Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good morning my bloggy friends! As I read the first chapter of Matthew this morning, I was reminded of how God has a purpose and a plan for everything and everyone. It begins with the genealogy of Jesus. I have to admit that I have often skipped over all the names of who fathered who but as I read all the names, I realized how important each person was.

I know many people who call their pregnancies "accidents" but truly, in God's eyes, their are no accidents. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, whether our parents had planned for us or not.

It gives me comfort knowing that God wants me - even if no one else does. God knows how to stretch and pull me so that I can be who He wants me to be. His love and faithfulness gives me the strength to do what He asks me to do.

Do you know what God's purpose is for you? What are your spiritual gifts? What can you make the choice to say yes to? (even if its scary!)

Hope you can spend some time chewing on these thoughts, today.

Living fearlessly in Christ

Friday, March 26, 2010

When my husband and I had our first child at the age of twenty, I had no idea that I should be making choices to protect my marriage. How I wish that someone would have prepared me for the issues I would face with setting family priorities and boundaries once children entered the picture.
From speaking with many Christ following women in central Illinois, I have found most being as naïve, as I was, as I believed that our new little bundle of joy would only enhance our marriage. That was, until the baby was actually born!
For me and many other moms, it is common to put our children and their needs above our husbands and sometimes even God. This is not God’s plan for us and I am excited for the opportunity to share with other Christ following moms, my experiences and hard core facts about setting priorities and boundaries in marriage. I have learned much through discussing this topic with other women, learning from other Christ following moms, my own personal experiences, doing much reading from the last decade and internet research.
So the question to answer comes down to: how can something a married couple made together be the root of what could tear them apart and how do we keep that from happening?
It is in no way the child’s fault but the reactions of the parents in the midst of an addition to their family. Although caring for a child takes much time and energy, I believe that nurturing marriage is a wise investment. A family begins when a man and woman become one through marriage. Children are additions to an already established family.
Titus 2:4 “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.” (Holy Bible New American Standard Translation) The responsibilities of a young mom are clear: love your husband and love your children. What it does not say is: love you children and let your husband fend for himself!
God created marriage and gives much input to the subject through His Word. God created marriage for pleasure and for procreation. The Bible’s timeline shows God was first, and then He created man and marriage, and then procreation. Although this makes sense as we read the Bible, when we add children to a marriage, our priorities can be easily altered.
“Children. When husbands and wives become parents, they go through a significant transition that changes their lives and their marriage completely and permanently. These changes cause a husband and wife, to stop and wonder, “What has happened to our lives…what has happened to our marriage?” (Morgan and Kuykendall pg. 21)
The issue of Christ following wives neglecting their husbands to be more child focused runs rampant today in central Illinois. The ability to learn from others is a powerful tool in our lives, so use this information to understand how your marriage not only affects the married couple but also the children involved.

Have a great day!
Living fearlessly in Christ

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring must be officially here - my kids had set up the hammock and I found them relaxing in the sunshine today. There is just something about spring that makes my heart smile :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Here I am again - hey, twice in one week is much better than skipping a month like I did last month! I am working hard at making this transition into being a full-time wife and mother, working full-time, and going to school full-time. Whew! It is an adjustment, but I am reminding myself that it is only a temporary imbalance and will eventually slow down. While I'm in this season, I am trying to be intentional about my time management and choosing important over urgent.

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to speak three times. First,I spoke during chapel time at Pontiac Christian School, a women's retreat in Shelbyville, and at Fairbury MOPS. I am still amazed at the faithfulness of God, once again, as He continues to give me the strength to stand before others and then gives me the words that each one needs to hear. Thank you, Lord for another opportunity to trust in You.

What is God asking you to do that makes you cringe?

Have you allowed your fears to be your decision maker?

How can you say that you live a life of faith if your life doesn't require much faith?

Have a great day

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello my bloggy friends! I'm home from the Hearts at Home conference and my spirits are high! My spirit feels rejuvinated but I think my body could use some sleep. Me and nine other women stayed the weekend in Bloomington and had way too much fun and way too little sleep!

If I told you about all the wonderful things that happened since I left the house Friday morning, I'd be writing for a long time and you would be reading for a long time!

Here's a few highlights:

As I drove to Bloomington on Friday morning, thoughts were running through my mind. As a volunteer, I was assisting a worshop speaker. I worried about not connecting with her or embarrassing myself when I introduced her and every other what-if that ran through my mind. I had also been praying for a connection with God over the weekend. As I drove, I looked up to the sky and noticed how a cloud above me was in the shape of an angel with its wings outstretched over both the north and south bound lanes of the interstate. It reminded me of God's continuous presence in my life. As the miles passed, it seemed as though I was being embraced by the outstreched wings of the angel. An amazing peace comforted me and I realized that even when I may not "feel" Him, God is always in and with me.

I attended a class titled "5 Secrets your husband wished you knew" by Mark Savage. A large portion of the message was on respecting your husband. One thing that stuck out to me and gave me new perspective was: at the end of Ephesians 5, wives are told to respect their husbands. If God commands me to respect my husband, than in order to be obedient to God then I must respect my husband. That means that he does not need to earn this respect, I just need to respect. WOW - now that's alot to chew on!

I could go on and on with the ways that God touch me and changed me over the weekend. What a blessing Hearts at Home is and I will continue to promote it and encourage women to attend. www.hearts-at-home.org

Have an amazing day!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whooooo Hooooo! Its that time of year again! Hearts at Home is tomorrow and Saturday and I am so excited to be a part of it again! Because of the impact it has had on my life, I want to encourage every woman I know to go - walk-in's are welcome on both Friday and Saturday. For more info, check out www.hearts-at-home.org

My girlfriends and I are taking this opportunity to make the conference into a girls weekend and staying in Bloomington all weekend. Oh what fun we are going to have! Please be praying with me that God will prepare the hearts of the 6,000 attendees to feel His presence and be transformed by His Spirit. God used this conference to change my heart and I know He will use it to change many others as well.

If you are attending the conference, come visit me in the resource center. I will be assisting Jodi Antrim at her speaker table. Can't wait to see you!

Have a great day
Living fearlessly in Christ

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Psalm 46:10-11 "Be still I know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Does life ever seem like it's passing you by? Does you daily routine keep you from experiencing life to its fullest? Do you ever feel the need for something different or for some excitement?

Be still (yes, longer than a second or two) in order to hear God, but before you do make sure you have fully committed to obeying whatever it is that He may lay on your heart.

Say yes before you know what it is that God is going to ask you to do and be ready for the ride of your life!

Whoever says being a Christian is boring, obviously is not a Christian!

Be still, my friends.

Have a great day!

Living fearlessly in Christ

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mom, do you know how valuable you are?

Do you want to be inspired and encouraged?

Are you in need of refreshment or rejuvenation?

Do you want to laugh?

A Hearts at Home conference gives moms the unique opportunity to pause along their mothering journey to refresh, refocus, and renew themselves. The 2010 National Conference, Mom’s the Word, is being held at the Bone Student Center of Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois on March 12-13.

See what others are saying about a Hearts at Home conference:

“I attended the conference this year for the first time. I enjoyed it immensely. I was lifted up, instructed, convicted, encouraged, and brought to tears, sometimes all at the same time.”

“I loved it. I feel so full of information. I need to sit and read my notes and just process it. It was really encouraging to hear all the speakers and be with all of those moms. Thanks so much! “

“This past weekend was awesome and life changing. This was my first Hearts at Home Conference and I am telling everyone about it. “

“I want to thank you all for keeping these conferences going each year and for making them so refreshing for women at various stages in their parenting.”

Hearts at Home wants all mothers to know how valuable they are! Check out this video for a small dose of encouragement from Nicole Johnson and be sure to join us March 12th-13th for more!

Featured guests include Nicole Johnson, author & motivational speaker, a favorite at Women of Faith, Jill Savage, author, international speaker, CEO & founder of Hearts at Home, and Christy Nockles, Dove Award nominee & formerly of Watermark.

Visit www.hearts-at-home.org for more information.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Today I'd like to welcome author and speaker Susie Larson. Susie's new book Growing Grateful Kids has just released and I've invited her to share a little bit about this great resource.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My husband and I have been married 25 years and have three grown sons (all in their early twenties). Our oldest son Jake works on the business side of the Christian music industry. Our middle son Luke is married to his beautiful wife Kristen; he works full time at a bank and part time as a worship pastor. Our youngest son Jordan is studying to become a surgical nurse. My husband Kevin is a commercial construction manager by day and manages my ministry by night (and weekends). Bless his heart.  I am an author, speaker, and an on-call radio host for Christian talk radio. Together, Kevin and I serve as advocates for justice on behalf of modern day slaves and human trafficking victims.

Tell us about your new book, Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places.

Even when economic times are tight, our children enjoy an abundance of material possessions. Yet, amidst all this wealth, discontentment and competition seem to be on the rise. Instead of teaching children virtues such as gratefulness and patience, many parents are bending over backwards to get their children the latest and greatest item - or feeling guilty when they can't. In spite of the currents of materialism and entitlement that flow so strong, it is possible to raise children who are simply grateful. Though teaching perspective and gratitude to our children is critical, it is not difficult.

Why did you want to write this book?

To be completely honest, I never wanted to write a book on parenting. I wanted to protect my kids’ privacy and give them time and space to become the men God wants them to be. But in the last few years, I have been especially burdened with the level of selfishness, entitlement and disrespect I see among children today. Furthermore, moms seem more stressed than ever. When I asked my sons their thoughts on writing this book, without pausing they all said, “Do it, mom; that book needs to be written!” I think I wrote a book that not only equips young moms to raise humble, grateful world-changers, but also one that nourishes the soul of the reader and encourages her personally.

Throughout the book you remind the reader that we cannot impart what we do not possess. Can you explain?

If we never deal with our own fears, insecurities, and hang ups, but we try to teach our children to believe in their divine value, over time, our words will not ring true to them. First God wants to do His work in us before He does it through us. They say that lessons are more often caught than taught. If we parent from a place of conviction and real freedom, our children will be affected by what we teach them.

One of your chapters is titled, “Take Time to Play.” How does taking time to play teach our kids to be grateful?

To me, taking time to play says a lot about the level of faith we possess.

If our children hear us confess that we love and serve a BIG God and yet they see us striving and straining through life, they will come to believe that more is on our shoulders than on God’s. If we can trust God enough to step away from our busy-important lives, to make a fort in the basement, or play a game with our children – even in the most desperate of economic situations – we will give our children a sense of much needed security and that all is well in their world.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?

To answer this question (I hope you don’t mind), I would like to share an endorsement from one of my sample readers. She expressed my deepest desire for my reader:

“Growing Grateful Kids is such a great source of conviction, encouragement, and inspiration to spur me on to finishing this parenting race well and not sputter out along the way. This book compels me to submit my own character to the refining of the Holy Spirit that I may be equipped to impart those lessons onto my children. Thank you, Susie, for taking the time, for submitting in obedience, and writing this down for a generation in desperate need of this kind of parenting book!” –Gail Miller

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (www.hearts-at-home.org), a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

I am very excited about the message in this book. It is my prayer that every one who reads it will be nourished, encouraged, and equipped to parent from a place of fullness, conviction, and confidence. Raising grateful, confident kids will be one of the most heroic, important things you do in your lifetime. God’s blessings to you!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today I'd like to welcome Jill and Mark Savage. Jill and Mark's newest book Living with Less so your Family has More just released and I've invited them to share a little bit about this great resource!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We have been married for 27 years…17 of them happily. After finding ourselves in a marriage counselor’s office around year 8 or so, we realized that we really didn’t know how to be married. We worked hard to turn things around and now we like to share that hope with other couples.

We have five children ranging from 13 to 25. Our oldest three are married. Anne (25) and her husband, Matt, live in Zion, IL, and are expecting our first grandchild in April. (We are very excited!) Evan (22) and his wife, Julie, have been married a year and a half and they live just a few miles from us. Erica (19) married her husband Kendall last September. They live in Augusta, GA, and wherever else the Army takes them.

We have two teenagers still at home. Kolya just turned 16. He’s learning to drive and we’ve nearly worn a hole in the carpet on the floor in the passenger seat trying to find that non-existent brake pedal. Kolya is the newest member of the Savage family. We adopted him at the age of nine from Russia.

Austin is 13 and in the 8th grade. He wants us to make sure and tell the world that this “living with less” life is a real bummer because he’s the ONLY kid in 8th grade who doesn’t have a cell phone.

Tell us about your newest book Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

The world screams the message that bigger is always better, but we have found that is not often true. When it comes to raising a family, less materially can actually result in more relationally. Children don’t need the best houses, the best lessons, the best cars, or the best clothes. What they really need is the best home life and the best family relationships we can give them.

Why did you want to write this book?

We didn’t start out with the “less is more” mindset. We started as a double income family wanting to have the “best” of everything. Then Mark decided to pursue ministry. We went from the “high life” to the “frugal life” very quickly as we moved to another state for him to go to Bible College full-time.

That experience introduced us to the concept that less is more. We definitely had less money, but we had more time. We had less stress and more peace. We had less activities and more fun.

Since that experience, we’ve continued to live primarily on one income for the past twenty years. We’ve had to battle cultural peer pressure and make different decisions for our family than many other families in our neighborhood have made. But we’ve never felt that we were materially depriving ourselves or our kids…instead we’ve focused on what we’ve actually been able to provide for them emotionally and relationally.

What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

We hope the reader is encouraged to evaluate how they are living their life, spending their money, and thinking about family matters. Our goal is to introduce families to the “less is more” concept and then equip them with the attitudes and actions to actually make that happen.

For families that are already committed to less is more, we hope to bolster their resolve and help them stay focused on the long-term goal of providing relationally for their kids.

In today’s economy, there are many families being forced to live with less. We want to help them see the opportunity they have with this unexpected downsizing they’ve been forced to do.

And for those who have just been a little discontent with their life and saying things like, “I’m tired of the rat race of life,” or “Is there more to life than drive-thru meals for dinner?” we hope to help them see other choices they have and how they can lead their family in a different direction.

What unique elements will the reader find in Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

For couples who want to read the book together, we’ve included discussion questions at the end of every chapter. This helps move the readers to discussion and eventually actions. Even a single parent can use the discussion questions for personal evaluation.

Readers will find this book a practical guide to changing your attitude and your actions to live a successful “less is more” life. They’ll find our writing style to be a warm, casual, honest discussion where we not only share our victories but our mistakes along the way. We are an average couple living successfully on an average income who want to help others to see the possibilities before them.

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (www.hearts-at-home.org), a free electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

It’s healthy for parents to occasionally pause and evaluate their vision for their family and the choices they are making. We hope this resource will help them do that together and that it will lead them to live a life of little regret.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm baaaaacccckkkk! Well, kinda - here's a post from my friend Suz, enjoy!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust the Lord in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.

This verse seems so simple. Trust the Lord with EVERYTHING, in all things acknowledge and him and give him credit and life will be easy, right? Not so much….The verse says He will make your path straight, not easy. The Lord’s idea of straight, as my simple mind can imagine, is according to His plan, not our own. So, yes, if we trust him with everything, lean on His infinite wisdom and acknowledge Him in all we do, we will see the blessings He is ready to pour out on us that will surely far surpass the limited scope of what we can imagine for ourselves.

Where are you today? Tired of caring the load? Tired of feeling like everything you can give is just not enough? Well, you are probably right. You cannot do enough right stuff for God to love you anymore than he already does. So be real with who you are and thank God today for the way he has molded and made you to be for you are His.

Have a blessed day!