Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31 :: Where do I go from here?

Today is the end of October, which also marks the end of my 31 Days series.  

Writing this month has been a stretch for me in various ways.  Some days I would sit at the computer and wonder what in the world am I going to write about today?  Why did I commit to writing for 31 consecutive days??  Yet, it has been helpful for me to write down some of what I've learned, wrestled with, and pondered over the past few months.  

So, now what?  I've opened up an entirely new section on my blog. 

Where do I go from here?

I've thought a lot about the title of my blog and the original content that birthed it.  And, I've thought about what is most important to me in life.  The most important thing to me is my relationship with Jesus Christ, and I am passionate about His Word, and life in Him. 

I also love my family.  We are normal people with joys, sorrows, challenges and victories.  I like to share these things. 

I love to cook and decorate and share my homemaking journey. 

So, how do I take all of these things and write about them in one little space called Only From Scratch?

'Made from scratch' is basically taking raw materials and putting them together in such a way that creates a final product.  

This is most traditionally spoken of in baking or cooking.  Water, flour, salt, and yeast are put together to create bread.

And in decorating:  fabric and thread are put together to make a drape or bed covering. 

In our lives?  Well, we are created in the image of God {Genesis 1:27}, all of us uniquely made, and when our lives are transformed by the power of the gospel {Ephesians 2:8-9}, we are new creatures in Christ {2 Corinthians 5:17}.  God is at work in us.  

I love what Paul says in Philippians:
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" {Philippians 1:6}

God takes us and works on us, and He will continue that work, until we come out into a complete product.

We don't know what the path to completion will look like.  But we can be confident that HE is working in us {Philippians 2:13}.

I will continue to blog about cooking and decorating, just as I did before this series.  But, I will also be incorporating more about my walk with Christ and my family.

I'm working on a little blog face-lift, hopefully happening soon, which will make it more obvious when people visit my blog about the content.  

Thanks for following along during this journey.  Feel free to stick around, if you want, as I continue on in my 'only from scratch' life.  

This is the final post in a series.  To see a list of all posts go here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30 :: The only way to live in truth

We've been talking about having a truth driven heart this month.

I can't finish this series, though, without talking about Jesus.

Jesus is the very essence of truth.

He is truth.

"Jesus said to him,
 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  
No one comes to the Father except through me.' " 
John 14:6

Having a truth driven heart is to have a heart that is driven by Jesus

If I want my heart to respond to the circumstances of life in line with the truth, I must abide in Jesus {John 15:4}

If I want my heart to be consistent in truth, I must fix my eyes on Jesus {Hebrews 12:1-2}.

And, so I ask do you know Jesus?  

Are you abiding in Jesus?

Are your eyes fixed upon Jesus?

Only in Jesus can we live in truth and be driven by truth.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29 :: When I want what you have

We are always looking.  We can look out and around.

In the looking out and around the thoughts begin:

Wow, she put off that pregnancy weight really fast.

She always looks so put together.

Look at that house!  It's just gorgeous!

And, just as the grumbles grow, so does the looking.

Why can't I wear MY skinny jeans yet?

I wish I had enough money to buy those clothes.

My house just isn't big enough.  We should move.

And so we look, and we compare, we become discontent, and then we covet.

Somehow it's easier to deal with the sins other people can see.  But, when we start looking inside our hearts, we stop.  That's too uncomfortable.

"Coveting, envy, jealousy - these words strike at the core of our beings, for they move beyond the outward actions of our lives and pierce the inward affections of our hearts" {Envy of Eve, Melissa Kruger, 21}.

But this sin of coveting is serious and leads us to grave discontentment, not only in our circumstances, or lack of circumstances, but in God.

We can see the sin of coveting quite easily in our children.  Just the other day my girls were playing with some toys.  The younger one had a stuffed lamb.  The older one wanted it.  Nothing I could say was helping.  Even though there were at least a dozen other stuffed animals upstairs to choose from, the older HAD to have the lamb.  She knelt down on the floor, draped her head on the couch and said, "I WANT IT! I WANT IT! I WANT IT!"

This same phrase, or maybe, "I DON'T WANT IT!" are often found screaming out to the walls of our hearts.

We battle with discontentment.

Our hearts are covetous.

But with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can seek to overcome this heart battle.

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires." {2 Peter 1:3-4}

And so I seek to not want what you have.


My friend wisely sent me a book, soon after we told people about Mason's Down Syndrome.  Much of what I've written today I learned from this book, so I wanted to share it with you. 

The Envy of Eve, written by Melissa Kruger, is an excellent book on contentment.  I would encourage you to pick it up, even if you think this isn't an area of struggle.  It was amazing to me how much I learned about my own discontentment as I read her words, which are laden with biblical truth.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28 :: Learning the art of stillness


My body needs sleep, a break, cessation from work.

My soul needs refreshing, reviving, reflecting.

And, so I'm learning the art of stillness.

Stillness from activities.  Stillness from work.  Stillness from speech.

Stillness before the Lord.

For in the still times I find that rest that I so desperately need.

Set aside times of stillness throughout my day.

A day of stillness during my week.

Have you been still lately?

Has your soul been still?

Listen to this song {one of my favorites and one my sister sang at her church last week} and be encouraged about stillness.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27 :: There's a place of abundance

"Come and hear, all you who fear God, 
and I will tell what he has done for my soul."
Psalm 66:16

If you've followed my blog for some time, you may have been a little confused as to why I would start a series like this.  Normally I write about recipes I've made, decorating my home, and occasionally something family related.  

When I was struggling through those first months of Mason's life, accepting the fact that my son had Down Syndrome, I was learning and growing so much in my walk with the Lord.  I then came across the verse above in my Bible reading, and knew that I needed to share what God had done in my soul. 

The first days and weeks of Mason's life were dark times for me, emotionally.  I've shared some of that with you through this series, and I realized that when the Lord brought me up out of the darkest moments in all of that, I couldn't keep silent.  

I can't keep the greatness of God to myself.  

I've always believed that God is awesome, powerful, working wonders, mighty, majestic, glorious.  And, I have felt His power throughout my life.  But, there was something about walking through a difficult time that made me much more aware of God's power in my life.  

You can't see into my heart, but I know.  I know where I was in May.  And I know where I am right now, and I can tell you that my soul has been brought to a place of abundance. 

"For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.  
You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; 
you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; 
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance."
Psalm 66:10-12

There's a place of abundance for my soul and that place is in resting in Jesus.  

Mason still has Down Syndrome.  I still struggle with that sometimes and have moments of sadness, grief, and disappointment.  Yet, I have come to a better awareness of what it means to lean on the grace of God, and know Jesus better in the midst of it all. 

Let's walk through life's challenging times with great confidence in God.  

Let's embrace the difficulties because we know that Jesus will become more precious to us and we will know that place of abundance that is with Him.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26 :: Change in a jar

Yesterday I went outside and cut some gorgeous hydrangeas from my yard.

Yes, it is almost the end of October. 

I now have a jar in my kitchen that speaks beautifully of the changing of seasons.


It's what I want, what I need, what is necessary.

You see, there's a lot of junk in my heart. 

The junk is sin.

Selfishness.  Pride.  Anger.  Resentment.  Envy.  The list goes on.

Somehow in the midst of sadness and disappointment I find the junk coming out, and I'm  more acutely aware of my sin.  

In my darkest hours I have discovered a deeper need for repentance.  

And so, just as the seasons change from one to another, I beg God to cleanse me from my sin and change me.

We have a kind and loving God, One who forgives our sin.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

He's not finished with me.  He's going to keep working in me, changing me, shaping me, making me more like Him.  

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
 Philippians 1:6

So, I look at the jar in my kitchen and I'm reminded to look in my heart and I ask God to cleanse my heart, forgive me, and change me to be more like Him.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25 :: The thing that makes my spirit soar

She folds her hands to pray before dinner.  Quietly looking around, she begins to speak to God,

"Thank you for our chicken.  Thank you for our corn.  Thank you for our beans.  Thank you for our salt.  Thank you for our Grand-moms.  Thank you for Mommy.  Thank you for our brother.  Thank you for Daddy.  Thank you for my sister.  Thank you for me.  Amen."

My two year old daughter has already begun to practice that which I've only just begun:  Naming the things for which I am thankful.

Letting the grumbles grow is easy.  But it crushes.

Naming the blessings is something I'm learning to do more.  When I do, my spirit soars.

It doesn't take away the messy house, the disobedient children, or the challenging circumstances.  But it replaces my thoughts with those that turn me toward God.  Isn't it about Him anyway?  If I want to make more of Jesus, and less of me, shouldn't I dwell on the gifts from His hand?  For in dwelling on His gifts I really dwell on Him.

My mother-in-law sent me the book, One Thousand Gifts this summer.  I had given it to her for Christmas last year; she read it and then passed it on to me.  I learned much reading what Ann Voskamp had to share.  This act of naming gifts is a practice she speaks of, and it made such an impact in her own life.

I love the way she puts it,

So, not only I am seeking to make a list in my heart, but I'm starting to write a list, a list of my blessings.  I want to return thanks, not grumbles, in the midst of my day.  I long for my heart to shout out thanks to God.

He is most gracious and if I fail to lift my heart up in thanks I fail to recognize Him for who He is.

"All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!  They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor your kingdom." 
Psalm 145:10-12

Oh, that today my heart would rise up in thanks and bless the Lord!

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Yesterday was a full day, and it wasn't until after writing this post this morning that I saw on Ann Voskamp's blog the trailer for the new One Thousand Gifts DVD study.  If you have a few minutes, go on over, watch the trailer, and when you have time, settle in and watch the first session.  I know you'll be blessed.*

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24 :: Don't let the grumbles grow

It starts with little thoughts,

Why doesn't anyone else pick up around here?

Can't someone just listen this once?

When am I ever going to get enough rest?

Before we know it those little thoughts escalate into wrong beliefs, generally centered on self,

No one cares about me.

I'm not important.

I'll never be able to make it through this.

Pretty soon we've let a little grumble grow into something that completely ruins our day, negatively affects those around us, and ultimately crushes our spirit. 

A truth driven heart seeks to stop the grumbles.  

"Do all things without grumbling, or disputing" 
Philippians 2:14

Yesterday, I let the grumbles grow.  I walked around the house, quietly feeling sorry for myself and all of the 'trouble' that was coming upon me: sticky floors, broken toys, too many toys, disobedient children, a busy husband...

I neglected to see that my daughters were happily entertaining themselves with games of make believe.  I failed to appreciate the ways that my husband helped to accomplish some household tasks.  I forgot to be thankful.

Instead of joyfully going about my tasks as wife and mother, I grumbled.

At the end of the day I was exhausted, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  

A grumbling spirit will become a crushed spirit.

I don't want my heart to be characterized by grumbling.  Do you?

Don't let the grumbles grow.  

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 :: A heart to receive

The text said,
"Go check your front porch."

I was making biscuits in the kitchen, with the girls, so Bradley went to the door and came back with a package wrapped in brown paper.

He opened it slowly to reveal a brand new camera--something we've wanted for a long time.

Inside was a note from our dear friends, begging us to receive this gift with no strings attached.
You see my friend knows me well.  She knows that I have difficulty receiving.

Why is it so hard for me to receive? 

Not just gifts, but comfort, a listening ear, acts of service, prayer support....the list could go on.

I continue to wrestle with this in my heart as I'm learning that a heart driven by truth is one who receives.

As much as our culture might indicate otherwise, as Christians we are not made to be self-sufficient.  Tim Keller said it well in his book Gospel in Life, "We are profoundly interdependent."

We need each other.  We require one another.

Sometimes my pride stands in the way, sometimes it's that I don't want to be a burden, I don't want to inconvenience someone, or share my heart because that can be painful and makes me vulnerable.

Isn't it wrong, though, of me to expect others to ask for help, share their heart, inconvenience me and not allow them the opportunity to help me in return?

Romans 12:10 says,

"Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor."

The applications of this verse are many, but the bottom line is that I need to allow others to love me.  

Those biscuits I was making?  They were a little saltier than normal.  I cried tears of gratitude and repentance.  Thank you, dear friend, giver of the camera {you know who you are} for helping to open the eyes of my heart a little bit more to reveal something that needed to be changed.

Oh, that the Lord would change my heart today and give me the ability to live in the body of Christ as a true member, a giver and receiver.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22 :: A list in my heart

A lot of our energy is spent on remembering.

We make lists of things to do, so we don't forget what needs to be accomplished.

We fill in our calendars and set reminders on our phones so we don't miss an appointment, birthday, or other special event.

Lists are for remembering.

I want to start making a list in my heart.

When I fail to forgive, I want to go back to the list in my heart and remember God has forgiven me.

When I face a difficult circumstance, I want to go back to the list in my heart and remember how God carried me through the last one.

When I struggle to believe God's goodness, I want to go back to the list in my heart and remember His goodness spoken of throughout the pages of Scripture.

The Old Testament is full of commands to the people of Israel to REMEMBER.

God knew that they would be prone to forget, and sometimes even had them build stone pillars so they would remember how He had shown His power and delivered them {Joshua 4}.

The psalmist said:

"I remember the days of old; 
I meditate on all that you have done;
 I ponder the work of your hands."
Psalm 143:5

As I seek to allow the truth to drive my heart, I want to remember the works of God's hands.

What do you need to write on the list in your heart today?

For a list of other posts in this series go here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 21 :: The only thing my heart needs

During the days after we found out about Mason's diagnosis, a song kept playing through my head.  Music has always had a way of ministering to my heart, and that time was no exception.

It's an older song, but it captures the essence of what it truly means to have a heart driven by truth.


Give me Jesus.

He is the only thing my heart needs.

May you desire Jesus above all else today.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20 :: A guard and filter for my mouth

Sitting on the couch on a brisk Saturday morning, trying to spend a few minutes reading my Bible before the children wake up.

I hear drawers slamming, children talking, and down come my two little girls.  They crawl on the couch next to me, happy and ready for a few snuggles.

I read about looking to the Lord, setting a guard over my mouth.

They start to quarrel.

 "Don't touch me."

"She's taking it from me."

"The books are touching."

And, in a brief ten minutes, I've corrected my children at least a dozen times.


And, it's not just the words, it's our tone, our motive, our interpretation of the words.

How do I teach these little ones about the power of our words?

How can I teach them about words when I fail so often to speak in the right way?

It begins with the heart.

If I want to encourage, build up, love, thank, then my heart must be filled with truths that will work as a guard and filter for my mouth.

So, I speak to them about pleasant words.

"Do you like to eat honey?" I ask.

"Yes, Mommy!"

"Did you know that the Bible says our words can be like honey?"

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

If my heart is setting a guard over my mouth, a filter to sift out the unpleasant, hurtful words, gossip, words spoken in a wrong tone of voice, then I can offer sweet honey to those around me.

Oh, that today I would allow my heart to be a guard and filter for my mouth so that the way I speak will be like honey to my children.

To see a list of all posts in this series go here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19 :: Look and relax

My heart can twist and turn to look in many different ways.

The best way for my heart to look is up, above me, above this earthly existence. 

"Set your minds on 
things that are above,
not on things that are on earth."
Colossians 3:2

As we set our minds above, our hearts will stop twisting and turning and relax in the eternal.

Relax as you look on the eternal this weekend.

For a remainder of the posts in this series go here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18 :: When the Truth is Hard to Hear

The day we found out Mason had Down Syndrome, I wanted nothing more than for the Doctor to tell me it wasn't true.  Or at least tell me that he wouldn't have any of the medical problems associated with Down Syndrome.

On days when my children disobey time after time, break yet another lamp {does anyone else have children that repeatedly break lamps??}, and I struggle to see value in my role as a mom, I would love nothing more than for someone to say, "Don't worry.  Tomorrow it will be better.  Your children will never break another lamp and it will all be better in the morning."

When my brother died suddenly a few years ago, it was hard to hear things like, "God is good.  He's going to use this for His glory.  My friend heard about your brother's testimony and is now walking with the Lord.  Isn't God so good?"

Hard truth.  God is good, even when people are dying, relationships are broken, children are disobeying, my life is spiraling out of control?

The truth is, as much as I would love to hear beautiful promising things, or things that make me 'feel better', the best thing for me when the truth is hard to hear is for me to hear the truth of God's Word.

How do we do this?

1. Petition God.  One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to 'guide us into all truth.' {John 16:13}.  When the truth is hard to hear, or we don't want to hear it, we need to ask God to help us to believe His truth.  We can't do it on our own, but we can ask Him to open our eyes and hearts to understand the truth, even when it doesn't make sense.

Allow people to pray with you, even those who might be trying to speak truth into your life.

2. Pour out your heart to God.  Yes, again prayer!  But, a different kind of praying.  As we ask God to help us believe the truth, we can tell Him how we feel.  He already knows {Psalm 139:4}.

One of the things I love about the Psalms, is the openness and honesty of David as he talks with God.  Time and time again he shares his thoughts and feelings, good and bad, with the Lord.  Sometimes it's surprising the things he says to God.  But, he always turns his thoughts back toward God.  

Psalm 42 is an excellent example of this,

"My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, 'Where is your God?' These things I remember as I pour out my soul...Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."
Psalm 42:3-5

3. Perk up your ears.  {I had to keep the alliteration going!}.  In other words, listen.  Listen to God's Word, pour yourself into the Scriptures, find verses that speak truth about God and fill your heart and mind with those things.  You might not find answers to your struggles, but you will find great power and comfort in the One who walks with you through your struggles.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." James 1:19

4. Practice what you hear.  This is where it gets really tough sometimes.  But we can't stop with listening.

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves...but the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
James 1:22,25

It might not happen instantaneously, but we must obey God's Word.  

Will you allow your heart to listen to truth today?

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17 :: How to Speak Truth

Speaking truth is not limited to just the one doing the speaking.

If we truly want our hearts to be driven by the truth, then we need to not only speak it to others, but we need to be willing to listen to the truth when it's spoken to us.

This is easy to say, not so easy to do.

When we know someone is going through a hard time, or challenging circumstance, our natural desire is generally to try and make it better for that person.  If we can't physically fix the problem, the next best thing, we conclude, is to say something that will make it seem less difficult.

Generally, when we are facing a hard time, we just want someone to offer some sort of hope or promise that life is going to turn out okay, our circumstances will change for the better, and our suffering will end.

This really boils down to one word:  comfort.

We want life to be comfortable, easy, smooth.  When it's not, we want desperately to change it.

God has not promised us that, though.  In fact, as tough as it is, we've actually been told the opposite:

Jesus talking to His disciples shortly before His death said,

"In the world you will have tribulation..."
John 16:33

Tribulation, trouble, difficulty, struggle--all of these happen because we live in a world that is tainted by sin.

So, when we are looking to speak to someone who is going through a troubling time,what do we say?

1. Pray.  Pray before responding, that the Holy Spirit would guide you to speak truth in a loving gentle way to the one struggling.  Pray together.  Philippians 4:6-7 says,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds 
in Christ Jesus."

Speak to God about it first.  We might not understand what's happening but we can know tremendous peace in Christ.

2. Point to Christ.  The remainder of the passage in John 16 that I mentioned above says this; again it's Jesus speaking:
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

In Jesus we can have peace because He has overcome the troubles of this world.

We can't fix people's problems, or make them understand, but we can plead with them to trust in the truths of Christ.

My almost four year old is starting to understand about death, and she asked me one day,
"Mommy, we're not going to die today, are we?"

The temptation would be for me to say, "No, honey, we're not going to die today."

But, do I really know that?  I can't promise her that we won't die on that day, but I can talk to her about what the Bible says about death, that Jesus has made a way for us to face death having the promise of eternal life.

I'm not filling her mind with lies, instead I'm pointing her to the truths of Christ.

Is someone fearful?  Share with them the truth that God never leaves us {Hebrews 13:5}.  We can't take away their fear, or promise safety, but we can know that God is with us in the midst of fear.

I could give countless examples of what to say in various situations.  The bottom line is that we need to speak the truth.  We need to know God's Word so that we can share His truth with those who are struggling.

What about the listener?  The one going through the difficult time?  We'll cover that tomorrow :)

To see a list of all posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16 :: Let's stop lying to one another

Growing up there were many things that we were punished for, but there were two things my dad really got upset about:

Spitting and Lying.

I'm not so sure why the spitting was so upsetting--I won't address that today--we're going to talk about lying.

Lying, or deceit, is the absolute opposite of truth.  

Most of us probably wouldn't consider ourselves habitual liars.  But, perhaps we lie more than we think we do.

What do we say to someone who is going through a hard time? Let's use, for example, someone who is single and longs to be married.  In an effort to encourage or help, we might say something like, 

"You'll find the perfect person one day, just you wait.  God has someone awesome in store."

Or, maybe someone is unemployed,

"Don't worry.  God has just the job for you; you'll get it."

Are these statements true?  We might be trying to help, but in our effort to encourage, we are building up false hope, in essence deceiving another, which can lead to great disappointment, most likely directed toward God.

Scripture is full of commands about lying,

"Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit" 
Psalm 34:13

"Do not lie to one another..." 
Colossians 3:9

These are just two of them, but I'd like to focus on the one in Colossians.  We are commanded not to lie to one another.  The opposite would be to speak truth to one another.

In our pursuit of having a truth driven heart, we should be making every effort to speak truth to one another.

Paul goes on in Colossians to say, 

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." 
Colossians 3:16

As we allow God's Word {the truth} to dwell in us, we will be able to speak to one another in the way that God would have us speak.  

Jesus said, 

"The good person out of the good treasure in his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
Luke 6:45

I long for my heart to be driven by truth, and if it is, if I truly treasure the truth in my heart, then my speech will reflect that.

Let's stop lying to one another.  

Let's encourage one another with God's truth, knowing that it is in Him and His Word that we find our hope.

For a list of other posts in this series go here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15 :: Midway Thirty-One Giveaway

We have reached the mid-point in this series, so I wanted to take a day and do some 'maintenance' and host a little giveaway!

First of all, thank you for all the kind comments, both written and verbal, as I've been sharing with you about what GOD has done in my life over the past six months.  

Secondly, there are a couple of blogs that I've been following this month as they write their own 31 series and I wanted to share those with you:

Chatting at the Sky, by Emily Peterson, is writing a series called Hush.

The Homemade Calling, by Mary Beth, is writing a series called Teaching Toddlers Theology.

Nesting Place, by Nester, is writing a series called Home, on Purpose.

A Holy Experience, by Ann Voskamp, is writing Crazy Joy.

I think you'll really enjoy all of these, and of course there are over 1000 other bloggers participating in this series, and you can find all of those links over at Nester's site.  

I've also been slowly working on trying to update my Facebook page more frequently, so if you'd like to see some peeks of projects and recipes that will coming up next month, go ahead and like my page over in the sidebar.

Now, for the giveaway!

My older sister recently started selling Thirty-One products, so I purchased something from her this summer and LOVE it!  I also got a little something to give to one of you.  I thought this was an appropriate giveaway this month, given that we are in a 31 series!

I'm giving away one small thermal tote--perfect for lunches or snacks to keep in the car.

One of the things that I've tried to keep as a habit in my Bible study over the years, is to read a Proverb each day.  There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so it's easy to read a chapter based upon the date.  This has really helped me in keeping truth in my heart, as repetition helps us to remember what we've learned.

Chapter 15 {today's chapter} is always convicting to me, and I love verse 4, which says,

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life."

May our speech be gentle today as we allow the truth of God's Word to drive our hearts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14 :: Right Now

Will you rejoice today, right now? Allow your heart to be driven by the truth of God's Word today, in this moment, and you will know God and live full for Him.

To see a list of other posts in this series go here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 :: Always Enough

My body was weak from delivery, my heart weak from sorrow.  The thought of leaving the hospital terrified me.  I didn't know how to care for a child with Down Syndrome.  I didn't even know what Down Syndrome was, aside from the little they had told me in the hospital.

I can't do it.  I'm too weak, too ignorant, too fragile, too tired, too scared.

And it was true.

But, there was something in me that wasn't weak.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' " 
2 Corinthians 12:9

There were days I didn't think I could go another minute, and in my own strength I couldn't have.  But, as I trusted in the Lord, He imparted His power, overcoming my weakness with His strength.

His grace is always sufficient.  

He doesn't give it before we need, or after.  

He gives no more, no less, but always enough.

I'm just another jar, remember?

But, my jar holds the power and grace of Christ.  So I walk through fear, weakness, uncertainty, failure, sorrow, rejection, fill in the power.

"For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10

For a list of all the posts in this series go here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12 :: Just Another Jar

God gives special children to special people.

God must have known that you all would be capable of handling a child with Down Syndrome.

Of all the people to have a child with special needs, I can see why God chose you.

In those first days of finding out Mason's diagnosis, these things comforted me, and I know people who said them meant well, trying to encourage. 

As time went on, though, and I struggled to accept and rejoice in the change in our lives, I realized that there was nothing in me that was capable of dealing with this.  

God didn't give me a child with Down Syndrome because I'm something great.  He gave me a child with Down Syndrome because He is great and He wanted to display His greatness.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." - 2 Corinthians 4:7-

I'm just another jar. 

For a list of all the posts in this series go here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11 :: Power in Nearness

Sitting by the ocean one quiet morning, I read:

"Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!" Psalm 93:4

The sound of waves crashing on the shore is constant, and in the crash we sense there is great power.

The further away from the shore, the fainter the sound of the crashing, and we forget the power.

Isn't it this way with God?

God is mighty, always.

I drift away and forget.

I refuse God's power when I fail to find joy in the hard stuff.

I forget God's power when I allow fear to overwhelm me.

The nearer I am to Him the more I know Him, that He is mighty.

There is great power in nearness.

I come near and I receive God's power to overcome my weakness.

I come near and remember God's power to change me.

I come near and experience God's power around me.

I come near and I know God more deeply.

Let's keep going nearer.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10 :: Fighting Fear {part 2}: Think on the Truth


Fighting fear is hard.  

I know because I struggle with fear.  

When we received Mason's diagnosis of Down Syndrome, we were given a long list of potential health problems that he could face.  The fear was overwhelming.  

It would have been easy for me to look at that list and spend most of my days dwelling on all of the possible things that could go wrong with my son.  Some days I did.  

I realized, though, that fear was leading me to worry, which was creating in me a lack of trust in God's sovereignty, goodness, and love. 

How did I fight it?

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -Philippians 4:8-

Think on the truth. 

If I want my heart to be driven by truth, I must battle fear in my mind with truth, truth about God.

Truth about God is found in His Word, so if I'm fighting fear with thinking on the truth, then I must speak truth in my mind about God.

Fight the fear of incompetence trusting that God is powerful:
"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." -2 Corinthians 12:9-

Fight the fear of rejection remembering who I am in Christ:
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." -1 John 3:1-

Fight the fear of harm believing in the presence of God:
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you..." -Isaiah 43:2-

In the moment that fear begins to overpower belief in God, choose to think on the truth about God.

What is it you fear?  Fight it with the truth.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9 :: Fighting Fear {part 1}: Begin at the Root

Most of us have something that we fear.  It could be an object, a situation, a person, or a feeling.

We don't always seek it out, sometimes it just creeps in, unwelcome and takes over our minds.

How do we fight it?

David, in Psalm 56:3-4, said,

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust."

If the remedy for fear is trust in God, then we must first examine our fears to see what it is about God that we are failing to trust.

Fear is rooted in some sort of disbelief about God.

What am I failing to believe about God that is causing this issue of fear in my life?  

I'll let you answer the question and tomorrow we will talk some more about fear.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8 :: Will you Ask?


My children come to me countless times throughout the day asking me for things.

"Mama, will you put this on my baby doll?"
"Mama, will you get me something to eat?"

"Mama, will you read me some books?"

They don't hesitate.  When they want something they ask.

I want a truth driven heart.  I desire to be changed by God's truth every day.

I can't make it happen on my own.

"Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." Psalm 25:4-5

"Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me..." Psalm 43:3

"Lead me in the path or your commandments..." Psalm 119:35

The Psalmist knew who could make it happen, and he asked.

If I want a truth driven heart and desire to be changed by God's truth, I need to ask.

Will you ask Him today to teach you, lead you, and make you to know His ways?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 7 :: Avenue to Meet God

My children spent some time visiting with their Great Grandmother yesterday.  I've always been fascinated by her life.  She spent the majority of it serving the Lord in Africa as a missionary.  She's experienced joys and sorrows in life.  And, at 86 years of age, she has much wisdom to offer.

As she bounced Mason on her knee, she looked at me and said,

"How are you doing accepting this new situation in your life?"

I summarized as best I could, and shared how God is using it and how He is changing me, giving me a desire to know Jesus better.

She kept bouncing Mason, and smiling said,

"It's just an avenue to meet God."

We visited a bit longer, catching up, laughing, and remembering God's faithfulness.  I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said.

When we got home I looked up the definition of avenue.  Of course it is a type of street in a city. There were some other definitions that caught my attention:

- a means of access or attainment-

-a channel for pursuing a desired object-

Yes.  This is what is happening.   This journey we're on with our son, although hard, has given us a new way of meeting God.

How do we meet God?  We meet Him in His Word.  We meet Him in prayer.  We meet Him in worship.  

Do I look at the twists and turns in my life as roadblocks or as avenues?  Can I use the hard stuff to pursue God?  Certainly.  It's a choice I must make every day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 6 :: Never Leave the Rock

The faint heart finds the Rock.

And guess what?  It should never leave.

We need that Rock in the weary times and the times of great victory.  Nothing can be achieved apart from Him.

"He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God."  - Psalm 62:6-7 -

Be you faint or think you are strong, don't come out from the refuge of the Rock.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5 :: Faint Hearts find the Rock

Sitting in the waiting room at the eye doctor, I see them.  A middle-aged mom walking with her adult son.  He wears glasses, velcro shoes, baggy pants.  I can't turn my eyes away.

That's going to be me one day.  I don't want that to be me.  Oh, please, God, NO!

The tears flow later, violently.  My heart is faint, overwhelmed.

How will I ever survive this pain?  Will I ever feel normal again?  How can I keep going?

I can't answer these questions because the pain is so real, so vivid, so powerful.

I read the Psalms and there I find an answer:

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint..."

Keep calling out.  This I can do.  I can call to God in my pain and ask Him to listen.

"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy."  -Psalm 61-


He can take me to a resting place, a rock, a refuge.  I don't know what's going to happen after I get there.  But, I know the rock brings protection, shelter, something to lean on.  The pain is still there, but I'm safe.

A truth driven heart knows where to go to rest in the midst of pain.

We go to the Rock.

Please, take your faint heart to the Rock, and find refuge in our Great God.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4 :: The Truth and our Time

Source: via Lindsay on Pinterest

If we're going to talk about a truth driven heart, we have to talk about our time.

Time is precious.  There are countless things that pull us each day, stealing those minutes we hold so dear.  Seasons of life bring changes in the way our time looks in a given day.

Regardless of the season of life, every day will always have 24 hours.

Having a heart driven by the truth means that some of those 24 hours must be spent in the truth.  This means opening up the Word of God and reading it.

In the Old Testament, the kings of Israel were required to write a copy of the law of God, and then Deuteronomy goes on to say,

"And it [the law] shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left."  {Deuteronomy 17:19-20}.

I'm pretty sure the Kings of Israel were busy.  But, God gave them a command, even in the midst of their busyness, that gave priority to His Word.  He knew that by reading the law, the heart of the king would be driven in God's ways.

Devotional books are helpful, Christian living books have a lot to offer, blog posts centered on the Word of God talk about truth.  However, nothing should take the place of actually opening up the Bible and spending time reading what God has to say.  {In fact, I don't want you to read this series if you haven't first spent time reading God's Word}.

The days following Mason's birth were rough.  Sleep was hit or miss, as it always is with a newborn, and emotionally I was worn out.  But, I found that the most important thing for me to do to walk through all of that was to spend time in the truth.  As the truth flooded my heart my faith increased and I was able to face a hard time with confidence and peace in God.

Let's not be deceived into thinking that somehow we can put aside God's Word during busy seasons of life.  Make it a priority.  For me, that means getting up a lot earlier than the rest of my family so that I have time in the Word.  It might look differently for you, but it must happen in every season of life if we want to have a truth driven heart.

My friend Mary Beth touched on this same issue yesterday during her 31 Days series.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3 :: Dealing with the Hard Stuff

Hard stuff happens.   

The Bible addresses hard stuff countless times.  James calls hard stuff trials, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds" {James 1:2}.

Count it joy.  This is a tough one!  It's easy to count that good stuff joy, but trials?  What would make me crazy enough to think that is a good idea?  I really have to count it joy that my son has Down Syndrome?  It was a challenge for me to find any joy in this.  I sure didn't feel like rejoicing.  I only felt like crying.  

But, the verse doesn't end at this.  We're given a reason for why we can count it joy.  

"...for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" {James 1:3-4}

We can count hard stuff joy because going through hard stuff, with Jesus, is meant to make us more like Him.  

As I walked through the days and weeks after Mason was born.  I began to see that my faith was tested.  I came to realize that I was okay with Down Syndrome.  I learned that I wasn't given a bad thing.  And, as I grew in these ways, I began to see that God was changing my heart.  

The testing was producing and I knew that God was using this to bring me closer to Him.  

That is joy.  HE is joy.  

You have hard stuff, too.  How are you going to deal with it?  

Go here for a great article about choosing joy and a free printable.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: Bad is About Perspective

The day that we came home from the hospital with Mason, I remember sitting on the couch with my mom, breaking the news to her that Mason might have Down Syndrome.  We cried together, and Bradley answered her questions, as best as he could.  During our conversation I remember distinctly saying to her, "This is awful."  And, I meant it.

For about a week I couldn't stop thinking this.  I would find out more of the health risks associated with Down Syndrome, and would panic at the thought that Mason might have leukemia, be deaf, or have a hard time speaking properly.  Mostly, I didn't want him to be made fun of. Ever.  In my mind and heart this was a bad thing.

As I prayed about this, begging God to not allow Mason to have Down Syndrome, I started really thinking through the word bad.  

We use it so often,

"I had such a bad day!"  

"They received some really bad news."  

"I just don't want anything bad to happen to me."

Why do I think that something is bad?  What makes it bad?  Or, rather who makes it bad?

I began to realize that if I thought a situation in life was bad, then I must think that God is bad, because He allowed it and, in fact, gave it to me.

This hit me hard.

I know that God is not bad.  I was reading through the book of Psalm at the time, and came across 25:8, which says, "Good and upright is the LORD."  Again in Psalm 34:8, "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!" There.  Proof!  God is good!  Okay, so if God is good, what about this 'bad' thing that I thought I had in my life.

Bad is about perspective.  

If I look at life from a human standpoint, then yes, certain things might appear to be bad.  If I try to look at life from God's perspective, then I will see that He is much greater than those things.  He has purposes I know nothing about.  Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD."  

I had to remove the word bad from my vocabulary, from my mind, from my heart.

Hard.  Yes, life can be hard.

Countless times in Scripture we see people facing hard challenges.  Job is the most famous of all.  His life was hard.  He lost his family, his possessions, his health--and yet he praised God.

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong,"  Job 1:21-22.

As I started to change my perspective, I began to see that Down Syndrome was not bad.  Something bad hadn't happened.  I didn't receive bad news that day in the hospital.  God was allowing something in my life that was hard.

Why would He do that, you might ask?  Come back tomorrow...

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of a Truth Driven Heart

On Friday I alluded to the fact that I would be participating in 31 Days, hosted by Nester.  I tossed around quite a few ideas of what to write about for the month of October, and finally landed on a topic that has been driving much of my thoughts this year.  I shared in January that my 'word of the year' was HEART.  Little did I know how my heart would be stretched, exposed, challenged, and blessed during this year.

Our son was born in April, and was diagnosed shortly after with Down Syndrome {read a little bit about that here}.  The days and weeks following his birth I found myself longing to cling to the truth of God's Word, and in the midst of that found that my heart wasn't always responding in the way that I had hoped.  This new challenge in my life was exposing some areas of my heart that needed to be changed.

I somehow found it easy to think on the truth, but I wanted more than that.  I wanted my heart to be shaped and driven by the truth so that my responses to life would truly reflect what I believed.  Enter, my 31 topic:

The truth of God's Word is a powerful thing and the more we know it the more our lives will be transformed by it, and our hearts will be shaped, molded, and driven by the truth.

I've put together a portion of Psalm 15 as my theme verse for this series.  The psalmist begins by asking, "Who shall dwell on your holy hill?" {verse 1}, and then the remainder of the Psalm answers this question.  Verse 3 says, "He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart."  And verse 5 concludes by saying, "He who does these things shall never be moved."

Join with me this month as I share how I've been striving to have a Truth Driven Heart.

Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19
Day 20
Day 21
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
Day 25
Day 26
Day 27
Day 28
Day 29
Day 30
Day 31

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