Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
It is so easy to forget that Mary was a young woman like me. She had dreams and hopes for her future. Never once could she have guessed that God would choose her to be the mother of Jesus. Never could she have imagined the joy and sorrow her life would hold.
I like to imagine that it was just another ordinary day. Mary was joyfully doing everyday chores. She may even have been dreaming of her soon to be marriage to Joseph and how her life would change when she became his wife. I can see her now. She was humming a sweet little tune as she swept the floor. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes held that sparkle. She may have been dreaming of holding her first child. Rocking the wee one and singing a lullaby. She cared not whether she had a boy or a girl. She knew she would be overjoyed with either. Right in the midst of these thoughts Gabriel arrived on the scene.
Mary must have been shocked and confused about why Gabriel was and there, and who he was. Imagine her further shock when Gabriel said,
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son..."
"What? What did you just say? A baby? Me, have a baby? Me? Are you sure you have the right Mary?" I can just imagine her saying. "Why me? Of all the women in the world, why me?" She must have wondered.
What impresses me is that she did not throw a fit or complain the least little bit about how this news would ruin all she had planned (as I feel sure I would have been tempted to do). No, she stood back in awe and said:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever" (Luke 1:46-55).
There is so much unsaid. So many aspects of the story that are not covered. Every year when I re-read the story of Christ's birth I come away with so many questions. What was Mary's parents reaction to the news? What did they say and do?
It seems likely that Mary would have been shunned by certain groups of people because only the worst sorts of women became pregnant out of wedlock. When I think of all that Mary had to go through. All the hardships, all the sorrow and pain, I am determined that she was indeed a woman of great faith. A woman who leaned on the Lord through it all. How else would she have been able to bear it?
I sometimes wish that the Bible's account would have been longer and more detailed. For surely there is a lot that we could learn from Mary, mother of Jesus, chosen by God.
This Christmas I encourage you to make your own study of Mary. To put yourself in her shoes. To imagine all that she went through and ask yourself if you could have had faith such as she did. Ask yourself how you would have dealt with raising a Son that others would mock and scorn, a Son who would be unjustly crucified. Read between the lines and learn about a woman who was truly strong.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The other night I was stressed out. I was asking myself how I was ever going to get done all the things I want to do, and need to do, and still keep my hair in place. I moaning silently to God, "I cannot do this anymore. I am too tired." Then verses came to mind reminding me that I have had my priorities all mixed up again. I had been allowing things to come between me and God, and until I pulled my focus back to Him, things would continue to be stressful and would continue to give me the desire to scream and pull my hair out.
Time and again since I began blogging I have written on this very topic. On how nothing in life goes right if God is not only in it, but the center of it. When I read over my passed posts, I laugh at how I can say the same thing in so many different ways. Anyone who has been following my blog will see very quickly that the one thing that bothers me most is my inability to keep my focus on God all the time. I know it is only human to sruggle with this, but that does not keep it from bothering me, or keep me from striving to do better in keeping my focus on Him more fully.
Like I was saying, my life has been rather hectic, but when I look at these last few weeks, I realize that many of those hair-pulling moments were of my own making. I would put something off, or try to do a hundred and one things all at the same time, when I did not need to, or I would push my quite time to the back burner, when I knew my day would go horrible if I did. Now I am sitting here writing and shaking my head at myself. Why was I so foolish? Why did I cause myself so much stress and worry? Answer: I do not know, other then I am a human being who has a very small brain that does not function half as well as I like to think it does.
I stand in awe of the mighty God I serve, and am thankful anew each day that He has His hand on my life and is always, always in control of everything that is happening in our crazy world. Once more I am placing my life, all this craziness, all the worries, in His hand. I am thanking Him for His grace, His love, and the way He makes everything better if I will only give Him the chance.
I have been very bad this last little while about writing to you, and for that I am sorry, but as I said, things have been crazy, and even if it was partly my own doing, what was, was, and it cannot be changed now. I hope you will all be understanding if posts are a little more spread out this month, because no matter what, December is always a busy month for me. It is probably my favorite month of the year. I love finding extra ways to show my family I love them, I love helping set up the tree, wrapping presents, and all those little things that make remembering Christ's birth so special. I love celebrating God's gift to us all month long and remembering (and reading) the story of Christ's birth. It is all our family traditions, those things that remind us of what love is, that help me realize what a wonderful gift God gave to us.
I hope each of you has a wonderful month, and that in all the business we will not loose sight of what Christmas is all about. It is about how a little baby was born in a stable and laid in a manger, it is about Christ coming down to earth as a little baby so that we might be saved and so that a bridge would be built so that we could reach the Father.
Have a Merry Christmas,
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This morning I woke up slowly, with no desire to read God's Word, unless it was only so I would feel no guilt later in the day. Yes, me, the good little Christian girl, did not want to read my Bible.
"But God, I did it every other day this week. Can't I have a day off. I mean, come on, I am tired..." So I read a fictional book instead. Yes, I really did, but with the promise that after breakfast I would snuggle up in bed for an extended time with God and I would get things straightened out with Him.
If there is one thing I do not want for my life, it is being distant from God. I did that for way to many years, and I am not about to go back to that life. Deep down in my heart I always know that I want God more then all else, but sometimes my humanness gets in the way. You know what I mean.
So, after breakfast I grabbed my Bible, journal, my currant "good read," and a notebook that I write quotes in, and dived back into bed for an extended stay. Then I came across these verses:
And that is when something clicked in my head (and heart). While I was was strapping on my sword every morning, I was making little preparation for battle in the other areas. No wonder I felt so weak most mornings, no wonder the daily battle with self and sin looked so daunting that I did not want any part of it. I was not ready for battle.
I came away from my time with God refreshed and feeling closer to Him then ever. God has a battle plan for us, it is all written out. Sometimes we will become discouraged and downhearted, and will want to do our own thing, but there is one thing I have realized. Once God's, always God's. Once you have given Him control of your life, there is no taking it back.
I am in this battle for the long run. Thankfully I have the best leader ever! When I get down, I know I need to take some extra time and really dig into God's Word, and just spend some good old one-on-one time with Him. If I seek His will, His plan for the battle, He will reveal it to me.
This morning I was tempted to turn my back on God for the day and do things my way, but I knew from past experience that that was not a good idea, so instead, I took some extra time to meet with my Lord and Master this morning and because of it, my day is going great.
I feel like the flowers in the picture. I am blooming in the midst of the desert. All because of God's love. Now that, my friends, is a wonderful feeling!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness"
(2 Corinthians 12:9).
This morning I was reading in 2 Corinthians and I came across this familiar verse. How often I worry about being weak. Many times I have begged God, " Father, make me stronger. I am so weak. I cannot do what I know is right, I am too weak, make me stronger. Please!"
I had it all wrong. I should have been saying, " God, I am so weak, but Your Word says weakness is not a thing to be feared, because when I am weak You are strong, and You promise that Your grace will be sufficient no matter the circumstance."
In praying this way, I would have taken my mind off of me, and my weakness, and placed it on Him and His strength. When we focus on our frailties it is easy to become overwhelmed, and when we become overwhelmed we often do not remember that God is in control, that His grace is sufficient. When we are weak we do not need to be focusing on our own weaknesses, but on His strength. We know we are weak, so why focus on it and feel miserable? On the other hand, it is always a struggle for us to remember that He is always there, always strong. It will take effort and lots of prayer, but it is important that we learn to focus on Him, on His strength, on His grace, on His goodness, not just when we are feeling strong, but also when we are feeling our weakest. We are nothing without Him, and it is about time we start remembering that.
I like what Paul says in verse 10. "For when I am weak, then am I strong." God does not expect for us to be strong all the time, He knows that is not possible, He knows we will have moments of weakness. The cool thing is, He promises that in our weakness He will make us strong in Him. We have to let Him though. We have to put our faith and trust in Him daily and while admitting our weakness, seek His strength.
That is the part I am apt to forget more times or not. I always know when I am weak, but when I am weak, I forget to seek His strength. When we do not seek Him and remember His majesty, His power, His grace; that is when we fall. We must strive to take our eyes off of our mistakes and focus instead on His goodness if we are going to make it through.
So the next time we are struggling with temptation, with laziness, with a decision about what is right or what is wrong, let us remember to seek God, to start listing off all of His promises. Let us get our eyes off of ourselves and onto Him. The next time you are feeling really weak, remember: in your weakness, you are strong in Him.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I am so thankful that I have a God that does not change. He is so trustworthy! I was reading, in Genesis, about Abraham how God told him to leave the land of his father, everything he ever knew, and could rely on. Abraham obeyed. God did not even have to tell him that He was going to lead him to a better land. God just told him to go to the land that He was going to show him. I want to trust God like that. I do not know if I would follow God like Abraham did. I have a hard enough time trusting God with the smaller things. I still want to hold on to them and control them myself sometimes. Abraham's faith was more than just knowing that God had the best plan for his life. He knew God had a plan, and was willing to follow where ever God lead him. Abraham's faith was operative. He trusted God enough to act on his faith.
A lot of times our faith, although it is not necessary absent, is inactive. We know that God has the best plan, and that we should be following Him. We want to do His will, we just lack that operative faith. I challenge you to examine your faith. Is it operative as Abraham's was?
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going" (Hebrews 11:8).
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
She stayed at home. She helped cook, clean, and care for her siblings. She served her family in every way. She ministered to her neighbors and to members of her church. She worked from home, but everything took second place to her home duties. Her parents were a part of all she did, and she daily placed her life under her father's authority.
That is the picture I used to have of what every stay-at-home daughter was supposed to look like. But I had a dilemma. My family did not have a church, we had very few neighbors in our rural neighborhood, and we had no home based family business. I struggled to serve my family joyfully each day, and was doing better all the time (I think), but since I was about ready to graduate from high school and would soon have more time on my hands then I would know how to fill, I began to worry. How was I ever going to fill my days once I had finished school?
I fought the idea of getting a job for a long time, because stay-at-home daughters just did not do that. But without a job I could not afford a vehicle of my own and without a vehicle my out-reach would be very limited. And if I did not find a way to help others, I would never be able to profitably fill my days and still remain the perfect stay-at-home daughter.
After much prayer and heart searching I applied at several businesses in the nearest small town and soon had a job. I went to work five days a week, yet my heart was not in it. I felt guilty for not staying at home and helping my mom around the house. I felt bad, that I did not get to spend much time with my siblings, and I felt bad because I did not even have time to reach out to others. All my time was spent working.
Over time I have come to believe whole-heartedly that being a stay-at-home daughter does not mean that you cannot have a job outside the home. For some girls there is no other choice. Some fathers are not willing for their grown daughters to remain at home and not have at least a small income that can cover her basic needs, such as clothing, and there are girls like me who have no ideas for starting their own home based business, and do not have a family business to work for, but need a job none-the-less.
I plan to go to college in the next year. I would love to be able to get my degree at home, but after researching my chosen degree have decided that the best course is for me to leave home for a few years and pursue my degree. Thankfully I will not be alone, but will be, God willing, going with my brother for a short two years. After I have finished my degree I hope to move back home and start my own business. Since I plan to pursue higher education I needed a way to pay for my classes. That has made it necessary for me to work four to five days a week. I have been carefully laying aside my wages so that I will be able to make my way through college debt free (which is a must). So, while I am gone from home a lot, and do not fit the "normal" picture of what a stay-at-home daughter is supposed to be, I am still living at home, and I still spend as much time as I can with my family, and seek my parents advice (though probably not as often as I should). I am still working on the part about helping around the house and balancing my work, but the way I see it, I am still very much a stay-at-home daughter. It just so happens that the picture my life paints is different from those others have painted, and I cannot see it as bad, or wrong, just different. There is nothing wrong with different is there?
Some days I still struggle because I do not measure up to the picture of the perfect stay-at-home daughter that many people push forward. But I have come to realize, that being a stay-at-home daughter is about the heart. If your heart remains at home, and if you strive to serve your family in every way possible, whether you remain at home or take a job elsewhere, you can still be a stay-at-home daughter.
For those who have a way to stay at home, be industrious, and supplement the family income, they surely have been blessed. But for those who have need to work outside the home, surely they are no less blessed just because they must paint a different picture then others are used to seeing on what a stay-at-home daughter is. Surly their unique picture will be no less beautiful for the difference in style. Artists each have their own styles and techniques, but that does not mean their works cannot be equally beautiful. So it is with stay-at-home daughters. Just because we cannot all go about life in the same manner does not mean that one way is better then the other. Or that one way is more right then the other. This means that a girl who must work outside of her home should not feel guilty for not measuring up to the ideal many people have drawn.
As I said before, I believe that the safest place and the best place for a young woman is in her fathers house until the day that she should marry, but you can stay at home and be under your father's authority, and still work outside the home. Maybe, it would be better if all daughters could work for their fathers and never have to get a job outside the home, that I do not know. All I know, is that for me and others, this is not possible, and that taking a job outside the home makes me no less worthy to claim the title stay-at-home daughter, as long as my heart remains true to the home. I do not believe that careers are good or healthy for women for reasons stated in Part 1, but women can work outside of their homes and not be career minded, but instead be home minded.
I work outside the home, but my heart remains at home. I am working now while I am single developing skills so that when, and if, I should marry, I can work from home and supplement my husband's income as the Proverbs 31 woman did, without shirking my home duties. I do not wish for a career. I want to be a home keeper, but having a skill that can be useful in serving others, is not a bad thing, as long as it does not get in the way of my homely duties.
One way is not better then the other. No one way is somehow more right then the other. This is a case that must be prayed about, and approached with a certain amount of caution. If you know that taking a job outside the home is going to make you less content to stay at home, then maybe you need to look harder to find ways to keep yourself at home. If you know that no matter what you do, or where you go, your heart will always remain at home, then if it seems wise, or is necessary, it may be right for you to take a job outside of the home.
If you are a married woman, and a mother, well that is another story. But that, my friends, is a topic for another day...
Monday, October 26, 2009
"Beep, beep, beep." I rolled over and inwardly moaned. I was so cozy I did not want to get up yet. I lay still with my eyes closed and listened as my sister got up and dressed and left the room to go start breakfast. I dozed for a little longer before forcing my eyes open. I decide to read a little fiction, always a sure way to wake me up, before reading my Bible, because I wanted to be alert for my time with God.
Today I did not have to go to work, and after feeling extra tired from the last few days, I allowed myself the pleasure of sleeping in a little. Normally I am up by seven and within minutes am settled at the dinning room table reading my Bible in the quite before all my siblings are up and moving. Since I got up later this morning (7:45) and everyone else was already getting up, I sat snuggly covered in my bed and opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 15, my chapter for today. Some days I read more, but this morning one chapter was enough to ponder on and I quickly found my golden nugget for the day. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
"How often I give up, or am at least tempted to give up, because all I do seems to be in vain. I think that because no person sees, why should I bother. I forget God sees all and His thoughts about what I do are the only ones that truly matter."
After I finished writing (the above) my thoughts in my Bible study/prayer journal, I skimmed through a new book that I picked up at a thrift store the other day so that I could decide if I wanted to read it after I finished my currant "good read" by Charles (Chuck) Swindoll. I haven't decided yet. I think I might try Lee Strobel's The Case For Christ instead. I have sorely neglected cultivating my non-fiction muscles, and have found that reading fiction (unless it is the classics) takes a lot less brain power, and that my brain is a little soft, thus my plan to read at least a little non-fiction everyday if I can.
After I finished my morning time up with a short prayer time, I jumped out of bed quickly and shivered a bit as I hurriedly got dressed. Then it was breakfast time. Warm Corny Banana Oat Muffins. Yum, there is nothing better on a cool fall morning! Thank you sister for cooking such a wonderful breakfast.
After breakfast I worked on downloading some music onto my computer and getting it all organized. After that I check my e-mail and caught up with some of my favorite blogs, and spent too much time on the Internet before taking a break for lunch.
Lunch consisted of a peanut butter sandwich. Even after all the years I still enjoy a good old peanut butter sandwich, with or with out the jelly. It is more of a treat now then an every day thing, since I usually take a lunch meat sandwich to work, because it tastes better when made ahead. Yeah, I am strange, but if there is one way I do not like P.B. it is after it has been sitting in a sandwich for hours. Yuck!
I was freezing, so I put on some shoes and went for a walk outside in the sunshine. I took a kid sized basketball along for company, and practiced my coordination skills. I tossed the ball from hand to hand and tried my best to catch it without looking. For me, who does not play sports, even the simplest exercises are challenging, especially when I am trying to walk at the same time.
The rest of the afternoon was spent reading, chatting with my cousin on Yahoo, posting a new post on my blog, writing letters, and running around outside with my younger siblings. Why, they even had me climbing trees with them. That is something I haven't done in quite some time.
I shivered my way through a shower and help a little with supper. We had hamburgers, one of my favorites. After supper I goofed around on my computer some, and then started writing all about my day, listening with half of my ear to a local high school football game on the radio. I had typed half a page when I was interrupted. My mom and sisters wanted to watch more of Sense and Sensibility (the BBC version). We have decided that they could have done better. They changed the story some, and if there is anything we don't like it is when someone takes a good story and changes it!
We finished up or episode. Everyone was laughing about how Fanny had a screaming fit when Anne Steele told her of Lucy's engagement to Edward. It really was very comical. My sisters and I teased each other as we waited for out turns in the "little girls room."
Finally snuggled in bed I whispered a few words to my sister about I don't remember what and was out like a light.
A rather boring day to write about really, for I did not do much at all but be lazy! I enjoyed it very much though. It was a nice break from work, and though I did not get as much done as I probably should have, I do not feel guilty. Everyone needs lazy days now and again, days where they can just throw everything to the wind and rest and have fun with their family. If I had it to do over again, I would probably spend less time and the computer and more time with my family, but that is neither here nor there.
And that wraps up a day in my life.
Until next time,
Monday, October 19, 2009
Grey clouds are scudding north as fast as they can. The sun is trying to dispel some of the gloominess, but though its efforts are valiant, they do not quite succeed.
A southerly breeze is wafting through the window, cool and crisp. I am sitting here writing with half my mind on you all, and half on watching two of my younger siblings as they practice making baskets out in front of the house.
I wonder what you are all doing at this very minute. It is strange to think that one can have friends in so many places doing so many different things. It is hard to imagine that where you all are the weather may be totally different from what it is here and that the clock may be ticking a different time. It is so hard for me to think beyond what I see and hear.
Life is like that. We all live our lives in a world that is all our own. A world that is self-centered more times than not, a world that is small despite the fact that we have the technology to connect with anyone at almost any time almost anywhere in the world. We each see with limited eye sight. We can only see and feel that which concerns us or those we love most. We cannot grieve over the losses that occur every day in the lives of so many, in fact I don't think that God meant us to do that. But no one can argue the fact that everyone, no matter their age, no matter their culture, no matter what it is that makes up their lives, everyone is short sited.
The only way that our vision can be expanded is for us to see through the eyes of our Master. Seeing things through His eyes is like putting on reading glasses.
Everything is magnified so that we can see things more clearly. Seeing through the Master's eyes is like wearing bifocals. You can see clearly the things at hand, and see clearly the things in the distance. Looking through the Master's eyes makes everything clearer, and helps us to see out of our little boxes that we call "the world."
We are only a speck of dust in the eyes of God. We think we know so much, that we are really getting to know Him and His Word more every day, and maybe we are, but in reality everything we know doesn't amount to even one grain of sand's worth of all the knowledge there is to know. We all have times when we become proud because we have read our Bible so much, or because we have memorized more scripture then so-and-so, or because we don't do "bad" things. But, that pride is misplaced. We have not even one thing that we can be really proud of. If truth be known, our whole lives are one big mess. We have messed up in everything we have ever tired and we are, well, quite frankly, losers. Our so called goodness is so dirty that it really isn't good at all.
That is why God's love and grace are so amazing. I cannot fully comprehend what it must have been like for God, the Father, to watch as His Son suffered and died on the cross. I cannot imagine how hard it was to turn His face away from the One who was a part of all He had ever done. Who truly was bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh.
I don't guess I will ever fully understand it, but even though I am unable to grasp what an awesome sacrifice God gave for us, I still know that it is the most awesome thing ever!
As we go through our day-to-day routines, let's try to remember all Christ suffered for our sake. Let's not take for granted the life we have been given. Let's not live half-heatedly for God and run with the other half of our hearts towards worldly things, no matter how tempting. Let us strive with our every breath to lean on God, knowing that we are nothing without Him, and press onwards toward the goal.
How are you running today? Are you running the race with all you have got? Are you pushing ahead of the crowd and pulling out in front? Yeah, I know, at times it becomes lonely running out front, but you are never alone. God is with you.
Are you running even when you muscles get sore and you are starting to hurt? You know what? Pain is a good thing. It helps your running muscles get stronger; it helps you to build up endurance.
This race is a long one, it began the day you were born and its course keeps you on a winding up-hill, and down-hill run until the day you die. Are you in this thing whole-heatedly? Are you in for the long run? Are you willing to run until you fall and then let Him help you up so you can keep pressing ahead? Or are you going to drop out and take the much easier walking trails?
What is the prize worth to you? Is is worth your very life, your very blood? If it isn't, I encourage you to do some soul searching. Look at the map closely. Are you willing to give up the reward for an easier walk now, or are you ready to give it your all and run the hardest race ever? What is your goal?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
We discussed how women who have lived alone for more then a few years often tend to become very independent and opinionated. We decided that this is natural because they must learn to care for themselves. Not only do they have to care for their home, but they are also responsible for their car maintenance, home repairs, and making sure the bills get payed. In short, they carry a load alone that God meant to be shared. Is it any surprise that these women often struggle with submission when they finally get married? They have had to carry all the burdens alone and to be self-sufficient, now they have to break those habits and learn to release their control.
Releasing control is not easy for anyone. If you doubt this then please honestly answer this question. Do you ever struggle to let God have control of all you do and who you are? Releasing your control is like breaking a bad habit or an addiction. It takes lots of effort and is a continued battle.
That is my first reason for believing that God meant women to be under the authority of men. Whether their husband, or their father. The second reason is because 1 Corinthians 11:3 says: "The head of women is man." In other words, women are to be under man's headship=lordship=authority.
The best way for a daughter to stay under her father's authority is for her to stay at home where her father can offer her wisdom, counsel, and protection.
To be continued...
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
whose word is their bond;
who put character above wealth;
who possess opinions and a will;
who are larger than their vocations;
who do not hesitate to take chances;
who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;
who will be as honest in small things as in great things;
who will make no compromise with wrong;
whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
who will not say they do it "because everybody else does it;"
who are true to their friends through good report and evil
report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;
who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and
hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;
who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular;
who can say "no" with emphasis, although all the rest of the world says "yes."
-Taken from The Making of
a Christian Leader by
Ted W. Engstrom
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Once you have decided whether to call your relationship dating or courtship, it is time to establish your definition of what that term is going to mean for you, or in other words, set some boundaries about what your future relationships will be, or will not be. For example, what will your boundaries be for physical contact, time alone, and family involvement?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Summer is officially over. School started back last week, and everyone is starting to get back to the normal routine of life, at least everyone in my world is. I had the opportunity to do lots of things this summer, and God taught me a lot through it all. One of the most important lessons I learned is that God doesn't see the outside of people. He does not listen to the pre-concieved notions that people have. He doesn't care who the "popular" people are. He loves us all the same, and wants us to reach out to everyone, the popular, and unpopular alike. He longs to work in any life He is given.
Another thing I have learned is that faith without works is dead. I got to do a lot of "work" and I loved it, most of the time. Other times I didn't exactly have the best attitude, but God helped me see from His eyes. And I realized that I was being selfish. Sometimes lessons have to be learned "the hard way," by experience. Basically I learned James 2 in real life. God is so amazing! I am so thankful God wants to work in us, regardless of our imperfections.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Earthly pleasure is but for a moment, but heavenly joy is for eternity.
To love God more, we must love ourselves less. To serve Him better, we must forget ourselves. We must lay aside all our selfish wants and wishes for Him. To bring Him glory and honor is our main purpose in life.
Keep your eyes on things above, the things that will neither rust nor fade away. The things that are eternal.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I am the second oldest child in a family of twelve. I have five brothers and four sisters, and being a big sisters is one of my biggest joys. My siblings could tell you that sometimes I am not nice. If you are a big sister you know what they mean. Sometimes I snap at them, sometimes I put them down would I should be building them up. I am not perfect, but I try to do my best, and I have learned a thing or two along the way.
Number one, large families are a blessing. I have had a lot of people comment on how hard it must be on my mother taking care of all of us and homeschooling us on top of that. I smile every time. Many hands make light work, and we have many hands. Just about every child from a big family would tell you that they learned to help around the house at a young age, and that at some point they have helped tutor their younger siblings. Some would say that that is to much to put on a young person's shoulders, and that your growing years should not be filled with so much responsibility, but I know that for myself the added responsibilities, while not aways a joy, have made me a better person. I am more prepared for the responsibilities that come with being an adult, I am less selfish (I hope!), and I am more thankful when others go out of their way to serve me because I understand the effort that went into it. So, even though I started washing dishes at the age of four or five, and washing clothes a few years later, and changed dirty diapers more times then I can count, I still say, I am very blessed to be a part of a large family.
Secondly, when you are an older sister, your siblings look up to you, even when you mess up, so you really have to watch your step. Even though your siblings notice your mistakes, they usually are very forgiving and willing to help you do better. All you have to do is ask. The other good thing is, when you snap at them and hurt their feelings, they will forget it pretty quickly if you tell them you are sorry and then spend some time doing something they enjoy with them. Do not stand in fear of walking lest you make a mistake and lead your siblings astray. Step out on faith, asking God to guide you, and do not stop at walking forward, run. If you make a mistake, seek forgiveness, admit your wrong and continue onward striving to do better having learned from your mistakes. Your siblings will learn from you example and will admire the fact that you humbly ask forgiveness when you mess up, and that you do not give up, but strive daily to do your best.
One of the most encouraging things I have learned by being a big sister is, even if I never get the chance to do something big to change the world for Christ, if I am faithful in the little things God will bless me. One of those little things is teaching your younger siblings and helping to bring them up to fear the Lord and to encourage them to go about His business. It is a great privilege, and the responsibility of it is nothing if God is on your side. The rewards of watching your younger siblings grow into godly adults, who love the Lord with all their hearts, is worth every ounce of effort you put into helping them grow and so much more.
As an fellow older sister my advise to you is this: Give it all you have got. Be the best encourager, the best helper, the best playmate, the best teacher, the best friend, the best big sister you can be. You may feel discouraged because there is not an opportunity for you to be involved with groups who are making a difference in the lives of others. Your church and other ministry involvement may be limited, and that may leave you longing for something, anything, you can do for Christ. Be discouraged no longer. God has given you a special work. He has charged you to help your parents to bring up your brothers and sisters in the way they should go. He has given you the opportunity to learn how to serve and love unconditionally. Being a good big sister takes a lot of effort, let me tell you, and this work is preparing you for bigger things in your future. Noticed I did not say better things, because I think next to raising your own children, helping to raise your siblings is the most rewarding opportunity we are given.
Think of it this way. I have nine siblings. If they all grow up to be godly parents and each of them has nine children and their children have nine children and so on, and they were all raised to love the Lord as you helped teach your siblings too, you would have impacted twenty-seven lives, and that does not include the lives of those outside of their families that your siblings and their children and grandchildren may impact. Just think about it. God has given you a responsibility to touch the lives of those around you with His love, fortunately, He does not as us to carry it alone. He is ready to help us. Focus on living your life for Him, and the rest will not be so hard.
A warning, do not, I mean, do not, try to make your siblings be what you think they should be. Encourage them to be who God wants them to be. Pray with them and for them, and be there when they need you. Be a good example. Live your life for the Lord, they will be watching. That is all you can do. You cannot make them be who you want them to be, that is not what I have been trying to tell you. What I have been trying to say, is that you can have a lot of impact on you siblings lives by setting a good example. Chances are they will learn from you.
I would love to hear from all of you about what you have learned, whether or not you were home schooled, or from a large family, or not.
To God be the Glory,
Friday, August 21, 2009
The thing that we need to get a grasp on before we go any further is, the name of the game doesn't matter, so much as whether the directions to the game are biblically sound or not. As Christians this should be our number one concern.
Say your family loves to play Nuts (a card game). One day you are gathered with some friends and you challenge them to play Nuts. You explain the game and they say, "Hey, that sounds like Peanuts. We love that game!" Come to find out it is the same game, just they call it Peanuts and you call it Nuts.
It can be that way with dating and courtship too. Not all dating relationships are bad and not all courting relationships are good. It is not so much what we call our relationships, it is more the focus of our relationships. Whether you choose to call your relationships dating or courtship is totally up to you.
The reason that a lot of Christians like to use the term courtship is because dating evokes images of frivolous, fun filled, undirected, undisciplined relationships, where as courtship speaks of cautious, fun filled, disciplined, purposeful relationships. We will get more into that later.
To sum things up, the name of the game is just that, a name. If your name is Susan and your sister's name is Christa, that does not make one of you better or worse then the other. Your behavior is what defines who you are. The same with dating and courtship. The name does not mean a whole lot, it is the behaviors of those involved that define the terms, and that is the bottom line of the issue.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The LORD will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 'For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But is anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."
How many times in our lives have we heard the phrase: "No matter what you do, God will still love you." While that is true, I think many of us fall into the trap of doing wrong and then just brushing it off because God loves us anyway.
Even though God does love us unconditionally, He hates sin. When we knowingly sin as Christians we are "trampling the Son of God underfoot," as it says in Hebrews 10:29. We are saying that Jesus' life, given on the cross for us, is not of great worth to us. We are insulting the Son of the Most High God!
God does not take our insulting His only Son lightly. God will not idly stand by and watch us trample His Son under foot. "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," it says in Hebrews 10:30. I typed that last part in bold print because I think each of us needs to remember that we serve a just God. One day we will have to stand before the judgement seat and account for all we have done.
We need to remember what our little sins cost God. Yes, God is a forgiving God, but if we repeatedly do wrong and know all the while that we are doing what we have been commanded not to do, we will be accountable. Those who do not know God's Word cannot willfully disobey it, but for those of us that do know His Word, what excused do we have?
Remember Hebrews 10:26-27? "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment." I personally have willingly sinned against God more then once in my life, so when I read this passage it jumped out at me. I stand in fear of the Lord, and His judgment, but I sorrow with the knowledge that I have taken the death of my Savior so lightly in the past. I say I love Jesus, but if I do, then why do I trample His sacrifice underfoot like it was nothing but trash?
One day I will have to stand before that very same Jesus and have to answer for what I have done. The shame would be so great that I could never lift my head again if I did not know of His grace. The fear of His judgement would make me shake at the mention of His name if I did not know of His love. I cannot take back what I have done, but I can go forward loving Christ as never before because, that He would even look at me after what I have done to Him is amazing.
Next time you are tempted to do what you know is wrong, remember that Jesus loved you so much that He was willing to die for you even thought He knew that there would be times in your life when you would willfully sin. He paid the highest price when He knew we could never be worthy enough. Just think about it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
It all started a week ago when I was sitting with some other girls in church. We were fixing to go out and witness to folks and invite them to church. We were sharing our testimonies, praying, and just sharing our past mistakes. I did not really know any of the other girls I was sitting with, only having met them a few days before. Their stories made me so sad. They got to talking about this bad thing and that bad thing that they had done, seemingly trying to out do each other. Finally they turned to me and said, " You probably never did bad things like we have. You don't look like the type who would."
I had to assure them, that yes I had done bad things. I did not share what my "bad things" were because I knew they would laugh. They would think what I have done is nothing compaired to what they had done. I wanted to remind them that we all have sinned, everyone of us. We all need to be saved. We all need Jesus.
You see, it does not matter what you have done that you consider to have been bad. Maybe you just told a little lie, maybe you murdered someone. The fact is, you are a sinner. You have done wrong and are destined to hell unless you have asked Jesus to be your Savior and Lord. In God's eyes sin is sin. The lie little Susie told her mama is equal to Jimmy James killing his next door neighbor. There is no such thing as a little sin, a "good" sin. As Charles Spurgeon said, "If you sin, sin boldly. Every time you sin, you are saying that sin is worth more to you than the cross of Jesus Christ."
God has no 1 to 10 scale to measure how bad you have been. We are all equally sinful. We are all equally in need of a Savior. If you do not know Jesus today then I urge you to change that. God is waiting with open arms. Tell Him you are sorry for the mistakes you have made and ask Him to come into your heart and to save you from your sins. Nothing you have ever done makes you so bad that you are beyond the reach of the Master. Do not wait. Ask Him in today.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
I can't help to think of the truth in it. Just think if we Christians stood up for what we believe in. I don't necessary mean the "big" things that seem too big for our seemingly minuscule influence, but the issues we see every day. Things we come across at work and school that we know aren't right. I know I am often guilty of "doing nothing" just walking away or trying to ignore it. What would happen if we stood up? What would our world be like? What would the people around us do? Would they be surprised?
Monday, July 13, 2009
When I was just reaching my teen years I had a bomb dropped into my lap. My mother and I were talking one day. She was telling me about how she and my dad met and about some of the dates they had gone on. Then came the shocker, the "I hope you don't date," line. Not date? If I did not date, how would I ever meet my prince charming? If I never dated, I would never meet any men, I would never marry. My dreams were shattered before my childish eyes. I did not understand, but instead of asking my mom how she expected me to meet a man worthy of my heart and hand and not date, I kept silent in my confusion.
Inside I was fuming. "Well, you can say what you want, but I will too date!" I was angry because I did not understand. I was confused. If I did not date, I would not marry. That was how it worked right? For somewhere around a year I continued in a state of confusion about the "not dating" thing. Then my mom gave me a book, Waiting For Her Isaac. It is a story about a Christian home schooled girl and how she matures into a marriageable young women. She meets a lot of struggles on the way, like moving, not having any like-minded friends nearby, an accident, and more. But the thing that struck me most about the story was the family's approach to marriage and how to get to know a guy before you marry him.
They used this term that I had heard before, but thought was so out-of-date that no one really used it anymore. Courtship. That was when I begin to wonder if perhaps there was another way. If perhaps dating was not the one and only way to meet and get to know a man before marriage.
Since then, the topic of courtship vs. dating has fascinated me. I read everything about it that I can lay my hands on. It has become a topic I am passionate about. Why? Because I feel sure that there are girls out there who are looking for the same answers I was not so long ago. If you do not date, then what, and is dating really so bad in the first place?
In the next few months I would like to write a series of articles and share with you what I have learned about dating vs. courtship.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This summer I have plans for visiting friends, study for and taking the THEA, and plans to put God first and to blindly trust that He knows what my next step will be even though I do not. I know that plans are not everything. I know that carrying them out will be hard, but the first step towards anything is said to be the hardest. I have made some first steps, now whether or not they turn out to be good first steps, I have yet to find out.
I am not sure that I am up to whatever God sees fit to be my next challenge, but I have told Him that what I want more then all else, is to follow Him, to know Him better. I have whispered for Him to do what it takes, to break me. When I am broken, only then, do I feel my great need for Him. I could cry when I think that breaking me might mean losing something dear to me. I do not want God to break me at the cost of others. I think, I would rather die, but I am struggling to let go of my fears, and to trust that He knows best, and that He will not allow the suffering of others to be the only means of reaching me.
I do not believe that God makes bad things happen. I like to think that He only allows bad things to happen because He knows that that might be His best means of reaching us. Then when bad things happen, He reaches down and touches our lives in such ways that we know He is everything He says He is and so much, much more. I cannot make myself believe that He would reach down and give me cancer, even if it was the only means of bringing someone else to Him. Surely He loves me too much to purposely wish that on me, but I do believe He would allow me to get cancer so that another might be reached, or so that I might be pulled closer to His side through the trial.
It is to hard for me to even begin to understand, but God, He sees things differently then I do. He sees not only the past and the present, but also the future. His ways are so much more far reaching then mine could ever be. His plans are so much greater. I do not believe I have begun to learn what He is teaching me about being contented, and about rejoicing in every circumstance. I know in my heart, that should He allow me to get cancer, or to become blind, or any number of things, that I should rejoice in it because He allowed it for a reason, and because He has great plans in store. But, I do not believe I could rejoice. I would probably be to bound up in being sorry for myself, to busy crying over what I could not have, over what I would never have. But the Bible says that life is only but a moment, a moment in which we are commanded to give God glory, not just sometimes, but always.
We get to caught up in the daily cares of life. All we see is today. God sees the big picture and I think that we need to stop daily and take a look at our lives through His eyes. Our life may not be all that we want it to be, it may not be all that we have planned it to be, but whatever we are going through, we need to remember that God is in control and He can use everything for His glory. Everything. Whether that be your bad health, your broken dreams, your stained past, or something as small as a tooth ache. God has amazing power and an amazing vision. Let's not limit Him, or limit His plans for our lives.
So while I am yet a weak sinner and have only the strength to whisper for God to do what it takes to get me running to Him, I hope that one day I will be shouting for Him to do whatever it takes to get me living for Him. Whatever it takes. I pray for the faith and trust of those who are willing to serve Christ even though they know it will mean death.
I have been brought up in a country where Christians have freedom to worship. Some would say I am blessed, and I guess I am, but I often wonder if it would be better to face death and know without any doubts that my trust is in God alone, or if it is better to be free to worship and never know for sure if I would love or trust God enough to face death for Him. Is it really better to love God only when He is good to you (in your eyes) and be able to worship in public, or is it better to love God so much that you are willing to face death for Him and to worship Him hidden from the sight of those who would kill you?
In America our faith is thought so little of, Christians are scorned for their so called faith. Faith many would turn their back on if it meant life over death. Faith that is supposed to be based on the Bible, the same book that many Christians have never read all the way through, and the book that they know relatively little about, the book that non-Christians have been known to be able to quote from memory better then noted Bible scholars. I am so ashamed of what the church has become. A group of people with limited knowledge, with limiting visions, with limited, watered-down, and re-written Bibles, with limited faith, and with a limited God. When I look at what the church has become, I am not surprised at what our country has become, or what our world has become.
We have a God with limitless knowledge, with limitless visions, with limitless power, and with a limitless love. Let's not limit Him. In our everyday life, let's not look at the world through the worlds standards, through human eyes, but let's look at it through God's eyes instead. Changing our outlook can change our world. Take the challenge and live a life for God that is not limited by what people think, but only limited by God Himself. The possibilities are endless.
When we are weak
Then is He strong,
When we can't walk
A shoulder to lean on.
In times when we're afraid
The Hand to guide us along;
Yes, when we are at our weakest,
Then our God is strong.