Whose Advice are You Taking?

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"I mean to have a quiet time, I want to read my Bible every day, but life is just so busy and I hope that God knows my heart. I just can't seem to fit it in."

Busyness truly does wrap itself around our moments and squeeze out our moments of quiet and the peace that comes from pondering God, His word, His ways. Having just come to Oxford to await the baby, I have been most grateful for a slower lifestyle, walking to the grocery store, rubbing shoulders with real live people along my way, having a break from the constant press of social media.

"He restoreth my soul," a phrase from my childhood comes to mind. This is my hope for myself right now--that He will lead me beside the still waters, and restore my own slightly empty, weary soul from all the happenings of life I have born the past year. God daily wants to companion every moment of my journey and without His voice, I find my heart and soul dry, thirsty for His love and reality.

Do you feel some of this dryness or need for restoration?

I recently ended a speaking tour in another state by giving a talk at a lovely ladies' tea. The precious moms who attended were quite responsive to my talks and seemed to especially enjoy the civilized atmosphere in which we ended the day. As I sat enjoying my nibble of scone and sip of tea, a young woman came up to talk to me after the other women had dispersed to chat with friends or pick up their children from the nursery. She obviously didn't want anyone else to hear what she had to say to me.

"I feel so confused, and I'm desperately hoping you can help me," she said, diving right in as she sat down. She took my hand and continued speaking in a whisper. "I am a new Christian and didn't have a very good foundation in life—as a matter of fact, I was just left to myself to discover what I thought was true about life, morality; and values. I made a lot of mistakes and have a lot of emotional scars from the choices I made. I decided I didn't want my children to be scarred like I was, so I wanted to do a better job with them. I feel like I am starting this journey of motherhood already miles behind because I have nothing in my background that would show me the way to walk this journey.

As we talked the next half hour, I could sense her frustration mounting and spilling out from her tear-filled eyes.

"Because I didn't have my own beliefs, I feel that now I am subject to whatever I hear. I will read one book and it says to discipline in a certain way that feels harsh, so I will try to practice these theories for a while. Then I will hear a speaker or read another book that teaches exactly the opposite but also sounds reasonable. I am tempted to think I have ruined my children and need to go in yet another direction! How is a mom to know what to do?"

She isn't the only one asking. I have had many such conversations and talked to many women who feel the same way.

Our conversation is representative of the hearts of many women I've met. In the absence of having nurturing mothers who met their needs and cultivated a close relationship, they had never developed a plan or biblical direction that would guide them in their own lives. They had no basis or picture of what it meant to be a "good mother."

Through our years of ministry, Clay and I have coined a phrase:

In the absence of biblical convictions, people will go the way of culture.

Sally Clarkson

What we mean by this is that if a woman doesn't develop her own foundational principles of biblical wisdom to guide her through life, she will base her decisions in life upon the relative truth of those around her: friends, neighbors, and media. But Scripture is crystal clear about how important it is to turn from the world's counsel. Walking according to worldliness is a recipe for brokenness and disaster.

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:2-4

Preach the Word so that people can discern God's truth and be kept from turning aside to myths. I see this process in the women I just mentioned. A thousand insistent voices constantly shout in our ears and hearts as a result of living in a media-driven, "expert"- informed age. Magazines, television, websites, newsletters, and the newspaper all pour out different perspectives of counsel. Advice is heard from every direction.

But we can't listen to all these voices just because they are loud. The wisdom that informs our lives must come directly from the Word of God.

As you make decisions about parenting, whose advice are you listening to? Is the Word of God your primary informant?

I write this blog because I know Jesus cares for you and I pray it might lead you into His presence. I also conduct the membership. It is my hope that many of you will be refreshed in March as you make time to listen to the content on our new membership, Life with Sally. Our desire is to fill your soul with the truth and words of His word and wisdom so that you may be refueled in all the places we, as a team of women, speak and write.

I am praying for you this very morning, that you will find rest for your hearts and souls. . 

East Chapter Books for Emerging Readers

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One of the questions we get here at Storyformed is, “What books should I give to my child who can fluently read picture books, but is not quite ready for difficult chapter books?”

It’s a great question! I have experienced the same struggle! It seems like so many of the books in this category didn’t seem worth reading. Feeling at a loss when my oldest hit this stage in her reading journey, I went to a trusted, wise friend who had older kids. I asked her what she gave to her kids to read in this phase, and she let me peruse the ‘easy chapter book’ section of her home library. I’m delighted to report that many books on her shelf are now on my list! I hope there are some on this list that your kids will enjoy too.

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Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol

This series is a perfect one for young readers because of the way the story draws you in and practically forces you to pay attention. Children are invited to follow the trail of boy detective, Encyclopedia Brown. My five year old thoroughly enjoyed listening to my seven year old read these aloud to her! They both followed the story and tried to pick up on the clues hoping to solve the mystery before the end.

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The Littles by John Peterson

My kids have giggled and giggled as they have read the adventures of these tiny people called the ‘Littles’ who live in the walls of the ‘Biggs’ home. They find everything they need living with the Biggs and hope to repay them by making sure everything in the home is in good working order. The Biggs go out of town for the summer and a new family, the Newcombs, stay in their home. The Newcombs are messy and their mess attracts mice! This story is the adventure of the Littles finding a way out of this dilemma. The Littles is part of a series. Here are a couple others in the series we have enjoyed: The Littles and the Big Storm and The Littles and the Trash Tinies.

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Nate the Great by Majorie Weinman Sharmat

Nate the Great is a great choice for a beginning reader because of it’s length: it is only about 60 pages. It includes illustrations on most pages, and does not have an overwhelming amount of words on each page. Nate is a boy detective who "likes to work alone" to track down the culprit and solve the mystery. Nate also loves pancakes which made him immediately relatable to my kids. Nate the Great is part of a series. Here are a couple others we have enjoyed: Nate the Great Goes Undercover and Nate the Great and the Phony Clue.

To continue reading on storyformed.com, please click HERE.

Children Are All So Unique! Don't Be Overwhelmed By Criticism

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I have had so many life circumstances that have taught me that fitting into the mold or expectations of others was not God's will for me. As a matter of fact, if I had followed all the advice of friends, I could have easily cultivated rebellion or resentment in the hearts of my children. But God gave them to me! It is for me to love them, discipline and nurture them according to their bent and according to the wisdom and intuition He would give to me through my mother-love.

Each of my children had areas in their lives that didn't fit the box of anyone else. Sarah is a dreamer, introvert, close to her mom--how many times did I hear we were too close to each other. Now she is my co-writer and bestest friend--and yet she lives in another country and frequents  a variety of countries, differing languages and may never live in the United States again. Married to a Dutchman and growing more academically beyond me every year of her studies.  I am so grateful we are so close.

Joel, so abstract and artistic that at times my mom thought he was deaf because he wouldn't reply to me when I talked to him or asked him to do something. He is truly extremely responsive and helpful, submissive and loyal--but I had to speak to him eye to eye, face to face to help him know exactly what I wanted him to do. Now he is a composer, creative, brilliant introvery, audio-book reader who is always dependable and hard working but not at all time oriented--always in the clouds planning or creating.

Nathan didn't sleep through the night until he was 4 (ended up he had a digestion disorder we didn't know about!) He also is an extrovert and has ADHD and other clinical disorders that have plagued him over the years. (He got them from me!) I had so many people who told me that he just needed more discipline: "You are not spanking him enough!" A number of friends were critical of his behavior and bouts over the years. Their critical eyes and words were devastating to me. I was so introspective about my inadequacies with my "mysterious" child, and yet, I know in my heart that harshness and spanking and criticism would create standards that he would never have been able to live up to. I know his heart would have become alienated from me.Now, I literally stand in amazement of him. He is an artist, musician, writer, performer, godly man of great vision. He was never meant to live in the box, God made him to be much more. I can't keep up with his ideas and drive. Just wish I hadn't worried so much about him and my others sweets.

Joy is a fire-cracker, confident, performer, outgoing, always wants to be doing something; she has a strong sense of personal justice, a loving, loyal friend and is ready to fight for her opinion if necessary! But she has a great heart, is kind to me and so thoughtful and truly had about five parents if you count Clay and me, plus her siblings! Her drive has taken her to go for her PHD as a 22 year old. I wish I had always seen her spirit as a great drive that would take her forward in life. 

Each child was a different recipe and required different amounts of heat. Not one of them has fit anyone's mold--and it was just too much pressure to worry about what anyone else thought, anyway. I knew that God wanted me to enjoy life and to be flexible and creative with the particular puzzle He gave me to solve.

How would you describe your own children? Do you want them to fit into your expectations of what they should do or how the should behave or are you looking inside to draw out the person God made them to be.

Speak forward into who they will become, take time to love them as they are, rest in the patience that they will grow and then you will see the miracle of who they were meant to be over years. Take some time to think about the ways they are unique individuals--and gifts to you!

 

***WE HAVE NEW WINNERS!***

THE FOLLOWING LADIES HAVE WON TWO-MONTH MEMBERSHIPS TO LIFE WITH SALLY!

Naomi Johnson Matyas

Jenn Bridwell Khurshid

txgiddyup (Lisa)

lauramhunter

melaniekwow

tlvschkads (Kim Martinez)

adriennecmaher

amylizphoto (Amy Cox)

 

Please email admin@wholeheart.org with your contact information and he'll get you all set up!  Congratulations and welcome to the membership community.

Resting in the Transcendence of God, Own Your Life 5-6 & A Podcast

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And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

I wonder if the disciples had any idea what they were in for.

While Nathanael gathered figs, Matthew sat at his table counting taxes, or Andrew wound nets tight on a rocking boat, did any of them dream of something more? Did they ponder the Scriptures promising the Messiah would come? Or were their minutes already as full as my own? Did His coming and calling take them by surprise?

I think the latter is probably more likely. He surprised them. They probably weren't watching. And they certainly didn't expect Him to show up and call them personally.

What about you, dear one? Do you remember that He has come, that He is coming, that He continues to call men and women to Himself? Do you live your life with an eye open to the eternal things God might want to do in your own life?

"Jesus' work in a person's life has always begun with a call to leave behind the goals, purposes, and distractions of this world and to say yes to a whole new life, a new way of thinking. "Follow me" is what He told the disciples as He recruited them. And they did, abandoning their fishing nets, their tax-collector's moneybags, their permanent homes, their everyday duties and pleasures. And they never went back. Sure, they still did a little fishing from time to time! But once they made the choice to follow Jesus, their lives were forever changed. They never returned to 'normal.'

I think this is vital for us to keep in mind as Christians and as parents. We know we are called to follow Christ, to take His message to the world, to raise our children to heed Jesus' call. But sometimes I think we fail to consider that following the Lord might mean leaving behind the ordinary and the familiar. It means exchanging a temporal view of life for an eternal goal. And this may mean leaving behind things we really care about--involvements and pursuits that seem important and worthwhile but may not be God's best for us.

Part of giving the gift of inspiration is helping our children understand this--and perhaps reminding ourselves. To fulfill God's design for their lives, our precious children must at some point determine to give Jesus allegiance in every aspect of their lives. There is a cost to discipleship, and that cost is everything!" ~ The Ministry of Motherhood

 Listen today. Slow down and open His Word and listen for His call. And when you hear it, say yes!

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Do You Need to Flip, A Cake or an Attitude?! (Plus a Recipe for Whole Wheat Pancakes!)

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Synonyms for flip: Switch, change, turn.

 

Perfecting pancakes can be quite an art form. In my earlier years of practice, I burnt many cakes that my taste buds had high hopes for. A lot of it has to do with a sudden flip...the quick turn of the wrist which sends the buttery cake flying onto the other side.

 

Why do we flip pancakes? If they remain on one side for too long, they will burn. Each side finishes its process, and when that time is up, you must react quickly and carefully.

My mind has been swirling, thinking about how our attitudes need the same kind of quick attention when we tend to our children. Just as we have high hopes for our pancakes, we set the bar high and hope to be incredible super-moms. But how do we react when we fall short?

Much like making pancakes, we want every move we make as mothers to be perfect and flawless. But when one side becomes a little too toasty, or a day is filled with uncontrollable circumstances, we sometimes just stay on the side of anxiety, sizzling and burning, rather than making the difficult, but necessary, decision to flip and start over.

 

Heart Healthy Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 tsp vinegar (I love apple cider vinegar, but white wine will do as well!)

1 cup milk

2 tsp sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour (I grind my grains and store them in the freezer for freshness--brown rice, millet, spelt, corn and oats have been ground together with wheat to give a multi- whole grain bread/cake. Sometimes no one even knows!)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp melted butter butter for greasing the griddle

1 egg

*Combine your vinegar and milk, and let them curdle while you mix together the other ingredients. *Grab a big bowl and whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. *In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, egg and the curdled milk, until it looks smooth. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir the two together until just barely mixed. You want any visible, loose flour to be completely stirred in, but if you still see lots of lumps, that means you're doing it right. If you stir out all the lumps, the pancakes will be pretty tough. *Preheat your skillet or griddle to 375 degrees F and grease it with butter. Add small scoops of pancake batter. Cook for a few minutes, until you start to see little bubbles forming on the surrounding edges. *Flip the pancakes with your spatula and cook for a few minutes on the other side, until you peek underneath and see that the bottom is golden brown.

Enjoy this delicious pancake recipe, and make the decision this morning as you flip your perfect pancakes to also flip your attitude into one that will glorify God and honor your children.

For more wonderful recipes and thoughts on gathering around your table, see The Lifegiving Table, here!

Storyformed Podcast, Episode #22: Learning To Love Poetry (A Conversation With Sally Clarkson)

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In this episode Holly Packiam speaks with Sally Clarkson about encouraging our kids to love poetry. The ability to participate in God's presence through the reading and listening of beautiful poetry is a gift of being created in His image.

Topics include:

  • Practical ways to capture our childrens' interest in poetry
  • The value of putting great works of poetry before our childrens’ eyes
  • The importance of presenting a feast of poetry to our children
  • Books to inspire a love of poetry

To listen to this episode of the Storyformed podcast, click HERE.

Because We Know His Love, We Can Serve From Rest

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For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.

Hebrews 4:10

This has been quite a busy season! One of my favorite, most quiet of fairly-recent days  was the one when pretty much, other than going to church, all I did was lie on the couch and watch a mystery, nap, enjoy a sweet treat for tea time with Clay, and then watch part of the Superbowl! I was in need of idleness, a nap, just time to fall apart a little bit, as it has been a l o n g season of work and I have miles to go before I sleep in the next days ahead. But I am pretty convinced that women will indeed burn out unless they make time for a break--whatever that means--along the way.

It is truly an illusion to think that any woman can do it all! I have found in my own life, that if I am attending to the needs of my children, Clay, home, close friends and family, I really have to economize and prioritize my time, as my life pretty much demands every moment of me! I do sense more and more each day how important my role as a mother and godly woman is, and I do get such joy out of it--as I daily see the results of my many years of striving toward the goal of being a woman after God's own heart and serving those around me for His glory.

Now don't get me wrong. This does not mean that I always feel loving towards these strange people who inhabit my home! But because of my love for the Lord, which is more dear to me each year, I keep putting one step in front of the other and see, with the eyes of my heart and mind, the power of my work to fill souls with great thoughts and causes and love for God's kingdom. Mostly, though, I see more clearly how much I am a living picture of God's reality every day, by exhibiting the fruit of the spirit, by giving cups of cold, refreshing water, by serving and giving of myself and my wisdom and teaching and by always taking the initiative to speak life and joy and wisdom on a regular basis.

We once had a friend who was very pious. Her attempts to be spiritual and to pray and to "work" for God obviously came from a heart that was striving to figure out how to really know God and serve Him sincerely. Yet, the result of all her denying of self, speaking piously, and working, working, working, left most of the people in her life feeling guilty and far off from her.

Since it is obvious she had not experienced the grace and peace of God, she could only give out of a soul of performance, which always brings about death to relationships. She often only spoke in religious phrases, and with each passing month seemed more cold and drained of life--just the result she wouldn't want. Her children almost always felt guilty and as though they had failed to meet their mama's expectations. It is no wonder that there was some rebellion in their lives that broke her heart. She tried so hard but ended up turning them away in the long run. 

We need grace to fill our lives every single day.

In contrast, when I am in the presence of someone who really walks with God, there is such an evidence of life and joy and goodness and well-being and grace and faith. When one is washed with the unconditional love and grace and mercy of God, the result is peace and thankfulness of heart, and also a good dose of humility. Grace and peace is a pathway, not a moment. We move little by little more and more towards our goal. 

Of course the few that I can see really exhibit the life of the Lord aren't above discouragement or humanity, but there is a palpable sense of a way of walking with God and having made a decision to please Him and to trust Him through the ups and downs of life. There is a security I feel in being with them, because I know their sails have been set toward the King and His Kingdom and I can trust in their integrity to continue journeying in the right direction with Him at the helm. I feel a rest in my relationship with such people because I know I am safe in the hands of mature, seasoned lovers of God who will love me and accept me and point me to Him gently as we walk this road of life in fellowship.

Are you resting in what you know of the love of God, today?

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY to all!

And to celebrate, let's announce two winners ... remember when we asked you to share and comment on a post a bit ago, to win a ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP to Life With Sally? Well ...

SHAWNA SINGLER and TAYLOR IRBY--you won! Congratulations! Please email admin@wholeheart.org with your contact information as soon as possible so we can get you all set up.

Taking Risks: OYL & Becoming the Mom You Were Created To Be & Podcast

You are never too old to set another goal

or to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis

(Go Here to find more about Life With Sally Membership. 

Plopping down into the worn, red velveteen recliner, I sighed all the way from my toes. Nine o'clock found me exhausted, weary to the bone and discouraged.

"Clay, this motherhood committment is harder than I ever imagined. I feel like there is relentless housework, I miss having a little of my own independent life, I often feel alone and as though I don't know what I am supposed to be doing or that I am doing it wrong. And I just wish I could have a break or someone to encourage me to tell me that it mattered."

"I love the kids more than anything, and want to be a godly mama for them. I also feel such a need for a break and some encouragement for my personal life, my vision and how to move forward with confidence."

At the time, my children were 6 months, 71/2, 10 and 12 1/2. I can still remember that night when Clay and I began to dream and talk about shaping a ministry to mamas so that they could find the same kind of encouragement I needed. 

This was a moment of faith for us. Pondering what was on the heart of God for inspiring moms to fulfill their sacred role. Planning together, where to host a conference for moms, who would speak, what would be the messages, how much would it cost, how would we advertise.

This week in Own Your Life, I am talking about owning your life by living by faith. It starts with a heart for God, a mind bathing in the waters of scripture and wisdom, and a willingness to work hard and step out into faith to use your life for bringing him glory. 

And so this was the beginning of our own story of faith those many years ago. Since then,  I've been encouraging moms for over 25 years through my books, blogs, podcasts, webcasts, and events.

  • Over 20 books on Christian motherhood since 1998
  • Blogging and social media continuously since 2007
  • More than 2 million podcast downloads since 2016
  • More than 60 hotel mom conferences over  21 years
  • Dozens of webinars, webcasts, and video events

So now, Clay and I, in our mid 60's, are making new goals and dreaming new dreams. How might we develop a ministry, in this time of internet, that could become a community of moms all over the world receiving training, inspiration, instruction, and community using all that we have built over the last 25 years.

So today, I am happy to invite you to look at the result of our newest faith venture: A monthly membership course called Life with Sally! (Clay and my friends came up with this simple name so you could remember it.)

I've loved connecting with women through all of those ways in our past, but Life with Sally is different than anything I've done before.

It is the help and hope I wish I'd had for my own journey of motherhood.

You have so many choices on the internet. How you invest your time online as a Christian mom can be a constant challenge. Does it make you a better mom, or compete with your mom time? Probably a little of both,

As an older mother now with four grown children, who are living vibrant lives and who love the Lord, I see more clearly than ever that my role as a mom was indeed if great importance and has eternal value. So,I'm investing my time here, to give back to moms, like you, the wisdom and truth I've learned in my mom walk with God.

My heart's desire is to be an online source of encouragement, to help you be the mom you want to be.

Life with Sally can help you be the loving and faithful mom you want to be.

When you join me here on Life with Sally, you'll have anytime access to a deep well of exclusive and uplifting content, curated by 15 people, all who have messages of inspiration, educational and interesting videos on musicians, authors, the best children's books, artists, Biblical instruction, ideas of making your home lifegiving through recipes, organizational videos, ministry training, leadership talks, downloadable posters to print out to share with your family, bible studies, podcasts, a forum, legacy talks from years of my ministry and so much more. I am absolutely amazed at how beautiful the site is.

We have full time staff whose job it is to work every day on the graphics, the web design, the audio files, the pay wall, the forum as well as a team of 15 who invest in this site every month. .I promise you—your bucket will never come up empty when you dip into any of our four areas of lifegiving content:

  • Inspiration—Bible study with Sally, talks on books, music, and art
  • Legacy—Curated messages from Sally's 20+ years of speaking ministry
  • Resources—Series by Sally on selected books, lifegiving home tips, and more
  • Connections—LifeLines Forum, LifeWords Journal, exclusive webcasts

You'll find all this and more only on Life with Sally 

The very brief window of childhood will close so much sooner than you expect. Life does go by so quickly. 

I hope you'll let me and my team come along side you to  be a seasoned voice of lifegiving help and hope to be that mom that you see in your heart.

Today, we are launching our second chapter of Life with Sally with twice as many contributors and twice as much material as the first iteration.  We hope you will take time to look at the site and join our membership so you don't miss out on a single month. 

A Giveaway to 8 winners. 

We are giving away 8 monthly memberships (2 months per winner or we will extend the membership for the annual members who win by two months.) If you are already a member and you win, just let us know and we will extend your yearly membership by two months. 

If you share about our new membership this week on your places of social media, let us know what you did below in the comments and we will give away a month free to 8 more people so that you can enjoy all that is there to date. 

You can download and share one of these posters for extra entries credit. 

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For two more days, the yearly membership will be at the reduced promo price of $129 a year, less than $12.50 a month--the cost of a few coffees. The regular yearly membership price of $150 will begin at midnight of February 14. 

Go HERE to see the Preview Site: LifewithSally.com

Hope you will be able to join us!

It is so exciting to imagine what God might do through this new venture. Will you join me in asking Him to touch lives of women all over the world? So honored to be a part of such a great team of women and to be connected to this wonderful community. I wish you a wonderful week. 

Your paid subscription to LifewithSally.com supports our staff and operations that enable us to continue  and expand the work of Whole Heart Ministries. Thank you!

Resist The Roaring Lion! & A Video!

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"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I Peter 5:8

Late winter is a time when so many people I know are tempted to be discouraged, and feel like giving up--on something!  I think that it is true that what goes up, must come down. Adrenaline is up, energy and ideals are up in early December, and then in January when it is cold, bills from Christmas come in, the celebrations are over, so often, people feel the weight of an emotional and spiritual low. One of my best friends told me yesterday that she can't read sweet stories about other children who are doing well, because it makes her so sad for her own who are struggling now. I understand so well.

Some years ago, after having a great time with our children over the holidays, Satan came out unexpectedly and whapped us with full force. It was out of the blue and it caused some havoc and lots of deep, abiding sadness in our family. I should have been ready for this blow because, every year as went into the conference season to encourage women to stay true to their commitments, to hold fast their faith, to work hard to keep going, a strike was sure to come.

This attack caused one of the saddest days I have known in many years. It was a strike against one of my children, which especially breaks my heart. Yet, we must remember there is an enemy who hates for us to keep faithful to our ideals for our families and for the Lord. Satan, Peter tells us, is our adversary. He prowls through the earth--like he did when he asked God if he could seek to destroy Job. Like he did when Jesus said to Peter, "Satan desires to sift you like wheat." Peter, who was so personally experienced at this, because of Satan tempting him to deny Christ at the crucifixion, warns us to be on the alert. He is seeking, Peter tells us, to devour us!

We are, after all, in a battle that rages in this world--a battle for the hearts and souls giving allegiance to the one true God.

We are getting slowly used to stepping beyond our difficulties and seeing who is really at war with us. Clay and I had a talk in the wee hours of the night, and began to praise our wonderful Lord. We had to go through the very dark corridor of dealing with the stress and the issues, the sadness and broken heart of our child and us, and then by obedience went to the pathways of faith, not by feelings, but by depending on His truth.  We praised Him for His promised power in the midst of our devastation and the ability to use all things in our lives to make us more into the image of Christ. We asked for His strength and for His grace and power. We walked, by faith, into our next day, confident that He would be our defender and our Father and care for all the details. But we did have to first go to this place of meeting with Him and giving the situation to Him.

I have learned to ask myself questions in the midst of my own dark times, and also to ask these questions of other women.

Who would like for you to remain bitter? Discouraged?

Who would like for you to give up on your ideals--to say, "I can't do this anymore"?

Who wants you to be angry at your spouse? To be resentful of your children? Your family? Your in-laws?

Who wants you to worry and fret and stew and hold on to pet fears?

Who is trying to separate you from your friends?

Who is tempting you to think that God does not hear prayer, that He doesn't really care about you? To doubt God's goodness?

I think that it is at this very moment--when the darkness comes in--that faith is of most value and pleases God the most and absolutely frustrates Satan. Satan doesn't think we will believe and be strong. God is already waiting to lead and provide and help. But we have this honorable moment, when we can say, "I love you. I believe you. I will choose to trust you."

David reminds us in the Psalm 139: 7,

"Where can I go from thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol (hell),  behold, you are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will take hold of me.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to you and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you."

And so, we who are the children of the light, can be comforted by Him, who sees all, is over all, is with us through it all, and He will use it for our good and for His glory. May He give you encouragement today!

Connecting With Our Children's Heart Through Story

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By Jaime Showmaker

It was a typical Wednesday morning. We were driving to our homeschool co-op and we were discussing The Princess in the Goblin, the book we had been reading aloud over the past few days. We had come to a particularly adventurous part in the tale, and my boys were eagerly trading “well I would have…” stories, trying to best one another in courage and imagination. As I often do, I made a comment about how I knew they were all going to be heroes someday, and I couldn’t wait to see what kind of adventures God had planned for them in the story they were living. As my two younger boys continued to laugh and describe increasingly gruesome encounters with hypothetical goblins, I noticed my oldest son looking thoughtfully out the window. I drove on, thinking his quiet was due to sleepiness in the early morning hour. But after a moment, he spoke up.

“Mommy...I think God might have made me a hobbit.”

I caught my breath because, in an instant, I realized exactly what he was trying to tell me. But I was struck, not just with his actual confession, but with the manner in which he chose to share his heart with me. He chose to reveal himself to me through the character in a story.

I’m always grateful for the time that I get to spend reading with my children, but in that moment, my heart was completely flooded with gratitude as I contemplated the way in which a story had just given me a glimpse of my son’s secret heart.

Click HERE to read more on Storyformed,com,