Hide ‘Em in Your Heart

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Today’s post is written by Heather Ashe

Most of us who pop in here at I Take Joy agree that the Bible is important.  It is the Word of God to His people!  Most of us also know the challenge of getting in regular Bible study amid the routine and relentless demands of life.  One of my favorite things to do is study a passage with commentaries, thought and prayer, and have an opportunity to share what I learn with others.  The lack of time I have to spend in study is frustrating, but life has other delights for me right now – three to be exact, ages 9, 5, and 2.

Having those three little treasures around has revealed how “all or nothing” I am; if I can’t do a task or activity the way I want, I’m quick to despair and quit. Knowing that about myself, I have had to accept two things.   One, I won’t usually have the blocks of time I desire, so I must stop being annoyed by it.  Two, I should take advantage of (or create) spaces when I can inch toward what I desire, rather than wasting that time despairingly checking my Facebook feed!

In Latin we can summarize the second point in two words: carpe diem, and we can apply this approach to time we spend in the Word as moms.  In particular, we can seize moments to memorize Scripture passages!

Our best offence and defense, in the wild, unpredictable, worrisome and confusing rhythms of life, is God’s Word.

He has spoken that we might listen.

Aren’t there times when you are reading your Bible, sitting in worship, or discussing Scripture at small group when a verse or passage really catches your attention?  You’d like to spend more time thinking about it, but children interrupt, the worship service or small group ends, and you never do.  Let me suggest that when that happens, you make a note – at the top of your journal page, on the back of your hand, in your phone.  Later, read the passage again. Let it start to sink in.  Ask God to open your ears to hear.  And, begin memorizing the words; or as musician, Steve Green, says, Hide ‘em in your heart!  Start with the first verse, practice it until you know it well, then add the next verse, and so on.

Toward the end of last year, I started doing this and have enjoyed sitting for a spell in one passage.  There have even been (brief and blissful!) moments when I have time to let my mind wander and I think, Hey, I wonder if I can remember the verse I was memorizing this morning?  Sometimes, I do!

When we memorize Scripture, we let God’s Word infiltrate our brain and transform the way we think.  Romans 12:1-2

I love when the Spirit uses the Word to make our hearts tingle.  Don’t look longing back at those tingle moments, wishing you could recall what it was that so touched your heart.  Instead, make a note to get back to those Words and hide ‘em in your heart.  In this practice there’s no schedule, deadline, rush or final exam, just the freedom to carpe as many diems as you need to let God’s Word to you sink in.

I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I may not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Peace,

Heather

Life in the Valley

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Ways to Make Time for His Word

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“I have come to believe that the success or failure of any woman who hopes to build her children into a godly legacy depends to a great degree on whether or not she is spending time in the presence of the Lord and filling her mind with His word.”
-Sally Clarkson, The Mom Walk

Desiring to secure the hearts of our children with a love for God, often we try to teach them what is right, correct their attitudes, and often become frustrated with their immaturity, and so in our exhaustion, point out faults to our immature children.

We strive to be women of godly ideals, but tend to fall short and overwhelm ourselves with the mundane, ordinary day “have-tos.”

Yet, we cannot show our children the excellencies of God’s character if we have not invested time in His presence. We become like the ones we spend time with! –And so if we can never make time to cultivate a deep love, a fresh worship, a spontaneous conversation with our dear Father, then we will not be living from His spirit’s truth, wisdom and grace.

Spending time in God’s word is essential to our restoration as mothers. Without God’s word, what voices are filling our minds, hearts, and souls?

In the midst of busy, hectic schedules, it can be extremely difficult to make time for His word. We must be intentional and prioritize this necessary peace. Today, I am going to share some ideas with you on how we can not only pencil in and squeeze in our time with God, but full benefit from His amazing word.

1: Get an accountability partner.

Some of us need that extra push and reminder so that we don’t forget to spend time in His word. Talk to your best girl friend about holding each other accountable for your time in scripture. Call each other, or email, weekly to check in and remind each other of the importance of God’s word. Commit to a 6 month period of time to be prayer partners or to study a book of the Bible or a devotional together.

2. Bible reading plans.

With so many things going on in various directions, sometimes we don’t even know where to start once we open our bibles. Bible reading plans provide schedule, routine, order, and continuity to our time in scripture. Read through one Psalm a day and circle or note each verse that speaks of His character. Or underline wisdom or truth or a promise of principle. Or Read John and do the same thing. Keep a journal close by and each day write one thing you have learned. If you have time, pray through what you have learned. These books are good places to start.

3. I Take Joy scripture challenge. 

If His lovingkindness is before you every day, then you will walk in His ways and find His blessing.

Choose one of the scriptures below and personalize it for yourself:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”119:105

“For Your loving kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.” -Psalm 26:3

If you’re up for the challenge, write that verse on multiple sticky notes. Commit in your heart to seek His truth so that you may walk in it. Place one on your mirror, one in your car, and one on your coffee maker. Really meditate on that scripture, memorize it, and feel free to leave a comment on this blog post to share what that verse means to you in your current season of motherhood. Share this post with your friends so that we may learn from each other and grow in His wisdom, love, and truth.

Write the verse, tape it on your bathroom mirror and repeat it each time you are in the room. Or put it on your kitchen wall and say it with your children when you wash dishes. Add one verse each week and you will have a heart full of encouragement and truth when your year is up!

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The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.

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Moms: God’s source of grace in young girl’s lives!

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In a culture where women are confronted every day with photographs in media that show perfect bodies, messages suggesting sexual innuendos and the need for young women to be attractive to the opposite sex, there is a perfect emotional storm for all young girls seeking to be liked and wanting to eventually be loved by the opposite sex.  The passage from childhood to adulthood is fraught with kids wanting to still be loved and approved by their parents, but also longing to strain toward adulthood and wanting to be affirmed by their peers. This is a normal passage for all young women.

However, the way this passage into adulthood is handled will greatly determine the relative health and confidence with which a girl merges into adulthood. And as a mom, you can truly be a voice of affirmation, encouragement and guidance for your girls if you can understand the pressure they feel to conform and to please their peers.

Now in my 20′s,  I have experienced my fair share of growing up, stretching, hurting, and learning how to enjoy being a young woman. Even now, I remember my first day of high school , and the confusion and anxiety I felt, like it was yesterday. The majority of my peers were nervous, maybe even terrified, wondering how well they would be received by the population of teenagers.

I couldn’t fall asleep the night before because I couldn’t stop thinking about what I should wear. My mom had taken me to my favorite outlet mall over summer break to pick out some new clothes. The entire night, I tossed and turned wondering which t-shirt/blue jean combo I should choose. Finally, I decided on some faded blue jeans with the “totally not already made that way” holes in the knees. Being from Florida, I also went with a Kenny Chesney t-shirt and some flip flops to complete my perfect high school look.

I walked down the halls my first day trying not to smile too much, because I didn’t want to draw attention to my metal mouth. After each class that day, I rushed to the bathroom to fix my Florida humidified hair. Why was I so concerned about what people thought of me? They were just teenagers. The point is, we all want so badly to be accepted. We want to be liked.

These are the feelings all young women feel during their teenage years.

Now, as 22 year old young woman living in Hollywood, I have come to realize that these insecurities with which we struggle, don’t really fade away with age. Women were created to be clothed in strength, dignity, confidence and grace, but looking around at our culture today, I see so much brokenness. So much hurt. So much insecurity. So many emotional scars.

We are in a generation with a serious identity crisis. We desperately want to be able to define who we are. This is why tween & teen girls will spend hours getting ready to go anywhere.  They long for affirmation in a culture that is passive and disconnected from real love. Constantly seeking answers and trying to figure out our ideals, beliefs, and dreams creates emotional vulnerability. Girls compare themselves to photo-shopped magazines. We are told that our value is in our bodies. We sometimes let our own insecurities discourage us deep within.  But what if I told you that you, as a mom,  held power and God given authority, to positively determine the outcome of your daughter’s life? What if I told you that God has entrusted you to steward and raise a woman of influence?

This is a time and a generation filled with young women who desperately need to know they are worthy, valuable, and strong. All we need to do is change our definitions of ourselves. As a mother, you are in charge of a very important job.

Instead of getting frustrated with your daughter, her hormonal ups and downs, times of irrational responses, try to remember how you felt at her age. Relate to her and remember that it is not easy trying to figure out a strong identity.

Remember, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1 (or anger, frustration, insecurity!)

I challenge you this week to make intentional time with your daughter. Have a cup of tea or coffee, laugh, chat, and ask her what is on her heart. When moms make time to be casual and personal with their daughters, to value the things their children admire, then it opens up a girl’s heart to share with her inner most feelings with her mom. Perhaps your daughter is feeling confident and joyful. That is absolutely amazing, and it is my wish for every young woman. However, most girls struggle with feelings of doubt, insecurity, and confusion, but they do not want to reveal it unless they feel they can trust someone with their insecurities. Take the time to allow your daughter know how important her concerns are to you.

If you are seeking a Bible study, devotional resource to assist you as you spend quality time with your daughter, you can click on the following link to get your very own copy of my book, “God’s Girl.”

Relate to your daughter this week, and remind her that she is marvelously made.

***For more on Rachael Lee, check out her blog for young women.

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Rachael Lee, Ministry Leader for Tween Girls; author, actress, Bible study Leader

When will they stop fussing? Love must be trained, to grow! Way # 5

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Joel and Joy, playing and singing again.

There was a time, actually some years, when I wondered if Joy and Joel could go for a day without chafing each other. Whatever personality issues lay between them, add a little sin nature and age difference, and life would find them often correcting each other’s opinion or thoughts or heating toward high friction.

Some of my best memories the past two years, though, have been seeing them come to the piano again and again–playing, singing, harmonizing for literally hours–as they are both singer-songwriter types; seeing Joel coach her as she practiced her speeches and then spending hours judging at her speech and debate tournaments; coaching and encouraging each other through life, loves, thoughts, and becoming real, down deep friends.

Same with Sarah and Nate, or Joy and Sarah or Joel and Nate, …, you get the picture!

Moms often say to me, “When are they ever going to stop fussing? Will they ever be friends?”

It does take longer than any of us would want, but training is the key to training the heart’s response.

But, as I have paraphrased in other principles–love is not natural, it is supernatural. Love is a choice, an obedience. It grows when self is put away again and again. Love is a choice practiced over and over again–in order to build a strong “love muscle.”

And yet, Jesus says that love is the very reality that will separate us from the world, because love is such an exceptional light in a sea of dark relationships–that we would actually show love for one another is the way He said we would win the world.

As he said, “They, (the world), will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

The reason people would know that something was different about believers in Christ is that love is not natural to normal people–love is not normal in this world where divorce, law suits, violence in homes, separation of friendships, petty fussing and fighting, church splits, this is the norm.

That is why this week’s “way” is so very important.

We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect.” Way #5

Memory Verse:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I John 4:11-12

Love must become a trained habit. Living by feelings is not a choice, we must help our children to “become strong inside” by choosing what is right, beyond  negative feelings. Living in submission to the power of the Holy Spirit, and choosing to practice love, is what is at stake here. Obedience to practicing love and learning to forgive is a pathway to maturity and a choice where God will provide strength in the midst of such a choice of obedience.

What we sow, we reap. And if we sow seeds of love, seeds of choosing to be kind, learning to be gentle and showing respect, we will empower our children to have strong relationships.  All of this must be taught, modelled, and then corrected and trained again and again.

The practice of learning to love goes on at home:

Is that the way to be kind, gentle and respectful to your sister? How could you have said that differently? What is our Family way about how we treat one another? Now, I want you to apologize and tell your sister that you love her.

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Some of our besties–even friends offend each other.

Friends must also become a place of practicing loving.

I know you feel like your friend irritated you and was unjust–but our verse says, “Since God loved us, we also ought to love one another. So, could you find it in your heart to forgive your friend? Mama has quarreled with her friends before, too. I know it hurts your feelings. But since God forgave me, I knew He wanted me to forgive my friend. Can I pray for you and your friend? ……….Now, let’s surprise her and write her a nice note about how glad you are that she is your friend and maybe we could take her a plate of cookies?”

If we separate from our friends just because of quarrels, then we are teaching our children that we don’t have to love everyone–we only have to love the people who we feel like loving–and then your training of this verse and family way becomes null and void.

What we model as adults is the integrity of our teaching them to follow our ways.

(And even in those irrational relationships with family, believers and others who will not speak to you anymore or who have decided to be at enmity to you, you must model restraint–show respect because you are a child of Jesus. Show your children what it looks like to respect even those who have offended you and sinned against you. When you model unconditional love in front of your children, they know deep in their hearts that you are choosing to control your feelings in order to sow love–and guess what, that is exactly how they will behave when they are tested as adults–because they learned integrity from you!)

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Oh no, you mean I even have to model this way in marriage?

All marriages have stress and ups and downs. This is the training grounds for parents to practice unconditional love in front of their children. Way 5, loving because He first loved us- is not something that just the children are required to follow–even we must follow our Family ways, especially in marriage–sowing love and grace, kindness, gentleness and respect with our spouse, even when our feelings disagree. This is the training grounds for greatness for our children.

When they hear the truth of the way and learn the verse, then when they see that in their home, forgiveness is practiced over and over again; saying your sorry and giving respect and restoring the relationship; choosing to act and speak in respectful ways, prepares your children to:

Stay loving and faithful and forgiving in marriage

to be a loyal and faithful friend

to get along and learn how to honor and handle others at work

In short, training a child to choose to love by showing kindness, gentleness and respect will prepare them to go before kings or paupers and to become leaders in their generation. This is one of the most important areas of training, so that our children can learn how to influence people with the messages of Christ–it starts with an attitude that says, “God has designed me to love people, to be humble like He was, to show respect and kindness.”

Did fussing irritate me? Of course–drove me crazy!

Did I ever wonder if my children would get along? Thousands of times.

Did I wonder what I was doing wrong? Of course I did.

But training is a matter of process and maturity. And it really is going in deep in their hearts.

But training them to love is not about forcing them and yelling at them–but training, correcting, loving, modeling and doing it all over again, until this is a true value of their soul.

But it does work and God will knit together your family, because it is deeply in their souls–His way and design for them.

I am not quite sure when the “magic” of my children really loving each other and enjoying each other and really loving to be together happened, but it is a gift and a result of the seeds we planted and watered over many years.

Even last night, Nathan rang us at 10:30 and we had a 20 minute, face time–me on the couch, showing the dog, getting 3 of us in camera site at once–just to be together and “jaw.” We giggled, shared, talked and loved once again as a community of Clarkson’s. The fruit was sweet to my mama heart.

This training is an over and over and over again issue, but I must say now, fighting hard for this way to become the “way” of their hearts is one of the sweetest harvests of training, because now we have all become best friends.

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Playing the part of provider to bring life and beauty!

Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars,
She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine,
She has set her table, …,
“Come eat of my food.  And drink of my wine I have mixed.
For sake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:1-6

I am getting mommy excited about next Tuesday. My youngest, precious one, Joy, will come home from her first semester at college. She has sustained the 3 months alone  without one visit and we have been constantly chatting and planning and sharing hearts so much that it feels like the last few days before you give birth–just biding your time until the momentous occasion comes. As a result, I have been looking at some old pictures and drawing up old memories and here is one of them–our fall apple picking and putting away for the winter. We missed it this year with Joy gone and us traveling too much.

But I had so much fun remembering, I thought I would share our memory with you! Getting into the mood for cooking a feast for all of my children and special others who will be with us!

Below a story of life from 4 years ago–hard to believe the time flew!

Yesterday we had a great sermon–one of four–which addressed the reality of heaven. I loved hearing that in heaven we will eat and drink and feast and have gardens and rivers and beauty and celebration and singing–only it will be in a perfect and wonderful place–called paradise–even more wonderful than anything we can see or imagine here.

I like knowing these things. It makes me think that when I prepare these thousands of meals that I am providing a little heaven on earth–an imperfect picture here of what real celebration and living will be there! I think that one of my delights over the years, which has grown as I have become better at it, is providing life-giving meals and memories for my family. Wisdom (I love it that wisdom is personified as a woman!) sets her table and provides wonderful food and in the midst of serving, calls those she serves to wisdom, understanding, love and righteousness. I am convinced that we have done more discipleship over meals than any other way!

As the old saying goes, “the  way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, but I think there is some truth to it, only applying to all people! Even Wisdom knew as much. Though there are so many things that reach and touch our hearts, I do think that the dining table can become the place of so much spirituality. At least it has for our family. Clay and I talk to our sons Joel and Nathan several times a week. Though both are thriving where they are, both have mentioned often missing our family. And when I asked them what they missed the most, it is as Joel and Nate said, “It’s the great food and the meal time discussions that I miss the most–just being together like that as a family.”

I would have to agree that these moments (and there are thousands of them) have held celebrations, devotions, discussions, funny stories, jokes, laughter, songs, correction (How many times have I told you–use a fork–not your fingers!) and sharing our hearts together.

God designed us to eat, but the time spent eating in warm fellowship, giving words of love and affirmation, challenging ideas with a meaningful quote to discuss or bringing and insightful article to the table to read together makes the moments that we spend in delightful fellowship feasting, a discipleship moment!

Just thought I would include a recipe from a most recent Sunday breakfast meal. Though we try to have devotions as a family, as our children became older and had their own cars, jobs and activities, we could barely get everyone together at once, but we could almost always get everyone together on Sunday morning. So many years ago, even when they were young, I got up early to make a great Sunday morning breakfast. Some of our favorites include home made whole wheat cinnamon rolls–(and yes, someday I will provide the recipe–but it is not perfected yet and I am afraid of misleading all of you! I am so used to throwing it all together–my own recipe–that I don’t exactly know how to put it down as it is different every time!)

Now onto more–scrambled cheese eggs–I do it a certain Clarkson way with bacon bits, cheese and sour cream; Polish eggs–the same only with hash browns mixed into the eggs-omelette’s with green peppers, onions, ham, bacon, avocado as the favorite items and of course cheese; muffins–our favorite being oatmeal and also blueberry or pumpkin; also, apple coffee cake; cottage cheese pancakes with strawberry or blueberry topping.

But one of the family favorites, which I do when I run out of time or get up late, is Whole Wheat Pancakes. I use this recipe below. The great thing about this recipe is that you can change it by adding just a few items. The ones pictured below are my regular ones–pancakes with grated apple, pecans and cinnamon.

Sometimes I add chocolate chips and have made a smiley face with them; or blueberries, one to two squished bananas with chopped nuts; hot peach sauce on top, hot apples on top and whip cream on all of it if desired. The girls in our family prefer real maple syrup and the boys prefer Aunt Jemima or log cabin light.

Of course we always light candles and put on some kind of music.

Somehow our table looks sparse now that we only have 4!

Whole Wheat Pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat (or white) flour
1 1/2 cups milk or yoghurt
2 -4 tablespoons honey, sugar or maple syrup-depending on your taste
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs with beater until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients until smooth. You can add up to 1/4 cup of milk if you prefer thinner cakes, but we like them fluffy and thick. They do spread out on your griddle–though sometimes I give them a little help when I put them on the griddle by spreading them out a little with my spatula. Let them cook until there are lots of bubbles showing on the surface of the cakes, and they are beginning to dry out on the edges. This makes enough to feed all 6 of us. You can halve the recipe and feed 4 if they are not big eaters!

*as an aside, I always grate apples to put in the pancakes. I also add pecans to some of them. You can also fold in blueberries. Yumm–a great way to add whatever you happen to like! (Once a woman told me that she followed this recipe and her pancakes turned out really heavy. I grind my own flour and don’t add more flour if the batter looks wrong–I add a little more milk. They are pretty light for us–hope it works for you!)

Next, I like to decorate for each season. I keep lidded plastic boxes with the season’s decor and it just takes me a small amount of time to decorate my whole house. (autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, Spring and summer) I like, also, these  tall glass cannisters that hold whatever you want in the bottom and  candles on the top part as pictured below. You can get them in all sorts of sizes–expensive designer ones or Walmart or Target. The reason I like them is that you can just put different things in the bottom of them, place a candle on top and it is an instant centerpiece on a table or coffee table. In autumn, leaves are on the bottom. At Christmas, I put tiny red and green Christmas tree balls in one and pine cones in another I have; small hearts at valentines with a red strand of beads during January and early February, etc.

Providing can also be  designing traditions just for your family that take on a life of its own. Every year for a few years, we took a trip to the local apple farm and picked our own apples, ate a picnic out in the fields. Then, some weekend, we would all peel apples, slice and cut them and freeze them for applesauce and or warm apples to have with our soups in the winter. This year, our apple farm had a freeze and so we bought 3 boxes of organic apple  to use for our recipes. We always watch the Anne of Green Gables series while doing it and I think we have every line memorized. This year, since our family is ridding itself of lots of our plastic, we decided to put our recipes in jars. I must say we missed the boys as they always did a lot of work with us on these!

The final outcome so far: 17 jars of homemade applesauce and 12 jars of apple butter (minus the jars eaten!)

 

Now, tonight we will do the last box–apple pie filling!

We so enjoyed praying for all of you today. It was such a good time of fellowship with my girls–I should do this more. Have a great day tomorrow and know we are in His loving and wonderful hands.

Grace, peace and an abundance of His love to all of you today!

Sally