Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Who Controls Your Eating? ~ Grace and Truth Week 6

A few weeks ago my husband shared an illustration in one of his sermons that struck me in a new way, even though I had heard it before (based on My Heart, Christ’s Home by Robert Mounger).  He tells the story of Christ’s visit to a home. In the story, Jesus is shown from room to room, making various comments and pointing out sin and needs. But when He asks for a peak inside of the odorous hall closet, He’s denied.

We all have those closeted-off spaces in our hearts, areas we wish to keep to ourselves. Perhaps we feel the closet is too disgusting for Christ’s redemption. Perhaps we wish to maintain control over that area. Perhaps we simply don’t want to be told what to do with it.

When I heard the illustration told again, I recognized two areas that I’ve been unwilling to let the Lord have control of until recent years. Sure, I’ve given him bits and pieces here and there, but not the full access He is asking for.  One of these areas is my health, specifically my eating habits.

Lately, the Father has been teaching me how often sin comes into play in my eating. He’s making me call it what it is – sin.  He’s not letting me “off the hook” any longer.  He desires to free me from this slavery, and I’m beginning to yearn for that freedom myself!

So, I really appreciated Sarah Knepper’s post this week about emotional eating.  She was even brave enough to start a video diary and confess this problem face to face (well, digitally)!  I can relate to so much of what she wrote and said, so I’m happy to share it with you all.

emotional eating, over-eating, weight-loss-journey, Christian living

You can also find Sarah on facebook,twitter, and pinterest.

Thanks for the encouragement, Sarah!

Jen 🙂

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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.

Meet Your Hosts

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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. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

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

In order to be featured next week:

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

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Fighting Weight-loss Failure

So, lately I’ve put myself out there in some big ways here at Being Confident of This.  I’ve told you why I hate speaking my goals aloud, why it frightens me.  Claiming that I’m working on losing weight, self-control, healthy living, is scary because it also makes me accountable to all who hear those words. It makes me accountable to myself and to my Lord, too.

And the Lord must be doing some sort of work in this area of health because He just won’t let it rest. 🙂

Last week, I wrote about the 5th cookie – how we can be like disobedient children who want our things our way. As I walked away from that post, and headed into Valentine’s weekend, I was pumped. I was ready!

Somewhere along the line, I decided that since it was Valentine’s Day, I would allow myself to cheat a little. It began with just a few pieces of candy that our children shared with me and extended right on into the evening with fried food. In fact, that sin snowballed right through the weekend and into Monday!

The problem wasn’t just that I failed to reach my healthy eating goals. The real problem with cheating on my plan is that I didn’t even ask the Lord if it was okay. I shut Him out.

Fighting-Weight-loss-Failure, when you cheat on your eating plan, sin, disobedience, failing in your weight-loss journey, failing to meet goals

I hadn’t really thought about this before until one of my readers pointed out that when she wants something, she takes it without asking, even if she knows punishment (such as gained weight) will follow, because it’s worth it at the time.  I think all too often, I like to live in denial of the punishment coming my way, not because I think God is going to be angry with me, but because natural consequences follow my unhealthy choices!

Truly, the worst part of falling off the healthy wagon this weekend wasn’t the over-full, bloated body but that I felt like such a hypocrite. Boy, did the Enemy seize on that feeling, too!  I knew I was wrong. I knew I had failed, disobeyed.

He knew it, too, that father of lies. Didn’t you just write about making healthy choices and respecting the boundaries God gives you?  Didn’t you just tell your readers that those boundaries are for your benefit?  You’re such a hypocrite!  You’ll never get a grip on this area. Success will always elude you when it comes to food… You’re doomed to life as a big girl…You might as well just give up now!

Whenever I start listening to the Enemy’s lies, I want to hide away like Eve in the Garden. Instead of running to the Father to confess my sin, I often try to deny it. I pretend it doesn’t exist. I blame others. I act like it’s not a big deal – just a “little” sin.

I justify the sin.

But somewhere deep inside, I know the truth of my own choices. I know, too, that my Father is gentle and patient and loving. I know He forgives sin as far as the East is from the West.  I know He’s waiting….just waiting. I don’t avoid Him because of His character but because of the wound to my own pride. I consistently fail on my own.

I need Him.

With each comment here and on facebook, with each share notification, I’m reminded of His lesson. He’s been calling me, using my own words to beckon me to His side. He’s relentless. He pursues without tiring.  He does all of this because He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you, too, sister, even those of you wallowing in failure as I have been the past couple of days.  He loves those of you who feel you have no hope left. He loves those of you who struggle with doubts about His very goodness.

You see, the Enemy’s initial accusations were true – I was a hypocrite by choice, but the rest of what followed was all lies. I know that with the Father’s help, I can overcome, even in the area of healthy eating. I can say no to food. I can say yes to exercise.  I can learn to trust the Father’s boundaries, even after a failure, especially after a failure! I can trust His work-in-progress in me. 🙂

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

That promise always rings true. He is faithful, my sisters in Christ. Whatever boundary you’ve been struggling with, He is faithful.

Don’t wait any longer.

Confess.

Cry out to Jesus.

Let Him pick you up from this place.

Let Him be the author of your come-back.

When you do, the weight of sin will be lifted; the Accuser will be silenced.

And you…you will be white as snow.

Jen 🙂

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How We Love ~ Grace and Truth Week 5

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. How we love our husbands, how we love our children, how we love neighbors and friends and even the church. The agape love we are called to is a mighty force when we see it in action. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing!  Unfortunately, we often miss opportunities to demonstrate such sacrificial love in our homes, our communities, and our churches.

At the end of last week, I wrote about loving even when marriage is difficult. So, of course, the title of Christy’s (from Faith Like Dirty Diapers) post immediately intrigued me, and I wasn’t disappointed!  This is one of my favorite lines from what she wrote: “What I built in my sinful flesh has to be dismantled by “divine power.” I CANNOT do this alone. I need the Spirit of God to intervene in a mighty way.”

Amen, sister!  I’m realizing that over the last decade or so, the Lord has been tearing down the human constructs in my marriage and rebuilding new ones based on Christ!  Be sure to stop by and read the post for yourself. You can also catch Christy on facebook.

I pray that as we go into Valentine’s weekend, we’ll be overwhelmed by the Father’s love, which will overflow in agape love towards all of the people in our lives!

Jen 🙂

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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.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
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Kaylene Yoder
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1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

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. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

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

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

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A Lost Coin and Marriage ~ Grace and Truth Week 4

Yesterday I talked about the tough times in marriage here on the blog. So, today I’m pleased to feature another blogger’s unique take on losing things and marriage. Her post is a little more light-hearted, yet contains important truths!  Be sure to visit Aimee at a Work of Grace for more truth-filled reading.  and of course, take a look at the featured post below. Thanks, Aimee for the great read! 🙂

marriage, working on marriage, celebrating marriage, maintaining marriage, What Have You Lost?

You can also find Aimee on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Now, on to this week’s link-up!

Jen 🙂

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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.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
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Kaylene Yoder
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Arabah Joy
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1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

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. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

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

In order to be featured next week:

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

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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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How Sanctification Gives Us Hope ~ So Great a Salvation Series

It’s likely you’ve heard the admonition to “preach the gospel to yourself.” But do you have a practical, systematic way for doing that? What do you say when you preach the gospel to yourself?

The gospel message about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection has the ability to enrich us and make us wealthy in mind and spirit, word and deed (see Colossians 3:16). Yet if we have little grasp on how to effectively let it, we miss out on the power it holds.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves means allowing our thinking, emotions, and responses to daily be shaped by the truth of the gospel.

In this series, we hope to give you practical help in preaching the gospel to yourself. We’ve pulled key gospel concepts and compiled them into a list of words, such as justification, redemption, and sanctification. Don’t let the big words scare you because we’ve explained them!

We’ve also summarized each of these powerful truths in a useable way.

We hope this series will deepen your grasp on the gospel and give you verbiage for what to say when you preach the gospel to yourself.

So-Great-a-Salvation, preaching-the-gospel-to-yourself, gospel series, sanctification, justification, reconciliation, adoption

How to use this series:

To begin, read my post below. Then visit each of the links for more gospel words. Take notes while you visit! You may want to bookmark this page because you’ll probably want to come back here often.

Gospel Words:

Justification by Arabah

Sanctification by Jen

Redemption by Rebekah

Reconciliation by Kathy

Regeneration by Marci

Atonement by Leah

Adoption by Kerry

Consecration by Kimberly

Sanctification

In the Old Testament, there is little mention of the word sanctification. In fact, the NIV doesn’t use that particular word at all, while the NASB mentions of sanctification refer to only a single Hebrew word “qadash” (kaw-dash’). Qadash mostly described objects which were “set apart” for use by God. These were not ordinary objects meant for everyday use, but special items such as those used in the tabernacle by the priests (ceremonial items, the ark of the covenant, etc.). Thus, qadash refers to the uncommon, those things or people (mainly priests) set apart strictly for the Lord.

In the New Testament, we see a different sort of sanctification. Two Greek words are used by both the NIV and NASB: hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo),  the verb form which means to make holy or to sanctify, and hagiasmos  (hag-ee-as-mos’), the noun form which means sanctification or holiness.  Both words also relate to hagios (hag’-ee-os), the adjective form used to describe us as Christians.

In essence, to sanctify means to make holy.  However, the New Testament version of making holy describes a process, the process by which the common (mankind) is set apart and made uncommon!

Sanctification can be broken down into 3 P-words:

  1. Position – In Christ, we are considered sanctified before the Lord. We are already perfect, already uncommon, already complete because of Christ’s blood covering over us. When the Father looks at us, He sees not the work that still needs to be done; instead, He sees only the blood of his perfect Son. The work of positional sanctification takes place the moment we accept God’s free gift of forgiveness through His Son’s death on the cross in payment for our sins. So, for those of us who are in Christ, positional sanctification is in the past – it’s a work already accomplished.
  2. Progress – Although we are positionally perfect in Christ, realistically we know that sin keeps us from perfection. Thus, progressive sanctification refers to the process of growing in Christ-likeness. It is the present and continuing form of sanctification, that work in progress that I speak of so often here.  As we grow in Christ-likeness, His image reflected in us becomes more and more clear!
  3. Perfection – There is also a future component to sanctification. One day, when life on this earth ends for us, we will be made complete in Christ.  At that point in time, the work in progress will be finished!  Sin will mar us no more. We will bear the Father’s image perfectly, and the view God has of us on behalf of His Son will match our true character! Just imagine – no more struggling to do right, no more guilt, no more frustration with self!

How-Sanctification-Gives-Us-Hope, sanctification, set-apart, identity in Christ, preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-series, gospel words,

How does sanctification apply to everyday life? 

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

While we know our position in Christ is secure, we recognize the need for continuing change, for progress.  We know we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we allow the Lord to mold us into His image.  Therefore, sanctification is a combination of our willingness to follow Christ in obedience and His powerful work in our lives to free us from sin.  According to the verses above from Romans, we offer our bodies and minds; God transforms them. The evidence of the sanctification process in us? The fruit of the Spirit. 🙂

This quote from J. I. Packer defines it well.

“God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14).”

The worst thing we can possibly do as Christians is to relegate our Redeemer to the work of salvation, yet bar Him from the work of sanctification. If we trust Christ for eternity, but not for the day to day, then we limit His power. We fail to find freedom and the abundant life He has planned for us.

My sisters, the power of Christ in us is real. His promise to make us into new creations is not just for some distant future when we become complete in Him, but it’s for today! Right now! Moment by moment.

Our Savior came to free us from sin, not just from the guilt of sin, but from sin itself.  This is the goal of sanctification – freeing us to become whom He meant us to be from the very beginning – His image bearers.

Perfect.

Holy.

Set-apart.

Uncommon.

So, we can claim the promise of my life verse, Phil. 1:6, which perfectly sums up the 3 P-words of sanctification. (Key verse to memorize!)

“[B]eing confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

He began the work (position); He carries it on (progress); He promises completion (perfection).

I’ve been reminded of this truth often this winter. There comes a time in the Midwest when the landscape becomes a palette of brownish gray dead things.  The grass is dead. The trees are dead. And unless there is fresh snow, the roads become ugly gray muck. At some point, it seems as if spring will never come.

But as I looked out our window the other day, I noticed a tree that was budding.  Even beneath the snow, you could see the slight redness of the buds. Although the tree looked dead, important work was taking place beneath the surface of what I first saw.

Growth.

And in several weeks, we will see the fully glory of that work when all of nature bursts forth in colorful re-birth.

Spring. New Life. Hope.

As I contemplated these things, the Lord reminded me of how often this scenario plays out in my own spiritual landscape.  At times, it seems my progress is stunted – there is too much “deadness” about me, too much sin.  I see only gray and become easily overwhelmed and discouraged.

But beneath the surface, He is doing important work in me. I may not see all of the fruits of sanctification yet, but they will come! And when they do, they will be glorious to behold!

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own sin, stuck in a rut, doomed to failure – preach the gospel truth of sanctification to yourself.

“I am God’s work in progress. As such, I aim not for perfection but for imperfect progress (growth and transformation), only by the power of Christ in me. In the meantime, I trust His promise to carry that work to completion.”

This, my sisters in Christ, this is the hope of sanctification.

Jen 🙂

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A New Perspective on Setbacks

Yesterday, as I was coming home from a good workout, I was feeling so thankful for some progress in regaining strength after my extended illness over Christmas Break. I was also proud of myself for getting exercise in every day this week so far.  I felt joy and hope like I haven’t felt for weeks!  Victory was mine!

Just as I reached our back door, I slipped on some ice, fell forward, and banged my knees on the cement step.  Fear gripped my heart as I relived the tail-bone-breaking incident of what we now call Buttkill Falls.  I feared a setback.

I picked myself up and took a few tentative steps. My right knee hurt the worst, but I could still walk.  It was scraped and already bruising. As I limped into the house, the internal monologue began… just like Adam and Eve, the original sinners, I wanted someone to blame, and my husband was the first victim. “I can’t believe he didn’t clear off this walk all the way!  Doesn’t he know that’s not safe?! What if one of the kids fell….” Yes, my poor husband. 🙂

But I didn’t stop there. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, free from the wrath of Egypt yet still not content, I began to question the Lord Himself. “Why, Lord? Are you really going to allow me to be injured again just when I’ve found a good rhythm with my health goals?  Why am I being punished for doing what is right? I’ve worked so hard. Why didn’t you help me, keep me from falling?”

Exodus 17:2-3

So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (empahsis mine)

As soon as the prideful thoughts entered my mind, I knew I was wrong – wrong to blame my husband, even more so, wrong to blame my Father God.  And wrong to think that my “good efforts” excused me from any sort of pain or suffering.

You see, fear took over for a few moments. I was afraid that another injury would keep me from meeting my health goals. I was afraid that another setback might discourage me to the point of giving up – a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again where my health is concerned. I was afraid of failing. I was afraid I would not be able to persevere!

Conviction stung my heart for my sinful thoughts, for my desire to lash out at someone else in my frustration.  “I just want God to help me,” I tried to reason within myself.

But maybe He already had…

Maybe His best help was to allow me to fall.

Yes, I mean it, truly. While it’s not wrong to be excited about the progress I saw, the Father gently showed me that, once again,  I was beginning to rely on self alone and not Him.  Perhaps I needed that fall to remind me that I will only conquer this battle with health and weight by His power and strength. I cannot do it on my own. Without even realizing it, I had slowly slipped back into my “can-do” attitude.

I can do it.

I’ve got this.

I don’t need You right now…

Does it sound familiar, friends?  How many times a day do I catch myself relying on my own efforts instead of Him? How many times do we deny the power of Christ in us, in favor of our own human strength? How often do we place our trust in self alone?

You think I would have learned the lesson by now. He’s only been trying to teach me for the last thirty-plus years! 🙂  It’s that work-in-progress that I’m always talking about – aiming toward progress, not perfection.

I’ll make mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, too.

Sometimes the setback is a wake-up call to our own sin. And often the best help our Father God can offer is letting us fall, just as we have to allow our own children to fall at times.  It’s one of the most difficult, yet most loving things we can do as parents, yes?

A New Perspective on Setbacks, setbacks to your goals when you face a setback, dealing with setbacks

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

He lets us fall, so that we might see Him, so that we might throw off self and run to His arms instead!

He lets us fall because He loves us too much not to.

It’s the best help He can give –

helping us turn from self to Savior!

Jen 🙂

Side note: My knees seem to be okay, Praise the Lord! One is a little swollen and bruised, but so far only injured externally, from what I can tell. I’m incredibly thankful for His mercy.

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

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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. 🙂

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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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!

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

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?). 🙂

Christmas Adventure Box free printables, family advent activity, kid-friendly advent, easy advent for the family, advent for kids, homeschool, church, AWANA

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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#TheLoft Thanksgiving Edition

 

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: “Thanksgiving” (Food, traditions, an essay or video, or your own gratitude list. Maybe we will find some new ideas to incorporate into our celebration this year!)

Next Week’s Topic: Surprise! (Next week we have a little surprise planned! Be sure to stop by early~~smile, grin, beam!)

About #TheLoft

 

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

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: 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. 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 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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A Lift for the Soul (and #TheLoft)

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

This week at #TheLoft , we’re sharing our favorite online sources of inspiration and encouragement.

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you know that we have faced many struggles in the past year, and I spent a lot of time waiting on the Lord.  In times of darkness, the Lord has provided many sources of light, and one of those sources has been some of the blogs I follow online.

My sisters, we all face dark moments, days, weeks, perhaps even years.  But I’ve learned from this last year that the most discouraging feeling is that of being alone in your struggles. It’s the Enemy’s greatest weapon and he uses it liberally.  When we feel alone, we also feel ashamed, afraid to own up to our weaknesses, afraid that something is wrong with us, afraid that brokenness might be the end of the story.

But the body of Christ was made for community!  We crave it, do we not? And when we drag those weaknesses out into the Light, they don’t seem quite so scary or overwhelming. When we realize we’re not alone, we begin to experience hope for brighter tomorrows.

 

#TheLoft,  inspiration, bloggers, writers, women of faith, encouragement

 

And that’s why I appreciate the ladies I’m going to share with you today, because they help me realize that I’m not alone. No, I’m not. And you’re not alone either, sister, whatever you may be going through!

One of the first bloggers I ever chose to “follow” was Alia Joy @ Narrow Paths to Higher Places.  I discovered Alia through Five Minute Friday, a free-writing exercise for bloggers that takes place every Friday (well, Thursday night for some). Her writing is beautiful, full of imagery and depth. But even more than that, I appreciate that she doesn’t wear a mask; she doesn’t sugarcoat.

She’s brave and honest, even about the ugly parts of life. She’s not afraid to tackle tough issues, either, but even then, the manner in which she does so doesn’t smack of preachiness at all.  She has a way of drawing the reader in to both herself and to Christ. Yes, I can identify with Alia Joy.

Another blogger I really appreciate is Angie Knutson, who also happens to be my cousin. She’s a blogging pro who started out writing about kids’ products for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys , so you can find all sorts of parenting and homeschooling excellence on her site. However, she’s currently in the middle of transitioning her blog to be able to write more of what is on her heart.  And what is on her heart is Christ!

I like Angie’s writing because it is true to her character, and I probably admire her even more because I know how she lives her real life. 🙂  She is another transparent blogger who isn’t afraid to share her own struggles. I find her devotional posts uplifting and encouraging and appreciate that she uses scripture to back up what she’s writing.

One last blogger I want to be sure to share with you is Jennifer Camp @ You Are My Girls, whom I also found through Five Minute Friday.  Jennifer is a Christ-follower who is talented at reminding women of who we are in Christ.

Jennifer encourages freedom, and community, and story-sharing, and all sorts of other excellent things.  Her writing speaks to my soul and inspires me to want to live totally surrendered to the Father!

I could share quite a few more but lack the time and the space.  I hope you find someone here who can encourage you as you walk with the Lord!

Be ever in His Presence.

Jen 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to link-up below if you wish!

 

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.

Then, Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the link 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.

Listening is a lost art. Especially in the blogosphere where everyone wants to be heard.

At The Loft, we know that listening is rewarding and rich… surprisingly so. So we want to provide an opportunity for Christian bloggers to speak and listen, grow and be encouraged. We invite you up to the Loft, an out of the way upper room where we’ll talk, laugh, learn, and leave a little bit changed.

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.

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 hashtag in your post and social media 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 6 blogs (only 5 this week)! 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: “Blogs that Inspire” (Since we all love blogs and bloggers, tell us what blogs or websites you go to for inspiration. Why do you love the blogs you love? Are there certain writing styles you are drawn to? Topics? Personalities? Spill the beans and then check out what other’s are saying too.)


Next Week’s Topic: “Greatest Insecurity” (We are going vulnerable here, asking you to share your greatest insecurity. How do you recognize it when it creeps up? What does insecurity sound like to you: What do you do to silence it? Any scriptures that help you fight it?)

 

Click through below to share your link!

Sharing this post with: Missional Women

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