Psychologists say that you can test the IQ of young children by giving them a marshmallow. As they munch that marshmallow, tell them that they can choose:

1. to receive one more marshmallow right now! OR…

2. to receive two marshmallows in one hour.

The theory is that the more intelligent children will choose option #2. They’ll wait for the two marshmallows. Then, they’ll ace the SAT’s, sore through Med school, and have balanced successful lives.

I thought about that scenario as we studied contentment this week, thinking that Christians are in a similar position as those bright children. In this case though, its our faith that is being measured, not our IQ. When we believe God’s promises, we can enjoy the gifts He gives us today and eagerly anticipate all of the gifts that He has promised to give us in the future. Just as the kiddos’ stomachs probably rumbled and their cheeks salivated just thinking about the promised marshmallows, so do our hearts groan and long for the promised renewal of all things. But, we are content in that longing because we know that God’s promises are certain and are fully ours.

This week, in order to understand God’s desire for our contentment, we took a close look at its opposite: covetousness. Remember the tenth commandment from Exodus 20? Yep, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” If you dig beneath the surface, can you see God’s desire that we not hunger and thirst for anything else but Him alone?

Psalm 16 declares that God is completely satisfying to the human soul: He is our joy and pleasure. When we are fully satisfied by Him, we are not casting longing glances at our neighbor’s material or immaterial possessions because we have everything we need.

We savored Ephesians 1:3-14, which reminds us that we have every spiritual blessing. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:8, we “always have everything we need.”

Mostly, we can be content because Christ was perfectly content for our sakes and He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us live like Him. Inspired by Philipians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 12:2, I wrote a prayer about Jesus’ contentment:

Jesus, you were content when…

You were born as a human.

You were content when you were born to a human.
You were content when you were cared for by an earthly father and mother.
You were content when you submitted to your parents.
You were content when you turned water into wine, healed the sick, and drove out demons.
When you were baptized by your cousin.
When you fasted for 40 days and nights.
When you were tempted by the Devil.

Jesus, you were content when you forgave sinners.
You were content when you cried over Jerusalem.
When you stayed up all night to pray for your disciples,

and taught stubborn and thick-headed people.
You were content when you fed thousands of people, and
when you held children.
You were content when you woke up early to pray.
When you travelled many miles on foot.
When you mourned with Mary and Martha.
When you raised Lazarus from the dead.

You were content when you were not married.
When you didn’t have children of your own.
When you celebrated the Passover with your disciples.
When you were betrayed.
And denied.
And when you wore the crown of thorns.

Jesus, you were content when you carried the cross.
Even when you couldn’t carry the cross any longer and Simon carried it for you.
You were content when you were thirsty.
When you were abandoned.
When you died.

You were content when your body was buried.
When you rose again.

When you ascended into Heaven, and
when you sat down at the right hand of God.
You were content when you sent the Holy Spirit to live in people.

Jesus, you are content as you long for the perfection of your bride and the joy of your wedding feast.

Thank you. Your contentment is mine.

Help me to be content, too.

Posted in The Resolution for Women | Comments Off

From the day we brought Malachi home, folks have been asking if I notice any difference between “girls and boys”. Until recently, I only noticed the differences in personality. But since Kai has been up and moving (everywhere), I can confidently say, “Yes! I notice a gender difference!” In fact, I’m so confident that it’s a gender difference – and not just a personality difference – that I’m writing about it over at the “Mother of Boys Society” (MOB). Come on over and check it out!

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A small group of women from my home town are gathering together every week to read The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. When I’m able, I prepare an additional lesson from Scripture to accompany our discussion. I’ll share my thoughts with you, too.

The first week we met, I felt that it was important to explore where we’d get the power to keep the 13 noble resolutions. Even I can admit that when it comes to habits of the heart, checking off boxes on a colorful chart does not guarantee success. Besides, the results of a “try harder” attitude wouldn’t be ideal.

If we were glowingly successful, we’d reap pride.

If we were dismal failures, we’d reap depression.

There must be something more. We read Ephesians 4: 17 – 24 and talked about how Paul is constantly talking about putting off the “old man” and putting on the “new man”. He’d love Shirer’s new book; he’d love our resolve to live more like Christ. But he’s also the same guy who wrote Romans 7 : 21 – 25: he knew that none of us could exert enough effort to be that “new man” by ourselves. After expressing his frustration that we cannot make the choice to live godly lives, Paul concludes with the definition of hope: Thanks be to God for rescuing me! I can live a holy life because Jesus Christ already has lived it for me. 

We cannot change ourselves. Jesus is the one who changes us, and He does it through the Holy Spirit. His entire life – from conception to ascension – took place by the power of the Holy Spirit to show us that we are to live in precisely the same way. From our spirit’s first renewed breath to our last, we can – no, we must – live without sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Above all, we must remember that the “old man” is  me. The “new man” is not “a better me”. The “new man” is Christ himself.

We’ll be memorizing Romans 8: 13 – 15 as we read the book so that we do not forget that the motivation and the power to live holy lives rests wholly in Jesus. As we resolve to be content, compassionate, courageous women, we will often feel a desperate need for help! That’s been God’s plan all along. So, we call out “Abba! Father! Please help me, Holy Spirit!” and He does.

“I am crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live; Jesus Christ now lives through me.” Galatians 2:20

Are you reading The Resolution for Women? Would you share your ideas to complement the reading?

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(Although I posted this last week, all of the links were broken. I finally fixed them, and decided that the effort was worth a re-post. Now you can really dig in and enjoy, my faithful readers!)

Putting this list together felt like a spa treatment. I love day-dreaming about books. I also love actually reading them. SO, here’s my ambitious list of books-to-read this year. (Thanks for the book-list inspiration, Crystal and Joy!) I’ve heard it said that the biggest difference between the “me” this year and the “me” next year lies in the books I’ll read and the people I’ll meet. This is serious business!

 

Working on throughout the year with other people…

The Resolution for Women - Shirer (our local Bible Study book)

The Book of Ephesians (most of my teaching for the Bible Study will come from Ephesians, so I’ll be spending lots of time here!)

A Praying Life - Miller (A book Ryan and I are reading together)

The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller (the book for a marriage group we’re in)

What is a Family? – Schaeffer (the book we’re reading in a monthly mom’s group at church)

 

For my personal growth…

Reverberation – Leeman

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget - Paine

Be a Circle Maker: the Solution to 10,000 Problems  – Batterson

Kisses from Katie: A story of Relentless Love and Redemption - Davis

Twilight’s Last Gleaming: How America’s Last Days Can Be Your Best – Jeffress

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Shaffer

Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas the Need it Most (eBook)- McGlothlin

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship and the Things That Really Matter - Deresiewicz

Writing Life Stories – Roorbach

The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God - Fields

9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life: A Psychologist Learns from His Patients What Really Works and What Doesn’t – Cloud

You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life – Eleanor Roosevelt

A Biblical Home Education: Building Your Homeschool on the Foundation of God’s Word – Beechick

How to Be a Best Friend Forever: Making and Keeping Lifetime Relationships – Townsend

Montessori at Home! (eBook) – Bowman

The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning – Siegel-Maier

Do It Gorgeously: How to Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products – Uliano

(photo credit: Sciencetrio)

What are you going to read this year??

 

Posted in All Posts, Book Reports | 9 Comments

What about the baguette??

You may have noticed that I did not purchase a baguette during my French-girl shopping trip. Why not? BECAUSE…

I’ve been making my own bread using the amazing Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. So far, I’ve used their classic Boule recipe as well as their gluten-free recipe (found in this book). Both are delicious, but the classic Boule is perfect. And easy. And I feel like you should just start calling me Panera. Who needs a store-bought baguette when one has this:

YouTube Preview Image

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After cranking out a full American Girl shopping trip, it’s hard to slip in the proper mindset for the French Girl shopping trip, evidenced by the fact that I forgot the dark chocolate! Oh, dear. But I did purchase organic kale for our morning green smoothies, and that’s good, right? I’m happy with my simple beginnings: some posies and a triangle of brie. Needless to say, the French girl would never check off the fact that she just completed a French girl shopping trip. But, I’m still an American girl who makes resolutions and checks things off. So, January: check!

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Pray and Plan

Recently, Ryan and I took a weekend to pray and plan for the upcoming year. Some friends of ours sent us a template of topics to work through – everything from finances to intellectual growth. Our friends have enjoyed their annual Pray-and-Plan Retreats and inspired us to begin our own. It was encouraging to our marriage and I think it will prove to be fruitful. The girls enjoyed an overnight stay at Grandmom and Grandpop’s while we talked about our family’s 2012 mission, our gardening plans, our homeschooling dreams, and lots of other things.

Here’s a free pdf of an example outline. Maybe you and yours would like to try it out? Just click right here to get started!

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood | 2 Comments

I am delighted to tell you about the launch of a beautiful new site called “Sisters in Bloom”. Denise in Bloom has gathered a handful of writers from around the country to write posts that will encourage you each day. Today is the first day! Please click on over and acquaint yourself with what promises to be a very uplifting community of women. We’d love for you to join us.

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Our Sunday School class just finished an incredible book called The Praying Life by Paul Miller. Ryan and I are still reading it aloud together, so we’ll be savoring it for a while. One of the most powerful take-away points for me was Miller’s encouragement to pray about the things that seem as unchangeable as the color of the sky. He says he nagged his daughter about something for years before it dawned on him to pray about it. Once he finally thought to pray about it, things finally changed.

I’ve taken his encouragement to heart and am blown away by the way in which God grants my requests! If I notice a sadness in one of our children on Tuesday, I pray about it Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday, she is back to her happy self again; that glimpse of darkness gone for days-on-end, and never-to-be-seen again.  If I feel concerned about my husband’s workload on Thursday, I talk to God about it on Thursday. The workload doesn’t go away on Friday, but I get some ideas for ways in which I can help him. Maybe a meeting is rescheduled and a project goes well for him, or he shoulders the responsibilities better than ever before. These are just a few examples of the many prayers I’ve prayed over the past few months: when I think I see a sign of sickness, when I am afraid, when I want something, or when I fail, I’ve learned to pray. The way in which God cares about these things and truly intercedes on my behalf has made me so deeply happy. Sometimes I’ve been just bouncing around the house, so full of gratitude to our caring Father.

What has really captured my attention is the fact that God grants most of my requests! You probably already know this, but I’ve been learning that when we come before Him with lots and lots of prayers – all of the “sky is blue” things that we otherwise simply accept – we get to see that He loves giving us the desires of our hearts. When we only come to Him with 2 or 3 big requests a year, He might have to say “no” to one of the them, “have patience” on the other, and we might miss the opportunity to witness His daily generosity and care.

Pray! Pray about the “sky is blue” things. Pray about everything.

 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

art4linux.org

Posted in All Posts, Healthy Living, Motherhood | 6 Comments

Broken Links

Sorry about the broken links! ‘Don’t know if I’ll have a moment to fix them or not. I just wanted to spare you from clicking through the book lists looking for a link that works! If you’re interested in the book, simply look up the title on Amazon or through your local library’s website. :)

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