Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living Life - Dinner #34

     One day, while my husband and I were still dating, Brandon sent me the internet link for a tear-jerking video about a little baby who only lived for 99 days.  The baby’s parents took every opportunity to celebrate that child’s short life, and when he passed away, they released one balloon for every single day that God allowed him to be on this earth with them.  I do not know the religious background of the family involved, but I do know that they blessed the Lord for both giving them their child and then taking their child home to be with Him.  That 6-minute video changed my perspective on life, forever.  We do not know how long God has given us any of our little ones, and every moment we get to spend with them is worth celebrating!  Some people might think it’s silly that Brandon and I sing “Happy Birthday” to our Brooklyn and take photos of her on the 20th of every month.  Some people might shake their heads when they see every status we post about our little girl on facebook.  The truth of the matter is, we have no way of knowing what day will be the last we get to spend with her!  She may live to be 85 years old . . . She may live until tomorrow . . . Is that a morbid way to look at life? I don’t think so!  It’s the way God INTENDS for His children to look at life – as a vapor – as a gift that is given to us for a time – as something special to be treasured and not taken for granted. 
     Yesterday was cold and wet outside, and Baby and I both seemed to be feeling a little under the weather.  Chores were suddenly put on hold as Mommy declared a “holiday” for sleeping, snuggling, watching TV and reading stories.  Brooklyn and I were bonding with each other, and we both knew it.  Do we often get so busy with the day-to-day stuff, that we forget to just SPEND TIME with the ones we love?! In Psalm 90:12, Moses offers up this prayer to God: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”  
     We do not know for what length of time God has given to us our children, but in the same way, we do not know how long God has given to us our OWN lives.  Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” If you were to suddenly leave this earth today, would your children remember Bible songs and bedtime stories, or a dust-free home 365 days of the year?  Isaiah 38:19 tells us, “The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.”  What are we doing with the life God has given to us?  What are we seeking to leave behind? Are we praising Him? Are we telling our children about the Lord?
     No one really likes to dwell upon it, but we all need to realize that someday our time will come.  We aren’t going to be alive on this earth forever! In Psalm 39:4, David declares, “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.” Do we realize how frail WE are? Do we realize that we could die in a car accident, be diagnosed with breast cancer, or suffer a fatal heart attack . . . TOMORROW?  Psalm 144:4 reminds us that, “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” We NEED to think on these things!  We NEED to remember that we are “. . . a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalm 78:39) We NEED to realize that our children are a gift to us only for a time! We NEED to make sure we aren’t taking our days and our breaths for granted!  James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” May each of us seek to spend our lives LOVING and LIVING to glorify His Name!

The “99 Balloons” Internet Link -

Friday, October 21, 2011

Your Husband's Mama - Dinner #33

     I know that I’m very blessed to have such a sweet and godly mother-in-law!  One of the things I appreciate about her most is that she may give suggestions at times, but she doesn’t ever tell me what to do or try to push her own agenda.  She lets me be my own woman, while being there to help me whenever I need it.  Do we sometimes have misunderstandings and unintentional hurt feelings? Yes!  We’re still learning about each other!  But with every visit, we seem to grow closer and closer.  This past week, she came to stay at our house for a few days, and we had SUCH a good time together, as a family!  She made food ahead and brought it with her, so that neither of us would have to fix meals, and so it wouldn’t be a financial burden on us to have her come for a visit.  How many mother-in-laws do you know that would be thoughtful enough to do that?!
     I’ve heard of the mother-in-laws with never a kind word, who call to talk to their sons twice a day and act like their daughter-in-laws can’t do anything right.  If you have one like that, you may feel like you have NOTHING in common with her, and that you’ll NEVER get along.  The truth of the matter is, however, that if we love our husbands deeply and think they’re sweet and wonderful, we usually have a mother-in-law to thank for it! And there’s surely SOMETHING good you can learn from them!  You can be grateful even for an UNSAVED mother-in-law, and let her know that you appreciate her!
     What does God want you to learn from other women in your life? What does He want to teach you through your mother-in-law? We can try to do it all on our own.  We can imagine that we can take care of ourselves.  But that isn’t the way God designed for it to be.  Titus 2:3-5 “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
     Before we were married, Brandon would talk about all the good food his mama made, and suggest that I take some cooking lessons from her.  He meant well, but I’d grow tense and let myself feel hurt and defensive every time he mentioned it.  And then there was, “My mom has taken care of lots of babies and children, why don’t you ask HER?” . . . But I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing! I think this is, perhaps, the main reason for all of the jokes and comments in our society about “mother-in-laws”.  As a wife, we want to be recognized for our own strengths and abilities, and are afraid of looking badly to the woman who raised our husband!  Don’t you think SHE had to ask questions and learn some things, too, through the years?! This past week, my Mama #2 showed me how to cook pumpkin.  We worked in the kitchen for HOURS, but chatted with each other, enjoyed the smell of pumpkin pies and pumpkin cupcakes baking, and had a great time together! My mom-in-law was being a “teacher of good things”.    
     Certainly, the perfect mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is found in the book of Ruth. “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried . . .” (Ruth 1:16-17) Later, in Ruth chapter 2, even Boaz had heard of Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law Naomi.  “And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.”  Do others know that YOU love your mother-in-law?  Or do you only gripe and complain about her to others, and talk about how “miserable” she makes your life?  The women of Bethlehem spoke to Naomi, calling Ruth “ . . . thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons . . .” (Ruth 4:15) Is that how other women see YOU as a daughter-in-law? Do they know that you love your mother-in-law and treat her well? John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Complaining At Home - Dinner #32

     Anyone who has ever been a stay-at-home-mom dealing with only one vehicle for any period of time, knows that it isn’t easy to be the one “stuck” at home all day.  This is especially true if you live in a small house or apartment, or are caring for more than one little one.  You can begin to feel quite lonely and depressed, without even realizing it.  You stare at the same walls, do the same household chores, look at the same refrigerator leftovers, and the complaining discontentment sets in.
     One day, recently, I let myself become so upset by my circumstances, that I made a whole list of things I was “tired of”. Not being able to do this or that, not having enough money for this or that, not having a husband who remembers to do this or that . . . As I was writing my list, however, the Lord helped me to see that for each thing I was writing down, there was some encouragement from His Word to combat the complaint I was recording! SMILE!  I looked up each verse that came to my mind, and wrote it underneath the "tired of" it applied to.  This exercise was such a blessing to me!  Exodus 17:7 tells us, “And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” We can feel exactly the same way in our daily lives, but the answer is, YES, the Lord IS with us! He has not left us nor forsaken us! And we have no earthly reason to complain!
    Philippians 2:14-16 commands us to, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life . . .”  If we are murmuring, complaining, and arguing, we are not having a good Christian testimony to the lost world around us.  We are to be LIGHTS - not complaining little dark spots! We have the hope of God’s Word – the hope of eternal life – to share with others! Will it look at all like what we say is true, if we are gloomy and complaining all the time?!
     In Numbers chapter 14, we see that the majority of the Israelites did not even get to go into the Promised Land because of their murmurings!  They gave up the land “flowing with milk and honey” for the sake of complaining when times were hard.  God does not desire His children to complain and grumble through difficulties!  He brings us through difficult times, so that we might learn to TRUST HIM MORE!  Again and again, God provided for the Israelites as they traveled those 40 years in the wilderness.  He gave them food and water, and even kept the soles of their shoes from wearing thin, but yet, they still complained against Him. Psalm 106:21, 24-25 “They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt . . . Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”  Aren’t we often guilty of doing the very same? Of forgetting the many ways God has taken care of us, and of murmuring against Him?   
     A thankfulness tool that has helped me in this journey of being a stay-at-home-mom has been a “Weekly To-Do Chart”. On the left is my list of household duties that need to get done within the course of a week, and on the right is a large bubble entitled “Special Moments”.  That “Special Moments” bubble is for me to record the blessings and the happy little moments that occur during those 7 days of my existence.  It helps me to see, over and over again, that a 7-day week is NOT just mundane dishes, laundry, sweeping, etc.  God sprinkles “Special Moments” into every week, if I’ll only look for them!  Husband comes home from work early, Baby discovers her toes for the first time, friends invite us out to eat with them . . . And I see each week that GOD IS SO GOOD TO ME!  I Thessalonians 5:16-19 tells God’s people to, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.”  Don’t quench the working of the Holy Spirit in your life by becoming a complainer! God wants each of us to rejoice, pray, and be a thankful woman after His own heart!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Amid Financial Fears - Dinner #31

     In a day where people are losing their jobs, their homes, their vehicles, etc., it is important to still be THANKFUL!  I saw a little saying on facebook, the other day, that I immediately had to write down and post on our refrigerator: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” Wow! Would we still have Baby smiles and Husband kisses? Would we still have air to breathe and eyes to see with? Would we still have running water and electricity? Without a doubt, we need to be a more thankful people! Finances may be terrible and bills may be hard to pay, but we are so much more BLESSED than any of us even realizes!! Proverbs 15:16-17 declares, "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."
     Most people have stories to tell of times when finances were tough early on in their marriage, but now more than ever, people at ALL stages of life are struggling. My husband and I understand what it’s like to buy beef, potatoes, eggs, and oatmeal when we could afford little else.  We know what it’s like to be driving with the gas tank below empty, praying that we’d make it to our job and back.  We know what it’s like to purchase one canister of formula, and trust God to supply the rest of our baby’s food for the week.  But we ALSO know that God has PROVIDED FOR OUR NEEDS, time and time again! Unexpected checks and giftcards have arrived in the mail, a bonus has suddenly been awarded at Brandon’s work, an illness has gone away on its own before a doctor’s visit was necessary . . . and we have NEVER ONCE gone hungry.  Psalm 34:9-10 “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.”
     The wonderful thing is, that every time God provides for you, He is giving you a story to tell the generation to come!  Psalm 78:4+7 “. . . 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 . . .”  Just like the Israelites erecting the twelve stones in Joshua 4, we need to share how God has provided for us in the past. “And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land . . . That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” When you share with others how good God has been to you, even the unsaved catch a glimpse of the power of God!
     Sometimes it is just wonderful to recall that God DOES indeed know our every need! Matthew 6:32 declares, “. . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” He thinks about you and cares about you! In Psalm 37:25, David tells us, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Do you remember the story in I Kings about the widow whose barrel of meal did not run out and whose cruse of oil did not run dry? Our Lord and Savior does not change! He who provided for that widow’s needs, can still take care of His children, today!  May we all learn, more than ever, how to trust Him with thankful hearts!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Women Of Service - Dinner #30

     In John 18:37, Christ declares to Pilate, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world . . .” Have you ever stopped to think about why God may have wanted YOU in the world? What is your PURPOSE?  What is it that God wants you to do with your life?  Isaiah 43:7 “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”  God created you for His glory!  Are you glorifying Him with your life?
     Throughout Scripture, we find women who had a heart for ministering and serving others. A certain Shunammite woman in Elisha’s day made a place for the man of God to rest during his travels (II Kings 4:10). Luke 8:2-3 tells us of women followers who shared what they had with Jesus.  A widow woman in the New Testament gave sacrificially of her finances (Luke 21:2-3). Dorcas had a sewing ministry to help the widows in the early church (Acts 9:36,39).  Priscilla helped her husband to disciple a man named Apollos (Acts 18:26). What is it that God has laid on YOUR heart to do? Is there some talent or interest that He has given you to serve Him with?
     God does not call each one of us to complete the same tasks in life.  He gives each Christian lady certain spiritual gifts, and has a special job for each one of us to do.  I Corinthians 12:18, 28 “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers . . .” But no matter what gift God has given to you - no matter what ministry in the church - we must remember that He wants us to serve with LOVE!  I Corinthians 13:3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” In your area of service, are you ministering to others out of LOVE?  I John 4:10-11 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Why should we desire to lovingly serve others for the Lord? Because He gave Himself out of love for us! Who should our example be in our service to God? The Lord Jesus Christ! Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
     The Lord recently led me to I Peter 4:11 “ . . . if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  As a mother with a young baby, I may not be able to go out on door-to-door visitation as easily as I would like, or be involved in as many church ministries as I once was, but I can minister “as of the ability which God giveth”!  I believe with all my heart that if you are seeking to follow after Christ, He gives you the godly interests and desires that you have, for a reason!   Just this past week, I have been discovering the amazing possibilities of telling others about the Lord over the internet. The new "Dinner's In The Oven" devotional blog now has a blog partner entitled "Pika's Preschool", listing my personal reviews of wholesome children's books.  My prayer is that many unsaved people interested in researching children's literature will be curious enough to check out the devotional blog as well, and be reached with the Gospel!   It is also just another way to help and encourage Christian mothers and teachers!  Do you feel as though God has been placing a special ministry desire in YOUR heart? Do not be afraid to trust Him for it! May you find what it is that God is calling you to do, and do it with all your heart!