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As God by creation made two of one,
so again by marriage He made one of two.


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Why I Write

 

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rowsing Twitter this morning, I noticed the hashtag #WhyIWrite and I decided to click on the link to read why others write.  Not surprising, the answers or reasons are very similar—very familiar, albeit with an occasional condescending comment.  It’s the occasional condescension that trips me up from time to time, but over time I’m learning to not take negative opinions so seriously (and I sure hope those twitter writers weren’t derailed by some of the rude comments).  Insults, along with self-doubt, really have an effect on creativity, so it’s been instructive to me to weigh negative comments carefully, glean what I can and literally ignore the rest.  Sometimes, insults can be instructive: they help me refine my message, they help me see what I might be blind to and surely to see what I don’t want to be, and they help me clarify or to attempt to more carefully articulate my thoughts.

Words in my head every day,
all day long.
So why do I write? Words. Words in my head every day, all day long. I write because of what the Lord has done for me in all I’ve seen and done in my life.  I write because He’s lavished blessings on me (especially in hard days, the deep blessings I couldn’t see at the time!).  I write because of His great and precious promises—His unfailing kindness and mercy every day of my life. I write because in all these ways the Lord has given me the gift of words to encourage, instruct, inspire, comfort and/or affirm others.  It may well be to a very small or limited number of people, but my goals or purposes have never been dependent on the number of readers or listeners–only with the hope that they would minister to those who do. Incidentally, most all my daily writing is never seen by anyone but me—dozens of journals bear this out.

You know… I think most everyone could, should, would write if they recognize the great gift and value of their life—or if they realized that their unique experiences could help someone. Maybe many someone’s.

I began writing newsletters in high school, first as the activities commissioner and then as student council president. From there I wrote the newsletter for a day school and childcare center in Seattle. In those days we used a mimeograph machine using spirit masters and a manual typewriter.  It was a banner day when we bought our IBM Correcting Selectric II typewriter (If you’ve never used/seen one, they’re pretty cool!!).  Eventually, those were replaced by various computers and, in time, I wrote church newsletters and Bible studies for women which led to the privilege of speaking at women’s retreats and seminars.  All of this was just prior to creating the website that ‘launched’ this blog in the late 90’s. This progression of writing projects also included stamping and lettering… and occasionally, my antique Underwood typewriter.

I share all this to hopefully inspire *you* to write… using whatever you have on hand, whatever your experience, whatever your ‘platform,’ to encourage others, to be used of the Lord to bless and relate to others.
In the end, I hope you’ll enjoy the journey, writing it down as you go.

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When You Know What God’s Called You To

Thanks for joining me for morning coffee ☕
Blessings to you all as you seek to follow what God’s called you to.

When we fail to seek the Lord, to embrace the truths we know, the great and precious promises in God’s Word, and the convictions we hold, we can easily be deceived by smooth speech, pretty lures, and popular trends.

We read in the Word the importance waiting daily at the gates of the Lord: “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” —Proverbs 8.34
And why would we do this—why should we do this?  Because the days are evil, the days are filled with deceptions, traps, lures.  Look around you, everywhere: traps — sights, sounds, enticements and distractions that would lead us astray if/when we yield to them.

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
When you know what God’s called you to, you’ve got to then determine to guard whatever that is.  You and I must be vigilant to watch for the snares that would entrap us.  Most all sin begins with a deception–sometimes so seemingly inconsequential, it’s easily dismissed.  By nature, we want to dismiss sin, and when we’re not walking in the Spirit, we’ll most assuredly be blindsided by the entrapments of sin. If we’re not daily at His gates, abiding in Him, obeying His commands, listening for His promptings, we’ll be prone to entertaining {maybe even personally adopting} deception.

Sometimes we don’t recognize the trap until we’re entrenched in it.  Smooth speech, in particular, is but one trap.  Think of books, articles, seminars, conferences you may have read or attended.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotional excitement of the moment, to get tangled up in love for the captivating or entertaining messenger—so much so, that Biblical inaccuracies of the messages may be overlooked.  Think of popular Christian women making the circuits today. It might be uncomfortable to stand against the rolling tide, but it’s not that difficult to see deviations from Scripture–though perhaps they’re subtle.  Over time, if left unchecked, the deviations might be excused because the messenger is so popular (Luke 6.26), believable, and adored by Christian masses {maybe even our own dear girlfriends—or ourselves!}.

Often, when we see error, we don’t want to be the girl that rocks the boat. But, surely, when we see the girls running to that side of the boat, and we see that it might result in capsizing, we must dare to be that girl to right the ship—to warn the passengers leaning over the edge!  We must endeavor to speak the truth in love. With tact. When you know what God’s called you to, you seek to live it.

When we quiet a caution or silence an alarm, we tend to deafen our ears to hearing, dull our consciences listening to the still small Voice, and quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.  When we repeatedly allow this to happen, we become silly women. Those promptings—those great and precious promises we have known—begin to be scattered in the path behind us —opening us to error, heresy, and to embracing the deception of the pretty lures as we begin to accept another gospel—another way—ever learning but never discerning the folly. It may begin with just a small step off the path, but down the way a bit, the path is nowhere to be seen.

“For of this sort are they which creep into houses,
and lead captive silly women laden with sins,
led away with divers lusts, ever learning
but never able to come
to the knowledge of the truth.”
—2Timothy 3.6-7

So, those things God’s called you to?  Take in the Word today. Seek it, study it, pray about it. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2T 2.15
When you know what God’s called you to, you’ll seek it,  you’ll endeavor to walk in Truth, it will be your joy to be called by His name, His great name.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them;
and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart:
for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”
—Jeremiah 15.16

 

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Autumn Days

The lazy, hazy days of summer are giving way to the busy, hurry, scurry days of autumn as the new “school year” begins and demanding schedules and activities fill the calendar.  You know the first thing that comes to mind as I consider these upcoming autumn days? Where’d summer go? It came and went so fast.  Sort of like motherhood (but that’s another topic for another day).

Did you complete the plans and projects you had for summertime?  Me neither.  But there’s still time to get a few things done before the time comes to put away all the outdoor equipment, furnishings, plants, etc.  I’m just writing to encourage you (and myself!) to make use of the few sunny days remaining in this season.   I’m determined to attempt to preserve some of the plants and hanging baskets by bringing them in to the greenhouse before the chilly weather and to finish up some minor outdoor painting and cleanup that I’ve put off all summer.

To help me with these projects I’ve started a new Gardener’s Journal  (I’ll include some notes and pages from old calendars and journals).  I decided to do this bcz I’ve noticed that I’ve forgotten when/where some things were/are planted (both plants and bulbs) and what needs to be divided and replanted and I want to have a record of these, a diagram of my rose gardens (with the specific name & location of each rosebush) plus a place to keep future ideas/plans.

I hope you’re all doing well! God bless you, keep and guide you. ♥

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Regard Not Your Stuff

On my mind lately is the paradox how much I regard my stuff and how much I know this truth: Regard not your stuff!   It’s a common thing, isn’t it—to fret or to fear or to regard our stuff?  We sometimes fear what God might ask of us.  We fear He just may send us to Africa (gasp!) or some other place we know we do not want to go; we fear He may ask us to (gasp!) Homeschool, or to (gasp!) submit to our own husband, have a home business or do things we’ve never done or, never (gasp!) wanted to do.  We may actually have several “never’s” on our list.

We may think not so much of where we’re going or what we’re going to do as what we’ll necessarily have to leave behind.  Consider Joseph:
Genesis 45.17-21
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;  And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.  Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.  Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.  And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

Did you catch a few morsels of truth in that passage?  God uses situations — whomever, whatever and however He wants — for His purposes.  God used Pharaoh to accomplish His purposes and He will use men and women in our lives, situations we face: mission fields or businesses or ministries He’s given us: to accomplish His plans for us.   As wives and mothers, we might not immediately see how He’s using us—it might be years down the road when we get a glimpse of how He’s used/using us.  Note what Pharaoh said – and I think what God says to us in verse 20:  “Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.” 

Regard not your stuff.  But we do regard our stuff, don’t we?!  We think on our stuff, plan for our stuff, guard our stuff and probably often covet even more stuff.   But when God has a plan and that plan calls for action, I think one of the most important decisions we need to make is the decision to NOT regard our stuff.

You know what that “stuff” is in Genesis?  It’s the sort of stuff we have in our lives today.  Strong’s identifies it like this:  from 3615; something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon):–armour ((-bearer)), artillery, bag, carriage, + furnish, furniture, instrument, jewel, that is made of, X one from another, that which pertaineth, pot, + psaltery, sack, stuff, thing, tool, vessel, ware, weapon, + whatsoever.

Read those words again… you’ll get a better picture of the stuff God doesn’t want you to regard when He places a call for you to do something.  And the next time God asks something of you and you’re tempted to say no or to doubt the plan or God’s design for the next season, regard not your stuff… your  clothes, purses, 15 passenger carriage or your sports car, your furniture, the stuff in your kitchen, the jewels, pictures, the scrapbooks, the plans, the quilts — hopefully, this little message will come back to your remembrance: regard not your stuff.

Maybe God’s calling you to give Him Lordship of your womb and you might fear you can’t handle what He might bring.  Maybe you feel like you cannot take care of many children, or that the needs will be too great.  Maybe you are too highly regarding your husband, his life, health, job, finances, companionship — maybe all of those things prevent you from fully trusting the Lord—that it is Him—the Lord—who provides for you, protects you, comforts you, guides you.  I know I’ve put my husband in the place of the Lord so many times — feeling quite sure I’ll never survive were he to die before me.  Most times, the stuff we’re “regarding” are things we cannot control or are things we fear—things we cannot see.

See? We all have stuff we regard.  God knows all this.  God knows what you’ve got, what you like, what you need, what you think you need and on and on.  God knows it all.  But you know what?  Most important is: that God knows what you really need and He’s already made provision for it.  We, you and I, need to accept His call, accept will, and not regard our stuff so much that we miss it:  God’s marvelous plans. Or, worse, that we reject His marvelous plans.

Remember:  “… regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.”  I think the LORD has this note in Scripture for our good — it’s a reminder to us that we needn’t worry about what we might have to leave behind because He already has a plan for us.  And it is good. And it is for our good!

You know a couple of very familiar passages: Romans 8.28 and Jeremiah 29.11.  Have you thought on them in awhile?   I’d like to say that those two verses, in particular, are very helpful, but I’d like to suggest reading the passages that contain those two verses for tremendous encouragement and blessing.  Here they are in part:

Romans 8.26-28

26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I have more assurance of this than I’ve ever had as I edited this post today. Trials and triumphs, sorrow and tears, joys and delights have taught me so much in the 11 years since I initially wrote much of what’s written here today.  And so, I encourage you to rest in the Lord… fret not over what God’s doing in your life or where He’ll call you to go or what He’ll call you to do.  Regard not your stuff.  No matter how things seem to you to be today: God cares for you, the Holy Spirit is ever making intercession for you.  The LORD Jesus has taken care of everything that concerns you.  God says He will be found by you when you call upon His name.

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the suicide option

rosecolouredglassesThrough our lives we have experiences that are etched on our hearts and minds — experiences that shape our thinking, shape our reactions, shape our responses, shape our decisions — maybe even shape our initial theology or lack thereof.  If these etchings were recorded on 3×5 cards, in time we’d have quite a card file full, wouldn’t we?  Events and experiences, lessons and influences all recorded on cards make up our individual card catalogs.  It’s interesting to me, every now and then, to come across a card I realize has had a profound impact on my life and thinking.  One of the greatest regrets I have from a young age is collecting a couple of influence cards I wish I’d never acquired.  On the cards are written: the suicide option.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently…  deaths of friends and loved ones, news headlines trigger memories… the file drawer opens… the influence cards tumble out.

I was a second grader when my mother got the call that her father had died. A strange disconnect defines that event.  On the one hand, I heard that he never looked better and on the other hand, I saw my grandmother weeping over her loss.  So young I was, so innocent regarding the trials and tragedies that befall people in life — at that point, unaware of what would later be the personal impact of my granddaddy’s death.  When my  mother returned from Texas after his funeral, she gave me one of the few things she brought from his home — a little tin box decorated with flowers containing my granddaddy’s sewing kit and also a package of “moth balls” — not chemical mothballs used in storage containers, but candy… small balls of sweet, nutty deliciousness.

Through the years stories pieced together framed the mental picture of what really happened with my grandfather;  he was an alcoholic who’d come to the end of his options and resources and succumbed to the enticing lie that death was the only way out. On one of the cards in my mental card file is recorded that in a closed garage, carbon monoxide from a car’s exhaust system is a suicide method.   Little more than three years later my mother’s brother would add another suicide option card to my card file. It was August… I was eleven when that card was added.

I’m amazed, through the years, how many times those cards have made their way into my hands… how many times I’ve turned them over in my hands, carried them around, and for a time mulled them over.  Stunned from time to time that I could possibly take those cards out and look at them as options and ever for a moment consider listening to the lies of the devil that my life’s a waste or that everyone would be better off without me or whatever the devil’s lie du jour is.  By the grace of God that’s all… but by the grace of God… I am carried through that darkness.

Throughout time, the devil has been capitalizing on twisting variations of the same lie.  The lie always includes a form of death… death of self, death of relationships, death of purity or innocence, death of faith,  etc.  In the beginning, in subtlety and condescension, taking advantage of her innocent reasoning,  satan challenged God and enticed Eve, saying: …you shall not surely die.  And throughout history he’s played with the emotions of despairing and desperate individuals to persuade them one way or another, but the end is the same: death.  From the beginning, the devil’s been twisting the truth on death.

Like his father before him, I’m sure my uncle felt much the same desperation that hot August day.  He’d run out of options and resources and probably reasoned there’d never be an end to his financial losses and never a solution to his mounting obligations. No amount of reasoning could restore confidences that the financial gains and successes he’d previously enjoyed in life could possibly  be rebuilt or that the losses could be overcome.  Another method was recorded that day — if his life was a mess, his death was more so.  I feel sick every time I hear that song’s refrain: he put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.  I hate that song.  It’s no lullaby.

The devil’s a master of all or nothing — that whatever’s happening today will be happening forever — the all or nothing that things will always be this way, nothing’s ever going to be any different or any better than it is today — thus, there’s just one solution: death.  Problem is, the devil never gives any warnings about what else really happens when he tempts (or succeeds) with that suicide option.  It’s not a solution—it’s an amplified problem but the despairing one is gone and never sees the enormous ripple of the suicide rock hitting the pond.  Is it desperation that fuels depression or is it depression that fuels desperation?   Eternity will sort this out;  whatever the case, both block out reason — both are blinding.  Both fall into the abyss of great darkness.  And the devil loves darkness — and loves to shroud us in darkness at every turn because his deeds are only evil continually.

His playbook is thin — satan doesn’t need many tricks.  The same traps and tricks have been working for him since he first beguiled Eve and all the others since… the lies he tells you and me… the lies he’s perpetuated from that day to this come from his little playbook. Hath God said?

You’ll be better off.  It’s your life.  You’re not hurting anyone.  They’ll be better off without you.  This is the only way.  You always do this.  You’ll never change.  Life is only misery, you’ll be in a better place and on and on.  His methods have not changed — his motive has not changed — he hates God and God’s glorious creation and will stop at nothing in his pursuit to steal, kill and destroy life, faith and hope in God — ultimately to persuade individuals to take their eyes off God.  But remember this:  he’s a defeated foe — a lion with no teeth, a roar with no power.  In the end, his challenge is not with you — you’re just a pawn to him.  His challenge is with God.   Remember that: he hates God and doesn’t care a thing about you.

quote…He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning,
and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie,
he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
john 8.44

If life’s dealt you a suicide option card… remember that it was an option someone else took.  It doesn’t mean it is your option.  You ought to  talk it over and get your mind set on Truth.  Guard your mind, guard your idle thoughts.  Remember, your adversary, the devil, is a thief.  Get  acquainted with, and very familiar with, the Truth.  Know the Truth that the Truth will set you free.  Remember that Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  In Jesus is life.  Abundant life.  He also said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 10.10 / 16.33)

May the Lord be your peace and comfort if you’re hurting over losses today.  May the Lord be your strength and salvation and source of joy.

[I originally wrote and published this article 8.12.2014]

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The Power of Music

Music. It tells a story, makes us smile, makes us cry, warms our hearts, consoles our hurts, tells our stories. That’s the power of music.

This morning one of my daughters sent a text, a picture of her home’s front flowerbed: hyacinths and dozens of tulips just beginning to bloom. How sweet of the Lord to give her that gift — this is the first Springtime in her new home and so the various plantings done by the previous owner are just coming into view.  This is just an example of so many things the Lord has done for her.

As I was gratefully thanking the Lord for His marvelous works and  gifts in her life, her next text was a link to a powerful  song.

She’s a deep thinker, a planner, a motivator, a passionate worker and overachiever. She takes things very seriously and so when she suggests a method of doing things, or a book to read or a song to hear, I listen.

I pressed ‘play.’  I cried and listened again. The incredible power of music–that is, the power of music with a powerful message. If you’re fearing something today, if you’re fearing what others think of you, if you’re facing a huge tax debt, if you’re suffering financial burdens, job losses, health problems , if you’re lonely, alone — if you’ve lost your way, if you’ve messed up relationships in your life, if you’re covered up in an avalanche of sin, stupid mistakes, if you’ve got heavy regrets:  fear could (probably will) lead you to do, think, say, and/or feel things that aren’t going to end well for you. Fear is a liar. Fear isn’t of the Lord. Fear is of the enemy of your soul.

Fear will work to convince you your life’s not worth living. That’s a lie. Fear is a liar.  Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Watch. Watch and see… the things that are crushing you today will be turned into a powerful testimony of God’s great grace. Watch and see. Trust Him today: He is true.

I hope this powerful song will minister to you today –wherever you are– and I pray, as I press ‘publish’ today, that you’ll turn to the Lord and rest in His love for you, give Him your problems, He’s the only one who can solve them, He’s loved you with an everlasting love and He has perfect plans for you and every single thing that concerns you.  I pray you’ll lay your sorrows and problems at His feet.  I don’t say any of this lightly. It’s true: Taste and see the Lord is good. He hears and He heals.

{Zack Williams – Fear is a Liar – music video}

Call someone. Talk to someone. Tell someone your story. Talk over your problems. Don’t walk your journey alone. Don’t carry your burdens alone.

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Lists Are Tools

After writing last week how I dealt with starting out unprepared, my friend wrote about lists I used to have on my walls. So I thought I’d continue on today sharing about lists and how to use them — remembering: lists are tools, they’re simply tools.

Again, I wasn’t born organized — I’m not a naturally organized girl, but life as a mother to many children gave me much practice and many opportunities to test the results of being disorganized and being organized. And, believe me, organized was better. It’s still better — and it is for so many reasons I actually had no grasp of at the time.

Lists help us to be clear on the concept.  And, as the picture to the left shows, when a child isn’t clear on the concept, what we want to have happen isn’t going to happen!  In this case, I needed the dishwasher to be loaded. And it was.  But what I wanted was clean dishes — that wouldn’t have happened if some instruction, care and attention to detail hadn’t been given.

List help us. Lists help us to be careful, thorough, and efficient.  I totally get that lists and schedules are confining — the abstract/random in me knows that feeling very well! But it’s in the confines of the list that our true desires can be laid out.

Lists help us not only do what we ought, but also what we want.  Most of us want a clean house, for example, and more, we ought to have a clean house. But it’s more fun to hang out on the computer, or go to the beach or to the lake or swing in the park. It’s more fun to chat over coffee, read a book, or go window shopping.  Interestingly, lists that help us do what we ought, also help us do what we want — they help us accomplish what we ought to have done so that we can have time to do whatever else we want to do. ~smile~

For years I had lists on the walls of rooms in our home.  Some of the lists detailed, in order, what was entailed in cleaning that room.  In time, these lists became more than cleaning tools.  As I would later learn, they were a discipline tool, a work ethic tool, a negotiating tool, and a great feedback “check-list” for the room when it was pronounced “all clean” by whichever child(ren) doing the job.  Since the list was on the wall, children knew it wasn’t just an arbitrary decision what to do to clean the room. I worked side by side whoever was learning to do a job until I knew they really knew what to do.  I didn’t want to set them up for failure… I wanted them to win. ~smile~ Often, it would have been so much easier and quicker to just do the work myself, but then, that would have defeated my purpose in bringing up children.

So, as an example, on the kitchen wall, (as best I can recall) I had a laminated list something like this:

To Clean This Kitchen

Unload the dishwasher
Clear the table to the kitchen
Wipe the table and the chairs with a clean, damp cloth
Put away the milk and wrap “left-over” foods, etc., into the fridge
Scrape, then Rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher
Wash the pots, pans, griddle, etc., with soap and hot water
Dry them with a clean towel and put them away
Wipe the jars, mixer with a clean dishcloth, rinse the cloth

Wipe all the counters, start at one end, all around the kitchen
Wipe the stove top, rinse the dishcloth
Wipe the drawers, cupboard doors, stove door, refrigerator door
Rinse the dishcloth, hang up the towel
Sweep the floor
Take out the trash (if needed)
Take the dishcloths and towels to the laundry (if needed)

I shared earlier that these lists did much more than outline the job. They helped kids (and myself) see what was expected and gave them opportunity to negotiate who would do what on any given night as there were generally at least a couple of kids doing the work.  Occasionally, I’d be in on a plan where one child offered to do another child’s job if they did their job.  I tried not to be too strict on who was doing what — only that everyone had to contribute what they were capable of doing in one way or another (on that or some other job in the home).  All along the way, they were learning skills, they were learning to work and the repetition helped them learn to be thorough in their work — whatever it was.  And to this day, they, each one, amaze me with their attention to detail on jobs.  It’s one of the “I’m glad we did that” things I look back on.

 

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Unprepared

Just so’s ya know, I’m not a naturally prepared girl — I’m more unprepared than prepared.  But God. It was through many blessings in my life that I learned to be prepared for things. It was through many failures, missed events and opportunities that I had to develop methods to be better prepared for — well, for life.

But I was unprepared. I didn’t come from a large family. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I didn’t have a great deal of Bible knowledge yet–but I had faith and that faith began to bloom.  And so, that was the foundation of our marriage from the beginning: faith, hope and love.  I didn’t have great homemaking, or cooking, or gardening, or time-management skills.  And while I didn’t have a whole lot of experience, what I did have was a whole lot of want to! I really wanted to be a faithful woman, to have a happy marriage, home, and family.

L
ittle by little, I learned how to plan, how
being a wife, mother, homemaker was everything I never knew I wanted
to work, how to anticipate, how to care for my husband, family, and home. It surely didn’t come naturally to me, but being a wife, mother, homemaker was everything I never knew I wanted. I didn’t just want to be those things… I realized early on that I wanted to be good at those things.

So life circumstances developed into “preparedness training” for me. Necessity being the mother of invention, I had to develop methods for keeping some semblance of order (and sanity).  I spent years defining and refining and–decades–preparing each day for the day ahead. I wrote in journals. I kept a notebook/planner that had all sorts of sections for specific information, appointments, shopping lists, kid’s needs- sizes, etc., meal plans and other records–I called it “my mind” and, truly, if I’d misplace it or (seem to) lose it somewhere, I’d sincerely lament: I lost my mind. ~smile~

Life preparations included a large “white-board” on the wall; it had a couple of rows on top and underneath, header columns written in Sharpie: names, chores, assignments, activities, appointments. In the top row (with dry erase markers) I wrote the month, day and year. In the row beneath that, I had seven squares, one for each day of the week and in each of those I wrote the family activity/appointment/whatever for that day.  In long columns, I had sections for chores, schoolwork, etc., and down the left side I had each child’s name (creating a row for each one).   For those who could read, I’d dry-erase write in the information for the day; for those who could not, I had small “chore” pictures for them to see, to do, and to tell me they’d done whatever the little picture indicated each day.

Years went by. More children were born. The whiteboard got bigger — the columns, longer; the days, fuller.  And then the season began to change… a couple of names dropped off the board, but more names began to be added to my notebook.  Then more names dropped off and I was slowly heading into a new role. Kind of unprepared, really.

I don’t have that sort of notebook anymore. The notes I take and the lists I make are nothing like those of days gone by.  I don’t buy ten gallons of milk every week, I don’t do 4 or 5 loads of laundry every day, I don’t pass out chore lists — I don’t have a whiteboard on the wall anymore.

Though I still feel sort of unprepared sometimes in this new-ish season, I looking forward to each day with anticipation. When I get a call from a daughter, a facetime or a recipe request, or a visit with some thrilling news; or daughter in law wanting to visit or wanting care for some littles, or any or all the kids stopping by for a visit, I give thanks to the Lord for all this.  Ironically, each day I prepare for the things that come up for which I might’ve thought I was unprepared, but God!  Then I marvel: in nothing and everything He prepared me for this.

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Jesus Saves

Freedom.

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Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is sure a marvelous way to watch for the Hand of the Lord in our lives.  I say marvelous bcz of the many times I’ve seen the “rest of the story” or the completion of the story as I’ve gone back and reread passages written in days gone by.  Had I not kept a note or had I not written a thought, a description of an event, a heartfelt prayer, or lamented a painful sorrow, I’d not have connected the beginning to the end of a trial — an answer to an ache or God’s plan for the experiences of sorrow, regret or pain.

I remember thinking {fearing, really} that I wouldn’t want someone to find my journals, read them and know my deepest thoughts.  I’m not so concerned about all that anymore — probably bcz I can’t imagine why anyone would take the time to read them.  But there’s still an occasional pang in my heart that my journals might be read by others and they’ll misinterpret what’s written, pin me to that entry, miss the bigger picture or misunderstand why I write what I do or how I do.

Keeping a journal is so much more than just documenting events — it’s really an exercise of discerning current “reality” and what I think about it (at the time).  It’s in the writing that we come to grips with what we really feel about a matter as if the instrument of our writing is a spotlight giving clarity or illuminating that current reality. I say this bcz it’s sure interesting how after writing down the thoughts or the feelings of an event/circumstance/season, I’ll look back and reread those thoughts and see that either I feel the same way or I was seeing that circumstance all wrong and am glad for the passage of time to see things differently. This is (or should be) encouraging — encouraging bcz it shows growth — encouraging bcz it shows God is at work — encouraging bcz it reaffirms to me to be teachable, flexible, open to God’s work in my heart and life. And, it’s encouraging to see growth especially if you’re like me, the devil sure attacks by trying to Superglue me to my past failings (and keep me there).

From time to time, rereading what I’ve written in days gone by is really quite humbling.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve opened an old journal and thought:  Omygoodness, I never want to repeat that stupid behaviour, or think/say those self centered things!  Reading past thoughts/feelings reveals a lot of things — helps me to reevaluate my thinking and to, if necessary, realign it with God’s Word and not according to how things seem(ed) at the time.

Another thing that “looking back” does, is to reveal God’s workHis ways and His purposes for various trials and temptations I/we face.  We can’t learn much if we don’t look back and remember what He’s done. It’s in the remembering that our faith is made surer, stronger, more secure. It’s in the looking back that trust is built and/or strengthened. It’s in the remembering that we can give thanks.

Keeping a journal ultimately shows us that God is writing our story. He is working all the stuff — everything — together for His glory and our good. When I write in anguish over an event, it’s almost a blaring signal to me now: watch! wait and see! God’s working! this is so hard! this is so big: God’s surely in it!!

And, what do you know? It’s always true. God’s at work. He’s in the big things. He’s in the little things. He’s working for His glory and my good.  And I’ve got His Word on it.  And, to God be the Glory:  I’ve got my own words to remind me of this incomprehensible truth.

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Thank you for joining me here today, may the Lord bless you and your home.