2016-04-20 07.21.00.png I'm a work in progress.  God is continually refining me and I'm grateful for that.  I love that He is working on me, pruning me, and helping me to grow.  I don't know about you, but it seems like, for me,  one of the areas that requires the most refinement is parenting.  Being a mom is a  challenging job.  It requires us to be selfless, patient, loving, generous, tender, and all of those other wonderful qualities that seem to go against all that is natural in us.  For me, there has been a learning curve with this.  My boys are 13 and 9.  I was kind of hoping I'd have it all together by now.  I don't.  I love my kids and they know this, but I also make some mistakes parenting.  My kids know this too.  We are on a journey together and they know that we are all growing and learning through the process.  Tonight I learned some things and I thought just maybe someone else might find them meaningful too. These lessons came after a rough start to our bedtime routine.  (Please tell me you've been there and that this doesn't only happen in our home.)  It was going so well, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn't.  Meltdowns ensued.  Consequences and corrective conversations had to happen.  The correction wasn't really very sweetly given and even less sweetly received.  Earlier in the evening, the boys had asked to sleep in my room, but I had taken away that privilege as a consequence of the craziness that we had all just participated in.  Tears were shed.  By the time I had both kids in bed, we were all a little frazzled. I was frustrated and worn, but was trying to bring a little peace back into our night before we all went to sleep.  I asked the boys to sit beside me in Gavin's bed, and I reminded them that today had been a little rough and we needed to all work a little harder at being loving and respectful tomorrow.  I pointed out some of the areas that we struggled with throughout the day and mentioned that we all should try to do a little better tomorrow.  The list wasn't a short one.  It hadn't been our very best day and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity so that we could all improve in the areas that were problematic for us.  I wanted to drive this lesson home so that it stuck because I wanted tomorrow to be better for all of us. My tender-hearted and wise-beyond-his-years 9 year old stopped me and said something that has been on my mind ever since.  He looked at me with very sad eyes and said, "Mommy, really, it has been a pretty good day.  There was way more good than bad. Right?" You know what?  He was right. It actually had been a pretty good day.  It wasn't perfect, there was way more good than bad.  However, in my frustration, I was focused on all the bad moments that had happened.  Not only that, I made sure we were all focusing on them.  I was wrapping up a pretty good day together by dwelling on all of our mistakes. Don't we all tend to do that sometimes?  We forget about the day's blessings because we let ourselves be consumed with the frustration of the moment. I am all for looking at the areas we struggle in and finding ways to improve in those areas.  We all need to do that from time to time.  It is an important part of the growth process, but there is also a lot to be said for extending a little grace and mercy sometimes too.  God does that for us so often.  I am afraid that I don't do it nearly as often.  I thought of the verse that I had read earlier that morning in Romans 2:4b that says that God's kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.  Maybe a little kindness sprinkled in with my correction would do more to encourage a repentant heart in my kids than my list of wrong doings.  Hmmmm, God, are you trying to tell me something? I finished tucking in my boys and then jumped into the shower to just physically and literally wash away the day.  Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, and tonight wasn't an exception.  I couldn't get Gavin's words out of my mind.  I was reminded of my tendency to look at the frustrating moments and forget the bigger picture.  I was also reminded of God's mercy and grace, and especially His kindness.  I thought about the times my heart was most often turned toward repentance, and I saw that it was most often due to His kindness.  He doesn't throw my mistakes back in my face and make me confront them over and over again.  When I've asked for forgiveness and owned my failures, He forgets them and loves me like they never happened.  He's way better to me than I deserve.  He is so patient and longsuffering with me. I finished my shower and went back into my kids' rooms.  It was obvious that both boys were having a hard time falling asleep after the emotional evening.  I told the boys what the Holy Spirit had pressed upon my heart.  I told them that most often, when we need God's kindness the most is when we deserve it the least.  We had obviously had a rough night, but what we all needed was a little grace, love, mercy, and some kindness. So, here I sit, typing away.  I've got one boy curled into his sleeping bag on the right side of my bed.  The other is sprawled across the top of his sleeping bag at the foot of my bed.  My heart is full as I reflect on the pretty good day that we had.  We definitely had a few hard moments, but, those few hard moments allowed us all to be reminded of the grace, love, and mercy that is always there waiting for us.  Those moments reminded me of God's continual kindness that draws me to repentance.  Those moments, the words of my sweet boy, and the Holy Spirit,  taught me a lesson tonight that I hope sticks with me for a long while. Love and blessings, Bobbie    
 

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I’ve been sick all week.  I don’t like to use the F word, but this feels an awfully lot like… the FLU.  I have turned my living room into my school room/office and have taken up residence on my couch for the last 4 days.  All school work and regular work has been conducted from this place that is adequately stocked with tissues, hot tea, cold medicine, blankets, and pillows.  It has been my little refuge and I’ve been very grateful for a comfortable place to ride out this yucky virus.

This could be the Day-Quil or maybe even the fever talking, but God has been speaking a specific verse to me this week that I wanted to share with you.  It involves birds and penguins and couches, so give me a little grace and mercy here.  Maybe I should warn you that I’ve taken cold medicine and have a little fever. Each morning, as part of our homeschool curriculum, my kids do some copy work form the Bible.  Monday morning, when I was feeling particularly cruddy, our verse to copy was Psalm 91:4a.  From my little alcove on the couch, I read aloud, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge…” My oldest son was particularly interested in this verse and it started a pretty great conversation about the character and qualities of God.  That is one of the things that I cherish about homeschooling.  I love the way when something peaks our interest, we can take the time to delve into it.  On Monday, we took the time to do just that. I shared a story with my kids that I remember hearing somewhere years ago.  It isn’t really Biblical, and probably not even factual, but I love the way that it illustrates this verse.  Because I was delirious with fever, I even acted it out for them.  You can imagine that as you read the story, if you would like. Here goes. A mama bird was in the forest when a forest fire broke out.  Her little babies were not big enough to fly yet and she knew they were not fast enough to get away from the fire.  The mama feared for her babies lives.  As the fire got closer the mama saw her only chance of saving her precious babies.  She opened her wings and crouched low to the ground and welcomed them under her feathers.  She gathered them tightly into her and wrapped them in the shelter of her wings.  The fire swept rapidly through the forest and the mama fell victim to the flames.  As the firemen came to put out the fire they saw the mama bird crouched there and heard a muffled noise.  The firemen picked up the mama bird and the babies were still there, unharmed, wrapped in the protective shelter of her wings. I can’t remember where I heard this.  I’m not even sure it is possible.  But I love illustration that it provides.  Pretend with me for a moment, that it is possible.  Can you imagine being that baby bird?  As the fire rages and the world is in chaos, you are safely tucked in a place of refuge. My oldest was a little skeptical about this story.  Wouldn’t the babies die too?  Why didn’t they all burn up?  Maybe.  I’m not really sure.  I hated to leave him questioning, but God, in His very cool, God like way, gave us another example yesterday.  I love when He comes through for me in those little ways that build up my faith and the faith of my kiddos. You see, unfortunately, Sunday and Monday were just a little introduction to yuckiness that I was feeling.  Yesterday I felt awful.  In sheer desperation for some quietness, I turned to my very favorite substitute teacher, Amazon Prime.  We are studying zoology this year for Science, and the video, March of The Penguins, would not only tie in perfectly, it would give me an hour and twenty minutes of quiet. God used this very interesting movie to illustrate this verse again for me and for my boys.  He gave us a perfect example of a real life scenario of the mama bid and the baby birds.  Penguin mamas lay one egg a year and then must rush off to get food.  The Daddy penguin is responsible for caring for the very delicate egg in the harsh Artic winter for months.  To do this, he sets the egg down on top of his claws and tucks it underneath of his tummy.  He snuggles down on top of it to completely envelop it IN THE SHELTER OF HIS FEATHERS.  As the ragged winter rages on and the artic winds blow, the Daddy penguin safely shields the egg from the cold and the storms.  His feathers trap in enough heat to keep the egg warm and they also provide protection against the elements.  His protective feathers keep the egg alive and safe so that it can hatch in the spring. My boys and I discussed this and talked about how God is that place of refuge for us.  I compared it to my little sick bed that I had set up in the living room.  It was my place of comfort in the chaos of sickness.  It had everything that I needed and was a place that I felt safe and cared for.  Tucked away there, being sick wasn’t so bad. As I explained to my boys, this world is a crazy place filled with chaos.  Fires tear through.  Cold winds blow.  Storms rage on.  But, Psalm 91:4 says that in the midst of all of the things that happen around us, God wraps us in his wings to offer us refuge and protection and shelter.  He is our calm in the storm.  He is our shelter from the forces that could harm us.  He is that comfortable, safe place to find rest. When life gets a little crazy, we have the opportunity to be like those little baby birds.  God, like that mama bird, opens his wings to welcome us into His protection and provision, but we must go there.  We must be like that little penguin egg and stay nestled under our Father’s protective embrace.  He promises to be our place of peace, provision, protection, and comfort if we rest in Him. So, maybe it is the Day-Quil or maybe it is the fever, but I can totally relate to the little egg and the baby birds.  I love knowing that my God offers me a refuge.  When I face trail and chaos in this life, I run into the open arms of my Father.  I look to him to provide that place of shelter and protection.  I look to Him to lovingly care for me, and I don’t fear because I’m nestled safely under his wings. Love and Blessings, Bobbie
IMG_2666 I'm a home school mama. (Yes, that's me in all my yoga panted, head banded, hoodied glory on a typical day.)   I have two sweet, wild, chaotic boys that I am beyond blessed to spend my days with.  Every Day. I love it.  Really, I do.   But, can I be honest, just like any other job, sometimes it is HARD WORK! These boys refine me and test me and try me.  They challenge me and make me a better person, a better mom, and a better Child of God.  They question me... about EVERYTHING... and make me really think about things.  They stretch my patience to the limits.  They make me laugh and sometimes they even make me cry, because being a mama is a tough job! Can I be honest again?  Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing it right and if it's worth all the effort.  I know I fail a lot.  I know I get a lot right too.  I hope that the scales balance and that these boys get the best I have to offer more often than not.  These challenging and amazing fellas have been trusted to me by my Father and I desperately want to do right by them and by Him, so I just keep pressing on and praying hard and leaning on God for my strength. But did I mention that it is hard work? Things that matter typically are hard work!  Things that are meaningful take a lot of effort. They are difficult because they are shaping us, growing us, and challenging us to be and do better.  They require us to lean into Him for encouragement, support, and help.  I think that is kind of the point. Do you know what I just love though? When things get tough and I get weary and begin to question myself,  it is just like my loving Father to send me a little "hang in there girl, you're on the right track" message.  He did that this morning.  (He does it a lot, but sometimes I'm too caught up in the craziness to notice.) I was sitting at my usual morning spot, reading my Bible and writing out a verse in my journal that spoke to me, Zechariah 13:9 ironically enough, when my sweet 9 year old walked in with his Bible and sat down beside me and began reading from his.  He didn't interrupt me.  I got a quick smile from this dimpled cheeked, bed headed cutie and he opened God's word and dove in.  It was just what I needed this morning to give me that boost to keep on keeping on!

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Zechariah 13:9 "And I will put this third into the fire,and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” So today, whatever it is that you are pushing through, whatever work God has called you to be faithful to; I just wanted to give you a little encouragement.  It can be tough.  It can make you weary and you may question yourself.  It is hard work and it is suppose to be. Hang in there.  You're on the right track.  Keep your eyes open for little messages of encouragement from God.  Keep on keeping on because he is refining you, growing you, stretching you, shaping you, and teaching you to lean into Him. Love and blessings, Bobbie