When Darkness Reigned {Good Friday}

finished

Earlier today, a friend shared the following video, Sunday’s coming…

This video was very moving to me. The day when darkness reigned, both literally and figuratively. As a kid I used to think we’d gotten it wrong. The day when evil triumphed shouldn’t be called Good Friday.

But the truth is, evil didn’t take the life of Jesus, that could never have happened. He gave Himself up willingly for you and me. Evil never had the upper hand. Not even for a second. God was always on the throne.

The promise of Sunday was always there. 

And sometimes when I read, I wonder about the disciples.  They walked with him daily. He taught them, held their hands in prayer, patted their backs through tough times, and washed their feet. And he told them everything. He’d prepared them for what was to come. He wasn’t shy about His purpose.

Yet they still got lost in the pain and despair. They scattered and denied him.

But then came Sunday.  Death was defeated. Sin was defeated. Jesus rose triumphantly, just like he’d said.

And I think about the needless worry and despair that his followers went through. They already knew the outcome, if only they’d found the strength to trust in it. To have faith and see the bigger picture. Paul tells us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.

Every time I turn on the news, I’m reminded that we live in dark days. As I struggle with depression, there are days where the darkness threatens to swallow me up. I see the pain, the evil, and the darkness in this world, and sometimes it seems like too much.

But then I am reminded.

It’s no surprise to Him. And it shouldn’t surprise us either.

In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

I love this little snippet. So much promise in just a few short words. In this small verse, we can learn 2 very important things:

Trials are to be expected in this world. We live in a fallen world and we will have problems. At the same time, we know that it is no surprise to Him. He holds us in His hands through it all. God knows the trials that will come to us and He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

He has overcome the world. Just reading, saying, or typing that phrase makes me want to SHOUT! Yes, unthinkable tragedy, hardships, darkness and pain may surround you in this life. In this world there is so much evil. But Jesus has overcome it. The final triumph is His, and ours as heirs with Him.

My pastor spoke about hope a few Sundays ago. We use the word a lot when we’re talking about things that are uncertain. We say things like “I hope my team wins the game.” But the hope Jesus promises us is not uncertain. It is an assurance.

Just like Paul, who spoke of joy and peace in his darkest days, we can have that assurance. We can set our minds on things above and know that we’ll have the final victory. We can know that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). We can know that when we reach Heaven there will be no more tears and no more suffering. We can know that He will work everything to our good if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. We can know these things.

If you are going through a time of pain or darkness, just remember…Sunday is coming!!! We know how this story ends and the final victory belongs to Jesus.

Cling to that promise.

Thriving Thursday 4/17

This has been (and will continue to be) a very busy week for us! Our church puts on a Passion play every year, so we’ve been busy all week with practices, etc. Tonight is the dress rehearsal and we have performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening. My husband is playing the role of Jesus. I hope to be able to share some pictures next week.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.

Success without College?

This post is sponsored by Praxis. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Praxis: College Alternative Programs for Entrepreneurs

Photo Credit

Recently, our family was playing a game together when my 6 year old says out of the blue, “Do I have to go to college?”

He’s only 6 and I’m sure his thoughts on the matter will probably change several times as the years go by, but it’s a valid question. Because he’s only 6, my husband and I hadn’t discussed this in length, but I was happy to find that we were on the same page anyway. Our answer to him was the same, “No, you don’t.”

Don’t go to College?!

You might be wondering if we’re crazy not to direct our children toward college. In today’s society, kids are pushed toward college prep tests when they are in the 6th grade these days.

But what if you don’t want to start your adult life with 4 more years of schooling and tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Can you be successful without a college education?

Yes! There are many other options besides college–vocational training, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, etc.! In fact, I recently read an article about Google hiring practices–apparently a growing number of their higher-level employees have no college education! And I’ve been seeing more and more articles like this one that discuss viable alternatives to college.

Let me just say here that we aren’t against college. My husband has a 2-year degree in forestry and I have a masters degree in English Literature. We just want our children to know that there are options available to them. Praxis is one such alternative.

Praxis college alternative

What is Praxis?

Simply put, Praxis is an amazing opportunity for young adults!

Praxis is an intensive 10-month program for entrepreneurial young people who want real-world career experience and the best of online education all in one.

What’s different about this program?

  • Real world experience! Participants are placed with small businesses where they create real value in the workplace and interact with CEO’s and founders.
  • Meaningful curriculum–interdisciplinary training modules, practical skills, and compilation of a portfolio.

I believe real world experience trumps classroom education any day. One of the best things about praxis is that participants don’t graduate from the program with a simple piece of paper. They graduate from the program with real world experience. An endorsement from the business they partnered with. A portfolio showing their own work and value. Few things are more rewarding than a job well done. Through this program, motivated participants can learn this lesson quickly.

 

Gap Year/College Alternative

Praxis is not only a great college alternative, it is also a great opportunity for 18-20 something students who are eager for opportunity, but not quite ready for college yet. Or maybe they simply need a break from the school routine. This is a great way for young adults to get some real world experience to help guide their future choices, or potentially jump start their career.

Praxis is a 10 month program, and the terms run from September-June and February-November. You can apply now for the September 2014 enrollment.

The program costs $12,000. At first glance, this seems like a pretty big number. However, throughout the program, students work for 30 hours per week with their designated partner, earning $12,000. So, considering the amount they earn while in the program, the net cost is $0! This is pretty phenomenal considering the priceless experience students earn. Praxis also breaks it down into payments–$2,000 upon acceptance and then $1,000 per month throughout the program. There are limited scholarship funds available as well.

You can learn more about Praxis and their vision and purpose by visiting them on facebook, twitter,  youtube, or linked in. Or you can apply here before July 1, 2014 for the September 2014-June 2015 class. Also, if you are planning to attend a GHC convention, you can find them there.

What do you think is the most beneficial aspect of this program?

 

Thriving Thursday 4/10

We’ve had a busy week around here :) I shared with you about some Real Food challenges (and why I hate the fact that junk food is marketed so heavily to children!). I also shared some of the things that help us homeschool on a budget, and some ideas for ways you can bless someone at a homeschool convention.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.



Real Food Journey: Marketing Junk Food to Kids

Follow our Real Food Journey | Serving Joyfully

I’ve shared before that this real food journey has been easiest on our children. We’d already established mostly healthy(er) habits with them, so there were just a few things that changed for them and they’ve been fine with it.

So, overall, it has been an easy transition for them. They understand, as much as they can, what we are doing. We explain that we want to eat real food the way God gave it to us because it’s better for us.  Their standard answer now when asked about junk food is “that’s not good for you.” My friend gave me the idea to explain further about chemicals. She calls junk food “chemical food,” so we do that sometimes as well to help them understand why those things aren’t good for us.

However, a couple of recent incidents have really opened my eyes to just how much junk food is created for and marketed to children.

Incident #1: The Cereal Box

We were picking up a few things at a wal-mart–this particular Wal-mart carries King Arthur white whole wheat flour, which I keep hearing great things about. While there, my 6 year old, who hasn’t had boxed cereal in a month, points to some General Mills sugar cereal and asks, “Can we buy this cereal?”

We didn’t buy a ton of “fun” kid cereal before. I bought some for treats when it was on sale, but generally didn’t buy much except what we got on WIC, which is the “healthier” kinds of cereal. So it was kind of odd that my 6 year old was asking for this particular kind.

I said, “What do you think?”

He knew the answer would be no. Usually, he’d just move on. This time, he persisted. “Mom, I know the cereal isn’t good for you, but look what we can get!”

He was pointing to this box of Reese’s Puffs cereal..can you guess, specifically, where he was pointing?

Marketing to children

If you guessed that big row of super heroes, you’d be correct. Apparently, General Mills has placed an exclusive line of comic books in several of their kids’ cereal boxes.

And apparently those superheroes are quite attractive to kids.

Incident #2: McDonald’s

Again, most of this has been easy for my kids, but something about the draw of a Happy Meal just keeps hanging on. Especially for my 4-year-old.

Just yesterday, he proclaimed, “I really wish we could have a happy meal.”

I gave him the usual “they aren’t good for us, we want to eat real food the way God made it and not chemical food they have at McDonald’s.” And, we didn’t have that many happy meals before!

His response surprised me, “I know it’s not good for you. I won’t even eat one bite. I promise.”

Then it clicks. He doesn’t want the happy meal. He wants the fun, novel toy promised with the happy meal. The skylander one that he can’t get elsewhere.

Nevermind that my child doesn’t understand that the toy isn’t worth the $4 price tag. The point is that they are marketed to him in that way, and it works. Even if he doesn’t like the food at all, he’d still want to shop there for the toy. And McDonald’s wins.

When Food is the Enemy

I’ll be honest. The further we get into this journey, and the more I research about the harmful effects of all those processed and chemically modified ingredients we’re being sold…the more angry I get about the fact that companies spend so much money (1) making sure that they are as addictive as possible, and (2) marketing them specifically to children.

I know a lot of you may be shaking your heads about the addictive part. And it’s true that some are more susceptible than others. But I have felt it. I’m not quite ready to describe in detail just how bad it got, but use your imagination with the word “addiction” and you might get close. And that addiction carries real risks. The health risks of being overweight and unhealthy due to a poor diet are worth their own blog post, and others have listed them quite well.

Food Addiction

Processed foods are a drug and the big corporations are pushing them. To children.

Coming from a childhood in which I was surrounded by substance abuse, I was hyper-aware of those things. I never smoked, drank, or tried any drug because I knew that the fact that my dad is a {recovering} alcoholic made me pre-disposed to addiction. It’s in my genes and I was going to fight it by starving it. If I don’t try it, I can’t get addicted to it.

But food snuck up on me. I never knew that food–especially the chemically/processed kind–could be addictive until it was too late.

So when I learn that companies spend millions of dollars in research to make it that way on purpose, it makes me mad. Then when I learn that they are targeting our children to get them hooked early on, it makes me really mad

We cannot afford to hide our heads in the sand. I’ve been guilty of it for far too long. But we just can’t do it. We have to step up, educate ourselves, and be aware of what we are putting into our children’s bodies. I’m not saying we can’t ever have a special treat. But we need to be educated and responsible, knowing that our children are trusting us to do what’s best for them. We are their advocates.

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