Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Great With Child - Dinner #66

     This December, I find a sense of joy in the fact that, because of Jacqueline,  I get to share in a little of what Mary must have felt.  Luke 2:5 describes her as “being great with child”, and, at 36 weeks, this Christmas, that is exactly where I find myself! Knowing the desire in my own heart for everything to be clean, and comfortable, and ready for when this baby arrives, I have a keener sense of the FAITH Mary must have had!  She was traveling, probably walking miles upon miles, with no knowledge of where her Baby would be born, or if she’d even make it to Bethlehem in time.  How many nights did she lay awake, imagining herself giving birth out in the wilderness, somewhere? Wondering if Joseph and she would know what to do, when the time came? 
     Luke 2:6-7 tells us, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Labor was upon her, there was no shelter for them except a humble stable, and Mary did what she had to do – She was specifically chosen by God - the right mother for the job!  It is a beautiful and comforting thought to me that, no matter under what circumstances Jacqueline is born, when the days are “accomplished” that I, too, should “be delivered”, I’ll be the right mother for the job!
     During these final weeks of my pregnancy, I sometimes find myself tearfully wondering if I’m really ready to take care of TWO children.  During one such recent night of reflecting, the Lord sweetly gave me II Timothy 1:7 to hold onto: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I don’t have to be afraid of having two little ones . . . The Lord will give me the strength and the love that I need to care for them, and will help me to keep my sanity, in the midst of it all! SMILE!  He has CHOSEN ME to be their mother!
     So many special things followed the birth of Mary’s Baby Boy: the arrival of the shepherds, the admiration of the wise men, the rejoicing of Simeon and Anna, the night flight into Egypt . . . Mary had to be the right Mommy for God’s chosen Messiah, through all of that! She needed peace, and tranquility, and faith – all of which came from the Lord! This December, as I begin quickly approaching my own due date, I want to have a little more of the faith and the strength that Mary must have had!  I can’t just crumble because I’m a bit scared that nursing a newborn and taming a toddler at the same time, is going to be too much!  If I want Brooklyn and Jacqueline to one day be women of faith, I need to maintain that godly faith, myself! In II Timothy 1:5, Paul says, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Genuine faith is an EXAMPLE to the generations following!  One day, my girls are going to be calling to cry on MY shoulder about their mothering fears and anxieties, and I want to be ready when they do!  I want to be ready to say, in all honesty, “The Lord helped guide ME through such days, and He will be right there to help you, too!”
     This Christmas, I write to you, battling back aches, fatigue, mood swings, and Braxton Hicks contractions, but I’m THE RIGHT WOMAN FOR THE JOB! SMILE! I GET to bring another little life into the world!  I GET to help raise another young lady for the Lord Jesus! I GET to look into another beautiful little face and know that God has richly blessed the love my dear husband and I have for each other! This is my PRIVILEGE! When Mary thought about all that the Lord was doing IN her and THROUGH her, she lifted up her voice and said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1:46-47)  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making me and enabling me to be a MOM!

     A very special “Merry Christmas” to all of you, Ladies! God Bless!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Year of Blessings - Thanksgiving 2012

A – ANSWERS TO PRAYER - Granting us sweet peace that the Lord wishes for us to stay here, in Tennessee, for Jacqueline’s birth.  We know that moving to Virginia, and taking that next step towards missions, will all come in God’s perfect timing! (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
B – BAPTIST INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS, INC. - My husband and I were able to attend a wonderful week of missions training at CAMP BIMI.  We thank the Lord for granting us the finances, the vacation time, the babysitting, and the health that we needed!
C – CHICK-FIL-A – Their chicken sandwiches were one of my only real “pregnancy cravings”, during the “nausea months”. We are also grateful for the stand this company recently took, regarding the Biblical definition of marriage.
D – DEVELOPMENT - Brooklyn reached many important milestones in her little life, this year, including sitting up, crawling, eating finger foods, walking, signing, talking, and climbing! K
E – ELECTIONS – My candidate may not have won, but I had the right and privilege to vote!
F – FELLOWSHIP – Our hearts have been encouraged many times, during precious evenings of Christian fellowship in our home.
G – GOD’S WORD - My grandmother purchased a Children’s Bible for Brooklyn, and she absolutely pours over all the illustrations. It used to be that we only read a story or two before bedtime, but now she asks for it before naps, as well! K We are so thankful that she already enjoys the Word of God!
H – HEALTH INSURANCE – We now have a much better level of coverage, through Brandon’s work, than we did before.
I – IN-LAWS – When talk came of possibly moving, my husband’s parents were more than willing to take us into their own home, for as long as it might be necessary.  I’m thankful for the love that they show our family!
J – JACQUELINE – God is growing us, once more!!  We were even able to surprise BOTH sets of grandparents with the news, at the same time! Due in January of 2013 with our Baby Girl #2!
K – KROGER – What a blessing this nearby grocery store has been! Their coupons, sales, and service have been invaluable, during these first few years of our marriage.
L – LITTLE ONES – How blessed I am to be able to stay at home with my babies! The work I do isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
M – MAGAZINES – The Lord opened the door for one of my “Dinner’s In The Oven” ladies’ devotionals to be published in issue #84 of ABOVE RUBIES Magazine! 164,000 copies were printed and shipped worldwide.
N – NO MORE NAUSEA – With God’s grace, I came through 6 months of pregnancy nausea and weight-gaining difficulties.
O – OVENS – After going 17 days without one, last month, I learned to greatly appreciate having an oven that works!
P – PROGESTERONE – I am so grateful to have an ob/gyn who carefully checks hormone levels, and made sure, early on, that I had the necessary medication to help sustain this pregnancy! 
Q – QUALITY TIME - There is something so sweet and peaceful about just being able to spend some time with my husband!! Meals, conversations, movies, snuggles, laughter . . . Thank You, Lord, for days off to re-connect as a family!!
R – RECOVERY – We each had bouts with various viral infections, food poisoning, sinus troubles, and other illnesses, this year, but are thankful that each one only lasted for a season. 
S – SOY - Brooklyn has now successfully transitioned from soy baby formula to soy milk, to some whole milk dairy products!
T – TAX RETURNS – The Lord allowed us to pay off Brandon’s remaining 2011 school bill!
U – UNEXPECTED PROVISION – Once again, we have seen a year where the Lord met our needs in numerous and unexpected ways!
V – VOWS – Enjoyed reading the true story of a Christian couple who stayed together through extremely difficult circumstances (“The Vow”– By Kim & Krickitt Carpenter).
W – WALKS – I’ve been able to get some good pregnancy exercise, pushing Brooklyn in her stroller, while having the opportunity to meet many of the neighbors on our street.
X – XXXOOO – With God’s help, our marriage becomes only stronger and our romance sweeter, every day! I love you, Brandon David Kelley!!
Y – YELLOW – I enjoy my husband’s love of football, and the way that he has been teaching our daughter how to say “Steelers” and “yellow” before she’s even 2-years-old! K
Z – ZANY FUN – We’re still young enough to enjoy a great deal of spontaneity in our lives, and are lovin’ every minute of it! K

Thank you for letting me share another year of God’s marvelous blessings! - Kristen Kelley

Friday, September 14, 2012

Peaceful Thoughts - Dinner #65

     I am so grateful to God for all of you who have been praying for us! I am so grateful to Him for the work that He has been doing in my heart!  For what has felt like ages, I could hardly even talk to the Lord about this possible moving situation.  I wanted to trust Him so badly, but felt as though somehow He just didn’t know what He was doing, this time . . . He just didn’t understand . . . I wanted to be the one in control! I didn’t like all of the waiting for answers, and somehow felt rather like Jacob, “wrestling with the angel”, left and right. I didn’t want to move . . . Then, was willing to move . . . Worried about MY parents if we DID move . . . Then worried about HIS parents if we DIDN’T move . . . Fretted over my husband’s work situation . . . Fretted over my own pregnancy and delivery situation . . . Gave the Lord all my problems in prayer . . . Then took my burdens right back off the altar . . . . . . again and again. 
     Just this week, it was finally as though I came to the end of myself  and saw all of my distrust of the Lord for the ugliness that it truly was. One night, I prayed and cried from our bedroom, telling the Lord every single thing I was afraid of, in the midst of this waiting process, and every single thing I needed HIM ALONE to care for.  Psalm 139:2 says,“ . . . thou understandest my thought afar off.” How GLAD I am that He does! He knows EXACTLY what we’re going through at any given point and time in our lives! The Bible reminds us that He even holds our very breath in His hands (Daniel 5:23). Why don’t we trust Him more?!
     The truth of the matter is, I still don’t have the answers for the things our family is facing, right now.  I still don’t know if we will be moving to a different state within the next few weeks.   I still don’t know how we would financially take care of everything if we moved OR if we stayed. The Lord has recently reminded me of Colossians 3:15, however: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . .” It is a CHOICE we make! His peace is right there for the taking, but we must LET it rule within our hearts!  Sometimes we don’t truly want that peace of God, do we? We THINK we want it, but we aren’t really LETTING God give it to us! 
     Could I allow those anxious worries to come right back to my heart? Quite easily! I could become fearful, all over again, of having a new delivery doctor, of uprooting Brooklyn from her “baby routine”, of temporarily living with my in-laws, of not making it back to Georgia for Thanksgiving, or of possibly not having our own home until month 8 or 9 of my pregnancy . . . but I’d rather LET God’s peace be at rule in my heart! I’d rather trust Him for Who He really is! Psalm 55:18 declares, “He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me . . .” I don’t want that “fear battle” to rage within my heart again, any time soon! I’d rather say with the Psalmist David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) We may move or we may stay, but God is still in control! And HIS way is BEST! Thank You, Lord, for Your precious peace!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Weary Mom - Dinner #64

     As a mother with an ever-active 14-month-old, and a baby on the way, I know what it is like to sometimes be TIRED . . . physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired . . . Days when I’d really rather not fold the next load of laundry, let alone hear that we might be about to pack everything up and move!  But do you know what? Isaiah 40:11 tells me, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” What a comfort it is for this expectant mother to know that God will lead me GENTLY!! When God designates the next step for us in life, He won’t drag me along! My kind Heavenly Father GENTLY leads “those that are with young”, and that is such a blessing! He will also “gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom . . .” He won’t let my little one feel unsettled and tossed about, if we pick up and move – He will care for her, as well!
     God knows us better than we even know ourselves. He created us! Psalm 103:14 “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” This same loving, Creator God, is He Who will care for us! Isaiah 44:2-3 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not . . . For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”  Who gives us this caring promise? The One True God! Our Trustworthy Savior! Isaiah 44:6 “ . . . I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
     There is another blessed comfort in Isaiah for the sometimes-weary mom: God NEVER faints nor grows weary, and it is HE Who gives us strength! HIS strength! 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.” Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” We will ALL grow weary, at certain times in our lives! Weary of illness, weary of the same daily routine, perhaps, even weary of life . . . Isaiah 40:30-31 reminds us that, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary . . . 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.”  What a blessed promise! You may feel as though you cannot even WALK, but the Lord can keep you from fainting! He can grant you the strength to make it through any day and any situation.
     One of my favorite verses in all the Bible, declares, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) When we are weary and worn, we do not have to “make it” on our own! Whenever our day grows too long or too hard – He is there!  Isaiah 41:13 reiterates, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  
     Are you a weary mommy, this week? Let the Lord God be your strength!  He IS ALWAYS THERE!

Friday, August 17, 2012

That Promise Will Not Fail . . . - Dinner #63

     What a month of ups and downs! What a month of struggling doubts and blessings!  How we rejoice as we watch a precious little life on an ultrasound, and then how we stumble as we wonder how we will ever take care of two instead of just one . . . How we praise the Lord as He provides unexpected groceries at just the right time, and then how we falter as we realize just how many hundred of dollars a long-distance move would cost us . . . In the midst of this daily faith and frenzy, the Lord showed me a beautiful verse in His Word:  Joshua 23:14 “ . . . not one good 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.” Not one! When you read the promises of God’s Word, it is as though you can say, “THAT promise will not fail!” and “THAT promise will not fail!”, after each and every one! What a joy that is, to think about! If God has said it, it will NOT fail! And how VERY MANY wonderful promises God has made to His children!

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Proverbs 1:33 “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Isaiah 65:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

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.”

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

     When all else crashes about you, God’s Word will never fail! His promises are ever true! Others will fail you miserably, but His “faithfulness is unto all generations” (Psalm 119:90). How can we ever doubt such a wonderful Savior? Why do we ever take matters into our own hands and worries into our own hearts? Joshua 23:14 declares, “ . . . not one good thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you . . .” He is a TRUSTWORTHY God!  When the trials come, may we say to the Lord, just as David once said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Security of God's Presence - Dinner #62

     I’m SO grateful that God has chosen to give another Little Blessing to our home! I’m rejoicing in the fact that God reached down from Heaven and is making my body ABLE to carry another baby, despite the world warning me differently!  But there are so many times, when I look around me and wonder, can I really do this?! I’m struggling right now, just dealing with an active 13-month-old who’s had runny diapers and been staining outfits left-and-right for the past week!  HOW ON EARTH will I EVER do dishes or keep up with laundry when I’m back to sitting on the couch, nursing for 8 hours out of the day? Or how will I EVER properly correct and discipline as Brooklyn moves into the 2-year-old stage? Am I really READY for two children? I think I need to re-memorize Psalm 57:7 – “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” And then there’s my special verse in Psalm 113:9 - “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children . . .” A JOYFUL mother of children!  Yes! Ok! I can do this! I just have to trust in the Lord! I’ll be joyful! It will all work out! And then I begin to question and doubt again . . .
    What other thoughts have been plaguing this expectant mother’s mind? I have no idea where this baby is going to be born!  Is the Lord suddenly going to supply the job, the house, and the money required, for us to make a long-distance move? If we stay here, can we possibly fit two cribs in that one small bedroom? How can I start planning, rearranging and decorating for this poor little one, if I don’t even know where we’re going to be in the next few months? Will I even still be here NEXT month, to find out the baby’s gender, or will we be caught in the middle of an insurance transition? My mind just wants to go CRAZY sometimes with all of the wonderings, the fears, and the “what ifs”!
     Do you know what I KNOW that I need, more than anything, right now? THE SECURITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE.  Psalm 36:7 declares, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”  Our daughter Brooklyn usually cries HYSTERICALLY if someone is vacuuming in the house, but if someone else is HOLDING HER during the vacuuming, she’s perfectly fine!  How often are we just like that? Completely flipping out when we’re overwhelmed and scared, unless we STOP and realize that we are being HELD by our Heavenly Father! Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Not just one of my fears – ALL of them! How I need to hold onto that verse, once again!
     If I feel alone with my fears, Psalm 139:7 reminds me, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Why have I chosen to write about these things, tonight, as my baby girl is sleeping and my husband is working? Perhaps, because it is during the quiet moments, that we tend to THINK and to FEAR the most.  The month of July has threatened to choke my heart with fearful discouragement, this year.  I wrote this devotional because I NEEDED to write this devotional! I NEEDED these verses, this month! Are you, too, in need of the security of God’s Holy Presence, tonight? Then may we pray the words of Psalm 61:1-2, 4: “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I . . . I will trust in the covert of thy wings.”  God Bless, Dear Sisters, and Goodnight!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Refreshing Your Spirit - Dinner #61

     Two weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a missionary training course at CAMP BIMI in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  If I could describe that week-long camp in one word, it would be “refreshing”.  What a blessing it was to our hearts!  I had attended the camp before, when I was in high school, but there was something about being able to leave the day-to-day world behind, that was so much more meaningful to me now than it was back then!  I didn’t have to cook meals! I didn’t change any diapers or prepare any bottles! I didn’t have to fight to “squeeze in” a devotional time!  I didn’t have the distractions of television or the internet! I think EVERY ONE of us needs some life moments like those!
     In Psalm 51:10+12, David cries out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation . . .” When was the last time you closed out the “day-to day”, and just spent some time alone with God? When was the last time you played an inspirational CD, just for the sake of refreshing your spirit and reminding you that GOD IS GOOD? During our week at camp, I began reading through the book of Hosea. Hosea 2:15 says, “. . . and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth . . .”   Are there certain hymns or praise choruses that take you back to a specific camp meeting or Bible college dorm house? Jesus wants to RENEW YOUR JOY and to bring that musical rejoicing back to your heart! Hosea 6:3 declares, “. . . he shall come unto us as the rain . . .” Just as the rain refreshes and waters dry ground, the Lord Jesus desires to REFRESH OUR SPIRITS.  Will you allow Him to?
      Do you know what one of the most refreshing elements of CAMP BIMI was, this year? The TESTIMONIES of the other campers! Our electricity went out for several hours, during a storm, this past week, and as I used one candle to light another candle and another, I was reminded of those testimonies.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Just like being lit by someone else’s candle or being sharpened by their piece of iron, it is a BLESSING to hear how God is working in other people’s lives, and to know that He can do the same for YOU! If you cannot physically “get away” and listen to the stories of others, then I encourage you to READ them in biographies and autobiographies! Take note of the life examples that preachers use in their sermons! And let your spirit be lifted by the knowledge that our God is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
     Are you feeling dry and parched in your spirit? Are you caught up in the whirlwind of dishes, and laundry, and meal preparation? I have to admit that, since returning from camp, I have been overwhelmed on several occasions.  I need this reminder just as much as you do! In II Corinthians 4:16, Paul tells us that we don’t have to live a “parched” life. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” I thank the Lord that He is in the business of REFRESHING AND RENEWING, if we will but allow Him to work in our lives! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why "Bother" To Celebrate - Dinner #60

     Baby’s 1st. Birthday Party . . . Some parents host big, fancy affairs, some keep things simple, some choose not to celebrate it at all.  I think it is very sad to leave off observing the day, entirely!  A first birthday should be a special celebration of milestones! The Bible teaches us that it is IMPORTANT to celebrate things that the Lord has brought us through!  I don’t even know where to begin in thinking of everything God has done for us, in this first year of Brooklyn’s life!  He let me find a doctor who believed in testing progesterone levels, in order to prevent miscarriages . . . He allowed the doctor to get the umbilical cord off our baby’s neck in time . . . He provided a wise emergency room doctor who realized she was allergic to milk . . . He allowed her weight to begin successfully picking up . . . He gave her strength to sit up, and crawl, and walk . . . The Lord has BLESSED us!
     Whenever a Christian celebrates, the world stops and stares.  Psalm 126:2-3 declares, “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” Christians OUGHT to celebrate things like birthdays, salvations, successful surgeries, or the start of a new year!  A time of celebration gives us an opportunity to sing God’s praises! “Yes! The Lord HATH done great things for us! Let me tell you what He has done!”
    Why “bother” to do something for a child’s first birthday? Joshua 4:21-22 tells us why - “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.” Someday, you may have a preschooler in your home who loves to look at photos from his babyhood.  He’s going to want to hear all about the presents, the people who were there, the cake that got all over his face . . . And you’re going to be able to tell him, “We celebrated because we LOVED you! We celebrated because we were thankful that God GAVE YOU TO US for even just one full year of your life! We celebrated because you are a BLESSING!” What better time to rejoice in the GIFT OF LIFE than at a baby’s first birthday?!
     It’s more than just celebrating a birthday – It’s learning to treasure a child every day, realizing that we do not know how long we will have them with us.  I Samuel 1:27+2:1 “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him . . . And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD . . .” All you need is a JOYFUL HEART - one that praises God and says, “Thank You for giving us this child!” Has God given your child health and life? Has He provided for your baby’s needs? Has He given you, as a Mommy, daily strength? Then, even a FIRST birthday is important to celebrate!  

Friday, June 1, 2012

June Brides - Dinner #59

     “Oh, they say when you marry in June, You’re a bride all your life . . .” Brandon and I will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, this month – And so will many of our college friends, for that matter! The summer of 2010 was the largest “wedding season” our alma mater has ever seen!  Two whole years of married life . . . It’s hard to believe! I remember well, all of the planning that went into that lovely wedding day – purchasing decorations, looking on the internet for a modest wedding dress, finding a photo of the cake design I liked best, using a computer spreadsheet to keep within my budget . . . and trying to complete our marriage counseling books, over the phone with each other, because we were in two separate states! SMILE!  Now I have friends who are nearing wedding days and engagements, themselves.  What advice to I have to offer to these “bridal hopefuls”?  READ! I dare say that nothing helped my husband and I to prepare for marriage better than those counseling books!  Reading is a powerful, powerful thing.  Proverbs 24:27 says to, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Prepare, first! Get your field ready! You can’t very well build a house if the ground is uneven and covered with trees and brambles!  You can’t hope to “build a home” with someone, without laying a little groundwork!
     The Bible often refers to “building”, when speaking about the home.  Proverbs 24:3-4 declares that, “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” A Christian young lady won’t know EVERYTHING  there is to know about cooking, cleaning, being a wife, and raising children, when she walks up those church steps and takes her wedding vows – but she can HAVE A TEACHABLE SPIRIT! Those engagement days aren’t only for holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, and dreaming about “Happily Ever Afters”!  That’s your chance, Young Ladies! BEFORE he’s coming home every night, hoping he’ll have a clean uniform for the next day! BEFORE the baby’s screaming for HER supper as you’re trying to prepare YOURS!  No, you won’t be able to learn it ALL, during those months that you’re engaged, but you can certainly SEEK to “make it fit for thyself in the field” (Proverbs 24:27).  
     Where do you start? Psalm 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it . . .” Read your Bible! See what SCRIPTURE has to say about a godly marriage! Make sure you’re on the same page with your future spouse, by doing a Bible study together! Preparing For Marriage, by Gospel Light Publishing, is EXCELLENT! Start copying down favorite family recipes. Look up helpful blogs on subjects like couponing and saving money (my friend Tanya has one that I definitely recommend – ). TRULY TALK to the man you’re about to marry – not just “I love you! I love you! I love you!”, a million times! Maturely discuss things like ministry, finances, children, and intimacy expectations.  Proverbs 14:1 tells us that, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Be prepared TO BUILD!
     If I could purchase just three books on marriage, tie them up in ribbon, and give them at every bridal shower I ever attended, I know exactly which three they would be.  #1 Woman, The Completer, By Dr. Jack Hyles . . . #2 Created To Be His Help Meet, By Debi Pearl  . . . and #3 Love and Respect, By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  Are you already married? One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was to read at least ONE book on having a Christian marriage, every year of your married life! Start WHERE YOU ARE!  Whether you are a beautiful bride-to-be or a wife of 30 years, you can BEGIN TO BUILD!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rejecting A Blessing - Dinner #58

     We say it aloud during tearful farewells and  joyful occasions . . . We write it at the end of letters . . . “God Bless!”  How DOES the Lord bless us? With provisions, with safety, with good health, with children . . . When we pray, “Lord, please bless our marriage!” or “Lord, please bless our family!”, do we really mean it?  Is it possible that God might WANT to bless us, but that we are in some way REJECTING the blessing?!  
    For about the first six months of married life, my husband and I paid our bills, bought our groceries and our gas, and then gave to the church “as we were able”.  Things didn’t work out so well that way, and again and again, we felt guilty.  There just wasn’t enough “left over” for the Lord!  We both knew what the Bible teaches about giving by faith, but it can be very hard to do when you’re first starting out, and just trying to keep a roof over your heads! A new year came around, and we determined that we would give FIRST, and trust the Lord to take care of us.  Do you know what we saw happen? We saw God stretch our groceries further than ever before! We saw God give enough gas every week to keep us from running out!  We saw God provide insurance coverage that paid for the delivery of our baby girl! And the list goes on and on . . . Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  The Lord truly keeps His Word!  He was more than ready to bless us - we just needed to trust Him more!  Are you forgoing tithing, and missing out on a blessing?
     Our Heavenly Father does not only bless financially.  He also blesses with babies! Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Do you know what the sad thing is? This, perhaps more than any other blessing, is one that Christians say they'd, "rather not have."  God says, “I want to reward and bless your marriage, by giving you children.”  God’s people say, “We’re going to do all we can, with whatever the world has to offer, to ensure that doesn’t happen.”  God says, “But I have plans for your family. Plans to use you in a mighty way.” God’s people say, “We have our own plans.  Only so many children, spaced only so many years apart. No more, no less.  We can’t handle more than that.”  God doesn’t bless where He will not provide! Don’t you know that He will take care of you? That He will strengthen you? That He will enable you? Proverbs 10:22 “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Children are not a mixed curse-blessing! It is the world that has caused us to view them that way!  God’s description of a blessed man is one who has a growing family! Psalm 128:3-4 “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.”  When Job was being doubly blessed by God, at the end of all his trials, God gave him more children! Job 42:12-13 “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning . . . He had also seven sons and three daughters.”  Are children a blessing you are currently rejecting?
     God’s special will for us is a path that is blessed!  In Matthew 23:37, the Lord Jesus laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Is there some way that God wishes to bless you, but you aren’t obeying His voice? Isaiah 48:17-18 “. . . I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” What tremendous blessing could YOU be missing out on?
     Who is to say that one blessing is greater than someone else’s? ALL blessings from God are heavenly blessings!  There are some whom God desires to bless with more financial security than others . . . There are some whom God desires to bless with more children than others . . . There are some whom God desires to bless with more good health than others . . . But God lovingly desires to bless EACH AND EVERY ONE of His children! Are you a Christian lady who likes to “pick and choose” your own blessings? Or does your heart anxiously desire every single blessing that THE LORD desires to send your way? Please do not reject God’s blessings to you!  May you have a heart that is ready to RECEIVE them! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Personal and Spiritual Growth - Dinner #57

     Brandon and I smile and laugh, when we replay camcorder footage of our little girl.  At the point where our latest “Home DVD” begins, she couldn’t even sit up by herself, yet.  She hadn’t learned to crawl forward.  She was just getting the hang of eating pureed baby food. Now her 1-year birthday is only four weeks away! She has grown, and developed, and changed SO MUCH since that night we first held her in our arms! As I think about this, I have to ask myself, how much growing have I done, as a woman, during that same amount of time? Am I any stronger spiritually, wiser mentally, or happier emotionally, for having lived this past year?  Are you?  Having a weekly “goal chart” has helped me IMMENSELY, this year! I’m getting to feel as though I’m DOING SOMETHING with my life! Nevertheless, despite a lot of checkmarks in a lot of boxes, I know that I cannot do any TRUE growing AT ALL without the LORD’S help!  Not any spiritual growing, and not any personal growing, either!  
     The year 2012 is already nearly half over.  Are you seeking to grow in ALL areas of your life? Are you, perhaps, trying to exercise, prepare healthy meals, read good books, or share the Bible with others, more?  In Colossians 1:10, Paul declares that one of his prayers for the believers in Colosse was that they, “ . . . might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” God wants us to grow in EVERY GOOD WAY!  As Christians, we should constantly be moving FORWARD!  
     Does growth of any kind just happen overnight? No! It occurs over TIME! One hour at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time.  I have SO enjoyed being able to do some gardening, this past week! In addition to some pretty flowerbox blooms, we ended up using a few packets of seeds near the back porch, as well.  Those seeds just went in the ground a day or two ago, but I’m already finding myself impatiently looking out the window, waiting for signs of little sprouts!   It’s going to take some time! The Bible often refers to our growth as Christians, in terms of plants.  Psalm 92:12-13 tells us that, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.” If you plant yourself in God’s house, hearing the preaching of God’s Word, you can grow, spiritually!  But that isn’t the end! In Mark 4:20, Jesus says, “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”  They DO something with what they have received!  They hear God’s Word, receive it, and then BRING FORTH FRUIT! Can they do all this growing on their own? In John 15:4-5, the Son of God declares, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” 
     Has 2012 marked a year of “growing” for you, thus far?  Spiritual growing is definitely more important than any personal growing we may do, but we must realize, Ladies, that NO GROWING occurs without the LORD’S HELP!  II Corinthians 10:17 “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  You cannot read your Bible every day without God’s help! You cannot improve your marriage without God’s help! You cannot find good bargains and save money on groceries, unless the Lord enables you to do so!  If you do any growing in good things, it is all to the glory of God! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thoughts On Mother's Day - Dinner #25 Re-Posted

I wanted to re-post this particular "Dinner's In The Oven" devotional from last year, in honor of Mother's Day . . . I remember well the thoughts of my heart, as I carried Brooklyn in my womb, last May! What a blessing to be taking her to church with me, this Mother's Day! SMILE! A special blessing to all my mommy friends - those with grown children, those with young children, and those whose babies are in Heaven, tonight . . . Happy Mother's Day!

      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; andbefore 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 perfectbeautiful, 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!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Heavenly Parenting - Dinner #56

     I had the joy of experiencing some fellowship with other ladies, this past week, and it never fails – when moms get together, they talk about their children!! SMILE! “Does yours sleep through the night?”. . . “Do you let yours crawl into bed with you?” . . . “Do you give your child Tylenol?” . . . “Mine was walking by the time they were 8 months old!” . . . And on it goes . . . It feels good to share from your own experiences and to gain from the experiences of others, doesn’t it?! How vitally important that we draw wisdom from our HEAVENLY FATHER’S parenting example! As a Christian parent, you are your child’s first glimpse of what GOD is like!  Are you and your husband striving to be like Christ, as you raise your family?
     More than any other quality, God shows His children LOVE. Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” No child should be afraid that Mommy and Daddy will love them one day and despise them the next. Does this love sometimes require correction and discipline? Yes.  Proverbs 3:11-12 shows a father saying, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Parents must lovingly correct and chasten, but they must also follow the Heavenly Father’s pattern for FORGIVENESS.  I John 1:9 tells us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Once God forgives us, He does not bring up our past wrongs over and over again, and neither should we, with OUR children. True forgiveness is final! Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
     Our Lord carefully INSTRUCTS His children.  Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go . . .” He doesn’t leave us wondering what we should do, or pondering how to obey Him! James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” As parents, we should be ready with instruction and wise counsel! We should be willing to take the time to teach and to train our children!
     Hourly, daily, yearly, our Heavenly Father PROVIDES for His own.  Matthew 7:11 “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?” As parents, we must prayerfully work and save, and do our very best, to meet the needs of those in our care.  Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?”  Matthew 6:30 “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” God lovingly takes care of each and every one of us!
     Little girls and boys should be able to rest in the fact that their parents will seek to PROTECT them from harm!  Will there be times when your child will fall down and hurt themselves? Will there often be circumstances beyond your control? Yes! But just as our Heavenly Father is there to protect His children, we must strive to be there for our little ones! Psalm 36:7 “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under  the shadow of thy wings.” Children should know that when they are with Mom and Dad, they are SAFE! Psalm 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Do Mommies sometimes have to give up precious sleep during a thunderstorm? Do they often have to put their arms around someone small, when the wind is howling outside? That is what our Lord so often does for us! Psalm 91:5 “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Time and time again, our Heavenly Father gives us the peaceful reassurance that He will keep us SAFE!
     What should we do when our children are crying? We should do what our Lord would do! Psalm 147:3 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Mommies need to be ready with hugs, with kisses, and with Band-Aids! That is what Jesus does for our hearts!  Perhaps no other book of the Bible speaks of the COMFORT of God, like the book of Psalms.  In Psalm 57:1-2, David prays, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” David knew that he could find shelter in God until the terrors surrounding him were over.  Shouldn’t our babies be able to trust that Mommy and Daddy will have open arms for them, whenever things “go bump in the night”? Whenever they are afraid? I hear a lot of mothers say things like, “They have to learn to comfort themselves to sleep.” To a certain extent, God says to His children, “encourage thyself”, but He also says, “I will not leave you comfortless”!  (I Samuel 30:6 + John 14:18) Aren’t we thankful that God hears us WHENEVER we cry out to Him?! Psalm 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
     You may be saying, “I don’t know how to be a proper parent! Do you have any good books you could recommend?” There is no better book on parenting than the Bible! There is no better example of parenthood than our loving Heavenly Father! Day in and day out, God loves, forgives, instructs, provides, protects, and comforts His children.  May each godly mother and father strive to do the same!


Monday, April 30, 2012

A Same But Different Sea - Dinner #55

     Sometimes we’re faced with a brand new trial, we’ve never known before.  Sometimes we’re faced with a trial that is the same, yet, somehow different.   Joshua 3:4 says, “. . . that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.” My own family is facing a “fork in the road”.  We have been for several months now.  Some weeks we feel as though we have peace about a step in a certain direction, and then, all of a sudden, things change again.  As a woman, my heart desires  STABILITY!  I have the peace and the certainty that my husband wants what is best for our family, but any talk of moving ANYWHERE or changing ANYTHING has been very unsettling to me, lately.
      This past Sunday night, I had the opportunity to hear some of the Crown College “Preacher Boys” in our pulpit.  One of them preached from Matthew chapter 14.  “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go . . . But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.” (Matthew 14:22, 24-25) This young man pointed out that some of these disciples had done this before! They were fishermen, and had gone across this sea many times - but this time it was different.  That thought really stuck with me.  You see, I, too, have a “sea” before me that I’ve crossed many times – but this time, it’s different . . . My husband keeps talking about the possibility of us moving or changing jobs.  That is NOT a new sea to me!  I’ve moved SO many times in my life!  My dad was in the military! But this time, it’s different . . .  I don’t want to leave the first home of our married life! Everything from the carpeting to the cabinets has been just right for us! We’re close to grocery stores, a library, parks, church, friends . . Perhaps, God won’t have us actually move.  But, even if we don’t, a job change is frightening, too! I’ve been through job changes before, but we have a baby now! What about health coverage? What if we find out we’re having another baby, before new insurance goes into place? In many ways, we “have not passed this way heretofore.”
     The young man preaching on Sunday night, went on to say that this sailing in the boat was a journey to COME TO CHRIST!  Matthew 14:28-29 “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come . . .”  Lord, if it is YOU . . . I must be assured in my heart, that if GOD has us move or change jobs, then it will be a journey to DRAW US CLOSER TO HIM!  In Exodus 33:13, Moses begged the Lord, “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee . . .” Is this what You would have our family do, Oh Lord?  Please show us the path to KNOWING YOU MORE!  Exodus 33:15 continues Moses’ conversation: “And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” If You’re not going with us, Lord, then please don’t move us! May we only move or make a change, if YOU will be with us! That should be our prayer!
     Are you facing a familiar sea with a different type of storm than before?  Praise God, that our Lord is the OVERCOMER of storms!  “ . . . for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.” (Luke 8:25)  “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” (Psalm 107:29) Jesus may tell us to “go” out into the sea, but He will also be there to reach out His hand, and to say unto us, “Come” . . . As a lovely Wild’s song says, “Draw me close to Thyself, O Lord, And give me peace in the midst of my storm...”  If it is a sailing journey of GOD’S choosing, then it is a journey to draw us closer to Himself!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Continuing On - Dinner #54

     “Dinner’s In The Oven” has been a devotional journal of what God has shown me and taught me, week after week, and month after month – from struggling financially as newlyweds, to finding out we were having a baby, to caring for a young infant in our home.   There have been so many times that I have wondered – Should I keep trying to do this?  I send the devotionals out as emails and post them as notes on Facebook, but the blog itself only gets visited by about 15-20 people a month.  Is it time for me to just close out the blog? Should I take a break from these devotionals, entirely?  But sometimes I see 4 readers in Russia, 1 in Latvia, or 2 in France, on my blog’s statistics for the month.  Do they just happen upon “Dinner’s In The Oven” articles by accident?  Do they even understand English?  I have no way of knowing.  But it could be that there is a lady, hungry for God’s Word, all the way on the other side of the world, who waits for me to make another post each week . . . How can I stop sharing what God is teaching me?  Galatians 6:9 exhorts, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  II Thessalonians 3:13 seconds the motion by saying, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”  No.  For now, I know I’m meant to keep writing.  It’s a ministry that the Lord has given me! Sometimes, I may not see many “likes”, “shares”, “comments”, and “replies”, but only GOD knows what He is doing through His Word!
     The Lord declares that if you’re giving out His Word to people, it will NOT return void!  Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” In I Corinthians 15:58, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
     Are you, too, trying to share the Bible with others?  In I Corinthians 3:9, Paul declares, “For we are labourers together with God . . .” We are working WITH God, doing HIS work!  How can we become “weary in well doing”, when GOD is on our side? Does it feel like NONE of the children in your small group are listening?  One of them may go home and teach their unsaved parents a new Bible song, this week!  Does your work on that Sunday School bus or in that nursery room seem insignificant? As the song goes, “Little is much, when GOD is in it . . .”
     Why should we continue on?  If it is a work that God has given you, then it is important to Him! Sometimes we do not KNOW the influence we are having on someone else.  Sometimes we never find out until we “get to the other side”.  I’d like to think that maybe there will be a lady or two in heaven, because God helped me to share His Word, over the internet, from my little home in the United States, each month.  What is YOUR special ministry and “labour of love” (Hebrews 6:10)?  Are you sometimes tempted to “give it up for a while”?  I Corinthians 12:22 tells us, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”  Your work may not seem like much to you, but God says it IS necessary!  Hebrews 13:20,21 “Now the God of peace . . . Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight . . .”  While you are working with others, God is working IN YOU!  Philippians 1:6 declares that we can be “. . . confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Don’t give up what God has given you to do!   While you are doing that important work to Him, He’s still working ON YOU!  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Light In The Darkness - Dinner #53

     Sometimes you can look at where God has brought you, in your life, and find yourself asking, “What has He been preparing me for ?”  I still get excited anytime I hear the very mention of the word “Africa” . . . Nearly all of my childhood and youth, and even the majority of my college years, I researched, wrote about, made bulletin boards of, and prayed for AFRICA!  It was very much my heartbeat!  But then I met a young man who became my heartbeat.  His burden was for a country in an entirely different part of the world – Central Asia.  I fell completely in love with Brandon, knew he was the right one for me, and tried to take his burden as my own . . . But to this day, I often wonder and ponder in my heart, “If we’re meant to go to Central Asia, then why did God give me such a love for Africa?! Why did He let me stay on that path for so long?  Why does it make me want to cry whenever I think of going anywhere else?”  I do not know the answers to these questions, but I know that God does!  What a LOVING and CARING God He is!  He won’t leave me in the dark!  He WILL show me His perfect plan, in HIS perfect timing! 
     Psalm 143:10 says, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good . . .” How good our God truly is!  I recently came across a passage in Nehemiah, which talks about all that God did for the children of Israel, those 40 years in the desert.  “Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.  Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.” (Nehemiah 9:19-21)  Do you know what happened as they waited to reach that land that God had promised them?  He provided for their every need! He took care of them! He made sure that their FEET DIDN’T EVEN SWELL!  Does God care for MY needs and lovingly lead ME, when I do not know the way? Yes, He does!
     In Isaiah chapter 42, our Heavenly Father promises us, “And I will bring the blind by a way which they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.  These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” There are times when we do not understand what God is doing, but God is WITH US in the dark, unknowing times!  He is right there to make everything light and everything straight! Daniel 2:22 “He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”
     The Psalmist David prayed during a time of uncertainty, “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (Psalm 143:8) We ALL have periods in our lives where we feel very much “in the dark”.  But, Praise the Lord! In John 12:46, Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”  Jesus Christ not only gives us light, He IS the Light!  He not only shows us the way, He IS the way! He is the Resurrected Savior! John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” As I think of that verse, I can hear the words of a precious hymn, in my mind . . . “ ‘ Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise; Just to know, Thus saith the Lord. . .” You can trust Him!  He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life!  You can trust Him for salvation! You can trust Him through the dark times! You can trust Him to always show you the way!   
      Happy Resurrection Sunday, Ladies! God Bless!