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Recipe For Success!

I love to cook!  Absolutely love it!  I love planning meals, I love grocery shopping and imagining meals.  I love preparing meals.  I find it calming to chop veggies and stir brownie batter.  I admit though, I hated canning as a kid — helping Mom preserve numerous cans of peaches and pears in the middle of the summer with no air – conditioning in the kitchen was pure drudgery!  But I loved the result of home canned peaches and pears!  After college I attempted my first solo canning experience. I put up four pints of tomato soup.  Four pints!  That is a VERY small amount!  I had four jars.  I looked at those jars lined up on the counter and was SO proud of myself.  They looked so homey!  I cried later in the day when I accidentally dropped one of those jars on the way to the pantry!  I haven’t really attempted canning since.  Now I have the same proud and happy feeling when I spend a day prepping freezer meals to pull out during the week or month for fast and delicious dinners that please my husband and fill our bellies with yummy food.

Recipes are forgiving.  Last night I made a taco casserole that was a little spicy for our liking so next time I’ll decrease the spice.  Cooking is experimental.  I find recipes that I’ll make again and again, and others that are disgusting in my opinion (even if they get rave reviews from others).  And making meals for just me is different than making them for me and my husband!  For instance, a favorite meal of mine is meatloaf. He can’t stand it!  I love the challenge of finding meals we both like!  Here is a “recipe for success” — at least in my kitchen this recipe is a winner!  (I will likely never have a cooking blog, though that sounds like fun!) But here is a new favorite I’ve made recently: Flourless Chocolate Torte from Well Plated.   Enjoy!

A successful recipe is different than a recipe for success.  Right? You might like that torte recipe and those you serve it too will as well. It might be a recipe that turns out perfect every time.  That is a successful recipe!  But a recipe for success?  Is that possible?  Many books claim 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or The Success Principles.  I’ve not read these books, but I’m sure the author’s lay out a roadmap of sorts.  They give hints and helps to “make it.”

But today, in my Bible reading, I came across secrets to victorious living.  I want to finish my life well.  Just yesterday I happened upon a sermon on just that topic, so others want the same thing! This morning as I read, I listed what I saw. In Deuteronomy chapters 3-5 Moses is talking to the people of Israel. He is recounting their past, and pointing them towards the future.

Some of the principles I find within these chapters include these “ingredients” for successful living! These are only a sample of what I saw!

  • No matter the obstacle, acknowledge God is Deliver and able to get around it.  Do you need delivered out of something that holds you captive, or do you need a way to overcome something?  God is able, and tells us not to fear the enemy or obstacle. (3:2-6)
  • Remember God’s faithfulness in the past and all He’s done for you.  Know that He fights for you! (3:21-22)
  • Learn God’s statues and judgments and commands.  Listen to them, follow them only. (4:5-6)
  • Keep yourself diligently. (4:9)
  • Fear God always. (4:10)
  • Worship God alone. (4:15-19)

These things are not like a recipe for food. They are not forgiving or adaptable.  These are how God lays out a plan for success.  But like a recipe they are meant to be shared and enjoyed!  Success according to God is not a secret!  These principles are to be tried again and again.  They are to be passed around to others.  They are to be savored like fine food!

Oh Sisters in Christ, may you enjoy the delight of delicious food (regardless of whether you or someone else cooks it!), and may you enjoy the commands and principles of God even more!  He wants us to be successful and to finish life well!  He wants to say well done to all of us when we get to heaven!  How will that happen?  Only by following the recipe for success layed out in God’s Word!

 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Ps. 63:1-5)

 

 

I am a Woman, a Helper, and a Wife

Today I rose early, I couldn’t sleep.  I had woken to use the bathroom and my eyelids still felt the weight of sleep.  But sleep would not come back, so I got up.  I sat on the couch and read.  I’ve always had an interest in being a woman. I love that God made men and women uniquely different.  When single I sometimes got mad at things that men did or aspects of who they were.  But (ask my roommate Keri) I always followed the frustration with, “But I still want one!”  Now that I’ve been given a man of my own, I’m still interested in how different we are.  Sometimes our differences still cause frustration.  Other times they make us better.  Thus, I’m reading about being a helper.

My book now sits on the floor though.  My thoughts are varied.  I’m observing our wedding picture which hangs on the wall.  Some days this picture becomes part of the wall.  I barely see it.  Other days I get up close to it, I look at the names of friends who witnessed that day.  I remember.  Today, however, I’m looking at it in light of the book I’m reading.  I peer into the faces.  I see me.  I see a beloved man.  I see us standing close together, smiling.  I look into my own eyes staring back.  I ponder who I was, and who I’m becoming.  Next Tuesday we will have been married two (short)(wonderful) years.  Two years.  How can time move so fast and so slow all at once?

But there is more to what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking of the dreams we had as singles.  I’m thinking of how we wanted our lives to intertwine, and now that they do it is not as cut and dry as we thought it might be.  I’m also thinking of our culture and how far we’ve come from the Biblical view of men and women.  I’m thinking of the little girls in the next generation.  Who will show them what it means to be a woman? I don’t even know some days if I display womanhood in the best light.  In two years there have been moments when I’ve not elevated my man or been a helper to him.

Being a helper is about being a woman.  And being a woman is not about being married.  Singles are called to this too. So as my anniversary approaches, and as this book teaches me, I’d like to pass on some encouragement to you.  You and I, my sisters, we are daughters of Eve.  Eve, the first woman.  We, the woman of this generation who get to teach the next generation of girls who they are.  It’s a tall task.

Author, Susan Hunt, writes,

Women’s helper design is not so much what we do but rather who we are…. [it] should not be confused with our various roles.  Our roles change: Daughter, student, wife, friend, employee, employer, mother, etc… But our design equips us to bring a unique perspective to that role….So the core question is not what is my role, but what is my goal? It is essential to recognize that I am created in the image of God for the purpose of reflecting His image. But I cannot, and should not try to, escape the fact that I am a female and that I am to glorify God as a female person.

So as my anniversary approaches, as I examine myself portrayed two years ago as a bride, and as I think over these two years and into my next year of marriage I am pondering my helper role.  I am pondering the next generation of little girls growing up in a feminist culture.  I’m pondering the idea that male and female (according to culture) are the same and can be interchanged.  The Bible doesn’t promote that, but culture does. It’s sort of a scary thought.  I’m praying that my little girls and boys never doubt that they were created by God as either a male or a female.

Hunt notes that the helper design is intrinsic to being a woman.  She notes that our worldview forms our idea of being a female.  Most people think that a helper is lesser.  Rather she writes, “When we consider how God is our helper, we can begin to understand the depth and the power of our female design.”

I’m thinking afresh of my role as helper to Brad, now two years into our marriage.  I’m thinking of all women, single or married and how we can be a helper in our culture.  Helpers are not just married women.  Rather, in God’s design only having men in the world was not good.  So God planned a different design, women.  Women and men together display God’s glory.  Single, or married, will you purpose in your heart to display God’s glory and bear His image as a woman?  He has a plan for your life, dear sister! Teach the little girls in your life that they are valuable as women.  They have gifts of compassion and service and grace that are unique to their sex!  What an incredible God we serve!  Let’s be women who elevate God in whichever role He places us in!

 

(From the book By Design, by Susan Hunt).

 

 

 

There Will Be Signs…

The year was 1997.  I was in the 8th grade.  I lived in Moorhead, Minnesota.  Our house was a hustle and bustle of many people and muddied feet scurrying everywhere.  Mom had laid down plastic in an attempt to keep the mud off the kitchen floors.  The air outside was cold.  Snacks and warm drinks lined the kitchen table, inviting volunteers to stop for a break and enjoy the warmth of hot cocoa and a cookie.  But the break lasted far too briefly.  Outside was calling.  Outside where Dad was conducting the line of volunteers through the muddy springtime slush.  These volunteers were lined up along a row of sandbags.  The sandbags snaked around our whole house.  And these volunteers were placing one on top of another.  When they trudged in the house for a brief break, other volunteers filled their spots.  Thus, a wall begin to form.  A wall that challenged the rising Red River.  A wall that held our hopes securely inside.

But that wall broke.  One little sandbag wiggled free.  Pumps couldn’t keep up.  Volunteers now helped raise belongings as high as possible.  My parents decided that my sister and I needed out.  Roads in front of our house were soon to be covered with water.  I was told I had to leave with my relatives.  My parents stayed.  They tried to keep the pumps going, but it was a loosing battle.  That spring, 1997, our home flooded.  That spring my family went to three different homes for a few weeks.  That spring my family stayed in an apartment for most of the summer after school finished.  That spring turned into months of being out of the only place I’d ever called home.  That spring turned into a memory that none in our family will forget.

We grew up in a great house on the edge of town.  We had three acres of land bordered by the Red River to the West.  Each spring the water crept out of the banks, rising higher.  Most years the water stopped at the bottom of the small hill behind our house.  Our unfinished basement often faced the reality of water seeping in through cracks in the cement wall as the ground thawed and the river rose.  A few inches of water — no big deal.  Dad’s boxes were placed on secure cement blocks.  Mom’s rubber boots at the bottom of the stairway nestled my feet as I plopped laundry into the raised laundry machine.  It was normal.  Until the year when the “hundred year flood” happened upon us.  The year when our sandbag wall acted like an usher at a movie theater rather than a guard with strict orders.  That year the water came high above the basement.  That year the water reached knee level inside our rambler.  That year the mold crawled up the walls and each wall had to be stripped.  That year was 1997.  That year my parents might have moved.  But we kids didn’t want to.  That year came and went.

The year was 1999.  The “hundred year flood” of two years earlier was done and gone.  And I was crying.  I distinctly remember the news and the predictions.  Flood waters were rising.  Normal.  But the bottom of the hill behind our house was now covered again with water.  Predictions were placing the crest as high as the former hundred year flood of 1997.  Dad hadn’t wasted time with sandbags.  No, trucks had carried in dirt.  Trucks.  Not one.  Several loads of dirt became the new snake around our house.  Ugly wall.  Hope still secured within.  But within my chest fear was creeping in.  I’d seen this before.  Dad decided to put sandbags on top of the dirt dike.  So volunteers were around our house again.  But I was not helping.  I was crying.  A gentle woman from church came over to me and suggested a walk.  We walked away from the rising river.  We walked the still dry road.  I cried.   She listened.  It was supposed to be a 100 year flood, why was it happening again?  God was gracious. The water crept up the dike, but was not able to spill through or over.

The year was 2009 (I think).  I went with my roommate to help sandbag for a family in Fargo, ND (the sister city to Moorhead).  This particular family lived in a home well out of the flood plain, supposedly.  My own parents had moved by now.  The city had offered them a buyout as the land where my family home sat was needed to become a city dike.  Since my parents were dry and no longer needed my help, my roommate and I ended up at this unknown home, bussed there amid many volunteers helping.  We laid bags in a long line that the city had going behind many homes.  My arms ached as bags far larger than I should have held were passed from hand to hand to growing dike of sandbags.  I was grateful it wasn’t my home.  My emotions were different.  Yet I wondered at flooding again. (Here is a picture of our house during one of floods. One on top is the back of our home).

The year is 2017.  Hurricane Harvey blasted Houston, Texas weeks ago.  Hurricane Irma followed, and now Maria.  Devastation was left in their wakes.  Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico… and I’m sure other places.  The news pictures are awful.  Whereas I had time to prepare, many of these people were lifted from their homes in helicopters as water rose faster than anyone thought.  Tonight a lady on 60 Minutes swore when asked what she thought of a “500 year storm.”  Another lady who studies science and climate change discussed how hurricanes are effected by climate change and why they are getting worse.

The other day as I was driving home, I was listening to the gospel of Luke.  These words struck me: There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.  People fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world (Luke 22:25-26).

Climate change.  Flooding and storms that are out of their typical pattern of 100 or 500 years.  Major storms.  A full eclipse of the sun.  Are these signs of the times?  To the Christian Luke says, Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (vs. 28).  Ok, I admit.  I do sometimes fear.  I wonder how life is going.  I know for a fact that this all means Jesus’ return is soon.  But I do worry.  Storms and flooding take things from us.  And I know, it’s hard to be out of home, hard to leave a house, hard to give up things.  Yes it is.  I know!  But the world at large talks of Mother Nature, and climate change becomes a political debate.

Dear Sister in Christ, our redemption is near.  The world is fearful over what is coming on the world.  I don’t have to fear. God said I don’t.  I am not always obedient to that command, however!  But the truth of the matter is, these times are in the hands of God Almighty.  The roaring of the waves are in his control.  And sometimes God calms storms instantly as He did in Luke chapter 8.  Other times, these things simply must just take place.  They are signs of the times!

So dear friend, let’s be women who are ready. Luke states Jesus’ words, “unless you repent you will all perish” (13:5).  Jesus alone is the remedy to our fear.  Yes, things will happen in our physical realm.  Yes, things can be and will be destroyed.  And yes, sometimes lives will be lost.  You and I are told that repentance (turning to believe in Jesus as God’s son), is the only way out of perishing.  Physical death is hard, but for the believer of Jesus Christ, this death puts us instantly with Christ himself!  But this verse talks about perishing, not only as physical death, but of separation from God.

As I watch these times my prayer is for my children.  Now I don’t have my own kids, but there are 8 littles in my life that I pray for daily.  They are the next generation.  We know from the signs that the redemption is near.  I pray my little children come to know and love Jesus.  Won’t you pray for those in your next generation.  The signs are pointing to Jesus’ return being ever nearer.  More flooding will come. More physical devastation will take place.  We need to prepare our youngsters!  Politicians and scientists shouldn’t be the only voice our children hear.  Let’s tell them about Jesus and His great saving love!

Housekeeping … Subscribing to this blog

Hello!  I’m doing a bit of housekeeping about my blog today.  If you read this post you will see how LITTLE I know about technology and blogs and such!

So… I’ve been complaining for a while that my subscribe button does not work.  My techy (and patient) brother looked at it for me.  He figured out some things… and patiently explained them to me about a million times before I (somewhat) got it.

So here is the deal: I wanted a subscribe button so that you all could get an email when new content is posted.  I thought that would be easier.  So we added a plugin, and did some things… but even though you put in an address for me, and I received it… I couldn’t send out automatic emails.  It turns out that my blog which is hosted on my brother’s domain doesn’t recognize my email as a valid one to use.  (Have I lost you yet?  I have had to learn a ton of new terminology!)  We tried to set me up with a valid email, but gmail doesn’t send that kind of emails, because in the mind of the computer, those types of email lists look like spam!

What!  I told my brother that I get emails from blogs about a new posting.  He agreed.  However, none of those blogs that I get are personal/small blogs.  I subscribe to blogs of famous authors, or such.  They pay for a subscribe button because in the long run they want the networking, possible people to buy their upcoming books, and so forth.  They even have stores on their site where you can purchase their books.  So they make money off the blog, and therefore they pay the price of the subscription, because in the long run it benefits them.

My brother convinced me that at this stage, my little blog, and my little group of friends who read my blog, are not at a stage where paying for a subscribe button to send out an automatic notice would be worth it!  Bummer!  But he also explained how people follow blogs.

I was confused, but I tried it… and he was right. (Thanks Big Brother!).  SO … for those of you like me who don’t know… this blog has an automatic “subscribe” button, sort of.  It’s called a RSS feed.  Don’t ask me what that means!  I don’t know! BUT, I found out how it works.  My brother told me several times this is how people “follow” me.  You click the Entries RSS link on the right side, then you subscribe to follow my blog.  It automatically opens in your “feed.”  I’ve never done this before… but this “feed” is found in my favorites… tucked in between my favorites, and my history! I’d seen it forever, but had no idea what it was!!

So whenever you want to, you open this feed file, or whatever it technically is… and there you can see if I’ve added a new post that you haven’t read!  Cool!  But that means I can’t just send out a blog teaser ending in read more when new content is posted.  So, for those of you who have already tried to subscribe — thank you!  You are listed in my computer …  I just have to do some manual work to get you an email about new content.  My brother said I can send out an email like that — but most people don’t bother to do that.

So, if you’ve already signed up via my “subscribe” button, I’ll send you an email personally and see if you still want new post notification emails.  Otherwise, if you are techy-er then me (not a word, I know!), and have already followed along on the RSS feed… thanks to you too! I know some of you aren’t computer savvy, and like me, like an email now and again.  But I guess the RSS feed is supposed to be easy too!

So all that to say, the problem with the subscribe button was not that it wasn’t installed, or wasn’t working… it was (I guess) user error in that I really didn’t understand what I thought I wanted!

Have a great day!

 

Subscribe button

Hi all,

So I’ve been told my subscribe button is not working – again!  I’m sorry!  Thanks for your patience.  My email notification set up says they are sending, but I am not getting them, and I put myself on the list … so I’m thinking it doesn’t work.  I’ve been playing with it.  Hopefully it will get better!  My goal is to get it working!  This shouldn’t be this complicated and at some point you will get notices of new content if you provide your email address to me in the subscribe spot.  If you want to subscribe please try again!  I am getting notifications of who wants on this list, it is just not generating the notifications out.  Working on it!

Passionate Pursuits

hand-holding-puzzle-pieceIt seems like I’ve been in a constant state of examination lately.  And by lately, I really mean the last couple of years.  I have no clue how God is leading, yet He’s putting burning passions within me.  A friend calls these clues that He’s giving me, the puzzle pieces.  As I continue to examine the puzzle pieces and piece them together, I’m experiencing God’s leading. (And I often remind God how bad I do with puzzles.  I can’t see the patterns easily.  I don’t like to sift through the pieces to find the matches.  I’m very slow at them!)

One passion God is revealing within me is a longing for His Word to bury itself within me, change me, confront me, and teach me to live a life of godliness.  And if you were to ask me, it’s my greatest passion for you as well.  I long for all those around me to be growing deeper in their knowledge of God, and to therefore be growing in a lifestyle of godliness.  Often this is a prayer I pray over individuals – continual conformation to the image of God.

He has also given me a love for other women, and a desire to see God’s Word transform their lives.  In the last few months, with encouragement from my husband, I’ve taken some classes on counseling using the Bible.  I absolutely loved these training sessions.  I pray God continues to birth dreams and passions in me!  Perhaps this is yet another piece in the puzzle!

So often I feel inferior in my calling.  Sometimes this is because I feel I’m still distinguishing my passion and call, and I see that others are already using their gifts!  I’m learning that my calling, and your calling, are not the same.  We were each created with unique passions and gifts.  I might see yours and think it’s better than mine.  In fact, that is a lesson in which God has been disciplining me.  Rather, each of us has burning passions that we might be a light for God’s kingdom and live to bring Him glory, and His kingdom closer.

What are your burning passions?  How are you living your life in light of them?  I’m still working on discovering mine, but each day I can choose to live my life as a servant of Christ.   May each of us be women who have the response of Mary, the mother of Jesus,  who said “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1:38)  Another prayer is that each of us would use our individual gifts to administer God’s grace in all it’s various forms!  Press on, dear women, to seek out that which God has for you for today or for the future!  Perhaps like me, you are involved in many “little” tasks.  I’m encouraged to be learning that all the little things I do (when done faithfully, heartily as unto the Lord, and with joy) are God’s will for me for today.  And these “little things” – like cooking my husband supper – can be done as unto the Lord.  And then my day is productive because I have done what God called me to for today!  Encouraging!  Keep seeking all God has for you, and start with the little things already lined up in your calendar for today!  May we be passionate in our pursuits, whether big or small!

The Taboo Subject

It is a taboo subject.  We often don’t talk about it, because it causes strife, division, and just all around disagreement.

What subject? It’s politics!

Am I right?  Do you talk politics within your group of family and friends?         untitled

I have a confession. I have never been a fan of politics.  However, my parents have been.  I grew up with parents who not only talked about politics, but got involved in politics.  I think I first understood the major divide when I was in seventh grade.  The Spanish teacher made a comment stating that she was a democrat.  From the back of the room a cute blond peer loudly stated, “You are a democrat!  Christian’s can’t be democrat!”

I think I silently echoed the feeling, as that was the feeling I felt within my house too.  And I’m not saying my parents denounced democrats.  They just tended towards the republican side.  They also stood for life and other key issues often debated within the political realm.  Just yesterday an  older acquaintance commented on her parents being staunch democrats.  She then went on to explain that in their days the democratic party was more conservative! She even noted how utterly shocked they’d be to know that their children switched to the republican side!  (Again, she is a Christian friend!).  Yet another friend noted how most of the people in her church are democrats!  There is great divide!

I have a November birthday, and the first time I got to vote for president happened to be exactly on my birthday.  Of course I voted as I also grew up learning that you need to vote!  But, I’ve also got to admit that I was not well informed, educated, or pro-active in forming my own opinion.  Over the last 14 years I’ve been able to vote, I often asked my dad who he was voting for, and why.  I’d also ask my brother-in-law who followed politics far more closely than I.  Usually I respected both their opinions, and they usually agreed.  It was a win-win … two people that I respected agreed, and gave reasons generally in line with my own beliefs.  So I voted as they did.

Now however, we are in another race for presidential nominees within each party.  I will honestly say that this time I am much more informed, aware, and educated!  My husband likes to follow politics.  I didn’t even know who was running at first.  He told me. He also told me I needed to pick a candidate and have a reason why!  So I took a little quiz to see which candidate I most closely agreed with!   I have watched most of/parts of each debate so far.  And I mean each debate, both democratic and republican debates.  I’ve formed opinions, I’ve asked questions, I’ve been out-right irritated, I’ve compared candidates, I’ve judged, I’ve applauded, and I’ve walked away from the television due to my extreme aversion to fighting and nit-picking.

Politics.  The not taboo subject in my home.  And guess what, I like that!  My husband and I have both shown passion over this subject this year.  We’ve disagreed.  We’ve agreed.  We’ve asked, “what honey?” to the other’s look of disapproval.  And once after a particularly heated republican debate, and our own passions were stirred, we prayed about it at night before bed.

Politics.  Now, I’ll be honest.  The discussions get heated because each of us has our own world-view, beliefs, fears, frustrations, upbringings, personality, and opinions.  And all of this weighs on our own individual choice of  which candidate we prefer.

I believe that the foremost front-runners of each party have strengths and weaknesses.  All the candidates do.  Just today I was shocked to learn who my sister and brother-in-law would likely vote for.  We actually had our own little heated debate!  Politics!  We disagreed!  We both had our reasons.  After the conversation though, I emphatically stated to my husband, “Neither of the candidates seem to be practicing godly behaviors!”

My husband is an avid fan of a certain candidate.  The people I work with avidly oppose this same person!  I waffle back and forth.  I sometimes like him, I sometimes don’t!  I understand some of his reasoning, other times I’m irritated. I respect my husband who has researched his candidate fully, and I respect my dad, who disagrees with my husband!

But, this is what I’m firmly convinced of, and likely you are too if you hold a biblical worldview:  God reigns on his throne.  He is sovereign over everything, including politics.  And, He is working out His world time-table.  Nothing takes Him by surprise!

So, in thinking to the Bible, which provides all we need for life (in the year of 2016) I noted several things which help me with the realm of politics.  One is that no candidate is perfect!  Each is a sinner!  Several claim religious beliefs in God.  I am glad God is the judge of thoughts, motives and actions, because I have been judgmental of these claims, which leads (in my case) to prideful thoughts (sin of my own).  I have said, “he’s not Christian!”  However, I do not know man’s heart.  Praise God that He is the rightful Judge!

But, also look to the Old Testament in the Bible.  Many kings rose to power.  Some “did good in God’s eyes”  and others “did evil.”  Sometimes they even did “more evil than any king before them.”  And Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king, was driven from the throne and acted like an animal until He recognized God’s sovereignty.  Only then was his sanity and throne restored!  Fascinating!  And then there is the prophet Habakkuk who was questioning what God was doing, and God revealed that he was going to use another (evil) nation to work his purposes out.  Habakkuk didn’t understand but he knew God’s sovereignty, and Habakkuk chose to trust.

These give me great comfort.  Evil rulers and good rulers — both are placed by God.  We the people have opinions and votes.  We do matter.  Yet in the over-arching view of God’s sovereignty, all can be entrusted to the One God who sits enthroned above the heavens.  We can bend our knee to His timing, His grace, His judgements, and His plan.  We can pray, “God in your wrath remember mercy!”  We can pray for our world’s leaders.  I confess, that is not my usual practice.  Rather I complain about them.  That is not a godly response!

In the last six months I have said often, “Well the coming presidential election should be interesting!”  It will be!  Even within my own family we are divided, including my husband and me!  We have our own opinions!

But dear sisters, press on!  My pastor closes every Sunday service with these words, “In the week that is to come, whatever happens, God is with you!”  So I echo his words, “Believers of God, in the year that is to come, whatever happens, God is with you!”

Wedding Day!

TodayWeld-Howitson wedding-068 is my wedding day!  Today is a day dreamed of long ago, and now a reality.  Today is a gift!

Over the last year, I’ve studied some things about covenants.  Today I’d like to share a list of some of the essential things that make up covenants, and the corresponding ways marriage is a covenant. If you read this, and you know me, would you say a prayer that I’d be faithful to my covenant vows?  If you are married, would you prayerfully ask yourself if you are upholding your covenant vows, and commit in prayer to upholding them afresh?  If you are single would you pray that your mind would grasp covenant deeper in preparation for your own possible future marriage?  And if you don’t plan to be married or have experienced deeply the wounds of an ended marriage, would you still pray for marriages in general (friends, family).  Marriage is supposed to be a beautiful picture of Christ and God and the Church.  By design it points to the gospel.  But Satan brutally attacks marriage.  Some of you know from experience the pain of covenants not upheld.  And as you will see, covenant faithfulness is more than just physical faithfulness to a spouse.  Marriage is hard work, and if you are in the midst of a painful marriage, please seek help from a godly counselor.

From the study: Covenant by Kay Arthur

CovenantWeld-Howitson wedding-103

– Between 2 or more parties

–  A promise or agreement with conditions to be kept by each responsible party

– Gifts and feasting were often part of the covenant

– Witnessed by God and by others

– A visible sign or symbol was often in place for both parties to see/serve as a reminder

– A record of the covenant made was kept

– Total oneness and commitment required

– Equality mindset: all that’s mine is now yours

– To “touch one” is to “touch” the other

– Often requires sacrifice – often blood sacrifice

– Requires giving up self for the sake of the other

– Take the others identity on yourself … what you do reflects them and vice versa.

I was dating Brad seriously when I studied covenants according to the Bible.  So I compiled a list of how marriage is a covenant.  I’ll share a few with you.

  1. Between 1 man and 1 woman, and God
  2. Conditions (vows) to be upheld
  3. Wedding parties (feasting/gifts, witnesses)
  4. Witnessed by friends/family, not only the ceremony, but also the actual marriage bears testimony to the covenant made
  5. Rings, certificates = visual reminders and record of promise made
  6. One flesh – physical, mental, emotional — all that’s mine is yours (body, heart)
  7. Fighting spiritual battles together and life trials together
  8. Defend spouse (How I talk about him or to him either defends him or doesn’t)
  9. Taking on each others weaknesses, burdens, problems
  10. His joys and sorrows become mine
  11. To “touch him” is to touch me… if it bothers or bugs him or is a trial for him, I’m involved
  12. Partner in covenant comes before family (he becomes my new family… and my priority)
  13. Breaking covenant profanes God’s name (lust, adultery, emotional and physical affairs, not upholding vows, acting selfishly, etc…)
  14. True love practices selflessness
  15. Sex demonstrates oneness
  16. Marriage requires death to self
  17. Name change/identity change.  I represent him. I have a new identity.

 

 

 

Extravagant Love

Today a dream came true.  A man got down on his knee and asked me to be his wife.  I said yes.  Extravagant love!  Let me show you the gorgeous flowers he got for me just for today!  4 doz roses, red and one batch of yellow, and 2 bouquets of mixed flowers. He outdid himself, and I’m happy he did.  My brother took a look at them and shook his head.  I smiled broadly and stated, “He loves me!”  He spent time and money to make the day special.  And what a thing there is in my heart that is unexplainable — knowing this love.  I am admittedly a little giddy.  I’m excited.  I’m nervous — it’s a change, it’s a commitment that I can only uphold with God’s help.  But mostly, I’m delighted by God’s great love.  This is a prayer that has been a request for years.  Seeing the man God has given me and how those prayers have been answered is a gift.  Thank you Gracious God!

But as I took the trash out tonight, piled with flower stems and wrappers, I looked into the sky and marveled afresh at how human love is a mirror to God’s love.  God’s love for each of us is outlandish.  It’s extravagant to the highest extreme.  His love poured out blood upon a cross.  His love displays itself in numerous ways — flowers, birds, children, oceans, mountains, hugs, puppy dogs, laughter, relationships, time spent making cookies with Grandma, and so many more.

WIN_20150613_233749 What ways do you see God’s love today?  You might have to look closely.  Sometimes when life is at a tough spot and our focus is on the trials, sorrows, and unfairness of life, we forget God’s love and complain instead.

But Christ died on a cross for you.  While you and I were sinners, Christ died for us… because He loved us.  That is extravagant.  Any thing else is an added blessing.  I’m thankful for my added blessing of this special man, and this special time of engagement. But I want to learn to be a woman of godliness in whatever season God takes me into.  I need to practice grace, forgiveness, love, selflessness – all of which I am quite incapable of on my own strength.

So in finishing this day I whisper a thank-you to this God of love who I call Father.  Who I know is good.  Who I believe demonstrates extravagant love in ways I can not even fathom.  Do you see His goodness today?  Do you feel His love?  Please know if He is not answering your prayers as you had hoped, or if He seems far away, that the truth is that He is near to the brokenhearted and that He has unending love for you.  If you can’t see Him today, may you press in all the closer because He really does care.  He is our God of extravagant love!  Oh, Precious Daughter of God – you are His beloved!

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Beginnings

To have a blog I was told I had to have content.  Makes sense.  Yet my mind played with musings over and over as to what to write. I seem to have passions that well up within me, yet not all are to be told.  What is it that I want to portray?  What is it that will cause the angels in heaven to rejoice… they watch you know, to gauge how we bring glory to God and live His purpose for our lives.  I want that.  I want God to read this blog right along with all of you —  maybe nodding in agreement, maybe cheering all of us on as we press on towards that day in which Christ will be unveiled to our human eyes, maybe crying with us over the hurts in this human, fallen world, and maybe – just maybe – laughing out loud!

Will you come along with me on this journey?  This is a blog written to encourage women to press into Godliness first and foremost.  As we travel the path that numerous godly women have walked, will we strive to live a life worthy of the calling we have received? Will we train ourselves to be Godly?

Which women do you want to be like?  I’ve always thought that I’d love to be greeted by God with the words which must have echoed in Mary’s heart all through her unplanned pregnancy, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” Other women I admire include  Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot.  Or Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Kay Arthur.  Actually, I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the list of all the women I admire.  You might be surprised… your name might be on the list.

I have been given a passion for life and I love being a woman. I find delight in small things, and I can’t seem to get enough of discovering more about who God is.  When I discover Him, I have a longing to not shame Him.  My deepest desire is to see all of us – women and men – standing before His throne and hearing His exclamation of pride that we, His children, overcame this world.

I believe I have a calling to encourage women in their walk towards holiness, to encourage you as a woman, and to exhort you to be yourself and to embrace your God given role and identity.  Here you’ll get a peek into my heart in a devotional style blog.  You’ll especially see my thoughts on pressing into Jesus. Let’s learn together to be Godly women!

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” Jude 24-25