Mother, the Unseen Powerhouse of the Home

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Have you ever lost power? I’m sure you have, just like we did earlier this year.

 

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, ok, it was day. And it wasn’t dark…but it WAS stormy!

 

The weather got colder and colder, and the freezing rain became thick crystal-blankets on all the branches, bushes, trees, and (of course) the power lines. Some of the myrtle branches were bent almost to the ground!

 

Trees and branches are flexible, but power lines are not, and that day something somewhere snapped, and we were suddenly out of electricity.

 

Now, it’s never a convenient time to lose power. As it always seems to happen, I was in the absolute middle of a load of laundry, and the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes. In fact, there were very few clean dishes left in the cupboards! Several of us hadn’t yet showered for the day, and it seemed the air even in the house was getting colder by the minute.

 

Maybe in the past, electricity was unnecessary, but it’s not just a convenient nicety in life anymore…without it, life stops so fast it leaves skid marks!

 

And lately I’ve been thinking about motherhood, and how much like electricity a mother is.

 

Mother is the unseen powerhouse of the home. She is the one who works quietly behind the scenes, making sure the home runs smoothly and things get done like they’re supposed to.

 

Mother is the often-taken-for-granted light of the home. She greets her children with a smile in the morning, kisses the boo-boos and calms turbulent waters.

 

Mother is the spotlight of the home. She senses discontent and unrest, and shines the light on squabbles and quibbles, patiently listening to each sigh and helping to point out what the problem is.

 

But without mother, a home is sad.

 

A home is dark.

 

A home is cold and unforgiving.

 

Remember, mom, you are needed. You are wanted. You are important.

 

You may not be appreciated like you should be, but what could possibly compensate for sleepless nights, tiring days, and the thousand deaths that go into giving your life? No, there is no compensation on this earth, no appreciation enough for the price we pay, and no earthly benefits that pad our wallets and give a comfortable retirement.

 

So why do we do it? Why do we give ourselves so fully, so completely, and so thoroughly? Why do we toil day and night for our families?

 

Is it so that we can be appreciated?

 

So we could get a pat on the back from our children?

 

So others can look on us with wonder and admiration?

 

No, these things cannot be enough. To daily give one’s life for a pat on the back or a momentary glance of admiration is a short-lived and shallow payback. Why do we do what we do?

 

Elisabeth Elliot once said, “This job [of motherhood] has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

 

Because we follow our Lord, and walk in His footsteps. His steps trod the path of Calvary, of laying down His life, and of giving of Himself. He took up His cross, obeyed His Father, and paved the way for our salvation.

 

And He calls us to follow Him.

 

We mothers are the unseen powerhouses of our homes. But remember, all we are is a conduit, through which the death and life of Christ are made evident.

 

Live for Him. Obey Him. And the powerhouse of His Spirit will strengthen you for the great unseen work He has called you to.

What are some ways mothers are important? And what are some of the eternal benefits?

5 Marriage Myths to Avoid

"If I Just Believe Hard Enough, I Think I Can Make Him a Prince!"

“If I Just Believe Hard Enough, I Think I Can Make Him a Prince!”

 

When I was young, Cinderella was a big hit. It was the classic fairy tale, complete with a prince, beautiful gowns, and a happily-ever-after life. But in reality, life is no fairy-tale. And neither is marriage. 

 

There are few things in this world that the Devil assails as much as a Christian home, and especially a Christian marriage. You would think that, because two people love the Lord and dedicate themselves to  each other for life, it would virtually guarantee an excellent home. But that’s simply not so.

 

Divorce statistics are staggering – and it’s not just the unsaved, worldly, carnal people getting divorced. It’s folks that bear the name of Christ, attend church regularly, and say they love the Lord.

 

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that many people come to marriage with a bit of a fairy-tale mentality. They tend to think the story goes something like this:

 

Boy meets girl.

Boy feels this floppy, soppy feeling, and decides it must be love.

Girl can’t get boy out of her mind, and decides it must be love.

They enjoy each other’s company, stroke each other’s little egos, and do cute little things for each other.

They mutually agree that they want this sort of relationship for life.

Soooo – Boy proposes to girl.

Girl deliriously accepts.

They get married in a beautiful church, spend who-knows-how-much on the wedding, and fly off to a honeymoon in the Bahamas.

And live happily ever after.

 

Does it really go like this? Rarely. This is how it normally goes:

 

Boy meets girl.

Boy feels this floppy, soppy feeling, and decides it must be love.

Girl can’t get boy out of her mind, and decides it must be love.

They enjoy each other’s company, stroke each other’s little egos, and do cute little things for each other.

They mutually agree that they want this sort of relationship for life.

Soooo – Boy proposes to girl.

Girl deliriously accepts.

They get married in a beautiful church, spend who-knows-how-much on the wedding, and fly off to a honeymoon in the Bahamas.

Then, the day after the wedding, something goes wrong.

Thinking they were marrying someone who would meet all their needs, they find that the other person is not perfect, doesn’t meet all their needs, and actually is selfish sometimes!

Each thinks the other is not holding up their end of the bargain, and eventually divorce starts sounding better than the ball-and-chain they’ve created.

 

Unfortunately for most couples, by this time in their marriage they have a toothless little diaper-wetter who now demands more of their energy and time than they ever thought they had. And this little diaper-wetter will probably grow up in a broken home.

 

Most people go into marriage like a tick goes to a dog – looking for someone to take care of them, meet their needs, and love them no matter what.

 

What they end up with is more like two ticks and no dog!

 

Folks, that’s a terrible realization!

 

There are several marriage myths that you can avoid that can avert this awful ending to the fairy-tale.

 

  1. It’ll be ok – I can marry a lost man, because I can change him after we’re married. (see 2 Corinthians 6:14) No, you can’t. It’s as simple as that. Check out #3.
  2. I just want to be married; I don’t want kids. (see Psalm 127:3) I tell my girls, “If you don’t want children, don’t get married.” Children are the inevitable result of marriage. They are the blessing of the Lord, and if you don’t want that kind of blessing, stay away from the thing that gives it to you.
  3. I can change him. (see Proverbs 21:1) This is totally unrealistic, because we can’t control other people. In fact, just try to make your cat come in at night! If we can’t control an animal, we sure can’t control a spouse.
  4. I have to tell him whenever I think he’s wrong. (see 1 Peter 3:1) Allowing someone to make a bad decision can be one of the most loving things you can do. This is a very mild illustration: My husband, since having Lyme disease 25 years ago, is somewhat directionally challenged, so much so that he will often make wrong turns or get lost. One of the hilarious times was when we finished visiting some friends, and we turned to go. He smiled, waved goodbye, and promptly disappeared into the garage! I simply waited for him to come back out….and I didn’t berate him for making a wrong turn! (But I must admit, it was TERRIBLY funny!)
  5. Sex in marriage is just legalized lust, right? (see Malachi 2:14) Oh no, not at all. It’s so much more than base lust. A little passion goes a long way, definitely, and the union of two lovers is the most fun you can have together, without spending a dime! But it’s also more than just fun. God created sex as a way of uniting two, and creating a bond that goes beyond mere words or sentiment. It’s a divinely appointed way for the expression of love.

 

Marriage is not a fairy-tale. We don’t have time or energy to devote to things that are not true. Don’t fall for these marriage myths! Find out the truth of God’s Word, and stand on it. God will always bless when we trust in Him.

What are some myths about marriage you’ve heard? What would you tell someone who thinks they’re true?

What I’m Missing by Simplifying My Life

 

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One of the times we lived in Texas was during the emu and ostrich craze. I guess ostrich farming was a pretty lucrative business for awhile, and we lived not far from several ostrich farms. Farming ostriches, however, is not for the faint of heart; ostriches are known for being aggressive on occasion. In fact, my husband met a woman once who had been brutally attacked by one of her ostriches – I guess it got tired of her one day and kicked her in the back with its powerful legs, putting her in the hospital!

I’m so glad that my home is not an ostrich farm. I may get irritated sometimes, but my family deserves better than a cranky irritable mom who’s harried and tired.

My recent decision to simplify my life has been a good one. It was a decision to pull back from the normal whirl of life and spend more time in focused prayer, Bible reading, reading good books and making sure I got to bed on time. I took the time to evaluate my priorities, and began making my daily life reflect those priorities.

So far, I realize that I’ve missed out on a few things.

  1. I’ve missed out on being constantly tired, sometimes to the brink of exhaustion. It’s an awful feeling to start the day already tired, and to have kids, grandkids, hubby and church people needing me for some reason. When I’m exhausted, there simply isn’t enough of me to go around, and the default setting is to start barking at people. Which brings me to my next point:
  2. I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities to yell. Because I’ve been more rested and more at peace, I’ve not reached “the boiling point” where I snap and lose it. In fact, I’ve probably missed out on some wonderful opportunities to argue with the hubs!
  3. I’ve missed out on irritating arguments with the kids right before bed. This is another similar one, but I write this separately because the time right before bed, when I’m very tired and trying desperately to go to bed and no one will listen to me, is usually an extremely frustrating time for me. Since I decided to go to bed at a certain time every night, now I simply excuse myself and go to bed. No great ceremonies, no parting tears, no threatening yells.
  4. I’ve missed out on being harried and hurried. I heard one time that God gives us the time to do His Will – the things He wants us to do. It’s when we add all our other desires that we run like we’re being chased by zombies. Since cutting out any unnecessary activities, I actually have the time to do the things that need done. Fancy that!
  5. I’ve missed out on late night conversations. Now this one requires a second glance, because I love when my teens open up. But late at night? No thank you! I don’t know why it is, but some young folks wait until 11pm to bring up deep things or ask questions about things they don’t understand. I know it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that it’s very easy to get upset with them over something they say or talk about late at night, since I’m so tired. I’ve told them that, though I love taking time to talk with them, it’s much better to talk about these things when I’m rested and can think straight about the subject.

I’m certainly not perfect, nor will I ever be, but with God’s help (and the ability to say No to some things…) we’re seeing the advantages of slowing down a bit.

Are you simplifying your life too? How has it helped? If you haven’t been, what are some things you can lay aside for today, so you can get a bit of down time?

The Beauty of Silence

Sunrise in the stillness of the forest

Sunrise in the stillness of the forest

 

It’s an elusive time of day for me…that time of stillness and silence. I only find it when I rise early, and come to the front window to watch the sun rise. It’s a time of stillness and silence that resounds with the opening hues of the day.

 

It is in this time that I find my Lord’s presence. He waits for me there in the shadows of the dawn, and I rise early to go find Him. In the Beauty of Silence, He is there, with His splendid glory and infinite strength. I lean upon Him, and gather strength for the upcoming day.

 

In the Beauty of Silence I find my Lord’s infinite wisdom. His Word waits for me there on the table, and as I open it in the stillness of the morning, the dew of His gracious Words fall from the pages to my heart. I learn from Him, and gather guidance for the brand-new day.

 

In the beauty of silence I find my Lord’s mercy. His gracious forgiveness is new every morning; great is His faithfulness! The balm of His healing love comes from His heart to mine, and I gather hope for the rest of my day.

 

Life is busy; life is noisy. But for just a few moments, I enjoy the Beauty of Silence.

Healing From a Wreck

All banged up

All banged up

 

“…I am the LORD that healeth thee.” Exodus 15:26

 

Looking back to my childhood, I sometimes wonder how I survived. I could fill a book telling the stories of ongoing stupidity my brothers and sister and I engaged in.

 

Well, this day was no different. My sister and I were coming home from what we called a “bike hike,” which was nothing more than riding our bikes about a mile away to the Kmart, wandering around for no reason at all (shopping without money – the best kind!) and riding back.

 

I was riding behind my sister on the way back, and when I saw her turn up a road, I decided to take a shortcut…to ride down a dirt hill, over a three foot dirt hump, behind the ball fields and up to the house.

 

I spotted that hump from the top of the hill. I got this unbelievably wonderful idea, and I knew it was my day to shine! I began peddling faster and faster, putting the bike into high gear and screaming down the hill. I’m going to hit that hump as fast as I can, I thought. I’m going to go higher than EVER this time!

 

We had gone over that hump many times before on our bikes, to enjoy the rush it gave us to zoom over it, sometimes with one wheel off the ground. But this time will be different, I thought. THIS time, I’m going to FLY!

 

And fly I did!

 

I hit the brakes just before hitting the hump, hoping desperately to slow my speed a little. It may have done something, but not enough. I hit that hump like a jet coming off the runway, and I catapulted up into the sky as though I was taking off for New York. My flight was short-lived, however, and I flipped in the air, landing on my back in the gravel, with the bike coming down on top of me – banging its gear shift into my head, neatly slicing my eyebrow in two with a 1 ½ inch gash.

 

Did you know that head wounds bleed like crazy? I shakily got to my feet, and had no idea why I couldn’t see out of my right eye. Instinctively I put my hand up, and when I pulled it away, it was covered in blood!

 

Convinced I had lost my eyeball, I somehow staggered to a friend’s house close by. The rest of the day was like a blur, but I somehow managed to get plastic surgery and 22 stitches! It seemed forever until I finally got to go home.

 

Now it was time to heal.

 

The damage had been done, and I was wounded. I needed time and healing.

 

We all have wounds we deal with, and at different times of our lives we all need healing. When I think about healing, there are a few things I remember.

 

  1. I needed someone to help me. I couldn’t get to the ER myself. I couldn’t even see right, let alone figure out how to get help, so I needed a friend to help me home so Mom could take me to the hospital.

 

There are several times in my life that I remember being terribly wounded, and each time I lost sight. Not physical sight, but spiritual sight. I was in an awful state, and could not get to help by myself. In each of those cases, the Lord used a friend or even an entire church family to love on me and speak words of comfort and strength. They took the time to care, and to pray for me. I couldn’t imagine where I’d be now if it weren’t for their concern and guidance.

 

  1. I needed a physician. I needed someone who had the expertise to take the broken pieces and stitch them back together. I couldn’t do that by myself. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do or how.

 

It was during those times in my life when I was most discouraged that I needed God so desperately. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t need Him other times. In fact, we need Him ALL the time – but during a time of distress and anguish He wants to be our Great Physician.

 

I had no clue how to put myself back together. I only knew that I hurt – bad. But our Great Physician, Jesus, who knows all things and has given “balm in the Psalms” for my life, knew just what I needed, and through His Word those healing balms were applied.

 

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly,

 

  1. I needed time. Time to rest; time to heal. Time to take in nourishment; time to strengthen. It was not a time of activity or great accomplishments; it was a time to step back and let others run things for a while while I recuperated.

 

Healing takes time. It doesn’t happen in a minute, or a day, or even overnight. Those times of severe discouragement were times that I needed to just pull back and let others take care of things for a bit, while I rested and received the nourishment from the Word.

 

Perhaps you are discouraged right now. Maybe your marriage is not all you had hoped it would be. Maybe it seems like your finances will always be short, or maybe you have a wayward child who is causing you heartache. Don’t give up – look around you for someone who can lift you up and bring you before the Great Physician. Take time in His Word – as much time as you can – and allow Him to put your pieces back together.

 

Remember, Healing takes time. God can do it. He specializes in the impossible.

 

How has God helped you through a difficult time?

My Courageous Journey

 

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I’ve been bumbling around for years on this blog, trying to find what they call my “niche” in writing. I’ve come to the conclusion I may just never find it…I may just have to “write,” and see what comes out. It’s a bold and daring endeavor – bleeding my heart all over a page and putting it out for all to see. It’s just another Courageous Journey I need to take.

 

I’ve taken many trips over the years, and each one of them is full of inconveniences, difficulties, and sometimes heartaches. There is not a time I jump into the van without some amount of fear of the future. After all, the roadways seem littered with wrecks anytime I venture out of my normal circle of routine.

 

Each trip requires a bit of reckless abandon – that inner faith in the Lord, knowing that this is His Will for me, and that these miles ahead will be full of His service, and hopefully ultimately His glory. And every time I get in the van for another thousand-mile-journey, my thoughts are the same: I have no idea what this trip will be like, or where I’ll end up, but, Lord, I’m holding Your Hand through this.

 

But no journey in my life has been so courageous as that of being a wife and mother.

 

I entered marriage with the silliness of a 19-year-old, the seriousness of an elderly woman, and the fear of a patient heading for surgery. I had no idea what the future would hold – I only knew that the One who held my future could be trusted.

 

I entered motherhood a bit wiser, but still scared as a baby bunny hiding from a hungry hound. Of course, I had no clue what trials and hardships awaited me through this journey…how could I, at only 21? But I strongly felt that the One who knew all things would guide me as I sought His Will and Word in training my little ones, and I knew He wouldn’t let me down.

 

I now enter into what they call the “mature years” of my life, eyes wide at the prospect of a body which refuses to cooperate and a mind that no longer thinks as clearly as it once did. I tremble at the possibility of future limitations and ailments, all of which come with the passing of time. And I know…beyond a shadow of a doubt…that He who has everlasting strength and lives forever can come under me with His Everlasting Arms of strength and escort me into His Presence with the feathery echo of celestial wings.

 

All along the path of this Courageous Journey, I find myself nestled deep into the arms of the Wonderful God who can do all things. I have learned, all the way from the very beginning, that He is Able!

 

May the Courageous Journey of my life bring even just a pinch of glory to my Wonderful Saviour, who is All in All to me.

 

What sort of things have you learned on your Courageous Journey??

 

Emergency Rooms and God

Emergency Room!

 

My daughter was in a lot of pain – in fact, to the point of tears, and she’s not one to cry easily. I wrestled with what to do. We had already taken her to the doctor and tests were done, but the results were not in yet, so there was probably nothing to do but wait. Oh, how I wished there were some way to make her more comfortable during this time!

 

My options were to either wait, and pray that she could endure the pain, or take her to the ER to try to speed up the process of getting relief. In the end, after much prayer, we decided to go to the ER, so I saddled up the car and we headed to a neighboring town.

 

Being a Saturday, the Emergency Room was bustling. We registered and took our seats, not knowing how long it would be before she could get some help. We didn’t know it at the time, but all told it would be about 6 hours before a doctor saw her!

 

By the time we finally left, she was a bit better…and it was quite late!

 

“That’s just how it goes when you go to the ER,” I explained to her. “You just have to be prepared to give up the rest of your day!”

 

I thought on the way home of my Lord, and how approachable He is.

 

When we have an emergency, He is always available!

 

We can get immediate access – no signing up, no waiting to be seen by a triage nurse, and no having to go through a dozen secretaries to get to Him!

 

We see the One who knows exactly what the real problem is – no taking blood tests, asking a score of questions, or needing x-rays before He knows for sure what’s going on!

 

We can get immediate help for our problem – He is able to fix it right then and there, either through fixing our own attitudes or working in the situation. (Of course, sometimes He chooses NOT to fix the problem right away, if He knows that we will become more like His Son because of the situation.)

 

I’m so thankful that my God is approachable, accessible, and able to help!

My God is Able!

Hebrews 4:16

 

How have you found God to be faithful? Has He done anything special for you lately?

When You Struggle to Spend Time with God

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Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

By the time my youngest son was born, my body was trashed. I had had 8 pregnancies total, and the last 3 children were born within 5 years. I had been exhausted during my pregnancy, and still felt incredibly tired, all the time. One day the scale scared me, and I decided I would let those numbers rise no more! The very next day, I took a walk. It was only 15 minutes, but it was something.

From there, I expanded my walk to 30 minutes, and then began jogging for one of my minutes. Each week I jogged another minute, and by the end of 9 months, I was actually jogging 20 minutes straight! …and I felt better than ever.

One of the things that was hard for me – besides learning to breathe – was the time it took to get back into shape. I am a homeschool mom, and have 7 children. That means a lot of laundry, and a lot of paperwork. But I needed to get myself into shape in order to better serve the Lord and my family, so I took the time, and I walked, ran and worked out.

And that’s the way it is spiritually. We can’t be in any sort of spiritual shape with just a wave at God in the morning, or a casual glance through the Scriptures on our way somewhere. It takes time to grow.

WHY WE NEED TIME WITH GOD:

We need His wisdom – “The entrance of Thy Word giveth light…”
We need His strength – “Without Me ye can do nothing…”
We need His presence – “If thou go not with us, carry us not thence…”
We need a relationship with Him – “When Thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8

WHY WE DON’T SPEND TIME WITH GOD:

Busy
Selfish/Don’t feel like it
Perfectionism – if I can’t spend an hour, I’ll not spend any time at all…

Last week, someone asked me for some tips on having good devotions, because it was an area they struggle with. I know it has often been a struggle for me over the years, and it’s a common problem with many people as well. So I told them some of the pointers I’ve learned over the years, and things that have helped me.

This week, when I talked to her again, she excitedly told me, “I’ve grown so much this past week! I feel like I’ve actually been closer to the Lord than I’ve been in awhile, and I’m able to have good prayer times. And I’m so much less stressed! It’s simply amazing how a brief time in the Word of God and prayer energizes my day!”

Here are the things, plus a few others, that I shared with her last week:

WHEN WE’RE STRUGGLING TO SPEND TIME WITH GOD:

1. Decide that you WILL have devotions every day. It’s something non-optional in your day. It’s a decision already made. Not, “Do I have time for this? But, “I’m going to find time for this.”

2. Plan your day around it. Having a quiet time with the Lord before the day begins is the best time to do it. As Elizabeth Elliot says, If you can tell the Lord that morning just doesn’t work for you, He will help you find another time.

3. Prepare for it the night before. I’m a tea-in-the-morning person, so the night before, I fill the hot water dispenser with water, put a tea bag in my cup, and measure out the sweetener. I lay my spoon beside my cup, and cover it with a small wooden lid (it conveniently says “tea” on the top!) and I set my Bible at my table where I have my devotions. I even go so far as to get my breakfast ready the night before, because I’m usually so hungry in the mornings. It’s so easy just to pour my hot water, go to my seat and get out my Bible.

4. Plan your time. Strive to spend at least 15 minutes, if you’re just starting out. Soon you’ll find you want more!

5. Reduce interruptions. This is what kills the average Mom during Quiet Time. Notice I did not say “Eliminate interruptions!” If you have children, especially small ones, interruptions are a part of life.

a. But one way you can reduce interruptions is to simply get up 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the fam. That way you can have a bit of uninterrupted time with the Lord before having to face the demands of the day.

b. When the children get up, let them know you’re spending some time with Jesus, and you don’t want to be interrupted. We assume they know what’s going on, but I know when I was a kid, I was clueless to everything going on around me unless someone looked me in the eye and told me point-blank.

c. Use a Bible app that plays Bible out loud. That way the children know you’re having your devotions, and they’re less likely to interrupt you if they hear Bible playing.

d. For prayer time, try to go to a separate room, or assume a praying position (perhaps on your knees, with your eyes closed) so folks know you’re praying.

i. When the little ones come up and start banging on you, “Mom, Mom, Mom!” look up from prayer & hold your finger up and tell them, “Mommy’s praying right now. I’ll talk to you in a few minutes.” Then proceed to ignore them, unless of course it’s an emergency. You won’t be praying for hours, so there’s no real danger of true neglect!

ii. Resort to hiding, if absolutely necessary. When we lived in a motorhome, we had all 7 children in about 320 square feet of living space, and it was completely IMPOSSIBLE to get alone. So I did the thing that Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, used to do – pull a blanket over my head. (She used an apron, but the principle is the same!) Funny how it is – it’s almost as if I disappeared!

6. Keep it Simple! We can easily complicate things by insisting that we have a journal with us and write in it daily, etc. but its best just to keep your Quiet Time as simple as possible. Last but not least, if you’re still having trouble…

7. Take a Media Fast – media may not be morally corruptive, but it does have a moral impact because of the things we could…& perhaps should – be doing instead.

One year in our travels, we were privileged to park our bus by a rather large church that had a gym attached to it. “Why don’t you come by the gym tomorrow morning? I’ve got a class I’m teaching, and you’re welcome to come work out with us,” the pastor told us after the Sunday evening service. I was trying to get more in shape, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I showed up early the next morning and joined their group. There were about 5 other ladies, all older (considerably!) and the pastor. He led us through a short warm up, and then we started the workout in earnest.

I know I wasn’t very much in shape, but I was quite a bit younger than those other ladies. I thought for sure I could do all those moves…but they showed me up! Those elderly energizer bunnies kept on going, smiling the whole time, while I slogged through the simplest maneuvers.

I went away from that workout sweaty, exhausted, and most of all, I learned something very important: never work out with elderly women! They work out like their very lives depend on it!

I talked with my elderly father about it a few days later, chuckling at my own lack of fitness, when he told me something that arrested my thoughts.

“They work out like their lives depend on it, because they really do!” he replied.

I thought to myself, My devotional time with the Lord should be like that…I should have my Quiet Times as though my life depends on them…because it really does!

What are some habits that you have learned that help you have good Quiet Times with the Lord?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

My Necessary Death

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This is a bit of a knock-off from the Bible Study I’ve been having with the military wives here. Technically, the subject is parenting, but I’ve found that I can’t talk about true Biblical parenting without bringing out one important concept – death, and how it is necessary! Sounds weird, but I think you’ll see what I mean…

It was a bittersweet moment, and I knew it would be. When I said goodbye to my daughter and she turned to go into the airport, I knew it would be for a long time – perhaps for good. I smiled on the outside, but cried like a baby on the inside.

Since then, she’s had her struggles, her ups and downs, and I strain at the temptation to jump into the van and drive the thousand miles to comfort her, to hold her hand, to pray with her. But I can’t now. All I can do is try to give comforting words over the phone, and pray…and pray, and pray.

Every time a child leaves home, a part of me dies.

When I began having children, I knew it would be this way eventually…but I didn’t know it would be THIS way. I knew that having a family would require death to myself, but I didn’t expect a thousand deaths. I didn’t expect the daily internal turmoil that I face with every sunrise. And having a large family simply amplifies the pain.

Jesus spoke time after time of the necessity for death to occur, to give place to new life.

Luke 9:22-24 23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

I’ve spent many a sleepless night, wondering why it seems death must be so dramatic, so final. But when the Lord kindly gives me a glimpse of the new life that comes forth, I realize that without this death, there would be no life, and life is what I want. Yes, life is what I NEED.

My mind goes back to the labor room, the delivery, and the bleary-eyed first months of my daughter’s introduction to our home, and I realize that it’s been death all along that’s given birth to new life. The endless hours of potty training, the struggle to learn phonics and the never-ending task of learning times tables sap my mental energy, weary the body, and dull the emotions. A few insistent gray hairs raise their flag to memorialize my struggle.

But it is necessary that a part of me die, that she could grow and have the fulness of her life.

Death is always dogging my heels, but life is right behind. And life, like a precious waterfall, comes down from the Lord in His gracious kindness, His wonderful mercy.

And so I embrace death, as it is the necessary path to life. Like Christ’s death for me provided new life, my personal death to myself and to my own control of my life brings ever-widening blissful goodness from the Hand of God. He shows me His Heart, and I see His own personal death on the Cross as a means of new life. To embrace His cross, to embrace His death, and to take up my own cross and die my own living sacrificial death is to embrace life, love, and eternity.

Lord, help me learn to die well…daily… so that I can live well, and glorify You.

Maybe you know what it’s like to die to yourself, and you’ve seen the new love that comes as a result. Tell us about it! We’d love to hear your stories!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Hope for a Better Marriage

Commitment, work

Hope for a Better Marriage

 

Two years ago, we purchased a repo home which had been abandoned about five years before that. The original home’s owner was very meticulous, and the yard and landscaping had been very well maintained. Flower beds were carefully planted and tended, beautiful dogwood trees spaced evenly around the yard, with some myrtle trees sculpted like mushrooms. There was even a little kidney-shaped pond by the bottom step of the back patio. We’re told that at one time, it was one of the most beautiful yards in the entire area.

But the meticulous owner finally passed away, and his home fell to a yard butcher. The little pond became muck, beautiful dogwood trees were cut down, whole flower beds ripped out, and even the sprinkler heads were uncerimoniously mowed down.

Then something happened, and the house was abandoned. A water leak, a ruined floor, walls turned to mush and then removed, and a partial clean-up left it in deperate condition. And that was just the inside. The yard suffered as well.

In order to keep the whole neighborhood from going downhill, Mr. Bill the neighbor faithfully mowed the front yard. When we bought the house, the flower beds were totally overrun, the bushes were a tangle, and there were gaping holes where stumps of dogwoods quietly rotted away. We had a big job to do.

A year later, after many sweat-hours, 5 stitches, and a few tears, I sat on our back patio enjoying the fresh evening summer breeze. The cardinal who lived in one of the newly-shorn bushes by the patio was chirping goodnight as the shadows lengthened in the small grove of trees beyond the neatly mowed yard. I watched as the bat came out of the forest and began his erratic flapping in the darkening sky, and sighed with contentment listening to the spring peepers and their chorus in the sweet little pond.

It had been a big commitment, and a lot of work, but it was worth it.

I thought about my life. Buying a home wasn’t the only big thing I’ve ever done. Isn’t marriage an even larger one?

Having a Happy Marriage requires commitment. Your relationship doesn’t end the moment you say “I Do.” In fact, it’s just beginning.

Having a Happy Marriage requires work. Now we need to remember, work is a good thing! Some people say that work is part of the curse in Genesis, but Remember that Adam was created to “dress and to keep” the garden. It was his job, his responsability. And woman was created to be a help meet (or fit – a helper who is perfectly fitted for the job) to the man. So work is not bad. Work is your life’s calling, so let’s work on our marriages.

Having a Happy Marriage requires growing closer to God. Have you ever heard of a love triangle? Well, here’s a different sort of one: Imagine a triangle with God at the top, and the husband and wife on each side of the bottom. As the husband and wife get closer to God, they naturally get closer to each other. I heard that illustration many years ago, even before I was married. My husband and I have just had our thirty-first anniversary, and I found it to be absolutely true!

A better marriage = HOPE, and hope is a beautiful thing.

A happy marriage is like a dogwood blooming in the spring, a neatly manicured lawn, or a beautiful little shimmering pool. It may take commitment and work, but it’s well worth the effort.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum