Is your Anxiety Scaring You? (Free Printable)

Stress, anxiety, worry, and fear have been a topic of discussion in my home.  It started with hearing how many Americans are on an anti-anxiety medication. (11% of middle-aged women, 5.7 middle-aged men). But even more significant was the amount of people I spoke to this week alone about their anxiety, or worry, or fears. Whether it be about finances, their children, job security, a busy schedule, or even joyful situations like the upcoming birth of a new baby, anxiety can consume our thoughts.

So, for a few of my closest friends I began to construct a flip book to aid them in praying the scriptures, specifically scriptures that discussed fear, anxiety, and/or worry. Nothing calms more than praying the exact will of God. How do I know it’s God’s will? Because it says so right there in the Word. So, I figured if I was making them one, I could make everyone one!

Below you will find a free printable. Print the cards off, glue the scripture to one side of a notecard  and the prayer to the other (I used actual notecards and glued to colorful cardstock.). Hole punch the cards and place on a ring for an easy flip book.

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These are simple prayers based on the scripture. I have given you 31, that’s how many days until my friend gives birth to her new baby!!! But it’s also the amount of days in a month. Read one a day if you want. Or sit during your prayer time and flip through praying each one on a daily basis.

If you are new to prayer, start by just reading each card in your prayer time. Place the card in your pocket for the day and take it out and pray it multiple times a day. Add to the prayer your own thoughts towards the scripture. Pray that God makes that scripture alive in your heart. BELIEVE the scripture and accept it as a promise for your life. Replace the word “Situation” with your specific situation.

You can put your cards in any order, however, the first scripture on the print out should be the first (in my humble opinion).

“Cast all your cares on the Lord, He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” -Psalm 55:22

Once we realize that we can and should cast all our cares on Him because He will strengthen us, we will more easily get rid of the fears and anxieties we are facing. This may need to be done multiple times a day, but it’s His will that we not carry them anymore.

The last verse is a great verse when we’ve been doing well at managing our stress and worries, but they begin to creep back in (like at the end of your first 31 days… seriously, I promise if you can commit to this for a month, it will CHANGE.YOUR.LIFE!)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9

Good things come to those who do not give up. The freedom you will feel once you are able to rest knowing God will take care of all your worries and anxieties is indescribable. It’s not easy, it takes great discipline, and lots of encouragement from fellow Christian friends. I pray this will help.

You will notice that many of the same themes run through these verses. A few being

  • God will help you.
  • God is Lord *Which means He’s big enough to deal with your anxiety.
  • God gives strength.
  • God renews each day.
  • God will supply your needs.
  • God is with you. *Which means you are not alone!

Here is your FREE download: Scriptures for Anxiety If that link does not work… as it wasn’t for some… copy and paste this line into your browser (sorry, I’m not very tech-savvy)–
file:///home/chronos/u-c2ff507fe2e9bcb935427657899e63b7db3826c8/Downloads/Scriptures-for-Anxiety%20(1).pdf

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If you’d like to copy and paste to your own set of cards with your own personal prayers, you can find the full list of scripture below. God bless you, and know, God knows your needs, He’s willing to help you through, trust Him, and keep pressing on! If you’d like more prayer, email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com or follow Crossroads Church on Facebook.

31 Scripture verses to pray over your anxiety

Cast your cares on the Lord, He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.-Psalm 55:22

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. -Psalm 29:11

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. -Colossians 3:15

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18

An Anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. -Proverbs 12:25

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. -Psalm 56:3

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” -Hebrews 13:6

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. -Psalm 54:4

Look at the birds of the air: They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. -Matthew 6:34

Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the gentiles seek after these things and your heavenly father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:31-33

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. -Romans 8:28

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. -Psalm 62:5

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: Great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:22-23

I know what is to be in need and I know what it is to be in plenty. I have learned to be content in any circumstances, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. -Philippians 4:12

Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5b

For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him. -Matthew 6:8

Because you are my help, I can sing in the shadows of your wings. -Psalm 63:7

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. -Isaiah 40:29

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:14

Be still and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

Peace I leave you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will
reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9

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Dear Guilt, I Quit

Guilt is such a short word for such a heavy burden. Once it’s heaped on, it gets heavier and heavier. It clouds our minds in such a way that begins to hinder our relationships, not just with people around us, but with God. Guilt pulls us to a level where we stop trying, or we try too hard. Guilt pushes us to close ourselves off, or opens us up to blaming others. Guilt is so heavy because it carries so much baggage with it: bitterness, loneliness, comparison, lies, and manipulation.

Let’s make today a new day and say good-bye to guilt.

First of all let’s set some things straight. Guilt is when you have ACTUALLY done something wrong. Specifically it is the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.

The problem is, that “implied” word. Sometimes people heap guilt onto someone who hasn’t even committed an offense. They accuse, they make snide comments, they throw around expectations that were never supposed to be met. These people work hard at trying to make you feel bad for this “offense”. But an even bigger problem is that we fall for it. We accept their accusations and their comments, and we allow ourselves to feel bad for not meeting their expectations. And we begin to dwell in the burden of guilt.239d1e39fb35431c39079a2e18c635ec

But did you know you don’t have to live in a constant struggle with guilt? Consider this…

Did you actually do something to offend? Did you commit a crime? Did you deliberately hurt someone? Did you accidentally offend?

Sometimes we do. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we have a fender bender (or a full out crash!). Sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us and we act or say things we shouldn’t do or say. Sometimes, we are completely unaware of it, but we hurt those we love.  And in these situations, we are guilty. But we don’t have to walk in guilt. We will mess up, we will offend. But we don’t have to live in a constant state of beating ourselves up. Don’t let guilt strike a blow to your heart.

Guilt isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it shows us where we’ve gone wrong. But once we fix that wrong. The guilt must be gone. Once you’ve apologized and done your part to make amends. You are no longer guilty. The only time you can use the word correctly is to acknowledge that you committed the crime. If you break a vase, you will be guilty of breaking that vase forever. However, you do not have to carry around the feelings of guilt forever. It’s time to say goodbye.

No one can make you FEEL anything… but you. Others can blame you, condemn you, de-friend you, and remind you of your wrong. But that is all they can do. You have to decide what you will do with their actions. Will you add it to the luggage you already carry around, or will you walk in freedom from guilt?

God does not condemn. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So why do we walk in it? Why do we take the sins of others (yes, they are in the wrong, and outside of God’s will, when they do not forgive your wrong doing!) and allow it to drag us down?

Often times we listen to what others are saying and we become offended, bitter, sad and angry. We lash out at others for “making us feel guilty”. But in reality, No one can make you feel guilty. You only allow it. So next time stop and ask yourself, “Did I do something wrong?” “Is God convicting me of something?” “Am I guilty?” “What changes does God want me to make?”

Right your wrong, and walk in freedom.

If you stood a friend up for the 5th time and they just won’t stop talking about how upset they are. Apologize and try to be on time. If they can’t accept that, let that be THEIR problem, not yours. If you tend to be harsh towards your neighbor and God is calling you repent and change your attitude… then change your attitude, be obedient… but don’t walk in condemnation! Did you dent the car? What will guilt do to fix the dent? Yep, NOTHING!

Let conviction draw you closer to God. Rejoice when God points out ways you can improve. Let go of guilt. Quit living under the condemnation of other non-perfect people. There is freedom when you let guilt go.

And all those who LOVE to send people on fantastic guilt trips… STOP! Only the Holy Spirit can convict. It was never our job. If God wants to use you to lead someone to repentance, He will lead you down a gentle and respectful path, one you should tread lightly. Pointing out someone’s faults and mistakes is not of God, and is unbecoming of a decent human being.

As a Pastor’s wife, this is a battle I have to make a conscious decision to fight. I know I don’t do everything right. And I know I will mess up even when I’m trying to do some things right. But all I can do is try harder. I have to remember that I answer to God, and no one else. Guilt is too heavy a burden to bear. Be encouraged to quit. There is a better life to live!

Who Have YOU Invited to Church Lately? Lesson 2 of 5

We are getting closer to our 5th anniversary at our church ministry position. After 20 years of being in ministry (16 years married) this is our first 5 years in the role of lead pastor. It’s been an amazing 5 years and I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned so far. This would be lesson 2 of 5… You can read lesson 1 here

#1. Grow where you’re planted. Don’t wait to change towns, jobs, or neighborhoods.

#2. Network! Network! Network!
Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!
Evangelize! Evangelize! Evangelize!

If you find yourself in a small town pastoring (or pastor wifing) a small church you will need to spend at the very LEAST 80% of your time meeting new people, introducing them to the church, and figuring out your new town. This comes in all kinds of forms. But after 5 years, and I’m so glad we learned this early… you basically need to fall in love with your town. 

We dove right in. It wasn’t hard, we were new so everyone knew we had to be “those people who moved into that one house” or “You’re not from around here, where do you live?” After a week of being here my kids were so used to hearing people approach us to meet the “newcomers” that my older son asked us if we were famous. HA!

We signed our kids up for sports right away, we introduced ourselves wherever we went, we friended as many as we could on facebook and we jumped right in serving our community. This was easier for me than it was my husband. But he’s doing much better. Now he has a part (very part) time job where he can meet even more in our community. Not just to grow our church, although we’d LOVE for everyone we meet to come to our church… but because we love our town. We are aware that there are other great churches in town, but we care more that people feel loved and can trust us and our church.

Coming into a small community where people remember every bad thing that has ever happened, means they remember previous pastors to churches… even if they are previous, previous, previous pastors. This can work against you, so it’s important to build your own relationships and try to build trust. Our desire isn’t just to get people to attend Crossroads Church, but our #1 goal is to reach out and introduce as many as possible to Jesus Christ. Once that became our #1 goal, relationships took on a new shape.

Networking the church is important… if you need anything, you need to know the church exists, where it is, and what to expect from us.

Advertising is beneficial. For those who still haven’t chosen a church (or for those who need a change), seeing what the church offers is a huge benefit.

But evangelizing… that’s the key. There are hurting people, and there are many people who need a church community to support them, and when you are loving, friendly, and genuine, you show them the Christ in you. No pastor is perfect. But when you decide to live a life of evangelism, you change the way you think. Everyone you come in contact with is a chance to share Jesus. As Jesus lives in us, He can overflow on to others as well. When you make it a goal to grow the Kingdom of God and not just your church, you stop pastoring the church, and start pastoring (or pastor wifing) the town. The more you love the town, the easier that becomes. And oh do we love the people of our town!

Myth: Only Pastors are called to evangelize

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every believer is called to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” No believer is exempt from this. Sometimes you evangelize through the love you have for your co-workers, neighbors, family members. Sometimes you have to be bold and come out and tell them about the love of Jesus for them. How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14) It is not the sole responsibility of the pastor to grow the church.

In our experience, many that come to the church are actually invited by a friend who enjoys the church. I invite 3-5 people a week. Not that I’m trying to meet a quota, I just believe with everything within me that our church is amazing, and the importance of Church is huge! In 5 years, 3 people have come because of my invitation… that’s about 3 out of 1000 invitations… That’s .3% (do you see the decimal  point?) But if all the current church members invited their friends, we could double our influence in a fraction of the time (don’t make me do all the math… we’re on summer vacation over here!) People are more likely to come if you invite them to come sit by you. Sometimes getting an invite from the pastor or pastor’s wife is more intimidating, and comes across less authentic (although, I promise all my invites are authentic). You can make such an impact just by inviting, it’s a very small step in the evangelistic process.

Let’s work together. Let’s love them and show them the Jesus we serve! You don’t have to stand in the pulpit to do it, (or be married to the one that does). We can all evangelize (share the salvation given through Jesus Christ).

you're invited
Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St.James, MN

If you are reading this, I’d like to invite you to join us for Church THIS Sunday. I think it’s time you either come to meet us, or accept my invite! I’ll save you a seat!

Services at Crossroads are every Sunday at 10am.

If you are not in our area, I can find you a church where you are, just email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Grow Where Your Planted: Lesson 1 of 5

It was a Wednesday. We packed our moving van. Thursday we said goodbye to friends and family, cried for the first 50 miles… then again 100 miles into the trip, again 200 miles in, and probably again at the 400 mile mark as we pulled within a town over from our new home. It was a thrill, but stressful. It was what we felt God calling us to, but it was so full of anxiety as we moved our family of 6 to our new church.

That was 5 years ago. I’ve been in church ministry with my husband for 16 years (20 years total), but this past 5 years has been the first 5 years of being in the Lead pastor position, and boy oh boy is it different. 5 years go be VERY fast and we can either look back with regret of wasted time, or marvel in the lessons God has taught us. I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal… so you’re going to get the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I can not look back with an ounce of regret… This has been such an amazing 5 years! It’s only been 5 years… but already we’ve learned so much (and I pray we just keep on learning and growing).

I can’t possibly put this vast amount of new-found knowledge into one post… no one would want to read that many words. So come back each day as we lead up to our 5th anniversary…

Let’s start here…

Starting over in a new town where no one knows you can set you on a path to a new you.

We were given 4 weeks to inform our employment, pack our home, and move to our new town and church. In that month I began to pray, “What kind of pastor’s wife do you want me to be?” I began to evaluate who I was, what I had to offer, and who I WANTED to be. I’m not saying we should be fake. I’m saying that sometimes we get stuck in our ways and changing isn’t easy. But when you move, and you are completely unknown, it’s easier to change. I may have started out struggling to be loving, to be patient, to be compassionate,  to be bold, but the more I prayed about the traits I wanted to have, the easier they became, and the more they became a part of me. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. And I like the new me.

Myth: You have to move in order to become the person God’s calling you to be. 

Nothing could be more WRONG! I allowed my concern of what people thought of me hold me back from being who I wanted to be… and more importantly, who GOD wanted me to be. I fell into bad habits, found friends who didn’t mind those bad habits, and never sought ways to change those habits. I underestimated my friends and family and figured they’d see me as fake if I made big changes in my personality.

Can I encourage you to begin seeking where you are, and begin making the changes necessary to be who God is calling you to be. Do you want to be nicer?… start acting that out until it’s really WHO you are. Do you want to be more compassionate? Look for ways to show compassion to people with whom you come in contact. Do you want to be more evangelistic? Start stepping out. Don’t delay, and don’t wait for God to call you to another town… that may not work. You may never move from where you are (whether that be physically or spiritually) if you’re unwilling to make those changes.

For me, I wanted to step out of my shell and be bolder, nicer, friendlier, more purposeful. I look back now, and wish I would have done all those things where God had me. I let idea rejections keep me from coming up with new ideas. I let myself get lost in “bigger cities” where my niceness and friendliness wouldn’t go as noticed (although it may have made a bigger personal impact one on one). I missed opportunities because I was too set in my ways.

Moving certainly allowed me to step out and be bold, more enthusiastic, more evangelistic. What could I lose? I’ve learned my lesson though… living this way is powerful, it’s life changing. I will not hold back again. If God wants me to change, nothing will hold me back from making that change for Him. I praise God for giving me this opportunity to be who He’s called me to be. I thank God for this new adventure, and for still working in me through it. I pray I’ll keep making changes as He calls me drawing me closer to Him.

Please don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for any reason, jump right in, start your new adventure, and draw close to God. He will guide you, change you, and create a more perfect you!

Check back tomorrow for lesson #2

If attending church is one of the changes you’d like to make, please find a church in your area. If you need help with finding one, please email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I will get to work on finding one in your area!

If you live in my area, Crossroads Church is right for you! Please join us this Sunday at 10am for amazing teaching straight from the Bible… I’ll save you a seat!

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Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Fix Your Eyes Upon

I just finished a personal study of the book of Hebrews. Although SO many lessons can be learned from this chapter, one I’ve been mulling over was presented to me again in my husband’s sermon yesterday (Of course, you can find that awesome sermon here).

Although the book of Hebrews was later broken up into different chapters and verses for our study purposes, it wasn’t originally written that way. So the book can and does flow from topic to topic but with many connections throughout. Fixing your eyes on Jesus, the one who initiates and perfects your faith, is one of those topics.

It’s amazing what can happen when we do such a thing. When we decide to take our eyes away from our current circumstance and give things over to God.

There are times kids are fighting, babies are crying, husbands are sick, jobs are draining, life is HARD. Those times seem to take over. They weigh us down. They cloud our minds, they steal our joy. One after another and our positive visibility is at an all time low.

Herbrews 12 starts out by saying Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith {This was presented in Hebrews 11}, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Do we think those mentioned in Hebrews 11 (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ mother, MOSES, Rahab, Gideon… David… and a few more) didn’t deal with issues that seemed to weigh down, cloud their minds, try to steal their joy? Yet, their examples are there to show us we don’t have to succumb to the pressure to give up. Instead, we can use their examples of how to overcome! Their faithfulness makes our faith a little easier to live out. So now, we can throw off all the things that are holding us back.

It’s obvious to most that sin will hold us back… it so easily ensnares and all, but what about that earlier phrase… “Every weight that slows us down” Of course sins do that… but the word “especially” shows us that there are things that maybe aren’t sins that are weighing us down. These things may be part of what is stealing our joy.

Please know that kids will fight, babies will cry, husbands will get sick (some even can become VERY sick), and jobs can be draining. And we can’t just ditch them. That’s not the answer. So since we know that we can’t get rid of those things, we have to look for things we can get rid of. Can we implement a new rule for our family? Can we nap with baby? Can we look for a better job? Maybe? But we CAN get a new attitude. We can fix our eyes on Jesus, know that He pulled the heroes of the Old Testament through, and bank on the fact that He’ll pull us through as well. We know that God considered those mentioned in Hebrews 11 triumphant, and he wants us to be, too. He wants us to run the race with endurance.

We all have a race to run. But it’s our OWN race. God calls us to finish it with joy. We will have to deal with the things of life, but we are responsible for our own joy. (Even when we fall into trials of all kinds…) We have to choose the joy in the midst of… well… LIFE. A race isn’t a race if you sit in the starting blocks and refuse to run. You can’t just sit in your unhappiness with your eyes fixed on every joy sucking event that occurs (and seriously, some struggles are much larger than others). Are you only focusing on the current discomfort, and not looking at the future victory in God? If so, look at the finish line… and start running! This race will only be won with endurance.

Endurance is determination,  unhurrying  yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.

HOW? I mean, how do we refuse to let misery set in? Sometimes life is just THAT hard. And, I think Jesus understands that… actually I KNOW He does… Read further.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Jesus faced a much bigger “joy killer”. He faced death… on a cross… in front of everyone… naked! He faced mockery, hatered from people around him… a hostile work place if you will. And if you can realize this, you can keep from becoming weary and giving up. You’ve made it this far!

Can I ask that you look just a tiny bit further in this passage…  “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?”  Much difficulty in our Christian life can be traced back to those 3 words: “Have you forgotten”. Perhaps it is some principle we remember in our minds, but our hearts have FORGOTTEN. Have you forgotten that you are a child of God? That he WILL bring you through? Let your joy focus on THAT! On Jesus and what He has already done for you and what he is surely going to do as you endure this race ahead of you.

*I’d be wrong if I took that first part of the verse out of it’s full context… it does go on to talk about God disciplining those He loves, and to be honest, although this isn’t the point of my writing today, it is possible you are experiencing hardships and misery because of the sin that you’ve gotten yourself entangled in. And if that’s the case, my point still stands… FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS, who initiated your faith, and perfects it. He will walk you out of it.

We go through difficult times, and we can get discouraged, but we need to turn our eyes to God! Do not get bogged down by the troubles of today, know that there is victory and salvation from these difficult times in the future! (From pastor’s sermon)

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This song ran through my head the entire time I typed… I HAD to go look it up and let this repeat through and through.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

The Death of a Dream

Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and found yourself angry, shocked, ashamed, frustrated, outraged or/and flabbergasted at what you saw? How many of you rolled your eyes at least 5 times? So of those who raised their hands (and those rebellious ones who agreed but didn’t physically comply) were you able to control your emotions and reply in a polite manner? Or did you lash out and begin on a tirade of name calling, belittling, and maybe even slip in some curse words? So, how’s that work for you?

Hey, I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve WANTED to say things I know God would not be proud of. I’ve hit the delete button many times, I may have even let a few posts get posted and I’m not proud of that. I’m actually very ashamed of myself after doing it, and most of the time I have to go back and delete my rude comments. Our society has become rage-filled and filter-free. We’re angry. We’re angry because our candidate didn’t win. We’re angry because we feel our rights are violated. We’re angry because our voices aren’t heard. We’re angry because our neighbor went gluten-free and didn’t accept our homemade bread! We’re angry because someone didn’t agree with our thoughts. And we lash out! We forget our manners and hide behind a computer screen and we call people small. We insult their intelligence. We spew hate and add insult to injury in this hate-filled world.

But what does God say? Do you care? I’m raising my hand over here! I care! I want to glorify God. I want to show Him to be the loving God that he is. I WANT to be an imitator of Him. Even when I mess up, I want to do better. Do you?

Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

We don’t like the word ‘Judgment’ but there it is, right there in the Bible. And we’re liable. Pastor’s sermon (the notes are here) reminded us that all of our emotions need to be subjected to the authority of the Holy Spirit. We cannot let our emotions go unchecked and do whatever.  We can not see that political post (dietary post, silly meme… or whatever ruffles your feathers) and allow our fingers to spew every ungodly thought we have in our heads.  Of course you CAN… but should you? 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Unchecked emotions can damage others, and damage us. It can hurt our reputation, and for Christians (I’m even sad that we have to be reminded of this), it can hurt our witness.

I asked my kids the other day, “What is the number one thing we, as christians, should be doing?” Without skipping a beat, my 11, 10, 7, & 5-year-old answered, “Glorify God, and try to help others do the same” (It was a proud moment for this mama!) If they get it, why is it so hard for us adults? One of the most glorifying things we can do for God is to point others to Him.

So when you type things like that belittle, insult, and increase the hate, are you benefiting anyone? Are you making things better? Are you then able to point that person to Jesus? If you have to say no to those questions, can I ask that you utilize your delete button? Can I beg of you to back away from your screen and seek God instead? Can I pray with you that we begin to shed off the anger and start producing the righteousness that God desires (You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19,20).

Your dream (whether it be a different president, different policy, different neighbor, or whatever) may be dead, but you aren’t! Live! And live in love!

**This is part of my takeaway from Pastor’s sermon yesterday. His notes are on his page, please head over and take a look. hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com Follow him if you’d like each week’s sermon. But if you’re in the area, please join us next Sunday at 10 am! I’ll save you a seat! Crossroads Church, 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN

Do you Enjoy your Children?

Of course we love our children. It’d be hard to find a parent who will come out and say they don’t love their children. Even those who lack in basic parenting skills, still love their children, even if deep down under the piles of turmoil that has been heaped on them. So I’m not asking “Do you LOVE your children?” I’m asking, “Do you ENJOY them?” I find that during the challenging parts of parenthood, there are moments I wouldn’t want to share my answer to that question. However, if I’m honest with myself, I’d have to sometimes answer no. I do not enjoy them. It is in this moment that I realize it isn’t THEIR fault, it is mine. The issue may appear to be a behavior issue. It may manifest itself in a period of time when the terrible twos are roaring their VERY loud head. It could be a feeling you have when the toddler and the baby (or the multiples) decided to stay up all night AND cry all day. And outside of those situations where your teenage or grown kids are choosing to be the troublemakers and not the peacemakers (despite what you’ve taught them), the root of the issue isn’t them, it’s us. It’s me. It’s you. So what can we do? How can we enjoy our kids when the bad behavior seems to outweigh the good? How can we truly enjoy our kids when they choose turmoil over peace? Is it even possible to enjoy your kids while you discipline and slowly count to ten… a million times… just to maintain the skimpiest glimpse of sanity. I believe it’s possible. I believe it takes discipline on a parents part, but is very doable.

Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from God so why wouldn’t we enjoy them? And maybe this is the point where I should clarify that I am not suggesting we grin and smile and ENJOY the fits of the toddler, the misbehavior of the tween, the rudeness of a teenager, or the reckless behavior of the grown child. I’m suggesting that over all, we need to seek to enjoy the gifts God has given us. This also may be the point that I should admit that I struggle with this at times. I mean, let’s be completely honest here, kids can be annoying. Their incessant questions, their absent-mindedness (or is that selective hearing?), their bad habits, their WHINING…. I better not go on! But every 2-year-old will ask you why, then why again, then again, and again… it’s part of their development. Every 6-year-old will venture out to see if they’re old enough to get away with a little more. It’s part of the independence they’ve acquired through school. Every teenager will push and argue, they’re forming their own opinions as they learn to live apart from their parents. And every child will whine… I have NO CLUE what the developmental reason for this is… but EVERY.CHILD.DOES.IT!!! (perhaps it’s to build up a parents tolerance!).  If we allow these natural occurrences to keep us from enjoying our children, we have a bigger issue than the annoyances themselves. And I find myself asking God to help me enjoy my kids. I know they are a gift from Him, they are a reward from Him. It reminds me of when I’ve given gifts to my children only to see them toss the gift to the side never to be played with. It hurts. And it hurts God’s heart as well. So, now that I’ve made you feel bad… not really my intention, but if you’ve ever found yourself saying (even if just to yourself) “I don’t even enjoy them!” you’ve immediately felt guilt for even having the thought. I do. It’s a cycle I’m quick to try to remedy. I’m frustrated over their behavior, so I feel I dislike being around them (I’m not sure I like the opposite of the word, enjoy… so semantic people, bear with me!) then I feel guilty for having the thought, knowing that I need to enjoy them… It is a real indication that a change needs to happen. How can I honor God, and the gift/reward He has given me. May I share some of my ideas with you? Not because I think I’ve mastered this, yet. But because I feel it works for me as I battle these challenging parts of motherhood.

  • First, I immediately ask for forgiveness. I pray that God will help me work through these emotions, and forgive me for looking at His gift in this manner. For me, it is a sin. I am not exhibiting godliness, but selfishness. So I ask him to forgive me. Then I ask Him how to get out of this funk I’m in. Most of the time, I’m not able to do anything until I do this number one step. My heart will not change without God’s help.

 

  • I begin to search the scripture for words of encouragement. I remind myself to take captive every thought and bring them into submission to God. So I search for scripture that will remind me of God’s will in my parenting. Scriptures like…

Psalms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (read it and remember that God created your children in this same way!)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (If He gave YOU the gift of children, he prepared you beforehand to be able to raise them! I promise!)

(there are many more… but for space sake… I’ll move on)

  • I begin to search for podcasts that will speak to the challenges (and solutions) to parenthood. I get my Bible out, and study alongside the speaker. Hearing that I’m not alone, is a comfort. But learning how to deal with it, is empowering. I use Oneplace.com (it’s an app for Android, too) And there are many preachers that post their past broadcasts. Focus on the Family, or Jim Daily’s “Focusing on Parenting” are very good, but sometimes I just put “Parenting” in the search and find something. You don’t have to agree on everything in order to gain a small nugget of encouragement to fuel your parenting journey. And if I can’t find what I am looking for, I will google things and try to find Christian blogs I can read. *****I am not looking for something that will validate my feelings! I am looking for something that will reprimand me, and encourage me to get back to where God wants me! I suggest you do the same, flattery won’t solve the issue.

 

  • I begin to godly discipline. If it’s bad behavior that is causing my kids to be unenjoyable (I may have made that word up… but I really don’t like the true opposite of enjoy… so…), then I need to teach them the right behavior. It is our job as parents to raise obedient children.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope;

Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

And my point…. Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
When we discipline properly, we are teaching our children to be delightful. Not just to us, but to those around them. I warn my children. I start off my telling them that I’m sorry that I did not discipline enough (to which they quickly forgive me, don’tcha know!) And I explain that I’ll be cracking down on behaviors to which they know they should be having and are not. I remind them of my expectations for them, and outline where we’re falling short (not getting the morning routine down, making us late… or putting shoes away so we can find them when we leave, or how to be kind to a sibling… whatever the issue may be). Then I follow through. The first week is hard. They are in more time-outs, I am taking WAY more deep breaths. They are losing out on privileges, I am chanting “Yell less, love more” to myself while rocking back and forth in my closet… but it needs to be done, and it’s beneficial to us all.

  • I let them be annoying once in a while. Like I said, kids can be annoying. As children learn the social norms to behavior, they will often do annoying things. It’s part of their learning process. They repeat themselves, they chew with their mouths open, they get overly excited about things that seem unimportant to us. But, I refrain from being annoyed. I may correct them (“Please eat with your lips closed.” “Please stop repeating that phrase.” “Let’s not stand so close to my ears while chewing gum.”) But I do it in love, not in irritation. I don’t allow myself to reprimand them, belittle them, or show them my annoyance. I correct; I teach them the right behavior… and leave the room if I’m struggling more than I want. (I’m human! I DO get annoyed… but in order to choose to enjoy them, I take my thoughts captive, and I allow them to be children.)

 

  • I go to bed earlier. Let’s face it, we’re a better version of ourselves when we have our beauty sleep. It is much harder to have patience when we’re sleep deprived. I can do this now that I have children who sleep through the night. It’s much harder when you are up all night with babies, and up all day with kids who don’t nap! Grab rest when you can. Ask your spouse for help. You’ll be a better parent for it.

 

  • And Lastly… for now… is CHOOSE to enjoy! Look at your gorgeous, smart, energetic, and amazing child and see him/her as the gift she/he is! Watch them when they play, laugh at their silliness. Join them as they jump in rain puddles, and laugh when they giggle at their own made up joke. Watch them as they interact with their siblings and realize this child of yours is AWESOME! If you have to, go back to sweet baby pictures or remind yourself of funny things they’ve done in the past week, month, year. Hug them tight, tell them how wonderful you think they are, and remind yourself that this reward from God is one of the biggest blessings you’ve ever been given. Pray over them, praise them, marvel in them, and be awestruck! Be intentional about finding things to enjoy. Whether it be the moment they are quiet listening to a book, or coloring nicely at the table, or studying for a test at school, make it intentional. Then remind them how much you love them. Tell your child that they are the best gift you’ve ever been given. Then when you collapse in bed at night from the exhausted day that comes along with being a parent, do not allow yourself to dwell on the rules they broke, or the attitudes they had. Instead count your blessings. Just as you began your day in prayer, end it just the same. Praise God for the thoughtfulness of His gift. Thank Him for the blessing.

I write just as I come out of this. Like I said, I have not mastered this. And I don’t always enjoy every moment. But I love my children, and want to honor God with the gift He has given me. I believe I am not where I need to be when I choose not to enjoy them. So, today, I’m choosing to enjoy them! I’ll gaze at them and thank God for my quadruple blessing. And I’ll start the day tomorrow doing the same. Feel free to add some of the ways you choose to be intentional when it comes to enjoying your children, I’m open to more suggestions!

Until then… Enjoy those kiddos of yours!

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Just Do IT!

My girls recently asked for “Little House on the Prairie” dresses. We searched and searched for dresses, knowing that I was not a good seamstress. After realizing I could not make the “Laura Ingalls” collars, or the perfect Pinafore (which I looked up the technical term for those, so I wouldn’t call it an apron), I started looking for something simpler. I googled “easy to make girls dresses” and I read read and read some more. I spent a full week in research. I read every blog, pattern, and comments section. Finally, I took the girls to pick out their fabric. I found a pattern in one of the books, however, it was $14!!! So we passed on that and decided to research more.

The fabric was bought, it sat in the Hobby Lobby bag. And it sat. And it sat some more. I stared at it as I read more and more blogs on how to sew. It sat while I watched youtube videos learning how to do a basting stitch. It sat while I googled what pinking sheers were. It sat while I compared what was best, pinking shears, serger, or a zigzag stitch. (I don’t have ANY clue about serging!!!) The bag of beautiful prints and colors just sat while I stared at my sewing machine and contemplated my plan of action. FOR DAYS!

There comes a point in life when we can’t just research, plan, and ponder without DOING IT! We do Bible studies on how to find God’s will for our lives. We ask other’s opinions, we weigh our hopes, dreams, and gifts all while they sit in a bag unused. We have a huge desire. Our heart aches, but yet we hold back because we don’t think we know what we are doing. We don’t feel we have the resources, the history, the know-how to carry out this calling God’s given.

The great thing is… if He calls you, He also equips you! And that is just awesome! If He calls you to be a preacher, he’ll equip you with the sermons to preach. If He calls you to be a teacher, He will give you skills to teach. If He calls you to adopt, He’ll provide the stamina it takes to go through the endeavor. But you have to JUST DO IT! You’re sermons will not come out of your mouth if you do not open it. Your classroom will not appear when you do not do the work to obtain a job with a classroom.  Adoption paper will not be signed if you do not actually sign them! God allows some things to done on our part. He can line things up just right for the path to go smoothly, but if we just sit and stare at the path, we will go no where… We must JUST DO IT! Then watch how God uses us! Watch and see the wonderful benefits from taking that leap of faith. Move as He leads and dwell in the fact that you are taking every step toward a beautiful masterpiece.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (emphasis mine).

So, I sewed. I followed this bloggers instructions to a tee.  I dove right in. I took my time. I read and reread my instructions, and I trusted even when I didn’t understand what it said.  (read into that… The Bible is our instruction manual. Dive right in. Take your time. Read, reread and trust when you don’t understand.)

I made mistakes. But the fabric (and design) was forgiving. (read as, we all make mistakes, but God is gracious and forgives. His love covers over a magnitude of sin)

And at the end the mistakes were only evident to the creator, the dress blessed my daughter. Her ooohs and ahhhs were beautiful. There are times we make mistakes. God works on us all individually. But when we set out to serve, to do God’s will, we can bless others beautifully. As we learn and grow our mistakes become less and less. But the blessings grow in their beauty.

Just as I should, I needed to learn to do this project. I needed that research. I needed to define terms I didn’t know. I needed to know how to use what I learned… that is a given. But there comes a point where we need to start doing what we’ve learned. Listen carefully for the green light!

So… It’s time to DO. What’s in your heart? What has God been nudging you to try? Is now the time to dive in? JUST DO IT!!

There is a long list of things I did wrong... but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
There is a long list of things I did wrong… but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
  • I didn’t plan for it to be a halter dress. It was supposed to have cute little buttons on the front, but I sewed the straps right in forgetting my original plan. It is super cute without the white shirt under… but well, it’s winter already here! So long sleeves and leggings for now!
  • I also measured for the bodice, not remembering that my cutie patutie has a much curvier bum than I think the original model had. So we had to tear some stitching and redo to get it on her… once over that curvy bum, it was adorable.
  • I also did not buy quite enough fabric, so it’s a tad smaller around than the original plan. However, I am not sure I would really notice a few inches.
  • Once it was on her, we noticed that there were two straight pins in the bodice that were sewn in. I had to cut tiny holes to free them. Silly me.. just proves how much more I need to learn!
  • I already had the thread, and the ribbon. So my total for this dress came to $8.09 (look for Hobby Lobby sales, and use your coupons!)
  • Thank you to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom for a set of instructions and pictures I felt I could really follow. I learned so much doing this project and I couldn’t be happier! Please visit her awesome blog and try a few crafts of your own.

I have one more to make for Lil. I’m hoping it will be easier and with even fewer mistakes. I can’t wait… neither can she!

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St. James Takes the Cake

cupcakeMay 25th of last year, we loaded our family, our belongings, and our faith and moved. The long 7 hour drive gave me plenty of time to reflect on where we’d been, come up with ideas for our future, miss those I was leaving behind, and freak out about where we were heading. Starting a brand new adventure comes with many emotions, and riding alone in the car (with the 4 kids of course) for that long brings them all out.

Many months before as Dave sent out resume upon resume to churches, I had asked him not to tell me where he was sending them. I didn’t want to put stipulations on my desires based on how cold the winters were, or how far from family it was. I wanted to ask God for His will, and follow that without hesitation. Then one day we heard that someone had called our references. We were super excited, praying for the board who was looking into us, and I had to ask the question… “Where is the church?”

St. James, MN. I looked it up, I saw that it was in MINNESOTA… and a “tiny” town on top of that. I looked up how close Target was. How close Walmart was, and how close Hobby Lobby was. All of which were more than a half an hour. At least it wasn’t 3 hours like we’d done before. And, it still wasn’t really bothering me.

By the time Dave had the Skype interview, I was in love with the idea of living in a small town. I had my fears. I worried about homeschooling in a town with no other homeschoolers. I worried about how I’d fit in. I worried about how my kids would fit in. But I didn’t worry about whether this was the right move.

Now a year later, I find many ways God has blessed this move! My kids did not go through any behavior issues that accompany a major move for small children. They made friends right away. They got involved in sports, after school programs, and many fun adventures. Our homeschool year was the best we’ve had so far.

All this to say this: When God puts a calling on your life, and your willing to follow, He will equip you with a passion for that calling. I truly enjoy the people here. I enjoy the small town. I love that we can walk anywhere we want to go! I love that people stop us on the street and ask us if we’re “new”. I love that we can talk to ANYONE and feel that we’ve known them forever! I love that I can eat at McDonalds and strike up a conversation with the lady next to us, and it feels like I had lunch with a good friend. I love our church, our church members, and my passionate Pastor!

St. James has made my year amazing. And I love that God has called us here. I love that Dave listened to God’s calling and followed Him, and lead us to St. James! It is my home. And I am looking forward to our 2nd year!