Monday, June 28, 2010

What's a Girl To Do? pt 2


She is not as tall as a rose bush, 
in a red poka dot  dress, bloomers peeking out from underneath. 
Her short, sturdy legs weaving through the long lush grass in undeniable cuteness.
  The breeze that plays with her long blond curls, the sort a mother can’t resist stroking, 
sends a refreshing breath as I watch her from across the pond. 
Wandering through the field aimlessly, she was intent on picking every daisy she could find for the wilting bunch held tightly in her pudgy little hands. 
Hands that moments ago held a frog captured by brother, and before that caressed kittens close.

 

 “ O Lord, teach me to guide this precious little one into womanhood with grace and love. 
May she learn to love you with all her heart. 
Give me wisdom, Lord, to mold her character day by day, moment by moment.”

 

Since she was a tiny babe, I would hold her and look into her big blue eyes proclaiming truth into her life, though she did not understand it at the moment, the words I spoke to her everyday  soon became written on her mind, and eventually, her heart. 

“Bethany is a sweet girl, 
Bethany loves to share,
Bethany is an obedient girl. 
Mama loves Bethany,
Daddy loves Bethany,
Jesus loves Bethany.”

  She is never too young to begin to understand the value of godly character. 
A woman of noble character is of great value in the eyes of the Lord, and in the eyes of her family.  But, little girls do not just become wonderful women some day.  
They must be trained, character molded into a fine vessel.  Next to cultivating a love for God that can be displayed in a feminine way, it is our second priority in raising our girls.

 I liken the charge to a beautiful wild horse. 
Majestic in its power and strong spirit. 
That is the woman the world embraces today.
  But compare that wild mustang to a highly trained dressage horse, obedient to the slightest touch from it’s master.  It’s full potential has come alive through diligent training. 
Intelligence, control, athletic ability all maximized.  Any soul who is witness to such a fine equine specimen would never say, “oh they should have left him wild and free, it is really too bad.” 
Such is the case with human beings. 

Careful attention to faults, with a God fearing persistence to redirect the character will result in an improved person.  Truly, a little girl’s maximum potential cannot possibly be reached
without careful, diligent instruction. 



The Proverbs 31 lady, is one of good character
more than the unfathomably industrious woman that makes us tired just reading about her.  
We tend to see all the things she does,
when I think, the portrait is of
who she is. 
As we gaze upon the heart of this mentor, one can begin to envision a woman of immense ability,
with a soft heart, 
who loves and serves her family with sincere devotion.
  
We see a pattern of how to train up our daughters in balanced character that is pleasing to the Lord.

In verse 11 she is trustworthy. 
She can keep a promise, she can control her tongue, she can keep a secret, 
she is not unruly or prone to embarrassing moments.

In verse 13 she is a willing (cheerful) worker.
She does not grouch about having to do chores, but happily goes about household tasks.

In verse 15 she is thoughtful of others and servant hearted.

 

In verse 16 she is thoughtful and visionary.

In verse 16,17,18 she is a hard worker.
Industrious.  Skilled in many areas.

In verse 20 she is compassionate and generous.

In verse 21 she is serene,
not anxious or high strung.  Not hysterical, panicky, or stressed out. 
But calm, peaceful, with a quiet spirit.

In verse 25 she is meek, and confident in herself.

In verse 26 she is gentle and kind.

In verse 27 she is prepared, thoughtful.

She will be worth her weight in gold some day, if I am faithful. 
She will glorify God with her life, if I disciple her. 
She will provide no end of joy and delight to her parents some day, if she is brought up well. 
Her inner beauty will shine through.

 

The little blond with the sweet smile, the one whose charming eyes melt mine, the chubby, sticky fingers that pat my face with tipped head, whose bare feet caked with dirt leave tales upon my apron, who had me head over heels since the first moment I saw her, she is already indescribably precious, by God’s Grace one day her price will be far above rubies.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's a Girl To Do? pt 1



 Our goal  in raising daughters is for them to love Jesus and embrace a spirit of Biblical femininity.

 In our culture today, a mama must take care not only to nurture femininity in ourselves,
but also in our homes, 
and in our daughters.
 We need to celebrate the gentle feminine side as God’s gift to us.

 But in our hectic hard-driven society it’s easy to lose track.
I do not force our girl’s into a "cookie-cutter" mold of what I think a godly, feminine daughter should look like.  Instead I allow them to be themselves, and encourage them to be the best they can be.
Godly femininity may be gentle and tender, as I encourage my daughters to be in all that they do,
but it is far from weak.
 Emily Barnes has said very well,
“Filling our lives with loveliness takes physical stamina, emotional strength, and spiritual courage.  Beautiful women of all ages have shaped the world with the power of their femininity.  When we make the effort to cultivate such gentle strength, we not only enrich our own lives and make life a little better for those we encounter, we also pass on the spirit of femininity to the next generation. ”



Balancing good industry with a chance to relax, think, pray, and be still is an ongoing challenge to me, but definitely something I value and embrace.
 Women today desperately need the soul-settling contented state of a quiet spirit. 
With all the demands of life that can press in on a woman, we must seek opportunities to rest, plan, regroup and draw closer to God.
 There is nothing of greater value that I can impart to my daughters than to have a “Mary” kind of heart; one that longs to sit at the feet of Jesus and be with Him,
 enjoying His presence.
  My daughters need to see me modeling this in my own life.
 They need to see me loving God, reading and memorizing the Scriptures, praying, and living in a gentle, servant-hearted manner.

 

“It is the glow within that creates beauty.  People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle like crystal in the sun.  At night they continue to sparkle only if there is light from within.”  - Bonnie Green

 Being still and having a quiet spirit does not mean that one is not industrious.
I am learning that there is a hard-to-keep balance in attaining productivity with a sweet calm manner.  
It starts with taking time to be still and getting your heart quiet. 

Then, and only then, can I relate well with others and coordinate my activities
with gentleness and serenity.
 It reminds me of a glow-in-the-dark sticker;
the sticker has to sit in front of a bright light for a time and get infused with light. 
Then it can be placed a dark space and it will radiate light for a span,
then it must go back and sit in the light.  
I am just that way.

 Time alone with God in the morning,
a walk in the afternoon, 
a moment here and there to ponder the goodness of God. 
Here is the way of life I have found that best enables me to walk with a glow of serene femininity.
I desire to aid my daughters in finding whatever fosters
the calm and gentle spirit of loveliness in her life.
If she is prone to putter, like mama, if she is energized by alone time,
or if she prefers to be right in the smack dab middle of everything,
talking while she is reading and studying her Bible,
either should be allowed and encouraged to establish a priority of quiet time in her day. 
It is the inner beauty and  tranquility that comes from abiding with our creator that strengthens and gentles our souls for the day ahead. 
 

Nurturing the spirit of femininity in our daughters lives begins with training them to care for themselves from the inside out, 
teaching them to pay attention to what is truly important.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes, instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  1 Peter 3:3,4

 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rain, Rain, What a Day!


 Rain.
Rain.  More rain.
I believe we have had 4 or 5 sunny days this month.  Waking to another gray, dreary, soggy morning makes me feel like Eyore; slumped shoulders, countenance downcast. 
If this were October, we would expect it, and cope with it much better.  But this is June.  Summer.
It doesn’t seem right.  Or fair.
Why does the weather effect us so?  What is it that is so discouraging about the lack of sunshine?  
Why are we so bothered by what seems to be unjust?

I think it is our very soul, crying out that life wasn’t supposed to be this way.

We were made for something else, somewhere else. 
We long for the place or time where all is right, good, just, fair. 

We long for heaven.

It is deep in our very nature to long for an eternal day with no more crying, 
no more sorrow. 
Or rain.
 

" There is coming  day
When no heartache shall come…

..All is peace forever more
on that happy golden shore.."


I recall my grandma singing bluegrass and hymns when I was a child.  I always wondered why they were all about dying and heaven.  I thought she was obsessively morbid. 
But now, I behold something deeper. 
She grew up in deep poverty, during the depression.  Times were bad. 
Those songs became her hope for the future. 
This life would be gone someday, time here is short, like the grass that fades away.  
The African slaves coped with their misery in the same way. 
As did the psalmist.

“I have set the LORD always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices, my flesh also shall rest in hope,  Thou will show me the path of life:  in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  Psalm 16:8,9,11.



By focusing her mind on the glory to come,
Grandma lifted her spirits and gave her bleak and desperate days a ray of sunshine,
a bounce in her step to keep on, 
for something better was awaiting. 
Like knowing you have chocolate hid away that none of the kids know about.  
Or secretively having bought a surprise gift for your sweet heart. 
The hope of heaven should give us that same squealing, goose-bumpy anticipation that energizes us.
 
 

 Although rain does not compare to the trails others have faced, I can learn from history to keep my eyes on the eternal.  
There is all of heaven to attain some sweet day! 
As I take heart in that thought, allowing it to wash me with fresh perspective,  I am rejuvenated, revived.  I can smile at the trial, the tribulation, or the rain,  in whatever my plight, and be joyously content.

""And forever I will be
With the one who died for me
What a day,
Glorious day
That will be!"

 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

He's My Super Hero


                                 Every home that includes a Godly daddy is blessed indeed.
                                                   Who else will unselfishly lead us?
                                               Who else can tickle and play chase like him?               
 

 The best memories of our childhood will be those we spent with you.


 

"My prince did come....his name is daddy." -Anna
 

 "This is my daddy,  and my best friend." -Ben

 

"My dad is a super hero.  I love him." -Joe


Happy Father's Day dads.  
May the Lord bless you and make you great. 
May you rejoice over your children all your life. 
May you be like a tree planted by the rivers of water whose leaf does wither and whatever you do prospers. (Psalm 1)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Romancing the Home


 No one told  me it would be so. 
I never imagined it would happen this way.
When we were first married, and sooooo in love, I probably wouldn’t have even believed it. 
The truth, marvelous and amazing, is that after 21 years, marriage has just continued to become sweeter with each year.

 

There is a oneness now, that can hardly be expressed.  
We think alike. 
We share the same values. 
We hardly ever disagree, except about sweet pickles. 
We can speak on behalf of one another because we know how the other thinks. 
We keep a constant loving interest in whatever the other does. 
We are one in mind, soul and spirit.

 

Who could have imagined such powerful emotions, such deep connection, except the author of marriage himself.  He is the One who created marriage to bring joy, to be the happiest, fullest, purest, richest life. 
It is God’s own ideal of completeness.



Romance in the home has kept our relationship alive and more intimate with each passing year. 
The brush of a hand across his back as I walk past.
A knowing look across the dinner table.
  A walk down the lane hand in hand. 
Long talks at the end of the day, cuddled up close in our own dreamy haven, candles flickering against the dark.
 

 

Where “love” was once the feeling that held us together, now our commitment, oneness, and shared passion in life continually draws us closer. 
The feelings follow. 
We have become rooted together. 
Our love is now a serving, forgiving, sacrificial kind of love that is exclusive, permanent, and unconditional.
Ours is a marriage of sharing and giving with no holding back.
Of this, I have no regrets. 
 
 

Joseph Newton said,
Share your life, and find the finest joy man can know.
Do not be stingy with your heart. 
Get out of yourself into the lives of others, and new life will flow into you-
Share and share alike.

This is my beloved and this is my friend.
I have been blessed to be your bride these 21 years, and looking forward to the next 21.
Thank you for a life of deep peace, quiet joy, and inseparable affection.


 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Men In Training

It has been said that the mother of a boy works from son up till son down.

But, the father of sons has even more responsibility in raising boys to be men.
  And so, raising 5 boys has brought us to have a fervent and consistent prayer life!
"Of whom much is given, much is required."
Each son is a gift, one that requires some untangling before before becoming an arrow fit for service.  This responsibility of parents requires us to lean on our Heavenly Father for wisdom, strength, patience and grace.  In and of ourselves, it cannot be done.
God is using our children to sanctify us as we parent them.  When we are stumped for what to do, we must turn to Him who is Wisdom.  When our capacity to be patient is empty , it is He who refills.
 
 
A wise father trains his children, by the principle of Deuteronomy 6:7, when he sits, when he walks, when he is at table, when he lies down... he is mentoring and teaching, growing little men into disciples who love Jesus. 

 

 Boys will be boys, unless both parents seek to train them in the character of Godly men.  They need hard work that is both rewarding and rewarded. A strong work ethic is the first and perhaps easiest value we can teach our sons.  Books that have helped us define our path with our sons are, "Boyhood and Beyond", "Created for Work", "Future Men", "Homemaking", and the Bible.  Our current study of Proverbs is particularly rewarding.

 

 Little men find great delight in the encouragement and affirmation of a proud parent.  They willingly return to tasks and chores when they know their mama is grateful for their help, they have built strong muscles in the process, and there will likely be a yummy treat when the job is accomplished well.
I believe that a mother's encouraging words are like warm sunshine on a boy's soul.

 

Men in Training need to play hard, and their play should be honorable, pure, adventures that extol the virtues of manhood. He is to honor every lady, in true gallantry.  What better place to learn this than in his play. The little gentleman shows no greater manliness than when he is defending a lady from danger.  He is to be to every woman a true knight, to shield her from insult and risk his life on her behalf.  In such play, brothers and sisters learn to be loyal friends.



Boys need heroes that are truly good.  Many such come from quality reading found in the pages of a G.A. Henty volume, a Jim Kjelgaard, Gary Paulsen, or Douglas Bond adventure.  In our society, we must take deliberate action to instill morals and integrity.  Our Defense is a battle to purge away those influences which are not noble and of good report.  My offensive tactic is to fill and permeate their daily activities with wholesome, refining, excellent choices.   One of the strongest fortifications which the human heart can throw up against temptation is the home.

 

JR Miller, in the book, Homemaking adds this," To every young man life is especially hard.  As he goes into it he needs the sympathy of all who love him; he needs the prayers and the help of all his friends.  For want of the strong support of love many a young man goes down in the battle, and many who come through victorious owe their victories to the holy affection of truly loyal hearts that inspired them with hope and courage in all their hours of struggle."   

I desire my sons to acquire skills that are both fun and useful.  I need to sense what they are good at, so I may help point them in a direction where they will be successful. 
I think it is so important for a young man to be good at something.




I am striving toward giving my boys a clean, simple, old fashioned childhood, full of love and nurturing, hard work, good play, fond memories of family, and knowledge gained from diligent study, that someday they may indeed sit in the gate and be heard. 
My most important job as a mama is  to provide a safe haven for my family.
  For my sons, as well as my husband.
  A cocoon.   A haven. 
A source of refuge to protect them from the world and its harsh demands. 
"The home improves happiness
and abates misery
by doubling our joy 
and dividing our grief."
-Joseph Addison

 
 

My sons will be tomorrows leaders.  They will very likely face more uncertain and difficult times than we.  My prayer is that we will be faithful raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That by God's grace our house will be built with wisdom and established by understanding. (Prov.24:3)
 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Restless Wandering

My heart was restless,
 I wanted something… but what? 
I felt a stirring to do something, go somewhere; maybe out to glide through my favorite thrift stores in search of that unknown item awaiting me, or perhaps bake up some delectable morsel to tantalize my taste buds.  What was it I longed for? 
As I was perusing the possibilities, my eyes drifted toward the open Bible laying beside me.  I was drawn  in, like a wandering lamb. I could not keep my eyes from searching…there was something here, calling me.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

It was the 23 Psalm that I had been looking at earlier.  Was I discontent?  Was I wanting when I shouldn’t?  What did it mean?  I looked up the cross reference verses, hungry to know. 
I found myself first in Isaiah 40:11,

 “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

  I was riveted to the last line.  Gently leading me, the one with young, leading me, where?

 
 

I paused, trying to bring order to my confused thoughts.  After a few minutes, I went on.
The next cross reference left me stunned.

“Not that I speak in respect of want for I have learned, that in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phil. 4:11 

I had allowed myself to get scattered like the sheep in Ezekiel 34,
and the Good Shepherd was drawing me in. 
Slowly, I following the next verse in Psalm 23, knowing full well what it would say, but anticipating, I sensed I was on the verge of a fresh comprehension.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.”
 
 

Ooooh. This is where He is leading me… to quiet my soul, once again, to realize that the restlessness I was feeling inside was my soul needing to hear Truth and apply it.
The need to glimpse the marvelous, 
and be satisfied by Living water. 
It was really my soul thirsting, and I, in my carnality,
took it to be a hunger for something the world offers that would refresh me.
Silly me.

 Where do we go to restore our soul?  Is our first stop the Law of the Lord?
Psalm 19:7, 8...
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. the precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart, the commands of the lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." It goes on...."More to be desired are they than gold, and sweeter than the honeycomb."

When our soul is restless, when we are discouraged, when we are in need of restoration,
do we run to the restoring, 
enlightening,
joy giving Word of God?
Or do we run to fill that emptiness with material things (gold) and food (honeycomb) when the very thing that will satisfy more than all the others is found
simply
in God's precious Words to us.

 

“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living Fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”   Revelation 7:17
 
Still thirsty?  See Ezekiel 34:11-15
 

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Daddy-Daughter Date


There is something very enticing about a man who delights in children.  I love it when Brian takes the girls on a date.  The girls love it.  When the announcement is made, the lodge tingles with the excitement and chatter.

 

Daughters need their daddy's Godly affection, affirmation, and attention





.  I am so grateful that our daddy is willing to be the man, and train up his children to fear and love the Lord.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Simplifying Mama

There is a slow steady rhythm, like a heartbeat.  Gone is the ebb and flow of a harried pace.  There is a quietness.  Margin.  Time to sit and observe the children, to see behind their actions, into the heart.  Stillness to ponder the ways of God.  Priorities have their proper place, God, husband, children, ministry.      
      We have simplified mama.
 We have taken away the idols, projects, urgent but unimportant time stealers, sports programs, community involvement, and in their place reigns Simplicity.
 

 
The Lord has spoken to my heart, teaching me, through a myriad of ways and people that keeping margin in my day is essential. I used to schedule my days absolutely full, thinking I was making the most of life.  As if I were training for an “Industrious Woman of the Year Pageant.”

“Be still, and know that I am God.

 

Where can we find time to be still?  The  whirling culture we live in screams at us to do more, buy more,  and fit more into our lives.  Not surprising to me is the result; a nation that relies on anti-anxiety medication to function.
Does God show himself to be a busy, whirling, frantic figure?
In 1 Kings 19:12 He is a still voice.
In Isaiah 40:11 He gently leads those with young.
In Genesis 2:2   He rests. 
Through out the Scriptures He is patient, and long suffering.
If we are to be like God, why would we think we have to rush, fill our days to a frazzling pace, leaving no space for rest and somehow be serene?  I beat myself up for years for not being able to do it.  And finally, I have understood that all the “good” opportunities this world offers are not so beneficial.   Through God‘s grace, He gently led me to empty my life of the extras, things I used to see as a must.  Rushing, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and the ever present feeling of not having done enough plague me no longer.  I have eliminated the unnecessary and found a gentle and quiet spirit that I never could muster before.  I am learning to say no to opportunities by gauging whether I can participate in them without sacrificing my peace of mind or my family’s need to be nurtured.

“He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:2b-3a  
 
 
 Still  basking in the newness of a simple life, I only plan the basics, making sure I keep my priorities in line. Such simple living has blossomed into more peace, serenity, thankfulness, sanity, contentment and beauty than I could have possibly imagined. I am getting so much more out of each day, the children are getting more of me, and a higher quality me. 
I am in awe.
 
 
Each morning there is delight to set about our chores, with grace and freedom to not rush. Gathering at our big table together with lighted candles for our Proverbs study, partaking of a simple lunch. Steady and gentle passes the morning.  Baby is ready to sleep, and I feel the calming rhythm of the rocking chair as he drifts off.
I am reminded.
 
 
 We have simplified our lifestyle to a pace that becalms me.  My Husband benefits from a wife who is not high-maintenance, who has time and energy for him at the end of the day.  Our children have settled.  Their contented spirits fly through the day with happiness, abundant expressions of love, less bickering and fighting, more creative play and improved attitudes.  Truly, this is the more excellent way.  Herein is a case where a lifestyle of less is so much more. 
We have simplified mama, and all are better for it.