Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Don't Look Left or Right

Though it is almost the end of the month of January, and I am late to post new years resolutions,  I have something on my heart that has consumed me lately.  As 2013 came to a close and 2014 began, I contemplated like many what I wanted my focus to be about this year.  Sure I had the normal wants to lose weight and get out of debt.  Those are still very high on the list for me, but this year I wanted something more than that.  I wanted something bigger than myself.  As I sought God about it He brought me to a boat.

About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water...

Then Peter called to him, "Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you walking on the water."

"Yes, come,"  Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!"  he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  "You have so little faith," Jesus said.  "Why did you doubt me?"  Matthew 14:25-31

In my quiet time through my Bible study God led me to this passage in my Bible and my goal for the year hit me.  When many look at this story in the Bible they see that Peter did not have faith.  I see it a little differently.  I see it that Peter had the kind of faith I want to have.  He stepped out of the boat.  He walked on water.  As he moved toward Jesus he did the impossible.  But then Peter did something that I often do.  He began looking to the left and the right instead of straight at Jesus and he saw all the things that could consume him at that moment. 

My first goal this year is to step out of the boat.  I want to see Jesus and go over the side.  My second goal is to focus only on Jesus and not look to the left or the right.  Repeatedly God has called my name and said, "Sarah, look at me, not left or right."  He has helped me to regain my focus on Him and to keep moving his direction.  There are all kinds of things in this world that produce waves in our lives from piles of laundry that seem overwhelming and cause doubt of my success as a wife and mother to sicknesses that alter life.  My God has reminded me that He is bigger than the ocean and all the things that might be able to consume me so there is no need to look at those things and worry.  I just need to focus on Him and keep walking His direction, and He will get me to where I need to be. 

I love that verse 31 says Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter immediately.  It reminds me of taking my son to the pool beyond where he could  touch the bottom before he was comfortable with  swimming on his own.  He held on with a death grip.  I held him out a little from my body and he began grabbing at me.  I would assure him, "I am right here!"  Then I would let go for a second and he would panic instead of kicking his legs like he knew how to do.  I would grab him immediately and remind him not to doubt but do what he knew to do.  Eventually he got it.  I have seen my Savior do that for me on this journey.  As I start to fall into the temptation of looking left or right Jesus has quickly called my name to redirect my attention.  He has grabbed me immediately instead of letting me drown in my own doubts.  He is a good, patient and loving Savior. 

Soon after deciding that I wanted stepping out of the boat and not looking left or right to be my focus for the year, my Gracious God brought me an amazing song that is my theme song for 2014.  It is Oceans by Hillsong United.  As I leave you with the song I want to let you know that this year I hope to share my journey of walking on the water with you, bringing my successes and failures with lessons learned as I dare to step out of the boat.  Listen to the song and read the words.  Absorb them and I pray that you will step out of your own boat and walk toward Jesus.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scheduling Three Active Little Boys

We are now five weeks into our first official homeschool year and I think I have finally come up with a schedule that is going to work at least for the time being for my little men and I. 

I did some research on other blogs to see how other mommy's were setting up there days and then with prayer I tried to tailor it to our lives. 

Here is what it looks like at the moment:

The kiddos are in the habit of waking up between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., but we are all slow moving at that time.  I try to get up, do my workout, shower and have quiet time before I begin making breakfast for the family. 

After breakfast and devotional time we do morning routine which the boys each have a card that tells them what things they need to have done like make their beds, get dressed, brush their teeth, etc. before school will begin. 

This week is our first week to go for a walk before starting our school day.  It seems to help get some of the wiggles out.  It is not a long walk but just long enough for them.  My  oldest was so excited today because he saw a blue jay.  He came running to me saying, "Mom, I saw my first blue jay.  I have read about them and seen lots of pictures of them, but this was my very first one to see."

We come back and do a good hour of school and then take an hour recess.  Again it helps with the wiggles.  I try to make it more active or they may get some computer time.

Next is lunch and then the littlest man takes a nap.

The older two and I finish our school day followed by time of play where I direct them what to do.  It might be paint, playdoh, individual alone time with mom, brother alone time, or anything I choose.  We finish up with chores.  I have a daily chore list and we tackle whatever is on the list for that day of the week.

Next is quiet time.  The littlest little man is already napping and I have the older two lay in their beds where they can either read a book go to sleep.  Since they share a room it is sometimes a little interesting in getting them not to talk to one another, but they have been doing pretty good. 

After quiet time we usually go outside and play with all of our neighborhood friends.  This is definitely their favorite part of the day!

I bring them in to prep dinner, we eat, take baths, read books, and then off to bed. 

So far it is working well and we will see how it continues to go.

How do you manage homeschooling multiple ages?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Teaching My Children Good Citizenship

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble, themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 2:17

Lately I have to admit their are moments when I find myself worried about the state of my nation and what the future will look like for my children.  Though I do try, it is hard to not to hear of the debates and desperate situation of our government.  Even listening to a Christian station on Pandora, and attempting to meditate on the things of God, an add from one side telling of the wrong the other side during the current government lockout came on.  It saddens me the current state we are in and it brings with it some uncertainty, but as I start to worry  I remind myself that my "God did not give me a Spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).  With that reminder I remember that my God who is bigger than any government is still in control. 

Government to me seems like an overwhelming thing that I can't really change, but I do seek God on what is my part.  He has shown me that I can pray for my nation.  I don't pray for a simple fix and that things will get "better,"  that the national debt will be lowered, that crimes would stop, that abortions would end.  I don't pick topics or debates to side with and pray that my side will win.  What I do pray for is that my heart would be humble.  That I would not have pride in my heart, but that I would give all control to My Lord.  Next I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ would seek humble hearts as well.  I pray the body of Christ would lay down the picket signs and fall on their knees.  I pray Christians would leave the debate and instead turn to the Lord.  He says in His Word that He will fight the battles for us.  He is the One who can do something about it, and I believe His Word when He says He will restore our land when we humble ourselves.

I do believe the people that God wants to be in office are.  I believe My Sovereign Lord allows those to rise to power who will best serve His people.  Sometimes that service is not to make things easier, but to draw His people closer to Christ.   Sadly I think Christians often miss that fact.  There is a lot of finger pointing and I believe not enough soul searching.  Three very important words of 2 Chronicles 2:17 are, "If My people."  We as Christians are His people and we are responsible for the state of our nation.  The unbelievers don't know any better because they do not yet have the Spirit of the Lord.

I do want a stable government for my children to live under.  I do want their freedoms to be protected.  I pray for my children's future all the time, but I believe the best thing I can do to secure their future is to bring them to the cross so they might humble themselves before the Lord.  As we homeschool I think the best curriculum I can give them for citizenship is the Bible and to model humility.

Lord I do pray you give my boys soft hearts toward your word and make them leaders in faith.  I give you my children and thank you for blessing me with opportunity to be their mama.  I pray for hearts of my nation including mine, that they would be drawn to you and your glory would be unavoidable.  I pray your sovereignty would reign and I pray for your mercy as we fall short.  Thank you for taking control so we don't have to.  Thank you for your grace and for the Cross. Amen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Discipleship & Discipline Webinar Review


So it has been a really long time since I have been on here.  I have had a million posts in my head but have felt like I needed to give  my attentions elsewhere like to my three beautiful, growing boys.  That being said in that time God has been slowly and patiently working with me and tutoring me on life and being the woman I was created to be.  He has been stretching me and molding me and using several others to speak to my heart as well.

Two women, though I don't personally know them, who have spoken to my heart are Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae.  God has used their wisdom, kindness, and resources to speak down to the marrow of my soul.  As we decided to go on the homeschooling journey God brought Sally Clarkson's book, coauthored with her husband, Educating the Whole Hearted Child across my path and I devoured it.  If you are currently homeschooling or are considering it I highly recommend this read.  God used Sally and her husband to give me confidence that I could do this.  As that confidence started to fade and I began to doubt it during a trying period in our lives, God brought the book that Sally coauthored with Sarah Mae called Desperate to breathe new life into me.

Given the credibility of these two amazing women who allow themselves to be used by God, when I heard they were doing a webinar called Discipleship and Discipline, I badly wanted to attend.  Due to surgery I was unable to on the original release date, but I was graciously given the opportunity to review the course and I can't say enough about it.

Sally and Sarah Mae are two mothers whose desire to be the mothers God intended them to be is their driving force.  They are also incredible women who have created ministries to help other moms discover their God given destiny to be wonderful moms.  In this course they offer practical advice for how to achieve just that and have now made it available in a PDF format.

The course is broken into four days of teaching and conversations in such a way that you feel like you have just made a lifelong friend with a mother who understands your struggles and is willing to be vulnerable about it.  Vulnerability is something I greatly value, and Sally and Sarah Mae share many examples in their own lives that exemplify the concept they are trying to present. 

Speaking straight to my heart was the idea that raising children is a spiritual act of worship and dealing with the most difficult situations in the process are the places of worship.  Give it to God.  Worship Him through it.  Mentioned was the importance of training and retraining.  I loved Sally's phrase, "Don't do this," which she used to train her children.  Sarah Mae really encouraged me to examine my emotions and the "Core Lies" I believe.  Her truths on becoming a "FREE" parent, free from those lies, were spoken at just the perfect time in my life because God has been revealing to me much about what I believe about myself.   I think my favorite part of the entire webinar were the guest appearances from two of Sarah Mae's children who were suppose to be in bed.  It was great to see her live out her words, model it, and see the humanness of the situation.  God is so good.

I really can't speak highly enough about the course and strongly encourage you to check it out for yourself.  I think the work these precious women are doing is greatly needed, and I pray great blessings and favor upon their ministries and their lives.  Don't stop ladies, and I look forward to the next webinar.  I hope to make to a live conference soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We Are Homeschooling

At the beginning of August my incredible husband and I made a decision that changes the direction our family was heading in.  We decided that we are going to homeschool.  I can't say that I never thought I would homeschool because I thought about doing it when I was in high school.  Since making the decision I did a lot of planning to get the school year underway.  Last week was our first official week of preschool.

My big boy is excited

My Class Clown...And Boy is he!!!  

Got the Smile
It was a great morning for this little mama.  I have to say I am loving homeschooling my children and in just one week I have seen improvements.  I am doing a letter per week and have picked a theme for each letter.  I am trying to include a field trip each week of some sort and even trying to pick foods for each letter.  I am following All About Reading Pre-level 1 and loving it.  I am also including quite a bit of the Letter of the Week program from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler quite a bit as well as other sources which I will mention as they come up.  We are also using Apologia Zoology 1 (their site was down so I could not link it).

So are you ready to see our week.  Get ready for lots of pictures.
All About Reading Pre-level 1


 Poke Page with a push-pin.
This was a favorite!

Letter sorting 

"A" made of playdoh by little Jumping Bean
 On Thursday my big guy was throwing up so we took a sick day.  We are currently only doing school four days a week and taking field trip on Fridays.  Since I had activities that I needed to finish we completed the letter "Aa" on Monday.

Our science curriculum had us making gliders to test which on flew better.

Daddy got to help us test them.  It was fun for all of us.

Our field trip was to a local park called Angel Park with a group from church.  I included apples and animal crackers in our snacks.

I couldn't put a post up about the week without including a pic of the littlest man.  This was my favorite of him this week.  My heart is full.

As we continue homeschooling I hope to get better at blogging about it. I hope it inspires you with your children and I love that it journals the experience for me and my children.  I have a lot of things I want to share with you about planning and behind the scenes stuff, but I will have to save that for another day. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

90 Day Challenge Part 2: Taking Off the Weight With Faith and Fitness

Yesterday I left you with a cliffhanger.  I told you that a conversation on the front porch led to a big change and that is where I will pick up.

My husband, C.J., and I were sitting on the porch while the little ones were napping.  Each of us had our noses in a book, but like I always do, I interrupted his reading to talk.  I told him that I had to make a change, a BIG change, and then I dumped my heart on him.

As I mentioned I had been really, really frustrated with my weight and the fact that I was getting anywhere while my workout partner had lost 20 pounds.  I had even done a workout with C.J. in which I smoked him (you can read about it on his blog here).  I was getting much more physically fit but no weight loss.  This day, July 21st, on the porch I admitted something to myself and to my hubby that I had been trying to put to the side and forget about.  I admitted that I was running from God and He was telling me what needed to be done.

Deep in my spirit I knew that I had to give my eating over to Christ.  I had to stop trying to sneak things in or justify having this or that, even if this or that was not all that unhealthy, but was unhealthy for me.  I admitted that I was trying to hide from God because I was sinning when I ate something that I knew was not what God wanted me to place in my mouth.  I know eating is not a sin in and of itself, but when God calls your attention to something and you choose not to follow His lead, that is a sin.  In the past I have given chocolate up for a year, I have fasted, I have gone without any processed foods for a time, so I knew I could do it.  The problem was I didn't want to.  During those times it took God's strength to get through it.  I mean I gave up chocolate for a Halloween chocolates, no Christmas chocolates, no Valentines most certainly took His strength.  Although I desperately wanted to lose the weight and feel like myself again,  I just couldn't bring myself to commit it to the Lord.  I wanted it to work on my terms, but I had come to the realization that it doesn't work that way.  You can't run from God and expect results.

As I shared my realizations with my amazing husband, he grabbed my hands in his, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Well for the next 90 days lets do it.  Lets make a commitment."  He came up with his own terms for himself, but mine were that I would not have any grains, processed foods, or sugar for the next 90 days.  I also told him that I will not eat any desserts, none of any kind, until we go to lunch after we complete the Houston Marathon in January.  The most important aspect of the commitment is not the expectations I set, nor the commitment to my husband, but that fact that I committed it to the Lord.

My boy's 3rd birthday

With the strength Christ gives me I have maintained my commitment thus far.  There have been days that are easier than others, but Christ has seen me through them all including making a birthday cake for my middle child.  I am happy to report I have now lost 12 pounds and am down to 142 after one month.  The weight has not dropped as quickly as I would like, but does it ever?! I stalled for a bit and started getting frustrated again, but this time I had my commitment and my Lord to lean on.  I saw it through and saw another drop.  God is good!!! All the time He is good!!!

Doesn't that just make you smile?

My goal is to lose 12 pounds each month for the next two months.  I hope to be at least 120 by my baby boy's first birthday.  He is growing so fast.  But more than losing the weight I hope to stay on the path God has chosen for me.

You can't keep sinning and stay connected to God.  I feel ashamed that I chose food (I mean really, food?) over my relationship with Christ.  Since making this commitment I have had some wonderful encounters with my Maker, not mention felt much better, and no longer have to warm up the old joints before going to the bathroom.  We like to compartmentalize our lives, but God wants the rights to it all.  There is nothing better than giving it all to Him.

What are you holding onto?  What are you struggling with?  God is there and He will show you the way to go.  You just have to ask and give Him trust.  I encourage you to do it today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

90 Day Challenge Part 1: Losing Frustrating Baby Weight

So in my last post I mentioned how I am still struggling to lose the baby weight.  Well I wanted to expand on that and ask you to hold me accountable.

The last time I opened up and gave my actual weight I weighed 149 pounds.  Since that weigh in I went up to 154.  I have been extremely frustrated with my weight.  I mentioned I started working out with a partner, which I did for about four months, but her husband's schedule changed and so she has not been able to join me again.    

While working out with her I was working pretty hard, but not seeing any results.  I lost the same 5 pounds over and over.  I would get back down to 149 and then go back up to 154.  Meanwhile my workout buddy was losing pound after pound.  She was down 20 pounds and I was working on losing the same 5. Can anyone say frustrated?!  

We would discuss our eating and I was being stricter on myself than she was, but still nothing.  Now while I say that I was being stricter I can also say that I would get frustrated that while being so strict I was not losing anything so I would throw in a couple of bad days.  You know the discouragement that makes you think, "What's the point?  I can eat bad and stay at the same weight or eat super healthy and I am not losing anything."

While yo-yoing up and down I was having a lot of pain physically.  My joints were in a lot of pain.  I was having to "warm them up" in the morning before I could walk to the bathroom.  I was realizing I had to do something.  At the same time I heard from one of my husband's coworkers about a nutritionist that would run an extensive level count and see what you were deficient in and help you balance it out naturally.  So I thought I would give it a chance.

I got my levels run and found out that my hormones are off (big surprise after 3 babies in as many years!) and my body had high levels of yeast which causes inflammation.  This didn't surprise me either from the number of antibiotics I have taken over my lifetime and other indicators.  The Dr. put me on a natural anti-yeast supplement and I immediately saw some results, but was not getting were I wanted to be.

I was still feeling frustrated and knew something in my gut that what I was doing was not enough.  A conversation on the front porch led to another change.  

Check back tomorrow to see what change I have made and how it is working.