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Worship is Warfare

We are living in uncertain times.  If I can be completely honest, I have had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past week.  As a mom, friend, wife of a small business owner and daughter of the King, I feel in the past week I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions and they can vary from hour to hour.  There are moments where I’m completely fine, joyful even; and then I have moments of complete despair where I find myself asking, “Is this how the world ends?”  Yes, I know that the last one is probably a bit dramatic.  This is what I’m talking about though, each day holds a new level of uncertainty.  I don’t know what tomorrow brings.  We have pushed pause on all of our long term plans.  We were talking about trips this summer, things that normally we would have already bought airline tickets for, yet here we are still planning these trips, but unsure what the future holds and waiting to make firm plans because we just don’t know what the prices will look like in a month.  I am a planner and I don’t like change.  I’m not one to easily adjust when things change quickly, and I don’t like feeling out of control. 

But, I know the one who is in control.  None of this is a surprise to God.  He who is sovereign over the whole earth, He who holds us in the palm of His hand.  He isn’t taken by surprise when schools close, or sporting events have to be postponed.  The markets dropping don’t cause Him to bite his nails with uncertainty and He is FAITHFUL!  ALWAYS!  In all circumstances.  We are in a sifting moment of time where the church has a great opportunity to BE the church.  Maybe we can’t gather together in our buildings, but we can BE Jesus to our neighbors and we can use this opportunity to strengthen our own faith.  If you believe, as I do, that we are living in the last days, then this latest crisis is simply a training ground for what is to come.  David had the faith to defeat Goliath because he had gained strength and faith in God by defeating lions and bears while working as a shepherd.  You can read the story in 1 Samuel 17.  David who is known for writing much of the book of Psalms defeated giants.  Goliath is the one we think of, but he defeated many other smaller giants first.  The training ground for defeating Goliath, is in the place of solitude, watching the sheep and keeping smaller attacks at bay, all the while writing worship songs to God. What we are facing right now is that place of solitude.  As many are working from home, we are being forced in a way to confront giants in our own lives and make them obedient to the word of God and what He says. 

For me a big giant I am having to confront is fear, and my own desire to be in control.  These are unseen giants.  The battle is largely spiritual, mental, and emotional.  The fact that the battle is unseen doesn’t make it any less real.  It’s in the place of hiddenness and fighting these personal battles that God is training us, His bride to fight the bigger more visible battles.  I want to encourage you as we are all in this together and I’m sure you have battles you are fighting as well, whether you are facing fear, or feeling alone due to lack of social gatherings, or depression over the current crisis.  There is a strategy to combat these enemies.  In 2 chronicles 20:22-24 we read about a time when Israel went to war against the Moabites and the Ammonites.  They were a formidable foe, and King Jehoshaphat didn’t know how to proceed.  He inquired of the Lord and said, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  Later in verses 21-24, we see the Lord’s strategy revealed.  Send the worshippers first!  When the worshippers go out with praise, the Lord sets ambushes against Ammon and Moab and the army of Israel is victorious.  A virus may seem like a different foe than an invading army, but I assure you, it is no different. Even today President Trump referred to this as a “war”.  This is a battle, just like any other.  Worship is still a powerful weapon in our arsenal.  Let’s use it.  Not only will this improve your mood and your own peace in trusting in God, but I believe if we turn to God in this time as a nation we will see the Lord break in and move on our behalf and we will see this giant fall.  Look back at 2 Chron. 7:14.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I WILL hear from heaven, and I WILL forgive their sin and WILL heal their land.”

God gives a Holy prescription in times of uncertainty.  Worship.  Pray.  Repent. Turn from wickedness.  Let’s turn to God, who knows; maybe he will relent from sending calamity to our shores.  As the Ecclesia, we have a role to play.  Spend time in worship, humble yourself before the Lord, don’t give in to fear, and step into your authority to speak calm and peace into the storm.  God, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you! 

I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of some of my favorite songs that minister to me when I’m fighting battles and need to speak peace over the storms that rage.  You can find the link to that below. 

Top Ten Homeschool Tips

With so many schools closing in the coming weeks Here are my top tips and encouragement for schooling the kids at home.

I’ve been homeschooling our kids for over a decade. It’s not always easy and I’ve often eyed the school bus as it drove by my house longing for it to take my children too, but in the decade-plus that I”ve done this, I can honestly say there have been more good days than bad. I’ve grown closer to my children than I would have if they were away 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. We’ve made memories, and learned things together that I would have never known if they were away.

I know this is kind of a sudden thing for those of you who have never homeschooled before, but if we look at this short term minor inconvenience as a gift we can use these weeks to build relationships with our kids. I know it’s a struggle if you still have to go to work, or if you’re facing lost pay because you have to stay home. I see you mama, and I’m praying for you. We will get through this together! If you need encouragement, ideas, or help of any kind please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I am happy to chat or talk over the phone.

For now, here is my best homeschool mom advice:

1. establish some sort of routine or schedule. It’s easy for the day to turn to chaos and video games if you don’t do this from day 1. It doesn’t even have to be rigid.  Your day doesn’t have to start as early as the school day normally starts.  If you have young kids, or boys, I have found when planning my schedule it helps if I plan for breaks and active times.  I always try to alternate a quieter, sitting subject or lesson, with a more active, and somewhat less structured activity.

2. Homeschool doesn’t have to look like a classroom! Please don’t sit your kids at the kitchen table with worksheets all day, I promise that will not foster relationships between you and them and it will likely lead to a mutiny! Don’t do it! Learning can look like following a recipe together, reading the Bible and talking about the passage, or if you need a break pop on an audio book (you can get them from the library, or an online service, you have so many options!)  Also, GO OUTSIDE!  At least once a day if the weather allows go outside walk around play, get some vitamin D (Bonus Vitamin D helps strengthen your immune system!)

3. YouTube is your friend! There are countless history, science, and even math instructional videos. Disclaimer: You may want to screen them first to make sure you agree with the content.

4. Snuggle on the couch together and watch a movie or read a story.

5. The store may be low on some items, but now is the perfect time to plant seeds. You can get potting soil, seeds, and seed starter kits at the hardware store or Walmart. Plant your own food. Lettuces and radishes grow well in early spring and they will be ready to harvest in 30-40 days. For kids a quick crop is great to hold their interest.   This is a great science lesson, if you want to tie in a history lesson to this you can look up “victory gardens” maybe even find a YouTube video on it.  Our grandmothers and great grandmothers planted gardens to help during times of war and other national crisis.  We can do the same today.  Some crops are easier than others in my experience, lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes grow well, don’t require any special soil or fertilizers and are insect resistant. 

6. Have a sing-a-long (My kids are actually doing this right now in the other room) 

7. Learn a new card game together, or pull out the board games and have a game day

8.  Go on a nature walk.  If there is a nice day you can make a scavenger hunt for your kids and then go outside together and try to find the things on your hunt here are some ideas of things you can look for this time of year: a brown leaf, a bud, a flower in bloom, a song bird, a turtle, a frog (if you are near some sort of water), Mushrooms, animal foot prints, moss, Animal scat (that’s poo, yes I know it’s gross, but trust me boys LOVE this one!), an interesting rock. 

9.  Reach out for help from others.  I’m here for you, if you need ideas or prayer or a kind word of encouragement, we live in the one of the most connected times in history, even though we’re all in our own homes we can still connect.  Just this morning I had a video chat with one of my children who is currently living overseas.  If I can connect with her, we can connect through the magic of the internet! 

10.  You are not alone in this!  This isn’t a homeschool tip per se, but at the beginning of each school I spend time seeking the Lord and asking for a special verse from His word for our Homeschool.  This is our verse for this school year.  The Lord gave me this verse back in August 2019 before any of this craziness hit.  He is sovereign and He knows what we need before we ask.  We’ve been praying and standing on this verse long before a pandemic.  God’s word is true and He is unchanging!  Cling to Him in these uncertain times.

“But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you Jacob, he who formed you Israel: DO NOT FEAR, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43: 1-3  

All of Is. 43 is an encouraging passage to read, but this promise right here has gotten me through many challenging days this school year.  God’s word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. 

Livin’ the Dream, Literally!

        Livin’ the Dream is such a cliché.  In general, I despise clichés.  I remember a children’s literature class I took in college and the professor was so opposed to clichés that she told us upfront if we used them in our papers she would automatically give us a zero on the assignment.  Ouch!  That’s harsh.  Maybe my dislike of clichés goes back to that experience. 

        So how in the world did we choose what is perhaps the biggest cliché of all time as the title for my new book?  It’s a funny story actually, and the title came out of a completely unrelated conversation between my husband and me. 

        This message of dreaming with God has been burning in my heart for several years!  After we adopted and brought home our dream of a daughter that God had been showing me for over a decade in dreams in the night, my husband said, “You need to write a book.”  I think in the beginning I just thought he was tired of me sharing all the insights I was getting from God on dreaming.  As time went on, however, and I started the writing process there was so much to share.  When I sat down that first day to write I really wasn’t convinced there would be enough for a full book.  I thought maybe I can just write a blog post or an article.  This is only going to be enough to fill a small pamphlet, not a book!  Amazingly to even me, as I set my heart before God and asked, “What do you want to share with Your bride?”  The words flowed and before I knew it, I had written nearly 40,000 words. 

        The writing came easy because this message had been building in my heart for so long it wasn’t difficult to get the words on paper.  The title, however, was a struggle!  For about 2 years I had a “working title”.  I didn’t love it, but it was all I had.  I actually shelved the book for almost a year because I didn’t have a title I felt adequately expressed the message of the book.  During this time I began asking God to give me a title.  If this truly was a message He wanted me to share with the church, I wanted the title to be a good representation of that.  So for almost a year, I asked God, show me what the title should be.  Give me a dream, scripture, anything!  I was beginning to feel a tad desperate while at the same time wondering why I ever bothered to start writing in the first place.  A book without a title isn’t going anywhere. 

        Then one day my husband and I were driving home from a wedding.  We were just talking about life in general, the kids, what commitments and activities we had that week.  When out of nowhere he said, “You are living your dreams.”  I kind of laughed and said, “yeah literally!”.  It only took a moment for me to realize that’s the title of my book. 

        When I say I’m “Livin’ the Dream”, I don’t mean it in the same way as most people.  For most people, it is nothing more than a cliché.  They will sarcastically joke about a hard job that they don’t enjoy and say, “I’m livin the dream.”  It’s cliché and sarcasm.  When I say it, it’s not cliché.  I mean it literally.  I have had dreams in the night where God showed me glimpses of His plan for our family years before those plans came into being.  Today, I am living in the reality of those dreams.  My greatest hope and prayer through this project is that those who read the book will be encouraged to pay attention to the dreams in the night.  That they too will experience what it is to live your dreams.  Not just your dreams of things you desire, but that thing you were created for.  The plans and purposes of God for you.  He formed you in your mother’s womb and set a purpose for you before you took your first breath.  Grab hold of those dreams, and experience the joy and fullness of living in purpose.