Friday, September 28, 2018

Happy Birthday, Em

Happy Birthday sweetest daughter of mine!  Thirty years ago today I became a mother.  Be still my heart.  Yes, I gave birth twice afterward and, of course, I love all my children.  Equally.  And am blessed to be called mom by all of them.  My thoughts are not expressly about my beautiful daughter but more about becoming a mom!  There really are no words....if you are a mother, you know exactly what I mean.

My intention this morning was to simply write a "love note" to my firstborn - and rejoin Five Minute Friday next week.  However, today's prompt, Potential, goes so well with my thoughts, I decided to try and convey them here.  They come from a recent sermon I listened to online and that has been impacting my thoughts ever since.  (I will try to find the pastor's name and give him credit in my next post.  Fingers crossed.)

GO - If you have experienced becoming a mother, you know the feelings I am trying to express.  The months of dreaming, planning and, even the worrying.  Followed by the hours of labor.  But, then, the exhaustion, the pain, and the wondering erased at the very first glance.  Simply the awe of becoming a mom.

It is one of the most accurate descriptions of joy.  So much so, the Bible even uses the experience as a reference for joy.  And the joy comes from the potential a new birth brings.  All the potential I imagined for my daughter as I inhaled her newness.  The potential for all the ways my life - and my husband's life -  would be changed and impacted because of our daughter.  Everything that new life meant - and the potential it represented - gave us that feeling of sincere joy.  And filled us with hope.

Christians often struggle to understand Biblical joy.  Joy that should mark the life of a believer.  Joy that is possible even in the darkest days or hours.  Joy that is much more than simply happiness but is available to each of us because of the Holy Spirit within us.  This joy is so hard to define - or to understand.  Much like the difficulty of describing your emotions when you become a mother.  But it is a serene sense of hope that comes from knowing the potential of all that God can do and wants to do - in any situation - that is joy for a believer.

STOP - sweet Emily, Happy Birthday!!  I am blessed to be your mom.  I love you more than all the Oreos!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Five Reflections for a Healthy Marriage

This past weekend was our anniversary.  We had a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite "special occasion" restaurants.  I even splurged for dessert:)  It was nice just to celebrate us!  Like all couples, we have had wonderful, mountain-top experiences.  As well, we have been through struggles, have disappointed each other and shared the greatest grief.  But, we have done it together - creating a life together.  A life that perhaps I did not envision as a young bride but one that I love and appreciate more each year.

As an empty-nester, I want to appreciate my marriage - and my husband - more as the years go by.  I think maturity helps me do that.  I don't want to become complacent or take my husband, and his love for me, for granted.  I did some reading and studying last week - about healthy marriages and how I can continue to make it a priority in my thoughts and actions.  I think it is good to rehearse these things mentally.

These are some of the ideas/suggestions that were helpful reminders for me.  Perhaps they will be for you as well.

*  My spiritual life has to be my top priority.  In order for any of the other relationships in my life - especially with my husband - to be all they can be, I must be daily in the Bible and in fellowship with Christ.  If this is lacking, it affects everything else.  I cannot possibly have the right attitude (humility, patience, kindness, etc., etc) and be all that my husband needs from me if I am not walking in the Spirit.

* Keeping myself physically and emotionally pleasing - for my husband - is important.  I will never be 25 again.  Or even 35.  Nor will my body.  But I want to continually strive to be my best for my husband.  Not for the attention or praise of anyone else - but for my husband because he is important to me.  This includes continual habits (like exercise -ugh!) and the daily little things (like what I wear or fixing my hair.) 

* Being conscious of outside influences - through media, music, entertainment, etc - not only guards my heart but also guards the spirit of our home.  It can become easy to let down our guard, especially once our children are grown, but this can be a slippery slope.  The enemy never gives up and we must continue to be vigilant - and on guard.

* Being a wise steward of our finances is a blessing.  We are not rich, by any means, but our budget is also not as tight as it was when we were raising a family.  But that is not an excuse to spend unwisely.  When I am considerate of our money and try to be a good manager of our household finances, it is not only a help to my husband but it also shows appreciation for his hard work.  It is also Biblical.

* I want to regularly examine how my attitude, as well as my actions, reflect my heart.  The honeymoon phase may be well past but I want my husband to know that I admire him, respect him and appreciate him.  I want him to know his heart is safe with me.  I may not gush and giggle to show it, as I might - or might not:) - have as a newlywed but these are still so important to me.  To him and to us.  And I want what I say and what I do to express that.

There certainly is no perfect marriage.  But I am thankful for these decades I have been given to continue striving to make our marriage all that it can be - and should be - as the gift from God that it is.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Don't Hide in the Tree

Zaccheus climbed the tree because of the crowd.  And right there among the crowd, Jesus noticed him and called to him.  Not to embarrass him.  Not even to ridicule him for being a greedy tax-collector, but because He wanted to be with Him.  He wanted a relationship with Zaccheus and He wanted the crowd to know it.

So many wonderful things done not only for a crowd but also right in the middle of a crowd.  Jesus seemed to delight in crowds.  Among the largest crowds, He performed the miracle of loaves and fishes - on multiple occasions.  Thousands were fed and benefited from His goodness.  But it was also from among a crowd that He miraculously healed one.  The woman with an issue of blood.  After He healed her, He called her out as well - much like Zaccheus.  Again, not to shame her or to rebuke her, but in order that her shame would be removed.  He wanted the crowd to know she was healed - no longer unclean nor an outcast.

Without question, there are wonderful moments between the savior and His children during quiet times alone.  Finding times to "come apart" and "to be still and know" are needed - daily - and are precious.  But we cannot keep to ourselves all that Christ has done - and is doing - for us and through us.  Often we need to share with a crowd.  Our crowd might not be 5000....or even 50.  But when we are given the opportunity, we need to be willing to be called out.  To speak up and testify.  Sometimes that is easier than at other times.  Sometimes, there is fear and trembling.  But, no doubt our heavenly father is pleased when we will step out of the crowd.  And the crowd can be instructed, rebuked, encouraged and changed as well.

"And Jesus said, Who touched me?........ And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately."   Luke 8:45 and 47  (emphasis mine)

Today's FMF prompt:  Crowd.  Go here to see what the others have to say about a crowd.  I had thought I would continue some thoughts from Tuesday's post - today is my anniversary and I must have marriage thoughts on my mind:) - but I decided to finish those thoughts next week.  I really enjoy Five Minute Friday and the community of writers who join each week.  So - these are my five minute thoughts!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Three Ways to Help Build A House

Without a doubt, one of the greatest material blessings the Lord has given to my husband and me is our home.  It is more than we ever imagined and, yet, is exactly the type of home we would dream about.  The circumstances that brought us to this home only confirm that God "handed" it specifically to us.  We feel blessed every day.  We work, daily, to keep things - inside and in the yard - clean, manicured and organized.  I enjoy making our home feel cozy, comfortable and, hopefully, inviting as well.  But even more than the decor on the mantel, the pumpkins on the porch or the smell of dinner in the oven, I want to be busy "building my house." 

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.   Proverbs 14:4 

I don't think any Christian woman purposefully wants to ruin the spirit of her home.  Or wants to undermine the Holy Spirit's working and leading in her home.  But, without thinking, selfish attitudes, wrong priorities and poor habits do exactly that - they pluck down the house we desperately desire to have.  Continuing in my "making choices" for this year.....I choose to build up - not tear down - my house.  There are many areas where this applies but here are three purposeful ways to refocus building your house.

1 - Work diligently.  As an empty-nester, I have much more flexibility with my time.  This is nice - but it can also lead to procrastination.  It is not hard for me to get lazy.  But I want my days to be productive.  This includes not oversleeping, not mindlessly wasting hours (or other chunks of time) and asking the Lord to direct my steps and choices.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...."  Ecclesiastes 9:10 

2 - Set the right tone.  I have always believed the mother sets the tone in a home.  This was true when my children were young but, I find, it is still true with just the two of us.  I am as emotional as the next woman (I suppose) but, thankfully, I am learning to better control my emotions.  I have learned the hard way that my moods can impact a dinner, an evening, or even a whole week - and not always for the best!  What a sad statement - and a waste of precious time together.

"Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest...." Ecclesiastes 9:9

3 - Serve others - and be hospitable.  This is one area where both my husband and I are trying to improve.  This seemed to be easier - or seemed to come more naturally - when we were younger but I am not sure why.  Perhaps it is simply settling too easily into our routine - a routine of two.  But we are making improvements.  Whether inviting others into our home or serving others in their home or even in our community, there is much joy in hospitality.

"For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled...but a lover of hospitality....."                                                                      Titus 1:8

I pray these will encourage or inspire you as build your house.  A house that not only glorifies God but, as well, is a haven and a blessing to everyone who lives under your roof.  And, no, none of those homes above are mine.  They are just some of the gorgeous ones I found on Unsplash.  I would have stepped outside to photograph my house but skies are grey and drippy as Hurricane Florence pushes in on us.  Pray for all those who may be affected in the next few days ahead.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ready for the Rain

The best word to describe our weather is unpredictable.  The summer was, for the most part, pleasant - with lots of lovely evenings.  Low humidity and pleasant temperatures.  The calendar flipped to September and, with it, came the extreme heat and highest humidity in months.  The heat has been relentless.  And not a drop of rain.  Grass that, remarkably, stayed green all summer is now drying out and turning brown.  The potted porch flowers beg for water - twice a day.  We need a good rain.

That is my husband's phrase.  "A good rain."  By that, he means a soft, steady rain.  Not a downpour that will simply run off and form huge puddles.  But a rain that will soften the dried out earth and continue until it has seeped down into the roots.  A rain that quenches, refreshes and encourages fresh life.  It is the kind of rain that makes you feel good!

My heart - my soul - loves a good rain.  An outpouring from Heaven that refreshes - and soaks deep to my roots.  But those do not come every day.  If I am not careful, and purposeful, my soul can begin to dry.  To become caked like parched soil.  Growth is slow, even stopped, and brown patches can begin to show.  When God does want to shower me with grace, mercy, goodness or wisdom, my hardness can make the rain ineffective. 

My husband and I try to keep the yard and the plants watered.  We try to keep the soil soft.  And ready.  The rain will come.  When it does, the ground will be able to soak it all in.  I try to keep my heart ready.  Daily in the word.  Keeping sins confessed.  Routinely checking my attitude.  When the rain comes, I can throw my umbrella aside - and soak it all in!!

Maybe you guessed....the FMF prompt is rain!  The forecast is for rain this weekend.  Let it rain - physically and spiritually!