Ready for change?

This is a perfect time to start in on the Bible Challenge if you haven’t joined us already. You are definitely missing out if you aren’t reading your bible this way!

Are you a young single gal or guy? Are you a mom, a housewife, a grandma? Are you a pastor, a teacher, a husband, a dad? Are you a skeptic who thinks people like me are crazy and need a crutch? This challenge is for you! I double dog dare you to try it.

If you have had the Bible Challenge change you, post a video on Facebook or Instagram sharing about it… or leave your story in the comment section below. Others need this and you might be the one to help them join in and start on their way to big changes!

Would a French version be helpful for your family and friends? Bam! Here ya go…

No matter what’s going on in your life… good, bad, or ugly.. this is what you need. Give it a try.

~Shannon

A Woman and Her Mirror

Lately I’ve been mulling over the story of the woman Jesus met at the well from John 4:1-42.  Thanks to reading James recently a whole bunch of dots connected… follow me…

A woman of Samaria goes to draw water alone, and Jesus is there waiting at the well. He asks for water as a conversation starter but it’s just the beginning of a chat in which she will eventually acknowledge the fact that she’s a mess. Lots of men in her past and presently living with a guy… let’s be honest, we all know this is just the icing on the cake. We are all of us full of sin and understand very well we never have just one issue, but one is usually the gangway to much more. Some of our sins are much more public than others. We know this was a hard circumstance Jesus was getting involved in… a hard woman. We see people like this all around us all day every day. Full of messed up relationships and looking for love in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. But it’s so important to not turn at this point and start thinking that you’re going to go out and be Jesus to these people simply because you have met him there once with your own jug for water.

It’s so important for me to remember…

I’m the woman at the well with my sin being uncovered. At no point in our story do we become Jesus sitting at the well waiting to give grace out to those who will come to draw water. We are forever the woman full of sin. We will always be her who can have our sin drawn up and brought to light, then run back to shout out that we know One who knows it all and still offers us life eternal.

She met up with the eternal mirror and relished in the beauty she saw in it… not beauty from herself but from the stronger grace in the reflection that was able to overcome all her ugly. Yes, she had sin abounding much. But He giveth MORE grace… and more… and more… never ending, grace upon grace.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:22-25

That mirrior that James talks about really got me to thinking. Most of us see the reflection and want to get the makeup out and start creating a prettier image to look at. Where’s the coverup?! Where’s the mascara?!… Those dark circles and blemishes have got to go!!… But God says, Cleanse your hands, purify your heart, ….. draw near… be afflicted, mourn, weep, HUMBLE YOURSELF…  get rid of the concealer and let’s deal with the blemishes you are so willing to hide and forget about. Stay long at that mirror and let the grace of God draw out the bad and purify it with His good. Look long into the mirror of the law of liberty and be freed from the sin buried and not yet dealt with.

I’m thinking that looking long actually means never walking away from.
Stay.
How humbling it is to stay there, like the woman stayed at the well, and allow Christ to keep pointing out my awkward and shameful things filling my life. The woman at the well allowed the perfect mirror to bring things to the surface that no one else could deal with in such love and patience. She sat their under its’ stare and allowing the gaze to probe deeper and deeper until she knew who He was, and instead of drawing water she left her pot there and ran to draw in people. She didn’t clean up her act and by her new way of living show others that she could now be like Jesus and thus create a divine thirst in others… (heaven help us for thinking this!)… She went to the town and proclaimed confidently of how she was such a sinner and Jesus already knew it all… and wanted her anyway!  She shouted out that He knew and was still waiting at the well to offer grace to anyone else who was humble enough to admit they’re a sinner just like her.

Let us all learn to say with this woman, “Come see a man who knows all of my sin and yet didn’t shun me… it must be the Christ!! Only He could love me despite who I am and what I’ve done! No one else can offer me a mirror that reflects both sin and grace at once!”

Glory.

Be the woman who proclaims honestly that she’s a sinner and knows the One who drew up all her sin. Proclaim that you know the man at the well who offers so much more than concealer… He’ll purify. He’ll cleanse. You can’t do it yourself. You’ll just end up  with a neverending need of more water… more concealer… But when Jesus draws things up he does it once and for all and covers us with grace for all time.

Don’t draw back from the mirror. Don’t draw back from who you find at the well.  He’s not calling you to perfection, he’s calling you to himself. Leave your pot with him and reach for the eternal jug of grace waiting in his hand for you.

My testimony and yours remains ‘the sin stained wretch’ for the rest of our earthly days … but, a sin stained wretch covered by grace… always more grace. And tomorrow, still more… because the sin never goes away…. But neither does Jesus and His covering.

~Read John 4:1-42 along with the whole book of James and see what pops out at you!

~Shannon

Bring It On!

It’s getting desperately close to January 1st. It’s such a busy time of year and this week is FULL here at the Elson household. But I am PUMPED about starting in fresh on a new year in my Bible Challenge. I’ve even created another page HERE on the website for it. Check it out and pass it on! So thankful for each and every person who has taken the challenge. Let’s see what happens through it in 2020!

~Shannon

 

5 Things You Need For 2020

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We’ve been preparing for and enjoying lots of Christmas here at home. From my youngest’s artwork I share above, to cookies upon cookies on cooling racks, and wrapping a billion presents… I’m loving the thoughts of all my kids being home and together again for the first time since May. I want to relish all the Holiday season brings and pack in as much as we can to enjoy together. But while all that is happening I have the constant thought in the back of my mind that January is coming quickly and how much I’m looking forward to another fresh start. I want you to look forward to it, too!

The year 2020 is upon us and I’d love for you to join me as I embark on my New Year’s traditions for yet another year. If they hadn’t made such a big difference in my life and completely changed everything for me I wouldn’t bother continually passing on this advice over and over and over… But seriously, it’s just too good not to share. Honestly, my mind is exploding with all the things that I, my family, and friends have learned through these five things this year as we muddled along and laughed and cried together! Hopefully there will be time to share some of them here on the blog, but start in on them yourself by joining in on these simple life changing ideas and your 2020 will be different than you ever thought it would be!

5 THINGS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE THIS YEAR:

1. Take the Bible Addiction Challenge and have your life changed in ways you didn’t know was possible. Prepare yourself, though. It’s going to rock your world! Check out the Bible Reading Challenge HERE! And for a visual reminder you can print this photo off and stick it in your Bible:img_6221-2And thanks to a fabulous friend the Bible Challenge has been translated into French! Thank you so much, Krystle!!!image22. Listen to a Life changing sermon from John MacArthur that completely turned my world upside down. Not even joking. You can listen in on how John MacArthur studies his Bible HERE! I double-dog dare ya!

3. Pick out 5 topics to become an expert in. Watch for these as you study your Bible. Get yourself a cute binder and dividers and get ready to start making notes on it all as you dive into Scripture. You can become an expert on these topics faster than you ever would have imagined! Elizabeth George suggests this in her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. I obeyed her suggestion and it CHANGED MY LIFE!

4. Pick out a new Bible to use for 2020. Underline, highlight, write in notes… MARK IT UP!! This idea was passed on through one of our favourite Bible teachers at church, Mr. Steeves. I was hesitant to do this because I fall in love with my Bibles and ‘just know’ where everything is and they become like an appendage. But, after taking his advice I was sold. So each year I start in with a new Bible that is fresh with no marks in it and begin to devour it all over again.

5. Pick a theme word for the new year. This idea was passed on through a random blog somewhere once upon a time. Say good bye to New Year’s resolutions and hello to progress! Read up on the thoughts I shared in THIS ARTICLE.

Sound like a plan? Excited? You should be. Let’s do this! And if I don’t get back on here on the blog before the new year,… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

~Shannon

 

Our Favourite Things 2019

Ladies! I am very sorry for taking so long getting this done and thank you very much for your patience. It seems like life has been so very life-y for a very long time! Glad to have this checked off the list, and recipes will be coming asap. At long last, here are the links to the favourite things shared at this year’s conference.

Salsa Dip
Mix a softened block of cream cheese with your favourite salsa to taste. Start with equal parts cheese and salsa. Mom adds a few dried chile flakes, too. So easy and so good!

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Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
Such a good read! My husband, a couple of my grown-up kids, my mother-in-law all really liked it, too. One of my favourite books. Gripping storyline, excellent characters, surprise ending!
It’s in our AVRL library system, available on amazon.ca. I saw it at Value Village in New Minas the other day!

 

 

Welcome to Clean Mama

https://cleanmama.com
If you need a little (or a lot) of help “looking well to the ways of your household”, Clean Mama is here for you! Lots of free printables, lots of practical help. The blog post that led me to the life-changing toilet brush (ha, ha): Toilet Brush Care 101: End the Gross Out

The toilet brush I bought: Hideaway Compact Toilet Brush
And the plunger caddy: Kleen Freak Twister Caddy
I have since seen the same or similar products in Winners and Walmart. After the conference, one of you told me about the combo caddy. Excellent option! OXO combo brush and plunger

Stomach Settler
1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1 cup of water, almost instant relief for digestive discomfort including nausea, heartburn, gas and bloating. It doesn’t taste very good, but it works!  My kids ask for it at the first sign of nausea or stomach ache.

Chiropractic Adjustments for Chronic Ear Infections/Congestion
After five years of going back and forth between pain and discomfort, my daughter’s ears have been clear and infection-free for nearly a year, thanks to the chiropractor! Definitely consider it if you or your child has these struggles. One of the ladies in the audience added that chiropractic adjustments have ended her sinus issues, and I have also found relief from the daily tension headaches I was experiencing.

51+xGDb9JYL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
One of my favourite books as a child, now one of our favourite family read-alouds. Pick up a copy and enjoy it with your kids! (Spoiler alert: there is one intense scene where a side character dies. Be aware and read ahead if you have sensitive children. All that to say, I have some sensitive children and we were okay with it.) Request it through AVRL or order it on Amazon.

 

 

512ETmg2o3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Love Your Life Not Theirs, by Rachel Cruze
This is one of Shannon’s favourites and Mom is reading it, and I really need to read it soon! In the meantime, I’m listening to their takeaways and being more intentional and careful with my spending. From Amazon: “…Rachel Cruze shines a spotlight on the most damaging money habit we have: comparing ourselves to others. Then she unpacks seven essential money habits for living the life we really want–a life in line with our values, where we can afford the things we want to buy without being buried under debt, stress, and worry.” Amazon: Love Your Life Not Theirs and Christian Book Distributors: Love Your Life Not Theirs

 

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Fair Trade Friday & Mercy House Global
I learned about these great projects years ago through blogs I followed, but only in the last couple of years got personally involved. Such a great cause. This link takes you to a video describing how Mercy House came to be: Mercy House Global
This is where you can support a rescued girl as she transitions home after her time with Mercy House: Support a Graduate
And this is where you can buy fair trade products that are providing many people all over the world with a decent wage and hope: Fair Trade Friday

Tim Challies Links
2019 Christian Reading Challenge
This challenge provided lots of options for varying levels of readers: from one book a month to two per week. I found that not only did I read more, my book choices were more varied. Win-win, no matter how many boxes I checked off! Watch for a new challenge in January.
Reading the Bible Fast and Slow
It is a popular habit to read through the Bible each year, and maybe you do it but are ready to add more time with God’s Word into your day. Or maybe you are already spending longer periods in one book at a time, and you could add a one-year Bible reading plan into your schedule. I found this article’s insights helpful in how I approach all my reading. (But please remember that if you find your commentaries carry more weight than your Bible, set them aside!)

Audiobooks
I am a convert! I love my paper books, especially hardcover, but listening to audiobooks is such a great way to ‘read’ at a time when you can’t be holding a book in your hand. It’s also a great way to give your kids some down time without sitting them in front of a screen. When the book is especially good, you’ll find the whole family gathering around. I have subscribed to Audible, and amazon.ca service, because I wanted to listen a particular book right away and already had an Amazon account. I’ve read that there are better bang-for-your-buck options out there. So look around and find one that suits your situation. Most have a free month trial subscription. I have heard good things about Christian Audio.
christianaudio
Audible

51YJS9EVP1L._SX469_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Nook Book, by Karen Hansgen
Make your home cozy – including those unused or neglected spaces. It’s on Amazon, but if it’s more than you want to spend, check out the used copies. I found a used one in great shape to give away at the conference, and also our AVRL library has it.
New on Amazon or used on Amazon

 

back-to-eden-dvd_2Back to Eden, with Paul Gautschi
Unique approach to gardening, based on spiritual principles, with amazing results. A Bible study and gardening seminar in one! The movie and more resources are free online here: www.backtoedenfilm.com
But if you’d like to own your own copy, you can order it from the official website above or from Amazon.com (US site):
Back to Eden DVD

 

 

chopin.jpegChopin: Nocturnes, by Arthur Rubenstein
My current favourite classical CD. I’m listening as I type! And I was so pleased to learn that my friend Skytha used to enjoy hearing Arthur Rubinstein in concert in Europe!
Chopin: Nocturnes

 

 

51+YvuW5hOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNew Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp
Shannon’s new favourite daily devotional, and she has sent us several awesome excerpts. Your day really isn’t about you! It’s about Jesus, and it is true encouragement to have that reminder each day.
Amazon
CBD

 

 

 

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Reading Through the Bible Chronologically
A different approach to reading through the Bible, reading the events in the Bible in the order Bible scholars believe the events to have taken place gave me a great sense of history and context. The online plan I started with in 2015 is no longer available, but if you search “Chronological Bible Reading Plan” you’ll find lots of options. If you’d like to buy a daily chronological Bible that you just read straight through, this is the one we gave away at the conference:
Amazon
CBD

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Honey!
If you suffer from allergies, look into using local unpasteurized honey. We are obviously not doctors! A quick google search showed that lots of people are talking about using honey for allergies, but the clinical studies aren’t showing consistent results. All we know is people are doing it and it is working for them. Eat a spoonful of honey as soon as you feel symptoms starting. Stir a tablespoon or so into milk or water if you find it difficult to swallow it straight.

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The Magnificent Defeat, by Don Sunukjian
I definitely recommend this excellent and challenging sermon: “I didn’t understand Jacob; I didn’t understand God; I didn’t understand myself… Is God bringing you to a defining moment where it will be your way or His?”
The Magnificent Defeat, Don Sunukjian

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Francis Chan, Get Over Yourself
Here’s another good one. We all need to get over ourselves!
Francis Chan sermon

41HV850cxuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgYou Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal with It, by Rachel Jankovic
This great little book packs a big punch.
“If we try to write our stories like the world does, composing our little plot points and shaping ourselves into what we think it would be neat to be, but we love Jesus, this is just making Him one more interesting plot point about us… But Christ will not be managed or contained like that. If He truly bought you with His blood, He did not do so in order to get a sponsorship position in your life. He is not here to look good next to your brand. He bought your life, and you are His.” Available on Amazon or CBD

 

412RIxHHmEL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFit to Burst, by Rachel Jankovic
Another gem from Rachel, offering a fresh and Christ-centered perspective on mothering in the trenches. “I don’t pull punches or hold back in this book, because I am writing to myself as much as to you. If something in this book strikes a little close to home for you, know that it struck in my home first. I am not writing about other people’s problems, although I know many of them are common. I write about what I know, and what I know is the challenges, the joys, and the work involved in raising little people.” Buy it on Amazon or CBD.

 

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The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Every story whispers His name! We love this book. Not just for our kids! We’ve learned a lot from it, too.
AmazonCBD

 

 


S
ally Clarkson Girls’ Club podcasts
I love all of Sally’s podcasts. These five were particularly meaningful on the subject of friendship.
How to Be a Friend Worth Having
Interview with Emily Ley
Interview with Elsie Iudicello
Interview with Kate Merrick
Kristen Kill with Sally: Cultivating Friendship with Teen Girls

Also, a favourite blog post by Sally: Sing a Beautiful Song, Mama!

41tKYDMD+EL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEve in Exile, by Rebekah Merkle
My favourite book ever on biblical femininity! A game-changer! Everything fell into place for me. Move over tea parties, and please pass the theology. Don’t get me wrong: tea parties can be profound when your theology is biblical, but if your idea of femininity doesn’t include theology, you’re missing the point. Be the glory of the glory! I bought mine on Amazon.
Also by Bekah, two excellent women’s conference sessions on youtube:
How to Read the Infallible Word
Mothering the Mind

 

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Adorned, by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth
I gave this to my 24-year-old daughter for Christmas last year, and she learned a lot from it and passed it along to my mom, who also really liked it. I’m working my way through it now and I think it is very timely: more on biblical womanhood and how to live and learn and serve together. Amazon or CBD

 

 

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Here Now, by Kate Merrick
I bought this book, thinking it would be about breaking device addiction, but it was so much more! Also very timely. Plenty to think about in this book, and it will affect more in your life than your screen time. AmazonCBD

 

 

 

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Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible
My son gave me this for Christmas last year, after hearing me talk about reading it online for some time. A literal word-for-word translation from the original languages, it has clarified and provided insight for me again and again. I enjoy reading several translations at home. You can order it from Amazon.

 

 

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God’s Chosen Fast, by Arthur Wallis
I wasn’t going to mention this one this year, but at the last minute I threw it in. I’m still processing the information in this one, and need to spend some time with my Bible and the passages he quotes to understand his interpretation, but even so, I gained many profound thoughts about our appetites, sin and our prayer life. So if you are curious about fasting, check it out here: Amazon or CBD

 

 

tgcwahk.jpegThe Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield
Saved the best for last! This has been the most life-changing book outside of the Bible that I have read to date. I say that if you are only going to buy one book from this long list, get this one. Order it from Amazon or CBD, and be prepared to be challenged and stretched in the best way! Make your home an incubator and a hospital! Read the book to find out how Rosaria does this.

2019 Favourites…

Hello again, everyone! Busy busy days!! But happily I announce that Charmin sent the ‘Favourites’ along and I managed to post them for you all to go over again. We are not professionals, lol!! But hopefully all that information is clear and helpful to you.

Check out Our Favourite Things HERE!

Check out the 2019 Conference Recipes HERE!

~Shannon

Thank you!

My thoughts are whirring early this morning. I woke up and prayed for many of you. We are FULL of gratitude that you came! …. already excited and looking forward to seeing you next year. 🙌🏻

We are all wondering what ‘place of abundance’ the Lord will bring many of you to by next year while you keep pulling your chair up to His table in faith. We can’t wait to hear you say, ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.’ We will be ready and waiting to hear your high praise of his mighty acts!

We will do our best to update the website with all the conference stuff ASAP. Just wanted to pop in and say a big THANK YOU and we will be praying for you throughout the year!

~ Shannon

Beautifully Scarred

Psalm 66 is the praise of a scarred man.  You should read it. And be prepared to hear from other scarred people at CONFERENCE  this year!

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Scars are storytelling things. They have stories that remind us who we were, where we were, and leaves us forever changed. I have a scar above one eye from a swing set mishap when I was 10 or 12. I have a scar on my finger from a glass breaking as I was washing the dishes during my first year of marriage. Another scar on my leg from a rock at the shore. That small bump on my chest where my heart procedure took place….

Scars that take me back to specific moments in time and make otherwise normal and obscure details become clear as day and unforgettable. They don’t heal and grow to be invisible over time. They are harder skin, raised up and a different colour or pressed down and dark. You can’t ignore them. They draw the eye away from the normal, mundane skin all around and call for attention. They call up questions in other people. There are stories to tell and sometimes laugher and amazement from crazy times, sometimes pain and sadness because they are the stories that didn’t end well.

My dad’s large scar on his head every time I cut his hair takes me right back to  the first night after surgery and walking past the nurses station to enter his room. Things were bleak in that moment. That scar has seconds that have turned into years attached to it.

We all have scars. Some deeper and more obvious, others smaller and less dramatic.

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So what about your other scars? What about the scarred dreams, scarred purity, scarred and wasted time? Every once in a while (or constant maybe?) a picture or circumstance or conversation makes that emotional scar ache or itch a little. They can’t be forever forgotten. Forgiven? Yes! Forgotten? No.

Scars are our moments of the faithfulness of God standing tall and showing a different shade in our lives. They are God’s graces pressed down and dark with remembrance. People with scars connect well with other scarred people. Women sharing birth stories, kids sharing swing set mishaps, chemo patients seeing the bald head and immediately connect on a deeper level.  Scars bring intimacy. I see your scars. I carry them too. We are none of us perfect, we all are carriers of God’s amazing grace bringing us through each trial in accordance with his perfect plan.

My scars may look ugly to you, but I learned valuable lessons from each place I got them. Every year my anniversary is a scarred reminder of the hard years and how God miraculously brought us through. Every time a picture of a certain place we lived comes across my path I’m reminded of God’s heavy hand of teaching and training that was on me while there. He brought me through.

Each place I was brought through stands taller and is shaded lighter and shows itself more. ‘Remember God’s faithfulness’ is what those scars tell me to do. If He brought me through once He can do it again.

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The Israelites have life scars, too. A bunch of them are written down and passed on to me  in Scripture so that I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in other lives in big ways. It builds my trust and patience in my own circumstance to see the way He worked in other messy lives. Remember Noah and the flood… Abraham and Sarah waiting so long for God’s promise… Pharaoh killing all the Hebrew babies… 40 years of wandering in the wilderness… during the time of the judges constantly being overpowered by their enemies…

Scars are not about us. My jagged marks in life aren’t about me. They are the marks of grace given to a sinner from a merciful God who has every right to do away with me right now and not allow for anymore remembrances. What is Shannon that thou art mindful of her? Why do you patiently keep working and healing and creating a scar-filled highway from her life? I’m not proud of my scars. They aren’t feathers in my cap. If I focus on my part in those scars it brings me down. If I’m the key player in those stories I become defeated. My part is so depressing. But God who is rich in mercy and that amazing love wherewith he loved me is the highlight in those moments along my life’s highway. Grace stands taller, stronger, calling for my attention. It aches with the deep humble gratefulness when reminders come. It has built compassion for those in the middle of being wounded right now. It’s built trust that the same God who healed me and made things stronger somehow in my life is working the same miracles in the lives of those around me.

A sign of a surrendered heart is the willingness to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus. Do you have the mind of Christ or do you have your own? How you suffer and heal changes when you lay your life down the way Christ did. He laid it down to the death. I can ‘seek my own’, and instead of healing stronger and God being raised up brighter in my weakness, the wound festers and gets infected. And the tell-tale sign of bigger problems are those red streaks that start travelling up the skin straight toward the heart. Wounds not dealt with properly eventually attack your main source of life.

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My son broke his leg a couple of years ago. After it should have healed in that one spot after surgery we didn’t know infection was brewing under that cast. His symptoms were being blamed on the flu. But then I happened to see that sore spot. Red, hot, and lines spreading up his leg showing it’s goal was reaching the heart and, unless we dealt with the actual problem, infection would win. But with some proper treatment of the infection things improved quickly and now we just have a scar instead of death. Yet another reminder both physically and spiritually that a problem not dealt with turns into more. If it doesn’t turn into Christ it turns into more of us…. something that is never pretty and always leads to death.

2 Corinthians 11:30 ” If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.” That means I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses… I will boast about my scars that shout out about my mess and all God has done to heal and show His power, not mine.

With that thought in mind, read this:

2 Corinthians 12:8- “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

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Take a look at your scars. They are beautiful. They shout out of Christ’s work and faithfulness in your life. Do not be discouraged in your pain today, for God is being raised up in your life for tomorrow. Live to that end!

~Shannon

Spiritual Anorexia

 Is your Bible woven intricately into every area of your life? Does it consume you? Do you understand the thoughts of the Psalmist saying ‘As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you’?

That phrase used to confuse me. I’d think to myself, “I’m not desperate for my quiet time with God like a thirsty deer hunting for a stream.’ I figured the Bible teachers I’d heard mention it must be faking that feeling….

At that same time the thought confused me I was starving for help and life was getting to be way more than I could handle. I hadn’t realized yet where my nourishment came from and I was bordering on spiritual anorexia.

As my hubby says, if you’re not going to eat your spiritual food don’t complain about your hunger pains!

When was the last time you devoured your Bible? Not a Bible study book…. not a commentary… not a Christian living or devotional book… but the tried and true Word of God all on its own? … for more than 5 or 10 minutes???

We are pretty big on getting people into Scripture in these parts because many of us have experienced the awesome consequences time after time in our own lives, and we are so excited to pass on the simple advice that will change other’s lives, too!

We’ve watched as prison walls have been torn down in lives over and over. We’ve also had to watch the consequences of many who don’t love on their Bibles, too… and it ain’t pretty. Hard to witness such things, but praise God for the many who He teaches to ‘pant for the living water’ and those that are washed by the Word daily!

As you pick up your Bible today, and every day, think of these words I found in my bible study notes from a couple of years ago (I preach to myself CONSTANTLY 😅) because maybe you need this reminder, too?

Always be willing to revisit the word of God. He is constantly revealing more of himself to the christian through it. Always ask Scripture good hard questions, it can handle it. Whether you will bear it or not may be a different story. Ask God to help you handle it.

Prepare yourself to be cut and maimed and destroyed every time you open the Word. God uses it to cut away every bit of self government and reason humanly speaking, and works to bring you under the subjection of the One who holds the sword, no matter what He may say.

Always be humble enough to hear other men’s views on what those inspired pages say but wise enough to honestly sift them through the whole of Scripture to see if they are in keeping with the Word – not necessarily in keeping with what you have always understood the Word to say.

Jump into your Bible today! Expect BIG THINGS!

Haven’t heard about the Bible Challenge? Here it is in a nutshell… It’s an awesome addiction.

~Shannon

What’s New (with links)

Here at Watch the Sky things are SO DIFFERENT. Oh my. And there’s no end in site for more changes to come. Gotta fasten my seatbelt a little bit more.

These past months have been just one big change after another and this momma is about ready for some sweet normal… whatever normal is.

This past fall things started to feel crazy when my oldest told us about his plan to move west and follow some dreams. Enter prayer warrior mom status…. and all who have had kids leave the nest know how hard this was. He moved right after christmas along with a young family, his good friends, and started in on his adventure. I don’t think I’ll ever get over not having him home each night after work. I cried all Christmas Day knowing he would be gone soon. Sympathy please??

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For a Mother’s Day surprise he drove in and shocked us all! He had come back with his friend to move the rest of their stuff west and didn’t tell us he was coming. So we all got to sit and chat and hug that boy! Best Mother’s Day present ever!

My boy isn’t the only one moving and grooving. The rest of us have moved out of the rental we were in (not your usual rental! It was big and beautiful and God set it right in our laps 4 years ago). It was wonderful and God used it in many ways. So thankful for our time there. But now is an even cooler turn of events. My family is moving into my childhood home and taking over The Homeplace!

No complaints here. But it’s surreal to watch your parents pack up their belongings and prepare to leave the home that has been theirs for 43 years. Not sure I’ll ever get over that either.  Because of the way life worked we had to move in before they moved out. This has made things a little crazy. But they are super patient and gracious. So we have two houses worth of stuff in one along with 8 people. Always an adventure.

While we sift through all the things piled around the Homeplace I’ve been making notes of all the cool things that I want to tell you about in case they are encouragements to you. I’ll have to split up the links and share some another time.

  • CLEANING: Before moving I had just found Clean Mama and fell in love. I printed off a bunch of printables and started a home binder and it changed how my days rolled. Shocking how a simple list and straightforward calendar in front of me all day every day can make such a big impact. With moving and life with piles around us make it difficult to continue my Clean Mama regime but I can’t wait to get back into the flow this website was teaching me to embrace. Life for the Elson’s is very busy and full and it is really difficult to maintain order and cleanliness when there is always something going on, people coming or going, and lots of relationships to be involved in. ( My mom can’t believe the amount of dishes that get washed dried and put away in the run of a day with my kids!) Clean Mama was the fresh boost I needed. My mom joined in on her website, too! You’ll love all the printables!
  • BINDER CHANGE: I am in the midst of changing up my planner. GASP!! I have used the Franklin Covey classic binder for the past number of years. I LOVE IT. But, it is hard to find all the accessories and papers that I want for it at the prices I want. While standing over the multitude of options in the Michael’s store here the manager of the store showed me her Happy Planner that she has been using for years. She took the time to walk me through all the different sizes, accessories, and options within this amazing planner. Also some money saving lessons she’s learned along the way. She was SO helpful. So I walked away with my own Happy Planner and have been transferring all my info into it from my old binder and thoroughly enjoying myself.
  • SOME AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT for moms right here! Charmin sent Mothering the Mind by Rebekah Merkle to all of us sisters and told us to listen immediately ALL IN CAPS!!!! LOL. It’s an excellent listen. Excellent.
  • SOME MORE AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT was sent to me from Jenn. Antifragile Mothering by Rachel Jankovic . So good. Take a listen!! We all need to be told this stuff!

 

  • AFRICA FOR NIKKI: Many of you know and love my cousin, Nikki. She is headed to Africa! She’s pumped to be headed to go help her good missionary friend this summer. God has just continued to do amazing things in her life and we all just praise God for all the things He keeps doing through her and her testimony. Leave some encouragement for her here! Let her know you’ll be praying for her! If you haven’t heard her story from the beginning you can listen to Nikki’s testimony on the blog.

That’s all for now. Keep on keeping on y’all!

~Shannon