Monday, April 30, 2012

Surprise! - Mother's Day Memories #1

What do you want for Mother's Day?! If you say, "Oh, you don't need to get me anything." Don't be surprised if you don't get anything. We usually want to be surprised by something grand on special days like our anniversary, birthdays, mother's day, etc - so we won't tell our husbands directly what we really want.  Stop dropping hints and expecting him to figure things out:
         1. He doesn't look at the catalogs you leave laying around with circled items.
         2. He isn't listening when you talk loudly on the phone while sitting next to him- "Oh Susie, it was so thoughtful of your husband to _____________."
         3. He thinks you are just making random conversation when you mention things casually in passing - "Do you think this necklace needs matching earings?",or "Boy, I sure am tired. I could use a day at the spa."

I have been married for over 10 years to a wonderfully thoughtful and observant man. So, it is odd that I am still surprised when he doesn't get me exactly what I wanted even though I was never really clear with him about what I really wanted. His last name is Holmes, but he is not Sherlock. He is only good at figuring out clues, if I notify him, "Honey, this is a clue about what I want for mother's day."

If you really do want something specific for Mother's Day, just tell your husband in direct language what you want.  If you would rather be surprised by what he comes up with, then don't expect to get exactly the gift or service that you wanted. Instead, just expect to be surprised! That way even if you get some type of cheesy heart object you still will have gotten what you wanted - to be surprised. The key is to decide what it is that you really want. That is the hard part for us women.

Friday, April 27, 2012

If Mama Ain't Happy - Finding Joy Endnote

I am sure you have heard the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Well, the opposite is true as well.  As the mom, you set the attitude for the house.  It is going to be hard for your kids to stay angry, mean, or whiny, if you joyfully respond to everything they do with the strong yet gentle love of Christ.

I don't know how often I kick myself because I realize that the behavior that I am continually correcting in my children - the yelling, complaining, materialism, etc. - was learned from me in the first place! My kids would be better, if I did a better job of leading by example - especially with a heart attitude of joy, love, and service.

So, I am excited to tell you, I did something right this week that they decided to copy! I was inspired by the book - One Thousand Gifts - to start my own list of 1,000 blessings. (See my post two days ago for more info on this amazing book.) I simply told them what I had already started, and gave them some pretty notepads designed for grocery lists or to-do lists.  I was pleasantly surprised that they are having the best time seeing who can come up with the most things they are grateful to God for. Our goal is 1,000, but they are both already close to 200!

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." - 3 John 1:4   What have your children done lately that have brought you joy?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

God's Calling. Did you Answer? - Finding Joy #10

I would like to conclude this series on Finding Joy by telling you that I have personally found that when I am focused on myself, I have the most difficulty finding joy.  On the other hand when I am ministering to others through the talents, gifts, and roles God has called me to - mother, wife, blogger, sister, friend, etc. that is when I have found the most joy. That is how Christ has designed me and you, because joy is found when you take your eyes off yourself (the Y in JOY), and look towards the power of the love of Jesus (the J in JOY) to serve Others (the O in JOY) for His glory.  It is as simple as keeping the letters in order - J.O.Y.!

My sweet sister-in-law - who, get this, has the same exact name as me minus one h - Sara Elizabeth Holmes - pointed me to this post that explains the above point further.
"We are easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God in our ministry as moms. Jesus said that those who live for themselves will actually have an unfulfilling life, but those who lose their lives for His sake will really experience life. As parents, our self-death for Christ’s sake not only produces fruit [JOY] in our own hearts, but produces fruit in the hearts of our children, fruit that grows by the power of God. Let us, then, choose to joyfully give of ourselves for our children [and others]. Everyday." - Christine Hoover blogs at For this whole article, go to

So, for a fulfilled and joyful life, we need to fulfill God's calling for our lives. What is God calling you to do? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One Thousand Gifts - Finding Joy #9

321910: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are By Ann Voskamp (above is a direct link to

There is nothing better than getting a surprise present in the mail. My college roommate and dear friend, whose name also happens to be Sarah Elizabeth, sent this book to me to help me get through the recent difficult time I was going through as a result of my sister's brain tumor and stroke.

I was really struggling with how to put into practice my Biblical knowledge about having joy in times of trouble. AnnVoskamp, a pig-farmer's wife and mother of five, has an amazing talent for expressing in beautiful language the battle for joy that goes on in our hearts not just in times of crisis but through daily frustrations and discontentment as moms. She gives simple, practical steps to fight that daily battle.

A dare from her friend to write down 1,000 blessings changed her life completely. Now this book with the power of the Holy Spirit is changing thousands of others including mine. You must read this book and pass it on to a friend! or use the direct link to above.

Find out more about this book, the author, and the impact that they continue to have at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Head and Heart Knowledge - Finding Joy #8

I am sure you will be glad to know that this is going to be the last week in this series about finding joy, because I have finally found it. In the seven blogs before this you have seen great information about where to find joy.  However, if you just read all this information, it is never going to do you any good. You can't learn to drive from reading the driving manual. You have to believe it and practice it.

Practicing joy will help you internalize all the information that is in your head - making it heart knowledge.  Only someone with a grateful heart toward God can experience true joy. Even Satan knows all the head knowledge about how to have joy, but he definitely does not have a grateful heart or joy. The Bible gives many suggestions about how to practice joy. (Go back to last Friday's blog "Joyful Verses - Finding Joy #8" to see some of these again.)

Wednesday, I am going to tell you about my new favorite book that has been helping me and thousands of others practice joy even in the midst of great despair. You are not going to want to miss this book.
What are your suggestions for practicing joy or having a more grateful heart?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Joyful craft - Finding Joy #7

J.O.Y.- Finding Joy is as simple as putting
Jesus 1st, Others 2nd, and Yourself last.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:33&34

Craft - Young kids love to do anything with letters. Make or buy some big letters that spell Joy. Talk about what each letter stands for and let them decorate them accordingly  with  photo collages, drawings, or words representing each letter. For example, the "Y" be a collage of all the things they like. "O" could be photos or drawings of their friends and family. "J" could be crosses, magazines pictures of people doing things that would bring Joy to Jesus, or just Jesus written out in fancy letters. Another option would be to let your kid go crazy with some red and green material, patterned paper and glue, or paint. Surprise, you they have just made you a great Christmas decoration or present eight months in advance. Way to go!

What are your great craft ideas that teach JOY? Please share!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joyful Activities - Finding Joy #6

You can find reasons to be negative or joyful in any situation. Joyful people try to focus on the positive, and God's perfect plan even during the really bad times. Talk to your kids about what it means to look at the bright side of things. People with joy don't let circumstances get them down. Ask your kids what helps them turn their frown upside down? Here are some fun activities that might get this conversation started:

1. For breakfast, cook your eggs "Sonny"-side up. Talk to them about how the "Son" gives us true joy and helps us look on the bright side. For added fun, make the two eggs eyes and a piece of bacon a smile.

2. Fill a glass half-way up and ask your kids - "Is this glass half-full or half-empty?"

3. Grateful Gumballs Lesson  - Explain to the children that our perspective affects most of our lives.  Then, get out some cheap gumballs (or improvise with any other candy) and before you let them chew them explain to them that you are sorry about these bad gumballs. They are hard to chew and the flavor doesn't last very long. Also, they probably won't get the color they want because their sister or brother probably wants the same color. See if they still want to chew the gumballs. Ask them what was wrong with your perspective and how it could be better. Let them chew the gum and observe and discuss their perspectives.

"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour." ~Author Unknown

Have you been on any detours lately? How do you look on the bright side of difficult circumstances and encourage your children to do the same?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Joy of Music - Finding Joy #5

I was still searching for joy, but it was time to teach my monthly Playgroup with a Purpose and guess what fruit of the spirit I was supposed to be teaching these preschoolers about? You guessed it - JOY! Gratefully, I had taught this character quality before. Looking back at my past notes reminded me of all the things that produce joyfulness.  Below is the beginning of this lesson for your children. Today we will begin with the intro and songs. See Wednesday for activities and Friday for object lessons.

Simple Definition of Joy- showing your unconditionally happy heart

The way to have J.O.Y. is to put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.

"In Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever." - Psalm 16:11

"Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ." - William Vander Hoven

JOYFUL SONGS - The Bible talks repeatedly about expressing our joy through music. Put some music on or make your own music. Get out the toy band set, the pots and pans, or a jar full of beans or rice, and let your kids sing and play for joy.
1. "Ho, Ho, Ho, Hosanna"
2.  "Are you Downhearted?" by Robert Harkness,
3. "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart"
4. "J - is for Jesus" - Lyrics are "J is for Jesus, and O- is for others, and YYYYYY is for you and you and you and you and you and you."
5. "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength" (Nehemiah 8:10)
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

What are your favorites ways to show joy through music?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Joyful Verses - Finding Joy #4

Sorry our topics recently have been a little heavy. Next week we will return to the usual genre of activities, games, and stories to teach your family - specifically about joyfulness.  However, to finish this week's focus, since we now agree that the Bible is reliable we should consult it on ways to find and teach joyfulness.

Now, I am giving you homework for the weekend. Pick a few of these passages to read with your family.

Key Verses On Joyfulness:
1. Psalm 16: 11 - "Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures forever."

2. Psalm 28:7 - "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and in my song I shall thank Him."

3. Psalm 30:5b - "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning."

4. Psalm 51:12 - "Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will be converted to thee."

5. Prov. 15:13 - "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face..."

6. Matt. 28: 7&8 - "'And go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead...' and they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to his disciples."

7. John 15:7-13 "...These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you...Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends..."

8. I Thess. 5: 16-18 "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

9. I Peter 1:3-9

10. III John 4 - "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth."

What are the Rewards of Joy?
1. Strength - Neh. 8:10

2. Cheerful Countenance - Prov. 15:13

3. Health - Prov. 17:22a - "A joyful heart is good medicine..."

What Produces Joy?
1. True Faith - I Peter 1:8

2. Christ's Resurrection - Matt. 28:7&8

3. Salvation - Ps. 51:12, Isaiah 61:10

4. Being in the Presence of God - Psalm 16:11

5. The Holy Spirit in us - Gal. 5:22

6. Sharing Christ with others - I John 1:4

7. A clear conscience - II Cor. 1:12

8. Obeying God's laws - Ps. 19:8

9. God's word - John 15: 7-11, Jer. 15:16

10. Wise words - Prov. 15:23

11. Seeing our children walk in the truth - III John 4, Prov. 23:24

12. Being a faithful servant - Matt. 25:21

13. Controlling your thoughts - Phil. 4:8

14. Encouragement from the saints - Phil. 1:7

How do we Practice Joy?
1. Rejoicing when we go through trials - Matt. 5: 11-12, James 1:2-3

2. Rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything - I Thess. 5:16-18

3. Delighting in your weaknesses, because when you are weak, Christ's grace is strong -II Cor.12:9&10

4. Singing thanksgivings, and playing music, and dancing - Ephesians 5:18-20, I Sam. 18:6

5. Giving - II Cor. 8:2

6. Fellowship - Phil. 1:25; Philemon 1:7

7. Sharing God with others - I John 1:4

8. Smiling - Prov. 15:13

9. Trusting in the Lord - Ps. 28:7

10. Enjoy your work and your blessings - Ecc. 5:18 - 20

Joyful Biblical Character Examples:
1. Jesus - Gospels, Isaiah 53, and Phil. 2

2. Paul -Romans 5:3-11, 8:18; II Cor. 4:7-18; 11:23-29; Phil. 4:4-8; and Col. 1:24

3. Tabitha - Acts 9:36 - 39

I would love to hear about other ways that you experience joyfulness with your family.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Crisis of Faith - Finding Joy #3

Have you ever doubted your faith? Even if you haven't, your children will. So you need to be prepared. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Christian Studies, but during my recent family crisis even I experienced doubts. My crisis of feeling (the blahs) quickly turned into a crisis of faith. What should we do to combat doubts? Seek the Truth.
Hank Hanegraaf
The Bible Answer Man
1st - Pray about it. I asked God to make Himself real to me, and then Providentially I literally happened upon an amazing tract  "How Can I Believe in Christ, When I Don't Even Believe the Bible."
(Order yours from

2nd - Seek wise counsel.  Meet with a leader in your church or knowledgable friend, or read some of these amazing resources.
     1. Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison
     2. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce
     3. Jesus and the Eyewitness by Richard Bauckham

3rd - Get answers to specific doubts or questions from The Bible Answer Man.  His website is an amazing resource for finding the answer to literally any Bible question you could imagine. 

I am glad to say that my doubts have quickly dissolved after seeing so much evidence.
I would love to know how you combat doubts in your children or in your own heart.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rebellious Responses - Finding Joy #2

1st - I turned to the Bible to find JOY because it is the "good Christian" answer. Conveniently, since my sister's stroke was in January, I was still faithfully on the "read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program". Initially, I missed a few days, so I just started up again thinking that this would be the way to solve my problem of sadness. Unfortunately, "the plan" starts out in the Old Testament. I was reading Numbers, and I have to admit that reading about how to sacrifice animals and the multitude of laws that one was required to follow "or else" was not helping me find my joy at all. Instead, my negative heart was reacting to God's requirement of ultimate obedience and justice with confusion, doubt, and rebellion. As I am writing this, I am literally just now realizing that I was responding this way because I was feeling convicted of my sin and Satan was filling my head with lies.

When your children respond harshly and rebelliously to you, remind yourself that they are responding to how uncomfortable the truth is making them feel as it wars inside them against the lies of Satan. You are just an easy scapegoat. Think about the last time you got really mad about something your husband implied you needed to work on.  At first, you probably directed your anger at him, but really were you angry because the truth hurts? Nobody likes to be corrected or forced to do things. One of my children is always the meanest right before she responds to conviction with sweet repentance.

Satan was tellig me that the Bible is unreliable. What lies has Satan been telling you or your children? What makes you the maddest? When do your children respond the most angrily to you and why? How should we respond to the anger or rebellion of our children?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Blahs - Finding Joy #1

Hello Friend,
      Do you ever feel down, depressed, or just plain blah for no good reason? Do you ever have trouble finding your joy despite the fact that you have much to be joyful about? Honestly I have been really struggling lately with negativity and anger. I am a natural pessimist and perfectionist so I tend to lean a little toward the negative side of the pendelum normally, but for about the last three months I have been near the bottom of the dial. I think my family crisis with my sister Mandy (Mother of seven young children, recently suffered a severe stroke as a result of brain surgery to remove a tumor) triggered it. However, Mandy is now at home and is recovering miraculously better than we could have ever hoped. I have great reason to rejoice yet I am still down. Sometimes our feelings do not listen to the facts. Today, I would like for you to join with me on the beginning of a journey to find joy.

Where should we look to find joy? I would love to hear your input on how you find true joy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Give Away!

To the right is the picture of my closet after it has been cleaned out. I know it is not perfect and I still need to give away more, but would you believe that I gave away almost 50 items?!!! Does a pair of shoes count for one or two items? I have been very blessed, so I have much to share.
Luke 12:48b, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required...."

Speaking of giving away items. I have an announcement to make. Congratulations, Diane N. you have won the Easter give away - Making Family Traditions by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson! Contact me to claim your prize. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I love to hear everyone's input, ideas, and encouragement for other moms. Keep it coming!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Closet is Not Feeling Well

No this photo is not morphed. My closet really is that skinny and it is not feeling well. It looks like it has thrown up!

I know some of you are disgusted not only by the mess, but by the abundance of clothes that I have. Let me defend myself somewhat by saying that in my teens and twenties one of my hobbies was shopping resale, so only about twenty items have been bought since I have had children and almost all of it was less than $10.

However, now it is time to reduce, recycle, and change out winter clothes for spring. Join with me as I purge (get it) my closet of unneeded items, and tackle my sin of hoarding.  My sick closet is really a sign of a sick heart. When you don't have much money or you are a cheapskate like me, it is easy to get in a bad habit of hoarding. This way you have a better chance of having what you need when you need it.  Instead of hoarding, I need to trust God more to provide for my needs.  He has always provided for me and my family in the past through generous friends and family. Hopefully my new generosity will bless others in true need the way I have been blessed.

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works,  to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasures for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."
                                                                                                                           -I Timothy 6

Monday, April 2, 2012

Control the "Catch-All" - Mom Mondays

Ok ladies, I am going to get real with you this week! Almost every day around 4:30pm, I begin my mad dash to pick up the house, so the house is generally picked up but not very clean. However, I have one area in my house (not counting my children's rooms of course) that is almost always covered with clutter. To the left is a real picture of my kitchen desk counter that I took today. Do you have one of those areas that is a "catch-all"?
The beginning of the month and spring time is a great time of year to de-clutter and clean. I don't know about you but when my desk is cluttered, my brain and my life feel the same way. Join with me in starting fresh. You will really be surprised by the picture of my closet that will be up next. Can any of you compete with this cluttered picture? Send me your pictures.

"But all things should be done decently and in order."  - I Corinthians 14:40