The LifeGiving Home

Well Happy February!!

Not only do Sarah & Sally share the why's of a foundational, life-giving home, but they also offer lots of practical ideas from their own family on how to make that happen.

The year has started off quite busy for me and if you've visited my blog at all, you'll see I've added a little something to my header. 

"Strengthening Daily Rhythms in 2016"

One of these daily rhythms includes rest, something I really struggle to do since I'm so production-driven. This is something God is working on in me.

And wouldn't you know...He sent me just the people and tools I needed to point me in that direction?

I don't want my home or life to be based on productivity, but on being life-giving. This has largely been the reason for my blog going quiet. To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd be writing much of anything new on it for the entirety of the year. 

As much as I want to write and share consistently, I simply can't. Not only do I not have the time to write every other day, I don't have the content to write every other day. Oftentimes, I just don't know what to write. And throwing just anything up there won't do. 

So believe me when I say I want to write and write often! Sometimes the mounting pressure can be unbearable -- which was the case for January. I gave myself permission to let blogging go and be OK with it. 

In the mornings, I've been focusing on doing a family devotional with my children and then doing a morning read aloud together. It has been a highlight of my day! 

But over this past month I've also been reading Sally and Sarah Clarkson's latest release, (aff) The LifeGiving Home

Home is a story, a narrative spun out day by day, a story molded by the walls and hours and tasks and feasts with which we fill our time, reflecting the reality of the God whose love animates every aspect of our being.
— Sarah Clarkson, The LifeGiving Home

Sally and I go way back to first meeting at the (then) Relevant Conference in 2011. She is a real gift to me and so many other women and families. God is using her and her family in such a mighty way and the message of this book is a feast. 

Sarah and Sally share such beautiful, tangible ways to bring life into your home. The stories and ideas shared here will no doubt spark ideas for your own family -- use these ideas to adapt them for your family. Start small if you're not sure where to begin. How about an evening snuggle with a bed time story? Maybe that's not something you do in your home?

Or a late night snack and chat with your eldest? For no reason at all other than you like their company. 

Not only do Sarah & Sally share the why's of a foundational, life-giving home, but they also offer lots of practical ideas from their own family on how to make that happen. Some you may be already doing, but maybe you feel something is missing? Maybe you aren't sure why there is underlying tension or stress in your family?

It could mean the members of your family (you included) simply need a reprieve. How can you make your home an anchor, a safe place for your family? How can you make if full of life and not just living?

Practical ideas such as visiting festivals and museums, or curling up with a good read aloud and a cup of tea (or hot cocoa). Making delicious meals and using the dinner hour as an anchor.

"Every meal should be a celebration of life itself, as we break bread and enter fellowship together." -Sally Clarkson

It doesn't take much to make a meal special! For Sunday dinner, we had a breakfast buffet spread out! It was a wonderful time of good food and family fellowship!

Sometimes we overcomplicate things and become overwhelmed. But creating a life-giving, family culture does not need to be complicated. But it should be consistent and made up of various elements. 

A strong family culture helps create a strong sense of identity that keeps a person faithful in the days of temptation. A strong home culture of faith and love gives strength to resist the powerful draw of a secular world.
— Sally Clarkson, The LifeGiving Home
A strong home culture of faith and love gives strength to resist the powerful draw of a secular world. -Sally Clarkson

I want to invite you on a journey to join us for the LifeGiving Home book club. I will be hosting this book club on Sally's blog, beginning next week. 

Please, will you join us? It will be such a fun time of fellowship as we dive into this feast together!

You can order your book here (aff):


The Struggles of Moms

Before I dive into this part of the study, I just want to make this very clear: we are not facing trials anywhere near as harsh as our Christian brothers and sisters are in Iraq. I do not mean to downplay the trials we may be facing personally, but I also want to make sure we keep a fair perspective and remember to  pray for our friends in the Middle East.

They are in some serious persecution -- some of the most horrific seen in years. So, as we go through this study and learn how to cling to God during crisis, please also pray for the people in Iraq, suffering from executions, hangings, and beheadings because of their faith in Christ. They need our prayers now more than ever.

As moms, we face day-to-day struggles and sometimes year-to-year struggles through trials, tests, and temptations. How can we overcome?

James opens up chapter 1 by encouraging Israel (the 12 tribes) to stand strong during trials, recognizing that it is a testing of faith and produces patience.

Trials

Let's think about that for a moment. Trials test our faith. We will always face trials of various kinds and degree. How are we handling them? Are they strengthening or weakening our faith?

It can be very difficult to trust God through hard circumstances we don't understand. I think we truly have a knack for blaming God for everything bad that happens, when really, it's part of a fallen world; it's part of people's free will gone bad. God gives us choices and we get to choose how we live. Each choice comes with its own consequences, though.

Trials can range from small, daily trials, to larger scale, tragic trials. I think a lot of it truly depends on our perspective as well as our own personality, experiences, and faith walk.

What may be a trial to one person, may not be to another. For some people, every day is a trial. For others, specific circumstances may test them.

I went through trials in our adoption process, mostly just a heart game of faith. I had to remember what God told me and believe that He told it to me, even while our circumstances looked bleak.

Sometimes as moms, we face different fears about our children. We worry they will not follow Jesus or will not be successful. Maybe you have a teenager or grown child who has made poor choices or who's rejected God and you wonder what happened.

We struggle in the day to day, whether it's keeping up or keeping inspired. Sometimes, every day is a battle for joy. Not because we aren't happy with our lives, but because we struggle to see beyond the mundane or believe lies that tell us it should look differently or we simply don't know how to do this mothering thing. 

{I don't know about you, but sometimes, I'm at a loss when it comes to sibling squabbles. Can both parties be right? If so, how in the world do I handle that?!} 

Sometimes, it's our own anger and frustrations that become our trial and if we don't address it, it can be a trial that lasts for years.

In James 1:5 we are invited to ask God for wisdom. What a relief! God is willing to give us wisdom, if we would only ask.  Furthermore, we are required to believe that we will receive that which God has promised -- wisdom.

Those who doubt are tossed like waves on the sea and such a person is double-minded and unstable. (James 1:6-7)

Those are some pretty strong words. No wisdom of man can surpass the wisdom of God. Which leads us full circle to making certain we are spending time with Him daily, reading His word and praying for understanding from the Holy Spirit.

Temptations

Temptations are another thing all together. We may not be in control of what we are tempted by, but we can control, to some degree, how we respond. Sometimes the temptations are overwhelming and absolutely need God's intervention to help us overcome them.

I can tell you, as a mom, I have many, many temptations every single day.

One of the biggest temptations I face is believing the lie that my children will grow up loving Jesus without much direction from me -- they can just watch me and learn by example. But that's not always true.  Not to mention that's rather egotistical.

They only see half the story. They cannot see what's in my heart; what I believe about God; what God is teaching me. No, those things need to be brought up in conversations and teaching and training.

Another temptation I struggle with is anger and frustration. I didn't realize the depths of the struggles in my heart until I had children! Sure, I'm a patient person -- when everything is going my way and I can control all outcomes.

What a wake up call!!

Temptations will face us at every turn; some are easy to resist while others are more difficult.

Moms often have the temptation to compare themselves, their children, and their families with others. This brings about envy and discontent.

Did you know our temptations are based on our own desires? So those things that we desire will entice us, and we can choose to reject them and receive the crown of life, or fall to their lure and give birth to sin, which brings death.

Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

This week, focus on asking God for wisdom in those situations you need help, whether trials or temptations. There is no limit and you can ask as often as you need help.

When our own anger and frustrations go unaddressed, we can struggle for years. God invites us to ask for wisdom. -Christin Slade

A Mother's Obedience to Her Calling

If you're pressing and pushing for that prize, it's going to be a struggle. But if you're not even trying, there will be no reason for resistance. Struggle will not exist because you will not be fighting through flesh or powers of principalities to get to the point of obedience.

What does it mean to be obedient? Everyone seems to have their own ideas about what obedience is. Let's pause and find out what the Bible says:

In Mark we read a conversation between the teachers of the laws and Jesus:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important? The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:28-31

Is it safe to say that to be obedient means to love God first, above all else, and love others? This truth is universal, not just for mother's. But since I write mainly for mothers, I want to really focus in on loving God so that we may love our husbands and children better.

Love is the foundation of everything. There is nothing without it (1 Cor. 13:2). We can't love others unless we first love God {and let Him love on us}.

The Bible clearly states if we love God, we will obey what He commands (John 14:15). Let's clarify what this means.

Jesus isn't making a threat or an accusation in this statement. It's not like when people are dating and they say, "If you don't do what I say, you don't really love me", and manipulate people with it. That's not what the verse means.

The verse is saying that out of your love for Christ, the desire fore obedience will naturally follow. It's something you can't help, simply because the desires of your heart bend and lean more toward the will of Christ, rather than your own. Walking out obedience isn't always easy, however.

None of us will be perfect at it, but we always want to be in a place where we want to love on God more. It's simple, but not always easy, because our flesh always wants to drown out what the Spirit would have for us. It can be quite a battle.

When we seek to love God, we will obey Him. So what of us who struggle to obey? Does that mean we don't love God?

Not necessarily. The key word here is struggle. If you're pressing and pushing for that prize, it's going to be a struggle. But if you're not even trying, there will be no reason for resistance. Struggle will not exist because you will not be fighting through flesh or powers of principalities to get to the point of obedience.

God calls us to teach and train our children about Him and His truths. When we love our children, we can't help but want to teach them the Truth, right? We also need to recognize that love is not defined by emotion, but by action. We shouldn't wait to feel a certain way before we act. We should never allow emotions that much control. They have their place, to be sure, but they need to be kept in it.

So what does it mean for a mother to be obedient? It means we put our love in action. We parent with grace, not just law. We create a home that is a safe place for our children to fail. Friend, if our children can't be free to fail at home, amongst those who can lovingly guide them, where can they fail safely?

The spectrum is wide for how we can swing, so we need to be sure we remain in the spectrum God would have for us. Not swinging too far on one side and never allowing yourself to step outside of the duties of motherhood for a space to breathe, nor swinging too far on the other side where our children are left to themselves and we bring shame upon ourselves (Proverbs 29:15). 

Mothers, do not fail to be obedient to God's calling for you as mother. It's the most important mission field you have.