Passionate Prayer

I’ve been struggling with prayer lately. I’ve been doing it but lately my time talking with the Creator for some reason I’ve felt emotionally dry as toast. I know that faith and emotions are not the same thing. I do believe God hears and answers my prayers even when I am emotionally uninvolved but at the same time I want to feel and experience God with my emotions. My emotions are a part of my being, a part of who I am.

I’m reading through the Bible chronologically right now and it has been really encouraging to me as I am reading through 1 Samuel to read the Psalms as they were written. To read what situation David was in and then to immediately read what he wrote and spoke to God in response.

I want so much want to desire God like Moses did and to love Him with the passion and zeal of David. I want to obey and trust Him like Joshua. I want to live humbly and virtuously like Ruth.

I want to know God and I know He desires for me to know Him but often my flesh gets in the way. My mind is mentally lazy, my flesh desires entertainment, escapism and comfort.

How can I have more passionate prayer? I don’t entirely know the answer. I know the place to start is by asking God for passion for Him. I can do nothing without Him, not even love Him without His help.

Another thing is spending time in prayer. Purposefully cut out distractions and entertainment so that my mind is uncluttered enough to think about God. It’s important for me to not listen to secular music (very often) or my mind dwells on that instead of on worship. What we invest our time in becomes important to us.

Faith comes by hearing God’s Word so it’s important to fellowship with other believers who can speak the Word to me. Also it’s important when I am with other believers to use that time wisely and talk about the things of God and not just goof off.

Time in the Word will teach me about God and His will. Memorizing scripture is huge.

Obedience to God, His Word and His Spirit is essential. I know there has been a situation in my life that I needed to do something about and until I took care of it every time I tried to pray all I could feel was conviction until I made the situation right.

Something I haven’t been doing lately but I’ve been thinking about is a need for me to switch things up. What I mean is, if I pray the same prayer list sitting in the same spot at the same time every day maybe that’s contributing to me feeling like my prayer life is artificial. If I felt like my relationship with my husband was getting in a rut I’d do something different! I’d plan for us to do some new activity for us to experience together and our relationship would grow stronger because of it. Maybe I should view my relationship with my heavenly Beloved the same and learn to talk to Him and worship Him spontaneously. To think of Him always.

Think about calvary. I hope to spend some time this morning amongst the business of caring for children during church to truly appreciate and reflect upon Christ’s death and sacrifice on my behalf as I break bread with other believers in remembrance of God’s gift of salvation and what it took to purchase it. Reflecting on the shame of my sin and the holiness of God and the truth that God bore that shame upon His own self should never loose it’s ability to humble me and to make me rejoice.

Just some thoughts I’ve been thinking. Jesus is knocking, I will open up to Him and He promises to sup with me.

Do these thoughts resonate to you? Do you feel like your prayers are full of passion or are you in a spiritual or emotionally dry place? What are your thoughts on emotion and it’s place in the Christian walk?

Books to read when you’re grieving

Like the collections of songs I put together in the last post I wanted to put together a list of books that I have read that have encouraged and helped me in my grief journey and pass it along to you.

 

(this last one is actually a workbook/ Bible study)

I asked few of my friends who have lost children if they could recommend any books and a friend said she had read this one and recommended it.

Many of these books are written for/ by parents who have lost children but some of them are not. I would say though that even the one’s written by grieving parents are applicable to anyone who is suffering.

grief, lamentation, and worship

As I said before, this month marks 6 years since my son Titus was born and passed away. This is a collection of songs I call, “Titus’ music” because in those early days I listened to these particular songs over and over again. I was listening to them yesterday and missing Titus but also thinking of so many of my friends who are grieving deeply right now. These songs are for them and for whoever else may come upon this in a time of pain.

How I meal plan

Tuesday’s are generally when I do the meal planning for our family for the next week. I’m sure not an expert but this is what has been working for a while now.

This week I listened to Amy from raising arrows.net on her new podcast series talk about meal planning. It’s called large family mealtime but most her tips are applicable to any size family.  My main take away for my family was to work on simplifying things and work some “no brainer meals” into our week. Although I’m having trouble making a link right now I recommend looking it up!

Here’s a little sneak peak into how I do meal planning- I keep it simple!

First I take a moment to see what we have in the house already;

  1. steak and hamburger in the freezer (we buy beef 1/2 a cow at a time)
  2. 2 blocks mozzarella cheese
  3. onions
  4. flour
  5. sugar
  6. almond flour

Then I decide on meals starting on Thursday night since I grocery shop typically on Thursday. I also take a moment to claim coupons on the kroger app. I try to plan what meals on can based on what we have left in the house.

Since I’m tired after going grocery shopping I want something easy for Thursday night. I have a $1.00 off coupon for rotisserie chicken so I’m going to get one of those and pair it with frozen vegetables and bread and butter for the kids.

Seeing I have mozzarella and almond flour on hand I’m going to make homemade low carb pizzas on Friday. All I have to buy for that is tomato sauce and cream cheese (which I have a coupon for both! Score!) I’ll also buy some mushrooms and maybe some other vegetable if I see anything on sale to jazz it up some. I can’t see yet what’s going to be on sale at Kroger on Thursday because I think it’s either Wednesday or Thursday that they put out a new flyer. I really like having 2 days between my meal planning and my shopping trip because then I have some time to add anything to my list that I may have forgotten.

Saturday I’ll use a package of hamburger from the freezer and make tacos. I think from now on I’m going to dub Saturday or just one night per week, “mexican night” so I can have a “no brainer meal” planned each week. Every one likes Mexican in our family and it’s easy. Saturday afternoon we are going to a birthday party and I’m bringing toppings for burgers so I made sure and wrote that down.

Sunday I need a potluck meal for our church group. If I have time Saturday I’ll make cookies with E since we have everything on hand and I’ll also make some baked chicken since I have a coupon for chicken thighs. Sunday night we can eat on leftovers.

Monday- soup (I’m going to try and find a canned low carb one to make it easy), salad and homemade biscuits.

Tuesday- Fish and vegetables, rice for the family, cauliflower rice for me

Wednesday- BLT wraps

Then I list the staples I keep on hand for breakfast and lunch and take an inventory of cleaning supplies, diapers, laundry detergent etc and add what we’ll need to the list. Some people don’t count paper towels and such as ‘grocery’ but since I buy every thing in the same store it makes sense for me to do it that way.

This week we are also going to a birthday party so I added “birthday boy present” and gift wrap to the list.

I get our toiletries at the grocery store so I take inventory of shampoo and soap and stuff.

I also take an inventory of my diabetes supplies and see if I need to go by the pharmacy and refill anything.

If I do need some items from another store I’ll write at the top of my list what stores I’m going to and in what order I need to go.

As you can see in the photo, I get out a notebook and one page is labeled, “meal menu” and the other is “shopping list”. I group my shopping list by where in the store the items are located. Remember, I have two little one’s with me- I need to get out ASAP!

So, that’s it. I may not cook the meals on the exact day I had planned on, sometimes I’ll decide that soup sounds better than fish tonight or whatever and make that instead. As you can see since I only shop once a week I use a lot of frozen meat and produce. In the beginning of the week we eat up the fresh stuff and by the end of the week we are eating the frozen and canned stuff. I keep bananas and other fruit to snack on and I’ll also usually by some canned and dried fruit for the kids to eat once the fresh is gone.

 

I can’t be her big brother

“Mommy..” she asks everyday, “will you play with me?” I don’t know how much guilt parents usually have associated with that question from their child but for me it is huge. I think, “If her older brother were alive she would have someone to play with.”

She’s playing in the sand, her little brother is not up for the imaginative game she wants to play. “Mommy, I wish someone would play with me.” I immediately feel like I have to step in and be who her older brother would have been to her. I play the game, I build the blocks I do whatever it is she wants trying desperately to fill the hole the loss of her older sibling that she never knew left in her life. Except I don’t have the energy of a 6 year old boy and I’m not half as fun. I feel guilty for that. I wish I could change the world and history and give back to her the big brother that she never knew but that should be here.

“I wish I had a big brother to play with,” she told me the other day. I feel guilty for not being enough for her and for not being able to be her big brother or bring her big brother back and the guilt feels suffocating. “Yeah me too honey,” my throat tight, trying to sound light hearted as I push back tears.

I wonder how I will feel as T.J grows up. Right now his sister can’t stand his rough housing and constant need to wrestle and I miss the presence of a big brother who could knock him around some like boys do.

Last night we sat down as a family to watch a show. I looked at the beautiful children on either side of me and at my husband. My eyes meet his and I could see the sadness I felt reflected in his eyes. “We have a beautiful family,” I said. “Yeah we do,” he answered. The rest we didn’t have to say aloud, “but there’s one missing.” We squeezed each others hand as if to say, “I know, I feel it to.” It’s random moments like these where the sense of loss is overwhelming. The emotion is an odd one, where profound joy and grief is happening at the same time existing together in this thing we call life.

I think often about how Jesus was “the man of sorrows” and anointed with the oil of gladness above all his fellows. (Heb 1:9) In Jesus sorrow and joy coexisted perfectly and I have to look to him each day to know how to do it.

Parenting after a loss is complicated and it each year brings new levels of grief and complications. The other day I showed E some pictures of Titus and did my best to explain in 4 year old language who he was and what happened. We haven’t kept it a secret from her, we’ve always talked openly about him but I think it was the first time she ever really processed it in her mind because I think seeing the photos made Titus into a person instead of just a name to her. She asked a few questions and once she was satisfied she ran off to play.

She’s been thinking about him and our conversation though. A couple days ago we went to the park and when another child came up to play E immediately said, “Titus died. He was a baby. He’s in heaven. I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

How simple. “I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

Oh to have faith like a child.

So what’s my conclusion to this post? There is none. The pain is still searing, the guilt is still paralyzing.

One day though I will be healed. It’s not today and it won’t be in this life. One day though…. I will stand with my feet on the new earth and ask, is this the spot Lord? Is this where he was buried? And then I will truly feel it as my faith is made sight. I will truly ask, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I will see with my own eyes everything made better by our gracious God and the sting of death will really be gone. It won’t hurt any more.

May is Titus’ birth month. The 17th is his birthday. He would have been 6 years old this year. I’ll probably be writing about him more than I usually do. Pray for me.

 

 

 

 

Lots of changes around here!

Around our household that is!

We’re selling our house! We meet with a realtor and signed the paper work. We had our house re stained this week and we are getting granite counter tops put in before she comes back in a couple weeks to take photos. We’ve been working hard getting things looking good and fixed up. We’ve been talking about selling for several years now. A few years back we tried to sell it but it sat on the market for a year with no offers. The realtor kept telling us we needed to put some money into the house for it to sell but we didn’t. This time we are so maybe things will move a little quicker.

This week a water pipe that we didn’t know existed at the front of our property got ran over and burst so a lot of this week was dedicated to unexpected water issues. My husband has been working to make things right for the next owner instead of the crazy maze of pipes that he was finding. Our house was someone’s DIY project and every time we work on it we say we will never in the future buy a house that someone says they built themselves. There has been endless stuff wrong with it because it was built by someone who obviously trying to figure it out as they went along. We’ve put almost 10 years of work into it though so it’s sellable at this point.

After our house sells we plan to rent for a while until we figure out exactly what we want to do. We want to take our time looking for a new place and there is the possibility we would want to save up money and build a house. My husband is also trying to make some decisions job wise so we’re kind of at a point in our lives where we are trying to decide what comes next.

On a different note, I bought some curriculum for E’s preschool. It’s called Mother Goose Time. I bought just a month’s worth so I could check it out over the summer and see if I like it. At the moment I’m totally overwhelmed by it and it’s taking way more time to get started than I expected. I’m not saying I don’t like it, it’s just taking time to learn something new. (I only got it in the mail 2 days ago.) I’ll probably post about it more later as I get more involved with it.

Anyways! If you’re wondering where I disappeared to that is what we have been up to! Not to mention that the plant my husband works at is in a very long outage and he has been working 72 hours a week for a long time now and still has a long way to go. Life is kind of crazy here at home with a 4 year old and a 1 year old. Sibling fighting has settled in and it has been a tough parenting situation that I am facing for really the first time. Most my days are spent trying to keep these kids from hurting each other! I’ve been reading books and blogs and trying to work through this- if you have any resources to help me help my kids get along then tell me!

For The Children’s Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I you look up this book on line you will find a lot of great and detailed reviews have already been written. Google, “Charlotte Mason” and you will be overwhelmed with a tidal wave of information. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and do a full review of this book but I do want to take some time to share what I have learned because I liked this book so much!

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education philosopher who lived 1842-1923. This book For The Children’s Sake Foundations of Education for Home and School was published by Susan Macaulay 1984 discussing Charlotte Mason’s education philosophy.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to answering the question, “what is education?” The Charlotte Mason view promotes reading to children what she refers to as living books. She promotes children spending large amounts of unstructured time exploring nature. She encourages parents and teachers to teach children to observe the world around them, to appreciate rich art and music. The book explains why it is beneficial to the minds of children to not be confined to “kids music” or coloring books but to be exposed to and given the best of what the world has to offer. She refers to much of what is labeled children’s curriculum as “twaddle”. Things that are merely time fillers that don’t engage or enrich the mind of anybody. Give the children the best! The best of music, the best of art and literature.

I like how she describes education as the science of relationships. How do I fit into this world? What is my relationship to the people and things around me? Math is connected to geography which is connected to history which is connected to literature and so on. One of the reasons I want to homeschool is because I believe my children will be more connected to and have relationships with people of different ages and different walks of life than if they were in a classroom.

A big part of this teaching philosophy is teaching kids how to learn. So much of education today is spoon feeding children facts and not letting them use the minds. A so called spoon fed education leads to a crippled mind that does not know how to think or problem solve. Instead, read to your children thought provoking literature and let them grapple with the ideas of right and wrong through the lives of those who came before them. Charlotte Mason taught that in the younger years children should be able to retell orally what they have been learning. In the older grades her students used writing to tell what they have learned. She believe that if a child could retell in their own words the subject studied that at that point they had thoroughly digested it and made it their own. Teaching your kids how to think not merely what to think is the idea.

Charlotte Mason ran her school on the idea of doing book work in the morning when kids minds were fresh and having the afternoon free for unstructured outside play, exploring the arts and working on projects. I live in an area of the country where if I wanted to implement this it would depend on the time of year. For instance, in  the summer I would want to take the kids out to play before the afternoon comes and it is near 100 degrees and we want to be in the air conditioning! During the winter though we do the opposite, we wait for it to warm up in the afternoon to play outside.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that, “children are persons.” They are unique individuals and their individual needs should be meet. Children deserve respect as well and should not be treated as “projects” but as people. Private schooling and homeschooling has a better ability to make the education fit the child rather than trying to make hundreds of kids in a school fit into the same mold.

I recently listened to this TED talk on education and I thought it was funny that the people who have been deemed the best and the brightest in education of our day are speaking about principles I just read in a book written over 100 years ago. When Angela Duckworth speaks about grit it reminds me of the chapter on forming habits. One teacher speaks on forming relationships with students and another speaks on engaging a child’s curiosity. http://youtu.be/dilnw_dP3xk

This book made me feel excited about educating my kids. While listening to these educators discuss all the problems with the public school system and why it is failing our children and hurting society I was made to feel more confident in my ability to give my children something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the most of spending resurrection sunday at home

I was really really hoping we would all be over our sickness by Easter Sunday. E was better but now T.J was sick and I had a sore throat so we had to stay home. I was disappointed but decided to work hard to make the most of the day.

I decided to get dressed up and even put on a little makeup. Having on a spring dress helped me to remember I’m celebrating my risen King today! When E got up I told her why I was dressed up. I told her today we are going to celebrate all day that Jesus rose from the dead and that He gives us new life! (Four year old girls are ready for any excuse to dress up!)

We headed into the kitchen and after putting on a youtube playlist of Easter morning worship songs I tied on her apron and we made a big batch of low carb waffles. Since it was a special occasion I wiped up some cream to get fancy! This is an awesome recipe by the way. alldayidreamaboutfood.com. E said our table looked, “oh la la” which is I think the best complement I’ve ever heard in my life! (and you can see in the pic how not oh la la it was!)

 

We have a copy of the Jesus story book Bible which for the most part I really like. Earlier in the week I had started going through the last week of Jesus’ life with her but sickness kind of got us derailed. For the woman and the alabaster anointment I sprayed perfume on E’s feet and dramatically wiped my pretend tears off her feet with my hair. She then painted in with water color a perfume bottle I drew with a permanent marker.

After breakfast I finished reading her through the story of the resurrection in The Jesus Storybook Bible and then we did a little empty tomb craft. Nothing much but I think it helped reinforce the lesson.

Since the reason we stayed home was because we are under the weather the kids laid around and watched 2 movies. An old nest family entertainment video that I borrowed from E’s cousins for this week. My husband grew up watching these videos. They also watched Beginners Bible The Story of Easter that I grew up watching as a kid. (It’s on youtube)

 

I did a mini egg hunt with the kids. I didn’t want to overload them on sugar while they were getting over colds so I just hid 3 pink one’s for E and 3 blue one’s for T.J. 

In the afternoon I took them outside with a mason jar and a pair of scissors and we went hunting for signs of spring. Irises, ferns, the first rose on the rose bush, buttercups and more adorn our table now. 

I listened to this interview with Randy Alcorn I saw on his blog to edify me some since I had to miss church.  https://vimeo.com/212999779

When I did Bible time with the kids instead of reading Proverbs like I have been I read them the story of the resurrection from the book of John while they played with toys on the floor.

I saw on pinterest this idea where you dye your hardboiled egg whites before making deviled eggs. I had some natural food dye and we attempted it. E thought it was fun to eat pink eggs but they didn’t look anything like the one’s on pinterest!

Anyways! That was our day. Life with little one’s is anything but predictable but I’m learning as a mom to try and make the most of each day and opportunity as it comes.

 

New Life In Jesus

Since this is resurrection Sunday I was thinking about this phrase that gets used this time of year, “new life in Jesus.” What does this mean though? How can I define new life in Jesus?

Here are several scriptures to meditate on today.

2 Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hearth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Romans 6:4 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Ephesians 4: 22-24 “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Colossians 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”