Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send

So often in life there are things that slow us down.  But, maybe slowing down is exactly what we need. - Seeing Setbacks as a God-Send from RaisingArrows.net

3 weeks ago, Baby Aspen was born.  Usually, I’m ready to get back to our normal routine at 2 weeks postpartum, but at 2 weeks postpartum, my life was in a shambles.  At 3 weeks postpartum, not much has changed.

Besides the fact I am recovering from an unplanned c-section, I ended up catching the bug that ran through my family shortly before Aspen was born.  It was something that started as a stomach virus and then turned into a respiratory bug a few days later.  Because I have asthma, respiratory illnesses really knock me down.  I lost my voice and struggled to breathe.  In fact, I’m still croaky and needing my rescue inhaler on occasion.

But that’s not all.  We just moved.  The house is not fully unpacked and most of our stuff is out of place.  Oh sure it’s in a place, but it’s not the place it ought to be.  And some things are missing entirely.  They are probably in a box in the garage, but the garage is stacked to the ceiling with boxes, so finding the “right” box isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Early last week, I was feeling very downtrodden.  I could see around me all the things that needed to be done, but I was completely helpless to do any of them.  The kids and Ty were doing good just to keep the house running.  No way would they be able to put together new chore charts, school schedules, and menu plans.  No way could they unpack boxes and put things in a place that made sense.  They were doing well to work within the confines of what I had managed to get done before I had Aspen.  The arranging of the house, the reworking of the school schedule and chores would all have to wait until I was fully recovered.

But, when would that be?

Why did I have to get sick on top of having a c-section?  Why did I have to move a few weeks before I had a baby?  Why is everything a mess?  Why, Lord, why?

Philippians 4:6-7 - Sometimes our setbacks are exactly where we need to be | RaisingArrows.net

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious.  It tells us to present our requests to God.  What it doesn’t say is, “and everything will happen just the way you want it to.”  What it does say is God will give you peace beyond what you can understand and Jesus will guard your heart and mind from the anxiety and cares you are feeling.

When there are setbacks in our lives, they are typically seen as a bad thing.  They are seen as something that holds us back from the way we want things to be.  They cause a lot of anxiety as we fight against them or as we watch helplessly as they happen to us.  We are worn out physically, mentally, and emotionally by them, and we want to get away from them as soon as possible.

All I could think about was how tired I was of being sick.  I had all these plans and the c-section and sickness were messing those plans up.  All I could do was sit and nurse baby and sleep.

And that’s when it donned on me…

All I could was sit and nurse baby and sleep.

Sometimes setbacks help us see exactly what we need to see.

Because of the sickness and the c-section recovery, I wasn’t able to jump back into a busy life.  I had to slow down.  I had to sit and do nothing but hold my newborn daughter.  Sometimes that meant the little boys had to watch one more movie or we all had to eat one more plate of cheese chips.  Sometimes it meant I held Aspen all night as I slept in the recliner in the living room.  Sometimes it meant I couldn’t turn on the computer or answer the phone.

When I let the anxiety of not being able to do the things I thought “needed” to be done rule my life, I was a wreck.  When I gave it all to the Lord, He guarded my heart and mind and I realized the things I thought mattered didn’t.  They could wait and one day He would restore normalcy in our lives (albeit, a “new” normal).  But, for now, the setbacks were His way of healing me, of giving me time with my newborn daughter, of giving my other children time to adjust to a new city, a new house, and a new sister.  The setbacks were truly a God-send.

And it was time for me to rest and be peaceful that everything was exactly the way God planned it.


What setbacks are you experiencing?  How are you handling them?  Are you resting in the Lord?  How can we be praying for you?

Receive a Free Book from Gospel for Asia {and focus your heart on missions}

The other day, Ty and I went shopping for groceries.  I always fill 2 carts and barely have enough cloth bags to pack it all into my 15 passenger van.  I checked on the price of pumpkins to decorate the outside of the house.  Woof!  I’m really hoping the price comes down so I can finish my Fall decorating!  And why in the world did the weather have to decide to heat back up?  I could have done without needing to turn on the air conditioner again.

Boy, do I have problems.

First world problems.

Problems that honestly don’t matter.

It’s easy to get caught up in our every day lives in a country where abundance is overflowing (and often overwhelming).  We have so much stuff we need to organize it all.  We have so much food, we end up wasting some of it.  We have so many clothes, we could wear something different every day of the week…for weeks!  And as the holidays approach, we are thinking about buying EVEN MORE!

Receive a Free Book from Gospel for Asia {and open your heart to missions}

Gospel for Asia Wants to Help You Focus Your Heart on Missions

Gospel for Asia has a FREE book they would like to offer you that will help you go into this holiday season with your heart focused on things that matter…reaching out with the LOVE OF CHRIST.

No Longer a Slumdog, by Gospel for Asia founder, K.P. Yohannan, is a collection of stories and profiles of real people living real life circumstances we really can’t even fathom. It truly is an eye-opener.  And frankly, we need our eyes opened on a regular basis.

FREE book from Gospel for Asia to help you go into this holiday season with a focused heart | RaisingArrows.net

Gospel for Asia wants to give you this book.  There’s no catch, no gimmicks.

Just a free book.

Except not JUST a free book.

Read it aloud to your family (be aware that some of the stories will need a mother’s editing for small ears).

Give it to your older children to read.

Visit the Gospel for Asia site and look for ways to give and serve.

Refocus.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas {a 12 week series}

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused on Christ | hosted by RaisingArrows.net with SheriGraham.comKnowing Jesus should bring a peace to our lives that surpasses all else.  Celebrating His birth should be a beautiful time of sharing the Light of the world with others.

Yet, as the holidays approach many people fall apart, Christians included.  We get wrapped up in all the busyness of the season and forget to let Christ’s peace reign in our lives.  We worry about holiday meals, presents, relatives, and keeping sane through it all.

This year, I could easily get “too busy” and lose my peace and focus in the process.  Our family has some traveling to do, some decisions to make, and I’m due with baby #9 just days before Christmas.

Back in 2008, I purchased The 12-Week Holiday Planner. {affiliate link}  Our daughter, Emily, had passed away earlier that year, and I was due with baby #6 on Christmas Day.  Having that planner was such a blessing to our entire family.  Now it has become a tradition at the beginning of every October to get out the green binder that holds my 12-Week Holiday Planner and purposefully plan so I can stay focused on WHY we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, rather than muddying up the season with stress.

This year, I would like to invite you to join me in preparing for Christmas with the peace of Christ at the forefront of your planning as we journey through The 12-Week Holiday Planner together!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from RaisingArrows.net and SheriGraham.com

Sheri Graham, co-author of The 12-Week Holiday Planner, will have her Holiday Combo Set on sale today through Oct 10, 2014.  When you use coupon code:

HOLIDAYPEACE

you will receive the entire set for $12.95.  This set includes The 12-Week Holiday Planner, a Holiday Open House guide, Homemade Gift Mixes ebook, a Christmas journal, and a Thanksgiving Planner!  (This coupon code is exclusive to Raising Arrows, so be sure to send your friends and family to this post to get their own set!)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - 12 weeks to get your heart and home focused | hosted by RaisingArrows.net along with SheriGraham.comThe 12 week series will begin on October 5 and will be hosted here on Raising Arrows, with Sheri Graham as the guest writer.  Sheri is a homeschool mom who loves to blog about homeschooling, homemaking, healthy eating, home business, and more. Her desire is to provide encouragement to the Christian family, touching on matters that are close to her heart. Sheri sells a variety of ebooks on homeschooling and homemaking, as well as publishing books in print and Kindle formats.

Let’s start preparing!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY PLANNER
and join us on October 5th!

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - Our Experience and How Our Club is Set Up | RaisingArrows.net

If you follow my Facebook page you’ve probably heard me mention Keepers of the Faith.  My girls have been a part of a local group since we moved to the area a few years ago, and we have all really enjoyed the fellowship and projects.

I had a reader ask me to talk more about Keepers, so I thought I’d write a post and explain how our group works and how you can form a group or find a group to participate in.  Please, keep in mind, my experience is unique because all Keepers groups are unique due to their autonomous nature.  Also, keep in mind this post is specifically pertaining to the girls club and not the boys; however, much of the same information applies to the boys club.

How Our Keepers of the Faith Club is Organized

Leadership -
Our group does not have a “leader” per se.  One person always emerges as the organized one, but all the moms in the group have input, as do the girls.

Planning -
The moms get together a couple of times a year to discuss the next 6 months of projects. Typically, we have previously discussed with our girls some of the projects they are interested in doing as a group so we can bring those to the table.  We choose the project, who will lead it, and where the meeting will be held.

The moms have a private Facebook group to send out messages, share photos, and remind people of meeting dates and anything they might need to bring.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Meetings -
We meet once a month in one of our homes or at a local church.  We open with prayer, the club Bible verse (we have chosen to learn it in another version), and the mission of Keepers of the Faith.

Usually, we have a Character Lesson that fits well with the skill we are learning.  When we worked on American Sign Language, we had a Character Lesson on Attentiveness.  At Christmas time we worked on Charity.  Keepers of the Faith have their own booklets for each Character Lesson, but we don’t always use theirs.  There are a lot of resources online that can be used for free.  Typically, the mom leading the project also leads the Character Lesson.

After that, we start the monthly project.  Each project has a certain set of skills the girls are to learn.  Sometimes all of the skills can be learned in a meeting, and sometimes the girls have to go home and finish up.

For instance, a few months ago, we did Plastic Canvas.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

The mom in charge taught all the stitches, but to finish the project, each girl had to finish 2 different plastic canvas projects.  We only had time for 1 that day, so it was up to us to finish at home.

I will talk more about this in the next section, but I also want to mention here that because Keepers of the Faith is parent-led and autonomous, each family has the choice of what equates completing a project.  I could have chosen to make that one project the fulfillment of the requirement to complete the Plastic Canvas badge, but I knew my girls were capable of doing more, and my 9 year really enjoyed it!  (In fact, she received MORE plastic canvas and project books as a birthday present!)

Meetings last about 2 hours.  The girls ages range from 6 to 14.

How We Handle Multiple Ages -
We are a small group, so we haven’t seen much of a need to separate the girls out by age.  Yes, we have different skill levels, but we really haven’t had much trouble coming up with activities that are suited to all age levels.  The girls are welcome to work on other badges at home, so we try to keep the monthly meetings to projects that are good for everyone.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Some of the moms have chosen to award their younger girls with the silver badges and then work through the book when they are older and receive a second badge in gold.  This means the younger girls can work at their level and still be rewarded for their effort without needing to complete the entire project at the same level as the older girls.

Awards -
We have chosen to buy the actual pin badges and put them on the sash.  There are sites that have patches that coincide with the different KOF projects, but I wanted the ease of pins, so that’s what we went with.

You don’t have to award with badges, but I’ve found the girls are highly motivated by the badges and the Awards Ceremony we have a couple of times a year.

Our Awards Ceremony is not a huge to-do either.  We just can’t seem to coordinate a night that allows for a major celebration, so we will often do it at the same time as our monthly meeting and have snacks afterward.  We only do an Awards Ceremony when all the moms feel it is time.  Each mother is responsible for tracking and purchasing badges to hand out at the Awards Ceremony.

Cost -
Our club itself has no dues.  If an individual project requires an investment in supplies by the hosting mother, then she lets everyone know the cost for that project (usually via the Facebook group), and we come prepared to pay that amount per child participating.  I don’t think it has ever been over $3.

You will need a handbook for each girl.  There are also Companion Notebooks, but we have chosen not to purchase these.

The badges also cost, but you only purchase those on occasion, and you can choose to cut costs by going through a 3rd party that sells the project patches at a cheaper rate.  You will probably want to purchase or make a sash to put the badges on.

You can buy a Keepers t-shirt, but it isn’t necessary at all.  We do not require our girls to dress alike at meetings.

There are Leadership Materials you can purchase if you would like to start up your own club.  These are good to have if you’ve never been a part of a Keepers Club and need some help figuring out how to get it off the ground.

You might also want to check out the Club Locator to see if there is a KOF club near you, but keep in mind, not all clubs register, so there might be one near you that isn’t on the map.  Ask around!

Can’t find one?  Start your own!

How to Start Your Own Keepers of the Faith Club

At Home, On Your Own -
Buy the handbook for each of your girls, and work through them on your own.  This would be a great addition to your homeschool!

Find Others to Join You -
Look to your local homeschool group or your church to find other moms and girls interested in joining you in a more club-like atmosphere.  Purchase the Complete Starter Kit, set a meeting with the moms, and start planning!

Remember, this is YOUR club!  You can make it as structured or unstructured as you like.  Our group has done very well with a more low-key approach, but your group may need something different.  You may get large enough to split off into age groups, or you may want to meet more than once a month, or you may want to have a more structured meeting that is planned out more than 6 months in advance.  Any or all of these are totally appropriate!

Have more questions?  Feel free to ask me (I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability), check the FAQ at Keepers of the Faith, or contact Keepers directly for more help and information.

Raising Children With a Strong Spiritual Foundation (+Free Resources!)

Raising Children with a Strong Spiritual Foundation - New book + FREE Resources! | RaisingArrows.net

Raising children is hard work.  There are so many things to consider, analyze, learn, and look for.  But, as Christians, we are not left to our own devices.  We have God’s Holy Word, and a spiritual power like none other to guide us through the raising of these precious little ones!

Raising Children with a Strong Spiritual Foundation (new book + FREE resources!)| RaisingArrows.net

Dr. Tony Evans has just released a brand new book, Raising Kingdom Kids, that helps to walk you through raising children who gain true wisdom and knowledge in the Lord Jesus.  Some of the practical spiritual advice included in this book are:

  • Create an atmosphere where your kids can maintain their identity in Jesus Christ despite the society around them.
  • Help you grow in confidence as you discover your worth as a parent on God€™s Word and not on your kids€™ actions.
  • Experience the freedom that comes from influencing your children, rather than the futility of trying to control them.
  • Gain new strength as you view the daily duties of parenting from a kingdom perspective.
  • Trade reactive parenting for intentional parenting and marvel at the freedom this brings.

The book is available for pre-order (find out more HERE) and if you pre-order by September 1, you receive some wonderful FREE resources!  (who doesn’t love free stuff!?!)

FREE RESOURCES – $80 value!

Kingdom Woman audio book ($20 value)

Kingdom Man/Kingdom Woman Devotional Sampler€”20 Daily Devotions ($7 value)

Kingdom Family, a previously unaired and unreleased message from Dr. Tony Evans ($12 value)

One Family Under God, a Bible study by Dr. Tony Evans ($15 value)

Biblical Manhood, a Focus on the Family broadcast with Dr. Tony Evans ($9 value)

Biblical Womanhood, a Focus on the Family broadcast with Dr. Tony Evans ($9 value)

Courageous Parenting, a Focus on the Family broadcast with Dr. Tony Evans ($9 value)

30 Days to Financial Victory booklet ($3 value)

To get these resources, simply pre-order your copy of Raising Kingdom Kids (<—link tells you where you can do this), and then enter your information HERE.

If you have a moment, watch the book trailer below (or click through to the blog to see it if you are reading via email).  Great message!  Love how Dr. Evans talks about “Cotton Candy” parenting.  It’s time to change how we view our parenting, friends!

How I Became the Perfect Everything

How I became the perfect everything (because no method in the world is going to get it right) | RaisingArrows.netNot too long ago, I began to have the distinct feeling that I was wasting time. Every conference I went to, every conversation I had, every song I listened to, every Bible passage I read seemed to point me to the fact that I was seriously wasting time.

I didn’t mean to do it. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of it. But, when the same words continued to be spoken into my life, I knew I needed to take a hard look at what those words were saying.

The specific words weren’t, “You are wasting time, Amy.”  They were things like:

“You don’t need to be Jesus to your kids. You need them to need Jesus.” ~Angie Smith

“I realized it had to be Jesus + Nothing.” ~Kendra Fletcher

“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4

“You gave me life worth dying for, but between the altar and the door, I bought the lies that promised more; All my deeds and my good name are just dirty rags that tear and strain to cover all my guilty stains that You already washed away.”
All You’ve Ever Wanted by Casting Crowns

To you, those words may not sound anything like, “You are wasting time.” But to me, that is exactly what they were saying. They were telling me that I have been focused for far too long on the details, always missing the big picture. They were telling me that in the process of managing a household, homeschooling a ton of kids, being a wife, and writing a blog I wasn’t allowing myself to be raw in front of anyone, so no one could see (including myself) that I needed Christ. These words were telling me that I was working and working and working for something that had already been taken care of.

It was almost as if I was on a hamster wheel – wasting time going in circles. Over and over again, I was rolling through the same stuff, working myself into a frenzy, but never getting anywhere.

And never acknowledging that Jesus had already taken care of it all.

We read blogs, talk to friends, ask questions on Facebook trying to figure out how to be the perfect parent, perfect wife, perfect homeschooler.  We hash and rehash conversations, searching for answers that only seem to be temporary.  We live a discouraged, beaten-down life.  Yet, we weren’t called to that sort of life!  We were called to victory, we were called to abundance, we were called to joy overflowing.

Where did we go wrong?

We tried to be everything.

Let me tell you something…

I talk a good talk. My bio photo even says “an abundant life”, but I wasn’t acknowledging that abundance in life has nothing to do with how quickly I get my housework done or how calm the kids are or how well I homeschool. In fact, I bought the lie that those things really mattered to God. That my sacrifices somehow made me holy before Him.

The truth is, He can’t even see my filthy rags.

The truth is, He wants my heart, not my works.

I was wasting time trying to be everything…trying to get it all right.

Friends, if you are doing the same thing I was, I want to encourage you to lay that burden down right now.  It’s not yours.  Jesus didn’t ask you to be somebody, He asked you to be HIS.

How I Became the Perfect Everything (stop wasting time!) | RaisingArrows.netHe wants your every day, every moment.  He covers the mess ups, the gaps, the craziness.  And He gives you JOY!

What your children need is a mom totally sold out to Christ.  They need a mom who isn’t wasting time being perfect, but who perseveres through it all because she knows where her strength comes from and she knows she can’t do it without Jesus.

You know how I became the perfect everything?
I gave up.

I can’t mess this up if my heart is focused on Jesus.  I can’t mess this up if I ask the Lord with a contrite heart for daily provisions in my parenting, homeschool, and homemaking.  I can’t mess this up if I am loving Him and pouring that full heart into my children’s lives, my husband’s life, and beyond.

I’m not going to get this all right.  There is no formula or method that will make any of us the perfect parent, homeschooler, mom, wife, friend.  We are wasting time if we think there is and we go chasing after everything that tells us so.

You can be the perfect everything not because of ANYTHING YOU DO, but because JESUS ALREADY IS.  Every step you make is covered.  Just walk it with your heart mind and soul focused on Him.