Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 14 comments

Worst. Parent. Ever.

Have you ever felt like that?  I think it's more of a female tendency, though I'm sure men have their moments... We all have times when we make mistakes, but what about those times when what we do is deliberate? 

I remember feeling like a terrible parent when my firstborn got on the school bus for the first time.  I knew it was the right thing for her.  I knew it was part of the natural course of events.  Yet I still felt like a horrible parent, just "shipping her off."  Totally illogical, I know, but difficult nonetheless.
 
Fast-forward to the present.  My son, who's nearing his mid-twenties, lives at home.  He likes living here (He even told me so).  I like him living here (and I told him so).  He's pleasant to be around (something I had a hard time saying back when he was a teenager), helps me feed lunch to my grandsons before heading to work in the afternoon, and always finds me and pops his head in to say, "Hi" when he comes home.

He's comfortable here. 

The problem? 

He's too comfortable. 

Photo courtesy of Pandiyan and Flickr

It's time for my son to leave the nest.  There are so many things he needs to learn, most of which won't be discovered while living with me.  We actually had this discussion a while ago - 8 months ago to be exact.  I told him it was time for him to move out and gave him a year to do so.  Honestly, I was surprised it took him so long.  I guess I didn't realize just how comfortable he was. 

He moved out just over a week ago, and after five days on his own I stopped by to see his apartment.  It was pitiful.  His furniture consisted of a new bed he purchased and an old end table that had been in his room here.  The living room had a pile of blankets in one corner and a small tv on the floor in the opposite corner.  The only thing in the refrigerator was leftover pizza which he ate cold because he doesn't have a microwave and didn't think to use the oven.

I asked him if he liked living on his own and he replied, "No".  He said he was lonely.  Of course much of this was due to the fact that he'd been stuck in the apartment all day waiting for the cable guy to show up.  He'd been told the guy would be there between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.  I could almost hear my dad's voice saying, "Welcome to the real world."  Instead, that's when the refrain started running through my head:

Worst. Parent. Ever.

Now, even if it feels like it, I know that's not true.  I think one day he'll even thank me for encouraging him to go out on his own.  I know his wife will, whoever she may be.

I began wondering if this is how God feels when we're going through difficult times?  Does he hate seeing us struggle, but allow it because it's the only way we're going to grow?  If I'm honest, I have to say I'm more likely to lose sight of Him when I'm comfortable.  Growth comes when I'm clinging to Him, and I'm clinging to Him when life gets difficult.

The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher. ~ Isaiah 30:20 HCSB

Maybe this is exactly what my son needs, not only to learn to be independent, but to learn to rely on God.  I am certain he's saved, but I also know he keeps God at a distance.  He did leave his Harry Potter books here, but he packed his Bible.  I take that as a very good sign!

Lord, I thank You for the comfort that comes from knowing my son belongs to You.  I pray You will use this experience to strengthen his relationship with You and develop him into a man after Your own heart. Thank You for loving me enough to move me out of my comfort zone and closer to You. 
 





Lisa
 


I've been known to link up with: Soli Deo Gloria, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Tell Me a Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Into the Beautiful, God Bumps & God Incidences, Word-Filled Wednesday, Winsome Wednesday, Simply Helping Him, Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sundays,
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 8 comments

Did you know that this week is National Bible Week? What a perfect opportunity to reflect on what a gift the Bible is and why it's so important to read it on a daily basis! 
 

 
I so love the Bible! When I look back at myself twenty years ago, when I was just starting to discover it for myself, I can see just how transformational God's Word can be!

Spending time reading and studying Scripture has changed my life! How?

Experience God's Love
Ever since a friend asked me how the Bible applies to everyday life, I've been keeping a list of topics and verses that apply to them. The most repeated message by far is God's love for us. Over and over we read how God rescued us, chose us, adopted us, delights in us, and rejoices over us. There's no way anyone can read Scripture and come away feeling unloved.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” ~ Zephaniah 3:17

Inspires Hope and Joy
I've experienced my share of struggles and seemingly hopeless situations. God's Word reminds me that times of suffering will not last forever.
I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. ~ Jeremiah 31:4


Encourages
The first verse that God ever spoke to me through was Jeremiah 29:11. Whenever I get discouraged and feel I'm not going anywhere I remember that I'm really not wandering aimlessly. God has a plan that He's executing even now.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11
 
Keeps Me on the Right Track 
I don't think we realize how much we're influenced by what we see and hear, that we tend to make our decisions based on what's around us. The more time I spend with God, the more I see the world trying to pull me away from Him. 
Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. Psalm 119:2-3

Ignites Desire
The more time I spend in God's Word, the more time I want to spend! At first, it took discipline to read my Bible every day. Now, it's something I can't wait to do! It's His Word that ignites the desire for more of Him.
I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. ~ Psalm 119:131

I could go on and on - there's so much more! 

I'd love to hear from you!  How has Scripture changed your life?

Father, thank you for the precious gift of Your written Word.  Forgive us when we ignore it or take it for granted.  Ignite a passionate desire within us to sit at Your feet and transform us from the inside out!
Lisa
 

Linking up withSoli Deo Gloria, Inspire Me Monday, Titus 2sdays, Tell Me a Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, God Bumps & God Incidences, Word-Filled Wednesday, Winsome Wednesday, Simply Helping Him

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments

I do my best to be considerate of others and treat them the way I would like to be treated but when it comes right down to it, I still have a tendency to put myself first.   It must be hereditary.  My grandson is only 17 months old and he did not need to learn to think only of himself; it comes naturally.  Rather, he had to learn how to be nice to the kitty rather than doing as he pleased, grabbing ears or pulling fur (lessons that came in handy when his little brother came along.)  He already knows how to be selfish, but he will need to be taught how to share.
 
 
This elevation of self is inherent.  As much as we care for others, our default is still to look out for "number one."  That's one of the reasons why the passenger seat in a vehicle is considered the "death seat."  No matter how much we love the person sitting next to us, when we're driving and threatened with a collision our natural instinct is to protect ourselves.  In doing so we put our passenger in harms way.  
 
Nope.  The only good in me comes from Jesus.  Any and every bit of putting others before myself does not come from me; it comes from Jesus and flows through me. 
 
We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19


This is our next verse in the "She Sparkles" A to Z Scripture Memory Challenge.  I have been so blessed by learning these verses; I want you to be blessed too!  You can jump in anywhere at any time.  Here are the verses we've learned so far. Won't you join us?

A - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b

B – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

C – Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

DDevote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

EEvery good and perfect gift is from above James 1:17

F – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

G – God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

H – How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2

I – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Galatians 5:1

J – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

K – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13

L - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

M – May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:76

NNothing is too hard for God. Jeremiah 32:17b

O – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

PPut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11

Q - In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15b

R - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8

S - Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

T - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

U - Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it. Proverbs 16:22
V - Victory rests with the Lord. Proverbs 21:31b


Lisa


Linking up with: Spiritual Sunday, True Vine Challenge, Write on Edge, The Beauty in His Grip, Matrimonial Monday
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments


ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

Do you feel like your house is being overrun by plastic grocery bags?  You are not alone! 

Here are some helpful hints to keep those plastic bags under control.

  • Condense
A friend of mine in New Mexico showed me a quick easy way to secure the bags so they take up less space.


Grasping the handles with one hand and the bottom of the bag with the other, stretch the bag between your hands, flattening as you go. 


Begin wrapping the bag around the hand holding the bottom.


Continue until you reach the tip of the handles.


Push the handles under the wrapped bag, directing it along your palm toward your fingers.


Your bag will be "knotted," taking up less space yet easy to open when you need it.

  • Store
 
 
While you can buy special holders for plastic bags, I'm all about recycling and repurposing.  I take a cube style tissue box and fill it with the "knotted" bags.  Since the bags are in abundance and readily available, I only keep one box full and recycle the rest. 
 

  • Use
 Beside the obvious use of carrying things in them, I use them to line my small trash cans rather than purchasing trash bags.
 
How do you use your plastic bags?
 
  • Avoid
 
The best way to keep plastic bags under control is to avoid them in the first place.  Most stores have reusable grocery bags available for about $1 each (though sometimes you can even get them for FREE!)  I've had the same bags for years and they've held up fine. 
 
Since I don't always remember to grab them on my way out of the house, I keep them in my car.  (I keep my coupon binder in the car too, so I'm prepared for those spur-of-the-moment stops.)
 
 
Blessings,

Lisa


Linking up with: Titus 2sdays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Courtship Connection, Winsome Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Weekend Whatever, Funky Junk Interiors, Frugal Friday
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments

Phones stop ringing, political ads cease, lawns no longer sport signs and a collective sigh envelopes the land.  The election is finally over and we can return to life as usual... 
 
Maybe you're happy with the way the election turned out.
 
Then again, maybe you're not.
 
Or maybe you never really liked the choices to begin with...
 
When I was writing my pre-election post, I looked for Bible verses pertaining to doing one's civic duty and voting, but of course there weren't any.  Why?  Because at the time the Bible was written, the average person had no choice in who ruled the land.  Regardless of how we feel about the winner of the election, we can be thankful that we live in a time and place where we have the privilege of voting and our voice is heard.

While Scripture doesn't have anything to say about elections, it does have a lot to say about our attitude toward our leaders.

“Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.”~ Exodus 22:28

Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious,”~ Proverbs 24:21
 
How often does our tongue get away from us and we find ourselves "joining with the rebellious," criticizing the  authorities that God has placed over us?   We get so caught up in the here and now; we forget that ultimately it is God who places people in positions of leadership, not men.
 
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…~ Romans 13:1-2
 
Rather than allowing the grumbling around us steal our peace, we should stand out by following Jesus' example and allowing His peace within us to quiet those around us. 
 
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” ~ 1 Peter 2:13-15
 
 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-3
 
God calls us to pray for our leaders regardless of whether we agree with them or not.  In fact, it may be more important to pray for those leaders we don't agree with!  Remember, at the time Timothy wrote these instructions, the Jewish people were living in oppression under Roman rule.   

Don't be discouraged if the election didn't go as you wished; be encouraged by this truth:
 
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” ~ Proverbs 21:1


Father, forgive me for those times I've grumbled, forgetting that all those in positions of authority have been placed there by You.  Help me to be faithful in praying for the men and women You have chosen to lead and remember that ultimately You are the One in control.  Lord, we ask for a revival in this land, that one person at a time, this nation will return to You.


Lisa


Have you entered for a chance to win an amazing book hot off the press?  "Until We All Come Home" by Kim De Blecourt, just released November 6, is a true story that reads like a suspense novel. Kim traveled to Ukraine to adopt, expecting to be there a few weeks.  Instead she found herself battling a corrupt system for the better part of a year.  "Until We All Come Home" is definitely a must-read, so enthralling I could hardly put it down. Click here through Monday November 12th, 2012 to enter! 


Linking up with: Weekend Whatever, Spiritual Sunday, True Vine Challenge, Write on Edge, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, Inspire Me Monday
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 22 comments

 
The good news: I have an amazing new book to tell you about!

The better news: I have a copy to give away to one lucky winner!


Have you ever stepped out in obedience to God, only to discover this was not at all what you signed up for?  That's just what happened to Kim De Blecourt.
 
Kim did all her homework and followed God's leading to adopt an orphan from the Ukraine, only to find herself in the midst of a harrowing set of circumstances. The trip, expected to last a few weeks, evolved into a journey of nearly a  year.  Kim found herself  in a somber, oppressive atmosphere surrounded by seemingly unfriendly people speaking a language she didn't understand.  There was even a warrant issued for her arrest!  Yet this is a story of hope and triumph; the story of a mother's heart; the story of God's faithfulness in our darkest hour. 
 
 
 
"Until We All Come Home" is a true story that reads like a suspense novel.  It's definitely  a must-read, so enthralling I could hardly put it down.  Many times, I'd read of Kim's experiences and think, "There's no way I could ever do that," but that's the point.  The truth is, no one could do it without the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

AN EXCERPT FROM "Until We All Come Home"
Fear gripped me as my children and I arrived at the Ukraine-Moldova border crossing. It was busy for a Sunday afternoon. Guards were everywhere, automatic weapons tucked at their sides, snarling dogs at their feet. The guards looked irritable, as though the amount of traffic was bothersome.
 
I'd passed through this border dozens of times in the past year— a wedge of Moldova encroaches into Ukraine between Odessa and Izmail, directly over the road I had to take back and forth on adoption business. But the passengers jamming the buses I rode had always shielded me. Today, I couldn’t hide among the sea of faces.

Breathe, I told myself. Act normal.
 
But I was anxious. Had the prosecutor gotten word to the border control that I was leaving with my Ukrainian son? Would they have a copy of the outdated warrant with my young son’s name on it?
 
I stole a glance at our driver, Sasha. En route to the border, he had tried to reassure me that everything would be fine; he would take care of us and get us into Moldova. I sought reassurance from him now, but found that his easygoing smile was gone. In its place was a stern, intimidating look. His chiseled jaw was clenched and the muscles along his jawline twitched. His tan arms were grasping the steering wheel so tightly that I could see the outline of every muscle there.
 
God, please take care of us, I prayed. Please get us out of here. You are faithful.
 
Even though I knew Sasha was a man of faith, how well did I really know him? I had met him barely two hours earlier. Friends who’d introduced us had told me few details about him other than that he was a quick thinker, a skilled kick-boxer, and a competitive knife fighter who refused to flinch in the face of danger. Could I trust that he would be true to his word to help us? I thought so. I hoped so.
 
As we pulled to a stop I could feel my muscles tensing and quivering uncontrollably.
 
My eyes scanned the line of silver, black, and white cars ahead of us. A soldier in fatigues interrogated passengers as he stood at the driver’s side window of a car at the front of the line. He shifted his weight and casually slung his machine gun over his shoulder, a constant reminder of who held power.
 
I took in the other soldiers patrolling the congested checkpoint. A few were clustered together chatting casually. Others were interrogating the drivers and passengers. About a half dozen officers kept a firm grip on German shepherds that tugged at their heavy chain- link collars, sniffing and growling every so often. With every move the guard dogs seemed eager to tear at something . . . or someone.
 
My fear mixed with resentment. For the past eleven months, I had lived in a constant state of unknowing, dread, and apprehension. But today it was magnified; my life and the lives of my children were on the line...

Bonus Info – All author profits are being donated to Food for Orphans (.org)

For information on purchasing the book, click here

Disclosure - I was given a book but this in no way influenced my review.  All opinions are my own.
 
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


If you haven't joined us for the A to Z Scripture Memory Challenge, I'd like to encourage you to jump in now!  We know that memorizing Scripture is beneficial, but I've learned there's an added bonus learning verses from A to Z - you have a reference to recall those verses already comitted to memory.  Now, when I'm on hold, in a waiting room, pushing the stroller or can't fall asleep, I  start going through the Scripture I've learned, verse by verse. 
 
If you've been learning along with us, I'd love to hear from you - whether it be  methods of memorizing or the benefits that come from it.  Please leave a comment so we can learn from and encourage one another!

I know these last few verses have come in rapid succession, but I want to make sure we stay on pace so that we finish the challenge by the end of the year.  Can you believe there are only 5 verses left?

V - Victory rests with the Lord.  Proverbs 21:31b


I see two things:

Apart from the Lord, there is no victory.
We're not going to have victory in our life if we're doing things our own way or working in our own strength.  No matter how hard we try, if we're doing it apart from the Lord, we won't be victorious.

Victory rests with the Lord.
I love that the NIV uses the word "rests".  It sounds peaceful, doesn't it?  Victory is just there.  No stress, no striving.  Walking in step with the Lord brings victory.  No plotting or planning; we just find it there.

Lord, I thank you that victory is found in You.  I pray you will remind me of this when I find myself straining to "make things happen" on my own, that I may know the peace of Your victory!

Here are the verses we've learned so far.  Won't you join us?
  • A - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b
  • B – Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31
  • C – Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
  • DDevote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
  • EEvery good and perfect gift is from above James 1:17
  • F – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • G – God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • H – How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:2
  • I – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Galatians 5:1
  • J – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
  • K – Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:13
  • L - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
  • M – May Your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:76
  • NNothing is too hard for God. Jeremiah 32:17b
  • O – O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1
  • PPut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11
  • Q - In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15b
  • R - Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8
  • S - Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
  • T - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
  • U  - Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it.  Proverbs 16:22


  • Lisa
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