Monday, April 29, 2013

Because He First Loved Us: The Fruit of the Spirit is Love...

I love to see Billy loving on our children. 

You see, I didn't have a daddy (I met him later as a teenager, but that's another story). 

When Billy picks up Little Bit and smothers her all over with kisses and gives her the "I'm never going to let you go" hug, she lights up and it's as if something in her heart fills to overflow.


She knows she's loved.

Do I know it?

Do you?

It's hard when you don't always feel it.  

Those of us who have grown up not getting that continual love-fill, grow accustomed to being nearly empty and running on fumes.

Or you know you didn't get it and can't have it now, and your heart becomes bitter, cold, and hard as ice.

But, there is a continual source of love that is ready and waiting to be drawn from and
the Well, the One whose love fills us up, is so deep, it will never run dry.

His warmth and ever-penetrating love can thaw and tenderize even the most hardened sinner.

Come to the Father,

Our Father in heaven.

He is our Eternal Daddy, who loved us

even before we were born,

even when we did our most shameful, regretful deed,

even when we thought we didn't have a friend in the world,

He loved us.

When we come to our heavenly Father like a little child, He will not turn us away.

He will welcome us, with arms open wide.

Those same outstretched arms that sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross,

Love us even now.

And, His love sets us free.

Free to love the world, the desperate, the loveless.

"We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Never Ending Story

"To ponder any fact is to be eventually drawn beyond the immediate entity to the very meaning of the universe," quotes Dr. Dan Allender in his book, Bold Love.

Books can change people, more rightly said, words put into a meaningful story have the power to change people. I am finding out this truth reading with my practically a teenager, Bright Girl, by carefully choosing golden books from the tried and true list found in Honey for a Teen's Heart.

But, one Book, the Book that tells the Greatest Story Ever Told, has the redemptive power to change a life from the inside out. The Bible is literally the Word of God breathed into existence by God Himself and written down for us by men indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.

And, the Bible is true, really, all of it. I have seen my own life transformed by faith in the powerful Word of God. I've changed from an angry girl who felt unloved and without hope to a woman filled with an undying love for the One who died for me and an undeniable hope in God's ultimate redemption.

As the psalmist declares, "All Your words are true, all Your righteous laws are eternal." (Psalm 119:160)

Reading the Bible from a historical perspective, or to gain good morals, or attain wisdom is not enough. Unless by the grace of God, the same Holy Spirit of God is indwelt in you, giving you the faith to believe, it's all for naught.

But, once you are enlightened by the Spirit of Truth and led to the Way, the Truth, and the Life--Jesus, your life will never be the same. You will be swept up into the great adventure of the Greatest Story Ever Told. 

Like the Never Ending Story, not only do you read the story, but you become an irreplaceable character with a crucial role to play.

I don't know about you, but between changing dirty diapers, wiping runny noses, and putting up with the daily shenanigans of born mischief makers (I still love my kids!), I get kind of, well, bogged down with the mundane. 

Life without a deeper meaning is boring, a chore, and a never-ending battle against the inevitable decay of our bodies, and yes, eventually death.

Passing my 35th year, midway through life, at least halfway to the grave, really makes me want to live for something more.

Does that mean that I need let my children run amuck, get a make-over, and go out and become someone that matters?

Simply put,


Because God the Father loves me, He wanted to adopt me and make me His child. He did this by sending His Son, Christ Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. I don't need to go out and become someone the matters. I already do matter, to Him. And, he has special work for me to do right in my own home, on a playdate with other kids and their mommies, or on the phone with a friend.

When you become a child of God, all of life becomes part of the Greater Story that God is telling, and you get to be a part of this intricate, intimate, infinite tapestry of grace and redemption. 

And, one day, all God's children will see not just a patch of threads, but the the bigger picture, of God's passion, purpose, and glorious handiwork in working all things out for our good and for His glory. It is the truest and best Never Ending Story, ever.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Remembering Boston

It was Monday after 7PM, and the sun was setting as I entered a portable building behind our church.  I was about to teach English to a class full of students from around the world.

Some of the students came from

South Korea,


Puerto Rico, and


That night there was a new student, a sweet lady from Ukraine.

I don't know why, but I hadn't checked the news all day. 

Then, I heard it. 

From one of my ESL students from Puerto Rico.

"Did you watch the news?" she said in a somber tone.

"No.  What happened?"

"There was a bomb in Boston."

I was speechless.  I just didn't know what to say. 

Then, one of my American helpers in the class spoke up. 

"It was at the Boston Marathon.  At least two are dead and many are injured.  There are a lot of amputees."

My heart sank.  I said the only thing I could at that moment.

"We need to pray." 

My ESL helper lead the students in prayer, and we lifted up all the hurting in Boston to the Lord.

I usually don't know what to say in times like these.  Tragedy gives a heaviness of heart and a dullness of mind.

On the Boston bombing, Karin, a fellow blogger said,

"Lord have mercy," and

"Come Lord Jesus."

We long for Christ's return when the world reminds us how truly broken it is.

I am thankful we serve a God who promises He will one day make all things new.

One day we will understand when the things hidden are revealed.

If we would still trust Him, even when we don't understand.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

This is My Father's World: In School and Life!

This past week has been an exciting time in the simple life of a homeschool mom. 

My new curriculum for the 2013-2014 school year has arrived!

After much prayer and consideration, I settled on going with My Father's World for history again this year.

It's main objectives are simple, which I like:




In the Discover stage of development, Preschoolers through 3rd graders discover all the wonders of creation in our Father's world.

I especially loved the character traits learned in Kindergarten. 

Each alphabetical letter stood for a different part of creation and a saying went along with it.

is for Turtle who says "I do not quit; I persevere."

When the children have something hard to do and want to give up.  I still prompt them,

"What does the turtle say?"

And they remember, "I do not quit; I persevere!"

The Investigate portion of the curriculum is for 3rd to 8th graders.  From the very beginning of creation until now and forevermore, it shines a light on how our Father in heaven is Lord over all of history. 

We've already studied Exploring Countries and Cultures and the kids loved learning about different people groups around the world, and praying for each one.

This year we are finishing up learning about Creation to the Greeks and next year we'll be learning about Rome to the Reformation.

The last two years in Investigate, we will embark on a historical tour of Exploration to 1850 and then make the final trip through 1850 to Modern times.

Unlike Billy, (who really knows and loves history), I don't know a whole lot about history, but this study is teaching me, which I think is pretty incredible. 

The last portion of the curriculum is for highschool students.  It is when highschoolers, by the grace of God, will be able to put the pieces together and Declare what a great God we serve.  The different books in the package help to build up their faith in such a way that they will have a Biblical foundation and Christian worldview.

The best thing that stands out to me about My Father's World is that it is not ethnocentric, but embraces the value of learning about and having an appreciation for other peoples and cultures.

And, how everyone all around the world needs to know about the gospel. 

Last night, I was reminded of this most basic and powerful truth.

Bright Girl and I went to a concert (thanks Nana!) that reminded me how precious in the sight of God are the children of all nations.

Operation Christmas Child  put on a concert to celebrate its giving away the one-hundred millionth gift to a child living in poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The African Children's Choir was one of the groups who performed at the concert.

Operation Christmas Child's mission is to allow children to experience Christmas for the first time with a shoebox filled with gifts such as toothbrushes, teddy bears, and jump ropes.

And, they've given 1 hundred million away.

That's a lot of shoebox gifts!

And, at the very top of each shoebox, there is a simple explanation of Who Christmas is all about--


And, that He was the greatest gift of all.

Because through Christ, we can all experience


And, a new life with God.

Last year, our family missed the deadline for making up a shoe box (or two) to give away, and it hurt my heart that I wasn't more on top of things.

I really want to make it a priority this year.

It is a small way to Declare in word and deed that God loves these children and they are not forgotten.

You never know what kind of difference a little gift can make.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spiritual Vision Therapy

Every once in a while one of my children will say something profound. Something that holds such weight that it could change his or her life.

One such time, my Little Man had something to ask me. He looked up at me in his usual way—head cocked to one side and one eye closed. Then, he straightened up and strained his eyes to focus on my face and mentioned, "Mommy, why do you have four eyes?"

Mind you, Little Man was almost eight and never asked me this before. Taken back, I asked him to count how many eyes I had.

"One, two...three, four.  Four, Mommy."

"Are you sure I have four eyes?"

He nodded with furrowed brow. It's as if he realized for the first time that there was something not right about that.

No wonder he had a hard time looking at me when he talked to me. It took my son, putting two and two together to show me something I had been overlooking for his whole eight years of life.

It turned out, through getting an evaluation with a vision therapist, he saw a double image a lot of the time. His two eyes had insufficient convergence, meaning they didn't work together to make one whole picture of what he was seeing.  

Many times he saw two pictures. And, it was usually when he had to look up.

Needless to say, he started going to vision therapy on a regular basis and I started seeing results right away. He was reading more, looking at me straight on when he talked to me, and he was able to catch a baseball for the first time—could literally keep his eye on the ball and catch it without it hitting him or going right past him.

He was delighted about his newfound skill. It was if the world was new to him. Because he really was seeing it for the first time.

It reminded me of the song, "Amazing Grace,"

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found.

Was blind, but now I see."

For most of my youth, I didn’t see. At thirteen years old, I was lost, without any sort of way seeing or connecting with God. I already knew that I'd done bad things in my life that I was a sinner, and I didn't deserve to be in the presence of God or to spend an eternity with Him.

No, I didn't deserve to go to heaven. Because of all my sins, I deserved to go to hell. And that terrified me to the point that I was afraid to pray. 

It was if I had a vision problem. I could not see God in my life. Because He seemed so far away.

But, then I heard it—the good news. That God gave me His amazing grace. He sent His Son as the Savior of the world who took away my sin and gave me His righteousness. The moment I closed my eyes and prayed, envisioning Christ, dying on the cross for my sins, I could finally see.

If God would send His one and only Son to die for me, He must love me and has truly forgiven me. By grace, I am saved (Ephesians 2:8,9).

And, what an amazing gift it is: to be able to see, to wake up and find purpose for each and every day, to know I am loved, valued, and pursued by God.

I cannot thank Him enough.

To be blind to His presence in my life and then be able to see He is alive and that there is more to this world than meets the eye is life-changing.

It's like the two men walking along the road toward the small village of Emmaus. They were perplexed about Jesus dying on the cross and didn't know that He had risen from the dead. They could not see that there was a reason behind it all.

"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;  but they were kept from recognizing him... 
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-34)

The saying goes, that seeing is believing, but maybe it's the other way around.

Believing is truly seeing.

I am thankful that my Little Man can see a lot better now, but even more thankful that through Christ, all of us may seek the face of God and find Him.

"My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!'  Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Psalm 27:8)