Waiting


Today I was listening to a song, “While I’m Waiting”, by John Waller. It’s a favorite of my husbands and right now it has a lot of meaning for us as we prepare to leave the mission field. We continue to wait on the Lord for what He has planned for us next. Visit our website and read today’s blog post, “Waiting“.

I also ran across another song by John Waller today that I really like, called “As for Me and My House”. I don’t need to say much about the message of this song…. just listen to it and watch the video.. the message is clear.

As Christians we say that we have made the choice to serve the Lord, but so many times we allow other things to get in the way. Things in life become idols because we allow these things to consume us, we allow them to take our focus off Christ, we allow these things to steal our precious time… time that we should be spending honoring God and loving our families. Anything can become an idol, so it’s important that we truly do choose this day whom we will serve… “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15

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Blessings in Brokenness



This morning, I listened to the song, Blessings by Laura Story. It’s a favorite of mine and it helps to remind me to look for blessings in every situation, especially in times of trials. Laura wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and went through multiple surgeries. I don’t know the entire story behind this song or exactly how God worked in Laura and her husband’s life through this trial, but I do know that God used this situation to inspire her to write this song. The song has ministered to me and I know it has done the same for many others. God is using Laura’s brokenness to bless others.

We hear people often question, why God allows bad things to happen to “good” people. I suppose that this question is really asking why Christians have to experience bad things in life. Christians or “good” people, regardless whether they are Christian, experience trials in life for the same reason that any other human does. We all live in a fallen world. The difference for Christians is that this world is not our home, so we take comfort knowing that the troubles of life are temporary. Some may think that just by believing in Christ, we are exempt from the pains of this life but that was never promised.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

We are not spared the trials that come in life, but because of our belief in Christ, we have hope that sustains us through difficult times and we possess peace that calms the storms. We may not avoid the storms but because of Christ we can peacefully endure them. Perhaps this is the best answer to the question, “why”. If Christians didn’t experience hardships then others would never witness how God provides strength to overcome. It is sometimes difficult to explain in words the peace that Christians have during times of illness or loss, but how we handle the trials can be a testimony of the power of Christ in us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.  2 Cor. 12:9

God’s grace is sufficient to bring us through any storm and He can use even the most hurtful situation for good. Whatever you may be going through at this time may be preparing you to help someone else in the future.

” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Cor. 1:3-4

Perhaps you are dealing with physical pain or coping with a disease, such as cancer, or perhaps it’s emotional pain, depression, or loneliness. Maybe you are grieving a loss or dealing with financial troubles. Whatever the cause of your suffering, God’s grace is sufficient.

My prayer is that God sustain you through this time; that He comforts you with a peace that only He can give. I pray also that God help you discover the blessings in your brokenness.

TIME


watchIs it that TIME of year again? Is is TIME already to put 2012 to rest and welcome in a New Year? The final hours and minutes of 2012 are quickly passing, so soon this year will run out of TIME.

For me, 2012 was a milestone in TIME. I turned 50 years old this year. Turning 50 didn’t really feel much different than turning 40, but one thing that I have noticed as the years have passed is that TIME seems to pass much quicker. As a child, TIME moved slowly. The TIME from one Christmas to the next or from one birthday to the next seemed like a lifeTIME.  Actually, any TIME that a child waits in anticipation of anything can make a few hours feel like days. However, as we get older, TIME passes much too fast.

We speak so casually about TIME and often forget what value it holds. Think about all the idioms we use for TIME:

TIME flies

TIME is short

TIME hangs heavy

TIME passes

TIME runs out

We waste TIME

We have spare TIME

We spend TIME

We save TIME

We have good TIMES

We have hard TIMES

We lose TIME

We find TIME

We make TIME

We kill TIME

We live on borrowed TIME

There are 1000’s of idioms for the word, TIME. We describe TIME in so many different ways, as if it truly is something that we can control. The truth is: TIME is limited. TIME is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, rich or poor; TIME doesn’t stand still for anyone. The only control we have over TIME is how we use it and who we share it with.

When we are young, we think that TIME is endless and that there will always be enough TIME later. When “later” arrives, we realize that TIME is short and TIME doesn’t allow us to go back. As much as we like to believe that we can make up for lost TIME, it really isn’t possible. Once TIME has passed, it’s lost forever. We may still have TIME left and we can use that more wisely but we never get back the TIME we’ve lost.

The photo I chose for this post is a photo of my momma’s watch. My momma went home to be with the Lord in 2008 and after she passed, I asked my siblings if I could have her watch. That was the only thing of hers that I wanted. She didn’t wear a lot of jewelry but she always wore a very simple, inexpensive watch. She took it off only to bath and to sleep. I wanted the watch for two reasons. One: Because it was something that she had with her all the TIME. Two: Because it represented TIME.

That watch represented the TIME that I wanted desperately to have with her. I wanted more TIME. I wanted to go back in TIME before she was diagnosed with cancer and spend more TIME with her. I wanted God to give her more TIME on earth; more TIME to spend with her children; more TIME to enjoy her grandchildren; more TIME to meet all her great-grandchildren.

No matter how much I wanted more TIME, there was no more TIME to spend with my momma. She was only given a certain amount of TIME on this earth, which meant that I was only given a certain amount of TIME to spend with her and that TIME had been spent. The problem was, I didn’t feel that I had spent that TIME wisely and now it was gone. The watch is a reminder to me that I should value the TIME that God has given me. TIME is a limited resource that should be used wisely. TIME is valuable but it becomes priceless only because it is shared with others. My momma’s watch is a reminder for me to spend my TIME on the important things in life and to share TIME with the important people in my life. Most importantly, the watch helps me to remember to give God His TIME. It is God that has granted us an allotted amount of TIME on this earth, so we need to spend TIME with Him.

As 2012 comes to a close and all our TIME for this year has been spent, I hope that you can look back and feel that you did spend your TIME in wise ways with the people you love. If you feel that you wasted this precious gift of TIME, I pray that you will resolve to treasure God’s gift of TIME during the New Year and years to come. Don’t allow the things of this world to steal the treasure of TIME from you.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  Ephesians 5:15-17

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”  Psalm 39: 4-5

Why?


“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world 1253045942Xr6lMiand against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

Why can’t we have peace on earth?

In the beginning, there was peace on earth, but God created humans with the ability to make free choices. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, all future mankind bore the consequences. The peaceful existence that God desired for us was traded for a world full of chaos and pain, where evil has free reign.

Why do awful, unthinkable things happen?

When tragedy strikes, we look for someone or something to blame. After the recent school shooting, people placed blame on many things:

  •  No prayer in our schools: Some say that God isn’t allowed in our schools because policy dictates that schools no longer have times of public prayer. As a Christian, I of course want the whole world to accept the practice of corporate public prayer, but lack of public prayer within the walls of our schools did not cause this tragedy. There were Christians in that school that day, and I have no doubt that there were prayers being said there as well, so yes God is still allowed in our schools. As long as Christians continue to pray, there will be prayer in our schools.
  •  Guns: Some say guns should be banned or at least better controlled. This didn’t happen because people are allowed to own guns. Criminals will always find ways to get weapons. Evil causes people to kill others with guns.
  •  Mental Illness: Some say this individual was mentally ill? Even so, most mentally ill people do not commit horrific acts of violence. Evil will however, take advantage of the weak.

Why is it so easy for a mentally unstable individual to acquire a gun?

Perhaps if he had been exposed to prayer and Bible readings while at school, he might have turned out different. Perhaps if more funds were allotted for research and treatment of mental illness then he could have been helped before he became violent. Perhaps if there was better gun control, he would not have been able to get the gun.

Why? I don’t know.

Why did it have to be children who died?

I can’t make sense of this but I know that only evil could do such a thing. The purpose of evil is to destroy all that is good. The best thing about us as humans lives inside our children, who have yet to lose their innocence. When children are harmed, the damage and pain is far-reaching.

Why does God not intervene and prevent horrible tragedies?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

God is always at work. He protects, He heals, and He does intervene much more often than we realize. Throughout life, things happen that influence our decisions or the paths we choose. Many times it’s as simple as running late for work and later realizing that if we had been on time, it might have been us involved in that fatal accident. For unexplained reasons, we left the house a few minutes later that day and reached that intersection just minutes after the accident.

When God intervenes, His hand is invisible because we choose not to see it until it’s more visible against the dark backdrop of evil. It seems that we only look for the hand of God when evil is present.

Why? I don’t know.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”    Psalm 34:18

As I write this, I try to choose my words carefully. I don’t want to minimize the pain, the suffering, and the loss for these families. There is no acceptable answer, to “Why”.

I don’t write as a scholar, a philosopher, a psychologist, or any kind of expert. I don’t have the answer. I write as a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, but most of all as a child of God, who needs to express my own sad and confusing thoughts. Writing helps me gain clarity, however this time… I still question… Why?

On December 14, 2012, evil walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT and took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.

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What He Needs From You


 

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 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Ephesians 5:33

Everyone wants the respect of others, especially from the people who matter most to us. God created men to take a leadership role in marriage. Leaders need and deserve respect, so men naturally need to feel that they have the respect of their wives.

It’s not always easy to know how to communicate respect or to even realize when our actions are not communicating it.  I listed a few ways to show your husband that you love and respect him.

  1. Pray for him and make a habit of praying with him.
  2. Men want you to need them, so find ways to show that you need him.
  3. Thank him when he does things around the house.
  4. If you must confront him, choose your words carefully, remember to “speak the truth in love” and let the small stuff go.
  5. Focus on all the things he does well and try to minimize the negative.
  6. If you feel offended, extend God’s grace to him and have an attitude of forgiveness.
  7. Don’t disagree with him or correct him in front of others.
  8. Be his biggest fan, cheer his successes and always tell him you are proud of him.
  9. Defend him if anyone speaks in negative ways about him.
  10. Take an interest in things that he is interested in.
  11. Men sometimes just need time alone so allow him this time.
  12. He wants to do well and desires to make you proud so respect his efforts, instead of  measuring  his performance.
  13. Don’t set him up to fail by asking him to do projects beyond his capabilities.
  14. Initiate sex sometimes rather than waiting for him to do so.
  15. Discover his preferred Love Language.

Once you understand which love language he uses to communicate, it will be easier to find more specific ways to show him respect.

If His Love Language is:

Words of Affirmation

  • Compliment him
  • Express your appreciation for all he does and who he is
  • Brag about him to others. Do this when he is present and when he is not.

Quality Time

  • Make dates with him
  • Do things with him (watch his favorite TV programs, participate in a hobby)
  • Make time to be intimate

Acts of Service

  • Do little things for him (bring his morning coffee, give him a massage or a foot rub)
  • Buy him gifts for no reason or make his favorite dinner
  • Be his help-mate; assist him with a project

Physical Touch

  • Hold his hand
  • Take time to snuggle
  • Kiss him often

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Colossians 3:12

You can discover your Love Language here.

“Hey, it’s me”


Have you ever received a phone call that went something like this?phone-hand

“Hello”

“Hey, how are you?”

“I’m good, how are you?”

“Great, did you watch the game last night?”

“Yes, great game”

“Well, all of us need to get together to watch a game soon.”

“Sure, we need to do that.”

“What about this weekend?”

“Uh… who is this?”

I don’t always recognize every voice that comes over the phone. That’s why I have Caller ID. However, there are some voices that I always recognize. I know my husband’s voice and he recognizes my voice without me having to introduce myself on the phone. I can pick his voice out of crowd. Actually, that’s not very difficult because he’s usually the loudest one in the group… sorry honey, but it’s true. He has a very nice voice by the way (I hope that smoothed things over with him).

I also can easily recognize the voice of my children. I don’t have to ask who is calling when I hear a voice over the phone. Although, I do have to confess that many times when I’m talking about one of my three children, I will run through all three names and even add in the names of the grandchildren before saying the correct one (everyone does that… right?).

What I love most is that there are people in my life that know the sound of my voice and all I have to say is, “hey, it’s me” and they know exactly who’s calling. Before my mom passed away, I could call her and just simply say, “hey Momma”, and even though she has three daughters, she always knew that it was me, it was Darlene, her oldest daughter calling. Not only did she know my voice but the sound of her voice let me know that she was happy to hear from me.

My ramblings here do have a purpose, so I’ll get to the point that I want to make.

I am thankful that God also knows my voice. At times when I cry out, “Jesus”; my heart can feel him answer, “Hello Darlene, I’m glad you called”. When I fall on my knees and pray, “Father God”, I can almost hear Him say, “Yes, Baby Girl, I’m right here”. When life gets busy and the world gets so loud that I don’t think anyone can hear me, it’s comforting to know that my Heavenly Father always hears me and He knows my voice. I love to talk to Him, especially at times when I know that no one else could understand my ramblings. I love that I can call Him and just say, “Hey, it’s me”.

The other side of this coin is that God wants us to recognize His voice as well. This is where I fall short. I tend to be more like Samuel. A voice called to him three times before Eli finally explained to him that the voice he was hearing was God (1 Samuel 3). I talk often to my Heavenly Father, but I need more practice at listening well enough to be able to recognize His voice. We were created to commune with God. That means he wants a relationship with us. Most will agree that to have a good relationship with someone else, such as a spouse or a friend, we need to communicate. Communication should not be “one-way”. I love to share my thoughts with my husband and tell him about my day but sometimes, I also have to allow him to talk and I have to practice my listening skills.

Here are a few things to improve communication

With Others:

  • Sit face to face and make eye contact – we spend a lot of time communicating through text, emails, and social networks but to build a good relationship, we need to get face to face.
  • Minimize distractions; both external and internal – life is filled with distractions. It may take some effort but reduce the noise, turn off the TV, the computer, the cell phone, etc. Focus your thoughts on the conversation and guard against letting your mind wander to other things.
  • Focus all your attention on the one speaking – we want others to pay attention to us when we are talking, so we should do the same for them. Remember the “Golden Rule”.

With God

  • Face to Face: we can’t do this literally but we can find a quiet place where we can have an intimate conversation with God.
  • Minimize distractions: shut out external distractions by turning the noise of the world off; spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or worshiping Him in song can help clear your thoughts of worldly distractions.
  • Focus all your attention on Him: God gives us His full attention and He doesn’t want to compete for our attention.

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Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.  Deuteronomy 32:1-2

 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.   John 10: 2-5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God

                                    Proverbs 2: 1-5

Reprinted at faithwriters.com

What About Santa Claus?


santa_clausA large part of the Christmas season centers around the tradition of “Santa Claus”. However, many people may question whether or not Christians should take part in this tradition. As Christians, we believe that Christmas is meant as a celebration of the birth of Christ and as a reminder that Christ was a gift from God to all who will accept Him. So, is it ok to allow our children to believe that there is a Santa Claus? How parents approach this question is a personal choice but I feel that the key is to keep “the main thing, the main thing”… meaning that Christ is the main thing in Christmas, so keep Him the main thing.

Allow children to enjoy the “magic” of Christmas but don’t go to great lengths to tell lies and perpetuate the fantasy of Santa Claus. Children are going to learn about Santa, elves, and the North Pole from other places even if parents don’t put a big emphasis on these things. When they are old enough to ask questions, then that is the time to evaluate just how well they can separate fantasy from reality. When children are old enough to ask, “How can Santa Claus visit all the children in the world in one night?” they are beginning to develop reasoning skills. This may be the time to explain that mommies and daddies actually help Santa… this is the first step to helping children separate what is real and what is fantasy. Don’t lie to children when they begin asking questions; allow the natural process of learning and discovery to take place. With or without the belief of “Santa Claus”, Christmas will still be a magical time, and there will still be presents under the tree when they wake up on Christmas morning.

Parents can use Santa to teach biblical principles to children. There are many similarities between Christ and the persona of Santa.

  • Both encourage children to come to them.
  • Both are givers are good things
  • Both reward good and punish bad
  • Both can be in multiple places at the same time
  • Both live forever

The list of comparisons could go on and on. These similarities can be viewed as either good or bad depending on how you look at them. Parents can use them to teach and reinforce the true meaning of Christmas. They can teach biblical principles such as hope, giving to others, caring for the needy, and loving others. Parents can explain how Santa is a secular symbol for these things. The parallels between Christ and Santa can be a bad thing however, if parents allow Santa to become a replacement for Christ during the Christmas season.

Nativity

The Christmas season actually begins the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, so there is plenty of time to focus on Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus really only has one night, he arrives on the 24th of December; on Christmas Eve… so keep Christ the main focus on all the other days of the season.

Christmas is a special time of year and regardless of how commercialized some people make it, Christmas is a Christian holiday. Without CHRIST there is no CHRISTMAS.

This was reprinted on faithwriters.com