Shouts, Whispers and Your One Precious Heart (Prov. 4)

Want to Jump In to Proverbs 4? Click here.

Hi there! In case you missed it, I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) I think we might need this wisdom these days more than ever!

One of my kids asked a very important theological question at the dinner table: Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons? We discussed the possibility that they did, just for show, and the possibility that they didn’t, since they would not have had an umbilical cord, being created by God Himself and all.

One confident child amongst the bunch made a suggestion he was sure would answer the question:

“I know, Mom! Ask Siri!”

It took a while to explain that there are some questions Siri, or the entirety of the internet, just can’t answer.

Do you give much thought to how truth and opinions — both good and bad — can pass down from one one person to the next, or even one generation to the next? What do we believe about coronavirus? Do we believe God is still on the throne? Do we believe He can use anything for His purposes and His glory? 

Someday when they’ve left the nest, where will my kids look for wisdom?


Out of all the hundreds of thoughts, lessons and observations a father might give to a son, Solomon writes in Proverbs 4 that one thing King David said to future-King Solomon stood out the most:

Get Wisdom!! Get understanding!!

It stuck with Solomon, right down to his core, because long after David had passed on, the Lord asked Solomon “What do you want?” and though he could’ve asked for anything, what did he ask for?

Wisdom. Understanding. A wise heart to rule well.

The lesson of the father was passed on to the son.

We might have a lot of knowledge readily available at our fingertips. But how does that knowledge compare with true wisdom?

After taking a total media hiatus over Lent a couple of years ago, I began making an interesting observation upon re-entry to the worlds of Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

I found that after spending twenty minutes randomly scrolling through the news feed, I almost always had a less positive feeling about my life than I did twenty minutes earlier.

The news feed shows me friends getting together with friends, and I am not there. 

The news feed shows me places other people are going that I haven’t been.

The news feed shows me things other people are doing I never heard I could do. Or didn’t know I needed to do. Or wasn’t invited to do. 

These days, the news feed is full of fear and concern.

Why is it that my heart sometimes feels so heavy after twenty minutes on Facebook?

Lady Wisdom — the gal we talked about in Proverbs 2 who truly ought to be a BFF to each of us — she makes an appearance again here in Chapter 4. We’re told that her wisdom, her good judgment is the best thing we can look for in all the world. 

Clearly the man who asked for wisdom and got it didn’t regret his decision.

Wisdom is like a gift card that you can spend at a store called Perspective. Bring that life dilemma to the checkout, present the Wisdom card, and boom — you will walk out with a completely different perspective on your situation than the one you walked in with.

It can guard these prone-to-wander hearts of ours (v. 23) in a way that will completely change our lives.

It can speak truth when the news feed whispers false perspectives or wants to encourage FEAR over FAITH.

So here’s a question worth pondering. What will the information you take in each day do for you?

Will it make you want better hair and nicer clothes?

Will your social media soirees make you feel like you’re just not as cool as the cool kids who are going here and there, wearing this and that, doing that and this?

Will the words you’re taking in encourage faith and hope, wisdom and discretion and bravery… or will they make your heart beat a little faster with fear for what’s going on the world?

While the shouts of the world lead your heart away from truth, beauty and goodness, Lady Wisdom whispers:

I will show you a better way. Don’t let seeking after things that don’t matter determine the course of your life. 

Guard your heart, let my words filter out the noise so that the Truth can direct your steps.

What are you digging into when you open your phone or laptop, or turn on the TV? What are the habits determining your course of action at the end of a workday, or after the ring of the alarm clock?  

Your heart’s going to determine the course of your life, and what you’re taking to heart most will be where most of your truth is coming from.

Ponder Solomon’s words, Lady Wisdom’s whispers today:

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

xCC

Now… give some thought to what you believe about your life today. Ask Jesus to help you see where you’re believing the truth about your life, and where the world might be shouting a little too loudly for you to hear the real Truth. 

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In case you missed it, I shared a post this week with lots of tips and ideas for the many families who find themselves suddenly homeschooling thanks to COVID-19. 
You can check it out right here!

I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
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Suddenly Homeschooling? A Quick Start Guide to Crushing It While Corona Keeps You Quarantined

Suddenly Homeschooling? A Quick Start Guide to Crushing It While Corona Keeps You Quarantined

Like the Oprah Meme circulating on the internet right now, it’s a wild and crazy time… YOU get to homeschool. YOU get to homeschool… EVERYBODY GETS TO HOMESCHOOL!!

When public schools started closing, my phone started blowing up with texts from folks who are trying to figure out what to do with their kids while they’re home from school during this Corona-Virus + Homeschooling Pandemic. I immediately thought — hey! For once I have something useful to share related to a global issue! Maybe I can help some folks figure this thing out! I’ve been homeschooling our four kids for seven years, and have definitely made enough mistakes to have learned a few things on this journey!

I have a word of encouragement and ten practical tips for you today. Feel free to leave a comment with questions, and know that you, the person who taught your kids their ABCs and how to tie their shoes? You can crush this thing, too! You’ve got this.

First, the encouragement.

Take a deep breath and hear me out, okay? Last year, my second eldest son was in the hospital for 48 days. It was a heart wrenching crazy hard time complete with brain surgery and comas and a whole lot of heart ache, but — call me crazy — there are a few things I miss about that season. It was crazy hard, but life also got really calm in a strange way. We were completely focused on making it through this hard thing, closer than ever as a family, and overwhelmingly blessed with the support to family and friends to get through it. (He survived and is thriving and we are just about back to normal.) The close family time, the amazing medical team we got to know and love — these are things I miss, even about that hard place.

The lesson? Someday you’ll look back on this and “miss” it. Instead of seeing this as a super hard hand to be dealt, see it as an opportunity. This is your chance to do some of those things you’ve been wanting to, and maybe teach some of those lessons you have been wanting them to learn, but there never seems to be enough time. I hope the suggestions below give you some great ideas. Just know this: You’ve got time. This is an opportunity. You can do amazing things. Put on your big girl pants and get ready, sister!

Ten Tips and Ideas if You’re Suddenly Homeschooling

1. Schedules are your friend.

A schedule will do wonders for your child’s sense of peace, and for your sense of sanity. I will give ideas of how to fill that schedule in a moment, don’t worry, but know this: You don’t have to start at the same time every day, but it’s a great idea to create a rhythm for your day. Maybe your kids get to play for thirty minutes, and then everyone gathers on the couch for a story, and that’s the start of the school day. Maybe you start with chores. Just pick an order — a rhythm — tightly or loosely associated with the clock (see what works for you) and then try to stick with that for at least two weeks. See how it feels and tweak as necessary. You are learning. It doesn’t have to be perfect — it will be progress!

2. Start With What You Know.

Has the school sent anything home that they want your child to work on or advice or requests? If not, don’t freak out, and move on to number 3. If so, that’s a great place to start your schedule. Get those must-do’s out of the way.

3. Ask: What Would Benefit Your Child?

Is there a particular subject you’ve been longing to help your child make progress in? Are they struggling with division or handwriting? The internet is your friend. You can download worksheets related to a specific area of struggle, or even order some materials to help you on your way. For example, The Good and the Beautiful has great handwriting books. Shell Education produces 180 Days of Reading, Spelling, Math, Writing, and so on, and they’re all based on grade level. You and your child could do one or two worksheets together a day and you could really make fantastic progress without a huge investment.

4. Meet Books: Your New Best Friend

In our homeschool, I like to say if we’re reading, we’re learning. Put reading on that schedule of yours!! There’s nothing I love more than cuddling on the couch with a kid on my lap and one on either side of me while we dig into a good book. If you want to make your reading time last longer, consider allowing your kids to crowd around the dinner table or coffee table with crayons and blank paper or books that help them learn how to draw. (Ralph Masiello has some great ones.) And here is some FANTASTIC news. There are loads of free audiobooks just a few clicks away from you. You can save your voice, go wash the dishes or do the laundry and let your kids listen and color. They are still learning! Life is good!

Great hints: Your local library card should give you access to Libby, a fantastic app for finding ebooks and audiobooks. You can also look into Librivox, where tons of books in the public domain have been recorded by volunteers. All readers are not created equal — don’t be afraid to stop a book and look for a new one! I made a list of some of our favorite books on 2019 if you want to add some to your collection. Sarah Mackenzie has a list of some of her favorite read-alouds, including some of her favorite LibriVox, right here.

5. Activities Make Learning Fun

I’m sure you (and your kids) don’t want to hit the books all day! Here are a few ideas to keep the learning going when you’re setting the books aside for a while:
+ Art For Kids Hub. This youtube channel COULD be your new best friend. These step-by-step videos teach your kids how to draw things they are probably already interested in. (My Little Pony, Pikachu…) My kids can do this for hours!
+ Workout Videos Download the free NikeTraining App, or the Centr app (we love that one) — or get back on youtube and search for workout videos for kids. Move the coffee table and get some energy out!
+ Kiwi Co has loads of different lines of mail-order activities like Tinker Crate, Atlas Crate, Doodle, etc. These “STEAM” related activity crates are another great option for hands-on learning that is LOADS of fun.

6. Set a Crazy Goal (Like Learning a Language) and Go For It!

What’s something you’ve dreamed of doing with your kids? What if you spent this time trying to learn a language? And maybe you could research and plan a trip to visit that country someday! If your kids are home for six weeks, that is sooo many hours of opportunity for you to jump into a language and really make progress. Rosetta Stone has a discounted offer to allow you to learn unlimited languages with lifetime access to their materials. DuoLingo is a fun, free app you can access online or download to your phone that makes learning a language feel like playing a game. You may also have more materials at your fingertips than you realize: check the back of your kids’ favorite DVDs. Do any of them give you the option to watch them in another language? You’ll be amazed at how much you and your kids can pick up by listening to words in a new language when your brain remembers what is being said in English!! One of the most delightful thing about homeschooling is discovering you can chart your own course for learning something new. Be brave, be creative, start googling and see where you find yourself!

7. Embrace the Documentaries

You may think your kids will never sit through a documentary, but it might be that you just haven’t found the right documentary. The BBC’s Planet Earth II is one of our all-time favorites. (Available on Amazon.) If you have the Disney Plus app, look for movies like The Monkey Kingdom and Born in China — there are several masterfully done options where story and facts are woven together, so that you’re engaged with the “characters” of the story, but you’re learning about their lives at the same time. You can sit on the couch eating popcorn and learn at the same time!

8. Help Your Kids Become Better Humans (and Family Members)

Take some time to take stock of what’s happening in your home right now. Are there things you could work on to change your family dynamics for the better? Maybe a thirty-minute slot on your new daily schedule could be Life Skills or Activities for Daily Living. Take the time to teach your kids how to fold their own laundry and put it away, so that you can place your kids’ clean clothes in a basket and send it to their room with them. Teach them how to properly wash dishes. Get outdoors and dig up a patch of ground for a mini-garden, or put some pots on the porch and plant some seeds to grow something that will later become food on your table. Now would be a great time for them to learn to make their bed if they haven’t already. How to properly clean a toilet or clean out the litter box. Maybe your home needs a new system for organizing toys, and your kids could learn where to put things away when they’re done with them. There are days for us where homeschooling means hitting the books hard, but there are also days where it means learning how to be a good human being. Both are a beautiful part of the journey.

9. Take Your Classroom to the Kitchen

Along the lines of number 8, there is perhaps no better place for learning than the kitchen. Cooking is a life skill your kids will need for the rest of their lives. Cooking is chemistry. It’s math and science, it’s art and reading… it is so many things all at the same time. This homeschool opportunity could change your family for the better if you and your kids begin a beautiful kitchen relationship! You could even check out some of my favorite Instant Pot recipes that double or triple and find yourself cooking ahead and freezing meals! This will bless your future self when the school doors open again, the corona-pandemic has passed and life is back to normal again. (Subscribe here and I’ll email you that list!)

10. Begin With the End in Mind

One last idea I’d love to share. Every morning to start our school day, my kids and I are piled on the couch together. I give them a few quiet minutes to fill out prayer journals like these, I read from a devotional like Louie Giglio’s Indescribable or Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment. We say a prayer for the day. We often transition from there to the Jesus Storybook Bible. They can sketch or draw while I read, and my daughter’s artistic responses to our devotionals are often incredibly profound. Sometimes we move straight to the schoolroom after that, other times we linger on the couch to listen to Story of the World’s Audio CDs for history.

Starting calm, quiet and together is a beautiful way to begin that can create such a sense of peace and calm for us. I highly recommend beginning your day with something peaceful, centering, and together. Maybe for your family it’s poetry or meditation. Start in a calm manner, and sometimes that calm can influence how your kids feel for the entire day. I bought blank journals for my non-readers/writers to scribble their responses in. You can see my daughter’s lovely response to one devotional below. I wrote the sentence she wanted to draw a response to, and then she drew what was in her sweet little six year old heart!

I hope those ideas have your wheels turning, and instead of thinking OHMYGOODNESS, WHAT ARE WE GONNA DOOOO, you’re thinking… Gosh, there really is so much we CAN do! This is an awesome opportunity! Your next step is to create that schedule we talked about based on what will work for YOUR family. Do you need a few hours for work each day? Maybe one hour can happen while your kids watch a documentary in the morning, and another can happen while they listen to an audiobook and color in the afternoon.

Remember: you get to create the schedule. There is no right or wrong here. Enjoy the freedom in that, friend! Below I’ve included a sample schedule to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve had comments closed on my website for a while, but I’ll be opening them today so that you can ask questions, and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction. Savor these precious moments, friend. Yes, it may feel overwhelming right now, but someday you might look back and say, “Gosh, I really miss those days when we were home with the kids…”

xCC

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Are you encouraged today? I hope so! Homeschooling isn’t what I normally write about around here, but I sure hope this was an encouragement to you today! If so, you can subscribe to receive weekly Love, From Here and never miss a post by clicking right here I’ll do a happy dance, and you’ll get encouraging words in your inbox once a week! I’ll also send you the awesome Meal Plan with lots of Instant Pot recipes I mentioned! Definitely a win/win!

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Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

Sample Homeschooling Schedule

  • 7:00 Breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, make beds and enjoy some free play time
  • 8:30 Gather in the Living Room for Morning Time (as above, perhaps with devotionals, prayer, etc.)
  • 9:15 Math Time Whether you have a full-out curriculum or are just downloading color by number multiplication worksheets from the internet, we typically feel like reading and Math are core pillars to our schoolday.
  • 10:00 Snack time. Take a breather and let everyone have a few minutes to get up and stretch their legs.
  • 10:30 An Alternating Hour: Science and History One great way to fill a slot is to have two or three subjects you rotate through during that time period. Look up the life cycle of the frog and draw a picture about it today. Google Alexander the Great or read about him tomorrow. If you are ‘winging it’ without a curriculum to guide you, just starting with a ‘subject’ and a question is a great idea. How are crayons made? What happens to tadpoles’ tails when they become frogs?
  • 11:30 Quiet Reading Time or Come Help Mom make Lunch
  • 12:00 Lunch and a little free time
  • 1:00 Memory Time We memorize lots of information as a part of our Classical Education method and you’ll be amazed at what your kid can stuff into their noggin with a good bit of repetition. How about they memorize a Shel Silverstein poem or the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence? A song with a chapter of the Bible, or a list of the American Presidents. There are songs online from memorizing the Periodic Table… complicated science definitions… consider this brain training time!
  • 2:00 After all that challenging Memory Work, let your child relax and listen to a story. If you don’t have lots of books on hand at the moment, use the suggestions above to find ebooks or audiobooks online. Your kids can color and draw while they listen to great stories and get exposed to exquisite vocabulary.
  • 3:00 Activity time! Now’s a great time for Art for Kids Hub, a Tinker Crate, watching a tutorial online to make slime, pulling out the play dough — end your school day with some fun!
  • 4:00 School can be out now if it isn’t already! If you want a little help with what to do next, how about getting your kiddo into the kitchen to peel the carrots or do something to help with dinner. Could they help fold laundry? At the end of the day, if they’re not ready to have some free time to do what they want, give them some chores that will actually help you out — they’ll get the idea and start finding ways to entertain themselves very quickly!

Feel free to ask questions below. I intentionally leave lots of time for each activity so that a) you never feel ‘behind’ and b) you have time to tidy up one activity before moving on to the next. Remember: ENJOY this time with your kids. Please share this with a friend who could use it, and HAVE FUN!

xCC

Follow the Leader (Prov. 3)

This week, we’re in Proverbs 3!

Hi there! In case you missed it, I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) 

Think fast! I’ve got two flashback challenges for you!

1. Can you remember the difference between declarative and imperative sentences from your middle school English class?

2. Can you remember playing Follow the Leader as a kid on the playground?

Think hard, and read on…

There’s something that stands out to me about this particular collection of Proverbs (in chapter 3) more than anything else. So many of the Proverbs are observations. If you’re lazy, this is what will happen. Foolish people do this or that. Wise people go this way or that way…

But rather than being ‘observational’ this chapter seems particularly directional. If you were examining the grammar sentence by sentence, you might notice a change from ‘declarative’ to ‘imperative.’ We’re being told — do this and reap the good fruit of it. Go this way and find life.

My tenderhearted second son found some beloved books at the library years ago about Otis, a sweet little tractor on a farm. He loves Otis, and we’ve checked out those books again and again. {Here’s a link if you want to fall in love with Otis, too…Otis and the Kittens makes me cry EVERY time.} In one of the stories, Otis and the other animals play a game of the follow the leader every evening when their work is done. While Otis and the little calf always start, the different animals take turns waddling or prancing or strutting their way around the farm, with everyone else following the leader.

One day a tornado comes up, and the farmer and his hands hurry to the cellar, without even the time to free the animals from their pens. Otis sees the tornado, realizes it’s headed straight for the barn, and springs into action to free the horse and cow and pigs and sheep and ducks from their stalls in the barn, and they do precisely what they’ve been practicing for as long as we know: they follow Otis, the leader, as he leads them down to a low ditch on the lowest part of the farm, where they huddle together in safety and wait out the storm.

Even the bull who has never wanted to play before and has always been harsh with the other animals is willing to follow Otis when Otis leaves the other animals safely in the ditch to free the bull from his pen.

When we listen to the ‘imperatives’ — the instruction and the wisdom of God and His word, we may not realize we are being trained to follow the Leader who has a plan for our souls. 

Who knows how often listening to that gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit has saved your life, or someone else’s?

As we continue reading the Good Word and talking to the Lord about His goodness and our races with and toward Him, ask God to help you find understanding, and find a way to apply those imperatives to your life.

He says give your first fruits, so follow the Leader, and give your first fruits.
He says look for wisdom, so follow the Leader, and keep on reading the Word and asking for understanding.
He says accept His correction, so be willing to hear Him when He corrects you. Repent quickly and ask for help to better follow the Leader.
He says mercy and truth are good. Live like that.

He sent His Son as an Incarnation of His mercy and truth, a tangible, visible manifestation of His love for mankind — His very Word, fully expressed in human form. Isn’t He a Leader worth following?

So here’s a question worth a good ponder: Are you willing to follow the Leader? Are you willing to follow Him day after day like most of the animals on the farm followed Otis, or are you waiting until a tornado of trouble is headed your way to lean on Him to lead you to safety?

You might be familiar with Prov. 3:5-6… perhaps even have a little song in your head for those two verses? Even if they’re extremely familiar, give those words a fresh look today. The New Living Translation puts verse 6 this way:

Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

He’s not only willing to show us which path to take, He’s the Leader that’s willing to walk us down the path, step by step. Are you willing to follow the Leader?

xCC

Now… take a moment to give some thought to how you make decisions about your life. Are they part of a game of Follow the Leader for you, or are you mostly letting instincts and intellect call the shots? If you want Jesus to be the Leader you follow, ask Him to help you hear His voice, and follow it. Write down a verse that meant something to you today, or a whisper from the heart of Jesus you heard. I’d love to welcome you to jump onto the With Love, From Here Facebook Page if you’d like to respond to this post and share something God has said!
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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement
and never miss a post!
***

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

Find Wisdom, Lose Drag (Prov. 2)

This week, we’re in Proverbs 2!

Hi there! If you missed a week or two, no worries! I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) 

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you… (Prov. 2:10-11)

You know one thing that can really be hard about running the race of faith? 

It’s definitely not a sprint. 

And Jesus made this one promise that I think of often: “It’s impossible that no offenses will come.”

Gosh, that’s a tough part about being human. I recently experienced one of those internal wrestling matches with being offended. I asked for help with an upcoming event, and received an immediate “Yes! I can help!” followed by a different response a couple of days later, when something better came up. 

I wanted to say, “Oh man, I’m so disappointed! Are you sure you can’t keep your word?”

But I sensed that quiet, gentle, you-have-to-calm-down-to-hear-it voice saying, “Trust Me.”

I knew God to be an Author and an Orchestrator, and I trusted everything was going to be okay. (And it ended up working out for my good!!)

That was a tiny little disappointment in the grand scheme of things, but the big truth is, life is going to happen. It’s a funny thing — we never say anyone gives offense, we just say we take it. Surely we can choose not to take it, right?

And sometimes, let’s just go ahead and put this truth out there, too — we are going to be the offender.

The question isn’t if — rather when — and more importantly, what are we going to do on the other side?

Do me a favor and picture yourself swimming your race of faith for Jesus. Now, picture yourself in one of those super cool Olympic swimsuits that’s incredibly well designed to be efficient like sharkskin and streamlined and produce almost zero drag. You jump off the starting blocks and dive in and you’re slicing through the water like a sharp knife in soft butter. 

Suddenly, something happens. Maybe a mistake you made you can’t shake the shame of. A mistake someone else made you can’t shake the hurt of.

And you suddenly discover something is tied to that hydrodynamic swimsuit of yours. Maybe it’s just a thin little slip, a small scarf. Maybe it’s thick like a strip cut from a bath towel, and there it is, tied right at your shoulder, creating a bunch of what swimmers call “drag” and man… it is a drag. 

Sure you can keep swimming, but this is going to slow you down. And if you keep picking up thick slices of bath towel as you go? It might get so tough you decide to stop swimming altogether.

Where do we go to figure out what is weighing us down? It’d be great if you could hop out of the pool, look in a mirror, see what was hanging off your suit, and stand there and untie one thing after the other, right?

Well I’ve got some good news. This Word we’re reading through? It’s like a mirror for your soul. 

If you put on your literary hat while reading Proverbs 2, you’ll notice words like Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, and Discretion are personifiedThe Message version really brings it out if you want to see it clearly. The Word is explaining this principle: Lady Wisdom and her posse, like people, can be your BFFs. They can come alongside you and point things out that you wouldn’t see otherwise. They can whisper to your soul, help you avoid the dangers and snares of bad choices and bad relationships.

The more you read the Word, the more you can hear their voices. Dig in deep, and they’ll show you good things, help you ask hard questions. Like these:

Jesus, are there things in my life that are dragging me down? 
Is there something I need to let go of so that I can move forward with freedom?
Is there a slice of bath towel I need to untie to keep swimming?

Sometimes these questions can bring up simple moments from weeks ago, complex and deep hurts from years ago, or habits that are taking you places you don’t want to go. (We’ll talk more on that later.) Either way, I highly recommend asking those questions, and turning to that friend that you are turning to to talk most honestly — and/or possibly even looking for the guidance of a trusted Pastor or Christian Counselor if complex and deep hurts start coming to the surface and you need help moving forward. 

This is One Step Deeper for this week: Ask God for the wisdom to see what past hurts or experiences might be dragging you down, and for the wisdom to figure out how to let God untie that drag so you can move forward. Remember that verse I started out with? When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul? Discretion will preserve you and understanding will keep you.

Starting the journey of dealing with past hurts can be so daunting you’d rather just keep limping along — but when you find that understanding that helps put the past into perspective and breathes fresh hope into your future? It’s like the pain of getting a big splinter removed from your foot — yes, it will hurt at first, but on the other side?

What blessed relief.

Go Deeper this week, friends!
xCC

Extra Credit: Can you write down a thought for your soul today? Maybe a specific verse from Proverbs 2 you’d like to mull over for a while? Ask Jesus if you’ve got drag on your swimsuit and pray for His help to move forward. Jump onto the With Love, From Here Facebook Page if you’d like to respond to this post, share something God has said, or even ask for help finding counsel… Let’s run the race together, friends!

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
***

Relationships are Make or Break (Prov. 1)

Here’s Proverbs One if you’d like to read it first!


Last week, I shared an invitation to jump into Proverbs together. You can dive a little deeper by reading one chapter each week to give you some context for the discussion below, or you can jump right in. I hope you’re encouraged to get a little deeper every week!

For those of you who caught last week’s post and my invitation to jump into Proverbs, let’s jump right in with a question about the homework I gave you.

{If you didn’t catch last week’s email… don’t worry! Jump in anyway!!!}

So…Homework? What homework, you ask? 

Well, I asked you to take a gander at Proverbs 1, and I asked you one more thing — bring a friend. Let someone join you on your journey toward deeper faith. That homework is strategic!

How did you do with that? Got a co-runner for your faith marathon?

Here’s why I’m asking. While we visited my sister’s family in Colorado a few years ago, my brother-in-law shared some crazy statistics in his Sunday morning sermon. (These impressive stats came from Vital Friends (by Tom Rath in case you want to check that one out. I haven’t read it so I make no promises.)

Here is a little sampling of what my brother-from-another-mother shared:

  • If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself.
  • Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage.
  • Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job.
  • Conversely, if a person has a “best friend at work”, he or she is seven times more likely to feel engaged in his/her job. 

Long story short… Proverbs jumps right in by asking who you’re hanging out with and warning you to be careful in the choices you make.

You’re also invited to soak deep into the wisdom of God instead of drinking from fountains of foolishness. (Let’s be honest, if we spend much time on Facebook, we know there are plenty of fountains of foolishness available to drink from.)

Now, after asking yourself a question about who your people are, I’m going to add on one more.

How honest are you with your person or people? Are you saying “I’m fine” when you’re anything but? Are there deeper issues that you know are lurking somewhere beneath the surface, but you’re afraid to speak up?

I once had an incredibly wise and wonderful mentor, many moons ago in Scotland, who said that you can be honest, or you can be more honest, or you can be “most honest.”

I’m not going to plead with you to be most honest with a stranger in line at the grocery store, but I am going to encourage you to be most honest with someone. If you have a spouse, I think that’d be an ideal person. A parent. A trusted friend. A pastor. A counselor.

As we continue walking through Proverbs, the wisdom you find may uncover some things in your soul that you haven’t truly dealt with. The hindrances that keep us from running our race well are so much more often internal than external.

If you have that person you can be most honest with, do your best to be most honest with them. Especially if you find yourself challenged to let go of something, step into something, or deal with something as our journey through Proverbs continues. The enemy of your soul would love to grab that seed before it has a chance to take root in your heart. So find that trusted person, and aim at most honest whenever possible. 

Have you ever noticed how much more often you remember something if you tell someone else about it? Share what you’re learning, and somehow it seems to stick to your own soul a little better.

I love that blessed old African proverb:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

We’ve got a long race ahead of us, friends. For the glory of God, we simply have to do it together.

xCC

Now… write down a thought. Talk with Jesus about your friends and whether you’re being most honest. I’d love to have some “guest readers” sharing something Proverbs spoke to them — so feel free to share something you’re learning on the With Love, From Here Facebook page or shoot me a message. I’d love for this to be  a two-way conversation!

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement. Join me on this journey through Proverbs and never miss a post! I’d also love to welcome you to share this email with a friend and ask them to join you on a walk through Proverbs. We’re just looking at one chapter a week together — slow and steady, moving out into deeper waters.
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One little update from the Collie corner: We celebrated Blake’s 9th Birthday this week. I can’t thank you friends enough for your prayers. He’s doing so incredibly well and I am so incredibly grateful! Please continue praying for the restoration of his left field of vision (20/20 in 2020!) and the complete healing of his short term memory. He’s doing so, so well, friends. It is a joy to tell you that! Raise a Hallelujah!

About That One Time I Tried Scuba Diving (& Failed)

From the day my Dad and brother first tossed me into the pool to force me to learn how to swim, (great story for another day) I have felt completely at home in the water. Ya know, once I learned how to swim. Most every summer day of my childhood after that included riding my bike to swim in the pool nearby or hopping back and forth from the pool to the ocean when we were down at the beach. 

In high school, I swam on the swim team, (big time sprinter here), helped coach a kids swim team, surfed a little and lifeguarded as a summer job. I felt just as comfortable holding my breath while swimming from one end of the pool to the other as I felt twirling my whistle on the lifeguard stand.

Until.

Fast forward a good seven years. I had the opportunity to take a crash course on scuba diving and then head out for the day to dive around Sodwana Bay in South Africa. Beautiful location, great opportunity. 

Except.

Holding my breath for ages was not a problem, but the idea that I’d be twenty feet below the surface breathing from an Oxygen tank for an extended period — I just couldn’t get used to it.

I’d been through the “educational” part of the diving training, and it was time to practice in the pool. I was psyching myself up to be able to give it the good old college try. Mouthpiece clenched between my teeth, three feet below the surface, we got to one part in the lesson where you have to pretend to knock your mouthpiece out of your mouth (because someone else’s flipper could do that underwater). Then you slowly stretch your arm out, grasp the mouthpiece, clear the water from it and begin breathing again.

That *slowly* thing was what got me. I could snatch the mouthpiece out of my mouth, grab it, stuff it back in and clear it, five seconds flat. What the instructor was looking for was that I could handle slowly, purposefully removing it, and not panicking to get it clenched in my teeth again. 

I tried it. It was unsatisfactory. She pointed to someone else to take a turn. She asked me to try again. Once again, I was changing tires on a Nascar track. Fast. She demonstrated again, the art of slowly removing the mouthpiece, letting it fall to her side, gracefully stretching her arm out, gently bringing the piece back, and so on. 

After three or four attempts, I pointed, much less gracefully, to indicate that I was headed for the surface to breathe some Oxygen that wasn’t inside a compressed tank.

I don’t know exactly what it was about the breathing underwater thing that just didn’t gel with me. I opted for a long luxurious walk down a deserted beach instead that day — and really enjoyed it — but also knew I’d missed out on some of the special sights below sea level that day. 

The trouble was — I just couldn’t slow down.

Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:
“To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
O you simple ones, understand prudence,
And you fools, be of an understanding heart.
Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things…
{Proverbs 8:1-6}

A couple of years ago, a lovely group of subscribers joined me on a Deep Dive — a 30 Day journey through the book of Proverbs. We read a chapter each day, and enjoyed the insight and revelation that came from a book that is so timeless it’s somehow always timely. It seems to speak to everything.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the idea of inheritance — this beautiful theme that runs a unique-colored thread throughout the pages of Scripture. One of the most important things to notice is that we often miss out on our inheritance simply because we don’t know what is rightfully ours. We might have some knowledge, but we are lacking wisdom, we are starved more understanding.

So I’m taking a lesson from the day I just couldn’t slow down enough to earn the opportunity to dive deeper and offering an invitation for you to join me. We’re going to begin slowly walking through Proverbs again, listening hard for Wisdom as she cries out from a high hill, searching for an understanding heart. 

You’re welcome to open your email as usual each week to jump into thoughts and reflections on each chapter, but I’d love to also invite you to consider doing two things — investments that I think will provide greater dividends:

1. I’ll post a link to the chapter of Proverbs we’re walking through each week, right at the top of the email. (We’ll be going in order, starting at chapter one.) You can read each week’s chapter, slowly throughout the week leading up to each Wednesday, or you can just click that link when Wednesday’s email arrives, and read that chapter just before you jump into the thoughts. Again — you’re absolutely allowed to not read it, but I think reading that one chapter each week really will pay off.

2. Invite a friend to join you on the journeyThis link will allow them to subscribe and receive the emails, too. See if you can take a moment to talk with that friend/spouse/roommate/coworker about that one chapter of Proverbs — just one little thing that struck you in a new way for the first time, or really spoke to you. The thing is, the more we give a little of our daily thoughts to thinking about God, the more He guides us and helps us to see Him, to understand Him and to know what He is like. You’ll be amazed at the compound interest that explodes out of investing in the things of God.

3. (Yes, I said two — this is just an optional fun idea.) If you’d like to — not homework, no pressure — I’d love to welcome you to share something that was meaningful to you from that week’s chapter. Share it on the Facebook Page of With Love, From Here, or just shoot me an email. I’d love to include a “Reader’s Thought” each week if I can just to add a bit more encouragement! 

This time around, I’m hoping I can slow down enough to clear the mask, get the Oxygen flowing and graduate from the swimming pool to the deeper waters. I hope you’ll join me and look forward to what we’ll discover together! 

Ready to dive in? Me too.

xCC

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
***

Invitation link to copy/paste share: https://mailchi.mp/020d35a1133b/subscribe-caroline-collie

The Gifts Behind Enemy Lines

I’ve got a little riddle for you this morning. What do Saving Private RyanThe Avengers: Infinity War and my homeschool classroom all have in common? 

Give up?

There’s something important behind enemy lines — and somebody has to be brave enough to get up and go get it.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing a few thoughts on the concept of inheritance. This one word seems to hold a wealth of greater understanding because it is a theme we find on repeat through both the Old and New Testaments.

As I shared, with the story of the literal inheritance I received after losing my Dad, sometimes something rightfully belongs to us, but we still have to take some steps, and go through a process to receive what is already ours.

As Christians, we’re due a whole lot — we have an incredible inheritance, paid for by the death of Christ on the cross. He is the only rightful heir to all of Creation as the perfect Son of God, but He chose to pave the way for us to be adopted into the family, children of God and co-heirs to the inheritance.

If I also mention that the Holy Spirit is the deposit — the guarantee of our inheritance — then I think I’ve about caught you up to speed on where we are in the conversation.

So. The Holy Spirit, alive in you and me, is the “proof in the pudding.” And if we want to walk with that Holy Spirit, we’re going to have to slow our pace and listen carefully. And, if we listen carefully and begin to yield to the lead of the Holy Spirit, there is going to be fruit. Paul wrote to the Galatians about this:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. {Gal. 5:19-23}

Did you spot that magic word in there again? Who wants to inherit the kingdom?!? If we are living according the flesh (something we read about in Galatians 5 last week) we are not walking in the Spirit — and the fruit of that choice will be obvious in the way that we live.

But when the Spirit is behind the steering wheel, the car looks a little further down the road (remember that?) and you begin to steer straight between the lines. Suddenly there’s love, joy, peace! Patience and kindness are in abundance. Goodness and faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are a part of the picture. 

Now — here’s where the problem comes in. Those beautiful fruits of the Holy Spirit are a part of our inheritance. We are in the business of inheriting the kingdom of God — not just someday, friends! Now! If those fruits should be mine right now and they are not — who do you think is failing to drive between the lines again?

Let’s look at a practical example in my own life to illustrate what it means for a slice of your inheritance to be captured and held behind enemy lines.

I’m a homeschool Mama. And as a homeschool Mama, I have a deep-set belief that children are amazing creatures created in the image of God, and they are all unique in their gifting and strengths. This means I also believe that they will not all learn at the same pace. Not all subjects will be equally easy or equally challenging to all children. Their education cannot be a conveyer belt. I believe if we faithfully show up and do our part, God will bless our efforts and we will progress at the right pace for each of the children God has given me.

I have one precious darling daughter who has struggled with learning to read more than her brothers did. The process was a slower one. I began to get anxious about this one sweet girl and what I was doing wrong and what we needed to do differently.

My belief slowly migrated from “I trust she will learn to read when her mind is ready to put together all the things she’s learned so far” to “This isn’t working and if it doesn’t start working soon I’m going to start freaking out.” 

Did you see what happened there? When I stopped holding onto that core belief about my daughter, I let go of trust — and before I even realized it, my peace was gone. Instead of a sense of peace abounding as we showed up to do the next thing and continue the process, anxiety was on my doorstep whispering big discouragement.

Maybe you can relate in some area of your own life? Paul was writing to the Corinthians about forgiveness once, and he commented “so that satan does not outwit us. For we are not ignorant of his devices.” {2 Cor. 2:11}

It started in the Garden of Eden and it’s still the same old trick. The enemy whispers Did God really say? and we start to question what we think we know — and suddenly our joy is behind enemy lines because we don’t believe God is really in our corner. Or our gentleness is behind enemy lines because we think the Father is a harsh task master, instead of a loving God who disciplines those He loves. What really causes us to lose kindness or goodness or self-control? Our actions don’t come from what we say we believe. Our actions spring forth from what we really, truly do believe.

How do we take back what was stolen? How do we drop from the proverbial helicopter behind enemy lines to save Private Ryan? 

I hope you already know the answers: we read the Word, and we pray. Prayer storms the gates and takes back what is rightfully part of our inheritance. Getting our truth from the Word can remind us what we so easily forget: God is on the throne, and He is good.

He is good, and if my daughter takes longer that the average kid to read, it is okay. We will do our part and be faithful, and He will lead us. If she needs testing for a learning disability, He will lead us. If we need to just keep faithfully plugging away, He will lead us.

I’m grateful to say that thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, I didn’t freak out. I didn’t drop hundreds of dollars on new curriculum or sign my daughter up for unnecessary testing. Eight months or so down the road, she is reading beautifully and making great strides. Maybe there are other seven-year-olds with better skills, but I love to think of how incredibly talented she is as a little artist and remember — God had something unique in mind when He created her. Perhaps I should choose to trust… and be faithful.

Is something that’s rightfully yours behind the gates of enemy lines today? Have you ever considered the possibility that you’re forfeiting it by choice? You have a good inheritance, friend. But what you believe will determine how you walk. 

Be bold! Go after what’s rightfully yours! Storm the gates in prayer! Hold fast to God’s Word and His promises! Don’t be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. If something that belongs to you is in enemy-occupied territory, by all means — take it back!

xCC

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
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Can You Slow Down for This One? :: Inheritance, Part Two

Can you remember learning to drive?

I have this vague, strange memory of being at the ripe, young age of 15 or so, and admitting to a friend that I just couldn’t figure out how to keep the car going straight. I felt like I was constantly moving the steering wheel to stay in between the lines… and I didn’t think my Driver’s Ed teacher was going to smile, wink and pass me if I kept it up.

That friend was a year younger than me, and I’m still perplexed as to how he knew what advice to give because he should not have been operating motor vehicles at the time. Nevertheless, he had some wise words that helped me overcome that pesky wobbling-wheel syndrome:

You have to look further down the road.

That was it. Instead of looking at the lines directly beside the car on either side of me, I needed to look in the direction I wanted to drive. That change of focus naturally stopped me from constantly correcting course every ten seconds.

Last week, I started a conversation about the word inheritance. It’s a word that took on a lot more meaning when my Dad passed away, and it’s a word that I found with overwhelming frequency, as I searched for it and noted every instance in my Bible, from cover to cover, in the years that followed. 

To review, we know that there are things that we inherit because of Jesus. The Son of God, and heir to everything in creation, died for us and paved the way for us to become adopted into the family of God — children of God, and therefore, co-heirs in the inheritance.

Now, Paul wrote on the subject of inheritance more than a few times, and in his letter to the Ephesians, he explained:

 In Him [that Him is Jesus] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. {Ephesians 1:13-14}

Now, I had my heart set on giving you three bullet points to ponder today on this subject. But the first bullet point I scribbled out to help me remember it challenged me to think that hurried pace through.

Based on those words from Paul, we know that the Holy Spirit is a guarantee — some versions say it’s a pledge of our inheritance, or a deposit of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is that earnest money you put on the table because you have every intention of buying that house. 

In our lives, the Holy Spirit can be a whisper we occasionally nod toward, or maybe sing about, or just furrow our brows about because we don’t feel super comfortable with our understanding of the Third Person in the Trinity.

So instead of the three bullet points I was ready to hurriedly type for you today, I want to share with you just one.

  • Slow Your Pace

Paul wrote to the Galatians:
Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. {Gal. 5:16}
The Holy Spirit is this promise that God deposits in us, that we have a good inheritance, that He is just getting started — but that He is very far from finished with the work that He plans to do, right here in our own hearts and lives. (Remember what we talked about last week? We’re still in Act Four!)

Matthew Henry commented on this and I hope you’ll forgive the fancy, formal language and dig in for a moment to these powerful words:

“Accordingly the duty here recommended to us is that we set ourselves to act under the guidance and influence of the blessed Spirit, and agreeably to the motions and tendency of the new nature in us; and, if this be our care in the ordinary course and tenour of our lives, we may depend upon it that, though we may not be freed from the stirrings and oppositions of our corrupt nature, we shall be kept from fulfilling it in the lusts thereof; so that though it remain in us, yet it shall not obtain a dominion over us.”

So I offer you a simple challenge this week. Remember how looking a little further down the road helped me stop wobbling between the lines and steer straight?

The Holy Spirit — that beautiful still-small voice, that wonderful deposit of God that whispers till we know-it-in-our-knower — He can whisper to you this week. He can lead you. He can guide you. He can see further down the road than you can.

But?

My guess is, especially if you’re anything like me, you might have to slow your pace to hear His voice. You might have to step back from a snap decision (perhaps to fuss at a kid? not that I’m speaking from experience, ahem, this is just an example) — step back from the quick decision, the quick word, the quick yes or no. 

I read some beautiful words a few weeks ago that I was reminded of again, just before writing this today:

“The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away–it can only be forgotten.” {Greg McKeown, Essentialism}

Way back in Act One, when God gave us the Garden and the work, and the beauty of life with Him, He also gave us the dignity of choice. He didn’t create automatons or robots — He created human beings with options to choose from.

We still have that dignity — we still have choice — but He has also given us the Holy Spirit, to whisper to our hearts, a secret weapon, if you will, to help us to choose well.

What’s weighing heavily on your heart this week? Where does your soul feel a bit stuck? I’d love to hear from you and to know how I can encourage you. I’d also love to encourage you right now to slow your pace so that the Holy Spirit can help you see further down the road, hold the steering wheel firmly, and live this very precious day accordingly.

xCC

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement. All you need is a name and an email, and suddenly, your inbox will be a bit more encouraging every Wednesday.

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