Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Chosen by God to be a Mom

Now that I am a mother, the story of Mary seems to take on a new light. Before, it was easiest to focus on the angel...the lack of room...the stable...the shepherds rushing to find the baby.

But this year, as I read that familiar account in Luke 2, I found myself reading the words and imagining all those "mom emotions" that I am sure Mary possessed.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! 
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. "Don't be afraid, Mary," the angel told her, "For you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; His kingdom will never end!
Mary asked the angel, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin."
The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High. What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail. 
Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true." And the angel left her. 
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said." 
Luke 1:26-45, NLT

The angel called Mary favored (vs. 30). Elizabeth called her blessed (vs. 45) because she believed that the Lord would do what He said. And Mary was chosen by God to be Jesus' mom.

God picked her to be the one to feed Jesus, rock Him, sing to Him, care for Him, kiss his boo-boos, stay up all night with Him, instruct Him, influence Him. 

I am so thankful that I have been chosen to be Hudson and Nora's mom.

When I pray with them at night, I let them hear me say, "Thank you God, for picking me to be Hudson and Nora's mom."

It's not by chance...God orchestrated the events to place these children in my care, just as He did for all the other moms out there. What a privilege to be chosen by God to influence these little lives. 

At our Christmas Moms Group meeting, we had a mug swap. Each mom brought a mug -some were filled with a sweet treat, a small gift card, an ornament, all kinds of fun things. We traded mugs, each mom picking a new one to take home. I encouraged those moms to think about when you open the cupboard to chose a mug for your coffee. Think about those things that make your favorite mug your favorite...color, handle shape, size, a memory attached to the mug. Whatever the reason, you choose a mug for the purpose of holding your coffee. You choose the one that is best and most fit for use. 

Those thoughts led me to these familiar verses:
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. " 
2 Timothy 2:20-21, NLT

Knowing I have been chosen by God to influence and instruct my children...to mother them, I want to make sure that I am a vessel fit for use. Just as you wouldn't choose a dirty mug to drink from, I want to make sure that I am clean (regularly confessing) and close to the Lord, ready for use. 

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! 
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, 
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28, NLT

I want Jesus to be the natural overflow of my heart. I want to tell my kids the good things He has done. I want them to know that I am better when I am near the Lord. I want them to know He is my shelter. I want to be fit for use, because the Lord has chosen me. 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 reminds us that it doesn't have to be weird and stuffy...it can just be a part of your daily life. When you get up, when you lie down, when you go down the road, when you sit down to eat...That's how I want to pour Jesus into my children. That's how I want to be fit for His use. 

So, fellow moms out there...remember that you have been chosen by God to be your child's mother and that it is a privilege to be one of the first people to tell them about Jesus. Think about being that fit vessel for use when you pick up your chosen mug for your morning coffee. And commit to actively invest in your children for eternity's sake. 

Christmas is the perfect time to start - Advent simply means "the arrival of a notable person, thing or event." For believers, Advent simply means we are anticipating that arrival of Jesus. It doesn't have to be hard or in depth...just doing something to lead towards the celebration of Jesus' Birthday. 
  1. It could be a devotional reading plan that you are doing on your own. I am using Well Watered Women's Advent study this year and it is amazing to focus on those names of God in Isaiah 9:6.  She Reads Truth has plans to follow. Or this Scripture Writing plan is great as well. Just get in the Word and let it be transforming you, cleaning you, making you fit for use. 
  2. Involve your small children in a countdown for Christmas (Jesus' Birthday). And maybe even bake Jesus a birthday cake.  Add a link to a paper chain each day. Put up numbered ornaments on a Christmas Tree. There are 24 stories from creation to Jesus' birth in the Jesus Story Book Bible - read one each night of December. 

Thank you, God, for picking me to be Hudson and Nora's mom. Conform me into the mom that you want me to be. Adjust my attitude. Help me to be like you. Use me to influence these lives for eternity's sake. Help us to anticipate your birthday this season.

PS. Here's some mug ideas I shared with our Moms Group (in case they weren't coffee drinkers)

And my personal favorite tip...stick your phone in a mug for an instant sound amplifier...

However you use your coffee mug...let it remind you that God has chosen you and wants you to be fit for His honorable use!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pine Cone Garland

Last month, our crafty girl at Mom's group collected enough pine cones for each mom to make the cutest garland. It was a simple craft that could easily transition for the upcoming holiday months.

I love using natural elements in my decorations - and they are often free! A walk through your back yard and a little twine can help you decorate your home for several seasons!  

Monday, November 13, 2017

His Faithful Love Endures Forever

During the Holiday season, it is so easy for me to feel overwhelmed. My to-do list is long. and I seem to be short on time and patience. 

Last night, Well Watered Women posted an Elisabeth Elliot quote on Instagram that resonated well with me.

If worries and anxiety consume my thoughts, I am not at my best. I may be functioning, but I may also be missing other things that the Lord has for me to see. 

I decided after reading that post that I needed to leave my worries in His hands and focus on His goodness. After all, November is a month when we are reminded to "give thanks," 

I started flipping through my notebook of written out passages on Thanksgiving. I'm not sure how many of you accepted the challenge to write out some of these passages. I will tell you that I haven't completed the list...but I plan to! It's not too late to join in! (Even if you just read the passages). With this recent confession at the front of my brain to leave my worries with the Lord, passage after passage spoke to me and ministered to me. Truth matters. Truth changes us. Truth replaces lies. 

I remember when it came time to write out Psalm 136, I looked at that repeating phrase "His faithful love endures forever". It seemed so redundant. I even considered just making hash marks or "ditto" instead of writing out the phrase 12-15 times. The Psalmist had written "His faithful love endures forever" after each statement for a reason...so, I decided to go ahead and copy the passage exactly. As I wrote out that phrase, over and over again, it no longer seemed unnecessary. It seem to be an anthem or a cheer...His Faithful Love endures FOREVER! 

It was as if the Psalmist was writing out the things that he saw (moon, stars, waters, etc) and it all reminded him of how good our God is.  It was the psalmist's thankful list. 

And so, I challenged my mom's group to make a list of their own. They were each given a "turkey ticket" a three foot roll of paper tied up with a little string. 

Between now and Thanksgiving, I'm planning to take some time to write out the good things our God has done for me and around me. I challenged my family members coming for Thanksgiving to do the same - I mailed them each their own "turkey ticket," hoping that they would also take the time to write down a thankful list. Kids can draw pictures. You could write on both sides of the paper if you list grew longer. And that list can be turned in for turkey on Thanksgiving day. 

This list can prepare my thankful heart for the holiday season. This list will help me put my eyes on the Lord. This list won't lead to stressful headaches. 

I will still need to make my to-do list and my menu and my grocery list...but not a worry list. 

His faithful love endures forever. Thank you, Lord, for all you do for me. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

DIY Tassel Earrings

Here's a fun project we completed in my MOMS Group a few weeks ago. They would make great Christmas gifts...and I want them in multiple colors!

suede lace, earring hooks, jump rings, earring rubber stoppers, index cards.

Tools: scissors, needlenose pliers, hot glue gun, small hole punch.

Before the meeting, we cut the leather cord into 5 inch strips, cutting each piece at an angle.  We also cut enough 1.5 inch pieces to bind the leather strips - one per earring.

Tip: when opening the earring loop, the smaller the opening, the easier we found it to close.

The earrings are cute and lightweight.

For variations, you could use different colors of suede or cut the strips to be different lengths.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Read with Me

Gobi is the cutest story of "a little dog with a big heart." This true story is beautifully illustrated and contains little action/sound phrases throughout that kept my children entertained.

The story of determination and perseverance were inspiring. And the developing friendship was fun to watch unfold. We loved this book!

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

I have learned so much from Carol Kent's writings and her testimony in the past. I was excited to receive this devotional for review: He Holds my Hand, Experiencing God's Presence and Protection.

The compact, hard backed book holds one years worth of daily thoughts. Each entry starts with a quote, has a few paragraphs from Carol Kent, and ends with Scripture. It's a treasure.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Gracelaced and A Gracelaced Journal are the most beautifully illustrated books I own. Ruth Chou Simons hand letters Scripture in the most amazing way. The book follows the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall) as it lays out devotional thoughts, journal prompts and Scripture. I love the dig deeper Scripture lists too. The journal is adorable with full illustrated pages of Simons' art and plenty of pages to make my own.

Many of the illustrated Scripture verses could also be framed. These books are beautiful and an immediate favorite.

I received these books in exchange for an honest review.

Sally Clarkson has delivered another well-written book inviting us to invite others into our lives. The Life Giving Table focuses on nurturing faith through feasting, one meal at a time.
The quotes, Scripture and tips are inspirational and challenging.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Even though hand-lettering is my art form of choice, I enjoy looking through other art technique books. Colored Pencil Painting Portraits was a book full of technical tips and examples. Those wishing to perfect their portrait skills would benefit greatly from this glossy paged book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

30 Days to Joy - a one month creative journal is a perfect gift to pass along to an artistic friend. The book is filled with inspirational quotes and journaling/drawing prompts.

It's a handy size, perfect to stick into a purse or handbag. The cover is attractive. The ink on the inside pages is a calming burgundy tone.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.