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Hello all of my patient friends!  A long time ago I tried to get a subscribe button for this blog, and couldn’t figure it out.  And I forgot about it.  Recently, I had another question about it, and tried again, and now have a subscribe button!  YAY!  (Double yay for you-tube how to videos and free sites like mail-chimp!) So… if you want an email stating that I’ve posted new content (usually about 1/month), this button is for you!  It is on the right side at the bottom.

Thanks for continuing to read my thoughts and encourage me along the way!

Happy Summer!

 

Hello friends!

I am on my 10th week of furlough.  Summer is here.  And I’m taking some time to be thankful for lots of little things! While I find myself not always with enough to do (productively at least), I’m finding myself enjoying the slow pace of living and the ability to rest.  Today I’m listening to birds sing outside.  I’m mowing the yard. And I’m watering flowers.  Ahh — summer!  I love it! (Although I admit I like the look of a freshly mowed yard — the actual work of mowing is hard!  My husband normally does this task, and I’m grateful he does!)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps. 34:8)  Yesterday my mom and I shared flower pictures. It’s fun to watch our plantings fill in and grow.  It’s fun to see perennials come up year after year, just because that is how God made them!  We mentioned that they make our yards look pretty, and bring joy!  Oh, see that the Lord is good!  Look around at the beauty of creation!  My husband and I have taken several walks along a lake in the last couple of weeks.  We sometimes just stop and sit and watch out the on water for awhile.  It’s refreshing!  Look at the gift of colors and variety as seen in flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh taste that the Lord is good!  As a kid we had several rhubarb plants.  As a kid I didn’t appreciate rhubarb to the full extent!  Now, I miss rhubarb!  I have been craving it this season, as it seems to be a seasonal treat for the most part.  The other week my husband and I were going to make a run to Bakers Square, just to satisfy my craving of rhubarb — a piece of their pie should do!  However, due to the riots in our city they were closing extra early, and when I called to ask about picking up some pie they let me know their modified hours for the day, and we couldn’t make it there in time.  Oh well!  I did not want to buy rhubarb (why is it so expensive for something most growers give away with abandon!), and mom is too far away (I think she still has a plant!).  But then later when I was at my sister-in-law’s she had some to share!  I came home and the following day went to pick up some juicy strawberries, and the next day –pie!  Isn’t God gracious and good to give taste-buds and flavors in so many varieties!  Since my husband is not a fan of rhubarb, and since I do not want to tempt my lack of self control with a whole pie, I cut the recipe and used these cute little pie plates we got for our wedding! (Please don’t feel bad my husband won’t get any!  I already am planning another dessert that he does like! Plus, I’m the one who craves baked goods.  He doesn’t tend to!)  I heard a lady say the other day, “I don’t know why but it gives me great joy that it is cute!”  I agree!  For some reason I really like these cute pie plates!  It is just another gift from a good God — little cute things that bring enjoyment!

Oh ladies, God is so good to us!  Little blessings abound!  Color, taste, pleasures, and so many more!  May you take some time to delight in little gifts — in the normal mundane of each day where we take so much for granted.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord! (Ps. 150:6)  (And if you want this classic summer pie recipe – here it is from one of my favorite cooking blogs!)

 

Is Jesus Enough This 2020 Easter?

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Sweet sixteen my heart full of dreams.

I had a plan for my life. I thought I wanted to be a marriage and family counselor.  I headed to college with this goal and a dream.  A dream to meet a guy, get married, have kids.  I wanted five boys! My prideful heart wanted to raise young men who were fun, gentlemen, and knew how to treat a girl – I didn’t always find this in the college boys I knew! I flirted with babies and cuddled them.  A stranger in an airport once commented that I must love children as I made friends with a baby across the aisle.  I nodded – of course!

I was 25 when I had my first date.  I was shy of 31 by two months when I had my first “real boyfriend” – I’d only gone on a handful of dates with a handful of men before that.  I married “my first real boyfriend” two years later on my 33rd birthday.  This man is nine years older.  God gave me cysts on my ovaries while in college, putting me on hormones for 13 years before I ever got married, causing doctors to not know what that would mean for having children later.  God gave me an older husband, and a wedding long after I thought He would. God allowed things that would make conceiving difficult.  And He took my desire for kids of my own and gave me peace even if I had none.  Complete peace.  No longings, no yearnings, no jealousy of others.  He gave me nieces and a nephew, and great nieces and nephews on my husband’s side.  He told me to love them, pray for them, and for their parents.  He took my baby flirting too… and now I can hold and cuddle them, but the desire within me to have my own is gone. I pass them back with utter peace. How strange! How different than my teenage plan!

I had thought long ago that I knew what I wanted.  Now I find myself unsure what I want.  College and grad school to become a counselor came and went. That didn’t seem right, and a counselor I’m not.  When dating my husband, we discussed children and thought we’d be fine either way. We discussed adoption and infertility before even getting married, and made choices against, regardless of whatever came.  I struggled with feeling like I “should” consider these options, until my pastor said that if that’s not what God has put on our hearts, that’s not His plan for us.

It is now four years later.  I’m not living the dream I had so long ago.  What am I living I sometimes ask?  Why am I in social services, I never thought I’d be doing this!  What do I want? I muse over and over.  This life is good, and yet it’s not what either I or my husband thought we’d be, me this close to 40, and he to 50! We thought we’d have more, be more, do more.  Hmmm.

My husband, my friend.  Our lives now one.  We can’t make decisions alone anymore.  My goals and dreams now encompass another. Being one with him becomes the plan.  Yet we are individuals too.  What is God’s plan for us?  For him?  For me?  I question this now over and over and pray that he and I become all we were meant to be – which in God’s plan includes unity between us, and following His plans, not just my dreams.  Hmmm.  I ponder this life, my old dreams, and who I am now.

And then, COVID 19.  Things we love stripped from us: socializing, hugging, connecting, church fellowshipping.  Easter weekend is here.  No church!  No family gathering! No Easter baskets or hunts!  (Which by the way, I’ve decided children really do promote some of the “fun” of holidays.)  No shopping just for fun. No eating out.  No going for a lazy drive just because – at least while we are under stay at home orders.  No friends in our home. Travel reduced.  Work cut off.  Finances less. Life in general right now.

I ponder all this.  I ask myself: Is Jesus enough?  Really enough?  Enough to be my everything, when everything around is different than the dream, or even the norm?  Enough when there is no other?  He says He is.  I say He is Lord over me.  But here I find myself wanting things this world gives or wanting my dreams to become reality! (Which dreams aren’t bad! But all thing are to be under the authority of Christ over me, even dreams and life as I know it.)

It’s Easter tomorrow.  Jesus died and rose again for my sin and yours.  He bought my life and the right to each day as He chooses to give it. He made a way for a relationship with Him both now and through eternity.  He is enough!  But praise be to God who gives so generously! He gives a world full of beauty and color and emotion and relationships and delight!  He gives work and meaning and purpose.  He gives blessing after blessing.  He allows us to choose.  And sadly, so many of us choose other loves over Him first and foremost.

Perhaps this strange Easter season, this season of social distancing, and quarantine, and a pandemic –new words to our ears — perhaps this is all to remind us that Jesus is enough, and to show us just how much hold all these other things have over us.  Perhaps?  Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know Him.  He promises to be more than enough for all we need, and to give us all we need for life and godliness!  Press on, and Happy Easter!

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!   I like romance and flowers and pretty things too. I do. It’s true!  (And cheesy rhymes are good today – right?!)   And yet, lately I’ve been thinking of love and of how warped the world’s view of love is.  I’ve seen afresh just how easily my own heart and feelings have been shaped by the world’s concepts, rather than God’s concepts.  Some of this is because I’m now married, and I’ve learned quickly that dating and romance are not the same as marriage and love. Lust and love are different.

 

True love is God’s love – agape love at it’s finest: selfless, pure, giving, sacrificing, a choice.  And it’s hard.  And it takes God’s love in me to be able to give it freely. It is costly.  It is constantly being shaped and refined in me.  It can not be demanded from anyone, least of all my spouse.  So it starts in my own heart, and it lets go of expectations from another.

For instance yesterday morning was Valentines Day.  I’d already discussed it earlier in the week with my husband.  We decided to go out to eat on the weekend, not Valentines Day.  He’d already said clearly that he didn’t need or want anything (even a card).  This stuff doesn’t matter to him.  I’d said I like something, something little.  Something.  This stuff matters much more to me. So yesterday morning he smiled at me and called me his Valentine and hugged me tight.  My heart swelled with feelings of being loved.  Then he said, “Is it ok then if I don’t get you flowers today, but wait until next week?”  My heart’s warm bubble burst in a second.  “Why?” I asked.  He looked at me and said slowly, “Well, to save a few bucks.”  I had an instant choice.  Love him, or demand from him.  If you know my husband, you’d know he loves me. He is generous to me, and good to me.  He also knows I like flowers, and wanted to give me some.  However, we are in a season where our income is lower than it was.  He once insisted on buying me a dress at full price, simply because I liked it.  Now he tries to limit unnecessary spending as our income has dropped, and in many ways it is him who has sacrificed the most in this area.  In an instant I decided to love him.  You see, Brad feels most loved when he feels my understanding and kindness to him.  My husband is always honest with me, and I know that Valentines day flowers are more expensive then any other day.  I know this. So I chose to respond in love.  And you know what– my heart swelled afresh with feelings of love and his heart did too! And I was fine, really fine, with just getting a sweet card from him later in the day.  I told him, “You know, if you bring me flowers, any flowers not just roses, as a surprise some day, that means more to me than 100 Valentine flowers.”  So we’ll see if some flowers are bought next week, or if they get forgotten in the manner of life.  But I’ve already determined that I love Brad regardless of if he remembers next week or not, and I’ve already determined to let it go if he forgets.

True love. God’s love.  That is what each day is for. Valentines Day is a fun day.  It’s good to remember to say we love those in our lives, and maybe give them an extra gift, or offer some exciting romance.  But it is not what makes for true love.  And when I was a single, I wanted the romance and the extra attention.  I know Valentines Day can be hard on singles, widows, those whose marriage is not good, or even those whose marriage is good and they want the extra attention but don’t get it.  Regardless, God’s love is true and was given on a cross freely.  His love can make any day, even Valentine’s Day, full of love.  But it will cost you — it will cost you the will to choose this, and that can be hard!  It helps if we are already developing the practice of being loved first by God, and giving His love away — without any demands from any other person.  Precious sisters, you are loved by God so much.  May you press on to learn to give love away everyday.

 

 

A Poem (an honest look at my heart)

 

Lord,

Teach me to pray, I plead.

He gives me a man,

Who according to plan,

Is different than me,

Submit to he.

 

He gives me a season

And tells me no reason.

Backwards I feel,

and sometimes cheated!

Life was a blast, but that is past.

I was growing and thriving,

But now I feel dying.

Lord! Who am I? Where are You?

What are You doing? I cry!

 

He asks me to trust

His plan is the best.

He changes my ways

By giving me trials.

He changes my habits

By revealing my madness.

 

Madness?

Yes, madness:

The things down inside

I try so to hide.

Things like pride,

And my selfish side.

 

Don’t get me started

On how life has parted

From child-like simplicity

To adult complexity.

Do I even like the me I see?

 

Sin in me.

God’s grace to me.

He reveals and prods,

My heart He pokes.

I don’t like it! I angrily balk!

 

Then talk! Responds He to me.

Tell Me your dreams and worries.

Tell Me your fears and joys.

Tell Me your sorrows

And whisper your secrets.

Confess your sins and ask My advice.

Ask Me about My promises,

And verbalize your praise.

 

Then read My Word,

Let Me tell you:

My plans not yours,

My will not yours,

My life for yours.

Your surrender a must

So therefore trust.

 

Teach me to pray, you say?

My Child,

This season is reason

To pull from your heart

The madness and confusion —

To set you apart

To make you who I want.

 

Trust Me, dear child,

I know what I’m doing.

A man, you his wife,

This season, your life,

Are but tools I use

To teach you to pray.

Christmas Musings

Merry Christmas!  I sometimes feel this is a phrase we say as a marker to the season, when sometimes in our hearts, merry and cheery are not actually how we feel at this season.  Sure there is beautiful snow, but unlike when I was a child and loved the snow, making snowmen, or sledding, this year as an adult who drives a lot for work I see ice and hard driving conditions.  I see cold.  Instead of delighting in the making of cookies, I see calories and all of them adding to my waist that I already feel is expanding.  Instead of a cozy fireplace and stockings hung with care, I see lack in what I have versus what I think I want.  I miss the carefree days of childhood, when Christmas lists, cookie making, shopping, wrapped presents under the tree and snow days called me with wonder.  As an adult I find myself more cynical, more hardened to the joys of the season.  In fact the other month I told my sister that I sometimes feel like a child playing an adult.  Really, I feel like I haven’t truly grown up yet.  And I’m not talking maturity or aging, I’m talking the feeling of not having arrived yet. It’s the feeling of “who am I?”

This adult longs for the delight and simplicity of childhood.  I want the innocence of not understanding the cares of life, of worries over jobs, or of not having what we thought we would by now.  I want the above picture when my life actually feels like the bottom picture.  You know what I’m getting at?  So is it a Merry Christmas?  Even this blog hasn’t been touched much in the last year.  Has God not been talking to me this year?  Well, not exactly.  I just think He’s doing a lot of inner work inside of me.  Hidden work, known to Him but to me it feels like a long and weary season of “not yet.”

In fact, today, Christmas Day 2018, I am at home, quieted by the flu that arrived suddenly the night before Christmas Eve day.  Our plans disrupted, my husband eating tv dinners while I huddle in bed, sleeping or hoping to sleep.  Today I’m better, but our plans are still down to none.  The little gifts we have for each other still sit under the tree, there is not a spread of delicious food, there is not family or friends, we didn’t go to church, and Christmas cookies lie unopened on the counter their allure all but gone.

Today I read again the Christmas story as told in Luke.  Familiar words, yet new today, another birthday of Christ to remember.  Just like our birthdays, every year a chance to remember.  I’ve had the phrase in my head: The Jesus whose birth we celebrate this season is the same Jesus who died on a cross to save us from all sins.  Yet in the first few stories of his life as told in Luke, we see him a baby born, and then a preteen who gets lost from his family.  He stays behind in the temple and his family looses him.  He responds he had to be “in my Father’s house,”  which his parents didn’t understand.  But then he returns home and submits to them, and grows in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God.  And all of this Mary, his mother, ponders in her heart.

Hmm.  In Luke 2, Jesus story is all about growing up, and we hear very little of all of it.  There is much that is untold, much that is silent.  Chapter 3 has Jesus baptized and beginning ministry.  Matthew starts much the same, the first chapter is the geneology of Jesus, the 2nd his birth, and the third chapter his baptism and start of ministry.  Mark and John skip telling anything of the birth of Jesus.

So here I am on Christmas, lounging at home, eating soda crackers, drinking 7-Up and feeling the mundaneness of a typically exciting holiday.  I guess it just goes to show that the people and traditions make the day, not the day itself!  But as I think over this past year, and the season of long waiting, and as I reread Jesus’s story, I’m beginning to wonder.  We are told little in the Bible of Jesus’s growing, life, or years before His ministry.  And much is left out from what we are told, as John notes, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”

Am I in a season of silence? Yes.  Do I feel weary in waiting?  Yes.  What is it I’m waiting for?  I’m not sure exactly.  Who am I and what am I to do?  God knows, even if it feels I do not.  But this I know for sure, I am a child of God.  I am loved by Him.  He is at work in my life.  Perhaps this is just a season of learning to give up control, of learning to wait, and of learning more of God’s love despite this.  Jesus grew in stature and wisdom and in favor with God and man.  That’s all we know.  Perhaps that is my season as well: a time of learning, growing, and becoming.

Precious sisters, are you where I am too?  Are you wondering what God might be doing in you or through you?  May you find encouragement in the wait.  May you and I together press on in the mundane, silent, and uncertain seasons of life.  May we know God’s love, and His promises.  May we, like children, do our growing with unknown and uncaring attitudes!  As children we wanted baby teeth to fall out, drivers licenses, and priveleges that came with growing up.  But did we ever ponder how we’d grow.  No!  We just lived life each day, and looked in the mirror sometimes and saw new changes!  May we be that way as we go through a season of waiting, weariness, and feelings of “not yet.”  One day, we will be where God wants us to be, if for now we just focus on living one day at a time for Him and His glory!  Press on dear sisters!! For it really is a Merry Christmas, as Christ our Savior was born, and lives again, to one day return, and free us all from the weariness of life on earth! 

 

Record Snowfall, Blocked Drains, Cleaning Fish Tanks … and Marriage

Whew!  What a title!  But here is my question for you: What do record snowfalls, blocked drains, and cleaning out a fish tank have to do with marriage?  I’m about to tell you!

This past weekend we marveled at the large amount of snow that fell.  Today is April 16th.  April 16!  And we had a blizzard!  On Friday the weather forecasters were saying 6-12 inches.  After the second time of shoveling my husband groaned that it felt more like 18 inches.  And the snow kept coming. I’m not sure the actual snow accumulation of this past weekend, but the birds started singing again this morning and the squirrels and bunnies were out prancing through the snow while the sun cheerfully came from behind the gloomy skies of yesterday.

To make the weekend even more eventful our kitchen sink drain backed up.  This too made my husband groan.  Around Friday evening it was draining slowly.  He commented he’d have to clean the trap.  Sunday morning (no church due to weather) while he cleared snow again, I made cinnamon roll biscuits, a nice treat to welcome him back inside. But as I washed the dishes the sink filled higher and higher.  Uh oh!  I gave him the delicious breakfast treat and told him I hated to give him the news but the drain was very slow.  VERY SLOW!  He said he was beat and he’d deal with it the next day.  But by that night, the slow draining turned into complete blockage.  Gross!

Monday morning we awoke and snow had stopped, but the blowing had pushed snow into the driveway again and plows had filled in the end of the driveway.  Our double kitchen sinks were both half-full of nasty water.  And I received the unexpected and welcome news than my work was cancelling the daily routes due to the weather.  Knowing my husband’s back was sore, and he was beat from a weekend fighting weather, I suggested I help him shovel.  He said no need to get my back sore too!  He looked at the sinks and told me they’d have to be drained with a bucket and a sponge.  He went out to shovel telling me that he’d deal with that later.

I grabbed a bucket, a sponge, and a plastic cup.  I can help you, I said.  So while he was out shoveling, I was cupful by cupful emptying nasty water into a bucket, toting the bucket to another sink, and cleaning out the sink.  That was a slow process!  But as I dipped that cup into the water, I was reminded of a similar chore at a different time in my life.

Our house flooded when I was in junior high.  We packed up belongings as high as possible, we took some stuff, we moved into a small apartment for the summer.  Before the apartment was ready, we’d all gone to different houses.  Our dog had go to a shelter for a short time while we were all split up, and boy was that hard!  Our dog had never been to a kennel of any kind!  But we left behind our fish in the tank.  I’m sorry fish!  I honestly didn’t think a whit about them.  My dog on the other hand, that was a different story!  So one day when we are cleaning in our home, my dad gave my sister and I the nasty chore of cleaning out the fish tank.  You can use your imagination I’m sure.  The electricity had been off, the poor fish had therefore frozen, and the tank of water and fish had sat for at least a month before we got around to cleaning it.  Talk about gross!

My sister and I put masks over our nose (it stunk!!) and went about it (perhaps not very cheerfully).  We were about half way into it when one of us (I’ll give her credit) made up a silly little song about cleaning a nasty fish tank out. We sang that little song over and over, until the task was done!  And we smiled at the silliness of the song and the looks of us with masks on, and the disgusting job we had been given.

Today, I’m thankful for that nasty task.  The cleaning of the sink wasn’t half as gross, or tedious!  While I worked today, I listened to my husband work outside.  He consistently pushed the shovel back and forth; I consistently dipped the cup in and out.  I thought while I worked.  I remembered the disgusting fish tank.  I remembered the singing and how it helped my mood.

So this morning as I worked I thanked God for unpleasant tasks.  Unpleasant tasks that come around so rarely are great reminders of how good we actually have it!  I have indoor plumbing and sinks that I normally give little thought about.  I have a husband who does the brunt of all the outside (heavy) work.  And I thought also of the blog post I’d read recently.  I really appreciate this author’s work.  She was talking about the ideals of marriage verses the reality of marriage.  She notes that “the monsters of suffering and difficulty are the friends you must learn to love.”

Hmm…. love.  I’ve been pondering love a bit lately.  Agape love is God’s unconditional, unselfish, wanting the best for the other type of love.  It’s the opposite of the selfishness that can happen in a marriage.  When my husband and I gladly help each other with some of the unpleasant tasks, when we give up our desires for the other’s best at the moment, when we tackle life together in all the moments of difficulties — it’s in those times that we love each other best.  When my husband thanks me for helping him with cleaning out the sink, or I appreciate the hard work he put in to keep the driveway ready for me to drive out without doing any work myself, then I know that we are learning the secret to lasting love.  We are learning that romance and passion can not carry a marriage.  But suffering and working together and laying down self for the sake of the other go a long way to make me a happy wife and him a happy husband!

 

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!