Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas craftiness

After your Thanksgiving dinner settles, you may be thinking about Christmas crafts. We got some awesome inspiration from Becky and Caroline at our last meeting, with tons of ideas and instructions they've used to create gifts and decor.

If you missed the meeting - or lost the directions they shared - here are links that will help:

 Caroline's DIY craft directions  
 Becky's blog 

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Devotional for Nov. 15

Our reflection for Nov. 15, from Shana, on the theme of self-control:

"Self-control. What do you think of when you hear that word? Being on a diet? Watching your temper? Spending money in a frugal manner? I want to focus in on on our attitude and emotions.

You have had that moment with your child or spouse where your blood pressure skyrockets, your nerves fray, and the worst version of you begs to come out, right? Of course. It happens to all of us as some point. But what I’m trying to better understand is this whole concept of self-control.

So many times in the Bible we are told to display self-control. But it’s hard to display self-control when it feels like someone else does things out of our control and yanks our emotions into a bad place, i.e. our children seem to have mastered this.

So, here’s one tidbit I’m learning. When someone else’s actions or statements threaten to pull me into a bad place, I have a choice. I really do. My choice is whether or not to give them the power to control my emotions. I have also learned that “monkey see, monkey do.” If I react out-of-control with my kids, they are going to learn that behavior as well.

When I react by yelling, flying off the handle or making a snappy comment back, I have lost the battle and taught my child to act the same. So, it seems to me if I’m going to remain self-controlled, I have to have let Jesus work in me. When I react according to God’s Word, I feel His power. When I react contrary to God’s Word, I feel powerless and end up yelling and getting upset.

Isaiah 55:10-11 is such a good reminder of how we can tap into God’s power no matter what situation we are facing:

So it is my word (referring to God’s word)
that will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (God speaks this)

Did you catch that? The answer to having God’s power work in me to produce self-control is to let His Word get inside me. His Word seeping into my mind and my heart will accomplish things – good things – powerful things – things that help me display self-control.

So, here’s a tactic to try. When facing a situation where someone is getting on the last good nerve you have, start quoting God’s Word in the present tense. Take 1 Peter 5:6-8 for example.

In this moment I’m choosing to be self-controlled and alert. Your actions are begging me to yell and lose control. But, I realize I have an enemy, and that enemy is not you. The devil is prowling and roaring and looking to devour me through my own lack of control right now. But, I am God’s girl. That’s right. I am. So, I am going to humbly and quietly let God have His way in me right now. And when I do this, God will lift me and my frayed nerves up from this situation and fill me with a much better reaction than what I can give you right now. So, give me just a few minutes and then we’ll calmly talk about this.

Girl, that’s some power right there. Count to 10, focus on God’s word, and I bet you will find yourself a little calmer than before. With practice, you will be shining with self-control with your kids, spouse and friends.

Dear Lord, I am reminded I am Your child. You created me and know me. And therefore, You designed my heart, mind and soul to receive and respond to the power in your Word. When I lack my own power to be self-controlled help me to turn to Your truth for good, calm responses to be a good example to my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Devotional for Nov. 1

Shana shared with us the importance of daily time with God and benefits she's found in her life. Three steps can help you establish your own prayer practice.

"Some call it quiet time, others daily devotions, or meditation. It really doesn’t matter what label you put on it, time spent directly communing with God through prayer and Bible reading is what it’s all about.

It’s a time to seek Him, praise Him, thank Him, confess your sin, and seek His forgiveness. It’s also a time to learn from His Word and grow in your understanding of who God is and what He wants to do in your life. It’s an opportunity to daily renew your commitment to Him and to seek His guidance. These moments will enlighten, encourage, equip and empower you like nothing else can, but the goal is not to know more about God, it’s to actually know God Himself.

The key to a joyful and meaningful spiritual life is having that close relationship with God. First you must know Him as your Savior. Then daily seek to draw close to Him. As surely as nutritious food helps the body, so a daily quiet time with the Savior feeds and nourishes the soul. It’s impossible to growth significantly without it.

But your daily quiet time is not just for you! John 4:23 says 'Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.'

That reminds us that the Lord Himself desires our fellowship and delights in our worship. He longs for that one on one time with His child just as any parent would. Why not determine right now, if you haven’t already, that you will make having this special time with the Lord a daily priority? It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered I could have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. Before that, I always believed but didn’t have the personal connection with God that I have now.

Having a quiet time for me helps with my consistency as a mom. I try to focus on God daily and be consistent with that, and then it overflows into how I relate with my kids. It helps me to be consistent in my discipline, in spending one-on-one time with the boys, and to be ever reminding the boys that God loves them.

So how can you have quiet time?

  1. First, set a time that works for you. It may mean getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning, or staying up a few minutes later at night, but try to find 15 to 20 minutes of time that you will set apart to spend with God. Don’t put anything else in that time slot. You may need to set an alarm to remind you that it’s time to pull away from other things and meet with your Heavenly Father.
  2. Second, select a place where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Choose a spot that is quiet and as free from distractions as possible. Keep your Bible study materials and prayer journal in that area so you’ll have them ready for your special time.
  3. Third, Select devotional or study materials that are meaningful for you at that season of life. Of course, keep your Bible as your primary study material. Read and meditate on the word, pray to God your honest thoughts, and listen for Him."

What are some ways that you carve out time to be with God daily? Please share in the comments.