Sunday, January 29

Scripture Memorization (actually doing it)

Read II Timothy 3

"I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! 
Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified."  
(Chuck Swindoll) 

There isn't any need to read further. You've heard this message a time or two (or million) before. Scripture memorization is important.

I hate to admit that I fell into the "please don't tell me what I already know" thinking on Scripture memorization. Yes, yes, I know I'm supposed to be doing that on a regular basis (but I'm not, so hearing the reminder again just makes me feel guilty).

Too many excuses to name, I just didn't do it.

If kids can do it, I can do it, right?
My kids memorize verses for their AWANA club and I listen to them recite the familiar words Practicing them over and over again until they are perfect. I know THOSE verses, I was kinda thinking that was good enough for this stage in my life.

After all, I didn't have the time to be some memorizing crazy person. I'm no theologian, just a simple mom trying to keep my head above water.

I had a professor in Bible college who had the New Testament memorized. Like he didn't need a Bible in his hand to quote Scripture. A memorizing crazy person, I tell you. He could tell you references and quote verses without missing a beat.

I recently came across the most practical method for memorizing Scripture. I've heard the "why" of memorizing Scripture too many times to count, but the "how", that was new.

And inspiring. Maybe I'm not just a simple mom who has all the excuses in the world for NOT memorizing Scripture on a regular basis.

In An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture, by Dr. Andrew Davis, I finally learned the actual method behind (real people) hiding God's word in their hearts. It's an easy read, click here to read the whole article.

"Jesus said, 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4). 
Paul said, 'All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness…' (2 Timothy 3:16). 
Memorizing individual verses tends to miss intervening verses that the individual does not feel are as significant. Furthermore, most of Scripture is written to make a case… there is a flow of argumentation that is missed if individual verses are memorized."

So, I took the big leap after reading these words. No more excuses (as good as they may be). I'm going to memorize a book of the Bible! Really, truly.

My husband is on board with the idea and we're doing it together. We will follow the method described in Davis' article because it is practical and completely do-able for our lifestyle. A verse a day? We can do that and review as we catch up at the close of our days. We are on day 2, 2 verses down, only 106 left (we'll be done with this book in about 4-5 months). Already, it's been fun to challenge ourselves and share precious time together in this way.

I hope you are inspired too. Memorizing large portions of Scripture isn't just for brainiacs, Bible seminary professors, or retired folks who have plenty of time. Anyone can do this. Any mom can do this.

Want to do it to? Leave a comment or join us on facebook to tell us what book you are memorizing and how it is going. You won't regret this.

"Memorization... is almost impossible for someone to memorize a passage 

of Scripture without somewhat deepening his/her understanding of those verses. 

Plus, once the passage is memorized, a lifetime of reflection is now available through ongoing review… 

while driving on long trips, while walking on beaches, while conversing with friends, 

memorized verses can flow from you and cause a deepening of understanding." 

(Dr. Andrew Davis)

Friday, January 27

Thinking Cap

Put your thinking cap on. I love this creative song by Brooke Frasier. The lyrics are quotes from CS Lewis, so it can't help but be great as long as you can get past the tricky sentence structure and deep thoughts.

Hoping for the world I was made for...

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
My comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming

Wednesday, January 25

Choosing Battles

Read Matthew 4:1-11

The experts tell us to choose our battles. This is a great concept in reality. Exercising some control over where you engage in battle is a time tested effective battle strategy. Applying it in real life, to kids and spouses is effective as well. Before going into a fight about who needs to unload the dishwasher, consider the question, “is this the hill you want to die on?” If not, diffuse the situation so both parties can walk away unscathed.

This strategy isn’t one to adopt haphazardly or across the board though. Temptation glares at us, pokes and prods us and jabs us with fiery arrows. We should not allow ourselves the luxury of sifting through a scenario against temptation that seems harmless. The Devil ALWAYS has an ulterior motive. Choosing to ignore a battle with him is giving him a foothold (Ephesians 4:26). Choosing to avoid a battle with temptation is tantamount to housekeeping for the strongman and his pals (Luke 11:24-25). If we try and pick our battles with temptation, we will ultimately lose altogether.

Sunday, January 22

It's How You Say It

Read Matthew 19:13-28

It’s not so much what you say

As the manner in which you say it;

It’s not so much the language you use

As the tone in which you convey it;

“Come here!” I sharply said,

And the child cowered and wept....

As moms it easy for us to talk with an edge in our voice. I’ve even heard women say their children won’t listen to them unless they are yelling. It feels that way at times. We often condition them to only respond when we are really, really, really angry instead of requiring obedience with kindly spoken words and reinforcements.

I am now seeing firsthand what I look like when I speak harshly. I found an amazing deal, a huge wood mirror at a second hand shop. I painted it and asked my husband to hang it in the living room above the fireplace. It’s now the focal point of the room. You can see it from anywhere in the room. The mirror itself looks great, Pottery Barn would be proud. I didn’t realize how revealing it would be….

Several times lately I’ve spoken harshly to my children, “Stop doing that,” “Get in here and put on your shoes,” and I glance up to see my reflection in that huge mirror. Eye brows smooshed together like a grouchy giant, mouth puckered up like I’m about to spit tacks. Angry Mommy. She sure isn’t pretty and I am afraid of my own reflection.

Jesus’ disciples knew about being irritated with children. I imagine they had the same sour expressions when they tried to push away the children crowding around Jesus. He had had a busy day and children tend to pester at the most inconvenient times.

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him 

to place his hands on them and pray for them. 

But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me

and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven 

belongs to such as these." 

When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”

(Matthew 19:13-15)

Jesus took a moment to speak kindly to the children. This is a powerful example of how we should treat our own children. When the first tendency is to rebuke, yell, snap, or roar (as my 4 year old tells me), speak kindly instead. Instead of scowling eyebrows and a puckered frown, imagine your face in the mirror. Act as Jesus did and let the little children come.

...“Come here,” I said-

He looked and smiled

And straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair

And the tone may pierce like a dart;

Words may be soft as the summer air

But the tone may break my heart;

For words come from the mind

Grow by study and art-

But tone leaps from the inner self

Revealing the state of the heart.

Whether you know it or not,

Whether you are mean or care,

Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,

Envy, anger, are there.

Then, would you quarrels avoid

And peace and love rejoice?

Keep anger not only out of your words-

Keep it out of your voice.

~ Author Unknown

Click on image to make it larger, use as a free coloring page
for your children if you would like.

* Written by Alysun Peters, writing as mom to 3 with one on the way. Hoping, surviving and thriving because of God's grace. Wife to an incredible farmer guy, country dwelling, family loving, joy seeker.

Thursday, January 19

To Endure

Did you know there is a difference between being "ready" and being "done"? Last week I was "ready" for my baby to be here; this week I am completely "done" with this pregnancy. I am tired. I am sick. I am "sleeping" on the hard floor or upright in a chair, switching positions and going to the bathroom approximately 17 times a night. The contractions hurt, but not as bad as the incessant back/kidney pain. My midwife says the baby won't come until I am back in good health. Lovely.

Photo credit: Familia en Jeans
For some reason it's taken me 3 plus days (since this all started) to be reminded that THIS is exactly where God wants me right now. In this trial, in this suffering. I wish so badly the suffering would be active labor, and that I would be rewarded with a baby in my arms, but I know that is yet to come.

For right now, He has me where He wants me, and He's teaching me. He's refining me. It always amazes me when I get slapped upside the head when life doesn't happen according to my plan.

I often forget that it's not about my strength, but about my endurance. How many times do we feel like we have to have amazing amounts of strength to accomplish our tasks at work, at home, in motherhood? That is not the correct way of thinking. God calls us to endure. That's it! For when we endure, then God gives us the strength we need.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, 

for my power is made perfect in weakness." 

Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly 

about my weaknesses, 

for Christ's power may rest on me."

2 Corinthians 12:9

So today, I will endure. I will endure the pain, the demands of my kids, and the house that is getting away from me. If God promises that Christ's power will rest on me in my weakness, then I can't imagine any other type of rest I'd rather have.

"For you have need of endurance, 
so that when you have done the will of God 
you may receive what is promised."

Hebrews 10:36

Written by guest contributor, Mindi Dunn who blogs with hilarity and grace at Sprouting Roots. She is mom to two little boys and is "patiently" waiting for the arrival of boy number 3.

Wednesday, January 18

Anticipating the Sequel

Read John 14:2-14

I got to go on a date with my husband last night. It was a rare and wonderful treat. We even got to go to a movie. We picked a man movie because going to movies is not his favorite thing. He’d rather talk. He’s a keeper. The movie makers were kind enough to throw a love story in for the wives and girlfriends in the audience.

In the end, I liked the movie. The special effects were dazzling. The plot different enough to keep me on my toes, but not as hard to get past as some I’ve seen.

The hero has to leave the woman he loves to go save the world. The music swells as he pulls her close. He longs to be with her, but his mind is elsewhere. “I promise I will come back for you,” he tells her with fierce intensity. It’s the kind of vow he will move heaven and earth to keep.

And my romantic heart goes pitter pat.

He takes care of the bad guy and saves the world, but in doing so has to sacrifice the only way back to his love. An act of supreme sacrifice borne out of duty, love and humility.

I look forward to the sequel. Hollywood can't resist a good sequel these days. Maybe in the next round, he will find a way back to her. Maybe they will have a chance. Maybe the bad guys who got away will get his comeuppance for good in the next one.

But the plot reminded me of something I had read before. The hero reminded me of one I had seen before. That intense line there at the beginning of the end reminded me of something too.


Try as they might, even Hollywood can’t avoid it. It all comes back to Jesus.

Take any story you have ever heard or read, epic, mystery, romance… It all comes back to Jesus.

For you see, in the beginning, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, spun a story as he formed the world. As he spoke light into existence from nothing and formed man out of dirt and breathed animation into his limbs, he was also crafting the first and best story.

The story on which all others for all time would draw their inspiration.

In the beginning, God walked and talked in the garden with the ones he loved. He was devoted to them, and they were devoted to him. Until they betrayed him by believing the lies of his enemy.

This enemy had once been a cherished friend. They worked together, side by side orchestrating some of the most beautiful music of heaven. But the Lucifer sought to glorify himself. He instigated a rebellion and was tossed out of his heavenly home.

He would rule the earth and be known as Satan. He would be the prince of this world. On earth. But in heaven, God still reigns. In the garden, Satan tricks the ones God so dearly loves into betraying him, and with that, severs the relationship between God and man.

Victorious, Satan stole, killed and destroyed. He took his plunder from God's best creation. But his victory was only temporary. God offered a bridge back to himself through the shed blood of the sacrificial lamb. Yet Satan continued to steal, kill and destroy.

Then God, through his son Jesus Christ, made the ultimate sacrifice, once for all: He seemingly yielded to the grave.

Allowing his immortal spirit to reside in a mortal body, he allowed himself to be despised, rejected and unjustly executed. Before his apparent defeat, he gathered close the ones he loved and made a vow:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

It’s the kind of vow he will move heaven and earth to keep.

It all comes back to Jesus. Romance and Action Adventure genres prove once again that there is nothing new under the sun. Every epic concept looks back to the Original.

I, for one, am super glad for that spoiler at the end of God's story. The book of Revelation does a pretty great job about telling us what is going to happen without telling us what is going to happen. So even though I know how it will end--that heaven and earth will be moved, the guy will get the girl, and the bad guy will most definitely get his comeuppance once and for all.

I anticipate the sequel.

Sunday, January 15

Loved Wide, Long, High, and Deep

Read I John 4

Who can truly describe undying, unquenchable love? The greatest poets have tried, but mere words only come close. A glimmer, a reflection of the hugeness that is love.

I remember a greeting card commercial where a young man is trying to express his love for his girlfriend. He is down on one knee proposing and says something like, "I feel so much for you that it is like there is something caught in my throat, like I'm choking and might die. My stomach is so upset I think I might throw up." He just keeps going, making choking and retching sounds. The look on the girl's face is a bit horrified. The guy should have left this moment to Halmark. Maybe they could have come closer to expressing true love.

As parents, we have all felt it. Words can't do the feeling any kind of justice. Whether through birth from our own bodies or gifted through adoption, that crazy connection that is so deep and unfathonable is indescribable.

Come to think of it, when I held my first born child against my breast, loving her so much, it did feel like there was something caught in my throat, like I was choking. The ache in my chest nearly painful with the swelling of love.

Quiet simply: love.

We take for granted love like this for our children. We take it for granted with other loved ones too. Of course I love my parents with undying love. Of course my husband is everything to me. We have the feeling ourselves, but keep it here in this world. Like it is only ours to possess. We rarely look through heaven's eyes to the One who created it all.

Paul the Aspostle must have known it. Saw at least for a moment through God's eyes. He must have really "got it." He got the love that the Heavenly Father has for us. In order to create the kind of love here on earth that leaves us speachless, He first loved us with more emotion that we can even fathom.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love

may have understanding, 

to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge

—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 

Ephesians 3:17-19

Yes, we have love here on earth. Our relationships consume us with emotion, but until we understand God's love for us, we live without fullness.

Take a moment to try and grasp this. You are loved. You are loved wide, long, high, and deep. The love Christ has for you surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses any written sentiments by talented poets or any clumsily spoken words by an admirer.

How I think your life would change if you lived with this kind of love enveloping you. Embracing His goodness and tenderness in your life. There isn't room for discontent, fear, or loneliness when the Almighty, Counselor, Creator, Great High Priest, King of Kings, Good Shepherd, Mighty One, Prince of Peace, the Savior of the world loves you.

He. Loves. You.

No matter what this day holds or what it already delivered into your weary arms, remember you are indescribably loved and cherished.

"We love because He first loved us." 

I John 4:19

Written by Alysun Peters

Friday, January 13

No Room

Read Luke 2:1-7

Is it too late to be writing about Christmas? Around here, we’re still working through the candy surplus and maybe this weekend we’ll get to taking down the decorations. Maybe. And since I am currently sharing my work space with a Nativity scene, I vote NO. It is not too late to write about Christmas.

You may see this post again in December though. Just sayin’.

There’s this one little verse in the Christmas story that bugs me.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

No room. Seriously? No room? In the entire city not a single place could accommodate an extremely pregnant teenager? How cold hearted do you have to be to turn away a girl in that condition?

It’s pretty easy to be unsympathetic to the villainous innkeepers, isn’t it?

Let’s think about this form their perspective for a moment.

Bethlehem was a small village. There was likely only one inn for the whole city. It’s also likely there would have normally been only one or two guests at any given time. It was hardly a tourist attraction.

Mary and Joseph weren’t the only ones caught off guard by the spontaneous trip. The innkeepers had precious little time to prepare for sudden influx of guests, all desperate for a place to stay. Odds are by the time the slower moving travelers arrived, the place was filled to capacity and then some.

When there’s no room, there’s no room.

Now let’s bring it back to the present.

Life is hectic and filled with the unexpected. At least mine is. Maybe you are more organized than me. Maybe not. It’s also full. Full of people making demands of my time and attention—reasonable or not, the demands are there. Full of good things and projects and goals and obligations. Full of things I can’t or won’t say “no” to.

We all hit capacity at some point.

And when the One who can really do something about it comes looking for a place, there’s no room.

When there’s no room, there’s no room.

The following video was for our church for the Christmas service. The song is by Todd Agnew, and the lyrics appear in the video. I hope it offers you the same perspective it brought me.

There are a hundred people calling out my name today.
I need to MAKE room for the One who can save me.

Wednesday, January 11

Returning Thanks

Read Genesis 1

I went for a walk this morning before the sun came up. Oh, it was trying, but the morning sun was having a hard time throwing of it's thick blanket of clouds to make a showing.

I love visiting the Oregon coast. The ocean can be counted on to thunder and pound against the rocks, no matter the weather--which cannot be counted on. This morning, the ocean did not disappoint. The water matched the sky in a shade of grey so perfectly matched there was no determining the horizon line. Pin pricks of lights bounced up and down on the waves. Early morning fishing boats. I was glad to have the solid ground of the bluff under my feet.

I gave thanks. For all of it.

The vastness of the sea and sky.

The separation of the two. I know it's there because I've read the story in Genesis about God separating the two. I just can't see the difference from where I stand.

The two matching grays.

The opportunity I have to be standing on a bluff at the beach in the stillness of the morning.

The 30 women on this retreat with me still at the house in various stages of wakefulness, all anticipating what the Most High has in store for us today.

My 3 guys at home. Holding down the fort. Missing me.

I kept coming back to that gray. It was unavoidable, really. Facing west and as far as the eye could see. Only white caps broke up the dull, yet stunningly beautiful gray.

At long last, I turned my back on the ocean to head for home. The sight nearly knocked me to my knees. There to the east were gentle clouds painted the most dazzling color of pink. The sky behind them, brilliant blue. Rays of brilliant sun stuck up from behind those fuchsia clouds.

 I glanced back across the ocean. Could it really be so bleak when it was faced with this stunning display? It was.

As I walked back home, bright light stinging my eyes, I thought, there has to be a lesson here.

Life seems gray sometimes. Different shades of boring all blending together. Certainly there are significant things happening just under the surface. And of course, if you look hard enough, there is raw beauty to it all.

But a simple shift in perspective can bring about stunning revelations. It's easy to get caught up in what we are supposed to be looking at. On the Pacific coast, no one anticipates the sunrise. It happens in the opposite direction of the majesty we came to behold. Leave it to God to be able to dazzle from any direction he pleases.

So the life lesson? Give thanks for the gray. You might just get rewarded with a flash of the extraordinary.

Sunday, January 8

Your Soul Finds Rest

Read Psalm 62

Truly my soul find rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. 

Truly He is my rock and my salvation; 

He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2 

I have a newborn.  I have a 17 month old. I have a four year old. I have laundry piling up, dishes to wash, a schedule to maintain, legs begging to be shaved, meals to prepare, groceries to get, toenail polish to remove from six weeks ago, and spilled milk to clean up from off the floor.

I. Need. Sleep.

At least, I thought I needed sleep.

I decided to neglect my household duties, lay my 17 month old down for a nap, send my four year old off to his room to watch a movie, grab that newborn to snuggle with and head up to my big comfortable bed.

As I laid in my bed trying to fall asleep I could hear God speaking to me. Let’s be honest, it felt more like nagging at that point because I was SO TIRED! Finally, I sat up and I heard Him say, “Your soul finds rest in me alone.”

I got up and blew the dust off of my Bible and sat down to read my daily devotional (that I should actually refer to as my biweekly devotional at this point). I opened up the e-mail and the first words I read were... “My soul clings to you...” Psalm 63:8.

My soul clings to you.

I stared at those five words for several minutes. Turns out I didn’t need a nap. I needed a reminder of my true source of energy. I needed the Holy Spirit.

I literally sat there at my desk, closed my eyes, and chatted with God. I asked Him to help me cling closer to Him and I promised I would trust Him for strength and wisdom. I told Him about my day and praised Him for my precious babies and loving husband.

As it turned out, God missed me, and he almost instantly gave me peace and refreshed my body and soul. 

Thank you God for reminding me to find my rest in you. Thank you for turning my frustration and sleep deprivation into something valuable. Now while you're at it, could you please inspire someone to come up with a product to reduce these dark circles under my eyes? Thanks!

Written by Ashley K.

Sunday, January 1


Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13

I noticed while perusing the Sunday paper that treadmills are on sale. So are running shoes. The grocery stores suggest stocking up on Gatorade. It must be time to make New Year’s resolutions again.

They say if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. While this is meant to be motivating in a different way, in the past, I have seen it as an easy A. The success rate is 100% just by aiming at nothing.

So we make resolutions. We aim out lives toward something and bring it into focus once a year. And by the third week in January, you can find a parking spot at the gym again. We tend to make arbitrary goals when we make them: I’d like to fit into my skinny jeans again. This is the year I will get organized once and for all. We need to save money for the kids college fund…. And we’re done.