Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Year in Review

How's your year been going?   That was the question a friend recently posed to our homeschooling group.  That got me thinking about how we set priorities.  New year.  New calendar.   Time to plan.  Make changes.  

Here's my answer.   Granted.   It gets a bit preachy at the end, but consider it as mentor-y. Because that's what I do.    

A promise you can count on!

My YEAR? hohoHaHoHaHoHahahahahhaah!
January 7 - hub tells me he wants to quit his job & move back to Midwest, become a truck driver
Spring - declutter the house; start job hunting & re-writing my resume - ugh.
June - graduate our youngest from homeschool high school
July - find a buyer for our house (four offers out of five showings), finalize the deal, inspections, packing in earnest
August - get the graduate ready for college, move all our household goods to storage in WI, move in with hub's sister in MN, drop DD at college & hub off to truck driver training in CO
Sept - continue job hunting & interviewing, gallivanting all over WI for interviews & visiting family; not feeling very good; stressed out with hub cross-country from me & DD at college, flying solo = ugh.
October - more interviews, but wait! What is this? A new job at the end of the month (yahoo!); hubby starts a local delivery truck position after other driving things in TX and WI fall through
November - house-hunting; the vague discomfort I've been feeling in my tummy graduates to being painful; turns out to be a gigantic tumor (large grapefruit size--no wonder I feel like I'm preggers!), a couple days later I have a 9-inch incision down my stomach, and it's ovarian cancer! And we're buying a house.
December - recuperating, waiting to start chemo in a few days, writing my Christmas card, looking at all our blessings; waiting for a closing date to get into our new home.
Yeah. That's our year in review. Not very homeschooler-y-ish, but perhaps a good "lesson."
Wisdom from God's Word - guaranteed!

When I consider the many lessons I've taught over the years, along with the Bible studies and Bible WORD studies I've dived into....I am SO THANKFUL for knowing the Scriptures as they have provided me with SO. MUCH. COMFORT.
Really.  Comfort.   The kind that ONLY God can give.   
"Praise be to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all COMFORT, 
who COMFORTS us in all our TROUBLES, 
so that we can COMFORT those in any TROUBLE with the 
COMFORT we ourselves have received from God.  
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, 
so also through Christ our COMFORT overflows.  
If we are distressed, it is for your COMFORT and salvation; 
if we are COMFORTED, it is for your COMFORT, 
which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  
And our hope for you is firm, because we know 
that just as you share in our sufferings, 
so also you share in our COMFORT."   

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
So...ladies, my CHARGE TO YOU IS THIS: In the midst of your day--be sure (be SURE--yes, I'm YELLING that word at you) BE SURE to include Daily Bible Reading. For you. For your children.
I don't care HOW you manage it. But DO IT! 
 * * * * * * * * * *
Look DEEP into the Scriptures--more than just a quick overview or survey. Savor it.
With your children, strive to see the sweep of God's hand in history as you read the "history" books of the Old & New Testament, and how God has laid it all out--according to His plan. Strive to see the wisdom of His plans. Strive to see the blessings and the promises FOR YOU, for YOUR MARRIAGE, and YOUR CHILDREN.   
So:  FIND. A. WAY -- if it's not already part of your daily routine -- MAKE it a priority.  As a homeschooler, you can use it for spelling, grammar, handwriting and reading.  And history.  Poetry or literature.  And rhetoric.  
You will NEVER EVER EVER regret the time you spend in God's Word.
That is a money-back guarantee.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Plans? God Has This One

Let the earth praise the Lord!
God's country - mountains!
We serve a great God, and it is always amazing to see His hand moving mountains in our lives.   His plans are incredible and I stand (bow, kneel, grovel) in awe of what He can do.

I told someone recently that although I'm teary-eyed over the impending departure of my college-bound daughter and our own cross-country move in another month (which means leaving so many dear friends), I am very excited to be standing on the threshold of the open door before us.   What new things will God have waiting for us?   New friends?   New challenges?   New experiences?   How will He stretch us and use us and fashion us?  

And then to consider how God laid the groundwork for this moment--maybe an eon ago?   For me.   For me?

King David once said something like this:  "It’s just too amazing, mind-blowingly amazing, to think about.”  
(see note 1 below)

I get it--what David meant--because wrapping my head around this whole deal in my life today is just head-shakingly, speech-defyingly amazing.   

David had another one where he said something like:  “What am I?  A worm of a man?  I’m nothing, and yet God—who created this whole universe and everything in it—God is thinking about me?  He’s thinking about how much He wants to be with me?” (see note 2 below)

He's in the tiny details, too
One of God's creations - flowers & photosynthesis!

If God could figure out the physics of throwing the universe together (and He did!) and the chemistry to create flowers that function via photosynthesis, then I trust no matter what's going on in my life or yours, today or tomorrow, a year ago or a year yet to be, He has it all handled.  

No matter how "it" turns out.  He's got it.

Trust Him.  He has this one.

"For I know the plans I have for you,
plans to prosper you & not to harm you,
plans to give you hope & a future.
THEN you will call upon Me
and come & pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me AND find Me
when you seek Me with all your heart.
I will be found by you."
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

NOTE 1:  David's words from Psalm 139:5-6, 14b
"You hem me in--behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.... Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

NOTE 2:  David's words from Psalm 8:3-4
"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?"


If you liked this article, 
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Titus Two FriendsDeb Hofland is a Christian wife of 35+ years 
and a mother to seven ... laughing at the days to come! 
  She loves encouraging young women and 
sharing her love for the Lord.

  When she's not writing Titus Two Friends blog articles, 
you'll find her quilting, crocheting, sketching 
or dabbling with flowers and photography.  

Connect with her on 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bible Time With God and The Baby

Deb & Baby K - ain't we cute?
Even with warnings that "things will change" once Baby arrives, there is nothing like on-the-job training to find out what It.Is.Really.Like.   That cute little bundle is such a blessing, but my-oh-my there is just not enough time in the day to get stuff done.   Making dinner while holding a Baby should be an episode on Iron Chef or on Chopped! 

So the former routine of reading the Bible first thing every morning quickly becomes a thing of the past, a regret and a sigh.   It's noon before you realize it, the breakfast bowls are still on the table, never mind even being carried over to the dishwasher!   Plus.  Hubby expects to eat dinner when he gets home and, oh dear!, I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer when I thought of it while nursing the baby this morning.   ARrrgh!  

SO!  The dream of being the perfect little Christian wife and mother, the happy home-maker who would keep a tidy & pretty house and make every meal from scratch and create some cute little craft projects in her spare time, maybe write a DIY blog while the Baby napped in the afterno------screeeeeeech! 

Of course, we certainly expected that things would change when Baby arrived.  Like we're not going to get eight hours of sleep at night.   And the diapers.  And the laundry.   But wow.   We just don't expect things to change THIS MUCH!    
Like doing everything one-handed.  Like how TIME changes when you have a baby. 

God doesn't expect us to neglect our children or husbands in order to study His Word.   He also doesn't expect us to give up on spending time with Him either, but He *has* given us a job to do.  We're wives.  Mothers.   Keepers at home.   When we do the job He's given us, we're serving Him.

Review (for just a moment) these words from Titus.....they are your Marching Orders:

"Older women should train the younger women
 to love their husbands and children, 
to be self-controlled and pure, 
to be busy at home, 
to be kind, 
and to be subject to their husbands, 
so that no one will malign the Word of God."

Here are a few ideas I've figured out over the years.

1 - This period of life is a "seasonal" thing.   When you have wee ones at the breast and under-foot, your challenge is different than it is when they are older and more inclined to want to stay in bed half the morning!   So.  You must adapt.   That is, adapt your schedule.  Adapt your expectations.  

2 - Consider that NOW your role has changed from "student" to teacher, from eater to feeder.   Of course you will ALWAYS be a student of God's Word and will ALWAYS be sitting at Christ's feet. However.   
Instead of moaning over missing out on quiet time with the LORD, consider that reading a Bible story from the Old or New Testament OR sharing a simple devotion with one or two Bible passages is EXACTLY what your children need.  When you teach someone else, you learn more than your students.     

3 - Lead by example.  
When I taught third & fourth grades, it was standard practice to encourage parents to model reading at home: studies show that children of readers become readers.  Doesn't matter if it's a book, newspaper or magazine--as long as the parent gets engrossed (you'd say something like, "Oohh, I'm at the good part, can you wait a second?"), the child most likely will see the benefits and want to copy her parents. 

I'm convinced the same is true of Bible reading:  if your children (from tiny on) see you eager and excited to read God's Word ("can't get enough!"), they will soon be doing the same thing.  Little ones are very QUICK to copy their parents! 

First thing in the morning, read with your children.   Last thing at night, say prayers with them.   You are creating life-long habits.  

4 - 
Change your thinking about what you're satisfied with when you DO get to sit down and read or study God's Word.   Instead of regretting you didn't get to read/study for an hour, be thankful you got one minute!   Besides:  even just short passages are beneficial; remember, the LORD tells us "My Word will not return to Me empty."  Your whole perspective changes when you read with and to your children. Passages and concepts that you NEVER noticed before will POP (!!!) off the page at you.  Studying or reading for one minute is better than no minutes!  Be GLAD for what you DO get to munch on each day.

Sign up for Bible Love Notes - seriously, they're ONE MINUTE long to read...but they are spot-on and so uplifting!   

One of my sketches - shared on TTF Bible Reading Buddies

5 - Wolves don't eat three meals a day. But, whoooo! when they DO make a kill, look out (!)--they chow down on a banquet.  Eat up, Junior, we don't know when we're gonna eat again!  Gut-busting FULL from that one meal.  

So, too, when the chance presents itself in your day (or maybe only once a week); gorge yourself on God's Word when you can and then mull it over and over all week long.   And realize = you might be on this kind of diet for a few years.  But don't worry--there will be time later for lingering and leisurely lounging through God's Word.   But for now....make do with what you get!

Yes, it's good to have priorities, and most days--as the children get older--you will find a way to work it into your routine.   But when the schedule gets sacked, be GLAD you've committed a few passages to memory--and feast or nibble on those!

6 - Hook up with like-minded friends on Facebook or via email or real life (imagine that!).   Agree to send each other timely Bible passages, share what you HAVE had time to read, and encourage one another.    I have a Facebook group for just this purpose (we're following a chronological reading plan through the Bible); click here if you'd like to join us:  TTF Bible Reading Buddies (TTF stands for Titus Two Friends).  

Encourage your sisters who aren't as far along the path as you are.   Remember what it was like to be a new mom, tired and discouraged.   And if you're the discouraged new mom....take heart--it is ONLY for a season.   Smile and thank GOD for the sweet blessing in your arms.  God will give you what you need--He says when we ask in His name, He hears us.  

7 - Use the technology you have available.  Set up your smart-phone to send you daily Bible passages.   Get one passage to come in about 1 minute after your alarm clock is set to start your day.   Have another come in around lunch time.   Another in the afternoon or evening.  OR whatever time you seem to notice your need the spiritual snack.

I don't have little kids, and these are such Day Boosters it always makes me reflect on my blessings.   So.  TREASURE those little tidbits.  God is sending you JUST WHAT YOU NEED at that time.   Soak it up.   There are a ton of these apps available; here are the ones I like:

iTunes "Word Alert"
iTunes "Daily Bible Inspiration"

8 - Treasure up God's Word in your heart.  Print uplifting Bible passages on card-stock and stick one on your bathroom mirror.  Read it every morning, while you're brushing your teeth--let it set the tone for your day.  While you're washing your hands later in the day, close your eyes and recite it to yourself.  Just think:   God is with you.  
Here is a list of 100 Bible verses that are worth printing and committing to memory. 
Yep!  We just made YOU smile!


 * * * * * * *
Hopefully these ideas will help you put things into perspective for making time for Bible reading and caring for Baby without neglecting either one.
* * * * * * *

If you liked this article, you might want to check out this one about Time & Priorities  or this one about Bible Time with the family.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Save the Towels! Save the Dishes!

My mom "saves" the good kitchen towels for when "company" comes.  

For Christmas one year, I gave her a couple sets of new matching dish cloths, hand towels and hotpads--I was a young single woman just a few years out of high school, and I had ideas about how to spiff up Ma's farm kitchen.  

About 15 years later, I was digging through her towel drawer (again!) looking for one that wasn't so thin you could read a newspaper through it.   Ah-ha!  The ones I gave her!  Still with their original creases--oh, for pete-sake!!

"Ma!  Why don't you use these?" I held them up, a bit incredulous and somewhat accusatory.

"I'm saving them for good," she explains as if I'm still three and gives me this look that says something.  Surely my education has been lacking if I don't know this already--and by that time I'd finished four years in the Air Force and had graduated from college with high honors as well!      

"Oh, and are we not good enough to put them out?"

Her explanation, born from growing up during the Depression and WWII, I've heard before, certainly made sense back in the days when my five brothers and I and my dad were trucking in and out of the kitchen on our way to or from the barn and the outside chores.   We didn't mean to, but eight pair of hands can turn a clean towel dirty, soggy and unappealing in no time flat.
. . . . . 

Our "everyday" glasses

She gave me the good china a few years back.   I warned her that we would be "using" the good dishes--and not just for company but for spatial family dinners, too. 

"What if you break one of them?" she worried.   I could almost detect her hands moving into a protective mode ready to take back the heavy box.

"Well, then we break one and I'll be sad,"   And I would be, because breaking a dish from someone special is like giving up a little piece of them!   "...but at least we're using them and enjoying them--much more than if they just take up space in a cupboard."  

She pauses and thinks about this new-fangled notion.  But not convinced.

"And I'll think about you and Gramma every time I pull them out."  And I mean it.  Sincerely.   

"Oh, well.  Then I guess it's okay."  

Oh, well, then I guess I passed that test.

. . . . . . . 

My 2nd brother once wrote how our generation was standing on the shoulders of giants; how we benefit from the sacrifices our parents and grand- & great-grandparents made, and what a sure and solid and steady foundation they've given us.  

I've always liked that analogy; it reminds me of being a little girl, and that feeling of connection with the people whose warm hands picked me up and lifted me high into the air with a joyous bounce and a great big hug.  

A legacy and a heritage.   What am I giving my children?   What will they remember from their childhood and teen years?   Who will I be to them?  

Our generations:   one down, one up - squeeze me in between!

We're eating off the good china and remembering dinners in Gramma and Grampa's kitchen, when (it seems) life was more carefree and the future stretched out into forever.

And we'll use the "good" towels to clean up afterwards.

He has given us ... an inheritance that can 
never perish, spoil or fade--
kept in heaven for you....

Therefore, prepare your minds for action;
be self-controlled, 
set your hope fully on the grace 
to be given you 
when Jesus Christ is revealed.

....Live your lives as 
strangers here in reverent fear.
For you know that it is not 
with perishable things
 such as silver or gold that you were 
redeemed from the empty way of life...
but with the precious blood of Christ.

....Always be prepared
 to give an answer to everyone 
who asks you to give the 
reason for the hope that you have...
1 Peter 1, 2 & 3 NIV

You might like this post Motherhood 101 or this one Mothers of Giants (I just realized how poorly titled most of my posts are--how do you like these new titles?) 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Snack Time! Apples & Dip

Here's a quick and easy recipe for summer-time--or really anytime you need a good treat!   I used to make this all the time when my children were in 4-H ~ the kids would scarf this down in no time flat.

Also great to take to church fellowship or potluck dinners! Makes a great treat for a lunch box or at a summer picnic in the park with the kids OR fancy enough to serve the ladies when you get together for Bible class.

Cut up a mess of apples (that is:  core & slice - leave the peel for more fibery-goodness!) and DO make a double batch of the dip.  Seriously, just trust me on that.

Also, this dip looks a LOT like those peanut butter dips, so I always make a little sign from a 3x5 card folded in half.  Then diners or snackers with allergies are good-to-go and everyone is happy knowing they're getting a sweet treat!

Sliced Apples and Caramel Apple Dip 


  • 1 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese (I use neufchatel, lower calories!)
  • 1 C. brown sugar


1 - The cream cheese should be room temp/soft.

2 - Dump softened cream cheese into your mixing bowl with beater; begin beating it.

3 - Add the brown sugar and mix for about 3 minutes until well-blended (which means you won't see ANY sugar crystals); the mixture will be very smooth and fluffy.

Serve with sliced apples or pears or chunks of banana or stalks of rhubarb (allow for double-dipping on individual plates/bowls!).  >>>>>

The original recipe listed a dash of vanilla but we like to taste the brown sugar flavor!

NOTE:  I use a firm and tart apple (Braeburn, Cameo, Pink Lady) which is a nice contrast for the sweetness of the dip.   My daughter likes this dip with Granny Smith's, too.  Or mix Grannies with Red Delicious for a holiday buffet.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all!"
Proverbs 31: 27-29 NIV

Here's a page you might enjoy featuring Kitchen Stuff!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Project: Prompts for Prayers, Praises, Promises

One of the GOOD things about down-sizing is the need to declutter one's belongings.   The BAD thing about that project is that you have to go through everything with this suspicious look at everything you own and ask yourself:   "Do you really wanna pack this up and move it {again}?"  
I don't like the aspect of looking at my {our} stuff and wondering:  "Is this worth packing?"   It's like saying, was this ever worth the effort or money?   Why did I keep this?   Ugh.

But today I came across a little bright spot in this down-sizing project on a shelf in my family room, next to my desk where I work and write.  

Back when my kids were small and we were homeschooling, we had this daily thing:  family prayers and praises.   {We still DO family prayers, just differently.}  What I came across today was this little decorative box where I store all these little slips of prayer prompts.

Our family used to dip into this box each evening, pull out a family member's name and one of the lilac ones, and that would be one of our prayers.   After we were done with our evening devotion, the ones we just used would go into a little snack-size zipper bag; the box would get tucked away into the basket where our other devotional materials were stored in the living room.

You might also like these articles about 

I thought you, dear reader, would like to create something similar for your little family.  

Prompts for Praises & Promises & Prayers

Whatcha Need:
A small box or basket or cookie tin (like this one from Lang.com)
Scissors, to cut them apart after printing
Colored paper or cardstock*
A set of the prayers & praises prompts (see below)

*I made mine with two different paper colors:  white for family members' names; lilac for general prayers.      See this article for family & others to include

Whatcha Do:
Cut-n-paste this list into your word-processing program.  I format mine to pile these into three columns on a page, and I like a larger font than the one on the blog.   Then (here's the putzy part) I went through the list and added three or four spaces between each item.  

Print the list, then laminate (optional), cut down the columns first, then between each prompt.   Dump them into your cookie tin, little box or basket.    Stir them up a bit to mix them thoroughly (sounds like we're making cookies!).   Add a little zipper bag and you're ready to go!  

  • We praise You for every blessing. 
  • We praise You for keeping Your promises.
  • We confess we are lost without You.
  • Have mercy on us.
  • Awaken us to the opportunities You give us to proclaim Your message of love.
  • Be gracious to all who are in trouble.
  • Be our comfort & hope.
  • Bless each of us.
  • Bless our family.
  • Bless our home.
  • Bless those who love us.
  • Bless those we love.
  • Bless our future spouses.
  • Bless our local township or village government.
  • Bless our county government.
  • Bless our state government.
  • Bless our national leaders.
  • Bless our federal government.
  • Bless our travels.
  • Bless our work.
  • Bless us abundantly.
  • Bless the fields with an abundant harvest.
  • Bless efforts of establishing peace so that the Gospel may flourish.
  • Bless our church with workers willing to proclaim Your Word.
  • Bring us to glory everlasting.
  • Bring us to heaven to stand in Your light and glory.
  • Cheer the discouraged.
  • Cheer the lonely with goodness.
  • Comfort the dying with Your presence.
  • Comfort the dying with hope of salvation.
  • Comfort those who mourn.
  • Continue to send Your holy angels to guard & protect our loved ones & us.
  • Defend us with Your mighty power.
  • Direct the eyes of Your people to Your son.
  • Direct our eyes to the skies to eagerly await Your return.
  • Enable our leaders to govern with wisdom, honesty, courage & justice.
  • Enable us to work for the common good.
  • Encourage the fearful.
  • Encourage believers who face ridicule and persecution.
  • Enlighten unbelievers.
  • Fill our lives with Your grace.
  • Fill our lives with Your peace.
  • Fill our lives with the message of Your peace.
  • Forgive us for our sins.
  • Free those deprived of their liberty.
  • Fulfill our desires according to Your wisdom.
  • Give children wisdom to regard parents as Your representatives.
  • Give courage to those who have lost heart.
  • Give Dad's boss a sense of fairness toward his workers.
  • Give Dad a sense of pride in his job.
  • Give hope to those in despair.
  • Give us parents who are committed to their families.
  • Give our pastor grace to reflect Your love.
  • Give our pastor grace to shepherd Your flock for deep concern.
  • Give strength to the weary.
  • Give success to students to read, think & communicate.
  • Give understanding and recovery to those who mourn.
  • Give us teachers and students who pursue truth and excellence.
  • Give us young people who are eager to follow in Your footsteps.
  • Give us occasions to serve and to be served.
  • Grant healing to the sick.
  • Grant prosperity to our endeavors.
  • Grant success to the spread of the Gospel.
  • Grant us civil servants worthy of honor & respect.
  • Guard us from calamities of nature & accident.
  • Guide us in the use of all You've entrusted to our care.
  • Heal the sick.
  • Hear our private petitions.
  • Hear us as we pray for ____ whose faith is weak.
  • Hear us as we pray for ____ who does not know You.
  • Hear the prayers of all who call on You.
  • Help me to be ____ (patient, joyful, hopeful, encouraging) to/with others.
  • Help children to show respect to their elders.
  • Help us to love others as You have loved us.
  • Help us to find satisfaction in a job well-done, to Your glory.
  • Help us keep Your name holy.
  • Help us see Your face in theirs!
  • Help us speak boldly the Good News to those walking in darkness.
  • Help us to faithfully do our work.
  • Help us in our work.
  • Help us focus our minds when we worship You.
  • Help us persevere to run the race You've marked out for us.
  • Help us to say uplifting things to others.
  • Help us conduct ourselves with gentleness.
  • Help us to be kind.
  • Help us to speak the truth in love.
  • Help us to keep our thoughts pure.
  • Help us to be self-controlled out of love for You.
  • Help us to deal tenderly with those around us.
  • Help us to use our blessings faithfully.
  • Help us to think thoughts that please You.
  • Help us to provide hospitality to reflect Your love.
  • Help us to rejoice in our blessings.
  • Invigorate our schools with Godly principals & superintendents.
  • Keep all your workers & their families in Your care.
  • Keep before us the vision of all the redeemed at Your throne.
  • Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
  • Keep our economy strong.
  • Keep travelers safe.
  • Knit our lives together with love.
  • Lead our young adults to assume responsibility.
  • Lead us in thankful living.
  • Lead us to love one another.
  • Lead us to love one another as You have loved us.
  • Let me show high esteem for others by being punctual & timely.
  • Let me be enthusiastic in response to Your love.
  • Let me be joyful in my salvation.
  • Let me be a good steward of my time, talents & treasures.
  • Let our neighbors be cheerful.
  • Let us bring good news of hope to those around us.
  • Let us delight in Your cross and our Easter triumph!
  • Let Your kingdom come!
  • Let Your peace rule in our hearts.
  • Let your message of ____ be proclaimed in all the world (peace, love, gospel, hope)
  • Let the Good News of salvation be heard in the remotest corners of the Earth.
  • Listen to our cries for mercy.
  • Live in us that we may live in You.
  • Make us instruments of Your peace.
  • Make us willing to obey the law--all of them. 
  • Move us to support missionaries with prayers and offerings.
  • Open our eyes to the beauty of Your world.
  • Open our eyes to see the opportunities all around us.
  • Open our lips to speak Your name to those around us.
  • Prosper the work of Your missionaries.
  • Send the Holy Spirit to show the Way to unbelievers.
  • Preserve our liberty.
  • Promote an honest and informed citizenry.
  • Protect those who serve in the military.
  • Protect those who are in combat.
  • Protect those who face enemies.
  • Protect those who protect us.
  • Remind us that what we see in the world tells us about You.
  • Remind us daily that nothing can separate us from You.
  • Restore our spirits each day as we serve others.
  • Restore our faith when we are weak.
  • Rouse us from spiritual apathy.
  • Send Your guardian angels to protect soldiers in battle.
  • Set our hearts on fire as we work for You.
  • Spare our land from disease & epidemic.
  • Spare us from the stress of deadlines.
  • Strengthen the faith of those being persecuted.
  • Strengthen the faith of the sick.
  • Strengthen the faith of the dying.
  • Strengthen our family.
  • Strengthen other families in our country.
  • Strengthen the homes of our nation.
  • Strengthen Your church in all the world.
  • Strengthen our determination to do what pleases You.
  • Strengthen believers to be firm in their faith.
  • Strengthen those who care for sick and dying, to bring the Gospel.
  • Sustain or faith when we are tired or crabby.
  • Sustain those who suffer pain.
  • Teach us to cast our worries & cares on You.
  • Teach us to trust in Your divine providence.  Daily.
  • That Your kingdom may come!
  • Use our offerings to extend Your hope and healing.
  • Use Your Word to shatter our pride.
  • Watch over our future mates.
  • Watch over our loved ones that they may remember Your salvation.

  • For honest leaders.
  • For justice among nations.
  • For love among our family.
  • For endurance.
  • For hope.
  • For joy.
  • For patience.
  • For those who are depressed.
  • For those who are poor or needy.
  • For those who care for others.
  • For those who carry heavy burdens whether sick or depressed or lonely
  • For those who comfort the hurting.
  • For those who feed the hungry.
  • For those who stand beside and help the dying.
  • For young people to do & say what is right in the face of peer pressure.
  • For missionaries who live in countries where Christians are being persecuted.
  • For all who go to bed tonight with hunger.
  • For those who face terrors.
  • For those who are lonely.
  • For those who are sorrowing.

Prompts for Thankful Living or Thanks Giving
  • Thank you for sending Your son to destroy the work of Satan.
  • Thank you for our Savior's life, death & resurrection.
  • Thank you for the treasure of the Gospel.
  • Thank you for giving us prayer so we can talk to You.
  • Thank you for Christian ____ (parents, friends, children, neighbors).
  • Thank you for those who love us.
  • Thank you for giving me a family of believers.
  • Thank you for enabling us to serve You without fear.
  • Thank you for the grace of Your promises fulfilled.
  • Thank you for our pastor who proclaims the Gospel so clearly.
  • Thank you for all our opportunities to worship You.
  • Thank you for opening Your hand & providing all that we need.
  • Thank you for Dad's job to provide what we need.
  • Thank you for our supervisors at work.
  • Thank you for all the work we CAN do.
  • Thank you for those who give us approval of our work.
  • Thank you for those who work at night to keep us & others safe.
  • Thank you for the morning greetings we receive.
  • Thank you for the energy to do our work.
  • Thank you for our food.
  • Thank you for the food that nourishes our bodies.
  • Thank you for electricity.
  • Thank you for the roof which shelters us.
  • Thank you for water.
  • Thank you for rain/snow and the water cycle which provides our drinking water.
  • Thank you for the forests which provide lumber, shade & oxygen for us to breath.
  • Thank you for the sound of bird song.
  • Thank you for the beauty of flowers & plants.
  • Thank you for the land-forms that grace Your world.   
  • Thank you for the ____ (plains, rocks, mountains, clouds)
  • Thank you for the ____ (lakes, rivers, oceans)
  • Thank you for our ____ (friends, family, home)
  • Thank you for farmers who provide us with food.
  • Thank you for our personal blessings.
  • Thank you for making me a blessing to others.
  • Thank you for the marvels of medicine & technology.
  • Thank you for clothing to protect us.
  • Thank you for the projects we do.
  • Thank you for our nation.
  • Thank you for this beautiful world.
  • Thank you for the wide open skies.

Personal Prayer Prompts

These last ones are personal prayers (first person point-of-view, that is).   You may wish to use these for your own daily prayer time:
  • All I have comes from You.  Help me use it properly.
  • Bless those who are praying for me.
  • Comfort me with Your word.
  • Comfort me when I am sad.
  • Correct the mistakes I make.
  • Enable me to use my days in Your service.
  • Enable me to use all my days in grateful praise to You.
  • Fill me with zeal to keep You first in my life.
  • Forgive my many sins.
  • Give me the ability to make difficult decisions that please You.
  • Give me compassion to help heal the hurts of others.
  • Give me confidence & boldness to do & say what is right.
  • Give me courage to share the Gospel.
  • Give me courage to speak boldly about Jesus.
  • Give me many opportunities to care for others & thereby care for You.
  • Give me self-control to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • Give me inward strength to withstand stress, so I can accomplish Your best!
  • Give me strength & willingness to say "Your will be done."
  • Give me vision to see beyond my own needs, to help others.
  • Guard me from temptation.
  • Help me approach my duties with creativity & wisdom.
  • Help me avoid words, actions & attitudes which bring about undesireable consequences.
  • Help me be attentive to others' needs & less of my own.
  • Help me be aware of what is going on around me so that I can give right responses.
  • Help me be more like You.
  • Help me be sensitive to others.
  • Help me love the lost.
  • Help me put the needs of others ahead of my own.
  • Help me recognize & do what needs to be done before I'm asked or told.
  • Help me realize that You have provided everything I need for my present happiness.
  • Help me remember that You are fair and just.
  • Help me schedule & plan so that I may serve others
  • Help me trust You for everything.
  • Help me to accomplish Your goals on Your schedule, not mine.
  • Help me to act in harmony with Your will.
  • Help me to be diligent in my tasks.
  • Help me to forgive those who have hurt me.
  • Help me to be obedient and dependable.
  • Help me to be sincere and responsible.
  • Help me to be thoughtful and wise.
  • Help me to know and do what You need done.
  • Help me to see Your loving hand even in times of terrible trouble or sadness.
  • Help me to thank others and You.
  • Help me to be truthful & honest.
  • Help me be more cheerful to those around me.
  • Help me recognize that You are responsible for the achievements in my life.
  • Help me yield my rights & expectations to You.
  • Keep me from offending others with rude talk or actions.
  • Lead me through the dark days.
  • Let me be generous & remember that everything comes from You.
  • Let me be more organized so that I have more time to serve others & You.
  • Let me be use difficult situations to Your glory.
  • Let my life reflect the virtues of excellence and purity.
  • Make me cheerful & trusting to bear up under whatever happens.
  • Make me faithful in my daily life so that my life may bring glory to You.
  • Make me willing to use my intelligence to Your glory.
  • Overcome my rash words & actions with a more cautious & thoughtful attitude.
  • Relieve the burdens of my heart.
  • Remind me to help those in need.
  • Remind me of Your love daily.
  • Remind me that each task I do is an assignment from You.
  • Remove the mental roadblocks that make me contentious at times.
  • Renew my spirit so I will pardon others.
  • Rid me of selfishness.
  • Save me from doubt.
  • Send Your Holy Spirit to comfort me with Your Word.
  • Structure my life around that which is eternal & cannot be destroyed.
  • Use difficult situations to demonstrate my commitment to You and my family.
  • Use me, Lord.

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.

Give ear to my prayer--
it does not rise from deceitful lips.

I call on You, O God, for You will answer me;
Give ear to me and hear my prayer.

Show me the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 17:1, 6-8 NIV

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 Obvious Signs You're Wise Enough to Give Advice

Big days on the horizon for my little family.   Darling Daughter will be graduating from homeschool high school in 12 days.   I bought the frame for her diploma today, along with some crafty fixings so her party guests can leave her some Words of Advice. (see PS at bottom for more on this)

As is my usual modus operandi I came up with this Words of Advice idea while wandering around in one of my favorite craft stores.   And while this idea was percolating in my brain, I got kind of teary-eyed, to think of my darling daughter who just yesterday (it seems) was being born and toddling at my feet.  

I've been giving her advice ever since she was born actually, so graduation advice is really just a continuation of what we've been doing all along.  But still, it seems monumental in one of those awed, hushed-tones sorts of ways.   We should have some succinct, important things to pass along to her.

But what?  

Well.   God has a way of working out things just perfectly.  I came home from my little jaunt to the store, and finished (hahahh!) sorting the various piles and files I've been working on for the past week or so.   And nestled in the LAST PILE (of course!), what appeared to my wandering eyes?  

Peacock book-box, cardstock paper, stickers & words of advice

A pink piece of paper in an old ratty and stained page protector--this used to hang on our fridge back when the kids were little.   It's a list of the Fruits of the Spirit--that neat list St. Paul wrote in chapter 5 to the Galatians.  

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."Galatians 5:22 & 23 NIV

As is my mom-ish way of doing things, the kids and I had done a word-study on the list and come up with our own definitions for each of those spiritual fruits.

It occurred to me today--while going through this stack of filing--that these spiritual qualities and our old homeschool definitions make a perfect "Advice to the Graduate" list.  

Advice for a Graduate

God always gives the best advice!  
The Bible is His book, and it's chock-ful of excellent wisdom.

When you have time, read the Old Testament book of Proverbs.
There are 31 chapters (one for every day of the month!) 
outlining wisdom and foolishness, rules for marriage,
raising children, getting along with your neighbors & enemies,
and even treating your animals properly.

Likewise, the New Testament has loads of sage wisdom
from Jesus himself and from the apostles.
Of course, as Christians, we want to follow all this guidance
because we want to live our lives to God's glory.

In fact, there are several spots where we're told that a
Christian will produce fruit in keeping with principles God has outlined throughout His Book.   

The New Testament book of Galatians specifically outlines a 
short-list of spiritual qualities we all should strive to achieve.

Some years ago, my three children & I attempted to define these nine qualities.
Here's what we came up with:

  • a very glad feeling, happiness, great pleasure, delight
  • anything causing such feeling or the expression of showing such feeling

  • deep and tender feelings of affection or attachment
  • devotion to a person, an expression of one's affection or feeling of brotherhood and goodwill
  • strong liking or interest or passionate affection for another

  • freedom from war, treaty or agreement to end war or threat of war
  • freedom from public disturbance or disorder, public security, law & order
  • freedom from disagreement or quarrels, absence of mental conflict
  • harmony, concord, undisturbed state of mind, serenity

  • the state, quality or fact of being patient
  • the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint
  • steadiness, endurance, perseverance in performing a task
  • bearing or enduring pain or trouble without losing self-control
  • refusing to be angered as by an insult 
  • calmly tolerating delay or confustion or inefficiency
  • waiting calmly for something desired
  • steady, diligent

  • the state, quality or habit of being kind
  • kindly treatment, feelings, affection & goodwill
  • sympathetic, gentle, friendly, tender-hearted
  • generous, cordial, loving affectionate

  • the state or quality of being virtuous
  • excellence, kindness, generous, benevolent
  • the best part, essence or valuable element of a thing
  • suitable to a purpose, fresh, unspoiled
  • virtuous, honest

  • refined, courteous
  • noble, chivalrous, generous, kind
  • easily handled, kindly
  • sincere, patient, pleasant

  • maintaining allegiance, constancy, loyalty
  • marked by or showing a strong sense of duty or responsibility
  • conscientious, steadfast adherence

  • control of one's self or one's own emotions, desires & actions
  • ability to set aside one's own needs
  • restraint
  • making disciplined choices

These nine spiritual qualities stack up neatly and build upon one another.  
They work best when they are working together.  
And if you stop to think about each of these "fruits" you'll see that
they don't all grow at the same rate!   In some cases, a fruit will
grow easily, while another needs careful pruning to reach full ripeness.

It takes a lifetime for these "fruits" to develop.
Some only develop under stressful circumstances.
Others depend on the development of other fruits, first.

Keep going.  
Prune, water, fertilize, nourish, grow.
St. Paul, the writer of this list, goes on to say

"Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap 
a harvest if we do not give up.  
Therefore, as we have opportunity, 
let us do good to all people."
Galatians 6:9-10 NIV

Keep growing!

P.S. Here's my idea for guests giving Words of Advice to the graduate:
purchase a book box (looks like a fancy-schmancy book, but it's hollow)
and some card-stock paper and stickers.

Before the party, cut the paper so that it will fit inside the box.
Provide a pen or marker, stickers and rubber stamps & ink pads.
(I'm going to set out some little alphabet stamps, too.)

At party time, ask guests to write some 
Words of Advice or Encouragement to the graduate.
Urge them to jazz up their little "card" and personalize it.   

The cards go into the hollowed out book-box,
and then the box is tucked into the grad's College Stuff.

Once she's settled in her dorm room, she will have these
lovely sentiments in a handy-dandy, portable, easily-stored and cute container.
When homesickness hits (missing Mom's cooking 
or Dad's silly Dad-jokes)
or missing the home-routine or hanging with "old" friends,
our Darling Daughter can open the book-box and 
fondly remember and be encouraged.

You might also like this post about loyalty, or this one about faithfulness,
 or this one about living (yes, I said LIVING) advice in your marriage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

9 Things to Do to Become (or Be) an Awesome Mom

Being an awesome mom really can't be reduced to a list of 9 things, but here's a start.  

1 - Read, sing, and listen to your children.   Starting from the first day they're born--pause when you talk to your baby, and she'll learn the give-n-take of conversation.  And PLEASE--please!--teach them how to properly interrupt when Mom is visiting with an adult.  (hand on arm, wait quietly to be addressed)

2 - Count your blessings - be optimistic - smile.  

3 - Learn from and laugh at your mistakes.   Help your chicks to do the same thing.

4 - When you have to, say the following (right away!):
      "I don't know" (but I'll find out!)
      "I made a mistake"
      "I need help"

      "I'm sorry"

5 - Say it like you mean it - quit being wishy-washy when giving directions - be consistent.  You're NOT their "friend" -- you're their mother.  Don't get the two mixed up.   Kids will have LOTS of friends, but only one mother.   

6 - Keep your priorities straight (husband, children, everyone else).   Of course, God comes FIRST on that list--that's a given.   Work on your relationship with your hubby first, you're a team!  

7 - Children won't die if you say "no" or make them do chores or miss a birthday party because you told her to do her chores and she decided not to.   Seize every opportunity to teach life lessons!    

8 - Tell your kids you love 'em.   Every day.   And give hugs.  And "tickle treatments."   

9 - Spend time with your children, particularly time in church and take time to teach them manners, life skills (how to--), and that the whole world doesn't revolve around them.  Sounds rough, but it's true.  They're part of a family--something greater than themselves.   Do things for others.

Okay, I have to add one more, because #9 flows into this one.  

10 - Teach them how to get along with others, particularly their siblings.   If they would rather fight with each other, punish both children equally.  Don't allow tattling unless "blood & guts" or doing something dangerous.  My aunt used to spank the tattler and the tattled-on--because my three girl cousins were very competitive.   They grew up to be very loving and protective of each other.

There's no time like the present to leave a Godly legacy and establish your heritage!   And if you're an older woman you can help the next generation (the young mothers of today) by sharing your experience in a tender and loving way.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, 
and He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
 Proverbs 3:5-8 NIV

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QUESTION:   What one thing do you or did your mom do that could be added to this list?