Posted in Faith

Q & A with God

It’s been roughly six years since I came to Christ. Not a long time by any means, but long enough that I’ve become comfortable enough in my faith to ask questions. Maybe it doesn’t take years for other people to ask the nagging, clawing questions inside their brains, maybe some people don’t even have questions about their faith. But I did, and still do sometimes.

Don’t misread, I believe Christ is our one, true savior. My faith is wholly in Him, but I do have questions.

When I was about seventeen I said, out loud and multiple times, that I didn’t believe in Christ. My unbelief was based on my feelings of being forgotten, and well, just not getting what I wanted.

When I sought out Godly relationships and a community in church I didn’t ask questions and I tried to mimic as best as possible what “good Christians” do. I volunteered, kept my house as clean as possible, (‘Cause that’s what matters and all.) cut out secular music and shows, disciplined my children like good, American, Christians should, and only recently did I consider that maybe, the front of being a good, American, Christian was just that– a fake exterior hiding real people, real sins, and an array of personalities, beliefs, and looks.

Questions were bouncing around in my head. Questions about why I chose to do things in the name of faith, questions about why I became a Christian in the first place. Questions about why I was so happy to blindly believe the things I read in the Bible without asking the big, looming question that I now realize isn’t a bad question.

Why God? Not, “Why are you doing this?”, not “Why did so-and-so do this?”, but the deeper almost taboo questions.

Why? 

Why should I believe? 

Why should I trust?

Why should I follow?

And, yes, I know I could find quick, one lined verses in the Bible that I could take out of context and apply to myself as though God is speaking directly to me, but let’s be real. The majority of the time He and the authors were addressing a person or a specific group of people. But, these stories are references of real people who sometimes asked hard questions and took the long way around, to get to God, providing insight and guidance for our trip.

So, in the midst of my months of questions, I was afraid to voice aloud for fear of angering God or asking someone who would be ready to judge me for my need to seek answers, I was asked to lead a Sunday School class using Beth Moore’s, The Quest. Now, I don’t particularly enjoy Beth Moore. I have a hard time listening to her or reading the things that she writes and I wasn’t convinced I’d get much out of it, however, this entire study is on asking questions that aren’t normally asked.

Yup.

Ya, know, like a slap in the face. “Hey! Wanna know what I think about you asking questions you’re too afraid to actually ask out loud or in prayer? Ha! I gotcha now!”

At one point in the videos a woman Beth is speaking with asks if it’s okay to question God or only your personal faith? Beth venomously says no, that you shouldn’t question God.

But, wait.

So I can only ask nice questions or questions that are kinda hard, but not really hard?

I think anyone with a working knowledge of the Bible knows that hard questions are asked in the Bible and probably so we don’t have to ask them, but…

We’re broken.

We’re fallen.

We’re misguided.

We’re sinful.

So I started to ask the hard questions. Questions like, “If God is perfect, why does He have emotions? Wouldn’t perfection equate the ability to not get angry or sad?” Maybe in our world of sinners, and my pastor quickly pointed out that I’m projecting what I would consider perfection onto God, who, is already perfect and tells us emotions aren’t sinful, rather our reactions are.

And other questions like:

Why do I do this? Why do I get up on Sundays and fight with the kids?

Why do I sit in a pew and remind them continually to be quiet if I could be home, letting them run around outside while I enjoyed my Sunday?

Why do I spend countless hours teaching other children when my life could be easier without Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings?

Why do I have to feel called to these things?

I asked the questions, realizing, that it’s okay to ask God ANY questions, so long as you realize you may, in turn, get a harsh answer.

Like so many examples in the Bible. But, one of the most powerful is in Job, when the people in his life question God, and his motives.

Tell me, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Job 38:4

And that’s where it starts, the harsh answer that is, that is really answering a question with many questions, and while God specifically answers Job (Even though he’s not the one that asked the question.) it’s quite an answer that’s given in roughly four chapters starting in Job 38. God’s answer comes across as almost sarcastic, “WHERE WERE YOU?” So THAT’S where I get it from!

You wanted to argue with God All-Powerful. You wanted to correct me and prove that I was wrong. So give me your answer!” Job 40:2 

Uh, yikes.

The answers to my questions aren’t “because it’s the right thing to do” or “that’s what good Christians do” like modern Christianity would like us to believe. My answers have been the realization that this isn’t about me. It’s not about how I could make life easier, not about having a perfect relationship with his people inside of my church. It’s about His love, and how I choose to share it with others.

It’s about asking the hard questions that feel taboo so I have the answers I seek and the ability to use them to further my faith and others and to understand my faith to the best of my earthly abilities and be able to share my testimony.

Eves need for answers to questions drove her from the garden, but that’s a pivotal moment for Christians and an example that God will answer all of our questions good, or bad.

Don’t let your fear of judgment from others or societies view of Christianity stop you from asking hard questions, so long as you’re asking them with an open heart, willing to receive whatever answer God has for you.

Without questioning first God’s existence, and then my faith I wouldn’t have the answers to why I chose to believe and follow Christ today.

Do you ask God tough questions? Or question your faith or the things you do for your faith?

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Step One: Run Until You Catch on Fire

I like to run until I burn. Running so fast smoke starts to billow against my windblown skin until finally, a flame kindles and then bursts into a raging fire burning its course and leaving me burnt out and charred. I do it every couple of months. I run ragged, and I don’t mean like, cross country, miles on a treadmill running, I mean filling my days with countless activities, parties, and trips to the store while towing along all five kids. It gets exhausting for me, for them, and probably for Herman too. For a few months, I spend every waking out doing something. Then one morning I wake up and realized I’ve pushed me and the kids too far. None of them want to get up and go, and neither do I.One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the ability to go at our own pace and set boundaries for myself, but I find myself constantly forgetting to do that until I’m on fire, and burning to slow burning embers, glowing with the last of my energy, until I end up ashes on the floor.

It’s been like that the past few months, and I think I’ve turned to ash along with my kids that are appearing a little more gray than usual. Our weekly church activities have come to a close for the summer and as much as I love the kids and the time spent with all of them, it will be so nice not to spend my Wednesdays preparing for the evening lessons. It will give me time to spend in prayer about where I see my family in terms of roles at the church into the next year and give my brain a break from children’s bible lessons. (Joke’s on me since I still have five at home and VBS is around the corner.)

I realize it’s been quite some time since I’ve updated here and that comes from two places:

  1. I’ve been writing a book. I’m not ready to elaborate on that, but when I am, you’ll know and my word count here will probably increase since it will decrease on Word.
  2. Refer to above paragraphs. I’m burnt out and spent. I’m ready for the slow summer that’s inevitable since I don’t enjoy or feel comfortable taking the kids too many places during the summertime when all of our hot-spots are overly-crowded.

We’ve filled our months with growing seeds and transplanting them to a garden, raising chickens that are giving us pretty (and yummy eggs) and we joined a new co-op group with some friends we met through girl scouts, and it’s been the best fit for us as far as homeschool groups go, yet. I have still been sharing tidbits in pictures and short sentences on Instagram and Facebook so if you don’t follow us there, please do! Here are some pictures of what we’ve been filling our time with to catch you all up.

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The beginnings of our garden (a couple months ago) and the girls feeding and watering the chickens

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A more recent picture of the larger garden after we transplanted.

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Ella got herself 50 stitches in a fight with a fence. 😉

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Summertime swimming is back!

Posted in Faith

“I’ll Pray for You”– but Will You?

People have been arguing since the beginning of time. The disciples fought over who was the greatest, and I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure there was quite the argument between Adam and Eve at least once…

“Salty” is the new “petty” and I think the reversed meaning of “bless your heart” is also being replaced. As Christianity becomes increasingly whittled down to fit into today’s society, a common thing we see is the phrase “I’ll pray for you” thrown out without any real intention behind it, primarily during an argument but also jokingly when speaking to a friend.
I'll Pray for You
“I’ll pray for you” is plastered all over shirts and other merchandise with a sarcastic undertone that basically says, “I don’t like you/your behavior/your situation,” or a not-so-subtle way to say, “I’m better than you because I know Jesus.” Whether this is what you mean to say while walking around with a shirt that says “I’ll pray for you” in pretty script letters, it’s what’s being conveyed.

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” Matthew 6:5

Jesus does call on us to pray for our friends, family, and enemies alike, and maybe when you’re in the midst of an argument, you do use the phrase sincerely or when someone vents about their struggles you let them know you’ll be praying… and then you DO. That’s wonderful, and what prayer is meant to be. However, if you’re comeback or knee-jerk reaction to an argument or hate is “I’ll pray for you,” and you intend to “kill them with kindness” but you’ve never actually sat down and talked to God about the problem in private— don’t say it. Just DO it. Kindness and prayer come from love, not from anger or annoyance.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:20-21

I promise, even if the relationship is never mended, your heart and mind will be through prayer and any anger you’ve felt will be washed away. Through speaking your fears, pain, and worries to Him, you will find a solution and forgiveness.
Don’t say it, do it.

When telling others,  “I’ll pray for you” becomes something it’s not, it puts a negative connotation on prayer and will cause people to see prayer as a jab in response to discord. Prayer can and does solve problems. Telling people you’re going to pray for them does not. Prayer is a conversation with God that may very well reveal that, in fact, you were the one in the wrong.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Do you, or have you ever owned a shirt or other merchandise with this phrase? Did you see the meaning behind it as a sincere promise to pray for your brothers and sisters or as a sarcastic remark? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

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What I Learned in My First Year of Blogging

When I first started researching, I read through so much information, and most commonly post about, “what I’ve learned after a year” or “do this before you start blogging,” and most of it I just pushed to the side, because I like to do things my own way. Some of it, though, I should have paid more attention to, and here are the top three things I wish I knew (and actually applied) when I began:

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1. Don’t go public until it’s exactly what you want. When I started out, I stuck with the layout chosen for me, was still sorting through the colors I wanted to use, and playing with branding for my site, and changed it all just a few week in… more than once. I also didn’t do the best job of checking my spelling and grammar, which for me, still makes me cringe. I’m a grammar buff, but I don’t always catch my mistakes. I was so excited to go live, I just jumped and then was still finding errors that were plain silly months later. Which leads me to number two…

2. Invest in Grammarly!!! Seriously, just do it. I started with the free version a few months after I began blogging, and went back through every post and fixed them. What a mess. I guess I could have used Word to check my spelling and grammar, but copy and paste didn’t dawn on me… I also didn’t pay for Microsoft until my husband started his own company. I promise this isn’t an ad, and I also promise Grammarly will change your writing– the paid version will recognize not only spelling, but grammatical errors, commonly overused words, and words you, specifically, use too often. It extends to your email, Facebook, or anything else you use on the inter-web.

3. Save posts you’ve written at about the same time for another day. When you’re on your writing game, you’ll pound out posts left and right. Posting them immediately can cause two things:

a. They won’t get equal attention, and if monetizing your blog is something you’re hoping to achieve (one of my goals, but not my reason for blogging) in the future, you’ll want the stats to be consistent.

b. You have nothing to fill times of writer’s block or busyness.

For example, all through December and almost all of January, I wrote only one post. When I realized my brain was over-stimulated, I took a purposeful break. When I opened up WordPress again, I wrote not three, but FOUR posts within the span of a few hours. I released them slowly in case I got caught up in life again. Publishing them all at once would also deter people from reading each one. That’s a substantial chunk of time they’d have to spend reading each post, or they’d have to remember to go back and read where they left off, assuming they remember. You will have your avid followers that read no matter what, but to grab the attention of others, you’ll want to “market” or showcase one post at a time.

So, don’t be like me! Nip future mistakes in the bud by learning from my mess. Do you have any favorite blogging resources? Share them in the comments!

It’s been a good year, and I can’t wait to see what I learn in the next one. Maybe by this time next year, I’ll be paying my electric bill with words… maybe. 😉

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A Month of Christmas Week 4: Christmas at Home

This year, Christmas filled our entire month of December. It was fun, but also exhausting, and if you’re asking right now, next year Christmas will be sloooooow, and not FULL. (But, if you ask me next year around Christmas time…. haha!)

We spent Christmas Eve-Eve in downtown Austin passing out goodie bags, coffee, hot cocoa, and soup to the homeless population. There are a lot of people without homes, and this year has been exceptionally cold, we’ve had snow twice so far! This was a new tradition we will be continuing. It took quite a bit of planning, but it was worth it. Something we did that I felt was important was that we went to the people standing or laying around the area we stopped in. There were a few people who gladly came to the van, but others you could tell were apprehensive, but happily accepted what we offered when we came to them… or maybe it was because of the cute kids. 😉 It was super cold out, so we rewarded the hungry with a trip to McDonald’s… at 11:00 p.m., totally good for them and all.

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Christmas Eve started slowly since we didn’t end up back home and in bed until almost 1:00 a.m. Even our early-bird Lylah slept in on Christmas Eve. We spent the morning cuddled in our bed drinking coffee, then baking and watching Christmas movies. We then headed to the church for a beautiful candle lit service (that I didn’t get any pictures of) and then to Grandmas house for our Christmas there. You can read about Christmas at Grandmas here.

 

 

We don’t “do” Christmas lists in our house. The kids don’t get to choose the gifts they get on Christmas morning (My children are 100% aware Santa isn’t a real person, and also know Christmas is not about him… they also know not to tell your kid, if you’re wondering.) So Christmas morning the kids woke up to their one present under the tree, and they all almost died of happiness. Kindles for the smaller kids, and a computer for Hayden. None of them expected these things as they’re pretty extravagant and they know that, so the surprise was even more significant than a typical Christmas morning surprise.

We had a huge breakfast, featuring snowman pancakes, and we snuggled up on the couch (it was actually cold out!) and watched a few movies, and navigated through the new Kindles and set up Haydens computer. We enjoyed spending a slow day together, enjoying each other, and reflecting on the story of Christmas.

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A Month of Christmas Weeks 3 & 4.5: Family Christmas…es

Christmas this year covered the entire month for our family! We love Christmas, so it wasn’t so much of a hardship. We “visited” Mexico, Italy, and initially, we were going to visit France as well, but REAL (AKA, our) traditions come first. The third week in our Month of Christmas was spent at grandmas (Hermans mom) house. They hosted everyone for a BBQ dinner and gave gifts to all of the grandkids. Ella and Lylah got beautiful matching dresses, Hayden got a new pair of Converse, socks, and underwear, Ryder got a remote control car, and Emma got a cute Dora doll. I L-O-V-E kids, so Christmas with Hermans side of the family makes me extra happy since the oldest grandchild is our nephew Cayden, who is 11.

 

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This photo is purposely cropped to hide full faces family.

 

Good food, and loud fun, was enough to fill my cup. I love the noise, and children running around in a blur, it’s okay, you can call me strange. 😉

 


 

Jumping over our Christmas, which we do alone in our home, we had Christmas with my side of the family. They (mom, stepdad, siblings and grandparents) went on a cruise and didn’t return until after Christmas, so Christmas extended beyond… well, Christmas. I always love the time we spend together, but there’s always something so magical about getting together, sharing food, and exchanging gifts with people you love.

 

I hope if you had Christmas with your extended family, it was just as amazing as ours, and to see how we spent Christmas day in our home, follow this link.

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A Month of Christmas Week Two: Christmas in Italy

After an extended blog break (mama’s need a break from all things periodically), we’re moving on in our four-part series, A Month of Christmas, we visited Italy in the second week! It was by far, much more fun than the Mexican Christmas. Maybe because we had a more open week, or perhaps because Italy just has better traditions, either way, it was a blast. The first thing we did was we collected sticks and small things like rocks and seeds we found outside to make a nativity scene. Italians often have many nativities in their homes during Christmas. This ended up not working out as efficiently as we had hoped, and we ended up ditching the effort to take a better, more seasoned crack at it next year. We did, however, complete the ceppo out of nature items. We read mixed reports on what a ceppo actually was. Some referred to it as a yule log, but others said it was a pyramid-shaped “tree” with shelves that held cute momentos and decorative items. It was said to have started in Tuscany. A small nativity scene can be placed on the bottom shelf, but ours was a little too tall.

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In Italy, children are told stories of La Befana, an old, cranky witch that lives alone and sweeps her home constantly. We’re avid Kindle Unlimited users, but we couldn’t find any books of La Befana, in case you go searching. We did, however, purchase a book on Kindle (instant gratification, and a less than organized mama) and read The Legend of Old Befana: An Italian Christmas Story

It’s a cute story! The old woman ends up seeing a procession of people headed to see the new Christ child and invite her. She spends all day baking goodies to take to the baby and forgets to sweep for the entire day. Noticing she’s leaving a mess behind as she begins to head out the door, she grabs her broom and sweeps from her kitchen all the way to the end of her pathway. Not wanting to waste any more time, she begins to run in the direction of the procession, forgetting about the broom still in her hand. Running as fast as she can, she starts to take flight. Spoiler: she never sees Christ, but delivers goodies to good boys and girls who leave her wine and cookies. Ha! We did just that, (after running next door to borrow a glass of wine from my momma, ’cause this mama is not a wine drinker) and she brought them some peppermint bark. Why? Because momma didn’t have any goodies in the house and MY momma did. The kids thought this was so much fun, and they put so much thought into the cookies they baked as well as where and how to leave the cookies and wine.

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On the “last day” of our week in “Italy” we made a huge, and I mean that pan of lasagna to share with my neighbor (AKA, my mom, stepdad, and siblings.) It was my step-sisters birthday, so we also baked her a cake.

Traditionally, Italians don’t eat lasagna for Christmas, they eat seafood because they’re usually fasting. Hayden was insistent on lasagna. It was the reason he wanted to do Christmas in Italy. He and Ella worked together to assemble the whole thing, I was very proud of them for working together and following the directions I gave closely.

We had fun visiting Italy for the week! We accomplished so much more as far as following traditions than we did in Mexico. Originally, we were going to also cover France, but my side of the family went on a cruise, adding an extra week to our Christmas, and we did an early Christmas at Hermans parents house. Those, coupled with our own Christmas, lead us to cancel our “flight” to France. 😉

Check out the next installment of “A Month of Christmas: Weeks 3 & 4.5” by following the link.