Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family
November 23rd, 2016 by Sarah

Thankful Always

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Happy Thanksgiving friends!  Some things are easy to thank God for and some are hard, but no matter what season we’re in there are always things we can thank God for.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

I haven’t published a blog in a year and a half so I just want to give a little update and some things that I am thankful this year.

My kids are all of a sudden 11, 8, 6, and 4.  I have a little bit more time to write when Jasper’s at preschool two days a week, and have also been enjoying an appointment or two by myself or going for a quick run outside without any kids.

Mostly though, I am treasuring having Jasper with me before he goes to Kindergarten.  With the older three kids in school I can focus just on him.  I know how fast this year will go.  As I’ve heard so many times, the days are long but the years are short.  That has described the last eleven years so well.

Walking into the grocery store holding hands with Jasper and having him sit on my lap to read a book makes my heart full to the brim.   I am at the same time grateful to watch each of our kids growing into their own personalities.

I have also been going through a hardship with my health the last year and a half, but God has been so good to me through it.

I have had some ongoing minor health issues for the last 15 years.  Each year it seemed to get a little worse until this past year I was so sick and I wasn’t absorbing nutrients or functioning well.  My blood labs were showing that something just wasn’t right.

I had already gone to specialists in the past and done endoscopies, ultrasounds etc, but I decided I needed to really advocate for myself and figure out what was going on.

I am thankful for some great doctors, both medical doctors and naturopaths, who separately were able to confirm that I have had an infection in my small intestine for quite some time.  I have been treating for six months and am doing a lot better, but I still have a ways to go.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be working so hard to get healthy and praying for healing almost daily but still dealing with bad lab test results I would have been so discouraged looking ahead. I am not because of how faithful God’s been to show that He is with me even when His way doesn’t make sense to me.

Maybe that’s why God doesn’t tell us what the future holds.  He gives us the grace for today and He will give us tomorrow’s grace for tomorrow.  

I am a different person than I was a year ago and my faith is stronger in a way that was only established by going through weekends of waiting, thinking I had cancer, getting to know His love and faithfulness through the pain and unknowns.  I had to continue to have hope in God’s goodness and not give up, throwing a pity party for myself.

There have been a multitude of blessings that have come out of this.  When I was so discouraged, God used His Word to speak just the right thing into my life, and I have been able to get to know Jesus in a more intimate way.

I have become more grateful for the little blessings in life, like things that I was not able to do or eat when I was at my worst.  I am most grateful that Jesus promises to never leave or forsake me because no matter what trials come, He is the One thing that can never be taken away from me.

I pray that you are able to experience the joy that comes when we thank God for who He is and the many things He has given us.

Thank you God for the good things that You give us and even for the hard things that You are able to redeem.  My cup is full.

“When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”  Deuteronomy 8:10

April 24th, 2015 by Sarah

I Will Go Before You

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Deuteronomy 31:8  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

In college I remember anticipating the future, wondering what I would do for a job, asking God for wisdom on who to marry, and what to major in.  There was some anxiety and a lot of anticipation.

At some point that excitement and anticipation for the future dissipated for me as if my life had been completed.  What’s crazy is that I might still have more than half of my life ahead of me.

When I do think of future decisions I am a little more nervous because it’s not just me that we’re making decisions for, it’s a whole family.

This morning I read Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I know God is with me.  It’s a promise I hear often and one that I’ve really begun to trust, but the idea of asking God to go before me brings me even more comfort.

We have no idea what the future holds.  The next fifteen years we will be making a lot of decisions and forming the lives of our children.

What school should we send them to?  Activities and sports?

Should we adopt children in the future, fill our time differently?

Will we have what it takes to do the ministry that God has called us to?

I want to run the race of faith in Jesus well.  Not to merely start well, but to finish well.  I want to look forward to ways that God can use us to spread His Word with excitement and trust.

God’s not done with me.  And as long as you have breath in your lungs He’s not done with you either.  He created us for a relationship with Him, to show who He is.  God has given you gifts that He will use to bring His Kingdom if you trust in Him.

God’s promise was to go before the Israelite people as they were about to go into battle and claim the land He had promised them.  He tells them over and over to love Him and seek Him with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

He tells them over and over to obey Him.  Why?  Not because God wants to put a damper on our fun but because His ways are best and He knows the way to blessing and a life well lived.

Do you trust God today enough to obey what He says?  Do you read God’s Word to see what His instructions are for us?

I personally always have an area, or two, or many that I am working to obey God in.

Do you trust that God is able to go before you and prepare a path for you to share His Word and to do His will?

If so, get excited for what is to come.  Commit your future to him, and ask for His constant leading.

I want to pray with you today.

Lord, Your ways are best.  You are good and I thank you for dying for our sins and giving us the power that we don’t have on our own to do Your will.  Please will You help us to trust and obey You, and will You go before us in the battles that lay ahead and fight for us.  Will you deliver us from evil and evildoers.  I ask for wisdom and Your enablement as we tell people about You and raise our kids to know and love You.  In Jesus’ Name I pray Amen

October 18th, 2014 by Sarah

The Music of a Home

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This has been a great fall, and we are finally setting into a routine.  I am not naturally structured so we have had to figure out how to fit homework, sports, and showers in for the kids, all the while making sure we are teaching our kids God’s Word and not neglecting the important things. A constant struggle.

Micah started third grade, Hudson first, and Isabelle preschool two days a week.  All three of them adjusted well and I am grateful to see answers to prayer with their teachers and classes.

We rush around in the morning packing lunches and getting breakfast.  It’s not as peaceful as I would like, but I have been putting on praise and worship music in the morning as we’re packing lunches and eating breakfast.

The other morning a redone hymn, “Be Thou My Vision” came on.  For some reason it caused a flash back to my childhood.  When I was young my mom had an album of hymns that we would listen to over and over again.  I remember that album almost by heart.

I was overcome with gratitude for what God has brought me out of.  I remember that shy, troubled girl singing in the back seat of our car so vividly. I am still in awe that God has saved me, that He has adopted me as His child through Jesus even though I do not deserve it.  The benefits of knowing Him are countless.

Music is powerful, especially with children.  Don’t underestimate the influence it has on them.  When I hear one of our kids pass by me singing the lyrics to a worship song it is joy to my ears.

What brought tears to my eyes as I was singing “Be Thou My
Vision,” was a memory of an answer to prayer in my late teens.

Somewhere during the path of my childhood, the praise music playing throughout our house was gone.  It was replaced with a negative atmosphere.

I left for college and was blessed to be at a Christian school where God really changed my life and showed me more of Himself.  When I came home for vacations I was burdened for my family who was not doing well, and I would sometimes go through each family member’s room praying for them.

My prayer for my mom was that praise would return to her tongue, in more ways than just the music she listened to.  As I prayed through the kitchen I prayed that she would listen to praise and worship music while she did the dishes.

Then one summer day I came home, months later, and my mom was doing the dishes listening to worship music.  It took a moment to hit me, but I was blown away that God had answered that prayer already.

My Mom, Dad, sister and brother are doing better than I ever imagined at that time in my life.  My mom is part of a great church and Bible study, she is an amazing prayer warrior.  She prays for me over the phone often and is such an encouragement to our family. Praise fills her home.

It doesn’t matter what the atmosphere in your household is right now, look up to HIm and not at Your circumstances.  God can change an atmosphere, and praising Him is a great start.

Sometimes I don’t have the words to praise.  The Psalms are a great place to start when you don’t have words.  

There is also a lot of music available for free on online stations like ITunes Radio, Pandora or even YouTube.

Some of the praise and worship music I love is, Hillsong United, Kari Jobe, Hillsong Young and Free, Shane and Shane, All Sons and Daughters, and Elevate Worship.

Hope you’re enjoying this amazing Fall weather!


August 7th, 2014 by Sarah

Where Is My Chocolate?!

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It has been way way too long since I’ve posted.  I have lots to say and think about it often, but when I imagine how long it will take me to write down and edit, edit, edit like I do I just don’t do it.

So this is my attempt to stop by and write an imperfect post, but at least I wrote!  I am hoping this helps me to get on more often.

This summer has been great, except for the parts when our kids are fighting, getting bored and saying “I’m hungry constantly.”

If your kids have been fighting, and it takes your 2-year-old .3 seconds to get into something, then I want you to know you’re not the only one.

I try to get out of the house in the morning so that Jasper’s not emptying out bags of chips on the floor all day long (though he usually manages to empty one before we leave).  That really helps my sanity.

Still it is difficult to keep up with the #discipliningtrainingcleaningcookingshoppingorganizingnoiseactivities.

When my kids misbehave and fight  I find myself asking, “what am I doing wrong as a parent?”

Today when I heard my kids get into yet another squabble and my daughter let out one of her dramatic ear-piercing screams I ignored it momentarily and ran inside to grab a piece of dark chocolate.

Don’t worry, I’m not addicted, but it sounded like a good idea right in the moment.

And it was.  It gave me a second to take a breath, happily realize that none of my kids caught me sneaking chocolate and get back into the situation.

I find myself needing to take a deep breath and saying a quick “help,” to God, often lately so I don’t react in anger.  I do react in anger more than I wish I did.

One thing I just started, and I know it will be temporary is a little game to get the kids to practice encouragement instead of put downs.  I taught them what it does to their hearts when they put each other down instead of encourage.

Then I explained that each time I hear them encourage and uplift each other they will get a little marble in a glass jar.  (I bought them at the $ store).

If they put each other down, hit, or hurt each other’s feelings then a marble comes out.  Once they fill it up we get to do something fun that we normally don’t do.

So far, they fight about who is getting the most marbles in or out and Jasper occasionally steals the marble jar.  That’s OK, baby steps.

They just need the practice and I need an easy and readily available consequence once in a while.

I also try to stay positive and encouraging with it so they don’t get discouraged that the jar isn’t filled up yet and give up.

It’s not just kids I guess.  We all need practice with encouragement.  Why is it easier for all of us to criticize, brag and compete than to think of something encouraging to say?

These are some things I tell myself that give me hope on a long day.

First, they will leave the house one day.  And I might just miss those little fingerprints on the walls.  The spilled milk, I don’t think so, but maybe the fingerprints.

Second, parenting well is work, but God says that if we do not give up teaching our kids His commands, and who He is.  If we don’t give up disciplining and teaching them right from wrong, we WILL reap a harvest of blessing.

Whatever that blessing is I am hoping for it.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up..” Galatians 6:9

Third, I am so inadequate as a mom, but as I tell myself numerous times a day, God is more than adequate and will help me.

God’s Word and His Spirit are what I rely on during these long days, but I also thank God for a quick sneak of chocolate and a deep breath.

There we go folks, and it only took me a half an hour.  That means I’ll talk to you soon!

March 3rd, 2014 by Sarah

You Are Not Alone

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DSC_0580February was the month of Birthdays, as three of our kids were born in February.  Now we have an 8, 6, 4, and a 2-year-old.  I’m not naming any names, but (the two-year old) is keeping me on my toes right now.

I also started homeschooling Hudson at the end of January because every day/all day Kindergarten just wasn’t for him, and that’s the only option at our school.

I would never vote for myself as a home school teacher because I just don’t think of myself as a patient teacher, but it is going surprisingly well.

I wrote this article for Canvas Magazine, our church’s magazine, almost a year ago.  I realized that I hadn’t shared it here so I wanted to share it with those of you haven’t read it in the magazine.

You Are Not Alone

I sat with my friends, and fellow mothers, Sally and Jill inside a coffee shop on a chilly night. As we sat talking about our children’s recent bought of the flu, how to tame a two-year-old temper tantrum, and our sleep deprivation, our fourth mommy friend, Jolene, joined us at the table.  Jolene’s children have grown up, and as she sat down she smiled and said, “I miss the days that you girls are in.”

I think the three of us may have looked at her like a dog that heard a whistle.  For days I kept thinking about what she said because I absolutely know that I am going to miss these days when my kids are young, but some days it is also really hard to parent four little children.  Weeks after Jolene made that comment I found myself remembering to be thankful for the stage I am in now in moments that I want to complain.

Fast forward to today, a snowy day.  I’m feeling a little depleted.  I’m guessing the winter, with sickness and all it brings, has been a little draining for most of us with small children.

I think it’s fitting to write during this season of fatigue because that is the reality of parenting for many of us.  It’s neither all easy nor all hard.  Parenting is both heart full of joy and at times heart filled with pain.  It is both successes and failures, giggles and tears.

I absolutely love the moment that each of my kids come downstairs in the morning rubbing their eyes, grinning and happy to be up.  I love their snuggles and morning breath on my cheek.  That two minutes of connection, before they start fighting over who gets what cereal bowl, fills my heart up to the brim.

It’s amazing how one minute I am having a peaceful morning but the next my blood pressure is rising because two kids are fighting with each other, while another is screaming because I won’t let her have fruit snacks for breakfast.

That moment when my blood pressure is rising is the moment I am looking for help; a tip from a parenting book, a little bit of God’s grace, or maybe a room to hide in with a lock on it.

So how do we parent well even in those difficult, not fun moments?

I in no way consider myself to be a parenting expert. (But does anyone feel like a parenting expert when they are right smack dab in the middle of parenting little children?)  Maybe when my children are all grown up and I forget some of my mistakes.  When I long for just one day to go back and hold their tiny fingers in my hands, to kiss their baby cheeks and have them on my lap, but not today.

Here is what I am finding is my most important help in parenting through the good moments and the hard.  You may be tempted to gloss over what I am about to say because it seems overly simplistic, but it’s actually difficult to do and freeing all at the same time.

It is to rely on God in the frustrating moments, and the good ones; to rely on Him when I need wisdom and strength.

This is a hard thing to do, which is why I often have to try every tool in my tool belt before I realize that I can’t do this well on my own.  It is why I finally pray about my situation and wonder why I hadn’t done it months ago.

In John 15:5 Jesus says. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing.  Nothing.  It seems a bit extreme you might think.  What is Jesus meaning here?

He means that we cannot do anything that has lasting value without growing our relationship with Him, without trusting in Him continuously.  We can’t carry out the work He intends for us to carry out on our own.

But how do we “remain” or “abide” in Jesus.  I think it’s a lot of things.  It is reading the Bible and listening to biblical teaching on a regular basis so we know how to obey Him.  It’s praying, thanking Him, and staying in communion with Him through the day.

It’s the long prayer before bed, and the quick, “please give me strength Jesus” on the run.

All parents want their time as parents to be described as “fruitful”, but where does it start?  It doesn’t start with play dates and social interaction.  It doesn’t start with activities and lessons.  It doesn’t even start with education and schooling.

All of these are good and fine., but Jesus says if we want our efforts to bear fruit in every area of life, including our parenting, it begins with our relationship with Him.  We must “remain” in Him.  That’s not a guarantee for perfect kids, especially since there are none, but it’s a simple reminder that we can’t do anything apart from Christ.

Jesus promises to be with us, and getting to the place where we know we can’t do it without Him is a good place to be.

We live in a scary world, and there is no shortage of different opinions regarding parenting strategies.  I want to parent out of wisdom from God, not just the current parenting fad.  I want what I pour into my kids’ lives to make an eternal and lasting impact.

Sometimes the weight of that responsibility lies so heavily on me, but I also love the truth that if we have trusted Jesus to save us from our sin, He has promised His Holy Spirit to actually live in us, to give us power (Acts 1:8).  God also promises that He will give us wisdom when we ask (James 1:5).

I am amazed at how many times God has answered our prayers when we are struggling in some aspect of parenting or family life.  I will often ask for wisdom and shortly after find the answer I needed in a parenting book or advice from a friend.  When I am discouraged I ask again and again for the Holy Spirit to fill me, to give me wisdom, to lift me up and encourage me.

We are never alone.  I hope that encourages you.  It does me, and yet I forget.  It’s a daily struggle.  When I am clinching my teeth trying not to raise my voice because I am frustrated to the max, I want to remember Who is with me and ask Him for help.

I want to parent in a way where I am joining God in what He’s doing in my kids’ lives.  I want these short years with my children to count for something bigger than myself and my own abilities.  I want to look at my children as adults and be in awe, saying, “wow look what God did.”

February 10th, 2014 by Sarah

10 Winter Survival Tips For Moms and Dads

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This is the view out of our front window from last winter.  It’s pretty to look at, but I have high hopes for an early spring this year.

The last month has been filled with canceled school and some days with sick kids where we can’t leave our house.

After eight winters in MN with kids, here are a few things that have helped us survive physically and mentally.

Ideas for days when you can’t leave the house. 

1. Let go of your expectations for a clean house or your to-do list for the day (if possible) so you can give extra snuggles.  Sometimes the sick days that I dread become precious because of the extra time I get with our kids.

2. Have a beach party.  Get swimsuits on, grab some beach towels, and get the kids in the bath.  Put some music on and pretend it’s a sunny day at the beach :).

3. If you have girls, do a spa day.  Put some coconut, olive or catsor oil on your hair with a plastic bag.  Do a honey mask and manicure.

4. Get a stack of books, and let the kids into your bed for a cozy time of reading.  My kids seem to think it’s fun if it’s in our big bed.

I try to get to the library once a week in the winter to keep us stocked up on books and videos in case we have a few days where we can’t leave the house. If you can get out for a quick trip to the library, the books on CD, videos, and of course books can be a life saver.

5. Take a deep breath.  You will leave the house again.

I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Help for Our Bodies.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  These are things that have helped me as I have researched and tried various home remedies. I use a variety, but these are some of my favorites.

1. Freeze a container of homemade chicken noodle soup for one of those days when you need it.  I will share the easiest way!

Buy a large rotisserie chicken. Take the meat off and put it in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you will make it.  Then put the carcass in a crock pot, cover with hot water (and garlic, carrots, or onion if you want to make it richer but if I’m in a hurry I skip that).  Cook on low for 12-24 hours.  Your broth will be rich with vitamins and minerals.  There are many benefits to bone broth.

When you’re ready, follow a chicken noodle soup recipe like this one, (but I add peas).  You have your chicken and chicken stock all ready to go, so it takes me less than 20 minutes to do the rest!

2.  Vitamin D3, which primarily comes from the sun and certain foods, is essential for our physical and mental health.  I buy D3 drops and give them to our whole family daily throughout the winter because, well, we’re not seeing much sun in MN.  This has been found to help to ward of illness, depression and even certain cancers.  

When you have your yearly physical ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels.  Even though I had mine tested in the summer and I was taking the recommended amount of D3, my levels were still not in optimal range!  My goal would really be 60, and I believe 40-70 is considered optimal.

You can take too much, but if you’re not in the sun, most people need much more than the recommended daily dosage.  If you want to learn more click the vitamin D link above.

Here is where I buy my vitamin D3 drops in olive oil.  It’s the cheapest I’ve found and I don’t receive anything for mentioning Vitacost.  I think you can find a coupon code for $10 off you first order.

3.  Honey lemon water.  When I feel a cold coming on I drink really strong hot honey lemon water and it often causes the sore throat to go away, or diminishes the length of the cold to a few days.  The tea should have about 1/2 cup of a cup of lemon juice, hot (not boiling) water and as much honey as you need to make it drinkable.  Microwave the water before you put the lemon in it or it supposedly kills the enzymes?  I don’t know, that’s what “they” say.  Cinnamon is also anti-viral, by the way, if you can get a teaspoon of that into your body somehow it’s an added benefit.  I just don’t like it in my honey lemon water personally.

4. Garlic oil. Garlic is antimicrobial.   I have cured my ear aches as well as my kids with this and they did not have to go on antibiotics.  My oldest sons say that it gets rid of the pain within minutes.  You can buy garlic oil or do what I do and heat up a chopped clove of garlic in a small sauce pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Let it cool and add drop it in the ears.

I also swallow chopped garlic like I would a vitamin with water when I get a stomach ache and it often gets rid of it.  The article I linked above shares some of its benefits.

5. Green smoothies.  These are very popular right now, but particularly if you let your kids help you make them or call them a cool name, you can pack some great nutrients in a little drink.  Green smoothie recipes abound on the internet.

If you have ideas, corrections, or questions, please comment.  I am not a health expert and love hearing suggestions!

December 23rd, 2013 by Sarah

Four Ways To Put Christ at the Center of Christmas

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Merry Christmas friends and family!  If you read the Eaglebrook blog, then you may have already read this post, but I wanted to post it here as well.

The other day I was with a group of moms and we were talking about how we can help our children to keep theChrist in Christmas. We talked about advent devotionals that we found online and Christmas traditions. As I was doing dishes and listening to Christmas music I thought, “I’m the one who needs to keep the Christ in Christmas.”

I love Christmastime—the lights, the traditions, the snow, and the decorating. I love that yesterday as I was getting my hair cut, “Oh Holy Night” was playing through the speakers rather than Miley Cyrus. I love everything except the shopping, and the stress that comes with that.

But as I did the dishes, I had to remind myself that without all of the things mentioned above, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus. I began singing the Christmas songs (off tune) and thinking about Jesus as I listened to the rich words of the old Christmas hymns. I was not just listening, but worshiping in my heart.

There is nothing wrong with lights and presents to celebrate, but I want to remember Christ with a deep gratitude and not focus on the externals of Christmas.

If we focus on getting a feeling from Christmas, we will most likely end up overspending and disappointed.

So, how can we keep Christ at the center of our lives this Christmas?

1. Meditate on Jesus and what he did for us. It might seem more difficult than ever to spend extra time and energy seeking Jesus in such a busy time, but that is what will actually fill our hearts with joy and enable us to do the things we need to get done. Spend some extra moments reading God’s Word, listening to a sermon while you do housework, or spending some extended time in prayer.

2. Worship. God deserves our worship all day every day, but what a great opportunity the Christmas season is to really think about the words to the Christmas carols and to mean the words as we sing them to Jesus.

3. Give Jesus a gift. What does Jesus want for Christmas? He wants our hearts. Every Christmas we sing happy birthday to Jesus and each member of our immediate family shares the gift we are giving Jesus from our hearts—something we sense that God wants us to do or change in our lives.

4. Remember Jesus during the stressful momentsThe Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:5-6). Those two phrases are directly related. We don’t have to be anxious because God is near through his Holy Spirit. He is closer than our breath. It is because Jesus came to live among us that we can enjoy his presence in a way that people longed to have for thousands of years before Christ came.

Matthew 13:16-17 says, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see.”

Those who worshiped God from the Old Testament longed to see and hear what we get to see. Abraham, Moses, and David longed to see the coming of the Messiah, and here we are.

When I find myself getting stressed or anxious, a code phrase for me has been to think, “God, You are with me.” That very thought calms me and brings a smile to my face in a stressful situation.

I cannot think of a greater gift than this. The God of the world, with us through the Holy Spirit at all times. “Emmanuel, God with us.”

December 2nd, 2013 by Sarah

From the Heart

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“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”  Matthew 12:34b

Do you ever find something coming out of your mouth and then wish you hadn’t said it?  I do this often.  Or I leave a situation and wonder why I felt the need to talk so much instead of listen.

Jesus said that what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what’s going on in our hearts.

I listened to a message on this subject last Monday by Chip Ingram and I wanted to share with you a helpful tool he shared.  It can help us to discern what’s in our hearts or even our kids’ hearts by the things that come out of our mouths.

He said that if you find yourself speaking…

  • Words of harshness…. they reveal a heart of anger.
  • Words of negativity… a heart of fear.
  • Overactivity of words, talk talk talk… our hearts are unsettled/not at rest.
  • Words of criticism… heart of bitterness.
  • Words of filth … a heart that’s impure.
  • Boasting words … an insecure heart.
  • Encouraging words… a heart of happiness that wants to build up others.
  • Gentle words… a tender heart.
  • Truthful words…  an honest heart.
  • Kind words… a loving heart.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it could help us determine if we need to forgive someone, stop watching/listening to some type of media, put ourselves in more godly environments etc.

I have been asking my kids these questions a few times a week before bed.  Has anything hurt your feelings lately?  Are you mad at anyone?  Is there anything you’ve been wanting to tell us?

These questions get at the heart and allow us to teach and pray through what is going on in their ever important hearts.

On another note, my friend Stephanie is posting her Christmas Advent Devotions for families on this blog that she published last year, called “Preparing for Christmas, 25 Devotionals for Families.”  It’s already day two, and she will add a new one each day until Christmas.

It’s a great devotional and I really liked doing this with our kids last night.

I love Christmas time because we are celebrating the hope we have in Jesus, but I know for some it brings along heaviness and sadness.  If there is anything you want me to be praying for during this time please feel free to comment below anonymous or not and I will be sure to pray!

October 3rd, 2013 by Sarah

The Power of Encouragement

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Strand Family  20

You know how when you take a shower the mirror fogs up, and you can write a message that will look invisible until the next person takes a shower? A few weeks ago I wrote, “you’re the man,” with my finger so that my husband, Jason, would see it when he got out of the shower.

Then a few days later I stepped out of the shower to a message on my side of the mirror… (I know what you’re thinking. That Jason wrote something cute like, “you’re beautiful.”) Actually, I saw the words, “Micah’s the man.” Micah is my 8-year-old son and when he saw my message to Jason he wondered why he wasn’t the man. He cleverly decided to write a note back to me.

Inside each of us there is an unquenchable desire for encouragement.

I think we all know that it’s important to encourage each other, but if you’re like me you need reminders. It comes more naturally for me to critique (you know, the fancy word for criticize) than to encourage.

When one of my sons recently got into the bad habit of lashing out when he was angry, I encouraged him to do the right thing, which in this case, was to use his words. He knew what to do and not to do, but no matter what consequence and instruction I gave him, it wasn’t working.

Then, one day it happened. He did the right thing and used his words, and I was so proud of him. I semi-over-the-top encouraged him for using his words and from that point on we saw a huge change, and we continued to encourage him for it.

I believe discipline and instruction are important, but out of everything we tried, encouragement was the most powerful force of change.

Three things to remember:

1. When you think something good–say it, send it in an email, or text it. Just communicate it.
2. Try to notice what your spouse, children, or parents do well and thank them, letting them know how much it meant to you.
3. Rather than saying something vague to your children like “you’re good,” or “you’re smart,” when they attempt a task try something specific like “you’re working so hard” or “wow, you obeyed me the first time I asked, I’m so proud of you.” Studies have shown that more specific encouragement motivates and builds confidence.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another daily.” Build a habit of it, and I believe it has the power to change our families and marriages for the better.

September 17th, 2013 by Sarah

A Great Simple Fall Recipe

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imagesMy good friend Kirstin made this casserole for lunch when I came over last fall and I have made it at least a dozen times since.   She loves to make healthy, simple meals, so I get ideas from her.

You may have zucchini or summer squash from your garden or farmer’s market that you need new uses for.  So here you go.

Sometimes I top it with a little sour cream or cilantro if we have them.  It’s substantial enough for dinner served with crusty, warm bread.

My kids like it, but I will warn you.  If your kids eat with their eyes, this may not be their food.  (Why do kids do that?)

Summer Squash Casserole

  • 3 medium zucchini or summer squash sliced
  • 2 cans black beans (lightly smashed with a fork)
  • 2-3 cups cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed
  • 2 cups or a large jar of salsa
  • Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste (or you can just do a couple of tablespoons of taco seasoning if it’s easier for you).

Put ingredients in the slow cooker on high for 3 hours or bake at 375 degrees in covered 9×13 pan for about 1 1/2 hours.

*Slow cookers vary so cook until the zucchini is soft.


September 2nd, 2013 by Sarah

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

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“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”     Ecclesiastes 3:1

Our summer started out a little rough around the edges, but it got so much better that I have to choke back tears every time I think of school starting for the kids tomorrow.

I will miss the picnics in our front yard, the warm sun, fresh berries and lazy days, but mainly my heart aches at the transition that Hudson’s making from preschooler to kindergartener.

He still holds my hand when we go on walks, and kisses my cheek when I drop him off at church.  I guess I just don’t want to let that sweet little boy go.

And Micah will be in second grade.  I will miss the two of them.  I know there is a benefit to a more little peace and quiet, as well as time with the two little ones, but right now I’m putting off making lunches because I want to live in denial.

Thanks for listening, I feel better already.





What’s odd is that three weeks into summer I was over it.  For some reason the older three kids weren’t getting along and I felt like I was constantly disciplining.

While that was going on Jasper started walking.  Goodbye baby stage, but hello cute little walker.




It was questionable whether Jasper would survive that stage, but he did.  He fell at least ten times a day, and ate everything in sight whether it was edible or not.  But he lived to tell the tale, and now he’s nineteen months old, walking well and saying words.

I lived to tell the tale too.  Just barely, I thought I was going crazy three weeks into summer.  I’m exaggerating, but at the time it didn’t seem so funny to me.

The most difficult day was topped off by Isabelle cutting her own hair while she was supposed to be sleeping.  The next day we went to Kid’s Hair so she could get her first professional haircut and just getting out of the house I started to feel sane again.

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house.  You know, interact with people who whose[‘÷ heads reach higher than your waist.

Here is the before and after of Isabelle’s hair.  Notice the lovely mullet she cut in the first picture.



I don’t know what happened but from then on our summer did get much, much better.  I think a lot of it was prayer, and that I restarted a small group with some women (community helps a lot).

I did a lot of praying for each child individually.  I pray for them daily, but a friend encouraged me to pray for them more specifically.  To pray against sin that has been passed down through generations, and to pray for their specific struggles.

I think our kids needed to get back into the groove of being with each other all day long, and part way through the summer they played together so well.

I’m thankful.  We ended up having a great summer, not void of its bumps, bruises and sunburns, but great.  Here it is in a nutshell.

I read, and even got some novels in.  “All She Ever Wanted” by Lynn Austin was my favorite fiction book that I read this summer, .

My favorite non-fiction book I read this summer was probably Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst.  It’s about dealing with our emotions in a healthy way, and from a biblical perspective.

We went to visit my grandparents in Appleton, WI, and saw extended family we hadn’t seen in years.  We went to a water park resort in Wisconsin Dells on our way back.

We completed a summer bucket list that consisted of things from baking strawberry rhubarb pie to playing capture the flag in the back yard.  My purse got stolen from our car while were at the zoo.

Micah and I celebrated our birthdays, which are three days apart and Jason and I are 11 year wedding anniversary.

I hope you all had great summers and have a nice transition into fall.  Here’s to chilly mornings, turning leaves, cooking and pumpkin spice scented candles.