Category Archives: Training Tools

As a parent I’m always looking for tools to teach my children important truths. When I find one, or think of one, I like to share.

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

As Christmas approaches it can be a challenge to focus on Jesus, the real reason for celebrating. God showed His love in such an amazing way. He became a human, lived, suffered and died in our place. Miraculously He rose again and wants to live in relationship with us!

I wrote Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional to help my family focus on Jesus in a busy season, a busy culture, that is often sending conflicting messages about what we are doing, or should be doing, and why. The links below are to posts I have done in the past that can enhance use of the devotions in the book or help you focus on Jesus even if you don’t have the book.

Blessings to you and your family this Christmas season!

 

Living Each Day With My Father: Thanksgiving

Blog-2015-004-FATHER-ThanksWhile I know having a thankful heart is key to living with the Father I had a very hard time with this chapter. I often look for a warm fuzzy feeling to go with being thankful. I expect to “feel” thankful. I rarely do. I am thankful. I appreciate many things but I rarely “feel” thankful. Something I am still sorting out.

Being thankful is a choice. I choose to be thankful regardless of feelings or circumstances, or even natural disposition. I have often tended to be the Eeyore.

  • I see what’s wrong instead of right.
  • I see how far there is to go instead of how far I’ve come.
  • I see the work and get tired.

I also can see the good in people in hard things and I choose to give thanks.

I thank Him in faith for the things He has promised.

A roadblock to my thankfulness was “but”. There were challenging people and situations where I would thank God for some aspect then follow with a “but”.

I imagine that is much like the apology “I’m sorry, but…”

Even as I am writing this I see more areas where I have kept the “but”. I first realized it in a hard relationship. I repented and let go of that “but”. Now I see I still have “buts” to clear out of other areas.

I’m thankful for my husband’s job but I wish he didn’t have to work away.

I’m thankful we are building our dream shop but I wish it would go faster.

If I really believe God is good and working ALL things for my good I have no reason for anything but thanksgiving.

Practical ideas

Choose to be thankful

If I forget about trying, hoping to “feel” thankful then I can see some practical ways I am working to cultivate a grateful heart.

When I or someone around me complains I find something about that same thing to be thankful for.

“It looks like rain.”

“I’m thankful, we need the rain.”

I choose to start my time with God thanking Him for something. Even on days that don’t seem too good He is always good and I can always start there. Some days I just stay there. He is good – always. I’m thankful!

Obsess

Something that helps me be truly thankful and overflow in praise is to meditate on God’s word. Meditating is like marinating your mind, soul, and spirit in something. It’s constantly thinking about something.

Do you obsess? I often do, about what someone said, what I said, what I wish I had said. God made us to obsess about Him. Find a scripture and obsess about it. Allow it to become more and more true to you.

How about Romans 8:28?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. – Rom 8:28 KJV

Like I said if I really believe and focus on the fact that ALL things – delays, frustrating behavior, difficult people – are working for my good I can be really thankful. Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying bad things happening are sent by God and we are to do nothing about them. We have authority, remember? God is always speaking and can show us if there is something we can do about a bad or hard situation. While we wait and listen we can always give thanks and rejoice. (Philippians 4:4-8)

Get rid of the “buts”

Listen to your thoughts this week as you give thanks. Is there are but tagging along? Repent, confess, ask forgiveness if need be. Ask God for His perspective.

Express thanks to people, too

Developing thankfulness and the habit of expressing it in one area will increase it in all areas. God can bless us through people. We can and should thank them for blessing us.

Record and take time to remember

What has God already done for you? This can start with things that are true for every believer. Salvation. Forgiving you. Restoring you to relationship with Himself. Eternal life. Grace.

Add things specific to your story. Has He healed you? Provided special blessings? Children? Spouse? Direction? God constantly told Israel to remember. They built altars and had feasts to remember the salvation of the LORD. Jesus told us to take communion to remember.

Be thankful His faithfulness in the past reassures us of His faithfulness in the future.

I have a very simple printable you can use to frame your day if it’s helpful. As I did mine I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

Living each day with authority

Living Each Day with My Father: Authority

To live each day with our Father takes recognizing we have authority and learning how to use it.

I have by no means arrived here, or on any of these topics. I am learning and sharing along the way. I feel I need to do a little “teaching” on authority, maybe because I am still figuring it out for myself. Care to join me?

Brief history of authority

Power and authority are closely connected and often used interchangeably. The definitions in the original languages include the meanings of both.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18 KJV

The word power in this verse includes the meaning “the power of authority” and “one who possesses authority” (Strong’s)

  • God gave it to Adam – Genesis 1:26-31
  • Adam forfeited it by partnering with Satan and disobeying God – Genesis 3:6, 1 Timothy 2:14
  • Satan had authority – Luke 4:6, 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • Jesus restored authority to Heaven when He was raised from the dead – Ephesians 1:20-22,
  • God gave us authority – Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:6; Matthew 28:18-20

What are we are supposed to do with this authority? What do we have authority over?

  • All things – Ephesians 1:22
  • The world – 1 John 4:4
  • Thoughts – 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • Speech – Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:29
  • Emotions – Colossians 3:8-14
  • Mountains – Matthew 17:20
  • Satan and his realm – James 4:7, Matthew 10:1, 12:28

I have much to learn in all these areas. I want you to be aware of them and begin to use your authority. I want to focus on our authority over ourselves, our thoughts, and our choices.

Ways of exercising authority

Blessing my day

Something I started doing recently is blessing my day. I was listening to a message by Joyce Meyer. She said something to the effect of taking authority over your day by blessing it and everything in it. Blessing is more than a saying, more than “I wish you the best.” Our words of blessing carry power and the authority for God to move in the situation we have blessed.

Pleading the blood of Jesus

Pleading the blood may sound strange. Think of a court of law. A defendant is brought before the judge and asked how they plead. They can say guilty or not guilty. Because of Jesus we can say “I plead the blood of Jesus.” Jesus sacrifice makes us righteous fully adopted children of the Most High God! That carries some major authority. Everything God made available to Jesus is available to us. We are co-heirs with Jesus.

Declare my authority

I state my authority, reminding myself and Satan daily that he has no right to me or anything concerning me. I am under the blood of Jesus. My property, finances, family, everything concerning me is under the blood. Jesus provided for it to be safe from the thief.

Over my emotions

I frequently have to take authority over my emotions. Emotions are real. They are not always true and they are even less often a good basis for decisions. I am learning to feel and understand my emotions and what caused them without letting them run my life. Notice I said learning. I still struggle and fail in moments and situations. I will keep learning. I will keep asking.

Application

Is there an area you need to exercise the authority Jesus has given you?

How will using your authority change your perspective?

What scriptures are you standing on for assurance of your authority?

How will you practically take authority over this area?

Blue printable

Write out your day with your Father.

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

I encourage you to keep it where you can read it during your day. Some days I take a picture with my phone so I can take it with me.

Living Each Day With My Father Posts:

Introduction

Focus

Authority (You’re here)

Thanksgiving

Hope

Encouragement

Rest

To live each day with my Father I need focus.

Living Each Day with My Father: Focus

Where is my heart set?

What gets my attention?

I can, and do, focus on so many things. I home school my three children. Two of them will be in high school this year. I can certainly focus on the fact that I better make sure I am doing it right. We are building a building that is WAY beyond my ability. We need more of everything than we have on our own, more money, more time, more skill, more labor.

I can focus on my home that isn’t finished and is never clean enough. Really I could just leave that at never clean. It does get cleaned on occasion and it is not overall disgusting to me anyway. I’m a firm believer in dirt never hurting anyone. Anyway, I could focus on that.

I could focus on my clothes that don’t fit quite right, my body that lumps in the wrong places, my blog that too often get neglected, and my platform “they” say I have to build. Then there’s ministry and politics and relationships…The list is endless.

What you have been focused on? Include the good and the bad. What has been occupying most of your thoughts and emotional energy?

What do I want my focus to be? The short answer: God. I think of verses that say things like:

Set your hearts on things above, seek first the kingdom, Bless the Lord, rejoice, and give thanks.

So how do I change my focus?

Short answer?

Focus on something else.

I know very obvious and not very helpful. It’s true though. Right now you are focused on the words in this post. Look up at the ceiling and you are no longer focused on the words on your screen.

Changing life long thought patterns is not that easy. However it really is that simple. Each and every time you think about or focus on something you don’t want to focus on refocus on something else. Eventually you will have created the new habit of focusing on the right thing.

Some practical ideas for refocusing

  • I find scripture and what God has to say about what to focus on.
  • I refocus by reading encouraging words, quotes, scriptures.
  • I have pictures around my home that God has used to speak to me, pictures that speak to my destiny and His promises.
  • I sing. Knowing hymns and solid scriptural songs is an easy way for me to refocus.
  • Sometimes I refocus by going in a room by myself and telling Satan to leave me alone. I take authority over anything that is not of God in my home or my environment and release the opposite. If there is tension I tell it to go and release peace.
  • I like to write. It is a great way for me to process what I am experiencing. I can identify lies, patterns, and connections I miss if I don’t write. I can also record the truth God reveals so I can go back to it when I need to refocus.
  • An accountability partner can be a great help to. This doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming. It can be as simple as letting your friends know you have a new focus and you want them to ask you how you are doing. Give them permission to respectfully point out when you miss your new focus.

My day with my Father

Since God gave me this idea I try to write out my day with Father in the morning. That sounds strange. Here’s what I mean. I want to live each day with my Father to do that I need Focus, Authority, Thanksgiving, Hope, Encouragement, and Rest. So I write a sentence, word or phrase for each word.

Some days He speaks to me:

Focus: I love you. I am working. You are enough.

Authority: Bless the day. Walk in authority.

Thanksgiving: Praise me all day.

Hope: in, Me. I am faithful & true – Always.

Encouragement: I am pleased.

Rest: I am here. Ask. Listen. Obey.

Some days it is my thoughts to Him:

Focus: You are good and bigger than any hurt.

Authority: I control my thoughts and choose prayer praise.

Thanksgiving: I thank you for Brian and my kids, for hard relationships.

Hope: God you alone are my hope.

Encouragement: With you all things are possible.

Rest: I rest in Your goodness and love!

Some days it is a declaration:

Focus: I am loved and accepted.

Authority: I have authority in Jesus name.

Thanksgiving:  I am blessed beyond measure.

Hope: God is working in and through me.

Encouragement: It will be worth it.

Rest: God is for me. Who can be against me?

Write out your day with your Father.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

I encourage you to keep it where you can read it during your day. Some days I take a picture with my phone so I can take it with me.

Living Each Day With My Father Posts:

Introduction

Focus (You’re here)

Authority

Thanksgiving

Hope

Encouragement

Rest

Living Each Day with My Father

I’ve had a lot of hard days lately. Many more than I care to admit.  Keeping my thinking in line with truth has been a major challenge.

First I feel or think something ugly.
Then I beat myself up because-
  • I know better.
  • I’ve dealt with this.
  • I didn’t think I was like that.

Then it gets really good because I can beat myself up for beating myself up.

Sound familiar?

I hope not, but I suspect for some it does. Not you? Great! Maybe reading will help you understand a friend who falls into this dreadful, downward spiraling trap.

Reaching out for help wasn’t helping. Looking through too many dirty lenses to see help or truth perhaps?

There’s confusion.
 Why am I feeling this way? Why do I keep thinking that? Why am I here again? I thought I dealt with this. I had a strategy, what was it? Why can’t I change? What am I missing?
There’s condemnation. 
You’ve been teaching people, challenging people to walk victorious and look at you! You should know better. You DO know better. Look at what a mess you are.
There’s hopelessness.
This will never change. I will never change.
Through that stack of dirty lenses and massive cloud of lies I came upon an idea I want to hang onto. Maybe you can hang on to it too.

I live each day with my Father.

I live each day with focus, authority, thanksgiving, hope, encouragement, and rest.

Identity in the Father
Focus, Authority, Thanksgiving, Hope, Encouragement, Rest
Focus:
 Where have I set my attention? my affections?
Authority:
Remember Jesus has given me all authority in His name
Thanksgiving:
Reflect and acknowledge the goodness of God, the greatness of His character
Hope:
Where is my hope? People? Things? Desired outcomes? God alone.
Encouragement:
Asking Father to speak. He is always encouraging.
Rest:
In His presence is joy, peace and rest.

No matter the circumstance remembering, choosing, to abide with the Father makes it better.

Nothing changes when I remember I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Yet everything changes when I remember.

Nothing changes in my circumstances because I draw close to Him. It doesn’t have to.

I change when I draw close to Him. I find peace. I find rest. I remember He is bigger than it all. I remember He is good, beyond my understanding, beyond my seeing. He is working, always for my good. He has called me to rest. (Matthew 11:28)

I’ll explain each of these keys and how I am learning to use them to frame my day in future posts.

I have a very simple printable you can use to frame your day if it’s helpful. As I did mine I could feel stress leaving and peace growing. I often reread it during hard times of the day.

Blue printable

Download printable in orange

Download printable in blue

Download printable in green

How do you spend the day with your Heavenly Father?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

December 1st.
The day to start counting down to the celebration of Jesus birth.
We didn’t start off so well. The book and ornaments only came in this afternoon.
Attitudes amongst the natives were far from festive this morning.

image
Preparing to decorate

My daughter worked hard to begin the transformation. Maybe next year I’ll be more organized, better disciplined or whatever it is I’m lack so I can enjoy doing it with her instead of directing her while I’m busy with other things like school, making dinner, or blog posts.

image
We're getting closer

I really do want to focus on Jesus.
His sacrifice.
His humility.
His love.
For me.

image

We’ll read our devotion tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll ask the kids for their top Christmas wishes. I started this a few years ago when I was overwhelmed by my wish for a “perfect” Christmas. I asked what traditions were important to them, if there were any new ideas and we just focus on everyone’s top thing. If we get to more- bonus! I intended to ask this morning, but like I said, it was less than festive here…

How are you preparing to celebrate Jesus?
How is it going?

5th Week – July 2014

This week I’d like to introduce you to four Alaskan authors. They have some other things in common as well.
They are all moms.
They love Jesus and families.
Their writing blesses me.
I know them all in real life.
They share a passion to encourage moms.
So here you go.
Check them out.
You will be blessed.
Copperlight Wood
Shannon shares her faith journey at Copperlight Wood. Homeschooling, parenting, international adoption, and attachment issues stretch her to trust God more and more.  Her writing makes me laugh and cry. It stirs deep.
When life allows she sends out a newsletter with content that doesn’t post on her blog. I encourage you to sign up.
 

 

Photo: Free Resource: Become the Mom You Truly Want to Be!

Sign up here: http://bit.ly/1tlJydL

Join me, Ashley Brendle (mother of 7 amazing kids) as we'll be tackling these 3 core areas of motherhood that have transformed my life:

1. Connecting with God's presence and power during the impossibilities of motherhood
2. Accepting and receiving the provision you already have to overcome the obstacles blocking you from the mom you want to be.
3. Accessing God's wisdom and revelation for the problems you're facing right now!

With this free course, you'll get tools to move from survival mode to empowered as a thriving mom in the difficult challenge of motherhood.

Click here to get started: http://bit.ly/1tlJydL

  

Ashley is a short time Alaskan. Since she moved here just over a year ago she has become very dear to me. Last summer I joined a study she led through her book Supernatural Mothering: Where God’s Presence and Power Invade Motherhood. It was transformational.

You can read her blog, listen to her podcast at Supernatural Mothering and even sign up for a free course (link above) on partnering with Jesus in your mothering, and the rest of life really, but when you are a mom sometimes that seems to cover it.

The Masterpiece Mom PodcastAmanda and I met years ago in MOPS, an amazing ministry to mothers of preschoolers. She continued to minister with MOPS long after I moved on. Amanda writes about homeschooling, life as a mom, adoption and of course resting in the masterpiece God has made each of us to be.

I also met Anne-Renee through MOPS. She shares Amanda’s passion for moms to see themselves through God’s eyes. She is a sweet joyful soul. She’s a working, non-homeschooling mom so she brings a different perspective than the rest.

Amanda and Anne-Renee have started a podcast. My summer’s been busy so I haven’t listened to as many as I would like. They offer encouragement and remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, we’re all only human.

I hope you enjoy these mom’s and their ministries.

I know I do.

Honest! Trust Me! pic

Honest! Trust Me!

He who is truthful testifies honestly, but a false witness lies. Proverbs 12:17 WEB
The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Proverbs 12:19 KJV

Supplies:

  • Bag of candy with a wrapper you can’t see through
  • Dirt or garbage

Colorful CandyPreparation:

  • Carefully open the bag of candy. Remove the candy and save for later.
  • Fill the bag with dirt and/or garbage and reseal.

Lesson:

Offer your child the bag of candy. If they are like my children they will be very excited.
Have them open the bag.

Garbage InsteadAsk:

How did you feel when you saw the garbage?

Was it what you expected?

Did you like that it was full of garbage instead of candy?

Help them identify feelings. This is a great time to build some emotional vocabulary. They may have felt angry, hurt, or confused.

Explain:
Getting a bag of garbage that looks like candy is like being lied to. (If you told your child it was a bag of candy clarify that you did lie because you were teaching this lesson. To avoid lying you can simply say you have something for them. With older children you could talk about how leaving out information or the intent to deceive is lying or at least dishonest. We can lie without saying a word!)

Honest! Trust Me! pic
Ask:
If I gave you another bag that looked just like this how would you feel? Even though it was just a lesson there is a good chance they wouldn’t be fully confident it was going to be candy.

Read Proverbs 12:17, 19

When we lie it hurts others. The ones getting the garbage are hurt. It also hurts ourselves. We want to be trusted. If we lie to someone they are not as likely to trust us and we will be hurt.

Did you try the lesson?
Did your children gain an understanding?
How do you teach about honesty?