by Patty Morwood
A few weeks ago I sat in the foyer at church, listening to children recite Scriptures. Some spit them out in seconds, others were uncertain and shy. All had lived with their assigned verses for weeks and their mamas stood by, so supporting and encouraging as their young voices spoke the greatest Truth that has ever captivated the human mind.
Jim Berg wrote in Changed into His Image that the Bible’s “imagery of planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and harvesting was not chosen … because of the nature of the people [or their agrarian culture] but because of the nature of the truth …”
Even if we aren’t farmers in the real sense – though we may preside over a collection of container veggies – we grow and disciple others spiritually in ways similar to the nurturing of our summer tomatoes.
But first we must become a follower of His Word ourselves.
We must pour over His explanations of Himself, memorize His sentences, cultivate a desire to obey Him. The Bible’s perspicuity guarantees that we will slowly and remarkably understand the revealed mind of God as we walk His path through life, tucking the Word in our hearts and minds.
That’s why we have this rich Book in our hands, why thousands have died to have this Book in their language, why we teach our little ones to hide its truths in their hearts.
Even a child can understand its sentences … with a bit of mommy-help.
One of my sons memorized an incredible collection of Scriptures from a Bible Memory Association booklet when he was three years old. He stood there with darling little fat cheeks and deep brown eyes reciting sentences he could actually understand.
“A- all we like sheep have gone astray.” I just had to explain a tiny bit and define one word, but it wasn’t hard to find a practical application. Teasing and baiting his twin brothers mercilessly deserved consequences.
“B- but He was wounded for our transgressions.” Jesus died for this sin, son; why are you doing it?
“C- children, obey your parents in the Lord.”
“D- draw near to God and He will draw near to you,”
“E- even a child is known by his doings.”
There was a scripture for every letter of the alphabet in that little booklet. And each was chosen because three year olds could understand them; and mommies could teach and pray them.
When my brown eyed toddler grew up and had his own two year old, he asked if I still had his little memorization book … the ABCs of Truth for Children.
Yes, I’d been waiting.
For I knew that one day there would be another toddler, one that would live in his house.
And yes, she has deep brown eyes and fat little cheeks too.
by Taylor Abigail
In June, four major Hollywood studios, Lucasfilm, Disney, Warner Brother, and 20th Century Fox, sued VidAngel for supposed illegal activity. VidAngel is a movie content filtering company. Their mission is to provide a service for people to choose how they watch movies at home.
"As content creators, we love movies and TV shows that are compelling and well-crafted. Not only do such movies entertain, they also change behaviors and minds of people — we believe movies help change lives. That’s why we provide movies and TV shows to our customers in a personalized and inexpensive format." - from VidAngel website
(see video of VidAngel's business model below)
The supposed illegal activity centers around the relationship between two laws: 1. The Family Movies Act (2005), 2. the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and VidAngels suspected infringemnet.
(see video about the battle below)
While the legal battle continues, VidAgel has been required to discontinue their services until further notice. A family in Flordia began a petition to save VidAngel and the movie filtering pracitce (see http://savefiltering.nationbuilder.com).
VidAngel is not the only movie filtering service available. Clearplay is a smaller company than VidAngel but also helps families filter inappropriate movie content. Historically, all movie filtering companies and products have been under attack from Hollywood despite Congressional acts legalizing the practice.
While the lawyers talk federal regulations and legalities, the threat to movie filtering raises an important conversation for Christian women. As media becomes increasingly more risque, especially for families, how can believers continue to think on all that is good, noble, lovely, and true (Philippians 4:8)?
This battle is much larger than it may appear: the beautiful and holy has always been at war with the ugly and profane. Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
As women who strive to live with a pure heart and a pure soul, it is important to always let the beautiful penetrate our world and act as a shield against darkness. May we continue to pray that good reigns over evil so that we may live up to our holy calling.
foreword by Patty Morwood
I don’t remember exactly when I met Jean Berkmeyer, but it was shortly after she and her family returned from living in Switzerland. The whole church was ecstatic to have them in their midst once again; the excitement was palpable.
We did eventually come to know each other though we were never really involved in the same things. But I kept seeing her and hearing her voice floating down the halls, inevitably accompanied by laughter; and I couldn’t help but laugh myself though I hadn’t been in on the conversation. Jean affects people like that because she is genuinely a funny gal. In fact, she told me she believes laughter is the best medicine and that’s why she’s rarely serious for long. I’ve also found her to be spontaneous, caring, energetic, and always real.
Jean is a middle child, the daughter of a Southern mother and FBI agent father. Poor girl, she was almost kicked out of children’s choir because she was supposedly ‘tone deaf’ and yet she became a music major in college! God blessed her marriage with the man of her dreams who houses a stubbornness just as strong as her own; together they are raising three “beautiful and wildly different” children to the glory of God.
As editor of the church newsletter’s women’s pages, I was fortunate to learn that she can write so I asked her to contribute an article. Of course her answer was spontaneously in the positive! Over time she wrote several articles, all of which may eventually find their way into this blog at some point.
Her essay below is a personal take on Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. I wonder if, when you read this story to your children, you see yourself there: your willfulness, how you confidently push against the bonds of love, and your secret delight in hearing always, no matter your blind self-orientation, a divine love-affirming response.
Jean has captured the essence of the story beautifully: God loves and God pursues; we are self-focused, ever-pursuing our own thing. For most of us though there is finally an acceptance of the ineffable … God’s saving redeeming love in every aspect of our lives.
by Jean Berkmeyer
“Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, ‘I am running away.’ ‘If you run away’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.’”
For a great deal of my life I have wanted to be “anywhere but here”, much like the little bunny in The Runaway Bunny. In case you are not familiar with this great children’s story, I’ll summarize it for you. The young bunny announces to his mother that he is going to run away. Wisely, his mother tells him he can but counters with her intent to be there for him wherever he ran. Similarly, at high school graduation I wanted to be a band director or a rock star, and to live a life as far from God as possible. This life of rebellion lasted three years. One night after miraculously arriving home, I spotted my Bible buried under some other books. Upon seeing it, I realized I wasn’t happy and I knew that God was the answer. It was instant. I prayed that night, confessed my sins to the Lord, and never looked back.
“’If you run after me,’ said the little bunny, ‘I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.’ ‘If you become a fish in a trout stream,’ said his mother, ‘I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.’”
By the time I was 21, I wanted to be neither a band director nor a rock star. I wanted to be a home missionary. More than being a missionary, I wanted to be married. I expended a great deal of effort in this pursuit and was completely unsuccessful. By 26, I had given up hope of ever being married. Then my doorbell rang. As I napped on the couch, in walked the most amazing and challenging man I have ever known and 11 months later we married. Suddenly, I was an army wife living in Manhattan, Kansas. I was certain God had made a mistake moving me to Kansas, and while I appreciated His answering my prayer for a husband I did not appreciate the move being the cost. So instead of growing and changing, I made a new plan. I would find a way to move us to the south.
“’If you become a fisherman’ said the little bunny, ‘I will become a rock on the mountain high above you.’ ‘If you become a rock on the mountain high above me I will be a mountain climber and I will climb to where you are,’ said the mother bunny.”
Two years later I found myself a corporate wife in Mason, Ohio. Classically discontent, much like the little bunny, I planned my next move –and this one would be south. Not surprisingly, God had other plans. My move south was actually to Zug, Switzerland. While in Switzerland, everyday life was more than I could bear most days. I wept. I inwardly screamed. I was completely broken. The Lord carried me through despite my efforts to thwart Him. While He undergirded me in ways I did not see at the time, He used my hopelessness to show me that He had a plan and that He is in charge.
“’I will join a circus and fly away on a flying trapeze,’ said the little bunny. ‘If you go flying on a flying trapeze,’ said his other, ‘I will be a tight ropewalker and I will walk across the air to you.’”
Then like a blink that journey ended. We landed less than one half mile from our former Mason home. I thanked God for finally agreeing with me and for bringing me to a place of comfort and peace. It was neither. The Lord continued to change me and very little of it was pain-free. The marriage I had longed for was joyless and silent. I could not stand the life we were living and I felt alone. I wasn’t. God was there like the mother bunny fishing for her son or walking the tight rope as her son flew on the trapeze. He was unfailingly present. Being a patient sculptor, He whittled away many of the edges of me that did not belong to Him. While He worked, change came again in the form of a decision that I thought was mine.
For years I had talked about home education. Feeling certain that Jeff would never agree, I felt safe preaching on about its wonders. Apparently I talked long enough and loud enough to convince Jeff to attend a home school convention with me. After two sessions we met up for lunch. He looked at me with that serious gaze of his and said, “We are doing this.” I began to truly panic but, not one to readily admit fear, I plowed ahead. Four years later [now eight+ years] we stand in awe of the path God has laid before us.
“’If you become a tightrope walker and walk across the air,’ said the bunny, ‘I will become a little boy and run into the house.’ ‘If you become a little boy and run into a house,’ said the mother bunny, ‘I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.’ ‘Shucks,’ said the bunny, ‘I might as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.’” And so he did.
At 42, I feel like I am living in my sweet spot. I am a band director. I guide my kinds’ piano practice every week. I take them to the symphony and talk about the great composers with them. I’ve taught three classes of homeschoolers basic music theory through teaching them to play the tin whistle. I am a rock star.
I see it in their eyes when we have a great day of school or I explain a mysterious concept. I am a home missionary. Every day I pour my life into theirs with the knowledge that God will be faithful to complete the work He has begun in them.
I am married to the best man I know, and our marriage is filled with laughter and the knowledge that neither of us is the person we were in the beginning – and that is a good thing.
So as I look back over this year and all those that have come before and reflect, I am content and full of thanks. I am amazed by a journey that seemed so disjointed but was really the trip of a lifetime … making me all I ever wanted to be.
And like the little bunny, I plan to stay right here in God’s hands and be His.
**Coupon Code Below**
Jill Savage faced a dilemma. Formerly a full-time music teacher, she was plunged, overnight, into the unknowns of a brand new occupation, one for which she had no training: motherhood. After four years, she felt confident and comfortable in her role as an educator of the arts, but where was the mommy university? Where were the conferences on motherhood? In 1994, Jill found no equipping.
“I couldn’t find anything,” she recalls. “So I took my idea to the growing moms group I was leading in Bloomington, Illinois, and asked them what they thought about organizing a one-time conference for moms. They liked the idea, and there was a real sense of excitement about our undertaking.”
With an ambitious goal to rally 400 women to attend the first event, the women were astonished when 1100 registered. “We thought: wow, the need is much bigger than we thought. And we realized that God had a bigger vision for this thing than just a one-time event for local moms.”
The women stepped out in faith and rented a large part of the Illinois State University campus for the second year. Their faith was rewarded and 2800 moms came together. Then 3400, then 4500, then 5400 and the sixth year there were 6300 women in attendance. This was the birth of the Hearts at Home conference series. Now in its 22nd year, the conference is coming to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time in November.
“Hearts at Home is all about training, equipping, encouraging moms because mothering doesn’t come with a manual. We provide that manual,” explains founder Jill Savage. “We want to meet moms where they’re at. We want to join the conversations where they are. We know that conferences continue to be a part of that, but we know that moms learn in lots of ways and they have needs more than once a year at a conference setting. We are building up our website with content so women can go and find the answers to their questions and continuing to use tools that today’s moms are using.”
Hearts at Home has achieved tremendous success because it works with women in an honest way. In her recent book No More Perfect Moms, Jill Savage voices a call for authenticity. “Moms are more connected than they have been in the past. In one sense that is good and we can learn from each other, but it can also result in pressure to compare ourselves to others. I see moms feeling guilty or inept because they are comparing their private lives to the outsides of others and that leaves them questioning their own skills,” Jill explains.
In an effort to encourage transparency and authenticity, she shared her reality with those who follow her on Facebook. She had been on several consecutive trips, never fully unpacking form any of them. When it finally became too much, she snapped a photo of her bedroom inviting other women to share their ‘real lives’ as well.
“And that was just a wonderful, honest, authentic sharing experience! Women took pictures of their kitchen counters, bathrooms, kids’ rooms and it was just so honest,” she laughs.
This type of real-life encouragement is what Hearts at Home is all about. “We have received emails, letters and comments from women who came to conference ready to throw in the towel. They were at the end of themselves in at least one area of life. But they attended workshops and learned new ways of seeing things, of relating. That gave them the courage to grow in the ways they realized they needed to. They remembered why their work was important.”
In addition to equipping women, Hearts at Home opens with Mom's Night Out, an evening of laughter, music and fun specifically designed to lighten hearts and lift spirits.
Jill shared a bit of her own journey as well. As a mother, she prioritized family and parenting, not writing her first book (of 11) until her children were all in school. She didn’t start working full time until her youngest entered college, and the Hearts at Home offices officially close at 2:30pm so mommas can be there when their children get off the bus.
“There is no woman who is trying to find balance in her life who doesn’t have weeks where she feeds her family too many frozen pizzas. I didn’t always get it all done!”t
To find out more about Hearts at Home, please visit www.heartsathome.org. Use the coupon code HEARTS10 to save $10 on registration on any conference between now and Nov 12!
The words scroll across the main screen of my mind almost every day. They have done so since before my child was born, when I was put on bed rest before reaching my third trimester. Mothers make many sacrifices during pregnancy—from minor ones like giving up drinking alcohol, to major ones like suffering from sickness for months. And everyone knows that raising a child is demanding and tiring. But what imprinted this phrase on my mind most deeply was neither childbearing nor child-rearing; rather, the most dramatic sacrifice seemed to be the act of giving birth itself.
Though my own labor was short and free of complications, yet I emerged from the experience astounded. Why, after going through such an agonizing—and yes, laborious—process once, would anyone choose to go through it again?! Suddenly I beheld the entire world with new eyes: every person who ever lived, in all of human history (apart from our first parents), entered into the world by this process, from a mother who endured this pain.
In fact, until very recently in our country—and even now in the less developed nations of the world—childbirth carried with it not just the inevitability of pain and discomfort for the mother (which we have the option of numbing to some degree with modern medicine), but the tremendous possibility of death. There is a Filipino proverb that says, “A woman giving birth has her one foot in the grave.” Countless women have made the ultimate sacrifice of motherhood: giving up their very lives for their children.
From the beginning God made woman to be a Lifegiver. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve [Life], because she was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). God gave her, and her daughters after her, the ability to give life with her body—to bear a child in her womb, and nurse it at her breasts. The giving of a mother’s life may, or may not, result in her physical death, but either way her sacrifices are real—she must daily die to herself for the sake of her child. The call to such selflessness, even with its manifold rewards, at times seems unbearable. Loss of sleep leaves one mother physically drained and emotionally unstable; her child’s medical problems cause fear and uncertainty to grip another; and without anything more dramatic, a mother may simply feel the constraints of her baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule on her marriage, work, and social life. In my own experience, seven weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with my premature infant threatened to destroy every vestige of strength and happiness in my soul. What I learned (yet again) in those dark days was that the life-giving mother must possess her own source of life to fill her as she pours herself out. She must be revived by drinking from the ever-flowing Fountain of Life, and beholding the sacrifice He made by spilling His blood on the cross to give us life.
As Lifegivers we are called to imitate that Savior who, “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2)—I knew the joy (the ecstasy even!) of holding my precious babe when the agony of labor I had endured was past. And I continue to hope in God’s goodness when the trials of motherhood loom large, knowing that the life Jesus gives is sufficient, and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Finally, the apostle Paul taught that women will be “saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (I Tim. 2:15). Author and teacher Barbara Mouser offers an exposition of these verses that has convicted as well as encouraged me:
Paul prescribes four spiritual virtues for the lifegiving woman…[which] answer the perennial challenges of the lifegiver in her years of pregnancy or child rearing. Faith quiets worry. Love refutes selfishness. Sanctity answers worldly distractions. Self-restraint tames the temper even as it rallies the listless spirit. If a woman perseveres in these virtues through the lifegiving years not only will she be saved from numerous incidental calamities, she will gain the sanctified character that is the goal of the godly woman. (Five Aspects of Woman, Vol 1, p. 196, emphasis mine)
“Motherhood is sacrifice,” then, becomes much more than a mantra for a 3 a.m. feeding, or resignation at having to change my diet for my nursing infant. It encapsulates for me the essence of the Lifegiver—her identification with her Savior, her calling to imitate His selfless love, the goal of her sanctification, and her hope of eternal life.
Main Point of the book
Why it matters
Teaching your children to exhibit traits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and wisdom. This list is just a summary, but it hits the high points.
Teach the positive, don’t just chastise the negative. When we chastise our children for wrong behavior without explaining to them what the right behavior is to do instead, it exasperates them because they are not creative or mature enough to know what perfect behavior looks like. They cannot escape because they genuinely don’t know what a better way to act would be.
When we are faced with disobedience or any other form of misbehavior, we must instruct our kids to exhibit the positive trait, not just stop doing the negative.
In training your children, you have to require them to identify the behavior that was incorrect, ask for forgiveness and then they have to practice doing the correct behavior. It takes a little extra time to recreate the scenario, but it is worth it to give your child the chance to succeed in proper behavior.
What not to do
What should obedience look like?
When is it appropriate to discipline your child?
A new season has arrived and, for many, that comes with a sense of revitalization and renewed purpose, direction and drive. By making it a goal this year to spend a little time each morning in reflection, meditation and prayer, you can stay grounded amid the chaos moms call everyday life. Good moms need to have their wits about them when they are raising raising children, and with how busy things are during the day, it's easy to lose track of your true priorities.
Recipe for a great morning
The easiest way to get a little extra time to yourself is to wake up 10-20 minutes before everyone else so you have peace and quiet and your attention isn't owed to anyone else. Open in prayer so that you can eliminate distractions in your mind. Meditate on one thing that you have learned in the last day or week. Or maybe you haven't learned the lesson yet, and you are continually running up against an insurmountable problem. Consider this: if the same thing continues to go wrong over and over, there might be something you are doing unwittingly, or perhaps you haven't learned how to handle a particular situation correctly. Meditation is a great way to get clarity on these types of issues. After meditation, write down and read through the things that you are doing well. This is a time for affirmations. You are doing so many things well! Why not encourage yourself with those things daily? Finally, take some time to write notes.
Whether you are a blogger or you keep a journal, take just a few minutes to jot down some thoughts and ideas that you've come up with. Taking notes helps you keep your mind from wandering to things you may not want to take your meditation time to dwell on. Additionally, studies support the idea that note-takers will make stronger connections between related pieces of information. (Foos, Mora, & Tkacz, 1994) It doesn't have to be long, but you will find that getting the words out will make you feel ready for the day.
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Cornel Warren, Managing Editor of Live with Heart & Soul, shares her heart as she reaches Christian women with timeless, beautiful content to encourage and inspire their walks with God, themselves and those around them.