What I Learned in March

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

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Last month, I decided to begin summarizing my monthly learning. It’s almost like I am testing myself to see what learning took place and how the Lord led me. Maybe something will resonate with you. Or, maybe you will share your learning with me in the comments. In my learning, you may read spiritual lessons, cooking tips, homeschooling tips… you just never know. Feel free to share your learning in any area below.

This month I learned:

The power in setting a timer: I set a timer for Talk Time with my kids. And it works for exercise, keeping track of how long I’m exercising. Why not try it in other areas of my life? This month I began setting a timer for 5 minutes to simply be in the presence of God. Not talking, praying, or reading. But just being with God. It’s such a beautiful, sacred time. The timer helps keep me on track and also keeps me from talking myself out of it with such ridiculousness as, “I don’t have time.”

Juicing lesson: Beets taste earthy and sweet when juiced. And they make my juice a beautiful, vibrant, bright color!

Beet juice

Listening to my children can solve so much: Much of my reading this month has been focused on parenting. The Lord has revealed to me that I have not been listening to my children and it’s time to make it a priority. At first, I thought, “No, no, Lord. You have this all wrong. My children, they talk all the time. I homeschool them. We are together all the time. Lord, I listen to them.” Until I started focusing on verses such as, Proverbs 18:13, To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. And, Proverbs 1:5, let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.  And, reading books such as The Explosive Child, Parenting Your Spirited Child and Sibling Rivalry, and I realized I wasn’t really listening to them. I was allowing them to talk just long enough and then rushing to a solution that would work for me. In my listening to my children, I have discovered:

They are able to solve problems collaboratively with a little coaching.

When I repeat what I hear them say, they diffuse quite quickly.

When I acknowledge their frustration, even when it’s about their sibling, they don’t become more frustrated and actually act less negative toward their sister.

They notice I smile more now! My oldest daughter had to change my icon on our Wii, “because you smile more now, mom.” Praise God! And, I am so thankful I heard her say that!

Sometimes rather than teaching manners it helps to work on listening to your child. The healing that can come results in greater respect from your child and thus genuine manners. A heartfelt, “thank you”, goes so much further than a taught, “thank you”. 

Riding a bike really is just like a riding bike:

My husband and I had a rare afternoon all to ourselves and it wasn’t raining! On a whim, we decided to get our cobwebbed covered bikes down from their hanging spot in our garage, pump up the old tires, and head out for a 15 mile bike ride. “I hope my bike doesn’t disintegrate underneath me!” I declared as we headed out of our neighborhood. Riding a bike, feeling the wind blow against our faces, and breathing in the fresh air, made us feel like little kids again. I highly recommend going out for a bike ride as soon as possible! And, don’t worry, you haven’t forgotten how to ride a bike!

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One on one time with each child during homeschooling is invaluable:

One of my children explained their desire to spend one on one learning time with me, just as I spend time with the students I tutor. This particular child had been struggling emotionally, so I was ready for a change. We loaded our arms with school books, pencils, and notebooks, and headed for the quiet of her room. Again, we set a timer. We would spend one hour just the two of us plugging away at her school work. Sometimes I was just there. Other times, we woud pray together. And, still other times, we had discussions about her work. Still considering myself new to homeschooling (Overcoming School) (this is year 2 for us), I am still relaxing and learning how to teach without creating a classroom feel. It’s tough. But, the fruit came when my daughter, often agitated during school work, was pleasant and engaged all throughout the morning.

Now, it’s your turn. I would love to hear what you are learning. Please take a minute and share with me in the comments below.

Blessed One

 

I saw you dear Christian. Hesitant to speak.  Concerned over words and reactions.  Uncertainty growing into a willingness to yield. Obedience followed by excitement.

I saw you desperate mom. Working hard each day. Little sleep, little reward. Pouring out your heart to the stranger at your door. Feeling love and less loneliness.

I saw you bold children. Fearlessly approaching doors. Knocking with vigor. Talking to strangers. Praying with God’s people. Learning to serve with love.

I see you dedicated servant. Skimping so that you could buy food for the hungry. Bagging up meals.  Greeting families. Loading and then unloading 100 pumpkin pies.

I saw you faithful Pastor. Leading the church. Selflessly serving the people. Working behind the scenes. Giving of yourself.

I saw you hungry family.  Humbly admitting your need. Reaching out for help. Surprised that God heard your prayer. Genuinely giving your thanks.

I saw you Holy Spirit. Leading the hearts. Filling the bodies. Supernaturally guiding the ministry.

I saw you Heavenly Father. Meeting the needs. Providing for your children. Teaching us  to sacrifice.

I saw you and I was the one who was blessed.

Read more about our outreach and consider reaching out in  your own neighborhood:

Who Will Knock on Her Door?

The Answer is Jesus

Missed Opportunities

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pies

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Mexico

Mexico

A refuge in the desert

Home to the lost

Fatherless babes sheltered from the dark

Motherless child loved back to whole

Healing is found here


Hope is grown here
 

All is stripped away


Worldly distractions gone

Holy Spirit is heard


The Lord’s voice is followed


God’s power breaks through


I heard


I obeyed

I experienced


I was led


I was bold

I was powerful


Mexico, stay with me


Holy Spirit, abide in me


Let me never forgetimg_7606

Ice Skating Dog

The campfire crackled. Our weary bodies rested on the hard logs. Our hearts centered on the goodness of our Lord.

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Being that it was the last night of our week long mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, we had all grown quite comfortable around each other and in our surroundings. Singing the last lines of Great Are You Lord, we relished this time.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

Not A Vacation

One of the Pastors on the trip began giving us some last minute encouragement. He enthusiastically recapped testimony after testimony from our week. But then he said something that halted in my heart and mind and refused to leave. “Ask the Lord what He wants you to do with this mission trip. If nothing in your life changes after your time here, then it was just a trip.”

I knew that days after returning from our mission trip, my family and I were taking a family vacation. We would make memories, enjoy our time together, relax, eat good food, laugh, and play…all the wonderful things that make a family vacation. But, would that vacation change how I live my life? Would it further God’s kingdom? 

The Pastor’s question remained in my heart and mind until the next morning. I prayed, “God, do you want me to be a missionary? Do you want me to come back here? Do you want my whole family to come back here?” I felt uncomfortable but unable to shake the thought that God was doing something with the Pastor’s question, what will you do differently now that you went on this trip?

God led my mind to what my life back home consisted of. It was summer time so we weren’t officially homeschooling. But, I was continuing my in-home tutoring business through the summer. I had 4 students that came to my house for tutoring, help with academic subjects, once a week. I also knew that God was growing my business and I would soon be tutoring 3 more students. notebook-pencil-algebra-equation

Let Your Light Shine

The students come to my house individually, and I have seen the opportunity for influence with these students. Many of the students are girls and love to stay and play with my girls after they finish all of their work. They often ask about the Bible verses we have in our home. They have also inquired about the cross on our front door.

But, have they noticed anything different about our hearts?

1 Peter 2:9, says, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Are these precious souls seeing our light? When they leave school and enter into our home are they noticing His excellence?

God worked relentlessly in my heart. He showed me what was most significant about my time in Mexico: PRAYER. Finally, I heard him. He said add prayer into your tutoring sessions.

But, Lord, how will I do that? I have been tutoring some of these kids for a year…add this in now? Will the parents go for this? What if they think I’m weird?

The Lord brought to mind His power which I witnessed multiple times each day during the past week. This power was greater than all of my uncertainties.

Obedience

I needed to act on God’s calling immediately. The momentum of hearing God’s voice and obeying was flowing smoothly in Mexico, better keep it going. Before even boarding the plane for home,  I decided to send a message to each of the families I tutor giving them a brief explanation of God working in my heart on this trip and what I would like to change about our tutoring sessions. Over the next couple of days, the replies came, “absolutely”, “that sounds perfect”, “sure”, “yes, we are okay with that”.

Not one question and not one objection. God had gone before me. Not one student who enters my house does so by happenstance. Each student is a divine assignment from God. If I refuse to share my faith, the thing that is more important to me than anything else; more important than homework, spelling words, multiplication facts, or reading fluency, than I am refusing the appointment God set up for me.

So, we pray. We pray about math tests, sick friends, a grandparent with dementia, drama between friends at school, colds to be healed, learning to happen, rooms to be cleaned. One time we even prayed about a dog learning to ice skate. (It’s quite a story!)

I decided that whatever these children wanted to pray about, we would pray. I pray they will learn about the peace that comes when we place our lives in God’s care. I also pray they learn their value, that God cares to hear their voice and to answer their prayers.

Luke 12: 6-7 says, Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

God cares about their worry about an upcoming test. And, I imagine Him delighting to hear His precious one praying about a dog learning to ice skate.

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Treasure Hunts

“Today, you are going to learn about Treasure Hunts,” our interpreter, Eduardo continues on, “Ask Holy Spirit to show you an image or a word…what He has for you on this outreach.” My mind ponders that statement, Ask Holy Spirit… That must be the Spanish way of phrasing that statement, leaving out the word THE before Holy Spirit. I get beyond the linguistic difference and consider what I was asked to do. Eduardo called this a Treasure Hunt and encouraged us to be alert, looking for what Holy Spirit revealed to us during our prayer.

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“Oh, Lord, as we go out on this garbage ministry mission, please show me an image or a word…something you want me to see when we are in the neighborhood in Tijuana. Clear my mind of my own agenda and help me to be open and responsive to your agenda, Lord.” 

Clapping his hands together, Eduardo, asks, “Now, what did Holy Spirit show you?”

Mikayla, with all her unfiltered faith, certain of what she saw, exclaims “KITTENS!”

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Others, “A red truck”, “Old van”, “Broken broom”.

Me, quietly “I saw a yellow flag, I think.” In my mind, I know it’s not a flag. It was a yellow, flag-like shape. Oh, well. Not sure what that means, Lord.

Loading up onto the old, broken down, barely running school bus, we head out to a poverty stricken area of Tijuana. I am looking out the window the entire time, not wanting to miss my yellow flag.

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After a 45 minute drive, the bus stops, our group of 8 grab our work gloves, water, and garbage bags and unload onto the dusty road. The neighborhood smells like garbage, but there’s a certain charm there. It must be the precious kids playing ball by one of the houses. Or, maybe the quiet of the afternoon.

Our task is to collect garbage from the households, as there is no garbage service for the people. After we have provided a much needed physical service, we offer to pray for any needs they may have. Be Bold

Some are unaware that their Spiritual need is far greater than their physical need of having their trash removed. Did they know that Jesus paid the price to give them Spiritual cleansing? Did they know that we are no different than them…in desperate need of cleansing from our Heavenly Father?

We start at the beginning of the street. Some of my group has the opportunity to pray with some of the beloved people we came to serve and we all the had the opportunity to pick through garbage and drop it into our garbage bags.

How quickly my mind wanders from my task. I had completely forgotten about our “Treasure Hunt”. I was hot, distracted and focused on the needs at hand.

“Mom, mom, mom, look at all the kittens!”

“Yes, yes, Mikayla. I see them, but that’s not what we are…” Kittens? Kittens? Oh, my goodness, look at all the kittens.

Oh, Lord, you are too much! Mikayla’s image was kittens. My distracted brain had forgotten! But, oh, Lord, you got my attention. There was an old truck, with about ten kittens surrounding it!

The 8 of us gush over the dirty, albeit, adorable kittens for a few minutes, when from next door, we hear a voice. The houses are all right next to each other, with little or no privacy. It’s easy for her to notice the 8 Americans right outside her door.

Before she speaks, we see her emotion. She begins in Spanish, shaking and with tears running down her cheeks. Eduardo explains to us that she is saying she knew we were coming! She had a vision that Americans came to her house and prayed for her. Several in my group begin praying for her, for healing, provision, peace…she’s trembling, feeling warmth flood her soul.

Eduardo explains to her our “Treasure Hunt”, again stating how Holy Spirit led us here through the image Mikayla saw.

Oh, I get it, Lord…the term Holy Spirit, without the word THE first, is intentional. When one is so close to the Spirit that they are friends, receiving constant counsel and direction, the word THE gets dropped. No distance there. Eduardo is guided by Holy Spirit. He trusts Holy Spirit. He loves Holy Spirit.

4 Truths I am Learning to Trust about Holy Spirit:

Holy Spirit, our counselor, John 14:16

Holy Spirit, our guide John 16:13

Holy Spirit, out fruit harvester Galatians 5:22-23

Holy Spirit, our teacher, John 14:26

Our beautiful time with the lady was coming to an end. I was in awe of the Lord’s work, planning, guidance, timing. Taking one last look at our surroundings before heading back out to the street, I notice a brightly colored towel hanging on the woman’s clothesline. It’s covered with yellow triangles.

Be Bold

On a mission trip, a few months ago, Holy Spirit performed a miracle in me. A boldness took root I didn’t even know was inside me.

During an outreach ministry in a poverty stricken area of Tijuana, one of the hispanic women in the neighborhood told someone in my group that her sister had just, within the hour, been taken to the hospital with kidney problems. Prior to hearing the word, “kidney”, I was focused on my sweat, fatigue, overall discomfort. I was in search of shade. At the mention of the word, “kidney”, my thoughts were disturbed, and Holy Spirit took over. Pushing through the crowd, I heard myself saying, “This one’s for me. I am supposed to pray for her!”

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The translator, as well as my group, looked at me with surprise as I began to pray for the emotional woman. The translator was there to translate, but after a little bit he stopped. There didn’t seem to be a need to translate because Holy Spirit was there doing the communicating for us.

What you need to know is that no one has ever described me as bold. The Lord has caused me to be brave throughout my illness, Spiritual Blessings Come Wrapped in Trials, but bold? No.

Reluctant to speak in front of class. Cooperative. Hesitant to answer. Easy going. Unsure when reading aloud in class. Scanning over my report cards from school, I notice a pattern.  Quiet. Reserved. Peacemaker.

being-shy

God created me to be an introverted person that requires quiet and calm in order to feel energized. But, the labels that I received beyond that were human given. Shy, unsure, hesitant, slow to warm up, stuck up. Somewhere along the line I picked up added garbage and held onto it as my identity.

Extroverted personalities seem to be recognized as more desirable. I longed for qualities like outgoing, friendly, social, talkative.

Why couldn’t I think of the right thing to say at the right moment? I’d think of the perfect, witty comment to make in the appropriate situation, home alone in my bedroom 3 days after the conversation actually occurred. But, when given a blank piece of paper and a pencil in creative writing class, my brain would fill with ideas, words, a complete brainstorm of thoughts would fill my mind.

Years were wasted wishing I was created to be some other way. 1 Corinthians 12 had not yet taken root in my heart.

1 Corinthians 12: 20-26 reads, 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

These verses assure me that God created me for a purpose, His purpose. My style, personality, temperament, and gifts are to be used for God’s glory. No need to wish for a different nature. No need for you to wish for a different nature.

As God is unlocking His word for me, I am learning how He sees me. It’s how He sees you.

You are:

A Child of God. – John 1:12

Accepted by Christ. – 15:7

A chosen people. – 1 Peter 2:9

Temples of the Holy Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

Raised with Christ. – Colossians 3: 1-3

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Dear one, you were created in His image. Be bold.

That Old Familiar Fear

Stepping out of the van into the hot, dry air, I couldn’t breathe. Was it the heat? The dust? No, it was that old familiar feeling: fear. I looked around, just need to get my bearings. Cement buildings. Dry hills. Old busses. Unfamiliar faces. Brown trees. Dark colored bugs crawling around in the dust. I can’t stay here.img_7453

“Mom, mom, mom, I am hot.” Oh, there’s my person. She’s the reason I am here. I have to stay. Come on, get your bearings. Get it together.

We had arrived at Rancho De Sus Ninos, an orphanage in Tijuana for our week long mission trip, along with 60 other people. Mikayla and I were tagging along with another church, not our church, so Mikayla could experience something she had saved up for and had been talking about for years. She was ready. I had been an anxious mess leading up to this point and here I was, filled with fear.

This wasn’t my first mission trip. When I was a brand new Christian, I stepped out with bold adventure on a mission trip to Honduras. That was before. Before becoming dependent on modern medicine for health maintenance. Before two incredible little girls became dependent on me.

The questions always couple with fear. What if you forgot your medicine? What if your kidneys fail? What if the food or water make you sick? What if you end up needing medical help out here in the desert? What if Abby is sad the whole time you are gone? What if this isn’t a safe place for Mikayla to be and she gets kidnapped? What if? What if? What if? My heart pounds and the fear is winning.

“Come on, mom. Everyone is picking their bunks. Mom, hurry!” There’s that voice again interrupting my useless thought pattern.

My heart stopped racing. My mind stopped rehearsing the what ifs. I remembered.

God, my provider.

God, my healer.

God, my comfort.

God, my power.

God, my voice.

God, my strength.

God, my Father.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Throughout my walk with God I have experienced trials bringing an excruciating amount of fear with them. Sleepless weeks, irritable days, panic filled hours, minutes that stretched on like hours. I have found that if I can talk about, journal about, take note of how God led me to my current place and how His goodness has never, ever, not once, let me down, then I can walk through those fear-filled times. I remember thinking that once I truly arrived as a Christian, once I really matured, once I learned more of God’s word, I wouldn’t deal with fear anymore. What I am finding is that fear is dictating less of my life and the Spirit’s voice is becoming louder and faster, more dominant. And this is good. So very good.