A Hard Week’s Blessings

My cousin Jamie has inspired me to count my blessings!! I’m involved in a couple of family e-loops. So many of my loved ones are spread across the globe, so recently we’ve tried to update each other daily if possible. So my cousin’s email today listed several hardships followed by “But Praise the Lord anyway” kind of comments. Oh man, could I relate. So I’m going to humble myself here and share some real struggles I’ve had this past week. There is something about knowing that other people face similar hurdles and challenges that makes the heart lift. Especially when one can see God’s hand carrying you through it all.

Cousin Jamie’s mention of worn out tires and her winter is upon us “woes” could have been written by me…because we are SO not prepared to heat our place with corn prices all over the grid and our wood burning fireplace insert not working…add to that the fact that our bank account and total cash on hand hovered at $3 this past week, etc… And fleas have descended upon our acreage, which includes my oldest daughter’s 8 brand new pups that can’t be flea-treated until they are 12 weeks of age…it’s HORRIBLE. (FYI, this is the first year we haven’t treated all our dogs with Bio-spot…and someone brought dogs on the premises that had fleas…ugh…now we know how awful they are to deal with–they are unstoppable! And EXPENSIVE to treat so many dogs)

Oh, and speaking of dogs and challenges…I will probably have a dead chicken in the morning. One flew the coop and two of our dogs were playing tug of war with her. Grr.

BUT…here are my blessings…

  • Apples, thousands of them have passed through my hands in the past week and just today, someone delivered 3 crates and 1 huge Rubbermaid tub FULL of even more! And my mom has already offered to come over on Tuesday and help me process them!
  • Two checks came in on Weds…that added up to $5 more than we needed to cover our automatically debited electric bill which was coming out of the account on Thursday! Isn’t that a miracle?!? (believe me, we were praying for this exact amount to arrive before Thursday’s debit!!! and weren’t sure it would–the bummers of self-employment projects! You get paid on other people’s timetables)
  • Hubby was given some birthday money on Weds, that helped immensely in purchasing much needed gas, etc. Honestly, I don’t know how we can afford to go anywhere.
  • Another check came in the mail Friday, payment for stud service one of our Border Collie males provided…and we desperately needed that money to pay a hay bill off this month! I was able to get this payment in the mail Saturday morning…so it will get to its destination before the due date–WHEW!
  • I was sick about not having a gift or card for the wedding we planned on attending today, but God provided BOTH a card AND a gift w/o me even taking it to Him in coherent prayer (the HS took care of that one, I’m sure He transposed my anxious thoughts over to a petition for me!) ;O)
  • I’m coordinating a triple baby shower to come off this Weds morning for the three moms in our homeschool group that recently had babies…and was convicted about delegating a bunch of the provisions (cake/punch ingredients/large baskets to house all the small gifts we’re opting for people to bring in lieu of normal sized gifts–since it’s a triple shower, plates, table service, napkins, cups…the list goes on and on)…so I sent out a mass email to the homeschool group and TONS of ladies have signed up for things! One of the only things left was that I really wanted a bunch of colored plastic tablecloths. I knew they would add perfectly to the decor (which was also free–I’m reusing the centerpieces our church used recently for a double baby shower I helped plan). So on Weds night, w/o me saying a word, when we were at my mil’s house for hubby’s b-day supper, she asked me if I could use any of the decorations she’d just bought and used for a large sales dinner they’d just hosted. In the box of stuff were a whole STACK of yellow plastic tablecloths that have only been used ONCE!!!!! This was all the more incredible b/c that very day my thoughts worried constantly over how I was going to procure about 15 plastic tablecloths! (Be anxious for nothing, anyone??? By now you all know that’s my favorite verse, right?)
  • Today between church and leaving for the wedding, I eeked out time on the net to research natural remedies for fleas and found that Apple Cider Vinegar and Borax can work wonders…so we sprayed some ACV on the pups and can you believe it, it seems to be working! No fleas in sight tonight. We also made a flea trap in their pen, with a work light hanging low over a big tub of Borax and dishsoap water. The fleas are attracted to the light and drop into the water to die. DIE. DIE.
  • Also today, we had someone come by and put $50 down to hold one of the pups till they are old enough to wean! They are less than a week old! And no quibbling over the $300 my oldest is asking for her females!

There’s probably more, actually, there is more. Saving the BEST for last.

Last week on the way to church, we tuned into our favorite country gospel station and dh and I got to talking about our favorite songs of this type…I mentioned that about 7 years ago I’d heard one with the refrain, “Jesus on the Main Line, tell Him what you want” and it came at one of those times when the needs were high and the funds were low, and I remember it really ministering hope to my spirit…oh the tears spilled that day, on the way to church–the tears were a mix of joy and overburdened despair–kind of a desperate refrain of hope. Anyway…that memory last Sunday came and went, and in the car w/o telling anyone, I prayed, “Lord, would you put that song on the radio today? It would really bless me to know that if it plays, it’s a special gift from you to me…”

Well, we made it to church last Sunday and it didn’t play. And I kind of smiled inwardly at my audacious faith-request to Almighty God…knowing, of course, that He doesn’t need to immediately answer a spontaneous prayer of mine to prove His love for me. But the story isn’t OVER! Today on the way to church, we tuned into that station and GUESS what??? For the first time in 7 years, in *my* hearing anyway…they played that song again and I actually got in on the whole thing!!! It was like, God wanted to know if I could be okay with waiting. OR something deeper and more profound. Anyway, it was a special confirmation to me that God listens and hears and delights in blessing us in even simple ways…so TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT, okay??? He just delights in us asking.

Anyone else want to share how God’s blessed them this past week?

P.S. See the lyrics to my Main Line song below…just for kicks.

Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

You can call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
You can call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
Call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

Hey, Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

Hey, if you’re sick and you want to get well, tell Him what you want
Oh, if you’re sick and you want to get well, tell Him what you want
Oh, if you’re sick and you want to get well, tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

Hey, Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on teh main line, tell Him what you want
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

Hey, Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

Homework

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been so thankful for a good stove this week. For instance, on Tuesday several good friends came over and apple peels and paring knives flew as we processed several gallons of homemade applesauce and a big batch of pie filling. Every burner on my stove had a big kettle in action, we were cookin’!

Earlier that day I’d baked home-made bread, and that evening for supper I mixed up a double batch of biscuits. The poor stove really got a work-out, but it made the grade. What would I do without it? I shrivel up at the thought!

When I think of household appliances that I can’t live without, I usually think of my refrigerator or my washing machine. I can hardly imagine the pre-electricity era, perhaps that’s why I love historical fiction…my fascination with the nuts and bolts of everyday living in the pioneer days and beyond. Those women had more reason than any of us to be depressed and despairing at circumstances, but weren’t afforded time for that “luxury”! So far from home and no neighbors to speak of…just their husband, children and the prairie winds howling in the draws. Dirt floors, big gardens, hauling water, no doctors, no post office, no internet, no grocery store or microwave to thaw last minute supper ideas…no antidepressants or Excedrin Migraine.

I think the hardness of life was their salvation. I mean, really. When you have the immense challenge of staying alive and providing for your family, you relish the job. Those women were survivors. Would they understand our pitiful excuses for credit card debt, messy homes and unruly children? Doubtful. When we can do all of our housework at the push of a button, housework that nubbed our ancestors’ knuckles to the bone? Touch-tone convenience at our fingertips, and we feel so unfulfilled with life. So worn out and exhausted by minor details.

Why not be exhilarated by the mundane in our lives? Sure we do so many loads of laundry a day and it does seem pointless at times…but there’s nothing like that fresh laundry smell and knowing your husband rolls out of bed each morning to crisp, clean-scented clothes. He may not say anything, but you can bet he appreciates it! For every mind-numbing chore, there is a blessing to be found. I’m convinced. My point is, look for the amazing and you’ll find and cherish it. Every time. It’s a mindset worth cultivating. Your children will thank you, because, hopefully, they’ll pick it up from your good vibes!

As I grow older, I’m seeing how precious this life is to me. Maybe this awe of life hits everyone in their thirties, but I feel so humbled by the blessings surrounding me–this year especially. Maybe God is working the knots loose in my soul, but whatever it is that causes happy tears to come at a moment’s notice, I’m reveling in the richness of life. A strong good man at my side, three thoughtful and loving children, an awesome extended family…this country life that has me wrapped around its every wild and rambling rocky way.

Strangely, a new part of me has come to life, one that is half afraid that this dewy morning dawn perspective of life is God’s way of spoiling me before tragedy strikes. I don’t know, but whatever the future holds…

I’m going to smile at my four year old’s sleepy “good mornings”…

I’m going to swell up right alongside my children’s achievements…

I’m going to sing to my chickens…

…and coo at my flowers

I’m going to embrace every shake of the apple tree…

I’m going to enjoy new and old friendships, be awed by God’s miracles, be amazed at His repeated grace in my fumbled outpourings.

And I’m going to do my homework. Because I find that the older I get, the more pleasure there is to be found in keeping things simple. Caring for me and mine and doing whatever the day and God requires of me…that’s my great commission.

Never underestimate the power of contentment, kindness and grace. With these three in your apron pocket, life can be full indeed…

Homeschool Teachers, Get Free Coffee at Starbucks on Monday

That’s right! I received this in my inbox today, all you need is proof that you are a homeschooler. I says, would having school aged children in tow during school hours be proof enough? 😉 Probably not!

Thank you, Starbucks! Unfortunately for me, I won’t be near a Starbucks on Monday, unless I can plan a school day in the “city” with friends there…hint, hint anyone??? And for those of you about to remind me that I gave up coffee almost two years ago…I still indulge once in a long while…

Pass this news along to all your teacher friends!

This coming Monday, September 29, homeschool parents will be able to
pick up a complimentary tall size (12 fl. oz.) cup of Pike Place Roast
from Starbucks.

This promotion is part of Starbucks “Great Start for Great Teachers”
promotion, and is now open to all teachers.

HSLDA intervened when we were alerted that homeschool parents were not
included in the promotion.

We are pleased that Starbucks is recognizing the contribution of
homeschool parents by extending their program to us.

In order to pick up your free cup of Pike Place Roast you will need to
present evidence that you are a homeschooler.

Any one item on the following list should be accepted by Starbucks:

  • Home School Legal Defense Association membership card.
  • Membership card from a state homeschooling organization.
  • Notification from a school district or state government recognizing compliance with compulsory attendance.
  • Paperwork submitted showing intent to establish a homeschool program.
  • Paperwork showing the establishment of a private school.

If you don’t have one of the items on this list be creative and try to
provide other proof of homeschooling.

Please note: the final decision about whether to accept proof of homeschooling resides with Starbucks.

God’s Call to Parents

This verse is a call to all parents, but it especially resonates to me, a simple home-school mom who needs reminders from time to time, that this work God has given *me* is crucial to my children’s earthly and eternal futures.

“‘And these words, which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.'” Deuteronomy 6:6, 7

Pretty sobering directive, especially considering how little time is left for God at the end of a typical day…not to mention the other three settings in which He’s wanting us to teach His word to our children.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 1:16, 17; 2:2, 3

The secret treasures of wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Jesus Christ! This verse makes the first one come alive. There aren’t enough hours in all our days to teach our loved ones the glory of God and the masterpieces of His creation.

What a challenge!

Blog Tour: Sweet September

Welcome to the Sweet September Blog Tour!!!

Tricia Goyer has written her first contemporary novel, and it’s a wonderful read!  As you know I’ve blogged here before about her awesome books, both her non-fiction Generation NeXt titles, My Life Unscripted, and her historical  fiction Spanish Civil War novels, but I’ve always wondered what a contemporary setting would read like when written up by this fantastic author. I sure wasn’t disappointed. Sweet September is a real-to-life look at the adventures and challenges of a multi-generational farm family, and from the outset, it feels authentically Goyer-esque!

Sweet September is the second in the Home to Heather Creek series put out by Guideposts. Book one is Before the Dawn by Carolyne Aarsen. Both are great reads, but just so you know, Sweet September stands alone just fine!

About Tricia’s latest book:

Harvest time at Heather Creek Farm is an exciting time, but the kids don’t seem to be getting into the spirit. One day while he’s wandering through the fields, Christopher stumbles across an old piece of metal buried in the ground. He doesn’t know what it is, but he hides it in the shed.

That night, the garden by the house is uprooted. Who could have done such a thing? Charlotte is determined to find out, but is distracted when she gets news that Sam is failing school. The sullen teen is indifferent and won’t study. He starts spending a lot of time with Pete. Though she loves her son dearly, Pete never finished high school, and Charlotte is afraid he’ll encourage Sam to do the same. How can she help him get back on track?

A gripping story that examines the Stevenson family’s history as well as its shaky future, Sweet September will bring you deeper into the loving community of Bedford and the deep ties of love that bind this broken family together. As they forge new connections, you’ll be entertained, inspired, and reminded that God’s grace can make all things new.

About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of twelve books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children’s book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions.  She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana.

And hey! Tricia provided me with a give-away copy of Sweet September, so be sure to leave a comment here to get entered in my drawing!

Important Links:

Visit Tricia’s website

Since Sweet September is all about family, Tricia wants to learn about yours! Enter her Blog Tour contest by writing a comment entry here detailing who your favorite family member is (excluding spouse and kids) and why, and earn a chance at this adorable Pumpkin Harvest Loaf pan and Quick Bread set!

Tricia’s It’s Real Life blog

To see what others are saying about Sweet September, check out the BlogTour Schedule

Buy the book here!

Update at 2 A.M.

I like my house after midnight. Sure, come tomorrow I’ll wish I’d been sleeping–especially since the alarm is going to blare around 4:30 A.M. at which point I’ll have to jump from deep slumber and get my two older girls up and dressed in cowgirl apparel so they can rodeo with Daddy at work today. Sigh…can you hear me yawning in advance here? Well, I can fully blame myself. The reason I’m rambling here at 2:20 in the morning? I began my cinnamon cucumber ring project without mentally registering the full soaking times for my cukes. I actually forgot they needed to soak for three hours in ice water before simmering for 2 hours on the stove. And I remembered that around 10 P.M. Yeah, wish I’d thought of that earlier in the day, but I knew I needed to get to the grocery store for cinnamon red hot candies before beginning the syrup, so I didn’t even double check the recipe. So sad. I have about one hour left to watch them simmer before throwing together the syrup recipe. So there’s the wherefores.

I just sneaked a “Cream Cheese Spiral”–easy to do in a sleeping household! This delicious tea-time canape with a streusel-type filling all rolled up into a croissant looking treat is Yum! My ten year old found the recipe in The Cookie and Biscuit Bible she gave me last Christmas. I’m in awe that she likes to try these tricky recipes all-by-herself. Yesterday she made a chocolate mint cookie that required her to boil sugar water to hard ball stage. And we don’t own a candy thermometer. She figured it all out and now we have these Christmas-y tasting chocolates with a crunchy peppermint chew to them. Delicious. And horrible for my “diet”.

Yes, I began exercising again three days ago…after taking the last month off. You remember my poison sumac incident? That kept me off the equipment for a week, and by the time I was feeling great again, we were full swing into homeschooling. I stepped on the scales with bated breath last week after avoiding them like the doctor and couldn’t believe I hadn’t gained much of anything. Did I ever update here and tell you guys I’d lost thirty pounds this summer?

My mommy moment this week came yesterday when my 8 year old proudly brandished a stack of spiral notebook pages under my nose, titled, “My Horse, Midnight”…she’d been secretly writing a “book”! It has five chapters, each chapter is half a page long in tiny, neat handwriting and accompanied by detailed illustrations! It’s got bad guys, intrigue, clues and lots of exclamation points!!! The COOL and awesome thing about this is that my 8 year old is finally coming around to scholarly pursuits! It’s been a long road to get to this place. She loves it when I read to her, but she’s only this year gotten past the hump of reading because she HAS to for school, to reading because she WANTS to for pleasure. I can’t tell you how many times last year I threw in the towel to God and hubby, telling myself that it wasn’t worth the angst. It’s a tough act to be your child’s teacher. Sometimes you just want to be the nice guy. You know how ecstatic the kids get when daddy arrives home from work at the end of a long day? Well, the 24-7 homeschooling mom is lucky to get the crumbs off the royal table–and SHE prepared all the food!

You know…this year it’s all paying off. In some ways it’s even more thrilling because I’m so acutely aware of how hard it was last year.  To be able to coast through 6-8 hours a day of school and enjoy 98% of it so much we don’t realize that time is flying as opposed to watching my then 7 year old fight tears over every little brain flex! Last week, I got up from the couch (where we do the majority of our schoolwork), went to the kitchen to pop some popcorn for an “afternoon” snack and I happened to check the time: 6 P.M.! We had no idea it was that late!

So this story she wrote was a milestone of sorts. She’s writing in. her. free. time. Amazing. Not only that, but her math facts are clicking, she’s reading for pleasure and to her little sister. So true that each child learns at their own pace, and some just aren’t ready as early as others. So hang in there, moms and dads. Don’t judge every child by your firstborn.

Well, my cucumbers are calling me. I hope I can see straight in the morning, I have a whole lot on the agenda. With the older girls spending the day with their daddy, I decided to fix a bunch of meals for the freezer. BBQ Meatballs, Chicken Lasagna, and Pizza Pockets to be exact. Hoping for time to mix up a couple buckets of my mom’s refrigerator Ice Box muffins, and just maybe get around to making pear-apple sauce out of the box full on my back porch…oh yeah, and at some point, I’ll have to can up the cinnamon cukes.

If I can prop my eyelids open, that is!

Have a great Tuesday!

Exploring Biblical Hospitality, Part 2

Friday’s post on practicing hospitality with strangers was actually a ramble. A ramble prompted by our family’s decision to ratchet up our personal dedication to loving each other. If you can’t count on your family in a pinch, who can you count on anyway?

Remember my theme verse for this series?

1 Peter 4:9, “Practice hospitality without complaint.”

Practicing Hospitality Within Your Family

We’ve all heard the maxim, “Treat your family better than you treat your friends.” Consider 1 Peter 4:9 and weep! Without complaint, people! Practicing hospitality with each other without complaint. Yes, you’ve just padded zombie-style down the hallway for the tenth time tonight to ease your child’s fears.  Yes, you’re really too busy to stop and admire the tree frog for the hundredth time already. Um, honey, are you ever going to have time to fix the leaking pipes in the bathroom–I’m wading in here! How about, MORE homework? What do you DO all day in school?

Imagine if we treated our immediate family members with the same consideration and respect as we treat our guests! Ah the patience and teeth-gritting that sometimes requires. (Can you read between the lines here, inner complaining going on big-time!) It’s hard, even on a good day! Impatience often wells up in me with my own children, while with others, I have no problem keeping it reined in and presenting a gracious front…a harsh reality.

The Rest of The Story…

So my husband read 1 Peter 4:9 to us, and in trying to apply it to our theme of “complaining and whining” we started sharing ways we could be kinder and more thoughtful around here.

It’s pretty easy to “count the ways”. I pointed out how much more willing and helpful our older girls are when they are in other people’s homes vs here in our home. They pointed out that our before-bed prayer time is more rushed than they appreciate. (Me to them: Yeah, honeys, all kids wish they could push bedtime back indefinitely. Ha.)

So this past week some good changes have come about. For starters, my oldest has been sweetly thoughtful about taking on extra chores without being asked. She’s become a laundry sergeant. If fabric softener needs added to the wash water, she’s on the job! She’s also insisting on letting the chickens out to their coop each morning, which really has helped me out now that we’re “back-to-school”. My middle daughter is the bed-making sleuth. She takes great joy in making her sisters’ beds when they’re not looking.

But the best change of all is that hubby announced a new grand plan for bedtime. Once the girls have brushed teeth and donned PJs, we meet each night in the living room for a mini-Bible study which we wrap up with bedtime prayers and hugs while still in the living room, and then make short work of packing the kiddos off to bed with youngest still getting the special tucking in time. And all this from a discussion about how we could be “more hospitable without complaint” around here.

So what are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever considered this “without complaint” directive specifically in light of hospitality?

Exploring Biblical Hospitality, Part 1

We’ve had some sickness this past week. Head colds. The blahs. Last weekend, after a particularly whiny and complaint-filled morning, my dh decided to make “complaining” the subject of a “here and now” home Bible study. Using the appendix in the back of his Bible, he quickly looked up several scriptures and read them to us…and this one from 1 Peter really spurred an interesting conversation!

1 Peter 4:9,”Be hospitable without complaint”…

Sure, at first read-through, taking this verse at face value simply verifies what we all know: Christians should practice hospitality. But the “without complaint” part deserves equal consideration!

Practicing Hospitality With Strangers

My Unger’s Bible Dictionary makes the interesting point that Biblical hospitality focuses largely on reaching out to the strangers among us. Read the following in light of 1 Peter 4:9, “Practice hospitality without complaint.”

Luke 14:12-14, “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'”

Job 31:32, “”The alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.”

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:35-36

Hebrew 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

I don’t know about you, but it somewhat daunts me, considering the times we live in, this idea of welcoming strangers in my home. However, the flip side is that kind acts by strangers are not soon forgotten. I’ll forever remember the time our small town librarian introduced me to another homeschooling mom browsing in the library. Five minutes of chatting later, I found myself promptly invited over for grilled cheese and Campbell’s soup–that same day!

My brother shared recently what he calls a “God Appointment”. He stopped to help a family stranded by the roadside. The car’s owner said at the outset, “This is God’s car and it’s in His hands”…to which my brother replied, “That’s great if you access God’s car through His Son Jesus Christ!”

This family ended up being a homeschooling family, the father is a prison chaplain, and they spent two or three days hanging out with my brother and his wife and kids (who also homeschool), having a great time while the car was in the repair shop. And my brother just about didn’t stop to help them. Ultimately, he felt convicted that if it had been his family, he’d have wanted someone to help them. Well, strangers they may have been, but it was family…brothers and sisters in Christ!

Hospitality is more than just opening your home up to others. It’s opening up your heart. We should do this everywhere. In the line at Wal-mart. At the park. On vacation. At church. We may do it with trepidation but we’ve got to do it without pride, without prejudice, without expectations, without complaint.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” Pretty straight-forward stuff.

Part 2 on Monday… Practicing Hospitality Within Your Family

Our family pow-wow about “practicing hospitality without complaining” brought about some Divine changes!

Great Marriage Advice

Earlier this year I was blog-gathering at all my favorite stops and came across a powerful comment made in response to a post…the testimony in this comment is awesome, and I contacted the author and asked for her permission in sharing it here with you all. Hope it blesses!

Sharon said…

Hi there.. I have hope for you!!

It is possible to resurrect your marriage!!

Our marriage has got so much better.. and sometimes I could just almost burst for the happiness I feel because it just keeps getting better!!

Here is what I did..

I started to faith talk in prayer about him.. No longer would I talk about his faults.. no matter how many there were.. I spoke blessings over his life.. I still speak blessings over those things I want to see come to pass..

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Apologise for anything that you have said that has cursed him.. I don’t just mean swear words.. but anything that could/would open the door for the evil one.. Even being angry and saying how you feel can hurt him.. I say this because your happiness.. and dreams cannot rest on him.. they must rest with the Lord.. Nobody else can bring us peace and joy like Jesus can.. That is a big burden to carry trying to please someone..

The thing is.. God loves your husband as much as He loves you.. and you have faults too.. When God looks at you.. He isn’t trying to see your faults.. but He loves you because you are you!! And He pours Himself out to you because He loves you.. :)

You need to start loving your husband that way too.. The way God loves you.. I know there is anger.. hurt.. disappointment.. maybe bitterness.. I had all those.. but love like the 1 Corinthians 13 love overlooks those things.. and is patient.. kind.. gentle… long suffering..

Speak good about him in front of your children.. with your friends and let him hear you do that.. and praise him for all that he is doing right and praise God for his being with you and for him.. Even if you can only think of one thing to say well of him.. Do so!! I know there will be healing here..

Think of how good it feels when someone praises you.. builds you up.. start doing that for your husband.. It makes me cry tears to think of that sort of love.. especially if we might not deserve it..

Ask God to help you do this too.. It does work.. I don’t know what will happen for you both and how.. but I know love works..

That kind of love drew me to God.. and it helps me love my husband and find the joy of marriage.. and my husband has changed so much.. It really had nothing to do with me.. I just loved him and spoke well about him.. I know God did the rest..

He has become a friend and attentive to my needs and I now enjoy looking to meet his needs.. and it makes me cry to think of just how sweet our relationship is.. I could not have believed it would get this good!!

Bless him.. do good to him.. and let your heart be at peace.. Speak in faith the things you desire for your marriage.. your family.. and those things will start to come to pass!!

I will pray for you.. Satan has no foothold at all when love flows..

Christian love from Sharon

The Christian and Suffering

Any of you read Ted Dekker’s Christian suspense novels? My friend Jana sent his Circle Trilogy home with me after our wonderful June visit to her family’s home…and during my bout with poison sumac, I read the whole set–couldn’t put them down! (Jana, did you know he’s working on Green, book zero in this set?) Recently, I checked his Martyr’s Song series out from our church library, and I’m pondering the truths of the following paragraphs taken from When Heaven Weeps:

Take this in remembrance of Me, Christ had said. Participate in the suffering of Christ, Paul had said.

And yet Americans turned forgetting into a kind of spiritual badge, refusing to look at suffering for fear they might catch it like a disease. They turned the death of Christ into soft fuzzy Sunday school pictures and refused to let those pictures get off the page and walk bloody into their minds. They stripped Christ of his dignity by ignoring the brutality of his death. It was no different from turning away from a puffy-faced leper in horror. The epitome of rejection.”

And from later on in the book,

“Realism allows us to participate in one’s suffering and voyeurism takes pleasure from it. The two are like white and black. But many Christians would shut the suffering of the saints from their minds; it’s not what Christ had in mind. He knew his disciples would want to forget, so he asked them to drink his blood and eat his body in remembrance. The writer of Hebrews tells us to imagine we are there, with those in suffering. I ask you, why is the church so eager to run from it?”

I’m spending a bit of time each morning re-reading and re-absorbing Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I welled up with tears time and time again as I read the chapter entitled, Lessons from Lazarus. It covers suffering and the how-to’s of trusting God’s character, relinquishing control, developing faith and hanging in there during the times when you haven’t a clue if God is going to proceed with a comma or end things with a period. And how to accept His will either way.

I have to wonder if my sensitivity and continued musings on this subject of suffering mean that some is coming my way quickly. Kind of scary to look up at my girls as they work feverishly on their geography postcards, and wonder what God has in store for this family of mine. To think of my dear, strong man, hard at work and wonder if we’ll be blessed with fifty plus years together. What will he look like when he’s grizzled and gray-haired? Will I be around to see it? All those “what if’s”? And then there are the million sureties that in this life, we will have the day-to-day trials to face and conquer by God’s grace.

Yes, I find this subject very fascinating, as you can see by all my posts I’ve linked to below. I’ve included a little snippet or synopsis beside each one, if you too, wanted to take a closer look.

Are You Willing? Jesus was willing to take up His cross, how about you and me? Are we equipped for it?

Contentment: Caught Between Bitter and Sweet “…something I heard Greg Laurie say on Christian radio the other day. I was driving, so of course, I don’t have this verbatim, but he made the point of how humiliating a death sentence a Roman crucifixion was…a death reserved for the very worst of criminals. Jesus was willing to die that type of death for us, and He tells us in the Bible to “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Are we to think that living the Christian life will be one of ease and prosperity? If it were, wouldn’t people be flocking to Christ in droves…all for the wrong reasons?”

Exploring Dying to Self “The path toward humility is death to self. When self is dead, humility has been perfected. Jesus humbled Himself unto death, and by His example the way is opened for us to follow. A dead man or woman does not react to an offense. The truth is, if we become offended by the words of others, then death to self has not been finished. When we humble ourselves despite injustice and there is perfect peace of heart, then death to self is complete. Death is the seed, while humility is the ripened fruit.” (commentary by Alice Smith on Galatians 2:20)

The Coal-Diamond Transformation “My mother always said she was just a lump of coal and the hardships and difficult people that crossed her path were just helping her to more quickly become a diamond.”

God Knows the Way In this post we’re reminded that nothing we endure is foreign to God, He knows every detail and has a plan…just remember Job and Joseph and their trials! How awesome it is to do a scripture hunt for scriptures that have the words, “but God” in them: Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring about this present result…” NASB

Fatith Lesson? No Thank You. How God can make roads through our personal mountainous trials (Isaiah 49:10-11) IF we accept His workings in our life…

Blessed Be the Name Has your road been marked with suffering? Then practice Hebrews 13:15.

“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name”