The Armor of God Bible Study Review

armorofgod2

The Study, The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer, has been one of the best Bible Studies I’ve done recently!  It was a video series that had a workbook.  It contained six weeks of study.  Each week contained five study days, and the days were approximately 5-6 pages in length.  Not a skimpy study at all!  And, very deep.  The focus was on Ephesians 6:10-19.  Priscilla goes deep with this familiar passage, so it is not just another study on the Armor of God.  I loved the depth of it.  If you saw the movie, The War Room, the study goes right along with that movie (awesome movie that I’d HIGHLY recommend, if you haven’t seen it).  The weekly studies were entitled:  (I’ll also include the daily titles to give you a better idea of what all was covered).

Week 1:  Sizing Up the Enemy

  • Wrestling Match
  • Undisguised
  • Lazy Days
  • Bait Selection
  • Strategy Session

Week 2:  The Belt of Truth

  • Strengthening Your Core
  • Truth Check-Up
  • The Hanger
  • Walk This Way
  • Strategy Session

Week 3:  The Breastplate of Righteousness

  • The Heart of the Matter
  • The Clean Sweep
  • Perfect Makes Practice
  • Pickles and Ice Cream
  • Strategy Session

Week 4:  The Shoes of Peace

  • My Father’s Shoes
  • Digging In
  • The Hole in My Heart
  • Go Shoes
  • Strategy Session

Week 5:  The Shield of Faith

  • Real Faith
  • On Fire
  • In Good Faith
  • A Firm Foundation
  • Strategy Session

Week 6:  The Helmet of Salvation.

  • So Great a Salvation
  • The Inheritance
  • The Benefits Package
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Strategy Session

There was also an ending video on The Sword of the Spirit.

At the end of each day there was an applicable section in the workbook called Actionable Intel…. (this term is “used in a military context to describe information decoded and gathered about an opponent that can be used to secure victory against them in future battles.” – pg. 15 of the workbook).  You are encouraged at the end of each day’s study to gather spiritual information that can be used to win spiritual battles against the evil one.  It was a great way to apply what had been learned.  Then, at the end of each week, you probably noticed a Strategy Session.  The Strategy Session is where you take what you’ve studied the whole week, and write out prayers on prayer cards included in the back of the workbook.  I often used more than one each week.  Prayer is a HUGE part of this study.  It helped me to make prayer a higher priority in my life.  At the back of the workbook, there is also a Leader Guide that has discussion starters and tips for each week.

I thoroughly enjoyed the study, and would highly recommend it to anyone desiring to win battles against satan, to gain further insight into his evil plans, to become more prepared for his attacks, to realize when he’s attacking and how, and to gain a richer prayer life.  It also helped me see the power I have in Christ to win these battles.

Click here to find out more or to order a copy for yourself!

In Christ,

Dena

Time Well Spent

note-1563106_1280

WOW!  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted!  Summer came and went quickly.  My summer projects went somewhat how I’d planned, but not all of them were completed.  However, I did make time to have fun with the kiddos this summer.  We visited the pool frequently, and I even got a little tan!  We had a nice vacation in Branson with our family, and also went through a major remodeling job on our main bathroom.  It was CRAZY!  Now, we are settling back into some normal homeschooling, chore doing, routines.  I have also added lots to my plate.  Why?  Because I have felt the Lord leading me to do so.  Now, He must provide the time I need to make it happen!  Here is a look at our current weekly schedule:

SUNDAY – Sunday School and Worship Service in the mornings.  Then, evening services later.  I teach the 5th & 6th grade Sunday School class at my church.  Up until September I was co-teaching just every other week.  But, my co-teacher resigned and now I teach every week.  Thankfully, I just had someone step up to help fill in, especially when I’m not going to be there because of sick kids, or time away.  She will be a great help with crowd control and outside activities, as well!  I’m thrilled to have extra help! I am using Answers in Genesis’ Answers for Kids Bible Curriculum and I think it’s going to be a great year!  In the evening, I lead a kid’s class called M&M Kids which stands for Mission Minded Kids.  We study a country and culture each week, locate it on maps, and do a craft to remind us to pray for that country throughout the week.  We also spend time praying for that country and their needs, especially their need for Jesus.  The main resources I’m using for this are:  Window on the World, You Can Change the World V. 1, and You Can Change the World V. 2.  I also use Pinterest to help me find crafts that will work with each country (and honestly, that is what takes most of the prep time…lol). 

MONDAY – Regular Homeschooling Day….one of the only days of the week that I don’t have some kind of running to do. This is also the day we try to get the house back in order after a busy weekend.

TUESDAY – Co-op plus a full regular day of school, then gymnastics for my high schooler in the evening.  I teach a class for Co-op.  I use The Young Peacemaker Curriculum and the student booklets.  This is the second co-op I’ve taught this class at.  It’s all about conflict resolution and how to approach it and deal with it Biblically.  I LOVE it!  It’s the busiest day of the week!

WEDNESDAY – Library Story Time for the little ones in the morning at our local library, then a full regular day of school.  Church in the evening.  This is my weekly Bible Study group with other women that fuels me for the week, and keeps me going.  I’m so thankful for this group of women.

THURSDAY – Piano Lessons in the morning, then a full regular day of school.  And I just changed the younger girls gymnastics to Thursday afternoons instead of Saturday, in hopes that I’d have a more free Saturday.

FRIDAY – Field Trip Day!  And, this is also errand running day in the city.  We always go to the library there (Mid-Continent has much more when it comes to school) to pick up ordered books or dvd’s, or to return books or dvd’s we are finished with.  We also may go to a bigger city grocery store, Mardel, or whatever else needs to be accomplished in the city.  It’s usually a pretty full day!

SATURDAY – I just switched the girls from morning gymnastics this day, to afternoons on Thursday.  I was feeling like I wasn’t getting any day free for rest and recuperation.  I will probably still do grocery shopping in the afternoons on this day, though. 

Our weeks are crazy!  I never thought that I’d ever be teaching 3 classes at one time, but I’ve felt the Lord’s leading on all of them.  I love doing it!  I plan outside activities every once in a while for my Sunday School class, also.  What better way to get to know them than spending time together outside of class?  So far, we’ve had a fun park day and ice cream at a local ice cream shop, a service project at a Ronald McDonald House, where we were able to get a tour and prepare and serve the guest snacks.  Just yesterday, we did a prayer walk around the schools, and an ice cream sundae fellowship.  In a couple weeks I plan to take them to a Pumpkin Patch for a fall day of fun, then comes a Mother/Daughter retreat for the girls in my Sunday School class and their moms.  I’m super excited about that!  I feel building relationships is the key to helping others draw nearer to God, or find a relationship with Him.  If they know you care, they’ll believe what you teach them.  My husband is also in Youth Ministry, so we are busy with youth activities as well.  Then, once in a while I will go to his Computer Repair Shop and do the accounting, as well as decorate the shop window with new seasons.  I have a full and busy life!  Sometimes I get so tired, and I feel like I need a break from it all.  I even re-evaluate all the activities the girls are in, and try to decide if it’s worth it.  

I am tired a lot.  I think it’s just a season of Motherhood.  I think new parents of babies go through this, I think the running that happens as kids become teens is another season of busyness and being tired, and I think the more kids you have the more tired you might possibly be.  I have kids ranging in ages from 3-18.  So toddler, elementary, high school, and adult (though still living at home).  It’s a busy time with lots going on.  But, someday I will look back on this time in my life and I’ll miss these moments, because it’s moments like these that bring about memories.  And, memories are priceless.

We are falling into a much better routine now that we’ve been schooling for about 4 weeks.  I’m grateful for that.  Our first couple of weeks were rough, mostly because we had a bathroom remodel going on at the same time we started school!  That is finished, so things are feeling a bit more normal when it comes to a school routine.  I am still adjusting the schedule a bit (like moving gymnastics for the younger girls around).  We will see if this helps ease the schedule a bit, or if it makes it feel even more crazy! 

What ministries are you involved in, and how do you make your schedule work around them?  I’d love to know.  My first priority is ministry in my own family.  I am beginning a new Bible study soon with my Wednesday night ladies group called Missional Motherhood.  I’m very much looking forward to it.  It’s not just about ministering to your own children, though, it’s about ministering to all children.  So, I think it will be perfect for all of the ministry I’m currently involved with!

Soon, I will be sharing some recommended Bible Studies I’ve been doing, and giving them reviews.  Stay in touch for that!  And, this time I won’t take so long to post!

Nature Journal Entries

My Nature Journal is a simple spiral bound sketch book that I added paper and then magazine pictures to to make it pretty.

Summer Fun 059

Nature Drawing and Journaling is something that I’ve been interested in for a while.  I don’t take the time often to work on my Nature Journal, but I do enjoy really looking at God’s beauty in creation and trying to recreate it in my drawings.  This past school year, we began going through Barry Stebbings Nature Drawing and Journaling in book and DVD form.  The DVD is probably my favorite as I am a visual learner, and he actually shows you exactly how to draw borders, and gives examples of his many Nature Journals.  It’s been fun creating the borders and then later filling in the pages with more drawings taken from nature and then adding poems, Scriptures, or some kind of writing to compliment the artwork.  Unfortunately, my children aren’t as interested in this kind of art and journaling, so though they do some Nature Study, they don’t normally make a Nature Journal.  This past year, for Nature Study we used NaturExplorers from Shining Dawn Books for studying nature.  They have some great ideas on how to study nature in some creative ways, and also some great living book options on the topics covered.  This fall, we will be using the Creation Illustrated magazine.  It has phenominal photos of nature, with nature stories from a Creation viewpoint.  And, it also has some lesson plan ideas to cover the nature topics covered in the magazine.  I’m looking forward to it!  Below are some of the drawings and journaling I’ve done in my Nature Journal.  Maybe it will inspire you to try it for yourself!

I enjoy adding poems to my drawings.  I use Favorite Poems Old and New as a resource when I do add them.  I also will add quotes I find that I like, as well as Scriptures.

Summer Fun 063

Summer Fun 066

I actually drew the picture below while visiting the Anita B. Gorman Nature Center.  Then, later (a couple years later…lol) I added the mixed colored leaves border around the side and bottom using Barry Stebbing’s Nature Journaling and Drawing.

Summer Fun 067

This is one of my favorites!!  I LOVE Powell Gardens.  It is a beautiful place to visit.  There is always plenty of beautiful things to draw.  I began experimenting more with shading in this drawing, and I think it makes a world of difference.  I never said I was good at drawing, but I sure do enjoy it!

Summer Fun 072

This was done from one of Barry Stebbing’s recommendations.  It’s done in marker, and then at the end, I used blue marker on paper, dipped a paintbrush in water, and lightly “painted” around the tree.

Summer Fun 075

Summer Fun 074

This is how I typically start my pages now…with some sort of border.  This comes from Barry Stebbing’s courses, also.  He does nice borders in his journals and then fills in with other drawings, and journaling.  I like to do that now, also.  This is unfinished, because I’ve not yet filled in the rest of the page.

Summer Fun 076

I hope this gives some of you some inspiration so that you will try Nature Journaling and Drawing for yourself.  It’s relaxing and fun!

I have been super busy getting ready for the upcoming school year.  Lots of Lesson Planning has been taking place, a partial basement purge occurred, and I hope to get more done soon, and then lots of summer fun is happening, too!  I hope to be finishing up the majority of my school planning soon, and then I’ll share what all we are doing.  It is going to be a fun and exciting year, I think!

 

This Year’s Art Projects

colorful-1022022_640

Major homeschool planning is underway, so in the mean time, I thought I’d share some of our art projects from this past school year.  We had fun working on them, and most turned out really great.  In fact, I didn’t realize how much I enjoy drawing and painting and using different mediums until I started doing it with my children during our school days.  But, when I did, I felt relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I am still learning a lot, and have a long way to go, but it’s been fun, and hopefully we all will continue to improve.  For art, we used Creating a Masterpiece.  And, this summer, the kids are taking some fun art classes from a local high school teacher who has just put together some art days for free.  They are having a blast with it.  This same art teacher won 1st prize at our Country Fair last year, and I loved what she did.  I’m trying to convince her to teach me how she did it!  (If you’re reading this….hint!  hint!  Hahaha!)  Below are some of the projects that we did!

PhonepicsJuly2016 012.jpg

This is called The Lighthouse and was done in acrylics.

These were done in pastels.  The one on the right is called Baby Blue Bird.

PhonepicsJuly2016 016

This was done in colored pencil.  It’s called Clown Fish.  The above pictures were done by me.  Below will be my two daughters…oldest (15) to youngest (9).

PhonepicsJuly2016 017PhonepicsJuly2016 019PhonepicsJuly2016 021

PhonepicsJuly2016 020PhonepicsJuly2016 022TPhonepicsJuly2016 018

The 15 year old claims she’s no good at art, but I think she did pretty well.  And, she definitely has an artistic knack for painting nails, and doing hair!  My 9 year old loves art, but gets frustrated when she doesn’t think her work is turning out well.  She stopped working on the clownfish for that reason.  However, I think she’s definitely a budding artist, and she’s definitely the crafty one in our house.

What keeps you busy in the summer months?

Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend!

 

Balance….it’s not what you think

rock-1110705_1920

Balance.  We all need it.  It seems we are all searching for ways to get there, too.  It’s no easy task to live a balanced life these days!  The definition of balance is a means of judging or deciding and/or mental and emotional steadiness.  I’ve often asked myself, how do I balance it all?  With four kids ranging in age from 18 down to 3, it’s hard keeping up with all the activities, chores, homeschooling, Sunday School teaching, co-op preparations, a new Sunday night program I’m starting in August, husband pleasing, menu planning, grocery shopping, meal prep, etc., etc., etc.  That doesn’t even include the schedule or my times alone with the Lord.  I often feel frazzled, and it’s no wonder.  Busyness is taking over our culture.  If we aren’t busy, we question if we’re doing enough.

I seem to feel more “balanced” when I have a To-Do List.  I can’t seem to function without one.  Routines are also key.  Doing the same things every day in the exact same order. They don’t have to be a certain time, as long as they are in the same order. If I don’t have a To-Do List or follow my routines, I get nothing productive done.  I also have to set alarms on my phone for everything, or I’d forget.  Things like gymnastics, story time at the library, when to pick my kids up from events, trash day, etc.  Is this normal?  Or, am I just frazzled?  LOL!

I always thought that balance in life meant figuring out how to make everything in my day work out smoothly, without stress. It was something that I had to schedule correctly, work through, or make happen. I even thought that praying for a more balanced life was a good thing, and it is. But, I think balance is not exactly what I’ve been thinking it is.  I recently wrote this post about resources I have used to help me have a clean and organized home.  One of those resources that I’m reading through currently is a book called Unstuffed. It deals with our stuff/belongings, our mind, our schedules, and our spirits.  And, I’m finding out that balance really has nothing to do with what “I” do. I can’t do anything to become more balanced. I can only find rest. Rest is what keeps me balanced. Why did it take me SO LONG to realize this? I mean, it’s clearly laid out in the creation account of Genesis. God did all his work in six days, and on the seventh He rested. He didn’t need to rest, He was just giving us an example to follow. Yet, in this day and age, we don’t see that NEED for rest. We feel like we have to go 100 miles a minute, and keep pushing through to get just one more thing done.  I think it’s also making sure that after we get a full day of rest once a week, that we focus on four areas to keep us from that frazzled state.

  1. Spiritual – Remain steadfast in God’s Word and in a healthy prayer life.  Keep sin at bay by asking for forgiveness often and repenting or turning from the sin.  Forgive others as the Lord has forgiven you.  Be thankful in all circumstances and for all things.  We are truly blessed.  Serve others in love.
  2. Physical – Eat healthy foods and get active.  Whether that means walking or a full on workout.  Exercise is great for your body, but it’s also great for your mood.  Give it a try and see for yourself.  I enjoy water aerobics when the weather is nice, Pilates for strength training, yoga for stretching and relaxation, and I’m checking into T-Tapp which is something I’ve just learned about.
  3. Mental – Feed your mind.  Never stop learning.  I always have books on hand to read, and now we have blogs, and articles all over the internet.  Learn something new.  Keep your mind active.  Fill it with good things, and stay away from negative things that can cause a negative attitude or mindset.
  4. Emotional – Be a friend.  Stay positive.  Think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely.  Laugh a lot!  Do things that make you happy.  I’ve recently discovered that I enjoy doing art.  It brings me joy.  Make it a point to be in contact with people who encourage you, challenge you, and lift you up.

So, I believe to have a balanced life, we must REST.  It’s the key.  What are some ways you try to remain balanced?  Do you think REST is important?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  I am planning to continue studying up on this.  I recently ordered the Bible Study called Living a Life of Balance (Women of Faith Series).  Can’t wait to get started on it and see what it says about having a balanced life!

young-422332_1920

 

Summer Projects

Since we homeschool, projects usually have to wait until summer break.  Things like painting, huge decluttering sessions, home improvements, etc.

paint-933395_1920

A couple of summer’s ago, I refinished my oak dining room table.  Last summer I began the Kon Mari Method of decluttering and simplifying.  This summer is no different.  I have several things on my project list!  Here are some of those things, and I don’t know if I’ll even be able to complete them all!

  • Major Basement Declutter…this in and of itself is a HUGE job.  Our basement has become a catch all…and is really in bad shape.  I can’t wait to get it cleared out!
  • Move the toddler out of our bedroom and into her sister’s.  This means a new bed (hopefully a trundle) for them to share, and some rearranging of dressers and chest of drawers.
  • Potty training the toddler completely.  (Since the toddler was just mentioned, I figured I’d add this one in!  She is close to being finished, but still not 100%).
  • Kitchen Declutter, paint, and fix some minor cabinet issues.
  • Bathroom remodel (this one is mostly being hired out).
  • New Entry Doors.
  • Landscaping has been framed already, but now plants need to go in.
  • Make a head board for our bed.

Those are JUST the house projects!  Other projects include:

  • Sell baby items.
  • Price, list and sell old curriculum.  I also have a curriculum sale I’m going to that will help with this.
  • Purchase the rest of the curriculum for next year.
  • Write up lesson plans for our homeschool next year.
  • Make a working schedule for our school year.
  • Create a better chore system with earned money.
  • Create a better bedtime routine for the youngest children.

Something that I MUST do in the midst of all these projects is to remember to HAVE FUN on the summer break….things like swimming, going to the zoo, weekend getaways, summer camps, a family vacation, Royals games, and art days are planned.  Sometimes in the busyness of the summer projects, I can forget to stop the work, and have fun with the kids.  This year, I want to be different.  Memories are waiting to be made, relationships are longing to be built, joy is ready to be had.

belize-1327513_1920

What are your summer plans?  Projects you’d like to complete?  FUN you want to do?

 

 

The Battle of Weight Loss

diet-398613_1280

When I was growing up, I was a skinny mini.  I never dreamed that I would become overweight.  But, honestly, shortly after high school, I started putting on a few pounds.  I even had to diet while I was engaged to be married so that I could fit into my wedding dress.  Thankfully, back then, I didn’t have much to lose.  But, after baby #1, I gained a lot of weight and though I’ve tried a multitude of diets, I’ve never maintained well.  And, now after 4 babies and 18 years of being overweight, it doesn’t get easier!

When I was young, I loved going to the pool and swimming for hours!  And, I loved bike riding.  I even rode the MS 150 one year with my dad.  It was so fun!  And, both of these are great exercises that burn LOTS of calories.  No wonder I was able to remain thin back then!  Then, you know, after marriage, work, and having babies, you don’t have as much time to do those fun things like swimming, or bike riding.  I guess they just got put on the back burner.  And, my priority became kids, homeschooling, and other things.

I have tried dieting on my own, Weight Watchers multiple times, Weigh Down, The Flat Belly Diet, First Place 4 Health, and currently I’m doing Trim Healthy Mama.  I’ve learned a lot through all these losses and regains!  Here are some things that I have learned:

  • accountability is KEY.  Lose weight with a friend or two!  Surround yourself with people who will support you and encourage you on your journey.
  • Any diet can work, IF you follow the plan.  Some work better than others and have more freedom than others.  Some are also more healthy than others.  Find something that can become a lifestyle.
  • Find exercises that you enjoy, and doing them with friends can even make it more enjoyable!  I honestly don’t like to sweat.  I know that’s bad to say, but I really don’t.  I love the water, because it cools me, and I love bike riding because if you can get your speed up, there’s a nice breeze (not to mention getting to see God’s beauty through creation as you ride).  I’ve also come to enjoy Pilates for the firming and shaping that results (however, I definitely sweat)!  I also enjoy yoga for relaxation, and I’ve come to enjoy intervals because of the help with metabolism and energy.  I’ve found mixing things up and doing something different each day keeps me motivated, and helps me not to get bored.  And, I honestly think it helps trick my body and trim it quicker because it never knows what’s happening to it from day to day.  Ha!  🙂
  • The more you eat healthy, the less you crave the unhealthy.  It’s amazing what I’ve come to love to eat, and be satisfied with.  Things I never would have tried before!
  • Journaling helps me.  I weigh once a week, and journal about how I did.  Some weeks are very encouraging, others not so much, but when I keep track, I know what to do to improve.

Currently, I’ve been struggling with a weight loss, a weight gain, a weight loss.  Sometimes it feels like this battle will never end!  But, I have to remain positive, and see where I’ve come in only about 18 weeks.  I’ve lost about 35 lbs.  The exciting part is that 35 lbs is the most I’ve ever lost in any weight loss program.  So, this time, I KNOW that I will pass that hurdle, and continue going!  I have about 100 more pounds to lose.  That seems daunting when I see that number, but I truly believe it’s possible this time.  I just have to remain focused on the goal and stop the temptations before I allow them to overtake me!

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

                                                                                                            1 Corinthians 10:13

So, do you have any weight battle tips?  I’d love to hear them!  I am determined to win this battle!  Someday, I may be brave enough to post my before and after photos.  Can’t wait for that day!

belly-2473_1920