Seasons of Life: Living Life to Fullest

The hot days of August in Mississippi are still hanging around, but the people are beginning to anticipate Fall. A local coffee shop is already serving Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, and I am melting over here. All this Fall talk has me reflecting on the seasons beginning to change.

We moved the son to college so the shift has begun to having one child at home. I just asked my sweet hubby how did we manage four-the schedule is busy with just one. We
are entering a new season in parenting and marriage.

Over the years, I know we experienced many seasons.

Years ago serving as our church children and youth minister with two small girls in tow and a husband who worked an odd shift at the hospital, I came to a crisis. It hit us that we were running in circles and not meeting our family goals of my being home more with our growing girls. Philip found a job that had us move closer to my family and allowed me to be at home. A new season had begun for our little family.

My pastor friend quickly told me that I would be back to working for the church soon. Reflecting on our conversation, I told him that I had my own children’s ministry going on and would be fine. Little did I know that we would add two more to our little crew.

We moved again two years later to begin our life in Tupelo. We found a place to call home and a church to give our children a solid foundation.  Our seasons of little children to teenagers to me shifting back into the work force have all come and gone-we still can find ourselves shifting into our new season of life.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3

Our lives ebb and flow through many different seasons?

When we look at our current situation and can not imagine making it through, we can blink and quickly be in a new time of life. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything. If the Bible tells us the season are a regular part of our lifetime, then we need to embrace the season we find ourselves.

What are things to help me through this season?

  1. Dig into the Word- God’s Word is a perfect almanac for life. It is a guide for every season and experience under Heaven. Take time to daily digest  His Word. Use the concordance to search for the specific issue your season requires.
  2. Prayer- Talking to God about our season brings about peace and direction. It doesn’t offer the easy way out, but it shifts our perspective on the issue. When we are praying for things, our reality of the situation is in clearer view. Take time to talk with God about the season you are facing. Journal your prayers, create a prayer closet with scriptures that direct you in the particular season.
  3. Find Comrades in Arms- there are other Moms walking through the same season. Help one another by exchanging babysitting or organizing for one another or bulk cooking together. Join a group like Moms in Prayer or MOPS. These groups offer parents in similar life seasons who are focusing on God’s world view to their situation. Find a mentor who has walked through your season already and fought the good fight. Ask them to join you in walking this season out together.
  4. Take care of yourself. Exchange bedtime routine with your spouse so you can take a bath. Take a walk or join an exercise routine to keep you fit mentally and physically. Eat foods that are good for you-too much of anything can make us not our best selves.
  5. Take care of your marriage. Date your spouse. No matter the season you need to spend time together where you do not talk about surviving the season of life. Put the kids to bed early and watch a movie. Exchange babysitting with another couple. Go to an afternoon movie. Take a bike ride or a walk. Find something that you like to do together-it doesn’t have to cost money. One day we will be out of the season with any aged child in our home so we need to have built a healthy marriage.

The seasons in the grand scheme of life are short and quick. We can embrace the days of littles under foot when we realize that we quickly exchange it for hormonal teenagers. Our seasons of life with children at home are very short. A marriage  is a lifetime and our children live at home for an average of 18-20 years. I have already lived longer with Philip than I did in my childhood home. We have been married for 27 years with 23 of those child-free, but looking at our married future we have many years ahead for a child-free life.

As we prepare our closets for the change of weather, we need to change our emotional minds for the change of seasons in our lives. What season of life do you find yourself in? How are you adjusting to the changes? God tells us in Ecclesiastes that we face many different seasons. He ordained it so He will see us through those seasons.

How to Build An Important Relationship

On a cool evening in September, friends picked me up and took me to the Wesley Foundation at Mississippi State University. This student ministry became a haven for new relationships over the next several months. One of my favorite relationships just celebrated 27 years of marriage with me. Another lifetime relationship was formed in those months, my growing relationship with Christ.

Being reared in a Christian home and in the church, I had known about Jesus Christ. Church attendance, Bible verse memorization, church camp, Sunday school, and youth group were regular events I participated in, but knowing in my head was one thing. I was needing to grow that relationship in my heart more.

A few years before, I had asked Jesus into my heart, but I was quickly derailed on my growing a relationship with Him.

You know the feeling of doing all the right things and being the “good” girl, but I was not in an active growing relationship. Checking off the boxes of the right activities was different than getting to know Him as my Savior and Friend. Philip and I spend many hours studying one another likes and dislikes. We spent every moment that we could together in those early days of our relationship building. I was not connecting my relationship with Jesus would grow that same way-spending time with Jesus, in His Word.

My days at Wesley began to teach me how to study about and spend time with Jesus. I began to not just send up a distress prayer, but I journaled my prayers and talked to God daily. There was time spent with young women who were seeking Him,  and challenging me to do the same. Over the last 25 plus years, I have learned to lean into Him in the good and the bad. I hunger for my time with Him each morning.

In my days as a youth minister, I often would tell Philip that what was missing in our Christian education was teaching about a relationship with Christ. As I mentor women, I often share my love for the One Year Bible daily readings and worship music.

These two things keep my heart and mind centered in the place they need to be.

In a world where we  hear messages about self and doing what feels good, I would challenge you to daily dig into the Word. We can order self-help and even books by christian authors at the click of one button, but I am saying  pick up the Bible.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
His word is “alive and active”-it is for you and me today. It is “sharper than any double edged sword”-it cuts our heart and shapes our minds to be like His. Why would we spend time anywhere else than in His word?
There are so many things I can think of to do each morning. Our days are demanding and full. The question is can I cut something to give Him some time to talk to me through His Word-less social media time, less binge watching tv or netflix, less reading other books or internet surfing?
Choosing to put my time with Him first, I am filled with joy. I am refreshed and challenged. Reading His words to me do not leave me the same. Taking my grief, aches, joys, ups and downs to Him offer me peace. Facing tomorrow seems possible when I have faced today with Him.
Won’t you join me? There are one year bible plans for your phone or like me grab the hardback and a highlighter. Start building your relationship today! He is waiting.

One Way I Feed My Soul: Reading

 

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One of the things that feed my soul is reading. There is always a list of books on my “Want to Read” list. In fact, Philip laughs when I say, “Hang on, I just want to get to the end of this book,” simply because he knows there is another on the nightstand or hidden on my kindle app.

Reading has been a good distraction from thinking about the painful days that come with Fibromyalgia. Now do not get me wrong there are days where my mind can not grasp what the next sentence is, but then days I drown myself in a good fiction or biography. This is an important thing to me only because so many of us hid our pain in things that are worse for us. The recommendation of reading is one that I find a great alternative.

Each morning I grab my One Year Bible and read the daily verses.

These breathe life into me, and help me focus on the day ahead. Finding direction and wisdom in these pages offer hope in a world of the opposite. The first book I suggest you pick up is the Bible. It is filled with adventure, wisdom, hope and some misdirection that I can find easily relate.

There  several books in my recent READ list that I will share, and I want to offer a few of my WANT TO READs. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and check out a few that I have enjoyed (or not as much). Keep in mind I am just a reading addict and not expert. My list is in no order other than the way if fell off my Read list.

  1. You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt -this book offered words of wisdom every woman should read.  The information was timeless to me and it can be applied to any time of life.

https://amzn.to/2LQlb48

  1. The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower- for a long time, I have been fascinated by the world of royalty in England. Often I mention that I could have lived in a castle-you know all Downton Abbey-like. This book had me telling my husband I might could live in the White House minus the media drama and tough decision making. This book had me drawn into the stories of generations of people who served in the White House. Their personal stories were impressive.

https://amzn.to/2A5pzv1

  1. Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff-I was not certain I could love another book more than I did Goffs first, Love Does, but this  book does just this. If readers lived what Goff suggest then our world would be a much better place. Everyone should read Goff!

https://amzn.to/2uPGA75

  1. Bear Town by Fredrick Backman- The first Backman book I read was A Man Called One which I enjoyed so I had wanted to pick up a second. The book centers around a small hockey town and the content is heavy. The language was stronger and I am only assuming the nature of the content. I did however find this book hard to put down. I would read another Backman.

https://amzn.to/2JWpfhF

  1. Devonshire Scream by Laura Childs-The first in the tea cup mysteries by Childs was Hallmark  movie in a book. I enjoyed this first book. It was a quick and easy read. I found it a refresher after reading several books with heavier content. I would read another in this series when I needed a light read.

https://amzn.to/2mFI5QW

  1. Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honnegger-The story of the beginning of Honneggers business Noonday is more than a writers memoir. This journey of how to go about what God is calling you to without fear is inspiring. The challenges offered by the writer dare the reader to step out and live life no matter how messy.

https://amzn.to/2OheFFi

What is next on the night stand?

I took advantage of Kindle Unlimited for a while and downloaded several free books for the membership. Most of them even have the audio book option so I can read and fold clothes or unload the dishwasher.

https://amzn.to/2LGa8ha

  1. Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
  2. Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey
  3. The Bee Keepers Lament by Hannah Nordhaus
  4. Beautiful Exiles by Meg Wright Clay
  5. An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annette van der Zijl

What is on your nightstand or Kindle? Do you prefer paper books or ebooks?  What brings you joy in your free time?

Encouragement: A Call to Action

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Growing up my Mother was also my music teacher. Mama started teaching at my school the year that I began first grade. It was a small private school in a small MS Delta town so Mama taught everyone from Kindergarten to High School. She spent years pouring into the lives of her students. Mama had a gift of encouragement. Many students would say that they learned so much more than a love for music while under her teaching.

Mama saw the best in people.

The time and energy she poured into the lives of her students went beyond the hours in the classroom. If a new student to her show choir did not read music or know how to sing, she would give her lunch break to work with them. Many evenings our family of four would sit down for dinner and we would hear a car door shut in our driveway. Immediately Mama would scoot her chair away from the table, remove her plate to divide the meat so that there was plenty for our guest. Our door was always open for students.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

God calls his people to edify one another which means to build each other up. The Thessalonians  were good at comforting and edifying one another, but they were being reminded in these verses to do it more and more. It makes me reflect am I encouraging others as I go?

We live in a world  full of criticism.

If you follow social media of any type then you do not have to look far to find one person or group criticizing another. As parents we are quick to point to our children, “how not to” do something. We criticize our bosses, our church leaders, our politicians, our spouses, our friends, our foes… you name it we easily criticize.

But what if…what if we chose to live a 1 Thessalonians 5:11 life. In her book, Silver Boxes, Florence Littauer https://amzn.to/2L6KUoO would call the encouragement of others a gift of a silver box.  Do you have a Silver Box to give away today? Who could use a little encouragement? Start at home because that is where we easily throw our most critical words then move to your next circle of influence.

The Thessalonians were in the habit of encouraging. My Mother leaves a legacy of encouragement in the lives of many students and family. Will you be known as an encourager?

Fourth of July Recipe for a Crowd

Fireworks, family, friends and food are all a part of our Fourth of July. Now that two of our crew are married, I am getting text for recipes from our past celebrations that were traditional July 4th recipes.

Over the years we took our annual watermelon picture for our Christmas calendar. You know the one where you yell at the kids to put on something red, white or blue & Dad cut the melon so that Mom can take a million pictures to get the right one. (Sarah will be excited that I found the perfect picture to share!) There have been many years where our plans included getting the picture a day or two afterwards so that we had the annual picture.

A main stay to our Summer celebration of our Nations birthday is our Flag Cookie Cake.  It is a holiday version of the classic Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza. My girls have both messaged saying they were getting their flag cookie ready. This dessert only requires a few simple ingredients-blueberries, strawberries, creme cheese, powdered sugar, and ingredients sugar cookies.   It is easy for you enjoy this Fourth of July with these simple steps.

Follow the Wilton Roll Out Sugar Cookie recipe shared here

http://kitchencounterliving.com/2018/04/04/gift-that-keeps-on-giving/

(or a cheat is get roll out sugar cookie dough from the dairy section at the grocery store-press flat into rectangular pan) Once dough is made roll out onto a rectangular 11 x 15 cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Allow cookie to cool completely. Combine 1-8oz Creme Cheese and 1 cup of powdered sugar until well mixed. Spread evenly over the cookie. Arrange blueberries and cut strawberries in the form of an American flag. Refrigerate until serving.

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza

This is a recipe that younger children can help make. It is also a great time to talk about the stars and stripes-but be sure to add the 50 stars for the 50 states. This version does not have that so the 16 year old who came up after I had thrown together pointed out.

The best recipe is one that the kids call back to be certain they have it correct. I would say this is one of our family favorite holiday recipes. What traditional recipes do you enjoy for the 4th of July?

A Life Worth Living

In June of 2013, our Mississippi State Baseball team made it to Omaha after a long drought in the College World Series. My husband got excited and decided he and my son would make the trek West. This was a trip worth living together!

Trippe, Philip and Kathy Jo at College World Series 2013

Mother had just retired from teaching music 36 plus years. My Daddy loved MSU baseball, and he would have loved to be in Omaha again. Philip used this and begged Mom to get in the car and ride with them.

Y’all these three had the absolute best trip.

It was an experience that my junior high year old son will never forget-from the long, hot line standing to the card playing while you wait for tickets. Friends and family where everywhere & they made a few buddies along the way. They made living fun for Mom. It was a great way to start her retirement.

The theme of that trip for our crew was YOLO (You Only Live Once). Little did we know that a few short months later Mom would begin her cancer battle.

Trippe ringing Dad’s cowbell in Omaha

Well the Diamond Dawgs have shocked the nay-sayers and beaten the odds.

These Rally Dawgs are in Omaha. I can only reflect on that June when my boys learned to live by taking Mama on a trip we all will never forget. They all learned a good lesson in living in the moment.

Twitter exploded with fans excited to cheer on our Dawgs. One fan, Matt Lea,  posted a video of him asking his Dad to travel with him to Omaha. This bucket list item for Lea and his Dad was made special because Lea’s Dad has Alzheimers . The viral video lead baseball fans to rally behind their experience. It reminded me so of the special moments my boys recall with my Mom.

https://mobile.twitter.com/NCAACWS/status/1009085476135813122/video/1

Finding true joy means living each moment.

We never know when that may be our last opportunity. We have to stop and realize that each day is a gift, a blessing and it is meant to be lived to its fullest.

Psalm 90:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

How can we live life to the fullest?

  1. Live in the moment-we need to put our phones and electronics away. When we are with our friends and family we need to enjoy the moment that we are in. This, I admit, is a hard thing, but I am relearning.
  2. Make a List of Living-I recall the movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List, where Nicolson and Freeman experience life to its fullest as they face their lives ending. What are things you would love to do? We may not be able to fly around the world financially, but we can make a realistic list with a splash of exotic.
  3. Take care of your mind and body- this sounds so simple but we must keep in good health to experience this life to its fullest. Eating right in moderation, getting good sleep, regular exercise and spending time in His word all help us keep in the right form physically.
  4. Look at your glass as half full– our outlook on our life and experiences makes a HUGE difference in the outcome. Seeing our experience in a positive light will effect the outcome-when we look forward to the moment then we are more likely to enjoy it.
  5. Keep others in mind– when our plans are made with others included then we are likely to enjoy the experience more. Who can you include in your list of living?

What have you put off doing? What experience or opportunity are you missing? Can that load of laundry wait one more day to enjoy little ones today? Can you take a last minute road trip to see family who are aging? Put together that reunion of family or friends that everyone says you need to have.  Learn from Nana -YOLO!

Help for the Storms of Life

Recently,  my sweet Hubby and I took a road trip to visit family. As we neared our destination in South MS, the thunder began to roll and a good thunder storm had brewed. We both commented that we had not seen rain like that since we lived in that area. Along the Coast,  it will drop a storm in a matter of minutes then be done and you are back to your outdoor activities.

 

Around midnight last night, we experienced a huge rain at home. As I have been out and about this morning, I notice the downed branches and debris along the streets and yards. The trickle of the storm still lingers and the streets are filled with puddles which lead me to think about the storms of our lives.

I have experienced moments of life that are calm and sunny then there rolls in a “storm” out of no where.

You know what I mean-life is clicking along and the winds begin to blow before you know it the aftermath has left debris everywhere.

When my Mother was diagnosed with cancer, I can remember the feeling of it coming out of no where. Before we knew it we were in the middle of a raging storm, caregiving and fighting for her to get well. The aftermath of losing her to cancer and the cleaning up of her life afterwards was hard.

Currently, I have several friends who are in the middle of raging storms. Moments where out of nowhere the rains are falling and debris is flying, and I am reminded of a song by Mercy Me, Bring the Rain, that comforted me in recent storms.

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Songwriters: BILLY MONTANA,HELEN DARLING
© CARLIN AMERICA INC, MIKE CURB MUSIC
For non-commercial use only.
Data From: LyricFind

https://www.bing.com/search?q=bring%20the%20rain&pc=cosp&ptag=G6C999N0822D010418A316A5D3C6E&form=CONBDF&conlogo=CT3210127

You have heard it said “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade”.

I think when the rain comes we just need to PRAISE HIM.

The storms are hard and the aftermath may seem unbearable, but He is near. He is drawing us in and we need to lean close. The Creator of the rain is in control.

Gratitude Creates a Joyful Attitude

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Words rightly written can speak volumes to me. Finding the author and blogger, Ann Voskamp, opened my eyes to words and feelings that changed the way I thought. After months of reading Ann’s blog, I received her long awaited first book, One Thousand Gifts. https://amzn.to/2svyMFP My world was changed. I was on a journey to find gratitude.

I grew up with parents who looked for the good in life.

We had read the book, Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer https://amzn.to/2Jkkoe1 years ago. The words we speak over others is an opportunity to bring life to them. This was an view of gratitude in itself that one would speak over others.

Voskamps words regarding the gift of gratitude brought an entire new meaning to words. Voskamp encourages the reader to keep a record of gifts given by God. In the beginning of my 1000 gifts, the obvious was written-my home, my family, my friends, etc.  The things I was thankful for changed as I progressed in my recording of my gifts.

I am more aware of the things in  my life in which to be thankful. Writing this now, I look outside my window to see the multiple shades of green leaves blowing in the wind. I love spring.  My gratitude writing made me notice the little nuances of other seasons.

I was intentional to keep my 1000 gift list and continued for a long time writing my thankfulness down on paper. There was a point were I no longer wrote the list, but I would say my thank you out loud as I noticed a new grace. Often times I reflect back to realize that I have lost my gratitude for the everyday, little things so my list comes back into my life.

Statistics show that keeping a list of things we are grateful for helps us to look at our lives more positively.  When a person takes the time to notice the little things of life  then there is less time to dwell in the negative or what we do not have.

Beginning a gratitude journal is easy.

One needs a penhttps://amzn.to/2LRW3dN and a notebook.https://amzn.to/2sztU2i I am a lover of pens and notebooks so I would need a new one to begin this process, but it can be the one you cleaned out of your child’s backpack that has notebook paper left. This process cost you nothing but time.

When I began my gift journey, I kept the notebook with me on the kitchen counter. If I was out and about, then I grabbed my phone to type a note with the item. Later I would transfer my thankful list to the notebook. There is something about written word. When we write down with our own hand and we reread that note then I feel like I am more aware.

Do you write a gratitude list? Join me in starting a journey to gratitude. Report back if you find the same result as I have-keeping a gratitude list makes you find true joy!

5 Keys to God Confident Children

As a preteen I struggled with my self esteem and with hearing the voices of negative that spoke loudly in my ears.  My mother, in her wisdom, would place me on her kitchen counter to listen to my heartaches and offer up pearls of inspiration, God confidence.  I spent many hours  in that galley kitchen with my bottom on one counter while my feet stretched across to the other listening and talking and crying and shaping my heart.

I would be placed in charge of tearing the lettuce and chopping tomatoes for a salad. I bake my first chocolate cake with chocolate icing on those counters. It was not a large space where I learned some of the most life shaping lessons. If Mama was in that kitchen then I was usually right under her.

Lesson that I could “believe in myself”, and it “all would get better when I got to college” were spoken over and over to my unbelieving heart. I loved those times in the kitchen with my Mama. They proved to be invaluable to me later in life. The God confidence that she offered me was   a starting ground for the woman that I am today.

As I have three daughters (and a son), I wanted the message they heard from my kitchen counters to be helpful. I remember reading every book on parenting Godly children that was available. There was an ideal in my mind that we would have weekly family worship/devotions, that life lesson moments were picturesque, and that joyful, obedient children would follow.

Well, reality is life lesson happened on the fly-usually after a not so Godly moment. Family devotion time made my children cry because I had the wrong approach. We all were not always joyful or obedient.  Now do not get me wrong-we are blessed with some AMAZING children. They have grown into adults who love the Lord and serve Him. Hopefully, they are not too scarred by my devotions or life lesson moments.

There really is no manual for raising kids that comes in their crib at delivery. The Bible is our guide to parenting. Thousand of books written by experts and not-so-experts that will tell us “how to” parent, but God set it up so clearly.

These are 5 foundations to teach our children.

If we were given a “Raising Children Manual” these would be inside… (and I am certain there are more)

  1. teach them who He created them to be a chosen child-

Colossians 3:12New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselveswith compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

2. how to get along with others-

Matthew 22:37, 39New International Version (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’a]”>[a]39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’a]”>[a]3. direction for life-

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

4. not to live in excess of anything-

1 Corinthians 6:19-20New International Version (NIV)

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

5. respect parents & discipline-

Matthew 19:19New International Version (NIV)

19 honor your father and mother,’a]”>[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’b]”>[b]

Lastly, I think we need to teach our children how to talk to God & be in relationship with him. It is simple-we just have to have a conversation with Him. He is always listening and honestly He already knows what is on our hearts, but wants to hear it from us. To be in relationship with God, we have to spend time with Him. Daily reading of His word is like hearing His voice inside His letter to us. Talking to Him daily in prayer. Our last key to relationship is spending time praising Him through worship-corporate in church and private in prayers of praise.

Our kitchen counters can be come conduits to building God confidence in our children. Raising children who love the Lord and follow His commands are keys to the parenting He has called us to do.

Cleaning Out-3 Steps to an Open Heart

Y’all I need to be honest! Dear daughter 2 has been home since the beginning of the month, and she is kicking my hoarding tail. We have spent her time here cleaning. Let’s step back a bit to how we arrived to this point.

I come from a long line of “savers”. We love to remember and to think we will one day use or need said items we are remembering.

Secondly, I inherited some of my parents & grandparents things. In the nature of remembering our heritage, one can imagine the storage facility that we rented to house such items.

Two years ago we decided to jump into the storage and begin shifting through. We had settled into our home with four kids 17 years before this, and I had kept most everything my children made or wore. The attic was swelling and garage bulging.

Long story is this week my sweet, organizing daughter has spent kicking our tail. In cleaning, we found more space and healing in more than one area. The storage facility has finally been emptied-now I am saving money!!!

The process has been painful and joyful. Projects are still left to complete, but the cleaning has been refreshing. These few weeks make me think about my heart. Do I give God the space to clean out the old and broken places? Am I hoarding old feelings or habits that keep me filled past capacity?

Join me this week in a cleaning out of the heart. Time is needed with the Lord. Grab your Bible and a notebook then head to a quiet corner. This can be a mini retreat of sorts for yourself.

3 Steps in Cleaning Our Heart

Pray this Prayer:

Lord, You have searched me, Lordand you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways. Search me, God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen (Psalm 139:1-3: 23-24)

Read:

Read Psalm 51:1-12 here-

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+51%3A1-12&version=NIV

Now read from your own Bible for one time through. Read aloud the third time through.

Journal:

Where is the Holy Spirit prompting you to make changes?

What hidden sin has come before your heart?

Write a prayer of confession-

End with a prayer of praise of His forgiveness-

Cleaning our hearts is as important as cleaning our homes. If we wait too long, our children call casting with the show Hoarders, but if we regularly go through rooms then we find space and wholeness. What are you hiding in the recesses of your heart storage today?