Beach, Great Food, Friends, Retreat–Sarah & I would love to see you!

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Calling all North Carolina Moms and those near by!

September 19-20

Start your school year off with inspiration, fun, sharing with friends and a retreat. For all of you who have attended our Raleigh Mom Conferences in the past, this is for you., as we will not be able to have the spring Mom Heart Retreat there this year.  I miss being there the past couple of years but now, I have been invited to speak in Wrightsville Beach, nearWilmington, North Carolina–the darling, artistic town, at a retreat just for mamas–to fill them up, spoil them and give them a sense of grace, peace and wisdom as they enter another school year.

Sarah will be speaking about her newest book, Caught up in a Story, about the importance of winning your children’s hearts through great literature, intentional mentoring and strong foundations. She will also be speaking about her favorite books, lists of the best books we used in our home, and the ways we inspired boy and girl alike. Our own practices of reading, discussion, and cultivating a high standard of education in our home will all be a part of our story for you. And of course we hope to have some of these books available for purchase–though we will be giving some away!

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I hope to inspire you about the rhythms you set up in your home to cultivate learning as a way of life. On my heart is helping moms to learning to inspire your children to love education, to become critical thinkers and to be passionate about becoming leaders in their generation is all a part of the message on my heart. Discipling your children to have a strong faith in God in a challenging culture is essential.

Finally, I wanted to end our time together to encourage all of you precious moms how to stay fresh, to take care of your own soul, to rid yourself of performance guilt and comparison, and how to refresh your own heart, mind and soul so that you can stay resilient in your ideals while enjoying educating your children.

I hope to be at the retreat center early so that there will be time to visit with all of you in a more casual setting and to provide time for questions and answers with Sarah and me.

We will also be giving away some books during our talks!

Please pass the word around. Please share this with all of your friends and we shall make a grand weekend of it all.

Can’t wait–I have wanted a mini-vacation at the beach for a long time!

But hurry, the deadline is coming soon and the retreat is almost full. For more information, and to register,

go HERE.

http://www.nche.com/nche-moms-retreat-sally-clarkson

Hope to see many of my old friends there!

Created to be artists of Life


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A snack dinner, recently celebrated in our home when I did not want to cook!

Ideals and the desire for beauty are simply the echoes of God’s design in our hearts. He was the one who designed the world to be a masterpiece of wonder and life. The yearning for peace, health, and comfort is natural to our souls and comes from the depths of our hearts where we can still feel and imagine what God created life to be before the fall.”    The Mom Walk p. 58

In the beginning, God created…..

One aspect to being created in God’s image is that even as the first thing he did was to create, so we are made to be creators.

God placed his first children, Adam and Eve, in a vast, splendid garden with variety of color, sound, texture, light, taste–all for the pleasure of His beloved Adam and Eve.

As women and as mothers, we long to follow this design and make masterpieces out of the everyday things in our lives. We sometimes forget that masterpieces are the work of a lifetime–we create, bring light, prepare food, build traditions–just as God did when he crafted the garden and will prepare a meal for us in the new world. He brought the light of stars, the sun, constellations, we illuminate our homes with the ambience of soft reflections of firelight, lamplight, candles.

When the real world comes crashing in on us, by rumors of war, killings, earthquakes, the fall of Godly leaders, we can quickly become overwhelmed and walk down  pathway of fear and despair.

And yet it is important for us to persevere and create beauty in our world. When the walls within our home bring safety, the music brings comfort, the food satisfies the body, the touch brings affection, the words bring hope, we are like the Holy Spirit–bringing the reality of God into the dark places of this world. 

When we give up, we are submitting to the darkness that surrounds us- and in giving in to fear gives darkness to our own soul.

I believe mothers are widely capable influences in this world for good. They have an incredible capacity to be strong, faithful, life-giving. Even lighting a candle will influence our surroundings and bring soothing comfort to our souls. The dancing flicker of light gives hope that we are making a difference in this dark world.

In reading Genesis 1, what words did God use at the end of days 1-5? He said, “It is good.”

Creating beauty, light, as God did, is a “good” work of our own lives.

On day 6, God pronounced his work very good.  How did he summarize all of creation?

 

When a mom is overworked, she may think this work of beauty if frivolous. But I have found that creating beauty actually has an inspiring, peaceful influence on my own well-being. Creating brings an energy to our lives. It doesn’t have to be difficult or comprehensive, but it is a glorious process of bringing the art of God into the moments of life.

 

What is one thing you can do today to make your home more beautiful? Stop to think about it and make 3 ways you will beautify or tame your home this week. How can you make it more peaceful? Just a tiny effort every day can bring a legacy of comfort to your children’s perceptions of life, memories, sense of belonging to a place.

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It can be as simple as picking a wildflowers and putting them in a vase. Let your children gather a bouquet for you. They will love picking flowers for Mommy.

How does making your home beautiful and peaceful glorify God? How can you glorify God as a mom today?

As you look into the eyes of each of your children, pray that the Lord will help you see the masterpiece he is creating in them. Give them a gift of God’s life art through the acts of worship of your life and you will bring a sense of peace into your home.

I pray God’s beauty will permeate your life today!

Our Children Need Heroes!

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God spoke to us in a lightening storm last night.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from the remotest parts, And said to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you, Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” For I am the Lord you God who upholds your right hand, who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” 

Isaiah 41: 9-10, 13

Mamas were imagined in the heart of God, because He knew that when world events would happen in the lives of his children, they would need someone to light a candle in the darkness, to sing their fears away, to assure them of God’s presence. Filling my children with stories of heroes, those who were courageous in the midst of difficult times, was a way I wanted to fill the treasure chest of their hearts so that when challenging life fell upon them, they would have resources to draw from–stories told, verses memorized, life lived above the darkness, so that they would know how to face their own fears and trials.

The way we choose, by faith, to face these difficult days, has great worth in the future faith and faithfulness of the children who live in our home. A glory to God, is for us to choose to believe in His presence so that our children will seek His presence. As Joy and I were talking about hard times tonight, she read me a blog she has just written. It encouraged me so much to see her own heart amidst all of the challenges facing all of us, that I thought I would share it with you. Be sure to go to Joy’s page and read it and leave her a comment. And be sure to practice mama bravery and heroism in your own home. Enjoy!

I Need a Hero

by joynessthebrave

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True. Story.

“Aragorn is just not a realistic character.” Said my friend as we sat at lunch.

“Really?” I said, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” he said, holding his french fry a few inches away from his mouth in a contemplative manner, “He’s just too… Resolute… Too good. Nobody is that noble.”

hmphed and picked at my grilled cheese, he ate his french fry, and our conversation turned to complaints about homework and other serious

The conversation did not turn into much more that day, but the comment always stuck with me.

Not realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Nobody is that noble.

I have always loved Aragorn. Heavens, I think there are few girls in my generation that have not gone through a stage of Aragorn admiration, and, were we honest, few of us have made it out of that stage. For evidence, see the meme included in this post.

Tales like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Narnia, or to go back further, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the Odyssey, David and Goliath, and countless others have gone deep into the psyche of countless generations. We love stories for their adventure and delight, but I think there is a deeper down reason for our love of these tales. We love them because a good story gets to the heart of the struggle of good and evil that every age has had to deal with. Though it wears different masks– war, oppression, slavery, nuclear war, facism– every age has had its darkness to fight. We tell stories to make sense of the world, and to give us an ideal for how to live in evil times.

That’s where the Aragorns of the world come in. Every good story has its hero. If stories help us make sense of our beautiful, broken and cruel world, Hero’s teach us to live in it. In our favorite heroes, we see people who face the same sorts of hardships and doubts that we do, yet somehow, miraculously come out the other side. We love heroes because they are brave, and because they make us believe that, perhaps, we could be brave too.

Not Realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Too Noble.

I believe our generation has lost some of its hope in heroes. We are wary of people who seem “too good,” and I do not think this wariness is totally unfounded. The last score of years have been full of media demagogues: politicians who promise and do not deliver, pastors who preach but do not practice, stars who shine but do not bring light. The rapid growth of social media has engendered a marketing based culture where everything and everyone is claiming to fill a need, and the emptiness of those promises has become quickly evident. As a generation, we have grown weary of people claiming to be heroes. As a result, many people have rejected the idea of heroism altogether, and have replaced it with the ideal of “being real” or “authentic.”

This rejection of heroism and embrace of “authenticity” is evident in the proliferation of anti-heroes in literature and film. Take for instance the popular example of the “real” antihero Katniss Everdeen, who is only willing to do the right thing once she is coerced and harrowed into it.

I am not wholeheartedly condemning all antiheroes, but I think it is worth noting their presence and influence in the 21st century imagination. There is something truly valuable in the pursuit of authenticity and humility, but what bothers me is the idea that true heroism is, as my friend put it, “not realistic.” But what do we mean by “not realistic?” We have forgotten to define our terms.

To assume that a character can only be “authentic” “real” or “humble” if they are antiheroic means that we have assumed that no one can truly be heroic. 

After all, there are no pure motives…

And that is the assumption that bothered me about my friends statement.

Is Aragorn’s bravery and heroism truly unrealistic?

I recently finished reading Lord of the Rings over the summer, and was profoundly encouraged by it. The story is peppered with heroes of all shapes and sizes, and that is perhaps what I love most about the series. Be they hobbit or high elf, many a character comes to the edge of peril and decides to press on, to conquer, and to be brave. Time after time characters are faced with certain death, many meeting it, but press on for the love of goodness and the understanding that their decisions are a part of a story much bigger than themselves.

Consider Aragorn.

In the story, Aragorn is 80 years old. He has spent many years as a ranger in hiding– a job without appreciation and without forgiveness. By the time the book begins, he has fought many bitter battles and spent years in obscurity, but he knows that He– and he alone– is meant to be king. It is not that he is infallible, but that he has spent his life preparing and training for his part. When finally the day comes for Aragorn to take his place as King, it is in a battle almost sure to be lost, but he goes forward bravely, knowing that this was his time to be brave, whether it ended in death or life.

It was what he had prepared for all his life.

It was the summation of his character.

It was his part in the story.

Not realistic. Too Resolute. Too Good. Nobody is that noble.

I wonder if the reason we have lost our trust in heroes is because we have lost our sense of story. All good heroes know that there acts of bravery are not about them, but about the people, the values, and the goodness they believe in and want to preserve. Heroes seem supernatural, because in their actions they affirm that there is a true and even supernatural narrative that is worth protecting, and even worth laying their lives down for.

Heroism is not about glory, it is about story.

Perhaps more people would be real and authentic heroes if, rather than making themselves out to be great and noticed, they spent their lives, like Aragorn, in silent preparation of character, daily building spiritual muscle to fight, making decisions in quiet moments to walk towards the light and dispel the darkness, so that when their time came to lay down their lives for what is right, they would be ready.

As I write this, there is a breath stealing heat lightening show happening outside my window. It is like nothing I have ever seen. The clouds are piled miles high and the stars a guarding the clear air around them. Inside the towers of clouds there are great silent flashes of light flashing, as though Gandalf himself is fighting Saruman. I feel small.  

And I am.

I am grateful for these moments, because in their inaudible and yet articulate way they remind me of the Great Storyteller, and the Great Story that I am a part of. I want to be hero.

The story is not over yet, and more than ever we need heroes. A cursory glance at your newsfeed or will reveal that light and goodness are being challenged, and sometimes seemingly darkened, every day. But just like Aragorn, I want to know my place in the story, prepare my heart, stretch my spiritual muscle to be ready for my part in the story.

We need to believe in heroes.

We need to read stories about heroes.

We need to become heroes in ready wait for the true King and Hero.

“Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. ‘My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?’

‘Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!’ said Aragorn. ‘You are weary. Rest a while, and take food, and be ready when I return.’

‘I will, lord,’ said Faramir. ‘For who would lie idle when the king has returned.’” -Return of the King

Find Joy at: http://joynessthebrave.wordpress.com/

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Joy–getting ready to leave for Oxford next week! I will miss her, but she will be blessed, I know!

Anyone want to see Sarah Mae and me at Focus on the Family?Tuesday !

desperateHi, Friends,

Sarah Mae and I will taping a show for Focus on the Family to discuss Desperate this coming Tuesday, August 26, at 9:30 a.m. and we would love to have you in our audience and will be available to say hi after the taping. If you would like to join us, you have to register, as they have limited seating. Here is the information:

Here’s info from FOTF: If you would like to attend a taping, please note the following information:
Seating is reserved. Please call (719) 531-3400 and ask for extension 1907 to reserve a seat.
Children under the age of 10 are restricted from attending broadcast tapings. Additionally, there are occasions when the subject matter is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. If this is the case, the information will be available when you make your reservation to attend a taping.
Please call a day or two before your planned visit to learn of any schedule changes.
If you are not able to attend, please call the above number to let us know. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.

It would be so fun for us to see you and have a full house! Hope you can join us! Tell your friends! See you soon!

Remembering That I Am Not God

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“I am imperfect and no matter how hard I try, my children will never be perfect. But when I am resting in the life I have in Christ, my children, in spite of me, still have the opportunity to turn out okay. God is their true source of life, just as He is my source of life, and I am just a tool in His hands that He uses to communicate His life to them. In the end, He is in charge of their souls’ destinies. I have learned to live freely in this knowledge, balancing the tension of ideals and reality by enjoying His constant love and help.”
-The Mom Walk

While striving to maintain ideals in your household is important, no mother will ever be capable of perfection (no matter how hard we try). The hard work you accomplish matters–every meal, each candle lit, the stories read, the morning devotions, the hugs and kisses, many prayers–it is the most valuable work. However, allow yourself grace and remember that while you are their mother, you are not their God.

God has trusted you with these sweet children who will look to you as the example, giving your children a healthy pattern that they can follow.  When they become adults and are living on their own, they will have memories and examples of how to face their own problems because they have a godly picture of it from the life of their mother. While your great influence in their lives is significant, it is crucial that you remember to rest in the love of Christ, knowing that at the end of the day, He is in charge. Take a deep breath, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself today.

Take a moment today to have a quiet time and bible study, reading over these verses and meditating on them, as well as the questions below.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
-Proverbs 19:21

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
-Romans 8:28

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”
-Job 12:10

Ask yourself:
-Am I putting so much pressure on being the perfect mother that I am attempting to take on the role of God?
-How can I better allow God to help and take control in my life, as well as the lives of my children?
-How can I allow myself to rest in the help and love of God today?