Month: July 2015

Pssst…moms, it’s ok to have fun!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband came home with an impulsive idea to go on one more trip before the end of summer. I am the planner of the family and love my vast array of spreadsheets and lists (a little too much). I mentally checked my list when he suggested it. My mind came to a quick conclusion, “No, we don’t have a trip planned.” However, I tried to not be thrown off-balance by the lack of planning and embrace the prospect of having some fun. I jumped straight into planning mode. I came up with a few suggestions, and the kids picked a weekend trip to Greenville, SC.

We visited the Greenville Zoo, Cleveland Park, Discovery Island (try surfing if you visit), and just played in the hotel pool. Although the zoo isn’t that large, the kids excitedly moved from exhibit to exhibit. We then visited Cleveland Park which is adjacent to the zoo. The play structures are so cool here. While they have the regular slides and swings, they also have a lot of rope climbing structures that the kids loved. Towards the end of our time there, I spotted an old-school balance beam similar to the one I used to have on my school’s playground. I don’t know why, but I just jumped up on it and started across. Granted, it took a few tries, but it was fun to be a kid again. At some point, I noticed that my husband was taking pictures of me. “Farmer Boy” asked why he was taking them. My husband replied, “Mom doesn’t act silly that often.” Sadly, it’s true. I spend so much time organizing, scheduling, cleaning, planning, etc., and it seems there’s very little time for just being goofy. The kids need to see that in me, in us, as moms. It is a slow passage from the carefree silliness of childhood to the seriousness of being an adult. It happens so slowly that we hardly even notice it happening. Yes, there are times where we have to be a “grown-up”, but shouldn’t there be a majority of the time that we can just be silly, happy, and carefree with our kids? I know that I will be trying to make an effort to do just that. After all, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” -Proverbs 17:22.

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What’s your favorite way to have fun with your kids?

Lazarus Awakening

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I am proud to be part of the Lazarus Awakening Blog Tour. I can’t express what a personal blessing this Bible study has been to me. It has been so encouraging! Even though I thought I was familiar with the story of Lazarus, I have learned so much more about it in the past few weeks.

Just like Mary and Martha, I have found myself feeling disheartened when things didn’t go according to my plans and timeline. I know that God has my best interests at heart, but it is so hard to let Him take control when things don’t work out like I thought it should. Instead of giving up that control wholeheartedly, I often will become fretful and upset about situations, wondering why He doesn’t swoop in and save the day like I have planned. It’s at those times that I have to remember that His plan is always on time and is perfect in every way, even if it doesn’t match mine!

This study also helped me to remember that bitterness and unforgiveness has the ability to have us stuck in metaphorical tombs. Jesus wants us to be free of those tombs and live an abundant life. As someone who has been in situation where I just did not understand why things were going a certain way, I have found myself living in a metaphorical tomb of sadness and bitterness. God has used this study to show me to get up and move forward in seeking His will for me.

In addition to the book, a more in-depth study guide and DVD are available. I enjoyed the extra material presented in the stand-alone study guide. I also loved the DVD. I have always wanted to take a trip to the Holy Land, but haven’t gotten there yet. It was so exciting to be able to see the places that I have read about so often. It made the story of Lazarus come alive for me.

Please enjoy this wonderful excerpt from the book:

“To obey or not to obey—that’s the question we face continually in our Christian walk. Some days it’s easy to comply, but other days it feels all but impossible. Espe­cially when God asks us to do something that doesn’t make sense to us.

Like opening our tombs by choosing to forgive.

For many of us, our tombstones and spiritual blockages result from what has been done to us—and our attitudes about it. We’ve been hurt. We’ve been falsely accused or misunderstood, misused or betrayed. And we can’t seem to get past our anger, resentment, or bitterness.

We want to forgive—well, most of the time. Trouble is, we aren’t sure we can forgive. The hurt has gone so deep that the tendrils of our pain seem to go on forever. How do you let go of something that has such a hold on you?

That was my dilemma several years ago. “I have to get alone with God,” I told my husband, John. “I’m in a very bad place.”

We’d walked through a trying time in ministry and, for the most part, I’d handled it pretty well. A space of grace had opened up for me to walk through the difficulty without feeling the intense need to fix it or change the people involved. Opportunities for self-pity had floated through my mind before, but up to that point I hadn’t indulged them. Instead, I’d been experiencing the also-miraculous phenomenon of a disciplined mind.

I’d learned that just because a painful recollection came to memory, I didn’t have to embrace it—a revolutionary discovery, let me tell you. Instead of nursing and rehearsing the past, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I was learning to disperse it, refusing the offense entrance to my heart and, more important, denying it occupancy in my mind.

But somewhere near the anniversary of the hurt, I began to nurse a grudge against someone in the situation. Pain-laced memories began to stick in my craw and bother me anew as the darkness of resentment casts it shadow over my heart.

After experiencing so much victory in my thinking, I grew a bit careless. A particularly painful memory slipped in through a side entrance of my mind. At first it was so tiny I hardly noticed it. But as I allowed my hurt a platform to state its woes, it began to grow, and a boulder of unforgiveness began to move across my soul.

Finally the chill of bitterness sank in so deep I couldn’t even find the “want to” to forgive. That terrified me. With John’s blessing, I holed up in a friend’s cabin and poured out my heart before the Lord. It was slow going at first. My emotions were rock hard, but as I hammered out obedience to forgiveness, things began to change.

At the Spirit’s prompting, I wrote a letter to the person who had hurt me. I didn’t measure my words; I just spilled out my pain. I knew I had to get honest before God about what I was feeling in order for the infection to drain from my heart.

Other letters followed, but not one would be postmarked. I wasn’t writing them for anyone but me. My friends may not have felt the stranglehold of my judgment, but I certainly had. Finally, I wrote a letter to God, relinquishing all rights to resentment and asking Him to bless the people involved.

I was absolutely exhausted when I penned the last note. But with the exhaustion came the beginning of a sweet sense of release.

For in the mind-over-emotion choice to forgive, my stone of unforgiveness started to move. And somewhere in the letting go of those who had hurt me, I walked out free.” – Joanna Weaver

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Again, I can’t say enough about this wonderful study! I have learned a lot and felt God directing me to certain passages. Even the circumstances of this study appearing on my doorstep have been remarkable. It seemed to have just shown up on my doorstep. When I saw who the author was and what the subject manner was, I thumbed through the material late that night. I was struck by all of the phrases and thoughts that pierced my heart as I glanced through the pages. Now, it seems like the story of Lazarus is all around me. While working on this study, the next podcast I listened to was on this subject, and most recently, a sermon. God so obviously has a plan, a perfect one! Trust in Him and abide in His love. I pray you will enjoy this study, and it will be a blessing to you too!

You can find more information about this Bible study at Joanna Weaver Books, including how to enter her generous giveaway.

I received a complimentary copy of this study, but all opinions are my own.

A Great New Bible Study!

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I am excited to be a part of the launch team for a new Bible study, Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver. Mrs. Weaver is also the author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World that I previously reviewed and loved. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting more information about the study. While I have just gotten started on the study, I can honestly say I’m impressed. In just a few sessions, I really feel that I have been helped in several ways by thinking differently about the story of Lazarus. I hope you enjoy reading about the study. For now, enjoy this preview:
Lazarus Awakening Preview

Also, visit Joanna Weaver Books to enter the “Bible-Study-in-a-Box” giveaway!
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Note: I was provided a copy of this Bible study from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr

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I really enjoyed The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr. This was my first time reading a book by Ms. Parr, and I look forward to reading more from her. This story has elements of surprise, faith, heartbreak, loss, mystery, and romance. The main character is Martha Cade, a widow and mother. Just like her beloved grandmother, she is the midwife of Trinity, Pennsylvania. She lives with her brother and sister-in-law who help care for her daughter, Victoria, when she gets called to care for a patient. You can almost feel her heartbreak when she returns from a birth to realize Victoria has ran away. She follows Victoria’s trail to no avail. Ironically, the women who cares for the town’s mothers and children can’t help her own daughter other than to pray and patiently await her return. Her absence while looking for Victoria also exacerbates another problem in Martha’s life. While she was gone, a doctor moved to town to set up practice and now provides an alternative to her services as midwife. So, she comes back and has to grapple with two lost identities of being a hands-on mother and being the sole provider of birthing services. The story follows her through these turn of events and adds a few more twists and turns.

I enjoyed exploring how differently medical practices were portrayed in the book from what we have now. I also found it interesting all of the different ways that Martha was paid contrasted with our “cash only” system we currently have. I loved how her faith is tied into so many facets of the story. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading future books in this series and learning the outcomes of these characters.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a postive review.