Transformation Tuesday – The #1 Key in My Whole Health Transformation (Part 3)

So, it was another week where I felt in a funk. I was unmotivated to even tackle my daily good habits. But, most days I did them anyway, because I know I need to. Friday came along, though, and I was called to jury duty. This threw my day off completely, and I didn’t work out like I had scheduled to. So, I figured I’d just make it up on Saturday, but though I had nothing significant happening on Saturday besides being home alone, watching Netflix, and a movie, and eating a bunch of junk food, I did not work out, again. And, as you can see, I made a whole lot of bad choices! We all get in a funk, and our health gets thrown to the curb sometimes, and I felt awful…..in my mind, my body, and my spirit. So, Sunday, I decided that no matter what, I was going to get in a workout. That night around 9:00 p.m. I headed to the gym, did a leg workout and cycled 10 miles. Then, I told myself that Monday, I was going to stick to my schedule and follow through on all my good habits. And, I did! I got a lot done around my house, got in 10 miles of cycling, Windsor Pilates, a sermon by Steven Furtick, and my Bible Study in. I also finally tackled some work I’d been putting off on my new business that I recently launched. And, let me tell you, I feel good! Temptations are still there, but I just had to make a decision, change my mindset by renewing it with the truth of Scripture, and get to work! So, once again, you can see how very important it is to take my negative thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5

So, today I will cover the next 7 Truths of Our God-Given Identity.

I SHIFT ATMOSPHERES.

(Ecclesiastes 7:14, Galatians 5:22, Isaiah 61:3)

Be grateful in all situations because the Lord is in them all. The Spirit gives fruit that lasts! Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed me. He has a purpose for me to help others and to put Him on display.

I AM HIS WORKMANSHIP.

(Jeremiah 1:5, Genesis 1:26-31, Psalm 139:13-16)

I am fully known, set apart, and appointed! I am created in His image and likeness, therefore should reflect His character. I was created very good. He is well pleased by how He made me. His works are wonderful, even how He made me is hard to fathom. He saw me before I was formed, loved me, and gave me purpose before anything came to be.

MY FATHER LOVES ME WITH AN UNYIELDING LOVE.

(John 19:16-30, Psalm 136, Song of Solomon 8:6)

Jesus loved me so much, even in my sin, that He willingly went to the cross to die for me and all creation. He died for His enemies because of His great compassion and love. He loves and protects and desires fellowship so much that He frees us from bondage so that we are free to see and know His love. He endures forever! His strong love burns like a blazing fire, a flame that won’t go out.

I AM HIS DELIGHT, NOT A DISAPPOINTMENT.

(Genesis 1:31, Psalm 149:4, Psalm 18:19, Matthew 17:5)

Jesus sees me as good. Not just good, but very good. I was created in His image. He delights in me. He crowns the humble with victory. He has brought me out of bondage into freedom. He rescued me because He delights in me. He says to me, “This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.”

I AM POWERFUL BECAUSE OF CHRIST, THE HOPE OF GLORY, LIVES IN ME.

(2 Corinthians 12:6-10, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, Daniel 2:23)

His grace is sufficient for me! His power is made perfect in my weakness. I delight in my weaknesses because I know when I am weak, He makes me strong! His power is my treasure. His life is being revealed through my death. Since I believe, I must speak. He will raise me with Himself. Outwardly we may be wasting away, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day. I fix my eyes on the unseen because it’s glory outweighs all. Thanks to Jesus for His wisdom and power in me.

THE FATHER TELLS ME HIS SECRETS.

(Matthew 13:1-17, Exodus 33:12-23, Jeremiah 33:3)

The knowledge of the secrets of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand. I am blessed because I see, hear, and understand. Teach me Your ways, that I may know You and continue to find favor with You. If you aren’t with me, don’t send me! He reveals goodness and glory. He tells me great and unsearchable things I do not know.

I AM GOD’S BEST FRIEND, AND HE IS MINE.

(Exodus 33:11, John 15:15, James 2:23)

He speaks to me face to face, as one speaks to a friend. We are no longer servants because a servant does not know the Master’s business. He calls us friends because He makes known to us all that the Father taught Him. When I believe God, I am credited with righteousness and called God’s friend!

Thank you for reading along! This concludes the God-Given Identities we should embrace. Next week I will continue on mindset and mind renewal by focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit and Fruitful Declarations.

Also, beginning the week of October 10th, I will be blogging through the Revelation Wellness Bible Study. If you’d like to join in with me through the study, you can purchase a copy of the study through Amazon here. And, if you plan to join in, please let me know by commenting below and I’ll send you a link to my Facebook group where we can share together as we study together. The more sharing, the more fun it will be and the more we can each get out of it!

Love,

Dena

*Disclaimer: I must inform you that as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

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Transformation Tuesday – The #1 Key in My Whole Health Transformation (Part 2)

I have to be honest in this post and tell you that even though I wrote about the first seven declarations of my God-Given Identity last week, it was a rough week! This is what Satan does when you are obedient, he comes in to steal your identity and tries to get you to forget who you really are. I was unmotivated all last week, and though I only missed one of my work out days, I had to really push myself to do the work outs. And, not only was my motivation off, I was eating all kinds of bad things, things that I knew were not serving my body nor fueling it! And, I felt awful! Tummy aches, headaches, and feeling completely drained were the consequences of those choices.

I am so grateful for God’s grace! I’m thankful for friends that sense something is wrong, and connect with you. I had a dear friend do just that at the end of last week. She reached out and listened to my struggles, but she did not let me stay there. She asked me what the deeper issues were, and then she had me recall truth. And, it was HARD to think of any! Satan had drowned out all of the truth that I so desperately needed with his lies. Lies that made me feel it wasn’t worth the struggle, maybe I should give up (like I have so many times before). Lies that I am not really called to share my story. Lies that I’ll never reach my goals, so what’s the point in continuing to try. But, because this dear friend wouldn’t let me stay there, I was able to recall the Lord’s truth, and know that though this journey is going to be hard some days, I will make it through, I will continue to get back up when I’ve made some wrong choices, I will not give up, and I will reach my goals. And, most importantly, I will tell my story of the freedom that Jesus gives! I will tell how He’s redeeming my days. He’s helping me renew my mind to the truth, and helping me walk in that truth.

So, here are the next seven truths of our God-Given Identities:

I AM UNOFFENDABLE BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS.

(1 Peter 1:3-7, Ezekiel 36:26, Ephesians 4:26 & 32)

He is my living hope! He will bless me with an inheritance that will never expire. He gives me a shield to protect me through faith. And, through trials I can rejoice because I know through them He is refining me so that I may prove the genuineness of my faith. He is making me new with a new heart. I will not become bitter when angry, I will be kind and compassionate. I will forgive because He has forgiven me.

I’M EQUIPPED FOR EVERY GOOD WORK.

(Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Hebrews 13:20-21)

I am the handiwork of God and He planned good works for me to complete before I even knew them. I must have godly character; which is my purpose. I must keep learning and living the truth of the Scriptures. He is equipping me and training me for every good work. I must do His will and in the process I will bring Him glory.

I AM FORGIVEN AND FREE.

(Matthew 6:9-15, John 10:1-10, Isaiah 6:1-7)

Jesus is personal. He is all about relationship, truly knowing Him as He knows me. He desires to give me freedom and peace. Satan is only working to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus gives life abundantly. Through God’s holiness we are humbled, but because of His grace and purification by fire, our sins are forgiven and guilt taken away! What a gift! I am free!

I AM AN AGENT OF CHANGE.

(Jeremiah 29:4-7, 1 Samuel 17, 2 Timothy 2:19-26)

It gives me hope that I will be an agent of change! That we will build, plant and eat, grow in our family, and prosper. And, that I will be able to face the giants in my life because the battle is the Lord’s! He also has given me a noble purpose, that when I leave the ignoble behind, He will help me be useful for the Master – doing His work. Pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace with a pure heart.

I AM AN INFLUENCER, NOT THE INFLUENCED.

(Colossians 3:1-4, 1 Peter 2:11-17, John 8:2-11)

My mind must remain on things above, not my current circumstances or things of the world. My life is hidden in Christ! Sinful desires war against my soul. The way I live, people see, and I want my life to point others to Jesus so He gets the glory. By doing good, I will silence the talk of evil men. Live free, but don’t use freedom to cover sin. Live as servants of God. Yet, remain humble and do not judge, show grace and forgiveness as Jesus does.

I HAVE A SOUND AND CLEAR MIND.

(2 Timothy 1:7, Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 4:8)

I have no reason for fear. Because of Christ in me, I have power, love, and self-discipline. My body is a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. I am worshipping God with my body. I am no longer bound by the things of the world because my mind is being transformed and renewed! I am living out His perfect will. My mind is set on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

I’M A LOVER OF GOD AND A LOVER OF PEOPLE.

(Mark 12:28-34, Leviticus 9:9-18, Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

I am to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength with all that I am. I am also to love my neighbor as my self. These are more important than checklists and sacrifice. I am to allow God’s spirit to continually indwell me and to change me. My heart and thoughts and actions must match. And, I must impress what He is doing in me to my family and world. They should all see living proof of my loving God.

We must not forget truth, even in the midst of a storm, and that is sometimes not an easy task, as I discovered this past week! Be alert, because the devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour. Don’t let it be you!

Love you all!

Dena

Transformation Tuesday – The #1 Key in My Whole Health Transformation (Part 1)

Get your own FREE download here: https://www.reveltionwellness.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Identity-Journal.pdf

When I first started my health journey, it began with a Bible Study called Revelation Wellness. While I was waiting for my book to arrive, I decided to go check out the Revelation Wellness website, and I noticed there were several FREE resources! So, I clicked on the FREE download for Declaring the Truth of Your God-Given Identity. This began a transformation in my mind and heart which is where I really needed the work to take place! Over the next several weeks, I will share with you these truths that transformed my mind and heart and impacted my health journey in the most needed way!

I made each affirmation/truth into a Bible Study using the Scriptures given for each one, then I would journal about what each meant to me and how the truths spoke into my life. Then, the next day, I’d move to the next truth. Today, I will cover the first seven.

I AM A CHOSEN CHILD OF GOD.
(Deuteronomy 30:1-8, Luke 15, 1 Peter 2:9-10)
God has chose me to live an abundant life! He has pulled me out of darkness, sought after me, and brought me into His abundant light – full of compassion and unconditional love. I am completely His. He wants to bless me abundantly.

I DO NOT LET PERSECUTION PERSUADE ME TO FEAR.
(Psalm 23:4, Romans 8:35-39, James 1:2-3)
When I feel stuck, broken, distracted, or down I should remember how great the Lord’s compassion and love are for me. No matter how bad things are or get, He is with me. In fact, I should be joyful when facing trials because He is building in me perseverance. Fear is a liar, and Satan’s attempt to remove Christ’s joy in me.

I AM COVERED BY THE ARMOR OF LOVE.
(2 Samuel 22:1-4, Psalm 18, Ephesians 6:10-17)
He loves and protects me from evil, harm, attacks from the enemy and more. He places me in a shelter of peace and comfort. His love is full of empathy, compassion, and understanding for the struggles I face. It is unconditional and He freely offers His help. He gives me protection in every way. He makes me a light in dark places.

I BRING WEALTH AND RESOURCES INTO ALL CIRCUMSTANCES AND NEEDS.
(Exodus 36:2-7, Luke 7:36-50, Mark 8:1-10)
All I have to do is give what I do have freely; give of my gifts, talents, and resources; give out of my blessed abundance. He will use my gift for what it’s meant for. I must give with a humble heart, out of my great love for Jesus. My attitude behind the giving must be humble, not prideful, or to look good to others.

I AM A PURVEYOR OF CONTAGIOUS HOPE.
(I Thessalonians 5:9-15, Hebrews 10:24-25, Proverbs 12:25)
So many are hurting and broken, fearful or anxious. I can bring hope by being an encourager, smiling, being kind, empathizing and sharing my heart, and God’s truth. I can be a friend that cares, holds accountable, yet loves unconditionally. I can accept the weak, and give them hope to become better in Christ.

I AM NOT ALONE. I AM SURROUNDED BY A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
(Hebrews 12:1, Ephesians 2:19-22)
I must throw off all that hinders me, and the sin that easily entangles. I must break the strongholds through His Spirit, then run with perseverance toward the calling He has placed on my life. Because believers have Jesus in common, I am united with them. I am built on a strong foundation of discipleship and accountability. Jesus within me is my cornerstone. He is helping me to rise into His holiness.

I FREELY LOVE WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS OF LOVE BEING RETURNED TO ME BY MAN.
(Luke 6:27-36, James 2:15-16, Proverbs 11:25)
I struggle with feeling loved, so often I fear loving because I don’t want to be rejected. However, Jesus has called me to love, even if it’s not returned. To be kind, to go the extra mile, to make sure they know love is genuine. Your love is REAL! If I don’t give, what is the purpose? When I refresh others, I will be refreshed. So, help me, Lord, to be generous!

Renewing my heart and mind was the first and most important step to truly becoming healthy. It’s so true that our mind, spirit, and body is all connected! When I started to believe these truths, truths I’ve known my whole life, but that I didn’t fully accept or embrace, that’s when my body began to change. And, this time it’s not for me, or for others that I’m getting healthy, but because I love Jesus and want to live out His plan and purpose for my life. The stronghold of food addiction has kept me from living my best and most abundant life, and the Lord is redeeming those lost days and years that the locusts have stolen! Praise Him!
I hope this has been an encouragement and help to you! Let me know if it has in the comments!

Love,

Dena

P.S. As a disclaimer, I must inform you that as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.


Transformation Tuesday – Meal Planning

I don’t know about you, but one of the most difficult things about living a healthy lifestyle is meal planning! So, I thought I would share today how I plan my meals and make grocery lists, so that I don’t have to think about it! Imagine having a months worth of meals already figured out and a grocery list to go along with it? It’s an amazing feeling.

The first amazing resource that I requested for Christmas and got was a Cultivate What Matters Meal Planner & Grocery List Pad. Now, I probably don’t use it as intended, but I am definitely using it in a way that serves me! And, I LOVE it! At the top it has Week #________ and I want this week’s meals to be: _______. I just put weeks 1, 2, 3, or 4 in the first blank, and in the second, I wrote Favorite Breakfasts, or Favorite Dinners. I don’t typically need to plan lunches because I’ll eat leftovers from the night before. Then, I choose my favorite cookbooks and recipes, and started writing them down on the days of the week. I also made a note next to each on which cookbook it came from and the page #, so I can easily locate it when I’m ready to make my grocery lists or prepare the meals. I have used Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living recipes, (if you purchase the kit, the recipes are sent from me to you, and you get access to a Facebook community with more tips and more recipes!) Saving Dinner Recipes, The Daniel Plan Recipes, Trim Healthy Mama Recipes, and New Life Promise Recipes (that I got through a subscription service on one of my many diet plans). After I randomly choose the meals, I go through them and separate them by the protein (chicken, beef, salmon, sausage, etc). I wanted my weeks to be balanced and so I spread out the proteins amongst the weeks as equally as I could. I also pay attention to whether it’s an ethnic dish so that I don’t have all of the Chinese or Mexican the same week. The recipes I choose are whole foods, without junk. Organic Meats and veggies when possible, and nothing with a long list of ingredients. I am currently choosing gluten, dairy, and soy free products. And, thankfully I’ve found some plant based alternatives for gluten and dairy. And, I love Braggs Coconut Aminos for an alternative soy sauce and Nutritional Yeast adds an amazing buttery flavor in several foods. I don’t use pasta unless it’s a brown rice variety, and no bread (I haven’t found a gluten free bread that I like, yet…..if you know of some, comment below, I’d love to try some out)!

After I have chosen 4 weeks of breakfasts and dinners, I look up the recipes and write down the groceries needed for each week. The list can go right on the right hand side of the Meal Planner & Grocery List Pad. I’ve used it like this once, and you could just reuse each month. However, in the future, so that I can mark things off as I go, or not add to the list if I already have the ingredients, I think I’m going to make a master grocery list for each week and just highlight or put a checkmark by each item needed, then I can cross it off when I’ve gotten it. And, then just reprint for the next month. Still super easy, but not so messy as using a repeated shopping list on the Meal Planner Pad.

Though this takes a little while to set up, once it’s done, it’s done. And, I no longer really have to think about anything. I keep the Meal Planner Pad in the kitchen on the current week, and if I don’t like the meal I wrote down for a particular day, I just choose another one for the week. This past week, I knew we would not be home one of the days, so I only had to purchase 6 days worth of groceries! Also, to make it easier, I have copied the recipes for each week and put them all together with that week’s menu plan. Then, I don’t have to dig out my cookbooks!

Like I said, it has taken some time to get this set up and organized, but I just worked on it a little bit at a time until I got through 4 weeks. Now, I’m reaping the reward of being organized, having meal plans, and having grocery lists all ready to go!

As a disclaimer, I must inform you that as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.
I hope this was helpful, I know it’s been a life saver for me! It’s definitely helped transform my life by keeping me organized and sane when it come to meal planning and keeping me healthy!

With Love,

Dena

Let’s Talk About Working Out

It’s Transformation Tuesday, so I wanted to chat a bit about working out today. There are four things that I feel are super important in transforming my thinking when it comes to working out. I will share those below then expound on them.

  1. View working out as an act of worship or gratitude.
  2. Choose a consistent time & place to workout.
  3. Have a plan and schedule for what you will do.
  4. Choose things that you enjoy doing.

Making a shift in my thinking when it comes to moving my body has been truly transformational! I used to hate to sweat, I dreaded working out, and viewed it more like a chore than something I looked forward to. Now, because I listen to the Revelation Wellness podcast, my mind is being transformed! I now look forward to working out! It’s been a shift in my mind towards gratitude that I am able to move my body, and of worship to the Lord for giving me the energy, strength, and mobility to do so!

The next important step is choosing a time and place to workout. For me, it’s at 8:30 a.m., right as I get home from dropping my daughter off at school. I go to the gym near my home, or work out in my living room (depending on the day).

Third, have a plan and schedule for what you will do. I workout Monday through Saturday, and rest on Sunday. This is my schedule:

Last, make sure you choose exercises that you enjoy! I love to cycle to get my heart pumping (indoor or outdoor). I love the results of how Pilates shapes me and takes inches off. And, I love the stretching and relaxation that Yoga provides. I also enjoy swimming, so I might do that to get my heart pumping when I have access to a pool. The point is to choose things that are best for you!

I hope this has been helpful! The thing I hope you will most take away is that the mind shift is the MOST important! Changing the way you think about working out will make it a much more enjoyable activity. And, getting into a regular routine is also very helpful!

Let me know some ways that help you stay motivated and what your favorite ways to move are in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

Dena

Health, healing, weight loss, balance, increased energy and mealtime connections?

In January of 2021, I decided once again, (yes this has happened far too often), that it was time to lose weight. At the time, I had a high energy 7 year old, (now 8) and I was turning 48 that month, and I was worn out, out of energy, and exhausted all the time! Well, for the first time ever, nothing I tried was working. I’ve tried so many weight loss programs over the years, and ALL of them work, when you just DO them! But, not this time. I was doing ALL the right things, AND working out, and seeing my weight fluctuate up and down daily without really moving the scale. It was super frustrating to say the least.

Let’s back up a little bit to October 2019. I was severely depressed, probably one of the worst depressions I’ve ever faced where I felt incapable of doing much of anything besides studying the Word of God, and taking pictures of nature. Both were good choices that filled my mind with peace, but I still couldn’t beat the sadness in my heart. I was unmotivated to accomplish anything else and I was experiencing extreme anxiety on top of the depression which made my mind believe things about people that were not true (but felt 100% true, at the time). People that loved me, I thought were my enemies, and that made me feel super alone. This depression had begun in August of 2018, so had gone on for over a year at that point, and to live that way was awful. I cried every single day, many times multiple times a day. I had the hope of Jesus in me, but felt like I had no hope at all. I thought I was trusting Him, but actually I had become prideful, and believed only my way was the best way, and because my prayers were not answered the way I thought God should answer them, I didn’t know if God really was hearing my prayers or answering me. Of course, now I know that God was grieving right along with me. He felt my pain. And, He still has a plan unfolding that is far greater than anything I ever could have imagined.

About September of 2018, a dear friend invited me to Celebrate Recovery. I know it sounds like a place for people to go that have addictions, but in reality, it’s for every person, everywhere. We all have habits, sin, hang ups, issues, so we all could benefit from this ministry. I’m an introvert, so it took me quite awhile to warm up and share anything in the small groups, and when I did, the tears flowed freely. And, the people there showed me the great love of God that I’d been blinded to. He loved me, flaws and all, even with my imperfections, insecurities, and belief that no one was really for me. I learned there, that no matter what ANYONE else thought of me, God deeply loved me…. As I was, mess and all.

Back to October of 2019…. Someone invited me to an online Pampered Chef party. Now, I loved Pampered Chef, I’d even been a consultant twice before in the distant past (my twenties and possibly early thirties). But, I had never heard of an online party, because when I sold, it was in homes and all on paper … Nothing online at all … Not even a website! So, I was very intrigued. I attended and loved every bit of it and since I could do this business online from home, and still homeschool (which anyone who knows me, knows I’m super passionate about, and did not want to give up), I signed up!

Celebrate Recovery and Pampered Chef both helped bring me out of my depression. Once I became a part of my PC family, I was encouraged, lifted up, and was inspired to be the best possible me. I started taking baby steps in cleaning up around the house, homeschooling more consistently, and I was rocking the Pampered Chef business! I was rocking it so much that I promoted to a Director in my first 6 weeks!! Then, I promoted again in March of 2020, and again in May of 2020! Despite Covid, I was doing amazing!

So, because I was doing so well, I wanted to improve all the areas of my life! And, weight has been a struggle for such a long time, I decided it was time in January of 2021. And, I also chose my word for the year: self-control. Something else that I struggle with, not just in my eating habits, but in many areas. But, this time even when using self-control, I still wasn’t seeing results that I wanted to see.

Fast forward to May of 2021. Another dear friend of mine had been going to school to become a health coach and was trying to launch her business after finishing school. I decided to hire her to help me. I figured, why not? I’d be helping her launch, and I could benefit along the way! Win….win!

We started with a Detox where I ate homemade bone broth soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 weeks. Thankfully it was REALLY good soup!! Lol. I made it through that, then the day after I finished, my family and I left for vacation! I was terrified I’d undo all that I’d already accomplished! (I had lost 20 lbs already, and my gut was getting healthy!) But, I was determined. I packed my own healthy foods for while on the road, and I made many of my own meals…. Which, by the way, were all delicious! I now eat whole, healthy foods, and I believe I can sustain this for life!

My goal now, besides continuing to lose weight, get more healthy and energetic, and boosting my confidence, is to help all of you to see how easy it is to tweak just a few things to get healthy, but even more than that… To help all of us create mealtime connections. I feel like in the beginning of Covid, we were forced to stay at home and make our own meals and reconnect with our families. However, as things have gotten more back to normal, are we losing that connection again? It’s so hard to make mealtimes together as a family a priority anymore! But, I believe there is a way to do it, and to make it a time of meal prepping, cooking together, cleaning up together, and memory making all wrapped into one…. All while feeding our families whole, healthy foods that everyone enjoys! My hope is that I will be able to provide you with tips and tricks, ideas, and tools that will help you and your family make mealtimes more meaningful and full of life giving connection. Our world needs connection, especially in the age of social media and cell phones, which so often distract rather than help! I plan to post to my social media sites, and right here at least once a week offering mealtime connection content. I hope you will stick around and see what I have to offer!

Being a Friend Through Difficult Times

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My best friend is going through one of the worst possible circumstances I’ve ever heard of.  This has happened before with another friend….a life altering circumstance that seems like a black hole of unending depth, sorrow, and muck.  How can you be a friend to someone in such turmoil?  Often times I feel completely helpless for her.  I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to help, and I don’t really even know how to pray.  It’s gut wrenching, my heart hurts (along with hers), and I truly can’t imagine the pain she must have to process minute by minute each day.  It’s the kind of thing that you think can’t get worse, but it does.  The kind of pain that comes in every direction and effects every part of her life.  She is a rock star, though, and is taking one day at a time, trusting the Lord, and trying to thrive through this.  I, on the other hand, feel like I’m failing as a friend, am not handling things well at all, and am sad a lot.  I can’t even really imagine how I’d handle all she’s going through if it were me.  I think I’d just curl up in a ball, cry all the time, and not be able to function.  Yes, I’d try to pray, and try to trust God, but I would be so hurt and angry, I don’t know how well I’d do anything.

I also have a lot of fear.  Because this has happened before, I know that it can devastate a friendship.  It can cause emotional distance because of the major life changes, it can even cause moves across many miles.  I don’t think either side desires the distance, really, but it can occur.  I think I am very cautious with friendships as it is.  I don’t allow myself to get too close to too many people because I’ve been hurt deeply before and, because I’m an introvert and many people don’t understand an introvert.  But, I do love my friends.  I try to be a good friend, and hope that I am.  I’m just very careful who I truly open myself up to.  But, once you’re in my inner circle, I love you.  I would do anything for you.  I hurt, empathize, sympathize, hold accountable, and hope you will feel comfortable enough to do the same for me.  Most do (if they come into that inner circle).  I open up a part of me that few know.  And, I trust that all will be held in confidence.

And, then there’s anger.  I get angry at the people who wrongly judge, who don’t understand what’s been happening, yet cast their opinions or views to my friend.  Christian people who can’t possibly understand what all has happened, who get ugly with and confront her.  People who really have no business doing so because they don’t know and don’t understand.  They think they are trying to help her, or hold her accountable to something that they feel is a standard set for believers, yet who rather should be supporting her, understanding her, believing she is doing the right things, and has been praying and seeking the Lord in and through it all.  This is hard enough for her, after all, she doesn’t need the extra condemnation.

And when these awful life circumstances occur, I get lost.  I don’t know what to do, or how to appropriately respond.  I pray, of course.  I don’t always know HOW to pray, but I do pray.  I try to help however help is needed.  In one of these circumstances, I didn’t know what to do, so I organized a group of ladies to go over to my friend’s home and clean it.  Really clean it.  A good amount of help showed up while the friend was not at home, and we really made a big difference, and I think that my friend greatly appreciated it.  It really wasn’t much, but it was something.  I didn’t have a clue what else I could do!  Another friend, I took a homemade basket of fruit to.  Still, so simple, but it was something that I could do, and that I knew she could use.  Other times I’ve thought of things that I thought would be helpful that my friend was nowhere near ready for, and I end up hurting her further.  Those are really difficult to take, as my intentions were certainly to help, not to hurt.  Being a friend in difficult times can be so hard.

These times are so hard.  You hear more and more unbelievably awful things happening these days.  I can’t help but believe that the end is near.  Jesus will be coming back soon.  I can’t wait until that day when there will be no more pain, hurt, sadness, and heartache.  We will truly be free.  Until that time, we must press on, seek His face, try to be the best person we can despite awful circumstances, and pray continually.

Has anything like this happened to you or someone you love?  What do you do?  How do you show your friendship? I’d love to hear.  Maybe it will help me to better know how to help when my friends are suffering.  That’s really all I want to do…..help.

In Christ,

Dena

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Teaching From Rest Book Review

Right before school started this year, I discovered this little gem of a book called Teaching From Rest:  A Homeschooler’s Guide to UNSHAKEABLE PEACE by Sarah Mackenzie.  It was a quick read, but wonderful!  I also used the Companion Guide to go along with it.

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I LOVE Homeschooling!  I do!  Even though I’ve been at it for 12 years, I still occasionally feel like I need a renewed spirit, a renewed focus, a change-up of some kind.  I am very confident in my curriculum choices, my methods, and in the way I like to teach and the way my children learn.  But, sometimes I feel like there’s still something more that I’m missing; things have become dull, or I am no longer looking forward to the year.  So, often times, I do more research.  I think maybe I need to change up curriculum, or make a different kind of schedule.  Those things may be needed, but I think deep down, what I’ve really been looking for is REST.  A state of rest.  Over this past summer, I was feeling those feelings again….that need for something different, a renewed focus or goal, a change-up of some sort, when I came across this little book called Teaching From Rest.  It peaked my interest, so I picked it up.  I didn’t read it for some time, though….that happens sometimes when I get a new book.  Finally, at the end of the summer, I decided to take some time and read this little gem.  On the first few pages, I realized that there was also an optional study guide that I could purchase and download.  So, I did that, and printed it out.  I love being able to take a book and make it more into a book study, with notes, and truly feel like I’m growing and changing, so this option seemed like a great plan!

The book is written in three parts.  Part One is: Whose “Well Done” Are You Working For?  Part Two is: Curriculum Is Not Something You Buy.  And, Part Three is: Be Who You Are!  Each of the parts are broken down even further so that you can read in sections, which is nice (especially if you are frequently interrupted).  If you get the Companion Guide, it has a place for you to take notes throughout the chapters, then some application questions following that with ample space to record answers and notes.

Part 2 was very applicable.  Sarah gave clear steps on how to teach from rest and obtain unshakeable peace.  Also in Part 2, she shows you how to break down your busy schedules to see how much time you have, and how much time you need, to homeschool.  We often plan our time around our homeschooling, but she suggests we plan our homeschooling around our lives, around the time we have left.  Sounds like a strange concept, huh?  It makes complete sense to me now, and I am grateful to have read her tips on this!  I did follow her advice, and did simplify our days somewhat, but I think this type of schedule will be a work in process for a while.  In fact, now that we are mid-year, I am going to go back to this book and re-evaluate our schedule, and this time I’m hoping to add in a tea time and a time for rest and reading mid-day (she explains this further in part 2).

The book goes right along with my Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, too!  But, I do believe that whether you use Charlotte Mason’s methods or not, you will still glean a lot of great information from this little book.

After we had been in our school year for a good chunk of time, I realized things weren’t going as smoothly as I’d hoped. So, partway through our year, I had to make some changes to curriculum and our schedule.  With just a few tweaks, things did improve, and now that we are at the beginning of a new semester I’m changing a few more things, and I believe things will improve immensely!

One of the things that I haven’t implemented that was suggested in this book was a Quiet Reading Hour.  (I briefly mentioned this above).  I really want to include a time for this beginning with the New Year!  I wish I had added it at the beginning of our school year.  We do read, we read a lot.  However, I don’t get that time to read for me.  And, implementing a Quiet Reading Hour would be great because then we’d all get to enjoy some free reading.  Just a time of reading for fun!  I think we could all use that!  I do have one that is not yet reading, so this could prove a bit difficult, but maybe I could give her some audio books to look through.  And, as long as each of us are in separate spaces and being quiet, it should work out just fine.

This book is truly a little gem that I will have to pick up each year, possibly several times a year, to reevaluate, to get inspired, to refocus.  It brings me back to my goals in homeschooling, a simpler way, a restful and joyful way, full of peace.  I would highly recommend it!  And, I would also recommend the Companion Journal.  Check them out here.

Wishing you a blessed and happy New Year!

Dena

Favorite Jesse Tree & Advent Resources

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The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean is such a wonderful resource for using during Advent and while working through the stories of the Jesse Tree.  It is written to grab the interest of children!  It is about a carpenter who is carving the Jesse Tree figures for the church.  A young boy comes asking questions each day, to which, the carpenter tells the stories behind each carving he is creating.  There are a couple of downfalls to the book, though.  One is that there are no Scripture passages to go along with the stories.  I was, however, able to locate the stories and link them to the Scriptures so that problem has been solved!  (I plan to send out a chart next year after Thanksgiving with the resources and Scripture passages I’ll be using, so keep an eye out for that next year!)  And, the other downfall is that the carvings don’t go along with other Jesse Tree ornaments or studies that I’ve also used.  So, I have ended up mixing and matching my favorite resources and making it work for our Jesse Tree.  In spite of these downfalls, I absolutely love this book and plan to use it each year!  It is so engaging and enjoyable to read and the stories come to life.  It is definitely a top pick for the advent season!

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Another favorite is found at this blog:  1+1+1=1  There, you can find an e-book on the Jesse Tree, and printable ornaments to go along with the devotions each day.  This goes fairly well with The Jesse Tree book, but I will warn you that this ebook devotional covers 31 days, rather than just the 25 that most do.  I just used the ones that went best along with The Jesse Tree book and weeded out the rest.  I do love that lots of Scripture is used, but the devotions are rather short and colorful.  The ornaments are also colorful!  I like that all you have to do is print, cut, and laminate!  If you like to have a calendar to go along with your advent season, you can make one up and place the ornaments in each slot and work through them once a day.  We did this one year, but because of the way I made my calendar out of paper envelopes, they easily tore and it was more of a pain that it was good, so this past year we ditched the calendar, and just keep the ornaments in a safe place without it.

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Then, this year I found out about Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.  It is a family devotional that has beautiful artwork throughout.  The stories are kind of flowery, but it does include wonderful thoughts about God’s love for us, and that love is weaved through each story/devotional.  I was also able to print out some ornaments that go right along with the book that I colored and shrunk down to fit our Jesse Tree.  This could be a great activity for kids, or a crafty one for the adults.  It did seem to take forever to color all of the ornaments, though, as they are each very intricate.  I’ve heard about all sorts of ornaments that go along with this that others have made that you can purchase from etsy or on the web, so if you’re not crafty, you could opt to do that.  Below is a sample of what one of the ornaments looks like.

I am still researching about the Jesse Tree as this is only the second year I’ve learned about it.  I hope to add to  my list of favorites each year we do it, and the more I learn about what all is available.

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Another favorite resource for the Advent season is The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel.  This is such a fun book!  It has stories, activities, traditions to create, crafts, recipes, etc. throughout!  We have several favorites that we’ve made traditions through this book.  One of our favorites, that my kids beg for each year, is the red and green candied popcorn!  Lots of great things!  The best part about this book is that I was able to get it personally signed by Lisa Whelchel!  The only book signing I’ve ever been able to be a part of!  She’s a lovely lady!

Then, last, but not least, is the Christmas Angel.  I began hearing a lot about The Elf on the Shelf a few years ago and was very intrigued by it, however, not long after, I heard of The Christmas Angel.  I liked the idea behind the angel so much better.  The focus wasn’t mischief and laughter, but love and service.  The Christmas Angel is a way to give back, to show my children that Christmas isn’t just about getting, but giving.  It shows them the joy in giving, and gives them a heart of service.  The idea is that the Angel leaves messages of service ideas each day for them to do.  The website even has several calendars of ideas if you struggle to come up with ideas on your own.  I found the ideas very helpful in jump starting ideas of my own.  I highly recommend using this Christmas Angel, or finding another way to serve during the Christmas season.  Taking the focus off of oneself, and shining the light of Jesus to others!  Isn’t that really a HUGE part of the season?  I think so!  It’s a representation of the greatest gift of all, the gift of Jesus coming to the earth and walking among us, to live an example before us, and then ultimately to die for our sins, so that someday we could live with Him for eternity.  Even if those we touch get a glimpse of this, how wonderful and powerful it would be!

I hope this gives you a start to some of our favorite resources for the Christmas season.  May the Lord use them in the same ways He’s used them in our family!  I would also LOVE to hear what resources you’ve used and enjoyed so that I can add to my favorites!  Please share in the comments!

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Dena

Mid Year Homeschool Planning

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Sometimes, mid-year, I feel like it’s time to start planning again.  Sometimes for next semester change ups, sometimes for the future of our homeschooling.  That’s exactly what I’ve been up to.  You see, this past summer I graduated my oldest.  I have three more behind him.  One who is only 3.  So, I have many more years of school to do.  And, I’m hoping with each one, school only gets better!  I feel like #1 was a guinea pig.  I tried so many things with him, switching things often, and changing things up.  Poor guy!  He really probably had it rough, as I had NO IDEA what I was doing!  On the upside, I learned to research, study many curricula choices, and I’ve tried many, so I feel like my knowledge on a TON of curriculum has grown and I could probably give a pretty good review on most anything.  And, if it’s something I don’t know about, I can find out pretty quickly!  I feel it has benefitted me a ton to be able to gain as much knowledge as I have.  My next one is a sophomore in high school this year (just a few years behind him).  She has been a bit of a guinea pig as well.  Not as bad, but she was such a different learner, I had to do things so differently.  I feel like she has it better than he did, but I still have changed a lot with her.  With #3, so many NEW things have come out that I’ve wanted to explore and check out!  We are finding some great things, but also struggling to find a fit in other areas.  I have a great plan, though, and I think things are about to improve greatly!  Then, for #4, I hope to have EVERYTHING figured out, and to use only the best all the way through for her!  I’m excited because I feel I’m getting so much closer to what I feel the BEST is.  (I do realize that the BEST is different for each family, but it is nice to know that I am getting closer to our family’s best!)  I plan to update my Scope & Sequence soon to show what I’ve chosen for all grades and subjects.  My biggest goal is making learning fun and natural; a Charlotte Mason style education, and, a focus on Biblical Worldview.  These things are most important to me:  good habits, lifelong learners, and hearts that love and serve the Lord.  I know I can’t ‘make’ my children do any of these things, but I can do my best to lead them in the right direction.  That is my prayer and hope.  I’ve failed a lot along the way, but I hope I’m improving with each kiddo.  Parenting is hard enough!  Add in homeschooling, and it’s almost too much!  But, I know the Lord helps me.  I couldn’t do any of it without His guidance and leading.

Some things I’m planning on changing up for the 2nd half of the school year are:

I have not used any of the Five in a Row products, the Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers, or Brave Writer before.  I would love to hear some reviews of any or all of them if any of my readers have used them!  And, if you have any tips on HOW to use them, I’m all for those, also!

I am enjoying using Simply Charlotte Mason’s American History (we are ONLY using the American History and the Geography portions as we already have a good Bible program and I’m not doing World History yet with the 4th grader).  But, it’s not enough hands on for my 4th grader.  I’ve come to realize that she learns best by doing.  So, having that component is super important to her.  I’m hoping that adding in Beyond Five in a Row and Time Travelers will give her what she needs in that area.  And, that it will bring back more ‘fun’ into her school days.

Well, that’s what I’ve been working through for our mid-year homeschool review!  Do you do anything to change things up around mid-year?  I’d love to hear!

In Christ,

Dena