Thursday, February 27, 2020

Community - part 1


community involvement, definitions, childhood

What first comes to mind when you hear the word community?


No really, I'll wait for you to think about it...








Are you thinking of a beach-front community? You know, the way a realtor advertises a house or condo to make it more attractive by labeling it "part of a beach-front community."

Or maybe you're thinking about that line you hear at church " a community of believers."


Something else?


What would you have thought when you were 10 or 12 years old? Would you have had any idea what to say if your Grandma asked you about a community?

Our definitions in our head are often different than those in the dictionary. In high school I learned that this was the word's connotation (what we think of) instead of its denotation (what the dictionary says.)

Our ideas about a word (connotation), often change as we get older. Funny that. The dictionary definitions (denotations) often change over time too. Words that were used often 200 years ago are now labeled as archaic, or do not even get space in modern dictionaries. Many people would rather look at a website like Wikipedia than pull out an actual dictionary or encyclopedia. I'm not opposed to using either, but I'm more likely to put stock in what the book says over what the collective internet users say - shocking right?!

My modern dictionary says this about community: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common

My reprint of Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary said this: a society of people having common rights and privileges, or common interests, civil, political, or ecclesiastical 

So which would you rather belong to, a beach front community, senior community, a gated or farm community? That's what the modern definition seems to imply. Community means living in the same place. Does that actually make a community? Maybe. But I think it often lacks a depth of closeness or relationships. 

I've lived in several communities in my life, in regards to a physical place. But what I think we long for is the older definition: having common interests, common rights, having a place where we belong as a person, not just as a number.

I've been writing about community this past month for my book, and it has given me pause. We take so much for granted because we hurry through this life. Where is the community you MOST want to belong to? Is it important enough for you to invest time into? Do you give to your community or only take? How can we teach another generation about the importance of true community with deep relationships and real responsibilities when we don't live in community ourselves? You cannot teach what you do not know.

It is time for us to step back and evaluate our communities, whether they be by geographical location or by common interests. How can we lift others up? How can we give back more than we take? How can we create and sustain healthy communities for ourselves and our families?

I'll be sharing some more thoughts about community as I work through it myself. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment and tell me something you appreciate about a community you belong to!






Thursday, January 30, 2020

Fresh Start Sale - last call!


*affiliate links are used in this post*


There are only two days left in the SchoolhouseTeachers.com fresh start sale - today and tomorrow.

Normally I would have reminded you about this sale all month long, but you're busy, and so am I. :)

So, in case you're stuck with a great dislike of your current curriculum... or maybe you're brand new to homeschooling and have no idea where to start - this is  great place! We used SchoolhouseTeachers.com for several years while our girls were homeschooling - and now it covers so much more! 

$99 for an entire year is phenomenal! February first will be here soon and the price will go up, as it does every calendar year, so don't delay. If you're not sure, try it for a month for only $12. 

$12 mama - that's less than the cost of a night to yourself at the movies with popcorn...which must be why we hardly ever go? LOL!

If you'd like to read some past reviews of schoolhouse teachers.com as it has grown, just click the little orange words at the bottom of this post and it should bring up our past reviews. Remember the codes are ONLY99 for a year or ONLY12 for a month. Go explore it now before you forget!

Happy end of January! 



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Daily dose of nature



nature walks, contemplative time, writing


Hello!

If you've been wondering where I've been, the answer is: outside! I know, it's January, and I live in Indiana, so it is sometimes a real challenge, but I've been making an intentional effort to get outside more this winter.

I've been posting some of the pictures from my adventures on Instagram, using the hashtag #dailydoseofnature 

I've also been writing, but, obviously, not all for here on the blog, or you would have seen more posts -LOL! I'm working on a book, and keeping my other writing commitments.

AND...

We have been purging the house. It might not look like it yet, but we have a goal in mind to reach before spring arrives, so the girls and I have been working on one small area at a time around our other commitments.

There had definitely been a shift in the dynamics around here since Arlene started college last fall, and all four of us have felt it. It might be the hardest on my husband, because everyone has different schedules now. With four working adults in the home, it is taking us all a while to get used to the changes in meals, chores, and availability.

So how do we navigate changes in our lives? Because I am here to tell you that the seasons you went through while your children were growing up are vastly different from the other side once they've all graduated high school. Do you have plan yet? If not, may I suggest one?

Trust God.

Two words that should sum up our lives here on earth, and yet, how often we stray from this simple plan. It is simple to say, and harder to do. Trusting God requires us to let go of our perceived control on our lives and allow Him to direct our paths. 

Last week at Ladies' Bible study I commented about how God only lights our next few steps, and it is a good thing. We cannot know how He will move, prune, and refine us too far into the future or we would walk away from it. We would see that the testing will be hard and reject it, because we cannot understand the huge amounts of grace and beauty He is going to bestow upon our lives in the process. We are temporal focused, He always has an eternal focus. These hard days and nights truly are light and momentary troubles - but they sure don't feel that way when we are in the midst of them!

If our focus can be returned again and again to trusting God then we can truly rest. Not rest from living life, but rest from striving. Rest from competing, rest from worry, rest and not fear. 

Would you like to find rest for your war-weary soul? Trust God.

Would you like to find rest from financial anxieties, or marital strife? Trust God.

Would you like to be kind and loving towards others instead of bitter and cynical? Trust God.

Maturity doesn't happen at a particular age, it happens when we trust God. Each time you choose to trust God instead of striving, competing, complaining, or fighting, you will mature.

God is in the business of fresh starts. He is in the business of Love, forgiveness, and grace. He brings beauty from ashes and life from death.

When I take my daily nature walks I am looking for ways that He shows me beauty, grace, and life. I spend a lot of the time praying for friends. I want to encourage you to do the same: pray for your friends, look for beauty, grace, and life.

Even if life has knocked you down, God wants you to get back up - trust Him!

In the words of TobyMac:
You may be knocked down, but not out forever.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Reflection





It is January 2020, a time when many people will set aside time to reflect on last year, and set goals for the new one ahead.

Reflections, like the graphic above, are imperfect. 


I made the graphic in two minutes on PicMonkey. If I had wanted it to be perfect, I could have spent 25 minutes with a high-tech Adobe program that actually has mirroring as an option. I point this out because too many of us will take five or ten minutes to reflect on last year and get an imperfect report on what happened in 2019. Then we'll stop thinking and reflecting because we won't like what we see.

If you take time to reflect this January, I challenge you to actually take time: an hour, then another, maybe even a couple of afternoons to really think back on where you have been, what God has accomplished, and how you have grown.

I've been using a set of questions to help me reflect on what happened in 2019, before I set goals for 2020. It has been hard work. There was a question this afternoon that I struggled with. It said "those who love me call me____." I wasn't sure how others describe me, so I went and asked my girls. One said "mom." Ugh - that was no help at all. I appreciated that she still wants to spend time with me as her mom, but I needed something more. I asked the other girl...she was more descriptive, and that gave me something to work from. Friends call me creative. My friend's husband calls me Stupid-smart. I know he means it as a compliment. I get it. I'm not the normal mom, not a normal wife, not a normal co-worker. 

So where does this all lead me? Back to the foot of the cross. I find my acceptance and worth in what Jesus has done for me, not in what I've done for the world. You see, the world says I'm under qualified. It repeatedly tells me that I don't have a college degree, and thus, am not enough. But I have become wise to the ways the world tries to pull us down. Jesus has said that I am more than qualified, because of Him, because I'm not doing ANY of this life without HIS wisdom and strength. 

I'm going to circle back around to that first response my daughter gave "mom." For 22 years I have loved, planned, corrected, project managed, taught, refined, budgeted, written, erased, build, dug deep, refocused, travelled, stayed put, withstood storms, and filled life with joy. At the foot of the cross I am more than qualified to do WHATEVER God calls me to for 2020 and beyond. 

I bet you are too!

So now, feel free to do some reflecting of your own. Think about 2019, it's challenges and joys, and look forward to 2020, knowing that God will equip you with all you need and more. 

My goal is to reflect the light of Jesus to all those around me, whether they're expecting it or not. 

May your 2020 be filled with peace, joy, purpose, and most of all: Jesus!


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!





Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed New Year!

Thank you for all of your encouragement these past eight years. There have been less posts here recently - I am writing a book, and that takes time. That doesn't mean I've forgotten about you! Look for more regularly scheduled content to appear in 2020. 

A new year, a new decade, and the same faithful God. Our lives are filled with endless possibilities. Let's choose to make them extraordinary as we look to the Author and Finisher of our faith - Jesus!

May your new year be filled with joy, peace and purpose!



Friday, December 6, 2019

Rush...



rush, five minute friday, holiday season, Jesus, Luke 2, Christmas



Today is the 6th of December. Are you feeling a holiday rush? Are you scrambling to figure out where, when, and with who? Or are you trying to figure out the how of your holiday season?

What if we all took a step back and decided to not rush through this holy time of year? What if we took more time reading about the birth of Christ than we spent in line at the local department store?

Rush is just one letter different than push. 

Instead of pushing yourself, and your family, through the holidays, choose to enjoy this time. Reflect on what a wonderful gift we are actually celebrating. Jesus coming to earth to take our place on the cross.



Stop

Imagine



Without the gift of Jesus we would not have anything to celebrate. We would not have hope or joy, or even purpose. But, because of Jesus we can live lives filled with hope, joy, and purpose!

This year, this week, even today - you can choose to slow down and marvel at all we have to be thankful for. There is no perfect present to be found at the store - because the perfect present has already been given. Choose to accept it, and the wonder and magic of Christmas, Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection will change you forever!


'For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men."' ~Luke 2:11-14



Monday, November 18, 2019

Reading





What are you reading and what are you learning from it?

Are you reading a textbook, a magazine, a novel, or your feed on facebook? How do you choose what to read? Do you take suggestions from a friend, look for recommendations from Good Reads or just wander the aisles at the bookstore or library?

I read a lot. Sometimes I don't learn much from it, other times it feels like the author was writing the book just for me. That there is a message, idea, or way of doing something that was just waiting for me to discover it.

Are you making a plan for what you are going to read in 2020? I am usually reading at least two or three different things: a non-fiction book, a fiction book and some sort of magazine or trade publication. I'm thinking I would like to make more of a plan for my reading for next year than I have in the past...so if you've read something you found particularly good this year, please leave a comment with the title and author.

Happy reading!