Monthly Archives: January 2010

MM Meditation – A Good Father

(written Dec. 16, 2005)

Trials seem to be the path for Christian maturity.

Some trials in our lives are consequences from sin or a bad decision. If you drive impaired, you may get in an accident and harm yourself or others. If you don’t study diligently, you may not succeed in your studies. If you abuse your body with immorality, you may suffer natural consequences. If you abuse drugs and/or alcohol, you will abuse your body. If you don’t remain faithful or put enough love and effort into your marriage or offspring relationships, they may fail.

During a trial, we first need to search our heart to see if repentence will  bring relief.

However, after we have searched our hearts and do not see the suffering as a consequent for intentional sin,  our hearts may cry out to God. Sometimes accusingly, sometimes in lack of understanding, sometimes we just cry. And God hears.

“How can this be happening to me?” we have all asked. “Why?” or “Why me?”

We don’t have to know the answers to these questions, because we have the ability to know the very heart and character of God.

There, and there alone, is where our comfort will be. We need to trust the Savior and to allow the trials to wash over us, while enveloped in His victorious arms, our head upon His breast of love, and our hearts trusting in the One who can calm the storm.

We can never look at God our Father and think that because we are suffering that He is not a good God. Our circumstances are the exact proof that He is a good God and He is a good Father.

Teaching our children to ride a bike is a wonderfully exciting time for parent and child. We are thrilled that our child is learning one more skill on their way to adulthood, the child is excited to show their maturity by conquering some much-admired skill.

But, in the process of instructing,  have you ever let go of that little bicycle and your child has fallen? Have they ever been scraped or bumped because you let go? Did you put them back on the bike and make them try again? Did they fall again? I dare say yes, as the mother of six children, I have had my responsibility in many fallen riders. But, we KNOW if they don’t get back on, and if they don’t fall a few times, they WON’T learn to ride their bicycles. Does that make you a bad parent?

Have you ever watched your child  spend grueling hours practicing and conditioning for a sporting event, and have given their all during competition, at the expense to their body? Some kids  suffer broken bones, may vomit, suffer shinsplints and sprains, or may get dehydrated. Does that make you a bad parent because you allowed that?

Has your child neglected your advice then suffer serious consequences?  You could have stepped in, but you know that the best way for them to learn is to suffer the consequences. Does that make you a bad parent?

So, why are we, as parents, so quick to defend ourselves, and so quick to accuse a Holy and Loving God, our Heavenly Father, who desires, even more than we, good things for His children?

Matthew 7:9-11, “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Have we asked for patience? Have we asked to learn to hate our sin? Have we asked to be strenthened? Have we asked for faithfulness? We asked. He is answering the prayers by asking us,  as His children,  to earn it and learn it.

Do we not see that these trials are for our good?

Just as an earthly father would hold the bicycle, the Heavenly Father is walking beside us, carefully holding the circumstances of our lives, knowing just when to hold on so the ride is easy, knowing just when to let go, so that we will learn to hold ourselves up with the knowledge and faith He has given us.

He has promised to dwell within us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us.  He has promised His Word is always true, always unfailing, always perfect. He has promised salvation  freely offered to all through faith in Jesus Christ. He is always a good Father. He is always a Father to be trusted.

It is time for us to take off our training wheels in the path of suffering in our lives. Remember, the path leads to maturity.

Plans for an Unplanned Journey

Six years ago, we left 40 years of midwest living  and moved to the westcoast. 
It was a planned journey.
Very planned.
We packed, organized, gave away things.
We sold our house and arranged to rent a new one. 
I returned all my friends’ Tupperwares,
my daughters returned their friends’ clothes.
We even returned our library books.
I bought snacks and presents for the trip.
I packed special surprises into some of the boxes.
We enjoyed going away parties.
We gave and received presents from friends.
I made list after list,
determined to have no surprises,
no stone unturned.
I wanted the moving journey to be an adventure, an experience,
 a life-changing and faith-growing time for our family.
I knew planning well would accomplish this in our lives.
Six months after settling into our new destination,
we began another journey.
An unplanned journey.
A journey of faith.
My journey with thyroid cancer.
My friend, Kirsti, “gave” this verse to me in a card.  I clung to the promise, 
so as I approach another phase of the journey,
 I bought a plaque for my desk for a daily reminder.
It’s a journey that may have rests along the way,
but no immediate end in view.
I know one sure cure for cancer,
but I am not ready to die yet.  🙂
In October, I was given the word remission,
but I knew it was more of an emotional break my doctor knew I needed.
Two weeks ago I had my routine follow-up bloodwork.
Some numbers weren’t what they should be.
Not drastic, but not good, not what they need to be to fight cancer
 and to assure I don’t have cancer growing in my body.
Today, my husband is accompanying me to the hospital for further testing. 
I will be getting a chest x-ray, a sonogram on the lumps on my neck (they just never all go away)
and  a PET/CT scan.
Because my cancer has metasticized twice already,
 there has always been the concern it would return to other areas,
like the chest.
Part of me just never wants to worry about anything, just deal with it as it comes.
Another part of me knows that I can’t go into something unprepared.
I need to plan.
I think of these times of unknowing as my Gethsemene times.
I am waiting in the Garden,
knowing what I could be facing,
but saying
“Not my will, O Lord, but thine.”
But, I do pray for healing.
So, I plan for the journey.
I plan to be prospered,
to not be harmed,
 to be given a hope and a future.
Because, I want the cancer journey to be an adventure, an experience,
a life-changing and faith-growing time for our our family.
Because, I know His plans will accomplish this in our lives.
Halleluia, we serve a wonderful God!
Praise Him with me today!

Are You A Prude?

Proverbs 19:14, “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.”

Because prudent is not a word we use on a daily basis anymore, the spiritual richness  of our womanly heritage  can be lost without careful study.  When we hear “prudent” we often think of “prude.” This is the world’s mocking label for a woman who dresses and acts in a way to  show she’s not interested in immorality. To the Christian, being a “prude” in today’s sexually permissive society is still honorable, but it doesn’t encompass the depth of the character of a  godly wife provided by the Lord.

Using the definition from the original Greek word, given by Online Bible, a prudent woman has broad wisdom, insight,comprehension, and understanding, and is able to pass on her knowledge. What is inside shows up outside. She is properous, or successful, in all aspects of her moral and spiritual life.

Utilizing the principle of “first mentions” in the Scriptures, let’s go back to the first usage of  prudent in the Old Testament.   (Prudent is only one of the English words translated from the Greek word sakal.  The bold- faced words indicate the other English words used.)

Genesis 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise , she took the fruit, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband and he did eat.”

Eve desired to be wise, but she sought wisdom in the wrong place; in a place forbidden by the Lord.  Instead of wisdom, she gained spiritual death and separation from the presence of the Lord, as they were driven from the Garden. There was a high cost for her quest for worldly wisdom.

To paint a spiritual picture of  prudent, we’ll create a composite by looking at the various admonitions in the Scriptures.
Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”   A mouthful and a heartful of Jesus?  This isn’t what the world defines as a success.  You won’t be featured in Forbes, Fortune 500 or the Wall Street Journal.  But, your name will be written in the Book of Life and you will hear those knee-bowing, heart-worshipping words, “Well done, good and  faithful servant.” 

Think for a moment.  If we are saved, if we are faithful, we will hear these words from the Author of our salvation.  Does it cause your heart to burn within you in eager and humble anticipation and adoration?

Psalm 41:1, “Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.”  Poor doesn’t just refer to financial poverty, but poverty of soul.  Those who don’t have the Gospel are poor in Spirit.

Proverbs 10:19, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking: but he that refrains his lips is wise.”  She bites her tongue – until it bleeds!

Proverbs 16:20,”He that handles a matter wisely  willl find good: and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.”  In James we’re told we lack wisdom because we don’t ask.  It’s that simple? Just ask?  It’s that simple.  Want to be happy?  Trust in the Lord.  It’s that simple?  Just trust?  It’s that simple.

Proverbs 16:23, “The heart of the wise teacheth  his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.”  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, what is abounding in our hearts?  Are our hearts teaching our lips wisdom?

Proverbs 21:11, “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed  he receives knowledge.”  Knowledge of the Holy One comes in His Holy Word. 

There’s  one common theme – obedience to the Lord and His Holy Word. We need to  read, memorize, meditate, obey, teach and receive instruction.

The prudent wife from the Lord? She is one who has chosen the Lord, bears the marks of her obedience and bears fruit beneficial to all.

The Lord doesn’t randomly choose a woman and give her an instantaneous spiritual makeover.

 It is a reciprocating relationship.

If we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

If we seek to be holy, for He is holy, He gives us the help we need to be holy.

 If we call on Him, He will answer and show us great and mighty things which we know not.

But, as the clay, we have to put ourselves into His hands to be molded into a vessel fit for use.

Do you want to have good success while you consider the poor, refrain your lips, handle matters wisely, teach with your heart and receive knowledge?

Bible + Woman = Prudent

It’s that easy, really.

So…day vent ice fishin’, ya know

If you read carefully, following the given directions,
you will find yourself delightfully speaking
the vernacular of northern Minnesota. 
Warning:  It’s addicting.
FUR SHUR.
DIRECTIONS: 
1. If the letters are capitalized, speak a little louder, with a slight accent.
2. If the letters are hyphenated, draw it out.
3.  When vowels are long, they are pronounced  with a  long, full, round vowel tones.  Think BIG.  Think open mouth, insert vowel.
4. Short vowel sounds are usually followed by the schwa sound and a slight inflection.
ex.  mad  is pronounced ma-ud
5.  Long vowels are usually followed by the schwa sound.
ex. face is fA-us
6.  If all the letters are lower case and non-hyphenated, speak them in a sing-songy way.
7.  When a so is at the end of a sentence, or in the middle, or is the sentence,  it rises in pitch until it sounds like you are asking a question.  Of course, it is a question nobody will answer.
8.  The terms “ya, you betCHu”, “oh, fur Pete’s sAke,” and “Okie dOkie,” have a broad interpretation, anything from “I agree,” “I think you’re lying, but Scandinavians don’t call other Scandinavians liars,” or “yea, whatever you say.”
OWt on du lAke, dey drilleDT FIFte-en tousant holeS, dere on Cross Lake for du Ice fishin’ contest.
 Dey musta ha-ud holeS in dere headS.
It vas colt dat day. So….
Day say Tom CruiSe haS a cabin on dis here lA-uk,
but nobuddy seed him yet.
Fur shur, yu gotta uSe (s not z) bait, ya know, yu get dat down at du gasstashun, ya know.
dOnchu tink Jon (Yon) looks like he’S havin u goot time?
Ya, you betCHu, GramPU PIE-U he’S havin u goot time.
(I hope that is something Finnish having to do with Grandfather…
…that’s what I’ve always been told)
Sumbuddy’s gittin’ a littull chillE dere, fur shur.
Yu know, dem dere city slickers ain’t cut OWt fur du MinneSNOWta winterS,
ennymore, ya know.
Oh, fur Pete’s sAke. 
Sumbuddy got  a little bort and made a pond fur du bA-ut.
Fur cU-uht, dat dere be my littull boy, Jon.
I dont tink dis lookS lI-uk fun,
but dem menfolk, day vood do ennyting to get outSide in the vinter.
Donchu voory ladees, dey onlee vay du feesh.
Tree generAshuns of great white feeshermen.
Fur cryin OWt loudt, day got skunked dis here day.
So didt all du udder feeshermen.
Dey onlee gafe uvay seventE fIfe priSeS dat day.
It vas so colt, Even du lawyers had dere hands in dere own pockets, ya know.
Fur shur.
*************
My Mother-In-Law gave me some great advice when I married her son,
a born and bred Minnesotan.
1. Don’t gut a deer.
2. Don’t clean a fish.
3. Don’t use the grill.
Because once you do,
you will always have to do it.
Wise, wise woman.
She  knowS how tu be u MinneSOtun voomun.

Everything HAD A Place….

for about six hours.

I worked diligently, almost obsessively,  all weekend to bring order to my kitchen and dining room.  I stayed up late, since hubby was out of town,  to finish and start the week with a fresh new look. I wanted everything to have a place and everything be in its place for my new week.

My whole week was certainly going to be improved with the fresh, new look.

My attitude would certainly be much improved as I was surrounded by beauty and order.

My kids’ attitudes would surely be improved as they worked in serene, picturesque, magazine-worthy setting.  Doesn’t outward tranquility produce inward tranquility?

My husband would return to the transformed house and praise me endlessly.

I guess not.

My first phone call was a recorded message at 6am informing me my husband’s flight home had been cancelled.  My 7am call was my hubby.  My 8am phone call was Servicemaster, they were coming to fix the water damage. Remember, I was up almost till 2am.

You might remember our wondrous welcome home after a week vacation in California. Our kitty was accidentally left inside for a week and our dishwasher leaked.  All the way to the bedroom below. Yea, double OOPS.

I got a fresh new look in my kitchen,  alright.

They set up their equipment and my vision of my orderly home was clouded by the obnoxious noise of fans and motors.
Everything has a NEW place.
My husband was on an  ice-fishing trip with son, Boy Wonder. They planned to  fly  home early on Monday to  arrive before rush hour traffic and spend a nice quiet evening with family. He wanted to return to work on Tuesday rested.

He didn’t count on a major storm blowing through the midwest and cancelling their flight and their rescheduled flight.  The guys caught the last flight home, arriving after midnight to a very disorderly house.

We all have plans.  We all have good plans.  Our Monday was nothing like we planned. We had good plans.

Sometimes we get Bible verses confused with wishing stars.  We put human understanding and reasoning where faith, trust and the Lord’s will should prevail. 

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” 

We can be fooled into thinking that if we make plans, good plans with good motives, pray about it, it will happen just that way.  Sometimes it does.  Most of the time it doesn’t.  Did we do anything wrong? 

No.  Let’s go a few verses ahead.

Verse 9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

It doesn’t mean we get our way.  It means, plans succeed because the Lord’s will is done.

He just might have a better plan.

A plan that includes temporary inconveniences and changed human plans.

A plan that includes teaching a saint
to be thankful in all things,
to pray in all things,
to rejoice in all things,
to worship in all things.

A plan that includes
conforming a saint to the image of Christ,
burning away dross,
building endurance,
perfecting faith
and causing them to draw nearer
to His Precious bleeding side.

We sing the songs,
we pray the prayers,
we sometimes just fail to see
how His plans are succeeding in our life.

Don’t we say, “Not MY will, but THY will, Oh Lord.”  Do we mean it?

On Monday, our plans succeeded, because our day went according to His plans for our lives.  I don’t have to know WHY my dishwasher leaked or why the flights were cancelled.

In some ways, the day went smoother than most Mondays. We got school done early.  The laundry was done.  Some shopping was done.  The lack of physical order in our home didn’t affect us, just inconvenienced us.  We worked around it, thankful the damage was being repaired.  We were thankful the guys were safe, even though they would be in an airport for several extra hours.

On Monday, I planned my course, but the Lord determined my steps.

My whole week is certainly going to be improved with the fresh, new look path.

My attitude would certainly be much improved as I was surrounded by beauty and  the God of order.
My kids’ attitudes would surely be improved as they worked in serene, picturesque magazine-worthy God-honoring setting. Doesn’t outward tranquility produce inward tranquility?

My husband would return to the transformed house  woman and praise me the Lord endlessly.

Because, I understand, as much as I LOVE organization,
it isn’t really the physical order in my home that gives me peace,
it’s abiding faithful
on the path
the God of all peace
has ordered for my life.

Has the Lord ever changed your plans for His?

Everything Has A Place….

….And Everything In Its Place.

I am determined that Everything Will Have a Place. I love order, I crave order, I need order to function.

I am also determined to clean as I go.  I didn’t do spring or fall cleaning and am paying for it. I just need the house to be clean and orderly to enable our family to function at our fast pace a little more efficiently.

We have lived in our “new” house five years and I feel like I really haven’t moved in.  I still haven’t found everything, and I don’t feel like there is logical order in the house.  I dream that I will create such order, that my hubby and kids will “find” things on their own and put them away where they found them.  Remember that lofty high school graduation theme, “If You Can Dream It,  You Can Achieve It?”  I’m still dreaming, but the achieving part is a little elusive.

Starting in the kitchen on Saturday, I thought it would take just a morning.  Two days later, I am still working.

I am rearranging cupboards for efficiency.  I am throwing out things.  I am donating things to the thrift store.  I am putting things away in other parts of the house. I am cleaning cupboards inside and out.

Moving in when you have already moved in is challenging, but I am determined to win.

I don’t want just a place for the useful things, but also for the decorative things.  Some things haven’t been unpacked for several moves.  They need to be used, put back into storage carefully labeled, or properly disposed of.

I finally cleaned the top of my fridge.  Early in my marriage, it didn’t even occur to me that the top of the fridge had to be cleaned.  After all, I never saw it.  I am only 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Then, we had company.  A six foot tall man named Al.  He saw the top of my fridge and got the giggles.  He looked way down on me and realized why the top of my fridge was furry. Then, he felt bad because he laughed at me.  For the past 20 years, when I have cleaned the top of my fridge, I have thought of Al.  I was SO thankful he said something!
Sunday was Think of Al Day. I cleaned the top of my fridge. Al is married to the wise woman, Connie, who has been a godly Titus 2 woman in my life. 
I removed some vintage coffee tins and added the two vintage picnic baskets.  One holds baby/toddler paraphenalia  (cups, dishes, bibs, silverware) that  grandchildren and young visitors will need.  It isn’t a daily need, so they had to be away but accessible.  The other basket  is waiting for inspiration.
The “baby drawer” in the kitchen became the holding place for the toaster, the electric knife and the blender, which were all cleverly hidden in separate places throughout the house.
                                        
I dug out some of my favorite graniteware and cast iron  items for a display on my buffet.

                             
My cherished vintage tins were pulled from the garage and given a place in the dining room.
 
My antique lanterns were placed on top of the hutch with my quirky birds from my dear Indian friend, Krupa.
Monday begins another school day, but a continuation of my passion to clean and organize.  I will tackle Rebekah’s school area while she is doing school.  I will sort through magazines while she is quietly waiting. I will continue this week and next until I am happy that we are running efficiently.
I crave order because it is my nature.
I also crave order because it is my Father’s nature.
1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
As I try to make my home subject to me, it is a reminder of the same battle we have with our flesh, trying to make it subject to our spirit.
We need to be orderly in our marriage.  We need to be orderly in the church.  We need to be orderly in our homes.  That means, we follow the Lord’s order that He has established in the Bible.
Just as we bring order to our homes by creating a space for everything, we bring order to our spiritual lives by creating a space for everything.
We need a space in our day to read our Bibles.  We need a space in our day to pray.  We need a space in our day to encourage our family members.  Make your own list for your own life.  What do you need to create space for?
We see our physical needs easily and can clean, craft and organize our way into peaceful, functioning order.  As we’re working on physical order in our lives, let’s ask the Lord to give us eyes to see what needs order in our spiritual lives as well.
This blog will be linked  to Nan’s blog, momstheword , for her Making Your Home Sing Monday! Join me there to find out what other bloggers are doing to sing their Monday blues away!

MM Meditation – The Robe of the Crucifixion

As our Lord walked this earth, He came in touch with three items that He would encounter again on His day of crucifixion – the scourge, the thorns and the robe.

As He encounters each item, He attacks the lies and the false relgion that it represents.

Each of these items revisited Him in a painful way, yet He died, was buried and rose victorious over the symbols and the sin, and presented a simple way for mankind to shed off all the man-made trappings of religion and approach the God of Heavens for salvation, simply by faith.
Crucifixion

ROBES (Religion for Show)

When the Lord Jesus watched the religious leaders strutting around the temple in their robes, He openly rebuked their love for show. Their pride choked out their faith, and they esteemed the outward symbols and rituals of the religion more than their God.

He noticed they loved to be seen  in their flowing robes,  the bells on the bottom to announcing their self-importance, and marking their prestigious position. They were proud their clothing set them apart.

Instead of their robes setting them apart as those who loved the Lord and were called to serve the people,  they set themselves apart in superiority and abused their power to take advantage of the weak.   They garments that should have symbolized consecration, symbolized pride.

The Lord Jesus rebuked them in the Temple.

Mark 12:38-40
“Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,  the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,  who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Then, there was another robe.

Not a robe flowing around a self-righteous hypocrite, but a robe stained with blood flowing for unrighteous sinners.

Luke 23:11, “Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.”

Did His flowing robe, glued to His back with His own blood, remind the religous hypocrites of His rebuke for their garments of pride? They could not see He was the fulfillment of all their prophecies, their hopes, their dreams their longings.  They distained His humble ways.

He warned of  damnation for loving the showy symbols of their religion.

I wonder, when the sun was dying in the west, and the Son was dying on the cross, if the jangle of bells could be heard  in the stillness of the evening, as those religiously robed men walked away from the scene of their making?

Today, are we wearing religious trappings and performing religious ceremonies, without having the heart of faith and obedience demanded by the Lord?

We may not be wearing robes, but we might be carrying titles, offices, or positions of spiritual leadership that we wear as a robe of pride, instead of a symbol of consecration.

We may be performing the duties and obligations of Christianity without having the true heart of faith.  We have nothing to offer Him but sinful, broken lives. Even after salvation, we have nothing to offer Him but redeemed lives.  We must be humble in our service and duties.

We might be trusting in something other than faith in the blood of Jesus for our salvation. If so, then we are throwing the robe of religion for show over the body crucified for our sins.

May we heed the rebuke of the Lord Jesus Christ and  be clothed only in the righteousness of Christ through faith, and the robes of religion for show.  May the trappings of religion fall from us, as we seek after only true faith and the practices in His Holy Word.

If we stray from the Savior and His Word, our  pride and self-rightousness will become a  robe of show that jangles hypocrisy in the ears of those around us.

If we abide in Him, we shall be clothed  in a robe – in a white robe of righteousness, purchased with His blood.

Read  Part I – The Scourge of the Crucifixion
Read Part II – The Thorns of the Crucifixion