Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye - A Mother's Testimony

     There is so much about this type of grief that can’t be shared, but my heart longs to write . . . has always needed to write, during the emotional moments of my life.  What I CAN tell you is that the labor was long, and difficult, and tearful.  I can tell you that my husband was wonderful, and went through every step of this tragic journey with me.  I can tell you that people were praying for our family on every corner of the globe, and that we felt God’s Presence, His grace, and His strength, in a way we had never known before.  And on Friday morning, December 16th, 2016, Our Little Boy, Joshua David Kelley was delivered.  He was very small – his face not quite as fully developed as we had imagined – but his tiny legs, and knees, and feet, his arms and his hands, were precious.  Mommy kissed his feet several times before she told him “goodbye” . . . I kiss our Charlotte’s, now, and think about those sad kisses, every time.  How VERY grateful we were to God that we had our sweet girlies to come home to! Whenever they give us a hug or rub our backs, it heals us.  Whenever they smile, or giggle a contagious giggle, it heals us.  Whenever they ask a child’s question about the loss of our baby, or about heaven, it heals our hearts to answer them. 
     A Methodist church group in the area, evidently donates blankets to the hospital for sad deliveries such as ours, and we received a purple one.  It is a soft blanket, that, for now, still smells like the hospital.  The familiar smell and sounds of that floor made me weep when we first walked up to the registration desk, but now the smell of the hospital on that blanket brings me comfort.  I’ve been sleeping with it, lately . . . maybe to somehow help the Mommy heart that would have been snuggling a newborn . . . And we have the most precious wind chimes hanging in the kitchen – “Forever In Our Hearts” wind chimes that friends in college sent to us, after they learned of our sad news.  Joshua never made a sound, but those wind chimes do, and it, too, heals Mommy’s heart.
     On Sunday, I tried to rest the remainder of the day, but my heart craved the blessing of sitting in church and hearing the Christmas hymns being sung.  I was so thankful to be there with our family, even for just the morning service.  The girls wore their Christmas dresses – Jacqueline’s was a special sparkly present from Grammy & Grampa – and Charlotte got to ride in her new front-facing car seat for the first time. She must have felt like she was on the rocket ship from the “Little Einstein” shows, because she automatically began saying “pat-pat-pat-pat” for the take-off. J Even amid our grief, we smile and we laugh.  Only God can do that, Dear Friends!  I pray that none of you ever have to go through such a horribly dark tragedy as we walked through, this past week, but if you do, GOD IS THERE!  And you have no idea how beautiful those valleys can be, when He is by your side! 
     This past Wednesday night, I stayed at home and rested, in anticipation of labor the following day.  I’ll never forget how in the quiet peacefulness of those hours alone, I was able to listen to instrumental music and stitch a little blanket outfit to put on our baby.  The photo of it makes my heart smile.  It was what he was wearing when we said our sweet goodbyes.  Only God can make such moments beautiful.  From the delivery and the precious farewells, to all our memory-making for Little Joshua, to our hugs and family moments with our girls, and even anticipating a special Christmas – How we thank and praise the Lord for such unforgettable days!  He is our Rock and our Fortress, and He is good! Please always know that, Friends! We have been walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”, and God is here!  My husband and I are going through that valley together, and are becoming more in love with each other than ever before.  There is no anger in our grief – Our God is trustworthy! And how He sweetly sends His comfort our way! People from church have brought us meals and washed our dishes; have even offered to help us wrap our Christmas presents . . . I will never, ever forget this December . . . And that is why I desired so to write to you all, and to share . . .
     Psalm 145:2 declares, “Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” Every day . . . not just the good ones . . . Even on the day your body refuses over and over again to accept the sorrowful fact that you are being forced to go into labor . . . Even on the day you hold a very tiny, lifeless body in your hands, and have to say “farewell” . . . Even on the day you come home from the hospital with no little newborn to cradle and kiss . . . EVERY day . . . Psalm 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”  No matter when the tears come, God is there.  He loves me so much that he even keeps every tear in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).  “ . . . yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”  (Psalm 57:1) He is the “God of all comfort” (II Corinthians 1:3).  Do you know my Sweet Savior?  Have you trusted Him to save your soul?  Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  He stretched out His arms, when He died on the cross for your sins and mine, and His arms are still open for you to run to, today.  Romans 10:9 promises us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
     This peace that we know in our trial and our tragedy?  That isn’t something you can find in a medication, or in a counseling book, or even in the sweet reassurance of a friend.  Our peace comes from GOD, and YOU can know His peace, as well! His salvation “full and free” is available to ANYONE who calls upon Him in sweet, childlike faith.  I pray that if you know Him not, that you will trust in Jesus Christ, today! 
     Do you know why this Christmas Season can still be bright in our sorrow? Because I have not “lost” our Baby Boy . . . This Mommy knows exactly where to find him. J We shall see you again, Little One – because Heaven is our home. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

God Is In Control - Dinner #73

     A couple months back, our youth pastor taught a lesson on Job, in which he made the point that “there is really SO LITTLE in life over which we have any control.” And that thought has really stuck with me, since then.  We THINK we have control – We sometimes think that it is entirely up to us to keep our children safe, or to keep our plants alive, or to put the right President in office – and, no, we are not void of all responsibility, but, ultimately, GOD is the one Who is really in control of our lives.

     Psalm 104 speaks of a loving and kind Creator who cares for the world which He has made: “He watereth the hills from his chambers . . . He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man . . . He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night . . . The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. . . These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. . . Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”

     On the flip-side of this, what have WE created? What are WE in control of?  “Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? . . . Hast thou given the horse strength? . . . Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39) The answer is quite obviously, “No!” WE are not in control of such things! The truth of the matter is, we are in control of so very little that occurs in our lives. 

Deuteronomy 4:39 “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

Psalm 86:10 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”

Romans 11:33-34, 36 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? . . . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

     We worship the One True God! He is WISE and He IS in control! He is in control of EVERY aspect of my life! He is in control of the very breath I breathe! Job 12:10 “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”

     God was in control when, as a first-year teacher, I had to be rushed by ambulance, for an emergency appendectomy. God was in control when a doctor later told me that if I didn’t follow his worldly advice, I might never be able to have any children. God was in control, when we moved here with two little ones, and Brandon lost his job only a couple of months later.  God was in control, when He started laying Southeast Asia on our hearts.  And I have to believe that God is in control, even if we take 4 – maybe even 5 – little girls to a country that is predominantly Muslim.  I have to believe that He is in control, even if I end up wrapping Christmas presents, early, in case we never make it back from our survey trip.  I have to believe that He is in control, if we have to postpone our trip until the beginning of January, because of a missionary visa situation.  Because My Bible tells me that God IS in control! And God is in control, no matter what you are going through in YOUR life.  Whether it’s health-related, or family- related, or presidential-related . . .

     Do we all have anxious thoughts, at times? Absolutely!  But the Bible says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19  If you’re tempted to be up until the wee hours of the morning, tonight, watching the little red and blue State results on the screen, open your Bible to the book of Psalms, instead, and “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . .” Colossians 3:15

Psalm 91:2, 4-5 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust . . . He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”

     We can place our vote - and I hope you did, today – but we really have no say in who gets elected to be the next President of the United States of America. My Bible tells me, “But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psalm 75:7) “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings . . .” (Daniel 2:21)   And we can trust Him!  

Psalm 84:11-12 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”

     God is in control – and God seeks my GOOD.  Does evil sometimes befall us? Yes.  But God means even THAT for our good. Remember Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20? “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good. . .” Had bad things happened in Joseph’s life? Yes!  But God was in control, and God “meant it unto good.” He always has a BIGGER and a BETTER plan than our human ones.  Even if the opposing candidate wins . . .

     It’s all about TRUSTING God and GLORIFYING God . . . and, no matter, the results of this election, not waking up in despondency, tomorrow, throwing up our hands and wondering where God is in all of this. Because “ . . . 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.” Romans 8:38-39  Not even Mrs. Hillary Clinton. We serve a LOVING God.  And NOTHING that occurs in our lives is out of His control. 

     There might be dark days ahead of us as a country.  There might be dark days ahead of YOU, as an individual, or ahead of me.  But we have to trust, that whatever befalls us, God “means it unto good.”  Romans 8:28 holds the very special promise, “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.” I Timothy 1:17 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Mother's Strength - Dinner #72

     One of my favorite projects, this year, has been writing “The Mommy Letters” . . . I don’t write them every day, but I write them whenever I can.  Sometimes it’s a letter to just Brooklyn, or just Charlotte . . . Sometimes it’s a letter written to all 4 of the girls. . . But it has ended up being much like journal entries, describing what is happening each month, in our lives, and telling them about their strengths and weaknesses, and their latest accomplishments.  
     Each one of us has our strengths and our weaknesses. And then, there is our personal health to add to the daily equation, as well.  There are entire DAYS, or even MONTHS, where you just feel WEAK.  Some days you’re dealing with hour-by-hour waves of “morning sickness”, while still trying to keep up with the rest of your “crew”.  Some days your children are quite sick, and you’re sick, right along with them.  And, most of the time, your husband can’t stay home to help you – the duty of the job still calls.  And so does yours . . .
     It has often been said, “The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Yet, I have also heard, “Yes, He sometimes DOES give you more than YOU can handle, because it is something that HE can handle!”  Some days, He wants us on our knees, humbly crying out to Him, “I can’t do this on my own! I need THY strength, O Lord!” One of my favorite “verse phrases” to cling to, in the last couple of months, has been Psalm 84:7 “They go from strength to strength . . .”  When Hubby has a 12-hour work shift, the Wife’s strength comes from her God! On the days when Mom has to take all the children with her to one baby’s doctor appointment, Mommy’s strength comes from her God!  “How do you do it?!” people will ask.  We “go from strength to strength.” Strength for today; strength for tomorrow.  Psalm 80:17 says, “ . . . whom thou madest strong for thyself.” When GOD’S strength is required in our lives, it brings GOD glory!  It is a BLESSED place, when we find ourselves needing the Lord! Psalm 84:5 “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee . . .”  And the beautiful thing about God’s strength is, it never runs out!  Psalm 71:3 “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort . . .”  
     Sometimes we go through whole periods or stages of our lives where we need God’s strength . . . When I look ahead to adding Baby #5 to our home and to heading out on deputation as missionaries, that is what I see.  A whole stage of life requiring God’s strength.  You see, one of “my verses” from the Lord, regarding the country of Indonesia, has to do with God’s strength: “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD . . .” (Psalm 71:16) I know I can’t do it on my own - “ . . . I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” And then, the Lord receives the glory!
     It is a rather crazy thing to haul five little ones around the country, raising support, so your family can live as missionaries, overseas.  Most churches don’t vote to pay your electric bill or your van payment, every month.  Some can only write you a one-time “love offering” check, or send you $25 a month . . . The process of raising funds “to GO” is a very lengthy one.  No, we can’t prepare our children for all that deputation is going to bring them – the 7-hour car rides, the frequent McDonald’s “Value Meals”, the lack of familiar faces, and the constant change in church nursery workers . . . But we “will go in the strength of the Lord GOD”.  We know that He will help our Little Ones find peace along this journey, as well! Psalm 71:18 “ . . . until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” 
     Having God’s strength is “The BLESSED Life” – for Mommies, their husbands, and their children.  Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
     But, “Can God really give ME strength?”, you might ask . . . This day is just too much for me to handle!  This LIFE is just too much for me to handle!  Psalm 29:11 has God’s answer: “The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”  It is His PROMISE to us!  All you need do is ask Him!  Psalm 18:30+32 “As for God, his way is perfect . . . It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”
     May we wake up in the morning, Dear Mommies, and fall on our knees, to ask the Lord for HIS help to get through our day!  We can pray with the Psalmist David, “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1)  And so another day of God's blessings will begin . . .

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Butterfly Plans - Dinner #71

   My Charlotte Baby turns a year old, tomorrow, and I am SO very excited about “all things butterfly”, right now!  Brandon and I came across a darling butterfly onesie for her to wear at her party, and then Auntie Ashley bought her an adorable butterfly costume to go along with it – complete with wings and a wand. SMILE! The older girls and I made finger-painted butterflies to hang off the pretty white railing in the kitchen . . . I have bulletin-board-style “books” on the wall, representing each of the classics I’ve posed her with, as she’s grown a month older . . . You’d think she was our first!  But EACH baby is special in our home!  When I look back, we never would have decided on our own to have two babies just 15 months apart, but God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . Charlotte Allison has filled our home with such sunshine!  Such sunshine we would have missed if we had “planned” our babies, rather than being BLESSED by them! 
     I know I amuse the masses, when a 4’10” woman walks through the grocery store, pushing 2 carts, completely loaded down with 4 children and 2-weeks-worth of food and diapers.  I realize there are many who think we “ended up” with this many babies, because we were “trying” for a boy . . . Or, perhaps, because we are somehow uneducated regarding birth control . . .  A sweet friend recently commented to me that she didn’t realize I’d gone as far as “Advanced Mathematics” in high school . . . There’s a lot that people don’t know about me when they see me with my Little Crew . . . My Magna Cum Laude honors in college, the unpublished poems and works of historical fiction on my shelf, the detailed scrapbooks I designed in my teens and early 20s . . . Right now, I’m “Mommy” more hours of the day than any other role.  But I haven’t “lost my identity” . . . I know that one day, some activities will return to my life again.  And so much of who I am and what I enjoy IS being used, even during this stage of life – just in different ways than they were before.  It is the same way with you!  Somewhere down the line, you learned how to keep on going, even on very few hours of sleep.  You acquired skills that help you document your home schooling, organize everything from toys to socks, and plan weekly meals for your family.  You can decorate for a birthday party or host a holiday celebration.  There are so many personal touches that make your house a home.  You are WHO GOD MADE YOU TO BE! Having a family doesn’t change that! 
     But the devil likes to make us feel lost, overwhelmed, and uncertain of who we really are.  He feeds us the world’s philosophy that children are a burden, and that having “too many” makes our life meaningless and leaves us miserable.   Does it feel wonderful to put on a fancy dress and to have time for bobby pins, once in a while? Of course it does!  Do you sometimes feel as though you’re getting a breath of fresh air, when you put on make-up and remember you have a pair of heels that actually MATCHES the dress you’re wearing?!  Absolutely!  But you haven’t “lost yourself” in this realm of motherhood!  I promise you!  You are someone incredibly special and important – to your husband, to your children, and to your Savior!  Seeing the dishes filling the sink and overflowing onto the countertops may bring you to tears, tonight, but you are a DAUGHTER OF THE KING!  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ  . . .” (Romans 8:17).  You are UNIQUE!  Yes, YOU!  The precious Mama who changed 10 diapers, today, and scrubbed the kitchen floor with your bare hands . . . YOU are unique!  You are PRECIOUS and PRICELESS! “For ye are bought with a price . . .” (I Corinthians 6:20) A price so high, we cannot even fathom it – the very SON OF GOD GAVE HIS LIFE FOR YOU! 
     Do not be downcast and discouraged!  Do not wonder if this “journey of motherhood” is for you!  It IS!  If God has made you a mother, then it is His PLAN for you!  His PERFECT plan!  And no amount of dirty dishes is going to keep Him from using you in a very special way . . . “ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)  It is a PROMISE!  Don’t give up hope!  Things may seem dreary and bleak, but God has given you your talents for a reason, Dear Mama! God has made you WHO YOU ARE for a reason!  No talent is a “waste” . . . No life is a “waste” . . .
     Yes, there were days, last year, when I wondered if any part of the “real me” still existed . . . When I felt like motherhood was “closing in” on me . . . It was a bit overwhelming when we found out we were expecting Charlotte, just 7 months after our Cheyenne was born!  But how VERY grateful I am that, “ . . . my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)!  What smiles and joy she has brought us!  How delightful and precious she is!  How MUCH I have ENJOYED my role as mother, this fourth time around!  And what would our lives have been like without her?!  How plain might my kitchen be through this month of August, were it not for a certain Baby’s “Butterfly Party”?!  God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . And amid the laundry, the dust, and the mess, God has “Butterfly Plans” in store, for you, too, Sweet Sister in Christ! Please don’t let your calling as “Mama” become something bitter or sour!  Hold onto the joy that is found in our Savior! Hold onto the beauty of the life God has given to you! Trust HIM with your future! And remember that YOU are SPECIAL to GOD!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Running Away - Dinner #70

     What were the days like, when it was just you and your husband? Can you remember?  Do you feel extremely close and “connected” with your husband, right now? When was the last time you truly felt like singing the words of Song of Solomon, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine . . .” (Song of Solomon 6:2)?

     A few days ago, I posted the following “status” on Facebook:

Brandon and I were apart from each other, the majority of our dating and engagement years . . . Our first baby was born just one day after our 1st. wedding anniversary . . . We've had four baby girls in the past five years . . . Our story is beautiful, but very different than most! How grateful I am to the Lord for a loving husband who always seeks to safeguard our relationship, and make time for US! Home from our 6-Year-Anniversary second Honeymoon at Crystal Coast's Atlantic Beach . . . We had an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL time, and made so many special memories, just the two of us! Photos to come . . .” 
     And when I DID go through all the photos, I wanted to cry . . . And cry some more . . . How could just 3 days and 2 nights away with the Love of My Life be so incredibly special?!
     I can hear some of you ladies saying right now, “I’m jealous!” and “You have 4 little ones – 2 of which are still in diapers – How can YOU afford to go on a mini vacation?!” I think the far better question is “How can we afford NOT to?!”  When Satan wants more than anything to wreck godly marriages and destroy that symbol of the love that Christ has for His church, how can we NEGLECT the building of that special relationship with our spouse?!
     Priscila Shirer, the main actress in the recent Christian film “War Room”, wrote a book on prayer for ladies, in which she said of Satan, “He wants you miserable and exhausted and joyless and undone.  He wants that picture of the gospel – that one you call your marriage and your family – he wants it tarnished. Ripped up. Smeared in the mud of failure . . . As much as the Father loves and embodies unity, your enemy loves and embodies division. Wherever discord is present, he’s never too far away.”  Do we ever really realize how SERIOUS this all is?  I have personally known far too many Christian couples who have separated or divorced . . . I have heard far too many couples tell me that they went, literally, DECADES, without having a night away from their children, during their early years of marriage . . . God WANTS you to have a strong relationship with your spouse!  He is The One Who lovingly DESIGNED marriage!  And I truly believe He honors our desire to “run away” with our spouse – and He provides!  Just as He provides for every single baby that enters your family, He can provide what you need to strengthen your marriage, as well! 
     The truth of the matter is, when you have children, that “alone time” ISN’T something that is “in the budget”! It NEVER is!  And in all honesty, we returned from our vacation to menus of baked beans, quinoa, and tortillas with cheese! LOL!  Why? Because this was something that my husband had on his heart to do FOR US!  And we NEEDED it! And it was WONDERFUL! And you know what? The baked beans and quinoa mean far fewer dishes, for me, now that I’m back in the world of potty-training! LOL! I mean it! God has taken care of everything, and we have been BLESSED!
     Really, it is my husband who should be writing this blog post.  Ever since our first baby came along, it has been his vision for us that we get away – at least once a year – for at least one night.  I think sometimes we forget how VITAL it is to SPEND TIME with our husbands!  Not time where the children are vying for our attention, or getting out of bed every ten minutes asking for “more water” or “another hug” . . . Time AWAY!  When was the last time you RAN AWAY with the Man of Your Dreams?  “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10)  No children, no food to prepare, no dishes . . . Just THE TWO OF YOU . . .
     This could easily become a “how to” article, involving tips on saving money, finding willing babysitters, or praying for maternal peace when it comes time to pull out of the driveway . . . But I don’t wish for it to become that.  Rather, I hope this will be like a letter, URGING you to safeguard the relationship you have with your husband! 
     I recently read a short post, where a mother with 9 children ended up being slammed in the comments section, below it, because of her remark that she didn’t think she could live without her children being around her.  It is a BALANCE.  We LOVE our children – without a doubt – most of the hours of our day (and sometimes even our night) revolve around them!  We OUGHT to find joy in the “ministry of motherhood” the Lord has given to us!  We OUGHT to feel a sadness over the thought of ever losing them or leaving them behind!  But we also need to be alright with RUNNING AWAY! Not because our daily “Mommy Life” is “horrible”, but because we want our MARRIAGE to be BEAUTIFUL! Because we mustn’t pray that our marriage will be blessed, and then leave it to fend for itself! I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
     You won’t find an example in the Bible of a couple getting away by themselves for a date night, I’m afraid . . . but the principles of STRENGTHENING YOUR MARRIAGE are there!  In Deuteronomy 24:5, God instructs the newlywed husbands that they must not even “go out to war” or be “charged with any business” for the whole first year of their marriage! – Why? Because marriage is a BUILDING PROCESS!  And it IS IMPORTANT TO GOD! Marriage is a symbol of Christ’s relationship with the church . . . Ephesians 5:23-25 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .”  If it is vital that we spend time alone with God, isn’t it also vital that we spend time alone with our spouse? Ephesians 4:27 declares, “Neither give place to the devil.”  Don’t give the devil any room to destroy your homes or your marriages, Ladies!  It isn’t easy to “run away” . . . there’s “pinching pennies”, and cooking ahead, and cleaning, and packing – but it is EVER SO WORTH IT!  Don’t wait until your children are grown, merely HOPING your marriage makes it through the grueling days of child-rearing!  Your husband NEEDS YOU! And YOU NEED HIM!  Be willing to RUN AWAY!


Friday, July 15, 2016

Everything In Stages - Dinner #69

    Everything in life comes in stages.  I say it and think it so very often.  I feel like it’s the motto of my motherhood.  Yesterday was yet another proof of that.  Ever since we moved into this house, and began helping out with the teens at our church, my husband has been itching to use our 2-acre yard for a teen activity.  But the May following our move, I delivered Cheyenne, and then I gave birth to Charlotte the summer after that.  I was either huge, emotional, and completely in “baby mode”, or emotional, nursing, and in sleepless newborn mode . . . It wasn’t the right timing.  It wasn’t the right stage. 
     But this year? This year I have a 10-month-old, and I’m able to wear clothes from my college days.  This year, I’ve been able to chase the kiddos around the yard and be active during the summer months. This year it was the right “stage” to host 20+ people in our home.  And we had an amazingly rewarding, fun time doing it, too!  Leis, fresh pineapple, a hilarious skit, water games . . . I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  It was an opportunity to serve alongside my husband in a ministry, and to further connect with the precious young people in our church. 
     I wasn’t ready those other years . . . I needed to say “no” to a lot of ministry opportunities.  Sometimes, I was doing all I could just to teach children’s church for a month, every 2 or 3 months, and get myself up in the choir loft once in a while.  And that was alright! I was doing what I NEEDED to be doing!  I was delivering babies, recovering from labors, caring for newborns, being there for my other children, homeschooling preschool, potty training, trying not to fall under the weight of the overwhelming day-to-day . . . And you may be there, too, right now!  You can’t do it ALL, and the Lord doesn’t expect you to!  There are STAGES! Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
     In what “season of life” do you find YOURSELF?  Are you doing what God has asked of you, TODAY?  To do less is sinful, and to do MORE is sinful!  What?! Yes!  Remember Mary and Martha?  Martha didn’t NEED to be rushing about cooking and cleaning for everybody – it wasn’t the right time!  The LORD was there! In her own home!  She should have been sitting at his feet and LISTENING! Gleaning, growing . . . There were other days to focus on the housework.  And those “other days” come to all of us, in various areas of our lives.  It makes me think of the parable of the sower, where “ . . . the cares of this world . . . choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) I'm certain that the majority of those Christian ladies who run about, trying to be involved in every ministry and activity possible, truly DESIRE to be spiritually fruitful! But they CAN’T BE, if it is just “too much”! It doesn’t do THEM any good, nor their families, nor the people they are seeking to minister to!
     My husband and I are diligently praying about a certain country in a particular region of the world, where we could minister to literally millions of people who are lost without any hope in the Savior . . . We have so many “circumstantial evidences” that this may be what the Lord has for us to do, so many words of godly advice that have been given to us - but we desire a Word from the Lord – a verse from God’s Word to stand on, in this.  And as we have been reading about “seeking God’s will”, “finding God’s will”, “hearing God’s voice” . . . we have been learning, over and over again, that so much of “finding God’s will” for the future, is DOING God’s will, today! Being OBEDIENT to Him, today! Letting Him use the “stage” of life that He has us in, RIGHT NOW. 
     Are you doing ALL you can do for Christ, TODAY?  Are you doing “TOO MUCH” – way more than God EVER intended for you to take upon your own two shoulders – and, perhaps, neglecting the most important things of all?
     Sometimes God’s will involves taking on more than you THINK you can handle, because GOD is the source of your strength and your power (Philippians 4:13).  Sometimes God’s will for your day will involve “putting off” and “saying no” to things YOU felt were important, because God’s ways are “higher than your ways” and his “thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).  But are you SEEKING His will for your life? Not necessarily a calling to the mission field or to Christian service of some kind . . . Are you seeking His will for YOUR DAY, TODAY? 
     It is a familiar passage to many, but just this week, the Lord used Proverbs 3:5-6, once again, in my own life: “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.”  May we each be able to pray along with the Psalmist David, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)  DELIGHT in it!  Whether it be nursing, or homeschooling, or frosting two dozen cupcakes . . . “I delight to do thy will, O my God” . . . and I promise not to ADD anything to my day that You don’t want me to!  I promise, with Thy help, to ENJOY this stage of my life to the fullest . . . May I be a vessel fit for the Master’s use (II Timothy 2:21), TODAY!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Just One Thing - Dinner # 68

There have been so very many, many times that I have wanted to sit down and write another post on my blog again . . . I have wanted to “fill you in”, “bring you up to date”, and share with you where we are now in our journey of life!  We did make that move to the beautiful state of Virginia, three years ago . . . Brandon’s job fell through, shortly after the move, but we saw God provide for our family’s needs, over and over again.  The four of us lived together in one room at my in-law’s house for 6 months, but every diaper, every jar of baby food, every medical bill . . . God provided!  It was 6 of the darkest, most difficult months of my life, but GOD WAS THERE!  And in HIS perfect timing, He provided for us a new job for my husband and a lovely house to live in, and He gave us two more babies!  Yes, we are now blessed with FOUR beautiful little girls!  We certainly serve an amazing God!  We have been busy with our little ones and with the children, teen, and music ministries at our church, and are more burdened for the mission field than ever before – so incredibly excited to see what God has in store for our family, in the future!  
     Is all of life easy-going and smooth-sailing for me, now? No, it is not . . . You can ask my “Shoulder-To-Cry-On” Husband!  The overwhelming “Mommy Days” do come . . . The dishes and the laundry do pile up endlessly . . . The homeschooling does often feel like it is falling apart . . . The children do scream, and fight with each other, and throw food on the floor . . . My life is normal . . . But do you know what has been DIFFERENT for me, this year?  I have TIME!  What?! You have four children under the age of 5, and you have TIME?!  Yes, it has taken until this point in my motherhood, but I finally have TIME to SPEND TIME with My Lord every day!  I am MAKING TIME, like I haven’t during any other year of my married life . . . God had to make my children sick with everything from eye infections to pneumonia, this past winter - keeping me home every Sunday, for quite nearly 2 months straight.  Then, in March, He allowed me to have a convicting conversation with a missionary wife, to receive a book on prayer for my birthday, and to be more sick with the rotavirus than I think I have ever been with anything in my whole life.  That was the turning point . . . Psalm 143, Psalm 144, Psalm 145, and then Psalm 119 – some days only a paragraph or two at a time – but that was the start of it.  The start of getting “back on track” with the Lord; of renewing my relationship with Him.  Over these past few months, time and time again, I’ve thought of the words of that precious hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love . . .”  I don’t want to go back, Ladies!  It may seem simple, but do you know what a DIFFERENCE it makes, just having a set TIME in your daily schedule, where you can GET ALONE WITH GOD?!  Yes, even with four Little Ones!  Will Satan fight you in it? Of course he will! But he doesn’t have to win!  It isn’t about marking chapters off on a chart, at this busy stage of my life. It isn’t about reading the Bible through in a year, or participating in an awesome Bible study group with other ladies.  It is about GETTING ALONE WITH GOD!  Some days, it may be just that paragraph or two!  But writing down verses, writing down prayers, meditating on God’s Word, and PRAYING SCRIPTURE . . . There is POWER in that, My Friends!  No, you aren’t going to get to all the dishes some nights.  No, you may not mark everything off on your “to do list” for the day.  “But one thing is needful . . .” (Luke 10:42)  Just ONE THING! I used to crave the little bit of “me time” I could carve out to watch a show on television, or to read a book from the library, or to write a letter to a friend . . . but nothing compares to this.  Nothing is MORE HELPFUL than this, Tearful, Weary Mama!  Three-and-a-half years have gone by since my last blog post, and the greatest thing I can share with you is that one simple truth – TAKE THE TIME TO GET ALONE WITH GOD.  He CREATED you, He SAVED you, He GAVE you your LIFE, and He can HELP YOU through every single thing you face!  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)