Exciting Announcement from MomHeart!

I’m uber-excited about the new MomHeart Online space! For many years it’s been a dream, but now finally it’s a bouncing baby blog. ūüėČ

I gladly serve there as Community Director. And today, Sally has a special announcement –we’re starting a book club just for YOU! You can click through to MomHeart Online to see her little video telling you all about it. If you don’t already own The Mission of Motherhood, you can purchase it there, too!

We hope you’ll join us at this weekly study which begins NEXT THURSDAY!

Posted in The Parlor: MomHeart, The Parlor: Personal stuff, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Looking for More Work to Do?

The Proverbs 31 woman. Just the mention of her name is likely to garner groans. (Can’t you just picture the hyenas on Lion King saying, “Mufasa!”) ¬†Now, of course it’s quite probable that this wasn’t really an ACTUAL, live woman, but rather a conglomeration of ideals held by Solomon’s mother (and all of the mothers of boys said, “Amen!”).¬† Nevertheless, it seems most real live, in-flesh women I know have a strong reaction when her persona is brought up.¬† Reasons are many, but one was pointed out this week that I hadn’t noticed before…

“She reaches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle . . .” Prov 31:19

REACHES OUT, people.¬† To the “distaff,” which apparently refers to an instrument used in sewing/weaving, as well as the “spindle,” which sounds suspiciously like an instrument of torture but actually has the same meaning as distaff.¬†¬† And here’s what gets me–it said that she reaches out. ¬†In other words, she’s looking for work to do!¬† Is this woman crazy?¬† There’s enough work hunting *me* down to last me ’til kingdom come!

Or, so I thought.¬† Then I took a deep breath and let the words of scripture sink in.¬† Am I reaching out my hands to the distaff?¬† Nope.¬† I think I’m taking my spring fever laziness ¬†a little far, if you know what I mean.¬† I feel desperately in need of a break. And that’s been since about … October. ¬†The truth is, making myself really *do* any housework around here has felt like a true chore, and I’ve been avoiding it as much as possible, with the result that things have become messier than usual and I’m cranky. I have to get things cleaned because after my visit to a Vancouver showroom I have actually ordered my new kitchen countertops after putting it off for over a year.

I was pondering it this morning and decided that perhaps the truth is that the enemy wants me to think that my work around the house is a drag and takes forever and should be avoided, but like so many other things in life, there’s a funny contradiction to be found:¬† the harder I work at the truly important things–the things I’m called to, whether laboring or nursing or ministry or homeschooling or hospitality–the more I ENJOY them!¬† He’s had me fooled for a bit; I’ve not been “reaching out (my) hands to the distaff.”

But I’ve¬† learned my lesson!¬†Yesterday I mopped my living room ( I started to type “moped”–that’s how it sometimes is, LOL!) and ran a ton of laundry, straightened shelves, ¬†wiped down the buffet; and this morning I worked in my kitchen. ¬†I have a friend coming by today, we’re planning to attend the fair tonight, we’ll do school tomorrow, and the beach is on our to-do-list for this weekend. As far as this summer goes, I’m going to try to let the kids really enjoy their vacation, and attempt to put into practice¬† another Proverbs 31 thang . . .

¬†“She works with her hands in delight”¬† Prov. 31:13

I think I’ll tackle that one tomorrow!
You can find plenty of great posts here on Mondays at The Better Mom!

Posted in The Living Room: Homemaking, The Parlor: Being a mom, The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me | 5 Comments

You’re Already Amazing! A Review

I was first introduced to Holly Gerth a few months ago when I was a very happy attendee of the Relevant conference (now Allume.) Holly is the cofounder of (in)courage, an online gathering spot for Christian women; author of a blog titled Heart to Heart with Holley; as well as a poetress (I think I just made that up; do you like it?) who writes beautiful cards for DaySpring. She’s also a women’s counselor who has a heart for helping ladies understand who they are in Christ. When she spoke at Relevant I knew anything she wrote was going to be a great read. Her ability to connect and her desire to encourage is incredibly strong, and it’s that voice that comes across most clearly in her new book, You’re Already Amazing.

photo credit: www.dayspring.com

 

This book is a gem. Holley wants you to feel as if you’re sitting across the table with her, and she achieves exactly that as you read her words. Honestly, it made me want to call her up and schedule a coffee date … even though it was like we’d already had several on my flight from Florida to Texas. Even though there were lines in the introduction that scared me …

 

 

 

 

You don’t have to do more, be more, have more.

I know this about you: you’re a daughter of God, a holy princess, a woman created with strengths you’ve yet to fully grasp and a story that’s still being written by the divine Author himself. And if you really take hold of who you are and what you’re called to do, there will be no stopping you.

Revolutionary stuff, right there.

Holley shares the stories of some of the women she’s sat with over the years; stories that will be familiar to some of us because we’re just like them. She also walks us through a set of exercises designed to help us find out who we are, what our strengths are, and some hints as to what direction God may want to take us in the future. Chapter titles include …

  • Who am I, Really?
  • Why is it so Hard to Believe I’m Amazing?
  • How Do I Connect?
  • What are My Next Steps?
  • What God Really Wants Your Heart to Remember

There are priceless thought-sparkers here …

If you knew you would be completely loved and accepted no matter what, then which items would be crossed off your to-do list for good?

As well as priceless warnings …

Here’s the thing: God’s not the only one with a plan for your life. The enemy has one too. And if he can’t get you to rebel outright, then sidetracking you and getting you outside of your strengths is a pretty good alternative.

This is a book you’re going to want to read. And if you’re like me, you may need more than one copy, as you’re sure to think of people you want to pass its encouraging message along to!

And look– (in) courage is working through the book as part of its Book Club!

You can buy the book from Amazon here with my affiliate link, which will benefit Compassion International!


**I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. The opinion expressed here, however, is all my own!**

Posted in The Library: Book Reviews, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Costa Rica 2012 Part Two

After a bumpy ride half an hour out of San Jose, we pulled into The Butterfly Farm. A beautiful preserve dedicated to their proliferation, this lovely farm boasted not only lovely landscaping, but some wonderful man-created art, too …

Kim especially liked this one, so we had to get a silly picture before we headed in for the tour.

Our daughters were completely mesmerized by our able guide, who had worked at the farm for more than twenty years. Phoebe especially is a butterfly lover, and so she knew all the answers to the questions posed, and schooled us all a little, herself.

We learned about blue morphos, owls, and monarchs. Our docent showed us butterfly eggs hidden in the seams of large leaves …

And what happened after the eggs hatched …

Then a few in the more-familiar-to-us-stage.

And of course, all around us flew the wondrous creatures these tiny ones were destined to become:

She said something that made me giggle at one point. “Before the caterpillar creates its chrysalis, it becomes lazy. It doesn’t want to eat, or go anywhere, or do anything. It is slowing down, because a great change is about to take place.”

I wonder if here is the reason I feel so heavy lately. I think perhaps I’m about to make a chrysalis.

What I hadn’t really known before is that caterpillars who are about to enter the chrysalis stage which heralds their great transformation are very, very ugly. Very. So ugly that they’re taken to a special room where they can be hidden away. Well, it’s probably actually so they can be protected. But they are taken to a special room and hidden behind doors.

I’ve always said we should add on another room.

Ahem. Here they are. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Eww. I know, right? It’s painful. I’m thinking what happened is, this poor caterpillar is walking along one day, happy as a clam (how was the happiness status of clams quantified, anyway?) and then he unexpectedly catches sight of himself in a puddle of water and thinks, “Oh my stars. Am I really that hideous? I have GOT to do something about this.”

So they do! God had a plan, hallelujah. They curl up from some suspended point and develop a shell. Each chrysalis looks different; some are like beautiful jade earrings, others plain and brown. Each hides a bona-fide miracle.

I remember the first time I heard this part of the story, years ago. I was a butterfly-loving girl myself as a child, and I’d always assumed the caterpillar simply created its encasement, sprouted wings and legs, broke out, and happily flew away. But much more happens in those secretive chambers than that.

The caterpillars … they don’t just add on to what they already are. In order to change, they first must cease being what they are. They literally liquefy.¬†

The liquefying–it is a secret. We can’t see it; there are no pictures. But it happens, hidden. And when they emerge …

They give us perhaps the best visual in all of creation of what it means to be a new creation.

It was a beautiful day. But all was not perfect in the butterfly farm. Surrounded by all this beauty, this creation singing out its Creator’s praises, deception had taken root. We were suddenly reminded that we had come to Costa Rica, after all, for a reason.

The final stop on the tour was a lovely wooden structure high on a hill. We were led into a large, open room adorned with beautiful banners. The girls were pretty much through listening at this point, so they caught rogue butterflies while we listened to our guide, who very eloquently described to us her worldview.

It felt like cold water had been dumped on my head. The beautiful banners touted in Spanish and English the theory that each man’s soul was on a journey of metamorphosis, one in which the ultimate goal was to dissolve, and become part of the Great Oversoul. The Farm has developed an association with the Sat Yoga Institute, which bills itself as an “institute for human psycho-spiritual upliftment.” Its web page begins its history with pictures and descriptions of the Big Bang.

I felt like I’d just almost stepped on the snake in the Garden.

But it’s just a philosophy, right? Not that big of a deal. And it’s all about learning lessons from nature, and the whole “We are One” thing; peace, joy and love and all that … isn’t it?

Maybe not.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

… just as they did not see fit¬†to acknowledge God any longer,¬†God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,¬†being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice;¬†they are¬†gossips,¬†¬†slanderers,¬†haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil,¬†disobedient to parents,¬†¬†without understanding, untrustworthy,¬†unloving, unmerciful;¬†¬†and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy ofdeath, they not only do the same, but also¬†give hearty approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:18-31

 

All the world needs Jesus. We would spend the rest of our trip in the middle of the outgrowth of vain philosophies–not all as “enlightened” as that of the folks of The Butterfly Farm, but all as deceived. Every person on the planet has their own philosophy, which really just revolves around what one has decided to worship. When that worship goes to alcohol, drugs, bitterness, self, or anything besides the Creator Himself, the visible results are tragic.

We loaded into the van and headed out, but not before I’d returned to our guide to squeeze her tight, look deeply into her eyes and tell her how much God loved her.

There was much work to be done. 

Posted in The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, The Prayer Room: Missions | 2 Comments

So, You Want to Start a MomHeart Group!

So … You Want To Start a MomHeart Group!

You want to become a better mother. You’ve heard the Lord challenge you to draw closer to Him and let Him lead you as you raise your children, and you’re answering that call.

Why not take some friends along?

Many of us have found ourselves alone on this path of intentional, life-giving mothering. We live each day battling the tide of a culture which insists upon monetary reward for success, visible badges of accomplishment, and a consumer mentality which doesn’t put much stock in selflessness. It is difficult to find women with a common goal of raising whole hearted children with a vision for changing the world by bringing the kingdom of God into every area of life, and sometimes holding on to our ideals alone seems too big a hurdle to clear.

For many years, MomHeart Ministries has been striving to equip women around the world in their efforts to build godly homes. Through conferences, books, intensive retreats and blog articles, we’ve reached across lines of all sorts to inspire the hearts of mothers to greater care and investment in their families.

We’ve learned that very few manage to hold onto ideals when they hold them alone.

That’s why we need you!

You can read the rest of my article here, at the brand-new MomHeart Blog!

How to Start a MomHeart Group

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The MomHeart Blog is Here–and a Giveaway, Too!

UPDATE: The winner of our giveaway is #8, Kali! Congratulations and thank you for entering!!!

I am so very excited to announce that today is the official launch of the MomHeart Blog!

For many years, I’ve benefited from the ministry of the Clarkson family.¬†By means of¬†books, conferences and retreats, Sally has spoken into my life time after time, providing me a new lens through which¬†to see motherhood and my days. Her work in studying the biblical framework of family has offered me a foundation that can truly be built upon, as well as a way to share that with others.
After! Poof! 800 moms! #momheart #iphonetx
800 moms at the recent MomHeart conference in Dallas, Tx  

                                                 photo credit: www.sprittibee.com (Thanks, friend!)

For the past several months there’s been work going on behind the scenes, as a group of us¬†started the actual building of this many-years-old dream. And now, it’s ready for you! We are thrilled to invite you to join us at MomHeart Online, where you’ll find a sweet note from Sally along with a quick video explaining a bit about her vision for the site. If you aren’t familiar with Sally and her writing, here’s a bit from that first article¬†…

In every culture and in every generation, a mother and child reflect the beauty of God’s design of womanhood. God intentionally crafted babies so that they would be fragile, dependent creatures that would need the love, songs, touch, inspiration and nurture of a mother. When a woman understands that one of the greatest gifts she will ever receive from her creator is to have the opportunity to touch eternity through artfully nurturing the mind, heart and soul of a child, whose life will have implications for all of eternity, her life joins in kingdom purposes with God.

Motherhood is one of the most strategic Biblical callings for women at this time in history. When a mother understands God’s design for her to raise a godly generation in her home, who can love and serve God and pass on righteousness to their own generation, there will be hope for that nation. Moral excellence, faith, emotional health, intellectual excellence and great works of mankind all stem from the home that wisdom builds as women embrace God’s call on their lives.

~Sally Clarkson, MomHeart Online

In the days and weeks and months and years to come, you’ll find articles of encouragement from moms like you, small group resources, a database of groups around the world, and whatever other goodies we find to share!

I am very excited to serve as Community Director there! Don’t you love that title? We’re not sure exactly¬†what that means yet, either, ha!–but we do know I will be¬†offering regular book studies as well as a monthly article; and you’ll find wonderful contributions there, too, from twenty other precious moms whom I know you will love.

Please join us! And feel free to find and friend us on Facebook at Mom Heart Online and follow us on Twitter @MomHeartOnline ! We pray this new resource will be a source of blessing to you and your family.

**And to Celebrate**

I’ll be giving away a copy of one of Sally’s books! You can choose either The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Dancing with My Father, or Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. Just leave a comment and tell me which one you’d prefer! Giveaway will end Sunday night, March 25th at 7pm!

Posted in The Parlor: Being a mom, The Parlor: MomHeart | 17 Comments

Costa Rica 2012, Part One

 

I’m finally taking some time to type out the notes I wrote in my journal while in Costa Rica. I hope you enjoy our story!

I’m in Costa Rica, and the wind is blowing.

Giant palm trees wave massive fronds, rustling like pom-poms reaching all the way to our fifth-floor windows. Beyond, office buildings and warehouses fill the space between the flags and the sky,¬†where tall trees sway under fast-moving, heavy¬†clouds. If it weren’t for the rolling hills it’s all set on and the billboards in Spanish, I could be sitting in a hotel room back in Jacksonville.

We left there two days ago, excitement high. Our team consisted of (l-r)¬†me and¬†my daughters Savannah and Victoria;¬†Kim, my dear friend of fifteen years and our church’s children’s ministry director; Tara, another friend whose path I first crossed almost ten years ago; her daughter Phoebe and both her mother-in-law, Carol, and her mother, Mary. They were all a delight!

The girls were enthralled with the airplane, and I was thankful for the lack of turbulence. They were looking forward to the promised free¬†bags of peanuts and soda (free for $579, I’d laughed) and we were all shocked when salads, chicken and rice, mixed vegetables, rolls, and Oreos appeared. I closed my eyes and pictured God’s mighty hand upholding our plane when it suddenly veered and bounced like an amusement park ride for a few moments on the takeoff from Panama City and again as we landed in San Jose. Kim gleefully told the girls, who’d never flown before, that¬†they’d been in three countries that day.

We were grateful to find our luggage easily and breeze through customs, and I (almost) tearfully kissed the man who stamped my passport. 38 years is a long time to wait for a dream to come true, but worth it, all the same!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Prov. 13:21

After a quick pose …

we headed out to meet our delightful guides for the week¬†on a surprisingly-dark-for-7:30pm street. Squeezing into a small van, we had our first taste of the legendary driving of Central and South America, which entirely lived up to its press. (My daughter remarked later, “They drive crazy in Costa Rica! We’ve been driving for three days, and we’ve only stopped *once!*”)

When the ride was over¬†we arrived at the hotel, we tumbled out and quickly agreed that the Barcelo San Jose Palacia Hotel would be a beautiful base for our trip. We met a few of our very sweet team members from other states in the lobby before heading upstairs and gratefully opening the door to a lovely room, then spent quite awhile¬†unpacking and organizing all the clothing and “stuff”¬†we’d brought along for the week-long stay into our drawers and closet. It was already 9:30 pm by the time we finished and we were all ready to crash, so it wasn’t until the next morning that we got to see our view …

Bonita! Almost the entire back wall of our room was glass, so this mountain-loving girl was thrilled. Costa Rica is an hour behind our time zone, so I wakened at 6 am, which was lovely since it afforded me time to read, pray, and sleep a bit more before the girls woke up. We met our team for a late breakfast, then headed out to the beautiful pool area for a devotional time together. Since the incoming team all had differing arrival times, we’d been encouraged to use Saturday as a sight-seeing and relaxation day.¬†Our group sat in the shade and¬†used Kim’s Prayerports to pray for South Africa, China, and the United States. How amazing to be praying for other lands … on another land! Then we donned swimsuits and let the girls splash for awhile–though the water was quickly declared “too cold.”

Lunch in the cafeteria was followed by a quick rest and then, off to our one tourist-y excursion: a trip to the local butterfly farm. The metamorphosis was yet ahead.

Posted in The Prayer Room: Missions, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Falling

It’s been interesting, studying James.

He rang in my heart, all the way to Costa Rica.

His words about trials and perseverance, about faith without works being dead, about remembering the poor … bells.

It’s springtime, planting time here. I must remember to call and order compost and take the girls with me to choose packets of seed. We’ll find envelopes with¬†peas and beans and cucumber, strawberries and cantaloupe and green onions, pansies and snapdragon and gladiolas,¬†all posing¬†in vibrant green on the packet fronts, declaring what’s inside.

 

And when we tear them open, what’s inside won’t look a thing like the display.

I feel a little like that myself, lately. I wrote about it, about the falling, at Sisters in Bloom today. Just click the link to join me.

Happy Spring!

Posted in The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me | Leave a comment

We are Home, and I Am Afraid

We are back here at home! We have been thinking about a swimming pool in backyard for years now. It’s time to make this dream reality, I have researched swimming pool construction companies, click here to see my recommended one.

And I am afraid.

I’m afraid¬†I will forget.

Floor Sanding Perth beauty…

Her¬†treasures …

 

Her heroes.

 

I am afraid I will forget him …

and her …¬†

and¬†all of them, here …

And here.

I am afraid I will forget how blessed I am, how much I have, and how little I have to complain about.

Lord, it’s more than a prayer; if ever I’ve begged, it’s now. Please, please, please let me be more than just touched by this trip You so clearly sent me on. Let me be transformed. And may I never, ever forget. For Your sake, for their sake, for the sake of all the world, do a work in my heart. Show me what’s happening in heaven, that I may be part of it being done here. Show me who I can reach out to and how. Let me see You in each face; let me decrease that You may increase; let Your kingdom come in my life and the lives of those around me. Here am I, here, right where I am … send me!

 

 

Posted in The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, The Prayer Room: Missions, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

He is Calling–Are We?

The Lord is calling for servant lovers who will call in the outcasts, who will go into the dark corners of the world and compel them to come home. And they will come. Who will go and leave their life of comfort and call in the broken? Who will go and be a learner? Who will go among those who are mourning and lay their life down for Jesus? The Lord wants His house to be full. It is time for us to go to the poor, to the broken, to the homeless, to the dying, and to the lonely and call them in. Thousands and thousands of “sent out ones” need to go out to the darkest places, to the poorest places, to the forgotten places, because the wedding feast is about to begin.– Heidi Baker

Here am I, Lord…send me.

Poverty is not the world’s greatest problem. Our greatest problem is the division in our relationship with God, which is caused by sin. Christ lived on earth and died to erase that barrier, and longs for us to come back into fellowship withGod–the fellowship we were created for. People with money often face a poverty of a different kind: poverty of spirit. Insecurity. Depression. Addiction. Self centeredness and pride, if you are are of those please make sure to find more about how you can get out of it.

Jesus is calling. And He’s calling us to join Him in calling. Are we answering both calls?

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