Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Woman's Walk With God

September 30th. Where did this month go? Where has this year gone? I can't believe that we are already closing in on the end of the year holidays. 

So far this semester has been flying by. As I shared in this post my classes took me for a bit of a surprise when it came to the work load. However, I am happy to report that I think I have gotten over the shock of it all and might have a system set up to get things done. 

So far in the clothing construction class we have been working on what will eventually become a sample book. (I will be posting about that later on when it is finished. Right now its still looking really rough.) Once we have that completed we will be actually constructing our own garment. I am really looking forward to that. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy sewing but I REALLY REALLY like it.

When it comes to the written work that is a bit of another story. However, one aspect of it I am really loving. 

That is our weekly reading and devotional topics.

First of all, the book we are reading is titled "A Woman's Walk With God" written by Elizabeth George. I have read a few of her other books and I just love how real and raw she gets. You can really tell that she is writing with experience. She peppers the biblical wisdom with personal stories allowing her readers to really grasp how these principles really do fit into everyday, messy life. 

I also love it because I had the opportunity a few years ago to meet her in person and hear her speak at a conference and I just loved it. 


This particular book is focused on the book of Galatians and the fruits of the Spirit. 
Each week we have been assigned to read a chapter and in the back of the book there are some discussion questions. This would be a great book to go through with a group of ladies as a book study. For the purpose of our class, however, we are assigned specific questions to reflect on, type up answers to, and turn in each week. So far we have covered the first 3 chapters. We each have also been assigned a specific chapter and fruit of the Spirit to present a devotional for the class. (More on that assignment later on)

In the first chapter Mrs. George sets the stage for the reader. She prepares you for what to expect by laying out what it is to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and also that there are stumbling stones we will all encounter along the way if we are truly got commit to abiding in Christ and to walk in the Spirit. She reminds us that it isn't going to be easy, but it will be so rewarding in the end.

The first fruit that we dive into in the book is Love. On the surface this seems like it would be an easy chapter to read through. I mean I love my husband, I love my children, I love my family. In general I am pretty good a the whole "loving" thing. But as I read I realized that there is so much more to it. 

Its true that God puts a high priority on love. I mean, 1 John 4:8 even tells us that God is love. We also learn that God LOVES us so much that he gave us His son as a sacrifice. And we are told the greatest command is to love. Not just love, but to do so sacrificially. To be willing to lay down everything for the sake of Christ.


Elizabeth George shares 5 principles that help us to understand love. 

Principle #1: Love is an act of the will. 
Love requires a daily decision. Every day I have to make the choice to love, no matter what life might throw at me. Most days it will be an easy decision. But on those days when my husband is driving me up the wall, and when the kids have done everything BUT what I have asked them to do, it is in those moments that loving them in the way that God has commanded becomes an act of the will. My flesh cries out to just forget it. To let it all go. But through the grace of God I am able to make the decision to continue to love even in the hard times. Just as God continues to love us through our rebellion and these hard times.

Principle #2: Love is Action-not just words
Love is something we do. Often times we see in media love being portrayed as a simple feeling. However, love is most often truly understood not in the words that are said but in the things that are done to show that love. I was often told as I was growing up that actions speak louder than words and that is all the more true when it comes to how we display our acts of love toward one another. God not only TOLD us how much he loves us. He showed us in biggest of ways. From Genesis to Revelation God shows His love for His people through his protection, provision, and His ultimate sacrifice.

Principle #3: Love reaches out to the unlovely.

This is a principle that I find the hardest to live out. I don't handle unlovely people well. When I come across people who are rude or just flat out ugly in their actions loving them is the last thing that I want to do. However, that is exactly what God expects me to be doing. Doesn't He continue to love me even when I am unlovely? It's hard to believe, after some of the rotten things that I have done in my life, that a prefect God would continue to love me. What makes me think I should be any different? We are to love no matter what the situation presents us.

Principle #4: We need God to help us love.

Once we come to the understanding that we are to love no matter what life has thrown at us, whether it is lovely or unlovely we then come to the stark reality that we NEED God to help us love. When we are in those times that things are just not working out and life is hard it is only through God that we are able to continue to demonstrate the sacrificial love that we are commanded to show to the world we live in. The truth is, that once we have given our lives to Christ the love we are sharing is not even ours to be giving. It is God's love being shown through us. An even bigger reason to rely on God to help us love.

Principle #5:Love expects nothing in return

The last principle that Elizabeth George shares is that as we love, both the lovely and the unlovely, through the help and guidance of God we are to do all of this expecting nothing in return. This, yet again, is a hard pill to swallow. How often do we just long for something as simple as a thank you, especially as a wife and mother? I know that I do. In fact, my husband and I got into an argument on Monday for that very reason. (It wasn't my finest hour that's for sure) However, ultimately, I am not doing the things I do for my family with the hopes of getting something in return from them. I know my family cares for me and I know my husband appreciates me. My rewards are being stored in heaven every time I serve my family I am serving the Lord. And I am striving to love and expect nothing earthly in return. 

Love can be a  tough subject. Especially if we set out to live out love in the way that God has laid it out in the Bible.  Luckily, we aren't called to do this all on our own. As long as we continue to allow God to pour His love into us we will be able to pour it out onto the world that needs Him ever so much.

Have you read any Elizabeth George books? If so, what did you think?

Do you find it hard to love the way God has called us to love? What do you do to live out love everyday?

Get you own copy of this great book here!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lessons Learned When We Unplugged The TV

2 weeks ago the kids had a somewhat rough time when it came to behaving during church. One was blatantly defiant to his teacher during the entire class causing a need for Dad to come in and intervene and the other had a few moments of rude interruptions while her teacher was trying to talk which lead to the need to go get Dad (who was preoccupied with brother) to intervene. Luckily, just the act of the teacher walking out of the class was enough to scare her into submission for the rest of the class time. Mom was busy teaching her own class and was of NO help what-so-ever during this particular hour.

During that time Dad was in charge of making the discipline decisions. One of the decisions that was made was that both kids would be grounded from watching any form of Television for the week. This included Netflix and Hulu (the only "cable" type watching we have access too), movies, and videos on YouTube. (Yes, folks. YouTube has been discovered by the littles in the house. The current favorite is toy reviews and stop motion animation using the very same toys played with at home.) However, Mom and Dad had a show we were both looking forward to watching that very evening. The solution was to unplug the TV and bring it upstairs to our bedroom where we connected it to the computer to watch said program.

This little plan of ours worked just fine for the moment but it quickly became in the way in our bedroom and needed to go back downstairs to its home. We left it unplugged because with the kids being grounded from watching there was little need for it. Neither of the grown ups in the house really have time for much watching and what I do watch is usually done on the laptop while I am cleaning or folding laundry.

We are now 1.5 weeks into the television set being unplugged and I have to say that there are a few things that I have learned while having it out of commission.

Morning routines are so much easier when the TV is off!
I am really bad about sticking to a routine in the mornings. There was a time when I was a super morning person. I have a former teacher that can vouch for my unnecessary early morning peppiness. However, I have now become a full time mom and a full time student. Me and sleep are good friends. We need to spend LOTS of time together to keep our relationship alive. Therefore, when I have to leave sleep behind in the mornings it makes things tough to say the least. I am finding that when I don't automatically move toward the TV first thing in the morning both the kids get dressed, have breakfast, brush hair and teeth, etc. all in a semi decent time frame with little to no fighting or fussing.

The kids play outside more.
The fact that the kids are dressed and fed in a decent time frame means that they have the opportunity to go outside and play before it gets to hot to be out in the Texas summer heat. (I know its September but its still topping out in the upper 90;s Thats HOT!) They get to run and burn that energy early on and I get a chance to straighten up the downstairs with out having little ones yelling at me that they can't see every 5 minutes. That annoyed me when I was 15 and it annoys me now.

School time goes MUCH smoother.
We are full swing into our first official year of homeschooling (one in Kinder and one in Pre-K). The lessons are relatively short and simple to get through so we are done quickly but when the TV was on I heard A LOT of 'just one more show mom! Please!!!" And more often than not I would give in so I could get one more thing ready or clean one more room in the house. Before I knew it the clock was telling me it was time to start getting ready for lunch and I would have to rush to get school and lunch done at the same time.
That meant the learning was subpar and the lunch was worse.

Books are being read more!
Today we spent nearly 4 hours at one of the public library locations in town. I made the decision to go to the central location because I just love it. The children's section is wonderful and the kiddos love going there. I took some time to get the reading books needed for the next 2 weeks worth of school and each kid got to pick out a few books just for fun. Now with the TV off they are actually reading their books more. AND sometimes they even read them together without all the fighting. Its like a Christmas miracle I tell ya!

Meals happen at the table as a family.
This is one that I have tried for a long time to make sure happens. I enjoy spending time sitting around the table and talking with each other as a family. I like having that time to really get a chance to know what is going on in my kid's little 3 and 5 yr old brains. I often find some of the most unique things come out of their mouths during meals. However, we had gotten into a BAD habit of watching TV while eating dinner. Each of us in our own corner. I wasn't happy with it but I also didn't want to deal with the fighting and whining that would come with the change. Now that we are on the road both kids come straight to the kitchen when I tell them it is time to eat. That goes for all 3 meals of the day now. We are eating together and talking to one another. It's truly one of my favorite times of the day.

And lastly, bedtime routines are SO much easier.
Now that we aren't staring at the TV during our meal times until it's finally time to go to bed the process of getting the kids to bed has been so smooth. We tell them it's time for bed and they just go. No more begging for another show or more video game time. Now they ask which one of us will be reading them a bed time story. Getting in their PJ's and tucked in is a joy and a piece of cake. We are all able to end our day and pleasant as it began.

I will be the first one to tell you I didin't like the idea of the TV being out of commission. I am counting down the days until some of my favorite shows come back from summer break And I am not saying that by us unplugging the television that all of our troubles have gone away. We still have bickering and arguing but now there is a lot less noise behind it. I am not saying that the TV will stay unplugged forever either, But then again, you might just see a "For Sale" sign taped to the screen and posted on Facebook some time soon as well.

Does your family watch TV? How much or how little? How do you regulate the amount of TV time gets used on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments!