Friday, August 24, 2012

Books for Mamas

I just finished reading a couple of really great mom books that encouraged and inspired me in my role of motherhood! (Find links to their blogs on my "Blogs I Love" page)

Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis
This first one really helped me remember that my kids are a blessing, not a burden and to treasure these gifts God has shared with me. Seeing my job as MOM as a sacred role helps me do all the cooking, cleaning, correcting and other daily tasks with joy and with the goal of bringing honor to God in all things.
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Together by Carrie Ward
The second book is about reading through the entire Bible with your kids - I love that her plan was simple and she tells her personal story of accomplishing the goal. Sharing God's word with our children is such a vital part of parenting. I've already started with my kids!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Poem: How to Love a Friend

The Bible says love is patient
Patience means I will listen to you tell the same story for the 20th time and still be interested
Love is kind
            Kindness means I will take you out for lunch even if it’s not your birthday
It is not jealous, is does not brag, it is not proud
In other words, love is humble and humble means if you are having a bad day, I will save my good news for later and just listen and be there for you.
It is not rude or self-seeking and keeps no records of wrong
Love forgives – I won’t bring up past mistakes, I won’t let your shortcomings be my pet peeve and if we have a problem, I’ll talk to you first
It does not rejoice in evil, but in the truth
Love bears all things – I know your most embarrassing secret
Believes all things – I know you can accomplish your goal
Hopes all things – I will always pray for you
Endures all things – I will put up with you when you are grumpy
Love never fails
I may fail as a friend at times, but God never fails because HE IS LOVE. He brought us together and will keep us to the end. Praise God for friends like you!

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Just Want Some Peace & Quiet

For thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 66:12-13 (ESV)

I recently saw an ad for a Ladies Retreat that boasted, "This weekend is nearly perfect.
There are mountains of chocolate everywhere. We have a massuese that caters to your every massage need. Beautiful horses parade across autumn pastures... The food is made with love and care all day long...
The chapel times are both relaxing and encouraging, as [our speaker] speaks right from the vibrant Word of God. And at night, as the day winds down, your memory foam bed hugs you as you drift off to sleep,  dreaming of the next day of shopping, chocolate, beautiful country and fresh air.
The only other thing [we] need to make this weekend retreat absolutely perfect... is you!"

 Wow! You sure packed your bags fast! That's ok, so did I. Doesn't that sound so relaxing and peaceful? My problem though is I want that to describe every day. However, reality is very different: housework and errands never go away, raising children in a promiscuous society, loving friends and neighbors who don't always love back, health concerns for family and the list goes on...Life is busy, how do I find peace in all of that?

In Isaiah 66 God offers peace for Israel, who had been in exile, their temple destroyed, their towns & homes desolate. Upon their return home, there was frustration and despair. In the final chapter of Isaiah God offers peace like a river and comfort like a mother. As author of all creation, He's the only one who can give peace when everything's a mess. Notice, God didn't say He would take all their problems away and replace them with chocolate and shopping. He offered peace while life was overwhelming and chaotic.
If joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God, then peace is not the absence of conflict but the calm/contentment no matter what the situation. Peace comes when we understand that "...for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV).

A Pure Heart is a Joyful Heart

1Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
     blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
     wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
     let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11  Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
Psalm 51:1-13 (ESV)

It is pretty much impossible to live joyfully when there is unconfessed sin my life. Sin is often accompanied by feelings of anger, bitterness, pride or shame, depression, stress, worry and fear. I don't know how anyone can be joyful with any of those feelings dominating their emotions - we are much more likely to be grumpy and mean. How can I love my family and teach my children truth when I'm acting like the Wicked Witch of the West?
In Psalm 51 David confesses his sin after being confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding David's affair with Bathsheba (and all that follows it) . In verse 2 David asks God to cleanse him from his sin and in verse 10 to create in him a clean heart. David knew that the joy of his salvation could not be restored (v. 12) until his heart was right with God.
Thankfully the source of our joy is Jesus who is also the reason for our joy because in Him alone we can be set free from our sin and live to do as verse 13 says, "teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Attitude of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.             Philippians 4:4-5 (ESV)

"Christians believe that God is sovereign over all things, including even those circumstances that they find unpleasant and undesirable. When we complain and grumble, we are telling those around us that we believe God is doing a very poor job, and, if given the opportunity, we could do much better."

Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining. Boy, is that hard? It is so easy to find something wrong with, well, just about everything! But, if we desire to live a life filled with joy our attitudes must be joyful not disgruntled. Living joyfully doesn't mean your life is perfect or that everything turns out your way. On the contrary, having joy usually comes when we resolve that things aren't going our way, and that's ok. When we recognize God's rule over our lives, we can be content, even joyful about our circumstances, relationships and challenges, knowing that the all-powerful, all-knowing supreme authority of the universe has our best interest and His kingdom expansion planned out perfectly. This should give us joy!

 Quote from: Ellsworth, R. (2004). Opening up Philippians (41-47). Leominster: Day One Publications.