Monday, December 24, 2007
We've tried both ways and I find I'm more comfortable with opening presents on Christmas eve. We don't really do Santa, except stockings; so, we open all our presents tonight and the kids get their stockings in the morning.
The most important thing, though, is the reading of the Christmas story tonight. When the kids were young, we had them act it out. It was cute. We have video of it. Last year, we had a Christmas pageant, where the kids all performed something they had prepared. We didn't do anything for this year, but we'll probably have worship and sing to and for Jesus.
I bought my husband a new guitar for Christmas. It's an acoustic with an amplifier. I gave it to him early. He's so excited and is thrilled with the sound of it. He played worship at a Christmas party we attended on Friday night using it. It was really special as my seven-year old did a solo to Be Thou My Vision while he played. So sweet.
I pray every one of you has a wonderful, blessed Christmas full of peace and joy. Remember to seek Him who came to redeem you, give you life more abundant and peace that passes understanding - peace that does not require happy circumstances and joy that resides deep within.
He is faithful and a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I decided that it would be so special to keep a record of what we were thankful for each year and what our goals were for the year ahead. So, because I used to be a scrapbooker in my former, pre-homeschooling/bookwriting days, I went to Michaels (forgive me all you CM consultants) and purchased a large Scrapbook. I spent some time to make a creative page for the Thankgiving thankfulness cards. Then, on Thankgiving (actually, the day after because I forgot about it in the midst of all the cooking, etc.) I gave each member of my family a small card to write out the things for which they were thankful that year (or in general, but mostly for that year). Then, we took turns reading our cards. I then pasted each card onto the Thankgiving 2007 page in the scrapbook.
For the Goals page, I put our Christmas card as the decor. On New Years, we'll all sit together and record our goals for the New Year. I have asked them to begin thinking and praying about them. I may put an envelope on the page and just insert them inside, I'm not sure.
I think it will be a huge blessing to look back over the years at what was in our hearts at the end of each year. I know it would be neat to see what they thought (or I thought) three years ago. So, I'm sure it will turn out to be a really blessed tradition for the kids.
Traditions really help build family cohesion and unity. If you have any great traditions, please post them on the comment section! (My comments take a little time to post, so don't panic if you don't see it right away.)
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
However, I am requiring my boys to be creative over the holidays. They love making movies and I think they are quite good at it. So, I assigned them to three hours of movie making per day. This is great for them and it keeps them from wandering around the house starting fights with the others out of their boredom (Idle hands and all). I've discovered that bored boys often choose to be bad boys. LOL.
Another thing we are doing is watching Christian movies on Netflix. They have this thing where you can watch movies online if you have an account with them. It's on the front page of Netflix. You click on Watch Instantly and then in the box on the right you click on Faith and Spirituality. You can find a lot of great documentaries and movies that highlight faith in God. We watched a short short film called In the Arms of Angels. It's a true story and is really touching. We also watched Seven Alone. It's an old movie about the Sager children that crossed the Oregon Trail alone. The book (On to Oregon) was better, but the movie was good and stayed fairly true to the real story.
The girls are out of ballet, which makes my life so much easier. Ballet is such a blessing in our life; but it has really caused me to put many projects on hold because it's so time consuming. I have to remember, though, that this is my oldest daughter's dream and I want to give her every chance she can get to reach her big dream of becoming a ballerina.
While we break, I'm preparing talks for a women's retreat that I have been asked to do here in Georgia. It's such a blessing and priviledge and I want the Lord's guidance on everything I say to these sweet women.
I'm also working on my extremely belated newsletter. My newsletter fell by the wayside during my father's illness and death; and in my hurry scurry to finish Zoology 3, I could not get to it until now. The focus is on Character Training and giving our children a heart for God as homeschoolers. It's almost ready, but I plan to wait until January to send it because that's when we really need a new vision. If you haven't yet signed up to receive it, there is a box on the right that you can fill in your email address to sign up.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to spend time with the Lord, seeking what my goals for the new year will be. What do I hope to accomplish this year? What are my spiritual goals? What goals do I have as a mother? Goals for each of my children? What are personal goals that I have for our family, our marriage, Fulbright Publications, for writing, for blogging, for speaking?
I have found that if I don't write out my goals, making them somewhat formal - I am less likely to accomplish them. I also have found that if I make goals in the flesh, I'm less likely to accomplish them. Goals should be made when I'm prayerful during a quiet time with God.
I'm not a super "set goals" kind of person. Yet, when I have done it, I have seen them come to fruition, more so than when I just "hope" we will do certain things this year. Frankly, it doesn't make much sense to me. Perhaps there is some spiritual law at work; I don't know. All I know is that whenever I have set goals in the past, I've been able to complete the necessary steps to achieve that goal. It's odd. Maybe it causes me to be more focused, less likely to get sidetracked or comitt to things that will steal my time and ability to reach my goal. I'm not sure why it works.
Thus, because of my own personal case history, I will be setting goals for the new year. I hope I have encouraged you to do so. It would be awesome to hear that you fulfilled your goals as well.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The children of Israel didn't keep the testimony, the witness, of all God had done for very long - and found themselves in bondage. But here we read that if only they would have kept the testimony - repeating the miraculous works of God on their behalf to their children and their children's children - they wouldn't have lost leadership. All throughout the Bible, God tells the children of Israel not to forget, to build memorials to His work on their behalf so that future generations will know what God has done for them.
When the stories of God's mighty works are told, it builds the faith of future generations; they begin to think that perhaps God will also do that for them. But when they are not told, when the divine works and ways of God are not recounted, doubt and unbelief are given fertile soil.It's funny how we so easily forget the miracles of God in our lives, the answered prayers, the near misses (Why do they call it near miss when it was a near hit but actually missed? Strange.), the obvious angelic intervention in our circumstances. We all have them in our history. They are part of our testimony.
Are we keeping the testimony? Do we repeat these stories or have we let them fade into the background of our life story?
I believe that part of Israel's problem was that they did not often tell of these stories, these miracles, these amazing interventions of God on their behalf. They didn't tell their children and their children didn't know what God was really like - a God who delivers us in times of trouble. Sadly, even they who had been delivered forgot these things and did not remember the loving, caring nature of God. They didn't want to serve a God that isn't loving and caring and doesn't help them when they are struggling. God tells us in Hebrews that He was angry with that generation because they didn't know His ways. His ways are so wonderful, yet they thought He was not.
Our own children are in danger of having misconceptions about God if we don't oft repeat the testimonies of His work in our lives. Those stories are the testimony which gives our children something to stand on, something to ground their beliefs and faith on, something tangible - their family history, their own personal knowledge of God's ways and stories they can hand down to their own children.
I encourage you to spend some time in prayer, asking God to remind you of all that amazing miracles - from the red light that saved you from arriving early and missing a special meeting with someone to the scripture you read or sermon you heard just when you needed it most. Have you experienced healing - emotional, spiritual or physical? Were prayers answered that seemed impossible?
Write these things down and share them with your children. Keep the testimony of what God has done in your life. It is part of your children's heritage. Don't let it fade into the past.
Not only does keeping the testimony give our children a heritage, it also gives them weapons against the enemy and keeps them free from spiritual bondage just as the Israelites were kept from physical bondage if they kept the testimony.
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" Rev 12:11