Monday, October 28, 2013

How to....Discovering my idols...

 How to......clean your house, make your house a home, be a better mom, be an excellent wife, and of course, who could forget, how to survive the zombie apocalypse....there are "How to..." books on everything, real or not. I have, myself, been guilty of overloading myself with how to instructional books. In fact, minus the zombie apocalypse, I've owned or currently own all of the above, and probably more! And in the age of blogging, my books aren't all that I blogroll can tell you a story too!

Don't misread - I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with reading, owning, or seeking help in making yourself better. In fact, I believe it to be admirable, especially when it involves our husband, family, and homes. But have you ever wondered at what point it is considered an idol?

Webster defines an idol as: 1.a representation or symbol of an object of worship; a false God; 2. A likeness of something; 3. An form or appearance visible but without substance; 4. a object of extreme devotion; 5. a false conception. My Bible dictionary defines idol as ANYTHING that takes the place of God.

So, I deduct that an idol, can be anything thing, plan, idea, etc. that becomes higher than worshiping our One True God, including, but not limited to, seeking to constantly be the perfect wife, mom, homemaker, etc. Now, before you stop reading, know this, I am a full-time wife, mom and homemaker. I also seek better communication with my husband, an excellent marriage, patience with my children, ideas on parenting and discipline, tips for keeping an organized, yet welcoming home. I'm just like you, very likely. 

In seeking scripture on this...we can see it was important enough to Him to make it a commandment:
 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. - Exodus 20:4-5

The fact is, God hasn't changed. He knew the Israelites were choosing to worship other things, and down through the centuries, we've all created idols. It has been (is) new inventions, such as, televisions, phones; better technology, such as, the NEWEST iphone, best computer; our cars, houses, clothes, bodies, etc. It doesn't, however, have to be something you can touch. It CAN and IS often, our time. And, in the end of verse 5, we can see that what we choose, WILL be passed generations beyond us. That's sobering!

Time.....He is the Author of that. We are to give Him the first and best of ALL He blesses us with. This includes our time. Again, I noticed how much time (and admittedly, money) I had invested in reading about "how to" be better at this or that. What if I sought Him first each day (giving Him the first and best of my time), chose areas an area I wanted to improve (only one. He IS a big God. I, however, am HUMAN), and sought Him first, followed with a book (that I work through rather than skipping to here and there), and applied what I learned. See, the problem is we want it ALL, NOW!

 And as I've been seeking to discover and rid myself of my idols, I've realized, many things have compounded to get me where I am. But ultimately, it IS idolatry. I highlighted the definitions where I felt my "how to's" fit in. And, no, I'm not literally bowing to these books, but in my mind, I'm constantly thinking "which one next?" or "I need to get this organized." or "I need to be more consistent with parenting." Often...these thoughts one right after another. Sometimes, even as I study my Bible, or as I'm journaling. 

Again, I say, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself or learning new ways to parent, make your home, renew your marriage, or other obvious Proverb 31 traits. I think for me it became an idol, when I aligned myself with the "false conception" that ALL of these things are mine to be made "perfect." This is a journey, and just one of my discoveries along the way. I share, because I sought Him to reveal to me what keeps me from being in constant communion with Him. 

I challenge you to seek Him as well. Have "how to's" become an idol in your life? Have you stopped to ask Him what He wants you to work to improve? As I have done so, I've realized that it's not everything. And, little by little, things are falling into place. Perfection? Hardly. Just a peace from Him, that I am in His will, and things fall into much better. Join me?

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Overloaded....with Him?!?

Are you ever overloaded with info? I know it happens to all of us. In parenting, put the child to sleep on it's side, now the back, now the stomach....How to get your child to sleep through the night in (fill in the number) quick steps.....And then of course, we have the wonderful internet. It's full of information, some we know, some we don't, but always just a click away! I'm curious, though, do you ever get overloaded with good stuff? You know, like from the Word of God? from ministry? 

We just finished a series at church called "Normal." In the midst of this, my husband and I started a series of devotions on marriage (we aren't finished, so I don't feel that I can link to recommend just yet, but I might when we are done), our small group at church is doing a deeper study connected with the Normal series, and during the Normal series, our church held their annual Marriage and Parenting Summit. All the while, one of my favorite women's ministries...Women Living Well began an every Thursday night webcast for women. Since it's only online for 24 hours, I have faithfully made sure I watch each one.

 "Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth."(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 --- The Message)

I can say with certainty. I am in overload! It is (and will continue, I'm sure) taking me a little time to completely sort out all I've learned, and then to apply it to my daily life, as He speaks to me. I have felt the presence of the Father on each on of these things going on....and feel that He is guiding me to be a better wife, mom, and woman through it all. It's just one of those times where I need to read, reread, and maybe notes, to pray over the Word, and to seek His best for me and my family. 

Just as with anything else, I was feeling overwhelmed. And then it hit me. What an amazing way to be overwhelmed!!!! I am overloaded with and overwhelmed by the Word of God, and by His messengers, who are giving us the Word for application. I was actually, this morning, moved to tears as I begin to think about all I've learned and how that even though I'll go back through my notes, application has already begun. The prayers I've prayed, as I've learned, they're fruitful. He is definitely alive and working in my family. I see it in my husband, my kids, my marriage, and the overall atmosphere of my home!

This also made me realize, too much of some things, isn't so good. But too much of the Word, and of His solid teachings....there's no such thing! I am in Jesus overload, and LOVE IT! The passage in Deuteronomy......for me, so far as I know in my life, thus far....THIS is what it feels like! What are you overloaded by? I encourage you to Deuteronomy 11:18 it....make it Him! You won't be disappointed. 

Be Blessed!

Disclaimer: In no way do I think I have it figured out. I am a flawed, very flawed, sinner saved by grace, and in no way do I have some crazy notion that I am perfect. I simply desire to honor Christ in my daily life. This is simply me, sharing my thoughts of what He's doing in my life. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? It seems there's always an identity we are seeking, an image we are chasing...and we find confusion, discontentment, and ultimately, we wind up with no clear answer.....

Casting Crowns recorded a song, it begin...."Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, would care to to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?" As the song, continues, it's clear that it's "not because of who I am, but because of what You've done...not because of what I've done, but because of who You are." I've listened to this song many times since it's release, and each time to true magnitude of who I am to who He is falls on me. 

Recently, it caused me to wonder, if, in my years of parenting, I've conveyed to my children, who they are?!? And, furthermore, made me begin a search on who I Him. So many times, I wear the title of wife, mom, homemaker, nurse, housekeeper, etc., that I forget, I am so much more! 

In seeking my identity, and in making a reference to share with my children, and to begin speaking Life and Truth into them about their identities, I found the following: 

I am....

  • made by His hands, known first, by Him - Psalm 139:13
  • God's child - John 1:12
  • a friend of Jesus - John 15:15
  • united with Him, one with him in Spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:17
  • chosen and adopted by Him - Ephesians 1:3-8
  • complete in Him - Colossians 2:9-10
  • established, annointed, and sealed by God - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
  • hidden with Christ in God - Colossians 3:14
  • a citizen of Heaven - Philippians 3:20
  • born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me - 1 John 5:8
  • His temple - 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • a minister of reconciliation - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
  • capable of ALL things through Him - Philippians 4:13

This list is, by no means, a complete list, it is simply an excerpt from my own journal, my seeking through the Word. In Him, we are SO much more! Yet, seeking the answers, and writing it out, made me think of exactly how special He considers me. And while the song is right, it's not because of anything we do, or anything we's because of Him, He created us to need Him, AND to feel loved, secure, and significant in His eyes. He created us to have an amazing Identity, through Him.

See, He is Sovereign. He knows all, is all, and He knew there would be some of His precious creations neglected, abandoned, hurt, helpless, etc. Nothing surprises Him. These truths of who we are are true for those as well. I am one of those. And yet, I am daughter of the KING!!!!!!!! 

I encourage you to not get caught up in who the world says you are and/or should be. We were not created to have an identity crisis, we were created by and for Him! Seek who He says you are, find your true identity....and this is ONLY found in Christ Jesus! At the end of the day (quoting a  friend/mentor and my super awesome small group leader), "I am a reflection of the I am." Who are you? Seek Him. His reflection is within you. You too, are a reflection of the I am! Your identity is more than what the world sees, it is Him, lovingly woven within you. 

Be Blessed!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NO Bathroom Cleaning Day on my Schedule.... Thank You!

This image makes me giggle...why? Because I choose NOT to do this, thank you! I do not, on my cleaning list, have a day where I clean my bathrooms. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that my house, specifically my bathrooms, must be disgusting, hear me out. My house is lived in, I have 3 children, 2 of which are boys, so it's never perfect. However, I take pride in my job as a homemaker and strive to do my job to the best of my ability. 

This particular practice became my new normal when I gave birth to my last baby, who is now 6. I was overwhelmed with a baby who never napped, I had a 1st grader who needed homework help, and an 8th grade daughter, in the midst of that awkward teenage stage. She needed reassurance of her place in the world, encouragement, etc. We've since become a homeschooling family, and I couldn't imagine my housekeeping schedule being any different.

Now, on to how I DON'T clean my bathrooms. I use to spend a day cleaning my entire house from top to bottom. Looking back, I don't know why.  A good portion of that time was spent in the bathroom(s). There was the toilet, the sink, the tub....and it took a bit of time. 

As a desperately exhausted mom of a newborn, one night while giving my 1st grader a bath, I decided during his play time, I would wipe down the sink and toilet. Furthermore, I reasoned that while he was getting dressed, I could scrub the tub, since I would already be in the bathroom. So, I did. And my new routine was born. 

To this day, at bathtime, I wipe the toilet and sink of the kid's bathroom. One night a week, I scrub the tub after they've bathed. As for my bathroom, when I get dressed each morning, I wipe over the sinks and toilets. One day a week, when I'm in the shower, I scrub down the shower walls (often using shampoo, not a cleaner, gasp! --- and it works JUST as well) and again, a clean bathroom. And finally, our downstairs bathroom works into my evening pick-up routine. As I pass by, I simply grab the spray and clean the sink and toilet and my downstairs bathroom (and all the others, for that matter) are company ready, at all times!!! 

See, it's daily maintenance for me, no extra time investment really, just habit. BUT, I don't have to worry if someone stops by if my bathroom's clean (except for the joys of little boys who sometimes miss the toilet, though that phenomenon I will NEVER understand) so I can focus on making the living room/kitchen my quick pickup to make our home company ready in a few short minutes. 

I don't do what I do for praise, but I get to spend more time with my family if I make efforts to simplify and minimize my housecleaning chores. I believe one day, my daughters husband, and for that matter, my sons' wives will thank me for teaching their beloveds that a house (or the cleaning of the place) shouldn't rule over the rest, yet it's important to keep a nice home. There is a sense of peace and warmth over the home that is cared for....I can sense that here, most days! I consider my work my ministry to my family, one I take very seriously. I believe, wholeheartedly, that the woman/mom is the beginning of the heart/attitude/presence of the HOME, and strive daily, for Proverbs 31.

I should clarify, the floors still come under my cleaning days. So they do get mopped weekly. But ultimately, I don't have to spend an hour or more cleaning bathrooms, because they are maintained daily! Do you have any tips/tricks/shortcuts you use in keeping your home? I'd love to hear them!

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Making Your Home a Haven -- Fall Challenge and Giveaway

A beautiful lady I met through blogging, Courtney (Women Living Well), offered this challenge to her readers last year. I participated and felt so renewed at the end of the month, and almost ready to tackle the bustle of the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each day, she offers one practical tip AND one spiritual tip to help us along. I invite you to join in this year, as she reopens the challenge, AND, this year there's also a giveaway associated. It's a great way to get focused on our jobs as homemakers, and help our families feel at home, in the haven we create! To learn more, click the picture above to link directly to the challenge for Week 1. Happy Fall!

Be Blessed!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Do you speak Truth or Lies?

What do you speak to good times? In bad times? Do you speak words of love, life, and encouragement? Or do you speak words of doubt, fear, and self-destructive things?

I learned a huge lesson....or at least had my eyes opened to this very thing over the past week or two. We've been having some behavior issues out of our boys. So, we've been talking about character, and how God is merciful, and how discipline isn't pleasant for us or them, but it's necessary to help form them into godly men. We have also reassured them that they are good boys and that we believe in them and know that their desire is to be obedient, but our sin nature gets in the way and how God gives us His word to help us CHOOSE not to sin AND to arm us against the negative that the Enemy would rather us believe.

And......a lesson was learned. By me. I have encountered some troublesome times with some extended family over the past 6-9 months. I've been hurt deeply, used, felt anger, had to work on forgiving, etc. However, in the midst of these trials, when the tears are flowing, am I using the Word? No. I'm ashamed to admit. I'm not. 

I've been so guilty of hearing the doubts and lies of the enemy and feeding off of anger to multiply my moment into something far bigger than it was, and I feel the moment. 
AND, let me tell you, carrying these things, rather than standing on Truth, doesn't make me the best mommy, wife, homemaker, etc., that I can be! And, surprise!!! I'm not satisfied. Actually, I feel worse. I sulk, and cry, and while these feelings and emotions are ok, for a moment, they aren't where we are intended to reside. 

As we've talked to our boys, I have used two main verses:

"Your word I have treasured in my heart,That I may not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11)


"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

I, as a Child of the King, have access to the most powerful weapon against sin, the Enemy, and all other perils. And, if I'm hiding (treasuring) His word in my heart, as the Psalms say, I'm armed when these attacks come my way. We read throughout the Psalms where David cried out in anguish (hence my statement about the feelings and emotions being ok, but only for a moment) to God....however, ultimately, he trusted God, dug out of his pit and moved on. If I preach "hiding His word" in their hearts, what am I modeling, when I am so deeply offended, and feeling angry? Now, that said, I don't go into details, but kids are intuitive. They know when we aren't at our best. 

The verse from Hebrews is HUGE to me. It explains the magnitude of His word. It is LIVING and ACTIVE. If then, this word is hidden in my heart, it is working, digging, cutting, shaping....ALWAYS. Unless, that is, I choose to work against it, relying on my own power (flesh) to resolve whatever I face. In the message, it says the Word is “cutting through everything whether doubt or defense.”  His word cuts through ANY of the lies that attack us and draw us away from Him. We have doubts and hear lies from sources all around us every day. Some are from within us, others are from news sources, people, and other battles we face, but ALL are from Satan. When we are so deeply woven with the Word (hidden in our hearts AND seeking it daily) that we can stand on the knowledge of Truth, we can stand up for what we believe, and against the lies of the world, our own mind, and other forces...which ultimately come from Satan. His plan is to draw us into the lies, and often uses areas of us that are weak. His motive is to suck the joy out of us and our lives until we are just a shell of defeat and there is no more evidence of who God says we are.

I don't expect to achieve perfection, this side of Heaven. But I do know that, personally, I want to be like Jesus. He was tempted, and rebuked Satan’s lies with the Truth of the Word. We have access to this Word, and I believe it’s the single most powerful  tool we have access to, on Earth. It is powerful enough to pull down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4-5 – "For the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, they have divine power to break down strongholds, demolish arguments, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."), raise the dead, heal the sick, make the deaf hear, the blind see, to destroy Satan’s kingdom, and set up Christ’s kingdom on the ruins!!! That's the power I (and YOU) hold within us. We simply have to tap into it. 

So, as I teach my children, to arm themselves with the Word, this LIVING and ACTIVE Word, that completely guts us (our inner selves, thoughts, and motives exposed)....I think He really intends this lesson for Dee. Yet, in all His ways, this was the way I have had to learn. He's not through with me yet, thankfully! 

What about you? How do you choose to speak to yourself? Do you speak Truth or allow the Enemy to attack you with lies? 

Be Blessed!