Friday, May 3, 2013

His Workmanship.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  Eph 2:10. 

The past few weeks have been rough.  I have been on the couch with incredible fatigue.  That means no cooking, no cleaning, no going out.  There have been times when I would get discouraged by my physical situation, but I have tried most of the time to be joyful.  I know that God did not make this happen...  my poor choices over the years have led up to my body needing a break, but I do believe that God uses ALL things for our good.   Sitting on the couch or laying in the bed has given me some time to think.   The Father has given me so much to think about.  I can see alot of things that I couldn't see when I was busy bee.  Actually right now my thoughts are all in a jumble about what God is showing me, but I will try to narrow a couple down for this post.

I was redeemed in 1996 and not having ever had anything to do with church before I had no idea that this journey to holiness was going to be so long and drawn out.  I also naturally assumed that God would clean up my outside up real quick like and that would be the end of it, on to live the GOOD LIFE.   This kind of thinking coupled with NO discipleship eventually landed me right back where I was before and worse.  Until on a day 4 years later when the Spirit spoke to my heart and said "I can change you.  My word has to be the food you eat and the water you drink."   I began to devour His Word and through the years I have been CHANGED, but I really didn't understand the depth of what God wanted to do in my life.  I just thought I was finally going to be a better person.  When the bible says "He will complete the work he started in You"  I had no idea that this was going to be a life long work and surely wouldn't he be better served to do it all at once?!?!  ;-)

Fast-forward to now.  I am a wife,  a mom of 4, baby on the way, homeschooling, woman of God (used lightly).   When I say "woman of God" in my mind I'm wanting to be absolutely EVERYTHING that I read in scripture...  Hospitality, Good works, feeding the poor, and so on, but I can barely feed the children God's blessed me with, and keep the house from looking like one you would see on hoarders, and educate them in a 1/2 way decent way.  I often feel guilty of not adding up.  I stress alot about what "other" people think about me.  I feel guilty about what I'm not able to accomplish and compare myself to every other woman I see and in my mind don't measure up.   

Naturally my first reaction to being struck down by some mysterious ailment was FEAR...  How can I get things done.  FEAR...  what will everybody else think.  FEAR... I can't keep up as it is.  FEAR, FEAR, FEAR...  One of the first things the Lord highlighted was this FEAR and that the driving force of my life is to prove my worth.   I've been striving all these years to prove my worth to God, to my husband, and everyone around me.  When you're fearful you cannot rest in the Love of God.  For a moment in time the Lord has "layed me down" to show me that NOTHING I do can make Him love me.  He is LOVE.   I could do everything or nothing and His love wouldn't change.  His love is not based on me being and doing.  Actually HE proved his love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  When I was completely unlovable HE LOVED ME. 

Along with the love of God, the love of my husband is nothing I've earned.  Because of Christ the love between us is not about what I do or anything else.  Actually I have seen the love of my husband much more clearly when I was down.  His care and concern were beautiful to me.   Like a healing balm on my soul. 

One of the things I worry about is keeping up...  I remember all the events where I should have taken a break and let someone else do things for me and I didn't.   The times I should have been on bed rest and didn't rest.  After babies were born and even now during pregnancy when I REALLY NEED a nap, but I keep going because I'm so afraid of falling behind.  OR even worse I want to prove to everyone that I don't need help...  FEAR AGAIN.  These 2 weeks have really shown me how silly that is.  My husband and my children have stepped up to help in so many ways.  I can rest AND I CAN ASK FOR HELP.   How freeing. 

I was blown away to read Psalms 23 with new eyes through this... 

The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want,
He leads me beside the still waters,

I feel like He has LAYED me down physically so that I could find rest in Him.  Yes my body needs rest and I need to take care of myself by eating right.  More importantly though my soul needed some RESTORING. 

My mom passing last year was a blow.  I guess I thought that since I was a child of God and that I know heaven is better than here I didn't allow myself to grieve properly.  I thought that I didn't have time to be down.  I thought that the long illness had prepared me for her passing, but I see now that my soul needed some restoring.  I see that I needed to REST in God.  I see now that HE sometimes has to make us lay down so that we will have the time to focus.  

I'm so thankful that God layed me down.  I feel like we worked on somethings that are going to help me.   We are created to be HIS workmanship, but we can do very little good when we work ourselves to death, when we are tired and grumpy, or even doing things with wrong motives.  Sometimes we are actually the ones who NEED someone to care for us and minister to us.   I've been reading several books lately and one thing I noticed is that men and woman of God who are DRIVEN to do mighty things for Jesus usually by divine Providence have times when they are layed down...  It makes me think of David and his desire to build the Temple (for) God, and God saying NO.  We should NEVER FORGET that we are NOT making a name for ourselves.  We are making a name for God AND sometimes that means decreasing to the point NOT being seen.  HE works in ways that we don't understand.  Like sickness, early death, pain, suffering...  A post for another time.  It's RARELY the GREAT things that we do that make the most impact on the lives around us. 

This is a small account of what the Lord has begun to show me.  I know I didn't really get it all, but if I know anything about the Lord it's this...  before it's over I will learn these lessons thoroughly!!!   I'm thankful to be up again, but I have to say that being down on that green grass sitting with my Shepherd was a sweet time.  I'm thankful for His constant care for me. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The little things...

Good Morning!!! I hope it's a good one for you. The weather is beautiful that always helps put me in a good mood. I must confess that I have been kind of dumpy lately... but, this weekend I have been reading a really good book.
One of the things I have struggled with over the years of becoming wife and mom is there is so much mundane, everyday stuff to do, and not enough time to offer anything to the Lord, or the world, or the church anything of any real value. Through the years I have always been comforted by the Spirit's small voice in this thing that as long as I am doing my duty I am doing something for the Lord. I have become convinced that the Christian life is one that we often times neglect to live privately. What I mean by that is that we forget to be kind, loving, patient, gentle, and self-controlled in our families... For me I have no choice, but to exercise my christian life at home because I lack the opportunity to practice it in public... It takes a lot of time and effort to keep my home running in a some-what efficient way so I am forced to concentrate on this... I say forced because if left up to me I would find (and have tried) other ways to "minister to the world". I have seen for me often time this ministry is "self-love" and "self-promotion". It makes me feel good to be seen as loving God and serving Christ. Every time I have done this my family has been neglected in some way or with busyness my temper has flared. I lose the "Christian cloak" when I'm in my home.
Well, I recently took a good hard look at my life. I had to put things in priority and order. It seems that after the top few things... God, Husband, Children, Home I don't have a lot of energy left for other things... So, I say to the Lord is this OK??? How do you feel about this. I'm not making any impact on the world around me for YOU. I'm not ministering or giving you anything of value.
I was reading this book "Stepping Heavenward, One Woman's Journey to Godliness." It's a fiction journal written by Elizabeth Prentiss (a hymn writer in the 1800's). It starts with the girl at 16 and follows her walk with the Lord throughout her life. I can't help thinking even though it's a fiction book that the writer was telling her own story in a lot of ways. I KNOW that God has used this book in a profound way in my own life and I feel her Katherine's story is my own story. Even with a century separating us I feel VERY connected to this fictional person. Through the joys and struggles of life.
This is a quote at the end of a the book. Taken from a Seventeenth Century French writer Francois Fenelon...
"The most indifferent actions cease to be such and become good as soon as one performs them with the intention of conforming one's self in them to the will of God. They are often better and purer than certain actions that APPEAR more virtuous. First, because they are less of our own choice and more in the order of Providence when one is obliged to perform them; Second, because they are simpler and less exposed to vain complaisance; and Third, because if one yields to them with moderation, one finds in them more of death to one's inclinations than in certain acts of fervor in which self-love mingles; finally, because these little occasions occur more frequently and furnish a SECRET occasion for continually making every moment profitable."
"EVERYTHING which God wishes us to do, and which enters into the course of occupation suitable to our position, can and ought to be offered to God."
So every little thing you do brings glory to GOD... Every service to your family, every diaper you change, dish you wash, every mundane act becomes a gift to God. Every SECRET thing that our occupation requires is a gift to the God of heaven seen by him alone, but rewarded by him alone as well. When we are doing what God has given us to do we are serving Him. Now let us do it joyfully. O please Lord help me do all things as unto You with a joyful, cheerful heart!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Fruitful Wife...

For the last few days my mind has been occupied with a specific idea.  As with all things there are two ways...  God's way and the human way.  We have been bombarded by humanistic thinking that says "do what FEELS right", but the Bible says there is a way that seems right to man, but the end leads to death.  God's ways are different from ours.  The Gospel is full of admonitions to lose your life, die to self, pick up your cross and be a servant to all, but the world has a totally different message...  do what you want to do.  Lately my thoughts have been centered on what does God say about me as a wife and mother.

One of the verses I have been dwelling on is Psalm 128:3 "Your wife shall be a fruitful vine by the sides of your house..."   Usually I just read that and think of the physical aspect...  She will be fruitful meaning bearing children and although in our culture that's not considered a good thing, to God it's a HUGE BLESSING for the 'Man who fears the Lord".   Reading a commentary yesterday really spoke to me about another aspect of the fruitful wife... she will bear the fruit of the spirit.

Galatians tells us what that fruit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also WALK IN THE SPIRIT.

I have to confess that I do not often walk in the spirit and do not often exhibit the fruits of the spirit when interacting with my children.  I get up lots of times and just start my day without asking the Lord for his help in this monumental task of wife and mother.  I forget easily that "He is the VINE, and that I am the branch."  I forget that I cannot be Christlike without the spirit of Christ abiding in me.  As a Christian we know that He is ALWAYS with us, but to abide in HIM is another thing all together.  We must ask, seek, knock.  We have the responsibility of confessing our NEED for him and our weakness and lack of wisdom.  Often I just walk in the flesh.

Walking in the Spirit takes commitment, as well as, understanding that we are destitute without him.  The AWESOME news is he has promised to answer when we knock and to give wisdom liberally to all those who humble themselves and seek HIM. 

Back to the fruit...  What kind are you putting out? 

Love... Is it patient and kind, does it bear ALL things, does it keep record of wrongs or just wipe the slate clean?  Love bears all things, believes all things and hopes all things.  Love is NOT a feeling.  Love is an action that puts the welfare of the other person above ones own desires.

Joy...  The bible says that "The joy of the Lord is our strength."  When we walk in the Spirit we can have joy in Who Jesus is and not in what is going on around us.  Sick children, washer breaks down, ups and downs in marriage, whatever comes our way we can have the joy of the Lord.

Peace... with joy comes peace.  I read a description of peace once that has stuck with me.  A tranquil pond.  Is that you momma?  Do you have peace when your husband does something you don't agree with?  Peace when your children are behaving badly?  Peace is about trusting God that He is in control and that we can take anything to him in prayer.

Long-suffering...  this goes beyond patient.  This is bearing with the Lord and trusting him when the situation would make another break.   It's bearing with a husband who you've prayed for for years.  It's bearing with a child whom you have disciplined over and over again about the same things.  Bearing with that person until God changes a heart.

Gentleness...  I confess I struggle with this one more than all others.  I have never been a gentle person, but I'm asking the Lord to redeem me to HIS original design.  Help me speak gently and discipline gently and love gently when I don't feel like it.

Goodness...  Doing good to others even when they don't deserve it.  This is exactly what God did for us when he sent his son to die for our sins when we didn't deserve it.  Goodness is generosity... giving above and beyond what others deserve.  Is this me?  Is this you?

Faithfulness...  dependability.  Can your husband depend on you?  Do your children KNOW that you will be there for them or do you put your own desires above others?

Meekness...  thinking of others better than yourself...  putting their needs above your own.  Another hard concept for us to get.

Self-control...  OH MY.  If your family was interviewed would they say you are a woman of self-control?  Do you hold your tongue or your anger?  I promise I fail at this so often.

The great news is that God is completing a work in me.  I have a long way to go, but HE is faithful and the key to my success as a wife and mother that honors God is found in these verses.  Abiding in Him and seeking him every morning, confessing my weakness and my desperate need for him, inviting him to overcome me today, He will fill me and anoint me to do the work he set forth for me and I will be the fruitful wife that blesses her family.  A vine that brings forth abundant fruit that gives life and health and vitality to my family all because of the Spirit welling up in me... 

Thank you Jesus that I don't have to rely on me.  Thank you that you will rise up in me and be my Strength, my joy, my peace, my goodness, and gentleness.  Help me abide in you today!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Daily Load...

Today is MONDAY!!!  YAY.  I love Mondays, I know this is strange, but I do.  Monday is laundry day.  We studied American history last year and one of the things we learned was Monday was traditionally considered laundry day.  Having a full house means that everyday you have to do a load or two, but Monday is the day I play catch-up from the weekend...   Taking a few days off with a family of six constantly changing clothes, and using towels, and sheets that need to be washed means that Monday is the day to do the major laundry load. 
Today I was thinking about LAUNDRY and MONDAY, two things that get alot of negative attention and I thought how odd that I enjoy both of these things.  It means getting back to routine for us.  It means normal and ordinary and I love those two things.  It also reminds me that I have been blessed by lots of little feet that need clean socks, and lots of pairs of legs that need clean pants, lots of little bellies that need clean shirts.  I have been blessed to be at home with them and I have a day that I can clean, catch-up, and do laundry.   

As I was sweeping the floors and thinking to myself "HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?" I started to remember the things that have been said to me about having another baby...  Yes, this little one will cause more work, but according to God work is a good thing.  No, I won't have a lot of extra time on my hands, but I've always heard "idle time is the devil's play-ground". 

The most recent comment that was made in complete unbelief is "are ya'll gonna keep having babies?" made me think people just really don't understand.  You wouldn't believe the comments that are made to couples who have decided to have a full house.  My friend told me about a time she went out with her then 5 and 1 on the way and counted 54 comments that were made to her about her children... 

1. Are they ALL yours?
2. Is this a daycare?
3. Don't you know what causes that?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of remarks made, but you get the drift.  While walking to a park with another friend having a combined total of 8 children at various ages, two men walked by us counting and staring so hard trying to figure us out, they said "WOW, ya'll have a lot of 'em."  Brilliant observation, but they are called children, and yes we have been blessed.  

What in the world would possess someone to choose this life of more laundry, more house-work, more fingerprints, more, more, more WORK...  Well, first there is God whom is the giver of life who says "Be fruitful and multiply" and "Children are a blessing from the Lord", and He is the opener and closer of the womb.   Yes we do believe we are doing this for HIM and with HIM.  There's a faith and a trust in that. 

After the Yes Lord, we will... there's the more laughter, more hugs, more kisses, more love.  There's the things that children teach mom and dad that they can't learn from simply reading the bible.  There is the knowing that life is short and this won't last forever so hold on and enjoy the ride.  There's the love of babies, toddler's, big kids that are all so different and fascinating.  There are so many things that you will never know unless you're living this life...  There is the day that you realize that the BIBLE is TRUE and this is the most amazing journey you could ever go on.  I wish I could express in words all that is in my heart today, but the one thing that I can say is as I was doing all this WORK that comes with ALL THESE CHILDREN this verse came to my mind...

"Blessed be the Lord, who DAILY LOADS  us with BENEFITS, even the God of our salvation." Psalm 69:19 

Through the gift of children I have learned so very much.  I could go on and on if I had the "extra time" to try to convince the nay-sayers, but I don't.  WHAT I KNOW is that CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING AND THE FRUIT OF THE WOMB ARE HIS REWARD.  They are not a hassle or burden.  

AS they daily load me with stuff to do I think about all the benefits they have brought to my life and I say with David "My cup runs over."   

Side note:  I read an article that said that the reason woman are fatter these days is because they do less housework...  I include this just to be funny...  Another benefit of the extra work is I don't have a whole lot of time to sit on my butt and eat bon bons...  Thank you little children for giving me work to do!!! 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Some things are just true.

This is my first attempt to untangle my thoughts.  Forgive me for incoherency in advance... 

The other day I was reading in my quiet time and this verse stuck out at me...  "You are the ones who justify yourselves before men; but GOD knows your heart; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Luke 16:15

The night before I had been reading an article by a radical feminist and I was disgusted by the things she had to say.  It's amazing how much has changed in our society in the last 50 years.  No, I am not reminiscing the good old days and no, I am not one who laments our new found freedom as woman.  However, I am one who things that with great freedom comes great responsibility.  CHOICE is the name of the game these days...  of course UNLESS that choice resembles anything like traditional roles for woman.  This article clearly stated what the feminist agenda is all about...  saying things like divorce your husband if he holds you back.  Even giving advise to marry someone who is poor or younger so that you can have the upper hand in the marriage and do things that you want to do... I'm sorry, but the LAST thing I want to do is marry some poor kid so I can be in control.   I guess I'm just one of those backwards thinkers who still hasn't been liberated.

Anyway, this article came to my mind when the next morning I read that verse about what is highly esteemed among men (people).  No longer is wife and mother highly prized.  According to the article a woman's worth was in what she could contribute to public and professional life.  No longer is it highly prized to: "... that the younger woman marry, bear children, guide the house, and give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." I Tiimothy 5:14.   Be able to cook, clean, take care of our children... these are things woman should never have to do.  Hire out everything that resembles conventional womanhood.   YOU ARE ABOVE THAT. 

When I saw this verse I started to think well what IS highly esteemed with God.  It didn't take long before the spirit spoke to my heart and this is where he led me...

"And the angel came in unto her, and said, "Rejoice, YOU ARE HIGHLY FAVORED, the Lord is with you; blessed are YOU AMONG WOMAN."   and next he said you will have a wonderfully, fulfilling, lucrative, important, financially viable CAREER.

"And the angel  said to her, Fear not, Mary: for YOU HAVE FOUND FAVOR WITH GOD. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS." Luke : 28&30.

WHAT IS THAT YOU SAY...  Being HIGHLY FAVORED is having a child.  WHAT being a Mother is HIGHLY FAVORED in GOD'S eyes...

In today's environment it is very easy to get swept away in the ideals of this world.  This happened to me recently.   Last August as I was struggling with depression and losing my mom I reached out to find something to make me FEEL better.  It started out as a hobby.  Something I could do on the side.  It quickly became something more.  All the sudden I felt more important like I was really contributing something to the world and my family.  I was making extra money and able to be out of the house on a regular basis.   I was getting compliments and feeling pretty good about myself...  There's nothing wrong with any of that I can hear some say.  YOU NEED THAT.  I can hear you say.  These type of thoughts dominated my thinking and I couldn't hear the small still voice in through the praise and recognition.  Things were busy and I didn't even notice when my heart was turned from my children and home to these grander more important pursuits. 

Since we are home-schooling most of the day it was hard to cook dinner on nights when I was out of the house so naturally the kids had to have take-out.  Oh, yeah and the house was a mess so I really needed someone else to come clean my house, because I was out doing MORE IMPORTANT things like earning money.   Then Christmas came and the busyness of the season took the up the month of December...  With the first of the year there was a season of sickness and morning sickness and fatigue.  It was not until the complete quietness of February when I had nothing outside of my home pressing and calmness inside that I started to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to me.  It started with a sweet 4 yr old boy.  My wild and rambunctious little boy just wanted mommy to sit with him all day and read books.  He started to whine more and act out.  At first I didn't recognize the signs, but eventually I started to understand...  He was missing mommy.  He didn't like the new busy mommy.  He didn't like to see mommy leave and going to bed without me.   It was hardest on him because the next day it was school time for the big kids and he didn't get a whole lot of me then.  I tried to spend more time with him and do special things, but he was still showing signs of neglect...   Along with this I had nothing going on in February so it was quiet and I could focus on my home AND contemplate the new arrival that would be in here in the summer and I realised I MISSED this.  I found out I DON'T like to be busy, I don't like not tucking my little ones in to bed at night, I don't like running around with a list of errands all day.  I DO like the quietness of my life, I do like being home with my children, and I do like to cook dinner for my family and even clean and organize my house.  Then God began once again to show me that these things are important things.  These are good and right and pure things.   These are HIGHLY FAVORED in his eyes.  I also knew that I could not pursue this other thing and motherhood, and do them both well.  I had to make a choice.  I chose HOME.   I FEEL peace and relief.  I am thankful that to GOD I am right where I need to be. 

I may have nothing to offer the public or professional world, but I am irreplaceable in my home.   If God's word is to be believed "Behold (look, see, observe), children are a heritage of the Lord: AND the fruit of the womb is HIS REWARD.", then I am being once again rewarded and I fully embrace His beautiful gift of LIFE!!!  So, to my children I give you my heart, my time, my service.  I give you my life.  There is NOTHING more important to me than you.  Forgive me for forgetting that for a little while.  Thank you, Lord for the reminder that some things are just TRUE and one of them is that NO ONE can replace Momma...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's been a while and I have so much to say...

Wow.  I haven't posted anything in a YEAR...   Looking at my last post and remembering where I was at this time last year I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness.  I can look at what I wrote and I can remember the way I was feeling. 

I was down in dumps.  I was mourning and suffering hormonal issues...  I made decisions that I learned from. 

One reason I haven't written in a while is because my self-esteem was really low.  The other reason is because I decided to do a little something on the side and ran out of extra time.  So since last August I have been BUSY.  I tried some new stuff and tried to figure things out.  I started another blog that I thought was more like the new me...  But, what I found out through trial and error is that I am the same me and that what ever happens in my life is designed to help ME become more like him.

I have many thoughts floating around in my head that I would like to get out.  Things that I believe NOW more strongly than I have ever believed them before... so I came back to the blog that I started with and I will try to untangle the mess of thoughts inside my heart. 

Right now it's about time to start the evening wind down around here so for now I'll just think and figure out what write about first.