Saturday, December 31, 2005

Royal People and the China that Befits Them

"A man's home is his castle".
This would make him a king... or at least an earl or duke or something.
I'm just not sure I treat my man like royalty in his home.

With 2006 about to begin, I am evaluating my chief roles at this time. Consider it a job evaluation. As I examine my servitude of my husband, I see areas where my marks would be deemed 'needs improvement'. One such area, is esteeming my husband in the small things of life.

It's not that I am particularly negligent or ill-tempered toward him. However, as I was speaking with my mom last night, she reminded me to treasure the ordinary moments that I have with him. This is sage advice from a woman that I regard as one of the best examples of "an excellent wife".

Treasuring our husbands means to esteem them highly - to treat them as royalty. In the 1950s this was possibly more popular than it is today. Today we are fed the lines: "take care of yourself first", "pamper yourself", "make sure you have enough me time", etc. Of course, we need to make sure we spend time with God in prayer, meditation, and the scriptures, but as a result of that time with God, we should be mindful to love, and thereby serve, others. This includes our husbands. The bible emphasizes this link in 1 John 4:7, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." John defines that love in the previous chapter: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."(v.16)

So this is my resolution for 2006: not to make myself comfortable until my husband is comfortable. Some examples of this, which my mother lived out, include the following:
- bringing slippers to the king of the castle when he was tired after a long day at work
- rubbing his feet... sometimes every night of the week
- having supper ready when he came home
- making lunch for him, with attention to his personal preferences
- having his shirts pressed for him
- bringing a cup of coffee (& a slice of cake) for a late-night snack... on her fine china

This last one happened many nights. As a child, I didn't really think about it. But once I had china of my own, and realized it needs to be hand-washed, I marvelled at my mother's love for my father. Three years ago my dad passed away, and about 2 months later my mom was talking about those late evening snack times. She said she was so glad that she had always made those times special for 2 reasons: 1) even though they happened often, they truly were special and 2) she used her fine dishes on the one she deemed truly special.

That has stuck with me ever since. I still don't use my Royal Doulton as often as she did, but it has nonetheless encouraged me to take it out of the cupboard and use it for the most special people in our "castle".

Friday, December 30, 2005

Sprinkle 'Hell' into Your Next Discussion

A recent experience in sharing the gospel with an aquaintance has left me evaluating the topic of hell. It seems our society does not want to face the reality of sure and coming judgement. People go for tests to the doctor to verify the bad news of things like cancer. Crisis is what makes stations like CNN dominate the screen. However, mention the bad news of hell and people are offended, angry, and even hostile.

Does our world want to ignore the reality? Or do they really not believe in its existence? If the latter is true, it is so surprising to see the above responses. One would expect the response to be dismissal of the topic (with maybe a look like you belong in an asylum).

I believe deep inside, we know there will be an accounting one day, and therefore our conscience is affected by the mere mention of the Lake of Fire.

As fellow citizens, is it not our duty to warn people of this impending and enormous danger? (never mind the commands in scripture to share the gospel). And how do we do this, in a gentle, kind and loving way? I know with my children, if they reach for something dangerous (like the gas stove), my voice sometimes gets a little loud and alarming, as I communicate the danger - even when I desire to show love and gentleness to them.

So back to sharing this gospel with which we are entrusted. How do we "sprinkle hell" in the discussion and communicate the good news as good news? What makes this news good? It's the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin. It's the fact that we now receive a righteousness so that we can be with God for eternity. It's the fact that our life is complete with God at the helm.

I believe these things are truly benefits of the gospel, but they may not necessarily be understood as good news to the unbeliever, even when we dialogue without "Christian-ese". However, mention this fact: with the cleansing of Christ's blood, we no longer face the judgement that our sins deserve. Maybe this is something that can be understood as "good news".

If my neighbor's house was on fire, I would run over with haste to share news of the coming danger. So why is it that we struggle with sharing the gospel? Is it because Satan desires to keep the topic of "hell" under wraps?

Yes, this is a spiritual battle we are in, ladies. Let us not forget this. And let us plead at God's throne for boldness, as Paul often did. This is sometimes not pleasant and light conversation material, but let us not shy away from showing people their sinful position, warning them of their destiny, and giving them the good news that these things can be overcome through Christ's blood. Hallelujah! It is marvelous what He accomplished. Somehow, this is how I believe we are to be the "salt" that is sprinkled in the world.

P.S. Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort have compiled what they call the Way of the Master. It has been a helpful place to start sharing my faith.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


1 Samuel 7 tells the interesting and sometimes overlooked story of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. It had been stolen by the Philistines, where it's presence caused tumors to break out. The Philistines decide to return the Ark. It ends up at Beth Shemesh, where the men opened it up and were struck dead. In fact, a great number of men died that day as the "Lord struck the people with a great slaughter".

Naturally, the rest of the Israelites are filled with fear of God, and seek the Lord through Samuel to defeat the Philistines at Mizpah. God hears their cries and thunders. The Philistines are confused and the Israelites win their territory. Then verse 12 says, "Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us.'"

This passage has inspired me to set up my own Ebenezer, so to speak. With 2006 approaching, I have filled a glass vase (from Ikea $2.99) with flat, black rocks (purchased at Wal-Mart for $1.46). My intention is to use a gold metallic marker and record special milestones upon the rocks, where "the Lord has helped us". Hopefully, this will be a visual reminder of how God is at work all the time. I desire this as an object lesson for my children, but I suspect it will be a good reminder for mother as well.

The Israelites often set up markers to remember the times when the Lord had helped them. It is surely a good practice to notice and acknowledge God's work in our lives. I pray this inspires you to do the same.

P.S. This makes a great gift! Just wrap it up in some cellophane, attach a marker with a raffia bow, add some instructions (complete with 1 Samuel 7:12), and away you go to your best friend's house!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Glory to God in heaven!

That is where Christmas began - in the "highest".

Jesus came down to earth from His home in heaven.

By the power of the Highest, Mary was "overshadowed" (Luke 1:35) and the Holy Spirit came upon her. What an incredible moment. A moment that cut through space and time. In that moment, God entered a woman's womb, and thereby, we were allowed the privilege of having the Son of God, on earth.

This Son of God (Luke 1:35) was also the Son of Man (John 5:27). He was placed into this special existence to accomplish God's ultimate redemption of mankind. God surely could have chosen to accomplish salvation of any creature in whatever arena or method He desired... even in heaven. However, devising the complete plan and wanting to communicate that plan clearly to mankind, He chose the moment of Christmas to cross from the sphere of life to death. This is obviously, the work of a servant-master.

Jesus could have been transported from God's side as an adult. However, God saw fit to have Him exist as a helpless, humble babe. This was foreshadowing of the sacrificial life this King would live.

This King would give up a pillow, his family, his sleep, his "personal space",... and ultimately his very blood for others. What a King! What a King?

He spoke of His kingdom as "not of this world"(John 18:36). Aha. So that is why I do not always understand it. However, I am humbled by the way Jesus proved His Kingship. And I am grateful for the way my King gave Himself up on the cross for me.

As I ponder His sacrifice, my eyes return to heaven - where my King is seated. The day is coming when I will be declaring with the masses,

"Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sites on the throne
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Rev.5:13)

Last night, at our Christmas eve service, I was gripped in my soul by the words of O Come All Ye Faithful, verse 2; "Give to our Father glory in the highest". The verse is telling the angels to do so. This is a great reminder for me to give exultation to God in heaven.

May my thoughts today be toward heaven, where my Creator is, where my King is, where my Redeemer is, where my Savior is, where my God is. He truly is worthy of my praise.

"Gloria, in excelsis deo!"

Friday, December 23, 2005

'Dem Bones, 'Dem Bones

Here's a suggestion for your Turkey bones:

Turkey Soup

Turkey carcass, broken up
4 tsp. salt
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup carrots, grated
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1-20 oz. can tomatoes
4 tbsp. barley
1/4 cup lentils
2 tbsp. rice
1/4 cup turkey, chopped
1 cup macaroni or other noodles

In a large kettle, place turkey carcass, and bones in 18 cups of water and salt. Simmer 5 hours (while you enjoy playing games with the kids, or reading in a corner). Strain and discard bones. Place broth in fridge overnight to settle fat. Skim off fat in the morning. Heat the broth and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Serve with bread and salad.

Just made this last week with the leftover turkey carcasses from our youth banquet. It's a really delicious recipe that I got from a great friend and great cook. Now it is just a part of my turkey cooking ritual. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Decorating With Purpose

Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in our Traditions, was helpful in giving purpose to my decorating endeavors at Christmas. Despite the increasing fascination in things "christmas", I have noted the display of things "Christ-ly" waning more and more.

Therefore, as "keepers of our homes", we need to actively pursue Christ in our holiday preparations. Let us decorate with a focus on God's redemptive plan. That may mean including the cross, God's word, symbols of our future hope,... all things that are meaningful when our minds are "set on heavenly things, not on earthly things" (Col.3).

Let us fill our halls with music that inspires us to worship God, as the angels do. Let us prepare food that tastes for the body... but much more for the soul. Let us offer hospitality to the needy. Let us pursue love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us give gifts with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for the person God has made that will be receiving the gift.

Oh how quickly we are distracted from our first love. Let's resolve to enjoy these moments at Christmas. Moments of quiet, in which we can revel in our beloved's Incarnation to accomplish our salvation. Moments of mirth, in which we can gather, and, as a group, praise our Father. Moments of worship, in which we can contemplate God's word and the beauty of His redemptive plan. Moments of giving, in which we give to others from the grace given to us.

I'm excited about these next days... and I pray the Holy Spirit will help keep my eyes "fixed" on the Christ of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The 75° Chamfer

It all began in October. My son was painting a picture for school at the table. As I watched him, I thought, "this would be easier on an easel". Then November came, and Home Hardware sent out a Christmas flyer, which included an advertisement for the latest Home Workshop magazine. Incidentally, the magazine’s feature article was an "easy easel". Aha. This would be a good woodworking project to learn from, as well as a wonderful Christmas present. So off to the store we went.
I should have known this might be a little more ambitious a project than I was prepared to tackle, when I looked at the drawings included. But being optimistic (and naïve), I figured the written instructions would help me sort out any difficulties I might encounter.
We cut the wood, stained it, etc. To this point, we hadn’t had too many problems (besides my 2 year-old trying to step on the freshly-stained wood and make footsteps on the cardboard).
Then it happened. I read the line that began my trip into true learning. "Cut a 75 degree chamfer on the bottom edge of the rail before cutting the slots for the biscuits". Pardon me? What is that? I returned to home hardware (since I realized the supply list had not actually included all the supplies I would need). There I approached one of the "home experts" and asked him for help. He looked at the instructions, kind of hummed and hawed. After about 5 minutes of his "help", I left.
Now what? I tried the computer. Chamfer. The definition was "to cut off the edge or corner of: bevel". Oh. That’s what they mean. So I headed into the garage to cut the chamfer when I figured out that I need a special saw to do this. (My jigsaw, drill, and mouse-sander are my tools of choice).
Anyway, the whole project grew more and more crazy after this. I nearly quit the "easy easel" project 3 times, despite the money I had dumped into this endeavour. At one point, I was close to crying. "This is too hard for me," I had to admit.
Well, I have finally finished it - picture enclosed - and as I reflect, I realize I learned some good lessons along the way.
1. I know what a chamfer is.
2. I know how not to cut one.
3. Carefully consider the costs (financial and mental) before you build something (Luke 14:28).
4. Sometimes we can accomplish more than we may think.
5. Sometimes we may be wiser not to try to accomplish more than we think.
6. If something says "easy", it’s not necessarily true.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tree Trimming 101

Upward Call wrote a post about her Christmas tree, saying it "won't win any prizes". Mine won't either, however, here are some old "florist" tricks to help with decorating your tree.

1. Use tonnes of lights. Yes, they are annoying to untangle, but lots of lights will hide a multitude of empty spaces, ugly patches, etc. Somehow the glow makes the hideous disappear. This year ours had one side that is missing a few branches, but it's amazing how the lights help. (Martha Stewart had a great idea for storage. Cut a piece of cardboard to the size of your plastic storage box and then wrap them around.)

2. Using ornaments within one colour family can help give visual impact. I have pink carpet in my house, which is a challenge when Christmas colours are red and green. However, I have managed to find pink balls, white doilies, Silver drop ornaments and burgundy apples. It works. You can try the same in shades of "blue, white and silver", or "red, gold and green", or "purple, silver, white", etc.

3. Throw in a few poinsettia blooms. Use odd numbers and distribute them evenly throughout the tree. I discovered this tip when we first started cutting our trees in the mountains, where they are less than perfect. I was standing back looking at my tree, thinking, "it still needs something". At Walmart, I had purchased a stem of velvety burgundy poinsettia blooms to make an arrangement and they were lying on the table. "Aha! Let's try these," I thought. It didn't take long to cut them up, and shove them deep in the tree, here and there. Voila! The tree was complete. Since then, I throw them in every year, and it sure helps to finish it off.

Hope these few tricks help you.

Come Thou Long-expected Savior

My sister is expecting her 3rd child this week. A boy, the doctor says. It is exciting and yet I am nervous, praying for baby's safe arrival.
I wonder how Mary felt. Did she wonder "What will the face of God be like?" Maybe she was nervous about "The almighty God feeding at her breast". It must have been a time of great wonder and anticipation as she awaited the arrival of God incarnate. Yet, I somehow imagine Mary to have had great maturity and a godly mindset as she carried the promised Messiah in her womb.
I wonder some of those same things about Christ's return. "What will the face of God be like?" "What will we eat at the banquet?" "What melody will the trumpets play to herald Christ's return?" I know some of my questions are not relevant... but I am still curious. I also know that it will be different than I expect or imagine, which I'm sure was the same for Mary.
Yesterday morning my eldest son came to snuggle in bed with my husband and I, as we were enjoying some international Christmas choral music. As we were lying there, we were imagining what heaven would be like, with the angels singing around the throne. My son remarked, "I want to go there".
As I ponder that comment, I agree! Come, thou long-expected Savior. Come to set thy people free. Let us "set our minds on things above" this Christmas and remember that the return of Christ is much more exciting than any of the other "trimmings" that our world has linked to His first coming.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Life In A Postcard

Southern Alberta was beautiful Friday. As we were driving to swimming lessons and enjoying the outdoors, I said, "It's like we're living in a postcard." It was -20c outside, which helped to make the air crisp and clean. The ground was covered in fresh snow, sparkling in the sunlight. There was a thin frosty fog hovering in the air, which created hoarfrost all day long. The moon was still visible (at 9 o'clock in the morning - which I would love a scientific explanation for), shining like a silver dollar in the pink morning sky. In the distance the Rocky Mountains were periwinkle boulders, looking as though they were draped in a sheet of vellum. It was a spectacular view of God's amazing artistic abilities.
That thought of "living in a postcard" causes me to consider what others look and see of me. As a pastor's wife, many people ask me about "life in the fishbowl". I am grateful that I have never had a problem in the "fishbowl". Our congregation has been very gracious over the years to allow me to be me, patiently encouraging me while I'm growing. I realize that some churches are less than reasonable in what they expect of their clergy and families. We are not perfect, and are still in the process of sanctification. Having said that, all believers need to realize that we are being watched. If we are parents, our children are watching us. If we are part of a church, there are people younger than ourselves that are observing our behavior and following our example (both positive and negative). Our neighbours watch us. Our co-workers watch us. Even strangers watch us and can learn from us.
With this in mind, our call is to holy living. Consider Ephesians 4 :17ff, "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the (Canadians) walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened... but be renewed in the spirit of your mind... that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Then Paul goes on to discuss some of the unholy patterns of life - anger, lying, stealing, slander, bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, malice, etc. He exhorts the Ephesians to walk in love, like Christ did, "a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma". He continues that fornication, immorality, covetousness and such behavior should not even be mentioned among us: "neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting". Paul reminds us that these are "not fitting".
This makes me return to my "postcard" and consider, "what's in the picture that is not fitting"? Let us live the holy lives that God deserves of us. We now bear His name. We are in His family, and as such, our behavior ought to reflect our Abba, rather than the one that has been overcome. Let the unholy and dark thinking of our world not be found among us, nor the behaviors that result from such "lostness". We are the bride in the advent of our groom. Let us pursue purity every day until He returns.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Righteousness Through Faith

As I've been reading through Romans lately, I've been struck anew with the frequency of the term "righteousness through faith". (1:17, 3:22, 4:5, 4:9, 4:11, 4;13, 9:30, 10:6) Although this is not news to me, the reality of it has again stirred my soul. This righteousness that I can now claim by Christ's blood is not something that I can put on like my favourite sweater, rather, something that I put on "by faith". It is his perfect life that has been written across my debt card in heaven's courtroom.
I had an interesting conversation recently with a woman. We were discussing our spiritual backgrounds, and as she shared her journey, I was faced with some new questions. Her "testimony" did not address any part of Christ's work on the cross. (I find this part of "spiritual journeys" can often be "overlooked"). She mentioned that she has always believed in God and Jesus. Now, if that belief in God includes a belief in Jesus as her Savior, Redeemer, and Lord, I am comfortable with her understanding. However, without such understanding, I wonder if there is "righteousness through faith". What does that faith need to be in? Unfortunately, we were not able to engage in further discussion to clarify what she exactly believes, which will hopefully be a part of our next conversation. Nonetheless, my heart is fearful that many have "faith", but haven't ever considered what that "faith" is actually in. So what does our "faith" need to cling to?
According to Romans 3:22 "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Paul say this after he explains that the law shows us our shortcoming in God's courtroom. We need to believe Jesus is in that courtroom. Then Paul continues "God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood." Not only do we need to believe that Jesus went to the courtroom for us, but that it is His blood that was laid on the bench as our payment. How can we not weep when singing "Nothing but the blood", or "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross". It cost Him precious life blood to give me a clean card in heaven. And to top it off, Christ did this "even when we were dead in our trespasses" (Eph.2:5). How marvelous! Now that's a reason to celebrate! That's the reason for joy at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Lessons We Teach

This past week has been like the Plains of Abraham as my boys have been learning to fight. My 2 year-old is discovering vocabulary as though words were Fruit Loops dropped beside the cereal bowl. With his increased lexicon has come increased power to battle his older brother - a very proficiant talker. And so the stage has been set for some rather heated "discussions" where the occasional battlecry causes mommy's hair to stand on end. Although I know that their tendencies to battle are partly found in their maleness, I am also keenly aware of the increasing boldness of their sinful natures. As such, we have been working on "negotiating", "sharing", "kindness", "patience", "turning the other cheek", etc. I thank Lou Priolo for his fabulous book Teach Them Diligently, which has been so helpful in addressing my boys' behavior in light of scripture and the real issue at hand: SIN.
Well, in the midst of all the skirmishes I was growing more and more discouraged. I would mentally berate myself for not being loving enough, gentle enough, patient enough, etc. and blaming myself for their poor learning in "loving our brother as ourselves". In the middle of the week, our bible study met to study John 5 and I was gripped by verse 19, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." Jesus was saying that He copies His Father. This confirmed my greatest fears - my boys are learning all my bad habits. I've known this all along and this is one of the strongest motivations for me to pursue godliness. The power of a living example is enormous. Yet, I am a redeemed sinner, still facing the reality of battling my natural person, while on this planet. And so I remember that God is in control. It will be His miracle to save these 2 boys and to sanctify them and have them truly "love their brother".
As a piece of encouragement to all you moms, battling to be the example we need to be, realizing the necessity of God's power to accomplish that, listen to what happened in my home. So in the midst of supper prep, the boys seemed to have disappeared upstairs to play. I could hear the Lego clicking, as well as some murmuring. As I approached the stairs to investigate I heard my 2 year-old say, "I'm so sorry." To which my 5 year-old responded, "I forgive you". They resumed a pleasant playtime and I felt humbled. Thank you God for opening their eyes to the lesson. Thank you for letting me hear the conversation. Thank you for stepping into a home where mom struggles to lead but longs to honor you. Thank you for the lesson for me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Meatloaf Tonight?

A friend of mine had a baby 2 weeks ago. I prepared a meatloaf for them, to which she remarked on Sunday, "Marlene, that was not just meatloaf. That was some kind of gourmet thing!"
Well, gourmet I am not. However, when I find a good recipe, I just want to share it (especially when it's easy to make). So here's the recipe:

Meatloaf Tonight?

Put the following in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes:
3 slices bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup milk
Fry up the following until transparent, and let cool a little:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Mix the following in a bowl, together with bread mixture:
2 carrots, finely grated
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. salt
ground pepper.
Add the onion mixture.
Place mixture into a casserole dish, forming it into a loaf.
Cover with bacon slices.
Add potatoes along side and cut up leeks.
Prepare glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. tomato paste
water to moisten
Glaze the loaf, potatoes and leeks.
Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours - glazing approximately every 15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!!

I Love To Tell The Story (part 2)

Continuing from yesterday...

3. What has the birth of Jesus done in my life?
This question is apropos today. You see, my 5 year-old has been having a growing desire to fantasize about Santa Claus. To some, this is not really even noteable. But after reading Noel Piper's Treasuring God in Our Traditions, I have been quite intentional in addressing Christ as the central character for Christmas. Therefore, I was discussing the matter of my son's "Santa Clogs" fascination with a friend. And this led me to ponder: what was it about the incarnation that was so significant.
Immediately my mind lept to the cross and how that was the plan all along. God "squished" Himself into the tummy of a human as part of a grand plan to save people. (Forgive my childish explanation. The reality of it gripped me as I was trying to explain "incarnation.") To think that God - the greatest, the most powerful, huge, and almighty - came to earth to complete the final acts of His dramatic manifestation of grace. His plan is so elaborate - played out over thousands of years. It is marvelous to realize that the special night in Bethlehem touches every person - from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Moses, to all the Israelites, to all the Gentiles, through to today - to you and I.
What has the birth done in my life? It has given me life, breath, and hope. It gives me a reason to worship. It fuels my thanksgiving. It grants me adoption to the most incredible Father. It brings me to my knees and takes me to the throne of God Almighty, allowing me to commune with Him. The birth of Jesus has given me a story to tell... please pray that I "may speak boldly, as I ought to speak"... the story that I love so much!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I Love To Tell The Story

The shepherds told their story, as they left the Christchild - Luke 2:17 says they "made widely known" their experience with God and what was told them concerning Jesus. Today my pastor challenged us to tell our story and he gave some leading questions. I'm using this exercise to hone the communication of my testimony, but feel free to consider these questions to clarify yours as well.

1. What has God done in my life? God has done many things in my life... sovereignly placing me in the home of 2 loving parents, whose love for God is an example for me every day. God was so kind and gracious to reveal his redemptive plan to me at a young age and to pursue me until I committed myself to his lordship in 1977. Since then He has been at work - teaching me, changing me, ....ultimately sanctifying me with great patience, love, and wisdom. There have been many answered prayers through the years - prayers for health, wisdom, spiritual victory, courage in witnessing, help with everyday things (like the $50 my son lost and God helped us find). My list can go on and on. I am trying to commit more and more of my life to His care - as I realize and consider my actions and opportunities along life's way. God has done much and will continue to do much, as he tells me in Philippians 1:6, "that He who began a good work in (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus".

2. How has God changed me? As I was fairly young when God moved into my life, the outward changes may not have been as dramatic as for some - particularly when you consider the fact that prior to my conversion, my mom was teaching me to "live to please Jesus". I was a girl that liked to please those around me, so my life was often filled with "good works" - but not done for my God. Interestingly, about a year after God's salvation became meaningful to me, I can remember distinctly feeling the urgency of sharing my faith with my friends and doing so on the playground. I believe that was due to a changed heart. This burning passion to share the good news has continued and in the past months become one of my clearest missions in life. God has also granted me a deeper hunger for His word this past year, through reading the chronological One Year Bible. I have come to love God's words and I echo the psalmist: "For Your law is my delight" (Psalm 119:77) God still has much to change. I see it more and more and at times lament almost without hope. But I am inspired by Paul: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses... And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON..." (Romans 7:26-29) I'm glad God has the blueprints for my life and that He is sovereignly working things out. I just pray that we all offer ourselves to Him in the process (Romans 12:1,2).

This is much longer than I anticipated, so question 3 will have to wait for tomorrow.

God Made A Beauty!

My boys and I (husband included) went to Montana last week for some R&R (running and reading) and relaxation are simply not realistic with a 2 year old and 5 year old. As part of my bookbag, I had John MacArthur's latest book Twelve Extraordinary Women. My husband had ordered it (possibly hoping it would kick-start an oh so ordinary woman). I was so excited with the preface and introduction that my heart was licking up the words like mountain goats enjoy road-salt. John's reminders of God's perspective of women was good news for me, especially because the value of a woman had nothing to do with her "self-worth", her "self-image", her "profession", her "beauty", etc. Enjoy the following excerpts:
One of the unique features of the Bible is the way it exalts women. Far from ever demeaning or belittling women, Scripture often seems to go out of the way to pay homage to them, to ennoble their roles in society and family, to acknowlege the importance of their influence, and to exalt the virtues of women who were particularly godly examples......
(then he goes on to discuss the plight of women throughout they have been regarded as possessions, lesser citizens, mistreated and such)
Even when secular movements have arisen claiming to be concerned with women's rights, their efforts have generally been detrimental to the status of women. (his case in point: radical feminism)
The whole message of feminist egalitarianism is that there is really nothing extraordinary about women. That is certainly not the message of Scripture. As we have seen, Scripture honors women as women, and it encourages them to seek honor in a uniquely feminine way (Prov.31:10-30). Scripture never discounts the female intellect, downplays the talents and abilities of women, or discourages the right use of women's spiritual gifts. But whenever the Bible expressly talks about the marks of an excellent woman, the stress is always on feminine virtue. The most significant woment in Scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their character. The message these women collectively give is not about "gender equality"; it's about true feminine excellence.
Then in discussing the women he chose to include in the book,
all these women ultimately became extraordinary not because of any natural qualities of their own, but because the one true God whom they worshiped is great, mighty, glorious, and awesome, and He refined them like silver. He redeemed them through the work of an extraordinary Savior - His own divine Son - and conformed them to His image (Rom 8:29). In other words, the gracious work of God in their lives made each one of these women truly extraordinary.
John MacArthur ends the preface with an exhortation that our lives can also be extraordinary by the grace of God and that is my prayer for you!

Mom Enters 21st Century

I've been contemplating "blogging" for several weeks now....making the transition from "How do people have time for this?" to "This is an interesting way to communicate" to "I'd love to figure out how to start my own blog" (followed by "Honey, could you help me set this up?") And so here I sit, birthing...
My plans (subject to God's leading) are to explore the world of women with regards to "making a godly home".....which, in my life, ranges from personal spiritual growth to muffin recipes, homeschooling to "wifery", christian character development to cozy dinnertimes, mother-in-laws, ministry, housecleaning, and so on. God is teaching me every day and if I can share those lessons, then we have all grown closer to Him....which is the ultimate goal.
Titus had this to suggest to gals:
"admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." (Titus 2:4,5 NKJV)
These days the attack on the "profession" of Homemaker is unrelenting. Our governments attack it through taxations and legislations. Our media attacks it by their "glorification" of the working woman. Our society attacks it by their innocent questions: "What do you do outside the home?"
Now, I am not against women working "outside the home". In fact, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had to work as a florist, accountant, and radio announcer. However, I am wanting to make the case that God is calling us, as women, to consider our primary role of "enterprise" as the home....taking care of a husband, children, our own character....practicing hospitality, helping the needy, serving the body....and when these "priorities" are fulfilled, enjoying other ventures as suggested in Proverbs 31:24.
God loves us and wants the best for us. Let's consider what He is calling us to be.