Saturday, February 28, 2009

Through a New Lens: Challenge Days 1 & 2

Just a little housekeeping~ I will post a weekend challenge and a week challenge. It is not realistic for me to post every day, so get out your calendar or weekly planner and write down the challenge for each day. I will post on Friday night for the weekend and Sunday night for the week. (If you are new, please read about this challenge here and here.

First, my prayer for each of you choosing to take on this challenge:

Father, I ask that you might reach down and deeply touch the heart of each of us, as we journey through the next 32 days. This will not always be easy and we may not see results right away, so help us to fully trust in You and Your perfect timing. When we fail, guide us back to the track and help us to keep moving forward and not stay there in that place of feeling defeated. Thank you for intimately knowing each of us; reveal to each heart what You want me doing for the good of my husband and children. May our motive be to honor You and not to gain anything for ourselves. Give us the eyes to see this place we are in as "holy" ground, doing work for Your kingdom. For you are ever-close to us and our life is for the greatness of You, not ourselves.

Day 1~ Acts 3:19-20 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus

Start on your knees before the Lord and cry out to Him. Be honest before your Holy God and let Him wash you. Wash away the fears, the doubt and guilt...whatever need to be cleaned out. Cry out for Him to empty you of yourself, so that you do not get in the way of what He wants to do in you. Be quiet before Him and listen.

Day 2~ Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Let this be your prayer today. Pray for your Holy God to do such a work in your heart that your words and thoughts are aligned with Him constantly. "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" This challenge begins with prayer, because that is where the power lies! It is not in and of ourselves just being able to start a new routine or change our minds about doing "life" differently. The kind of change I am praying for, only happens at deep heart level.

Pray that this will not be a shallow attempt to spend a month encouraging your family, but rather that it will be the beginning of a new way of doing life. Closer to your Heavenly Father, more obedient to His daily direction and aligned with His purpose and will for your life every step of the journey.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Praise God that He is your Source! Give thanks for this place He has placed you, for He knows what He is doing and you can trust Him! Thank you Lord~

Friday, February 27, 2009

Through the lens of God: Motherhood

I stopped and sighed. "Why dear Lord, does this precious child insist on taking every book out of the rack? I really do not have the energy to help him pick it all up, again!"
Do you have moments like this? If you are a mother, I am going to guess that this occurs at least twice a day if not more, depending on the age of your precious blessings! So, what am I learning about raising my sweet, charging, strong boys?

Motherhood~ "No one can do for them, what I can do for them!" Are you surprised to find the same statement made about motherhood that I made about marriage? Well, it is true. So, I must ask again, what am I doing for them?

I was chosen to be their mama and although honestly there are tough days where I am sure God mixed my name up with someone else's, it does not diminsh the fact that indeed I was equiped to be their mama, not anyone else!

In her book, The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson so beautifully states, "children, by nature, are designed to take up our time. We develop the heart of our children by spending time with them, just as Jesus spent time with his disciples. He not only taught them truth but also practical application. Jesus invested in them and gave them his whole life."

And so it is also my calling to invest my whole life into them. Motherhood has gotten a very skewed modern-day vision placed upon it. I don't need to list the many things said about motherhood these days, I know that you can already think of many. So, instead I will ask this question, "Where do you stand on the debate?" This is where God says we should stand: on the side of yielding. Not half-heartedly, but whole-heartedly to the vision He gives us for motherhood, because His original idea works and it is also the path to much joy, contentment and peace.

Now those may not be the first three words that come to every mother's mind when she thinks about the highchair that is dirty again, the laundry that never makes it to the drawers, the potty-training 3 year old, the homeschool papers to be graded, the whining that needs to be dealt with at the heart level. No these "things/circumstances" do not seem to be high joy-producing circumstances, but I am going to be brave and say that is because our focus and lens is skewed.

Clarkson also states in her book that every act of disobedience and foolishness is an opportunity to point our children to their need of a Savior. It is my opportunity to train their hearts and minds in righteousness. Wow! Now, do you think that is how God looks at my foolishness? As an opportunity? To be honest, I cannot think of a time that I heard from heaven, "Melissa~ do you understand what I am telling you? Why on earth would you do that again?" No, I feel the tug at my heart and hear the call of my Father to be still and get back on track. That gentle and loving way that He has when disciplining His children, those whom He calls His heirs.

Whatever vision of motherhood I have, I need to leave it behind and get into God's word to see what He says it should look like. Then I have to "clean house" and get busy about being the kind of mother that builds life into her children and says, "Thank you Lord that my precious child has a desire to read and learn! Oh, my sweet boy!" The feeling I had when I rounded the corner and saw this....

The depth of my relationship with my children provides them with stability (or a lack of). They will either believe my words because they see my life authenticating them or they will know the shallow depth of my attempt at connecting with them.

Love is spelled T.I.M.E. in the eyes of a child. What else is more important than cultivating their hearts for the precious message of Christ's love for them? I simply cannot think of anything...

So, won't you join me in the 32 day challenge to grow more deeply connected with your children? Won't you take the time to invest in them like God calls us to do? Come back tomorrow to start the challenge! See you then~

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Through the lens of God: Marriage

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and sincere.

gentle: those that are possessed of such a spirit are not easily provoked to anger; patiently bear, and put up with injuries; for God has a great regard to the meek, humble, and quiet souls; He lifts them up, when cast down; He causes glad tidings to be preached to them; He increases their joy in the Lord; He feeds them, when hungry, to their satisfaction; He guides them in judgment, and teaches them His ways; He will rise up in judgment for them, and reprove with equity for their sake; He gives more grace unto them, and beautifies them with salvation, and will cause them to inherit the earth. (from John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

The first time God placed this verse on my heart was about eight months before Wesley and I had a miscarrage. At the time He first gave me this verse, I knew in my heart that God wanted me to learn how to be unwavering in my faith and my follow-through each day in walking close with Him. I did not know what was ahead of me, but God did know and He was preparing me. Honestly, when we walked through that time together I was sure of my foundation and stood firm on the fact that God knew what He was doing. It was heart-breaking and difficult, but I really felt solid in the hand of God.

Ever since then, I have kept that verse very close to my heart. As God has taught me more about that trial we went through, He has continued to teach me more about the treasures found within this verse. It is applicable to so many areas of my life, because it is talking about God's wisdom, which is perfect!

God's wisdom is the light for my path each day. I know that God has placed me in this place for a purpose. I am the wife of Wesley and the mama to Eli and Luke for a reason. I was chosen by God to build life into them and invest in their lives with my whole heart. How does God ask me to live out my life as a wife and mother?

full of mercy

Recently my heart has been so heavy and I have felt myself struggling with lots of thoughts, doubts, questions, etc... filling my heart and mind. I know that this kind of process is vital for me to grow and be refined, but it is difficult, because I feel like it distracts me. Through the struggles, God reveals so much to my heart and here is what He has said so loud and clear concerning marriage and motherhood.

Marriage~ "No one can do for my husband what I can do for him!" So, what am I doing for him? My attitude towards him needs to be that of pure sacrifice that is in his best interest. I need to daily look for ways to build life into him and support what God has asked Him to be doing right now with his life. This includes ministry, parenting, work, leadership, etc...

I have been more than blessed in the gift God gave me in a husband. I say that in praise to God for providing just who I needed to love me, lead me, partner with me, parent with me and be my best friend. He is very sacrificial and supportive of me, which I sometimes just stand in awe of, because I know there is so much more I could do for him.

I desire to be the kind of wife that "does him good, all the days of her life," one that knows "the heart of her husband trusts in her," and one who is "submissive and a lover of her husband." Loving my husband needs to be my top priority each day. Yes, I do believe it comes before my children, but I will be the first to admit that I know this doesn't always happen.

Having a 5 year old and a 3 year old, I am most often a bit spent at the end of the day and grateful to have my partner by my side. I am thankful that I have someone willing to be in the trenches with me, but I am not sure I always do a good job of letting him know that. My weariness often speaks first, rather that my heart of love and gratitude, as well as my pride (in a good way) in what an incredible job he does of supporting us as a family.

I am Wesley's wife and it is my responsibility alone to build into his life. So, I am taking a 32 day challenge to build him up and "do for him, what no one else can do!" Will you join me in doing this for your husband? Watch for the posts that will begin on February 28th~
I realistically know that not everyone precious woman who may read this post has a husband that is on her team, or supportive or sacrificial for her. I do not take that lightly, trust me! I take very seriously the fact that there are many marriages struggling all around me and that is a very hard place to be, I have seen it. I understand the effects and the hardship, so please know that, while it is not always easy to be in the place you are, you are never alone. God still has you and is looking for you to be faithful.
Many have heard 1 Peter 3:1-4 that talks of the wife who can win her husband over by her quiet and chaste behavior. This doesn't work because we think it is a good idea, it works because we are out of the way! I have women very dear to me who walk in hard marriages, but they also have the sweetest countenance. It may not be rewarded here on earth, but it certainly will not be overlooked in heaven, by their dear Savior!
If you are in a tough place in your marriage I encourage you all the more to take this challenge to heart and see what God can do over the next 32 days, in your heart and in your husband's. Remember that all we do is for the glory of God and that makes it all worth it!
This challenge will also include an aspect for motherhood, which I will post about tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

32 Reasons to be grateful.... husband who is devoted and whose love is so very adventurous mom who has shown me how to really live in every moment....a daddy who is a good listener and just likes to be still and sisters, with whom I can always laugh...Eli's precious heart to take care of others....Luke's ability to be so carefree and silly....creativity.... acceptance by good cup of tea...the light of snow glowing after dusk....a fresh harvest from the garden....mercy & grace...a hand-written letter....the smell of your newborn baby...a hot bath and a good grandma's favorite set of sheets saved by my uncle in a flood...Isaiah 53...being known by God before the foundation of the earth...Shelley's cranberry scones...a kindred spirit heated matress pad....a mentor who so willingly invests in my life....the sound of the ocean....freedom in Christ

Friday, February 20, 2009

Look Development

Just as we have been adopted into the family of God, there are so many children needing to be adopted or sponsored, just to have hope for tomorrow. My heart in this post is simply to share what is happening in one part of the world, concerning needy children.

A friend of mine from high school, Amanda DeSarro, along with her husband Matt, have partnered with Look Development to help make a difference in the lives of children in Ethiopia. Matt and Amanda have two biological children and two adopted children, one of them from Ethiopia and the other from the Dominican Republic.

Here is more about their heart for Look Development:

Please pray about how God may want to use you in the Big picture of doing Kingdom work. There are so many ways to be one who can make a difference: prayer, financial support/sponsorship, adoption, sharing information and getting the word out to others!

My heart is so burdened for the orphaned and needy, as well as for my own children to understand the enormous amount of blessings we have been given in Christ Jesus. I long for them to develop a heart for using the many number of blessings they have been given to positively impact the lives of others who are less fortunate. We are blessed beyond measure and my heart is deeply pressed upon to find ways to be making eternal impact in the lives of others. I pray that God will reveal to you, how you might be used for His glory in caring for the orphans of this world.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-12)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Review

This is something new for me to do, but last night I watched a wonderful movie about survival and purpose in life. The Children of Huang Shi is based on the true life story of British journalist George Hogg. This movie is inspiring in the sense that what he originally sets out to find in China in the 1930's is offset by what he actually comes across. He is given a new purpose that he does not really choose for himself, but he absolutely gives his entire life to the success of what he has been asked to do. He is brought into the lives of 60 orphaned boys and finds great fortitude in working to change the lives of these boys. It is rated R for disturbing images dealing with torture of the Chinese people and I only remember hearing two cuss words. Despite these things, it is a movie I would recommend for adults.

It is an amazing story of survival and the legacy that one can leave behind, that actually changes the lives of others. I also appreciate that it is based on someone's life story. How encouraging to see one person making a difference. Hogg makes the statement in the movie, that even if one person is changed then it was for good. It doesn't have to be change for a great multitude, any change for the better is a wonderful thing. Each of us can make a difference in the life of someone, so where might God be trying to use you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Looking Back....

I was spending some time talking with God about things filling my heart right now in this season of life and He reminded me of my college exit interview. Nothing formal, just the idea of a creative person at my school (Sterling College). He asked us about why we came to SC and what our goals where when we entered in comparison to where we were then at graduation. I went back to look at the interview and was so encouraged about how our God never changes and He is so faithful! So, here is the interview article by Ed Lowry:

Who God Wants Her to Be

"I was independent. I came to college secure in who I was because I grew up fast in high school, but I was still searching for something. I came to college looking at it as a journey and an adventure. I was determined to find who I was in this world and who God wanted me to be in relationship to what was in my heart. I really wanted to be informed by Him and follow His lead."

Melissa Sylvester is a woman of strength, poise and character. She possesses a firm desire to work with children and to help them be the people God would have them be.

"I have a strong passion for children to believe in who they are and become their own person. And women, I have a strong passion that they know whom they are and are comfortable knowing whom God has created them to be."

Melissa knows whom she is in Christ and what she wants to do with her life.

"I want to be a wife and a mother. I have always had a desire to do that. Having a 'career' has never really appealed to me that much. Being a mom and wife is a full-time job. Being a parent you can learn so much from your children while you teach them as well. I think it is the most significant thing you can do."

Melissa experieced two important events that prepared her to meet her goals and showed her God's plan for her life. The first was deciding on a major.

"I came to college going into Music Therapy for autistic children. Then I left to go to photography school in Santa Barbara. I came back to Sterling and struggled for a semester. God was simply saying to do what I loved. I had never thought of that, so I ended up with a Bachelors in Art and a minor in music."

God showed Melissa how that could be incorporated into her goals and dreams of being a wife and a mother. The next significant step was the revelation that one life-long goal was going to happen sooner than she expected.

"The other moment was realizing that Wesley was the one God has intended for me to marry. I never would have thought I would be married out of college. I had lots of plans and was going to Italy for art school. Things were not really working out and I couldn't understand. God was very real and revealing to me at that time."

In both events she really did find more peace in knowing who she was and who God wants her to be, just as she had hoped.

"The most significant thing I've learned in college is to follow God's will, He will lead. Even if you don't always understand it. It is beautiful when it comes.

I look back at this interview and marvel at how God works in our lives. That interview took place about 10 years ago! I praise Him for giving me that peaceable sense of security in knowing I am His child. I am grateful that His will is best for me and I can trust it. Looking back at how God has been faithful in our lives helps us to remember that He will continue to do so.

How has God been good to you? What time in your life can you stop and look back at to see His merciful hand at work on your behalf? Stop today and take some time to say "Thank you God for being oh so faithful to me."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Child Training Tuesday: Library Book List

Today I am going to start adding to the Child Training Tuesday with our favorite Library Book List. We go to the library about every 2-3 weeks and my boys love to read! I wanted to have a better way of sharing great children's books with one another. So, if you have a great list, post it on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your list! Thanks! Here is our list of favorites from our last visit:

banana Janet Marshall
This book is visually fun for younger children!
Because of B.G. Hennessy; illustrations by Hiroe Nakata
A very special book about the ways your child CAN make a differnece in the world: sharing, loving, being peaceable, etc...
I Call It Will C. Howell; illustrations by John Ward
A good book for learning about the atmosphere, although it is really much more lovely than a "science" book!
I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Joshua Prince; illustrations by Macky Pamintuan
A very fun book with good rhythm and rhyme, my boys want this ready at least twice a day!
John Philip Patricia Polacco
Loosley based on the true story of how the ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN started. You can find our more here.
Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury..............Laura Numeroff; illustrations by Felicia Bond
We first got one of these book in a Chick-Fil-A kid's meal and they are so fun. This particular book comes with recipes, games and fun activities to go along with each story. It also reads the story aloud and has fun songs to go along with the animals! We have had lots of fun with this one.
Niccolini's Chuck Wilcoxen; illustrations by Mark Buehner
This was our favorite from this batch! It is such a sweet and beautiful story about a man who comforts all those around him with his beautiful railway lullabies.

Don't forget to share your list! Enjoy reading and getting lost in the wonderful world of imagination~

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Just get about doing something!

The title of this post was a quote from guest speaker, Pradip Ayer , who spoke at our morning church service today. He was referring to getting busy about the work of God's Kingdom. Yes, we should be praying for God's direction, but there IS someplace He wants to use His children. We are bond-slaves of Christ and we need to have more of that attitude. We do not need to just be sitting around waiting and waiting, we can be doing something now!

God is really at work in my heart right now about something MUCH bigger than myself, so I am just being still and seeking and listening. I now this is something I cannot afford to be half-hearted about discerning, so I am keenly aware of all that He shows me right now about this certain area. can pray that I would listen well and be attentive to His still small voice.

Yesterday, I was at one of my very favorite blogs by Willow. What I appreciate the most is that she is so honest and challenging. I never leave her blog without feeling spurred on to follow harder after God. So go and check out this post. We can all do something small to make some kind of difference.

I also added a new link on my sidebar about unreached people groups in the world. Stop by and see who you can be praying for today! Here is also the link for the catalog Willow mentions in her post.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Just For Fun!

Here are a few snapshots from my Year in Review album for 2008:

I used a watercolor book (bought at Hobby Lobby for about $8) as the foundation for the scrapbook. The monthly title pages I cut on my Cricut machine and then I used strips of paper for the accents. I printed all my pictures in sephia tone at Target and used fun stamping letters to stamp one word that seemed to really capture that month. The whole album took about 2 weeks to make. If I had 10 hours to sit straight through, I probably could have finished it in that amount of time also.

A very dear friend of mine gave me these awesome envelopes for Christmas! There is one for every month and I use them to put tickets, pictures I don't scrapbook, schoolwork, anything you can think of to fill it up! They are so easy to make!

1. Buy the larger mailing envelopes & cover them with your favorite paper.
2. Use the computer or a stamp to make the month calendar page.
3. Stamp, write or use the computer to make the month's name and attach it on the front.
Another creative friend of mine made a set and gave them as a gift for a friend of ours who had her third baby and does not scrapbook. She clipped them together with large clips and tied ribbons on the clips...Oh! So cute! :)

Have a happy weekend! Tonight is my Creative Connection night, which means.... girlfriends, creativity and peanut butter m&m's! (my fav)

Friday, February 6, 2009

One Day at a Time

At the start of 2009, I choose the word intentional as my word for the year. Earlier in December I had found a great challenge in my Creating Keepsakes magazine called Project 365. The concept is to take a picture each day of 2009 and scrapbook & journal, so that you have a year of "everyday life" when it's all over. I loved this idea from the start. It would be a great way for me to look at each day and keep those everyday memories that make up my "real life." So, here is just a snapshot of my book, which is different from the kit designed by Becky Higgins. (Which sold out very quickly and is not available for purchase right now.)

I am journaling on my computer, then printing out the pages. I printed my pictures at Target in a 5x7 collage, so they are each about 1 x 1.5 inches. I used a pretty 3-ring binder as the book and put each page in a page protector. The most challenging part for me is that I am stamping around the pictures, which is a new scrapbooking technique for me to use! I am learning very much about how to do this better, so I am hoping that over the year my stamping will improve.

My sweet husband added to the challenge that I could only take a picture on the days I had spent time with my precious Lord, which I am trying to do early in the morning. Which right now I am about 50/50~ remember I am a night owl, NOT a morning person! :) I have only missed taking a picture 3 days~ oh how I wish for those 3 days back, to have had my sweet time. Even at this time I'm not sure why it didn't get done, except that I did not make it a priority. Oh my precious Lord, please forgive my lack of diligence.

I thought it would be so great to add what God is teaching me through this year also. So I also have my spiritual journal amongst the pictures. He is really at work in my heart, so I am so excited to look back and see how He has caused me to grow!

The other aspect I am including is important papers or favorite art of my sweet boys! I also love that this project is simple and easy for me to keep up. I am going to work on this past week tomorrow night!

I thank God for each moment He allows me to be a wife and mother. I love all the everyday tasks that when joined together make a beautiful life. I have so much to be grateful to the Lord for and so much that brings me joy, even at the most random moments. For instance, sitting at the dinner table the other night when Luke got down without permission, then proceeded to run into the living room. Wesley said, "Luke, please come back to the table." Well...the sweet child (who was wearing socks) tried to stop and turn around and well, it is hard to explain but it was hilarious. Wesley and I could not keep our composure and completely lost it laughing so hard, we were both crying and out of breath!

Thank you Lord for providing the perfect balance of your joy even amidst the laundry, piling bills, discipline, lack of focus, trying moments, schooling, serving...the list goes on and on. BUT so does Your perfect provision and joy! I am looking forward to being able to praise you at the end of 2009 for all the goodness You have shown to me.

Just a few of my favorites so far:

All content is copyrighted (2008-2014), please seek permission before using. Thank you

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape