Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals

I’ll admit, I tend to resist goals.

My perfectionist nature resists setting a standard for fear that I might fail. It’s one of the reasons I had such a hard time finding my “one word.”

I don’t like to be wrong.

I don’t like to fall short.

But the flip side of that is never stretching myself, never reaching for something more, never giving myself a chance to succeed.

It’s not that I don’t have any goals for myself at all for; it’s just that I don’t often claim them, don’t voice them aloud, don’t share them with others, don’t hold myself accountable.  I’m guilty of keeping my goals general rather than specific because that makes them easier to meet.

However, this year I recognize the need to risk a little more, step out in faith while trusting in the God who is at work in us and promises to complete that work (Phil. 1:6).  I recognize the need to put some of the goals I hold in my mind and heart into actual words and to share them here with you all.

So, here goes – goals for 2015. 🙂

One Simple Way to Meet Your Goals, setting goals for 2015, goals for the year, how to meet your goals

One of my goals for the year is to do my part in restoring my health. I need more sleep. I need more exercise. I need to eat more balanced meals and to take in less sugar. This past month or so of illness has been eye-opening. I need to do these things in order to be healthy, but more importantly to honor the Father with my body, to walk in obedience with Him.

I’m not sure how to make those goals specific other than to say I aim to eat the recommended daily values of fruits and veggies and to also limit myself to those daily values in other areas where I tend to eat as I wish. I started using My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of both my activity and my eating habits.  I also aim to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the latest! Pray for me, sisters!

one simple way to meet your goals, goal setting, goals for 2015, how to meet your goals for the New Year, resolutions

Another goal for the year is to use my time more wisely through better planning.  Time management affects so many areas of my life, but to be specific, I plan to spend at least two mornings a week writing and working on this blog. Previously, I’ve squeezed writing in here and there, but I’m finding lately that if I don’t plan time to write, it just doesn’t happen. And then I lay awake at night with all of these great ideas and phrases and sometimes whole sentences or paragraphs swirling around in my mind. Anyone else? 🙂

I want to obey the Lord in best using this gift of writing. I don’t want to put that on hold unless He asks that of me, and lately He seems to be asking more in this area. So, I want to be faithful even if it means saying a firm “no” to other things that occupy my time.

Women everywhere understand this pull to be involved in ALL of the good things, but often in our attempts to do so, we miss out on the best things. Especially as a pastor’s wife, I’m learning that over-scheduling is rampant in our world and creates unnecessary stress. If I want the best for me and for my family, I have to learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and not man’s wisdom. I make it my goal to please Christ.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Gal. 1:10

A final goal is to love my husband as Christ does.  It’s been a really tough year for both of us. The trials have been nearly constant and there is always the temptation to withdraw into oneself in order to survive the refining fires. But we cannot! For the sake of our marriage and our family, we must learn to suffer together, to support one another even when we already feel the weight of our own burdens. I see already how the Father is working that understanding into us, teaching us a better way. I know He will be faithful to complete the work in our marriage, as well.

he makes all things beautiful verse, goals in marriage, setting goals for the year

One practical way I can love my husband better is to consistently reach out to him, whether through words or actions or touch. I can hug and kiss him when he leaves for the day and when he comes home. I can look at him and ask him how his day was even if I’m busy when he comes in the door. My goal is to intentionally seek connection with him, to encourage him, and to help him feel loved – every day.

Whew!

When I read all of the words above, I am easily overwhelmed!  I see all of the flaws, the areas that need work. There are so many and I…I am only one. Do you feel that same lacking, sisters?  That same inadequacy?

However, the Father reminds me that I can accomplish these goals by doing one simple thing: abide in Him.

It’s true! If I focus on abiding in Him, I will be sensitive to His leading and these other areas of life will fall into place so much easier than if I try to work towards these goals all on my own.  If I get up with this long list of “must do’s” each day, I’ll be worn out and discouraged before lunchtime. But if I get up with the goal of abiding in Him and following His leading, I can be at peace. You can too!

It comes back to that work-in-progress truth, my sisters in Christ.

He promises.

And I believe Him.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: The Loft, Grace and Truth,

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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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| FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER |G+

Kaylene Yoder
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The Brown Tribe
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A Virtuous Woman
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Arabah Joy
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A Divine Encounter
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | G+ | STUMBLEUPON

Leah Adams
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Being Confident of This
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Busy Being Blessed
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Sharing Redemption’s Stories
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Grace&Truth-Rules2

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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Grace and Truth Link-up

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A Fond Farewell ~ #TheLoft

Hello, faithful readers and my favorite Lofters! 🙂

It’s with mixed feelings that I type these words for The Loft this week.  This space has been good to me and good for me. The Loft came along at a time when I needed the push to get back to regular writing and blogging. After spending the summer with my children, I found it hard to get back into the swing of things here at Being Confident of This. Then, when I was asked to co-host here, I almost said no!

I suppose I feared the responsibility some and the commitment. I also feared technology because I’m still a newbie in so many ways.  But I have learned so much in these past months and grown in several areas, not just spiritually, not just technologically, but more than that. Along the way, I’ve made new friends, too.

So, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the weekly topics, the small yet friendly community, and the many encouraging words I’ve read both here in the comments and from our fellow Lofters on their various blogs.

And I think what we are all experiencing now is some growth pains. Just as the transition to the Loft took time and many adjustments, I know the birth of what we are heading into now will be the same – uncomfortable at times, yet necessary for growth.

The best thing about growth, about new birth? It’s exciting and filled with opportunity! So, I hope you will all come with us on this new journey!

Jen 🙂

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

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

 

Before we get to this week’s topic, we have an important and exciting announcement to make!

After this week, #The Loft is merging with another brand new link up for Christian bloggers.

It has been a pleasure to open The Loft and connect with you all since we started back in August. At that time, we wanted a place to connect, converse, and grow.

I am proud to say that we have done all of those things well. Many linkups are “link and leaves.” The Loft is not by design. I have heard this sob story from multitudes of hosts: they end up having so little interaction that the hosts either call it quits or spend hours upon hours each week trying to maintain it.

We have never had those problems… because you all are the best, hands down! As far as click throughs go, we are one of the best out there.

Now we want to serve you all even more. We want to focus on the “network” part of our goal. We want to open the doors even wider and get our linkers even more exposure.

So after much prayer and discussion, The Loft hosts have decided to merge with Grace and Truth Linkup, a brand new linkup that will launch later this week. YOU have the opportunity to be part of this from the beginning!

 

Here are the main differences and reasons why we are merging:

Grace and Truth will be a Christian Living linkup. Having a weekly topic has been great. It has defined us and for those who love it, well, we love it! But it does greatly restrict participation. We know that many of you would link more often if you could choose your own post. At this point in our growth we believe this change, although significant, will serve our community of bloggers best.

Grace and Truth will have a few more hosts. Links will appear on nine different blogs. That is EXCELLENT exposure for a blogger. A no-brainer there!

Grace and Truth will do “featured posts.” That means if selected, your post will be a shared on social media and featured on the following week’s link-y. More great exposure!

Grace and Truth will be on Fridays. Bloggers can link up any post from their week (or their archives!)

Also, there will be a $100 gift card giveaway this week for the kick off of Grace and Truth so you don’t want to miss it! Go ahead and link up your Loft post today (we’ll still be visiting and reading!) and then come back here Friday at 6am and link up any Christian living post.

Grace&Truth Christian Living Link-up on Fridays

 

We are committed to you and your growth as a Christian blogger and are so thankful for this community. We hope you continue to connect, converse, grow and network with us!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Goals” (Share a goal you have for 2015 or about your goal setting process? Anything to do with goals!)

 

About #TheLoft

 

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

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Please mention The Loft in your post so we can find each other. Thank you so much!


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

 

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 and share with 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 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link your posts up!

This Week’s Topic: “Goals” 

 

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“One Word” Disappointment

Here’s the thing about “one word” for 2015: I’m just not sure how much I buy into it.

There, I finally said it. 🙂

It’s not that I doubt others when they claim to have received a word from the Lord to focus their year around, and I would never tell others to quit choosing a word, especially when they find it meaningful and purposeful. I’m just a skeptic in general. And to be honest, I’m not sure my word has changed all that much from what the Father was teaching me last year.  So, I find myself struggling with whether to really embrace the idea or not.

It feels a little forced to me, I suppose.

Yesterday, when I read about the same ol’, same ol’ from Grace Covers Me, I felt so relieved! I’m not alone in my doubts or frustrations over the one-word frenzy.  I’m not the only one lacking in the one-word department. I’m not a spiritual failure.

Maybe that’s what it really comes down to: fear of failure.

I’m afraid to choose a word – what if I get it wrong?  What if it’s my will doing the leading in choosing it and not the Father’s? What if I don’t like my word for the year 2015?

One Word for 2015, disappointed in your One Word,  one word struggles

And you know, that’s exactly what happened.

I’ve been praying, even begging, the Lord to give me insight. To open my eyes to His plans for this year. To provoke change this year.  I’ve wasted too many moments worrying about this one word, as if the word itself held power over me rather than Christ Himself.

Finally, I decided maybe I wasn’t supposed to have a word for this year. I quit looking for my one word everywhere, quit justifying the words I wanted to choose for myself.  I decided I could skip the one-word link-up or just choose one of the verses that keep popping up for me instead and run with that.

But then one morning we had this quiet heart conversation.

…………………………………………….

Persevere.

What?

Persevere. That’s your word.

I don’t really like that word, Lord. It sounds hard and possibly painful. And we’ve already done a year of trials and suffering. We’ve already been discouraged and overwhelmed.  What about “Overcome?” That word sounds better to me. It’s joyful and final, and I know the ending of that word is good. That word means triumph, and isn’t that true, Father? We have victory in You!

But your word is Persevere, Beloved.  The triumph is coming, don’t doubt that. The victory is at hand, and is in fact, already yours. You’re like a child who sits willingly for a little while, learning the lesson, yet too quickly you hop up from this place. You think you understand, but you’ve only grazed the surface of the banquet of learning I have to offer you. Be patient. I know you’ve struggled long. Be patient; be still. Sit for the full lesson. Do not leave the table so eagerly, sure you have have found “the answer.” Sit. Wait. Stay (Ps. 27:14).

But in your staying, don’t lose heart, Daughter, Beloved One. I promise growth, imperfect progress (Phil. 1:6). I promise blessing (Luke 1:45). I promise rescue and deliverance and victory (Ex. 14:14). You will overcome! You will prevail. I am the God of the impossible and the God who keeps His promises.

I am.

Don’t run ahead; stay by my side and let me shelter you.

Don’t lose faith now. Persevere.

one word 2015, one word worries, persevere

Oh, Father, I’m so weary and so frail. I’m so ready for the rescue. I want a different word, yet not my will but Yours. Help my unbelief. Help my trembling heart. Give me “chazaq,” courage to persevere even in this. When I am weak, then I am strong. Don’t let me forget it!

I will never let go, Daughter. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are not in this alone, for I walk by your side, even more I carry you.  That’s the deliverance you receive now. I carry you. I am with you. I don’t ask you to persevere alone and by your own strength, but by my Might (Josh. 1:9).

Persevere!

Ok , Father. Ok. I see now, although not yet fully. I see there is power in persevering. I see the hopeful waiting, the strong assurance that You will not leave us here to waste away. I see the strength in that stance. I feel the joy in it!  I hear you calling me to stand, yet not to run. No, not yet. But soon. I will follow You and wait on You. You are the Lord God, the lover of my soul. You make all things new in Your time. So, I will wait and only by your grace, I will persevere.

…………………………………………….

I’m certain this conversation will keep playing out for me, stubborn, sinful thing that I am. 🙂  I still have a few lingering doubts about “one word” but I find value in this process, for it required much abiding in Him. And that’s never a bad thing.

My friends, if you find yourselves lost in the one-word frenzy, don’t despair. You are not alone. Even more, if you’ve heard His voice, yet find disappointment in what He has to say, take heart. He will carry you through.

As my friend Arabah Joy wrote in Trust Without Borders:

“Why do we languish when we have so great a salvation?  He will not remove His compassions from us and His mercies are not without effect! ….We can throw ourselves fully upon His mercy and on His good character, knowing that he who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed.”

So there it is – the same ol’, same ol’.

But as Christine wrote at Grace Covers Me,

“OK, so maybe “same-old”, minus the negative connotation, isn’t such a bad choice after all. Same-old dependence. Same-old faith. Same-old consistency. Same-old ministry. Same-old following. Same-old day-in, day-out walking with the Lord.”

I can’t say for certain that this word will be mine all year long, but I do believe it’s mine for now.

Same ol’ truth; new perspective.

Persevere.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Grace & Truth Christian Living

Sharing with: The Loft

27 Comments »

Sharing One Word for 2015 ~ #TheLoft

I’m so happy to be back with #TheLoft this week and more than ready to hear your inspiration for the year 2015!  Narrowing ideas down to one word is a lot trickier than I thought it would be, especially since I’m new to the one-word bandwagon. 🙂  So, if you had trouble deciding on just one word or verse, you are not alone.  I’m still processing a little, but I’m down to a choice between two, so I’ll be sharing my one word in the next few days down in the link-up. See you there!

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

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

 

Welcome back to #TheLoft! We are eager to hear from you all!

 

This Week’s Topic: “One Word/Verse for 2015” (We can’t wait to hear what has the Lord given you for 2015.)

Next Week’s Topic: “Goals” (Share a goal you have for 2015 or about your goal setting process? Anything to do with goals!)

 

 

About #TheLoft

 

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

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Please mention The Loft in your post so we can find each other. Thank you so much!


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 and share with 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 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link your posts up!

This Week’s Topic: “One Word/Verse for 2015” (We can’t wait to hear what has the Lord given you for 2015.)

 

Click below to enter:

 

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Happy New Year ~ #TheLoft

Faithful readers and Loft friends, I completely forgot to share this post with you containing instructions for our first Loft gathering of 2015!  It’s been unusually chaotic here lately with back-to-back viruses for the whole family, an unusual Christmas, and further health issues for me.

We would all appreciate your prayers as we are all weary of Mom being ill, especially poor Dad who has to care for everyone in the meantime! 🙂

Nevertheless, I’m excited about our first topic for #theLoft and hope to read along with you all next week. If you’re not already a “Lofter,” won’t you consider joining us?  Read how below.

 

Merry Christmas from The Loft

 

 Our next link up will be Tuesday, January 6th. We look forward to hearing about your “one word” or verse for 2015!

January 6th Topic: “One Word/Verse for 2015” (We are eager to hear what the Lord has laid on your heart for the upcoming year!)

 

About #TheLoft

 

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

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Please mention The Loft in your post so we can find each other. Thank you so much!


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 and share with 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 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments »

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. 🙂

reader favorites 2014, Being Confident of This blog, top posts of 2014, number one posts, grace for the work-in-progress woman

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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Best of 2014 ~ #TheLoft

Hello, Loft crew!  We made it through another week – whew! 🙂  Did you find it hard to choose a favorite from 2014 to share?  I certainly did.

I think I’m finding myself as a writer more this year, and so the choosing was difficult because I actually like some of what was written.  That’s an exciting thought, but also a little scary because it means I’m putting more of my real self out there.

In the end, it was a close tie between the post where I talked about my fat-girl insecurities and another one.

Since I’ve already shared about my fat-girl insecurities with The Loft crew, I decided to share something from earlier this year about choosing the struggle, fighting the fight, even when it feels like we might not be winning.  Look for it in the link-up.

I can’t wait to read YOUR best from this year, too!

Jen 🙂

If you are new here and want to join in, it’s an easy week to do so.

Just follow the instructions below.

We’d be happy to have you as part of our community of writers!

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

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

 

This Week’s Topic: “Potluck: Best of 2014” (Link up your best post of 2014. “Best” is defined loosely!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Christmas Traditions” (Tell us how you celebrate this rich holiday.)

 

About #TheLoft

 

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

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

While there are many link and leave blog hops out there, we are different in that we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic. This fosters community and conversation. It also helps us practice “topic” writing as bloggers. Please mention The Loft in your post so we can find each other. Thank you so much!


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 and share with 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 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

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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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