Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A morning glimpse at faithfulness...

How's this for a faithful God? 

"Your offspring"- they still hadn't had children. 

"Afflicted in a foreign land"-God intimately knows our circumstances before they come to be. 

"Come out with great possessions"-a promise of redemption for His people.

Always giving His people the revelation they need (grace) and the ability to trust Him at His Word (more grace) regardless of their circumstances (which were designed by His grace)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

book review|Exploring Grace Together

Exploring Grace Together
Jessica Thompson

While I haven't actually gone throughout his book with my children, I am thankful to have it as a resource for our next set of devotional material.  There are forty topics and forty chapters. Each chapter begins with a primary bible verse, a short narrative describing a situation any young school-aged child might find himself or herself. The chapter then provides a few conversation-starting questions to help engage the listener with the text. Super practical from this parent's perspective.

My kids are currently three and six years old. While my youngest might be oblivious to heart motives, my six-year old could be fully engaged. I am looking forward to seeing grace transform my children (and my responses toward them) as we proceed with this relaxed, approachable study together as a family.

I received a copy of this book from Crossway for review.

Monday, March 17, 2014

book review|What Is Biblical Theology?

What Is Biblical Theology?  
James M. Hamilton Jr.

As I was first reading this book, I wasn't expecting all this talk of patterns and imagery and symbolism.  Guess I should have taken a look at the subtitle :)--"A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Pattern.  Once I realized this was the primary basis for the book, I was able to read with clear, focused eyes.  

I was given the opportunity to speak to a group of elementary students about the tabernacle God commanded the Israelites to construct multiple times in the Exodus wanderings.  Only by God's gracious providence that I could have that basis--specifically how the tabernacle points to Jesus--to open my eyes to the reality and connections we see throughout Scripture.

Seeing all of these connections, literally written from eternity past, fulfilled in Christ, giving us faith and hope that what is revealed about the future will truly come to pass is amazing.  This is a great resource and a fairly short read (128 pages).  Scripture has been made more alive to me as I see the following pictures within God's Word: tree/root/branch, the flood, the tabernacle/temple, feasts, and suffering to name a few.

This book helps the reader to see that God is big--bigger than we could comprehend.  We are so quick to become so egocentric and self-centered that we forget that there is a bigger story at play going on in the world around us.  The more we are able to see that God is big and man is small, the easier it is for us to look in an objective way at the circumstances we face.  Very practical when counseling others when their judgment is clouded with the emotions surrounding their situation.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

february quotes

Jackson:  Mama, You can't (indistinctive mumbling)
Mama: You can't marry someone you just met?
Jackson: Well, you can if it's true love.

Me:Jackson you're my favorite little boy. Am I your favorite mama?
Jackson: Yeah...and John is my favorite dad.

Jackson during bedtime prayers...
And thank You for my dad who is just a kid grown up.

Jackson: I am going to marry Addy.  And when I grow up I'm going to kiss her on he lips!
(He's even got the preacher lined up already)

There was a large bible with an artists depiction of Jesus' crucifixion. It showed Christ with arms outstretched and just a small wrap around his waist...Jackson was looking at it, "Um, dad, why is God not wearing any clothes?"

Jackson: Hey, Dad! I got a joke.
John: okay buddy, what's your joke?
Jackson: why did Spider-Man climb up the mountain?
Because he needed to watch a MOO-vie! Ha ha ha ha!
John: yep, that's hilarious (rolling eyes)
Jackson: Yeah, and funny.

After Jackson's bath today I pointed out his wrinkly fingers.... Oh no! Am I a papa now??!? 

Spring Teaser--Family walk to the park

52 week project...weeks 3-6

3/52 inside...  the last time I was with my little boy was when his daddy was holding him in the smallest casket I had ever seen.  standing graveside, I watched on as my brave husband set his body inside the still-cold May earth that day. Four years later, big sister still picks out a pink flower for her little brother. (Malachi was diagnosed with CHARGE and DiGeorge syndromes shortly after birth.  He fought for seven months before our Lord took Him home.)

my entry for week 4-joy.... 4/52 [joy] joy... peace in the midst of agony/sorry/heartache... peace that only comes from God... given when His people trust... trusting in Him--choosing faith even when LIFE doesn't make sense.

5|52 noise... newborn cry

6|52  www.recklesslyinspired.com I make keepsake necklaces for grieving family members who have lost children... who are now in paradise.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do you wanna build a snowman? [pics]

It was finally warm enough to actually go out and ENJOY the snow...

the next few days will be full of puddles as we thaw out... thunderstorms will help with that too

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thoughts on 1 Peter 3

1 Peter 3 | Marissa Sharbaugh

So Amy pretty much summed up the book of 1 Peter perfectly when she said, "He calls his readers to lives of holiness and self-sacrifice out of gratitude and reverence for Christ."  So how are we to do this today--living as godly women in light of our God-ordained suffering?  Like Jenny stated, we need to understand that our natural self is more easily drawn to malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander.  We need to recognize our need, our dependence upon our All-Sufficient God--like that of a newborn baby.  And just like that baby who craves milk, we need to long for the spiritual milk of the Word of God.  In His Word, He reveals Himself to us.  We learn of the character of God--His goodness, His faithfulness, His truth.  It is when we know God's character that we can have peace in the midst of suffering.  A verse that has become very real to me is Isaiah 26:3 which states, "You [God] keep him [you and me] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You."  Our minds must be stayed on the very person of God.

Chapter 3 begins with Peter addressing both spouses with their God-designed roles, but we will look at God's instructions specifically to women.  The word says wives "in the same way" submit. This is referring simply to the two examples he gave in chapter 2 (citizens being under civil authority and servants under their masters).  This submission is not a manner of one party being inferior to the other, but rather God's chosen design for roles within the community and family.  I am very thankful for the distinction that a women is to be subject to her OWN husband, not all men in every context.

By God's very design, wives who fulfill this submissive role can in fact point people to the gospel.  This can be seen in both her appearance and her behavior.  So what does that look like practically?  The way Peter describes it here is chaste, respectful, having pure conduct, submissive, doing right, having a gentle and quiet spirit.  Family life is CRAZY.  Whether you have little babies or toddlers or school-aged or teenagers, every season has its own set of craziness.  Home life can be the very opposite of still and tranquil.  For some, like myself, to have a gentle/patient/quiet spirit requires work.  I pray for it daily.  I fail at it daily.  But that striving and the grace for when I'm actually successful, Peter tells me that it is precious in God's sight.  It's precious.

Peter knows that we need godly examples.  He points us to the "former times", the example of Sarah in the Old Testament.  Not only do we need examples from the past, but we need examples now.  I would encourage you to seek out a godly older woman as described in Titus 2--a woman who will teach you love your husband and your children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to your own husband.  This is glorifying to God.  Then, don't hoard that knowledge, find a younger woman who needs to be taught the same things you've been taught.

A godly woman is also called to live in harmony with others, to be sympathetic (weeping and rejoicing with those who weep and rejoice Romans 12:15), declaring God's truth, affectionately serving, esteeming others higher than herself.  When mistreated, she is to show unconditional love, blessing and forgiving the offender--striving for harmony without sacrificing the truth.

This book tells us that God is an active participant in our lives--in our suffering--and not simply a passive observer.  First Peter 3:10-12 is actually quoting Psalm 34:12-16.  I'm not sure why Peter stopped at verse 16.  In the midst of suffering I have found great comfort in the two verses that follow, "When the righteous cry for help, The Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."  

We live in a broken, sin-cursed, hostile world.  Believers are to embrace a devotion to Christ, a passion for goodness, a pure conscience, a willingness to suffer, and a readiness to defend the faith. We are reminded again that suffering in a God-honoring way is a blessing, a granted honor and privilege.  In Revelation 2:10 John received a promise, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer... Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."  Suffering may come as God's loving hand of disciplining His child, but there is also suffering for doing what is right.  We are called to accept that pain as part of God's wise and sovereign blessing for our life--"if that should be God's will" (3:17).  

Many times suffering brings its own unique opportunities to be a faithful witness for Christ to a watching world and as godly women, we should be able and ready to make a defense for our hope.  Our son Malachi was born with CHARGE and DiGeorge syndromes.  His brief life, his death, and the grief I endure give me a platform for the gospel.  Even worldly people are affected and saddened at the loss of a child.  It gives me an amazing opportunity to share God's goodness and faithfulness and His truth in the midst of overwhelming darkness and heartache.  

We serve a redemptive God.  We serve a God who brings life from death.  We serve a God whose character never changes or fails.  We can have peace in our submission and peace in our suffering when we keep our eyes on His very character.  And in so doing, we reflect the very person of Christ into the darkness of this world.  The Christ who suffered once for the sins of all that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.  The Christ who was resurrected from the dead who is now at the right hand of God over all angels, authorities, and powers (3:18-22).

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

December quotes

Mama: Thanks for being my buddy today.
Jackson: Yeah, and for being good.

Many local grocery stores give kids free cookies from the bakery.  Kids know if they are good throughout our trip to the store, our last stop is the bakery for their cookies.

The kids were waiting patiently at the store for someone to cut our fabric. It had already been 15 minutes. Still good attitudes. A few aisles over we heard someone throwing a big fit. Instantly, Jackson looks up at me, "She is not getting her cookie."
Later, we went to get the cookies and Jackson offered me a bite. I said, "Aw thanks, sweetie."  He replied, "you were good in the store too!"

Jackson was finishing up his lunch in the kitchen and I was in the next room...
Jackson: Mama, come here. I need to tell you something.
Me: What is it, buddy?
Jackson: I need to tell you... Every kiss begins with k.

The kids were out shopping (Dec 21) with Daddy to pick up a Christmas gift from them to mama.  Traffic was awful and parking lots and stores were crowded...

Emma to John: Daddy, this is why our Christmas shopping needs to be done sooner...

Jackson: I'm in the store...and I'm sing-ing!

At breakfast...
Mama: Do you guys want milk in your cereal?
Jackson: Certainly, yes!

January quotes

Hopefully John can remind me of some more later...

I heard a thud coming from the next room. I checked on it only to find an overturned footstool and a defeated three year old on the verge of tears.
Mama: What were you doing buddy?
Jackson: I was trying to reach the sky.

Eating breakfast, Jackson wanted to come over and sit by me... He said, "I'll move my bowl over and we can share...that'd be precious."

He's been picking up on phrases/lyrics... 
    (From Frozen) "mommy, what's a 'kingdom of isolation'?"
    What is "discipline"?

Jackson: I'm cool. God made me cool.

After seeing his reflection in his spoon: I'm like a bat! I'm upside down!

There were SO MANY MORE I didn't take the time to write down :(

Saturday, January 25, 2014

#6 cousin birthday party!

Only a month late for our first born--sorry, sweets!--but we finally got around to celebrating little miss's SIXTH birthday party with the Sharbaugh clan...she chose Disney's Frozen.  Do you know how difficult it actually is to find birthday party goodies with Anna and Elsa on them?  I thought Disney marketing would be all over this, capitalizing on every little girl's current favorite movie--especially those with winter birthdays!

John tried his hand at fondant....making Olaf's head.

Olaf regarding his nose:  "Oh, it's like a little baby unicorn!"

 Normally, with Sharbaugh cousin birthdays, there are at least two families involved.  Since it was just Emma, I figured we should probably make two boxes worth of birthday cake.  So I was in charge of the cupcakes.

John brought home a rose for his princess... She's smitten.

Presents were opened with help of her friends... 

We had kids do make their own personal size pizzas (not pictured), Olaf arms (not pictured--white choc dipped pretzel rods), Ice cubes (blue jello--leftovers pictured below) and Olaf noses (baby carrots with ranch)

We had a Frozen sing-a-long and played pin the nose on Olaf...

All in all, I think it was a success... 

Monday, January 6, 2014

2/52 imperfection ... and snow day!

we got to the end of our puzzle this afternoon to find two missing pieces ;)

Twelve inches of snow fell at our house on January 5... 
We are now left with horribly negative temperatures!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

1/52 reflection

So 2014 has arrived.  One of my desires is to grow as a photographer.  Many of my memories exist because there is a photo.  After Malachi died, my short term memory seriously took a siesta.  God provided a newborn seven months after Malachi's death which forced me to keep my camera out to capture all of that baby goodness.  I'm so thankful for those photos because the first year of Jackson's life is a blur.  

In order to push and challenge myself in this desire I've joined a group on facebook (and asked a couple other personal friends to join me) in order to provide some type of community and accountability.   

Week 1's theme was reflection.  Here are my two favorite shots!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cleaning up after the holidays

It's officially the new year.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years celebrations have come and gone.  January 2 meant hubby was back at work and I'm home with my now 6 and 3-year-olds.  The combination of back-to-back days with family, a four-day trip out of state, and another set of back-to-back family days left my house in a "state of chaos" (to put it lightly)...

Minor sneak peek...

After going from one room to the next only to be reminded of yet another unfinished job, I literally started losing my mind.  In an attempt to prove to my husband just how insane his wife is, I started documenting my morning.  Enjoy!

So I started the water for my shower, no towel.  Open linen closet to get new towel, all dirty, remember to do laundry, grab a beach towel instead.  Shower and get ready for the day.  Need coffee... head to kitchen. 

Once in the kitchen I notice the messy island.  Think to self, "Today might be a good day for before/after pics..." Grab iPad to snag some quick pics.  Kids are whining, better start breakfast.  

Put oatmeal in the microwave, call for kids to come to the kitchen.  They need dressed.  Lead them back upstairs to change clothes.  Dig through baskets of clean laundry because I haven't put anything away for the last three weeks.  Clothes found.  Kids dressed.

Serve breakfast.  Go to take a sip of my coffee... Realize coffee hasn't been started. Start coffee.  While coffee is brewing, might as well start to clear off the island. 
Move all dishes from island to sink, which reminds me I need to put all dishes that were in the sink (thankfully husband rinsed them all) into the dishwasher.  Full dishwasher, close it.  Out of sight out of mind.  Make mental note to deal with it later.

Notice kid's cup on the counter above the dishwasher.  Take straw out of cup on counter and put in the trash.  So I grab an old grocery bag and hunt for trash laying out around the main floor.

While picking up trash, it's decided that I should probably start making piles... there's a pile for stuff that goes upstairs, a pile for kids' stuff, a pile for kitchen stuff. Move kitchen pile onto the island.  Island now messy.

With things now in piles, I can see floor... crumbs. are. everywhere.  Scan the kitchen.  Notice the light is off on the coffee maker.  Coffee done!  Take sip.  Lukewarm, back to microwave.  Get sweeper to make a quick pass on those crumbs I noticed.  Where's the sweeper? Where's the sweeper?  In the entryway, weird, whatever.  Just thankful it's charged.

While grabbing the sweeper, I notice all things outdoor sprawled in entryway.  Mental note to take care of that later.  Sweep, see socks... reminds me that I need to go finish laundry I threw in the dryer last night.  Begin wrinkle release on dryer.  
Towels on laundry room floor, find more towels in kitchen.  While in kitchen, grab coffee out of microwave, notice dirty stove while replacing the lid on my mug.  I should wipe that down.  Where's a paper towel?  No paper towels on the holder.  Where are they?  Where are they?   Find paper towels in living room.  Of course they're in the living room.  Might as well clear off the end table while I'm in here...More trash, more sorting into piles. 

Clear books off of the foot rest, move Bible and notebook to the coffee table in the front room...  While in the front room, sort stuff into piles, mental note to organize books on shelf... clutter and chaos.  Library books sprawled all over the floor... make a mental note to renew materials, pray nothing was lost or thrown away in my sorting and trash pick-up.

Renewing materials convinces me to take a quick break to check my iPad to see if sick husband is surviving at work.  Sip lukewarm coffee, stick it back in microwave.
See dirty towel .. Laundry!   Switch laundry, start new load, almost out of detergent- mental note to add ingredients to grocery list. 

Notice crumbs again...find sweeper.  See  pile of games previously made, put them up on shelf.  See crumbs again, find the sweeper... Avoid sweeping iPad cord...need to sync it.  Look for computer keyboard, wonder where iPad is. Realize in my hands.  Really??

Plug iPad in, see crumbs and lots of dust on tv stand, mental note to sweep AND dust.  iTunes: "Want to update?" Realized I didn't last time, click yes... 10 minute wait.  Better work while I wait.  Find sweeper. Ignore dust.

Sweep front room... Hopefully the clanking was something not important (like a stray lego)  Sweep living room... Find all sorts of things under rug. Recruit three year old to take more socks to laundry room.  Tidy up couches and blankets. Swish couch crumbs to floor. Resweep. Notice crumbs behind couch... Refrain from rearranging the entire room. 

Notice more trash on end table. See empty medicine box, pray for sick husband who clearly I don't have enough cold medicine for...  Try to sync iPad...it fails...three times. Realize I just wasted lots of time. Kids are hungry, better feed them.

Head to kitchen.  See the new mess on the island and all the crumbs under chairs... Take deep breaths. Make lunch, resolving to clean kitchen later.

iTunes is up, might as well listen to something. While I'm in here, I might as well sweep the rest of living room quick, going around heaping box of upstairs stuff, basket of clean/unfolded laundry, and empty hamper. Phew.

Turn up music louder to tune out the kitchen floor crumbs still calling my name.  Move the leftover  breakfast dishes from island to counter by sink... Not rinsing them due to already full sink which hasn't been put into the dishwasher because it still hasn't been emptied.  Because the dishwasher is still full. 

See command hooks on island that need to go up by the front door, mental note that the entryway still needs work.  See daughters birthday check, mental note that I need to deposit other checks to account.  See candle, find lighter, hopefully "cinnamon swirl" will help current kitchen aroma...

Wipe crumbs off island into hand, most falling on the floor with their siblings.  Look for counter cleaner and paper towels... Cleaner hidden among counter piles, paper towels, where did I last see them? Oh living room.  Counter cleared...need to sweep kitchen.   Sweeping crumbs, mental note to actually mop main floor.

Lunch.  Need to feed kids now.... Get to work on quesadillas... Learn I really need to clean microwave. Give children food. Get to work on dishes.  Step 1: empty dishwasher. Scratch that, step 1: move overflowing trash away from dishwasher in order out even open door... Start unloading, dryer buzzes. Check on towels. 

The towels are dry, but I need a basket...all are used (two in daughters room full of clean clothes-remind myself better clean than two baskets of dirty laundry).  Gently dump basket of clean clothes on to bed, first strip bed so there is room, need to remember to throw sheets in wash anyway.

Move to put second load of towels into dryer...not done because I forgot to shut the lid of the washer... Back to dishwasher.  Emptied, reloaded, ready to tackle the stack of pots/pans.  Start hot, soapy water in the sink.  Start a movie for kids. Back to scrubbing dishes.

Notice laundry room is silent...switch loads.  Start load of dirty rags, hopefully I remember to clean washer after that load before putting in our bed sheets.  Now back to pots and pans. Dishwater is getting pretty gross. Drain sink and check Facebook/email.

Oops got distracted. Need to refill sink. Check on kids....remember water is still running... Close call. Finish hand wash only dishes. Pray stack of drying pans doesn't topple down onto the kitchen floor before they dry.

Sit to watch rest of movie with kids. Realize I never ate lunch... Make lunch, dreading that I'm dirtying more dishes... All the while, really just wanting another HOT cup of coffee...

So that sums up my post-New Year's Thursday 2014.  Well at least the first five hours ;)

As I took the time to turn my original draft into a post, I realize I forgot the after pics.  I'd take them now, but I'm pretty sure the house is already back to square one.