths began to sink into mine.

I’ve been reading Jennifer Dukes Lee’s posts about our Love Idols (would love to get her new book, too!), and realizing how early it starts, this yearning to be approved by this world when we are already approved by the Maker of this world.

Even from those early toddler calls of “Look at me, mommy!”, we want to be seen, to be valued, to be approved.

 “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?

Or am I striving to please men?”

Gal. 1:10 (a)

Sadly, some of us, yes even us Christ-followers, will spend our entire lives chasing that approval, all the while fearing that we just aren’t good enough. We’ll miss the irony that we are already pre-approved by the most powerful Person in all of creation because of His Son!  If we could only grasp that early on and not waste precious years searching for something we already have in our possession.

fear, approval, self-worth, identity in Christ, worth in Christ

But we can, sisters.

We can begin right now.  We can ferret out those love idols in our lives and hand them over to our gracious and loving Father.  We can cling to the hope of imperfect progress and proclaim the bold truths of Philippians 1:6 (see sidebar).  We can share with others what we are doing and ask them to do the same.  We can speak truth to our children about this pre-approval, bought at the price of a one and only Son.

I’m asking the Lord to help me lay down my love idols, my need for human approval and perceived perfection.  I’m asking Him to work in the hearts of my children, that they will learn early on what it means to be cherished by the One True God, King of Kings, Sovereign Lord, the Most High.  I’m asking the Father to open their eyes wide to these truths.

And I’m asking for you, too, my sisters, that you will see how fearfully and wonderfully made you are in the eyes of your Creator.

We who’ve been painted red that we might be white as snow.

I’m banishing fear for tonight in favor of truth.

Join me, will you?

Jen 🙂

For more information on the Love Idol movement, check out the facebook page!

I may be sharing this with any of these lovely blogs and here:

 The Time Warp Wife, Rich Faith Rising, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Wholehearted Home, A Little R&R,

Woman to Woman,Titus 2 Tuesday,Cornerstone Confessions,

 

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Bad Guys Are Real

Bad Guys Are Real, sin, grace, eternal life

I love how she chatters when it’s just her and me in the van, her sweet, soft voice breaking through the unusual quiet as we travel. I point out two military jets flying overhead and she asks if they are carrying a lot of people.

“Well, no, these jets are carrying soldiers who work hard to protect us, protect our country,” I explain.

“They protect us? Like from bad guys?  Mommy, are bad guys real?”  Her voice gets quiet.

I want to tell her, “no.” I want to make her feel safe and secure, but the truth is that bad guys are real.  “Yes, they are real, sis. Some people want to hurt others and do bad things.”

From the front seat, I imagine her eyes growing wide with this information. “Because they don’t love God?” She questions, so smart yet so innocent for all of her five years.

daughter, are bad guys real?, good vs. evil, sin, Jesus, grace, eternal life

I want to tell her, “yes.” Yes, bad guys are bad because they don’t know or love God.  They are bad because they hurt others.  They are bad because they have evil inside, and they do unspeakable things.  That would be the quick and easy explanation, right?

But it’s not the whole truth, is it, this idea that some are bad and some are good?  The truth is we all have evil inside.  We’re all bad in a sense; it’s called sin.  So once again I stop myself from making it sound that simple in favor of telling her the truth.

bad guys, none righteous, we all sin

“Well, yes, some bad guys probably don’t know God or love Him.  But really we all have the ability to be bad.  We all have sin inside of us, and we all make wrong choices sometimes.  It’s only because we believe that Jesus paid the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross that we can choose good instead. That’s the only real difference between the bad guys and the good guys – Jesus.  Without Him we would all be bad guys.”

She falls quiet then for a while, and I know she’s thinking about what I said. I hope and I pray that she really gets it.  That there is nothing good in us, nothing deserving, nothing “better than.”  

Because more than anything I want my sweet, dark-haired beauty of a daughter to know that she cannot, she cannot, be good on her own. She needs Jesus. She needs grace.

bad guys, wages of sin, unrighteous, sin leads to death, eternal life is a gift

Even more than that, I want her to realize that we all need it, this grace, this unmerited, unearned, undeserved, unfathomable gift from a Father God who deigned to love us, a bunch of bad guys, enough to sacrifice His one and only Son.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us,

in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom. 5:8

Yes, my daughter, bad guys are real.

But praise be to God,

Jesus is real, too.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: My Freshly Brewed Life, Managing Your Blessings, Mom’s The Word, Wholehearted Home, Messy Marriage,

Jennifer Dukes Lee, Rich Faith Rising

You may find me linking with any of these lovely blogs.

 

 

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