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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Resting on the Potter’s Wheel

Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.  (3)  Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  (4)  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah 18:2-4 

God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house for an object lesson. As he watches the potter forms a vessel on the wheel. For one reason or another the potter decides this clay or vessel is not right. He crumples the clay and begins a new vessel. God’s object for Jeremiah was about the clay. Did the clay have any right or say as to what kind of vessel it would be? The design of the vessel is entirely up to the potter.  Israel is the clay. We are the clay.

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  (21)  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?  (22)  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  (23)  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Romans 9:20-23 

Several years ago God showed me a picture of me being the lump of clay. Not only was I uncertain God knew what he was doing in shaping me, I was at times crawling right off the wheel! Even more ridiculous sometimes was asking what he intended me to be and was trying to stretch and shape myself into the vessel he could use. This is so foolish. I cannot change myself. I have tried- really hard sometimes. I admire those who can make decision to change and really follow through. I too often am not one of those people. I change so slowly it’s maddening, mainly to me. The trouble is God has not asked me to change. He has asked me to allow him to change me. This is why I need to learn to rest.
In God’s shaping me there is sure to be carving as well as gentle shaping. The more I rest the more gentle he can be. If I have let it go it will not have to be pried from my hands when the testing comes. If I rest in the center of his loving will as a lump of clay rests in the center of the potter’s wheel the shaping will be easier. I will value what he values, love what he loves.
The clay must be centered and balanced before a vessel can be made on a wheel. This takes some effort.  Being centered in God’s will takes effort. It means learning his words and thoughts better than my own. It takes resting in his design instead of striving to create my own. This is hard when I cannot see his design the way I want to. I think like the clay I cannot rest until I am centered on God. He must be my focus. I must rest in him, not in his plan or design. He is good so his plan is good, even when I can’t comprehend it.
Pottery too, must be tested before it is fit for lasting use. If the clay is not fired it can always be made back into clay. It is the firing that turns it from clay to pottery, a useful vessel. It takes great trust to rest through the fire. Trusting God is always good, faithful and true. Trusting that he knows what he is doing. Trusting he can turn even this into something for my good and his glory. Sometimes I have done this; losing my son and carbon monoxide poisoning. Sometimes, more in day to day life, I have not. It’s like I know some stuff is too big for me so I’ll give it to God easily. The stuff that seems it should be my size I try to manage myself, when he has promised me rest and rich supplies of all I need to accomplish every good work.
I’m placing myself in the center of the potter’s wheel to be transformed, to rest.

Question: How fully do you trust God?
Challenge: Ask God to reveal to you how centered on him your life is.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The List That Matters

I am a list person.
I like to write lists, especially of things to do. Not so good at doing the lists, but I love to write them. It feels productive and clears out my head.
I was inspired last week by Amy Volk to write the list that matters. When I go to sleep at night, when another month or year has passed, when I’m ready to leave this world, what really matters?

My List That Matters

  • Believe and receive God’s unfathomable love for me. This is hard, but I’m getting better.
  • Live out my relationship with God honestly in front of my children. I want them to know God. It would break my heart for them to have a religion or a head filled with facts about God and not know him.
  • Learn to communicate effectively. Practice with my husband and children. I struggle with know when and what to say. I guess that’s why I like to write, I can edit. My thoughts come out more clearly on paper than when I speak, too.
  • Schedule time where no work, research, or internet is allowed. Even though I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom I think I would qualify as a workaholic. I am almost always with my children, but rarely 100%. I think this can be more damaging. If I was gone working they would not see me for a logical reason. How hard when I’m there but always “too busy” or have “things I need to get done”.
  • Enjoy & bless my children. Each is such a precious gift. They have all entered double digits and I know my time is short. There is so much more I want to teach them, so much more I want to do with them. I want strong relationships with them so we will stay in relationship when they are grown.
  • Practice gratitude. Focusing on the good is another area that needs lots of work. I will speak a grateful thought when I think it. I will look for things to be thankful for. Express specific thanks to my husband for the wonderful man he is.
  • Make time for friends. Last year was very tough. Through the struggles and changes I did not create time to get together with friends, for me or my children. Time to start again.
  • Pray instead of worrying or obsessing. I never thought I was a worrier. I don’t worry about big things. I worry about how I come across or how I’ll be received. I obsess about how to deal with something, or talk about something. This obsessing of mine I have come to see is worry. God has it all under control and supplies my every need, even the right words or strategies. I’m learning to walk in that truth.
  • Equip my children for the victorious life Jesus suffered for them to have. Each of us was created for good works; know by God before time began. I want my children to know how they were made with personality strengths and weaknesses, gifting, interests, and skills. I want them to understand scripture and all God has in store for them. I want them to know his voice.
  • Create a weekly time to refocus on this List That Matters.

Question: What’s on your list that matters? Do your actions match your list?
Challenge: Write your own List That Matters. Find one thing you change if life right now doesn’t match your list.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jake & Jesus’ Birthday Party!

Author Kelly Hagen's first book Jake and Jesus has been out for a whole year already and she's celebrating! 

Everyone can participate and win. 

When you buy Jake and Jesus May 1st, 2nd, or 3rd you get discounts on other great books.

You can win a free copy of Jake and Jesus by spreading the news of the party. Read all the details below.

About Jake & Jesus

Jake and Jesus are best friends. They do everything together. Jake talks to Jesus everyday. Learn how you too can become a lifelong friend of our Savior! ~Published by Tate Publishing

Author bio:Kelly Hagen lives in Kentucky with her family. She enjoys being a stay at home mom, and filling her children’s hearts with God’s Word.

You can find Kelly on:

Facebook:Kelly’s Jake & Jesus


Reviews for Jake & Jesus:
Jake & Jesus, by Kelly Hagen, is a small children's book with adorable illustrations and a huge message. Jake convinced me of his love for his best friend, Jesus. With Him, he could talk and play, sing and pray--anytime. Best of all, Jake gave Jesus the gift of his heart.

My only regret was that the book ended too quickly.
Linda Robinson, Author of When Love Abounds

Jake & Jesus is a heartwarming story of a young boy's love for Jesus.  Through reading this book, young children will learn about Jesus, and how they too can have a personal relationship with Him.  This book is a wonderful tool for parents to use to help lead their child/children to Christ.  It's also full of colorful illustrations. By Author Terri Burnell

Kelly's book, Jake & Jesus is such an adorable children's book. It really speaks on a child's level to let them know that Jesus can and will always be their best friend. 
Lisa Davis Budzinski author of At the End of the Day

Discounts on these great books:

Get 10% off these great books:

Amanda Stephan ~ The Price of Trust & Lonely Hearts
Amy Gatliff ~ The Power to Never Give Up
Darlene Shortridge ~ Until Forever
Lisa Tortorello ~ My Hero, My Ding
Lisa Tortorello ~ The Moose at the Manger
     Mukkove Johnson ~ Christmas is about Jesus
     Sherry Rossman  ~ The Miracle of Rain

Participate and win!

Whoever has the most posts wins a signed copy of Jake and Jesus! But remember you must let me know you’ve posted!

WHEN: Post starting April 23rd – midnight on May 3rd 2012
WHERE: www.jakenjesus.weebly.com & www.amazon.com

Share on Facebook: (get 2pts for each time you share/post on Facebook. Please make sure you put @kellyhagen so I know you did, or either send me an e-mail)

Share on Twitter: (get 2pts for each time you share on twitter! Please make sure you put @kellyhagen or #Jake&Jesus in your post so I know you shared! Or you can just shoot me an e-mail   ~  jakenjesus@zoomtown.com)

On your website: If you have me as a guest on your website/blog then you get an extra 3pts! You must have me on your site sometime between April 23rd and May 3rd 2012.

If you “like” Kelly’s Jake & Jesus on Facebook or follow me on twitter @Kelly_Hagen  between April 23rdMay 3rd 2012 you get 1 pt.

Winner will be chosen on May 4th at 12:00 noon eastern standard time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Resting in Obsessing

I tend to obsess. I hate it, or I used to. The other day I asked God, “If I’m going to obsess why is it not about You or my family? Why is it about me and all that’s wrong? What do I do?”
The quiet witness in my spirit said, “Repent of partnering with fear in every way, and condemnation. Confess peace, safety and freedom.”
So simple?
Yes, but not so easy. My obsessing was partnering with fear, over and over and over. Then I would condemn myself for doing so.
I’m changing my obsession. I can obsess about my beautiful Lord- His goodness, His light, His Word, the wonder of His love, hope, and peace. Isn’t this what meditation is?
Psalms 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
 Psalms 77:12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
 Psalms 119:15-16 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  (16)  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
 Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
 Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
God is so good! Meditating on Him and His Word is to our benefit!
Psalms 119:2 Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
God’s statutes are better than the counsel of any wise man of earth.

I also decided, “Why not turn my obsession to prayer? Prayer without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Maybe obsessing is a gift to an intercessor? How like Satan to twist it for his purposes so it cannot be used against him.

When I find myself obsessing I turn it to prayer.
If it is about what to do for school, I thank God He gives wisdom to those who ask and I ask.
If it’s about a relationship in trouble I pray for peace and insight. I thank God that He loves everyone involved and ask Him to show them His love.
If it’s about going to run errands I do my best to breathe and ask Him for wisdom and clear thinking. I remember He has given me all grace to do everything He has for me to do, and do it well. (Hebrews 13:21, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Colossians 1:10)

Question: Do you obsess? Is it a curse or a gift?
Challenge: Choose one negative obsession and find God’s answer to obsess on. Please share if you feel comfortable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blogs of Blessing

While learning to walk out my resting I was blessed by these blogs. I thought they might bless you as well.

It started here:

I sent Amy the link to my post quoting her book while she was interviewing with Shane Davis of Nothing Wavering. They talked about the same quote :)

Waiting in my email was Anne's simple and refreshing message on real life exercise. I can easily get on a guilt trip about not exercising, no gym membership, no long runs (no short runs for that matter). Anne's message was refreshing.

On Facebook I saw a link I am so glad I followed. It led me to The Power of Moms and this wonderful post. “Your children want you!”  and this CHALLENGE: Recognize any tendencies you might have to get wrapped up in discouragement, and set up a regular way to remind yourself that your children want you.

The graphic below will be my reminder when my "should dos" beckon me away from my children. They are a great work. I cannot come down to be buried in a "To Do" list.

Is the culture forcing children to grow up too fast?

 was shared by another friend. Great motivation for keeping life simple and focused on Jesus.

 shared this beautifully simple graphic, just like her beautiful simple post. Amy shares her list and challenges me to write my own list. I'm always making lists, trying to get organized and be more productive. Her list really matters, though.

 I'll work on it and post my answers to my challenges next week.

Please share yours as well. 

What encouraged you this week?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Returning and Resting

Psalm 116:7  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

As I was searching my computer for a couple of posts I had started about rest I was refreshed to come across This BelovedRoad by Amy Layne Litzelman. In her passage titled, The Most Perfect Place, I found these thoughts on rest.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength …
Isaiah 30:15 (amp)
But to truly be in him is to be in a place of total trust and confidence in who he is. If we are sliding around in worry or frustration, we may be somewhere close to him, but we aren’t resting in him.

I’m talking about is being saved every single day from the restlessness and anxiety of the world around us. God wants to lead us to a place of assurance where we know that we can relax and lean back in to him because we know how much he loves us—how much we can trust every plan he has for us, every word of direction he speaks to us.

…a place of being able to lean our entire heart, mind, soul, and being on Jesus—a true place of rest.   …he’s not supposed to be a vacation spot. He is home.
(emphasis mine)

It is in returning and resting. Not returning and striving and weeping and trying. Resting.
I must return before I can rest. How do I return? Returning is coming back, thinking his thoughts over our own. Returning may be re-turning – turning again and again. New habits of rest must be formed. When I begin to worry I must turn again to his rest. His promise to be all I need.
To be very honest these words spoke to me so strongly because somehow I find myself in a place where the daily restlessness and anxiety is running, and ruining, my life.

I have often said that it was easy for me to trust God with the big things. My entire family suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in 2007. With no insurance and no assistance and no steady income we had a bill of $100,000. I never worried about it. God provided for the debt to be reduced by 70% and provides money every month to make our payment.

Yet some days I have what must be a mild, and sometimes more severe, panic attack trying to plan an afternoon of errands or decide what to make for dinner. Simple daily decisions often bring on a meltdown. I have made this worse by hiding it. My children know I’m not okay, they have to live with me. I try to shelter them and keep it together, but I don’t always manage. I do my absolute best to keep everything together around anyone else, my husband included. 
How could I, a published author, posting blogs about living for God, be such a basketcase. How can I who longs to turn the world upside down for the Kingdom be overwhelmed with managing my own home? I don’t know. Perhaps by spending too long near Jesus and not in him. Visiting, vacationing, but not moving in.
I’m changing residence.
I am returning – again, and learning to rest.

What are your experiences with rest? Does it come easy? Are there seasons?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time 4 Learning Review

Time 4 Learning (T4L) generously offered a free month trial of their online curriculum in exchange for our honest review. It was a great learning experience and time to reflect on what really matters to me as I educate my children. So here it is - my honest review:

Each student has their own log-in. They can even “customize” their home page color. Once logged in they have access to all their subjects and tools. They can choose their subject and T4L keeps track of completed activities, even if they choose to do them out of order. There are guides in the parent section to help determine how many activities to do a day or week if you were using this all year. You have the flexibility to adjust each subject level independently for each student. Even after you have chosen the level there are three levels for each lesson, one higher and one lower if the student needs more help or more challenge on just one lesson. 
Their website has lots of helpful information for however you might want to use their program from a fun safe learning environment to full curriculum.

Things we liked:

  • The lessons are entertaining. Far more than mom ever is. 
  • My children enjoyed deciding what they wanted to work on first.
  • The playground J My children enjoyed the games. I enjoyed that it automatically shut down when their earned time is up. Parents set how much time they can earn and accumulate.
  • My children were always ready to start as soon as we finished Bible.
  • Reports give great information about each activity, even if it’s not a “scored” lesson. From the report you can click to open any activity to see their answers or to redo the activity.
  • If you are looking for help in specific areas you can look through the lessons and activities to choose ones for those areas.
  • It’s a safe site. Many of the games on the playground are elsewhere on the web, but you have to watch what ads pop up. T4L eliminates that issue.
  • The Odyssey Writer word processing tool. The students can do graphic organizers, note cards, and outlines. Their information is easily transfered between those formats as well as pasted into the body of their text.

Things we didn’t like:

  • It has a secular worldview. For science we did it together so we could discuss things contrary to what we believe. In the language arts and math lessons the humor was not always respectful, nothing repulsive, just not necessarily uplifting either.
  • The lessons are not mastery based. Once a lesson is completed the student moves on to the next one regardless of their score. The parent can go in and review their scores and lessons can be repeated.
  •  The lessons didn’t review previous material. If you were using this as a supplemental program this would be good because it focuses on just the skill of the lesson. Using it as the main curriculum would mean adding some daily review to be sure lessons learned are not lost.
  • Starting at level 3 Science and History are basically textbooks online. I have never been a fan of textbooks so this was not a good fit for us. There are suggestions and sometimes assignments for activities, as well as suggested reading. We did not make it to the library to check out any of the books recommended.

What I learned:

  • Having the computer as the teacher, even for part of the day, relieved pressure from my relationship with my son. He struggles with learning and I do not always have the patience I need. Having the computer do the correcting and reminding seems to have given him more emotional energy to deal with the rest of life better.
  • Mastery and review is important to me. Connecting history and science to life in a meaningful way is, too.  I’m thankful for the T4L trial. It provided some insight into making our home more peaceful.
  • I will be looking into other online programs for math and reading, at least for my son. They must focus on mastery and hopefully will incorporate review. I’ll let you know what I find and what I decide.

I welcome your feedback.

Do you use T4L? Feel free to share why and how it works for your family.
Do you use another online program? Why do you like it?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lamb—Jesus Is the Lamb of God

Easter 2012 is just around the corner, April 8. Today I'm sharing a devotion from soon to be released Easter is About Jesus: Family Devotionsfor the Easter Season.

Coloring page and ornament at the bottom of this post.

 Lamb—Jesus Is the Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God.” He takes away the sins of the world!John 1:29
Do you know what sin is? Sin is doing wrong things. Can you name some sins? In ancient Israel, God commanded the people to sacrifice animals to make up for their sins. The people sinned and the sacrificial animals had to die in their place. The animals needed to be perfect and inspected by the priest. The priest did not ask for a list of sins from the person. He did not ask what changes the people had made to avoid sinning in the future. The priest examined the lamb. The priest would make the sacrifice and declare the people forgiven.
Jesus came to be the one sacrifice for all time for all people. When you come to God with Jesus as your lamb, God inspects Jesus. Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God. God does not look at your sins or ask you to change to be forgiven. God is well pleased with Jesus and pronounces you forgiven. When you see the lambs, tell God you are thankful he forgave you and will always forgive you when you confess.

More Time with God
  • Why did Jesus have to die? 
  • What can you do after you sin? (Look at 1 John 1:9.) 
  • Does God want you to pay for your sins? 
Note to Parent: Discuss this idea in detail to be sure your child(ren) understand that though Jesus paid for all our sins it does matter if we sin. Sin has consequences, the worst of which is hurting our relationship with God and those he loves.

Activity Ideas:
  • Imagine God looking at you through Jesus. What does he see? How does it make you feel? 
  • Draw how God sees you. 
  • Draw or make a lamb.

Be the first to know when Easter is About Jesus is available for purchase. Send an email to Mukkove or use this contact link (there should be a blue "contact" button on the left. Please let me know if there is not).

Coloring page and ornament

Ornament Front
Ornament Back

Coloring page

Print coloring page full size or print small to color your own ornament.

Print ornament front and back and glue together, add a ribbon for hanging if you like. Make any size you want.

If the picture won’t print directly you can right click and select “save”, then print from that file. Let me know if you have trouble.

Do you have a blog or ministry you would like to share EIAJ with? Contact Mukkove for more information. 

More from Easter is About Jesus: Family Devotions for the Easter Season
Jellybeans-Jesus Uses What I Give Him

Flowers—Jesus Takes Care of Me

Butterflies—Jesus Made Me for Good Works

Easter is Coming - Introduction

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Resting in Easter

Jesus has won our greatest victory, without us doing anything to earn or deserve it. Jesus came, lived died, and lives today for our victory - now and forever. We can rest in Easter.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 
10 This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. ...
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. [This is resting] God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence [Resting] because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
19 We love each other because he loved us first.
1 John 4:9-13, 15-19 NLT