Bless this Home

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Awesome Autumn

It has been so fun experiencing Autumn this year. Calvin is 2 1/2 years old, just the right age to take joy in all the new things we’re experiencing. In the picture above, he got to do some painting for a Mason Jar activity. It’s wax paper with red and yellow paint. I cleaned it up with brown construction paper and added his monogram with a glittery letter sticker that I just happen to have. Add a tea light, and you’ve got a sweet addition to your Autumn mantle decorations.

Next, Halloween was on it’s way. Calvin is not a fan of spooky things, including people in their costumes. I chose a Scripture passage to help him not be scared this year but keep his eyes on the Lord. Psalm 16:18 “I’m not scared. God is with me.” Obviously, the verse has been made “kid-friendly.” By the end of October, Calvin was cheering the verse! We made foam sticker scarecrows to help learn the verse (THANKS, MIMI!):

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We painted with orange and yellow a lot for other projects, also. As Thanksgiving approached, I knew I wanted the boys’ hand-prints to make turkeys in some way.  I got three good looking hand-prints from each of them and ended up making this:

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I tried doing Dorothy’s hand-print, and she just wanted to squish and squish the paint in her hand. She never made her hand flat for me. I only got smudges, but I dated the paper and put it away to pull out and show her when she’s older.

As much as we miss family and all the fun experiences we had over Thanksgiving break, we are happy to be home and back to our routine. Levi has returned to us, and I can hear his vocabulary  has tripled since we last saw him. Calvin has been a bit under-the-weather, but he’s being tough and making it through. Dorothy continues to grow and grow. Rad Brad Dad will be working late hours all week in preparation for an upcoming show. It’s the new normal here in the Majzner household. It’s not perfect, but it’s sanctifying. We put our trust in God.

Thanks for checking in.

 

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“In the beginning…”

IMG_20170909_100116The palm trees are hardly moving, but the sky is overcast. At this point before a hurricane, I always think what it was like for people long before doppler radar and news forecasts. Would the conistent, slight breeze and eerie overcast clouds be a tell-tale sign of what was coming? Would the only warnings have been word of mouth from sailors coming in off stormy seas? This is one of those rare moments where I am grateful to live in the era of powerful technology.

The boys and I have been going over the story of Creation the last several weeks. Week 1, Day 1 – God made the light out of the darkness. Week 2, Day 2 – God made the waters. Week 3, Day 3 -God made the land. Our memorization verse is Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God made the earth.” Even though its a simple lesson unit and something I’ve heard so many times growing up in the church, it seems timely to be thinking about God the Ultimate Creator in light of Hurricane Irma. It gives the heart and mind a righteouss peace as we not only think of ourselves but also others in its wake.

Our current situation: We have left the house behind and are headed to our safe place. The weather, fine if a little humid and hot. The most recent forecast, the eye is way out west and the hurricane warning on my phone has informed me of “dangerous winds” rather than “tropical storm” force winds. But looking at the fine print, we could still be in for some large gusts up to 110 mph. Even the credible sources are confusing me, but we’re sticking to our plan. Watching Irma’s track raises my concern less for me and my own family and more for my loved-ones along the west coast. God is awesome, the storm is no joke, please be wise as well as faithful. I know he is caring for you because you are in my mind and I am praying for you.

Thanks for listening.

In the Midst of Hurricane Irma

I know it was Christmas since I last posted. Calvin passed his 2nd birthday back in May. Dorothy turns 6 months old today. A little friend has once again returned to join us for part of the day now that the school year has started. We were beginning to reach a small sense of normalcy.

Now, Hurricane Irma has arrived. This 4-day-week has turned into a 2-day-week. I watch my Facebook Feed blow up with nervous friends, my phone is getting more texts than ever, and Brad and I have spent so much time fixated on the topic of staying or leaving. We’re staying. He wants to, and I feel no need to risk traveling on the roads yet. Before everyone who knows that our house doesn’t seem fit for a hurricane (which you’re right, haha) starts laying into us, we have a plan to go somewhere nearby that is an appropriate shelter. We are going to keep an eye on the forecast and leave to go there as we see fit.

Last Hurricane (Matthew), I was pregnant and very anxious. The idea of being in knee-deep water while pregnant was the worst idea in my head. We evacuated northerly and ended up right in the path of the storm. It ended up being a silly decision. I am not saying Irma is going to do the same thing, but I do know I’m much more emotionally and physically capable to deal with whatever may come, even with two kids in tow.

The biggest point: God has given me peace. His Word tells me not to be afraid (John 14:27), that it is better to take refuge in Him (Psalm 118:8), and that he is my true shelter (Psalm 91:2). So, I simply ask for prayers, faithful prayers that trust in a powerful God. This storm is a part of his creation, and we shall weather it together as a family. We are not afraid, for the Lord is our King.

We’re praying. Be praying with us. 

Post Hurricane Irma, I hope to start blogging regularly again. To those who actually read my blog, thanks for checking in.

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Thankfully, Calvin has not reached the age of waking us up at the wee hours of the morning for Christmas. Although he enjoyed opening a few gifts last night, he has no idea what’s in store for him today, on Christmas. 

Also, forgive me for not keeping to my daily post as I said I would. Thankfully, we sold my desk this week, but that means my whole “creative space” is in disarray, including my laptop which I prefer to do my blog posts on. The charger is lost in the haphazard space, and my computer is officially dead. Suffice it to say, I’m typing this on my iPad. It will have to do.

To make up for not fulfilling my promises (so unlike God who always fulfills his promises), here is a Christmas encouragement going through the other parts of my devotional reading for the advent season. I’ll recap Deuteronomy 6 to start us off:

Deuteronomy 6 – Love – Focus Verse: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Verse 5)

Reading the whole chapter gives us light into why we should love the Lord with all of ourselves and prepares us to tell it to our children. We shall love God because of things he has done and that he is going to do. Throughout the Old Testament, God brought our people to safety through his miracles. We, being on the other side of the crucifixion, also have Christ Jesus to cleanse us from even spiritual sin. The chapter also tells us we shall love he LORD so that it will go well with you. 

Psalm 39 – Hope – Focus Verse: “And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Verse 7)

This verse is so nicely snug in the middle of a Psalm where our writer is mostly stressed out. He is eager to speak his mind but knows it would neither be beneficial nor productive for anyone if he were to lash out in anger. But the turmoil within him is so great, he’s asking God when will he finally die. Many of us (myself included) have felt this way recently this year. How does the Psalm call us to respond? To paraphrase: “Take away my sin. Do not let idiots have the upper hand. I will keep quiet because the LORD will take care.” Let the turmoil in your heart go. Give it to the LORD who knows all things and has a good end for you.

John 20 – Christ – Focus Verse: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Verse 31)

The things “written” prior to this are John’s account of Jesus’ life, his words, his deeds, his miracles, his death, and his resurrection. In this chapter, we specifically hear about Jesus rising from the dead and meeting with his disciples, saying three times, “Peace be with you.” We also come to the story of the doubting Thomas who would not believe his friends until he actually touched the Lord. Jesus’ reply, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” Christ is the son of God! He died and rose again to destroy the old curse and make death no more! There is only life for his faithful ones. 

1 Corinthians 14 – Peace – Focus Verse: “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…” (verse 33)

This is an interesting chapter to throw into the mix. It’s Paul giving specific instructions about prophesying and speaking in tongues, neither of which I practice as part of my faith. At first, I was like why don’t we do this more in my church, but after closer inspection, it’s a good thing we don’t. There are very specific instructions for these gifts that have to be followed and Scripture suggests we not do them unless these instructions are fully followed. Most of all, anything done in the church should be for the building up of others – not ourselves. And there, stuck in the middle of the chapter is verse 33 which I believe is the most important for this Advent season. If there is anything I am taking away from conversations with friends and family, it is how everything seems so confusing in our world. Take away from verse 33 this truth: God desires peace and he has a grand plan to make sure ultimate peace is upon the earth in the end. We cannot know his ways for he is so great, but he promises to bring peace into our life . We must remain faithful to him.

James 1 – Joy – Focus Verse: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds… (verse 2)

I think James should be a regular “go to” book when you don’t know what to read. It is full of encouragement and practical application. I mean, verse 2 is how the letter begins. What an introduction! There are so many great points made in this one chapter that I could not summarize it well enough. However, joy has not been the easiest for me to experience this Advent season. Because the majority of people view Christmas very differently from me, I find it very hard to deal with most years. This year, my pregnancy hormones are making it 10 times worse – at least, I hope it’s the hormones. But every morning, I’ve read this verse and passage, and I’ve found joy in the great love of my Lord and Savior and the small things: Calvin’s experiences, time with family, Brad’s home for two weeks, my desk sold, and Dottie comes to us in just over two months. I may not feel the joy, but the reality is… It’s all around, praise be to God, and the inner trials I’m experiencing are only going to make me more holy.

There has been so much to glean from these passages. I hope and pray this Christmas is enlightening for everyone, opening our eyes to the grace of God.

Earlier this month, Calvin did his first finger paintings:

Merry Christmas! – from A B C (and D) Majzner

Advent Season Devotion 1 – LOVE!

*This is the first of five posts for the Advent Season. See the introduction here*

The point of this is to be in Scripture more, so I am posting the whole chapter for your convenience. Please keep an open heart and mind to the words of the Lord.

For love, we look to Deuteronomy 6: “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised. When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’” (ESV, emphasis added)

Passing down Scriptural truth to our children is the very backbone of Advent. And when the time comes that my children ask why we do what we do, I have the answer right here in Deuteronomy 6. But even more than telling them about God’s great miracles at the Exodus, I also get to tell them about Jesus. Because Jesus came to the earth to cleanse us in order that we may have a closer relationship with God, I give my all to God – that means remembering AND following his commands. It is why I wake up early to read my Bible, why we sing hymns before bed time, why we go to church, why we don’t fixate on gifts and santa at Christmas, why we pray before meals, and why we may act a little differently than the rest of the world. Jesus came and we have been set free to love completely!

This is our first Christmas in our new home, and we are slowly establishing how we want to celebrate this season. However, it will certainly be a season of teaching love to our children and reminding ourselves of God’s love for us that we may be better lovers of others. Praise be to God, Calvin already has a huge heart. At 18 months old, he already loves to give big hugs and happy kisses. These basic loving actions are a step in the right direction.

As for a family activity, we put up our Christmas tree as soon as we were back from Thanksgiving break. I always make sure it’s in the front window to let others know that in our home is light, warmth, and love. It’s a start…

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” – Deuteronomy 6:5 . With every fiber of my being, I will love the Lord. My prayer is that he shows me more and more what that looks like and prepares me to teach it to my children. May the advent seasons to come be filled with the love of God, reminding us of His mighty acts both in ancient history and happening now.

 

Advent Season Devotion

I’m going to step away from writing Christmas cards for a moment, weakening my chances of getting them out in time, but sometimes, I just need a break.

This advent season has not started out as the easiest one for our household. No deaths or major illnesses, gratefully, but over the course of this year, we have had some financial set-backs forcing us to dip into our rainy day account. Within the last weeks, we’ve had even more reasons to laugh about even the idea of a rainy day fund. Will we ever get ahead? I’m being very candid right now with no intention of looking for pity or even advice but just to be real. Christmas time is not always my favorite time of the year and now, when I do not have the means to give in the way I would hope to, it just feels even worse.

But praise be to God, I am not subject to my feelings but can be liberated and find hope in Christ. The first Sunday of this month, I was scheduled to teach Sunday School. In the spirit of advent, I had the kids cut and color little advent books I created. I had chosen our church’s 5 advent themes – Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, Christ (quite different from what I grew up with). For the project, I just used Bible Gateway to word search each of those terms and find a simple Scripture verse to put with each theme. It was nothing extravagant, but as long as they listened, they hopefully would get something out of it. It turned out, I got a whole lot out of it.

I returned to the project the Monday after. The Spirit moved me to look up each of the verses and study the full chapter that they were snuggled in. Let me tell you, I believe I was led to the gem of advent studies. I would like to share this here on the blog to (1) encourage you to get in your Bibles and (2) have as a reminder for next year. Below I’m going to list the 5 themes, the chapter that goes with it, and the focus verse. Over the next 5 days, I hope to write each night about each theme and tie it into some of the Christmas activities we’ve been up to this month. My prayer is you find this helpful, encouraging, and a light on what the Advent Season should really be about.

Advent Themes:

HOPE – Psalm 39 – “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (verse 7)

JOY – James 1 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (verse 2)

PEACE – 1 Corinthians 14 – “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” (verse 33)

LOVE – Deuteronomy 6 – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (verse 5)

CHRIST – John 20 – “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (verse 31)

 

As I go more in depth with each of these this week, I’ll be going in chronological order because that’s how I read through each chapter each morning. We’ll start with the Deuteronomy chapter and end with James. I am truly hopeful the joys of the advent season are what God surrounds you with each moment!

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Days 25-30 -Top 5 Wrap Up

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Days 25-30 – Top 5 Wrap Up

 

I totally recognize how behind I am in writing this post. We are well three whole days into December! But it is never too late to reflect and remember days of Thanksgiving. As I said before, life is meant to be lived. Writing about life can be very beneficial, but there is nothing to write if you spend it in front of a computer screen or piece of paper. Some may disagree, but I, personally, can’t spend forever writing in my journal in the morning or typing in my blog in the evening. Well, maybe I could, but my conviction tells me to go out, be active, and love others. So, I apologize for the delay, but I do always try to finish what I’ve started, even if it is a little late… Here we go!

Day 25 – I may have mentioned them already, but I am so thankful for my brothers and their wives/girlfriend. I learned so very much from watching my brothers as I grew up. First, it was learning from their mistakes and trying not to mimic those things when I was younger. I know sometimes they wonder how on earth I got the personality I did, but they need to take more credit for how I turned out. But now, they enlighten me still by just being who they are; whether it is giving me a different “city-life” perspective, a role-model for parenting, or the best example of a changed life. So, it was very pleasant to spend lots of time with them over the course of the holiday!

Day 26 – I am thankful for my bridesmaids. As much as getting married is supposed to be about making a commitment to your spouse, Brad and I viewed as an opportunity to show Christ to our guests and have a great experience with the friends in our bridal party. Having all the girl friends who have stood by me, encouraged me, and put up with me for years upon years was the delight of the whole preparation and wedding party process. So, when opportunities arise to spend time with any of them, and best when it’s ALL nine of them (that rarely happens), I try to take it. After thanksgiving, several of my oldest friends and I came to together with our families at a playground. It was such a delight! I have this hope: the Lord will give opportunity after opportunity to taste this kind of unity in the future. 

Day 27 – Most people would be discontent when their usually 2 hour 45 minute drive turns into 3 1/2 hours (plus deciding to stop for lunch because of the traffic). There were several accidents we had to work our way around as we headed home after Thanksgiving; traffic was dragging,  and we definitely weren’t going to be home any quicker. Brad and I, we do not mind this time at all because it means we have no excuse but to enjoy each other’s company in the car. Calvin handles it well, also, up until a point. So, as we creep along with everybody else on the road, Brad and I hold hands and continue talking – we still haven’t run out of things to talk about. Sometimes, we just sit still together, but we never grow impatient. The Lord has given us that time in the car to just “be” and it’s a wonderful gift.

Day 28 –  There is someone very specific in my life that I am truly thankful for, my mother. I have never met someone with a servant’s heart like hers. She continuously just gives and gives and gives of herself to everyone around her, and it is because she knows the love of Christ so very well in her life. I’m forever grateful that the Lord gave her to me as my prime example of mothering. I feel so privileged to have called her “mom” all my life and had her watchful eye on me year-by-year. I pray to inherit many of her qualities as I continue growing into being a mom myself.

Day 29 – I am super-grateful to the Lord for personal, clean, quiet spaces. The reason I am recognizing this is because I lost mine for a week, this week. My personal space was cluttered, disorganized, and well, not useful. This is the main reason I am only just getting to this post. I never know how it happens, but my space just gets overrun by random “stuff” as time goes by. When I don’t have that space, I don’t have a place to get things done and have to move several things to find other necessary things. Let’s just say, it does nothing for my spiritual, emotional, or mental attitude for as long as it is in that state. It is one of those things I take for granted when it works. Now, I recognize its worth and thank the Lord for providing me with a quiet, personal space in my home. He knows I need it.

Day 30 – As this season of thanksgiving comes to a close, I am most certainly grateful for so many more things. But on this particular day, I was truly indebted to the Lord once again for His unending grace. Sometimes, I get a little unmotivated in life. Usually, it’s when Brad goes back to work after a good length of time off, and this time, I’m totally pregnant and emotional. I have a hard time getting my priorities straight and have no desire to be sociable at all. Even then, God comes beside me eventually and picks me up. He lays it on my heart to find my reality in His Word, not my feelings. If I leaned on my own feelings, I’d ignore my duty to Calvin and curl up and sleep for days. Leaning on God’s understanding, I remember I can do all things through God who strengthens me and that his power is made perfect in weakness (somehow… it’s amazing!). I have this assurance: God will always give me the wisdom and strength to do the good works He has already prepared in advance for me to do. And he knows, I sometimes need a break to just be reminded of who He is in the big picture. 

So, that is that. Thirty days of thanksgiving. It was a blast! I hated the days that I didn’t get a chance to write about something good going on each moment. What shall we do for December?