A blast from the Medieval Past!

We are studying the middle ages in history this year, so I was thrilled to find that the Brass Rubbing and Medieval Arts Center was still in existence! Micah, Luke, and Caleb enjoyed this same field trip about eight years ago and loved it, and showed their enthusiasm again when Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie told them they were going on the same field trip today. And like before, it was a hit!

A life-size brass rubbing. SO cool!

They had a replica of chain mail and allowed the kids to touch it and try it on if they wanted to do so.
And mine did - of course! That thing was HEAVY!

If you are studying the middle ages or just find the time period interesting, I highly recommend this outing! It is run every fall in October and November. And - only $8 per participant!
The history of brass rubbings is pretty interesting so if you feel led, look it up and enjoy learning!


A wonderful day!

Last week I had the privilege of touring my college alma mater - The Master’s College!

As I sat on campus waiting to meet my friend, I was thankful that nothing looked the same.
The physical changes of the campus prompted me to ponder the changes within myself that have taken place these past 25 years.

I would not trade one day of my experience at Master’s, for I LOVED it, but I am incredibly grateful that the woman who graduated is not the same woman I see in the mirror each morning!
God used the thousands of hours of lectures, teaching, reading, studying, chapels, Bible studies, and life lessons to grow and mature me in my faith - on campus and decades afterward - and I pray I will continue to be shaped by all that was poured into me those four wonderful years.

The dreaded hill climb and stairs to the dorms!
(Especially in a dress, nylons, and heels as per the dress code of the early 90’s!)

The famous crosswalk that floods with every rain requiring plywood to be used as a bridge.

The HIGHLIGHT of the day! Spending time with this precious sister - Laura. 💗
We did not attend TMC together, but we are forever connected because of who we knew at Master’s - her husband! He introduced us when they started dating, and the rest was history!
Our time together was beyond encouraging, and I left her with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.


Let's USE our gifts!

This morning's sermon was wonderful! The entire series (Total Grace) has been a blessing, and today's portion, "Serving Grace" was no exception. As always, my notes are a mixture of the actual words preached by our pastor and my thoughts/responses to those words. I hope you find them as encouraging as I did!

Our text:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:1-8

Grace is not just amazing - it is ABUNDANT!
- For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
- And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. II Corinthians 9:8

➣ The Argument
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Before you can serve the body OF Christ - you must surrender yourself TO Christ.

The believer should be a living sacrifice engaged in relentless service.

Why do we sacrifice everything for Christ? Because of His mercy!
We deserve nothing, yet He gives us eternal life through His Son. Therefore, He deserves our ALL.
And better still, His mercies are NEW - EVERY morning - for His faithfulness is great!

It is reasonable/logical to give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you.
Surrender to God is the only thing that makes sense based on what God has done for us.

The Assessment
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Soberly judge your abilities and strengths so you know how to serve others.
It is not wrong/sinful to admit the strengths God has given you as long as ALL glory goes to HIM.
It is not wrong to know your gifting!
But it is wrong to overestimate or underestimate your giftedness. (pride and false humility)

The question is not, "How gifted are you?" The question is, "HOW are you gifted?"

Embrace how God has made YOU - including your weaknesses and lack of abilities - and use your strengths to bless others and bring glory to God!

Caution: Admire the beautiful strengths and gifts in others, but do not make them idols!
You are you - they are they. Be content with who God made you - how He made you - and how He chooses to use you. As the bumper sticker reads, "Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken!"

The Assignment
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Unity - believers are many members of one body
Diversity - the body is made up of many members with different purposes and gifts
Mutuality - we belong to one another and are dependent on one another because each of us possesses gifts that benefit the others

EVERY believer has gifts given to them by God, and they were given to be EMPLOYED for the benefit of the body.
Christianity is not a spectator sport!!! No one sits on the bench. Everyone plays!!!
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
I Peter 4:10

Thank You, Lord, for the truth of this message! And thank You for creating the beautiful body of Christ, for we all need each other and we ALL have something to offer! Not one part is indispensable!


Just what I needed.

This week I had the privilege of attending our homeschool group's Mom's Night. The hours leading up to the event were filled with frustration, disappointment, and a fight with the flesh to let go of anger, so after pulling up to the host house twenty-five minutes early, I kept myself in the car, blared Crowder worship songs, and refused to get out until my heart, mind, and attitude were appropriate to expose to a room full of women. I even sent an SOS text to three people asking them to pray for me. The battle had to be won. And because God is faithful when we call upon Him, He released me from my sinful anger and allowed me to walk into the house with a sincere smile and a happy heart. And I was grateful for this gift because it was a wonderfully encouraging and challenging evening of fellowship.

One of my closest friends was the speaker, and her message was thoughtful, on point, and personal. It would be ridiculous for me to recap her words using my voice because while we are similar in 729 ways <grin>, she has a voice that is unique to her, and I would not do it justice.

I do, however, want to share the three questions she asked us because they are fitting and good. Not just for homeschool moms, but for all moms/women who claim Christ as Savior and Lord.

Her three points:

For each topic, she quoted Scripture, challenged us, shared snippets of her own personal journey, and then asked us to break into groups of two or three to discuss a specific question related to the topic.
1. Whose "Well Done" are you seeking? The world's, your own, or the Lord's?
2. Where (in homeschooling, parenting, marriage, life) do you need to grow in humility?
3. In what areas (homeschooling, parenting, marriage, walk with the Lord) do you need to be more consistent?

Boy, oh BOY, did these questions prove to be a catalyst for fantastic conversations with my sisters as we sat huddled in a circle talking without pause until she called us back to attention! It was a delight! And even better, we ended the event in prayer. 25+ women bowing their heads in prayer in small circles all around the room, talking and surrendering to a very big God who understands our every struggle and cares about our every need.

How thankful I am that the enemy did not win the battle raging in my heart thirty minutes before the meeting, but was defeated by the One who wanted me there. At that meeting. In that house. On that specific night. To hear that message. And to minister to another mom who needed to hear, "I get it." He always knows our needs before we do, and He is so incredibly faithful to meet us where we are - exactly when we need Him most!

And, as I shared with the sweet friend who checked in the next morning after praying for me that night and texting, "GET OUT OF THE CAR and go bless the women inside!" - ministering to another hurting heart ALWAYS beats moping!

Thank You, Lord, for pulling me out of my selfishness and sin so I could focus on the words of encouragement so carefully prepared and shared by my friend. And then, because I was refreshed, I was able to share the hope and joy You poured into me with someone who needed to know she is not alone. Thank You for music that soothes the mind and heart. And thank You for friends who can make us laugh while speaking truth to push us out of our "blech" - and into something beautiful.
You are such an amazingly good God.


A confession. A grateful heart. And a desire.

The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him. 
- John MacArthur

But He answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Oh, how much I needed to read this quote and this verse today!
I am lazy.
A procrastinator.
Not in every area of life, but in some.

As my girth declares, I do not forego food.
I find time to shop for, prepare, and consume food - every day of the week.
It is not gourmet food or even delicious, nor is it presented with artistic care.
It is sustenance. And it is rarely (if ever) forgotten.

And yet ...
I cannot boast the same about my Bible.
Like everyone else, I have p-l-e-n-t-y of time to read God's Word. Every.single.day.
But do I? Not always.
I think about God's Word. I quote God's Word. I encourage others with the truths of God's Word.
But pick it up, hold it in my hands, find a quiet place, and bury myself within its pages? Not every day.
And I am embarrassed to admit that. As I should be.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I have no problem eating bread. I find joy in doing so. But God' command is abundantly clear: Bread is not enough! You need ME!

I KNOW this.
Yet I neglect the very thing I need most.
The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him.  - John MacArthur
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and nightso that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

I know I am not alone in this battle of the flesh. I talk to countless women about their time in the Word and listen to them sorrow over the same neglect I confessed. The reasons/excuses are always the same, as are the consequences of succumbing to the excuses. It is in the midst of this battle that I fully identify with Paul when he proclaims in Romans 7, For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Lord? Help!

Isn't that the beauty of every struggle we face as believers? He has already provided the help! He has given us Himself! The Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, purposely given by the Father to convict us, encourage us, guide us into all truth, and increase in holiness. Every day. All day. Each time we need Him, He is present with every available resource to enable us to choose the Savior instead of Self. To choose righteousness instead of sin. To choose wisdom instead of foolery. To choose humility instead of pride. He is THERE!

As if that is not enough reason to rejoice, He also gives us - each other!
If I am unable/unwilling to discipline myself to read the Word of God daily, I can call on my brothers and sisters to stand beside me until my feet are adjusted and my stance is secure.
One of the many beauties of being part of the body of Christ.
Love one another – John 13:34Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12
Build up one another – Romans 14:19Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Serve one another – Galatians 5:13
Be devoted to one another – Romans 12:10
Care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
Encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 5:11Hebrews 3:13
Pray for one another – James 5:16
Confess your faults to one another – James 5:16
Be truthful with one another – Colossians 3:9
Admonish one another – Romans 15:14Colossians 3:16

The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ
is to saturate yourself with the book that is all about Him.  - John MacArthur
May this be true of me, Lord! Make me a woman who longs for Your Word in such a way that absolutely nothing else satisfies. And may it fill me to overflowing so that my thoughts, my words, my actions, and my responses reflect nothing of me, but solely - of You.


A day with our G3!

It was a BEAUTIFUL day, so we chose to spend our time together outside at a park!

This was my attempt to capture the view while I was on the swings!
I love swinging. Since childhood. I feel happy and free when I am in the air!
(Note: It is difficult to take photos when trying to hold the chains!)

For the first time ever, we managed to be at this particular park when the Nature Center was OPEN.
And what a treat it was!
Science lessons completed today? ✓

And then - the Zoo!

Best photo of the day. I call it "Chivalry."
There wasn't enough room on the bench, so Isaiah made himself into a chair for Grace.

Ebony and Ivory! 
I L-O-V-E this photo!


A beautiful day AT SEA!

We had the privilege of enjoying an afternoon of sunshine and sailing due to the thoughtfulness and generosity of our friends, the Falcsuans. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday!

All three littles took a turn at the wheel, but Ellie spent the most time as co-captain to Costel,
and loved every minute of it! 

Friends since elementary school/7th grade ... and hopefully forEVER!

The Great Pacific Airshow was taking place while we sailed on the open sea. A spectacular sight!
The adventure of the day increased tenfold when we found ourselves suddenly surrounded by dozens of boats as they came racing back from the airshow. It was if someone called out, "Every boat back to the harbor - NOW!" and each one took off to see who would arrive first.
The waves rolled from the wakes, we gripped the rails to stay inside the boat, and laughed and talked and held our breath when accidents appeared imminent. (there were several close calls)

Thank you, Costel, Maria, Brian, and Bradley, for a SUPERB day of friendship, fun, and adventure!


A letter to mothers ... because what you do MATTERS!

Dear Mother,

What you do MATTERS.
The day-to-day monotony of motherhood may not seem glamorous, or even noteworthy, but every day that you invest in your child - you are doing something that matters.
Every diaper change, every meal made, every tear wiped away, every bad attitude corrected, every homework assignment worked out together, every car ride to practice, every book read, every hug given, every "I love you" whispered ... they make a difference.
A real difference.
You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. Lots and lots of mistakes. But that is okay because perfection is not what is needed, or wanted. Children want YOU. All of you. The beautiful, the quirky, the odd, the different, the silly, and the embarrassing. They cannot love perfectly, so they do not expect it in return. They forgive quickly, and forget willingly, and run into the same arms for comfort and affection that disciplined them the day before.
Your children don't just want you - they need you. And being needed is a beautiful thing, indeed!
The world tells us we are "just moms" as if it is a meaningless, profitless, or undesirable title.
"Don't you want to do something MORE? Something that makes a difference?"
"Don't you want to be successful and make a mark on the world?"
The answer is, "YES! A hundred times, YES!"
I want to love my husband more.
I want to serve my family more.
I want to train and equip my children to be honest, loving, compassionate people who are quick to serve those in need and willing to comfort the endless tide of hurting, broken people.
I want to raise sons who respect women and are the same men of integrity in front of a Board of Directors as they are when sitting alone in front of a computer screen.
I want to raise a daughter who thinks of others before herself and seeks to serve and bless everyone around her because she knows that by loving others she shows them the love of Christ.
And when I take my last breath, with all of my weaknesses and failings, I want my children to be able to say, "She showed me Jesus every day." If the only mark I leave on the world is the gift of six children who love God with their hearts, souls, minds, and strength - and love others with compassion and humility - then it will have been the best, most profitable use of my time, and I will have no regrets. Only JOY.
Dear Mother ... you are not "just a mom."
You are a nurse. A protector. A comforter. A teacher. A counselor. A cook. A chauffeur. A coach. A cheerleader. A mentor. A safe haven. A prayer warrior. A theologian. A comedian. A joy-giver.
You are a child of God, created in His divine image, for a purpose.
And right now, "for such a time as this," your purpose is to train and serve and love your children, every day. Not perfectly, but like the woman who smashed the vial of perfume and poured it over Jesus' head ... "she did what she could."
What can you do today, Dear Mother?
Your children don't need a five-course meal. They need sustenance.
They do not need a perfectly decorated house. They need a place to run and skip and dream and read.
They do not a size "zero" mother with perfectly dyed hair. They need a mother who sees their beauty.
They do not need music lessons and dance lessons and foreign language tutoring. They need to sing and dance and talk and laugh at home.
What can you do today, Dear Mother? Not what "should" you do because others are doing this or that ... what CAN you do?
Bake cookies? Pick flowers from the front yard? March through the house to fun music? Read books? Nap with a little hand clasped tightly in yours? Write a letter of appreciation to your teen?
The world may say motherhood is "not enough." There "has to be more." "You can have it all."
Dear Mother, stand firm!
Motherhood may be one of the most difficult roles you have ever filled, with many thankless and trying days, but it is not wasted.
We are not raising our children to be Olympic athletes, CEO's of companies, or honor's students at universities. We are raising them for eternity!
Do not grow weary in doing good! Your efforts are not in vain!
Our children are not ours. They belong to the Lord, for it is He who created them, and He who has numbered their days and planned a course for their lives. And His plans - they are perfect!
Maria Shriver once declared, "Motherhood: On the Front Lines 24/7. Are you man enough to handle it?"
You ARE on the front lines because no one knows your children better than you do, and it is for them you fight. You fight for their safety, their health, their security, their comfort, their self-worth, their purity, their innocence. Dear Mother, you fight for their very souls! Never give up! Never, ever, never give up!
You are not "just a mom."
You are a precious, valuable, irreplaceable jewel that shines beautifully and brightly.
And every time you love a child, you make a difference. For eternity.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:25-30


Excited and unashamed to SHARE!

We recently had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Ray Comfort when he filled our pulpit one Sunday when our shepherd was away.
Ray's passion? EVANGELISM.
Nothing drives him more than sharing the truth of God's great love for mankind.
He will speak to anyone, anywhere, if they will allow him to engage in conversation.
He is honest, sincere, intelligent, and compassionate when he speaks the truths of God's Word, and listening to him share his passion stirs up a desire to be equally bold about the lovingkindness of a holy God who desires that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9, I Timothy 2:3,4)
I thoroughly enjoyed his message and was compelled to do more when it comes to sharing the Gospel.
He said much, but these were the four points that gripped me most.
(I added Scripture/quotes to give even more "umpf" to his fantastic quotes.)

I hope these encourage and challenge you as well!

➤We have an eternity to worship God, but only a short time to reach the lost.

➤If we lift our hands in worship to God, we must reach out our hands to evangelize for God.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14, 15

➤We don't obey the command to evangelize because it is easier to pray to God about men than it is to talk to men about God.
Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience. A. W. Tozer

➤If you are burdened by the fear of man when it comes to evangelism,
do not pray for less fear -
pray for more love.
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” - Charles Spurgeon


The city folk enjoy some non-city fun!

Today, Josiah, Isaiah, and Ellie and I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of the Industry Hills Charity Pro Rodeo in the City of Industry. It was a fun-filled and educational morning which provided a completely different perspective of daily life than we have in the city!
What made it even better was being in a small homeschool group of 20 (hundreds of children filed off of dozens of school buses) because our kids were able to get up close and personal at each station.
The riders, steer wrestlers, barrel racers and the rest of the rodeo crew were not able to do an actual demonstration of their skills, so we returned home to watch a competition from each genre online to get the full feel of a rodeo. Live action always supersedes video, but those videos certainly capture the beauty and the intensity of what these men and women do inside the gates!

 Josiah was asked to "assist" the blacksmith while he made a horseshoe.
(I put "assist" in quotes because all he did was turn a wheel to keep the fire going, which is clearly not a strenuous task considering his other hand is in his pocket!)

Isaiah volunteered to try roping.
The world champion made it look SO easy, but alas, it takes more than three minutes to become adept.

 A very generous owner allowed hundreds of children to walk in, climb through, and tromp around his cattle trailer. This thing was enormous - and odiferous!
But Ellie and Isaiah don't seem to mind!

Three world champion freestyle bullfighters!
I had NO idea what this was eight hours ago, but now I am a fan!
(CLICK HERE to see what these guys do!)

Shaved Ice for $1? YES, please!

The highlight of my day? Meeting a real, live alpaca!
Every time I looked at him - I laughed. OUT LOUD, real laughter! (look at that hairdo!)
I was hoping to get a photo hugging him, but he was not in the mood for affection.
I settled for a profile shot of the two of us together instead. (I LOVE the diversity of God's creation!)