Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lonely Ladies - Dinner #46

     It is often lonely when you first get married, but sometimes it can get quite lonely, being a stay-at-home mother, as well.  Sometimes it can feel lonely even when you are finally able to get together with other moms! When I married my husband, I left a church I’d been a member of for 11 years.  I’d taught in their Christian school, worked in their nursery, sung in their choir, and knew just about everybody by name.  I left my closest girl friend and my family, behind.  As a military daughter, I already realized what it was like to have to “pick up and move”, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.  This past weekend, when I attended a Sunday School fellowship at the church we attend now, I cried my eyes out when I got home! Why? Because even in a crowd, a person can feel like they just don’t belong! It was during this recent “Lonely Me”, that the Lord reached down and whispered to my heart, “People don’t need to know who YOU are – People need to know Who your Jesus is!” . . . When we are lonely, God wants us to draw comfort from His loving throne, so that we might continue to be a good witness for Him!  Do you know that Jesus will always lovingly come to you and speak to your heart when you’re in need of Him? John 14:18 promises, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” HE knows exactly what you need!
     There are so very many lonely ladies in this world, but to each and every one, the Lord Jesus reminds us, “ . . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)  Depression is a very real thing.  Sorrow and grief are very real things.  The Psalmist tells us that even those who “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” can find their comfort in God (Psalm 23:4). No matter your circumstances, God is there!  Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”  God WILL NOT FAIL YOU!  The Bible promises that even “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) No matter who is against you, God is with you! No matter who has left you, God is still right by your side!  Psalm 139:8-10 “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
     Do you know that Jesus understands our lonely times? Jesus Christ left His home in Heaven to come to earth – He left God the Father, the angels, the redeemed saints of old . . . Then when He was born, He was a “nobody”; a tiny infant lying in a manger . . . For much of His ministry, no one knew Who He truly was . . . He is described in Scripture as a man Who was “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).  Our loving Savior KNOWS what it means to be lonely! We may lose a spouse or a friend, we may lose a home or a church, but what a joy to know that we have a Comforter “acquainted with grief”, Who has already “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” for us (Isaiah 54:3-4)!
     As Christian women, saved and on our way to heaven, we may battle loneliness, time and time again.  But when we think we have no friends, when we think we have no one else in this world who cares or understands, we have a Heavenly Father Who loves us!  Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not “present” loneliness or lonely times still “to come” – NOTHING “shall be able to separate us from the love of God”!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Romance Rekindled - Dinner #45

     This past weekend, my husband took just the two of us up to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for an overnight getaway!  He and I enjoyed all the romance of a beautiful cabin, a dusting of snow, a Jacuzzi, a hot tub, and a lot of QUALITY TIME TOGETHER! The baby had terrific babysitters, by the way, and everything was WONDERFUL!
     Lots of women like to complain that their husbands NEVER take them out on dates or do anything romantic with them.  The fact of the matter is, sometimes we women can be too “practical” for our own good!  We can “shoot down” every romantic idea our husbands ever have, until they eventually just quit trying!  It’s true! I’m often guilty of doing it, myself! Think about it for a minute.  How many of us coupon-clipping, low-grocery-budget wives automatically say, “But, Honey, we really don’t have the money for that, right now!”, as soon as our husbands suggest a restaurant for dinner or a date-night movie rental?! It isn’t fair to say that Hubby isn’t romantic anymore, if we never ALLOW him to be!  I Corinthians 7:33 “But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”  A wise and loving husband may realize the need for some alone-time for the two of you, before you even realize the need for it, yourself!
     For many stay-at-home moms, the husband is the only “breadwinner” in the family.  The sad thing is, the WIFE is often the one who solely determines where the finances go!  Shouldn’t the “thrifty” wife allow her husband to lovingly spend some of the money HE has earned, HIS way?!  I’m not saying let the children starve or the bills go unpaid! I’m just sharing with you one of the most valuable lessons I learned, back during our pre-wedding marriage counseling days – when your husband is trying to express his love by spending money on YOU or YOUR MARRIAGE, LET HIM!! Song of Solomon 2:4 “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”  A wife who immediately comes up with a million excuses why NOT to do what her husband has lovingly suggested, is “tearing down”, rather than “building up”! Proverbs 14:1 “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
     People who say they’re WAITING to get married until they have enough money, or WAITING to have children until they have enough money, or WAITING to take a romantic trip until they have enough money, often wait until it’s too late!  Who’s to say that you’ll still be ABLE to have a baby by the time you’ve finally determined you “have enough money” to “afford” one?! Who’s to say your beloved spouse will still be LIVING by the time you get around to that “special date” together?! We are not promised tomorrow!  God wants us to be good stewards of all He has placed in our hands, and part of His will is for us to keep our families and our marriages STRONG!  You CANNOT TAKE YOUR MONEY WITH YOU!  Luke 12:20 “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”  Does this mean you should spend everything you have and never save a dime? No! Does this mean you should spend your family’s way into bankruptcy? No! But do you realize what just one overnight trip or one marriage retreat can do to strengthen the love that you share with your spouse?!  Do you realize what just one dinner “out”, without the thought of work, children, or dirty dishes, can do to relax your spirits and rekindle the flame in your marriage?!  Don’t throw all of that away for the sake of having just a little more “financial security”! “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:9)  God means for your marriages to be strong!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Selflessness Of Motherhood - Dinner #44

     As the baby is finishing her breakfast bottle, you smell a dirty diaper.  When you go to change it, you find that it has blown out the side, and you’re going to have to give her a bath right away, rather than waiting for night-time.  There are too many dishes in the kitchen sink, to set the baby tub inside it, so you’re going to have to wash all of THEM before you can give a bath.  Dishes are clean, baby is clean, but by this time, guess what?  She’s HUNGRY AGAIN!  SMILE!  Have YOU had your breakfast yet? Nope! And you haven’t had your shower yet, either!  Does this scenario sound familiar?  Being a Mommy requires a lot of SELFLESSNESS!!
     People will tell you that, “Nothing teaches patience like parenthood”, for a reason!  God is our patient Heavenly Father, and He often uses children in our lives, to make us more like Him!  In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “ . . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  As mothers seeking to follow after Christ, we must selflessly DENY OURSELVES, every day!  Is this an easy task, when we feel like our “Me Time” has just been taken away from us? No, indeed!  How much easier it would be to get angry and say the wrong things!  How much easier to just “lose it” and have an “emotional breakdown” in front of everybody!  Romans 6:11 instructs us to, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Can we die to our sin, and do what is right, in and of ourselves?   In Galatians 6:14, Paul says, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  We can only be “dead” to the world and to sin through Jesus Christ our Lord!   If we hope to refrain from getting angry when our 3-year-old colors on the wall, then we are going to need the Lord’s help to do it!  If we hope to be patient when the baby has spilled his food for the fourth time in a week, then we are going to need heavenly assistance! We cannot glory in ourselves! Romans 7:18-21 declares, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing . . . For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do . . . I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  Whenever we try to do anything right, on our own, we find that we miserably fail! Galatians 5:25 tells us that, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Even when things are going all wrong, our reactions can be RIGHT reactions if the Holy Spirit is leading and directing our lives!
     There are days when all you want to do is crawl back under the covers and pretend the dead leaves, the mold, the food-stained dishes, and the dirty diapers just don’t exist.  There are mornings when you really, REALLY wish you didn’t have a pediatrician’s appointment to keep.  It is for times like these that we have Galatians 6:9 - “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  What shall we reap? A happy, healthy home . . . Children who “arise up, and call” us “blessed” (Proverbs 31:28) . . . A contented husband . . . And a million other riches.  How do we become the selfless wives and mothers that God wants us to be?  Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”  We give ourselves to God!  We say, “Lord, I give my life to you!  There are days when I’d much rather be someone else, with no husband and no children to care for, but You have CALLED ME to be a wife and a mother!  That is Your perfect plan for me!  Please help me to be a living sacrifice for You! Help me to daily do what YOU want me to do!”  When those difficult days come, God is always there, helping to give us patience in the midst of our lessons in SELFLESSNESS!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolved To Be Diligent - Dinner #43

     “I could NEVER stay at home with the kids, all day!  I’d be bored out of my mind!” Did you know that, in all reality, a “stay-at-home-mom” CHOOSES to be either the most idle or the most hardworking person on earth?  Everyone does SOMETHING with their 7 days a week – some watch more television than others, some share the Gospel more than others, some impart wisdom to their children more than others . . . The choice is entirely up to YOU!
     Proverbs 10:4-5 tells us that, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  Would your family be earning very much money if your husband decided to work at his job with the same amount of diligence as you manage things at home?  If you are a “keeper at home” , then that is your JOB!  That is the task given to you by GOD! 
     If someone were to ask me, “What was YOUR New Year’s resolution?”, I would have to say, “To be a more diligent housewife than ever before.”  My original “Weekly To-Do” list included the usual - vacuuming, dusting, laundry, etc. - but I found that there were several NEW things I wanted to add.  In 2012, I want to make more time for things like preparing homemade baby food, reading books, sharing Bible stories with Brooklyn, writing love letters to my husband, and so on.  If I just make it a general goal to “be a better housewife” for the year, I probably won’t really change anything.  If I add several things to my “Weekly To-Do” list, however, I’m forced to see my goals and be reminded of them as I go through EVERY WEEK.  Maybe I won’t be able to check-off all 3 boxes for exercising, EVERY week, but that is, at least, the GOAL!  Maybe I won’t be able to do “Music Time” with Brooklyn as many times as I’d like to EVERY week, but it is at least something to strive toward! 
     Remember “The Proverbs 31 Woman”?  We find so many verbs, or “action words”, used to describe her, in that passage of Scripture!  “Seeketh” . . . “Worketh” . . . “Bringeth” . . . “Riseth” . . . “Giveth” . . . “Considereth” . . . “Girdeth” . . . “Strengtheneth” . . . She is constantly DOING!  She is GUIDING her household!  I Timothy 5:14 “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”  In Proverbs 19:14-15, Solomon tells his son that, “ . . . a prudent wife is from the LORD. Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.”  If you are an idle wife you may eventually find yourself “hungry” for a great many things – wisdom, knowledge, or even the respect of your husband and children.
     Should we allow ourselves to be so “busy” that we neglect what is TRULY important? No, of course not!  As we go throughout our week, we discover that our time here on earth is REALLY all about asking God what HE wants us to do with each new day and doing it “with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  I may not get to everything on "the list” – that may not be God’s plan for me this particular week – but having something to go by, helps me to be DILIGENT.  How easy it is to let day after day, month after month, go by, sitting around doing NOTHING.  NOT growing in the Lord!  NOT improving our own minds!  NOT teaching our children ANYTHING!  In Ephesians 5:16, we are encouraged to be “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Move forward with your life!
     Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,  Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest . . .”  Is your husband always at home to see how you spend your time? No.  But God is!  Are you doing the best you can do, to take care of your husband and your children?  Are you doing the best you can do, to be a BLESSING to your household?  How will you choose to guide your home in 2012? With diligence?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year Upon Us - Dinner #42

     Another year with new uncertainties . . . 2012 is a year in which my husband and I find ourselves  needing direction and guidance for our little family more than ever before.  Are we meant to stay where we are, and continue to further our education?  Should Brandon try to find a second job, in order to start saving money for missionary deputation? Would God have us move back to Virginia or to Georgia, to serve in one of our home churches for a season? 
     Proverbs 27:1 warns us, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  The truth of the matter is, anything may change in an instant for ANY ONE of us, and only God knows the outcome.  In Proverbs 3, Solomon tells his son to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” God says it is better to trust in the Lord WITH all your heart, then to follow the leading OF your own heart!  Psalm 37:5 declares, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  Let GOD be in control of your path! Let HIM guide your footsteps! 
     This New Year’s Eve, as I began to question and wonder what lies ahead for us, the Lord lovingly reminded me of Isaiah 41:10 - a verse I once claimed as my “life verse”.  In it, the Lord 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.”  Joshua 1:9, a similar verse, tells us to, “ . . . Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  It doesn’t matter where we are in 2012 – it doesn’t matter what city, or what state, or what COUNTRY even!  God has promised to be with us WHEREVER we are!  He has promised to strengthen us and to hold us up with His loving hand! 
     In Isaiah 41:9, God says, “. . . Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”  Despite what I may think or feel at any given moment, God has a special plan for me!  A plan that does not change!  Proverbs 4:26-27 “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”  God says to walk with PURPOSE and walk with BLINDERS ON.  Don’t be distracted by the things of this world!  Do what God has called you to do!
     Do you remember the parable of the soils?  In Matthew 13:22, Jesus explains to His disciples, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”  When we are trying to find the right path for our lives, worries and cares, and what the world has to offer, can “choke” what God desires to show us from His Word. We may not even be able to receive His direction for our lives, if the soil of our heart has become too thorny!  In Psalm 119:105, David says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  The path ahead may seem a bit fuzzy, as we stand on the brink of a brand new year, and yet God’s Word is always clear.  Is the soil of your heart soft enough to receive it?
     Have you stepped off the right path, in 2011? Have you strayed a little from God’s plan for your life?  Paul declares in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Have you made mistakes innumerable, just as I have? Forget them and PRESS FORWARD!  This is a brand new year for brand new beginnings in Christ Jesus!  Listen to God’s voice, know what HE wants you to do, and “do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)!  God Bless & Happy New Year 2012!!