Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children (part 5) Final

I have been sharing about how educating our children changed our lives forever.  The first four posts can be found here: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
As God continued to guide our families education the school year 2011/2012 would become one of the most pivotal years in our lives.  Our family verse for this school year was 2 Timothy 3:16-17  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  Wow, what a thought.  As we recited this verse each day, the children and I were truly challenged by it.  Did we truly believe it?  and if we did what did it mean for us as we continued to study God's law in the Old Testament.  As we continued to read the laws God gave to His people, Israel, we wondered if these laws applied to us.  But, then it started to make sense God gave His people these laws because He loved them.  He knew if they would follow them then they would live a healthier, safer, blessed life. 
As Christmas once again approached Jeremy and I realized we must make a decision.  God's Word was clear and we needed to apply all of it to our lives.  You see from the very beginning of our marriage Jeremy made it clear that he hated lying, and he especially hated when parents lied to their children.  So he said there would be not Easter bunny, Santa Clause, tooth fairy or any other pretend legendary people visiting our home.  He felt very strongly about this and when our first born, Tyler Ann at the age of three asked about Santa, he clearly told her that is was a make believe activity that some families liked to do at Christmas time.  Of course, this created a very embarrassing moment for me, when we are shopping at Meijer and the children are lined up all around the store waiting to see Santa, and she shoots at the top of her lungs, "Santa isn't real, he's just make believe."  But this belief of telling our children the truth always was very important, and now it seemed it was time to make it clear again to all of them what we believed.
So, we discussed the fact that, yes, God's Word makes it clear that He does not want His people to participate in activities that are rooted in Pagan idolatry.  So, we would no longer be celebrating Christmas at home.  No more advent, no more Easter, no more Christmas tree. 
But God's Word also made it clear that we are free in Christ.  We are not bound by the Law but free in it.  So, therefore, if our brothers and sisters in Christ did not choose to see the benefits of being set apart, we are not to judge them, nor are we to cause division in the body because of our convictions.  In fact, we understood Paul to say that if we are invited to a believers home and they participate in such activities that we are not only to not judge, but to interact with them in love. 

Here are some verses that we decided to point out to our children in regards to why we still go to grandma's house at Christmas time. 
In 1 Corinthians 10, we read how God lead Israel and how they lost their way ,and He gave them the law for an example for us, and also for instruction for us.  These verses talk about fleeing idolatry and following God's law, BUT they concluded with these verses.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,  just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Here is a passage for why we still participate in church activities, like a Christmas program.

We wanted to make it clear to our children that God's Word, all of it, is beneficial, but it is not our job to argue with others about how to live out their faith.
In Titus 3, we are reminded that our salvation is a gift of grace from Christ, it is NOT because of our good deeds, and we are reminded at the end of this passage to not argue over trivial things.
Titus 3:9
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

You see the bottom line is that we believe God can and does use all things to bring Truth to His people.  We believe God can be glorified in humble and obedient hearts.  So, we choose not to get caught up in the man made rituals of Christmas, but we respect others who choose to use this season to celebrate Christ.  As we move forward to finishing out this year, 2013 we again will not put up a Christmas tree, we will not be buying gifts for our children, we will not talk of Santa, we will not even do an Advent wreath.  But, we will be apart of our churches Christmas program, and we hope and pray that it will be an opportunity to share the truth of Jesus with those who do not know him as their Lord and Savior.  We will go to my mom's house for dinner on December 24th, we will play games, sing to the Lord, and even receive and exchange a few gifts.  We will also go to Jeremy's mom's house and have dinner, exchange gifts, sing to the Lord, and play games.  Does that sound hypocritical to you?  Well, I hope you don't see it that way.  God wants us to honor and respect our parents, God wants us to bless others, and not cause division in the family of God.  So, it sounds a little strange, but this is where the LORD has lead our family.

The Lord continues to use our children to teach us about Him.  The more they dig into His Word, the more we dig in too.  Giving up Christmas, advent, and Easter was very hard for me, but the joy of learning from God's Word with my children, is priceless.  To be honest, giving up one day a year is easier than some of the lessons of daily sacrifice.  For example, this school year our character trait is humility.  Talk about tough lessons to learn.  But that is another story.

I hope these blogs have blessed you.  I encourage you to click on the links through out the posts to learn more, especially the links to scripture.  If you are truly interested in learning the true origins of Christmas and Easter, here is a link to a very interesting summary of their history.  It is about an hour and a half long, but so worth watching to the very end.  Blessings.

Truth about Christmas video

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children (part 4)

As I have been sharing in my last few posts, there is a real danger in teaching your children to love learning, researching, and studying, especially God's Word.  This danger is that you may end up changing your life in ways you never planned too.

(if you want to read the previous posts they are here: part 1, part 2, and part 3)

Our lives continued to be challenged as God once again led us in a new direction for educating our children.  As we planned for the next school year (2009/2010), We felt challenged to really teach our children from God's Word as the sole textbook for all subjects.  This new vision led me on a search to find curriculum that was Bible based.  As I searched for good materials and prayed about how to best make this change, I began to realize that the best way to teach the Word was to go through it from beginning to end with the children.  So we started at Genesis 1:1 and began studying.  As we continued through those first five books, we found a new love for Israel, Hebrew, and God's law (the Torah). 

Each year God gives Jeremy and I a verse for the school year.  In the year 2009/2010 the verse was Joshua 24:15.  The funny thing was, we had always claimed this as one of our family verses.  But, it took on a whole new meaning in this school year.  As we studied the Torah, we realized that serving the LORD was so much more than just going to church, more than praying, more than being good moral people.  We were realizing that choosing to serve the Lord meant looking different for His name sake.  It meant being set apart.  Not following the ways of the world. 
So as Christmas approached in 2010, we again felt challenged to not included pagan traditions in our  celebration of Chris's birth.  So again instead of decorating our home with the traditional Christmas tree, we again opted for a small nativity, and we did lots of snow man decorations.  We again decided to buy our own kids just one small gift, and allow them to give to charities as they chose.  Our ancient history studies had again showed the children that many of the traditions of Christmas were as old as the Tower of Babel and truly had nothing to do with Christ.  But we (Jeremy and I) just were not sure how to decided what to do, about our new convictions.

You see we knew that these convictions had no barring on our salvation.  We had spent a great deal of time reading the book of Romans and Paul's many letters to the early churches.  We found verses like:

Romans 14 specifically verses 5-10
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

We knew that, much like our conviction to let God number our children, if we believed God didn't want us to celebrate Christmas, this would be a personal decision. 

So, we continued to study God's Word, and be open to his plan for our lives.

to be continued...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children (part 3)

In my last post, I shared that by teaching my children to love reading God's Word and researching things changed our lives forever.  You can read the first two post here and here.  So, that Christmas in 2008 we enjoyed gift giving and a Christmas tree and the Advent season.  But, something had changed. The children had already started to have a desire "to have less to give more."  This would soon become a family motto, that would not only affect our holiday times, but our everyday life.
But that wasn't all.

Our oldest daughter loves the library, loves books, and loves learning knew things.  Even more than that she has a love for God's word and is an avid student of it.  It makes my heart rejoice that she loves all these things, but it also makes it a challenge to keep up with her.  She often teaches me things.  Sometimes things I wish I never learned.

This was one of those times in life.  As our family studied each holiday on the calendar, Tyler dug deep and shared with our family her findings.  Sometimes it was exciting and interesting.  Like learning about the true story of our founding fathers, and Squanto at Thanksgiving time.  But, other times, it was a challenge.  That was how it was for Christmas.

Tyler Ann searched scripture and searched books and websites and found Christmas wasn't at all what she thought it was.  (Instead of telling you all the different things she discovered, I will share this link with a few of the things she found.)  She shared her findings with our family.  We found it interesting and it truly challenged both Jeremy and I.  But, we weren't ready to let go of Christmas.  In fact, we didn't discuss it with each other much at first.

Christmas 2009 was approaching and we had finished our study on generosity and joy.  The children had started something new.  Living with less to give more.  So again they asked if they could not have presents, but instead use the money to give to the poor.  They also asked to not have a tree.  So, instead of putting up a Christmas tree we got a new nativity and placed it in our living room.  Instead of giving them gifts we gave them stocking stuffers only.  The children went bargain shopping and made lots and lots of shoeboxes to give to Samaritan's Purse.  We bought gifts for relative and friends and went to family gatherings.  We all felt pretty good about ourselves.  We felt like we found a compromise. 

The problem is God doesn't do compromise, no that was not going to work for him.

to be continued.....

The Danger of Educating your Children. (part 2)

In my last post I shared how teaching my children has changed my life forever, and began to share how in the school year 2008/2009 it really changed our families life in areas that were hard for me.  Specifically in the area of holiday celebrations.
(If you would like to read that post it is here.)

In the school year 2008/2009, Jeremy and I chose joy and generosity for our school focus.  That meant that everything we taught would be centered in these two character traits.  I was so excited because as a child my mom always taught my siblings and I about generosity at holiday times, so I decided what better thing to study than holidays to teach these character traits.  So, I began writing our lesson plans and it included holidays in it that we celebrated and also holidays that we didn't.  My goal was to educate my children on all the holidays, using them as history lessons too.  I was excited because my older children were at an age now that I could give them research assignments and they could do their own research and find their own answers.  I was proud that I had made learning and research exciting for them, and they were excited about discovering answers on their own.  But little did I know that teaching my children to research and discover on their own would change my life.

We began our school year and started memorizing our verses on generosity, and doing our Bible lessons that showed us God's great love and generosity towards us.  We read in God's word about his gift of joy to those who chose to accept it, and that that joy is even greater than all our sorrow.  It
was a great time in God's Word, and I loved hearing the children read the Bible on their own and discuss what they were learning from it.  Bible class was just amazing. 
Then we had history class and we looked at the calendar each week and studied and research any holiday that was on it.  Some of those holiday's we fun and interesting, like President's day, Labor day, and Veterans day.  We learned a lot about our American and world history, and I was impressed with the research the children would do.  Their reports were excellent. 
But then there were those holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day that we never celebrated as a family, and the children did their research and were surprised by the pagan roots of these holidays and curious as to why so many of their friends and relatives participated in these activities.  I gently reminded them that every family has to make those decisions for themselves, and that we are not to judge others, but to live our lives as we believe God calls us to.  This seemed like a good answer to them, and we went on.  But then it happened, my children began to dig deeper into their studies than I actually expected them to.
It was one of those great yet distressing moments.  I was so proud that my children had gone the extra mile and discovered answers of their own, but little did I know that the answers they found would challenge them to challenge me.  It was Christmas time, and we got out all our decorations and our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  This was tradition.  We started baking and singing Christmas music.  We planned our program and we went shopping.  It was a busy fun time.  But there was a problem the children began researching the roots of Christmas.  They dug deep, they found things that upset them and that made them wonder if we should celebrate such a holiday.  (If you want to know what they learned check out my friends blog, here.) 
But, it wasn't just the roots of Christmas that upset them.  No, as they read the verses on generosity in the Bible and thought about the true meaning of generosity, they just weren't sure if this whole Christmas thing was right.
So, I am not sure how or when, but our children began to ask us if we would consider not giving them gifts for Christmas.  Oh, you might think this was a sweet moment, maybe even a proud parent moment.  But it wasn't.  You see.  Jeremy and I had never bought our children very much at Christmas time to begin with.  In fact, we don't buy our children many gifts at all.  So, Christmas time has always been sort of a fun time for him and I to go out and get things for them.  We would get them each three small gifts, each gift specially picked for that child.  So, when they asked us to not give them gifts, it wasn't an easy thing for us.  So, as Christmas approached, we compromised and decided to just get them each one gift, and the rest of the money we would have spent on them, we let them have to give to charity.
As you read that you are probably thinking "oh, that is so wonderful".  But, it wasn't wonderful.  You see that compromise wasn't going to last.  Tyler Ann, our oldest daughter, was certain that God's word told us not to participate in pagan holidays.  She also was certain that Christmas was a pagan holiday.  She continued to push us to look into it further.  The more research she did on it, the more research I did.  I was trying to find answers to show her that Christmas centered on Christ was ok, and good and acceptable.  But, for every verse I thought I found to convince myself, I found even more that showed me that Tyler was on to something.
It was an uneasy feeling.  It was not the answer I wanted to find.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Danger of Educating your Children?

The decision to homeschool our children was made before we even had children.  I am not sure why, but Jeremy and I both felt strongly about homeschooling any children God blessed us with.  We didn't really know any homeschoolers (only a childhood friend's family).  But, we did know how we felt about the education we both had.  We wanted our children to love learning, to desire to learn.  We wanted school to be fun and beneficial.  We knew that we could not afford to pay for schooling, and pubic schooling left a lot to be desired.  In the beginning, it really wasn't about God, as much as it was about our children getting the best education.  When our first two children were old enough to start school we bought books and materials.  We got excited about the whole homeschooling thing, and we were scared silly that we wouldn't be able to do it.  But we jumped in with everything we had. 

That first year the goals were simple teach the basic, teach them to read, and most of all teach them the love of learning.  For most of my childhood school was torture and no fun.  I didn't truly learn the love of learning until I went to college.  So, my goal, from the beginning, was to teach my children to love to discover and learn knew things in books and in experiences.  Well, I had no idea that this goal:  The Love of Learning, would come to change my life forever, year after year.  The more my children learned the more they challenged me to keep learning and that has become our life.  A journey of learning. 

One of the areas that our life has changed the most is how we participate and celebrate holidays.  In the next couple of posts, I want to share with you how educating my children has caused me to have to give up things I held dear for so many years. 

It all started in the school year 2008/2009.

 As  the years of homeschooling went on we became more confident and more focused on why we kept our children home with us.  Instead of it being just about giving them a better education, it started to become about being obedient to God's calling as parents.  We had met lots of homeschoolers and we had been challenged by them and God to make our school focused on training in righteousness.  So, Jeremy and I had started using a new teaching style, using KONOS as our guide.  Each school year we would choose a couple character traits and make that our focus for the year.  Then everything we taught would line up with the character traits we were studying.  The character traits for 2008/2009 were joy and generosity.  Little did we know that studying these two character traits would change our lives forever.

To be continued......

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Purity Pledge by Lydia

Sunday, November 3, 2013 Lydia Lucinda Hirn turned fifteen.  So in Hirn tradition she received her purity ring and gave her purity pledge.  Below is her pledge.  She also sang one of her original songs with her pledge.  The link to her song is at the end of the post.  Her father and I are so proud of the woman she is growing into.
 Lydia's pledge:

Purity to me is: clean, freedom from guilt, honor

Today, I am committing myself to remain pure until I get married. In order to stay pure, I must guard my heart, eyes, mind, and body from any sexual impurity. It says in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” And in Romans 6:13 it says, “The body is not for immorality, but for the LORD, and the LORD is for the body.” Also in Romans 12:2, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The last verse I want to share is in Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if the eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”

All these verse talk about my eyes, heart, mind, and body. I must protect my eyes by not looking at impure things, and instead looking at the Bible. I must guard my heart by feeding it good stuff by studying God's Word. I need to keep my mind pure by making good things go into it. I can copy the Bible, because the things in it are crazy good! I need to commit my body to God and honor Him. I can take care of my body and do things that please Him.

My parents are giving me a ring to remind me of my decision to honor God and stay pure. Every time I see my ring, I will remember that God and my family love me, and I should not make decisions that hurt God, my family, or myself. Another verse I find encouraging is 1 Timothy 4:12, “ Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” This verse is talking about how I talk, how I act, how I love, how my attitude is, how I trust in God, and how I stay pure. I know I want to be a good example to others. I am going to be careful who I hang out with, because friends can influence my choices towards purity. I am making this pledge in front of you, so that you can keep me accountable. If I ever go down a wrong path, I know I can come to my family for help. So please keep me accountable. I believe God made sex good, but it is only good between a husband and wife. So today, in Honor of God, my family, and my future spouse, I commit my life to sexual purity.

Lydia singing one of her own songs

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fight Nice.

Recently, I have been thinking about two friends and the causes they advocate.  Let me introduce you to these women and their causes.
Friend One:  A beautiful woman of God.  She loves yarn and creating beautiful things from it.  She loves the LORD and His church.  She is a professional writer.  She is a wife, and sister in Christ.
But she is also an out spoken advocate for body Image acceptance.

Friend Two:  She is a beautiful woman of God.  She loves the Lord with all her heart.  She is a wife and a mother.  She has her own business and is very "crunchy."  But she advocates for the Fight against Childhood obesity.

Both these friends are intelligent, beautiful, and large in body size.  Both of these woman believe in eating a healthy diet and living an active life style.  Both of these woman love the Lord, and truly believe in the cause that they fight for.  So, is one or both of them wrong or right?

What is the Body Image Acceptance movement?
 Basically, it is a cause to educate people that everyone should be loved and accepted no matter the way their body looks.  Fat, skinny, short, tall, dark skinned, light skinned,  male, female, bald, hairy, etc.  No matter how one looks they should be treated with the same love, acceptance, and respect as anyone else.  Sounds like a good cause for a Christ woman to support.
But, like all good causes there are extremists in this movement.  There are those that think to teach this message affectively we should not tell our daughters that their bodies are beautiful, rather only focus on their brains.  There are those who think those who diet and/or exercise (too much) are uneducated and need to be educated to accept themselves.  There are those who think if I say I am proud of losing a few pounds than I a not accepting of who I am.

What is the cause for the fight against childhood obesity?
This is a fight to teach children to eat healthy and live healthy lives so as not to become overweight due to lack of proper health.  Again, there are extremists in this movement too. 

Why are these two friends on my mind?  Why are their causes so dear to them?  Are they at odds with each other?

Here is my two cents worth on these things.

These are both great causes.  We need to love and accept ourselves and others the way that God made us.  We also need to love children enough to educate them and their parents about good health care.

But here is the problem I have.  People don't just want to advocate for a cause, no, they are out looking for those who are not on the same page as them.  They are looking to be offended by others whom don't agree with them.  So, then when they hear someone talking about fitness, weight lose, eating habits, obesity, etc. their ears perk up.  They are listening for things that agree or disagree with their opinion.  I wonder if instead of listening with judgmental ears and looking with judgmental eyes, if we try and look and hear things from God's perspective then we will be more affective in our cause.

I can not assume that that over weight boy is being neglected and not taught good health, just because he is overweight.  Likewise, I can not assume just because someone is excited about losing a few pounds that they don't have a healthy self image.  Extreme weight lose or gain is something to be concerned about.  Poor health habits is something to be concerned about.  Excessive exercise and dieting is something to be concerned about.  But, if I lose weight due to a truly healthy life style change, and I am proud of that, there is nothing wrong with my self image.  If I put on a few pounds due to a healthy lifestyle change, I can also be pleased with that.
I know many beautiful people whom are large, and I know many not so beautiful people whom are large.  I know many beautiful people whom are thin, and I know many not so beautiful people whom are thin. 

What's my point?

Let's stand up for what we believe in, but let's make sure we love others with Christ love as we do it.

Luke 6:27-38
27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who [o]mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your [p]coat, do not withhold your [q]shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 [r]Treat others the same way you want [s]them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, [t]expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 [u]Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; [v]pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will [w]pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Graduation requirements for Hirn Homeschool

Recently, I have been asked about our graduating process.  Daniel and TylerAnn are both seniors this year.  So people have asked about their plans following this year, and what it means to graduate from our school.  To be honest, it means nothing.  You see we are not raising students for diplomas, college, or even careers.  We are raising students in the Word for Kingdom Work.  So, even though we say that Daniel and Tyler Ann our seniors, that is just a label for society purposes.  Church, sports, etc.  Both Daniel and TylerAnn have no plans to leave home after this year.  In fact, they plan to continue in their studies here at home with us.  We are raising each of our children to follow Christ wherever He is leading them.  This will look different for each of them. 

So for Tyler Ann and Daniel that means for right now they will continue to be at home for the next couple of years and continue in their studies here.  Why?  Because we changed our schooling three years ago, and they want to get all the teaching in.  The study that I am writing takes a student through the Word of God chronologically in four years.  Both Tyler and Daniel want to complete this study with us.  On top of that, we only started copying the Bible two years ago.  One of the requirements to say that you finished Hirn Homeschool is to copy the whole Bible.  Daniel and Tyler have not had enough time to get the whole Bible done, and so they have a great desire to finish this work too. 
Many people have asked what we mean by Copying the Bible.  I have blogged about copy work before, but I will try and explain it step by step for those who are wondering about it.

Copying the Bible into Notebooks a Five Step Process

Step one:  Read it
Student reads Genesis chapter one to themselves, quickly like a story.  This is NOT study the Bible time.

Step Two:  Copy it
Student copies Genesis chapter one.  Word for word, letter for letter, punctuation for punctuation.

Step three:  Draw it
Student draws a picture of chapter one of Genesis.

Step four: Journal it
Student does a one page journal entry on Genesis chapter 1.

Step Five:  Correct it
Student exchanges their notebook with another student and they carefully go over the copy work to check for errors.  Students then use white out to correct any errors.

This process is then repeated for every chapter in the whole Bible.  Typically this process takes about one hour per chapter.   We copy at 7 am and 7 pm daily.  That means that typically a student will copy two chapters a day.  Sometimes depending on the content of the chapter, and depending on the ability of the student more chapters can be done in two hours a day. 

The goal is NOT to have wonderful neat notebooks full of God's Word, nor is it to have great journal entries, or beautiful artwork.  No the goal of this five step process is to put God's Word deep into the minds and heart of the student.  This slow deliberate process causes them to truly think and focus on God's Word. 

We then use this copy work to discuss grammar, spelling, punctuation, poetry, character, science, and of course, history.  We use it also for memory work, and more. 

A student usually starts copying their officially copybook at around age ten.  Before this we practice copywork and use the practicing to teach phonics, alphabet, sight words, and numbers.   We use our practice work for memory work.

If you want to read more about why we copy here are some posts I wrote about it.

Teaching the Bible

Practical Steps to Godly Education

How to teach reading with the Bible

Monday, August 5, 2013

Creating Disciples or Drama?

So these last couple of weeks our senior pastor has being preaching on Mark chapter 13. This is an awesome passage of scripture that happens to be mistaught often. So, it has been a real pleasure to listen to Pastor Bob, simply proclaim the truth of what this passage is saying. During these same few weeks, the Lord has been working on my heart in many areas. One of those areas happens to be in regards to being Torah observant. You see our family isn't 100% Torah Observant, but we are definitely what I call Torah Aware. After studying the Torah in depth as a family we came to realize that what is written in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.)is true for us today. So, we decided to start seeking truth from all of God's Word. As we began our journey, we became involved in a new community of believers. The Messianic group of believers, Torah Followers. This new group of people came on strong. They had a desire to find righteousness and live it. It was inspiring, encouraging, and overwhelming to learn and grow with these people.

Soon we found ourselves confused and even unsure of how our lives should be lived in light of this new discovery of applying all scripture to our lives. Every time, I became confused or overwhelmed the Lord would show me in His word that He was with me and would guide us every step of the way. Often he would take me back to the book of Romans and remind me that obedient living was only found in abiding in Christ alone. That it would not be my works, but the work of Christ in me that would bring forth true righteousness.

So, I journey on in obedience as best I can. I find myself noticing everything around me in a new way. Everyone seems to be on a mission, have a cause. Often they are good and maybe even righteous causes, but I wonder is this or that something I should be concerned with. (Causes like abortion, homosexuality, living according to Old testament law, awareness of body identity, etc, etc. ) But as everyone is shouting and calling for their cause to be heard, all I can hear is the LORD saying , “Go and make disciples of all nation.” What do all these causes have to do with making disciples? I wonder to myself have I forgot what is most important? Have I got caught up in worrying about all the wrong things?

Then yesterday Pastor Bob, preached on this verse in Mark 13:10, “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” Jesus is speaking to his disciples and telling them that He will not return until all the people groups of the world have heard of Him. Pastor Bob used this one verse to remind me that our first calling as believers, disciples, is to make more disciples. Jesus final words to his followers wasn't to be separate from the world, but it was the exact opposite. It was, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

As we left church, I said to Jeremy that I was starting to realize what God was trying to tell me. It is good to want to live a right life, but more than that I need to be about spreading truth to others. As I was thinking on that yesterday afternoon, I happened to read two wonderful articles in a magazine I get call Messiah Magazine. The first was about how the Messianic Gentile movement has forgotten about evangelism, and how to truly follow Christ we must not forget to evangelize. The second was about how to evangelize without using fear or shame, but through building relationships. I loved that right when I was wondering how God wanted me to apply what He was showing me through his word, he gave me some clear answers.

You see making disciples is more than just sharing the Gospel message. Making disciples is a life investment. Jesus didn't just touch the people and move on, no he invested in his disciples lives. He taught them how to live truly righteous lives through His power. So whom should I be investing in? Of course, the first and most obvious answer is those whom I share daily life with. As I live day to day with my husband and children, it is my job not only to live the gospel, but to help them grow as disciples of Christ. Next of course, is those in my church body. I am to grow together with them in faith and mature together as disciples of Christ. But what about the lost, those nations that haven't heard? IS it my job to reach them? The answer is yes. Does that mean I should get my bags packed and get on a plane? No. That is not the calling God has for me, but I can get on my knees daily for those people. I can have less, to give more to those who are called to go make disciples in remote areas of the world. I can raise children whom God may call to preach and teach His word far and abroad.

So, I can't say I have it all figured out, but I have realized something these past weeks. I have come to realize that yes God wants me to read, study, and live His Word, all of it. He wants me to be obedient to His commands, all of them. He wants to use me to make disciples of Him. How awesome is that? I am so glad that God wants me, wants to use me, and wants to transform me into the woman He intends for me to be. I am grateful that if I seek Him he will discipline me, guide me, correct me, and mold me into just that woman. Though my flesh is weak, He is strong and will do just as He set out to do. My prayer is that you to will know that you can do all things through Christ as well.

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hard at Work on this Hot day

Our wonderful landlord had crushed cement delivered yesterday for our windy driveway.  Brenden was hired to spread it.  I didn't think to take pics til halfway through.  But here is a few shots of him and his crew hard at work.
Jer took all the big kids to a music/art festival, so it is just Brenden and the little boys.  Bekah has been helping too, but at the time I took the photos she was putting Anna down for a nap.

 Davey and Josh are using the sled to load up stone to move it to the top of the drive.
 When I took this picture of Davey, he had to be his dramatic self and told me that the rope was really hurting his hands to pull it.  (This of course, wasn't an issue until he saw me, lol.)
 Brenden found the snow shovel a more useful tool at times than the rakes.
 Working the rake.

 Jeremiah pushing the stone towards the sled.
 Zach gathering tools.

 Davey checking in with the supervisor, Brenden.
 Time for a slurpee break.
 Time to cool off.

This is where one of the big piles was at, they are  still working it down.

Working the curve, another pile.

Bekah and Anna helping throw stones from the grass to the driveway.
 Ready for a break already.

Brenden heading back to it, even though his crew abandoned him.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What's growing in the Garden?

It is less than five weeks until baby boys due date.  Our garden is growing large, and we are busy teaching and learning new things this summer. 

Here is a few pictures of our garden now. 
 Garden Boxes, great for lettuce and onions.
 Hot peppers in garden boxes.
 Green beans.
 We cut the lettuce yesterday, and it is already sprouting up again.
 Green onions, in box.
 Over flowing corn pallet.
 The carrots are getting big.
 We laid the empty pallets out, so to keep the ground clear for a bigger garden next year.
 Our tomato plants are huge.
 They have not grown even one tomato.

We have enjoyed eating peppers, green beans, zucchini, onions, and lots of lettuce from it so far.  The carrots are almost ready for picking, and for some reason our tomato plants are huge, but there isn't even one tomato on them.  Our corn is taking over, and we are excited to harvest it in a couple months. 
What we have learned so far with our first garden.

1. Corn needs a bigger space if you want to plant a lot.  We plan to use the whole garden plot next year just for our corn.  
2.  Pallets are ok for some plants, but it is more ideal to plant squash like plants in their own space.  We will plant our zucks and pumpkins next year in their own plot.
3.  There are lots of tricks to not having to weed all the time.  We plan to use the black paper to create our garden plot next year.  We plan to actually lay it down before winter and then take it up after the thaw.  Then we will turn our dirt and put it back down.  We plan to plant our plants and seeds through it.  We saw several other gardens done in this style and liked it. 
4.  We love the garden box idea for short rooted plants.  We planted our onions and lettuce in boxes.  We have been able to cut and eat them, and then they re-grow again.  We hope to actually create an indoor winter garden with our boxes.  Then we can eat our own fresh produce all year round.  Thinking of trying cabbage in the boxes too.
5.  The biggest thing we learned is sometimes it is more affordable and less time taxing to buy and store other farmers produce.  We realized that berries, potatoes, and other local grown produce can be bought affordably if we pick them ourselves.  Then we can pick a lot and store them in the freezer.  We hope to pick apples  and peaches too.  It not only benefits us, but we also help a local farmer.  BONUS!!!

So, summer marches on, and we are learning from our gardening experience.  God is not only growing are vegetable garden, but we see him at work in the garden of our lives too.  As the big girls, Tyler, Lydia, and Rachel go out and share the love of Jesus with children this summer, we see a harvest ready for reaping.  There are children eager for the Truth of Jesus Christ, and what a joy to know that we can all be a part of building His Kingdom.  As the girls minister outside our home, the boys too are busy growing and maturing.  God is at work in their lives.  We are so excited at how each of them seem to be flourishing under their new responsibilities. 

So, as we all wait and anticipate baby boy joining our family, we keep busy with the work God has laid before us.  And as we work we hope and pray that the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in all our lives and that God alone receives all glory for our maturing lives of Faith.