Do You Celebrate Advent?

 

Christmas Tree 2013Do you celebrate Advent?

Advent is a personal thing.

Perhaps you attend a denomination that celebrates with certain liturgical rituals.  That’s great.  Rituals bring meaning and reverence to our worship.  Perhaps your church doesn’t celebrate Advent.  Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Advent.

Advent is simply a way to focus our thoughts and our hearts on Jesus and the celebration of His birth, death, resurrection, and His offer of salvation to us.  It’s a time of reflection and heart searching.  It is a personal, holy thing.  What you do isn’t as important as what you do in your heart.

We light candles on an Advent wreath each night in December, read our Advent Book, pray, and on good nights, sing a carol.  Do we do it every night?  No.  We miss a few, but that’s okay.  We just pick up the next night and keep going.

I encourage you to focus on Jesus as the excitement of Christmas continues to mount.

Christmas Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

Laura

Why We Homeschool

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Someone recently asked me why we homeschool.  This is what I told her.

I was trained as a teacher in college.  I didn’t find a position right out of school, so I went to work in insurance.  When my first son was born, after much prayer and many discussions with my husband, we decided that I’d be a stay-at-home mom until he started school.

As school age approached, I became aware of homeschooling through Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program and through some books that crossed my path. After research and prayer, my husband and I became convicted that it was God’s will for our family to homeschool.  My son also had some special needs that we felt could be handled best in a home environment.  We’ve been homeschooling since 1995.

So, here are some of our reasons:

1.  We believe that God gave us, as parents, the responsibility to teach and train our children.

2.  We believe that we are to protect the innocence of our children as well as physically protect our children.

3.  We believe our family is closer because we live life together on a daily basis.

When our family grew, our little school did as well. I’ve found that there are some advantages:

1.  Learning takes place at each child’s pace rather than trying to keep up with a class or wait for a class.

2.  Children thrive with individual attention.

3.  Negative influences from peers are limited.

4.  I can teach them truth from God’s Word as absolute truth.  All other subjects, especially science, are viewed from that biblical perspective.

5.  My children are better socialized than school children.  They know how to interact with adults and children well.  Homeschool groups and church provide playmates.

6.  They have more time for following individual interests.  One of my daughters writes worship songs and participates on our worship and dance teams at church.  One of my sons is teaching himself to make knives and raises animals.  My youngest enjoys sewing and crafts.

7.  They’re not afraid of speaking in front of people.


8.  Homeschooling works well for families that have fathers who work unusual hours as well.

These are some reasons we homeschool; but, ultimately, we homeschool because that is what God called us to do.
You can find more information about homeschooling at http://hslda.org. That’s the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

Laura

 

This is reprinted from my other blog, Harvest Lane Cottage.

Every True Wife

“Every true wife makes her husband’s interests her own. While he lives for her, carrying her image in his heart and toiling for her all the days, she thinks only of what will do him good. When burdens press upon him she tries to lighten them by sympathy, by cheer, by the inspiration of love. She enters with zest and enthusiasm into all his plans. She is never a weight to drag him down, she is his strength in his heart to help him ever to do nobler and better things.”

 ~ Homemaking ~

J.R. Miller

 

“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31

Through Jesus

 

You know, sometimes we just don’t feel like praising God.  The drain’s clogged, your kid has poison ivy, a black snake is eating your chickens’ eggs, what you plant doesn’t grow, the kids track dirt or whatever in, the car won’t start, the air conditioner is broken, it can be any number of things.  There’s always going to be something, isn’t there?  It’s just one thing after another.  Ever wonder why? 

We truly have had a rough time for the last few years.  BUT GOD has brought us through every single trial.  In fact, He has shown himself so faithful, I just don’t get as upset or angry or worried as I used to.  I know that most of the things I worry about are out of my control.   They are totally in God’s control.  He WILL take care of the problems one way or another.  My job is to pray and let Him be in control. 

So we pray, we give it all back to him to carry, and we praise the Lord even when we don’t feel like it through Jesus!

 

 

Is This Blessing Realistic?

“May God be with you and bless you,
May you see your children’s children,
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.”

This is a traditional Irish blessing. It’s a wonderful thought and wish.   We most emphatically want God to be with us and the ones we would bless.  We most emphatically want God to bless those we would bless.  In fact, we most emphatically want God to fulfill all of this for those we would bless.  Is it realistic though?  Is it really the way God works?  I think not, at least not all of it all of the time.

Sometimes I think that we try to boss God around.  After all, how could He know what’s best for us?  We’ve got it all figured out in our minds.  We know how life should be.  It should definitely include for richer, in health, and living long.  Pain should be minimal or non-existent.  We shouldn’t know unemployment, bills we cannot pay, friends or spouses that betray us, children that rebell, mice in the house, ants, clogged sinks, cars that won’t start, lost library books, and all such things.  We would have lots of friends; we would be beautiful and thin; our hair wouldn’t go gray; we would always have money in our pocketbooks; life would be perfect, or would it?

What need would we have for our Creator God?  Would we even acknowledge Him let alone worship Him?  Would we not be setting our own lives up as idols?  Would we not worship self?  Would we grow in grace, mercy, or compassion for others if life were perfect in our own eyes? 

What if our lives are perfect right now?  Not that everything in them is perfect, but what if God is perfectly working in our lives through our circumstances and through other people in our lives to bring us closer to Him?  What if losing the job and not finding another is really a way of drawing us to Him?  What if the arthritis, the heart attack, the pain or the cancer are ways to draw us to Him?   After all, where else can we really go for help?  Do I think that God is causing all of this?  No.  I do think that God allows things to happen that will cause each of us to seek him with diligently with heart, mind and strength. 

That’s what’s been happening with me the last few months.  Lowell’s long-term unemployment and under-employment, our inability to pay bills, my pneumonia, and some other problems in our life have absolutely driven me to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I am reading the Word almost compulsively.  I must read it daily.  I want to read it often.  I am not really interested in reading anything else.  This from a woman who reads fifty or more books a year.  This year I’ve finished two, I think.  God is changing me.  He’s changing the way I think.  He’s changing how I view my salvation and my Jesus.  It’s all good.  I’m finally beginning to really believe “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28 and “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.   Philippians 4:13.   

Bad circumstances bring us closer to our good God.  Run to Him.  He is our strong tower in times of trouble.  It’s not that He will do all we ask; but, if we give ourselves totally to Him, He will help us to pray truthfully, Thy Will Be Done.

Growing in Grace and Trust,

Laura

An Unusual Topic for Me…

It all began in Genesis. 

Of course, it did!  I was just going to read a chapter or two ahead of our Pastor who was and is teaching in Genesis.  Then, I thought, maybe just a few more chapters.  The next thing I knew, I wanted to read more and more.  I even read through the Books of the Law and all the books right up to my current chapter, 2 Chronicles 9.  Periodically, as I was reading, I came across a word that I didn’t understand.  It was concubine.  I kind of got the gist of what it was and didn’t have a dictionary handy; so, I would just read on.  Well, today, I looked at the on-line version of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. 

Here’s the definition as copied from the on-line version at www.1828-dictionary.com

concubine

 n. [L., to lie together, to lie down.]

1. A woman who cohabits with a man, without the authority of a legal marriage; a woman kept for lewd purposes; a kept mistress.            2. A wife of inferior condition; a lawful wife, but not united to the man by the usual ceremonies, and of inferior condition. Such were Hagar and Keturah, the concubines of Abraham; and such concubines were allowed by the Roman laws. 

Wow, I thought it was some old testament thing that didn’t happen anymore.  I have known many concubines!  I wonder what they would say if they knew that they fit the definition?   If they were called by the title concubine?  Think of how common it has become for men and women to live together, to cohabitate before marriage.  In some circles, it’s even approved and encouraged.  God forbid!  In fact, God has forbidden it! 

In the beginning, there was Adam.  God saw that it was not good that he be alone.  God made one woman to be his wife, Eve.  Eve and no others!  That’s God’s perfect plan. 

Many women have fallen into the trap of living together or doing other things prior to marriage that ought not to be done.  Perhaps they realize that they have sinned and are perhaps still sinning.  It’s not too late!  God is a god of forgiveness.  That forgiveness and new beginning comes through shedding of blood.  Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, shed his blood on a cross to pay for our sins. 

Jesus Christ shed his blood so that we can approach God as righteous.  That happens when we repent of our sins.  We are truly sorry and promise not to do it again.  We also have to trust in Jesus as our Savior. 

1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

My friend, perhaps you have fallen into this type of sin at some point in your life.  You can be cleansed.  You can be forgiven.  You can.  Do it now.  Then, trust it to be under the Blood of Jesus and go and sin no more. 

Just something to think about….

Laura

Verdict Changed

Israel had been going their own way for awhile.  The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant and had recently returned it to the Israelites.  Interesting story there…boils sores and misery, read about it in I Samuel 5 and 6.  Seems no one wanted to keep it because it brought trouble to the Philistines no matter which town it went to.  The Philistines sent it back and it was kept at Abinadab’s house and his son Eleazar was consecrated to guard the Ark.

Fast forward to chapter 7.  Twenty years later, the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord.  That is when Samuel sacrificed and sought the Lord for the people. 

“And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'”

Samuel did, they did, and the Lord did.  Of course, not much later, the Israelites were falling away from the Lord’s will again.  Much like you and me.

What struck me about this story, as I read it this morning, was it’s application to us, His people today.  I found myself asking myself if I truly am seeking God with my whole heart.  Am I committed to the Lord and serving Him only?  Sadly, I can think of times even today when I not only was acting in the flesh but justifying myself as well.  It’s that old pointing the finger thing that started with Adam and Eve.  Does it justify my sinful feelings and thoughts?  No.  Alas, I’m not judged by how someone else is treating me but by how I respond.  Today, the verdict is guilty

Thankfully, I’ve got someone else who served my sentence before I even committed the sin, before I was born.  His name is Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah that Jewish people looked forward to for so many years.  Because of Jesus, I now have a new verdict– not guiltyHe took my guilt and was crucified and resurrected.  He paid the price for me.  I only need look to Him and faith and believe.  I need to return and commit, repeatedly if need be.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”  1 John 1:8-10

I think I need to spend a bit of time in prayer now.  What about you?

Laura

Thankful for the Sacrifice that Changed my Verdict

Wash Rinse Repeat

 I just finished reading Joshua. 

Perhaps you remember Joshua.  He was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent ahead of the Israelites to Canaan.  He was one of just two, Joshua and Caleb, who returned with positive reports that the people could be conquered and the land claimed.  He was one of only two of his generation who was privileged to live and enter the promised land.  Caleb was the other.  The rest died in the wilderness.  Only Joshua and Caleb were spared.  Joshua went on to be Moses’ replacement as leader of the Israelites.

During Joshua’s life, the Israelites worshiped God, the one true God.  God gave them numerous victories over their enemies and gave them the land.  Joshua and the elders kept the nation’s focus on the Lord.  After Joshua’s death, the focus changed.  The next generation began to turn away from the Lord and to worship other gods and idols of the nations around them.  Things had been going well for them.  They forgot the Lord and the things that He had done for Israel.  So God gave them over to be conquered and taken as slaves and such.  After awhile, they would repent; and God would help them.  Then it was wash rinse repeat. 
This has direct application to us.  If we allow ourselves to lose our focus on the Lord, even though He may be on our minds and in our hearts, we can lose a lot.  If the next generation, our children or granchildren cannot see that our lives are focused on the Lord, how will they know how important he is?  How will they learn to love the Lord with all their hearts and minds and strength?

This is just a little something to think about.

Laura

who has much to be thankful for including the forgiveness of my sins.