This week's Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: refine
To make pure, to clean, to test for purity by fire.
As Christians a lot of our lives are spent in God's refining fire. That is a good thing! While it does not always feel pleasant at the time... frankly we sometimes feel hurt by it, however, in fact, refining does not hurt us, but makes us more like Christ.
How can I say with confidence that God's refining fire does not harm us? Because it only burns away the dross...the impurities in our hearts and lives. God is making us more like Christ, and He promises in His Word that no one can snatch us out of His hands! Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel 3?
Refining is not easy, but oh ... so necessary. If God had not refined me, I would never have been ready to have teenagers. If God had not refined me, I would only react to their emotions with my own, and not with God's compassion and mercy. If God had not refined me, I could not be the wife that my husband needs.
I want God to continue to refine me, because I know there is still dross in my heart that needs to be removed. If you have ever been around a smelting pot, or a refining furnace, you will know that it is hot, and uncomfortable. Yet, what emerges is pure, precious, worth cherishing.
When I heard today' word was refine, this song immediately came to mind:
my heart's one desire
is to be
set apart for You Lord.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Monday, January 16, 2017
There have been so many times and so many ways God has blessed us and shown His faithfulness to our family as we have educated our girls at home while both of us were working.
I could come up with several things to use for the letter A, but as I sit here typing, one blessing stands out the most: our library, the Anderson Public Library. What a gem it has been over the past 13 years!
I am sitting here at the library typing this post on a Saturday afternoon while Arlene is upstairs in the monthly meeting of the Teen Advisory Council for the library. How did that tiny little redhead grow up from the girl who chewed on the "Teeth" book into a smart, well-spoken lady who was asked to join in on the planning of activities for the teen department? One day at a time!
Our library is housed in what was originally a Sears department store. For a city of about 60,000 people, it is really large and well stocked. The librarians and other staff do such a wonderful job of making it a place where everyone is welcome, and all patrons can find the help they need.
I am currently sitting in the Indiana Room, which is a special Reference room on the second floor that houses both historic and unique books and artifacts from Indiana history. There are some books in here that you cannot readily find elsewhere except in College Repositories or at the State Library. There is a display case near the entrance to the Indiana Room that houses changing exhibits about Indiana or Madison County history. Right now it is filled with lovely cut-glass bowls, pitchers, and other sparkly items. They remind me of the butter dish I inherited form my Maternal Grandmother.
Across the landing from me is the Children's department. Both of our girls grew up as this area being their destination of choice for weekly outings! Librarians who love children, a huge selection of both newer and classic children's books, and a plethora of special events in the adjoining Activities Room have made a lifetime of memories. When the girls were little we would come every week. EVERY WEEK! If something happened and we missed a week, one or more of the librarians would ask the girls if someone had been sick, or if we had been on another adventure!
On the other side of our library are stacks and stacks of books! Magazines, DVD's audio books, so many great resources, whether you homeschool or not!
Upstairs are meeting rooms, the Model Railroad, Fire Safety House, and Arlene's favorite stop: the Friends of the Library Book Sale room! Down on the main floor are computer labs, a teen room, reference librarians and their books, the audiobooks, dvd's, magazines, CD's, and more stacks of books. So much awesome stuff! A long time ago there was a widget that would let you figure out how valuable your library was to your household. You entered how many books, movies, etc. you check out each month, and it figured the retail value as if you had gone to the store. I kid you not, our family's monthly value was over $900! That is when I told the Library Director that I considered our property taxes to be the cost of our library cards, with the Police and Fire Departments thrown in for free.
We are working parents. There is no way we could have afforded to purchase anywhere near that many books or documentaries for our children to use, not to mention we would have run out of bookshelf space long ago!
This week's blessing of our working and homeschooling adventure is: The Anderson Public Library!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Many of you have realized it has been a long time since the last post in our Working and Homeschooling series. Thanks to some encouragement, or perhaps a challenge, from my friend Annette over at A Net in Time, you are about to see it revived, and filled with LOTS of new posts!
Introducing our newest set of posts in the series:
Working and Homeschooling ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet: Blessings
I'm sure you've probably seen some similar group writings before, blogging through the alphabet is not new. The host or hosts let everyone know when they are starting, and if there will be a particular theme, perhaps foods, flowers, favorite destinations, and then every week the participants write a short post about the topic that corresponds with that week's letter.
The co-hosts this time are Annette and Amanda and they've let us choose any family friendly topic as long as it matches the letter of the week. This round begins on Monday, with A, and will go until we are out of letters. Some of us are choosing a theme, others are just writing on whatever topic comes to mind for the letter. Because it has been too long since I wrote in the Working and Homeschooling series, I have decided to challenge myself to find 26 blessings that we have been granted while homeschooling, and working.
Some posts may be short, others fairly long. I still have a few topics left on my note sheet from the original weeks of the Working and Homeschooling series. My goal is that each week I will be reminded about God's faithfulness to bless us in our efforts to homeschool, even though both Kurt and I work outside of the home. Now that we only have one left in High School, a lot of this may be retrospection, and yet, I hope it will encourage you wherever you are in your home education journey!
Once each letter is posted on this blog (hopefully on Mondays, but some might be Tuesdays) I will come back to this post and link them. That way if you miss a week, you'll be able to more easily find them! All of us will be linking each week's posts with both Annette's and Amanda's blogs, where you can see everyone that is participating that week.
I hope you'll come back every week and find that the ways God has blessed us can be a blessing to you as well!
Blogging Through the Alphabet: Blessings
Come join the fun! If you are looking for our posts on Social Media, the whole group will be using: #abcblogging
*This post contains an affiliate link for SchoolhouseTeachers.com
This week members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are sharing some of their goals for 2017.
When I heard the word goals in the past, one of two things usually happened, either I got all excited and wanted to start planning and writing with my favorite pens...or I said "whatever" (in my head) and moved on. Why the drastic difference between my two responses? I think life had been such a challenge for so many years that sometimes I was afraid to write out my goals. What if I didn't achieve them? What if God had other goals for me?
A few years ago, when I first heard about those people who choose a "Word for the Year" I wondered if God would ever give me year that looked normal. Then I realized, my version of normal, and His version of normal, are vastly different. I had been lulled by the society we live in into thinking that easy was normal. God reminded me that He never promised us easy, He just promised never to leave us!
At the realization that I could make plans, but I needed to leave them open to God's directing them and changing them, I realized what He was teaching me was not about one specific word, but about being transformed.
Transformation to be more like Christ cannot start with me, it has to come from within, where God is working on my heart and mind.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12:2 KJV
Hopefully you now see what I did: I needed to let God show me what He wanted my focus to be. So while I have learned there is great value to setting goals, and working to achieve them, I've also been matured by God's refining fire to realize that my goals always need to be second to His plan.
Throughout 2016 God had shown me that He wanted to transform my prayer life. I had not thought it was bad, as I prayed a lot, but He showed me a better, deeper, truer prayer life that has transformed how I approach prayer. This new approach to prayer, using the model of Christ's prayers, has given me a peace I've not often had before. God is building my foundation surely, solidly, and ONLY upon Him.
I did not chose a word for 2016, but God chose Prayer to be the theme of His transformation of me in 2016. Will that continue to be His theme for my life in 2017? I think yes, but I have the feeling that He is going to be working on me in other areas as well.
So where does that leave me today, and how do I set goals for the year when I know He will likely change them?
It leaves me squarely in His presence, resting under His mighty arm of protection and love. It allows me to write out my goals for 2017, and know with certainty, that if He changes them, it will be for my good and His glory.
My goals for the blog for 2017:
1. Continue to be an encouragement to families, especially Moms
2. Get some more of those great Road Trips we have taken written up and the photos cropped so we can share them with you
3. Continue with the Scripture Writing posts, and occasionally share some of the stories of WHY God is using that particular verse in my life
4. Write honest, yet tactful, posts about the joys and challenges of Homeschooling during the High School years
5. Always keep in mind the four themes God has shown me we always seem to crave: forgiveness, fellowship, honesty, and community
6. Try to have at least one post every month that focuses on one of the themes from #5
7. Keep glorifying God. Whether it is a curriculum review, or just a weekly look back at our lives, search out the times where God shows up and blesses us again and again and help other to see Him at work in their lives as well
Do I have any personal goals for 2017?Maybe, possibly, yes. Subject to change at God's direction.
1. Focus on JOY
2. Continue to study God's Word and allow it to transform me to be more like Christ
3. Learn to be a better wife and mother
4. Be myself!
Learn how to be content being me, and being OK with the idea that I am not like any other person out there!
5. Declutter the house again. I'm joining in with my friend Michele and her 34 Weeks of Clean. Less stuff means more freedom to enjoy my life
Any other thoughts on goals? Just a few. I'm hoping to join up with Annette and Amanda and a bunch of our other friends as we blog through the alphabet. I want my theme to be on the joys of homeschooling, and the realities of finding the moments of joy when working and homeschooling. As more and more families are being directed by God to begin educating their children at home, I want to shine a light on the great amount of grace He gives to those who still need to work outside the home, even as they take on the responsibility of home education. It is rarely easy, but always rewarding if we remember to look for the blessings!
I really want to work through the keyboarding class at SchoolhouseTeachers.com so I can finally learn how to touch type. I think this investment of time this Winter and Spring can reap great rewards as I can get more of what is running through my brain out onto the page, and then begin editing it to share with you.
I would like to read more. In 2016 I finally got smart and started writing down the books I had read. If I could find the time, I would like to read one fiction book each month, and one non-fiction book each month. To do this though, I'm going to need to focus on getting the decluttering tasks done each week, and keeping up with my to-do list each week. Other than Bible study, reading needs to come after my other work is done, so some weeks, it just has not happened.
Have you set any goals for 2017?
Stop by the Crew Blog and see what others are sharing about their goals for 2017