Whose Word I Praise {Psalms on Sunday}

May 10 2015_web

 

The key to not being afraid? 

Trusting in God’s Word. In His promises. In His Truth. In His revealed will.

God is for us. This, of course, means He is not against us.

When put our trust in the word of the God who created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, the mountains and the moon and the stars, we don’t have to be afraid.

The Law of the LORD is perfect, 
restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
The judgements of the LORD are true;
they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, 
than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey and the
drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

PSALM 19:7-11


 Feel free to download the above graphic;, suitable for printing. For personal use only. Fonts are KG Why You Have to be So Mean and KG Always a Good Time. Papers are by Kristin Cronin-Barrow and are no longer available.

That’s a Wrap {Birthday Season 2015}

PTS | That's a WrapIt’s finally done…birthday season 2015. Eight birthdays in three months (seven of those being in eight weeks) is exhausting.

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People often ask if we just combine birthdays since they are all so close. And we always say, “No!”

There are many perks to being in a large family. I love it and wouldn’t ever want to change it. However, there are hard things too. Out of necessity, a lot of things in our life have to happen as a group. But birthdays? Those are a day to celebrate an INDIVIDUAL and to make that person know how thankful we are they were born. We want to celebrate the joy they bring to our life and look to the future and pray expectantly for good things to come. We take each birthday to make the day all about that one child, showering them with love, yummy food, and a few gifts.

Our tradition has been to let the kids choose the meals for the day (it used to be dinner, which is what my parents did for us, but somehow over the years it has crept into choosing all the meals. And of course, they often pick the hardest or most time consuming!) We also let them give input on decorations. They each have the choice of a family activity or a party. Over the years, we have only had three parties (two of them this year!) We love doing things as a family and that is most often their choice.

This year was a great year of celebrating each of our children (and my birthday and Jason’s birthdays fall right in the middle of all that!)  As much as I love the fun and creativity that comes with birthday season, I am usually quite happy to see it go. Now I have until the end of January before I have to plan another birthday!

Here is birthday season 2015 in review!

Alaina

Katie

Bethany

Zachary

Levi

Caleb

 

1000 Miles

©janetphillips_may7_2014_web-12A year ago today, I arrived back in the United States with six kids (Jason stayed for another month). Before leaving Indonesia, I completed the last of the 1000 miles I set out to walk/run during our year. You can read more about that journey HERE.

As I think over the past year, with all of its joys and struggles, I am aware of how much my quest to cover 1000 miles was part of God equipping my mind and spirit for what was to come.

This past year, I believe, will stand out in my mind always as a year that shaped me. Through the deep pain and the deep gladness, I have learned to lean deep into the Lord and into who He made me. Never have I felt such a struggle between God’s purposes and the world’s, between my will and the will of my Father, and between the pull to life on earth and life in eternity.

This past year, I have learned about my deep selfishness and God’s deep grace. I have become more convinced of  a deep need to work and a deep need to rest. I have experienced God’s serious expectations of obedience as well as His deep grace in freedom.

I have grieved deeply for the piece of my heart left in Indonesia (reverse culture shock was far more arduous than I was prepared for.)

I have tasted the goodness and blessing of an amazing church family and have learned what the body of Christ truly looks like.

I have looked expectantly to the future, of a life using our unique gifts to give the great gift of God’s Word to others.

My 1000 mile journey, I am convinced, set the stage for the next 365 days. The lessons I learned over the miles were lessons God knew I would need.

  • I learned to persevere, even in the face of illness, fatigue, and bad cases of the I-don’t-want-to’s.
  • I learned rest isn’t optional, it’s essential.
  • I learned to use the downhills to my advantage and give myself grace on the uphill.
  • I learned that speed is far less important than tenacity.
  • I learned that sometimes, it’s better to just stop and enjoy the sunrise.
  • I learned that I am capable of far more than I think I am.
  • I learned that the choices I make affect the choices of others.
  • I learned that consistency is the catalyst for success.
  • I learned that the key to strength is to be torn down in order to be rebuilt stronger.
  • I learned that our future is always dependent on the choices we make today.
  • I learned that a specific goal is far more beneficial than an ambiguous desire.
  • I learned a little each day accrues faster than inconsistent bouts of determination.

God used my desire to “do hard things” to prepare me for what was to come. He knew what I would need in order to accomplish His will.

1000 miles prepared me for a much more important journey.

 

 

 

The Third Jar

PTS | M&Ms_featured

On my dresser sit three large jars of M&Ms. And I don’t even like M&Ms!

So why are they there?

They are there to remind me. I’m a visual person. It’s with my eyes I dream and think and pray and thank and remember.

When I look at these three jars, representing reality, I remember.

I remember the first jar represents the language groups of the world that have the entire Bible.

I remember the second jar represents the language groups of the world that have portions of the Bible.

And I remember the third jar represents the language groups of the world that don’t have even one verse of the Bible. Not one verse!

After reading stories and saying goodnight to the kids, I climb in bed. I sit up, book or phone in hand, and I see them. I think through my day and the complaints of my heart and my eyes fall on that third jar, full to the brim. It is then that I remember what the real problem is.

It’s bad enough when we have a Bible and don’t choose to treasure it or even read it. God will deal with our prideful and rebellious heart (prideful because not reading indicates we don’t truly believe we have a need for it and rebellious because God tells us to let the words of Christ richly dwell within us.) If we choose not to partake of the living bread, it’s on us. “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'” (Luke 16:29). 

But what about those who lack the choice to read? The choice to hear? The choice to know and understand?

That third jar represents the 4000+ languages of the world who don’t have a choice. They don’t have even one word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand. 

I end my day looking at the jars, knowing I can think of no better way to spend my short time on earth than to use my loaves and fish, as pitiful as they may be, to fill the first two jars by emptying the third.

What about you?

TDD | On the Porch Swing

On The Front Porch

TDD | On the Porch Swing

 

I love having a front porch. The missionary house where we are staying has a big, beautiful front porch, complete with white rocking chairs and a porch swing.

As the nights get longer and the school year end gets closer, I am being more lax in bedtimes and instead trying to enjoy the beautiful spring weather in the evening. It will be blazing hot soon enough.

Last night that meant a few rounds of hitting the softball with the big kids while the little ones played happily on the porch.

I wish they could stay this small forever. But since they can’t, I want to fully enjoy this moment now. Little ones are a lot of work and exhaustion is common, but there is nothing like their sweet smiles and squeals of glee.

©janetphillips_may4_2015_web-98

I haven’t worked in iMovie before, but I had some time in between answering math problems and I played around a bit. I love these two!

And if you want to see some sweet and spunky photos of Bethany, you can see them on my photography blog.

 

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Let Dad Be Dad (again)

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About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post entitled Let Dad Be Dad. It was based on some of the best parenting advice I have ever received. I think this mindset has been key in our marriage and in our parenting. If I had tried to make Jason parent like me, I would have squashed his spirit and taken much of the joy out of parenting for both of us.

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I won’t rehash my thoughts; you can read them here. I do think, though, another dose of photographic proof might be in order.

The two older boys decided on a birthday party this year. Our children are allowed to choose between a family activity and a party. They usually choose to do something as a family, but this year the boys wanted to celebrate with a few friends. And really, they just wanted an excuse to play more football.

For the younger kids this year, I purchased piñatas. Never ones to miss a chance to get candy, the boys wanted one for their party. Since I gave Jason the reigns of the party beyond the food, the piñata and other activities were up to him.

When it was time for the piñata and the kids were all on the front porch, I took a few moments to rest in my room. I was quietly checking email when I hear this from the porch:

“Now, in Piñata ninja, you have two choices: two hits with the nunchucks or one flying kick.”

Um, “piñata ninja?” What is this man up to?

I snuck outside to hear the rest of the directions. I grabbed my camera to prove once again this man is crazy and that my kids are so incredibly blessed to have Jason as their dad.

Fifteen minutes of nunchucks, headbutts, flying kicks, and karate chops later, the coveted candy spilled and the boys joyfully descended like vultures.

Yes. Always. Let dad be dad.

And let dad run boy birthday parties.

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Hands, Not Fists {Psalms on Sunday}

May 3 2015I want to love and glorify God with my entire being: my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength.

That strength includes my body — what I put into it, what I ask of it, how I maintain it, and what I do with it.

May 3 2015 (3)

Our hands clap when we have found joy and appreciation in something. We clap at plays, sports events, recitals. Our joy and gratitude and admiration overflow into a spontaneous outburst of praise for the performer.

Do my hands erupt in praise for God? Do I use my hands to show my appreciation and joy in all that God has done or do I spend most of my time shaking my fists at God, demanding — like Job — He explain Himself to me.

Perhaps if I would take to heart the words of the previous Psalm —

May 3 2015 (4)

 

— I would do less fist shaking and instead issue forth more intentional applause.

Today, I choose hands, not fists.

Eleven

©janetphillips_caleb-93

My sweet Caleb is eleven today.

I didn’t know I was having a boy. I suspected, but chose to be surprised. After a long labor, a sweet boy was handed to me and I thought, “What am I going to do with a boy?”

I continued to ask myself that question over the next few years. Girls I understood. But boys? I don’t get them at all. How can I be a mother to a boy?

Two years later, the Lord then blessed me with another boy and I have spent these eleven years learning what it means to be a mother to a boy (or three).

It means watching the warrior heart of God shine bright through rough play, sword fighting, and sports. It means lots of sweet cuddles from boys with big hearts. It means trusting that when my mothering instincts fail, God’s fathering instincts have been there all along.

I love my sweet Caleb. He was the squishiest, most kissable cheeks on the planet. I could kiss them all day.

I love his zest for life. He’s so much like me: what he loves, he loves deeply and completely (admittedly, bordering on far into the territory of obsession). His ages and stages have changed, but his passion remains.

I had so much fun going through photos, trying to choose which to show. I couldn’t narrow it down. Every single moment of his life has been filled with great joy and love.

I love you, sweet Caleb. You are such an awesome kid and I am so glad to get to be your mom. You have taught me so much and have inspired so many. Your tenacity and loyalty will take you far.

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Preparing the Soil | April 30 2015

Consider

Preparing the Soil | April 30 2015

Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. (1 Samuel 12:24)


CONSIDER: to think carefully about something, typically before making a decision;
to think about and be drawn toward a course of action


We make hundreds of decisions a day. Some big. Some small. In making these decisions we consider — sometimes at length, sometimes instantaneously — our feelings, our desires, our cravings, our laziness, our ambitions, and our values.  But what does God tell us to consider?

This morning, as I was tempted to worry again about all that needed to be accomplished, all the unanswered questions that fill my mind, all the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that plague me and weigh me down to the point of inaction, He reminded me:

“…Consider what great things He has done for you.”

Oh yes. That. What great things He has done! When I stop to consider and to reflect, the floodgates of memory open wide and I am overcome with His goodness. His grace. His patience. He has cared for me in the past. He will care for me in the future. He is caring for me now. He is caring for me in the joyful moments and He is caring for me in the pain (emotional and physical).

Our God is a God of memories. Through all of Scripture, God asks us to remember, to consider what great things He has done. The psalmists reflect and it comforts them. The Israelites set up stones of remembrance. The story of the exodus was told over and over so that those who couldn’t remember would remember. The passover was to be celebrated each year so God’s people would remember their great deliverance. We go to the communion table to remember what great things Christ has done for us.

As I go about my day today, I want to consider. Before making a decision — a decision to worry, a decision to be impatient, a decision to bow down to the god of my feelings — I want to consider God’s goodness: past, present, and future.

He has done great things for me. I choose to consider them.

 

 

Playing My Part {Audio Post}

Playing My Part_post imageIn this 32 minute audio post, I share about what God is teaching me about playing my part in His orchestra.

In the audio, I mention I post entitled Children Tie the Mother’s Feet. You can read it HERE.

 

You can listen to it here or download below.


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