Moms as Missionaries

I love reading missionary stories, whether by myself or with my children. I love hearing about the gospel being proclaimed to the ends of the earth. I love to see the biggest to the smallest prayers answered. I love to see people set free from their chains to sin, pride and selfishness.

For many years, I’ve wished that I could be a full-time missionary on the front lines or that one of my children would be called to go to an unreached people group on the other side of the globe, but so far that hasn’t happened.

But, do you know what has happened?

I’ve still had plenty of opportunities to be a missionary on the front lines outside of my home, in spite being a full-time homeschooling mom. I’ve shared the gospel and seen people saved. I’ve discipled and seen people grow. I’ve prayed and seen God respond in mighty ways. I’ve spoken and written the words that God has given to me and I’ve seen people touched.

But I’ve also gotten to be on the front lines of my own home – a privilege NO ONE ELSE has.

My children have read and studied and memorized the Word – at my dining room table, in my queen-sized bed, and on my sectional leather couch.

My children have prayed bold prayers for themselves, for those they love, and even for those they’ve never met.

They’ve seen prayers answered and lives changed.

And they’ve learned how to share the gospel themselves and seen the power of Christ transform lives.

Moms, don’t lose heart. Our God is a God of eternity, of yesterday, and today and tomorrow. Make the most of today. Pick up one of the Christian Heroes books by Geoff Benge – maybe Hudson Taylor or George Mueller or Gladys Aylward – to read with your kids. Read “The Insanity of God” or “God Smuggler” or “The Hiding Place” or “Tortured for Christ” for yourself (or with your older children).

Read the book of Acts.

Memorize a verse or a passage or a whole chapter with your younger disciples.

Pray boldly and watch God move.

You are on the front lines in this battle between good and evil. You are training up warriors for God’s kingdom. God has called you to this and He will equip you to do it.

And I’d love to help you.

Some Resources for Families at Home

My heart goes out to the families new to homeschooling. I remember all too well how hard it was when I started 18 years ago.

I spent my first few years home schooling focusing on teaching my children that I loved them, that they should obey and that they should love God and others. That wasn’t my PLAN. My plan was to teach them to read. But God had better plans.

If your children learn that you love them, that you have their best interest at heart, that they should obey their parents and that God wants them to love Him and love others …. then homeschooling is a success!

In the process of learning these foundational principles, my children also learned to read, write, do math, learn about the history of the world and the science of creation, and yours will, too. Here are a few resources to start you on your journey.

These are great devotionals
for parents to read with their children.
The ESV Family Bible
is excerpted straight from the Bible.
Leading Little Ones to God gives you a great little study, plus some discussion questions,
a prayer, a brief Scripture to look up
and even a few song lines.
Nancy Guthrie’s devotionals are great.
I have her Dinner Table Devotional
to read with our children
as well as one for my own prayer time
Here are just a few excellent books to read aloud with your family.
Get your children ready – either snuggle on the couch or in bed, or get them some coloring pages or Legos or playdough so they can keep their hands busy while they listen,
or take everyone outside on the deck to relax while you read.
I’ll be hosting a ZOOM call
Tuesday, April 28 at 7pm.
Leave a comment if you’d like the link.
Do you follow me on Facebook?
I’ll be reading a chapter book aloud on Facebook live M-F at 1pm.

You can search my blog for my series called “Favorite Things” for more detailed homeschool resources. And check out my post from a couple weeks ago for 5 tips for laying out your day at home.

Of fishing, baits and lures

I grew up fishing. I fished with my parents on camping trips. I fished with my uncle in a pond on his farm. As the crazy little sister, I was the one who baited the hook with live, wiggling worms and I was the one who took the fish off the hooks.

In reading the Bible, there are lots of allusions to fishing. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus calls Peter and his brother, Andrew, to leave their fishing nets and to follow Him, that He would make them fishers of men. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter himself writes in 1 Peter 5:7 to CAST all your cares onto Jesus because He cares for you. This word CAST is the same word for a fisherman casting (throwing) out his net. It is active, hard work, this casting of nets and casting of cares.

Yesterday, my husband and I were studying James 1:12-15 with our small group.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:12-15 ESV)

According to Blue Letter Bible, that word “lured” [exelkō] means “to draw out” and “is often used in hunting and fishing as game is lured from its hiding place, so man by lure is allured from the safety of self-restraint to sin. In James 1:14, the language of the hunting is transferred to the seduction of a harlot.” Like the seduction of a harlot, temptation lures you off the narrow road and onto the wide one.

The following word, “enticed,” [deleazō] [G1185] is also a fishing word meaning to “bait” or to “catch by bait.” It comes from the root word dolos [G1388] which means guile, subtilty, craft, deceit.

Different lures attract different fish, and different temptations appeal to different people, but ultimately all kinds of temptation lead us away from our good Father’s good gifts and toward our own selfish passions.

Bait is designed to deceive a fish into thinking it’s something good, drawing it out from safety to hook it, leading to its demise.

Isn’t that like the deceitfulness of sin, the allure of temptation? Holding itself out as something good, something that will bring us happiness … and instead bringing despair, heartache and death.

Praying for my own heart, and yours today.

-TWIG

Birds Doing What They’re Made to Do

Make sure your sound is on!

My kids and I have been sitting outside, enjoying the beautiful spring weather, while I read aloud a great book.

The trees are giving us shade. The sun is warming us. The breeze is gently blowing. And the birds are singing their song. They’re doing what they were made to do.

And so am I.

What was I made to do?

I was made to bring God glory. I was made to enjoy Him, to love Him, to love others, to share the good news with others that they would enjoy and love Him, too.

The Heavens declare the glory of God, but so do we! I am God’s handiwork, God’s creation, created on purpose for good works which He prepared in advance for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

I can bring God glory in my own backyard with my own kids. I can bring God glory in the early morning hours soaking in His Word. I can bring God glory by encouraging a sister in Christ or by praying for my enemy. There are so many ways to glorify God.

How about you? How can you fulfill your God-given purpose today? I’d love to partner with you to glorify God together!

Today is a new day.

Thirsty?

This morning I picked these pretty yellow flowers and put them in this little vase. Within a few hours, they had drank up every drop of the water and wilted. I refilled the vase and within an hour they had perked right back up again.

It got me to thinking about how quickly I can feel wilted … and how I easily I can be refreshed when I take the time to go to the fountain of living water.

In John 4, we read the story of a Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at a well. Jesus invites her to drink of the living water that He can give her, promising that she will never be thirsty again. Does this mean that the woman will never need to drink water again? No, I’m quite sure that’s not the case.

But, does Jesus mean that this woman will never need to pray or read the scriptures or fellowship with other believers again, if she drinks of the spring of living water that He is offering to her? No, it doesn’t mean that either. This spring of living water is the spring of eternal life, but she would still need, the daily living water that is offered to us through communion with God.

Let me share with you SEVEN ways I’ve found to refresh my soul when I am feeling wilted

  1. Read the Bible – I know, I know … Duh … But, seriously, friends, get out your Bible and read it. Take five minutes or ten or sixty. Read a Psalm. Read John. Read 1 Timothy or 1 Peter or 1 Thessalonians. Read it.
  2. Write out a verse – Pick a verse that you just read, or a verse you saw on your coffee mug this morning, or a verse that God stuck in your head out of nowhere, or a verse that you saw on Facebook, and write it down. Write it with a dry erase marker on your window or patio door or mirror. Write it in fancy script on a note card and mail it to someone. Write it down on the back of an envelope. Write it.
  3. Sing a worship song – I have an ongoing playlist on my YouTube channel called “Worship Songs” where I add worship songs that I love. (I’ve got over 150 there at the moment.) I can just click “shuffle” and I’m drawn into the throne room of God. Or I pop open “Pandora” to the Shane & Shane Hymns channel. Or I just start singing whatever song is in my head that moment. Sing it.
  4. Pray from the heart – God is always ready to hear us, whether we’re praying aloud or silently in the secret place of our hearts. You can pour out whatever is going on. Praise Him for who He is in the midst of a trial; Thank Him for His blessings past, present and future; Confess to Him all those ways you mess up, no matter how big or small; Ask Him for whatever you need. Pray it.
  5. Get outside – As Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” There’s something incredible about getting outside – even if it’s cold, even if it’s hot, even if it’s snowy or rainy or sunny. Grab a chair outside on your deck or balcony or porch or whatever you’ve got right now. Or take a walk if the street’s empty. Outside it.
  6. Connect with someone else – I like being alone, but there’s something really special about letting someone else in when I’m down. Call or text your husband or a sister in Christ. Let someone else know you’re struggling and ask them to pray for you. Don’t let this time of “social distancing” keep you from your family in Christ. Connect it.
  7. Journal – I don’t do this as often as I wish, but sometimes writing down how I’m feeling, or even voice-texting a note, really helps give me a new perspective. Sometimes I can hear God’s still, small voice in my heart as I put my thoughts down, plus it’s such a blessing to look back on things I’ve written down months or years ago and see how God has been working. Journal it.

Just one final thought, sometimes we get so used to feeling thirsty and run-down, that we don’t even notice anymore. We’re wilted and we don’t even know it. If it’s been more than 24 hours since you prayed or read the Bible, trust me here, you need a drink. He’s ready right now.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you reconnect with God when you’re feeling wilted?

5 Tips For Those Suddenly Stuck at Home

In 2001, I began my homeschooling journey. My oldest daughter was just starting kindergarten and my son was two. Since then God has blessed us with two more children and we’ve moved three times, but we’ve continued plugging along.

My heart goes out to those who suddenly find themselves with a whole family at home … all the time. This isn’t the regular reality of homeschooling. My regular homeschooling lifestyle has involved plenty of field trips and social time with others. Normally, you’d have time to plan out your school year and you’d be in charge (not your school district). This is harder. If you can do THIS, you can homeschool. (Hint. Hint.)

Here are a few tips to help you in your homeschooling journey, whether this is your first week, your first year or your tenth.

1-Make a loose schedule for the order of your day.
Plan out what to do first, second, third, etc … Intermingle your schedule with some breaks and switching up activities. If there’s plenty of screen time, then mix in some exercise. If there’s plenty of book work, add in some screen time. You don’t need to watch the clock, rather watch the order of things.

For example: First, we get up and get ready for the day. Then, we eat breakfast. Next, we sing a song together led by someone on YouTube, read a chapter of the Bible, work on memorizing scripture and pray for our day. Then, Mom does math with big sister, while little brother reads by himself. When Mom is done with math, then sister reads and book while little brother works on math with Mom. etc…

Write out this schedule on a piece of paper and each day have your child put a check next to it. If you have a laminator, laminate it so you can reuse it week after week. If you don’t, you could tape it on the back side of a glass door/window and cross it off with a dry erase marker. Or, you could write the whole list on a dry erase board glass surface and check it off as it goes.

2-Schedule the most important things first.
When you’re making your schedule, put what is most important first. We are committed to giving God His time first. Then, math and language arts. If that’s all you accomplish in a day, then … so be it. First things first.

3-Have some time together and some time apart.
We go back and forth between time together and time apart. We have Bible time together. We read aloud together. We eat lunch and play a board game together. We walk the dog together.But we also spend time apart. What that looks like has varied based on the ages of the kids – sometimes an older sibling takes some time with a younger one, sometimes the kids are alone in their rooms, sometimes there is one-on-one time with Mom, sometimes Mom needs some time to herself.

4-Use a timer.
I love timers. Timers help hard tasks to feel lighter, and easy tasks to done more diligently.  “We will work on math for 30 minutes right now,” is easier to stomach than we will finish this whole lesson no matter how long it takes. “You need to clean up your bedroom for ten minutes,” is easier to manage than, “Don’t come out of your room until it’s spotless.” “You will stay in your room quietly for fifteen minutes,” can gradually be worked up to thirty minutes to sixty minutes. (This is how I taught my three year old to keep napping until he was six.)

5-Make the most of this time.
The days go by slowly, but the years go by quickly. Somehow my “Sunshine Girl” and my “Little Man” grew up and met those spouses we’d prayed for since they were little and got married.

Don’t lose sight of the great blessing it is to be home and to be together today.

Read a book or two or three. Play a board game. Learn a song. Memorize scripture.

Take pictures. Make a video. Clean something. Start a blog.

Discover a new hobby or learn a new skill. Better still, learn a new hobby or skill with your kids!

Have you considered keeping a family journal for this time? Write down (or have one of your children write it down) what you did each day. Make note of your prayer requests and praises. Write down what you read in the Bible and how God spoke to you through it.

Did you know you could read the whole New Testament in the next sixty days by reading one chapter in the morning, one at lunch, one at dinner and one at bedtime? Check out this 60-day reading plan on YouVersion.

I’d love to answer any questions you have.

How can I pray for you?

How are you using this time at home?

TWIG