Feeds:
Posts
Comments

March Check-In

Whoa, it’s March? How did that happen? It can’t be possible that we’re already three months into the new year! Back in January I designated March as a time that I would check in with how my flight plan for this new year is coming along. (By the way, thanks to all of you who commented on that post with encouraging words!  It makes me realize that I’m not flying solo!) Anyways, as a way to keep myself accountable, I’ll share with you all how I’m doing so far.

Speak more kindly to my family

This one’s still a work in progress, but I must say that being more conscious of how I speak to my husband and children has made a marked difference in the atmosphere in our home. There has definitely been less yelling on my part. It has also engendered some good conversations between CC and me about how we should speak to one another. Sometimes he’ll remind me to say please or tell me he doesn’t like my tone (oh these kids!). The shouting matches of old have now become more like spirited debates, so that’s a good thing.

Learn how to study the word

So far I’ve been pretty consistent with my two Life-study messages a week. I’ve designated Tuesday and Thursday afternoons when Turner’s napping as my “study time.” I actually really look forward to that one quiet hour when I can sit down with a cup of tea and my Bible. I’ve definitely felt more spiritually supplied this year as a result of these weekly tea times with God.

20150306-145256.jpg

Make plans to travel

Larry and I had big plans to go to Europe in May, but after talking it over we’ve decided that trip might have to wait until the summer of next year. So I’ll be putting that in my flight plan for 2016. That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing any traveling this year though. In a few weeks our family will be embarking on a grand road trip to Phoenix, AZ with a whole bunch of college students. And this summer my in-laws are spoiling the boys (and us) with a Disney cruise to Alaska! We’ll leave from Vancouver, so the new passports we got for the boys for our Europe trip will come in handy after all.

Start a regular neighborhood children’s meeting in our home

This one has been the most challenging item for me this year, but also the one I feel like God has blessed the most so far. I started a time with my boys once a week on Wednesday afternoons. We sing some songs, I’ll tell a short Bible story or character lesson, and then a simple craft. A friend o f mine started coming with her toddler son, and even though he was a little young to understand everything, it was nice to have more people come. CC started asking me why more kids didn’t come and so I started to pray with him at night about it. We’d pray for the Lord to bring his friends (and for his mom to have the boldness to invite them). After a couple months of it just being the three boys, I started to get a little discouraged, but a sister who had already established a meeting like this in her home just encouraged me to keep going. Two weeks ago I happened to bump into the mom of one of CC’s classmates when I went to pick him up at school and she and her son and baby daughter ended up all coming over to our place for an impromptu play date. We talked over tea and I told her about this weekly time I have with the kids and asked if her son would like to come and she said yes! So for the last two weeks I’ve been picking CC and his friend up at school and bringing them back here to have our children’s meeting. I still need a lot of help in learning how to get rowdy boys to sing and listen, but at least they all seem to enjoy the time. My faith was strengthened when I prayed with my son last night and he said, “Thank you Lord for answering our prayer and bringing Jakob to children’s meeting!”

030415

photo 2

Speak the gospel to at least one person

This hasn’t quite happened yet…but I’m learning to just speak to people. The other day I struck up a conversation with a woman behind me in line at the grocery store, who also happened to be a stay-at-home mom. I ended up giving her a ride home because she didn’t have a car and we found out we had a lot in common. Anyways, I’m learning to step out of my shell and open my mouth more. Although I haven’t spoken the gospel ‘per se’ to anyone yet, I feel like there has definitely been opportunities when I’ve been able to speak my enjoyment of the Lord to others. The year is far from over, so I’ll still be praying for this.

How’s your flight plan for this year going so far?

Come, Go, Come

IMG_1027

I recently came across this awesome portion in my random times of ministry reading –

The entire New Testament involves these two words: come and go. The New Testament involves coming, and it also involves going. To come is to receive grace, and to go is to impart grace into people. By our coming and going, we will eventually express a desire to the Lord. We will say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 2:20). Therefore, the second “come” is connected to the Lord’s coming again. Hence, the entire New Testament is concerning these three words: come, go, and come…May the Lord strengthen both our coming and our going. If we daily come to the Lord in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, we will surely go and testify to people. The issue of such coming and going is that we desire and yearn for the Lord to come back. (The Age of The One New Man, Witness Lee, pp. 56-57)

I love how this passage summarizes so simply the essence of the New Testament and of our Christian life. Our Christian life should just involve these three actions – we come to the Lord, we go to people, and then we yearn for the Lord to come. So simple, yet if we’re faithful to live a life like this, it will be one filled with joy, meaning, and purpose. The Lord has been touching me lately to step out of my comfort zone and to go visit people I normally don’t see on a regular basis. People that I haven’t seen in the church meetings in a while, new people that I’ve met at the church meetings, other stay at home moms that I might not know so well, basically anyone that the Lord would put in my heart. Often the Lord will bring a person to my mind, and yes, while I’m faithful to mention these ones in prayer when that happens, sometimes the Lord will nudge me to go a step farther…text them to see how they’re doing, invite them over for tea, or just drop by for a visit. I usually am not that good in obeying those nudges, but the more I come to the Lord, the more I’m learning to be one with Him in His sending. And when I do obey, the supply of life just flows and my joy is truly made full.

May you all have a blessed week of comings and goings! Come to the Lord continually to receive grace and go with that grace to whomever the Lord would send you. If we would all do this, I believe there would be the corporate cry within us all of “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Mornings in our house

This is what I wish happens at our house every morning:

I wake up promptly at 6am, well before the kids, refreshed after a good night’s sleep. I spend an hour with the Lord while sipping my freshly brewed coffee. After being energized physically and spiritually, I walk (while humming) to the boys’ room and gently wake them up saying, “Good morning darlings, it’s time to get up and get ready.” They rub their sleepy eyes and respond, “Good morning, mother,” and immediately start getting themselves dressed without me having to tell them. I go into the kitchen and make us all a balanced breakfast. We sit down to breakfast as a family, Daddy kisses us all goodbye and leaves for work, and I walk both kids leisurely to the bus stop.

This is more like what happens at our house every morning:

The boys break into our room around 7am, screaming and laughing. They jump into our bed and I dream that I’m being ambushed by the enemy. I finally kind of wake up only to see a 24lb toddler straddling my stomach and jumping up and down trying to ride me like a horsey. With every jump he screams, “Mama, I want ‘nack!” (Translation: Mama, I want snack!) I manage to roll off the bed unhurt, leaving Larry to deal with the two jumping monkeys. I go into the kitchen to tend to the first order of business, boiling water for my morning coffee. The kids come into the kitchen and I try to make them eat breakfast, but they’re too busy arguing about who gets to press down the plunger on my French press. I kick myself for teaching them the verse, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first,” because now they quote it to each other and to me when they argue. I soon tire of refereeing the shouting match and send them to their room to get dressed even though they’re only half done with breakfast. Larry tries to kiss me goodbye, but I’m too irritated to kiss him back. I sit in the kitchen and savor my coffee in my one minute of peace. As I’m sipping, I look over at the clock and….oh no, only 15 minutes until the bus comes! I go in to check on the kids and they’re lounging around naked in their room. I get Turner dressed and make repeated threats to CC to get some clothes on. After the 10th time, he finally complies. I throw some lunch into his lunch box, some clothes on myself, and leave the house teeth unbrushed, hair uncombed. CC races down the sidewalk on his scooter with me following with Turner in the stroller at breakneck speed until we get to the bus stop. Thankfully, the bus isn’t always on time and the kids have time to play a few rounds of hide and seek with the other boy waiting there before the yellow school bus pulls up. Turner and I wave goodbye to CC and walk leisurely home where I have a second chance to begin the day again in the right way.

What do mornings look like at your house?

20150131-091044.jpg

Fixing the stop sign

Fixing the stop sign

20150131-091133.jpg

winter retreat

This past weekend we were with some students from the Christians on Campus club at UC Berkeley for a weekend retreat in Sacramento. We have this retreat every winter as a way to kick off and prepare for the new semester. We went over some messages on the book of Exodus and I so enjoyed our times of eating the word together. As we prayed over the verses, the Lord was really faithful to speak to and through each person there.

I particularly enjoyed two verses concerning the manna, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

Then Jehovah said to Moses, I will now rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day… (Exodus 16:4)

This is the bread which came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread shall live forever. (John 6:58)

In the book of Exodus, God performed many miracles for the children of Israel, but only one miracle lasted 40 years. For 40 years while they were in the wilderness, God rained down bread from heaven for them to eat. Can you imagine that? Every morning little pieces of bread rained down from heaven and this was the only food that sustained them for 40 years! In the gospel of John, the Lord Jesus is referring to Himself when He says, “this is the bread which came down out of heaven…” He is the real manna and He came down out of heaven not as a king to rule us outwardly, but as little pieces of bread to feed us inwardly. If we eat of Him as this bread, we will also live because of Him (John 6:57).

Just as the children of Israel, we believers today have the opportunity to experience this long term miracle every day. Every morning there is living bread raining down upon us, but we have to be faithful to gather our portion for that day. To do that, it’s as simple as reading a few verses a day and really chewing on them and taking them in as our spiritual food. As we do this, God has the way to change our diet and reconstitute our being.

The forecast for today and the day after and the day after is manna. Don’t forget to go out and gather your day’s portion everday!

My Flight Plan for 2015

I know it’s a little late for a new year’s post, but here goes anyway.

A few days before the end of the year I was lamenting to Larry in the car how I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything in the past year. Yes, it was a busy year for us and there were plenty of things that we did, but looking back I just didn’t feel like there was much progress or growth with me personally. He reminded me that our growth in life is in the realm of faith and often not that noticeable and that being self-introspective will just lead me down a path to nowhere, which is all very true. So instead of introspecting, I’ve been trying to do more reflecting about 2014. I realized that much of the reason I felt like I didn’t accomplish much was because I hadn’t set clear goals (or I might have set goals but neglected to write them down, so they were forgotten by March).

Larry related to me a story yesterday that he had heard from someone else about two pilots of a commercial airline. They were in the plane, ready to go except for the fact that they had no flight plan. So they decided to take off anyway and wing it (no pun intended) and somehow figure it out when they were in the air. After 20 minutes in the air, they realized how ridiculous that idea was and turned back around to land. That’s kind of how I feel at the beginning of this year. I’ve gotten pretty good at maintenance, making sure fuel is filled and all systems are a go, but I don’t know where I’m going or even where I want to go. So instead of flying around aimlessly for another year just enjoying the ride, I think I’m going to turn around and land. It’s the 5th of January, CC is back in school and Larry is back at work. Turner is playing at a friend’s house. Today seemed like a perfect time for me to take a little pit stop and make myself a flight plan for this coming year.

I won’t share all my goals with you, but I will share some in the hopes that it’ll make me more accountable. Some are personal goals and some are related to our family. For those of you out there who actually read my posts, feel free to check up on me mid-year (or next week!). The more encouragement I can get, the better. Here goes some of my goals for 2015, in no particular order:

Speak more kindly to my family

Ok, confession time. I never thought I would be a yeller, but I am. I would never yell at my kids in public (because I’m too worried about what other people will think of me), but at home, when no one’s around, I yell. And I nag. Now I’m starting to reap the fruit of all that yelling and it’s not pretty. I see how my boys get into each other’s faces when they’re mad, screaming ugly words at one another and the truth starts to hit home. That’s exactly what mama does when she gets angry. Maybe I don’t say ugly words to them, but the tone, the facial expressions, the attitude is ugly. So I’m going to do my best to work on this – to speak kindly, politely, not in anger. I want to model to my kids what it means to “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).

Learn how to study the word

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been trying to work my way through the Life-study of the Bible. Last year I finished the Life-study of Genesis and started the Life-study of Exodus. Even though it has been good, I realized most of the time I read it very superficially just to get through without much retention. So this year I want to try slowing down a bit and just read two messages a week. And instead of reading it on my ipad while lying in bed half asleep, I’d like to dedicate some time in my schedule to sit down and really study what I’m reading. Hopefully by doing this, my Truth Tuesday posts will become more consistent.

Make plans to travel

As Larry and I reviewed the past year, both of us agreed that our trip to the east coast was one of the most memorable things for 2014. So this year we’d like to make time for another family adventure, maybe this time not just across the country, but across the ocean. It has long been our dream to go to Europe together. Any tips on traveling in Europe with small children would be much appreciated.

Start a regular neighborhood children’s meeting in our home

I’ve been considering this and praying about this for awhile and I feel like this year I just need to go ahead and try it. I realized that outside of the two hours on Sunday morning, my kids don’t really get much directed moral education. We have so many meetings in our home – prayer meetings, Bible studies, small group meetings – this year, I’d like my kids to have a meeting that’s just for them and that they can invite their friends to. I’m not sure what we’ll do in this time, probably just some simple Bible stories, lessons on character, singing, and crafts. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Speak the gospel to at least one person

I’m setting the bar pretty low on this one because it’s something that’s always been a struggle for me. I so want preaching the gospel to be a normal part of my daily life and not an arduous, burdensome, insurmountable thing. I know there’s a particular joy in flowing the Lord out to people and I don’t want to miss out on that joy this year.

These are just some of my goals for this year. Even if the flight plan needs to be altered here and there as we go along, at least I feel like I kind of know where I’m going.

What are some of your goals for 2015? Whatever your flight plan for this year is, happy flying!

Recently I’ve been reading through a ministry book by Witness Lee titled “The Sufficiency, Pursuit, and Learning of the Lord’s Serving Ones.” I’ve been reading it in the snatches of time I have during the day – while waiting at the bus stop, on the bench at the park, during CC’s swim class. Reading it in little snippets during the day has been so enlightening, helpful and supplying. I’ve really enjoyed a particular portion I read a few weeks ago, which I’ve been chewing on and quoting to everyone. It’s so good, I’ll just quote part of it here –

Genuine spiritual life grows in desolate circumstances. We should not expect to always receive light when we read the Bible, to have the Lord’s presence when we pray, to save many sinners, or that our wife, husband, children, parents, and siblings will be spiritual. These expectations are unrealistic. Those who are genuinely spiritual pitch their tent between Bethel and Ai. God does not allow us to be free of desolate situations…God desires that we remain in the status in which we were called…If we can be normal human beings in our troublesome, complicated, and fallen situations, then we will have the genuine exercise of spirituality. Living between Bethel and Ai should be our normal experience.

Our outward circumstances in coordination with the operation of God give us the opportunity to develop a genuine spiritual life. We should not expect to be in a situation that is heavenly and without any problems…We have the weaknesses and desolation, but we also have the Lord’s blessing. We must leave our spiritual longings and learn to experience God in our desolate situations so that we may have genuine growth in life.

Is that not encouraging? To give some background, in Genesis chapter 12, Abraham was led by God to pitch his tent between Bethel and Ai. Bethel means “the house of God” and Ai means “a heap of ruins.” This is exactly where God also leads us to pitch our tent today. In our Christian life, our experience is often that we face the house of God on one side, but a heap of ruins on the other. We may be enjoying God in His house, but we also often find ourselves in the midst of many desolate situations that cause us to wonder if God is really with us. So often I have the mistaken concept that the more I grow in the Lord, the easier my life should become. But I was so helped to be reminded that genuine spirituality and growth comes out of the experience of Christ in the midst of all the desolate situations. We should never expect our life to be problem free, but our normal experience should be one of living between Bethel and Ai.

One day last week the Lord reminded me of this in a very practical way. It was a regular weekday and the day began as all other regular weekdays begin. Some time after breakfast CC discovered that his little brother had destroyed his Lego creation from the night before and a level 9 tantrum ensued. Let’s just say the situation quickly deteriorated from there. We missed the school bus, and as I was trying to get the boys out the door so that I could drive CC to school, they began fighting about who would open the door. By the time I got both screaming boys buckled into their car seats, I was on the verge of screaming myself. I was tempted to just leave them there and go back into the house and crawl back into bed. That’s when the Lord spoke that portion to me again. Here I was in the midst of a desolate situation, here I am facing Ai, but that is perfectly normal. If in the midst of that, I turn to the Lord and learn to be a normal Christ-enjoying mom to my children, then that can be an experience of genuine spirituality and growth in life.

So as I drove, I let the boys scream until they were all screamed out. I inwardly called on the Lord and tried my best to speak to them with my soft non-screaming voice. I don’t think I ever had the chance to get into the Word or spend much time in prayer that morning, but I felt like I touched the Lord and had a real experience of Him in the midst of that loud minivan. When we cooperate with His operation in the middle of our troublesome circumstances, whatever they may be, then God will really be able to grow in us in a practical way.

Talking to our children

Happy December everyone! I can’t believe there is only one more month left to 2014. Crazy how the years fly by the older the kids get. When they were babies it seemed like those long days of nursing and cradling would never end and I would faithfully track their progress month by month. Now in the midst of packing school lunches, swim classes, and our busy family and church life, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. The months go by too fast for me to remember how many months Turner is, so I’ll just keep telling people he’s 2 years old until he turns 3.

Parenting in some sense has become significantly easier now that I’m not so sleep deprived. But the older the kids get, the more I feel like I’m entering uncharted territory. It has gone beyond simply caring for their physical well being and growth to caring for the people they are becoming. Now I feel like there’s so much more to worry about. When they’re little, the dangers are more obvious, like making sure they don’t put dirty things in their mouths or play with sharp objects. But now that CC is older and going to school, I worry that the dangers are more subtle. I worry that I might not be able to see or protect him from all the germs that are getting into his mind just by growing up in this corrupt world we live in.

A friend of mine once told me her reasons for homeschooling her young children – she knew she couldn’t shield her children from all the immoral germs of the world, but she wanted them to spend their formative years with her so that she could at least make sure they build up a healthy immune system. While we don’t feel to homeschool CC at this time (although that could change), I wholeheartedly agree with her about the need to help our children build up a strong and healthy spiritual immune system. I recently attended a parenting workshop and I was so helped to be reminded again that raising our children is a stewardship entrusted to us by God. It’s not just about clothing them and feeding them, but even more about caring for their spiritual welfare. As parents we will all be accountable to the Lord for how we handled our stewardship. On the one hand, how they turn out is up to the Lord’s mercy, but on the other hand, we have the responsibility to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6).

The practical point I took away from the workshop was simply that I need to spend more quality time with my children. More time talking to them, more time listening to them, more time praying with them, and more time modeling to them what it means to love God and fear God. I had the stark realization last week that CC must hear and take in so much at school, but I don’t spend the adequate time with him to help him process and even filter out everything that’s getting into him. Besides the perfunctory, “How was school today?” to which the reply is usually, “Good,” I don’t really know what happened in his day. Now I’ve been trying to practice sitting down and having more meaningful conversations with my son, REALLY listening to him, and I’ve been surprised by how much I don’t know about him. I’ve learned that sometimes his classmates make fun of him for being little and that makes him sad, and I’ve learned that his favorite activity in choice time is computers (that didn’t really surprise me). I’ve also restarted the practice of praying with him before bed, and that sweet time has also been a window into his little heart. One night he wanted to pray that his friend would like his birthday presents, and another night he wanted to pray that the new substitute teacher would know the right songs to sing. I want him to always feel free to tell not just me, but God also, all these things on his heart, no matter how trivial they may seem to others.

So instead of wasting time worrying, I’m going to use that time to pray and to get to know my children. The influence of the world might be strong, but the God who lives in me and hopefully will one day live in them is stronger. As long as we lead our children to know this one, I think they’ll turn out just fine.

Lisa-Jo Baker

Daily ramblings of a stay at home mom aspiring to live Christ

Vitafamiliae

Daily ramblings of a stay at home mom aspiring to live Christ

Here in the Lovely Woods

Daily ramblings of a stay at home mom aspiring to live Christ

The Art of Simple

Daily ramblings of a stay at home mom aspiring to live Christ

tsh oxenreider

Daily ramblings of a stay at home mom aspiring to live Christ

tuesday snippets

tuesdays aren't as sneaky as mondays.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 602 other followers