9.08.2014

Daybook Monday {September Edition}

  
September 8, 2014
Outside my window...

Still somewhat dark, and still. This week is supposed to bring a fall-ish cool front and I can't WAIT!


I am thinking...
 about last night's sermon from Revelation 2. The Church at Thyatira was a church full of "love and faith and service and patient endurance", a growing church, and yet they were condemned by Jesus because of their tolerance. They were turning a blind eye to, and even accepting, sin. Our society sees tolerance as a virtue, but when it comes to sin, tolerance is condemned as evil by Jesus. 



I am thankful...
 for my husband's leadership in our home and care for our family, for the growth, spiritual and otherwise, that I'm seeing in my kids, for our dear church family, for praying friends.



In the kitchen...
Finally feeling like I'm getting a grip on menu planning again! 
On the menu over the next two weeks:
Quinoa (Trying this for the first time; would LOVE to hear any tips or great recipes in the comments!!)
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Rice Soup 
Crock Pot "Rotisserie" Chicken (Can you tell I got a great deal on chicken at Sam's yesterday?? :))
Sausage/Potato Skillet
Twice Baked Potatoes
Saloon Beef
Salmon Burgers
Enchiladas



I am creating...
Working on a new "bullet journal" notebook for the rest of 2014. I've been wanting to try this for a while, and my current "daily lists" notebook is almost full, so with the beginning of fall semester, I decided that it was time to "bite the bullet" (LOL!) and put this together. 



I am going...
I am not going anywhere today (that's the plan, anyway!) 
I used to really carefully protect our Mondays. Mondays were intentional "home days". We've gotten away from that in the last year or so, but I've decided that for this season, we need to move back to that as our plan. We have to "go" the rest of the week, and we really need one long, uninterrupted day at home. 
Mondays may become my favorite day of the week! :)



I am wondering...
about the week ahead. Usually when I get a good schedule in place (on paper), some catastrophe occurs. Praying that that isn't the case this week and that we can have a good, solid, productive week! 



I am reading...
A Woman After God's Own Heart
GTD for Homemakers (The "Getting Things Done" system tweaked for SAHMs)
Educating the WholeHearted Child
Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home
and I plan to get back to Wresting Prayer this week.   


I am learning...
about Swype texting. Now, realize that up until a little over a year ago, I didn't text. At all. Then I activated an old phone of Peter's so I could text the kids and others when needed. I didn't have free texting and the keyboard was HORRID. Every other letter the keys would stick and either not type at all, or type 3 of the same letter. Ugh! I was so excited when I got my new phone, not only to have unlimited texting, but also to have a great, responsive touchscreen keyboard.

Then a few weeks ago, I discovered that my phone has Swype texting. OH. MY. Where has Swype been all my life??? Aside from the fact that there are a few words in my usual vocabulary that Swype doesn't begin to recognize (homeschool being one of them, along with two of my daughter's names...giggle), Swype is amazing.


I am hoping...
that we have a really pretty fall this year. It looks like it's going to cool down this week, and we've had a rather wetter than usual summer, so I'm hoping for a long, gorgeous fall! (It's my favorite time of year!)



I am looking forward to...
spending some time Scripture journaling this week. I've had a wide-margin Bible for several years, but I've just recently been inspired to jump into art journaling in it. For more on Bible Journaling, see Shanna Noel's blog and Bible Journaling on Pinterest. 



Around the house...
Hoping to do some serious "fall cleaning" over the next few weeks. 



I am pondering...
Ann Voskamp recently posted that "September 1 is the new January 1". A quick Google search revealed that she's not the only one who's said that lately. :) I've always felt like I have three distinct "re-start" times during the year, when I spend a lot of time assessing, planning, and preparing: the last week of December, the start of our fall semester (usually the end of August or first of September), and the week after homeschool testing in April.

This year I'm running a bit behind on our fall planning, but revving up from our soft start the last couple of weeks to more of a hard start this week. I had great plans for September 1 in lots of areas, and then the first week of September was just non-stop "hamster on a wheel" (keep running so you don't fall off!)  So...in reality, September 8 is the new January 1 for us this year. :) Stay tuned for updates!



A favorite quote for today...
This quote is quite different than my typical favorites; however, it is apropos for our week this week and frankly where I am in life right now. I have no idea where I got it or where it originated; I saw it online yesterday and wrote it on an index card that is sitting in front of me on my desk:


Reminding myself of that often this week!


One of my favorite things...
Waking up to sweet notes from my kiddoes... :)



A few plans for the rest of the week:
The usual school, chores, work, TKD, gym, church stuff, and hopefully a smooth week settling into the draft version of our new fall schedule. :)
Cool field trip Friday with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, plus Billy took off to be able to help with the field trip, so it will be a vacation day for us...yay!!



A peek into my day...

New journal, ready to be transformed into a super-tool for productivity, aka my bullet journal. :)

Linking up with The Simple Woman's Daybook here. Thanks to Peggy for hosting!!



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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 



9.04.2014

7 Truths On Which to Dwell on the Hard Days {And Every Day}





This is always a hard day for me. The story behind that is not entirely mine to tell, and therefore I'll leave it at that. These thoughts are pulled from something I wrote several years ago on this date which had far too many details for general publication. This year as I was re-reading it, I decided to pull out the important parts and redesign them into something post-able, leaving out the more personal bits that don't need to be shared.

There are many memories associated with this day...memories that used to be good, but that now bring  a grapefruit-sized lump in the throat, a dagger-like sensation in the chest, and a frantic feeling of needing oxygen upon the slightest attempt to remember.

A wise older man once said to a friend of mine, “There are things worse than death.”  I think of that this morning as I sit wishing that the good memories weren’t tainted with such horrible, horrible stains, like photos that have mildewed under a leaky roof.

Things worse than death indeed.

This day always brings up questions...lots of questions. Questions that, if I let them, could send me into a lasting catatonic state. 

They flit into my head and I have to immediately shuttle them back out. I cannot dwell on any of them. Like another recent tragedy that has hit very close to home, I know there are no answers, and that there will never be this side of Heaven. Therefore, the questions must not be allowed to invade.  The truths I must dwell on, today and always, are these:

*God knew every jot and tittle of every circumstance that has occurred before any of it came to be. In fact, He knew this before the foundation of the world!

*God is not taken by surprise…not one iota…by any of the circumstances that shock us and send us reeling. 

*God loves our children even more than we do, and He has a plan for them…a plan for good and not for evil, a plan to give them a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

*God loves those who have done evil to us. Their sin is not past being forgiven. They are no more and no less sinners than I am, or than any other person on earth, alive or dead. We are all sinners.  Our sin...all sin...is heinous…even though some may not appear as heinous as others. The difference is, we have experienced His grace and mercy, and been transformed into new creatures...not because of anything we have done, or any good in us, but because of His work in us.

*God is sovereign. God is good. God has already triumphed over evil. And He tells us in His Word that He carries us in the palm of His hand. He never left any of us for one minute during the worst of the dark days. He promises us that in His Word…that He will never leave us or forsake us. 

*He has kept our tears in a bottle! (Psalm 56:8) He cares for our pain! And one day, He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain. (Rev. 21:4) What a tremendous thought for those who belong to Him.





*My responsibility now? To worship and obey. To be the wife and mother God has called me to be. To be ready and willing to share Him at any opportunity. The words to the chorus we’ve sung so often this year flood my mind again this morning. When I don’t understand, my response should be worship. The things I don’t understand…the unanswered questions that are always just below the surface…these are constant reminders of His greatness, and my weakness. His ways are higher than our ways. He is holy, and sovereign, and all-powerful, and all-wise, and I am not.  He sees the past, present, and future clearly, and orchestrates it all in His power, while we see through a glass dimly. 

Worship, obey, believe, and press on. 



“Bow the knee.  Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.  Bow the knee.  Lift your eyes toward Heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.  And when you don’t understand, the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, Bow the knee.”
~Chris Machen

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3: 13-14




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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 



8.24.2014

Pew Ponderings {Having a Heart for the Church}

 


As I type this post, I'm reflecting on the introductory sermon to Bro. Gary's new Sunday night series from Revelation 1-3 titled, "What Does Jesus Think About the Church?"

I've realized in the weeks since I started thinking about this series that I'm a bit defensive when it comes to the church.  I think I've been so disturbed over the last few years by the disdain (and sometimes downright anger) that some professing Christians show toward the church that I struggle with admitting to some of her weaknesses. 

In that, I've done what I so hate to see others do in other areas: I've swung the pendulum much too far the other way (and in that,  become a too-subjective cheerleader.)
I've lost my objectivity and come to see the church through my own eyes rather than Christ's (which is exactly what I would caution others against.)

As I've counted the blessing of godly friends and true church families during this series, I am realizing anew that not everyone has those blessings.  For some that may be because they have shut themselves off from close, transparent, accountable relationships, or because they've succumbed to negative attitudes toward the church in general.

However, I know that there are others who have prayed and sought out diligently a "living and functional" church (as Anne Ortlund describes them) and deep, healthy, intimate friendships, only to find themselves lonely and hurting when those things seem completely out of reach.

Please know that this series doesn't flow out of my having it all together in these areas, being some sort of super-friend (just ask mine...I have a LONG way to go!), or being part of a perfect church. 

Instead, it flows from my having a passionate heart for the church, having been blessed with some pretty incredible super-friends over the years, and having also been blessed to be part of churches which were in no way perfect, but definitely "living and functional" parts of the body of Christ. 

God has given me a deep love for the church.  Not just the church families I've been part of (although they are definitely part of that and I love them dearly!), but the Church as a whole...the Bride of Christ, whom He cherishes. 

My hope and intention as we progress through this series is to share that love with others, and to encourage and challenge each true believer to be a vital part of a living and functional church.  We need to love the church, be encouraged and encourage others in obeying Christ and ensuring that our local bodies are what He wants them to be, and be challenged and challenge others in that pursuit.  

Are you part of a living and functional church body?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments or via the contact widget in the sidebar!  Are you blessed with heart-friends...those iron sharpens iron friends?  Tell me about them! 

Or are you struggling in these areas?  Praying for deep heart friendships, seeking a true Bible-teaching church family?  I'd love to pray for and with you.  Please leave a comment or message me through the contact me form. 

Need some encouragement or perhaps a bit of a challenge in this area?  Sign up for our email list or follow me through any or all of the social media links below so you don't miss any of this series.

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 
 

8.20.2014

Social Media with a Mission {Come Join Me!}


" Just as a hammer can be used to build a house or tear one down, so social media can be used to build up or tear down…people, relationships, reputations, etc."

I'm over at Women of Worship today, sharing about Social Media with a Mission. Come join me? 



Women Of Worship


I'm excited to be part of the new contributor team at Women of Worship! Lots of exciting things happening there...be sure to like our Facebook page so you don't miss anything! :)



8.17.2014

{Pew Ponderings} Unexpected Friends




There is just a bit of irony in the fact that as I write a blog series on the church, I've missed more church in the last six weeks than I've missed since our three girls had the chicken pox several years ago. (They succumbed consecutively, rather than concurrently, so that we had someone with the pox for seven weeks straight.  Not the best fall ever. ;-))

However, I'm pressing on with the series, and praying that this season, as those crazy weeks of chicken pox, will also pass.  If anything, missing as much as I've had to recently has made me realize even more the importance of the church.  It's hard when we miss! 
(Author's Note: This is another post that has been sitting in draft for a month or so. :) We've actually made it to church as a family for most of the last month. Yay!  Again a bit of irony...I was home again this morning after waking up with a horribly sick headache. I've finally had enough Excedrin that I can do something other than sit with my head in my hands, and I'm looking forward to getting back to church tonight!) 

In Placing Ourselves Deeply, we stopped in the middle of chapter 1 of Anne Ortlund's Love Me With Tough Love.  As I pick up there now, the first thing I see are these underlined words:

We need to learn to love!

Yes! We do!  do!

I tend to feel as though this is something I'm pretty good at, and then I am hit with reminders of how far, far, far I have to go in this area. 

I can definitely say with Anne, however, "Thank you, Lord! You have made me rich in friends.  They're friends who know me well--my sins and failures, too--and they still love me."

She goes on to pray for her readers to be given the tools to forge this kind of Christian friendships, the kind that make us courageous to live for Him as we could never otherwise do.

Then she talks about Paul, a writer and traveler who "could easily have been a loner".  She points out that in spite of this, Paul "made his way deeply into the lives of many other believers."  He talks about some of them by name in his epistles. 

Paul talks about all kinds of people, and it is obvious that he was deeply involved with them.  He knows their strengths and weaknesses, and he talks about his great love for them. 

Although I know from other writings that Anne and her husband Ray put a priority on family time, they also felt strongly that serving the Lord in front of and alongside their children was a vital part of raising them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Anne tells of her encouragement to a young wife who was hesitant about her husband being involved in a certain area of church work.  Anne said, "Let your husband go....let him plunge into all the church life he wants to.  His heart may need it.  Encourage lots of exposure to godly people.  He'll be a far better husband and father as a result!"

(She is careful to say here that she couldn't have said that if their church wasn't "living and functional"-- being in the right church is crucial here. )

The input of our brothers and sisters in Christ should make us better spouses and parents.  It shouldn't take away anything from our families, but should add richly to them.

"The miracle of the church! Who can explain it?  We need all the relationships God will give us.  Each believer represents a different facet of Jesus Christ, and as we are baptized into a life of fellowship in the Spirit, we are plunged into Christ Himself.  Doctrinally, we are baptized into Christ at the moment of our conversion.  Experientially, you might say that we are 'baptized' into Christ as we are daily immersed in our fellow believers."

Years ago, I was exposed to some teaching that I unfortunately didn't check carefully against Scripture.  It was teaching that elevated the family to a place far above the church, and which encouraged a type of isolationism for families within the church.  It discouraged close relationships within the church with those who weren't "like-minded" in even minor areas. 

God has done much in my life to show me how wrong (and even dangerous) that teaching was.  I still believe strongly that parents have ultimate authority and responsibility for their own children.  I still believe strongly that a measure of sheltering, especially in the early years, is important.  I still believe that our very closest relationships should and will of necessity be with people who have very similar standards and beliefs.

However, God has blessed us tremendously with relationships  with those in the church with whom we agree on the "majors" (salvation and major points of doctrine), but from whom we may be worlds apart in other ways.  He has filled the gaps in our ever-shrinking extended family with people who have become very precious to us over the years....people who in earlier years I would kept at a distance. 

What blessings we would have missed if I had! 

He has also blessed us abundantly with people who've become "unexpected friends" in other ways.  People of different generations...older and younger...and people from all different walks of life have entered our lives and hearts in amazing ways. 
What blessings we would have missed without those unexpected friendships! 
How have you seen God work through unexpected friendships within the church?  How have you seen God make you a better spouse or parent through relationships and service within the church? I'd love to hear in the comments! 
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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 

8.15.2014

Fitness Friday {By the Skin of our Teeth}




I've missed a few Fitness Fridays lately.  Actually, I haven't just missed Fitness Fridays...I've been completely MIA from my blog for most of July! However, during those weeks, I've composed a number of Fitness Friday posts in my head. :) I definitely want to update on my progress and share some of what I'm learning. 

(Author's Note: I actually started this post on July 21st. Content in black is from that original date. Content in blue was added today. :)

First, a disclaimer:  I know that many of you have way more experience and success with this than I do, and that many of you have much more knowledge of fitness -related subjects than I have.  I share not from the perspective of an expert at all, but as someone who is learning along the way.  Over the last few months, I've been challenged and encouraged greatly by others who are further along this journey than I am who have shared via blogs and other social media.

Second, the "in a nutshell" update:  Since the first of June, I have fulfilled my goal of getting to the gym at least 3 times a week.  My preference is four times, but some weeks it's a challenge to make it three!  I have finally, after losing 35+ pounds and keeping them off for two years, actually gone down two pant sizes. (Yay!!)  And this week, after a long, long plateau period where my weight has wobbled a point one way or the other but never begun to drop again, I was down two pounds this morning!  That was an exciting turn of events, even though I've intentionally not been focusing on weight during this time.  Hopefully now that I'm over that hump, that trend will continue.

In the meantime, I'm still looking forward to workouts at the gym and missing them when I can't get there.  I'm back "up to speed" with cardio after recuperating from last month's minor ankle injury, although fitting it in timewise has been a challenge lately.  My original plan was to alternate days between circuit cardio/weights and working out in the pool.  I'm enjoying the pool and the weights so much, though, that with only getting there 3 times a week some weeks, I hate to miss either!  I'd love to do 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of weights, and 40 minutes in the pool each time I go, but we never seem to quite have time.  I end up getting in 20 minutes of weights and 30-40 minutes in the pool most workouts, with another 20ish minutes of cardio on "good" days. 

A couple of weeks ago I got to attend a water aerobics class.  What fun that was!!  I'd love to do that more often, but it doesn't fit into our current family schedule very well.  I'm glad I got to go that once, though, as I made some delightful new friends and learned some good exercises to add to my pool repertoire.

Here it is August 15, and I have yet to finish and publish this post!  It's been a crazy summer here.  I said that to a friend the other day, and she said, "And why would anyone who knows your family expect you to have any other kind?" Okay. Point taken. :) But it really looked like heading into it that it was going to be a peaceful, productive, relaxing summer. I realize now I was highly delusional last spring. :)

Despite it all, however, we've still managed to make it to the gym at least 3 times a week.  Some days, like today, our whole schedule has had to be changed to make that happen (we're planning to go right around lunch time today, which was NOT in my original plan :)), but we've made it (by the skin of our teeth!)

One of the things I'm learning is that I don't do well when I go more than two days between workouts. I talked about that a bit in a previous Fitness Friday post, and it's become even more evident since I've gone 3-4 days between workouts a couple of times. I'm looking forward to getting on a more regular schedule with the beginning of the new school year. 

Speaking of the upcoming school year, that is presenting a bit of a challenge with our gym plans. We joined the gym the first of June, rather on the spur of the moment, and we've made a priority this summer of getting there at least 3, and preferably 4, times a week by just working it in wherever it would fit. There have been days we've ended up eating supper at 9:00 because that was the only way we could get to the gym before it closed, and days that we've skipped chores or otherwise left things undone in order to fit in our workout time. 

With the new school year starting, however, that kind of helter-skelter isn't going to work. We've got an intense school year ahead. Billy and I are also serving as activity directors for our homeschool group this year, which is an added demand on our time, and I've started working a few hours a week. Along with working out, we're trying to eat healthier while also trying to manage our food budget more wisely, which means more time spent in planning and food prep (and less driving through Eureka Pizza for $5 pizzas...eek!)

So, I need not just a plan, but a PLAN. That's one of the top priorities on this week's list. (Well, top priority after celebrating a couple of girls' birthdays, that is!)  Making that an additional challenge are the facts that we can't go early in the morning (while that would be optimal in some respects, it just isn't possible right now due to factors beyond our control), and Sundays are out (the only time we could go on Sunday would be from 1-3, and the pool is used for family swim time during that time, which would make it almost impossible to do our usual water workout.)
It's time to move our workouts from "by the skin of our teeth" to part of an orderly flow of our weeks. (Yes, I'm working on that orderly flow in all areas this year. We really, really need it!)

I would love to hear how you fit fitness into your schedule. What works for you? I hope to share more about our new fall schedule, as well as additional progress updates and things we're learning about getting healthy, in the next week or two. In the meantime, please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments here or on Facebook!  I'd also still love to hear any tips for gym newbies, or experiences with losing significant amounts of weight and keeping it off over a long period of time.


***
If a post or posts on Ponderings of an Elect Exile has been a blessing to you, would you do me a huge favor?  Please share the link to Ponderings with your friends using the social media share buttons below or the "pin it" button above.  Thank you!  
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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2014 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.