Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Latter End

So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning:  
Job 42:12a

Being on the brink of the new year brings about reflection of the past and hopeful plans for the future.  Since my last blog post (can it really be 3+ years ago?!), life has changed so much.  We graduated our eldest daughter after a lifetime of homeschooling and she was married two months later.  Our twins are now in high school and our much anticipated baby is 3 1/2.  We've won some battles and we've lost a few big ones and yet time marches on in spite of it all.

I'm anticipating great things for 2017 which is what prompted the revival of this blog. I want to share it all!  I've probably lost all of my followers and does anyone even read blogs any more?  I don't know but I have found myself having so much to say lately and no outlet to say it. So, if this turns out to be me talking to myself, so be it!

In 2015, I began choosing a word to focus on throughout the year.  Our word that first year was SIMPLIFY.  Throughout the year, we purged, we gave away, we sold and we threw away and at the end of the year, our life was more organized and indeed, simpler.

The word for 2016 has been JOY;  not just a feeling of joy but of truly putting things in the right order: Jesus Others You.

The word for 2017 has been pressing on my heart for several weeks now.  This years word is


I'll say more about that in my next post, along with outlining our goals for the next year.  In the meantime, I'll wish you all a very Happy New Year!  Be safe and I'll see you in the new year.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The School "Room"

I have been blessed to have an official "school room" this past year. How do I know I've been blessed? Because every homeschool mom I meet tells me so! lol Unfortunately, it really hasn't been such a blessing. The room is in our very partially finished basement, complete with science waiting to be explored in the form of spiders, mice and sundry other insects. It is, quite frankly, creepy and not at all conducive to learning.

During the winter, it became too cold for us to go "into the dungeon" so we were forced to move our school time upstairs. When spring arrived (the end of May!), the girls literally begged me not to move them back downstairs! Thus, the "school room" became an extension of my closet...full of clutter.

Truthfully, I like to have a dedicated space to do our schoolwork in. I have never been one to desire our home to look like a classroom of any sort. However, desperate times call for desperate measures :) I did have some concern that school work and and projects done at the kitchen table would continue to cause the scratching to a table that I very much like! The only solution I could come up with was to cover it. The surface had to be both protective and also easy to write atop of. Walmart sells a heavy plastic tablecloth material by the yard which worked fabulously. (A note to those who are "frugal" like me. The $5.00 plastic tablecloth in the package will NOT lay right on your table. Spend the money on the heavy stuff. It is $2.96/yard.)

Another "problem" with moving out of a dedicated room and into the kitchen was the fact that I need a large world map for geography and do not have any wall space in the kitchen for one. The plastic solved that problem as well. I simply slid the map under the plastic. This makes for very interesting supper discussions. I think the girls have learned more geography in one week than they did last school year, simply by exploring at the dinner table. Little do they know that I'm going to go find a large carpenter ant to put on the table one of those days and let it wander across the globe :) Letting them "follow" its journeys should prove amusing as well as educational.

And I can still put the centerpiece and runner on the table and give the dining area some semblance of normalcy once school is done. Problem solved.

We have a nice large whiteboard downstairs as well. The solution to this problem was to use our girls easel. It has a whiteboard on one side and chalkboard on the other. It's rather small but I also had a larger whiteboard put away that is usable. My husband put some screws in the tray of the easel to prevent the larger whiteboard from slipping off and voila'...a whiteboard big enough for "school time" while retaining the original use of the easel.

A nearby closet, generally used for "overflow" was cleaned out. The first shelf (and only one that is easily accessible to me!) was used for books & supplies. A rolling cart was put underneath that shelf for manipulatives, charts and the girls daily textbooks. I found red, white and blue rubber baskets at Walmart on clearance for only $2.0o/3. Each girl has their own, complete with their books and pencil box of supplies that can easily be pulled out each day and put back when we're done. The purchase of a small set of shelves and a quick clean-up of mom's desk completed the project.

Even though our intentions were to start our school year about a month ago, the Lord had other plans. This is one project that I believe is going to get our school year off to the right start! Tomorrow, I'll blog about our curriculum choices for the year.

© Adorning Grace 2010
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A Word in Season

As I was sitting in church Wednesday night, a verse in my Bible literally leapt out at me. I don't recall ever reading it before, although I know I must have. It is found in the book of Isaiah.

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. Isaiah 50:4

I began to think about how often I communicate with people throughout my day. How often I have the opportunity to "speak a word in season". The phone, snailmail, email, at home, at church, texting, in the store, on my blog, on this blog, through might add twitter, a job or any number of other opportunities. How many words, whether spoken or written, are uttered each and every day!

If our words could be weighed in the balance, what would they show? If we could put encouraging, helpful words on one side and negative words on the other side, which would win out? More than anything, I want my words to be encouraging to the hearer. I want them to filled with joy, help, encouragement. The verse in Isaiah indicates that such ability doesn't come naturally. I see three distinct steps.

First, the ability to encourage the weary with our words has to come from the Lord. (2 Peter 1:3). Second, it is a learning process. The book of James tells us to ask the Lord for wisdom and he will give it. (James 1:5). Lastly, I see that in order to be a good encourager, we must first be a good listener! (James 1:19)

The book of Job gives us a perfect example of the type of "encourager" that we shouldn't be! Job's friend Elihu tried to help him, but after his lengthy discourse, the Lord says: Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Job 38:2 Counsel, without godly wisdom, is vain.

On the other hand, a word spoken in due season is joyous to the hearer! (Proverbs 15:23)

The Bible tells us that God IS love and in 1 Cor 13 we are told that no matter how eloquent of speech we are, if we do not have charity (love), it is meaningless. With that in mind, I began to ponder how Jesus himself spoke. What did He have to say about our words? Jesus spoke:
  • gracious words (Luke 4:22): The word 'gracious' means kind or friendly. How often do we have the opportunity to speak graciously? Maybe to that check-out clerk who is weary - even after we've waited in line for 15 minutes and are feeling anything but gracious!
  • amazing words (Luke 4:36): How many times have you sat in church and the Preacher read a verse that just spoke to your heart? Or maybe like me, you've read something and just gasped audibly at how pertinent it was to a situation in life. God's Word is truly amazing.
  • mighty words (Luke 24:19): God's Word is mighty and able to bring sinners out of an eternity in hell and into the promise of Heaven. You and I do not have such power within our own words. We NEED the wisdom of Almight God!
  • life giving words (John 6:63): Jesus didn't tear people down with His words.
  • words of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19): This verse tells us that God has committed to US the words of reconciliation! Is there are relationship that needs mending? Whether you are the offending party or not, God has give to you the words to reconcile! I recently had this happen in my own life. I had waited for a certain person to apologize for years. The more they were not sorry, the angrier I got. How silly is that? The Lord impressed upon me to try to make things right, even though I wasn't in the wrong. You know what? I never did get an apology but the Lord gave me something better - freedom from my anger and bitterness. What a blessing.
  • comforting words (1 Thess. 4:18): It is often so hard to comfort someone who is grieving. If you're like me, you just don't know what to say. The Bible tells us one way and that is to remind the person of the second coming. There is a brighter day coming.
  • faithful words (1 Tim 4:6; Titus 1:9): The Word of God is faithful and true. Study it, memorize it and use it! Our words can offer little in the way of encouragement but God's Word is FULL of refreshment for the soul!
  • exhorting words (Heb 3:13, 10:25): We need to exhort one another daily! I don't know about you but I need to hear words of encouragement that prod me towards a closer walk with the Lord. Having a blog is a wonderful opportunity to do this but so is face to face contact with fellow sister in the Lord. How about our children? Don't forget, they need more than nagging and discipline. They need to be exhorted as well. We should be exhorting people to "cleave unto the Lord" (Acts 11:23).
With all these wonderful uses for our words, there really shouldn't be any room for words that tear down instead of lift up, words that cause pain instead of breathe life or words that cause grief instead of bring joy. Oh that we would each seek the Lord's face and ask Him to help us "know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary"!

© Adorning Grace 2010

A Mother's Creed

A Mother’s Creed
by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

I will worry less about my children and trust God more.
I will commit them into the Lord’s care.
I will love my children unconditionally and let them know I do.
I will believe in them constantly and encourage them often.
I will pray for them daily.
I will teach them responsibility for their own actions.
I will try to be an example of godliness, but I will be unafraid to let them see my faults.
I will give them generous doses of laughter, interspersed with fun.
I will release them when they are grown but they will always be my own.

© Adorning Grace 2011

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lessons from my Garden

I wanted to share with you my two favorite plants in my garden. I think they're spectacular! Here they are:
Aren't they beauties?  I'm pretty sure that you must be thinking that I've totally lost my mind.  Ok, so you may have thought that long before now :)  Yes, I understand that these little plants have absolutely no apparent beauty but oh! the lessons the Father taught me through them!

You see, two short weeks ago, I was ready to pull these plants up by their roots and throw them to the curbside for the trash men.  I just couldn't do it.  I can't explain why but I couldn't give up on them. As I knelt over the ground, picking weeds, I began to see a very important lesson unfold.  

Let me tell you about these plants.  The one on the left had a really harsh go of it this winter.  It got too cold and that cold damaged its limbs.  The one on the right was handled harshly, having its roots pulled out of the ground by someone carelessly running the hose across it. 

It occurred to me that these plants are a lot like people.  All too often I hear, "well, they certainly don't know the Lord. Just look at how they're "fill in the blank"."  "Look"....judge the outside...and determine that there's no life inside.  Maybe, just maybe, those people are like these plants.  Maybe they have experienced a cold spell spiritually.  Or maybe because of a traumatic experience, a deep hurt or some other unexpected experience that is totally out of their control,  they got cold and grew away from the Son... and it shows on the outside. 

Possibly they are like the plant on the right. That hose carried life sustaining water but placed in the hands of someone who handled it carelessly, it was misused and damage was done.  The Bible says that the Bible is a two-edged sword and all too often we wield that sword in a way that cuts and damages. Whether intentionally or not, the outcome is the same. 

Funny thing about both plants. If you look closely....real'll see signs of life and of hope.  
Do you see?? green leaves!  There is a long way to go but there is life.  What both plants need is pruning, extra nutrients and a whole lot of patience.  And that is what most people need. Instead of our condemnation and assumptions, they need for us to take some time and really see them.  They may need extra fellowship or prayer, pruning from God's Word and time.
God cares about a fallen sparrow, numbers the hairs on our heads and instructs us to consider the lilies.  I absolutely believe He put this lesson in my  path to remind me...people are worth going the extra mile for!  Who has God placed in your path that you might minister to today?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Broken Pieces

Broken pieces Shards of glass are everywhere. You sweep and you vacuum and you think you have them all but eventually, the littlest piece always finds its way into your unsuspecting foot. It could be months or even years later. Life is like that. People are broken. They try to clean up the mess of their brokenness, sweeping it all up into a nice, neat pile. Compartmentalize it. They think it’s all nice and clean but one day, there is the littlest shard that finds its way to the surface, causing pain - bringing back the memory of what broke them in the first place. 

 I think most Christians believe themselves to be beyond being broken. They may look at their past hurts and claim they have moved on but in reality, there’s still something there, festering. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve played the “smile, everything is ok” game. 

This past year, I decided I was done playing. Truth is, there have been people who have hurt me greatly. What I’ve learned is that you can’t just sweep that hurt up and toss it away, pretending it never happened. It did. And even in the last two months, the Lord has brought things to mind that still needed addressing. Wrongs that I thought I had made right that had strings left untied, pieces left lying around. When something breaks physically, we have the option of throwing it away or of trying to fix it. Sometimes we look at the object and think that it is too far gone, but that is really never true. The broken pieces can always be put back together again, even though the cracks and scars will always be visible. 

The same holds true for people. In one instance, I realized that a wrong hadn’t been completely made right on my part and I had to take care of it. Oh! One more piece glued back into the vessel. In another instance, I realized that the only way to make the situation right was to be wrong. It takes two to argue and even though the balance of “wrong” may tip vastly in the other direction, it’s still ok to give in, humble yourself and just say “I’m sorry”. There’s another piece to the broken puzzle. 

And then probably the most difficult to face is that some people are so broken that there is nothing you can do to fix them. Sometimes, we are merely the focus of their anger because they cannot face being angry with the people or situations that have really caused them hurt. In order to mend this piece, you have to realize that the situation is beyond your control and isn’t really about you at all. When you do that, you have the ability to forgive the other person and pick up that broken piece, carefully positioning it back where it belongs. 

 It’s too bad it took me most of my adult life this far to realize this. I’m done being broken over the past - over things I cannot control - over hurts. They do not have any power unless I allow it! 

Are you broken this holiday season? It seems that these are the times that dredge up the most hurt. Memories come flooding back and steal our joy. I would encourage you to face whatever it is head on! If apologizing for something is what it takes to mend your broken vessel, do it! It really doesn’t matter if your “fault” meter is only at .5%. You’ll reap the benefits 100%! Let go of the past. You can’t change it and it does not have to define who you are today. Embrace life! Love your family. Savor the moments. You only get one chance! 


© Adorning Grace 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The difference a year makes....

One year ago today, I faced both the greatest sorrow of my life as well as great joy...death and life...loss and gain. One precious heart stopped beating only to discover a new one had started. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my grandmother - the one who was always there to lend an ear or make me laugh. And each day I look into the face of her namesake and remember that God truly does turn our mourning into dancing. 

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: 
thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 
Psa 30:11

One year ago today I said good-bye to my grandmother, who was dearer to me than any amount of words that I might write.  I'd like to share snips of some things that I wrote last year, in her memory:

10/27/12: This past Tuesday, I said "Good-bye" to a very special grandmother. She passed on with a final days testimony of knowing the Lord and being at peace, but there is a hole in my heart as big as the Grand Canyon. I'd like to repost something I wrote for her birthday five years ago. Then continue reading to see the amazing things that God did in those final days!

 ---originally written 2/6/08---
My grandmother... I love her so much that my heart aches when I think of the day I will no longer have her. Her 80th birthday is Friday and the girls and I have put together a big box of goodies to mail. We're also having flowers delivered. As I sat, thinking about why she's so special to me, a sort of tribute came about. Here is what I've written her and why she's so very special.

An 80th birthday is certainly a time to celebrate! In planning for your special day, it has also been a time for me to reflect on all that you mean to me. I have so many wonderful memories stored away that I couldn’t just pick one, so here are some of my favorites!

I remember….
Looking out your kitchen window, into the darkness while you spun tails of the Easter Bunny's helpers watching me from afar. I was absolutely convinced they were out there!

The box of toys, kept especially for me, in the corner of your kitchen. It reminded me that I was loved and wanted around.

Hiding under your kitchen table to ‘surprise’ you (every day!) when you came home from work and the fact that you acted surprised every time!

Taking walks in the woods to look for bunny and squirrel tracks, and how you’d walk slow enough for my little legs, never growing impatient because you had something better to do.

Walking in the fields to the strawberry patch.

Waking up on the morning of my brother’s birth, to find you in my parents bed, waiting for me to wake up. 

Our first morning in Manchester, looking out the big windows at the unfamiliar streets and wanting to go see Grammy.

Summer visits and walks to the beaver dam, playing dress-up; laying in front of the fans together to cool off.

Winter visits of sledding on wooded paths.

Having early Christmases before you left for AZ and missing you the entire winter. I waited eagerly for your letters!

All the help you gave me through my teenage years. Being my lifeline, always listening and never judging, your concern for my safety. You helped me through some rocky roads.

How you always invested in my interests, like when I wanted to be an exchange student to Russia. You were the first to pitch in and help.

I remember….all of your love, your patience, your kindness. I remember how you’ve always been my biggest cheerleader and my strongest supporter. When we had to say goodbye after Christmas, I whispered “I don’t want to go!” and though your heart hurt as much as mine, you didn’t tell me not to leave, you simply said “I know”. Instead of guilt for leaving, you gave me strength to do what I had to do.

For all these things and more, I love you! Happy 80th birthday Grammy!

Little did I know that God was looking down, arranging every aspect of the day in such a way that would bring Him glory and me peace. Please read on....:
Monday, October 22, 2012, my grandmother just didn't seem herself and by Tuesday morning, she was bed-ridden.  My heart hurt so much, knowing that I couldn't be there with her.  God would not give me peace to make the trip from NC to NH.  I didn't know why but maybe it was because of the events that he had planned. God does know what is best for us.

On Tuesday morning, my aunt called me. She just "felt" like she should. She told me how Grammy wasn't talking but she could hear them, as evidenced by the half smiles she'd give on occasion.  My aunt offered to put the phone to her ear so I could talk to her.  I took that opportunity to tell her how much I love her and thank her for everything she's always meant to me.  Then I got back on the phone. Literally, within minutes, my aunt whispered, "Karen, she's gone."  I could hear other family in the background saying, "she was waiting for Karen to call."  and I believe she was.  My grandmother and I have always had a special bond. She used to say that we shared the same heart.

After hanging up with my aunt, I looked at my phone and we had not even been on the phone a full ten minutes!  I would never have called Grammy's room at 8am!   GOD did that - He knew how badly I wanted to be with her and in that small window of time, He saw fit to put it on my aunt's heart to call.  I am amazed.   I don't know how many hours I spent on the floor with my children, grieving her passing.  

At some point, I began thinking of my life verse:

Isa 61:3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified

I began wondering how God was going to take this situation and bring any beauty out of it or add any joy to it.  To make a much more detailed story shorter, about 8 hours after Grammy's death, I received this beautiful gift:

Coincidence? No! That's GOD.   I don't know why He chose to unfold His plan this way - why my grandmother was never to know that she'd be a great-grandmother once again, but I do know that He orders each and every one of our steps.  She'd have loved her newest great grandaughter.  How I miss her!  I love you Grammy - forever and ever - to the moon and back.

Christmas 2010

© Adorning Grace 2013