Call to Action

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(photo credit: K. Ciampi)

If you are a lover of beautiful words then I hope you are reading Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience.

She is a farmer’s wife who homeschools, counts the gifts, and calls us an Esther generation – called for such a time as this.

Yesterday she wrote a letter to the North American Church and called on us as sisters to stand up and “howl” about what is happening to a generation of women and children in Iraq because of ISIS.

She dared to propose that it is time for the Body of Christ to say, “Not on my watch.”

I was sitting in bed reading it out loud to my husband with tears in my eyes.

My heart broke. How can this be happening and how can it be OK?

It’s evil of the worst kind. And these women and children are left in the wake.

Their whole world uprooted because of unimaginable evil running rampant in their home and cities.

No regard for human life.

It’s scary. And it’s happening today. And it’s happening in our world.  And it’s happening on our watch.

Reading her story, I was reminded of a verse in the bible that honestly, as a mother, has always disturbed me a little.

In Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the signs of the “end of the age” and He says in verse 19:

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers.”

Now let me preface again, I am not a theologian or bible scholar and woe be to me if I misuse God’s words in any way, but that verse has stayed with me all day as I have thought about those women and their children.

How dreadful it will be.

Can you imagine anything more dreadful than seeing your spouses killed, fleeing from your home,  and having to CHOOSE to leave some of your children behind? And your new life is inside a shipping container in a place you don’t know and a language you don’t speak?

How dreadful it will be.

As our world grows more out of control, I have to look to His word for truth, knowing He is our only hope.

I’m thankful that He uses people like Ann to speak truth with action.

See, Ann didn’t just share a story, she offered a solution that we could all be a part of… giving out of our blessing to the “Preemptive Love Coalition.”

Help these women find new life. Help their children go to school. Love in the most practical way.

They need us to love.

And if we were honest, I think we need them too.

We need our comfortable life  to be shaken up a bit.

We need to shed some tears for others.

We need to recognize that these are real horror stories happening to real women.

We need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

And we can do something, even if it is only one thing. Give. Pray. Love.

Blessings, Darcy

 

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Let it Go

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(photo credit: K. Ciampi)

So today my husband decided to start cleaning out his office, which got me motivated to clean out a few things too. And before you know it, we had piles of shredding and a bag or two of stuff to give away.

And that was just one dresser that we use to keep office/art supplies in and my husband’s office. I mean we had every tax return for our ENTIRE marriage. We will be celebrating 24 years in just a few weeks. Incredible.

I had piles of scrapbooking supplies that I had packed and taken house to house, state to state. And I haven’t done a scrapbook page since my daughter was 3 or 4. She is now 15. Help me, Lord.

As I looked at all those bags of shredding and scrapbooking supplies. I just kept asking myself, “Why have we carried these around so long? What was the point?”

These items take up room. They are unnecessary. I mean, who needs our tax return from 1991? No one. Not even me.

And while some have a love for scrapbooking, I don’t see it as something I really want to get back to any time soon. So why do I still have all this stuff?

I really couldn’t come up with a reason. They had just been around a long time and rather than dealing with them, we kept packing them up and taking them with us wherever we went.

It made me think about how often we do that in life.

We carry things we don’t really need around with us because of comfort or familiarity. Or maybe we just don’t know how to let go.

Perfectionism. Jealousy. Guilt. Envy. Resentment. Insecurity.  Anger. Distrust.

The list could go on. We just keep packing it up and taking it with us because we always have.

But sometimes it is time to let go. Seriously.

It was freeing to take those bags of shredding to the trash. It was freeing to pack the scrapbook supplies away in the hope that someone else can use them.

Could you imagine if we truly lived our daily lives this way?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.         Galatians 5:1

No baggage. No bondage. No burdensome things weighing us down. How much freer would we live?

To enjoy life. To chase thankfulness down every single day, in every single thing. To love ourselves and others like Christ loves us. To give more. Serve more. And worry less. A lot less. 

I believe that is what the verse above intends. Christ wants us to live free in Him and rest in that.

But also take note that the verse says we must stand firm and not let ourselves be burdened again. It is something we must choose to do again and again. We must hold fast to releasing it and not picking it up again.

What if I went back out to garbage can and brought all those bags of shredded papers back into my house to keep? You would probably think I’d lost my mind.

It would make no sense to bring it all back in to clutter up my home and life, especially after I had been intentional about getting rid of it.

So whatever it is that is weighing you down, stealing your joy. Let. It. Go.

God can be trusted to carry it. His shoulders are big enough. He is good. He is loving. He is just. He will carry it for you if you will just let it go.

Blessings, Darcy

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Shine Like Stars

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Philippians 2:14 says: 

“Do everything without complaining or arguing.”

Six little words. A lot of work.

I wrote this scripture on our dusty chalkboard in the kitchen today because, as you might have guessed, complaining and arguing are happening way too often during our day.

“Please empty the dishwasher.” and a child cries out, “Why me? I don’t want to do that.”

“No electronics until your school is done.” and another stomps their feet back to the books.

And guess what, it’s not just the kids. Oh, we adults in the house might not blatantly whine with words and tears over chores like our kids do, but we have other ways we grumble about the tasks given to us.

Snide comments about everything that has to be done. Thoughts that consume our attitudes and threaten to ruin our day. Thoughts like “No one ever helps. Why is it always my responsibility?” are probably more damaging than the open words our kids spew at us in the middle of their tantrums.

So today in the midst of another meltdown and power struggle between a child and I, I just began to pray. “God, show me how to handle this. How do I respond in loving discipline and not in anger?”

“Do EVERYTHING without complaining or arguing.” the Spirit prompted my heart. That is it. Taking it all back to the Word of God and wanting to honor Him in all that we do.

It was a great opportunity to talk to my children about our hearts and honoring God. It allowed me to share with them what God has to say about complaining. We talked about things we could in the midst of the anger and frustration, like stopping to pray or take a time out (mom included!) to just regroup.

And there’s more that I hope to share with them as verse 15 goes on to say why we shouldn’t complain or argue…

“…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…”

Shine like stars. See that is the key. It’s not just that we should stop grumbling about things because mom said so. It’s because God says so, and He wants us to shine like stars for Him in this struggling world.

Tomorrow is a new day! I wish I could guarantee you will there will be no complaining or arguing at my house tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of opportunities for us to continue to discuss this verse and to remember that we want to shine like stars.

Blessings, Darcy

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Contend for the Faith

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(Photo credit: K. Ciampi)

I have found that starting my day with “quiet time” is hugely beneficial for a worrier and wanderer like me.

My routine currently looks this: count the gifts (gratitude journal), scribble out my prayers, and then bible study. It’s a simple routine but one that works for me .

But honestly, I don’t do well without  a structured study in front of me to help guide that whole bible reading time. When I don’t have something to lead the way, I just flip through the bible wondering what I should read. I think about my to-do list for the day. Then I am tempted to grab my phone to start looking at emails or Facebook. And before you know it, it feels unfruitful and I cut it short.

And yet, that should be the most valuable piece of my quiet time – reading and studying God’s word and listening for that still small voice to breathe some truth into my life and my day.

During my recent online bible study, one day each week was devoted to learning different study methods/tools to help us dig further into God’s word. One method was to read the same chapter or book of the bible repeatedly over several days and see what key words are brought to light as you read the same passage each day.

As I grabbed my bible, unsure of what to read, I thought about this method and decided to pick a really short book of the bible to try it. I picked Jude. Why Jude? No rhyme or reason, I just wanted a short book of the bible and Jude fit the bill. 😉 (I am no theologian or bible teacher, just a practical woman who wants to be God’s girl!)

And this is what stood out to me today:

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”  Jude 1:3 (NIV)

Contend.

According to Biblehub, in the Greek it means “epagónizomai” (don’t ask me to pronounce it)- it means to contend earnestly for; to struggle for.

Contend does not mean that it comes easy or without a fight. It is something we are going to actively struggle with. It reminds me that faith and belief in Jesus Christ does not come easy. It may seem to – the simple act of grace to believe in Christ, ask for his forgiveness, and live a life in relationship with him.

But day to day, life is not easy.  Things come our way that we don’t understand. The world seems chaotic. Faith gets lost or buried under the demands of family and society. And before you know it, our foundation is being shaken.

And while I believe Jude’s letter is a greater message to the church that we must not get lost in the sea of false teaching or mediocrity the world serves up, and we must contend for the true gospel that is Jesus, I also believe we can apply it personally.

Faith isn’t a talent that some people have and others don’t. I believe there will come times in our lives where we all struggle with faith.

And in the midst of those trials, if we truly believe, we must contend for it.

Read the Word. Spend time with other believers. Attend church. Pray. Give. Serve. Love.

And when you are tempted to doubt and question all the struggles, pour your heart out the Father who catches every tear, and remember that the faith is worth fighting for.

Blessings, Darcy

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Time to Reset

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(photo credit: K. Ciampi)

Mother’s Day always brings a time of reflection for me and how I’m doing in this parenting thing.

It seems that many times life can be more of a game of survival than living than the dream. Anyone else relate?

Survival is where I’ve been for the last few years. Honest to God. Years.

When my my mom and sister were here recently, they helped clean out some cabinets. I apologized that things were in such disarray. My mom simply responded that I had other things I’d been taking care of that were more important than cleaning cabinets. So much truth in that statement.

I’ve been trying to manage a full-time, then part-time, then per diem nursing job while my husband is going to school full-time and job hunting. Our oldest is finishing high school this year.  And those youngest three, well, we homeschool. Not to mention the countless other things that fill my plate every day. Needless to say, cleaning cabinets had lost its priority in the grand scheme of survival mode.

The priority instead has been work, homeschooling, and the daily stuff like meals and laundry. And honestly, that is about it.

Oh, the house gets picked up, but cleaning is sporadic. My kids spend way too much time in front of screens. And I mean way too much time. Chore charts are a distant memory. Family dinners around the table are a scarcity. We’ve had breakfast or “free night” for dinner more often than I care to admit most weeks. And this laundry queen is more often behind than ahead of that giant pile.  Survival.

But it’s more than that. It’s the hard stuff that is happening internally too – the poor attitudes, ungratefulness, and the hurrying through everything that also infects everything we do.

“Just get through the day” has become the mantra.

And that is OK. It’s the season I have been in. It just is what it is. No judgment. No condemnation.

But there comes a time when you need need more than survival mode.  This Bell’s thing has made my husband and I realize that our family needs a reset. In fact, he is the one who said it to me. One night before bed, I was telling him how this downtime has made me acutely aware of how out of sync everything is at home. His response: “We need to reset.”

It was like a lightbulb moment for both us that life has been spinning out of control at home. And we are in serious need of just getting back to the basics –  family dinners, regular church attendance, chores, consistent discipline, and a routine. And for my family that means I need to be at home.

Sometimes I forget how truly important the role of being a mother is. I forget that what I do at home is meaningful and significant to my family. It matters.

Stopping to listen to a story or play a game of UNO when my children ask shows them I care about what they are saying, and I have time for them.

Having regular chores to do keeps the house in order but also teaches my kids the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a family.

Taking the time to deal with those less than desirable attitudes shows my kids that I care about their hearts and what is going on in their lives.

Reading aloud at bedtime is hopefully creating wonderful memories and a love of books.

And the list could go on. So that is what we are working on as a family. And I consider it another blessing during this time –  a time to reset, to regroup, and reclaim our family life.

Blessings ~ Darcy

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