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The TV

Last month we got rid of our TV.

Not because I think TV is evil or wrong, but simply because it was time to do it.  I think the addiction started when I was sick. Sickness made me weak, and the TV became the babysitter.  Once I was better, the kids began to greatly protest that I took their babysitter away.

And lets be honest, it wasn’t just them who was addicted.  I really enjoyed having the TV entertain them.  I really enjoyed having the TV entertain me.  And let’s just say Netflix makes it way too convenient to find good shows.  I’ve never had cable before and so in the past, I would simply flip through the few channels and if nothing was on, I turn the TV off.  Not so with Netflix.  There is ALWAYS something on that looks interesting that you can watch instantly.

TV plus sickness plus whiney kids plus bad habits equal time for some drastic measures.

I think it was around the second week of August that I began to get convicted about how much TV was being watched by both the kids and I.  I think it was around the third week of August that Brent looked at me and said something along the lines of  “I really think the Lord is leading us to get rid of TV for the whole month of September”.

When I’m convicted and the Lord confirms that conviction through my husband, there is really nothing left to do but obey.

So we took the TV out of the house.  Its been sitting in Brent’s office for the past month.  Out of sight out of mind I say.

The kids did okay.  We explained to them that TV wasn’t bad and that they didn’t do anything wrong, but that God was trying to teach us all something, and we needed to obey him.  I will say my oldest made a countdown calendar to keep track of how many days until September was over and she could have TV back.   This decision was hardest on her.

I also had a more difficult time than I thought I would.  I discovered watching a show was my way I relaxed at night.  Especially on Wednesday nights when Brent works late.  I’m embarrassed to say the first Wednesday night was actually really difficult.  I think I walked around in circles.  I made a trip to the library the next day =)

Here’s what I learned over the past month though.

First, my kids have always been creative, but once the TV was out of the house and they adjusted to the whole “I’m bored” issue during the times when they usually watched a show, their imaginations took off in new levels. They began building things, playing things, and discussing things that I had never seen them do before.  In fact, after about a week of whining, they didn’t even miss watching a show in the morning or after nap.   Downside to this:  my house was always destroyed because most of these creative games involve LOTS of pillows and blankets and toys everywhere!  But it brought tremendous joy to my heart to listen to them  invent games and ideas and tools to fix problems.

Second, it brought a lot of peace to the house. Its not as if the TV was always on as background noise or anything.  We would turn it on to watch a show and then turn it back off.  However, with the TV not even being visible, the house just seemed peaceful.  The lack of distraction brought unity in a way that is indescribable.   In fact, here it is October 4th and the TV is still in Brent’s office.  I sort of don’t want it back.

Third, I felt greatly rested and peaceful during the month of September. There is a peace that comes when I simply live life engaged in reality and don’t escape to TV land at night.  If I were you and I just read that last line, I would think I was ridiculous.  I wouldn’t have believed it either if I hadn’t experienced it myself.   But the past month has been covered in this peacefulness and joy.  Of course that isn’t all simply because we cut out TV.  But cutting out TV leaves more room for music and talking and playing and laughing and reading and not rushing through life.

Overall, I’m thankful we took the TV out for the month.  It is football season, so of course we will be bringing it back soon, but I think we may need to make some boundaries about when the TV can and cannot be turned on.  It might just become a weekend event.   But whatever the rules are that are established, God truly opened my eyes to the joy of life without TV.

Once again, obeying God ALWAYS brings about peace and a greater joy in life.

 

Preaching the Gospel

Sometimes I need to hear the Gospel. To be reminded of the wonder of how we are able to have a relationship with the Lord.   To again remember the power that Christ has and the victory He possesses over all things.  This spirit of fear wants to creep in, but the Gospel allows no room for fear because He did not give us a spirit of fear but of sonship.

Being a daughter of a King is a big deal.  Remembering my King has all authority over everything and only needs to speak and a mountain will move is enough to drive out all fear.  So I’ve started preaching the Gospel to myself and to my kids daily.

As we talked about the cross and how our sins are forgiven because of Christ, we notice even the sun grieves. Even the sun has to obey God and goes dark.  It can only shine when God tells it to.  Preaching the Gospel reminds me that ALL authority over all things is God’s.

Then we talk about how believing the truth of the Gospel changes you, and my daughter interrupts to ask me a question.

“Mom, can we stop for a minute? Those men working over there look really hot. Can I take them some popsicles?”

I told her serving the workers wasn’t stopping our discussion of the Gospel; it was acting it out.

So they grabbed their safety scissors and their popsicles and marched down the street to pass out their most prized possession to strangers.

Coming in contact with the Gospel changes things.  Perspective, emotions, actions…all can be changed by simply remembering the truth that has set us free.

 

Vietnam Update

In four weeks I will fly across an ocean. Four weeks! The adrenaline has begun to wear off and the emotions are beginning to come to the surface.

I’ve never left my kids before. Well, almost never. Avery spent a couple days with Brent’s parents when she was two, and then when Elliana was 13 months and Avery was 2, we left them with my parents for 5 days. That was three years ago.  Other than that, I’ve NEVER been away from my children for longer than a few hours at a time. Never.  In four weeks, I leave them for TEN days. The realization of how hard this separation is going to be on me has begun to make me a bit teary eyed.

For example, I saw some Halloween costumes the other day and had to quickly usher my kids out of the store before I started crying because I realized I might miss trick or treating with my kids this year.

Then Avery started talking about her birthday, and I started tearing up again. Her birthday is the day after I get home, and I ALWAYS make birthdays huge with elaborate home made cakes and parties. Birthdays are a big deal and realizing I was going to be exhausted and jet lagged for hers was difficult.

In addition, we had to put the plane ticket on our credit card and our credit card is a week away from needing to be payed. I look at our bank account and then at our credit card statement with the airplane ticket on it and get anxious and overwhelmed.

My emotions are all over the place in regards to this trip. I’m so excited to go and I know its what God desires of me, but I’m so emotional and almost fearful of so many things. Overwhelmed is an understatement.

Then I read this article by Shaun Groves.

And I’m reminded, I have all I need for today and I am satisfied. And the day I say good bye to my kids, the jet lagged birthday celebrations, and paying the credit card, God will give me all I need for those days too.

Sometimes the simplest reminders are the greatest tools to get your focus off self and back onto our Creator.

 

(Sorry this post didn’t make it up on Tuesday.  I was in Oklahoma and my internet connection wouldn’t work. )

Change is Good

Last Thursday night we sat down to eat as a family, and Brent and I began to talk. I was telling him all about what God had been revealing to me that day and how my day had been spent confessing and talking to the Lord and asking Him to show me how to change.

See Thursday I had been talking to the Lord about the craziness of life, and He clearly opened my eyes to the fact that I was letting my emotions dictate my actions for the day. If I was tired, I was excusing myself from fully engaging with my kids or my housework. If I was frustrated, I was acting very frustrated towards my kids and my house. My emotions were very much dictating how my day was going.

So Thursday night I confess this to Brent, and we start talking about how I can flip this again. No one wants to live on the rollar coaster of emotions!

Then Friday morning I show up at Women of Faith. Patsy Clairmont (my new favorite speaker!) begins speaking, and one of the first things she says is:

“It is extremely important to have boundaries on your feelings”

I sat up a bit taller and started listening a bit better. Then she states that we all must have boundaries on our emotions and reads Proverbs 29:11 “A fool vents all her feelings. A wise women holds them back.

Okay at this point, I began to thank God that He had revealed the sin of my emotions less than 24 hours earlier. I was so thankful I was aware of my problem already so that as Patsy spoke, I could just soak it all up.

She continued to speak and remind me that my feelings are not stronger than my will and that my feelings were never meant to think. And it is our emotions that keep us tattered and swinging and not pursuing the true desires of our heart which are from God.

Most of what was said was not “new” information, but yet I truly needed the reminder. The whole weekend was incredible, but the three different times Patsy spoke, God used it to move my heart.  I will definitely be writing about all I learned from her as the week goes on, but today I just wanted to share the fun way God works.  He knew what I would listen to on Friday morning, and He prepared me so He could change me.

Change is so good.  Which leads me to the next amazing thing Patsy Clairmont spoke about.  But I’ll save that for another day.  For today I’m simply grateful I got the chance to spend the weekend at Women of Faith.

Encouraging Times

The past week has been a huge encouragement to me.

I have been blown away by the friends from high school who have emailed or sent money to support my trip to Vietnam. I didn’t really follow the Lord in high school, so to reconnect with old friends and to learn we are all walking toward Christ together is extremely humbling and so exciting at the same time.

Friends helping me get to Vietnam is tremendously encouraging.

Hearing from old friends also makes me journey back through the last 15 years and reflect on all Christ has done in my life.  In fact, it was the summer of 1997 that Christ first grabbed my attention and took me across an ocean so He could grab my heart.  That summer was just the beginning of Christ changing me.   Hearing from friends from around that time humbles me greatly and reminds me that I did nothing to deserve Christ.  He pursued me and brought me out of my environment so that He could change me.

Reflecting on the amount of love God has for me is extremely encouraging.

Then I get stopped by a former student who shares with me a vision and dream God has given her.  She is passionately obeying Christ, even though she doesn’t know how all the details will work out.  She stopped me this morning and told me this post encouraged her to push forward.  She is planning a youth conference to encourage teens to pursue Christ in Georgia and in Tennessee over the next two months.  Have I mentioned she’s 17?  But God used words I wrote to push her forward in obedience.

To be part of a chain that God uses is humbling and so very encouraging.

The emotions and encouragement of the past week have been refreshing and revitalizing.  Just a few months ago I wrote about how I felt like I was just sitting and waiting for God to tell me what was next.  I was stuck in this transition; this restlessness that seemed to have no end in site.

But there was an end in site.  This past week I have been overwhelmed as God has begun to move me out of the restless stage.  God seeing me worthy of being moved into a place of usefulness is incredibly humbling, and I am beyond grateful for it.

The waiting, the watching for God, the pruning, the trials, it was all worth it.  I’m beginning to walk out on the other side of what has been a hard 8 months.

Summer Slump

What is it about summer that just relaxes you?  All schedules are thrown out the window.  Spontaneous actions are frequent. Life just seems carefree during the summer.

This undisciplined, carefree attitude makes summer a blast and creates tons of fun memories; unfortunately life can’t always be lived this way.  And even more unfortunately, the Lord has made it clear that my free spirit has bled over into my walk with Him and its time to put some structure back in my life.

This summer I’ve been sleeping until 6:30am and spending time with the Lord later in the day.  Not really a problem until God opens my eyes to how easily frustrated I’ve been since I made that choice.

This summer I’ve also enjoyed the laziness of watching a TV show or two during naptimes or in the evenings instead of reading a book , getting some housework done, or spending quality time with Brent.  Again, not really an issue until the Lord begins to reveal to me a connection between these activities and how I haven’t really felt rested in awhile.

Sleeping in and watching TV are not sins.  But yet, they have begun to pull my focus away from God.  I would rather sleep and watch a show than chase after God.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Startling words to speak aloud.

True words, but startling all the same.

Then I read Psalm 66 on Sunday

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

I knew the minute I read that verse the Lord was speaking to me and calling me back into a stronger devotion with Him.  I can so easily be drawn into a story that TV, fiction books, pretty much anything with a storyline (even old 80’s mystery shows!) suck me in and consume me.   This summer, I have just lounged and consumed life instead of pursued Christ wholeheartedly.

But I refuse to cherish iniquity in my heart. The Lord has made clear the path He desires for me and so I must choose obedience.  This means my TV  and sleeping in days are through for awhile.  At least until I get my life back in the proper balance.

I’m thankful the Lord gave me this summer to just relax, and I’m even more thankful He has opened my eyes to the root of my restlessness and frustration.  For truly, refreshment and love come only through living in the presence of the Lord.

My Man

Husbands are such a unique gift from God.

The last few months have been a rough portion of life.  Health issues, personal issues, life issues, the list could go on and on.

There are moments when disengaging from life would be much easier.   I could easily disengage into my computer, my phone, the TV, a book, or any other nearby device.

But then there’s my gift.

Eight years ago today, God gave me this gift knowing I needed a gift to help me draw closer to God. The Lord knew I needed a man who wouldn’t let me disengage when life got tough. I needed a man who would continually remind me to put my eyes heavenward.

This man is my gift from God.

Over the past eight years, we have loved a lot, laughed a lot, cried a lot, and had a lot of babies.

Life has changed since we first said “I do”.  Who knew eight years later we would be growing gray and think sleeping until 6am was sleeping in? But the one thing that is still the same is how incredible my gift from God is.

So today, on our anniversary, I want to stop and acknowledge Brent and what a vital point he is in my relationship with the Lord. He has encouraged me, prayed for me, given me the proper perspective, found books for me to read, loved me unconditionally, and taught me so much about what it means to chase after God. I love you Brent Minter. Thank you for marrying me eight years ago!

Rice

Opening the fridge only increases the hunger pains. I desperately search for something, anything to eat that will stay in my stomach. Then I see the rice and know that is the only option, but yet I rebel.

I shouldn’t have to eat just rice. I’ve eaten it for for weeks. It sounds and tastes gross, and I’m just plain tired of rice.”

When my temper tantrum finishes, the Lord whispers in my ear

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”

“But God”, I start to say, but am quickly interrupted by the question, “do you think you can be his counselor? His ways are inscrutable.  Are yours?”

I quickly close my mouth, my thoughts, my eyes, and sit in silence.

How often I have read the story of the Israelites and judged their grumbling spirits. For goodness sakes“, I think to myself, “be thankful the Lord gave you manna.  You could have starved in that desert“.

And then I reread Numbers 11

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.  But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.

I’ve uttered those words.  Those same, grumbling words  “oh if I could only have some protein to eat, then I wouldn’t be so hungry.”  As I grumbled, I forgot the pure blessing of rice.  Beautiful, filling rice that my stomach was not rejecting.   I’m painting beautiful pictures of what life would be like “if only” and so continue to live wanting more instead of accepting I have enough.

And for some reason, rice wasn’t enough for my spirit; I still wanted more, and I look at the Israelites and see how God supplied them with the food that was enough for them and yet still they wanted more, and suddenly I see.

I see into my heart that is filled with the longing for more.  More food, more friends, more house, more room, more, more, more.  My heart is full of dissatisfaction that though I clearly have enough, I am not thankful.  My heart is full of pride that says I deserve more.

I weep and give thanks for the rice I get to eat for a meal.  I give thanks that the Lord would use these stomach issues to strip me of the idol of dissatisfaction.  I give thanks that I can walk this road of poor physical health so that I can live a life of pure joy.

Doctors will continue to be seen, and I’m confident my health will eventually be healed, but even if its not,  I praise the Lord he allowed my health to be removed and gave me a glimpse of my heart so that He could refine me more.  Holiness is the end goal.  Whatever it takes to get it, is well worth the pain.

 

(I’ve taken a bit of a break from my Tuesday Spiritual Journey posts this summer.  Beginning today, the break is now over)

 

Exciting News!

Guess what?!!!!

I just found out I’m a blogger for the Women of Faith conference coming to Dallas on August 26-27!  To say I’m excited is an understatement.

Anyone out there want to go with me????

Here’s a little sneak peak of what the weekend is all about.

 

Sometimes we just need a weekend like this to recharge us before the hectic school year begins. Click here or on the banner on the side to get to the event website. Register today and join me in this life changing experience!

Who’s coming with me?

New App

The last few weeks, Brent and I have been working on memorizing the same verses. In the past, we’ve each done our own thing, but in the quest for more accountability and for both of us to be meditating and discussing the same thing, we decided to start memorizing the same scripture together.

If you know my man, you know that when he starts a new project, he doesn’t just start it.  He researches, researches, and then puts a system in place that will guarantee success.

It was no different this time.  We decided to memorize the Fighter Verses from Desiring God’s ministries.  We already had all the note cards with the verses on them, but apparently note cards are so old school. And my husband doesn’t do old school.

So he found this app, and I laughed when he put it on our phones.  Laughed at how unnecessary I initially thought it was.  Laughed that he can make even scripture memory high tech.  Laughed that I just never go and search out new ways to do things and he ALWAYS searches out new ways to do things.  Laughed, but in the appreciative, I love how Brent’s mind works kind of way =)

But the point of the story is we are both using this great app to memorize scripture together.  Every Sunday, we switch the verse, and our verse becomes part of our conversations throughout the week.  It has been incredible to memorize together.

A few good things about this app:

  1. I always have my phone with me so can always review the verse
  2. The verse is set as my wallpaper so anytime I turn my phone on, I see the verse and am reminded to learn it and apply it
  3. Both of us learning the verses together creates great accountability.
  4. There are over 500 verses so it will take us quite a while to work through all of them
  5. There are quizzes to help ensure that I’m learning the verse
  6. For the ESV version, there are songs available to help in memorization

I’m sure there’s tons more reasons, but those are my main ones.

All that to say, if you have an IPhone, an IPad, an iTouch, or an Android and are looking for a way to push you to memorize scripture, you should get the Fighter Verses App.  It is a wonderful tool!

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