What I Have Learned from Gideon…

gideonEarlier this week, I awoke early to have my time with The Lord. I sleepily reached for my devotion guide and began looking for that day’s scripture reference. After I finished reading Judges 6, I felt energized, connected, and wise. Then realized I read the correct chapter from the WRONG book!

I was a little aggravated with myself, thinking I should have been more alert and focused. Then The Lord spoke to my heart asking me why I was so aggravated. He reminded me that I had given Him direction over my day, and this was what He wanted to share with me. Then, He led me to share this lesson with you:

What I Have Learned from Gideon
  • I need God. At times, Gideon neglected to seek and consult God. I’ve seen first hand even in my own life that I can’t live any part of my day without God. I am nothing without Him. Any strength or wisdom I have is from Him, not my education, not my mind, but HIM. When I try to live life on my own, I begin to slide down a slippery slope. Just as the scripture says, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of The Lord so will I fall into that trap. I have to turn to God in every aspect of my life. I can’t wait until I encounter a trial and hit rock bottom before turning Him. He isn’t a genie in a bottle just waiting for me to ask Him to rescue me from my predicaments whether they be self-inflicted or otherwise. I should call on Him in every situation, big or small. I should consult Him and include Him in my daily life.
  • I must take responsibility. Judges 6 begins by mentioning that the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They endured many hardships because of the choices they made; they brought their trouble upon themselves. I need to seek God and His Word, and look to see how I have contributed to my problems. I need to repent (which means to ask forgiveness and turn away from my sin). I need to learn from my mistake and change instead of wallowing in it and blaming God or others.
  • God will equip me. It’s so true. God will equip us for what He calls us to do. I have experienced that in so many areas of my life. When He calls me, I need to seek His wisdom not a way of escape. I don’t need to waste time making excuses for why I cannot do something. I need to get off of my lazy back side and live in faithful obedience and trust The Lord.
  • I will be criticized. People will criticize me for the decisions I make when I allow God to guide me, and when I use a Biblical perspective. I REALLY DON’T CARE! It’s like that saying: I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God. It’s a no brainer. If I want God’s love, blessings, grace, mercy and presence in my life, I need to stand with Him, not apart from Him. Think about it–it’s like marriage. How can you show you love your spouse if you never spend time with them, support them, or even come home each day and put effort into your marriage–you can’t, and you don’t…
  • Don’t make a habit of testing God. I know The Lord tells us in His Word at times to test Him, but I don’t think He means with every situation. He gave us His Word as our guide. When Gideon tested God with the dew on the fleece, he knew he might be pushing the limits because He even asked God not to be angry with him for questioning God. We gain God’s wisdom through studying His Word and through prayer, and He sends the Holy Spirit to speak to and guide us. If we have all of that at our fingertips, why do we need to then test God? If we really think about it, deep inside we know what we should do. Many times our testing is a way of hoping we can justify not living in obedience or buying time. God knows our hearts.
  • Leap into the arms of The Father. I am not a risk taker. I am not spontaneous, but am a planner, very logically thinking things through and evaluating everything. I think way too much–I’m a worrywart with too many “what if” scenarios. I need to take more risks, thinking with the spiritual mindset of Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I know The Lord. I have seen what He can do, and I know I can trust Him to keep His promises.

I’m glad I read the wrong passage this week, although I don’t really believe it was “wrong”. I believe The Lord had a lesson to teach me. Now if I could just continue to grow to be more flexible so that He can continue to work like this. I’m thankful He has charge over my day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Blessings to you, today and always!

Names of Jesus Ornaments with Christmas Devotions

christmas-ornaments-watermarkedIn years past we’ve used a Jesse Tree and devotions during the Christmas season.  A few years ago I was pinning some of my favorite Christmas crafts I came across a picture of some beautifully crafted glass ornaments with the names of Jesus on them.  I repinned the post and read later (like most of us do when we are short on time).  I really liked this idea, because I ADORE anything that reminds me of all of the names of my precious Jesus.  I also liked the idea that each of my children could make their own set of ornaments to celebrate the advent season.  Not only could they use them to decorate their own trees in their rooms, but they could also keep them over the years and share them with their children.

I began researching and found an awesome Names of Jesus unit study here from the Easy Fun School website.  It teaches 24 names of Jesus, scripture, handwriting pages, word searches, and activities for each subject which are tied to the lesson.  The study actually includes a list of all of the names of Jesus so you can study even more. We did this study and made these ornaments years ago, but my children still use these today and they plan to use their ornaments in their own home some day.

To create our Names of Jesus ornaments and Bible study, I went to my craft closet and gathered all of my supply bins.  I purchased sets of fillable glass ornaments for each child (and one for myself).  I would get extra in case some break.  You can also purchase acrylic ornaments, but they are more costly.

You could utilize paint pens in black, gold and silver to write the names of Jesus and the scripture reference on the outside of the ornaments or you could purchase vinyl decals here.

There are lots of options for decorating the ornaments:

  1. You could pour a small amount of paint into the inside of the ornament, cover the whole and shake. You can also swirl a few colors into the ornaments to give them a marbelized effect. Then be sure to turn the ornament upside down and put it into a bathroom sized paper or plastic cup to drain for a day or two.
  2. I love the look of glittered ornaments, but glitter on the outside is extremely messy. Polycrylic is a clean and beautiful way to glitter ornaments. Simply pour a little polycrylic into the ornament and immediately turn the ornament upside down into a cup to drain out the excess. Then sprinkle a little of your favorite color glitter into the ornament and slowly turn the ornament around in your hands to coat the entire inside with glitter. Add more if needed. Then turn the ornament upside down into another cup to allow the excess glitter to sprinkle out. Then you can immediately put your top back into your ornament. You can pour your excess glitter and polycrylic from your cups back into their respective containers. e of the ornaments, squirt small amounts of paint inside and shake.  You can swirl more than one color inside as well.
  3. Fill ornaments with trinkets that pertain to the scripture reference. For example, for “Bright and Morning Star” we filled our ornament with star confetti. We didn’t completely fill our ornaments with trinkets as sometimes that makes the label on the outside difficult to read. You can also see the trinkets better as well.

You can easily fill ornaments with sweet trinkets. However, I found that it could be quite pricey to fill them completely so I only fill ours half way to be thrify. It also makes it easier to see the trinkets when there is still room inside the ornament. Be creative with your trinkets. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:

1. Alpha & Omega–fill with cutouts of the Alpha & Omega symbol.
2. Wonderful Counselor–fill with paint or glitter or beads or filler.
3. Mighty God–fill with cutouts of barbels or gold ball filler or beads.
4. Everlasting Father–fill with artificial pine needles or paint green for evergreens.
5. Prince of Peace–fill with dove confetti or cutouts of doves or crowns or artificial snow filler.
6. The Firstborn of Every Creature– Fill ornament with birthday candles or birthday confetti.
7. The Unspeakable Gift–we made cutouts of gifts using small construction paper or gift-shaped confetti or little bows.
8. Lamb of God–fill with cotton or fiberfill.
9. The Good Shepherd-fill with cutouts of shepherd staffs or mini candy canes.
10. Bright & Morning Star-fill with star-shaped sequins.
11. Messiah–glitter or paint.
12. Immanuel–another filled with paint, glitter, sequins, or beads.
13. Holy–glitter or paint.
14. Light of the World–mini light ornaments or mini light bulbs (just be sure they will fit in the hole of the ornament).

15. Dayspring–glitter or gold, pink, orange paint to represent the colors of a sunrise.
16. The Word–In small font, I printed John 1:1 on paper, cut out multiple, curl, and put inside ornament or Bible confetti.
17. Servant–I printed a small picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet and put inside ornament or paint/glitter.
18. King–Fill with gems or crowns.
19. Rose of Sharon–Fill with real or silk rose petals.
20. Lily of the Valley–Fill with silk lily petals, paint or glitter.
21. Friend–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
22. Savior–Fill with cutout crosses or cross shaped beads
23. Shiloh–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
24. Ancient of Days–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.

When your ornaments are all dry you can store them in their box or put them in a bowl, etc.  You can begin utilizing them in whatever fashion works for your family.  We started on December 1st and will follow the study daily for 24 days as a family during our night time devotions, but this is a unit study so you could actually use it during your homeschool day.  During our devotions, we study the name and verse.  We have chosen activities from each day to do together as a family.  Then we close in prayer and each of us puts our ornament of the day on the tree.  Sometimes we put them on the tree. Other years we put them in a crystal bowl or wooden box on our table so we can reflect on the names each time we pass through or sit down to eat in the heart of our home.

If you need simplicity this Christmas season, you can purchase a set of 12 Names of Jesus ornaments here. They come with printed scripture reference and prayer focus. I pray your family is able to utilize this and other ways to enjoy celebrating Jesus throughout the Christmas season.

Why Are Women Their Own Prince Charmings?

knight
Nowadays, everywhere I turn I find a woman who is worn and weary, burned out beyond anything they can possibly bear. We are trying to be everything to everybody and it is just IMPOSSIBLE. Many women these days feel as if they are being thrown to the wolves into this treacherous and despicable world.

In many ways that is true, as women are burdened with carrying the load of more than God intended. We weren’t meant to be the breadwinners. We weren’t really ever meant to put in more hours at our career or job than we do at home. In fact, helping financially was supposed to be an afterthought, something we did after we took care of all of our priorities. Priorities were supposed to be spiritual growth and relationship with God, marriage, children, home, church, community in that order.

Unfortunately, society has pushed the roles of men onto women. Women are just as much to blame as men or society, because many have decided to become present-day Eves. They are hungry for power, hungry to be like God, and they have fallen into satan’s trap.

These women aren’t the only ones suffering, though. All women are suffering whether they have this hunger for power or not. Many women desire to fulfill God’s call in their lives, but they are stuck in the vicious aftermath of this disaster society has pushed upon us.

The world has taken away the responsibility of man, his leadership, his power, his strength, his courage, his ingenuity, his initiative. Society has taken the warrior God created and turned him into a more subservient type of being while women have been forced to become something they were never meant to be: the Prince Charming, the hero, the warrior, the rescuer, the knight in shining armor.

Now that’s not to say that God did not mean women to be warriors. He did, but not in the same way that He planned it for man. Husbands and wives were meant to support one another, to complement the other, to be the strength when the other is weak, to lift each other up spiritually and physically. They are equally important in the eyes of God, but He did not create them to be equal in every way. Women have strengths men do not have, and men have strengths women don’t have.

I’m grateful there are still marriages that model God’s plan. Those are rare and beautiful marriages. Unfortunately, I am seeing in many instances that the wife is the spiritual leader, leading the family in Bible study, worship, and prayer. It’s the wife who spends her nights on her knees before The Lord praying for her family, fighting the enemy for their souls. It’s the wife who is making most of the family decisions. It’s the wife that is picking up the slack.

Married and single women are struggling to balance everything on their plate. I don’t even think we can call it a “plate”, can we? Plates fit neatly in our hands and are usually fairly manageable even when we fill them to overflowing at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Many of us are beyond carrying a couple of plates. We are carrying the plates God has equipped us to carry. Then we are struggling to scoop up boulders God never meant us to carry. And in many cases society is encouraging or even forcing us to do so.

I’m willing to bet this is similar to what your todo list looks like:

todolist

Sometimes I get up earlier too. Notice there’s no exercise or “me time” on the list. And of course the sad thing is that is not everything…

I would just love to say thank you so very much to all of those women who have passed down this idea and this burden, who have emasculated our men, and trained them to be passive and give up their leadership roles to women—EXTREME SARCASM. You are the ones who have buried women in an avalanche of stress, pressure, and burden. Forgive us for not expressing our gratitude…

You have taken away heroes, Prince Charmings, and have trained men to give up their God given roles in the home and in society. In this human world, you have thrown yourselves and your gender to the wolves.

There are a few warriors and Prince Charmings left in this world. I pray they do not grow weary in the roles God has given them, and I pray they will be protected from this destruction.

Thankfully, Christian women have someone bigger than Prince Charming, more powerful than any hero.  God is our refuge, our ever present help in this stressful world. He is our King, who leads, guides, protects, directs, comforts, and rescues. He is the one to which we should ultimately turn.

Do not lose heart, ladies. Turn to The Father. Make a relationship with Him a priority. Let Him rescue and free you. It won’t mean you will not have to balance the busyness of life, but you won’t have to do it alone. You will have someone to walk beside you when you feel like you are on your own.

When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to curl up in a shell. For some reason (probably the work of the enemy), I tend to draw away from encouragement. I don’t always share with my prayer warriors. Sometimes I don’t even draw near to The Lord, but this is what the enemy wants. He desires for me to be so bogged down and overwhelmed that I cannot fulfill my God-given calling and role in this life, which has a ripple effect on my family and those who look up to me.

Don’t make this mistake. This is where God does use you as a warrior. Defeat the enemy by leaning on The Lord and seeking His will before taking on new tasks. Pray and study His Word for the roles of yourself and your husband in your family.

We can’t be surprised that our lives are utter chaos when we our gender has completely disregarded His will. We don’t want to pass these burdens on to our children. Life is hectic enough without messing with God’s natural plan for things. Our daughters and sons deserve better. Give our sons back their warrior status, and give our daughters back their Prince Charmings. Let’s turn things around by prioritizing, leaning on God and our sisters in The Lord, praying for our families, and teaching future generations to turn back to God and His plan for our roles in this life.

10 Tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary

10 Tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary #homemaking #sanctuary #faith www.ruckusandrubies.com #raisinghomemakers

Sanctuary…

The simple utterance of that very word makes your eyes close, your head lift, and your lungs take in a deep breath of air. A sense of tranquility and peace washes over you.

Today I’m sharing 10 tips for making your home a sanctuary over on the Raising Homemakers blog. Take a minute and stop by for a visit: 10 tips for Making Your Home a Sanctuary – Raising Homemakers.

Thorns of Encouragement

Thorns of Encouragement #homeschooling #parenting #encouragement #faithSoon our school year will be just another memory. What began nine months ago is quickly coming to an end. Are you like me, feeling as if each year ticks by faster than the last? I mean there are moments during our school year that seem to drag on forever like fractions, anatomy, pre-calculus… (Did you sense a trend? If you guessed we tend to struggle with math and science, you guessed correctly.) However, for the most part it has flown by. Taking the year as a whole, I feel as if it was a blurred whirlwind of events.

My oldest is wrapping up her freshman year of college. I’m in my third year of denial that my middle child is in high school, and this is pretty bad considering she will be a senior this fall. I don’t even want to think about the fact that in 5 short years my two youngest babies will graduate and most likely leave my nest at the same time–double whammy!pink rose closeupI’ve been reflecting on our homeschool journey a lot lately. I remember when we began. Stepping out on faith into the wild unknown of homeschooling was a frightening experience. Time with my precious children was what I always wanted. I knew it wasn’t always going to be rosy, but I had no idea how much time I would spend fussing about the lack of attention span, worrying about silly state education standards, cleaning up messes from science experiments gone wrong, and sweeping up the hair I pulled out during math meltdowns. I spent a lot of time focusing on the thorns instead of smelling the roses.

Even more valuable and memorable was the quality time I spent with my blessings. I didn’t realize how much time we would spend cuddling up on the couch with a good book, laughing at poems and short stories they’d written, teaching the time-honored but not forgotten traditions, crafts, and life skills of yesteryear, marveling and worshiping God and His creation, honoring our ancestors, hugging through the meltdowns, praying through the struggles, and thanking God for the honor and privilege of homeschooling. I am so grateful for these beautiful blossoms in our homeschool.

Now that I think about it, those thorns lead to some delightful blossoms; those moments were well worth it. I would endure the pricks and thorns one million times over to homeschool my children. After all, you can’t have true roses without thorns. They have a God-given purpose. Who am I to question God’s design and plan? Roses are one of God’s most beautiful creations. I can’t imagine avoiding the soft, delicate petals, the lovely fragrance, or the intricate beauty of a rose simply because of the thorns.

It won’t be long and I’ll be reflecting over our summer break and heading into the 2016-2017 school year. Our homeschool journey is moving way too fast for me.  Maybe you feel the same. It is my prayer for us all to take time to enjoy the roses of our homeschooling journey, thorns and all! Roses don’t last forever.

A Special Kind of Garden

A Special Kind of GardenGardening takes an abundance of hard work and dedication. It’s cultivating soil, planting, watering, weeding, careful tending. I’m working on a special kind of garden these days…

In many ways, my blog is like a garden. Writing a blog is one way I try to plant seeds of love and encourage to others.  I enjoy sharing facts, opinions, ideas, details, and truths through writing. I believe God started me down this blogging path as a tool for His glory and the good of others.

Those who truly know and love me will tell you that my heart is to encourage others and to glorify The Lord. There are times, however, when I have to approach some of those nasty, choking weeds of untruth. Today is one of those days…

I just get frustrated with this world and the way it treats My Lord. I know many people believe Christians should just sit down and be doormats without expressing their beliefs, thoughts, or frustrations. It’s usually the same people who believe in all of that old “Dr. Spock” express your feelings, don’t hurt the psyche psychological mumbo-jumbo which is completely contrary to the Bible. What they really mean is only express your feelings and opinions if they are the same as mine. We’ve seen how selfish society has become as result…

Well, I’m just going to give you a heads-up: as I mentioned previously today is probably not going to be one of those uplifting and encouraging posts. I am really feeling the need to stand up for Jesus against people who are trying to use Him for their political agendas.

I’ve seen a few popular articles and social media posts on how Jesus was a “liberal/socialist”. HA! I’ve also seen posts on how Jesus was a republican of sorts. Well I have news for you–He was neither of those! People should be ashamed of trying to equate Him to those parties or to even degrade Him down to their levels.

In today’s society you have republicans who are supposed to exhibit Christian Biblical principles and family values. For the most part the majority of republicans do just that, but then you have those who are lax in their conservatism. They are a terrible witness to God because they bend God’s Word to fit their own agenda. Then republicans preach all day long about how things are wrong, but then they don’t put their words into action. They have done nothing to stop the madness of sin in this nation. They defend our forefathers with their words, but it is just lip service.

I find it extremely odd that liberals will make fun of republicans for taking everything so strictly and seriously, but then in the next breath now they are faulting them for their lax and misguided decision to back Donald Trump. How hypocritical! (and conservatives are supposed to be the only Phariseees of today. If you ask me both parties fit that bill.)

You also have liberals who don’t hold strict to a Biblical worldview. They believe that people should be able to live their lives as they see fit, floundering to and fro with whichever way the wind blows this old world. They don’t believe the Bible is absolute truth, and they choose to ignore any convicting verses that discuss sin. They take one verse about judging (Matthew 7:1-2: “Don’t judge others, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.”) They take it out of context and say we are not supposed to even recognize whether something is right or wrong.

It is insulting and offensive that a lot of people believe Jesus was just a prophet and not Son of God. They also believe He was not sinless. Their whole political leg is wrapped up in not promoting Christianity and tearing it down. Yet, when they find one little string of His Word that they can distort or pull out of context for their agenda, all of a sudden they conveniently pull Him out of their little compartment and use Him. Then they shove Him back in when they are convicted of their own sin or don’t want to change their lives and give them to Him.

Then they choose to dissect and extract one or two verses from the Bible about the poor from the Bible and tell the whole world we are supposed to give all that we have. That’s the truth–we are supposed to give our lives and possessions to Jesus so that He is Lord over them. They skip that part and just talk of material possessions alone eliminating the spiritual nature of the verse. They also don’t do any of that themselves. They choose to state that only the rich are supposed to give up everything. The Bible says rich and poor alike are to give everything for God’s cause.  Even the widow in the Bible who was poor gave everything she had to Jesus. Jesus didn’t have a problem with the fact that the others were rich. He had a problem with the state of their hearts. He said the widow was righteous because she gave all she had. I don’t see many on either side doing that, do you?

They  brainwash people into thinking people who have are sinful. I know people who have more than I have but also give more than they keep. They sacrifice and God keeps blessing them with more. I also know people who have nothing and they continue to sit around and do nothing to help their situation. God gives them opportunities to be blessed and work, but they choose to continue to sit on their tails waiting for a handout.

Giving generously so that the government can indoctrinate our children, control our lives, control family size, force parents to enroll children in public schools, and compartmentalize or dissolve our faith is the way of the liberal, but it is not the way of the Bible.

The Bible is full of commands which both sides ignore like murder-abortion, God’s plan for families, lying, cheating, husbands leading families and wives submitting to authority, stealing what is not rightfully yours, coveting, adultery, the list goes on and on. And the Bible says ALL sins are against Him and are equal in His eyes. So someone’s “little white lie” is just as bad as someone’s greed.

Do you realize how many laws have been enacted by liberals and republicans alike which do NOT fall in line with God’s Word? Liberals are no more Christian than republicans and vice versa.

I am so glad Jesus was neither the definition of today’s typical liberal or conservative. Jesus spent time with sinners and loved them unconditionally. He NEVER once told them it was okay to live in sin. God hates sin. Jesus told them to go and sin no more. Liberals and republicans alike tell people it’s okay to be selfish putting self first by not giving, by murdering babies, letting filth come from their mouths, watching tv that is not pleasing to God, lying, stealing from those who have just because they have not, and a myriad of other sins. The hypocrisy is on both sides of the political spectrum.

How dare people write posts and articles attempting to compare my sweet Lord and Savior with any political party. Both are so far from God it is not even funny. There are people who claim to be Christians but don’t live the life of generosity, holiness and sacrifice which God calls them to.

As far as the results from the primaries, I’m disappointed to know that so many who claim to be Christians just tarnished the witness for Christ by voting for someone who clearly knows nothing about Christianity like Donald Trump, but I’m also disappointed in those who distort God’s Word and knowingly allow and make it easier for people to live a life that is going to put them in hell for all eternity.

I’m disappointed in the other side for spreading a love of money and greed that would encourage them to sell their souls to the devil in order to make decisions that make them “happy” or “feel good” or promise them they don’t have to pay for things they should be paying for as their personal responsibility.

Jesus cared about souls more than money and living for self. So should we. I also don’t believe we should associate ourselves with a political party or social group like feminists or any other title we know is not biblical. Do you understand my frustration?

Then I’ll post something in frustration and people think I’ve gone off the deep end. I haven’t jumped off a cliff. I’ve jumped into the arms of Jesus and joined God’s Army. I will not apologize for my faith, and I will follow God’s command to share it. One of the ways I accomplish this is through this blog. I pray the seeds I plant will flourish and grow through God’s powerful and loving cultivation. I want to be able to stand before Jesus and say that I tried my best to speak truth in love, that I tried to win souls for His Kingdom. How about you?

5 Tips to Help Moms Juggle Everything

juggle

Ever feel like you are in a juggling act? I know I do–and my house is the three ring circus. Circuses are fun, but your home is no place for a circus. I have not be trained to nor do I even want to jump through rings of fire or walk a tightrope hundreds of feet in the air or juggle a dozen balls. Fire dangerously spreads. I’m afraid of heights. Oh, and did I mention I have carpal tunnel and arthritis. No way I can juggle!

The circus wasn’t even my calling. I was called to be a wife and a mother. That means using Proverbs 31 as my guide to serving God and my family. I am to love and support my husband by being a good steward of all of his hard work. We are a team so while he is working hard all day, I am caring for everything on the home front.

I am to love, nurture and teach my children spiritually, academically, physically. I am also to care for myself in a way that keeps me spiritually and physically healthy so I can serve God and my family to the utmost of my ability.

So how come I find myself feeling like an act for Ringling Brothers? How did I end up here? How do I get back on track?

I’ve been studying scripture and The Lord has really been speaking to me. He pointed out the fact that as a wife and mommy, I wear at least 50 different hats every day. Have you ever seen one of those mom job descriptions that is a mile long list of duties? It’s true. At some point I do have to multitask or adjust tasks which means I may need to do a little juggling. But in His faithfulness He reminded me that if I seek Him first, He will help me do so with grace, joy, peace, and a servant’s heart instead of looking like a fumbling clown.

He also pointed out that sometimes in my quest, I get too busy trying to meet the world’s standard of a woman rather than God’s standard. That’s when I start feeling like a Bozo, because my priorities have gotten so mixed up.

Below are 5 tips to help moms juggle everything:

  1. Tend your garden. I’m not talking about the one out in the backyard. It’s the garden of our heart that needs attention. We need to surrender and give Jesus our hearts. We need to tend our garden by studying His Word, communicating with God in prayer, and regular worship in His house. Through these things, He can change the condition of the soil of our hearts so that the seeds of His Word will take root, grow, and bear fruit. Luke 18:14-15–The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.                                    
  2. Relinquish control. If we are ever going to find balance, we’ve got to “let go and let God”. He will guide us to what should remain in our hands. When we seek Him, we’ll have the freedom to stop juggling some of the balls, but don’t worry–they won’t drop. When we give them to God, they float upward to His mighty hands. The hands that control everything. Let’s face it–we aren’t Superwoman. We cannot do EVERYTHING. Why not let your loving Heavenly Father carry the burden? He desires to do this for us. 1 Peter 5:7–Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
  3. Stop chasing the wrong dream. We’ve got to get our priorities straight. We’ve got to stop worrying about how the world tells us school, sports, and other activities are the top priorities in life. Don’t get me wrong–they are important to a degree. However, they won’t get your children into Heaven. They have little to no eternal value. Our relationships with God, His church, and our family should be the top priority. Everything else will fall into place once that is established. What good is it going to do if little Johnny can hit a home run, if he thinks baseball is more important than his relationship with God and The Church? What good is it if we have all of the material possessions in the world, can eat out every night, and have a huge savings account, but our family is worshiping at the idols of television, iPads, and sports cars? Physical health is so important to serving God and our families, but not to the extent that we spend more time exercising and counting calories than we do in His Word. Those things become our gods.  Exodus 20:3–“You must not have any other god but me.  If you need help prioritizing your schedule, these books are extremely helpful:                      
  4. Don’t worrying about your needs & just be grateful. There are people who spend hours worrying about money, planning how to pinch and squeeze every penny they have. It is important to be good stewards of God’s blessings, but it they not ours to hoard and obsess over. Money is a tool God gives us to use for His glory. Many parents preach to their children to be grateful, yet they don’t exhibit that themselves. They are hoarding every dime. The children see them using and abusing others for what they have instead of working hard and buying their own. People lie on their taxes, cheat others so that they can save money, and they develop an entitlement attitude. They expect people to cater to their needs. That’s not a life of gratitude. If we get our spiritual life on track, then we won’t have to worry about meeting our physical needs. We will trust God to take care of them. He will change our hearts, shape our attitudes about money, and we’ll stop struggling to juggle those pesky finances. We will live as God as our Provider. He will pour out His blessings. We will use it for His glory and share it along the way. Luke 12:22-31–And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”                                             
  5. Glorify the Lord. Our lives are not about us. We need to realize that the meaning of life is to glorify The Lord not to live for self. That is why we need balance and why we drop the ball. We have a God-given purpose. If we live that out, then we will bear fruit for The Lord. Are your hands too full and too busy juggling balls?  Ask yourself what fruit you are bearing. Your hands weren’t meant to juggle, but they were created to be branches that bear much fruit. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ and bring glory to The Father. You can’t do that when you have your hands full of a million different things. John 15:8–When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.  I would encourage you to hang a note or a sign up as a daily reminder of God’s purpose for you.

Juggling takes a lot of hard work. There will be times when we will drop a ball or two, but I am so thankful that I don’t have to juggle all of the balls alone. I’m grateful I have a Father who turns my chaotic circus into an amazing work of art.

10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

hands-634363_1920Parenting is the toughest, but most rewarding job in existence. No other job causes the most physical and emotional stress or reaps the most benefits. Parenting is also the most crucial and important job you will ever have, because the choices you make when rearing your children have a ripple effect for years to come.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes along the way. Some were early on and others are more recent. I am the type of person who tries very hard to consider the repercussions of my choices and actions. This can be a good thing until you let it cause you to worry.

Once a mistake is made, it’s already out there. You can’t take it back. However, you can take stock, evaluate, study God’s Word, pray for His guidance, and decide how to remedy the situation and what to do differently next time.

Here are 10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid:

        1. Not following a schedule or routine.  Children crave routine. Early on they need predictability in their lives to give them security. As they get older they need to learn that the world revolves around a schedule. Routines teach children that someone or something bigger than them is in charge as well as guiding them.
        2. Not reading to or talking to children.  It is important even at infancy to talk to your child about things you are doing and to read to them daily. They crave communication even though they may not be able to understand what you are saying. We read to our children from the day we brought them home from the hospital. We talked to them about everyday things bath time, foods, colors, numbers, all sorts of things. You may feel silly, but they absorb like sponges. You would be surprised how quickly their communication and language skills develop simply by reading and talking to them.  Here are some of my children’s childhood favorites:                                                                                                       
        3. No chores or responsibilities. Children need to be given chores and responsibilities early on according to their age and ability. Even toddlers can handle the task of cleaning up their toys before pulling more out of the toy box. As they get older they can help you fold towels, feed the pets, wipe the kitchen table, entertain the baby or bring you diapers and wipes. Children love feeling needed and the crave the feeling of accomplishment. Here are some chore and discipline charts that would be beneficial to help you keep all of this organized:                                         This one is just for one child but I love it!                 This one is for up to three children.
        4. Paying for good grades, personal responsibilities, or other things required of them. I see no problem with paying children for chores above and beyond their own responsibilities, but children shouldn’t be paid to get good grades, make their own beds, brush their teeth, clean their rooms. They should be paid for going above and beyond what should be required of them. It shouldn’t be a child’s immediate response to ask “what’s in it for me” when they are told to take care of themselves and their belongings or to get good grades. Children should NOT be bribed to do what they should rightfully do on their own.  On the other side of the coin, don’t treat your children like slaves. Nothing bothers me more than to see parents say “go get this”, “go do this”, because they are too lazy to get up and do it themselves!
        5. Assuming children are just naturally boisterous. I call it the “boys will be boys” syndrome. Just because society has had a mental and spiritual lapse in good manners and social etiquette doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Too many children these days are not taught manners and decency. I cannot tell you how many children I run into on a daily basis whose main topic of discussion is toilet humor. They assume they are entitled to whatever everyone else has. They don’t even utter the words please and thank you. They help themselves to your pantry. We need to teach children to keep their hands to themselves instead of walking into a public place or someone’s home picking up and touching things that don’t belong to them. Table manners are important as well. It’s one thing to sit by a small child who smacks, but no one wants to sit at the table with an adult who shows everyone their “seafood”. Children shouldn’t invite themselves to join in on activities either. It puts people on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. Children should wait until they are invited. There is a difference between being boisterous and being disrespectful. Please give your children more credit than this. They can have good manners and be respectful of others. They can follow the Golden Rule. If your children are taught these things at home, then they will mimic them outside the home. Of course, if they are spending their days in public schools or daycare, they are learning their social skills from other children who may not have the same rules and values so those are things you will have to deprogram  the poor manners they pick up. Bottom line is it is NOT “cute” when our children are rude.
        6. Negotiating and begging. How many times have you seen a parent in the store trying to negotiate with their screaming child? “Now Sally, please stop screaming at the top of your lungs in the store. If you stop, I’ll buy you something.” There should be no negotiating. When your child is doing something wrong, you need to pull them aside and tell them why it’s not acceptable. Lay out the consequences of continuing the bad behavior and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t stand their begging your child to behave and don’t reward them for misbehaving in the first place. Be the adult. You are creating a vicious cycle you’ll never break.
        7. Not following through. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t threaten your children that they will lose a privilege if you are not willing to take it from them. Children are smart. It won’t take them long to figure out that you don’t really mean what you say.  If you tell your daughter she will lose her favorite toy if she hits her brother, then be sure that toy is taken if she chooses to hit her brother. If we don’t show children the consequences of their actions, then they will continue to disobey. We are in their face every day. If we don’t show them the consequences of disobeying our rules, how will they ever obey God’s rules when He is not in their face everyday and the consequences aren’t as tangible? A good practice is to use God’s Word for instructing our children on right and wrong. They can memorize and write Bible verses that pertain to their actions. We should also pray with our children asking for God’s guidance and forgiveness.
        8. Not choosing battles wisely. Choose your battles wisely. That doesn’t mean don’t ever discipline your children. It just means be sure the battle you’re waging is worth fighting for. Arguing with your child over mismatched clothes really isn’t worth fighting for. However, if your child is doing something that is detrimental to herself or others then it’s definitely worth the battle.
        9. Too much criticism, not enough praise. When you are running around trying to take care of all of your responsibilities, it’s can be hard to remember to praise your children. They deserve to be praised when they make good choices. Many times that is the only reward they will receive. Instead of coming home and complaining about everything they haven’t done, how about praise them for the things they have done. When we are too critical, our children will stop trying altogether. They’ll find that nothing they do is good enough so why bother.
        10. Not including God in your home.  I saved the most important for last. The biggest mistake is not including God in your home. Now I don’t just mean not going to church. I mean not including God in your home as part of your family. A few hours a week at church is not enough. You need to incorporate God in everything your family does. Your children need to see you saying more prayers than just the mealtime blessing. They need to see you praying for them and their struggles. They need to see you turning to God for your struggles.  God’s Word tells us to teach of Him morning, noon, and night. God isn’t an accessory to our life. He should be the center of our life. If you simply seek God first in everything, you will probably avoid mistakes 1-9, because obedience and surrender to God encompasses all of these things and more.  Here are some wonderful devotions to help you invite God into your home:

                                                                                                               

I hope and pray this list of top 10 parenting mistakes to avoid is beneficial to you. Praying you and your family have a 2016 that is abundantly blessed with growth and God’s favor. Hang in there! Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. Learn from them, change bad habits, and grow. Parenting is a difficult job, but it is soooo worth it!

Should Christians Boycott? Maybe So, Maybe No

Should Christians Boycott - Maybe So, Maybe No www.ruckusandrubies.com

It’s that time of year again.  That time of year when everyone gets caught up in the avalanche of activities and shopping in celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We sacrifice time, effort, and money to lavish gifts on the loved ones we hold dear.  We commit to slowing down and making things simpler to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas—The Birth of the Savior.

Businesses and their employees benefit greatly from this season.  That is why we hear so much about putting our money where our mouths are during this season.  I’ve seen a barrage of Facebook posts and articles battling over whether or not Christians should boycott stores, especially during Christmas. Should Christians Boycott?  Maybe So, Maybe No.

It seems to some to be an “oxymoron-ish” (I know it’s not Webster’s word but it’s mine) stand because Christmas is supposed to be about peace and love, good will to men, following the command of Jesus to love our neighbors and even our enemies.  How can we as Christians possibly exhibit love when we run around angrily protesting merchants whose practices are wrong in the eyes of God?  It’s not a very compassionate movement.  It’s not a good witness.  I mean, shouldn’t we patronize them to show our love and support for them?  Shouldn’t we walk in with our Christ-like attitude and hope our actions convey all that Christianity encompasses?  That’s a good question.

It’s definitely something to pray about.  We must not jump on any bandwagons traveling in either direction.  We must seek God’s direction in every choice we make in this life.  He commands us to be intentional about our decisions, staying in constant prayer and seeking His will.

He also says we must not condemn.  Yet, I see condemnation on both sides of the equation.  Those who are sure to tell people they shouldn’t boycott have written their rants in opposition.  To me they are simply doing the same thing they are accusing others of doing.  They are condemning those who boycott.  If people are boycotting, especially in love and without hatred, then it is between them and God.  If others have prayed about it and God has told them to continue to patronize an establishment then it is between them and God.  It is not our place to condemn either decision.  It is simply our place to judge for ourselves with God’s guidance and without condemnation, and to pray for God’s will for everyone. 

God may very well have a divine appointment to reach someone who will be in line with us at a particular shop.  If you boycott, you may lose that opportunity.

On the other hand, our loyalty and love for God may compel us to stay away.  God speaks to us through conviction.  Isn’t that what Christianity is all about?  Allowing God to lovingly speak to us and change us into the likeness of Christ?  He may ask us to be bold like Jesus and take a stand.  Will we?

We don’t have any trouble abstaining from shopping in a place that is way too expensive for our budget.  We are sure to say that we aren’t shopping there because the prices are exorbitant.  If we are eating in restaurant and the employees are rude or the building is uncleanly, we are sure to say we will never return.  So why is it that we take a stand for our wallets or our feelings, but not for God?

After all Jesus took a stand.  When merchants were doing business against God’s will, when their practices were against His commands, Jesus got passionate and fired up.  He didn’t worry about how it would look.  Instead He cared more about doing what was right.  He didn’t worry about offending anyone, except God.  He didn’t necessarily boycott.  He did something bolder.  He threw them OUT!

Jesus didn’t go anywhere sugar coating, tickling ears, tiptoeing around people with a pretense that sinful choices were okay. He didn’t sit idly by in silence all the while hoping that the witness of His behavior would teach people otherwise.  Do you think he would have patronized those merchants that day? Well, history tells us He didn’t.  He taught not just by example, but ALSO by words and stance.  He lovingly explained to people that love is caring for the eternal soul.  He didn’t say I support you keep up the good work in His words or His actions.

Ultimately, we can’t use God’s Word like a hammer to angrily hit people over the head and expect them to come willingly into His family.  His ministry was also gentle confrontation, not attack.  We also cannot cheapen God’s grace by blindly supporting ventures that work against His Son and His Kingdom.  His ministry was truth, not pretense.  Jesus was the strongest warrior for God that there ever was.  He passionately fought for His Father and us even to the point of death on a cross.

Our Heavenly Father has given us so much.  He deserves for us to speak His truth in love and represent Him graciously.  He deserves for us to open our hearts and open our eyes.  He deserves to for us to seek His direction and His face in all things big and small.  After all, these decisions aren’t as small or as easy as you think.  On this Motivational Monday, I’d like to motivate you to think about it:  Should Christians Boycott? Maybe So, Maybe No.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It’s your decision.  Don’t listen to just anyone on this issue.  Pray and let The Lord lead you.

The Controversial Proverbs 31 Woman

 

 

 

charmWho wouldn’t want to be the Proverbs 31 Woman?  I will tell you who–many women these days.  They’ve fallen for satan’s lies.  Unfortunately he and the world have completely distorted the truth about her.  They have created a false controversy out of TRUTH – something God meant for our good and His glory.  The enemy wants to defeat women because he knows how strong we are with God by our side.  But I say the controversial Proverbs 31 woman is a myth.  Let’s uncover the truth:

Proverbs 31:10-31


10A wife of noble character who can find?

    She is worth far more than rubies.

She lives a life of gratitude, obedience, and submission to God, who in return creates her flawless, polishes and makes her shine.  She is a precious gem, a sparkling jewel, a priceless treasure…  I want to be thought of as priceless.

 

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

She is virtuous–honest, loyal, and trustworthy.  Her husband trusts her implicitly because she keeps means what she says and says what she means.  She can be depended upon.  She is soft and beautiful, yet tough and solid.  She is a steel magnolia–lovely and courageous.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

She exudes goodness, morality, virtue, and integrity. She relies on The Lord to live an upright life.  Love never seeks to harm.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

She is a diligent worker.  She sees her responsibilities as loving acts of service to her family. She is thankful she has a family for which to care.  She does her work with joy in her heart for the family she adores.  
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Have you ever worked with someone who only did exactly what they were told and nothing more?  That is not the Proverbs 31 Woman.  She takes initiative and is motivated to do whatever she can to help her family and her community.  She uses her creativity and determination to go the extra mile.  

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

She plans her day wisely by getting up early, praying, giving God control of her day, anticipating and preparing for the needs of her household.  This takes discipline and self-control.  

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She plans ways to utilize the gifts and talents God has given her for His glory and the good of her family.  They benefit from her initiative, hard work, and abilities.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

She doesn’t just strive to be “good”.  She strives to be better.  She doesn’t just settle for better, but for the best.  Just when you think she has done her best, she works to push past her best and sets a new record for herself.


18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

She works tirelessly and selflessly, sacrificing for her family.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She is passionate about her work.  She utilizes her passion to strive to be better, to work hard, to serve her family and others.

 

20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.

She sacrificially serves her community. She is gracious with her time and her talents, sharing and giving from her blessings.

 

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She has no worries when it comes to whether or not her family has everything it needs, because she has taken the time and initiative to plan accordingly.  She hasn’t just prepared physically for her family, but she has also looked after their needs by praying for them and giving them to The Lord.


22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

With class and modesty, she clothes herself as a princess and daughter of The King.  She represents Him with virtue and integrity.

 

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She represents God, her husband and her family well through her character.  She is known in the community as virtuous and noble and this reflects well on her husband.

 

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is industrious and seeks ways to help her family financially.  This does not take up the largest portion of her day.  This industry is not her life.  It is something she does as a side note after she has taken care of her family’s physical and spiritual well-being.

 

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

It isn’t just her physical appearance that is dignified, but her dignity comes from within, from her Godly character.  She gleans wisdom from God’s Word and speaks truth in love to others. They come to her because she is trustworthy and they know they can depend on her to pray.

 

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

She doesn’t leave the affairs of her household to others.  She doesn’t expect others to care for her children, husband, or home.  She knows God has entrusted these blessings to her and she takes responsibility for them.

 

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

Her family praises and appreciates all that she does.  They know many women are noble, but they acknowledge the extra that she does because of her love for God and them.  

 

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

She doesn’t waste time on the temporal.  She fears The Lord and utilizes her time to have a relationship with Him.  Why?  Because she loves Him and is grateful for all He has done in her life.  His love and blessings motivate her to be better.  The Lord praises her.  Her heart and works demonstrate her love for God and people.

Who wouldn’t want to hear these adjectives describing them:  VIRTUOUS, PRAISEWORTHY, FAITHFUL, CLASSY, LOVING, SELFLESS, LOYAL, WORTHY, WILLING, GOOD, INDUSTRIOUS, HARD-WORKING, GODLY?

Don’t let the world distort your view of God’s truth about the Proverbs 31 woman.  He placed examples in His Word for us to live by.  With God all things are possible.  Proverbs 31 is noble, attainable, and it is God’s plan for His daughters.