Blame Yourself!

Here's an excellent Poem I read recently by Doug Phillips. Leave a comment and let me know how it impacts you. 



There’s a nasty green temptation that afflicts most everyone
To skirt responsibility when we’ve done something that’s wrong.
Instead of ‘fessing up like men to the blackness of our heart,
We focus on the other guy’s fault and emphasize his part.
Here’s a hardy, healthy maxim given long ago by dad,
With a world of wealthy wisdom which will triumph over fad:
God has given you great mercy; You’ve been spared the very worst.
Be gen’rous to others — Blame yourself first!
The poor response by Adam on the day he broke God’s Law
Was to shift the blame to Eve using an argument of straw,
Thus establishing for Mankind this most unattractive flaw.
Learn from his mistake — Stop and blame yourself!
When you’re feeling kinda fickle ‘bout the pickle that you’re in,
Teary puddles you’re producing, as your noodle cooks the sin,
But complaining while explaining never leads to a win-win.
Take a breath, think again — And blame yourself!
When befuddled and besmirched, without a horse before the cart,
It’s ever so convenient to forget Your own wretched part,
And recount with gory details His worst mistakes from the start.
Bite your tongue, take the hit — Just blame yourself!
There’s a way to say “I’m sorry” that’s clearly not repentance,
Taking some responsibility to minimize your sentence,
While giving him the lion’s share with most self-righteous vengeance.
This is not true contrition — Blame yourself!
When you’re backed against the wall, because you’re in a rotten mess,
Next you feel the pressure mounting, and you’re needing to confess,
But by shifting blame to others, you won’t mitigate the stress,
De-escalate the crisis — Blame yourself!
There’s another type of shifting reminiscent of a snake.
It happens when you twist and turn the other’s words and then take
Advantage of their absence through your sad one-sided remake.
But that’ll really bite you — Just blame yourself!
If you break the Ninth Commandment, just to save your precious skin,
Using just a little half-truth, so it doesn’t seem like sin,
But a half truth is a a whole lie, and another form of spin.
Better focus on your part — Blame yourself.
By sustaining all your blaming, as you prosecute and try,
Your convincing is evincing such a self-deceptive high,
Your evasion becomes persuasion: You believe your own lie!
But that doesn’t change the truth — Blame yourself.
If you blame others less, and blame yourself more,
It may rub against the grain, and feel an awful chore,
But by doing you’re subduing pride and opening a door!
For future hope and peace — So blame yourself!
A gentle word assuages wrath, and less fire kills the flame.
Speak to your brother privately, or he may put you to shame.
Don’t accuse him before others, lest your tempted to defame.
And while we’re on the subject — Blame yourself!
When life is looking mighty grave, and your heart hungers for health,
Take a queue from the Word, quickly take the Bible off the shelf.
Stop and ask the living God to help you learn to die to self.

Be a truly humble man and blame yourself!


Command of Christ # 27

Hello! I hope you are enjoying July as much as I am! I am sitting in the warm sun as I type!
Today we will be talking about yeast. Yes yeast...well more specifically leaven. This command is 'Beware of Leaven.' Christ said, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of theSadducees" (Matthew 16:6).
When Christ first said this to His disciples, they thought that He was referring to the bread they had forgotten to bring with them. After Jesus further explained, they understood that He was talking about the leaven that was the Pharisees and the Saducees' hypocrisy.
Why did Christ use the term 'leaven'? Leaven or yeast, is a substance that in small amounts, has the power to affect a whole batch of dough. Throughout the Bible, leaven is often associated with evil and sin. In the Old Testament, yeast was forbidden in offerings to the Lord and in the Passover feast. I Corinthians 5:7 says, "...Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" Sin is like yeast, because allowing even a little of it in our lives brings great destruction and effects more than we anticipated.
We need to take Jesus' warning seriously and realize that even a little sin cannot be tolerated. In Romans 6 we are told that if we yield to sin we become its slave. We must be cautious and alert for sin that would creep into our lives. Justifying a compromise is usually a sign that we are allowing a little 'leaven.'
A couple Sundays ago a young man from my church gave a powerful testimony. He explained how he had neglected spending time with the Lord and how God had used an injury to help him see that he needed to be focusing more on the Lord. God showed him that he was focusing too much on clothing and that just a little neglect had led to wrong music and  rebellion to his parents. He realized that this sin had crept in and that he needed to change. He memorized key Scripture verses and got accountable. It was so encouraging to hear a young man 'take heed to leaven' and be willing to purge it out of his life. Praise the Lord!
The 'leaven' or sin of the Pharisees and Saducees was hypocrisy. "..Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1b).  They had replaced man's tradition with God's Law, such as tithing herbs, but neglecting the bigger matters.  The Pharisees 'majored on the minor points and violated the major points.' Their motivation was not to love God and others as themselves, but rather they were motivated by pride which led to rampant hypocrisy.
One day we will be judged according to what we have done, whether it was good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10).  Will our goodness be that we tithed our herbs? or looked like good Christians? It is great to tithe and to look nice to others, but it must be an outflowing of a heart that loves God and others. 
-Have I allowed a compromise in my life which could lead to great destruction?
-How can I protect myself from 'leaven' in my life?
-Do I try to cover up selfish motives with good works?
"And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness" (Luke 11:39).
Blessings,
Amanda
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Ocean Conference Highlights, and Experiences!


In late June we were blessed to be able to attend the 2013 Oregon Homeschool conference. 
I was given the tremendous privilege of coordinating and hosting my sisters  Soap booth for her soap business http://www.cleanhandssoap.com/ 

After a couple weeks of preparations and making over 500 bars of soap, we were ready for the booth at the conference. 

It was so fun to set up the booth, and see all the preparations come to pass. It's kind of like playing store as a child, except we were dealing with real money, and real customers:) 

Here's some pictures of the event. 

Yvonne proudly displaying her business:) She actually got to take time off for most of the conference, and enjoyed spending time with friends, which gave me a great opportunity to practice my marketing and communication skills. ( which by the way, don't really exist:)

It was super fun to be across from our good friend's the Davises booth for the National Bible Bee. http://www.biblebee.org/ I especially enjoyed reviewing memory verses with their kids when we had breaks in our customers.

This is a Viking boat that hangs above the main foyer in the convention center. This year,(after many tries last year:) Evan managed to throw a paper airplane into the boat!  (the things homeschoolers do in their free time:)

A few days before the conference we had our first guests from the A Candle in the Window Hospitality Network http://acandleinthewindow.com/ contact us. So it was extra fun to have two brothers staying with us for the duration of the conference. (It felt like my two older brothers were home again.) One of them even helped out with our soap booth, and really made selling and communication look easy. I'm sure our booth wouldn't have been as sucessful without his help. Thank you Ross!

Mom really enjoyed helping out at the booth, and she was even so sweet to manage the booth herself for a few hours so that I could have some time to fellowship with friends.

Speaking of friends:) words cannot express the great joy I felt to see the S. family again. I was so grateful that God allowed us to be able to spend time with them, and although (as always) time seemed to pass way too quickly, it was such an answer to prayers to spend time with them. I know God has everything in life worked out for His glory, but sometimes living that out is hard. Life just wouldn't be the same without such good friends. 

Back to "business":) Our booth seemed to be endlessly filled with people, either friends or customers, and at times it became hard to make sure everyone was being helped, but, it was so fun, to be able to help out with the booth, and meet new people.

One of my favorite parts of the booth, was being able to help the kids make soap balls. It was a great way to get them involved in the fun of soapmaking, without much effort. It also gave time to talk with the parents about our soapmaking classes. 

Overall, our booth was very sucessful, and super fun to be a part of. I'm so grateful that God gave my sister the idea to have a soap business. Not only has it been a great ministry opportunity, but it has also helped me to learn many valuable skills that will be useful for all of life. 


This is an amazing watermelon sculpture that was at one of the vendor booths for a cooking school.
I really enjoyed looking at the other booths in the vendor hall, and managed to help our family, and friends win three drawings, including a whole jar of JellyBellys:) 

The intricate details of these carvings reminded me of the great detail that God put into each one of our lives. Sometimes we look at the painful cuts of life, and wonder what they're for, but it helps to remember that without the cuts we wouldn't be able to see the masterpiece. 

Evan managed to get access to the top balcony and view the auditorium from above. Although I wasn't able to listen to any of the sessions I heard that the speakers were great, and people seemed really encouraged by the messages.

After we cleaned up our booth at the close of the conference, I enjoyed several hours of much needed time with friends, and then we headed over to Chiplote with a few families to finish off the evening with food and fellowship. Oh what a blessed body of Christ we have been invited to know, sometimes I think we take advantage of each others company and assume it will be everlasting, but then through circumstances beyond our control, when we are separated from one another, we come to realize how much we need one another, and how selfish we were to take for granted our time together, and overlook the special privilege we have to be part of such a blessed body of Christ. 

Recently,I have learned the importance of gratefulness, and how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes I never realize what I had until it's gone, and when I've realized it's gone it's too late to get it back. I hope and pray that God may redeem my foolishness, and restore me to the joy of the blessings he bestows when I wait upon Him and keep His ways.  

Here's a poem that has recently touched my heart on the subject of gratefulness.

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves
There's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say
I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find the truth
It's so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for 
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences 
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each other's light

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for 
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for


Thank you God for the gift of life, for the friends and the family surround me. Thank you for the hardships you've put in my life to help me look to you, thank you for the relationships in my life, and even though some may be severed, they are not lost. Thank you for the great trust I can have in you. Thank you for the joy of salvation, and the blessing of eternal life. Help me to not be selfish and overlook your gifts, help me to always be grateful and treat each moment as a gift that could be my last!

Happy Birthday to.....

My Dearest Sweet friend Eden Strang!

This blog would not be possible without you:) I love you lots, and lots:) 

Click on the picture below to wish Eden a very Happy Birthday.

Can the Beach Get Any Better?

In early June we had a wonderful time at the beach in Lincoln City. 
We went out to the beach after church, and enjoyed one of the most spectacular hikes I've been on at the beach. In just over a mile of hiking, we were so high above the ocean that it was hard to see the people and birds below. The view was a 180 panoramic view of the ocean. It was heavenly. Here's some pictures so you can get a little bit of an idea of what the hike was like! Enjoy:)

Evan did a couple self portraits at the top.


We enjoyed walking on the beach after the hike.


Wildflowers were abundant along the grassy path.

The green rolling hills must be somewhat similar to Ireland or Scotland.

The tall hill that sticks up like a thumb is the top of the hike.

I just love this self portrait Evan took of himself. I think he looks fake, or superimposed:)

Nearing the top of the hike.

What a spectacular view of the ocean below. 

I spotted a few sea lions in the water below.

Yvonne enjoyed taking a small nap when we reached the top of the hike.

"How excellent is thy lovingkindness O God, therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." Psalm 36:7


"For ye were sometimes in darkness but now are ye Light in The Lord walk as children of Light" Ephesians 5:8 

"I will both lay me down in peace and sleep for thou Lord only mayest me dwell safely" Psalm 4:8


I had to make a sandcastle,( it was just the perfect weather for it,) and what better shape to make it in than my initial:)


Mo's just seems like the perfect ending to a trip to the beach, unless of course your in Tiliamook, in which case it would be inconceivable to not stop by the Tiliamook Cheese Factory, and get Ice Cream:) 

"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.
O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee?
 or to thy faithfulness round about thee?
Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them." 
Psalm 89:7-9

The Blessed Cross of Christ!

Here is a poem (I wish someone would make it into a song) that really stood out to me from a excellent book I've been reding, called You Can Change by Tim Chester. I have been very convicted and challenged by the truths in this book, and the need to focus on Christ afresh and anew every day. Christ is truly sufficient for everything, and Without Him I am nothing. It seems easy to look on Salvation as a one time event that happened in the past that secures our future with Christ, but we must be believing and trusting in Christ in each moment with renewed passion, and continually recognizing our need for His grace!

The Blessed Cross Of Christ!

Lord, we come to you a blessed and broken people, 
Holding nothing in our hands but sin and shame: 
Knowing keenly all the conflicts of a prideful heart
That loves its fame and hates your name. 

So we come to you without a single credit,
Clinging only to the precious cross of Christ, 
Where the Lion on the throne who is the Lamb of God
Gave up His life in sacrifice.

Yet we try to live our lives each day without you;
Try to find ourselves in things that fade away;
Find importance in the things we do and not in you;
Like fools at play, we run astray.

So we come to you to glory in your mercy;
Come to call each other back to Your great love; 
Come to leave behind our idols and our substitutes 
And fix our love on God alone.

There is mercy without measure in your death, Lord, 
There is no other place where sinful men may hide, 
And so run to find the grace that is made ours in you, 
We will live our lives where our great Savior died:
At the cross, the blessed cross of Christ.



"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22

Honour thy Father and thy Mother!

Greetings! I am excited about this command, because it so powerful, yet often overlooked.
This great command is Honor thy Father and Mother. I think for most of us, we feel like we are honoring our parents and that our parents are pretty blessed to have great children like us! ; )
As we look at the Scriptures, however, we see that honoring goes a lot further than just outward obedience and that we are hugely blessed when we honor them.
 
Jesus said, "For God commanded saying, Honor thy father and mother: and He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death" (Matthew15:4).
 
So what does it look like to honor our parents? Honoring our parents means that we are revering them, and valuing them both outwardly and in our hearts. It can be easy to obey outwardly while we murmur and complain in our hearts. God sees the heart and is not fooled for a second. If we want to be truly honoring, then it needs to start in the heart--purpose to reject any negative or critical thoughts about your parents.
 
Jesus said 'he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.'  In Exodus, we are told that "he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." There are over 10 words for curse in the Bible and this usage is the least 'intense' of the other meanings for curse. It means to lightly esteem. God is serious about this! He is saying that even if we esteem them a little less than God expects, even if we are still pretty good, we are worthy of death!
 
God didn't just give us commands to ruin our lives, but actually to benefit us! God even said that obeying this specific command would cause things to go well with us! Who doesn't want that??!
"Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:1-3).
 
I know that obeying and honoring our parents wishes can be the hardest, most confusing, humbling, trying, and frustrating times we will encounter. Sometimes it seems like they don't have a clue what they are talking about, but we still need to honor them and trust that God is working through them. 
I have many stories of how my parents commands seemed like utter madness, but I obeyed and things went well for me. I have told you about how my parent didn't want me to go to college right away and I have been exceedingly blessed by obeying them. I probably would not be composing this email right now if I did not obey.
Also, when I was in high school, I wanted to take an antibiotic for my acne. My dad said 'no' because he didn't want me to be filling my body with antibiotics continually. I knew that antibiotics were completely harmless and argued with him, but finally agreed I wouldn't. Now 10 years later I come to find out that continual use of antibiotics can be very harmful to your body in many ways! Praise the Lord!
Also, my dad wanted me to learn stick shift and I kept pushing it off, because well, stick shift is a pain to learn! He would ask me if I wanted to practice and I would say no. I finally decided that I would practice every week until I got the hang of it and what do you know? My car breaks down leaving us with only stick-shift cars! God is pretty clever.
These are just some things that don't seem that big, but by obeying, things went well for me.  I want to add a note here that Jesus was not talking to 10 year olds when He commanded this. He was speaking to the adult religous leaders of the day. Just because we have hit 18 or are married, does not mean that we are exempt from this command. If you want things to go well with you, you will honor your parents. Period.
 
Some ideas to honor your parents: pray for them, ask them for advice, give them gifts, praise them in public, introduce them to others, spend time with them in public, refuse negative thoughts about them, tell them why you are grateful for them, value their correction, and value them above your friends.
 
-What are five qualities that you can praise in each of your parents? (Why don't you tell them what you came up with?)
-What step can you take today to honor your parents more?
-Are there things that your parents want you to do (spoken and unspoken) that you still need to fulfill?
 
"Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father" (Leviticus 19:2-3).
 
Blessings,
Amanda
(Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide)
 
 
 
 
 
 

Complete this Survey and be entered to Win one of three iPad Mini’s!

Complete this Survey and be entered to Win one of three iPad Mini’s!
This is a survey Kevin Swanson is doing of the homeschoolers who are now in the second generation. There's alot of great questions, and it definitely helps you think about life. I would encourage you to take this survey and see where you are as it relate to God, and life in Christ.

Command of Christ # 25

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! Well, we are officially over the half-way mark in the Commands of Christ! I can't believe that it has already been 6 months!!!
 
This week we will talk about the command, Take My Yoke. Jesus said, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
 
Who cannot relate to being burdened and heavy laden? The word 'burden' means to 'feel fatigued' or 'to have continual toil.' When Jesus was speaking these words, He was talking to those who were under the burden of the Law. Before someone comes to know the Lord, they are a slave to sin and are subject to the prince of the power of the air. 
 
Jesus wants us to be yoked in fellowship with Him; He asks us to take His yoke! What freedom comes when we are brought into eternal fellowship with Christ! He wants us to learn His ways and follow His example. He uses two qualities to describe Himself: meek and lowly. We see this fleshed out in the rest of the Scriptures and especially in Philippians. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:5-9). Christ humbled Himself even to the point of dying for wretched sinners.  His submission to God's plan allowed Him to be highly exalted and to sit on the throne of glory.
 
When we learn the character of Christ and submit to Christ's yoke, we will experience peace and things will go well with us.  It is when we strain and pull against God's commands and plans that we feel that life is painful and unbearable.  When we follow Christ's lead, we find that the yoke is easy and that all He has commanded us is for our good! "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein" (Jeremiah 6:16).
 
I often lose sight of God's goodness and faithfulness and begin to pull in my own direction--I refuse to submit to what He wants. It is at those times that life becomes confusing and burdensome, but when I am fulling trusting His promises, there is a peace that passes all understanding. There are times when we will suffer and life will be hard, but we can still have a peace and rest when we trust His plans.
 
When I was struggling against the Lord and my parents before I became a Christian, life was burdensome and filled with woes.  There were conflicts everywhere and the more I pushed ahead with my own plans, the more the tension grew. When I became a Christian and submitted both to God and my parents, I felt an amazing freedom! Even though I had taken the yoke of Christ and had willingly decided to be under my parents' authority, I had peace. God's ways are so strange and wonderful!
 
-Have you at one time submitted your life to Christ and made Him Lord over your life?
-Is there unnecessary strain in your life, because you are not submitting to His lead?
-Is there an area that you need to surrender fully to God?
 
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22).
 
Blessings,
Amanda
Notes adapted from IBLP's Commands of Christ study journal and pocket guide
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eden's Evaluations: Cowgirl Dirt Party! (Prize included)

Eden's Evaluations: Cowgirl Dirt Party! (Prize included): Hello Ladies! In honor of Independence Day, I have decided to celebrate with a Cowgirl Dirt Party! Please read all the details before e...

Blessed is the Nation Whose God is The Lord!

Happy Independence Day!


"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 
2 Chronicles 7:14

Here's a video of a song for Independence Day! Enjoy!

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=LLvUYZitGZE

Whatever you do as a family today, Have a blessed time of Celebrating the magnificent work of God and His providential blessing on this great Nation! 

Happy Birthday Evan!

One of my earliest childhood memories, was in 1995. I was three years old, I was with my older sister and brothers, watching fireworks from the third story of a hospital building on Fourth of July. I distinctly remember the fireworks because they were bigger than any fireworks I had seen previously. We were at the hospital to see our new baby brother Evan, who had just been born on the Fourth Of July:)



Now 18 years later, as we approach the Fourth Of July, somehow, my "baby" brother is turning 18 years old. He has grown into an amazing man of Godliness. I'm impressed every day with the great gift I have been given in such a brother. I think I take it for granted sometimes, and then when people say to me how much they admire Evan and appreciate his character, I once again realize how much I have to be grateful for.

I'm grateful for Evan's 

Great ability in sports, and for encouraging me to put in more effort when I do activities:) 

His Humor:) 

The fact that he knows how to cook, and even made this cake:) 

His photography skills. 

His handsome happiness, and love of his Mom:)

His amazing ability to play the piano. 

Being such a great friend to so many people. 

Doing amazing things:) 

Being a super great sibling!

Making everyone laugh:)

Being a great protector.

Humility 

Great communication skills! 
Prize winning artistic abilities.

Willingness to play piano duets with me. (even when it's in front of 3000 people;)

Creativity!

Classic style:) and for letting me be his wardrobe consultant:) 

Love of food;) 

Love of sweets (especially Chocolate:) 
Love for me:) 

Love for his siblings:) 

Love for our parents:) 

Encouragement to get bikes and exercise more. 

Tender heart, and love for Christ.

Being an angel;) 

Love of the outdoors!

Desire to be all that he can be for God's glory.

As Evan enters his 18th year, I pray that God will give him a vision for the future, and the determination to pursue Christ at all costs. I pray that through the challenging times that lie ahead, God may give Evan the grace to stay strong in The Lord and in the power of his might, that he may be able to put on the whole armour of God and be able to withstand against the whiles of the devil. I pray that he may know that no matter what happens in his life, God is still the same, and He will always be our guide even until death. 

I thank God for allowing Evan to be part of our family. We just wouldn't be the same without him!

I love you lots Evan:) 

Happy 18th Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; 
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." 
Joshua 1:9