Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting Organized for the Holiday's

It's 3 days before Christmas, and it's a time for many of
us to be taking care of last-minute plans for family events
and gift-giving.

How can you get organized today? Before you rush out the
door, sit down and make a list of the musts for the next
3 days.

Also allow some room for the unexpected event that may
change your plans! It could be a needed car repair or a
sick family member.

If you don't know where to start today, just ask
yourself this:

What are the Absolute Musts when it comes to your
last-minute holiday preparations?

Write down the MUSTS for each day between now
and Christmas Day (if you celebrate Christmas),
and make those your top priority!

Get those things taken care of first, without
allowing interruptions that can wait a while.

Keep it simple - focus on making your loved ones
happy, having a beautiful serene home, and being
able to be prepared for the big day.

Take the time in the evenings to gather together as a family & have devotions that help you to refocus on Christ and His gift to us.

Also - carve out some time to relax and enjoy
Christmas Day too! We don't really get to celebrate
that many Christmas Days when you think about it.
So stop and smell the chestnuts roasting...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cleaning fairie please report in at noon.


We are on break from our normal routine this next week. It is Thanksgiving week, the kids are off from school & I had to find something for them to do. So we are going to clean house! Since I became the coordinator of the Mom2Mom ministry at my church our house has definitely suffered. So, I pulled out my notebook of cleaning zones & began to make a list of what all we need to get done.


I love using Flylady's system to cleaning & keeping up with chores & evenly distributing them out.
Another place I have found some good charts to help organize chores & events is Donna Young.org

Some ways I have found to help motivate my kids to clean the house are...
~write all the jobs on slips of paper. Fold them twice & put them in a bucket of jar. Everyone draws one out & when they have finished the job they bring it to me to inspect the job. If it is satisfactory they get to draw another one out. Who ever draws out the most jobs & finishes them gets a prize.
~For quick clean up jobs, give everyone an area to clean & set the timer. Once again, who ever gets done first gets a prize.
~To get a really dirty room clean divide the room up into smaller sections. Set the timer & see how much they can get done before the timer goes off. Also, help them clean. This gives you a chance to spend some time with your child & help them.

I found some websites that I thought were helpful.

Home-Ec 101
Declutter It
Creative Homemaking
Homemaking Organized
Christian-Mommies

I have learned that one of the most important things I can do for our children is to teach them how to clean & organize. Your future daughter-in-laws & your future son-in laws will love you for it!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Count your blessings, name them one by one.

What are you grateful for? For many of us it is easy to make that list. But for others, it may not be so easy.

We have once again, experienced a very difficult month financially as my husbands' business just sits with no activity. I have my list of things that I have asked the Lord for. They are not frivilous things. They are basic. Money for the electric & phone bill. Money for groceries. Things like that. When my prayers were not being answered I began to grumble. I couldn't understand why God was not providing the money to take care of these things.

In the midst of my grumbling, He was taking care of us. Just not like I thought he would. So, I decided to make a list of how I have seen the Lord answer our prayer for provision.

1. The church had a dinner, tons of food was left over & we took enough food home to feed 12 people for 3-4 days.
2. An unknown lady brings lots of day old bread to the church for who ever wants it, I took home enough bread to fill my freezer.
3. New friends at church gave us 4 giant bags of clothes for the boys. All in excellent condition.
4. I went to a MOPS sale & was able to get enough clothes for Gracie & Sam for the whole Fall/Winter for only $125.
5. A friend gave us a 27" TV that works great.
6. A friend gave us a sofa & 2 chairs in good condition to replace the furniture we had that was falling apart.
7. Another friend gave us a big dresser & a sofa.
8. The Mom2Mom leadership group had a picnic & had tons of brisket left over, we took 2 1/2 briskets home & froze some for later.
9. Tenents moved out of a rent house & left a trampoline, that we took home. Now the kids can play in the backyard.
10. I sold grain that I had thought I would mill for flour, but decided I wouldn't use it. Made $50 & able to buy Scott a birthday gift.
11. 2 friends who were sensitive to the Spirit's leading each gave me a check that together will pay the electric bill.
12. The girl in the Starbucks drive-through window thanked me for being so nice to her, little did she know that she was a huge encouragement to me.

O'k, that gives you an idea of what all the Lord has done & I just didn't see it as his gifts to us. We still have other needs, but I know that my God is faithful & will meet all our needs according to His glorious riches.

What are your blessings? Name them one by one!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whole Heart Mothers Conference

I wanted to share with you about a conference that I think every mother should go to at least once.

Sally Clarkson is a wife, mother of 4, author, blogger, & international speaker.  Her message is timeless & genuine as she shares her heart concerning God's plan for the family.  Click on the links below for more information about registration.  The earlier you register the cheaper the price is.

 

WholeHearted Mother Conferences 2009

Plan now to come to one of Sally's 2009 WholeHearted Mother Conferences. The theme this year is Smiling at the Future with Faith ~ Building Your Heart and Home on Solid Foundations. Guest speakers will include Sandra Maddox, Rachael Carman, Zan Tyler, and Sarah Clarkson. Register today!
♥ Register Online now:
January 23-24: Charlotte, NC / Church at Charlotte
February 6-7: Irvine, CA / Crowne Plaza Irvine
February 20-21: Irving, TX / Dallas Marriott Las Colinas
♥ Register by Phone: 888-488-4466 (M-Th, 9-3:30) or 719-488-4466
♥ Register by Mail: Printable (PDF) mail-in forms are available for download on each event page.
Join us for the special two-day conference designed especially for Christian mothers, now in its 11th year of ministering to moms. This year, in a time of faith-challenging uncertainty, Sally's heart is to give moms the ability to "smile at the future" like the Proverbs 31 mother. You heart will be strengthened and encouraged for the life of trust and faith to which God has called you in raising wholehearted children at home. The conference also includes inspiring guest speakers, practical workshops, inspirational worship, and more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Running the race

The other day I was on my way home from a meeting.  It was about 4:00 in the afternoon so the kids were getting out of school.  I noticed 2 teenage girls who were running on the median between the 2 streets.  They were obviously training for a track competition. 

It reminded me of the days (over 20 years ago) when I ran track in school.  I was not an athlete at all, but I could run long distance.  I enjoyed it & as I watched those girls run I remembered how hard it was when we would run off campus.    I remember falling a few times when our coach would drop us off miles from our school & we would have to run through fields, dirt roads & finally sidewalks to get back to the school.  It was hard to run where the ground was not level.  If you stepped on a rock just right you could hurt yourself...and I did a few times.

 

I was reminded of a great verse in Acts through all of this thinking about running.

I consider my life nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Acts 20:24(NIV)

This is the Apostle Paul speaking & he is on his way to Jerusalem.  He knew that trouble was probably awaiting him, but he knew that he had to go.  His physical body meant nothing to him, he was that committed to preaching the gospel.  All he wanted to do was finish the race that the Lord has set out for him to run.  The ground got real rocky for him, it was never an easy race for him to run.  But he understood what his purpose was, to testify to the gospel of God's grace.

How do you run your race?  Do you want to quit running when the race gets difficult?  Do you wish you could run on a smoother surface?  Oh sweet mom, we all do.  I find myself asking God, "when will this get easier?"  He gently reminds me to just keep running, to keep my goal in mind and to trust him with the obstacles.  It is all to His glory that I run and when I run to complete the task that my Lord has given me I can run with joy and satisfaction.

Busy-Mom-and-Housewife

The Physical Race is how we go about in our day.  How we respond to others.  how we accomplish the mundane chores and errands.  Do our children know what is important to us?  Does our husband know that he is the most important person to us?  How do you manage your day?

The Emotional Race is where we let our feeling and mind go.  Do we guard our heart like Proverbs instructs us to do? What do we watch, read & listen to?  It all matters.

 

The Spiritual Race is our relationship with our God.  Do you have one?  This is the most important race of all. We will not take our bodies to Heaven, but our souls will go.  How much time to you spend nourishing your soul?  How much time do you spend talking to your Lord?  He deeply desires to speak to you & loves to hear you talk to him.  do you meditate on his word, do you memorize it?  The older I get the harder it is for me to memorize scripture, but I still work on it.  It is such a blessing when I can remember a scripture passage that speaks directly to my need at the time.

You know when Paul went to Jerusalem, he was arrested.  The Holy Spirit prepared him that prison & hardships were waiting for him, but he went anyway.  I don't have the faith of Paul, but I am working toward that. 

We live in very easy times in that we do not face the persecution that Paul faced or that Christians in other parts of the world face like in Orissa, India.  Yes, we struggle.  Our economy is failing, we are looking at the possibility of a new President that is not a godly man and I could go on.  Must understand what our God given purpose is...to glorify Him by teaching his gospel to our children and others. 

Run the race with perseverance the race marked out for you (Hebrews 12:1) and let God cover the obstacles with his grace & mercy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You will be strengthened

My youngest has been sick with a cough & cold for several days now.  He is now waking up in the night because of drainage that is putting him into a coughing fit.  He sometimes begins to cough to the point that he throws up.  He will wake up around 2:30 & not go back to sleep until 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. By the time I get him back to bed I lay down hoping for a few hours of sleep before he wakes up again.

Needless to say, I am tired.  I struggle with not having a short temper with my other kids.  It isn't their fault that I am so tired.  My early morning quiet time has disappeared because Sam keeps waking up before I can get up. 

Today, I was really feeling the affects of not getting enough sleep.  I found myself in the laundry room ready to completely burst out in tears this morning.  My children were not getting their school work done without a fight.  I had so much to do today & I didn't have the energy to do any of it.  As I loaded the washer with more clothes & cried out to God.

I can't do this.  Sam is keeping me up at night, I can't get up early enough to spend time in prayer or devotions, I don't want anyone around me, I just want to sleep.  I'm not only physically exhausted, but spiritually dehydrated.  I want so badly to have some time for myself to read your word & pray, but I just can't get it.  Your word says that you will strengthen those whose hope is in you.  You say you will uphold me with your righteous right hand.  I need to feel your strength right now.  I need you to hold me above my physical exhaustion.  You are my God & I love you.

I finished loading my laundry and began preparing lunch.  An argument broke out between 2 of my boys & I very calmly sent them to their separate corners. My sick little one came in & wanted to be held, so we rocked for a bit.  My little girl came in & insisted that I let her play with bubbles.  With a little compromise I let her blow her bubbles on our front porch with the front door open.  She & I sat outside while she blew her bubbles.  I walked back in & realized my exhausted feeling was gone.  I no longer felt as though I would explode with emotion at the next person who confronted me.  I felt an amazing peace & calm that I had not had 30 minutes earlier.

 

Lord God, my Holy Father, thank you for your mercy & gift of strength for today.

I don't know if my little Sam will sleep all night tonight.  I hope he does.  But if he doesn't, I know that my strength will come from my God & he will uphold me with his righteous right hand, because my hope & love is in Him.

 

Isaiah 40:10

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-



-09-04-2000, A1  Bill Bryner and his granddaughter, Makenzie, hold hands as they walk to see some turkeys Thursday. Bryner drops his two older granddaughters off at school twice a week to help out his son, Greg, and daughter-in-law, Wendy.  (PC)-



-Bill Bryner and his 3-year-old granddaughter, Makenzie, holds hands as they walk to see some turkeys Thursday August 25, 2000. Bryner drops his two older granddaughters off at school twice a week to help out his son, Greg, and dughter-in-law, Wendy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Teenagers ~ Welcoming Them Home

Yesterday I wrote a post about my son and how God is showing me that I need to let go of him so that God can truly work in his life.

This morning in my quiet time my devotional took me back to that scripture with a focus on when the son returned home.  I had just been praying for my son, before I opened my devotional book. This was a wonderful, confirming word to me from the Lord that not only will my son return to the Lord, but when he does it will be a great celebration & I better be celebrating too or I will miss out on a wonderful blessing.

Luke 15:17-20 says, "When he came to his senses he said, 'How many of my fathers hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him; Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son so make me one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

That is the best part of the story right there.  The son expected to be punished and put with the hired men, but rather the Father threw a party for him.  I'm so ready to throw a party for my son because he has come to his senses.  Notice that the father doesn't take the son aside and say, Son, we must have a talk.  What you did was very wrong. Blah Blah Blah."  The Father knew the son knew he was wrong by his repentance.  No other reprimands were needed.

  This is how Jesus takes us back when we have sinned and walked away from him.  He welcomes us back with open arms and a forgiving heart and this is how we should welcome our children also.

Colossians 3:13, Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Lord, I praise you & thank you for your redeeming promises from your Word. I love because you first loved me and I forgive because you first forgave me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Teenagers ~ Letting Go So God Can Work

There is a great parable that Jesus told about a son who left home.  He decided, I guess, that he didn't need his father anymore so he asked for his part of the inheritance and left.  Reading through that passage again (Luke 15: 11-32), I noticed the wisdom of the Father in letting his son go.  It doesn't say that he tried to reason with his son, he didn't refuse to give him his part of the inheritance.  He just did what the son asked and let him go.

As parents we hope that our child will follow God with his whole heart and not rebel.  But many do anyway.  We pray for and with the child.  We teach them what the Bible says about how we should live.  We try to live so that we are good examples, but some will turn away from that teaching anyway.

We have a teenage son like this.  He is a believer, but he struggles so badly with his decisions.  He loves danger and excitement.  He reminds me a lot of Apostle Paul in the Bible.  Paul fought his fleshly desires constantly.  He knew what he should do, yet his flesh would win over again.  God used Paul in such a giant way in the history of the church and Christianity and God knew that in order to shape Paul into becoming usable, Paul would have to suffer.

I think my son will have to suffer greatly before he truly understands the grace of God and falls deeply in love with him.  As a mom, my natural reaction is to protect him from this suffering, but I have to be as the father in the parable & let my son go.  That doesn't mean that I just let him do what he wants.  I must still guide him in the ways of the Lord.  My love for the Lord will create a natural outpouring of mercy on my son.  He must still know that no matter what, we love him and we will fight for him.  He still has to accept consequences for his bad decisions.  Some consequences are from his parents, but most are natural consequences that God placed there.

So what do I do?

I pray.  I pray like I have never prayed for a child before.  I ask for guidance and wisdom in the training of my son (and all of my children).  I ask that my son will get caught in his sin and found out.  I ask that God make him totally miserable until he becomes desperate for God.  I ask that God would place a hunger for Him in the heart of my son that will create a giant void that my son cannot get rid of without Christ.  I ask that God will help me to get out of the way so that He can work in the life of my son. 

I touch. When our children are little they love to be hugged.  I have a son that hugs me about 10 times a day.  He needs that physical touch from me.  But for some reason when they get older we don't touch them as often.  They still need our physical affection.  If they don't like hugs just rub them on the back or hold their arm while you talk to them.  Pat them on the shoulder as you walk by.  Touch them in a gentle and affirming way.  It makes a difference.

I listen.  This is really hard for me.  I'm a talker.  But it is so important that we shut our mouths and just listen to them, not advise or instruct, just listen.  Many times my kids, when we talk together, they figure out what they need to do by themselves through telling me what the problem is.  They just have to say it all out loud with out interruption.  If they need help working through something, we can do that, but I wait for the invitation from them to help.  Sometimes I will interrupt if I can tell that they are working off their emotions & not about to make a wise judgement, but not very often.  Listen to them.  If you don't, they will find someone else who will.

I look.  I have to work really hard sometimes at looking for the good things my son has done.  It seems that all he does is get in trouble, but I know that he has done something good.  If all I do is point out the wrong things he has done, then he just begins to feel as though he is a failure.  I pray & ask God to show me the good and positive things that he has done.  I know they are out there & often it takes someone else to point them out to me.  Look for the good in your child and then tell them what you see.  Compliment them...a lot!

I believe.  I believe that God is God, not me.  I trust that he really does know what he is doing in the lives of my children and I need to get out of the way and let him work.  I believe that he has my children's name engraved on the palm of his hand.  He has a plan for them & it is not my plan.  I don't know what the plan is, I may have a little idea based on their desires and interests, but I don't know what all of it is.  I must believe that he is guiding them through whatever they need to go through and experience in order to accomplish his plan. Believe that God is at work in your child's life, it will change your whole perspective.

 

I hope that if you have a child like I do that you will ask God to guide you and give you the wisdom you need to train and nurture them in the ways of the Lord.  When we have children who disappoint us in their decisions(and they will), we really need to go back to the Lord for mercy and understanding.  Many times my son has really embarrassed me.  I don't want my friends to know that my child has done that!  It makes me look like I'm not raising him right.  If I had done things differently, then he would be different.  That is pride & false shame & don't fall for it!  It is of the enemy.

14Our job is to seek the Lord with our whole heart, mind & soul.  Follow Him and live like Him.  If we are doing that according to what the Lord has commanded then we will raise our children according to God's plan.  I didn't say that they would all turn out the way we want them to, I just said that we will raise them according to Gods plan.  When my son was born, God knew that he would rebel.  He placed in him a desire for excitement for a reason.  It is there as a part of his life plan.  As a parent, I have to trust the Lord to help me guide my son to learn to use that desire for God's glory not his own.  Only the Lord can help me with this, I really mess things up on my own.

 

Lord, I ask that today you would help me to trust you with my children's life.  Help me to know when to let them go.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Greatest Love Ever! part 2

Over the past year or so, I have been on a spiritual journey of realizing the greatness of God's love for me.  It is so easy to say and we grew up hearing it, "God loves you.".  It is on pencils, notepads, balloons, hats, posters.  It is everywhere.  But do we really realize just how much he loves us? 

Mark 9:7, This is my son whom I love.  Listen to him.

Jesus was God's son.  I don't think any believer doubts that at all.  Any need that God had for a child was fulfilled through his only son Jesus.

When a man and woman want a child, but cannot have children themselves they adopt.   They do not feel complete until they have a child.

But God already had a child, Jesus.  He didn't need anymore.  He is God.  He is complete, lacking nothing. He is Elohim, Creator and El Elyon, The God Most High.  He needs nothing.  He doesn't need us.  He can function just fine with out us and his purpose would still be fulfilled, yet he created us anyway.  He loves us that deeply. 

He chooses us.  He picks us out.  He has adopted us into His Kingdom.  How much greater can a love be for us than that?

1 Peter 2:5, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are royalty, only because he has chosen us to be so.  He loves us so deeply that we cannot fathom how deep.  C.H. Spurgeon said this,

Our adoption therefore, is not for His gain, but for ours; it is a matter of divine charity, arising out of the spontaneous love of God.

Father, I praise you and thank you for choosing me to one of your own.  I thank you for your love for me and ask that you would teach me to love in the same way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Longest Texan Marriage!

I know that I don't normally post things like this, but I just had to post this!  It has no great spiritual meaning to it, but that is o'k, this couple has over come many great odds & stayed together through them all.

NAMES: Melvin and Minnie Lou Scott | AGES: 101 and 100 | HOMETOWN: Frankston, TX | QUALIFICATIONS: Married eighty years ago on November 11, 1927 / The first of five living generations (one son, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren)

• We married at a traveling marvel show. It was like vaudeville, in a tent. They wanted somebody to marry onstage, for the crowd, of course, and they were going to pay $25. We were gonna get married anyway, so we just got married like that. That’s how silly we were.

• With the $25 we bought our bedroom suite, our dishes, and a cabinet for the kitchen. We’re still eating out of the dishes we bought, and we’ve got the cabinet in our kitchen right now.

• We married in November, and that December we built our house. We’ve been living nearly 79 years in this same house. When we bought the lot, it was $50, and to build the house cost $1,000. We had to build on a loan because we didn’t have the money, but we made sure it was the very best lumber.

• We were making it all right until that Depression, and then you just couldn’t get any work. That was pretty rough going. Melvin had to go to Texas City, where he loaded stuff on ships to Japan for 35 cents an hour. That was the highest wage then. We just worked and did the best we could.

• Every occasion, every birthday, is a big to-do these days. It’s rare for two people to live this long together.

• We’ve outlived four doctors. Melvin has never been sick enough to go to a doctor, except for the pacemaker. He didn’t know there was anything wrong with him or think he was sick, but when they took his pulse at the hospital, it was 34. They put a pacemaker in, and it lasted six years. Then, about a month ago, they had to put a new pacemaker in because the battery was obsolete. He’s healed up just fine.

• We have biscuits and eggs and bacon just about every day. Sausage or whatever we want. Most people are on a diet or something like that. Even our son is, because he has high blood pressure. Neither one of us has stuff we can’t eat.

• We don’t know why the divorce rate is so high these days. Perhaps it’s stress. Things are so different now; there’s a lot of pressure on young couples. But you can’t just leave, like what people do now. That’s not quite necessary.

• We used to do a lot of fishing together. We would fish every day.

• Being married eighty years doesn’t seem like a big deal to us. We don’t have enough sense to think about it like that. But we don’t know anyone who has been married this long.

• We just never thought about anything else but staying married. We never did think about separating or anything just ’cause things weren’t perfect. All you can do is make the best of it.

 

Interview by Andrea Valdez

Photo by; O. Rufus Lovett

Texas Monthly Magazine

The Greatest Love Ever!

Can you imagine a love greater than the love you have for your child?  Do you think anyone else could ever love your child as much as you do?  Of course not!  You carried that baby in your womb for almost a year and when that baby was born you were the one who fed him and walked the hallways at night with him.  but, even if you didn't do all of that.  What if you adopted your child and missed out on all of the "fun stuff" in the beginning...how deep is your love for your child?  I have several friends who have adopted their children and I can tell you that they do not love their children any less than I love my children.  Their love is just as deep and unconditional as though they carried that baby in their womb.

May your unfailing love by my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.  Psalm 119:76

David was in love with his God, but he knew that his God loved him far more than he could ever love him back.  David's love was a failing love.  It was not unconditional.  He still sinned against his God.  But he knew that it was the unfailing love of God that kept him from destroying himself with his sin.  It was the unfailing love that was his comfort when all seemed to turn against him. 

 

We are much like David.  We are not capable of loving anyone with the kind of love God has for us.  We come very close in the way we love our children, but it is not the same perfect unfailing love our God has for us.  Our sin keeps us from loving with the same magnitude that God loves.

Who will experience God's unfailing love?

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. Psalm 103:11

How long will it last?

Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever. Psalm 118

It is because of this steadfast, unfailing love that we have salvation and can experience a new day today.  We do not deserve a new day, we deserve death.  Our hearts are wicked and of no good, but because of his love towards us, he allows us a new day to experience his mercy and grace.

Praise the Lord today and thank him for giving you a new day to experience his grace and mercy and everlasting, unchanging, steadfast, unfailing love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is Your Heart Steadfast?

 

David wrote:

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul.

 

This word steadfast is to me a very spiritual word.  We don't use it in our everyday conversations. What does it really mean and can my heart be described as steadfast?

First it means to be immovable, firmly fixed in place(Merriam Webster Collegiate Dict, 11th Ed)  Some more meanings from the Hebrew word is prepared, established, appointed and formed or developed.

A person who is steadfast is not a wishy washy, undecided, has no idea what they doing, kind of person.  They are confident in what they know and believe and they know why they believe it.  If you are having heart surgery, you want a doctor who is steadfast in his knowledge of the heart and what your heart needs in order to work properly.

In this verse, heart, could also be stated as the mind  The Hebrew meaning here is, inner man, mind, will, heart.  Is your mind steadfast?  Another reference also says,

the source of life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of the inner life *

In what is our heart to be steadfast?  Well, David was worshiping God for the great victories over their enemies.  David had seen first hand the power of God.  He was confident in the ability of God to overcome.  David had felt the love and mercy of God in the forgiveness of his sins.  His knowledge and understanding of God was immovable and firmly fixed in place.  No one could convince him that God was a fraud.  David was free to worship God with all his soul and glory because of his steadfast heart.

If we have doubts about God.  If we are not fully trusting him this limits our worship.  We are not free to praise him for all that He is.  If we still think we can handle a particular situation better than he can, this limits our worship.  It is not until we are fully and wholly surrendered to God can our heart, mind and spirit worship God the way He says to worship.

Also, when our heart is steadfast, we are prepared when adversity comes.  We know that it is part of the life of a believer.  But we know that the refining of our soul is necessary so that God can create in us a pure heart.  We are confidant in our understanding that God gives us the strength we need.

We live in a day and time where if your heart is not steadfast, you will become confused by the false teachings that surround us.  Each day we live brings us closer to the day when our Savior returns in the clouds to take us home.  But in those last days, there will be many who will try to convince you of alternative ways to Christ.  Be steadfast in your knowledge that there is ONLY ONE WAY!  Through Jesus Christ. 

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

God is steadfast in his love and devotion to his children.  Why should we not be steadfast in our love and devotion to him.  I once had a very wise woman tell me when I said to her that I was trying to trust in God to handle a particular circumstance, "Why shouldn't you trust him?  What has he ever done to you that he didn't promise to do? "  Her words have stayed with me.  My God has never let me down.  He has never promised me something, but never followed through.  He is steadfast.

I pray that you will examine your heart and ask God to show you where that you are not steadfast.  He is constantly showing me ways in which I am not steadfast in my faith and love.  I am a constant work in progress as we all are.

 

O Holy God, I ask that you will examine my heart and show me where I am not steadfast in you.  You are my Elohim and my El Shaddai and in you are all good things. I long to worship you with all my soul and mind.  A~Men.

*(Swanson, James: Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). )

Monday, June 30, 2008

Is God in Your Schedule?

One day several years ago during our Bible Study time, the kids & I were discussing Psalm 139:7-10.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me; your right hand will hold me fast.”

We discussed that it doesn’t matter where we are God is always there. One of my sons said, “Yeah, like He’s right here.”, as he patted the sofa seat beside him. Then he looked down and noticed that the sofa was covered with books, pencils and paper so he began moving it aside so that there would be room for God to sit.

We all had a good laugh out of that, but I thought later, “Have I made room for Christ in my life, what needs to be moved over or out so that he can sit with me?” We get so busy with our little ones and the daily routines of life that we gradually squeeze God out. Before we know it there just isn’t time for a quiet time or prayer.

The good news is God is everywhere we are. We can call on Him any time, any where. That is a great comfort to me to know that I can call on Him anytime of day and anywhere I am when I do find myself drowning in my day. But, I know that He is blessed when I go to Him first in my day. He wants to speak His blessings & wisdom to us before any attacks are thrown at us.

5 minutes of prayer with him can make a huge difference in our day. It won’t change what happens to us in our day, but it can help to change how we will respond to it, maybe in a more God glorifying manner. A few days of praying for the short 5 minutes will quickly turn into 10 minutes & then you will turn to the scriptures & before you know it an hour has gone by! I love when that happens! If you can’t find 5 minutes in your day then you are way too busy. Someone once asked me, “How do you get to know someone?” Well, by talking to them & spending time with them of course. That is how you will get to know the Lord, but it won’t just happen. You have to set aside time for it.

As you plan out your days and weeks ahead, don’t forget to make room for God in your schedule & plans. Give yourself a specific God time in your day. Your family will love you for it! Your family will be blessed by it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Many Seeds

John 12:24

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

This verse has been a great blessing and help to me so many times. There have been days when I was totally overwhelmed by my kids. In fact, I did not think they were blessings at the time, more like burdens.

My oldest son is a challenge to say the least. I have stayed awake at night praying for God to show me what this child needs. He has been a challenge since he learned to crawl! At 2 years old I caught him on top of my refrigerator. He has so much energy that I can not keep up with him or the trouble he causes. At the end of the day when he was younger (now he is 14) I was exhausted from of all the consequences I had to hand out to him.

God used this verse to show me that I am like that kernel of wheat that has fallen to the ground. I must die to the fact that I cannot teach my son anything without the strength of Christ. I believe that if my son is to grow to become the man God has planned him to be I must be obedient, get out of the way, and let God work. I am only an instrument in my sons’ life. My job as his mother is to seek the Lord’s guidance and be obedient in what He tells me to do. This is so hard because as a parent you want to control all that happens in our children’s life. And to an extent we are supposed to, but we cannot control what decisions they will make. We have to leave that up to the Lord. We must die to self as parents so that the Lord can use us to produce many seeds of fruit in our children. Easier said than done, I know because I am still struggling with it. I like to be in control & then I hear God say, “Hello? Who is God here?” God is so much more creative than I am. When I let him be God and listen to him when I am crying out in desperation he without fail gives me ways to deal with my children that I never would have thought of by myself. And the best part is that it works!

One particular day I was extremely upset with my son. I wanted to strangle him I was so mad.(of course I wouldn’t do that) I prayed and asked God what to do with him before I went to talk to him. The Lord told me to hug him. I said, “What? You want me to hug him? I don’t even want to look at him right now much less hug him!” But I did it anyway. My son didn’t want me to hug him but I kept my arm around him and told him that God told me to hug him. At that moment he stopped struggling and hugged me back. He told me he was sorry and he corrected his behavior. I never would have thought a hug could have been that powerful but God knew what my son needed. If I would have disciplined him on my own I would have missed a great moment with him & probably just made him even angrier.

My son and I hug almost everyday now and I see in him fruit that I know I didn’t plant, but that the Lord is helping me to nurture.

Family Garden

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

For three years, I made an attempt to plant a garden. I stress the word "attempt" because I haven't been very successful at it. I have a good friend who makes it look very natural and easy so I thought I should be able to do it also. After all, I homeschool so I should at least have a garden as a science project for my kids. What a project it turned out to be. The first year we planted corn, beans, okra, cantaloupe, & maybe a few others. Out of that planting we got a few beans and lots of okra. The corn suffered an untimely death by the hands of my son who mistook them for weeds. Everything else was eaten by the grasshoppers. The next two years we tried to plant a little more, but again we failed. Our “project” was quickly becoming, “How fast can mom kill our garden this year”. I would look out at my garden from my kitchen and wonder, "Why won't this garden do what I want it to. I plant the seeds, I hoe the weeds, I water, I do everything I know to do but still it is a flop.”

Have you ever looked at your children like this? You do everything you think that you know to do & they just won’t do what you think they should do. I love my kids and I love spending time with them, but some days....I tell them over and over and over and it seems as if they will never obey. I’ve even had days when I look at a particular child and wonder if God really meant for me to raise this child or was he supposed to go to another family that would better know what to do with him. But since God makes no mistakes then I know I am supposed to be this child’s mother. He can be my greatest struggle and my greatest joy all in the same day. The Lord is so good to remind me that if I will seek him and follow him then he will take care of the rest. If I will just love and nurture the seeds that he has given me they will bloom into beautiful plants. His timing is perfect and so is his will and plan for us. We live in a very hurried society today, we have a really hard time waiting on anything especially God, yet we still say, “God knows best." We take our requests to Him but if he doesn't answer or change that child in our timing we get anxious.

Our garden (family) will prosper when we call on Him. We will bear much fruit through Him when we seek Him with all our heart. This is one of the reasons that we are still homeschooling. Understanding that it isn’t always about academics, we want all the time and opportunities possible to love and nurture our children in the ways of the Lord. I also don’t want to miss out on seeing any new sprouts of faith or miss recognizing any weeds of sin. When it is about academics I still have to depend on the Lord for guidance. At times I wonder if one child will ever learn to read with out struggling or if another will ever remember her multiplication tables. How long can a child stay in one chapter of his math book? I think we are about to set a new record. Seeds of doubt begin to wash over me again and I begin to wonder if I am doing anything right. Are these kids really learning anything?

Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13

He even cares about how long a child can stay in the same chapter of his math book and he knows why he is still there and what he needs to get out of it. Part of my role as his mother is seeking the Lord even when it comes to math. That is part of tending the garden.

I do not plant gardens anymore, it's not my thing. But the spiritual garden that the Lord is planting in my home is sprouting. We still have weeds to pull, but by His grace I know it will be a bumper crop one of these days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Warning! Danger Ahead!

warning

As mothers, it is perfectly natural to want to warn our children of any danger we know may be ahead of them. If we know of a way for them to avoid trouble, we let them know. It is of course up to them as they get older to heed our instruction. Either they will listen to us or they won't. And if you have more than one child, I'm sure that you have already noticed that one child seems to listen to warnings more than another.

If you knew that the building they were about to go into was to catch on fire, would you just sit by while they went inside? If you knew that the food they were about to eat was poisoned would you give it to them to eat anyway? Of course not. You would do everything in your power to keep them safe. You love your child more than you love yourself.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Paul is warning the Timothy of dangerous people that he will meet. We are living in dangerous times, but this isn't a recent occurrence because Paul is warning Timothy.

I like how The Message by Eugene Peterson writes this passage;

1-5Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people.

Paul is clear, "Stay clear of these people". Stay away! The NIV says, "Have nothing to do with them."

I'm sure you could name at least a dozen people you know who fit the description above. We all do. Also, as mothers our worst nightmare would be for our own children to become like this. These verses describe the world we live in today. Perversity is everywhere. It is accepted by most as just the change in times.

The other night, my husband was reading to me an article about an amazing, but very sad, ruling that took place. A Canadian judge ruled that a 12-year-old girl was "excessively" punished when her father told her she could not go on a school camping trip because she had broken rules for use of the Internet. Can you believe that? You can read the whole story on Albert Mohler's blog. Now we have children taking their parents to court because they thought the parents were to harsh & the judges are taking the kids side!

Spiritual warfare is everywhere and as Christian parents we must stay alert and on guard and teach our children the same. We must not be deceived in our thinking. We live in a day and time when there are people everywhere claiming to be Christians but they are dangerous! They appear to be godly, but they are lovers of self rather than lovers of God. They are on the TV preaching, they are in the churches preaching and leading, they are your next door neighbors. Do not be deceived!

We must stand against such people. Many take the the Great Commission as their excuse to be friends with these people. You don't have to be good friends with them or look for them hoping to save them from their sin. YOU ARE NOT GOD! Only God can save them. If He chooses to save them and chooses to use you, let him orchestrate the event. Don't seek these people out hoping to teach the Gospel to them. They will not hear it or understand if God has not prepared their heart or ordained for them to accept it. Many seek these people out for very good reasons, but in turn become sucked into the sin and selfish life. If God has chosen them as His own, they will believe. Listen to the Spirit and He will direct you. How exciting it can be to witness one coming to Christ with a broken heart! But we don't have to look for those opportunities...God brings them to us.

Warn your children. Teach them the Truth of Christ and the ways of God so that when they encounter the wicked they will know to run away.

We not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4

Learn to be still. The literal meaning for be still is cease or stop. We don't like to be still. It makes us feel as though we are not doing anything. But God tells us to be still. This is when he speaks to us most fervently and clearly.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Stay alert and on guard. Evil surrounds us and if we are not careful it will not appear to be as evil as we once thought and we will accept it. Stay alert and see it as it is..not of God! Many will claim to be of God but only a few will be truly of God. No lovers of self will enter into Heaven, only lovers of God.

Jesus answered; "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ', and will deceive many. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:4-5, 12-13

Lord Jesus, open my eyes so that I may see the evil for what it is and teach my children to stay away.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Is It Urgent or Important?

I've have been convicted lately of the difference of the important versus the urgent in my everyday life. As a mother, I see most of my duties as urgent. When the dryer goes off, it is urgent that I get the clothes out & put on hangers or they will get wrinkled.

Sometimes, I know I get urgent & important confused. My children are important, not the clothes in the dryer. My husband is important, not posting to my blog.

Do you get these confused also? We are not the only ones. This is an age old problem. The disciples of Jesus also had this confused. In fact, I think Jesus spent most of his time trying to teach the disciples that it was the people and the condition of their heart that was the most important, not the Law. They were still held tightly to the law of the Pharisees. This is what they grew up with & this is all they knew. Jesus did not teach what the Pharisees had been teaching for hundreds of years. They added hundreds of rules & laws to God's law and this is what the Jew was expected to live by. It was hard for the Disciples to change their way of thinking and understand what Jesus wanted of them. He wanted them to stop looking at people through the eyes of the law, but see them through the eyes of God, with love and compassion.

Jesus said, In Mark 10:13-16 parents were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples tried to get them to go away. Children were not worthy to be with Jesus. Jesus did not agree. He understood that these precious little children were very important and he told the disciples to stop & let the children come to him. I'm sure the disciples felt that there were much more urgent matters to attend to, not children.No one knew better than Jesus how precious the souls of these children were and how innocent their faith was.

I have become more conscious of the importance of the heart of my child these last few weeks. My youngest daughter was sick with a fever last week. I so badly wanted to get my laundry done & out of the way, but she wanted me to lay down and watch cartoons with her. I set my laundry down, knowing that it would take me a long time to get all of the wrinkles out, and laid down with her until she went to sleep. This was important to her for me to lay with her while she was sick.

Issues of importance are on a vertical scale. They deal with your relationship with God first and then your relationship with others. They are self sacrificing, they are private and often invisible. It is choosing others over yourself.

Issues of urgency are on a horizontal scale. When addressed they do not enhance a relationship with others. It is putting yourself before others even though we think we are doing it for someone else. They are often simply tasks to perform. There is a time & place for the urgent; but, our world has replaced the important with the urgent. Urgent things when done are usually very visible to to others. When I cook dinner, everyone knows it because they can smell it. When I check email, the sender knows because I respond. But when I pray for that sender, know one knows but me & the Lord.

Do you see the difference? It is the things of importance that really matter. Those urgent things can wait; really, they can. What is the worst thing that will happen if you read with your little girl and don't clean up the kitchen right after dinner? You might have to scrub that pan a little harder. But the reward is that you have filled up your daughter's love tank by stopping the urgent and doing the important with her.

I have never regretted putting aside the urgent for the important. I have always looked back and wondered why I put so much importance on what I thought was urgent and regretted it. I have missed wonderful conversations with my teens because I thought I just had to get that email sent out, or missed out on baby doll tea parties because I was determined to get the whole bathroom clean.

mom.baby.playToday, evaluate your day. What is on your list that you would consider urgent and what is there that is important. Usually the important things are not on the list, they are hidden within the list. Don't miss them! Be mindful of what important things that God is placing in your day. You will be greatly blessed for choosing the important and I think you will be amazed at how you will still get the urgent things done also.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

chocolate truffles

Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I love chocolate! It is my favorite food. I could eat it all day everyday. In fact I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t eat just a little. I have chocolate hidden in several places, so that I can slip a little bite when I’m in the mood. Plus, my kids love chocolate too, so I have to hide it or they would eat it all! Valentines Day is one of my favorite holidays --yes, because of the chocolate. The stores are full of it. I still have a little left so I dug into it the other day when I was at my computer. Hershey ® made a Truffle Kiss! Oh, it is wonderful. I popped the little kiss in my mouth & sucked on it a little & then I got to the filling in the middle. Wow! That was great, so I got another one & another one & oh, you get the idea. I love Hershey Kisses ® just plain, but now there is a surprise in the middle. That made it even better.



I see God and his scripture the same way. Just reading the Bible can be comforting and inspiring by itself. But when you begin to really dig into it is when you get to the really good stuff. Just knowing about God is good, but when you really begin to know him intimately and have a close relationship then you just want more of him. Just knowing about him is not enough anymore. Just reading his Bible is not enough, now you want to know what is behind the words.
If you are just tasting God’s word, that is good. But try not to be satisfied with just tasting it. Dig into it & study it. I have learned so much about God and what he wants of me as a wife, mother, & friend by digging into his scripture. It does take time. I can hear you already. “I barely have time to get dressed, much less pour hours into Bible study everyday.” That was my excuse for years. You know what? I was just settling for “tasting God”. I was not deeply happy nor did I experience much joy in my life. It wasn’t until I began to make the time to study did I find joy and happiness that wasn’t determined by my circumstances. You will be hooked once you take your first big bite and really savor the richness and delicate flavor of God through his words to us in the scriptures.
Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
Isn’t that great? He wants to fill us with whatever we need. He really wants to, but we have to open our mouth first. We have to ask for it. I love it!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dad's Brownies

I didn't write this, but have always loved the message that it tells.
~Dana


A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie.

The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.The con's were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said), and you actually did not "see" the couple in the movie having sex - it was just implied sex, off camera.

The pros were that it was a popular movie - a block buster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of the members of their church had even seen the movie and said it wasn't "very bad".

Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it. The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; "Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!" So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.

The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.

The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.

The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well - they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed. Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a "little bit of crap" and not be affected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut" and not be affected.

Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room. Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Patient in Affliction

Romans 12:12,
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."


In one of my previous post I wrote about what I have learned about this first part of the verse, "joyful in hope". God has also spoke to me concerning the second half of this verse, "patient in affliction". I understand what it means, but when I first read this verse to be "patient in affliction" seemed like such a far off place for me to be. I understood that as a believer, in my life I am guaranteed to be faced with affliction. How I respond to affliction shows the depth of my love for God. This was really disheartening to me to realize this because my response to affliction, trials, difficult days was not a response that pleases the Lord.
As I thought about how we should respond to affliction my thoughts turned toward 2 men in the Old Testament. First Job came into my thoughts. He is known for his patience during unbelievable circumstances.
He lost his children, his livestock, his health and yet he never cursed God. Scripture tells us that Job was "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." He was not a bad person, he loved God and lived his life to God's glory. So when his life fell apart if anyone had a reason to say, "I don't deserve this, this is not fair! It was Job. But, he didn't do that. He knew that his God loved him deeply and even if he never gained back all that he lost he would always love his God. Do I love that deeply? Can I be as patient as Job? Can I say, "If you take it all away, I will still love you & live for you." ? I really can't honestly answer that. I would like to think that I could, but I don't know. I know that my family has lost things that we once thought were great, but now looking back, we see that they were not so great. So there was really no loss. Job experienced great loss and yet he remained patient in his affliction and God restored all that he had lost and blessed him twice as much.

Next I began to think about Joseph, found in the book of Genesis. He was the 11th son of Jacob. His brothers were very jealous of him as he held the favor of his father. They sold him into slavery where he ended up in Egypt. His father Jacob was a godly man. Though his sons were not as upright as he was, God still used them to build his Israel. But God set Joseph a part from the rest for a very special plan. After Joseph had been sold into slavery he was sent to be a servant in the house of the Captian of the guard. This was a great start for Joseph, until Potiphars wife decided that she wanted him for herself. She was a very deceptive women and had the trust of her husband. She lied to him saying that Joseph tried to take her to bed and Joseph was sent to prison. He stayed there for 2 years. Genesis 39:21 says, "while Joseph was in prison, the Lord showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes or the prison warden." It says over and over that the Lord was with Joseph...in prison.
So, I'm thinking that if I am Joseph, I would just want out of there. I don't want to have a job in prison as a prisoner. I want out of prison. But, Joseph never asked God to get him out of prison. He was there for 2 years. He had a lot of time to think about himself and his God. He was stuck here in this pagan land and his God was all that he had. He could either believe that his God would deliver him, or he could just try to believe in his self. He could be patient in his affliction or he could try to figure out a way out...his way.

The deeper in my walk with Christ I get the more aware I am of the reality that no matter the reason for the affliction, my patience and trust in the midst of it teaches me more about the greatness of my God than anything else. Learning to embrace my suffering rather than trying to run away from it brings me into a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of my God.
I am blessed when I am patient in my afflictions. I experience my God in ways that I would not if I did not choose this reponse. I am loved by the God of Job and the God of Joseph who never left them, but prospered them because of the their trust and love of Yahweh.
Father, Forgive me for my inpatience in my afflictions. Forgive me for wanting relief. Help me to keep my heart searching for your truth and hope. I want to be joyful in hope and patient in my afflictions. Thank you for your patience with me and your deep love that brings me hope every new day you allow me to experience.

Joyful in Hope

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction & faithful in prayer". Romans
12:12



I read this verse a long time ago and while I really liked it & stuck it to my bathroom mirror to remember, I didn't completely understand the first phrase, "be joyful in hope". The rest of the verse made perfect sense to me, but this first part was a little more difficult. I felt like it would require more of me possibly than the later two statements. I understood what it would take to me patent in affliction and faithful in prayer; but joyful in hope?
I began looking up the meaning for the words joyful & hope. I really like doing this because there are so many times that I think I know what a verse means until I begin to search out the roots of the word. I found this definition of joy.


Joy; "Happiness over an unanticipated or present good."
Joy is in the root of rejoicing which is how the Geneva and the King James both translate the Greek text to say. And here is the definition of hope that I found.


Hope ; "To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future."


So, according to these two definitions I am to be happy or cheerful as I trust in and wait for the Lord to do something outstanding in my life. That sounds all good and biblical, but not very realistic to me. If my life is falling apart, how am I to be happy? How can I be happy that my life is falling apart? (My life is not falling apart by the way; I just think it is sometimes) Here is what I have come to realize about this part of the verse. God NEVER expects me be happy that I am experiencing difficulties. He's not even happy that I am experiencing them. What I am to be happy or joyful about is the fact that he is at work in my life, he is going to do something great, he is going to reveal himself to me in ways I can not even imagine. I am to be joyful in the hope of what he is about to do in my life. That sounds like a lot more fun!


It means that while I am in the midst of my boat called life and the waves are splashing up against the boat, spraying me in the face, I can look out and see him standing in the boat with me, keeping the waves from sinking my boat. He is getting ready to calm the sea, but first he wants me to trust him. That is another part of the definition of hope; "to trust in". It is very easy to say that we trust God in our lives, but when it really comes down to it, do we?


I fail at this so often. I say that I trust him to answer my prayer or to take care of something, but when I see the clock clicking away & he doesn't seem to be doing anything about it, I step in and play God again. It would be like me taking the oars in the boat and trying to row back to shore. The shore looks safer than the storm I'm in so I want to go back. And God in all of his mercy let's me go back to shore at times. He gives me what I want. And it is the same outcome every time. FAILURE! I don't trust, instead I think that I can do a better job than God! Oh my goodness, doesn't that sound wonderful? WRONG! Who am I to think that I can do a better job than the one who simply spoke me into existence...forget me; he spoke the whole universe into existence. Have you see how big it is out there & here I am thinking that I know how to handle my life better than he would.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares
the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways and my thought than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8,9 (NIV)

The honest fact is that none of us can even get out of bed in the morning if our God doesn't want us to. He is every aspect of every second of our day. He thinks about us more than there are grains of sand on the sea shore.

"How precious are your thoughts about me O God! They are innumerable. I can't
even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand!" (Psalms 139:7-8)

He loves us so deeply that he gave his son to die so that we wouldn't have to. The emotions that I experience when I think about the depth of that love, that I am not even capable of, are enormous! I am engraved on the palm of his hand, he will not forget me!

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;" (Isaiah 49:16)

Why wouldn't I be joyful in hope? Why wouldn't I trust him to do a better job than I am doing with my life? Why wouldn't I be happy that he is about to do a great new thing in my life!

Isaiah 43:19, For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to
come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!

I found this commentary in the Matthew Henry's, and I thought was very thought provoking.

" He is honored by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that
hope. He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly,
when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Those that
rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold
in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it" (Matthew
Henry's
)


Remembering that my life is not really about me, rather it is all about God puts this verse all in perspective. I can be joyful in my hope of his touch on my life as I am patient in my affliction and faithful in my prayers, because it is through him that all things happen.


Heavenly Father, help me to rejoice in my expectancy and trust of your working in my life. A~men!

Be Wise Toward Outsiders

My door bell rang one afternoon. This was nothing new. We live in a busy neighborhood. My house has been compared to “Grand Central Station” with all of the neighborhood kids & my kids going in and out.
My son answered the door and then came and found me.
“Mom, those guys are here.”
“What guys?” I asked.
“You know, those guys who wear dark pants, white shirt & have backpacks.”
Mormon Missionaries.
“Ok, no big deal. Let’s see what they want.” I knew what they wanted.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5,6
I thought of this verse as I made my way to our front door. On my porch were 2 very clean cut & well dressed young men. I knew I had a choice, though at the moment I didn’t really consider my choices. I just knew what I was to do.
“Hi, how are you?” I asked. They looked a little taken back, that I was not closing my door on them.
“Uh, fine, thank you. We are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we would like to share with you some information about Jesus Christ.” His words were very scripted and rehearsed. I listened to them and we talked. Because I had a big family I had an instant connection with one of the boys because he was also from a large family. We enjoyed casual conversation about our families and how fun it can be. But we also discussed salvation. I asked them questions, some they had answers to, some they did not.
I had a choice that day. I could either be very short with them and say, “I am a Christian and I am not interested in what you have to say.” and they shut my door with them on my front porch. Or I could talk with them, with grace, and listen to what they had to say.
I do not agree with the Mormon beliefs for a multitude of reasons. But that does not mean that I should run away from them or be rude to them. When I open my door to them, I am taking every opportunity to show the love of Jesus to them. Even if we disagree, I can still love them with the love of Jesus.
They thanked me over and over for being so kind to them. Then they said this, and it really saddened me; “You are the first Christian to ever be so kind to us.”
Moms, we have a responsibilty to our children to let them see us be wise in the way we act toward outsiders. If they see us slamming the door in someone’s face & talking unkind things about them, they will repeat it. Honestly speaking, I did not want to talk to those guys. I knew that I could not convert them. I really did not have an extra hour in my day to stand on my front porch talking with them. But as a believer, I have learned that God gives me opportunities in front of my children to honor Him. They are watching very closely! They are listening to our conversations and then repeating them to their friends.
It is a sad day when Christians are knows for their rudeness to unbelievers. But we are here, moms! We are in this day. Are we going to raise up more rude & arrogant Christians? We will if we are that way ourselves.
Years ago, I was one to slam the door on the Mormons or Jehovah Witness when they came to my house. I did not want to talk to them. But the Lord changed my heart. He showed me that my sin is no less than wrong theirs. I am no better than they are. I am just as depraved and capable of evil as they are. The difference is that I believe in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, there is no amount of good works that will get me there. That is how I am different from unbelievers. I am no better than they are.
Please be careful how you act toward others. Whether in the grocery store, at the park, or on your front porch. Show you kids how to be graceful and loving to others. They will copy you. They want to copy you.

Father, Help me today to be aware of opportunities that you give me to show my children how to be wise toward others.