Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Set the TONE"

     I dont know if it is a woman thing or just a Jess thing but I have thing automatic pull in my being that when my husband is talking I want to clarify for him. Not because he is a pour communicator, quite the opposite, he is great at explaining just about anything. 

Let me give an example. 
     Last week I noticed that while correcting the kids in his parenting he started using the saying, "you set the tone for your day." So true but I looked at our 6 and 5 year olds faces and was pretty sure they had no idea what he was talking about other than you just messed up and don't do that any more. I think the 8 year old got it but wasn't sure. The pull happened! I wanted to jump in with a, " now do you all know what setting the tone means?" The Holy Spirit stopped me. I have really been working on letting my husband be the Dad and not doing it for him. Quality goal right gals!  
     As I remained quiet I continued to hear My man use this saying then it hit me, teach them what it means! Not while my husband is in the middle of being Dad but at a separate time! You guys, this is seriously revolutionary! So I began to ask the Lord what it means to set the tone, cause lets be honest we know that Mamma does in the home! 
     The first scripture that came to mind was 1 Cor. 13 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

     Then in my regular reading I was in Roman's 6! 

I don't know why but the image of this old record player a Gramophone I think its called came into my head. I thought I'd put that on our memory board and teach them about it. I thought I could also bust out my old Fisher Price record player and that can be our example of beautiful music and love. As I got the player out of the basement I looked though my records. Fantasia! Oh yeah! That is all beautiful music! Sweet. I cut out some examples of using our members for right and unrighteousness on music notes. Pretty sure my kids didn't even notice but its the little things that delight me so I went for it.

     I looked up a youtube video of a gramophone playing music and we had a mini dance party. Then we sat down and read that first part of 1 Cor. 13. I asked if they knew what a clanging cymbal was and got blank stares so I grabbed the spoon and whacked it all around in one of the pots. They all jump about three feet and got mad at me that I scared them. I used that opportunity to say, " I bet and when you all don't love each other its a little scary around here." This lightened the mood or "set the tone," for some humble learning.
     I asked what some example of clanging behavior or choices might be and was met with over dramatic examples, shocker. Also got some good examples and ideas of how to love one another. Exposing that they have been train quite well in right from wrong. It was nice to hear that these truths really are sinking in its just hard to walk them out in the heat of conflict. Welcome to the club kiddo's! I had a few music notes like I said with right and wrong on them. They each got a pot and untencil, risky move I know but worth it. I had the Fantasia record going whole time and would turn it up when I displayed a note of righteousness and then down so they could bang away on the pots for notes of unrighteousness. Even our puppy Duke got in on the fun! 

That was it. I will continue to use this experience to draw on as we continue memorize our verse or as we go through out the day. At one point in the day there was fighting. I grabbed a pot and spoon and started banging it, getting everyones attention of course and then smiled real big. They stopped and smiled. Right from wrong an love from unkindness are not hard concepts they just take abiding in Christ to walk them out. So I am doing my best to be faithful to teach these  little wonders the truth and pray with all my heart they choose it for themselves. 

     I am finding that simple interactive time for teaching bible truth is super affective. You should also know that they did not sit on their chairs well. One leaned so far forward she fell on her head. There were several interruptions and I have to get a drink or pee and this whole thing didn't go as I originally planned. I did however listen to the Holy Spirit as we went along and I think they got the point. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

He who has ears

      Hey there! Again, I haven't written in a while. I don't know if its the enemy discouraging me or just the ebb and flow of seasons.
      I was recently blessed to be flown out by Mom and Dad with my whole family for a visit! While there a few people asked are you still blogging I miss reading it. I was honestly shocked by that because it was so far off my radar! Anyways, I have something I want to share now.
     We had a wonderful trip to San Diego, the place of my growing up. Our family time was rich just the 5 of us during the day and time with Mamo, Papa, Uncle Lucas and Uncle Cody was pretty much the best yet. Hubby got to come for a week and then the kids and I stayed a second week.
More pictures from our trip at the end of the post
     My man hates being home with out us. I know we drive him crazy half the time but when we are away he is so verbal about how much he loves us and I get to hear his heart towards me in new ways that I relish! When we did get home it was a wonderful reunion as it always is and then just a few days later this thing about me came up.
     It started with Bear our 6 year old.
Bear: Mom.
Me: Yeah
Bear: Mom, could you just stop and look at me when I say your name. You aways keep walking away and I really want to tell you something and you don't listen.

      That truth out of my babies month was a little annoying honestly. "Seriously he doesn't know what I am required to do in a day. I HAVE to keep going or it will never get done!" I firmly rationalized way the holy conviction in my heart. Because I am so deeply and tirelessly loved by my Jesus a second conflict arose and this time with my husband. He was explaining something to me as I was preparing future lessons for the kids (as we are starting school for the year on Oct.3). I kept on with my preparations and half listened to him. When I think back now really I only listened enough to get the right responses in. "After all, he has not idea the pressure I am under to be mom, homemaker and teacher and I can't stop any old time he wants to tell me something." Well I got busted because I didn't get one of the, "ah, mmhum or ok babe," responses right. He got frustrated with me and said, " could you just stop what you are doing for a minute, your only half listening to me and I don't want to have a whole other conversation later about this when your ready to receive the details." Something else negative happened in communication that morning with my man and I began to sulk. The Holy Spirit would encourage me, Jess this is opportunity for change. "AH seriously, Lord he misses me so much when I'm gone and now that I'm here I just bug him." It was a toilet flush from there (you know downward spiral). Finally after about 20 minutes of poor me, poor me, blah blah blah! I went to Paul and said," I'm feeling really fragile about myself, all I am doing is bugging you and doing things wrong." My expectation at that point was for him to list wonderful things about me and make me feel better. Instead, he said, "Well why don't you stop feeling sorry for yourself and change." AH WHAT! Rude! I got quite an mad. He proceed to tell me gently, "Babe, this has been a thing our whole marriage. You half listen. You ask question and don't tune into the answer and then ask it again 2 hours later, I love you but it has been frustrating for me." I began to soften. I told him of my interaction with Bear and that I think God is getting my attention about something. He encouraged me the that discipline from our God isn't pleasant but we get to love better if we will do the work of surrender and change.
     So here is what to Lord has shown me since. Beyond the obvious root of selfishness of not wanting to be interrupted with my agenda. God said to me, "he who has ears let him hear." Matt. 11:15 Jesus said this a few times about different subjects.  Well I have ears sooooooo what am I missing Lord.
     To Hear is a primary verb and it also means to give audience. I got a visual. He is calling me to take the action to humble myself and purposefully come to the front of the stage and step down. Turn completely around and give my family the gift of HEARING them. Not even just listening with my eyes and body posture but with my God lead spirit. To slow down enough to truly HEAR what they are saying. This is something I lack in my walk with God as well.
     I have put this into practice and man does it make a difference. I even started putting my hands on my knees and bending over to be eye to eye with the kiddos. My man has been on a 48 at the fire station so I haven't gotten to practice much with him.
     Isn't God so good to frustrate our sin or have others frustrated with it! EEK! I am so thankful for my family. With out them I would surely go on living quite selfishly and I would be the poorer for it.
     So the challenge for the day is are we truly listening to our people? Are we willing to stop and HEAR them?

Saturday, August 27, 2016


     I love doing new things! I love meeting new people. I love surprises! I do not love to, nor do I  naturally preserver. Ugg! It seriously took me until I was 30 to realize this about myself. Paul tells the Galatians, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain- if indeed it was in vain? Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith- just as Abraham believed God and is was counted to him as righteousness?" Gal. 3:3-6. 
  Are you so foolish? Yes, Paul, yes I am, over and over and over again! Recently, my husband Paul challenged me to "do something for a year." This challenge came in a conversation littered with my tears of failure and defeat in the area of making healthy choices in my life physically. I got good at trying something new and then trying something newer 2 weeks later. I took his challenge and even got a new Instagram account called, "even_this _jess." I was on fire! Determined to change my life in a year. I checked with God on things I probably shouldn't eat and stuck to it hard core! It went so well for a month! Then it was time to take my kids and girls to Headwaters. 
First day of my program that didn't work! 

Head Waters Trip with the Girls and Kids!

Huh, real life. I can't always control what I am going to eat. Huh, I wasn't prepared for that in all  fire. So I eat whatever I felt like at camp and when I got home continued to eat what ever. I was confused at why I couldn't get back to hyper disciplined. I got discouraged and this resulted in yet another conversation with my ever patient husband. I asked if he would stop eating sugar with me for a year (basically grasping for control and him to give it to me). "Ah, NO!" In all my arrogance I was shocked that he wasn't willing to give something up and be disciplined with me. He, gently told me that he has no desire to live a crazy extreme life with food. He simple wants to be consistent in making good choices with food and exercise. He said that his comment several months ago about doing something for a year was just to encourage me in that direction of consistency and never meant for me to make a program out of it. Huh, busted. I am such a: make a program out of stuff gal. I think because my programs make me feel in control. Then in God's great love and knowledge that me in control of my life will end in disaster, He frustrates my plans with camp food. So, after some thought my man came back to me the next day and said, "This is what I will do with you if you would like. We can commit to our own standards of healthy eating and working out that fit each of our goals and then have cheat days once a week together." What!? I love it! So its not a program but its is guidelines so keep me in check. I don't want healthy living to become anything it shouldn't be. I doesn't need to rule my life! It also doesn't need to be dropped by the way side by excuses. The reason I want to be healthy is because I only have one shot at this life. I struggle with depression as it is and this eating well and exercising really makes a difference for me. Happy Mom is such a blessing for my family. I want to give that to them! 
Romans 5
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hand to the Plow

  Our Pastor taught on idolatry a few Sunday's ago. He challenged us to "surrender the thing that is ruining you."
Immediately I had something on my heart to surrender and a few days later, yet another! That's how it works with me. So on our way home from Indiana (after dropping our kids off for 3 days and 2 nights!!!) I said to my man, "So I have been thinking about what Brian said today and my idol is wanting to control your relationships with your kids. I can see how it is not helpful but damaging and I want to surrounding it!" "So what's your idol." Long pause. Then Paul said, " Sorry babe I don't work like that. I listen to the teaching and it takes about of week for me to process the truth and walk it out. So I may have an answer for you in a week. I'm just not the camp counselor that gathers a group of people shares their struggle and asks everyone else to take a turn and share their heart." Blahahhahahahahahahah! I just died laughing because there was so much truth in that statement and it cracks me up how different he and I are. As soon as God speaks to me about something I talk to everyone I know about it and ask if they can relate! My introvert of a man gave me a great word picture of how he functions in life in his walk with God.

     He said, "Picture an old school plow. Its strapped up to a horse or ox and the man is plowing his filed. He has to get it done in time to plant and for there to be a good harvest. Picture the man plowing along and right in his way is a rock. He picks the rock up, gets it out of his field and keeps on plowing. He doesn't talk about it. He doesn't call up his farmer friends to come take a look at the rock and stand around having a conversation about where it came from or what its made of or just pondering the reason rocks have to exist at all. He just handles it and moves on with the desire to do his work well and there be a good harvest."

     What!? I so would not handle it that way! Metaphorically of course, the rock is sin. I tend to have a process about the sin, confessing it to the Lord, grieving it and then hardest for me is moving on in grace. For my man the process is different and a bit more simple. I have to confess just hearing about his process convicted me about my desire to set up a tea party round my rocks. I do dwell on them to long instead of just acknowledging it to God and trusting Him to make my path straight. I'm sure that I have been helpful to him at some point in nudging him towards processing stuff a little more. Iron sharpens Iron and Paul and I are each others greatest iron in life.
     I wanted to share because I was so encouraged by the word picture. First because I think its a great sneak peek into how men think (at least my man) and Second I was challenged not to linger so long on the problem but to acknowledge it, toss it out of the field, and get on with God's kingdom work.

     Do you have a rock in your field? (there goes the camp counselor in me! lol) Do you linger to long on it? Do you need to talk less about it and confess the thing to the Lord and get back to plowing? Or are you on the other end? You don't communicate at all and the body of Christ would be extremely uplifted if you would share more?
    I pray we would all plow well today!

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Christmas Morning

     I was challenged this week at Church to look at the gifts God has given me and use them. Seems simple right? I have been walking with the Lord for quite some time and found myself dumfounded at the task of evaluating what the gifts are. I ended up texting my Pastor and he was quite helpful (as usual!)
     My biggest trip up when thinking about gifting is that I forget that God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways." (Is. 55:8)
     At Christmas time, well actually we have made a habit of getting Christmas shopping done in October! WHAT! Its so great cause then I can super focus on the teaching stuff God gives me for the kids. Easter and Christmas we kind of have our own little VBS kind of weeks leading up to the big day! ANYWAYS~ When my husband and I are thinking about what to give our kids we think of one kids at a time. We think about what would delight them and be useful. Some gifts are for pure fun and others (like art sets or legos) if used at the child's full potential can bless others. They can use their made in His image-ness to create something from nothing and it will delight others.
     Now as is human nature there are times that our kids will take their eyes off their own gifts and decide if what their siblings got is better or not. I think this would be a good description of where I go wrong with my thinking on spiritual gifts.
     I think God would have us unwrap our gifts and use them in a way that we bless others and never forgetting Who gave them.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

     The overwhelming theme of that scripture is a God focus and not a self focus.  So if I am going to go off of God's thoughts on the matter of gifts and not my own, I think I will be blogging more. I love to share the truths that God is teaching me. I haven't written in 4 months because I got my eyes of Him. I looked around at other's gifts and decided mine weren't as shiny so I should just put them away. Not at all what God has called us to.

     So here is the challenge to you my friend and reader. Do you know what God has given you? Are you willing to use it fully with out looking at what others got and waisting your heart comparing yours to theirs?

     I am convinced this is a process. Just as children don't wake up Christmas morning blink and have their 500 piece lego set built and on display. We first need to have a heart to receive not thinking ourselves any less loved by God than others. Then unwrap. Then lets serve one another spend ourselves and our gifts to encourage the body. There are so many people hurting and struggling out there, James 1 talks about various trials we go through. That word various is the same word that God uses in 1 Peter 4, talking about various grace! God matches trials with grace and He'd like to use you functioning in your gifts to dispense that grace. Lets not rob one another with childish perspective on spiritual gifts. Let believe scripture and act accordingly.
     Can I get a high five?!