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

Christmas Gifts for Children… Precedence, Disappointment, and Gratefulness

I heard some mothers talking the other day about how their children were disappointed when they didn’t receive a lot of gifts for Christmas.  It saddened me.  I have a word that has guided my gift giving with my children.

Precedence…. What does that word mean to you?

I looked it up on http://www.dictionary.com/. As I was looking for definitions, most were related to law precedents. That tells me it’s a pretty strong word. I am most interested in the first definition that the American Heritage Dictionary presented:

“An act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances. “
This is the definition that has been a guiding thought for me. In the past, my family has been much more affluent than we are currently. Nevertheless, I have always thought about the precedents that I am setting with my children when we give gifts for celebrate special days and holidays. For instance, even when we could afford it, and wanted to give my children their first bicycles, I would not buy such a gift for Christmas or a birthday. We don’t give many big gifts; we never have.

During the year, I look for gifts that I think they will enjoy. I put them away in a box until their birthdays, Christmas, or an I Love You day. Because I don’t give big gifts, they don’t expect them. Because I don’t give them often, they are thrilled when they receive one.

Does this mean my children are disappointed with their Christmas gifts?  On the contrary, they are happy with what they receive.  Thrilled in fact.

When we don’t set a high precedence of expectation, our children are free to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.  They can truly enjoy their gifts without thought of cost or quantity.

I love my children.  I am not required to give them gifts.  I want to give them gifts.  They know that.  They are thankful and enjoy the gifts because they know I am giving them out of love.

Just something to think about…
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
Laura
Keeping it simple for our Savior

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.

Hug Your Husband!

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written on this blog.  I’ve been posting regularly over at Harvest Lane Cottage.  I posted last here about giving love lavishly.  Much has happened since then.  My husband took a position in another city and comes home only on weekends.  It seems harder than ever now that we are so far apart.  Nevertheless, we are persevering and looking forward to the time when our family can be reunited again. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve been apart.  In fact, being apart began while we were in our dating days.  We grew up in Topeka, Kansas.  I met Lowell my last year of high school.  After I graduated, I went to school in Oklahoma.  Lowell was still in Topeka.  Our love grew through letters, occasional trips home, and lots of late night phone calls.  That was back when it was cheaper to call after 11:00 p.m.  I know…ancient history!  I ended up returning to Topeka after one semester because I was too love sick to concentrate on my studies!

Later, after we were married, Lowell had to work out of town for sales jobs.  We both hated it; but, it couldn’t be helped.  He missed much of our first two children’s babyhoods.  When he found I was expecting the third baby, he decided that he would change positions.  It was great to have him home when we had the last two babies. 

Now, he’s on the road again.  We have been separated for three months now.  We had hoped to be able to move by now; but, there’s no date in sight.  Right now there are some obstacles that we don’t know how to overcome.  If you are reading this, and you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, I ask that you pray for us.  We want God’s will.  We are just weary in waiting for clear directions from Him.

I thank God that I know that I can trust my husband.  I know he will be faithful to me, to our vows and to our children.  He knows the same about me.  That is very comforting.  He’s a good Godly man.  I thank God for him.

Have a wonderful week and hug your husband!

Laura

Happy at Home

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!

 

 

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

Doing It at Wal-Mart

Don’t be afraid.  What can happen?  So what if you get caught?  Do you think anyone will be shocked?  Maybe.  But you know, I’m sure He shocked quite a lot of folks Himself. 

A couple of nights ago, I was walking through Wal-Mart with my friend Ellen.  We saw a friend and stopped to talk.  She was rather unsettled because she’d just learned that her husband was going on a business trip out of the country the next morning.  Very short notice.  We talked and encouraged.  Then, right there in front of God and everyone, I did it!  I prayed!  No one panicked.  God heard and my friend was blessed and encouraged.  

A little while later, we were passing the electronics department.  I overheard a lady telling her co-worker that her foot was really hurting.  I walked on by; then, I stopped.   It was clear that she needed prayer.  Was I going to obey God and pray with her?  The Holy Spirit gave me the boldness to turn around and ask her, “May I pray with you?”  She eagerly said yes and told me the problem.  I prayed with her right then and there aloud.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  Faith also comes by hearing someone pray for you in in faith.  I hope that faith was imparted to this lady as well as healing power from God through Jesus Christ.

If we don’t start doing things like this now, how will we have the courage to do them when things get tougher for Christians?

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