Healing the Rift Between Christian Women

I wish I could say I’ve never been unkind to another sister in Christ. I wish I could say I have always been above reproach, always acted in a selfless manner, always sought to restore rather than destroy.

I also wish I could say I’ve never been on the other side. Never hurt by things said to me, or things not said, but implied or said behind my back.  I wish I could say I’ve never been misunderstood, criticized, or left out.

There is a reason the Bible admonishes women not be given to slander (1 Tim 3:11) or run from house to house gossiping and telling more than they ought. (1 Tim 5:13)

Lately, the Lord has been speaking to my heart about these things…about what it means to be a Christian, and particularly a Christian woman. I’ve seen myself flail between having a critical spirit and being completely self-conscious and unsure of myself. And when I look around at my Christian sisters, I see others just like me.

I am a servant of God – I shouldn’t look down my nose at everyone else. I am a daughter of the King – I shouldn’t feel like a good-for-nothing nobody. I am a member of the Body of Christ – but, where is the UNITY?

Healing the Rift Among Christian Women | RaisingArrows.net

We women quietly fight over everything from birthing choices, to clothing choices, to worship choices, to Bible version choices…and the list goes on and on.  It is in our nature to stir up strife.  We are passionate, emotional people.  We relate to others via feelings, and we ache for commonality.

But, we weren’t called to commonality.

We were called to unity in Christ.  One head, one body, yet…

…the body does not consist of one member but of many.
1 Corinthians 12:14

It is imperative we stop focusing on our differences, and start focusing on Christ!

The women I know whom I feel personify the living, breathing Word of God have one thing in common – a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).  They aren’t doormats or pushovers, but they don’t need to be.  They are genuine encouragers.  They love you right where you are.  And because of that sweet spirit welling up within them, you WANT to be near them, you WANT to ask them questions, you WANT to learn more from them.

So, how do we heal the rift between Christian women?  We heal the critical spirit in our own lives.

We criticize ourselves.  We criticize others.  And when we do that, we essentially stomp all over the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  We say, “Yes, Lord, I know you made me a new creature, but you missed a spot,” or, “Yes, Lord, I know you died for my sister, but she just doesn’t get it.”

None of us are going to be perfect this side of Heaven.  God isn’t interested in perfection.  He’s interested in teachable, usable, willing vessels.  A critical spirit isn’t any of those things.

The Lord has been dealing with me on this for years now.  He keeps peeling back more and more layers, bringing me to that gentleness and quietness I so desire.  Recently, He brought Angie Tolpin into my life via her ecourse Redeeming the Division – The Quiet Fight Among Women (affiliate link).  It spoke to my heart right where I am…desperately wanting to heal the rift and move forward in a spirit of unity.

Redeeming the Division - The Quiet Fight Between Women online ecourse

If you are interested in taking this course on your own or with a friend, click HERE.

If you would like to lead a group study of this course, click the graphic below…

Group Leader Kit of Redeeming the Division - The Quiet Fight Between Women

I have been prayerfully working through this course, asking the Lord to root out my critical spirit and lead me toward gentleness and quietness, encouragement and grace, love and mercy.  It doesn’t mean I am weak in my convictions or I am some how condoning the sins of others.  Rather, it means, I am focused on Christ, fully trusting of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of others.

Lord Jesus, thank you…thank you for loving me and my sisters right where we are.  May we ever be guided by your Holy Spirit.  Amen and Amen.

Fruit of the Spirit for Marriage Printable {FREE}

Last week, I mentioned exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit in your marriage as an important way to be a wife when the kids are taking a lot of your energy.

In a few days, Ty and I will be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary, so I thought now would be a great time to put together a free Fruit of the Spirit for Marriage printable so you could have something to print off and hang on your wall, put with your At-A-Glance Schedule, or laminate and stick in your Bible.  There are 2 sizes – feel free to print off one or both of them!

May you and your marriage be blessed by it!

Download the Fruit of the Spirit (for married couples) LARGE printable here!

Download the Fruit of the Spirit (for married couples) SMALL printable here!

Fruit of t he Spirit {for married couples} FREE Printable! | RaisingArrows.net

The Eclectic Homeschool – Bible Resources

Eclectic Homeschooling - Bible Resources | RaisingArrows.netLet’s start at the top breaking down this eclectic homeschooling thing!

Bible should be the first “subject” we teach.  Now, you know I’m not a big fan of Bible being compartmentalized (thus the reason the word subject is in quotation marks), and the free-spirited homeschool side of me wants homeschooling to be a lifestyle, not a method, so please understand, the suggestions here are not something you do so you can checkmark a box.  I’m going to walk you through Bible study ideas and resources that will be outside the box – which fits perfectly with the eclectic homeschooling personality!

What Bible looks like in an eclectic homeschool | RaisingArrows.net

Because I do not recommend doing any FORMAL Bible study with children younger than junior high age, I am going to start by giving you resources and suggestions for infusing Bible into your entire day with younger children.  Then, we’ll move on to the older children.

Bible Resources & Suggestions for Non-Readers

Before your children can read, they are totally dependent on you to feed them their Scripture.  This is such a crucial time, and a FUN time too!  They are little sponges and getting God’s Truth in them isn’t a difficult task.

For years now, I’ve read to my non-readers and early readers (more on them in a bit) from a Story Bible first thing in the morning following Morning Chores and breakfast.  If I was more awake in the mornings, I would definitely do this at the breakfast table, but between late nights with the older kids and middle-of-the-night feedings with the newborn, I don’t have the wherewithal to do that right now.  So, we clear the table from breakfast and meet in the parlor.  (The older kids head off to do their own Bible study time, or sit in on the reading as well – you can always learn something new!)

Here is a list of the Story Bibles we have used – I like to keep this time MEATY.  There are many more out there, but I’m only going to list the ones we’ve personally used:

The Child’s Story Bible

Mighty Acts of God

Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible (1932 edition)

Over the years, I have also added in Character Studies during this same time period. I like to choose something a wide range of ages can understand (make sure you are always dialoguing during this time too!). This is where I would plug in any resources I have found online (think Pinterest) or in bundle sales.

 

Here are a few we have used in the past:

Proverbs People – Volume 1 by the Boyers

Proverbs Study Guide – Volume 1

(note: this was pretty heavy at times, and in classic Kevin Swanson style – a little dismal – but I would still recommend it if you are willing to stay intellectually engaged and help your children digest it.)

Fruit of the Spirit Children’s Devotional
fruit of the spirit edevotional

I have even used an old KONOS manual I was gifted many years ago!

Honestly, this is a great place to exercise your eclectic-ness!  You have the freedom to try lots of different resources and find ones that your family LOVES!  This is also a good place to fit in a read-aloud like a YWAM missionary heroes book.

Now, on to the rest of our day…

I’ve told you before that we always start with the Rod & Staff ABC series for our preschoolers when they decide they want to do school.  This isn’t because this is “Christian” curriculum, but because it is one more way to create dialogue with our children about God’s greatness while teaching them skills.  However, the best way we’ve found to infuse the love and greatness of our Creator is through allowing our children to run and play out of doors.  I remember reading once that the Amish feel it is important for their children to spend a lot of time out of doors because it helps them to know and love God.  I wholeheartedly agree!

Read this post to learn more about letting your children learn through curiosity.

In my mind, the curriculum is not the real issue.  You can use a curriculum for your non-readers or not, but whatever you do – BE INTENTIONAL.

I want to add a quick note here – I do not advocate contrived teaching (for lack of a better phrase).  LIVE YOUR FAITH OUT LOUD, but don’t feel like every word that comes from your mouth to your little one’s ears needs to be saying something directly about Jesus.  YOUR LIFE should say something about Jesus.

We dialogue all day long, we interact all day long, we feast and have fun!  We want our life to point to Christ.  No, we don’t always get it right, but that isn’t the point!  The real point is that we are striving by God’s grace to honor Him!

At the end of the day, we try to have a Family Worship time.  This is more of a training time than anything for our little ones.  We read the Bible and sing, and I work to keep them sitting and respectful of God’s Word and the person reading.

Eclectic Bible Resources - RaisingArrows.net

After that, I like to put the little ones down by reading something short to them and praying with them and then turning on some Scripture Music.  This is usually a light-hearted and slow-paced time – we still end up with a lot of discussions, but I prefer this time to be short and sweet (what can I say, I’m tired too!).

We are currently reading the Snuggle Time series from Tyndale.  (Here’s my review of this series.)  There are 3 books in the series.  They are short, but thoughtful (and I rarely get by with reading just one to the kids!).

Snuggle Time series

After that, we help them say prayers by guiding them with some ideas of things to pray for and about.  If we’ve had a late night, we will often say a group prayer rather than an individual prayer.  It’s good for them to hear mom and dad pray for them…even if you simply say, “Please help Junior learn to obey.” 😉

Then, I turn on some music, and pray they stay in bed.  (just being real here)  One of my favorites is Scripture Lullabies.  (You can read my full review here.)

Scripture Lullabies volume I & II {review & giveaway from RaisingArrows.net}

Bible Resources and Suggestions for Early Readers

As soon as our children can read reasonably well, they receive a Bible of their own!  Be sure it is in the SAME TRANSLATION your family uses for devotions or your pastor uses at church.  This allows them to follow along.

We encourage them to read a few passages every day as they are able.  They also listen in with the younger children during the morning story Bible and character studies. (see above)  My 10 year old is also reading through the YWAM missionary books on her own.  This has sparked a lot of great discussions.

YWAM Missionary Books - Bible Resources for the Eclectic Homeschool | RaisingArrows.net(She just finished this one.)

Another thing I do a lot of is leave Christian resources laying around the house.  If I find something I want my children to read, I just leave it somewhere.  They devour it!

I also try to bring things out at meal times like the latest Voice of the Martyrs magazine or the letter we received from Samaritan’s Purse.  My plan is print off some maps from this free website and put them on the wall in the dining room so the kids can readily see where some of the things we read about are taking place.

We are also going to start using a resource I’ve had my eye on for a while and managed to get in the Build Your Bundle sale – The PictureSmart Bible!

Draw your way through the Bible
I am really excited about this!  These are templates your children colors and fills in to enhance their understanding of Scripture.  And yes, I’m going to do them along with them!

Bible Resources and Suggestions for Jr. High & High School

When your children get to this age, it’s time to assess their individual needs in the area of Bible.  This is the time to deepen their walk, give them answers they need, prepare them for the world.

Do not expect every child to be a believer at this point in their lives.  That’s not YOUR job, and you haven’t failed if they haven’t made a profession of faith by the time they are 12.  If you have raised thinking young adults, they will need something much meatier to chew on at this point, and THAT is YOUR job.

This is when we introduce Worldview curriculum.  This is when we start requiring they read books like Dug Down Deep, Assumptions, and How Should We Then Live.  (Soon, I hope to post a list of the books we require for graduation – these being among those.)



We send them to TeenPact, Worldview Academy, and we stay available for the hard questions.  This is the time to put the Bible Gateway app on their phone, tablet, or iPod.  Help them set up a Bible reading plan.  Teach them how to take sermon notes.  Keep that running dialogue, and DO NOT FREAK OUT when they ask hard questions.  It is NOT a sign of defiance – it’s a sign of a thoughtful mind.

This is also when YOUR prayer life is going to kick into overdrive!  My teens have rooted out all kinds of inconsistencies in my life.  They have called us on things we believe, but haven’t thoroughly thought through.  They have asked questions that we needed to look up and study for ourselves.  I am challenged and encouraged by them every single day!

I know this is a lengthy, meaty post.  I know there is so much more I could say, but let me end this by saying that the eclectic homeschool is such a rich environment for studying the Word of God!  You are not chained down to one thing.  You don’t have to follow a prescribed method.  But even if you aren’t an eclectic homeschooler, please don’t compartmentalize your faith and Bible time in your homeschool!  Do whatever it takes to make it your life and the central focus of your children’s education!

The Mission Field in Your Home

One thing I often hear from stay at home moms is that they feel they aren’t reaching out with the Gospel of Christ.  They are so busy running a household, they have time for little else.  (Remember my post on What You Need to Know About Being a Mom Many Littles?)  These woman want to be spreading God’s Word, but they can’t find the time, the energy, or the babysitter.  I’ve even known some women who gave up homemaking and homeschooling in order to make a greater impact on their community for Christ.

What these mamas are missing is the mission field right in their very homes!

The Mission Field In Your Home - "Living and Ordinary Life in the Name of an Extraordinary Savior" | RaisingArrows.net

Before you hang up on me because I’m being trite, please listen to these words written to me in an email by a Saladmaster Cookware representative who visited our home last week:

“Your family is truly amazing and I felt I was on very sacred ground being in your home.  I am in homes all the time and see interaction in all sorts of wonderful families but have to say, yours is a real stand-out!  I consider it a privilege to have been among you.”

That blew me away.  Sure we get comments as we are walking down the aisles of the grocery store or in restaurants, but to have someone who had been around us for more than 10 minutes give such an amazing testimony to the Light of Christ IN OUR HOME blessed my busy homemaking/homeschooling mama heart!

My children as a mission field.

The Mission Field in your Own Home - don't miss it! | RaisingArrows.net

My mission field has always been my home.  I care for children all day long, doing my very imperfect best to instill the Gospel of Christ in them.  My intent is to raise them as arrows for the Lord to one day be shot out from our home and carry the Gospel with them.  Thus, the name of this blog – Raising Arrows.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”
~Psalm 127:3-4

Often, a mother of young children won’t see the fruit of her labor until much later, giving her the impression she’s not really reaching anyone.  However, a funeral we recently attended gave me insight into what a faithful following looks like at the end of the race…

The gentleman who was being remembered died at 93.  Although he was raised in the church, he did not become a true Christ follower until he was 40.  By that point, he had been married quite some time and had 4 children, but it changed his outlook and attitude dramatically.  However, he lived his life as an ordinary man, doing ordinary things; the difference was that he now did it for and in the name of Jesus.  Because of this, his impact on his world was EXTRAORDINARY.

All 4 of his children are believers, as well as most of their family and extended family.  All of them spoke highly of him and how he ministered to them as a family.  His work in the community was done in the capacity of his various jobs, and he was well-loved by those who knew him.

Once, he counseled Ty not to worry about taking the “right” job, but to do something he enjoyed and work for the Lord there.  He did a lot of work in the church, but again, it was done in the capacity of the gifts and realm of influence the Lord had already placed in his life.

Visitors as my mission field.

The day the Saladmaster representative came to cook us dinner, we all pitched in and cleaned the house.  That was the only thing I did to prepare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure half of my boys had on jeans with holes in the knees.  I had to leave the kitchen several times to change diapers, my 4 year old kept playing with one of the pans, and my 2 year old took off with the 1 pound fat glob the guy brought as a visual to explain how to cook healthy meals.  Perfect it was not.

But, it didn’t need to be perfect.  It just needed to be authentic.

Being a missionary is easier than you thought.

The Mission Field is your own Home - RaisingArrows.netBeing a missionary is a calling all Christians have and it has very little to do with your training or your location.  As a mama, it is about being authentic with everyone you come in contact with from your husband to your children to the mailman to the Saladmaster representative. It isn’t about saying the right thing or looking a certain way.  It isn’t about being the perfect hostess or reaching the most people.  It is about living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in the name of an extraordinary Savior!

Your life, your home, your testimony - it doesn't have to be extraordinary to reach others with the Gospel! | RaisingArrows.net

So, next time you are tempted to believe you aren’t really doing the Lord’s work, or what you are doing is much too insignificant, remember WHO is doing the work.  It isn’t you.  This isn’t about you.  Be faithful where you are.  The Lord didn’t accidentally give you these children or this life.  It was planned with a purpose.  Work where you are FOR HIM, and let Him do the rest.

The Relaxing Room – How to find your space in a busy household

A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with an old friend who is a fellow homeschool mom as well as a pastor’s wife.  She was telling me how she has a parlor room in her home that she keeps free from toys and clutter that allows her a place to sit with a cup of tea and relax.

The concept of having a place you can go to relax may sound like a luxury you cannot afford.  Perhaps you feel your home is too small or your time too limited to allow for space to relax.  But, please, lend me your ear for just a moment…

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

In other cultures and in days gone by in our own, people took time throughout their day to breathe.  Some countries take long lunches.  Some countries take tea.  Some countries even take naps!  However, in America, busyness seems to be a badge of honor.  Now, don’t get me wrong…we are to be busy at home (Titus 2:5), but taking a moment to drink a little tea or coffee, read a chapter in a book, sit and hold a small child, open a window and breathe fresh air are not marks of laziness.  They are marks of thankfulness.

The Bible tells us to be still.  When we are still, we are able to know God more because we take the time to see His handiwork in the trees and clouds, the shadows and light, fresh air, and our children’s faces.  We are more in tune with the blessings we have been given, and therefore, live a life of thankfulness.

But, what if you can’t dedicate an entire room to relaxing?  No problem!  You can find this kind of space other ways.

The Relaxing Room - how to find your space in a busy household | RaisingArrows.net

The chair above is a hideous orange chair my mother-in-law picked up at a thrift store for me years ago.  It is the THE MOST COMFORTABLE CHAIR IN THE WORLD!  But, it’s orange!  So orange I don’t allow it out in public!  It sits in my bedroom with an end table beside it.  It is a place I can go to nurse when baby needs quiet (or mama needs quiet).  It is a place I can sit while I talk to my husband as he gets ready for work.  It is a place I can go to have a heart-to-heart discussion with one of the children.  It is my relaxing room.

I have a set of red-cushioned patio furniture I purchased a few years ago.  Sometimes my relaxing room is there.  I can sit in the sunlight and watch the children play.  I can read a book or work on my computer in the fresh air.  Sometimes I just go there and sit and do nothing but breathe.

Sometimes my relaxing room is a 15 passenger van with the windows rolled down and music on the radio.  It is the place I find margin in my day.  It is the place I praise the Lord for giving me all the little people in my rear view mirror.

Your relaxing room might be a tiny corner of the living room where you keep a rocking chair and your Bible.  It might be a garden with stepping stones made by your children or a front porch full of plants and flowers.  Wherever it is, it is a place you can go to be thankful.  It is a place you can go to find just a tiny moment of retreat…enough to renew and refocus.

Not sure how to find a relaxing room of your own?  Here are some ideas to get you started…

1.  Choose a place you can keep fairly clear of clutter.  I know in a busy household this can be next to impossible, but if you purpose to have one little space that doesn’t get overrun throughout the day, it really isn’t that hard to keep it clear.  Yes, you will have to be diligent about removing items from the area that don’t belong, but trust me, it’s doable.

2.  Put something there that makes you smile – your favorite quilt, a plaque with a Bible verse, a pretty notepad and pen, even just a nice coaster to set your coffee on!  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

3.  Teach your children to respect the space.  They should know they are welcome there, but they should also respect the fact that the space is for relaxing and not for horsing around or cluttering up.  Granted, children are children and a stray army man or doll isn’t the end of the world.  I’d also encourage you to allow the children to use the relaxing room for their own breathers if need be…or even help them set up a space of their own!

4.  Find a few moments every day to go there and just breathe.  Even if your relaxing room is just a couple of steps outside your back door on a rectangle of concrete, go there every so often and breathe deep.  Thank the Lord for this day.  Thank the Lord for this moment.  Take a sip of tea and head back to your regularly scheduled life a little more relaxed!

Those Old Posts I’d Rather You Not Read

Those Old Posts I'd Rather You Not Read -- growing in Christ is sometimes painful | RaisingArrows.netBecause I have been blogging for 9 years, I have a lot of old posts hanging out in the archives of my site.  Every now and then someone finds one of those old posts and leaves a comment.  Most of the time, it’s not a big deal, but occasionally, someone finds a buried post I was sort of hoping would stay buried.

Why?

Because a lot has changed in 9 years.

1.) Some things I thought were essentials are actually nonessentials. 

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.”
~attributed to Augustine

There are a lot of things I used to think required unity.  I had a skewed sense of what the essentials are.  I think this happens to a lot of Christians, and I think it is very prevalent in the homeschooling community.  There are things I am very passionate about, but not everything I am passionate about is a hill to die on.  Not everyone has to agree with me.

As I’ve matured, I find I have a better sense of what things are essentials are what things are nonessentials based on my opinions, my convictions, and the Lord’s leading in my life.

2.) Some of my opinions were borrowed. 

Over the years, I formed opinions based on what other Christians said and did.  I tried to remember to test everything against Scripture, but sometimes I lost my way and held onto an opinion simply because someone else said it was right…or I thought they thought it was right.

This is very much a “new homeschooler” thing.  New homeschoolers, in their quest to do everything right, look to other homeschool moms to emulate.  The problem with this is that we often make assumptions of what a person is like and what that person must believe based on exteriors or passing comments.  From there, we borrow their opinions, never realizing their opinions might be flawed and/or we might have misunderstood what they were really saying.

It’s sort of like the homeschool mom “denim jumper” generalization (you know, ALL homeschool moms wear denim jumpers).  You see a mom in a denim jumper at the homeschool conference every year, so you assume she wears a denim jumper all year long.  You “borrow” this way of dress, assuming this is what homeschool moms do.  Sadly, some of my opinions were wearing denim jumpers they borrowed from someone else.

3.)  I have a better understanding of liberty in Christ.

This is still a work in progress.  I became a Christian in 1999 and spent many years running away from my former life and anything that resembled that life.  I ran straight into the arms of rules.

It has taken a lot of years and a lot of discernment to come to a place where I can sort out what things are essentials and what are nonessentials, what things are harmful and what things are harmless, what things are convictions the Holy Spirit has placed in my life and what things are convictions that belong to other people.

I also feel I am finally understanding what a church made up of hands and feet, eyes and ears all coming together as the Body of Christ actually looks like.  It goes way beyond acknowledging there are no cookie-cutter Christians.  It acknowledges that every single difference we have in Christ allows each of us to do the work the Lord has laid before us.  Liberty in Christ isn’t about us…it’s about HIM.

4.)  I’ve learned better how to speak the truth in love.

There is a time to speak out.  We can’t help how our message is taken, but we can help the heart behind the message.  My goal should be to have everything that comes from my mouth (or from my blog) be said because I truly LOVE Jesus and don’t want anyone to miss His gospel.  My motives haven’t always been the best, and I’m sure this will continue to be one I need to work on.

5.)  I am simply at a different place in life.

You’ve probably heard someone say,

“I was the perfect parent…until I became one.”

Years ago, I made a rather curt comment to a mother with teens.  (If I remember correctly, I used the words, “I would never…” <eek!> )  Well, I wasn’t a mother with teens, and I was wrong.  Things change.  Circumstances change.  We grow and change, and so do those around us.  Grace is a beautiful thing.

Perhaps you are wondering why I don’t just take those posts down.  I guess it’s because I see them as part of the “growing in Christ” process.  If I had the time, I’d put a disclaimer on all older posts that says something like –

Written by an imperfect Christian.

But, I figure people already know that.  And if they don’t, the comments left on those old posts keep me humble.