From our family to yours, print this file on cardstock, cut out and be creative! We chose scriptures for our fall printable that both encourage and inspire. Identity statements to fill our minds with truth as we face a new school year full of activities and events. Thankful scriptures to remind us of God’s goodness all the time. Hang them in the bathroom, carry them in your pocket, slip them in lunchboxes, the options are limitless!
We have a puppy!! These are words I honestly never thought I would ever say. Between the allergies, cost and all of the time required for training, it just seemed like an impossible reality. But then came Trixie. By God’s grace and a generous gift, we now have a dog! Trixie is a part of our family, she has won all of our hearts… well almost all, as far as Eric goes…it’s just a matter of time:)
Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that puppies need training. Lots of training! One of the first tricks we taught Trixie is to sit. As we repeatedly say the word and encourage her to obey by gently pressing her back end down, it reminds me of a spiritual lesson I have been learning.
Difficult times can sometimes be opportunities for our “training”. It is never comfortable facing trials, we can find ourselves asking, “Where is God in this”. We may even try to take care of things in our own strength. As the hardships and pain continue, we begin to realize that we can’t do it on our own. In our desperation comes a deeper leaning in to God, trusting and resting more, growing in faith.
Recently I have found myself in this classroom. As a mom, it can sometimes feel like the weight of our children’s struggles rest on our shoulders. The new school year has meant a new chapter for the Wallace household. We now have two college students. There are plenty of new opportunities for anxiety. Taylor has had great improvement in her health, seizures seem to be controlled by the current medication regiment (Full story can be found here). There are still concerns, she has been out of school for a year, can she handle it? Will her health remain stable? Phin, our ambitious pre-med student is also starting out, he is so excited and young and feels like he can take on the world;) My mama heart wonders, is he taking on too much? Will he burn out? These times as unpleasant as they are, can be God’s hand gently pressing on our back, bending our knee. As we submit and surrender to these circumstances, we find a deeper peace and joy. We learn that we are not God, He is in control and that is a very good thing!
It is encouraging to see Trixie grow in her obedience, mastering new commands. So much more we can be thankful to see God’s hand in our own growth as we daily bend our knee and rest in His perfect care to cover our concerns and anxieties.
Some verses I have found encouraging, as I walk the surrendering road: Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 42:3, Romans 5:3-4
Once in a while, especially on Saturday mornings, I will be working around the house when I see people walking up the road. Usually, they are nicely dressed and wearing backpacks. I start running through the house closing blinds as I loudly whisper to the kids to be quiet. “I don’t have time for this today!” I think, “I’m not equipped for a debate!” But my attitude has recently changed thanks to a recent experience I will share below. The point of this is to encourage you to reach out to those friendly visitors at your door.
For the past several years, I have been a representative for a home school curriculum. Basically, this means that for a weekend I get to man a booth and hangout with some fellow home school moms. It is a fun job, almost like getting paid to go on vacation. Up until this year, I have always done Christian-sponsored conventions. In April, I added two more conventions one being a secular group and other was a non-Christian, religious group.
As I worked these conventions, I felt the Lord’s hand at work in my heart. The greatest impact came from my time with families in this non-Christian group. These families looked a whole lot like the families I am use to serving at the Christian conventions. They are conservatively dressed, sweet families with lots of babies and well-behaved children. They were kind to me, several took the time to sit down at my booth to just get to know me and make friendly conversation.
As the days went on, I found myself increasingly sad over the reality that they were spiritually deceived. On the final day, I worked up the courage to listen in on part of a keynote address. The speaker was a young man who encouraged the youth to “read the scriptures” which he clarified to mean, the scriptures found in this particular religion’s holy book.
I was heading back to my booth deep in thought. Then, across the room I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. There was a group of teenage boys under the volunteer sign. Clearly, they were there to help with the graduation ceremonies. I occurred to me that they looked a whole lot like the young men I saw walking up my street on various Saturday mornings… the ones I have avoided like the plague.
This weekend helped me to see these families the way Jesus sees all of us… lost without Him. We don’t have to have the perfect arguments. We don’t have to win the debates. We also don’t have to feel uncomfortable or fearful, we need to see how we’ve been loved by Jesus and take time to engage and share that love with them. I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity to see things through new eyes.
I’m not very good at hearing God speak. My life is loud and usually I can barely hear myself think let alone hear God. But God spoke to me recently in an unusual place. A 16 hour van ride with 5 kids and 2 grandparents is not where I would have expected to hear God. Me speaking (more like crying out) to Him, yes! But I didn’t expect the communication to be the other way around.
We took our family to Disney last month. It was a great trip with lots of memories made. My 3 older children had been before, but for the 2 younger ones it was the first time. And Benjamin, my 3 year old, was excited! I mean….Disney! It had been talked about for months, he had seen pictures of our last trip, and he knew he was in for a treat.
Now, Benji is 3 and he is one of the youngest of 5 siblings so his life is pretty small at this point. I mean, going to a new playground is a big deal for him. But his all-time favorite thing is riding on elevators and escalators. When you’re 3 this is a big deal. The buttons, the movement up and down, stepping on and off. It doesn’t get much better than that!
So now… Disney! We arrived at our hotel late and tried to quickly unload and get to settled to get some sleep before our first day at Magic Kingdom. Our room was on the 2nd floor so we used the elevator to load our stuff up. Benjamin was in heaven. He got to press the buttons and it was like, wow, “we’re at Disney!” He was ecstatic.
The next morning; what did he wake up talking about?….the elevator. “Are we going to ride the elevator again?” “Are there going to be more elevators?” “Can I press the buttons?” We kept telling him about all the rides he’d be able to go on at Disney and how those would be so much better than any elevator, but he wasn’t convinced. In his mind elevators were the best thing there was, the best thing he could imagine.
Well he got plenty of elevator time that trip, each day when we left and then returned to our hotel. But he did also make it onto his first roller coaster: thunder mountain railroad. He was nervous as we waited in line, and then getting into this train car and having a bar come down over his lap. But he loved it! He had a blast and was so proud that he rode his first roller coaster. His excitement over elevators never ceased though, even after his roller coaster experience.
On our long drive home I was thinking about this and I felt God giving me a spiritual lesson through this observation. I realized that so often we plod through life being excited over elevators. Elevators may be all we really know or maybe we’ve experienced a roller coaster here and there but have fallen back into the rut of expecting elevators.
What I mean is that we have such low expectations of God sometimes. We don’t really expect that He can answer that big prayer, or that He could do that big thing in our lives. So we settle for praying small things or just looking for small things, or maybe not looking at all.
Ephesians 3 says that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It is good and right to be excited for the small things, to find joy in the elevators, but I picture God smiling at our excitement and saying, “Oh, just you wait for what I have in store for you!” Just like we knew what lay ahead for Benjamin at Disney. I believe God wants us to dream big about what He will do in our lives and in our families. He has roller coasters in store for us! I was convicted that my prayers are so small, they often revolve only around the here and now. But what excitement and anticipation I would have if I truly took God at His word that His will is for me to have life abundantly in Him (John 10:10) and that He is able to do more than I can even imagine.
Thankfully, His goodness and faithfulness do not depend on my expectations. But I do believe He takes joy in our faith and trust that He can and will do big things in our lives. He has more in store than we can see.
God is at work, even when all we can see are elevators.
Wife, Mom, Friend
Lauren is a dear sister in the Lord as well as sister-in-law to Eric and Leslee. She brings music and order to any event. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their five children in Charlottesville, VA.
I’m going to be real honest here. The last few months have been rough. I have felt like I’ve been in a valley. There have been a number of factors that have contributed, ranging from the holidays, to helping our elderly neighbors sell all of their belongings and move into a nursing home, to working through learning disabilities in our homeschool, to normal everyday teenage issues and finally ministry. I have felt guilt-driven and burned out!
As a homeschool mom, I think this is a common challenge. We are basically on all day long and our husband and kids count on us to be a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear to gripe to! It can get heavy and overwhelming to try to keep our peace. Sometimes I can be surrounded by people, yet feel all alone!
It has been rough, but God is faithful and he has shown me some valuable resources to help me work through.
The Gospel Transformation Bible is so helpful in showing Jesus (always our hope) in all of scripture. At one point, I told Eric I was having trouble digging in. He encouraged me to just focus in on the Psalms. That did me a lot of good.
This little booklet is a must read. It is simple and short and filled with hope and encouragement. It can be read in one sitting and I have gone through it MANY times. It gives a very clear step by step approach to dealing with depression from a solid, biblical perspective. Amazon has a kindle version or you can buy a pack of five from the publisher. My guess is you will want to buy the set so that you have some to give away!
This is a year-long devotional has encouraging truths about the gospel and its application to everyday circumstances. I have read it and am going through a second time now. It also makes a great gift. Last year, a friend gave a copy to all the graduates in our church. Excellent idea!
This is a good read for anyone who struggles with people pleasing. Certainly, that’s an issue for me! I think often times moms can take on a responsibility for their kids which extends beyond where it is intended. Paul Tripp jokingly calls it trying to be the fourth person in the Trinity. We feel like our children’s well being is up to us. This book helps to get things back into perspective!
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The sun was reflecting off of the lake as I sat in the shade on the beach. The little kids were playing happily in the water. We love going to this family vacation house deep in the Adirondack mountains. I have been going with my husband ever since we got married, he has been going since he was a baby. The rustic house with it’s bark siding and huge porch overlooking the water was built in 1922!
The house was full with grandparents and three cousins joining us. How fun that my kids have cousins their exact age! I never had that. Our family with it’s five teenagers is crazy all on its own. When you add three more to the mix, it turns into a non-stop party. We had such a good time.
On this particular day, as the weather was ideal in the 70s with NO humidity, the big kids decided to go out and sit on the party boat and play music. There wasn’t much in the area of cell service, so the kids had to resort to other forms of entertainment. At first they were a little crabby, but by this day they had discovered that not being fully connected wasn’t so bad. Something in the water caught the attention of the boys. When I looked up from the magazine I was reading I saw eight big teenage boy feet hanging off the bench as they hung over facing the water. The lighting was great and my first thought was, “Oh that is such a great picture”. Then I realized my phone was up in the house. I started to get up to get it, but then stopped. I could run up to get it, so that I could capture the moment. Or I could just stay, soak in the sun and capture the moment in my mind (and heart). I sat and I pondered. All of these young men will be all grown up very soon. What a sweet time with them all here, happy and healthy, enjoying cousin time together! Then I prayed, for their futures, for their hearts, for each one of them to always know God’s presence and seek His will in their lives. It was precious, I wish I had a picture to show you, but I also am glad I don’t.
Maybe I could have run up to the house and gotten my phone. Maybe I could have made it back to take the picture before they moved. Maybe I would have missed the opportunity. Maybe I would have not rested in the moment and missed the opportunity to pray. Maybe the picture would have gotten buried in my phone underneath the millions of other pictures that I never even get around to looking at.
That day, made me very aware of how often I toil to capture moments when I should be embracing the experiences God has for me.