I Know That I Haven’t Lived The Way That I Should Have, But …

     Every year as we head towards the new year, I look back at the previous year and realize that I haven’t lived the way that I wanted to live. That there were parts of my life where I behaved in a way that was wrong. I could easily make an excuse, but if you only knew what happended to me that day, or what I had been up against the month before then you would understand. I don’t want to live my life with excuses that allow me to keep being the same way that I have always been. I need to stand up, look at myself in the mirror and change. Easier said than done!

 

Why Would I Want to Examine Myself


This post came from the sermon that my Pastor was preaching about this past Sunday. When he asked, “Why examine yourself,” all I thought about was because I want to be more like Jesus.

I read the Bible quit a bit, (I would love to say everyday, but I can’t). I love the words that jump off the page. Wise people hold their tongues, love your neighbor, in prayer and petition, etc. It is only when I put these words into practice that they ever really make sense to me.

So when I examine myself, I need to do so with practical testing. A test looking at what I have physically done. I can put down check marks for each day that I read the Bible, however, if I do not physically do something with those words, then I have failed the practical testing portion of my examination.

 

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ

Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

To refine a piece of metal you need to first get rid of the crude metal (impurities) that is within. You can do this with fire, that melts the metal down, causing the impurities to seperate. Sometimes this method takes more time than others. It depends on what type of impurities are in the metal. Other times, you would need to make the fire hotter for the impurties to come to the surface, so that you can remove them. Once the impurities (crude metal), is removed then it is thrown away. It is of no use to anyone.

 

“Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will

understand, but those who have insight will understand.” ~Daniel 12:10

 

God continuallys tries to refine us. Everyone feels pain, heartache, and has bad times. It’s through these times that we have the chance to change. To get rid of the impurities within us that shouldn’t be there. Some of them may be removed easily, others may take more time or more fire (hard times) for us to even see that they need to be removed. This is why at the end of each year, we should really take the time to examine ourselves and see what impurities we still have within us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because

you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work

so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1: 2-4

 

By What Test do we Examine Ourselves With


     It’s easy to walk around the world looking at how others live their lives and determine what we think is right and what we think is wrong.  But we should not trust our own understanding and knowledge of what is right or wrong. It differs from person to person, as it should, and that leaves a society whose moral compass sways from one side to another, causing a ripple effect of emotions, leading to a roller coaster type of life.

 

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge

another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know

that God’s judgement against those who do such things is based on truth.” Romans 2:1-2

 

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in

his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since 

he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us live to 

himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or

whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. Why

do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God;

for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an

account of himself to God.” ~ Romans 14:1-12

 

Our judgement of what is right and wrong can not come from our own knowledge of what we have seen in the world. You must use the Bible to test yourself in the true way. And in knowing the Word of God, then and only then can we go before God to truthfully examine ourselves.

 

” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important

thing is for the Lord to commend them.” 2 Corinthians 10:18

 

 

How Our Pride Gets in the Way


Do NOT let stubborness and pride get in the way.

I don’t know about you, but I am about as stubborn as they come. I have come a long way from where I was, thank God, but I still have a ways to go before my stubornness is conquered.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfactionof a job well done, 

and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” ~ Galatians 6:4

 

I spend way to much time of my life, comparing how I am better than others (pride). Then if people suggest that I have done something wrong, sometimes I bristle right up, get defensive and start proving how they are wrong and I am right (stubborn). This can happen a lot when it comes to my spouse. The check lists of, but I did this and this and this, and what did you do? I love you more than you love me. See I can prove it. The problem is all of these strategies that I have used my whole life, set me up for a false interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. So this year I am setting out to find the truth in all of this, by practically testing myself a lot more and finding the impurities that are not suppose to be there.

 

Setting A Goal or Two


My family and I decided to sit down and write out a few goals for the year. We each did a spiritual goal and then at least one other goal. We sat down today and started looking up Bible verses to memorize to help us to accomplish our spiritual goals. My younger son chose anger. My middle daughter chose doubt. I chose peace. So I showed both of them how to look up these topics in the back of the Bible and then how to find a verse. They had to write down at least 2 verses and start memorizing them. These verses will be the foundation for everything that we do spiritually this year.

I feel like this year is going to be the best year for us spiritually. It may not be the most blessed year, the happiest year or even the year where everything goes just the way that I want it to (how I can hope). It will be a year where the Holy Spirit encompasses our lives more, to allow us to have peace no matter what happens. Faith when it feels like every news channel is reporting that the world is coming to an end. Even Joy, in the midst of the hardships that are sure to come.

You see, we need to learn to evaluate ourselves so that we can live the life that God wants us to live. No matter what that may look like. And not just live it, but really enjoy every moment. That also means JOY during doing the dishes, when the kids are fighting, when your husband is grumpy because you won’t give him any that evening.

I want to live a life just like that. I want to say that I not only believe in Jesus but that I am walking very close with Him. I hope you want the same for you and your family this year. Please take the time to write down your families’ goals for the year. Post them in a place where everyone will see them everyday. Help your kids learn how to find Bible verses that match their spiritual goal for the year and write the verses down on index cards. Tape them up in a place where they can read them everyday (bathroom). And take time for your own spiritual goal. We are of no use to our kids if we are not modeling what we expect from them.

Please take pictures of your family holding their goals or working on their goals and post them on here or the Homeschooling Women of God Facebook Page. Lets encourage one another throughout this year to change spiritually and become more like Jesus everyday.

 

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FREE Printable Advent Calendar that Reminds us the Reason for the Season

 

I didn’t grow up in a home that made Jesus part of our Christmas. Don’t get me wrong we had a great time every year. Now, as I am the mom and my faith in God has grown exponentially, I feel compelled to make Jesus a big part of our Christmas season. So I decided to learn why we celebrate the advent season.

 

Where Advent Comes From


Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means coming. Originally there was little connection between advent and Christmas. It wasn’t until the 6th century that the Romans tied Advent to the coming of Christ. Then in the Middle Ages Advent was linked to the Christmas Season. Today, Advent last for the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. The first two Sundays are to look forward to His second coming. The second two Sundays are to look back at His first coming.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

 

Printable Advent


I looked at all the advent calendars at local stores and online. None of them seemed to be just what I wanted. So I decided to create my own advent calendar. The kids and I went to the Hobby Lobby and picked out some cute envelopes, stickers and clothes pins that had numbers on them. Then we spent a night creating our own advent calendar. I printed out our daily scripture and activity cards and placed them inside each envelope, along with a little treat in some of then. Then we strung our cards up on a string. And just like that, we had our own, fun, hands-on advent calendar that would remind us of the reason for the season while also having quality family time. Please print and enjoy.

Advent cards

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Where Has All the Thankfulness Gone?

 

I was talking with my husband last night about how many moms that I know, that want to quit homeschooling. It broke my heart to look into their eyes and see their pain as they discussed the idea of giving up and sending their kids back to public school, (or to some sort of institution for the first time). Each time I hear their stories, I pray that God will give me the wisdom to talk them out of their decision, but more times than not I do not know what to say. But last night as I was talking to my husband, God helped me to realize that sometimes our calamities are from a perspective of unthankfulness. Now I do not mean that in an unrespectful way to any mom who is struggling in their lives, but when God spoke to me about our lack of thankfulness, he was even talking to me.

 

Our Perspective Needs to Change


“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in

Christ Jesus.”  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

“And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

 

The word thank, in various forms, is in the Bible over 130 times. Asking us to be thankful, to give thanks, to have thanksgiving and more. Even Jesus himself prayed to God 5 times in the Bible, thanking God his Father. How much more thankful should we be then!?

I know as a homeschooling mom it is so easy to complain about having to do the dishes for the 100th time that week. Or you look at the laundry that is a mountain on your couch and wonder when you are going to have time to get that done. Maybe it’s Monday and you dread doing school work with the kids for the whole week. Whatever your circumstances are they could always be worse.

Most of us live in a house that has running water. A house that keeps us warm and dry when the weather is horrible. We have a bed to sleep in at night. We have food in our bellies. And many other amenities that people around the world would love to have. Since we have had these priveleges in our life since we were born, we tend to take them for granted. I know when I go to brush my teeth, I am not in awe that I can just turn a handle and water comes out. I have become desensitized to the wonderful blessings that God has given me.

 

How to Change Your Perspective


1. Spend Time in God’s Word

So how do we change our perspective, it all starts with spending time in God’s Word. God reminds us that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. He died a horrible death for us sinners. Sinners that are still sinners today. How God’s grace has covered us, through our whole lives. Yet we tend to take that for granted too.

Being able to read my Bible, has felt like a chore some days or a  something to check off for the day, instead of something that I need, like air. I live in a country, where for now, I can freely read my Bible. I can write this blog post without worrying someone will come in my home and arrest me. I get to read God’s Word and the delight that wells up in my heart reminds me of the awesome powers of our God.

Reading the Bible also helps to me to renew my mind.

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing

you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

 

It is harder than it seems to not want to live like the rest of the world does. To want, to demand, to be selfish and have things done the way that you want them done. However, this is not how God wants us to live. Trust me, if you wake up everyday and spend time in the Bible, it will help you to reset your mommy meter for the day, which is what God wants us to do. Rely on Him to help us to be the parents that we cannot be on our own.

 

2. Living Your Life For Others

I do not know how many days that I wake up with a check list in my head. I need to get out of bed, work on my website, take a shower, get the kids out of bed, eat breakfast, feed the animals and all before 8:30. My day starts with the mentality that everything is about ME. All I think about is what I need to do for the day. Then, there are days that I get out of bed and spend time in God’s Word allowing my heart and eyes to open up to what He wants from me for the day.

It is so easy to live a life of checklists, not even paying attention to the world around us, including our kids. Those days when I do not pay attention to my kids and wonder why they are upset easily and stressed out. It’s because mom is too busy completing her checklist to take time out for them, leaving them feeling less than loved. I know that if my husband treated me like that, when I needed to really talk to him about something that was bothering me, I would feel angry and unloved. All of this could be avoided if we woke up each day, spent time with God and then asked Him what He needed us to do that day.

But what about all the things that I need to do? How am I suppose to get all the things done that I need to get done, if I am spending time with God or asking Him what He wants me to do for the day?? Easily, with patience, love and grace. God covers our whole day for us with grace if we allow Him. Grace that allows us to rely on Him for our strength. Grace that loves us even when we do not deserve it. Grace that opens our eyes to see the world through God’s eyes. A world that is in need of being loved.

So lets start living our lives each day for God.

 

3. JOY

This is a word that we use all the time in our house. “What does JOY mean?” “It stands for Jesus, others then yourself.” Even as my kids tell me what the word means, it reminds me of my own selfish nature. The ME, ME, ME merry-go-round that I can live on, if I am not careful.

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first greatest 

commandment. And the second is like it: ‘ Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets

hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

 

Living your life for Jesus (God), then others and yourself last can change your whole perspective on life.

 

Carrying This into our Homeschooling Life


So our first move needs to be that God is put first into our lives, so that we can be the best mom that we can be. The mom that has patience when her kids have been fighting all day. The mom that takes time to listen to her kids, when all she wants to do is hide. The mom that has those beautiful words of wisdom in times of need. The mom that holds it all together at home and still makes time to help others. I don’t know about you but I need God to do all of this.

And when those thoughts about quitting homeschooling arise, we will face them with the certainty of prayer.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition

with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6

 

When we come to those crossroads, not knowing which way to go, just give it to God. He sees the bigger picture when we cannot. And knowing what form of education our children should have is a plan only God knows.

 

How do you cope with homeschooling when things get rough??

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Let it Go – Give it to God

forgiveness

Dear Fellow Strugglers,

My husband and I have disagreed over the same issue for about 4 years. It is hard, because it is an issue that brings up a lot of hurt from my past. The problem is that he just sees the issue one way, and I see it another way. For four years we have fought, yelled, cried, and even nagged each other about it. I have had enough. I do not want to be in a situation that causes me so much pain. I want to run away. Divorce has even crossed my mind, but is not an option.

This past weekend I found myself in tears around 1 o’clock in the morning. I was so hurt with this issue that we were fighting about, again, that I couldn’t sleep. I got up and decided to clean the house. I find that if I do something, besides feel sorry for myself or worry, that I can calm down much quicker. So, I went about emptying the dishwasher and picking up the toys in the living room. I finally became tired, so I laid back down. I started to pray, ” please God help me be the wife that you want me to be. I want to run away. I want to make the hurt stop. I do not want to face this issue anymore.” Then I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up and felt like I was hit by a truck. I was so tired, my head hurt,  and my body just want to go back to sleep, (not an option when you have kids). So I got up and made myself some tea. Then my husband got up. I did not want to talk with him. How could someone who claimed that they loved me so much, also hurt me so much? I was angry. There was no way that I was going to talk to him. I just got my breakfast and sat down on the couch. I turned on the t.v. and ignored him.

Later that day I had to go to town, (we live in the middle of no where). So as I was driving to town, I prayed again, “Dear Lord, please help us figure out this issue. Help me to be the kind of wife that you would want me to be.” I ran some errands in town, then started the trek back home. I didn’t want to go back home. I was still mad. So on the drive home I prayed again, “Please Lord you have to help me. I do not want to hurt anymore. I want to be a better wife. Help me to be the kind of wife that you want me to be.” You see, I have never been around a marriage that has lasted. I have never been part of a relationship where people talked about things and fixed them together. All I had ever seen or been part of were destructive relationships that split up in the end. I did not want to be that kind of wife anymore that yelled, or cried, or even wanted to run away.

Finding My Answer

As I was driving home, God spoke to me. He told me to just give the issue to Him. I need to love my husband and forgive him. To stop worrying. That He would take care of the issue. I’m sure that means in His own time. He also told me to not ask my husband about this issue anymore. That was it. So I did.

I still pray all the time for God to help us with this issue. My husband and I have made sure that we pray about this issue every night together. We pray that God will keep our marriage strong no matter what comes our way. That he will help each of us figure out our problems with the issue that we have. Praying together has helped us with letting go of our own stubbornness and give it to God.

I hope that as you read this, that you may see how amazing God is with His ability to heal. To help us fix things that we can not fix on our own. I pray that if you are struggling with something in your life and it seems like no matter what you do, the issue just does not get any better, that you let go and give it to God.

May God bless you and give you peace,

Miranda Templar

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The Temptation of the Double Line

The Temptation

How many times have we thought, what could this little temptation do to hurt me? Just a small fracture of not following the rules. Knowing that what I am about to do is not good for me, but it isn’t really that bad, right? We have all been there. The feeling of temptation and wanting to fill up our tank with an emotion that feels so good. Not realizing that we are filling our tanks with a gas that leads to engine failure.

Driving Between the Lines

As you drive your car down the road, you have a pretty white line on the right side of you and then there are those double yellow lines. Staring you in the face, telling you not to cross over. For the most part we do a good job at staying on our side of the lines, until those temptations come in that cause us to cross over.

One of the biggest temptations in a car is your cell phone. If people are constantly texting you, calling you, maybe you even receive Facebook or email pop-ups to let you know that you are wanted. The need sometimes to just look at the phone. See who is contacting you. To make sure that it is not an emergency, weighs out over the common sense rule that we are driving. That looking at our phone is not the best idea and that it could hurt you or possibly even kill you, might cross your mind. But, oh, that need to just look at the phone takes over and before you know it, you have your phone in your hand, not paying attention to the road and cross those dreaded double yellow lines.

What about kids arguing in the back. Yelling at each other, or yelling for you to help them. Mom!! Dad!! Talking really loudly. You keep trying to make sure that everyone is okay. Or, the time when they spill something and it keeps leaking as your driving. All those distractions that they don’t mean to cause, but usually do, can lead to disaster on the road.

The need to turn the radio station. The want to have another sip of coffee. The have to’s that make us turn our eyes away from the road, even if just for a second, causing our car to drift into an area on the road where we are not wanted. It can be so complicated to drive safely, yet, we have to drive to get where we need to go.

Temptation in Life

The same thing happens in life. You are going through life and everything seems to being going fine, then one day, a certain small temptation arises and you take it. What could it hurt? It’s only a small problem. How far can it go?

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, prowls around

like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

That small temptation, always leads to bigger problems. I have never read a story about someone that gave into a small temptation, that led to them wanting that sinful item less. Usually it leads to wanting that enticement more and more till it takes you over.

It starts with a whisper in your ear, “Take it. It won’t hurt you.” And that voice keeps whispering, till your flesh gives in. How weak is our flesh? Every time that I have ever tried to quite doing something or start a better habit in my life, my own will power fizzles out within a week or two. But, if I let God be in control of my life and I follow where he wants me to go, then life is much easier. I am able to fight off the temptation without too much of a fight. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have temptation in my life, I do, but at least I have a secret weapon that allows me to turn away and say “no.”

Temptation Arises

I have never suffered with drug or alcohol addiction, thank God, literally. I have never suffered from a sexually addiction. But I have suffered from a heart addiction. During my last marriage, I would find myself attracted to other men quite frequently. This happened when my ex-husband and I would be struggling in our relationship. I was going to college at the time and there were times when other men in my class would take the time to talk to me. Show me that they cared about me. Listened to my problems. This led me to think about leaving my ex-husband for something that seemed better.

This happened at least two times. The second time, I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night, after having a sexual dream with me and the other man. I would be so scared of my own thoughts. I couldn’t leave. We were married and had a daughter together. What kind of person would do that? But the thoughts kept coming. The feelings got stronger. I would long to see that other person when I went to college. And I couldn’t stop myself from wanting that other person. It was horrible. I would talk to my friends about leaving my ex-husband or cry about the guilt that I had from these feelings. No matter what I did though, the feelings never went away.

I never physically did anything with any of these men, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to. I had an emotional affair on my ex-husband and he never knew. I hated myself for these feelings and thoughts. I lived with guilt for so long that it would eat me alive some-days. That is how I lived for the longest time.

How to Stop Temptation 

I am currently remarried, and vowed to never feel the way that I did in my previous marriage about another man. This would take time and effort and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.

I started going to church regularly, right after I left my ex-husband, and before I met my current husband. I even started going to ladies’ Bible study and reading the Bible more. I felt this urge and need to fill my life with God. It was the only way that I felt whole. If I didn’t fill my life with Him, then there was this want to go out and drink away the pain. Instead, I ended up finding myself praying to God quite a bit throughout the day. I didn’t want to fall in love with someone else who would potentially hurt me in more ways than one, again. I wanted to have a life that was filled with God and whatever else came from that, so be it.

Well, I met my first husband and we fell in love pretty quickly. I still remember the first month that we were dating. We talked every night on the phone, after my two girls went to bed, and I would ask him every question under the sun. The ones that I asked the most were about his faith. I wanted someone to stand beside me, not behind me when it came to God.

We went to premarital counseling, because I thought that would fool proof our marriage, allowing us to never get a divorce. He talked a little bit about his pornography addiction, during the counseling sessions. I halfheartedly listened. I just thought that it wasn’t a big deal. He would figure it out on his own. That with prayer it would all go away. And for awhile it did. He threw away all of his old XXX movies, without me asking and I thought that was the end of it all. Boy, was I wrong.

After we got married, the pornography issue came back with a vengeance. I wanted nothing to do with it. For one, I had been cheated on by my ex-husband. Two, I was afraid of the feelings that might arise again. I was afraid that I would start to desire other men around me again, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to stay married this time. So I tried to watch the movies to make him happy, but all it did was make me mad, and start to tear away at our marriage.

When I said, “NO more,” to watching pornography, things got even worse. He pulled away and I became insecure and the thoughts of him cheating on me erupted. As I look back now, I know that God was testing us and the devil was tempting us. It was so hard. I wanted to make my husband happy, more than anything, but not at the cost of my faith. So I dove even more into the Bible. I started praying a lot. I was mad, confused, hurt and didn’t know what else to do.

There were times that divorce crossed my mind. I was so convinced that God had made a mistake. That my husband would be much better off with someone else. But, ever time that I prayed, God would tell me to, “Love your husband, the way that I love you.” Yeah right, I would often think. Then one day, the Holy Spirit convicted me to live that way. To love my husband, even when I don’t want to. Even when I a feel hurt. Even when he doesn’t deserve it. All of this because of listening to God.

You can pray all you want. You can read the Bible everyday. You can go to church and push yourself to help others. You can even force yourself to be selfless, but until you start to listen to God and obey Him, nothing will change. You will still be the person who tries to be Holy, by doing all the right things, yet still falls short and gives into temptation.

How has God helped you with your temptations in life?

 

 

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