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My Man-Child

My Man-child left my home – my first-born son and no one asked me if it was okay.  No one asked if I was okay.  And really I’m not okay.  How do I just let my boy go – my boy with the mischievous grin and the beautiful soul, my boy who is part of me – who gets me – who had become my confidante and my friend?  How do I just let him leave – just like that, and what do I do now that he’s gone and he’s left a hole at the dinner table?  Yes, there are 3 more coming after him, but they have not been a part of me as long as he has – 18 years.  That’s a long time to get to know someone, to be a part of someone’s life.  That’s a long time full of memories, laughter, love and tears.  Does all that just end like a period at the end of a sentence?  A comma would be easier – a knowing that there’s more, that he’s not really gone.  Or maybe a hyphen – just a break in thought – for a time.  Does it have to be a period, because that period at the end of these long 18 years hits me like a bulls eye right in the center of my heart – right in the center of my world?  Who can I now be to the ones left behind – especially knowing that they, too, will reach that period at the end of the sentence?  Who am I to be now?  And how do I let go?  Will it get easier as each one leaves or will it just get harder and will I try to hold on harder and longer until the last?  Oh, God, only with Your strength can I do this thing that every mother since Eve has done and must do.  It is by Your design.  I know full well.  Please heal my aching heart.  Do not fill that void in me or the one at the dinner table.  Instead, soften the pain a little so that it is easier to bear.  I must go on for their sake – to keep a home for the ones left behind.

*I wrote this several months ago – when my son actually left home – and am just now able to get it typed here to share with you.  And even now I type through tears and a heart that still aches.

Special Joy

Who would have ever thunk it – I began my new school year teaching a 10th grade English class at 8:00AM this morning and left that class with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  I commented to a colleague that this is what God meant for me to do.  She agreed that it had to be a confirmation from God.  Isn’t it amazing how God can give us such joy over the seemingly silliest things?  He has indeed gifted us in different ways and in different areas.  Trust me, had I been walking out of a physics class this morning, I would have been anything but joyful.  However, I do know a few folks who actually think physics is fun.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.  To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge.  The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick.  He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.  It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” I Cor. 12:7-11
Does God not know what His purpose is for each of our lives?  He affirms our purposes by filling our spirits with joy when we are doing what He has called us to do.  He made each of us who we are for a reason.  We all have a purpose to fulfill and a part to play in His grand scheme of things.
If you spend time, effort, money, or energy doing something that does not bring joy to your soul, perhaps you need to seek God.  Ask Him if you are fulfilling the purpose He has for you.  Maybe He has something entirely different in mind for you.  Think about that dream that keeps coming back to your heart or that nagging “if only” that keeps interrupting your thoughts – maybe it’s God trying to get your attention.
What is it that truly gives you joy?  “Just think! Though I did nothing to deserve it, and though I am the least deserving Christian there is, I was chosen for this special joy of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.” Eph. 3:8 This is Paul talking to the Ephesians saying that even he was chosen for a special joy.  We have all been chosen for a special joy.  It may take seeking God, spending time in meditation, trying some different things, and getting out of our comfort zones; but we each have a special joy waiting for us.
  May every child of God find and walk in his own special joy that God has for him.

8-10-11

Following Moses

In Exodus 14:13, Moses tells his people whom he has led out of Egypt, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you.. . . The Lord Himself will fight for you.” But then, in the next verse, God tells Moses, “Tell the people to get moving!” Is Moses getting mixed signals from God? Is he confused, misunderstanding the Lord’s instructions? No, he is doing exactly what God is telling him to do. He is following the Lord’s instructions to the letter. God had earlier given Moses detailed instructions on how to get away from the Egyptian army that was chasing them down. Moses did exactly as he was told. When God told him to be still, Moses gave the order to his people to be still. When God told him to move, Moses gave the order to his people to move. The key is that Moses was listening for God’s voice. He got the word from God and then he acted on it.

All too often, I find that my life is the exact opposite of what Moses was doing. I’m moving, moving, moving; until something makes me stop. I make my plans and jump in head first before consulting God. Then I’m crying out to God after I’ve made a mess of things and made everyone around me miserable. I’m the one who makes my days busy, disjointed, frustrating, and confusing. What if I truly took God at His Word and followed His instructions to me: “Be still and know. . .”? Of course I can’t always be still, but what if I waited on God to tell me to move? What if I were diligent everyday in listening for His voice? Could my days go more smoothly perhaps if I let God order them for me? Could my ministry to others be more in line with God’s purpose if I listened to His instructions regularly? Why is it that my increasing level of daily frustration doesn’t ding a bell in my mind that perhaps I need to be still and just listen for a while, or maybe I need to wait for divine anointing?

Oh God, let me listen more purposefully and more intently for Your voice, Your divine guidance. I need Your input daily, moment to moment even. Help me to heed Your instruction and to truly live out Your plan for my life. Help me especially to be in tune with my level of frustration and understand that it is a direct result of my straying from the path You have prepared for me. Thank you for allowing me to simply “be still and know” that You are in control.

What I’m Reading Now

Do you sometimes feel bored with your spiritual life? Not experiencing exciting things? If you’re looking to ignite a fire in your life, here’s a good place to start – Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan. 

“The point of your life is to point to Him.  Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.  It is His movie, His world, His Gift.”    Francis Chan

Click on the image to find out how to order your own copy!

TO SIR, WITH LOVE

I remember one day years ago someone asking my youngest daughter what her Daddy’s name was, and she replied, “Sir.”  That answer elicited a strange look in my direction and I quickly responded that indeed that is what I called my husband and that’s what had stuck in her mind.  I have been around lots of people over the years who have heard me address my husband as “Sir,” and many – thinking it odd – have questioned why I did that.  I don’t remember having a good answer to that question.  I don’t know when I started calling my husband “Sir.”  I’m sure it was sometime early in our marriage, and I think it was just something that began innocently and without a lot of forethought.  And now, after almost 20 years of marriage, I still call my husband “Sir.” 

Here is what I think might have happened – subconsciously, I’m sure.  As a young wife, I heard on more than one occasion that wives are to submit to their husbands, that husbands are the heads of the home and that wives are to show them respect.  I remember thinking, “What a bunch of baloney.”  That was fine for stupid women who needed their husbands to think for them.  I, on the other hand, was educated and intelligent and more than capable of thinking for myself.  I did not need to submit to my husband – or so I thought.  I remember being quite disrespectful to my poor husband as I would constantly interrupt him to finish his sentences, knowing full well what he intended to say but just couldn’t get the words out fast enough.  In times of decision-making, it never occurred to me to defer to my husband.  I felt like he should know my opinions and take them into consideration when going along with what I wanted to do. 

Fortunately, we were submersed in a good church where we were getting good teaching from God’s Word.  However, most of the young wives and mothers I spent time with were quite open in sharing their husbands’ trials and tribulations so that others could pray for them.  None of us considered how our words were tearing our husbands down.  At some point, it occurred to me that wives should really be their husbands’ biggest cheerleaders.  It is our job to encourage them and treat them with respect just as we expect them to be treated respectfully in their jobs.  I also realized that my children were watching how I treated my husband, and that I was modeling and influencing the way they would treat him -and others – in the future.  I think it may have been during this time that I began calling my husband, “Sir.” 

It was a sign of respect.  Giving my husband the title of “Sir,” helped me to keep the right perspective – to see my husband as the head of our family.  As I began making a purposeful attempt to submit to my husband, God built a true respect and admiration for him in my heart.  I truly began to see him as a man of wisdom and integrity.  I stopped interrupting him in conversation, I deferred to him in big decisions, I sought his counsel, and I remember realizing that my husband was indeed the smartest man in the whole world.  (I apologize to those of you who have been living under the delusion that your husband is the smartest man in the whole world – trust me – if you ever met my husband I’m sure you would be convinced of his unsurpassed wisdom as well.) 

As I think back over the early years of my marriage, I sometimes wonder how in the world my husband could have put up with me and my foolishness.  I was the contentious wife discussed more than once in the Book of Proverbs.  Matthew Henry has this to say, “A cross peevish wife is as great an affliction: Her contentions are continual; every day, and every hour in the day, she finds some occasion to make herself and those about her uneasy. Those that are accustomed to chide never want something or other to chide at; but it is a continual dropping, that is, a continual vexation, as it is to have a house so much out of repair that it rains in and a man cannot lie dry in it. That man has an uncomfortable life, and has need of a great deal of wisdom and grace to enable him to bear his affliction and do his duty, who has a sot for his son and a scold for his wife.” 

Then Matthew Henry goes on to say, “A discreet and virtuous wife is a choice gift of God’s providence to a man—a wife that is prudent, in opposition to one that is contentious. For, though a wife that is continually finding fault may think it is her wit and wisdom to be so, it is really her folly; a prudent wife is meek and quiet, and makes the best of every thing. If a man has such a wife, let him not ascribe it to the wisdom of his own choice or his own management (for the wisest have been deceived both in and by a woman), but let him ascribe it to the goodness of God, who made him a help meet for him, and perhaps by some hits and turns of providence that seemed casual brought her to him. Every creature is what he makes it. Happy marriages, we are sure, are made in heaven.  It is a more valuable gift than house and riches, contributes more to the comfort and credit of a man’s life and the welfare of his family, is a greater token of God’s favour, and about which the divine providence is in a more especial manner conversant. A good estate may be the inheritance of fathers, which, by the common direction of Providence, comes in course to a man; but no man has a good wife by descent or entail. Parents that are worldly, in disposing of their children, look no further than to match them to house and riches, but, if withal it be to a prudent wife, let God have the glory.” 

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.  Oh, that I would be that prudent, discreet and virtuous wife.  In my mind, there is no better lesson a seasoned wife could give to the newlywed than this one: do not be contentious, a continual vexation; but rather be prudent and discreet, meek and quiet.  Look to your beloved husband for sound guidance and Godly wisdom.  I have learned to quickly turn to my “Sir” for wise counsel, knowing that his counsel comes ultimately from the heart of God.  Our happy marriage, I am sure, was made in heaven.

Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). 1706. Print.

July 19, 2010

It has occurred to me of late that during my lifetime I have asked some really huge things of God – physical healing, financial blessings, jobs, etc.  I asked these things of God without reservation knowing that He was more than capable of granting it all.  I understood the immense power of God and I believe I understood His great love for me.  I knew that He had made promises to me – promises for hope and a future, promises that He would prosper me and not harm me.  I claimed all of His promises as a joint heir with Christ. 

But what was I willing to do for Him?  What did He ask of me?  I did make sacrifices for His sake.  I led ministries.  I taught.  I studied sporadically.  I prayed occasionally.  I did some things God asked of me.  I even did some really big things that God asked of me – things that many other Christians probably wouldn’t do.  But was I living a truly disciplined spiritual life?

God doesn’t ask us to put a stopwatch next to us while we pray.  He doesn’t ask us to record every prayer we ask and keep count of each one He answers.  He doesn’t ask us to read the Bible cover to cover.  He doesn’t ask us to give up anything on His account.  Or does He? 

I think He wants us to be willing to do those things and whatever else He may ask us to do at any given moment.  I cannot presume to know the mind of God.  I cannot presume to understand why He asks things of me.  It is not for me to know or understand.  It is only for me to listen and obey.  Spiritual discipline exercises my soul.  It gets me in shape for the race set before me.  When athletes train for a race, do they not use a stopwatch?  It aids in their preparation.  It gives them a number – a goal.  It helps them to endure for a specified length of time.

If I use a stopwatch during my prayer time, does it not aid me as well? It gives me a goal.  It helps me focus for a specified length of time.  Many would argue that a stopwatch would impose an artificial time constraint on God.    No, rather it imposes a time constraint on me.  For a set amount of time I am making a commitment to focus on God.  I am committed to reading His words, seeking His wisdom, hearing His voice, interceding on others’ behalf.  I am roping off a period of time everday that is specifically set aside for God.  No excuses.  There is nothing else as important.  I am making a holy vow to God and keeping it.  How can I do anything less?  He died for me.  How can I not devote time every morning to spend alone with Him?  There is no one else who has paid such a price for me.  This world has nothing that comes close to the magnitude of His love for me.

It is time to be real.  God does not desire a half-hearted relationship.  God does not want what we have left over after we have tended to everyone and everything else.  He wants us fresh and focused.  He wants to give us power.  He wants to show Himself powerful through us.  He will not give us His all if we are not willing to give Him our utmost.  His light shines brightest when we have fully bathed in His holiness and reveled in His glory.  He offers us everything He has, and we take and squander and whine and protest.  It is time, He says, to be real.  Seek Him first.  Seek His best.  Bathe in His holiness and allow His light to shine brightly for everyone to see.  Set aside time for Him daily.  Carve out a special place for Him in your life as I do now in mine.

What I'm Reading

A friend gave me a book thinking that it would be helpful with some of the real-life stuff I’m going through right now.  It’s Stepping Heavenward byMrs. E. Prentiss.  It’s an amazing book.  It is written in a journal form and follows a woman through her life beginning with her rebellious teen years (which would hardly seem rebellious at all by today’s standards) through her early married life and motherhood to her days of illness and acceptance of her absolute and ultimate desire for God more than anything (or anyone) else.  She has a desire throughout her life to be spiritually mature and has the opportunity to be mentored by several strong women in her life.  As she grows wiser and more disciplined in her own life she mentors other younger women who come into her life.  She paints a beautiful picture of what marriage and motherhood should look like.  Her life is not without challenge and grief.  She learns many life lessons through the hardships she bears as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law.  

 I found myself relating to her throughout each season of her life and through each relationship she had.  She deals with questions about God that she is able to answer with the wisdom of others and with wisdom she herself gains throughout her own life.  I was able to share in her frustrations with herself and her lack of self-discipline, in her happiness, in her immense love for her children, and in her almost unbearable grief at losing dear loved ones.

This book offers something to every woman.  It speaks to the heart of every daughter, mother, sister, friend, and mother.  The main character may have lived in another time, but the lessons  and encouragement in this book are indeed timeless.

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