A Back to School Prayer

A prayer for the children in my home and yours starting a new year of school today. Fill in the blank with the child’s name.

“And may ____________ have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

May________________ experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

Then ________________ will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

The next verse is a prayer for your child’s teachers, homeschool mom or classroom teacher, along with all involved in educating your child. God is the one at work in whom we trust to accomplish the things he has planned for our children, this year, and every future year to come. We join together now and agree on this and trust the One who is ABLE!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen”  Ephesians 3:20

We are entering into our fifth year of homeschooling. This former public school teacher has tried all sorts of methods and ways of teaching her kids at home. But this morning, God was so good to remind me of the above prayer, that they would grow in the ability to understand God’s love for them, and therefore be made complete.

I don’t want their heads be full and the heart being empty. Do you feel me, mama? I don’t want them to rush through their work, get the boxes checked off and finish this school year without experiencing the LOVE of Jesus that has the power to give them a FULL LIFE, on this side of eternity and the next.

So I’m asking Him to do what verse twenty states and do infinitely more than we might ask or think in our kids this school year. I’m asking it for you kids too.

Will you join me?

Amy

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Living With LESS To Give Them MORE

The other day I was making a list of some things I needed to buy for our family. For a minute it put my head into a spin of anxiety.  I thought, I am never going to get around to doing all these projects or the  have the funds to get all of this done.  A moment of discouragement overcame me in which I labeled myself a terrible home manager.

Then I remembered.

We have chosen to live with less to give our family more. I’ve chosen not to work so that I can give more of me to my children.

Friends, I want you to know I am having difficulty writing this post because I don’t want you to feel inferior to me as a mother if you work outside of the home.  I believe that the Lord has a different plan for every family. If he has asked you to work outside of the home, please know I do not think any less of you, and I applaud you for doing what is best for your family.  I am all about cheering other women on to walk the road that God has asked them to walk.  And I truly believe each of the plans he has for us are different.  I would just like to share my journey  down the road of stay at home, homeschooling mom.  I’d love to hear your journey to working mother, and how the Lord is proving himself faithful in your family.

If you are thinking of staying at home, going into ministry (and therefore taking a pay cut),  or downsizing on purpose in anyway, lean in close because I’d love to share the blessings you can expect, along with some of the honest challenges ahead.

Know your “WHY.”  

This is so important, because you will circle back around to this one, even when your feet are planted fully and contentedly in the land of less.

My Why:  I want to make the maximum investment possible in their eternal lives.

I believe my continuous presence and active involvement in their daily lives is more profitable to my family than a paycheck.

 19“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

Instead of storing up money in a retirement account, I am storing up time, love and teaching little souls that will last forever. What a gift we have as mothers to see their little hearts and minds mature and take their own personality. We get to witness their God given gifts emerge and then watch the Lord grow his kingdom through our kids before our very eyes.

Look Past the “Less.”

To keep walking strong down the path of less material stuff to have eternally more, you need to stay detached from the worldly stuff you are missing. Because you will have to sacrifice. I don’t go get Starbucks everyday.  I don’t go shopping a few times a week.  My kids wear mostly hand me downs with a few nice brand new outfits mixed in.  But I’m not a martyr.  You just have be me smart and intentional.

Don’t neglect yourself of everything.  There is one favorite clothing boutique I love that I treat myself to shop at every other week.  That same afternoon of the week, it’s half priced coffee right down the street and I pick up a latte. This is a rhythmic treat for me to help me keep updating my wardrobe and from becoming resentful of the whole thing.

Here’s the secret I have learned:  when you delight yourself in the Lord and what he’s given you, he will shower you with unexpected, amazing blessings that you weren’t expecting.  When you keep your eyes fixed on the list of things you need, you will get stuck thinking you need to run out and find a job again.

 If you know with confidence at home is where God wants you, then you have to quit looking at this list of things your family needs as a to-do list, and start looking at it as a prayer list;  As a “Lord, provide this” list.

I’m telling you from experience, friends, when you do this, he comes through on what is needed every. single. time.

Since he is the God of the universe and all, sometimes he provides later or differently than you had envisioned; but he always provides.

Count the “MORE.”

The other day, I found a little testimony written on a small piece of notebook paper by my son, now 8 years old. I taped it up above my coffee maker (a place I knew I would look frequently! 🙂 This is what he wrote:

You take little seeds and water them with your word and then they grow into a big tree.” 

I taped this up because it is proof:  God is faithfully fulfilling my “why” for staying at home.  Eternal investment.  He’s getting it. Glory to God, because I haven’t been perfect, that’s for sure. My children aren’t perfect either, but they are learning they don’t have to be, because Jesus was and he died in their place. And since he rose and lives in us, it’s his Spirit sanctifying us everyday until he returns to take us home.

Counting your more will keep your feet firmly planted and your arms raised in praise in the land of less.

Know your why, look past the less, and count the more.  


Next week:  Keeping the holidays simple to have more Jesus and less stress.  

-Amy

 A Beautiful Blossoming 


Back to School Prayer Guide 

Two weeks from today, our school year starts and this long exhale of summer will be over. I have mixed emotions about this. I’m going to miss the slow paced, carefree days when the only few things I make sure the kids do are brush their teeth and put on sunscreen.

But alas, fall is coming, and it’s time to get intentional once again. I realized I needed to to reflect and refocus for fall  when we were at my mom’s this weekend and my kids were being loud, slamming doors, not saying please and thank you…you get it, right? I starting questioning my parenting skills until I went on a run by myself and had a one on one with Jesus.

As I ran beneath the beautiful Spanish moss-hanging trees of Charleston, I realized I was focused on all the wrong things that lead a mom down a road of despair and darkness. I was focused on my kids’ sins and not on God’s mercy, his forgiveness, and his power. Hope is lost when we focus on sin. Life is found when we fix our eyes on Jesus. God reminded me to see my child as He sees them.

A child of God.

The Lord reminded me to see past the moment. To call my child up instead of calling them out. To remind them of their position in Christ.

Redeemed for his glory and good works.

I came back from my run feeling equipped and hopeful for the road ahead in motherhood. I had a blueprint in mind from his Word to get prepared in prayer. To kneel down low and pray to the One who was there when my child’s heart first began to flutter. The One who knit her together in the womb, fearfully and wonderfully. He knows what she needs, and He will faithfully guide this mama and any mama who asks Him. He’s just that good! 🙂

I created this prayer guide to help us kneel down low for each of our children as they embark on this school year. Whether you homeschool like us, public school, or private school — it’s for you. From ages preschool on up.

When we finally made it home from our six hour car ride this weekend, I was surprised that the flowers on my front porch withstood the blistering sun the three days we were away. But I noticed that the soil was not dry. I had been sure to douse them with plenty of water before I left. I was intentional about their growth. And guess what? – A bud I had been watching had opened up into this little blossom:


Mamas- take this analogy with you! Pray, water, cultivate, tend, and wait for a beautiful blossoming in the months to come!!! Beauty within our children is sure to continue to emerge and bring their Creator glory. Thank you Jesus.

Download the Free Back to School Prayer Guide here: A Beautiful Blossoming Prayer Guide


Spread the hope!  If the prayer guide inspires you share it for other mamas:  ❤

Mother’s Day Past, Present, and Future 

Today if you saw me in church, you saw me holding a 45 pound six year old on my hip. Yes, I did. She is my princess diva. She’s still small enough to carry & she asks to snuggle. So yes, I hold her at church during worship. I know soon she’ll be too big.

If you knew that nine years ago on Mother’s Day, I sat in the same church wondering if God would ever bless me with a child, then you’d have seen me differently.

“I don’t know if I can take this another year if I don’t get pregnant this year, I thought.”

I started making plans to skip church next Mother’s Day if I didn’t have a baby yet.

…but I didn’t have to! The next year, I was at church…with baby Sam, but nowhere to be seen in service. I was in the bathroom, nursing him! 🙂

Then there were the Mother’s Days in between then and now… The ones spent in complete chaos with two small kids in diapers. I have the best memory of naked babies on my front porch picking me weed flowers on Mother’s Day.

Then we come to this Mother’s Day. My kids are 5,6, and 8. They are so fun and becoming independent. Time is flying by! Today, my eight year old boy I begged God to give me nine years ago, took “orders” for breakfast:


PBandJ crust off (yep for breakfast)

Coco puffs (don’t judge, they are delicious!)

Coffee (yep, that was me)

Bagel with avocado & large bottle of water (for ironman dad)

Sam has been doing this for meals & leaving the sheet on the counter for the cook (me:).

As Sam was taking orders, Sharon was writing a homemade card for me:

I hope she forgives me for this but it’s just so funny I have to share: she copies random stuff when she writes. Check out the message inside:

Do you see the words, “Jane Fonda?” She copied part of a book on my nightstand! This girl cracks me up to no end!

And the 6 year old diva princess was throwing a fit in her room to get out of her morning chore. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

I didn’t get a day off. And I didn’t want one. Believe me: in Mother’s Days in the past, I wanted a day off. I felt resentful if I didn’t get one if I am being honest.

But now I know, I mean really know: this is going by fast. There are no kids peeing on the walls anymore (yep potty training a boy days). There are no more pacis or diapers. AND I LOVE IT!

But here is the secret, mamas, for every stage of motherhood, penned by Paul in chains, applicable to every circumstance:

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Contentment is the secret. Joyful in the moment. Even in the chaos. Whining. Messy house. Refocusing our eyes and positioning our hearts on Christ as we do the dirty, unapplauded work of motherhood.

Today the message at church was on Nehemiah. The question that was asked was,

“What are the greatest works God has placed in your life?”

                        Motherhood 

The time between infancy & adulthood is short y’all. Some days it doesn’t feel like it, and believe me, I’m preaching to myself here when I say:

we have got to stay at it. 

Not just at the outward, immediate needs and work, but we have to stay at the feet of Jesus, being his vessels to nurture their hearts.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get distracted from this good work. I want my response when distractions come to be what Nehemiah replied when asked to leave his good work:

I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” Nehemiah 6:3 NLT 

So how do we stay focused on this good work of motherhood? Reflect, pray, and plan, walking hand in hand with Jesus the whole time.

Download a tool to help Refocus for  the week ahead here: Sunday REFOCUS plan!

Happy Mothers Day moms! Stay at this good work! It is worth it!


All Good Things are WILD and FREE

It’s Sunday again, time to reflect and reset with intention for the week ahead.  I am so excited about what the Lord has shown me regarding this change he has been stirring in my heart and in my home.  More specifically, in my mothering and homeschooling.  It’s time for me to get a little more “granola” (as my sister in law put it). People, we are letting go of our to-do lists for the spring schooling semester and running

WILD and FREE!

  

Maybe it’s because it’s the anniversary week marking two years to the date we left for the wildest adventure of our lives, to Africa to adopt our daughter, Sharon.  I stepped on the airplane scared to death of what lay ahead, with our two little children by our side, going to a foreign third world country, half way around the globe.  (I had never been anywhere but the US and Canada).  What was supposed to be a six week journey turned into a three month roller coaster ride that left me holding on to the hem of Jesus’ robe one minute and basking in the wild emotions of throwing caution to the wind the next.  My husband and two biological kids left after a month and I stayed by myself for the last two months, waiting, praying and fighting through paperwork to bring her home.  All the while, loosing my life for the sake of the life God sent us there to save, while becoming what I refer to now as a

Jesus Hippie.

Everything was out of my control anyway.  The only way I could survive was to chill out,  and take our evening walks to the shack up the dusty orange dirt road for our evening coke and nuts. (And jump on the back of motorcycle taxis with no helmet for wild rides weaving in and out of traffic). Finally, when I came home, I was culture shocked once more.  The streets really did seem like gold, smooth and wide, instead of dirt and bumpy.  I’ve spent the last two years figuring out how to fit my new transformation of “Jesus Hippie” into my old life.

Homeschooling has been quite the challenge, especially this year.  Before all this Jesus hippie mentality, I was a teacher, many moons ago.  I know what is supposed to be learned in the local public school system in every grade.  My job was to remediate children and get them “back on grade level” as soon as possible.  So, praise God that he equipped me to adopt and homeschool a child who is “behind” from  being neglected, right?  Well, in some respects, yes.  At an intellectual level, it has benefited my daughter Sharon in many ways.  But on a heart level, not so much.  I have this festering urgency to get her reading and computing simple addition and subtraction before she graduates from kindergarten.  Unfortunately, this urgency has created what I call:

SCAREY MOM TEACHER MONSTER.  (Please don’t judge).

“Sit down!  I told you to do the next problem!   I’m trying to help Sharon!”

and my personal favorite:

“That’s it, I can’t take it!  You are going to school next year!!!”

So I finally have had several “come to Jesus” meetings, tearfully repenting and asking him what in the world to do.  Of course, he is faithful y’all.  Springing up all around me, and emerging through his Spirit in me is  this desire to throw our to do lists out the binders and go

WILD AND FREE!

I’ve been trying to do this structured teacher thing long enough, and it isn’t working.  I can’t wait to tell you how faithful God was the one day I put this to the test:

I told my oldest, Sam, about this new philosophy.  I told him I wasn’t going to be stressed to “get it all done.”  Instead, we were going to relax and enjoy the nice weather, be flexible, and just do a little schoolwork here and there.  And do you know what he did?  Before we left to go to the gym (so this momma whose husband has been out of town more days than in town this month and just needed a little break) he got out his workbooks and did two subjects!

So, we went to the gym and I felt rejuvenated and strong.  Sam needed to practice golf, so we went to the golf course, and this “wild and free,” “the world is your classroom,” philosophy became even more appealing. I sat back and ENJOYED these precious children. Sam soared with confidence as he practiced this gift God has given him, and the girls found a ladybug.  Sharon is still learning her environment here in America, and this experience was phenomenal for her.  She brought the ladybug home and talks to it like it is her baby. (She has given it an eight o’clock bedtime:).The girls ran all over the hills and climbed trees and did a photo shoot of one another!  It was magical.

 

 

 

We came home and had lunch.  When we were good and satisfied, each of them snuggled me one at a time and read to me while the others did their computer work or independent workbooks.  Sam was outside playing with his neighborhood friends by 3:30 when they got home from school.  Arabella, my middle child, was done with all her work and outside by 4:00.  Sharon worked very hard, with a good attitude.  She still had two subjects left at 4:30, but I could tell she needed a break.  I let her go on outside to play then, with a nudge from the Lord to let the checklist go.

We ended the school week with a smile, an awesome day, and most of our work done, praise Jesus!

And here comes the amazing part: On Saturday morning, with NO PROMPTING, Sharon opened her workbooks to do her last two subjects that she had not gotten around to the day before!  WILD AND FREE was working, and it was blowing my mind!

I started dreaming big about adventures to enjoy with my kids in the months to come, to really honor the Lord in discipling these precious souls in ways I have wanted to, but not gotten around to because of “the lists.”

Here are my discipling dreams/goals in the future months:

  1. Teach each of them how to keep a personal prayer journal, pouring out their hearts to the Lord everyday.
  2. Cultivate their God-given gifts.  Sam has been writing sermons and worship songs, and I want him to focus in on that.  The girls love to dance as worship, and to paint.  I want to enjoy these and encourage them to work on them.
  3. I want to teach Sam how to navigate his “big boy” bible and really start using it.

Here are my WILD AND FREE dreams/goals for the future months:

  1. I want to go outside with them everyday.
  2. I want to go before the Lord every morning, ask him for guidance with our schedule, and ask him to help us accomplish his plans for our day, not mine.  I want to nurture their hearts and their minds.
  3. I want to view the world as our classroom and let His Spirit interject the lessons he has for them to learn

And the fun one:  My dreams/goals for their life experiences the next few months:

  1. Go on walks in the woods behind our house, find and clear a hang out spot there.
  2. Get them some “hunting and trapping” equipment for catching tad poles and bugs.
  3. Just have fun with them!  Wild and free fun    

I am looking forward to this spring season with anticipation of what the Lord will do with this new outlook and homeschooling philosophy.

What does your Sunday Reset button look like this week?  Take time to reflect in prayer and ask God what he would have you do different.  His mercies are new every morning, but they feel especially new Monday mornings!!!

Live a REFOCUSED life for Life Himself!

Going to Church DIRTY (Mind ramblings of a mom getting her kids to church)

“Ok it’s 15 minutes later than I planned to leave, but if we back out the driveway in two minutes, we’ll be pulling in the parking lot when the service starts,” I was giving myself this pep talk as I turned the key to lock the door, run down my front porch steps to the minivan.  Then I saw him.

“Oh, crap! What did you do?! Why are you so dirty?!!!”

“Just get in, you’ll have to go dirty.”

Then I looked at his extremely muddy shoes.  And I reminded myself that we are in  America, and I was going to get a lot of looks if I took him like that.  (Plus the very Christian side of me thought about the people who would have to mop the floor after him.) Yeah, that’s what I thought 🙂

I had already started backing out of the driveway when I decided I better get him a different pair of shoes, at least.  So I pulled back in, ran inside to his room, saw them in the clutter on the floor, grabbed them, grabbed a wet sponge and paper towel, locked the door, ran back down the steps, and jumped back in the minivan.”

“Think something positive and smile.  Grace.  Grace. Grace,” I told myself.

I smiled, handed him his shoes, and said, “Here you go buddy.” It’s okay, we just probably shouldn’t play golf in the mud next time before we are about to leave the house.

Did I mention I took a picture so I could share this fun story?


Oh, Jesus, how do military moms do this?  How do single moms do this?  How do moms with unbelieving husbands do this?  My husband travels twenty something long weekends without me a year and I  can hardly do this.

Why do we have to act like we have it together to go to church?

Myself included, I’m not pointing fingers, I’m raising my hand in an amen, sister friend.

God’s spirit reminded me of this verse today in the midst of the muddy shoes and pants.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

Isaiah 64:6

My son’s clothes were just a reminder of my desire to have our “Sunday best” on as our righteous acts.  But like the verse above says, our desires to look like we have it together on Sunday is just a filthy rag, as dirty as the orange clay on a little boy’s knees.  We all have these desires, that’s why we need Jesus.  That’s why Jesus told us we need church. We need each other.  We need to be honest and say, I didn’t want to come to church today.  I yelled at my kids and I had poor time management and I didn’t eat breakfast (yes that was my stomach growling during the prayer.)   And I did honestly tell some ladies today at church about these struggles. Why do we need to do this?

 

“9Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

2 Corinthians  12:9

If I just smiled and said getting three kids to church by myself was a piece of cake, no one would know that  the power of the living God inside me was who actually deserved the credit.  Instead, they would think, Amy has it together (filthy rags).  Her husband works in full time ministry, traveling every weekend and she can just do it all (muddy shoes). “Ewe, get those nasty  clothes off me!!!”

How about instead, “Well, Amy has a hard time getting those kids to church on time, bless her heart.  Did you see the dirt on Sam’s pants? She must be struggling because Nick is out of town. I don’t know how she does it.”

But I told them how I do it:

imperfectly,

honestly,

with his grace.

And more grace

{Jesus.}

 On a wing and a prayer.

Just the fact that I was there today should be evidence enough 🙂

So dear mama, reading this, take off the fifty rags of having it all together.

Boast in your weaknesses so that the power of the grace filled God can rest on you.

Put on the beautiful,  clean, robe of grace.

We’ve been walking around with sparkling clothes and dirty hearts long enough.