Thursday, December 28, 2006

No Pain, No Gain

As the year comes slowly to an end and a new one is peeking through the horizon I find myself evaluating my walk with the Lord over the past year. One of the areas that I focus on is the time I have spent allowing God's word to change me. Not growth in knowledge through the study or reading of God's word, but true change through the power of the word of God. One of the ways I can evaluate this is by going back through my journal. I often write about my struggles, my innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 says,
"The word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires."


This verse always brings to mind the story of a patient telling the doctor he doesn't want heart surgery because it will hurt. And as the doctor explains that he won't feel a thing, the patient continues to talk about the pain after surgery. And yet as ridiculous as this seems, often we are faced with the same thing when it comes to God's word. The writer of Hebrews describes God's word as a surgeon's knife. God, the great physician, knows exactly where tumor-like growths of wrong thoughts and desires are lurking. And he knows that those growths will destroy us if they aren't sliced out. Or worse yet severely stunt our ability to live a full life. His word is the instrument he uses to expose those growths, bringing them to light, and showing us how to get rid of them.

But too often we ignore or just plain don't look at what His word says. This often has the same effect on us spiritually as would our ignoring the doctor's advice for life changing surgery.

So as I look back at the year and the pain I may have experienced, I now see the gain of new life. God's word bringing new life to areas that were hidden or dark. This new year I hope to go willingly to the surgeon's table knowing that it won't always be pleasant, but as they say, "No Pain, No Gain."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wordless Wednesday



His Christmas list read: "new bible"

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5minutes4mom

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What I GOT for Christmas

Time to stop and reflect on God's love
A renewed perspective on salvation
A husband's compassion for the lost and hurting
A two year old continually saying "Carrrr"
Kids looking under the tree and moving packages around
Little hands waving backwards when he wants you to follow him
Sweet words from a brother and uncle
Two sisters playing together
Grandma's smile when shopping for gifts
A son's hug
No greater joy than watching a little one open a gift
A most beautiful conversation with a teenager
The joy of a young girl playing with a baby doll
Kind words spoken by children
Heartfelt prayers
Cards and letter from old friends
God's provision
Helping a six year old learn to skate
Visiting with extended family
Playing games with my kids
Tears of joy
Tears of missing loved ones
A chance to watch the world stop for one day
Joy in the faces of children

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Loneliness at Christmas....

Today while doing some dishes I was praying for those who may be experiencing loneliness this Christmas season. Loneliness due to loss, loneliness due to lack, or loneliness due to being alone.

Tonight I read this post by Janice at 5minutes4mom. It is beautiful!

Remember to pray for those who have suffered loss of a loved one, those who are sick among us and for those who serve our country in the armed forces. May they experience the Joy of the Lord this Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


May the joy of the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord, fill your hearts and homes.

Merry Christmas!

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:11-14

One Solitary Life



All the armies that ever marched, and all the governaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, have not effected life upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.
author unknown



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A very special gift


For thirty eight years I lived in the same city as my mother. We spent every holiday together and many other days as well. Neither one of us ever imagined what life would bring. Over the past six years we have lived first eight hours away from each other and now several states. When we are afforded the opportunity to be together we try and enjoy every moment. This is exactly what we are doing this week. My mom arrived last Friday afternoon and will be with us until the day after Christmas. I am truly enjoying this very special gift.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Welcome to Our Home!


Boomama is hosting a Christmas tour of homes. I thought I would join in on the fun (for all of you who live out west).

Welcome and come on in! Merry Christmas!



This cute fellow adorns our front door.



As you enter into our foyer you'll find my favorite spot. A dear friend gave me this small flocked tree and it sits perfectly next to the table with the white church, snowmen and a miniature nativity. For years I owned a wooden nativity set which little fingers played with and it's location was usually unknown, but when a few of the pieces disappeared we decided it was time to keep our eyes open for a new one.



These cute snowmen are some of the few Christmas decorations that survived our cross country move.

On the opposite wall Christmas cards are starting to gather and we love hearing from all of you.



Straight ahead is our living room. This is the only room I decorate.


The stockings hang from the fireplace and if you look closely you'll see a snow globe of The Nativity given to us by dear friends.





Behind us is our piano showcasing a lovely poinsettia. The pictures on the wall is our family picture taken at Christmas time last year.



If you look closely at our tree, you'll see one of my favorite ornaments. Two of these glass doves have survived 20 years of marriage.


In my kitchen I bring out my poinsettia tea pot and tea cup to enjoy! And of course my red snowman dishes. There is a picture here.



Thank you for stopping by today. And may the Joy of the Lord fill your home and heart as you celebrate the birth our Lord and Savior! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Traditions



Kim at Lifesong has posted some of her families Christmas traditions and has encouraged those reading her blog to do the same.

Some of our traditions have changed in recent years, but we have a few that have lasted for over a decade.

1) Through the years I have created an advent celebration based on the age of my children. It has changed over time, but the message is always the same. My prayer is to create anticipation and expectation in my children's hearts at the coming Messiah. We have tried to communicate the message of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Christmas morning we read "The Birth of Jesus" a beautifully illustrated book for my younger children and Luke chapter 2.

2) I have truly enjoyed this book (which I had shared about here).

3) Christmas music filling the house as much as possible and as often as possible. We sing Christmas carols after reading in the evening.

4) Many years ago I began buying each of my children new pajamas for Christmas. Some years we did matching, but now we do something either themed or based on their personality. It is something they truly look forward to and on Christmas Eve we open up our new PJs and wear them to bed.

5) Similar to Kim, we put all our Christmas cards in a cute metal box after Christmas. And during the month of January we pull one out each night and pray for the family. I used to tell my friends to make sure we got their card if they wanted our prayers! :)

6) I have a baking day FOR THE KIDS. This means I am not looking for perfection, but rather giving them a chance to enjoy the process. I let the kids decide what they will do with their finished product. Some years the dough barely made it on the cookie sheet before being gobbled up by little mouths.

7) We pop popcorn and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" one evening.

8) One of my favorite traditions is Shopping Day. This one is only a few years old, but it is so fun. We usually go to Target and each child (the older four) has $25.00 that they have saved or earned. (We don't let them bring more than $25.00 and we give our six year old the money for now) They each shop for gifts for each of their siblings and dad and mom. (the baby will be included in a few years, but don't worry he will end up with several gifts in the process) They each have a $5.00 budget to spend on each person. I let two go in one direction and I go with the two with the six year old included. They can put their money together or not. I let them completely decide. I get so much joy in watching them carefully pick gifts for one another, and yet they try so hard not to look at things for themselves. And you might think that nothing good can come from $5.00?? Well think again, last year I got lotion, a candle, and a beautiful black pearl necklace picked out by my son. The tricky part is getting around the store and through the check out without letting each other see what is being bought. But that is part of the fun too!
**special note** And in case you are wondering. The first year we did this our budget for the event was $20.00 total. My husband took the boys to buy gifts for the girls and I took the girls to buy for the boys. We had so much fun! The girls received cute little socks and the boys received baseball cards and a rescue hero on a clearance rack. They now save for this day and it has taught them to appreciate what is bought so much more.

9) Our tree usually goes up the first week in December. My home decor for many years was very simple. We collect an ornament each year hopefully representing some special meaning. My kids each have a box with their own ornaments and they enjoy taking each one out and talking about what each one means as they put it on the tree. This year I found cute wooden sled ornaments for the boys and wooden ice skates for the girls in hopes of a White Christmas!

10) My husband always has some type of Christmas service at church and of course we all enjoy it very much.

Here are some new traditions for this year:

11) I bought "The Christmas Carol" from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Programs on CD. One night next week I want to gather some pillows, light the candles, and sit on the floor and listen to the story.

12) My husband took two of our children to see "The Nativity" and said it was excellent. I hope to see it soon. Watching this on DVD could be a great tradition in the future.

13) And finally, a word of caution. Traditions should be there for our benefit and enjoyment. They should not rule us, but we should rule them. This is why ours can change and do. They should not be based on what we have or able to purchase, but rather on spending time with one another. When I had three children five and under it looked very different than it does today. It is not about the doing, but enjoying the time spent together and giving and receiving the message of hope in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wordless Wednesday


Christmas 2004

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5minutes4mom

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Silent Night

Ten years ago I attended a Christmas tea and was privileged to hear Rebecca Hayford Bauer share about her own family traditions and Christmas celebrations. I went home that evening with two new books in hand which I was excited to share with my family,
Just 25 Days till Christmas, an advent celebration for the entire family, and Seasons of Praise, a 52 week worship celebration for the family.
These books are beautifully written and illustrated but most importantly filled with God's word to be used as a sure foundation on which to build your life and your home. These books have allowed us to experience God's presence in our home through Scripture and stories, as well as favorite hymns and choruses. One of my favorite features of the books is the history she gives on many of my favorite Christmas carols. Christmas music is one of my favorite things about Christmas. It would be difficult to pick a favorite carol, but "Silent Night" would be high on my list. This is an excerpt of what she shares about this beautiful song.

I just can't sing the song "Silent Night" without thinking of snow! First of all, snow kind of muffles sound, so if you're in snow, it really is quiet! This song was also written in "snow season" in the Alps where Father Joseph Mohr lived. Right before Christmas, the organ in the church he pastored had broken. So that his congregation would still have special music for the Christmas Eve service, he decided to write a song. His friend, Franz Gruber, wrote the music, and with just a guitar, they sang their new song Christmas 1818. But there's a third reason that I think of snow when I sing "Silent Night," and it's found in the third verse. It describes Jesus as "love's pure light" and that with His coming we now see "the dawn of redeeming grace," Jesus came to bring us the light that would show the way back to God.

What does that have to do with snow? Well, the way back to God comes through the forgiveness of sins. If we believe in Jesus, the Bible says that God will forgive us. No matter what we've done, no matter how stained our hearts have become through the disobedient and wrong things we've done, the Lord will forgive us and make us clean.

Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come and let's think about this together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool
"


So the next time you are enjoying the sounds of Christmas music or welcoming the quiet beauty of a snowfall think of the words of "Silent Night" and the message of hope and love this song brings.

This book would make a wonderful gift to someone special!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Are these my kids?

Tonight my husband and I went out to do some Christmas shopping and we left our kids at home with our fifteen year old daughter in charge. We gave them some simple instructions; clear the table after you finish eating, put the baby to bed at 7pm, everyone may go downstairs together and watch Polar Express after dinner and finally, call us if there are any problems. We were gone three hours and came home to this



Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and milk complete with a sign (click on the picture to read what they wrote). But the best part was this.....NO DISHES AFTER ALL THE BAKING.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Do not lose heart!

Are you feeling discouraged today? Or are you passing through a time of real distress? Will you let me share with you what has helped me so often?

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27 (NKJ)


Lord, you are my hope and my strength! I will not lose heart that I may see your goodness!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Coleman



Two years ago I sat on the edge of my bed waiting for my husband to finish his shower. My bag was packed and I was ready to head out for the hospital. I opened my bible to where I had been studying and began reading Isaiah 49:1-2:

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.



The words in Isaiah 49, "Before I was born the Lord called me," resonated in my heart and mind. I had been praying scripture over my baby throughout my pregnancy but God led me to a verse that was imensely personal. And remember my prayer before the birth of my fourth child, "thank you Lord for my quiver is full"; the words "in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver". I suddenly realized that this one was hidden in God's quiver. God had hid this one. All of my insignificant worries and preconceived notions suddenly washed away like running water.

I began to weep at God's soverign grace in my life. I went to the hospital that morning with new strength. I quietly wept before the Lord for my doubt, worry, and fear. The verse in Isaiah 55 which says, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. kept playing over and over in my mind.

Coleman arrived two years ago today at 8:02am. He weighed 7lbs 15oz. and was perfectly healthy. Everything went well and I was home in a few days. God has taught me so much through this little child. Coleman has brought us so much joy! They all do! Yes, somedays I feel like I am living in two different worlds with a teenager down to a toddler, but I thank God for ignoring my prayers and directing my life according to His plans.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wordless Wednesday



His birth announcement read:
"Our family has grown by two feet"


More Wordless Wednesday at 5minutes4mom

**special note** based on some of the comments I thought I would make it known those little feet will be "2" tomorrow. I decided to post this picture in honor of his birth story. Although the thought of some new little feet to kiss might be fun ...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Baby Story - continued

For a few months I had been praying for a gal in our church who was trying to get pregnant. She had experienced a miscarriage (maybe several) and she so wanted to have a baby. One of my first thoughts was why me God and not her. How would I even begin to tell her I was expecting a baby. I am not proud of the thoughts that ran through my mind or of the fear that I allowed to grip me. It took me over a month to share with someone other than my husband that I was pregnant. And then on Mother's Day my husband announced to our entire church that I was expecting. I felt a small sense of relief.

The next step was to find a doctor. Again, back up a few years. I was able to have the same doctor deliver all four of my children. I went to the same hospital and even had some of the same nurses each time. It was familiar and very comfortable. But in early 2001 we had moved eight hours away. God had led us to this small mountain community in the foothills of Northern California. We had lived in this new community for three years but I had no need for an OBGYN, I was not planning on another baby. I remember looking through my insurance book wondering who should I chose. After all, I was anticipating a doctor to give me the third degree, "you're how old, and you've had how many c-sections". I asked around and ended up in the office of Dr. Goddard. God knew exactly what I needed. When I told him of my concerns he proceeded to tell me that his mother had delivered him at the age of 45 and that he was not concerned in the least about another c-section, after all he said, "most of the work will be done by me, not you." The man had me laughing from the moment I stepped into the room until I left. When my blood pressure was taken for that first visit, it was high. I was so nervous. But when I left I knew that God had a plan. I didn't fully understand it, but I knew.

My pregnancy progressed as normal. My morning sickness was normal and seemed to disappear at around three months, but the first trimester tiredness never went away. I was tired until the very end. This was the most frustrating. After all I had four other children to take care of. It didn't take me long to recognize my limitations and after discussing it with my husband I removed myself from all areas of ministry. At the time I was overseeing many areas in our church. I was teaching a ladies bible study weekly, facilitating children's ministry on Sundays and Wednesdays and taking care of administration and other record keeping for the church. I distinctly remember one of the elders in our church commending me for my choice. His parents had become pastors when he was a young boy and although his dad was a wonderful pastor much of the family life he had previously enjoyed was no longer there due to the ministry. His remarks left an imprint on my heart.
I endured the continuous stream of comments when others would find out I was expecting number five. I remember one afternoon being at the post office with my than four year old son and he was whining about something and the lady at the counter telling me I was going to have my hands full when number "2" was born. I just smiled.

Throughout my pregnancy I had trouble imagining life with baby number five. How was I going to manage it all. I pondered questions in my heart like, "why did God chose to give me another child?" My closest friends were moving full force ahead with their lives. Their children were getting older and they were experiencing new seasons. In the meantime I continued on..many days feeling very much alone. My blood pressure was fine. I went through the usual procedures for being an older woman (I had already done this with #4) choosing not to have any tests and accepting what God would give us. In October 2004, my husband was at a Pastor's conference in Hawaii. It was while he was gone that my doctor and I agreed that my c-section would be scheduled for December 7th. One week before my due date.

The final weeks leading up to this day were filled with weekly visits for a stress test to the OB unit at the hospital. At one visit I was having contractions five minutes apart but they soon went away. I kept hoping that maybe he would come early. Thanksgiving came and went. I was ready. On one of my last visits to my doctor's office I could hear the nurse pleading my case to do the c-section earlier. I love that nurse. She was such a breath of fresh air each visit. This baby proved to be no different than the rest and on December 7, 2004 Coleman Christopher was born weighing 7lbs 15 oz.. Throughout my pregnancy I continually asked the Lord about this child. I will share on Thursday, Coleman's 2nd Birthday the verse and unspeakable peace God gave me the morning I was privileged to deliver my fifth child.

And the gal I had been praying for? When Coleman was born she was seven months pregnant with a little girl. Another beautiful miracle and gift from the Lord.

A Baby Story

This story of God's sovereign grace in my life actually begins June 28, 2000. It was the day before my fourth child was to be born. I had just finished dropping off my three older children at my parents home and was pulling into the driveway of our little home on Norwood Street. It was a hot June evening. I can remember the feeling of my shorts and t-shirt sticking to my body and the sound of the loose rocks on our driveway. As I turned the car off I prayed, "thank you Lord, for my quiver is full!" My fourth child was born the following day. Our family felt complete, two girls and two boys. At age 36, I was thankful for the gifts God had given me.

Fast forward to October 2003. I celebrated my 40th birthday. I clearly remember a phone call from my mother-in-law wishing me a happy birthday but also imparting a special blessing in my life as I entered my forties. She said they had proved to be the best years for her. She admonished me and encouraged me to embrace what was in front of me. I was and still am so thankful for my mother-in-law. I celebrated my birthday with a trip to New York City with my own mom. We had the most wonderful time together sharing four fun-filled days taking in as much as our time would allow of the city. It was truly a highlight for both of us and a wonderful way to begin a new season in my life.

Fast forward again to March 2004. I was privileged to attend a four day intensive with other Pastor's wives on Home Mentoring, based on Titus 2 in Ohio. It was life changing. I was ready to move forward with what I could sense the Lord was doing in my own heart.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." Isaiah 55:8

Four weeks later at the age of forty I found myself sitting at an ice skating rink on my daughter's 9th birthday watching the rest of my family skate in utter disbelief at the two pink lines I had observed that morning.

to be continued...

Monday, December 04, 2006

I accept my cup

I wrote these words several years ago in the margin of Linda Dillow's book "Calm My Anxious Heart". In fact I have re-read the book a few times and came to the same conclusion. "I like control!" As a result I memorized two scriptures, the first is 1 Timothy 6:15, (which Linda Dillow quotes in her book as two of the scriptures she memorized)
God....is the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters.

I continually want to place myself on the throne. I want to plan, prepare, and know what is expected and what should be done in all situations at all times. I even want answers for why certain things have occurred in my life and why other things haven't. Hasn't this been the battle from the beginning? I want to be like God. All this effort and I still come up short. I am still frustrated at my own efforts and than of all things I begin to blame God for why things are such a mess in my own heart.

I must continually go back to the scripture "He is the blessed controller of all things" and according to Psalm 16:5,
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.

Linda Dillow in her book says this, "Every cup-whether dainty china or rouch-hewn pottery- has a handle. God has placed our portion in our cup. We either choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to Him, saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, "God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right size for me and I don't like what You've put in it. I'll control my life myself."

I accept my cup. We all have that cup that we are drawn to. It is usually not the most attractive cup, or the most expensive. Most of the time it is a bit worn, but it is faithful. It brings a sense of warmth when we hold it. God I want to be a cup, not as the world sees, but one that brings glory to You and accepts the portion You give.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How far would you go?


It happened at 8:10pm last night. The kids were bathed and ready for bed. My oldest daughter was working on a school project. We were all sitting snugly together watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel. It was one of their segments that turned my husband and I into irrational, unbelievable, and maybe a bit irresponsible parents. They were explaining how Krispy Kreme donuts were made, when one of the kids said, "remember when we used to go to Krispy Kreme in our pajamas and eat donuts and milk in the car." My husband looked at me and I could read his mind, "I wonder where the closet Krispy Kreme donut shop is?", so I went to google and asked. No problem I thought it is only 47 miles away. Several years ago we waited in line at 9pm at night for over an hour to experience our first Krispy Kreme donut, so what would the difference be if we drove an hour to experience a Krispy Kreme? I shared the information with my husband and he announced loudly, "everyone grab your slippers and a blanket and get in the car." The roar of disbelief and excitement forced us to move quickly turning out lights and grabbing coats and blankets. And there we were heading on a 47 mile drive at 8:24pm for a donut and to top it off it was a school night. The giggles, the laughter, the excitement replaced any amount of money it cost to drive the distance. We ate donuts and drank milk in the car at about 9:40pm. Even the baby woke up and ate a half of donut.

It was worth the $15.00 in donuts and milk, and who knows what it cost in gas. I am sure the kids will never forget the night we spontaneously went on an almost 100 mile round trip for a donut. I know I won't!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wordless Wednesday



Carefully burying their sister in the sand.

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5minutes4mom.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brian's Song

Over the holiday weekend our family watched the movie, Brian Song. My husband had seen the movie many years ago, but I had never watched it. The Chicago Bears has become my 10 year old son's favorite football team and so he checked the movie out from the library.

We watched a re-make of the original movie made back in 1971. It was a great "real-life" story of courage, friendship, and an example of working hard even when you are not "the best", which is rarely encouraged in our current culture. He wasn't just worried about himself. I loved the way he made others laugh until the very end of his life.

Here is a great article I found for my son to read.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Walk Slowly

Christmas is coming...hopefully snow will be falling. The decorations, the smells, the gifts are all because of a loving God who chose to give the greatest gift of all, His own son!

Walk slowly and enjoy each moment! No matter what our circumstances we already have the greatest gift of all.

Walk slowly through your home. The hands that touch all the pretty decorations will not be the same next year.

Walk slowly through the stores. It is not about what we give, but what has been given to us.

Walk slowly through the parties and family traditions. People matter most to God. He died for them.

Walk slowly and look at the beautiful lights, savor the smells, and worship the King who came for us.

Walk Slowly!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Remembering


For me, thankfulness is remembering. It is remembering all that God has done in my life. So today, before I get busy with all the preparations for our Thanksgiving Day celebration and creating beautiful memories with my children, "I remember..."

God's goodness and graciousness throughout this past year at a new church, new home, new community, new state, and in many respects a whole new world.

The wonderful people (family) that God has brought us to serve. We are so blessed!

The love in which our new church has bestowed on my family. It has been like none other.

The children God has entrusted to me and the amazing grace he gave them in making a major move at the time we did in their young lives.

Traveling across seven states just over a year ago feeling very surreal that all of my earthly possessions were on one truck and yet the only thing that really mattered in life was sitting in the seats behind me.

Our extended families unbelievable support to follow the calling of God as they released us to go where they knew distance would prevent frequent visits.

The families we left....the ones we had poured our lives into....the ones who gave their life to Christ...I will never forget!

For God's saving grace in my own life of which I do not deserve but I am so thankful!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; His love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Family Memories


Many many years ago I purchased a book written by Shirley Dobson and Gloria Gaither. It was published in 1983, when Focus on the Family was still headquartered not far from where I grew up in Southern California. The book is "Let's Make a Memory" and has survived it's spot on my bookshelf after a hearty downsizing of my own library a year ago.
Even before my first child was born the desire to create lasting memories started me on a quest to find ways to accomplish this. I had wonderful memories of my own, but I knew those same events could not be repeated and I was now responsible for establishing them in my own home.
I pulled the book out today reminesing through the ideas we have incorporated in years gone by and the fun memories we have made together. I love traditions and we have many, but I realized somewhere along the road that traditions can change because life changes, but memories will last forever. So rather than be ruffled by changes in my traditions, today I looked for ways to create a lasting memory for my children and to begin some new traditions.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thankfulness


Today at Faith Lifts, Heather gives us a thanksgiving challenge.

This week is Thanksgiving. My challenge to you is to daily write down the small things you are thankful for. Not the obvious things, but the little things that happen in your life. Journal them, so you don't forget them. Truly appreciate them.

Expressions of gratitude and appreciation are discouragement killers. They take the focus off ourselves and put it on God and others. This morning in my journal I wrote some thoughts about "Thankfulness". According to Webster the word "thanks" means " to express gratitude to". Scripture is full of verses which reminds us to always give thanks to the Lord. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6-7.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


We are not to worry about anything, but rather pray about everything with thanksgiving, we are to let our requests be known to God. It seems we often leave out this part. Too often we are focused on our needs and yet not on remaining thankful in the process. It is easy to worry about everything. It is easy to pray about things and not fully transfer the burden over to the Lord. When we pray and let our requests be known to God, and are thankful in the process, allowing our thoughts to focus on all that He has done, all that He has given us, and who He is, we than can experience the promise that goes with this verse. A peace that transcends all understanding and this peace will guard your heart and mind. Who would not want that? I know I certainly do.

Lord, today I am so thankful for YOU! Thank you for all that you have given to me and all that you have done in my life. I noticed just in writing these words my focus is no longer on my great need (in my ow

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Increase My Trust

"Someone asked Henrietta Mears, the week before she died, "If you should have an opportunity to live your life again, which things would you do differently?"
Her answer was, "I would trust Jesus more than I have done this time." Corrie Ten Boom

...in quietness and confidence is your strength.....Isaiah 30:15

Lord, increase my trust in you!

Friday, November 17, 2006

13 Things I love about my husband

Kim at Lifesong tagged me. I have to say this is one that I think we should all do. Whether we do it here or on a piece of paper, there is something that changes when we either write or verbalize good thoughts. I am reminded of what Phillipians 4:8 says, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." So here are those things which are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, a good report and praiseworthy about my husband.

1. He loves me! He loved me first! He prayed for us!

2. He is a wonderful father. He works really hard to let his kids know they are extremely important to him and we are his first priority.

3. He likes to cook!

4. He is wonderfully helpful around the house.

5. He has changed many many diapers and never complained once.

6. He enjoys reading, playing games, wrestling, and spending time with his kids.

7. His smile! It gets me every time

8. He is kind, gentle, understanding and patient with me. Especially when I don't deserve it.

9. He loves the Lord.

10. He is the same at home that he is at church.

11. He is my husband, but he is also my Pastor. It has never been hard to hear the Word of God through him on Sunday mornings. I am so very thankful for this.

12. His commitment to our marriage and the thoughtful ways that he communicates this.

13. After 20 years with me.....He still loves me and tells me everyday.

I tag Julie
and Pam

Thursday, November 16, 2006

simplify

I was going through my journals from earlier this year and found this entry written at the beginning of January. With the holidays fast approaching and a new year upon us, I thought I would share these thoughts.


I love to know the meaning of words. To go behind the word and find out what it is really saying. "simplify" is a new word in my life for this new year. It became the theme of our packing and preparing for our cross-country move from California to Iowa during the last part of 2005. I hope I can hang on to it. I was given one of those metal signs with the word "simplify". I currently have it displayed in my home as a sweet reminder of this season. According to Webster the word means - to reduce to basic essentials. It comes from the root word "simple" which again according to Webster means - free from guile, free from vanity, free from ostentation. And ok if you are thinking what I was...what does guile and ostentation mean. Well, according to Webster guile means - deceitful, cunning or duplicity. Ostentation means - excessive display. and of course vanity means something that is empty or valueless. So to sum it all up....Simplify (in my own words)

1. reduce to basic essentials....if you don't need it...don't keep it....give it away.

2. free from guile....be honest in EVERYTHING!

3. free from vanity....if there is no eternal value in something....don't place value on it.

4. free from ostentation....don't be pretentious.

I can break it down even further....

1. Don't let the clutter of life rob you of the joy we have with those around us.

2. Integrity starts in the home. If we are not honest our kids won't be honest.

3. Take care of what will last forever first...and than find the right balance in taking care of things.

4. Don't exaggerate the truth...or try to impress with stuff. Worry only about the One who matters most.

Wow, we have so many opportunities in our life to "simplify". Shortly after we moved into our home, I was putting away some of my things in a little curio cabinet. I had just finished and shut the door when my almost one year old at the time, Coleman toddled over to the cabinet door and began banging on the glass. Before I could turn around and remove him I heard a crash of glass. Coleman was fine. One of the shelves wasn't secure enough and everything on that shelf had come crashing down. The only thing that broke was our wedding glasses. I had an instant opportunity to be mad, sad, or a wild combination of both. But instantly I thanked the Lord that Coleman was not hurt and realized that although very sentimental..(they had our wedding date and names on them) they had sat in that cabinet for nearly 20 years and no one had ever looked at them or even used them. What would my children want most when we are gone.... the wedding glasses...or the understanding and knowledge and experience that their parents loved each other very much? You guessed it the latter.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"That she has trained her chilren..."

This quote was posted at GirlTalk yesterday. It is a powerful reminder to me today that I am to make my children obey. It won't just happen. This can be an incredible and sometimes overwhelming task that is before me. I lack the qualifications to complete the task and that is why I am so thankful today that I have Jesus. I couldn't do any of it without him. I will put this quote somewhere I can read it often in the midst of real life with dishes, laundry, and toddler to teenager living in my midst.


“That she has trained her children for heaven, rather than for earth, for God, rather than for man--she is the parent that will be considered wise at last. Train with an eye to my children's souls. We are made what we are by training. Our character takes the form of what mold into which our first years were cast. The path of obedience is the way in which He gives blessing. Determine to make your children obey you, though it cost you much trouble, and cost them many tears. Obedience is the only reality. The mark of well-trained children is that they do whatsoever their parents command them - cheerfully, willingly and at once."
John Ryle 1888

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The two headed monster

All week it is my intention to lead my children while at the table in discussions concerning areas which are "thankfulness" killers and to focus on a particular area in our life that we are thankful for?

Today's focus: God supplies a place for us to live and food to eat?

Tonight we talked about the two headed monster which will kill thankfulness at every corner. It is none other than jealousy and envy. This monster is not only one of the ugliest around, it can cause major destruction. We did not sugar coat its ugliness, we called it by name "sin".
Our conversation focused on that there are some sins that are not things we do, but things we think. Jealousy and envy are two of these sins. Jealousy makes us want to be the most important person in someone's life and causes us to resent any show of affection they give to another. Envy is the awful feeling we get inside about things, things that other people have and we don't have. The conversation was loud, lively, fun, and a reminder to me that I never want to stop doing this. Table time conversations give us such insight into our children's hearts.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Do not want what belongs to others

Each year at this time I begin to approach the holidays desiring to impart in my children what it means to be thankful and to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and make sure we do not put too much emphasis on what we "want" for Christmas and more on what we can do for others. We always explain that we have been given the greatest gift of all. It will never break, wear out, or get old. JESUS!

Today our focus is "God supplies our need"

Many times I hear in my kids what we don't have, rather than what we do. Covetousness is an intense desire to possess things we do not have, which usually are things we cannot afford. We take our eyes off the blessings God has given us when covetouseness is given a place in our hearts.
An attitude of covetousness can creep into our hearts quickly. It makes you believe your clothes, toys, house is not as nice as the ones someone else possess. Or you complain to someone; "It's just not fair - everybody else got a new (fill in the blank) for Christmas!"
We need to be able to be happy for our friends when they have something we would enjoy having. There might be a time when we will have the same things, but if it never happens, we still have a long list of wonderful things to be grateful for.
Covetousness must not be allowed in our lives. It is like a cancer that begins small but grows to gigantic proportions. Jesus said the best way to overcome a spirit of covetousness was to realize that "one's life does not cnsist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15) It consists in a relationship with Christ.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans Day

Today I honor my brother. He serves in the army and is now in Iraq for another year. He was there two years ago for an entire year and we were so very grateful to God when he returned home to his family safely. We take so much for granted and all that we enjoy living in a country which we can worship God freely.
I am proud of my youngest brother for his commitment to serving his country. May God Bless Him today! I pray for his wife and two children as they go about their daily lives over this next year while her husband and their daddy serves our country.

Waiting on Him

Looking unto Jesus in prayer is a blessed training. Prayer without listening is like going to a person, asking questions, and leaving without waiting for an answer.

We need some practice. We have prayed so much without listening that we do not always hear the answer immediately. Then we must wait upon the Lord. This waiting upon Him is a blessing in itself. Corrie ten Boom

....they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.....Isaiah 40:31

Lord, teach me to pray and teach me to listen and understand Your sometimes still, small voice.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Renown for Good Works

I love this paragraph in the book Feminine Appeal, "What are we known for? How would our family and friends portray our character? As these people observe our lives, they should be more aware of our good deeds than our style of clothing, our talents, and abilities, our hobbies, or our standard of living. We should be RENOWNED for good works at home, in our churches, and extending into our communities. Of course, the goal is not to garner attention for ourselves, but to show forth the compelling power of the gospel."

Encouragement and planning are two more ways that I can show kindness to my family. Proverbs 12:25 says, "that a good word makes the heart glad, while anxiety causes depression. I would like a sign that says. ONLY GOOD WORDS SPOKEN HERE!

I love what she says about planning. "Planning is not only necessary for heading off danger but also for initiating good. Good works don't just happen. We need to plan and prepare for them. And I must say, this type of planning is a whole lot of fun!" And I agree wholeheartedly. Looking for ways to bring my family happiness is oh so much fun. Praying for, listening to, greeting and encouraging my husband and kids prepares my heart to plan something that will bring them happiness. We live in such a self-centered culture that it is not often we find those who are looking for ways to bring happiness.

Renown for Listening

Upon picking my six year old son up from school he proceeds to tell me that the music teacher had said she would not give out instruments to those kids with their hands raised. He says to me confused, "aren't you suppose to raise your hand in school?" His older brother proceeds to explain that sometimes all the kids raise their hands hoping to be picked and the teacher doesn't want them to. With a confused look my six year old says, "Why?"

We have many opportunities throughout the day to listen to our kids. This is one area my own mother encouraged me in when my first child was born. Although the conversation in the car was fun listening to, it is not always that way. It takes a huge effort to listen, making eye contact, not interrupting, and being attentive so much so that we want to hear everything. It also takes patience when their young. The payoff is when you really want them to talk, if they know you have always listened, they will be more inclined to share.

In the
book she states, "Careful listening will also encourage our husbands to bare their souls to us. It will motivate our children to share their innermost thoughts."

Another opportunity to show
kindness to my family.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Renown for Greeting

What a gift of happiness I get to bring to my husband and children by greeting them warmly in the morning, on the phone, and especially when they arrive home. When others show up at my door I usually always greet them with warmth and excitement. Yet I am grieved to think of the way I have failed to welcome my own loved ones at times. I get so busy with what needs to be done and I behave sometimes like they have interrupted me. This is simple, easy and yet could have profound effects in the area of bringing kindness. So I am trying a little experiment. (don't tell my family) I am going to be intentional in my welcoming them home. No matter what I am doing, or what time of day it is I am going to stop and bring hugs and a greeting. I saw a glimpse of the benefits of this over the weekend. My daughter was out late two nights with a musical performance and cast parties. She had planned rides home, so it wasn't necessary for me to stay up but I couldn't go to bed until she was home no matter what. I chose not only to wait for her but to welcome her warmly and made myself available for her to talk and share about her evening. After the second evening she thanked me for waiting for her. I knew at that moment I created a wonderful memory. This is one of those rare opportunities to create memories that doesn't cost me anything other than being kind. It would bring me no greater joy than to hear my children say, "when I arrive home my mom always has the warmest of greetings".

Renown for Praying

In the next chapter of Feminine Appeal, Author Jerry Bridges is quoted in an explanation to distinguish between kindness and goodness which are often used interchangeably.
"Kindness he says, is a sincere desire for the happiness of others, and goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness"
I especially appreciate the practical ways she encourages us in bringing joy to our families through goodness. She says, "We should be women who are known for praying, greeting, listening, encouraging and planning. "
I have asked the question of myself, "Am I renown for bringing goodness to my family in these areas?" I have taken one area each day this week to evaluate how effective or ineffective I am as a wife and mother in these particular areas.
Carolyn Mahaney says, "And who better to pray for them than us? No one knows our family members the way we do. No one is more familiar with the unique temptations and pressures they face. No one can pray for them with keener insight or greater compassion."
I count it a privilege to pray for my husband and children. We should remind them often of our commitment to praying for them. When I know someone is praying for me I am more likely to ask for specific prayer. How comforting for our family to know they have us anchored in prayer for them. What Joy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

He's 10!


Today Theo is 10! He is the oldest boy in our family and a true joy! He is my tender hearted little man. From the moment he was born he has always had a tender heart towards others. It has been fun watching him grow from little boy to a bigger boy. He is extremely responsible, helpful, and sometimes wonderfully patient with his younger brothers. He loves basketball, baseball, and soccer. And soon it will be football! I look forward to seeing the awesome work the Lord has for this young man. But in the meantime I shed a tear or two today because another year as gone by too fast. Happy 10th Birthday Son!

Friday, November 03, 2006

What makes me smile!

Have a great weekend!

Nine Weird Things!

Katherine at Raising Five tagged me. I started writing this list a few weeks ago but had stopped. It just plain felt weird....

These are pretty boring but weird to some nonetheless.

I don't like shopping - but I love getting new things.

I like to do laundry every bit of it - doesn't mean it is caught up.

I love books - especially "old" books and if I shop an antique store, a book store or stationary store is where you would find me.

I like history, geography - yes I want to know everything about a place.

I don't wear necklaces. Don't like the feeling of something on my neck, but I love bracelets, rings, and earrings.

It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving to have pumpkin pie - 1st choice of pies

I love everything about the beach including the sand, the smell, the waves, the saltwater...everything. I should live there.

I loved to square dance when I was in elementary school. Everyone else hated it but I secretly loved it.

I still twirl the fine thin hair on the side of my face. I have since I was little. I did it when I sucked my thumb. I gave up thumb sucking, but don't plan on giving up the twirling of my hair.

There you have it.

The Honor of Working at Home

When I think of being a homemaker, or as Titus says, "working at home", I usually go directly to the role of "housekeeper". But a better definition or description of this verse would be "Home Manager". In her book Feminine Appeal , Carolyn Mahaney brings clarity and simplicity to this role.
"Scripture has provided a job description for us as managers of our homes, and it is surprisingly simple, We are to be our husband's helper (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:7-25; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). As Douglas Wilson elaborates:
'The man needs the help; the woman needs to help. Marriage was created by God to provide companionship in the labor of dominion. The cultural mandate, the requirement to fill and subdue the earth, is still in force, and a husband cannot fulfill this portion of the task in isolation. He needs a companion suitable for him in the work to which God has called him. He is called to the work and must receive help from her. She is called to the work through ministering to him. He is oriented to the task and she is oriented to him.' (emphasis mine)
Douglas Wilson, Reforming Marriage
(Moscow, Ida.: Canon Press, 1995),
p. 16
When we understand that our main objective as home managers is to be oriented to our husbands, this clarifies our responsibilities. We can easily determine what we should do and how we should do it by asking ourselves, 'What will most help my husband?' The answer to this question is usually obvious and uncomplicated...
Orienting our lives to our husbands not only helps them, but it helps us as well. When we adapt our lifestyles to serve our husbands, it helps to keep our schedules manageable. Oftentimes we feel pulled in multiple directions by the demands of family, friends, church, school, and community--not to mention our own desires. We try to please everyone, only to feel frustrated and frazzled at the end of the day. However, when we build our lives around helping our husbands, all other 'needs' have to assume their proper place on our calendars--that is, if they even belong there at all.
So why don't we ask our husbands today how we can best help them? And let's not assume that we can ascertain their preferences through this one-time inquiry. Rather, we ought to frequently solicit their thoughts and opinions so we can manage the home to their liking."
I once observed a husband ask his wife to join him as he ate his dinner. She abruptly said, "No, I need to finish the baking for an upcoming bake sale." I watched as he continued to plead with her about sitting down with him. I think he was often left to eat alone due to the time he arrived home from work, while she went on with her household chores. She continued to list out all the things she was needing to finish. I happen to know she ran a tight ship in her home. It was very orderly and clean. The meals were always prepared, the laundry done, and the kids taken care of. I admired her domestic skills. But what I remember most is the look on her husband's face. I also remember the day my husband called me to say that our dear friend had unexpectedly died while at work. She was now a widow with no one to sit and eat dinner with.
I recently asked my husband what he would like when he arrives home. How could I best serve him? His answer was not what you would expect. It had nothing to do with cleaning or cooking, but rather he wanted the family to be engaged in something together. So at least 2-3 times per week I try and have everyone doing something together when my husband arrives home. I plan ahead what that might be and I am ready when he gets home. For example it may be preparing the meal together which he loves to join in and help ( I usually plan something he likes to cook hint hint), playing a game, reading, even watching a movie. (he will join us and than allow me to go and finish preparing dinner if need be). These make for the most peaceful and productive evenings in our home. My day becomes focused and has a purpose. My husband feels honored, my kids feel loved, and I am completely satisfied as the manager of my home.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Help and My Security


1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Psalm 121

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Pleasure of Purity

I enjoy reading. If given a choice of how I would spend several hours alone, my first choice would be to cuddle up with a book. Therefore, knowing this simple fact about myself you can only imagine how many books on marriage and relationships I have read through the years. And yet I have found that none have dealt with this subject in such a practical and Godly fashion as I have enjoyed in Feminie Appeal. In the next chapter, the author addresses the area of purity in our lives primarily in the area of intimacy with our husbands. She does such an excellent job of getting right to the point. God created it, He meant it for marriage, and therefore we should enjoy it with our husbands. Some days I just need to be reminded!

There are two great posts at Home Sanctuary about "What all guys want and being our husbands refuge".

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lost


He has finally lost his first tooth and this is the official "I lost my first tooth picture" and by far the best one to date!

Have a great weekend!

The Safety of Self-Control

I have to admit the next chapter in the book "Feminine Appeal" is not my favorite. Not because of the way it is written, but because it is so true and reveals so much about my own life. The word "Self-Control" has been coming up a lot lately in my conversations, studies, and thoughts. That is usually my clue to take notice. I am to learn, get, figure out something that the Lord is trying to show me.
I have read Galatians 5, prepared studies on the Fruit of the Spirit, memorized Titus 2 and 2 Peter 1:5-8, and yet like so many others have completely overlooked this very important virtue. And worst yet I have huge holes in my life that I am continually trying to plug as a result of the lack of self-control. Only God by His grace can repair the damage. The book quotes Proverbs 25:28; " A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." She encourages us as wives and mothers to have self-control in the area of our eating, sleeping, emotions, thoughts, and behavior.

When it comes to our behavior the book states, "But did you know there is one behavior, if diligently pursued, that will promote self-control in every area of your life? It is not a time-management technique or the latest PDA. It is the daily practice of meeting with God." I couldn't agree more and have seen first hand in my own life what self-control in the area of meeting with God daily has produced in my life.

In the book, she states "Self-control doesn't just happen. We can't adopt the indifferent attitude "let go and let God" and expect magically to become self-controlled. Self-control requires effort. However development of this quality is not solely dependent upon us. We cannot acquire this virtue by our own strength. It is only as we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit that we will achieve said self-control. Our growth will take place as it did with Paul who said, "For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col. 1:29). Notice that Paul did toil and struggle, but his effort was initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit."

I have always wanted self-control in my life so that I might look better, or feel better about myself. But the more I look at this virtue I realize self-control has nothing to do with me (self), but everything to do with the gospel going forth.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Blessings of Loving My Children

I can remember seeing my first child, her tender face, her sweet lips, the touch and smell of her sweet skin and than the tears. An overwhelming rush of emotion coming over me and the incredible miracle that lay before me. I loved her immediately and urgently I plunged into my new vocation, loving my new role and title, "mom". I went on to do this a total of five times and probably would have never stopped if I could have remained in that moment for ever.

But things do change. In the days, weeks, and years ahead I have experienced a newborn who wanted to nurse all the time. A two year old who could climb anything and was into everything. (I am still experiencing this one) the whining of a four year old, crying on the first day of school, talking to a nine year old about lying, the attitude of a adolescence. I haven’t always felt those same tender emotions I experienced those first moments and days. Yet it’s in the midst of the trials and challenges of motherhood that the command comes to love our children. In Titus 2 we are told “to love our children” and the type of love that the original language is speaking of is a tender, affectionate, and passionate love. Carolyn Mahaney states, "Although many mothers are committed to caring sacrificially for their children, they sometimes neglect to enjoy them. They fulfill their responsibilities of motherhood but overlook the pleasures." I have made this mistake!

The book goes on to answer the question, "What’s the goal?"

"The ultimate purpose of loving our children this way is the salvation of our children’s souls. This is the chief end of mothering. Our goal is not that our children be happy, fulfilled, and successful. Our highest objective should be that our children would repent from their sins, put their trust in Jesus Christ, and reflect the gospel to the world around them. While the salvation of our children is our highest aim, our tender love is not sufficient for this task. Only the Holy Spirit is able to reveal the truth of the gospel. However, our tender love can be an instrument in God’s hands. I am convinced that no one has more potential to influence our children to receive and reflect the gospel than we do as mothers."

One of the ways she encourages us in loving our children is to have regular time alone with God. This time should be spent in a quiet place alone. If I am going to enjoy my children, I need strength. She also reminds me to have tender thoughts, tender behavior, and to number my days.

Mothers, you may be up to your earlobes with babies and dirty diapers. Or you may be spending half your life in the car, driving your children to and from numerous activities. In whatever stage of motherhood you find yourself, may I remind you of something? It won’t last for very long.

I found this cute quote written by another mother and wrote one for myself.

"Just when I figure out how to mother this soft, sweet, cuddly, moving, growing preschooler, I have a kindergartener. I turn around and a first grader is standing before me instead. I have just learned how to love and live with a nine year old when the nine year old vanishes, leaving a preadolescent in their place. They don’t stay still long enough for me to have my fill of them ever, at any stage. “Stop!” I scream. “Let’s just do it this way for awhile, let’s stay right here.”

At the end of this chapter the book says this, (slightly changed to fit me)

No one needs to remind us that it is an enormous responsibility to be a mother. How well we know it! I seldom feel like much of an adventurer – standing in this kitchen, pouring cereal into bowls, refilling them, handing out paper towels when the inevitable cry comes: “Uh oh. I spilled.” But sometimes at night the thought will strike me: There are five small people here, breathing sweetly in their beds, whose lives are for the moment in our hands. I might as well be at the controls of a moon shot, the mission is so grave and vast. I leave you with this, although the mission is grave and vast, God’s grace is greater. He kindly reminds us in His Word. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Loving My Husband - Tender Behavior

It's not just my thoughts, but also my behavior. Most days if I allow my thoughts to be tender, my behavior will usually fall into place. In the book, Feminine Appeal she quotes Linda Dillow, who shares three ways in which we can actively admire our husbands, by prizing them, cherishing them, and enjoying them.

We all know that to prize something means we strongly desire it. To cherish means to hold dear, or to care for tenderly, and enjoying someone is taking pleasure in something. These are all words that I would use to describe something that is extremely valuable to me. And therefore I would do everything I could to take care of it.

My marriage and relationship with my husband is extremely valuable to me. I want my husband to feel that he has first place in my heart apart from my relationship with God. My kids will grow up and leave home someday and what greater gift could I give them, but to love my husband dearly. I want to care for him tenderly. I look for ways that I can bless him. A few days ago he mentioned that potato soup sounded really good. We had a full day of activities and I was tired, but I made some soup without saying anything and when he came to the table I could see on his face how special he felt. These are easy things but make huge imprints in our lives.

It has taken me many years to get here. Finally, one way I have enjoyed my husband is joining him in one of the things he enjoys. We watch football games together. About 13 years ago I began sitting down with him each Sunday afternoon to enjoy a game. I would make a special plate of fun foods and I would sit with him throughout the entire game. He loved it and guess what SO DID I!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Loving My Husband - Tender Thoughts

In the book "Feminine Appeal" again I find her words in the area of tender thoughts so familiar to where I have lived and walked. I quote, "We frequently face situations where we are tempted to think harsh and critical thoughts. Sometimes as wives we are more inclined to concentrate on what our husbands are doing wrong than what they are doing right. We are more aware of their deficiencies than areas where they excel. But if we submit to these temptations, they will only lead to the demise of warm affection." And she goes on to state that this is supported by scripture. Philippians reminds of us that whatever is true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things.
For too long my thoughts focused on what was not right instead of what was good. What a complete waste of time. So much more could of been accomplished if only my thoughts were tender. Tender thoughts is not denying what may be wrong, it is just choosing to look at what is good and trust the Lord for what needs to change.
I remember many years back a time when I turned over these thoughts to the Lord and to my surprise the Lord showed me that while I was trying to remove the splinter from my husband's eye, I had a huge log in my own.

I want to love my husband with tender thoughts throughout the day. I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot also in the book,

"A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy."



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Transformed by Titus 2

I am re-reading( or more like studying) a great book by Carolyn Mahaney titled Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. It is especially meaningful to me since Carolyn was a pastor's wife for 25 years.
The opening chapter describes a mandate to older women from Titus 2 to train or teach the younger women the seven virtues listed in Titus 2:3-5. I love the final paragraph in the first chapter, "Can you conceive of anything that sets for the the beauty of the gospel jewel more brilliantly than the godly behavior of those who have received it? Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband's leadership-for all the days God grants her life. I dare say there are few things that display the gospel jewel with greater elegance. This is true feminine appeal."
As a young wife and mother I longed to understand my role. I had so many conflicting voices in my life. Most of them were well meaning, but very few if any were biblical. I struggled through many years of discouragement and even depression at times in an effort to understand "what" and "who" I was suppose to be. A successful career looked good, but I had a longing to be at home. I was a smart and capable woman, able to make decisions on my own, so why did I need to submit to my husband's leadership? I wanted a warm and peaceful home, but had no clue how to get there. I loved children and wanted a house full, but never expected motherhood to be so completely draining at times and I began to wonder, "What am I doing?".

Today I am so thankful for God's patience and gentle loving guidance in my life. Through the years he placed women in my life who exhibited the qualities of a Godly woman that I needed at that time. I learned through direct contact, watching, listening, observing, and especially reading. I am amazed at the path God has used in my life. I recently wrote a tribute to a friend who more than anyone else exemplified these qualities.

Kim has been my mentor for close to 15 years. It was not an intentional relationship. It started with a desire on my part to be a Godly woman, wife, and mother. I was hungry for practical tools and wisdom in every area of my life. Kim (as a slightly older woman) took an interest in me. She had to be patient and long-suffering as she gently let me know over time that she was my friend. Her example did not come through long lectures, or spouting off scripture and knowledge, but rather through genuine concern and a daily example of living her life to the Glory of God. She lived out Titus 2 and encouraged me to do the same. When I walked through several difficult seasons, she was there to listen, encourage me not to give up and to share hope. She wasn’t just there, she literally held my hand. When I needed help in my home, she never hesitated to step in. She would give me things when I knew she didn’t have it to give. She trusted God completely. She offered to keep my little ones, even though her kids were older. She sent me notes of encouragement! And most importantly I stand here today in front of you because of her nudging and pushing me out in front of the ladies of our church. She saw in me what I would have never seen in myself. She promoted me and encouraged me. Over time our relationship developed into friendship in which I desired to be there for her. Today we are “friends”, even though distance prevents it from being what I desire. Kim will always be my mentor, friend, and a Godly example of Titus 2.

Through the years so many of my questions have been answered. My life and especially my thinking has been completely transformed by Titus 2. And the greatest understanding I have gained is the purpose for the virtues listed in Titus 2; that the gospel may go forth. It is not for me to look better, but rather that others may know and see our lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Birthday "T"

Today is my oldest daughter's fifteenth birthday. She is growing and maturing into such a beautiful young lady. I love her passion for things, her tenacity, and her giving and gracious spirit. Thank you Lord for entrusting her to us. She is truly a gift from you.