What a difference a year makes

Oh, what a lot can happen in one year.

One year ago, September 15, 2019, I was watching my kids on the shores of Pensacola Beach. My oldest had a new love interest and we were there visiting him. They’d met online that summer. He’d come up to visit us once and now it was our turn to go down.

Somewhere in the last 365 days, that love interest turned into husband, and that oldest daughter moved south to be with him, and that idyllic seashore turned into a hurricane landing spot.

We never know what the future holds, whether abundant blessings or heartrending tragedy, but we can be sure of this: Our Heavenly Father is good. Our Heavenly Father is all-powerful. Our Heavenly Father is listening and watching and taking care of us every single day of every single year. He is worthy of our trust and adoration.

Come Worship the Lord with me.

-TWIG

Weary

Week after week passes, each week the same.

Dishes to wash.

Classes to teach.

Dinners to cook.

Groceries to buy.

It is so easy to grow weary. It is so easy to think that life is without purpose or meaning. Yet, the light shines in the darkness. The Lord gives strength to the weary. In His mercy, the Lord opens the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf and the hearts of the captives.

I find encouragement in knowing that our Heavenly Father never grows weary. In my weariness and weakness, I am able to recognize the enormity of God’s power.

God alone is almighty. He alone is outside of time and space. He alone is able to do everything and know everything. He intentionally created me to need food and rest, that I would recognize my humble state and praise His almighty glory.

So, today, sisters, let me encourage you. Do not grow weary of well-doing. God is not finished with you. In this world you will have trouble, but you can take heart because Jesus – Son of God and Son of Man – has overcome this world! This world is temporary, but the new heavens and new earth are eternal. Do not work for the food that perishes! Instead, work for the treasures which are everlasting. (John 6:27) God Himself is your peace in the storm, the giver of every good thing.

We are together in this earthly journey. Let’s encourage one another as we see the end drawing near. As my Chinese friends say, “Jiayou!” (Keep going!)

All glory to His Almighty name

TWIG

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 ESV

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV

Children of God

Every single human being on earth has been created in the image of God, but not everyone is God’s child.

God only has one begotten Son and His name is Jesus. The rest of us must be adopted into His family.

God’s children will demonstrate their intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father by loving and obeying Him, especially in their love for one another.

Are you His child? Welcome, my sister! Welcome, my brother! Let’s be family!

Are you not His child yet? May today be your day of SALVATION! Please come. Please seek His face. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you ought to do today.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:12 ESV

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:4-7 ESV

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

1 John 5:1-2 ESV

Life Skills and Habits to Develop Before Finishing High School

Having graduated my oldest two and now looking at my 11th grader and 8th grader, I took the time to write down a list – 6 pages long – of the skills and habits I’d like to help them develop before leaving home. Can you think of anything I missed? 🙂

Bible reading

  • Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Journal
  • Genesis – Deuteronomy
  • Joshua – Ruth
  • 1 Samuel – 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra – Esther
  • Job – Psalms
  • Proverbs – Ecclesiastes
  • Isaiah – Daniel
  • Hosea – Malachi
  • Matthew – Acts
  • Romans – Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians – Revelation

Scripture Memory

  • John 3:16
  • Romans 5:8
  • Romans 6:23
  • Books of the Bible
  • Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)
  • The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
  • Psalm 1:1-6
  • Psalm 23:1-6
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  • Philippians 2:1-16
  • Colossians 3:1-25
  • Romans 12:1-21
  • Matthew 5:1-16

Books to Read

  • Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Gladys Aylward by Benge (or other Christian Heroes books)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by Lewis (The whole Narnia series)
  • Mama’s Bank Account by Forbes
  • Man of the Family by Moody (the whole series is great)
  • The Hiding Place by Ten Boom
  • The Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer
  • Knowing God by Packer
  • The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Hymns

  • Amazing Grace
  • The Doxology
  • Come Thou Fount
  • It is Well with My Soul
  • Take My Life and Let it Be
  • Be Thou my Vision
  • How Great Thou Art
  • To God be the Glory
  • In Christ Alone
  • Before the Throne of God Above
  • Silent Night
  • The First Noel
  • Oh, Holy Night
  • Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Joy to the World
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Missions

  • Support a missionary in prayer, as well as financially and corresponding with them
  • Visit a missionary or serve with a local outreach ministry
  • Share the gospel clearly in 2 minutes

Social skills

  • Serve others – an elderly neighbor, a sick friend, your church – however the Lord leads
    (write a letter, cook a meal, help out)
  • Answer the phone properly and take a message
  • Set the table properly for your family
  • Use proper manners eating at home using silverware and a napkin
  • Order and pay at a fast food restaurant
  • Eat at a fancy restaurant using proper table manners
  • Express thanks consistently when others serve you
  • Greet and converse with adults with eye conduct, proper voice volume and listening attentively
  • Make a phone call to order pizza or other food delivery
  • Make a phone call to set up a doctor’s appointment
  • Life skills
  • Childcare
    •  Play with, change diaper, feed bottle, make lunch, clean up, child development
  • Woodworking
    • Hand saw, table saw, miter saw, electric drill, hang a picture, repair nail hole, repair dry wall, caulk sink or shower
  • Electrical work
    • Check breakers, understand types of light bulbs, install a light fixture or ceiling fan, change outlet, install light switch
  • Plumbing
    • Plunge a toilet, unclog a drain, understand how a toilet works, turn off water to house at street, turn off water at a sink or toilet
  • Painting
    • Wall, trim, cabinet, door
  • Car repair and maintenance
    • Change oil, replace windshield wipers and fluid, change tire, jump battery
  • Tie a variety of knots
  • Pack for a trip
  • Plan a trip
  • Set a mouse trap
  • Tie a necktie
  • Shine shoes
  • Organize a closet, cabinet or dresser and your bedroom
  • Iron a button-down shirt and dress pants
  • Sew on a button
  • Mend a hole in a sock or shirt

Healthy Living

  • Plan a week of meals as well as make a list of meal and snack options
  • Grocery shop for a week’s groceries
  • Cook dinner for the family
  • Understand a variety of over-the-counter medicines and supplements
  • Know the name and phone number of your doctor, insurance and medicine you take
  • Learn how to store food – fruit, vegetables, fridge, freezer, pantry
  • First aid skills (choking, fainting, heart attack or inability to breathe, cuts, burns, fractures or sprains)
  • Make a First Aid kit

Academic skills

  • Tell time using an analog clock
  • Use a dictionary, a thesaurus and an encyclopedia
  • Read a book or story aloud to a group
  • Speak in front of a group
  • Find a book at the library using the Dewey decimal system
  • Put books on hold online
  • Check out and return books on time
  • Check out and listen to a digital audiobook

Computer skills

  • Keyboarding skills of at least 25 wpm
  • Type a chapter of the Bible
  • Write a letter to a political representative
  • Write a cover letter to apply for a job
  • Write a resume
  • Write a family newsletter or Christmas letter
  • Make a blog
  • Make a PowerPoint presentation
  • Build a computer from parts

Financial and Time Management Skills

  • Discuss stewardship – stewarding our time, talents, treasure and testimony
  • Make a daily schedule
  • Make an online annual calendar with important dates and birthdays
  • Open a bank account
  • Write checks, use a debit card at a store, use an ATM, set up auto pay, track your expenses and check your bank balance online
  • Learn about car insurance and health insurance
  • Discuss paying taxes
  • Discuss tithing and giving offerings
  • Memorize your social security number and know why you need it
  • Make a weekly, monthly and annual budget
  • Clothing shopping on a budget
  • List and price what you need to buy other than food and clothing (shampoo, deodorant, cosmetics, feminine care, shaving, laundry soap, dish soap, TP, first aid …)

Cleaning skills

  • Vacuum
  • Dust
  • Clean mirrors, glass doors and windows
  • Wash dishes by hand
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Scrub a toilet
  • Clean the shower
  • Clean a whole bathroom
  • Clean blinds
  • Wash, dry, fold, hang up and put away clothes

Cooking skills

  • Breakfast – muffins, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, bacon, sausage
  • Eggs – hard boil, fry, scramble, egg salad
  • Lunch – grilled cheese, ham, PB & J, macaroni + cheese
  • Dinner – spaghetti, hamburgers, fettucine alfredo, tacos
  • Potatoes – baked, mashed, roasted, potato salad
  • Vegetables – salad, broccoli, green beans, corn casserole
  • Dessert – cake, cookies, pudding, pie

Arts, crafts, creative skills

  • Take, edit and share photos digitally
  • Make a video with music from digital images
  • Make an album from digital images
  • Sketch with pencils
  • Watercolors
  • Oil painting
  • Embroidery or cross stitching
  • Knit or crochet
  • Sew curtains or a pillow with a sewing machine
  • Play a song on a piano, guitar or other instrument
  • Read music accurately
  • Sing a song on pitch from memory
  • Make a model from scratch or from a kit
  • Write a poem
  • Memorize and recite a poem

Outdoor skills

  • Build a fire and learn about fire safety
  • Cook a meal on a fire or grill
  • Set up a tent and camp outside for 24 hours
  • Mow the lawn
  • Use a trimmer
  • Use a blower
  • Rake and bag leaves
  • Plant and maintain flowers or garden
  • Weed a garden or flower bed
  • Shovel a sidewalk or driveway
  • Archery
  • Marksmanship, gun safety, and maintenance
  • Go fishing – tie a hook, put on bait, catch a fish, take it off hook
  • Gut and cook an animal or fish

Download a PDF of this list here:

Uniquely Made – includes audio

mixed-race twins
Two sets of very unique twins

God has a unique purpose for each of us. We need to hear this today more than ever. God is particularly glorified in the incredible variety of gifts, talents and colors of the people He has created in His image.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series, “Unique and United.” Check out part 2 “United” tomorrow!

The beauty of this song is magnified by the beauty of the unique individuals joining together to worship God.
Thankful for each of these unique creations!

Micah 6:6-8 with a 21st Century American Twist

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God most high?

Shall I go to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night?

Shall I attend Wednesday morning Bible studies and Wednesday night choir practices?

Will the Lord be pleased if I post Bible verses every morning on Facebook and every night on Instagram?

What if I homeschool my children from birth to high school graduation or put them in the finest Christian schools?

Shall I wear long hair and long skirts and bake homemade bread and desserts for my family?

He has told you, O woman, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.

To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.

See Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 22:34 – 23:39 and 1 Corinthians 13.

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.

Nothing Wasted

Are your kids wasters? Mine are, and in this time of conserving paper products and groceries and cleaning supplies, I am noticing their wastefulness even more!

Quit using so much barbecue sauce.

Did you need that many paper towels?

Don’t waste that cleaning spray!

Today, when I was talking to my kids about being good stewards of the things that God has given us by not wasting them, I was reminded of how important it is to be good stewards of the other precious gifts that God has given to us: our time, our talents, and our testimonies.

Which is worse: wasting barbecue sauce or wasting your life?

Which is worse: wasting paper towels or wasting your spiritual gifts and God-given abilities?

Which is worse: wasting Windex or wasting the life-changing message of the gospel?

How can you make the best use of your time, talents, and treasure today?

But, just know that God never wastes a thing. He always has purpose for everything He does. You can trust Him.

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?