Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I'm pretty blessed. I've been doing "30 Days of Thanksgiving" for my Facebook posts all month (today's the last day!) and it has truly made me turn my gratitude meter UP. I was even thankful for my dog one day...now I know a lot of furparents who love their pets like their children. I even know some people who care more for their dogs than their own flesh and blood. But, that is not me. I like having pets, I think there is definitely a purpose and reason people love animals. Like, maybe because God put us humans in charge of them. We name, watch, and generally steward them - usually from afar. But, I think getting our dog was a little bit of a mistake. It's like having a perpetual toddler that you can't actually take with you when you leave the house. Plus, the black dog hair everywhere is a pain frustration. However, there is no denying the comfort of that big black body sleeping beneath my feet in the evening and the "high alert" status he goes on at night. Protector of the house!

I hope to continue this atmosphere of gratitude and well-being as we enter the Advent season. Keeping my eyes and, by extension, our children's eyes set on the heart and person of Jesus Christ will definitely help. I'm thrilled to be preparing to take the journey of Jesus from Angelic Proclamation to His flight to Egypt. Talk about an Advent-ure! I'm thinking about getting a small tree to feature the children's special ornaments they're going to be making from Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands this month. I definitely need to prepare the special calendar with each day's focus to explore. I hope you will all go on the journey with us. Amanda is offering her incredible e-book for only $4.99 and it is full of great ideas, beautiful crafts your kids can actually make, and moments you'll always treasure. Consider joining the fun on the Tinsel Facebook page too! http://facebook.com/truthinthetinsel
We're working on our special "custom" advent calendar right now; we'll (of course) use our Lego one too. ;)

What special preparations are you making for Christmas?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Convicted....and Consecrated

Our amazing pastor, Blake Lorenz, at Encounter gave a great message on Sunday featuring Romans 12:1,2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Of course, I am familiar with this passage, and have studied and prayed on it before. My body is a sacrifice to the Lord. Not only my body, but my entire life. But...am I truly proving the perfect will of God if I hold part of myself back? Always before, I'd dwelt on whether I was treating my body as an acceptable sacrifice. Wondering. Does that mean I should exercise more? Eat less sugar? Get up earlier to read the bible, pray, make the kids breakfast?

Now, on Sunday, I found God convicting me on a different level. Don't get me wrong, He is happy with me. He loves me with a LOVE unbound. Unfathomable. However, He likes to teach me in gentle whispers. He wants me to be aligned to His perfect will. After the birth of our 7th child, I made the decision to have an IUD implanted in my womb. At the time, it made sense. We'd considered tubal ligation, vasectomy, the essure procedure, but figured the IUD worked with the body's natural system best. Plus, it was good for years. I should have known it was a mistake right away. The midwife put the wrong IUD in. She used the Mirena, which uses chemical hormones (like the pill) as well as the IUD technology, and I knew it was wrong. She said to give it a try, and if I didn't like it, they'd take it out. I was 6 weeks post-partum and just wanted my life back to "normal." It seemed to. After a few months, I didn't even have a regular cycle. However, after I stopped nursing when Sabina was just over 1 year old, I started putting on more weight. I hadn't heard that the Mirena did that. Out of laziness, I guess, I never did anything about the thing. It's been 4 years.

Now, God is directing me to think about trusting Him. I need to present my ENTIRE body as a living sacrifice to Him. It's time that I stopped being conformed to the world in this ONE way. Stop holding this part of myself back from Him. God is our provider. He is our caretaker. He hasn't let us down yet! I have to be willing to submit and prove what is good, acceptable and within the perfect will of God.
It's time to consecrate myself, my WHOLE self, to God.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Truth About the Truth in the Tinsel (Review!)

I'm super excited today. Not only am I blogging again, which has strangely burned within me for the past few months of hiatus, but I'm starting it all off with the beginning of the Holiday Season. As a extra bonus, I've been asked to review the new e-book The Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands by the awesome mom-blogger after God's heart, Amanda White, of Impress Your Kids! Click here to visit Impress Your Kids.

It's always on my heart to make the advent season purposeful and focused on Jesus in the midst of the hype. This book is a perfect way to carve out a small part of the day (only about 30 minutes) and create something with your child(ren) that will make it easy to share the birth story of Jesus in a way that will be sticky to their hearts and minds - and maybe even their hands sometimes. What got me truly enthusiastic about The Truth in the Tinsel is this part of the section How to Use This Book: "The key to this entire advent celebration is to have a daily focus and meditation on God’s greatest gift. Your children will learn the ins and outs of the story because you’ve facilitated a time to discuss, play, and create. And in those moments, God will speak to their hearts and yours. 
The little Baby is no longer in the manger but alive and sitting on a throne—waiting to have a relationship with you and your children. Help your children get to know Him this Christmas!"
I almost cried with JOY!

Each day of December preceding Christmas has a small ornament craft planned around scripture verses. The sections on each page "Read it Together", "Make it Together", "Talk About it Together", and "Do More Together" make it easy to glance at and find your place in the midst of artsiness and - let's face it - noise. The accompanying photos show the materials needed, step-by-step shots, and the finished product hanging on a tree branch. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I love the idea of reading the bible together and then talking about it while creating. Amanda White has planned this activity book to reach pre-school through middle elementary aged children, but I'm pretty sure all of my kids will want to make these cute ornaments (with the possible exception of my 13-year-old) and participate in the scripture reading and discussion. For days when we have extra time to spend on this, we will definitely be exploring the activities in the "Do More Together" sections; these can be additional scripture, picture books, singing, play-acting, and bringing others in on the fun!

In the weeks to come, my family and I will be exploring and creating The Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands, so make sure and check back here to see all the fun we're having getting to know the birth story of Jesus a little better. I know you'll love it and TODAY ONLY Amanda is offering this beautiful gem for only $2.99! After today, the e-book will retail for $4.99, so don't wait! GRAB THAT DEAL. Then, you can use the supply list at the beginning of the book and take full advantage of the fabulous coupon you got for Michaels, or Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn's. Make this Christmas season the best ever - be intentional and share God's heart with your little ones. They need know that He loves them than Santa Claus ever could.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Under Construction! I had all this great stuff planned out to revitalize and renovate my blog and then I got on to update and found everything on Blogspot had changed. So sorry! Until I get it all figured out and fixed, things are going to be a bit weird around here. Be patient and check back soon! :)