My Kids, My Sword, and My Story

My Kids, My Sword, and My Story

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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My children were bickering a lot last week so I told them a story and I thought I’d share it with you…

The Tale of the Brave Villager and his Sword

Once upon a time, there lived a brave young man. He lived in a kingdom ruled by a kind, wise, and loving king. For the most part, the people were happy and lived good lives except for one thing…there was a dragon!

The king’s heart grieved deeply for his people under the tyranny of the dragon. However, being a good king, he did not leave his people defenseless. He gave each of them a sword.

No Ordinary Sword

These swords were no ordinary swords; they had in them the power of the king: the ability to defeat the dragon.

Villagers could choose what to do with their swords. Some kept their swords on the shelf, collecting dust. Some would get their swords out occasionally practicing one or two swings. This gave them some comfort for the moment, or gave them something to do with their friends, but they quickly became busy with other things and put their swords back on the shelf. However, some villagers chose differently. The brave young man was one of these people.

He loved his sword, because he knew it was a present to him directly from the king. He cherished it and studied every move against the dragon he could find. His sword did not collect dust or become dull because he sharpened it daily.

The Dragon’s Terror and Destruction

One day, the dragon came roaring from his cave and sat on the roof of a villager whose sword was covered in dust. The dragon breathed fire on the home and the villagers inside ran to their neighbor’s house as theirs was destroyed.

The dragon moved to another house where the sword inside was only used occasionally for comfort. When the dragon breathed fire on their home, the villagers ran for their sword. But they did not know how to use it effectively against the dragon and so their home was also destroyed.

Finally, the dragon came to the home of the brave young man. The young man did not need to search for his sword because he carried it with him always. However, his fright at seeing the dragon made him forget all about the sword and his home began to burn.

But because the sword had the power of the king in it, the young man could, in a way, feel it tugging at his hand. Sensing this, he remembered his sword. Skillfully he unsheathed the sword, pointing it directly at the dragon on his roof.

The dragon, seeing the sword with the power of the king in it pointed directly at him, fled in terror and the young man’s house was saved.

The End

The Moral of the Story

My oldest son, knowing by now that most of my stories have a moral, asked, “All right, Mom…so what’s that about?”

I told them the story describes me at different points in my Christian life.

I then asked, “Do we have a sword?”

They replied, “Yes, the Bible.”

Hebrews 4:12

I asked, “Do we have an enemy like the dragon in the story?”

They answered, “Yes.”

1 Peter 5:8

Do I Use My Sword?

In the past, I’ve been like the villagers whose swords became dusty. I rarely read my Bible. While I owned one, I didn’t see the point in reading it and I had some unsettling times because of it.

Sometimes, I confessed, I have been like the villagers who only occasionally used their sword. I have used the Bible only for comfort, reading a Psalm or two here or there. Or I have read my Bible because it was “the thing to do” in some circles and church and Bible study was merely a social event and what “should be done.”

Then I told them at some point, I became like the young man. I recognized the power God has put in His Word, the Bible, and I read it often. The more I read it, the more I came to love it and the more I wanted to memorize it so that I could always have it with me.

However, I again confessed that sometimes in the heat of the moment, when I struggle within myself or against the enemy, I forget about my sword and do not use it.  I told my children that I am asking God to help me learn in increasing ways to feel the tug of the Holy Spirit, reminding me to pull out my sword and point it directly at whatever situation I am in. (For another time I learned about using the Word from my son, read here.)

Sharpening the Sword

I then brought the lesson back to them and their bickering. I reminded them of the verse we had been “sharpening our swords” with by memorizing.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

 

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

I asked them if any of them had used that verse to combat the bickering going on in the house. They got my point and half-smiled, half gave me the “good grief, mom” look I usually get with these stories.

Which villager are you in the story right now?

How is your life affected by which villager you are?

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The Details Matter, Right?

The Details Matter, Right?

Amy B

God has blessed us with a great big world, and I try to go see it whenever I can!Admittedly, I have an unusual life where I get to teach what I love 8-9 months out of the year and then go travel and serve the Kingdom in my other home the rest of the time:Edmond, Oklahoma and Vienna, Austria. A lot of what I write revolves around what God teaches me through those experiences and I invite you to "travel" with me in those times! Basically, I want to be Rick Steves (the travel writer) and Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) when I grow up! :)

I have a bunch of college "kids" I call my own, 2 dogs named Abby and McGee (yes, I love NCIS) andI get to be "the cool aunt" to 2 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews.They make great play dates!

Given the opportunity, I want to encourage people when I can and remind them of the power of God in their life...or help them find Him in different ways.Fair warning:I'll ask you the tough questions!I treasure deep relationships - especially ones that will allow for "iron sharpening iron."

I love being outside, and I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone whenever possible to soak up God's creation! Actually, I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone in general...as the phrase goes: "Wherever you are, be all there", and if you are where I am, then I'm going to be all there!

I'm flawed, but saved by grace and learning daily to be loved by God.I'm thankful for the times he lets me wrestle with him because he knows my heart of hearts, and I'm ok with my hip being messed up (Genesis 32: 24-26) because growth comes from it.I encourage you to join me in the journey!

Love well...breathe deep....show mercy!
Amy B

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Think about your Favorite Actor

I would venture a guess that most people reading this enjoy a good film. Think about your favorite actor or actress.  No matter the film, if your favorite actor is in it, you are going to go see their movie. They are the main character, the hero of the movie.

Got ‘em pictured in your head? Great! Hold that thought…

I just recently finished a great book by Jefferson Bethke called It’s Not What You Think, and I enjoyed a comparison he makes. For our purposes, I’m going to tweak it a little and/or paraphrase.

YOU are Part of the Story

Perhaps it’s an occupational hazard but part of my profession is noticing things–little details that most don’t notice or care about. So, as is the case in films, I appreciate the intentional details that directors put in to draw you into the story.  From the intense and dramatic musical score, the costuming, the location or set, the extras in the background–they all make up a part of the story.  So, as you sit there with your popcorn and coke, they help make the story come alive. All of a sudden, you are entangled: YOU are a part of the story being told.

Let’s go back to your favorite actor.  Let’s assume we are halfway through the movie and the camera begins to focus in on him.  It’s that linchpin moment in the film where you know, “Oh, this is going to get good!”  Even with background noise and people walking by in the scene, you’re still focused on the main character.

Now imagine, as Bethke explains, that in the middle of this huge story moment, all of a sudden one of the extras in the background is waving at the camera and jumping up and down, as if to silently exclaim, “Hey! Look at me!! I’m in this too! See me?? Over here!”   As a part of the audience, being sucked into the movie quickly turns into, “Who the heck is that guy?!! What is he doing? Hello?  This isn’t about you–it’s about this guy…GET OUT OF THE WAY!”

Talk about a distraction!

Clearly, that is not going to make the final cut in editing the film, but sometimes, (probably a lot of times) I’m guilty of being my own distraction in God’s story. This is His story. He is the reason why I get sucked into the story–the greatest Story ever told!

One of my favorite things I’m learning about God is that he, too, is intentional with the details in our lives. They make up a part of who we are, but they aren’t the focus, or at least they shouldn’t be. There’s a bigger picture, a more major Character in this Story, and if we focus too much on the distracting extras in our own lives, we miss the point of the Story.  We miss the moments of, “This is going to get good!”

Not the Focus, but a Part of God’s Story

While the focus of the Story isn’t us, God does invite us to be a part of it! Our part of his Story of love and redemption matters.  If we’ve let his love and redemption change our lives the way we say it has, then other people need to know that!  Telling your story of grace, mercy, and forgiveness because of Jesus and what he did on the cross matters. And, it’s an honor to be a part of the greatest Story ever told!

I’m a big fan of the Psalms.  If I’m having a bad day or I just need some re-focusing moments, Psalms is my go-to book.

Psalm 66 says:

Shout joyful praises to God all the earth.  Sing about the glory of his name.  Tell the world how glorious he is! Say to God, how awesome are your deeds!  Everything on earth will worship you and they will sing your praises shouting your name in glorious songs! Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me!  (vs 1-4, 16)

He IS worthy of our praise, and all glory belongs to him, so tell people about it!  Yes, there are effective and non-effective ways to go about doing that, and how we live our life either points to him or becomes a distraction from him. Be intentional about how you live your life in front of others.  I encourage you to not be “that guy” in the background but rather let people see the main Character in our lives so that they want to come back, again and again, telling of the great things he has done!

Quick Tips for a Tidy Home

Quick Tips for a Tidy Home

Lindsay W

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Lindsay W

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It’s summer!! Wahoo!!!! Summer means longer days, popsicles, sunshine, and a change of schedule. While this change of schedule might not yield a change of pace, most of us tend to welcome it with arms wide open, knowing full well we’ll blink and it will be Labor Day weekend, and the craft stores will be pulling out the Thanksgiving decor already. (Why?! Why?!)

I want to savor every moment of summer which means efficiency takes priority when it comes to most of my decisions in regards to my “have-to’s” such as keeping up the home. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so we eat simpler meals during the summer. I really don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning, but with two fur balls, a crawling baby, two adults in the house, and a home business, not cleaning really isn’t an option.

The good news is that I’ve found that if I stick with a few tidy habits throughout my home, it does stay cleaner, which means I spend less time actually cleaning it and more time outside enjoying summer.

So here they are, Lindsay’s quick tips to a tidy home!

Quick Tips for a

Kitchen

The heart of the home! Do all the dishes before you go to bed. If something needs to be soaked, soak it while you’re putting the kids to sleep, and come back to it before you go down yourself. Invest in SOS pads and a pair of gloves to save your nails. Then, run the dishwasher, so you wake up and every dish is clean. (Because there’s nothing worse than no clean coffee mugs!) Lastly, have a designated spot for “the stuff.” You know, all the stuff that hasn’t made it to its place yet. As much as we want to, we can’t always put everything in its place as soon as we’d like to, and it ends up living (and breeding) on top of our kitchen counters. Have a container–whether it’s a cute little bucket or a breakfast tray–that sits on your counter and keeps the stuff contained until you can move it to wherever it is that it belongs.

Bathrooms

Clear the counters off every night. In your master bath, clear them while you’re brushing your teeth. (And if it takes you two seconds, hoorah! Now do some lunges, superwoman!) After you’ve cleared them off, wipe them off, even if it’s just with a damp washcloth.

Laundry Room

Invest in laundry baskets, and if possible, have a laundry basket for every type of load you do. This might mean that your baskets are in separate rooms in your home, and that’s ok. We have baskets in our master bathroom, garage, and nursery. It saves me TONS of time sorting, and it keeps dirty laundry off of the floor which keeps my rooms tidy! Lastly, do a load of laundry every day to keep the laundry beast at bay.

Floors

Vacuum all carpets on Monday. I got this tip from my mom, and I love it! The house is going to be a disaster after the weekend, so why vacuum it during the weekend? This also forces you to pick up everything, which reigns in whatever chaos might have occurred over the weekend. After you vacuum, do your hard surfaces, and afterwards, treat yourself to an iced coffee. You deserve it!!

Trash

Empty all trash cans once a week. If you have a specific trash pickup day, then it makes the most sense to empty your trash cans the night before. If you don’t, pick a day. Might I recommend Monday to coincide with emptying your vacuum cleaner after you vacuum all the carpets? (Is there anyone else out there who thinks the feeling you get after emptying your vacuum cleaner is one of the best feelings??)

Bedrooms

Pick up everything before you go to bed. If you have a spot for everything, this makes picking things up a lot easier. I do like having a spot for the “the stuff” in each of our bedrooms though, because as much as I want everything going into its designated spot before I go to bed, that isn’t always realistic. BUT, if I at least have a contained holding spot to put it, I don’t wake up to a mess, and I can get to it when I can get to it. In our master, that spot is an upholstered chair in the corner.

Living Room

Invest in storage. This doesn’t need to be crazy. A basket for toys. A basket for blankets. A spot for the DVDs. Then, use the storage! Pick everything up and dump it in it’s spot before you settle in for a Big Bang Theory rerun with the hubs.

Pets

Our fur children. Bless us. If you have indoor pets, they probably have stuff. Keep their stuff to a minimum, and have a spot for their stuff. But most importantly, keep them groomed. If this means you do it yourself or you take them in to a professional, keeping them groomed keeps them cleaner which keeps your home cleaner which means you spend less time cleaning but just keeping tidy! It’s that simple.

Now go enjoy your pool time, you tidy-home-master!

Do you have any daily or weekly habits that keep your home tidy? I’d love to know! Please post them below in the comment section!

Lindsay

Quick Tips for a pinterest
Grief and Health

Grief and Health

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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I thought I would take a break from my healthy living series today to talk about grief because I just learned of the passing of a great man.

Not only was he a friend of mine, but he was the grandfather of a friend of mine.  I’ve known him for about ten years and I think I bonded with his granddaughter because we are so much alike in that we had very close relationships with our grandfathers.  They were so close, just as I had been with mine.

I remember a few years back, I was working with my State Representative to pass a bill for farmer’s markets.  I needed people to attend a meeting at the State Capitol with some of the representatives.  He was the first to say yes even though he lived well over an hour away, and he called me several times to check on the progress and to offer help and advice.  This was a two year process and he checked on me during the entire process.  He would pick up things for me that I needed that were close to where he lived.

As I started writing this, God spoke to me and told me to stay with my series because grief affects our health.  So here is the fourth installment in my series.

Grief and Health

I’m not a counselor but I have experienced deep grief and I know that it can affect one’s health.  I miscarried our first child (I wrote about it earlier) and have lost all of my grandparents, one of which for whom I was the primary caregiver.

I never really dealt with any of this grief until my grandfather passed away.  I didn’t realize I had been carrying around grief for all those years that I had just bottled up, AND it was affecting my health.  While my grandfather was going through the dying process (hospice term), it was difficult for me to admit that he was dying.  I did everything I could to keep him going because I wasn’t ready to let go.

During this time I started having medical problems.  My hormones were out of whack. My neck and shoulder hurt all the time. I lost and gained weight like I was on a roller coaster.

The day of my grandfather’s funeral, I almost passed out as I approached his casket.  I really do not remember that part but I do remember my husband and the funeral director’s wife sitting me down in the car.

I thought this was just part of MY aging process until I started going to a grief support group.  I realized that these health problems manifested themselves because I had bottled up my grief and refused to deal with it.

After quite a bit of counseling, I realized that I had not been taking care of myself.  I had taken care of my grandfather.  I was taking care of my three children.  I was homeschooling my three children.  I owned a small business.  I was a farmer’s wife to a husband who also had a full time job.  I was doing for everyone else, but I was not taking care of myself.

I had even pushed God away.  I was not angry with Him; I just thought I could do everything by myself.  I felt abandoned.  I still went to church and went through the motions.  I was what I always called a “pew warmer.”

Luckily for me, or should I say only through God, the support group facilitator was a very open, wonderful Christian woman.  (She is also the one that convinced me to write.) She helped me to see that I needed to turn to God and that He would help me through this.

Health Tip #4 - Grief & Health (1)

Healthy Tip #4

Take care of yourself.  Take time to pamper yourself, whether it be taking a hot bath, reading a book, watching a movie, whatever is your getaway.

Also, eat properly.  When we are upset, we tend to eat “comfort foods.”  These are generally high fat, high sugar foods that temporarily make us feel good.  Avoid those and try to eat something a little more healthy.

Most importantly, spend time with God.  Do not shut Him out.  It is only through Him that we can get through our grief.

Healthy Recipe

Snack WrapsSnack Wrap Recipe

2 large whole grain tortillas

1 ripe avocado

1 small clove of garlic

Salt and pepper, to taste.

Thinly sliced cucumber, chopped tomatoes, or other vegetables.

Instructions:

Cut garlic in half and rub over tortillas. This gives a great light garlic flavor.

Next smear avocado over tortillas.

Place other vegetables in a line down the middle and roll up.

Cut in half and enjoy.

This makes a quick light lunch or nutritious snack.

Have you ever tried to do it all by yourself? 

Have you ever been physically ill from grief?

You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim {Music Monday}

You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim {Music Monday}

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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If you have EVER felt unloved, then you need this song, You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim, as a reminder that you are LOVED!

Know without a shadow of a doubt that God created you and He loves you!  How can we know this?  Before the Earth was even formed, He had a plan to save us from our sins (1 Peter 1:20)!  He knows every hair on your head (Luke 1:27)!  He knows what is in your heart and He sees you!  Whatever you are going through right now, God is with you and wants to walk you through it.  He does not run from pain.  No!  He runs towards it.  He will take it on himself just like He did on the cross.

 

“We hide pain in the weirdest places
Broken souls with smiling faces
Fighting for surrender
For now and the after
Just look around and you’ll see that people
Are scared to say how they really feel, oh
We all need a little honesty”
 You Are Loved by Stars Go Dim

6 Tips: Packing Your Home

6 Tips: Packing Your Home

Lindsay W

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Lindsay W

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When you’re moving, the list of things to do seems endless: scheduling start/end dates for utilities, contact the post office about mail forwarding, signing/sending/receiving paperwork so you can move into your new residence, registering your kids for school, let everyone who sends you mail know what your new address is, register your pets with the new city you’re moving into, quote movers, quote cleaning services, find a new pest control company, continue to keep up with your every day responsibilities, and oh yeah, PACK!

My husband and I are about to move to our 5th home in just a little over 5 years of marriage. That’s a LOT of packing!! Whether you like to pack or loathe to pack, are super organized or more carefree, have lots of extra time or no extra time, I’ve learned that keeping these 6 tips in mind while packing up my home always makes the packing piece of our moving adventure a little easier.

1.  Start Immediately.

As soon as you find out you’re moving, begin to consolidate your existing packing materials (large boxes, packing tape, duffle bags, suitcases, permanent markers, labels, and stuffing such as grocery bags, packing peanuts, bubble wrap) so you know what you have to start working with and you can budget for the materials you’ll still need to purchase. This will help ease the unavoidable financial cost involved with packing.

2.  Purge.

As much as I do not enjoy packing, I do enjoy purging! Take this opportunity to get rid of the clutter! What you choose to do with the clothes you don’t need anymore and the unused exercise equipment is up to you! Sell it for some extra cash. Donate it and get a receipt for a tax deduction. Give it to someone you know who could use it!

Also go through all the paper that’s accumulated in your home – old files, receipts, coupons. Bust out your shredder and shred the sensitive stuff, and then recycle it all.

Lastly, check everything in your house with an expiration date. You’d be surprised what expires! (Ah hem, toothpaste.) There is no reason to pay someone to move expired stuff. Take an inventory and toss what needs tossing.

3.  Do A Little Every Day.

No matter the size of your home or how many belongings you own, doing a little bit of packing/purging every day goes a long way.

4.  Pick A System & Stick With It.

Some people like to pack up everything in one room in the same boxes. Others prefer to pack similar things with each other no matter what part of the house they come from. As you get to the end of the packing process, your system is going to probably have to give a little bit. However, if you’ll stick with one system the majority of the time, it tends to help you stay focused and not get sidetracked or overwhelmed.

5.  Label. 

Labeling serves to benefit you while you’re unpacking, but it has to be done while you’re packing. I use bright colored sticky notes and a permanent marker. On the sticky note I write the room I want the movers to place the box in and its contents in as much as detail as I can fit on the sticky note. Then, I tape it very well to the box, so it won’t fall off. When I welcome my movers into my new home on move-in day, I show them the sticky notes and which rooms are which. This saves me lots of time and stress because they don’t have to ask me where each box needs to go, and once I start unpacking, I’m not hunting through my entire new home trying to find the box with the frying pan in it.

6.  Receive Help.

There are a lot of us frequent-movers out there, and we have major empathy for others who are moving. That being said, if someone offers to help you with your move, take them up on it! Often those of us who dislike packing our own things love packing other people’s! It’s crazy but true! Whether someone offers to gather boxes for you from their workplace, to bring you dinner, or for you to use their vehicle during your move, receive it!

Are there any other frequent-movers out there? What tips do you follow when packing up your home?

Lindsay

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