31 August 2009

Appearances

One of my earliest lessons in this walk I'm on with the Lord came from a bible study based on Martha Peace's book, The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective. This lady wearing the pearls is Martha. She is painfully, unapologetically Biblical. She cuts no slack, has no words of comfort for the times when it chafes to do God's will. Too bad! Tough cookies (with hot tea on the side)! Do it!

I first took this Bible study 8 years ago when I stayed home with my first newborn. It was offered at my local church, and it was a way to meet other stay-at-home moms. Yikes! I was adjusting to parenthood, but I was coming to the realization that I had previously spent a LOT of time with my husband. In Boundaries lingo, I was "enmeshed." I didn't know where he ended and I began. I didn't know how to do ev.er.y.thing on my own.

We had trained together in the Air Force. First we went to basic training together (marching, running, chow hall); then trudged to Russian language school 5 days a week together (finishing up the day with homework together); then went to intel school (working split shifts together); then we moved to Maryland and hiked through the NSA parking lot together, separating at the third or fourth security checkpoint to go to our respective missions (only to rendezvous for lunch three hours later).

Then, like a heavily-laden traveler tripping at the end of a moving sidewalk, I began to stay at home with our daughter and he continued to trek to and from work each day. I had to learn to transfer the jobs we had shared for so long (Saturday mega-clean-up and such) to my own shoulders. I had to learn to find my own conversational outlets during the day, instead of waiting for him to come in the front door, national security heavy on his shoulders, to be pounced on with my pent-up monologue.

I didn't realize till I had been talking with the other women that most wives feel some degree of grumpiness at their husbands, and most want more time with him. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of a long struggle for me to get my needs met from God and not my husband. I am wa-aay too needy for any person to meet my needs. Can I get an amen?

The epiphany I had during her study was:

"God wants me to be HOLY more than he wants me to be HAPPY."

Wow. You have to understand that I had only become a Christian 5 years before, and the only real stress-and-strife that I'd had in that time frame was Basic Training (and please, let's be honest, basic in the U. S. chAIR Force is like patriotic sleep-away camp.) So when I had to learn the first steps of allowing (is that the right word?) God to sustain me, it was really difficult.

Fast forward to Year 2 In The Valley. I am separated from my husband, living with my three kids, at my parents' house. I suggested Martha's book "the Excellent Wife" to a friend who was trying to decide what Bible study to host. We began the study. As the course of the study went on, a funny thing began to happen... just like in my first go-round, the wives in the study became fixated on Martha's pearls. We read about what we should do to be 'excellent wives,' absorbed the 'too-bad, so-sad' voice they were given in, and just assumed that Martha was a perfect, clean house, kids toeing the line, martini-for tired-hubby-at-five-on-the-dot kind of wife. Here's her new picture:

She's so much more approachable! I'm sure she is just as truthfully, unapologetically, Biblically sound as before. But man! we sure cultivated an air of inferiority for ourselves when we combined our faults with her teachings and those darn pearls. I like to hear about someone's struggles and how God overcomes them. Then I can relate!


28 August 2009

100% Used for Gospel

"Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:37-38


I got an absolutely amazing, uplifting mailing this week- a thin magazine called send! by Gospel for Asia. It brought tears to my eyes multiple times: an article about having a soft heart (think I qualify?), and one about the God of the universe that understands how badly a family needs their ox, who was healed from a snakebite by a Christian missionary, and how that act led the family to believe. *sigh of contentment*

I had emailed for a free copy of their book Revolutions in World Missions last month. When it came, I read 3/4 of it and noticed on the inside was a rip-out subscription card, for another free copy of the book! I went to bed without finishing it and the next morning gave it to the missions elder at my church. My next copy should come in September, I can finish it and give it to someone else. It was really a motivating, convicting book. It was partially a personal/ organizational history of the founder of Gospel for Asia, and partially an explanation to Americans why native missionaries make so much sense.

Two things I became convinced of:

1. Native missionaries just make so much more sense than sending people from a foreign country! Native people know the customs, the taboos, the language, and can live happily and comfortably in the native places with familiar prices. These missionaries learn of Christ and have a heart for their own people. No barriers need to be overcome, no special training is necessary to teach them about the country and its people.

2. The amount of excess that we (Americans) have is so ridiculous. We don't even know how much junk we have. Have you noticed the amount of storage unit rental facilities there are in this country? Are your closets and under your beds and your garage and your attic as full as mine? Do we really need even half of this stuff?! After reading only 3/4 of "Revolutions in World Missions" I listed a bunch of stuff on Craigslist and have been slowly selling it off. I have $28 so far and I'm going to start a sponsorship of a native missionary.

At this link, look on the right for videos called "saved by a sari" or the one about the native missionary named Titus. They are so wonderful and give insight into this foreign and productive organization. In this day and age, Gospel for Asia gives a total 100% of your sponsorship to the native missionary. Wow. I was thinking about beginning a sponsorship of a child through World Vision, an excellent organization, but then I got to thinking about the exponential rewards of funding a missionary, and I reconsidered.

In the book, the founder explains how he would talk to American churches about Gospel for Asia and try to get new sponsors. He would talk to some people after the service, get a few new sponsors, and get taken out to IHOP or somewhere for lunch. The tab for the lunch was enough for two months of sponsorship! He began to write about the affluency of Americans and how so few of us are able or willing to go on missions, even in our hometown. Fine! He says-- send money and you can easily support a missionary in Asia who will reach his own people. Think of the population of Asia. Think of the people plagued by evil spirits. Think of the hordes of Asian people who will welcome you into the kingdom, who met Christ through a native missionary who you supported! Think of that!


(I just wanted to mention that I have no affiliation with any Christian organization and there is no financial benefit to me if you signed up to become a sponsor. Just to let you know. I know a lot of blogs out there have other motives. Not me.)

27 August 2009

High Cost

"If you want to be completely healed from all the bitterness and pain... and if want your marriage to survive, you will have to forgive him. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you try to short circuit the natural process of grieving, or deny that you’ve been hurt. It doesn’t mean that you stuff the problem. To come to the place of forgiveness you must first admit you’ve been hurt – deeply. Forgiveness will cost you everything, and cost your husband nothing. It means you will never hold what he did against him again; his debt, which he can never repay, will be completely erased. Forgiving your husband for his sin against you may be the most Christ-like thing you ever do, and it will identify you with Christ like nothing else can."

Dear God! Is all I can think of to say in response.

From a website well worth investigating- www.blazinggrace.org

26 August 2009

New Start

Homeschool started for us this week. Cleaning the kitchen at night so I can just enjoy my time with God and my coffee the next morning, without resorting to trying to silently (IMPOSSIBLE) scrub the dishes before everyone wakes up and my head start to the day is wasted. Silently wash, I thought, without not only the clanking but also no cursing at the greasy spray on my shirt... "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) and "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths," (Eph. 4:29)

Of course, had my praise music going (here I am trying to be quiet, and the music is pretty loud, even though the kids are in bed)... Heard this song on Chris Tomlin's "Hello Love" CD:

worthy is the Lamb... worthy is the Lamb... (gorgeous violin)
I will rise when He calls my name....
no more sorrow,
no more pain,
I will rise on eagles' wings
before my God
Fall on my knees
and rise- I will rise- I will rise-

I heard it in a new way... I always think of it in a grand kind of way, like, "Jesus, call my name and I will rise to follow you to the mission field," but tonight I was thinking of the new school day tomorrow. I was praying for my kid's positive attitudes and learning spirits, and writing down my prayer tomorrow, and I realized I could just as easily see it this way: I rise up when Jesus wants to talk to me each morning. He calls my name, I rise from my comfy bed, and fall before Him in worship to start the day. Sounds good to me.

25 August 2009

Who Won?!

Oooh! Too bad y'all are so excitable! Uh, actually I mean,

"Hr-em, I regret to announce that I received no entries for our drawings. This concludes our drawings. Thank you for reading about the drawings."

No, really. Don't even worry. You're not getting rid of me that easily. I will not be discouraged by your lack of participation! I will continue to post. Ha! Bwa ha ha ha!

24 August 2009

Great News!


I read a news article dated July 27th, 2009, entitled "Mumbai: Five Trafficking Victims Rescued in July Operation." This was notable because "This rescue operation marks the first time in nearly five years that IJM and Navi Mumbai police have collaborated to rescue minor girls from commercial sexual exploitation and arrest sex traffickers."

Then, I found an article from only Friday, August the 21st! that is also praiseworthy... "On the night she was supposed to be raped for the first time, young sex trafficking victim 'Lona' was plucked from the brink of initiation into a life of forced prostitution by police officials working with International Justice Mission in Mumbai." Imagine, while we waited for the workweek to end, 'Lona' was in terror, being sold, mistreated and transported with no idea of what awaited her, but probably awful fears. Do any of you have 13 year-old daughters?

What's up with the new willingness to cooperate over at the Navi Mumbai police station?! It's awesome! What must God be doing all over his world.

I found these exciting articles at Freedom Center, which just looks totally informative and interesting. A lot of ways to get involved. Try to cultivate God's heart!

ENTER TO WIN!!

SCROLL DOWN TO READ NEW POSTS!

You can win these two inductive studies by Kay Arthur:


OR, these awesome booklets by Bill Bright!

How You Can Love by Faith
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How can you enter to win? All you have to do is subscribe to my blog feed if you'd like to enter to win the Kay Arthur books. If you'd prefer to win the two written by Bill Bright, leave a comment this week on your favorite post, new or old.

Wait a minute-- you can enter to win either, or both! So if you've been meaning to subscribe, but haven't done it, go ahead. And if you thought of a comment but never left one, now is the time to do it! Be sure to leave a last initial with your name, or a link, when you leave a comment so that I can identify you as the winner!

The drawing will be held Tuesday, August 25th.
Play Fair!

21 August 2009

Do Hard Things

"The path to joy is not in the absence of hard things. However, neither is the path to joy in merely the execution of hard things. Joy has only one Source, and the absence of joy must necessarily lead us to discover (or rediscover) that true satisfaction and delight flow only from the Lord Jesus Christ." The Rebelution

Check out their book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, in my left sidebar-- It's great for any teen or preteen in your life, or, even one of those haven't-grown-up-yet thirty-year-olds, if you have one laying about.

20 August 2009

Spiritual Battle

Warriors Needed!

Wanted: Strong women of the faith to stand firm and assist those who work for God's kingdom.

Job Description: Pray without ceasing; call down angels of protection; grow up hedges to shield workers from the view of demons. Intercede for the safety and peace of those who serve the Lord and strive to tell others about His love and power.

Compensation: No tangible pay in this world. Crowns and mansion in next.

***

Ladies, I had a terrible weekend. Let me back it up a little: on Wednesday I began writing a book based on my time in the valley when my husband and I were separated. I sent out an email to the Titus 2 ladies in my life who supported me at that time. Looking back I see that my crummy weekend started with that email. I was a terrible wife all weekend. I heard lies to the effect of: If you're a wife like this, who are you to tell anyone else anything? You have no right to tell anyone how to do this! You're a failure and a joke. You don't know anything.

I heard sinful ideas, and I followed them. I was discouraging and rude; I confess it was as if I had never even met the Holy Spirit. I was crumbling after a few days of this... I hadn't been on an emotional rollercoaster like that since last November! I think it was a spiritual attack. I know that the devil doesn't want any marriage to survive; I know he hates the Lord; I know he despises the glory due to God. Well, I am writing this book to do exactly that: to glorify God. To show women what hoping in the Lord's sovereignity looked like for me. To give them a resource. I don't think the devil would like for any of those things to happen.

So when you think of me, I would appreciate any prayers you could send up on my behalf. Thanks!

Ephesians 6: 10-20 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

John 8:44 ...there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

19 August 2009

When My Heart Hurts...

When my heart just aches for some cause or some terrible, horrific thing, I feel drawn to pray... what else can one person do? Today, this thought was brought on by two sentences in an article called "The Abortion Evangelist." Here are the two sentences:

"The clinic attracts a regular group of four or five protesters, who carry posters of fetuses and newborns, but they generally take the weekend off." and

"Patients mostly make nervous small talk during their abortions. One cries. Another tells [the doctor] that she saw him on TV. "I think it's so great what you're doing," she says as he performs her abortion."

There was a deeply moving and tiringly sad article linked to the above article, called "Competing Emotions" in which the author says "... there was a discomfort I hadn't expected, my emotional reaction to watching abortions" and described the comment of a woman in the waiting room who "started crying when we talked about abortion. "I think it's OK," she told me, "but it's hard to see everyone doing it, there's so many. I'm not mad at them at all. It's just like, wow, there are so many people. There are seven or eight babies out there [in the waiting room]."

I feel sad and frustrated when I read about people who don't truly weigh the viewpoint of the side they aren't on, the side they 'are at war with.' The author of "Competing Emotions" Sarah Kliff, ends her article with a thoughtful "...my experience (among an admittedly small, largely pro-choice sample set) found a general discomfort when confronted with abortion as a physical reality, not a political idea. Americans may support abortion rights, but even 40 years after Roe, we don't talk about it like other medical procedures."

To me this is similar to my dad not wanting to learn about the most recent advances in geology and related sciences which refute the 4 1/2 billion-year-old earth theory; like the atheist who won't really research the points of Christianity; the teacher who doesn't admit the possible benefits of homeschooling. Like here, in the arena of abortion and life- they just take it on principle and don't see the pain behind the "procedure."

If you are here reading New Mercy, as women who struggle in our marriages, we try to sacrifice what we may prefer so that we can do what God wants. It can be extremely hard to read about the pain of people who didn't step out to accept their part in the broken world. Does that make any sense? We make bad choices. Bad situations are forced on us. We have to deal with the repercussions of sin, our own and others.' To just cut the situation off, to get an abortion or divorce, completely sidesteps the growth we could have had. We're going to have pain and suffering either way. I would prefer the pain and suffering that would glorify God as best I could, in place of any other struggle in which I could grieve the Holy Spirit.

I was searching a website about PASS (Post-Abortive Stress Syndrome) and SO. MANY. women were so regretful and hurting... they said again and again, how they were scared and stupid and pressured. I know that isn't always the case. I know this is a touchy subject. I pray that more women who have had abortions and have felt God's presence through their grief and recovery can reach out to others and help them along that painful road. Oh! It's so hard to think of all the ways our world is broken. But take heart- we know how the story will end for all those who believe...

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."" Revelation 21 :3-5


beautiful pregnant belly picture from http://www.birthingbeautifully.com


17 August 2009

Boundaries

I wanted to give you a very good illustration of the way that it finally became painfully clear to me, in the fall of 2006, that I was a "codependent enabler." (That is a title of a certain kind of person from book that changed my life called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.)

The tough thing is, in April 2006 my MIL hemmed and hawed and said finally "I was thinking you might be co-dependent." To which I answered, "You know, I read about that, and I don't think it really fits me." To her credit, she stopped there and didn't press the issue. Later, she said "You had to find out in your own time."

It was six months later I took a class at my church (it was actually called a support group) that was based on the Boundaries book. WHOA. It totally changed my outlook on how I dealt with my husband from then on. It shone new light on how I had been dealing with him, and gave labels and descriptions to the behavior I had been entangled in. Sometimes it is just the first step to recovery to get a name for your problem, and know that other people do the same thing, and that they have changed their ways.

The class was focusing initially on women who did their kids' homework, cooked for their husband's work parties at the last minute, and ran their parents on errands until they were totally burnt out. I didn't do any of that; in the beginning of the class I thought that none of it applied to me. Then we go into the "rescuing a loved one from consequences" and interrupting the law of sowing and reaping" that I began to take notice. I wondered if my husband's life was falling apart because I wasn't rescuing him from the natural consequences for his actions or inactions.... could it be?

Then it became crystal clear through this experience... I was staying with my parents at this point, and James was not. They went out of town and he came to see me and the kids. He had an old pickup truck that leaked oil really badly. My parents had asked him to please park at the very end of the driveway (where it was gravel) so that the oil wouldn't spot up the driveway. As soon as they were out of town, he pulled the truck in to the furthest up point of the driveway and left it there for two or three days. When he finally moved it there was a huge oil stain, maybe 18 inches in diameter, and my parents were on their way home.

Like a dumb teenager who threw a party, I was out in the driveway with a bristle brush, on my hands and knees, scrubbing the oil stain with dish soap. I was frantic. Oh! He did exactly what they told him not to do. Oh! My parents would be so mad! Oh! He wouldn't be able to visit us! Oh! He would be yelled at! Oh! My parents would see how disrespectful he was to them! Oh! Oh! Oh!

I was totally freaking out. As I got into the rhythm of soap, scrub, rinse, repeat, I saw myself from the outside. What was I doing?! Why on earth was I cleaning up his mess-- he knew it was happening for two or three days, and didn't even put a board down to protect the driveway! If he was my kid, I'd be right on top of it, I would make him scrub the driveway, I'd take the car away, I'd do something. But since he was my husband, I had to save him. I had to protect him. We were a team, right? Isn't that what it means- to watch each other's back?

What I realized that day was this: preventing my parents from knowing about his disrespect and disobedience wasn't really helping him. I didn't stop anything from happening, I just extended the inevitable. I didn't deflect any pain from my husband, I only trained him to want to be rescued. To expect it. To get outraged when he wasn't. How could he own his behavior and choices as his own, for good or bad, when he never received any consequences for his poor choices?

Instead of "protecting my teammate" like I thought I was, I was actually training him. I was training him to expect and demand that he be saved from any pain or uncomfortable growth. He would get so angry when he ran into other people's consequences! They seemed so startling and offensive to him. I "protected" him from so many consequences, that when he found them out in the world, he didn't know how to react except in anger or confusion. Why didn't the rules out in the real world act like what he experienced at home?

Galations 6: 7-8 says "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

Boundaries teaches that it is harmful to interrupt the cycle of reaping and sowing. If a man sows to please his sinful nature, and reaps no destruction, why on earth would he stop doing so? I was reaping the consequences for his behavior: I was the one scrubbing the driveway, I was the one listening to my parent's questions and concerns... That's like touching a hot stove and your wife's hand gets burnt!

It was when I read Boundaries that I saw this cycle between my husband and I for the first time. I learned to break the cycle- to change how I rushed in to rescue him. I had to learn that I could not make him do (or not do) what I wanted. I could only react productively to what he did. I could only control what I did. Oh. my. goodness. It. was. so. hard.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (I mean, hello! look at the title!) really, really changed my life. It was so painful and felt impossible at first, but I (we) made it through. I am going to write more on this topic, so stay tuned.



14 August 2009

Did You Know?

"Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review. The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work." article

When you feel like your marriage is hard, or the times are tough, think of these women who don't know the freedom that comes from Christ, much less the freedom that we experience every day when we run out to the store in shorts and a t-shirt, to pick up a new book, and come home knowing our kids haven't been carted off. Let's pray for women who have no freedom at all instead of scraping our petty wounds with clay shards.


Mama4x News Update

Hello, dearest readers. I am in a great mood because I got a comment this morning (on my education blog) that noted "she read my blog daily!" Wow! I decided to have a drawing to reward others like her. Then, I decided to shower y'all with love and have a drawing over here too, and pull out my secret New Mercy readers who are lurking in cyberspace.

Also, on my homepage I advertised that cards are buy two, get one free and still free shipping at Etsy. In case you're interested (but only until Sunday at midnight). There's a bunch of new ephemera and some wedding cards too.

13 August 2009

Let's Pretend

Let's pretend that I just call you up, so excited, but with nothing coherent to say, okay?

(ring, rii--ng)

"Hello?" (that's you-- "talk into your finger!" my daughter Lily would command)

"GUESS WHAT?" I shriek. "James was doing all sorts of thinking, and I didn't get a lot of it, but it sounds like God is really working on his heart! I think there is growth going on in there! I'm so excited!"(duh)

"Wow, that's great- what did he say?"

"I don't even know! His work phone is a Blackberry and I can't understand anything he says on it. But he was going on and on about work, and God, and what he was thinking about yesterday- it sounded like he and the Lord were hashing some stuff out!"

"Awesome!"

"Yeah! I am so thankful that God isn't done with him yet! He is so faithful! Bye!"

"Uh, bye!"

12 August 2009

Wisdom from Anne



What a great character! I have been rereading AGG series this summer. She has some real pearls of wisdom that seem pertinent to us here at New Mercy. Enjoy!

"I hope that no great sorrow ever will come to you, Anne," said Gilbert

"But there must- sometime," mused Anne. "Life seems like a cup of glory held to my lips just now. But there must be some bitterness in it- there is in every cup. I shall taste mine some day. Well, I hope I shall be strong and brave to meet it. And I hope it won't be through my own fault that it will come. Do you remember what Dr. Davis said last Sunday evening- that the sorrows God sent us brought comfort and strength with them, while the sorrows we brought on ourselves, through folly or wickedness, were by far the hardest to bear?" (A of A, p 46)

(Anne is talking to Ruby Gillis as she dies of consumption) "Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so- but Anne, it won't be what I'm used to... I want to go on living here. I'm so young, Anne. I haven't had my life. I've fought so hard to live- and it isn't any use- I have to die- and leave everything I care for."

Anne sat is a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life- the things that pass- forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other- from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there- Anne believed- she would learn- but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved."(A of the I, p105-06)

At my church we are studying the book of Mark. We have spent a few weeks on the parable of the sower and his seeds which fell on different kinds of soil. We talked about sprinkling seeds liberally, because we don't know onto what kind of soil they will fall. How we don't know at what rate God is growing the seeds... it reminded me of the mischievious orphan, Davy, who lives with his twin sister, Dora, with Anne and Marilla.

"That spring Marilla, by way of turning Davy's passion for reveling in mud and clay into useful channels, had given him and Dora a small plot of ground for a garden. Both had eagerly gone to work in a characteristic fashio. Dora planted, weeded, and watered carefully, systematically, and dispassionately. As a result, her plot was already green with prim, orderly little rows of vegetables and annuals. Davy, however, worked with more zeal than discretion; he dug and hoed and raked and watered and transplanted so energetically that his seeds had no chance for their lives.

"How is you garden coming on, Davy-boy?" asked Anne.

"Kind of slow," said Davy with a sigh. "I don't know why the things don't grow better."

"Maybe if you didin't pull your plants up by the roots every other day to see how they're gettting on 'at the other end,' they'd do better," said Marilla sarcastically.

"I only pulled six of them up," protested Davy... "Dora's garden was planted same time's mine and her things are growing all right." (A of A, p 207)

11 August 2009

Willing Heart

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Restore to me the JOY of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."


Psalm 51:10, 12

Each day, the Lord gives us new chances, new mercy, a clean slate to write on again. It has become dangerously cliche to those under his mercy that he is a God of second chances- and third, and tenth, and so on. How thankful I am that he is so generous! I recall, also, that Jesus instructs us to imitate Him:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Mathew 6:14-15)

"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:4)

"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22)

When we feel like we are the longsuffering, "better" half of our marriages, pride is at the root of it. When I was a normal Catholic, before I heard about know Jesus personally, I was asked if I was going to heaven when I died. I said, typically, "Yeah, I'm not a bad person." Well we need to remember that we are to not compare ourselves to other flawed, sinful people, but to Christ alone. How do we measure up to Him? Not as well. But he forgives us when we ask him for a new slate. And we need to attempt to be as generous with those in our lives as well, to better give him glory.



10 August 2009

How's Your Heart?

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:7

Got grumpy with the Mr. on Saturday. Hen-pecked him for a little while and then heard that tone in my voice, and felt the growing irritation in my heart, and went out and shut the door (too firmly, I admit) behind myself. I went into the kitchen and gave it a well-deserved scouring (including the sink, the fridge, the floor, the dishes and the counters). Then I cleaned the table and swept the floors and moved the clothes into the dryer. All the while I am determining to myself that I will have a forgiving attitude and a cheerful heart and a welcoming, loving demeanor. I will leave him to do what he wants with his Saturday and I will clean the house cause it needs it, not so I can bang pots and pans to "show him" how angry I am. I will not yell at my kids because I am mad at myself for failing again at this marriage thing. I will give him his day to spend as he sees fit, and I will clean my home, cheerfully.

It's crummy but better than it used to be, when I would verbally chase him out of the house, my sinful tongue spewing like a flaming dragon behind him. Hurrah for improvements, however small.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Prov. 15:13

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. Prov. 15:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Prov. 17:20

And the best of all: Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. *sigh* Why doesn't it mention grumpy men?

08 August 2009

Best of

World Magazine's 8/15/2009 issue

Getting to Know Him by Andree Seu "All you have to be is desperate without Him."
AMAZING QUOTE: "My friend David had words with the Lord: "Lord, why didn't you honor that act of faith?" David heard back immediately, "I did honor it; she has treasure in heaven."

A Grief Conserved by Matt Anderson "Perinatal hospice offers an alternative to the trauma of aborting a disabled child."



06 August 2009

New Friendships

I remember, when James and I were separated, going to a small group for the first time at my church. Everyone was so happy and they all interacted with each other like old friends. They wanted to get to know me and asked me normal "who are you" kind of questions.

It was so exhausting that I never went back. How do you answer the most basic of questions at a time like that? Do you lie? Do you whitewash and then clarify later? I just avoided it altogether. I remember thinking, I just don't have the energy to make new relationships. Read part of this interview from one of the last issues of "Discipleship Journal" ever published. (Unfortunately, I can't find the article online to link to, but it's an interview of Alan Andrews called "Where Would Jesus Be?" from the March/April 2009 issue.)

ALAN: "Vulnerable" can cover a lot of ground. A vulnerable person is incapable of helping himself... Throughout the gospels, if you want to find Jesus, look for the vulnerable of any sort, and there He is among them.

DJ:
You're making us wonder, Who are the vulnerable people in our churches?

ALAN:
One of the most vulnerable people in any church is a divorced woman with children. She has very little money, so she can't give a lot to the church. She's usually too busy with the load of parenting and working to be able to volunteer in the church. So she becomes this invisible person. Often the widowed are ignored too. This will sound harsh, but there is little return from investing in them; that's the way we sometimes think.

DJ:
It sounds like we can fail to notice those who most need our attention.

ALAN:That's right. We tend to be attracted to big things, powerful things. But God loves and delights in little things, vulnerable things. That's what's on His heart. And He takes those little, insignificant things and makes them strong. God starts with what is small, what is broken, and transforms it into something strong."

This interview really ripped me... I was so blessed that someone out there understood how I felt. I also felt terrible; I don't want to be the needy and vulnerable. I wanted to show everyone in ministry the article; I wanted to hide it away and get involved against all odds.

Oh! It's so hard to go to events and studies when you don't have childcare- It's so hard to be a good parent when you never get away- It's so hard to pry the hands of your children off of you and drive away when they already are even more vulnerable than you are- It's so hard to make friendships when you are so needy and have so much drama.

I wasn't a widow- I wasn't divorced- I didn't fit any category so neatly. I was mourning my marriage but I wasn't a widow. I was alone with my kids but wasn't divorced. It was such a no-man's-land. I desperately wanted to yell "Somebody serve me! Somebody see my need!" but of course I was too proud to make such a statement- I didn't even have a definite need- I just needed to feel some love when I was so empty. For me, I guess it turned out ok, because I felt God's presence and sustaining power so well, but what if it hadn't been that way? And even with His presence, it still sucked to have few human displays of love.


05 August 2009

Journalists Freed!


Update at 9:34 a.m. ET: Ling, occasionally trying to hold back sobs, thanks friends, colleagues and even strangers who supported them.

"We could feel your love all the way in North Korea," Ling says. "It is what kept us going in the darkest of hours and sustained our faith that we would come home. The past 140 days have been the most difficult, heartwrenching times of our lives. We are very grateful that we were granted amnesty by the government of North Korea, and we are so happy to be home, and we are so anxious to be able to spend some quiet, private times, getting reacquainted with our families." article

Love Letter

This is what the Lord says:

(he who created you, he who formed you)

Fear Not! for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, YOU ARE MINE!

I will be with you,
for I AM the Lord, Your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and BECAUSE I LOVE YOU,
do not be afraid-- for I am with you

-everyone who is called by my name
whom I created for my glory
whom I formed and made.


Isaiah 43:1-5, 7

04 August 2009

Not a Lion Snack

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

I was able to borrow Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore from a dear friend. I am listening to it on CD. It is, like all her other works, just brilliant. She so earnestly desires for others to avoid pain, strongholds, and pits that you can just hear it in her voice! I am going to try to get James to listen to it in his work truck. I was moved to tears- no, almost in a continual state of teariness, while I listened to it today, thinking of my husband and praying for his deliverance.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand."
Psalm 40:2

I have to ask for your help- James has an important doctors appointment on Thursday, August 6th. I think that it is at 10 o'clock. I am praying that he will make it to the appointment, and that his job will not be endangered by him going during the day. I hope that he will get help he needs at it, and things can start to turn around for him. He really needs his feet put on a strong rock, in a spacious place, by the Lord. He is blinded by the dark slimy pit walls that are all he seems to have seen for a while. Thank you, my readers!

03 August 2009

Books on Loss

Best of

Best quote from the latest issue of World Magazine:

"Senator Jim Demint fears that the nation is sliding toward socialism, which he calls the enemy of freedom. "In order for socialists to expand the power of government they have to decrease the power of religion, which empowers individuals. Dependency on government reduces dependency on God." article

I love parables and descriptive comparisons: check out two great ones in this short article: "Behold Paul."

World magazine's blog spotlight on D.G. Myers: "All the literary world loves a lover, especially if passion overwhelms his commitments and will... The literary ideology of the Western world is that the adulterer is subjected to erotic passion, as if he were the unwilling victim of a power outside his control. The Jews have a word for this: The word is idolatry."

In case you're interested, I try to affect my world view by reading things written intelligently from a Christian worldview. After years away, I have a subscription to World, Christianity Today, and Christian Counseling Today.

01 August 2009

Embrace It

"Some of us have a hard time believing that we are actually able to face our own pain. We have convinced ourselves that our pain is too deep, too frightening, something to avoid at all costs. Yet if we finally allow ourselves to feel the depth of that sadness and gently let it break our hearts, we may come to feel a great freedom, a genuine sense of release and peace, because we have finally stopped running away from ourselves and from the pain that lives within us."
Wayne Muller

Another even better Wayne Muller quote about suffering is at Jen X'x blog-- the name "blogger" undermines the beauty of her writing ability. Check her out!