Sifting

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” – Luke 22:31-32

Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant by this? I’m not going to get into the theological meanings of Satan asking for Simon because that’s beyond me. But the idea of being sifted. Have you ever sifted flour? It gets shaken and pounded and filtered and eventually falls into a bowl. It’s clean, uniform and ready to be used.

I feel sifted lately. Tired. Weary. Like everything has just been given a little shake. Don’t get me wrong, nothing of real concern is happening. But the business of life – the busy-ness of life – has left me feeling sifted lately.

Random, crazy issues with our house.

Teenage and tweenage hormones.

A very busy husband.

More than anything else, my own inadequacy to handle such things.

One could say that we are all in the process of being sifted, of getting the lumpy and unwanted parts of our souls brought to the surface so they can be tossed in the trash. We all know the feeling of being tossed around like flour in a sifter, just waiting to fall into the bowl.

sifterThis is what I’m thinking about as we approach Easter this weekend. How good our God is, that He continues to welcome us into His Presence – even when we’re inadequate. Even when all those lumps are being sifted to the surface. Even when we are weary and tired. He always welcomes us.

Are you being sifted today? Do you feel like life is just a little too much lately? If you’re anything like me, cling to these verses. If one of the disciples could deny Jesus at His time of need and Jesus still welcomed him back into the fold, He will not turn us away in our weariness. Let us run to Him this Easter and fully believe that He can give us rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Hope and homeschooling

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me mention Hope For The Weary Mom. It’s one of my favorite books and I’ve reread it several times. But something that dawned on me recently is that I’ve never read Hope as a tool for encouraging me in my role as a homeschool mom.

Hope-Weary-Mom-Official-Cover-300If you’re not a homeschool mom, let me give you a little glimpse into a regular day. 1) There is never quiet, unless the children are outside and you’ve locked the doors. (Everyone does that, right?) This will be a short window of quiet because they will start banging on doors. 2) You get to be there firsthand for every milestone and triumph – from walking to long division to riding a bicycle. It’s amazing! 3) There will always be questions. Even when you think you’ve outlined everything, made checklists and backup flow charts… there will be questions. 4) God will richly reward you with experiences and bonds with your children like none other. 5) Books. Books everywhere.

When I thought about Hope and the different messages in each chapter, I realized that there are some chapters that speak so clearly to homeschool moms. The ones that spoke to me were chapters three, five and ten.

Chapter three is on comparison. Comparison is death to the joy and peace that the presence of God brings. The problem is that homeschool moms love to talk about what they’re doing, what curriculum they’re using, how they organize their supplies, what chore charts they’re using…it goes on and on. But something that Stacey writes in this chapter really brings grace to my homeschool mom life. “What if we looked up instead of sizing up?”  What if I just focused on Jesus, what He has done for me and what He wants to do in the lives of my daughters? Maybe I can beat the comparison trap and in the process stop beating myself up over everything I wasn’t doing.

Guilt. Am I teaching them enough? They’re not excelling quickly enough. We’re eating cereal for dinner again. Are they getting enough protein? Will they ever, ever understand long division?! It must be my teaching that’s holding them back. I am the worst mom ever. Guilt can suffocate a Christian’s walk. What I was reminded of here was that guilt can twist facts into monsters. Maybe you do need to add more curriculum (but I doubt it) or have a better meal plan but those things are not making you a bad mom. The fact that you’re concerned for your child’s education and health demonstrate just the opposite! Guilt needs to be rooted out so grace and truth can be applied. Stacey outlined five quick Bible based thoughts to meditate on each day of the week. I love that they are simple, short things I can focus on even in the midst of a busy day.

Chapter ten is titled Moving from Weariness to Worship. It is the second to last chapter and is a fitting message for every homeschool mom to read on a regular basis. Stacey says,

“The void we feel in out poured out lives as moms is real. Blaise Pascal called it ‘a God shaped vacuum’ and there is only one thing that can fill us up. I believe the answer is laying down the habit of weariness and embracing a heart of worship for the Lord. Because anything less than the very presence of Jesus will never satisfy.”  (emphasis mine)

That sums it up doesn’t it? Homeschooling is wearying work. It pulls a mom in a million directions. But we don’t have to stay weary! We can bring the presence of Jesus into our busy lives any time we need it!

Hope for the Weary Mom is an excellent book for any mother. But it’s taken a new, special meaning on for me as a homeschool mom. And I’m so thankful for it. Have you read Hope yet? I can’t recommend it enough. You can find out more about it here.

 

{I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was not guaranteed.}

{Being OK} Thanks

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The last link-up for the launch of Being Ok With Where You Are was this week. I’m a little late to the party but chapter 9 is about thankfulness.
Stacey writes:

I wonder what if would look like in my life if I determined everyday to praise God, regardless.”

Bur what would my life look like if I didn’t determine in my heart the praise God?

Oh I know all about that one. It’s a bitter, angry, selfish place where everyone else has everything I don’t. It goes hand-in-hand with not being ok with where you are. It’s lonely, dark and sad. Living without thankfulness is much harder than living with it.

Just like Stacey, I started counting gifts with Ann way back in 2008 after a Sunday School class taught at my church. Not all my gifts make my public list (which I keep between Twitter and here) but I count and search and hope that I am installing thankfulness in my daughters.

Living without thankfulness is like cutting off your own arm. It is like punishing yourself to continue a pattern of bitterness when you could start to count gifts in your life and begin to see God’s grace in your life.

How can you honestly not find a single thing to thank God for today? I’ve had some bad days in the last few years. But finding even that one thing is sometimes just enough to remind me that the grace of God is just a short prayer away.


It’s also an amazing way to keep record of how God blessing is near, if we will only recognize it. Going back through these lists is like flipping through the pages of a photo album. I can see exactly what was going on around me for many of them. It’s a reminder to be that God is good. God is so very good. Even when it seems like we have no idea what is going on – God is good.

Have you started counting gifts yet? Did you notice that the leaves are the most amazing shades of orange and red right now? Did you pause to thank God for that smile on your child’s face? Did you thank God that the bills got paid, even if it’s just by the skin of your teeth? Did you just thank God that your children, husband, parents, friends woke up and you were all given another day today? There is always something. Just find that one thing and remind your tired heart that the grace of God can be real in your life.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:3-6 NIV)

{Being OK} The F Word

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{I’m linking up with fellow Launch Team members, and anyone else that wants to join in, over here today.}

When I started reading Being OK With Where You Are by Stacey Thacker, I knew it was going to be one that I would reread.  Sometimes God just brings you back to the same issue over and over again. For me it’s “fine.”

Chapter 3 of Stacey’s book is all about the veil of fine.

As many times as I’ve said it to friends and as many times as I’ve written about it here, I still find myself wanting to hold up that veil. It’s so much easier to just use that little F word when a friend asks how you’re doing. Not that F word! It’s another 4 letter word that starts with F and can quickly change the tone of a conversation.

Fine.
I’m fine.
Everything is fine.

Sometimes everything is fine and it’s the perfect word to use when someone asks how things are going. When I’m in line at Walmart and the cashier that I’ve seen once a week for the last 5 years says “Hi! How are you?” The right answer there – “I’m fine, thanks.” No need to expand.

But when a friend that loves you sits down in your living room and says “So. How are you?” the real answer needs to come out. Sometimes, it’s a fun and encouraging conversation about the amazing things God is doing in your life. But other times, it’s a messy conversation with tears and snot running down your face as you spill all the details of what’s going on behind the veil. It’s real and it’s honest and it’s fellowship and it’s one of the most effective ways of building bonds within the Church.

Galatians 6:2 says Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
How can we bear one another’s burdens if we don’t even know what they are?

Today I realized what it is that keeps my veil of fine firmly in place. It’s pride. Rotten, self-serving pride. I don’t want to let anyone know that sometimes things are hard because that would let them know that I’m not perfect. And isn’t the whole point of life to show others how perfect I am?!

No. No, it’s not.

Stacey writes:

 

Plenty of people have told me that I’m crazy but it has never come after I drop the veil of fine and let others know what’s really going on. Usually, the person I’m talking to just encourages me to seek the Lord or says something like ‘Really? Me, too!’ Or the best of all, the friend will pray for me, bearing my burden as their own and reminding me that Jesus didn’t ask us to live on a deserted island. He asked us to band together with believers, to encourage one another in our belief that He is more than we could ask or imagine.

As women who love Jesus, let’s encourage one another to drop the veil of fine. Let’s cast off our proud faces and be honest with each other.  It’s in our moments of weakness that He is strong, right? Honestly, I hate being weak. My pride rebels against it. I want to be strong and in control. But the truth is I am weak, I do need others and He needs to be in control. Not me.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Being OK

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I wish I could remember how I first stumbled upon Stacey Thacker’s blog. Perhaps it was through (in)courage, as I was reading through the list of contributors and realized that she also has four daughters. I don’t remember. But when I did start reading her blog, I realized that I had found the voice of a friend in very similar life circumstances.
Stacey had just released the book co-written with a fellow blogger called Hope For The Weary Mom. It was during our season of moving and moving and moving again. Of waiting for things to line up so we could build our house. Of more waiting. It was a weary season and her words spoke clearly to my tired heart.
I kept reading Stacey’s blog as well as her sites Mothers Of Daughters and Hope For The Weary Mom, finding the words written there to be comforting, transparent and full of the hope we have in Christ.

So when I read that Stacey was starting a new book, I couldn’t wait to read it. It was a book about those moments in life that disappoint us. When things sometimes spin out of our control and our hearts hurt from the weight of it. Those times when we really aren’t okay with where we are. I was chosen to be on the Launch Team and had the opportunity to read an advanced copy. I’m so thankful that I did!
Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there right now. Struggling to find the joy in every day life when you are so disappointed with a situation or circumstance in your life. This book is all about how God helped Stacey deal with those moments. not just that, but it’s full of stories from God’s Word telling of how the Lord wants us to handle those hard times.
I would highly recommend that each of you to read this book. Even if you aren’t feeling disappointed with your life right now, chances are you will at some point. Why not be ready to see disappointment with the filter of God’s Word?!
Stacey would like to giveaway a digital copy of her book to one of my readers! Please note that this is a PDF copy that can be read on a computer, iPad, Kindle, etc. and not a print copy. (We’re saving trees!)
To enter, just leave a comment. That’s it! The giveaway will close on September 10 at noon. Stacey will email the winner their copy of the book soon after that. And if you don’t win – go buy this book! It’s one you will appreciate having on your shelves!

The giveaway has now ended. Comment #5 is the winner! Congratulations, Julie!