Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Psalm 37

 1 Don’t worry about the wicked
      or envy those who do wrong.
 2 For like grass, they soon fade away.
      Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
 3 Trust in the Lord and do good.
      Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
 4 Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you your heart’s desires.
 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
      Trust him, and he will help you.
 6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
      and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
 7 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
      and wait patiently for him to act.
   Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
      or fret about their wicked schemes.
 8 Stop being angry!
      Turn from your rage!
   Do not lose your temper—
      it only leads to harm.
 9 For the wicked will be destroyed,
      but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

 23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
      He delights in every detail of their lives.
 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
      for the Lord holds them by the hand.

 27 Turn from evil and do good,
      and you will live in the land forever.
 28 For the Lord loves justice,
      and he will never abandon the godly.  He will keep them safe forever.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hello, my name is...

Hello. My name is Nicole, and I am a recovering coffeeaholic. It has been one year and five months since my last cup-o-joe, but every day I still long for a cup. Each day, when I crack open the can of Folgers for my hubby, I sit there for a moment and just take in the smell of those lovely ground coffee beans. And I must say, it was especially hard today when I headed out to my garden with a huge bag of used Starbucks coffee grounds and dug my hand deep down into the black loveliness to sprinkle it onto the ground around my plants. The smell was strong and inviting. And when I got down on my hands and knees to pull weeds, those same coffee grounds were right there giving off their aroma.

It is so hard when there is something in your life that you love so greatly and long for so deeply that it takes hold of you and puts roots way down deep into your soul. That's called "making an idol". Idols don't come only in the form of little fat half-naked bald men, you know. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. For some people, television becomes their idol. For others, money. And still others, something as simple as food or books. It is pride, gluttony, self-centeredness, greed, a love of possessions, and just plain rebellion toward God. In whatever form you like to take your idol, the Bible says it is still SIN. And God hates sin!

So even though many people tell me all the time, "It's only coffee. It's not going to hurt if you have a cup now and then," I still know in my heart that I am not ready to pick it back up again. When something still calls to me the way that idol does, I know the devil is just sitting there waiting for me to give in so he can grab hold of me again. And I refuse to let anything, besides God Almighty, have control over my life. Period.

Whew! I'm glad to get that off of my chest. I feel better now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ten Things About Me

Since only a handful of you know me personally, and the rest of you lovely folks only know me by way of technology, I thought I would take a moment and tell you a few things about myself, so we can become better acquainted. So here are ten things you may or may not know about me.

1. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. When I was five years old at my first ever church camp, I asked Jesus into my heart, and I have never looked back. Through many people and events, my walk with Him has deepened over the years, and I have a very sweet, special love affair with my Creator.

2. I am married to the man of my dreams, Brient. He is in no way perfect, and there are many days I tell him such. But I cannot imagine spending this life on Earth with anyone else.

3. My four children are my favorite kids ever. They are my delight and my joy, though, at times, they are my biggest trial and aggravation. But I am so thrilled that God thought enough of me to give these kids to Brient and I to care for while they walk this journey of life.

4. My favorite afternoon snack (and morning snack, for that matter) is chai tea. Chai is the perfect blend of spices, and not all brands have the blend quite the same. The ones with black pepper and star anise are definitely superior to the rest, as they add just the right amount of "bite" to your cup. My favorite brands are Celestial Seasonings, Tazo, and Full Circle organic. So if any of you would like to send me a box, I will be more than happy to send you my address so you can ship it!

5. I am a recovering coffee-a-holic. Last January, I knew God was telling me to give up anything that was an addiction for me, and that pointed straight to the four to six cups of coffee each day that I was drinking. In truth, I feel like an alcoholic (or at least what I have heard they feel like), in that, every time I smell coffee, I still crave a cup. And even though people tell me it's OK to drink it in moderation, I know in my heart of hearts, if I ever take another sip of coffee, I will be addicted to it again. Once I start, I won't be able to stop. And I refuse to let any addictions rule over me!

6. I am 4' 10 1/2" tall. That has bothered me my entire life, because you would not believe how many people felt it was their job to make names for me regarding my height and pick on me throughout school. To this day, I have people come straight up to me and say, "Wow, you're short!" Duh! And it is amazing the number of people who will come and prop their arm on top of my head just to make a point of how tall they are and that I'm not. When I take my kids to town for groceries, the cashier nearly always tells me, "Well I thought you were one of the kids!" I HATE THAT!! But a few weeks ago, Brient said something to me that just really made it all come together. One Sunday morning, as I was getting ready for church (we teach children's church), he said, "You know, God made you exactly like you were supposed to be. He made you short for a reason. Because of your size, you connect with these kids at church. They love you. You were meant to teach them. God made you to teach kids from the beginning." The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Had God made me any different, I would not have the same connection I do with kids. Because I am the same size as them, they can look me straight in the eyes and talk to me. I don't tower over them. They feel safe talking to me because I'm on their level. So, even though I still HATE the short jokes and comments, I have finally come to understand that God made no mistake when He created me the height that I am. It was all part of his perfect plan.

7. My favorite colors are blue, yellow, and green. Blue reminds me of the sky. Yellow represents the bright sun. And green is the color of the grass, trees, and plants. My favorite place to be is outside where those colors are all around me.

8. My dream job is to be a taste tester at the Blue Bunny ice cream factory! I've always wanted to do that ever since I saw the commercial of that woman chopping the bucket in half to ensure there were ripples of chocolate all the way through. My next dream job would be to work with Ms. Betty B., our favorite librarian! She is so much fun, and I would just love to hang out with her and laugh and play all day long! But the truth of it is, I don't really ever want another job outside of my home, because I hate working on someone else's time schedule. If it is beautiful outside, I want the freedom to get out and enjoy it, rather than being stuck inside doing work inside of walls.

9. I am a gypsy at heart. I could move every 2 years, and I would LOVE it! I don't think I would ever get tired of the excitement. But alas, the fact that I married a man who has absolutely no desire to move around the world exploring and looking for adventure, and the fact that such a lifestyle would cost way more money that I have, I am stuck in the same town I grew up in, and I will probably be here until the day I die. ~sigh~

10. My least favorite way to spend my time is cleaning house. Several years ago, I looked at the household jobs that I was doing, and I cut out everything but what was absolutely necessary. Since I homeschool my kids, there is only so much time I have to do everything in my house, and I would much rather spend that time learning with them! So every few weeks, I take a day or two and go over the whole house to ensure that it is clean again. But after that, we go back to living and enjoying our time together, and we don't focus on a spotless house. Besides, you can't keep an entirely clean house with a two year old. So the point here is, if you want to come to my house, either call first so the kids and I can make a path for you to get in, or be sure to come right after my heavy cleaning day! And be encouraged! Your house WILL survive if it is not mopped! Trust me on this one!

So now you know a little more about me. Leave me a comment and tell me one thing I do not know about you. I would love to know a little more about each of you who read my blog! You are all very special to me!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Lord is My Portion

I have been reading for the past several weeks from the Old Testament book of Joshua. This book starts out in such an amazing way, as God is basically telling Joshua, "Get up! Go take the land! I will NOT fail you or abandon you!!" I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the things God asked of the Israelites, and how, no matter how big the task, God Himself helped them overcome.

This morning, I was reading about the land that Joshua and the Israelites had conquered and how it was divided between the different tribes. Some tribes were given land many years before by Moses, and that land lay east of the Jordan River. The other tribes were given all the land west of the Jordan River as their inheritance from the land they had taken from the Canaanites. There was enough land to divide between all the tribes. Well, all that is but one.

The tribe of Levi was the only tribe that did not get any of the land. OK, they were given a few small towns "to live in with surrounding pasture lands for their livestock and all their possessions (Joshua 14:4b)," but that was it. Why did everyone else get all the land, and these poor people got completely left out?

The tribe of Levi made up the priests. The priests were the ones who took care of the temple, carried the Ark of the Covenant, and did any other priestly things that God may ask of them. God had told them many years before that they would be taken care of by Him and Him alone. They were allowed to eat some of the foods that were offered as sacrifices, and God would provide everything else they needed.

Joshua 13:33 says, "But Moses gave no allotment of land to the tribe of Levi, for the LORD, the God of Israel, had promised that He Himself would be their allotment." WOW! To me, that is just amazing! Instead of land for their inheritance and security, God had promised them something so much bigger. He gave them everything He had. He was their portion. He was their allotment. He would be their inheritance and provide for their security. He would be their EVERYTHING! Out of all the land that Joshua and his army captured and divided between the tribes, and it was a LOT of land, the tribe of Levi was given the biggest blessing. I can think of nothing better than having God Almighty as your allotment!

Do you ever feel like everyone else is getting all the tangible blessings? Do you see everyone else prospering and gaining "things"? Do you sometimes think that it just isn't fair that God is handing over everything to everyone but you? Well let me encourage you, friend. Because, as a child of God, HE is your portion! God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, loves you so much that He wants to be your portion. He wants to supply all your needs in His way and in His timing.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." ~Matthew 6:25-33(NLT)

So today, when you look around at all you have, or the lack thereof, just remember this: The LORD God Almighty will be your portion. And that portion is far better than anything else in this life you could ever acquire!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Schoolhouse Expo is HERE!!

I am so excited, because today is the first day of the Schoolhouse Expo!! I have been waiting for a few months for this online conference, and I am so thrilled that it is finally here! A few days ago, the powers-that-be posted the schedule for the Expo, and I have already downloaded my copy and highlighted the speakers that I particularly am looking forward to hearing.

The first speaker today that I just can't wait to hear is Jessica Hulcy. She is the writer of the KONOS curriculum with which we started out our homeschooling. I have deviated from it some, because I learned how to write my own unit studies. But I always enjoy coming back to this particular curriculum. I am very excited to hear what she has to say today. This next school year, I am planning to go back to KONOS as our main focus, because it is so easy, flexible, and FUN!! You can check out the KONOS website to see all that she offers, and let me tell you, it is a LOT!

Also, I am really excited about all the door prizes that will be given away all week long. There is a long list of great things that are up for grabs, and I sure hope I win something! I rarely win anything, so I will be very surprised if I do. But one can still hope. You can see all the great prizes being offered on the Schoolhouse Expo website.

The Expo is completely sold out, so I hope you already have your ticket! But if you do not have a ticket for the live online conference, despair not! You can still purchase the mp3 version, which will be available in just a few weeks. It will have all the same great seminars, and you can listen to them over and over. Also, if you aren't able to finish a session, you can just pause it and pick up where you left off when you have time. I LOVE that about the mp3 version! So go grab a copy now!

If you are planning to attend the live Schoolhouse Expo this week, I would love to know about it. Leave me a comment here to let me know you are attending, and tell me which speaker you are most looking forward to hearing. The ones I am most looking forward to are Jessica Hulcy (KONOS), Carol Topp (micro-businesses for teenagers), Carol Barnier (What Are You THINKING - Learning Styles and Beyond), Maggie and Tyler Hogan (Mind Your Own Business - Home Based Entrepreneurship), Dianne Craft (Right brain child strategies), and then, of course, the Door Prize EXTRAVAGANZA at the end of the conference on Friday!! Your turn. Leave me a comment and tell me who you most want to hear.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess