Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meant For Here And Now - Dinner #29

     Sometimes I find myself imagining where my family and I would be if we existed during a different time in history.  It’s amusing to picture my husband wearing a pair of overalls and plowing a field, for instance, or serving the king of England as a knight in shining armor. SMILE!  But then there are other graver possibilities to consider.  If we had been born earlier in history, would we even be alive at the age we’re at right now? In a different era, the inflamed appendix I had during my first year of teaching, might have ruptured, killing me at the age of 22.  In a different era, my Brooklyn could have lost so much weight in those first few months of her life, that she died in infancy.  Do we ever stop to think of God’s wonderful sovereignty in allowing us to be born into the world at PRECISELY the right moment?!  Do we praise Him for seeing all past, present, and future, and orchestrating every detail of history?
     Esther 4:14 asks the soul-searching question, “. . . and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The truth of the matter is, God has placed each of us here in this world, in the year 2011, “for such a time as this”.  He makes no mistakes! In II Peter 3:8, we are reminded of an important fact about our God.  “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  In Revelation 1:8, God declares, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending . . .which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” God’s view of time is not the same as our own – He sees the entire picture from start to finish.  There are people He wants you to meet, hearts He wants you to touch, lives He wants you to minister to, for His glory!  You weren’t MEANT to live during World War I, the Pioneer days, or the War for Independence – You were meant for HERE AND NOW!  God MADE you for HERE AND NOW! 
     In John 17:4, the Lord Jesus declared, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” At the end of my life, will I be able to say the same? What are you doing with this time God has given to YOU?  Ephesians 5:16-17 reminds us to be “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  Take hold of life!  He put you right where you are, in this time and place, for a special reason!
     Wouldn’t it be incredible to see the world around us as God sees it? To step into the grocery store and see everyone – the woman who will discover she has cancer next month, the man who lost his wife last year, the wife who is pregnant and doesn’t know it yet, etc. – all at the same time?!  COULD we ever know what was going on in each person’s heart and life? No, but God knows it every day! And just think! You could have the opportunity of being placed by God, right in the middle of all of them – right there in that particular grocery store, at that precise moment in history, “ . . . for such a time as this . . .” It happens to us every single second, without us even thinking about it!  Do we make our own decisions day by day? Of course we do! And, yet, our God is ultimately in control of it all, orchestrating every encounter and every circumstance.  Nothing ever happens to us by chance!  YOU are not here on this earth by chance!  You were meant for HERE AND NOW!

Sitting Still - Dinner #28

     During the past several weeks, we have been fighting to help our baby girl gain weight properly, and for a while there, anywhere from 8-13 hours of my day was spent somehow related to her food needs.  Whether I was nursing, pumping breastmilk, or giving her milk and formula in bottles, the majority of my life suddenly became just SITTING STILL.  At first, all I could see were the piles of dirty laundry, dishes, and dust piling up everywhere.  As someone who lives for crossing items off lists and getting things DONE, I felt very trapped to my living room couch.  I was lovingly trying to give my daughter what she needed, but at the same time, I was quite frustrated and discouraged.  Then God opened my eyes to Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God . . ."  These hours upon hours of my sitting on the couch, feeding the baby, were an opportunity from God to get to know Him more!  I wasn't having time TAKEN AWAY from me - I was being GIVEN time!  Time to read Christian magazine articles . . . Time to memorize Scripture and sing hymns . . . Time to pray and read God's Word . . . And then the Holy Spirit used a sermon my pastor preached about "Standing Still" and "Going Forward" to take the lesson to an even deeper level.  The sermon was from Exodus 14, where the Israelites are crossing the Red Sea.  Pastor Sexton shared that we cannot "go forward" and serve God properly until we've had a revival in our spirit from "being still". It reminded me yet again that feeding Brooklyn is my "being still" right now.  In much the same way, us waiting for my husband to complete his Master's classes before heading out on missionary deputation is "standing still".  Sometimes, we must "be still" before we can "go forward".  Then it hit me - This is just as much MY training time for the mission field as it is my husband's! 
     Psalm 77:6 declares, "I call to remembrance my song in the night . . ."  Someday, I want to look back on these days and recall a "song in the night"!  I want to be able to remember that though I was awake feeding my baby, I was praising God!  In Psalm 4:4, each of us are told to " . . . commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah."  God wants us to take the times of "being still" to grow in our relationship with Him!  "Sitting still" moments can be moments for just you and God.      
     Do I watch the news and a few TV shows throughout the day? Of course I do! I also eat meals, write reminders to myself, and make shopping lists while I'm "sitting still".  But God has been opening my eyes to the opportunity He has given me to know Him more through all of this - Brooklyn won't be drinking milk and formula forever!  This is my time for "sitting still" and growing with God, and I pray I won't miss out!

The Newness Of Mommyhood - Dinner #27

     You think you're a prepared woman.  You've worked in church nurseries, you've attended a class at the hospital, you've watched DVD material on how to care for a newborn, you've read countless articles and listened to advice from experienced moms . . . and then your OWN baby is suddenly brought home from the hospital . . . WOW, are you ever in for a surprise!  Brooklyn is now a month old, and the verse that has come to my mind the most during the past few weeks is I Corinthians 8:2 - "And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." I thought I understood how tired I would be, waking up in the middle of the night to feed my baby.  I was DETERMINED not to give my child a pacifier until she was at least 3 weeks old.  I was certain I'd never EVER give my little girl formula from a bottle.  I was sure I'd be over the hormonal "baby blues" within just a week or two of having Brooklyn.  Let me now say with experience, when motherhood is suddenly upon you, you truly realize that you are a person who ". . . knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." SMILE!
     Another good verse for new moms is I Corinthians 10:12 - "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."  If you get to the point where you think you have all your emotional "ducks in a row", you'd better watch out!  You may very well fall flat on your face!  When you think you won't ever be frustrated with your baby's actions again, she's going to stain her cutest church dress with a dirty diaper.  When you're sure you'll never be upset at your husband over parenting issues again, he'll rest the carrier with the baby IN it, on the hood of your car.  But when the temptation comes for us to blow our top, we can stand on the promise that with each event that tries our patience, God HAS made a way for us to escape falling.  I Corinthians 10:13 - "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  Believe it or not, those raging hormones DON'T have to get the better of us! SMILE!
     While it is easy to see our glaring mistakes, it is also easy to gloat about our new-mommy successes.  If pride steps in and causes us to think we're just the most incredible mom ever, we need to recall the words of II Corinthians 3:5 - "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."  If I even APPEAR to be a sufficient mother to my newborn, it will only be because of Christ!  It is not in and of myself!
     As I'm going through these first-time experiences, it is SO good to know that many of my girl friends are in the same boat! - Each of us struggling to make sense of the new world we find ourselves in.  Are you a lady just about to step into the world of motherhood?  Be prepared to find yourself LESS prepared than you ever imagined.  God wants you to HAVE to rely upon Him during these new days!  Do you feel like you couldn't possibly stumble in a certain area of your life again? "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." And if you're tempted to think you're the best there is, remember that any sufficiency AT ALL only ever comes from God.  May the Lord bring a smile this week with the verse that declares, "And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." Some of us are still coming to the conclusion that NONE of us have "arrived". SMILE!

Delivery Summer - Dinner #26

     Wow!  We're officially into our 9th month of pregnancy!  It's coming up on "Week 37" now, and our baby girl is ready to arrive when she wants to.  With this being my first labor and delivery experience, I find myself frequently wondering when and how everything will take place.  Will I begin to have contractions first, or will my water break?  Will Brandon be home from work?  Will I have to drive myself to the hospital?  I really, REALLY don't want to have any "false alarms". 
     An elderly man in our country just recently predicted the rapture day and found IT to be only a "false alarm".  From the Scriptures, we see that we will NOT be able to accurately predict Christ's coming, but He IS, in truth, returning!  I Thessalonians 5:2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."  The truth of the matter is, that, though we do not and CANNOT know the day or the hour it will take place, when He comes, those whose are saved WILL be going Home!  I Thessalonians 4:14, 16-18 declares, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him . . . For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

     Though both scary and exciting, the birth of a baby is a much ANTICIPATED event.  Do we really and truly ANTICIPATE Christ's return?  Is it something we often have on our minds?  Or do we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget all about it?  When you are huge, and hot, and very much pregnant, it is difficult to think of anything else BUT having your baby!  As Christians, are we just too comfortable in the world?  So comfortable that we're not quite ready to leave it for the glories of Heaven?  Believe me - A lady in her 9th month of pregnancy is NOT so comfortable that she wishes to always remain in that state! SMILE!  She knows in her heart that her time WILL come, and though a bit nervous, she WANTS it to come soon!  Do we want to hear the trumpet sound soon?
     An expectant mommy can't wait to see her newborn's face and to hold her little baby close.  She thinks about it during the day, and dreams about it during the night.  Do we look forward to seeing our Savior's face?  Do we really desire to view Heaven's shore?  Revelation 21:4 and 22:5 describe Heaven for us as such a remarkable place.  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away . . . And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."
     Just as only the Lord knows when our Brooklyn Elizabeth will arrive, only the Lord knows when His Son will return to earth for His children.  It is interesting to me, that even the Bible compares the last days of the world to that unknown time when a woman goes into labor.  I Thessalonians 5:3 "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."  Christ's coming is not a joyous event for those who are unbelievers.  It is something scary and frightening, that takes them by surprise.  If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?  Acts 16:31 tells us, " . . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . ."  Not "maybe", but "SHALL" be saved!  You don't have to be afraid of Christ's return!  You CAN know for certain that you will go to Heaven!  But if you are ALREADY a saved believer in Christ, are you truly ANTICIPATING His return?  Just something to think about . . . Have a great week!  And God bless!

Thoughts On Mother's Day - Dinner #25

     If we believe from the Bible that life begins at conception, then so does mommyhood! Perhaps you were never able to hold your little one, and you think that Mother’s Day is not for you.  I believe that it is!  Some babies are taken straight from the womb to the arms of Jesus, but any lady who has ever had a child growing inside her womb is truly a mother!  Maybe your baby is still growing inside of you, and you think you have to wait another year to celebrate this tender holiday – but you don’t!  That baby within your womb is not motherless!  As you daily share your tummy, your warmth, your food, with that little life that God has created, you alone are its mom! 
     In Psalm 139:13, David tells the Lord, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”  God is the Creator of life, and yet in the body of a mother, He chooses to form and nurture another human being. Isaiah 44:2 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb . . .”  Children are so very dear to God that He knows them BEFORE they are even formed in the womb, and has a particular purpose for each of their lives!  Jeremiah 1:5 declares, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee . . .”  If you too, are an expectant mother this Mother’s Day, you are no doubt marveling anew at what God has brought about in your life.  Someone dear to God – a person that He loved before time began – a soul that He sent His only Son to die for – is being “made in secret, and curiously wrought” (Psalm 139:15) within your womb.  What a truly amazing and incredible thing!
     Psalm 139:16 declares, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”  DNA . . . genes . . . every feature is already determined at the moment of conception.  God knows that child’s future hair color, eye color, growth potential . . . And yet there are some of these precious little lives that, for reasons we may not fully understand, God chooses to take quite early to His Kingdom.  Is there comfort for the hurting mamas who are left behind?  There is the comfort that their baby is in a perfect, beautiful, and safe place.  There is also the comfort that comes from that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  Some who have gone through great sorrow on earth, perhaps even losing multiple babies, have such glad reunions to look forward to on Heaven’s shore!  But while here below, do not think for a minute that earth’s celebration of motherhood is not for you!  No matter how long or how short a time you carried a baby within your womb, God used you and your spouse, and the wonderful love that you have for each other, to create a new life - you ARE a mom!  And heaven is only richer for the little one who left your womb for its glory. 
     With the writing of these thoughts, I want to send out a "Happy Mother's Day" to all my friends who are expectant moms along with me, as well as those whose little ones are being babysat by the angels in heaven for a while! If you are a mommy who can embrace your children in person this weekend, or hear their voices over the telephone, a special "Happy Mother's Day" to you, as well!  May the Lord bless you, each and every one!

What Else Do You Need? - Dinner #24

     Time and time again in these past few months, we’ve seen God miraculously provide the items a new baby will require.  Just this week, my loving in-laws sent a used changing table our way that was exactly the size we needed!  The Lord had literally plopped it right in their laps, and then even provided a way for it to travel down to TN to a “nesting” mama! SMILE!  Now that the baby showers are over, it is such a sweet blessing when someone asks me the question, “What else do you still need?”  Did you know that God wishes to ask you the very same question?  WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED? 
     In Psalm 81:10, the Lord declares, “ . . . open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Through the years, I’ve heard different pastors say, “Specific prayers get specific answers.”  Make your needs known to God!  Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  Do you know that God truly WANTS to bless you?!  And He PROMISES to take care of you!  Philippians 4:19 - “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  In Joshua 23:14, Joshua reminds the people that, “ . . . not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.”  And what has God promised concerning YOU?  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 
     This time last year, my husband and I were praying and wondering about how we would get the furnishings for our new home.  I wanted to be willing to live with anything, but deep down inside I was fearful of ending up with a couch donated to Goodwill that was secretly infested with fleas or spider eggs! LOL!  I wanted to be a grateful and understanding fiancĂ©, but, on the other hand, I was a WOMAN! SMILE!  To keep my attitude right, I had poured out my heart to the Lord about it, on more than one occasion.  I did not know all of the details, but He already had a plan in place – a perfect plan!  Matthew 7:10 tells us, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”  Do you know that God understands even the WISHES of your heart?  Almost every major piece of furniture in our house today was given to us by loving people – for FREE!  It is previously-used furniture, but it’s CLEAN and it’s BEAUTIFUL, and I LOVE IT!  SMILE!  So often, the Lord wants to go above and beyond our NEEDS, to grant us even the simple DESIRES of our heart – because He is our Heavenly Father, and He LOVES us!  Psalm 37:4 - “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
     As Easter Season approaches, I have been reminded of the familiar praise chorus, “Oh How He Loves You And Me”.  Part of that song reads, “He gave His life, what more could He give?”  Jesus already gave us the most precious gift of all – He gave His own life for us!  But despite that – despite that wondrous gift He has already given the world – He tells each one of His children: “ . . . open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”  What a loving Savior we have!  The perfect Son of God died on the cross for OUR sins – for the wrongs that WE do - and yet He daily DESIRES to ask us, WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED?

Trusting God - Dinner #23

     Are there things in your life that are overwhelming you today?  Unpaid bills that are frightening to look at?  Burdens that you just can’t seem to keep out of your mind?  Psalm 19:14 declares, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”  As your mind is racing all day long, in what or WHOM are you placing your trust?  Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”  What is your “chariot” or your “horse”?  Are you trusting that your tax return will carry you through? Are you trusting that you’ll be able to keep your job for many years to come?  SOME may trust in these things, but WE must “remember the name of the LORD our God.”  Psalm 33:17 tells us that, “An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.”  It is a vain thing to think that getting better health insurance would solve all your problems.  It is a vain thing to think that getting a raise at work would suddenly make life perfectly easy.  “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.” (Psalm 33:20-21)
     In a ladies’ Sunday School class I attended, a woman once gave us the phrase, “For THIS I have Jesus.”  Matthew 9:28  “. . . Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this . . .?”  No matter what your “THIS” may be, God is there for you!  Psalm 56:3 declares, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  Stepping out in faith often brings with it apprehension and fear, but we can safely put our trust in the Lord.  It was said of Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 5:20-21)  Abraham was FULLY PERSUADED that what God had said, He would surely do!  Has God told you He will provide?  Then He WILL!  Has God told you that all will be well?  Then it WILL!
     In trying to trust the Lord, it is easy to fear being ashamed.  Psalm 25:2 says, “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”  It seems like foolishness to the world for a mother without any savings, to become a stay-at-home-mom after the birth of a baby.  It seems like foolishness to bring a baby into the world without good health insurance coverage.  What if this doesn’t really work out?  What if God doesn’t really want to step in and do this for us?  We need not fear failure!  The Bible tells us that, “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles . . . The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Psalm 34:17, 22)  The chorus of a precious hymn declares, “God will take care of you, Through ev’ry day, O’er all the way;  He will take care of you, God will take care of you.”  If we are seeking to follow in faith where God has led us, He WILL take care of us! 
     But how do we have faith in God?  Do we muster it up within ourselves?  We must not only EXERCISE faith, but we must ASK God to GIVE us faith!  The father of the demon-possessed boy cried out to Jesus, “ . . . Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) Did you know that when you are LACKING in faith, you can plead with God to give you more?!  I know there are mountains facing my little family right now!  What are YOU needing to trust God for, today? 

New Mommies - Dinner #22

     I keep looking at my calendar to count down the days and the weeks until that time when our little girl is expected to arrive. SMILE!  Sometimes it seems a long way off, and other days it feels like it’s all coming far too quickly, as I wonder whether or not I’m really ready for so many new responsibilities.  To encourage myself, I recently decided to look up some of the “mother” verses in the Bible, and began thinking about Proverbs 31 as it would apply to a new mommy.  My hope is that, in writing some of these thoughts down, I will not only solidify them in my own heart, but might also help some of the other “mommies-to-be” that I know. 
     Proverbs 31:13 tells us that the virtuous woman , “. . . worketh willingly with her hands.”  As a new mommy, she’s holding, caressing, rocking, feeding, bathing . . . and she’s doing it all WILLINGLY!  Verses 15-17 describe a strong, hardworking lady.  Even if she gets to be a stay-at-home-mom, she’s not sitting around doing nothing all day and just turning into a blob. SMILE!  She’s a “busy bee”, always seeking to help her family. 
     Proverbs 31:20 declares, “ . . . she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”  Though perhaps not needy in a monetary sense, a newborn is certainly a needy little person! SMILE!  It needs a lot of unselfish time, and love, and energy!  Mommy-To-Be, are you ready to “reach forth your hands” to that tiny little bundle? 
     In verse 21, we see that this godly lady is “. . . not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.”   She is PREPARED.  As an expectant mommy, she has diapers, and baby oil, and blankets, on hand and ready to go!  She is also prepared in knowledge, having researched things to help her along the way. 
     Proverbs 31:23 speaks of a woman whose husband is known among the leaders of the land.  As the saying goes, “Behind every great man there stands a great woman.”  She is a wife who is there for her man, encouraging him in his pursuits.  She may have a baby at home, but she doesn’t fail to remember the husband who needs her. 
     Verse 28 tells us that the children of the virtuous woman, “ . . . arise up, and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praiseth her.”  Little newborns may not be able to SAY that you are “blessed”, but they can show that they are LOVED!  Those happy smiles and sweet baby coos will be evidence enough of a PRAISEWORTHY mother. 
     As a final thought, Proverbs 31:30 reminds us that “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”  This new mom is clearly a God-fearing lady.  Having a new baby to care for may mean that she is no longer able to attend every church service as faithfully as she used to, but she does her best, and she does not forget or neglect her Lord.  She reads her Bible and godly literature, in order to encourage her spirit. She may listen to sermons on tape or over the internet.  She is not as concerned with her outward appearance as she is the appearance of her HEART. 
     Time goes by so quickly. . . Will many changes soon take place for us expectant mommies??  Yes, indeed!  But when the task seems enormous and daunting before us, Philippians 4:13 still holds true:  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  May the Lord help us every day, as we prepare to step into a new and wonderful stage of our lives! 

Baby Boys & Girls - Dinner #21

     I have a list on my dining room table with the names of the 15 other ladies my husband and I know, who are due in June and July of this year.  We’ve been keeping track as each lady has discovered whether they’re having a boy or a girl, and it has been fun seeing which group outnumbers the other.  SMILE!  About half of my lady friends are going to be first-time mommies like myself, and the other half are pros by now.  Summer is just around the corner and it’s going to be an exciting time! SMILE! 
     Even before I was expecting Brooklyn, I was fond of the verse in Psalm 144 which says, “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”  During this time in my life, the verse has come alive once again.  Some of my friends will soon be decorating their nurseries with trucks and airplanes, while others of us are searching for flowers and butterflies.  There are distinct Bible differences between boys and girls, as well.  “That our sons may be as plants . . . that our daughters may be as corner stones . . .”
     If mothers of baby boys are to raise their sons to be like plants, what exactly does that mean??  Plants provide food and shelter when mature.  These are young men who have been trained to care for their own families, one day.  Strong roots are also a sign of a healthy plant.  Psalm 1:3 declares that the blessed man, “ . . . shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”  He is ready to be successful in whatever God has him pursue in life.  When the storms of life arise, he is stable, with his roots deep in the soil of God’s Word.  Plants need sunlight in order to thrive, and what better way for our little boys to gather light and nutrients than from spending time in God’s holy Presence each day?  Mothers of boys are to be cultivators of healthy plants for the Lord!
     Then there are little girls . . . My Bible’s center column says that these “corner stones” are really “pillars, sculptured in palace style.”  How should we prepare our daughters to be “corner stones” or “pillars”?  We must raise them to be strong young women, ready to stand firm when they are shaken in life.  These “polished” pillars are beautiful!  How delightful if our girls are beautiful in their outward appearance, but how much more precious if they are taught to have beauty in their HEARTS!  “ . . . polished after the similitude of a palace.”  These are young women who seem as though they really belong in a castle – the palace of the King of Kings.  They are God’s little princesses, and everyone around them can tell – by the way they dress, the way they act, and the way they talk.  But pillars are not only decorative – they are also vital in holding up large structures.  Proverbs 14:1 declares, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  These are young women who help to encourage and hold up their families, keeping them standing in a world where war wages all around.  What an important task to train our little girls to be pillars in a spiritual battleground! 
     “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”  Are you already a Mom?  Are you excitedly looking forward to becoming one, like I am?  May God bless us as we raise “plants” and “pillars” for Him! 

New Praises - Dinner #20

     Wow!  At the start of a new year, do you ever take the time to sit down and think about all the worries, problems, and trials you faced in the previous year, that God brought you through?!  This year, my husband and I sat on the couch New Year’s Eve, and just reflected on the many, MANY things we had on our plate going into LAST year! As of last January, Brandon didn’t have an off-campus job, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to pay off his school bill, we didn’t know if I’d be able to get time off from teaching to do our marriage counseling in VA, I didn’t have a job lined up for me in TN, we hadn’t found a place to live, neither of us had a reliable vehicle in our own names . . . On top of it all, we were trying to plan a wedding together with BOTH of us out of state, but not even in the same state! LOL!  Do you know what? EVERY SINGLE one of those mountains of last year are not even there any more! God brought us through EACH and EVERY ONE, and provided for our every need!!
     In Psalm 77:11-12, Asaph declares, “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”  Here in January 2011, those merciful provisions of last year are such a beautiful reminder that HE DOES and WILL take care of us!  As a newlywed couple with a little one on the way, you can only imagine the stresses and fears we have on our list for THIS year!  What do you have on your own list?  How are you asking God to come through on YOUR behalf in 2011? Guess what, Ladies?  This year carries with it a host of new worries and prayer requests for all of us – Faith allows those to become praises we’re looking back on at the beginning of 2012! NEW THINGS TO PRAISE HIM FOR!
     Sometimes when we are facing big difficulties, it is almost as though we have to be reminded of Who our Lord really is! Who is He?  Psalm 77:14 declares, “Thou art the God that doest wonders . . .” Why do we think our problems are so big before us? Our God is the God of miracles! Who is He?  Ephesians 3:20 tells us, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think . . .” Our God is an awesome and amazing God, capable of more than we could ever imagine!  I Corinthians 2:9 says,  “But as it is written, EYE HATH NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NEITHER HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN, THE THINGS WHICH GOD HATH PREPARED FOR THEM THAT LOVE HIM.” 
     It is the start of a new year, Ladies.  I challenge you to make a list of all those insurmountable things you already see before you in the next twelve months – all the challenges you already know you’re going to have to face – and then stand back, look to Heaven, and hear the Father say, “Be still, and know that I am God . . .” (Psalm 46:10)


Our Healing God - Dinner #19

     This has been a week in which simple joys have been restored!  A stomach virus that, at times, prevented me from keeping even water down, is officially past!  The nausea weeks of a first trimester seem to be almost completely over!  Life is beginning to feel more and more normal, and I am ever so grateful!  Healing and recovery are surely wonderful things!
     While God created our bodies with the ability to oftentimes heal themselves, He also occasionally chooses to work wondrous miracles on our behalf.  He Who made the lame to walk and caused the blind to see, IS the Great Physician, for who knows our human form better than He Who created us?!  In Ezekiel chapter 34, God promises His people Israel, “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick . . .”  The Lord DOES bring healing!  Healing from illness . . . Healing from heartache . . . But, most importantly, He brings us healing from SIN. 
     As fallen men and women, our hearts are born so broken and cracked with sin.  When the Lord saves a sinful soul, a healing work is done!  Jesus speaks of Himself in Luke 4:18, saying, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because . . . he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”  This healing work was made possible when God’s Son, Himself, came willing to die for OUR sins!  I Peter 2:24 tells us, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  His blood being shed, cleansed AND healed our sin-scarred souls!  God’s Word declares that when GOD heals and saves, that healing salvation is COMPLETE. Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.”
     If we trust in Jesus for salvation, do we suddenly become perfect?  The answer is definitely “NO!”  There are times when God must still punish His children for wrongdoing, but He is a loving God who restores us to Himself!  Hosea 6:1 says, “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”  And when God forgives, He brings COMPLETE cleansing. Isaiah 1:18 declares, “ . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”  II Chronicles 7:14 tells us that God has the ability to even heal wicked nations.  “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 
     Better than any doctor, psychologist, or counselor, GOD is our Healer.  He knows all about our human bodies, our human hearts, and our human sin problem.  He created us, and if we have not trusted in Him, His greatest desire is to reconcile us to Himself.  He wants to HEAL your heart that is broken with sin!  He wants to mend the breach between the two of you, and make you complete and whole!  Ladies, if you have not believed on God’s Son, will you do so today?  Or if you have wandered away from the Lord, will you allow Him to cleanse your heart and bring you back again?  Know that only God can heal a human soul!

Godly Women Now - Dinner #18

     None of us who are married desire to be widows, but there is a passage in I Timothy that speaks of those elderly widows that should be taken care of by the church.  It is interesting to note the qualifications involved, as they should be guidelines from the Lord for how we ladies are to be living our lives!  If God desires that we be considered godly ladies in the future, what should we be working on NOW?
     I Timothy 5:9-10 describes this special lady as, “. . . having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”

     “. . . having been the wife of one man . . .”  She is FAITHFUL!  She loves her husband and stays by him.  She does not allow her heart to wander, either in youth or in old age.  Her husband is her man FOR LIFE!

     “Well reported of for good works . . .” Others know her for her goodness.  She is always looking for nice things to do and ways to be of help to people. 

     “ . . . if she have brought up children . . .”  She is a godly Mommy.  Are you going through the day in, day out, process of bringing up children? Are you raising them for the Lord? That is a special task from God!

     “ . . . if she have lodged strangers . . .” You may not even know that missionary family or those traveling college singers, but are you willing to take them into your own home?  Are you, as the Bible says elsewhere, “given to hospitality”?

     “. . . if she have washed the saints’ feet . . .” Have you been a true servant in the Lord’s work?  Do you volunteer to clean church bathrooms? Empty trash? Wipe toddler noses? Change nursery diapers? The “yucky” jobs are not the glorious ones, but they are meaningful to the Lord!

     “ . . . if she have relieved the afflicted . . .”  Do you care about church members when they are ill?  You don’t have to be exposed to a whole lot of germs to bring over a homecooked meal to someone, or to send them an encouraging “get well” card.  Sometimes even a caring phone call can be a “relief to the afflicted”.  But there are other women who are willing to go the extra mile to help with dishes, changing sheets, washing clothes, etc., and that is such a blessing! 

      “ . . . if she have diligently followed every good work.”  This seems to be a lot like the earlier phrase “Well reported of for good works”, but it takes it to an even higher level.  This godly lady doesn’t just do nice things for people, but she DILIGENTLY LOOKS for what good she can do!  EVERY GOOD WORK . . . If there are ways she can be a blessing, she doesn’t want to miss out on a SINGLE ONE!

     You and I may not be widows yet – may, Lord willing, NEVER be widows – but God shows us in these verses that He does have certain things that we should be working on NOW.  He has certain guidelines for what makes a godly elderly lady in the future – certain things she applies to her life in her youth and continues through the years.  I Timothy 5:14 says, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”  Don’t give Satan any reason to speak evil of your behavior as a Christian wife or mother!  Live as a godly woman who glorifies God today! 

Grateful Wives - Dinner #17

     Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away, and I just want to share with you ladies that my husband, Brandon, is such a blessing to me!  Battling the ups and downs of all-day “morning sickness”, there have been many days when it has been quite a challenge for me to get any housework done at all.  But my sweet husband has been WONDERFUL! Dishes, grocery shopping, laundry . . . He has helped me so many times! And when he’s home, he’s always right there to rub my back as I’m violently vomiting in the bathroom, too. SMILE!  But you know? These weren’t things I would have been thankful for in him, just two months ago!  Our lives are always changing, and it is important to find, day by day, those NEW things to be thankful for in our husbands!
     This holiday season, many of my friends and I find ourselves in a category that is commonly referred to as “the newlyweds”. SMILE!  We aren’t dating anymore, or engaged – We’re married! And this year, as we “count our blessings”, we’re ever so grateful to the Lord for our HUSBANDS!!!  I know that I surely am!  But no matter how long or how short a time you’ve been married, perhaps you sometimes find it easier to spot your husband’s FAULTS than his VIRTUES.  Perhaps he has some really bad habits that just drive you crazy.  When it all boils down to it, do those “faults” and “flaws” that you see, really matter very much? He may leave his dirty clothes on the floor, but aren’t there FAR MORE IMPORTANT things in life?  Isn’t it better that he be a GOOD and GODLY man? Here are some things to consider:

* Is your husband hardworking and diligent at his job?  Proverbs 10:4 “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
* Does he willingly offer a helping hand to others in need?  Proverbs 3:27 “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”
* Does he avoid crude and profane language?  Proverbs 15:4 “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
* Is he a man who is known for his honesty and integrity?  Proverbs 12:19 “The lip of truth shall be established forever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
* Is he a wise man who stays faithful and true to you?  Proverbs 6:32 “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” 
* Is he a loving and sacrificial husband?  Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

And the list of godly character traits goes on an on . . . You can search long and hard for a verse on husbands keeping their side of the room clean, but I sincerely doubt you’ll find one!  We need to be thankful for the GODLINESS of our husbands!     
     Having been a wife for 5 months now, I may not be eligible to write a book on marriage yet, but I DO know that it blesses the heart of your husband if you LET HIM KNOW that you are grateful for him!  This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge you to let YOUR Honey know how very much he truly means to you!  God bless!  And HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Wishing Different - Dinner #16

     Sometimes circumstances come to our lives that we just didn’t bargain for.  Sometimes we want to say, “Ok, Lord, I don’t really want to be in THIS particular trial right now.  Can’t I move on to something different?”  Do I really have to be puking like this and feeling nausea 24/7???  Can’t I just go back to feeling normal, and yet still be pregnant?
      Tonight, the Lord reminded me of a passage in Psalm 31 that says, “But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand . . .” No matter what comes my way during this time in my life, I have to realize that it IS from the Lord, and He will carry me through! But in my humanity, I want out of the nausea, the dizziness, the emotions, the puking, and the fatigue!  Can’t I just be at the stage where I have a cute little ball for a tummy, and a pregnant-mommy glow on my face???  In Philippians 4:11, Paul declares, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” REALLY? Even in THIS state?!  Even during the joys, and more often the discomforts, of the first trimester?!  The Bible says “YES!”, and it’s something I’m having to work on! SMILE!
     How does that familiar hymn go? “So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all . . .  Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God hath done! . . .” When we find ourselves fighting to stay content, it is important to thank the Lord for His blessings! How was I blessed this week?  I got to hear our Little Baby’s heartbeat for the very first time . . . I received the news that my progesterone level is now looking very good . . . I was able to keep food down when my husband’s grandparents took us out to eat this weekend . . . See!  I DO have great things to be thankful for!  And so do you, My Friend! Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
     In Psalm 19:14, David requests, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”  What are my thoughts and words like, these days?  Are they COMPLAINING or CONTENTED??  In Psalm 42:11, David asks himself, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”  It is GOD Who can make you smile again!  When things get tough and difficult, hope in HIM! 
     Is it easy? No!  But sometimes God chooses to place us in a particular situation or stage of our life, in order to purify and refine us as Christians. In the midst of all the trials that poor Job faced, he declared of the Lord, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Can’t we trust that God knows what He is doing with us? Shouldn’t it be OUR desire to “come forth as gold”? We may think that we have it so much worse than somebody else that we know, but EVERYONE has their own burdens that they carry and their own trials that they face.  No Christian is without them.  No matter what you may be going through, II Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  It will not last forever, and it will be worth it in the end, if we allow the Lord to do His perfect work in our lives! 

Fearfully Trusting - Dinner #15

      I do NOT do well with doctor appointments – I may shake, turn pale, or even hyperventilate – LOL! . . . But a doctor appointment that I had scheduled for this week was a very special one that I didn’t want to miss! SMILE!  There is a “little blessing” coming to our home about 8 months from now, and it was to be the first time my husband and I would catch a glimpse of that growing bundle.  I knew that I would need God’s peace if joy was going to override the usual anxiety.  Asking others to pray was good, but I knew that I would need some time with just me and the Lord as well.  As I set about to write a few verses down for myself, Joshua 1:9 immediately came to my mind: “ . . . for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”   No matter where I go – even a scary doctor’s office! SMILE!  Do you know that the Lord is with YOU, wherever YOU go, this week? 
     Believe me, in the space of just a few minutes, I can come up with a whole bunch of “doctor things” to be fearful about! Another verse I often need is Psalm 34:4: “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” When anxiety comes our way, we must recall that God has been with us in the past, and He has promised to stay with us in the present and the future too! I Samuel 7:12 declares, “ . . . Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” Up until this point, He has not let us down, nor does He ever intend to!
     Sometimes the “what ifs” in life can grip us with great fear.  It is important to remember that, “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:9)  We cannot “outsmart” or “out-think” God.  You can ask my husband . . . Time and time again, my mind goes through all the bad scenarios that COULD possibly happen in any given situation.  Within seconds, I can be so fearful about something that I’m on the verge of having a worrying panic attack. SMILE!  In Psalm 16:9, David declares, “ . . . my flesh also shall rest in hope.”  When my human flesh wants to work in “anxious overtime”, the Holy Spirit must remind me to “rest in hope”.  Hope for the best, not the worst!  Trust in your Heavenly Father, Who KNOWS what is best for you!
     Even little things can be frightening at times.  It gets scary at night if we ladies have to be home alone while our husbands are working. It can be frightening just getting gasoline at a creepy gas station!  Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  Not just a LITTLE peace during those times, but PERFECT peace!  If we will only keep our eyes and our thoughts on our Savior, all will be well, for He is right there for us!  And He is TRUSTWORTHY!
     I don’t know about you, but these aren’t truths I need just “once in a blue moon”.  These are verses and thoughts that I must remind myself of ALL THE TIME!  And my husband has to remind me too! SMILE!  I can be a worrier in a hurry, if I let myself, but God’s Word is alive and it brings us PEACEFUL HOPE!  So do you know what I’ll be doing when another doctor’s appointment roles around next week??  I’ll be reminding myself of these verses again! SMILE!  You see, fear is very human, but the spiritual weapon is FAITH in the Lord.  That means seeing a fresh glimpse of how wonderful and powerful God really is, relying completely on Him, and finding sweet peace.  May you and I both find that peace as we trust Him during our moments of fear, this week!

Ministering Children - Dinner #14

     Working at daycare this week, I realized once again how very many Bible concepts even preschoolers can grasp.  Matthew 21:16 tells us, “. . . And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS THOU HAST PERFECTED PRAISE?”  Even children can learn to honor the Lord!
     God oftentimes gives us opportunities to share truths about Himself with the Little People in our lives, if we will only take them.  Matthew 19:14 tells us, “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” It is our job to bring them to Jesus!  The other day at work, a preschool girl commented that one of the boys didn’t seem to care whether or not God was watching the bad things he did, and that he probably wouldn’t go to heaven.  “But we know that we don’t go to heaven by doing good things, right?” I asked her. “How DO we know that we’re going to go to heaven?”  And I was able to plant a “little seed” by reminding her that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that we can only go to heaven by trusting Him as our Savior.  It was a typical afternoon on the playground, but God gave me an opportunity to share.
     Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  And what is this “way” that our children should go?  The way of Christian obedience! “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right . . . THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH THEE, AND THOU MAYEST LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” (Ephesians 6:1,3)  It does not do your children or pupils any favors if you let them “do their own thing” and don’t give them some training and instruction!  SSSLLLOOWWW obedience and outright disobedience in young ones is SUCH a poor testimony for God!  I’ve worked with children for several years now, and believe me when I tell you the picture is NOT a pretty one!  How much better for them to learn at an early age to live righteously and to serve the Lord!
     Sometimes children can serve where adults cannot find an open door.  Their youth and “cuteness” tugs at people’s hearts and often allows them to be a bolder witness for God.  Even preschoolers can learn to pass out Gospel tracts to neighbors, or retell Bible stories to unsaved relatives.  They can also sing Bible songs for elderly “shut-ins” and people in nursing homes.  “. . . OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS THOU HAST PERFECTED PRAISE . . .” God receives praise when the Little Ones serve Him – PERFECTED praise! 
     Can children really understand what it is to serve the Lord?  The answer is definitely YES!  There is a Christian children’s song that says, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” Whether mothers, preschool teachers, Sunday school teachers, or choir leaders, we can play a major role in helping even the very young to shine for Jesus!  For instance, we can encourage them to make cards for sick friends or relatives, bake cookies for someone in need of a smile, color pictures for soldiers overseas, or donate food to a homeless shelter.  The ideas for childhood service are truly endless! 
     Let’s admit it - Children can sometimes be quite selfish in their attitudes and their behavior!  Are we training the young ones in our care to be a blessing to others, instead?  Are we encouraging them to praise and serve the Lord?  Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”  It is not so important whether your children have every toy or earthly possession they desire in life, as it is whether or not they are building a “good name” for themselves by their childhood actions.  Proverbs 20:11 declares that, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” Will we allow the Lord to use us in the lives of children, that they might be known for pure and righteous doings?

Where Others Do Not See - Dinner #13

     Our homes are our own private little kingdoms, it is true, but what goes on where no one else sees?  Would our words and actions there be deemed honoring and pleasing to the Lord?  In Psalm 101:2, David determines, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  The word “perfect” in this verse means “blameless”.  Do we walk blameless before the Lord in our own homes?
     Whether or not we set out to be hypocrites, the truth of the matter is that we often are.  What we appear to be in church on Sunday morning is sometimes not at all what we are behind closed doors.  Psalm 139:12 tells us, “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”  God sees us in the dark privacy of our homes just as clearly as in the light of the public eye. 
     What goes on behind our walls that we would not want revealed to the outside world? Are harsh and hateful words spoken by us on a regular basis?  Proverbs 15:1 says that, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”  Do we shout, and fight, and yell at everybody?  It is said of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” that, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” This isn’t a lady who is screaming at her husband and children!  Instead, we find her speaking with kindness, and giving wise advice and counsel to those she loves.  In the place where others rarely see, the virtuous woman is found “blameless”. 
     Jesus tells His followers in Mark 3:25, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” There needs to be sweet UNION in a home!  As the woman of the house, are you building other family members up or tearing them down? Proverbs 14:1 declares, “Every wise woman buildeth her house; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”  We must not tear down what God desires to build through us!
     As we walk in the privacy of our home, do we find ourselves spending too much time chatting about other people?  I Timothy 5 speaks of ladies who “learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”  In those private moments behind locked doors, do we say things to others ABOUT others, that we would not say in public?  Are we ever guilty of GOSSIPING?
     Psalm 101:3 declares, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes . . .” Are we keeping our eye gate from evil during quiet alone times at home?  Do we get caught up in inappropriate romance novels and begin to complain about our marriages?  Do we Ooo and Aww over handsome actors on television to the point where we are no longer satisfied with our own husbands?  Do we make our hearts terrified by watching horrible graphic images, even on the news?  Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Even those of us who do not have young child eyes to be concerned over, need to be concerned about what we OURSELVES allow OURSELVES to see and dwell upon! 
     Psalm 101:2 “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  That verse can be such a convicting one!  Within our home castles every week, are we found blameless?  Are our hearts “perfect” before the Lord even in a place where others do not see?

Strength With A Song - Dinner #12

     Dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, working . . . Then you throw in there a birthday party, a sick child, a special church meeting, or a training session!  Do the daily activities in a week ever just WEAR YOU OUT?!  I was reminded this week of the verse in Psalm 84 that states, “They go from strength to strength . . .” Sometimes, you really have to let God grant you strength as you take life ONE DAY, ONE HOUR, or even ONE MOMENT at a time. 
     If you are feeling tired and weak, complaining about it further will not help the situation.  The Bible tells us that, “ . . . the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Count your blessings in Christ, and you may find that joy is a strengthening circle!  When you praise Him, you discover strength in Him, and then finding strength in God also BRINGS joy in God!  Psalm 28:7 declares, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” Soon you will find yourself praising Him once more, for the joy He has given you!
     Do you know what?  It is a BLESSED thing to be so weak that you need God to be your strength! Psalm 84:5 declares, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee . . .”  The times when your Heavenly Father helps you to be strong, are blessed times when He becomes more real to you!  Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song . . .”  Those times when you need strength from God, are also faith moments that you can share with your little ones, to help build their own faith in Him.  Psalm 78 speaks of, “ . . . shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done . . .That they might set their hope in God . . .”
     When you have no strength of your own to draw from, God is there!  Psalm 18:32 “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” When the mountain ahead of you is high, and you feel you can’t go on much longer, God is there!  Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” The Lord desires some moments of weakness on our part, because it is when we rely upon Him that He receives the honor and the glory.  Psalm 71:16 “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.”
     Today, if you are facing little or no strength, allow your Heavenly Father to be that strength FOR YOU!  As the famous children’s song says, “They are weak, but He is strong!” Don’t “burn out”, rather, allow your strength to be renewed over and over again, every time you need it! Isaiah 40:31 informs us, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” No matter what you face this week, may you find your joy and strength in God!

Broken Hearts - Dinner #11

     Psalm 30:5 declares that, “ . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  What a special promise to those who are hurting with a broken heart!  You may not feel as though yours is broken at this present moment, but every woman in the world, at some time in her life, experiences that pain.  A boyfriend leaves, a son or daughter runs from God, a loved one passes away . . . and our heart feels as though someone has dashed it to the floor to shatter in a million pieces. 
     This past week, I came across a poem I’d written during a time when my own heart was in tears, and was instantly reminded of God’s grace and provision.  After two years of dating a Christian young man, we were days away from becoming engaged, when he chose to very abruptly break up with me.  All communication from him suddenly gone, I could only cling to the Lord and to His Word, and trust Him to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart.  During this time, I underlined Psalm 27:14 in my Bible, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”   Off to the side of the page, I wrote “Patiently wait, for only God can strengthen a broken heart.”  I knew that my Heavenly Father alone could bring me sunshine again, and that is exactly what He did!  Five months later, the wonderful man I would marry waltzed into my life. SMILE! Weeping endured for a night, but joy surely, SURELY came in the morning!
     Do you know what else our Heavenly Father does for those whose hearts are hurting?  Psalm 147:3 says He not only restores to them their joy, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”  He is there for you, to HELP you and to HEAL you!  Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart . . .”  What wonderful peace to know that whenever your burdened heart cries out to Him, God is there!  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17) 
     Did Christ Himself know what it was like to have a broken heart?  Equal with man and yet equal with God, our Lord wept on this earth when His friend Lazarus died (John 11:35), He wept over the future of the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), He cried in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) . . . Jesus knew what it was to have a hurting heart, and He understands yours! 
     A broken heart feels painful, tearful, LONELY . . . At one point in his life, David wrote “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” (Psalm 6:6)  But the dark pain of a broken heart does not have to last forever! Psalm 107:14-15 declares, “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” The gloom will one day be past, if you will only trust in the Lord, and keep walking along life’s journey.  Psalm 116:8-9 says, “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.”  The Loving One Who saved your soul, can surely take away your tears! 

Unknown Changes - Dinner #10

     I was reminded more than once this past week, how very little we truly comprehend the work that God is doing in us.  So often, unexpected events, unknown twists and turns, take place, altering our lives forever.  When these “jolts” in life come, we must remember that only God can see the complete picture – a beautiful tapestry before Him and a perfect plan that He alone is in control of. 
     Perhaps everything seems as though it is going along at a steady pace, and then, suddenly – BOOM!  Unexpected things happen to people every day, sometimes changing the course of their entire future . . . a new job moves you to a different state, a child is hospitalized, a parent finds out they have cancer,  a tornado rips through your house, a spouse dies in a car accident . . . Does anyone really see events such as these, coming their way?  In Psalm 31, David writes, “But I trusted in thee, O LORD; I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand . . .”  The Christian knows that God is in control!  He holds these times in the palm of His hand! 
     Most women do not appreciate change very much.  We love and long for security wherever we can find it.  But Psalm 55:19 declares, “ . . . Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.”  Change is actually very good for us!  If we get too settled in our own little worlds, we can soon forget to fear the Lord!  But are these tumultuous things pleasant to go through?  Of course not!  We do not ENJOY pain, and we do not ENJOY change.  Psalm 119:71, says, however, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”  Such times serve to draw us closer to our Savior and to His Word! Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  We may not know the way, but God does! Psalm 142:3 “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. . .”
     You might say, “But my husband just lost his job!”, or “My infant has to undergo surgery!”  Does God really know what He is doing?!  Psalm 138:8 holds the very dear promise, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me . . .”  Philippians 1:6 declares, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  This present change in your life is part of His GOOD work in you!  Psalm 145:9, 17 “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works . . . The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”  ALL of them!  Every single one!  He is in control, and whether you can see it yet or not, He is only seeking to do you good! Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
     You may think you have all your “ducks in a row” for a lifetime.  You may think you’re going to stay put in one place or serve on one particular mission field until the day you die, but God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)  Sometimes God will reveal to you, that He has other plans than you have for yourself - HIGHER plans!  Sometimes God wants to bring you CHANGE.
     Where can we find joy in the midst of these unsettling changes?  Where can we find joy when our security is taken away from us?  Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  Stay close to the Savior’s side, and you will find joy in the unexpected days!  Malachi 3:6 says, “ For I am the LORD, I change not . . .”   In the midst of an ever-changing life, remember always that our Lord DOES NOT and WILL NOT change!  No matter what you may go through, God will be right by your side! 

When No One Understands - Dinner #9

     There are times when, as a woman, you may feel that no one who is close to you fully understands something that you are feeling, or thinking, or going through.  Perhaps it is a hurt so deep you can’t express it, or a dream so big you just can’t put it into words.  My husband and I talk and share so very much with each other, and yet, we are two different people, and there are times when even my sweet Hubby cannot possibly understand.  What peace to know that during those times when not even your life’s soulmate can comprehend your heart, your loving Heavenly Father does!  Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”
     Do you feel that no one on earth understands your dreams and desires? God does!  “. . . thou understandest my thought afar off.” (Psalm 139:2)  Does it seem as though no one knows the suffering and pain you’re going through?  God knows and He cares!  Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .”  Do you feel so emotional as a woman, sometimes, that even YOU don’t understand the thoughts of your heart?  How comforting to know that God, our Creator, can sort through and comprehend them all!  SMILE!  Isaiah 40:28 “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”
      God knows us better than anyone and He remembers what we’ve gone through!  Psalm 56:8 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”  Our Heavenly Father even records every tear that we cry!  When you’re hurting and weeping all alone, when something reminds you of the past, when a comment from a friend hurts you deeply . . . God knows and He understands.  Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.  Selah.”
     Our loving Savior not only knows OUR thoughts, but HE also thinks about US!  Psalm 139:17-18 “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”   Psalm 40:5 “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”
     We have a loving Heavenly Father, a Creator, Who takes the time to understand the finite human thoughts that we dwell upon.  He cares about every thought, every dream, every sorrow . . . and He thinks about US every moment of the day.  You and me!  He thinks about US!  If you ever feel that your world is crashing ‘round you or that there are things in your heart that no one on earth could possibly comprehend, the caring God Who made you and saved you truly understands! 

Precious Blessings - Dinner #8

     How have you always regarded children?  Do you steer clear of church nursery and children’s ministry assignments?  Are you a young lady who openly declares that you hope you never have a baby?  Or are you a happy mother of three or four? 
     The Lord Jesus Himself loved children!  Mark 10:13,16 “And they brought young children to him . . . And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  We also see in His Word that children are so very dear to God that He knows them before they are even formed in the womb, and has a particular purpose for each of their lives!  Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
     Sometimes I hear young couples going around talking about how they hope they won’t have any children for a long time.  The truth of the matter is, Christian couples should have the strong desire to become parents, for parenthood is a BLESSING from God!  We look down on the Communist countries that limit the amount of children their citizens may have.  It makes us infuriated!  But then, we turn around in our own selfish society, and often regard children as a financial burden and a nuisance!  How have Christians allowed such wrong thinking to influence their minds?  Children are blessings!  Whether they are your own children or children you have the privilege of working with, they are BLESSINGS! 

Luke 1:7, 13-14 “And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. . . But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

     Zacharias prayed to the Lord to give them a child, and God told him that when the baby was born, he would have JOY AND GLADNESS!  This wasn’t something to be upset or financially worried about! Zacharias wasn’t going around in complete distress over how this was going to affect his “retirement plan”!  It was an event that brought rejoicing in the Lord! 
Genesis 21:1-2 “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said . . . For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken unto him.”
I Samuel 2:21 “And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters.  And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.”

     Both of these verses speak of a “visit” from the Lord.  Does that sound like chance or just an unexpected accident to you?!  Something that “just happened”?  Whether or not a child comes as a “surprise” to you, they are no surprise to God!  Each one is truly part of His perfect plan!

Ruth 4:13 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.”

     If God has allowed you to have children, you must realize that this is a GIFT from the Lord! He has GIVEN them to you! 

Psalm 113:9 “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the LORD.”

     Becoming a mother is a joyful, happy thing!  It hurts my heart when I hear Christian ladies jokingly say of one of their children, “We weren’t planning on that one.”  What message does that send to the child?  That you didn’t really want them at first, but now you guess you’re glad that God had other plans?  Why wasn’t your heart in the right place to begin with?!  No baby in a Christian home should ever be regarded as “unwanted at this time”! There are some women in the world today who are on their knees, weeping before God, because they want a baby!  If the Lord has opened your womb and given you children, don’t take that blessing from the Lord lightly, even if you feel it is not in “your timing”! That visit from Him is in HIS timing!    

     Genesis 33:5 “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.”

     If you decide that you want nothing to do with children, what numerous blessings are you denying yourself?  What untold blessings are you denying the world?  Once, when I was attending a teaching convention, the head speaker for the preschool department used the second half of this verse to remind us that the children in our classroom were also blessings from the Lord.  She declared that each year of teaching, even the more difficult students to reach, were children “which God hath graciously given”.  That verse stuck with me more than anything else said in that conference, and was an encouraging reminder on many occasions. 

Psalm 78:4 “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”

     There needs to be a “next generation” so that we can pass onto them the praises of our God!  They need to hear the truth of God’s Word!  Who are the children that God has placed in YOUR care?  Are they your own?  Are they school students, or boys and girls you’re reaching through a church ministry? Whether a mother, a wife, or a ministry worker, it is important to have a right view of children.  Each and every one is truly a precious blessing from the Lord!