Need a little direction?

I had the opportunity to visit my beautiful best friend Amber the other day.  She lives 2 hours away and we hadn't seen each other in ages.  I used my new Magellan GPS unit that replaced the one stolen months ago.  As I was driving I reflected on the amazement of GPS units.  There is a satellite in the sky that is communicating directly to my GPS unit telling me where to go; it knows where I am, where I'm going and when I'm going to get there.  In fact, this same satellite is communicating with lots of different GPS units, telling them where to go and getting them there.  None of those other GPS units were going to my location; we were all going our own separate ways.  The satellite is not confused or overwhelmed with the number of people asking it for direction and it gets them all to their correct location.  I find this absolutely amazing: man has managed to create an inanimate object that can give thousands of people directions at the same time and it does not get confused.

As I thought about this further (4 hours in the car, so I had lots of time to think:) I thought of how we experience this amazing invention and fully believe, know and use this unit without question.  Yet we have a hard time believing the Creator of the universe can actually care about every single human being on earth and that He is able to be involved in every individual's life giving them direction in their every day decisions.  Often we believe He is either too big, too busy or He doesn't care about me.  He probably cares about nations but He doesn't care about individuals.  One of the reasons we believe it can't be true is because we can't comprehend how He could do it.  Yet we have no problem taking a GPS unit (a man-made item) up on its offer to give us direction, even though I don't think any of us reading this blog could actually create or even explain in depth how a GPS unit technically works.  My point, the Creator of the universe has declared that He cares about YOU and He has declared that He is willing and able to give you direction in your life.  Do you take Him up on His offer?  Do you really truly believe it and seek after it?  Or do you let your inability to comprehend how He could care about you trump over His declarations that He does care for you?

Or perhaps you don't realize He has offered to guide and direct you.  Here are some verses that show His offer:

  • Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
  • Isaiah 30:20-21 Your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it.
  • Exodus 15:13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.
  • John 16:13-14 When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
  • Isaiah 58:11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
  • Psalm 25:8-9 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
My prayer is that you see the heart of our Great God and His desire to lead you and guide you, as an individual in your path of life.  He has asked us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  Take Him up on His offer.  He is willing and He is more than capable of doing what He has offered to do.

In Christ,

    PS Remember my post on John Eldredge's marriage book Love and War?  My friend Amber is giving away a copy of it at her blog Journey of Grace.  Check out the details for a chance to win!

    Book Review: The secret Holocaust Diaries

    This weekend I finished the book the Secret Holocaust Diaries: The untold story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin.  Nonna was a young Russian girl who was born right before World War II and spent a good portion of her youth in Germany's labor camps.  Her story is very unique and full of tragedy.  She came from an aristocratic childhood and about the age of 5 life began to change in Russia.  She proceeded to lose literally everyone in her family from the age of 7 until 16.  Most of the story comes from her direct diary entries.  Nonna hid her diaries for her entire adult life and a couple of years before she died she allowed her husband to read them.  She told her family that after her death, they could share her story with the world; hence this book.

    Because Nonna passed before the book was published and the editors never spoke to her in person there are a lot of gaps in the story.  In addition, Nonna had written the original diary in 4 different languages and then throughout her adult life she translated the diary into English.  Because of the unique way this diary was brought into being there isn't a smooth flow in the book.  You get a lot of bits and pieces throughout the book but by the end you understand the whole picture. 

    Nonna experienced a lot of tragedy and honestly there were two parts in the book that I couldn't handle reading and I literally closed my eyes and turned the page.  Nonna quoted the philosopher Santayana in the book, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it! (pg. 255)"  It is absolutely heartbreaking to read the depth of evil that humanity can reach and the absolute disregard for the value of human life.  But it is also amazing that the power of love can carry one through an extremely difficult time.


    I received this book as a complimentary book from Tyndale Publishing.  The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.  In other words, I was not paid for it:)

    Working Out: The Spiritual Parallels

    You will be glad to know that even after finishing Get Healthy for Hope I am still exercising.  I realized in the process of getting healthy that I have come to the age that the only way to maintain my weight, and hopefully still get it down a few pounds is through exercise. 

    My age + No exercise = an ever expanding pant size.  

    But I have also realized that through exercise I actually get the results I'm looking for!  There was a time I didn't think it was making any difference, but slowly and surely I am beginning to see the differences.  On my physical journey to weight loss there has been the ever faithful, kick your butt companion Jillian Michaels. 

    I need to workout with someone.  If I'm left to myself, I get tired after 5 minutes and think I've done  enough.  When you have Jillian Michaels telling you, "You can do more" well you have to do more because she'll "come through the TV and grab you" if you don't (and with her personality you believe she really could).  She provides the encouragement I need to take it many steps further and to go for it.  She has a lot of catch phrases throughout her workouts that I not only apply to my physical working out but also to my spiritual walk.

    For instance, today she said,

    "You can do it.  I won't give you more than you can handle."  

    Her comment also came to me  like a kick in the butt from God.  It reminded me of God's very own words; that He has promised in times of temptation not to give us more than we can handle.  He will bring us through.  I'm in a frustrating season right now and today those words rang clear to me that I can keep going and He will help me through.

    "If you want to see a difference you've got to put in the effort.  Everyone wants to see a six-pack but no one wants to put in the effort to get one." 

    I used to look at Jillian and think, "It must be nature not effort that she looks like that."  Well after 1 year of doing her workouts, I still have trouble breathing and talking through her workouts.  She is able to do the workouts and she is able to talk during them without huffing and puffing.  It is clear to me that she does put in a lot of time and effort.  Some may be nature but some of it is just plain old hard work. 

    If we want to see a difference in our Christian lives it does take effort and discipline. We often admire the spiritually strong and think God must have gifted them to be that way, but I think a lot has to do with discipline.  As you know, I have admired Bonhoeffer's faith but after studying his life it is very clear that spiritual discipline was important to him.  One of the main reasons I believe he was able to walk the path to death with such great faith is that during his life he had poured himself daily over God's Word and let those Words be Words that he lived by.  Sometimes we cower from the word discipline because it sounds like a lot of work; but it is very clear to me that spiritual discipline has many rewards that follow it.  Just like in the physical world exercise produces very predictable physical results so in the spiritual world God has set it up that spiritual discipline will result in a healthy spiritual life.  Here are some verses that show that spiritual discipline produces benefits in the spiritual life:
    • Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
    • James 4:8-10 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
    • Psalm 25:14 14 The Lord tells his secrets to those who respect him; he tells them about his agreement.
    • I Timothy 6:11-13 But you, man of God, run away from all those things. Instead, live in the right way, serve God, have faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, grabbing hold of the life that continues forever.
    • Galatians 6:8-9 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
    Finally, I've learned through my working out that I need the encouragement of others.  As I said in the beginning, I would never push myself as far as I do if I didn't have Jillian's encouragement and my sister as a workout companion.  If you don't have a "Jillian Michaels" in your life I encourage you to find one.  I am blessed to have several special ladies in my life who encourage me when the going gets tough and vice-versa.  To have someone by your side who can say, "Get up, keep going, you can do this," is priceless.

    In Christ,

    Trying to make things happen

    I sinned against my husband this week.  As I began reflecting on the "why" the Lord began downloading a lot of things into my heart. 

    My sin came from trying to make something happen.  The thing I wanted to make happen I felt had God's blessing and favor on it and I didn't feel my husband was seeing "God's perspective" and so I thought I could take matters into my own hands to make it happen.  As you may have already guessed, this didn't work out very well. 

    As I was reflecting on this incident, I thought, "the motivation behind my sin was good, I wanted God's will to be done!! So of course that should have justified the means."  But as I reflected more I was reminded of Rebekah's incident (Genesis 27).  Rebekah knew of God's promises concerning Jacob.  God had in fact told her that the older (Easau) would serve the younger (Jacob; Genesis 25:23) and now Isaac was about to bless Esau when it was in fact Jacob's blessing.  She was not about to let that happen.  She took matters into own hand.  Jacob did receive the blessing, "God's will," but her method ended up costing her alot and she had to send her son away for 20 years.

    I then was reminded of Sarah.  She too knew that God had promised Abraham a son but it obviously wasn't happening through her.  So she too, took matters into her own hands (Genesis 16), and had her maidservant Hagar sleep with her husband.  The result, Ishmael, ended up being a thorn in Sarah's side for many, many years. 

    With both of these ladies, they knew God's will and His promises to their families.  They didn't see their husbands "moving on it" or making it happen, so they decided to take matters into their own hands to make it happen.  A version of "God's will" ended up happening but their forced version also had many negative consequences attached to it and instead of having a beautiful thing, they ended up with some very heavy burdens.

    Here is the train of progress:

    Desire to see God's will done.
    Mistrust of your husband's heart and ability to make it happen.
    Taking matters into your own hands: sin.
    Ultimately mistrusting God's heart.

    Seeing it this way, brought me back to the full truth.  When we as wives, take matters into our own hands, we aren't just mistrusting our husbands, we ultimately are mistrusting God.  We don't think God is able to bring about His will without our help. We've deceived ourselves to think that our husbands are the problem, when in fact the problem remains in our own hearts we ultimately still don't trust God and we think he is holding out on us.  Where did this all come from? Eve.  Eve took matters into her own hand.  She felt that God was holding out on her.  He was keeping her from something good, so she would make the "good" thing happen.  The consequence:
    Genesis 3:16
    Yet your desire will be for your husband,
    And he will rule over you.

    Ladies, we have been fighting against this consequence ever since and even as Christians we still try to fight against it, but we disguise our sin in the clothes of making "God's will" happen and thus we justify ourselves when we subvert the authority of our husband.  But even after Christ, God has a design for our own protection and blessing.  Here it is in Ephesians 5:22-24:

    Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
    For the husband is the head of the wife as
    Christ is the head of the church,
    his body, of which he is the Savior.
    Now as the church submits to Christ,
    so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    In regards to our marriages, this is the design of God:
    Christ is the head
    Your husbands are in submission to Him.
    We are in submission to our husbands.
    This provides a place of protection and blessing.

    This sums up what I've learned this week:

    God does not need to circumvent His design
    to make His will happen.

    I definitely haven't figured out how to walk this out perfectly, but it has opened my eyes.  What I am working on is trusting my husband's heart and ultimately trusting God's heart.  The safest way for me to operate in God's actual will is by operating in the position that He has created for me.

    In Christ,

    Book Review: Bonhoeffer

    As my regular readers know, I have been reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas for a book review on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. When I first received this 548 page book my husband laughed at me and said, "this book will be the end of your book reviews." I knew he was going to be either very right or very wrong; I would either love this book or it would become a great paperweight. I LOVED the book and I was riveted on page one and honestly loved every single page of it.

    Eric Metaxas did an excellent job weaving a seamless story of Dietrich's life. This book gives you an in depth look not only of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer but also an in depth view of the worldwide church at this time in history, an inside view of Nazism and its horrors, and how the church at large really sat on its hands at a critical time. Dietrich's early life was fascinating and theologically informative and I would have enjoyed reading just about this. The events from 1930 until his death in the 1940's showed a man who had not only "theories" about God but a man who was willing to walk out what he believed even to his death.

    Two thing I wished I had done while reading:

    1. I wish I had my journal with me, so I could have taken notes while reading. I was often completely absorbed and couldn't set it down. So I plan on going through the book again more studiously.
    2. I realized when I finished the the book that there was an index containing everyones' name and the pages they were found on. There were so many people mentioned in a book, I would often have a hard time remembering who was who and it would take awhile to figure it out. The index would have proved helpful to me while I was reading.

    I highly recommend this book. As a current homeschooling mom, it has made my children's senior reading list:) In fact, they will be reading it whether or not I am still homeschooling at that point.

    Hebrews 11:13-16 is a perfect description of the life of Bonhoeffer:

    All these great people died in faith.
    They did not get the things that God promised his people,
    but they saw them coming far in the future and were glad.
    They said they were like visitors and strangers on earth.
    When people say such things, they show they are looking for a country
    that will be their own. If they had been thinking about the country
    they had left, they could have gone back.
    But they were waiting for a better country—a heavenly country.
    So God is not ashamed to be called their God,
    because he has prepared a city for them.

    In Christ,

    For more thoughts on and quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer click on this link.

    I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Homeschooling: Curriculum review

    I know the following post will probably not apply to most of my readers; however, homeschooling is a huge part of my life so I couldn't be quiet about it:) If homeschooling does not apply to you in any way, shape or form please feel free to stop reading this post (or better yet, pass it along to someone you think it might apply to:).

    This has been my family's 3rd year "homeschooling." I have absolutely fallen in love with homeschooling. You can read some of the reasons I homeschool in my post Why I Homeschool. I am going to share with you the curriculum we used this year. I have a four year degree in Elementary Education, so it is hard for me to break from tradition. Therefore, our schooling includes many traditional aspects to schooling, including workbooks.

    The core curriculum we use is Sonlight. I absolutely love Sonlight; it is a literature based program. We used Core One with Intermediate readers this year. I chose Sonlight because as a former school teacher I did not like story time. The readers our school used were completely boring and I often wanted to fall asleep while the children were reading. Since I was homeschooling I wanted to choose something that was enjoyable for all. Sonlight hit the nail on the head. My son would regularly beg me to allow him to continue reading his chapter book, and I literally would have to say no we will read more tomorrow.

    The benefits Sonlight offered us:
    • It has a 4 or 5 day schedule. We went with the 4-day schedule which worked well and allowed for flexibility in our week.
    • It includes History and Geography. I learned more about these subjects this year reading with my kids than I remember learning in all my years in school.
    • It has a hands-on Science curriculum.
    • It has each day scheduled out for you, so there is no pre-planning needed on your part.
    • It is designed to be used with multi-age. Since I have a four year old this was great. She was able to sit in with all of the stories, enjoy them and glean what she could out of it. One of the things she learned this year was the Sphinx when we studied Egypt. This whole year whenever she saw a picture of a Sphinx she would point to it and say, there is the "Phincks."
    • We loved Bible: Leading Little Ones to God. It has a great format that is easy for children to understand, and it answers all those questions that children like to ask about God in a Biblically correct way.
    • Sonlight includes books you read to the children everyday. Out of the whole year, there was only one book that was too boring and so we quit it early. Other than that, we loved them all and the kids still bring up the stories.
    A little tip: I mostly use E-bay to purchase my school items. You can save a considerable amount of money, plus you can resell them when you are done and in the end it costs very little to homeschool.
    As a teacher, I taught with Abeka. I loved the phonics base of Abeka and so I had to incorporate it into my homeschooling life. This year we used their Language 1, Phonics 1 and Spelling 1. I did purchase the teacher's guide and Handbook for Phonics to go along with it. As a child, I grew up under the Whole Language philosophy and as a result, I am a horrible speller. I learned so much when I began teaching phonics. I think Abeka does an excellent job providing a solid phonics foundation for reading and spelling.
    For Math we used Christian Light Publications Grade 1 Math. I don't remember how I found them but I am so glad that I did. They have an astounding math program and it is cheap!!! I highly recommend this program.
    Those were the materials that I used this year with my 6 year old son. My daughter who is 4 grew into homeschooling this year. The first half of the year she mainly just listened in during story time and did art while James was doing school. As the year, progressed she began doing workbook pages. I used Rod and Staff's Preschool books with her. She could handle about 2 workbook pages a day. We recently began working on reading using a free Phonics online program called Progressive Phonics. The stories are adorable and enjoyable for all 3 of us. She reads her words and James enjoys reading the rest to her.
    I could say so much more!!! If you have any questions about homeschooling feel free to e-mail me and I would be happy to answer them. One site I highly recommended that is devoted to homeschooling is called Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Kris is currently going through a series recommending curriculum for the different grade levels. She also does lots of curriculum reviews throughout the year. This is a great place to get hooked in to homeschooling information.
    If you made it this far; thanks for reading!
    In Christ,

    Daily Prayer

    Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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