Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Begins with the Giver

I saw a reminder on a local church marquis this week that said, "Thanksgiving Begins with the Giver." As I began to consider the truth behind those words, my thoughts were drawn to the Giver of all good gifts, God himself. For every good and perfect gift comes to us from Him.

Most of us across America will be celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. We will eat a big meal and be thankful that we have a table full of food and family or friends to share it with. We will be thankful for what we have enjoyed through the year and the freedom to live in America where we can have it all. We will be thankful for health and many, many other things.

Some will go around the Thanksgiving table as they gather together, offering a word of thanksgiving for something or someone throughout the past year. We know that some things that have come our way are beyond our own doing. We will "be thankful" and "have gratitude."

We basically know what to be thankful for, but will we be considering who we are to be thankful to? Who are we grateful to for providing so many blessings that we enjoy day after day, season after season? Who do we thank for a job where we can earn the money to buy this Thanksgiving meal? Who will we thank for the strength to go out to do the job? Who will we thank for the kitchen to prepare the meal? Who do we thank for such abundant lovingkindness and care? Gratitude and thankfulness require a provider. From whence cometh all these blessings? Surely not from within.

Thanksgiving begins with the giver, not with the gifts. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, dear one, thanking the giver of all your blessings.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:7

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

We Are Not What We Once Were

I was out with a friend today, and as we chatted about children and families, talk turned to growth. Our own growth as women and mothers. She made a comment that I think is well to remember...that even though we might not feel today like we're growing and maturing in our faith and how we respond to life, that if we would consider how we've grown and changed over a period of time, then we can more easily see it. And be encouraged by it! We are not what we, by God's grace, will be, but, thankfully, we are not what we once were. And that is by God's grace as well.

Our conversation this morning reminded me of a recent devotional reading. Let me share it with you. It was an encouragement to me. Perhaps it will be for you also.

from Heart of the Matter, Nov. 18 entry by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp :
I can be glad that God's Word is a mirror into my heart and that God puts people in my life to help me to see myself more accurately. I can be excited about my potential to learn, change, and grow. I will also seek godly help. The cross opens me up to the resources of God's grace. One of those resources is the body of Christ. I will not live independently. I will take advantage of biblical teaching available to me. I will seek the fellowship of a small group. I will pursue the wisdom of mature brothers and sisters. I will try to benefit from the accountability a close friend can provide. And I will take advantage of all these resources by being honest about my struggles of heart and behavior.

Painting ~ Cup of Tea, Walter Granville-Smith, 1870-1938
WikiGallery, public domain

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cheering Them On've been thinking throughout the day about yesterday's Sunday School discussion on parenting, and how important Titus 2 relationships are for Christian women. I think there are blessings on both sides. I'm thankful for women who came alongside me when My Beloved and I began our little family many years ago. I was blessed to have women who cared enough to guide me through those days when I was rather clueless.

My Beloved and I went to lunch yesterday with some young friends and five of their children. So well-disciplined and a joy to be around. And there are more families like them, too. I'm so very encouraged as I listen to some of the young moms I know talk about training their children and reaching them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This seems to be a generation of Christian parents who are serious about what they're doing. I think there is hope for America in the upcoming generation. At least there is hope for these children.

Yes, days can sometimes be hard, with or without children. Toil and trouble seem to find us whatever season we're in. But then there are the sweet hugs and kisses that melt the heart when children are around. I miss those days, and it brings a smile when I see these young families loving on each other. I want to cheer them on, and remind them that time with children is short. Even though the days can seem ever-so-long, and bedtime is ever-so-welcomed.
Painting ~ A Helping Hand, Eugene de Blass, 1884
Wiki Art, public domain

Monday, November 13, 2017

Recommending ~ Israel: The Royal Tour

With the time change, the evenings are seemingly longer, so to pass a little time yesterday evening, we decided to watch Israel: The Royal Tour on Amazon Prime. We have some friends who recently toured Israel, so this DVD caught our interest. It's a tour with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, hosted by Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor of CBS News.

It was a delightful look at Israel through the eyes of their leader, with some fun antics along the way, like playing soccer with Prime minister Netanyahu, rafting the Jordan River, and floating in the Dead Sea. Historic sites, religious monuments, modern tourist attractions, and a brief discussion about their state of affairs all gave me a greater appreciation for the nation of Israel and their love for their country. I highly recommend its viewing.

It can also be viewed on Netflix or YouTube. 60 minutes

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Weekend Daybook

Outside my window...
It was a glorious day on Thursday, so we took a 2-hour drive up into the mountains just to enjoy the sunny, autumn palette, although the photo doesn't seem to show the colors. :-/ By the time we arrived at our destination the sky was cloud covered. But we followed about a half hour after the rain, so our little picnic in the park in the cool mountain air was still enjoyable and refreshing. Came back out into the sunshine on our return trip home.

Noticing the sound of...
The rumble of the neighbor boys' truck as they leave our cul-de-sac. And their friends have rumble trucks, too. Their house seems to be the gathering place, which I think is a wonderful thing. Their parents know that it's a good idea to have an open door, hospitable home. That way they get to know their sons' friends. Wise parents. The mom says, though, that the grocery receipt can get pretty long.

Thankful For...
Those who have served in our military and for their families who have sacrificed their presence at home.

Around the house...

To let God's love flow through me. I too often clog the pipe.
The fruit of my hands...
Hemmed some pants for my mother. Pants are awfully long these days. My daughters are glad of it, though. 

In the Kitchen...
Made Torellini Casserole yesterday to share with my parents. Sharing the easy recipe with you. Serves 6

Prepare 1 pkg. 20 oz. Italian sausage tortellini
Meanwhile, stir fry a 3 pepper (red, yellow, green)-onion mixture, about 2 cups or so
   (I just used a precut container from the grocery store)
Combine tortellini and veggie mix
Stir in 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Spoon combination into casserole dish (I separated into 2 dishes so as to share)
Top with cheese or your choice
Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes, uncovering the last 5 minutes

Brought a smile...
As my sister Dorothy opened her birthday gifts, she would take them one by one to where she wanted to keep them. Open a card, take it to where she has them displayed. Open the gift, go put it on her bedroom chest. Open another gift, go put the wrapping in the the trash can. She may have some handicaps, but she's a whiz at keeping things orderly and in their place. 

"I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him. We have kept him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on him in prayer, we wonder where he is. He is exactly where we left him." ~ Ravi Zacharias, in Has Christianity Failed You?

About a comment I'd read on someone's blog recently that said he has posted each day for over 5,000 days. I don't know how anyone has enough time in the day to keep up with that and other responsibilities or opportunities, but I think he is famous in his life's sphere, and speaking and writing is part of his livelihood. I don't think I could even think of that many things to write about.

Finished Wise Parenting Principles from Proverbs last evening. Posted about it on Thursday

I hope your week has been filled with seeing God in the small things, dear one. That's where most of life is lived. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Evil Beyond Words
Jesus Wept

The horrific deaths of those whose lives are taken only because they are there causes us to ask, how can anybody be so entirely and completely mastered by such evil and wickedness as to kill and maim the innocent, especially children? And who would we ask, except God? I don't know if even the wicked perpetrators themselves would know.

This past Sunday's attack on the church family in the little town in Texas is almost beyond belief as to the heinousness that burst from the heart of the killer. I cannot wrap my mind around such evil to understand it. I cannot find the words to describe it. I read an article yesterday, though, by Janie Cheaney at World Magazine titled "The Terror of the Void" that gave me a little understanding. She was discussing the previous shooting in Las Vegas, and her thoughts could apply to any such violence as we've seen this past week.

She talked about evil being the absence of good. There is a void in our hearts that only God can fill with Himself and His goodness. When the heart has no goodness in it, that void is evil. Not filled with evil, but evil itself. God is the creator of all things, and goodness is from Him, but He did not create evil. Evil is the absence of God's good. It is that void without the goodness of God.

Janie Cheaney explains it so well, that I leave you with a link to her article. You can find it here. It helped me to understand a little more, even though it's still hard to imagine a person's heart so void of any goodness whatsoever that he could look at a baby's sweet face, see the innocence in the eyes, and continue his dastardly, cowardly, wicked, evil deed.

I've been thinking, how do we discuss this evil deed, or any evil, with our children and our grandchildren?  How do we help them process what has taken place? I will ponder it more, I'm sure, but I think we need to help them understand that the absence of God and His goodness in our hearts leaves the void, the evil. And evil becomes the master. The more we love God and His ways, the more our hearts are filled with His goodness. And He becomes our master.

All I know is to pray for those who mourn and weep, and to ask for God's grace and mercy to comfort and console, that they will know Father God in a way that they have not experienced before. I pray that He will strengthen them in their spirit, in their physical being, in their hearts and minds. Only He can do any of that. He is Goodness. God is great and God is good.

Painting ~ Jesus Wept, James Tippot (1836-1902)
Wikipedia, public domain

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thankful Thursday ~ For Biblical Authors

I'm thankful for people that God has gifted with an understanding of His Word and how to bring it to bear with the issues of life. I'm thankful for their ability to write with a gospel orientation as they share their insights and knowledge through the written word.

I've been doing some reading about parenting and wishing we had some of these books when our own children were growing up.  But it's never too late to learn good principles about training children and touching their hearts for eternity, to be a positive influence on  grandchildren and an encouragement to them in their faith.

One of the books I'm reading is Wise Parenting Principles From Proverbs by Chris Cutshall. The author categorizes the Proverbs into 40 principles for training children.
Wise Parenting Principles 1-5 ~ A Teachable Spirit
Wise Parenting Principles 6-10 ~ The Way of Wisdom
Wise Parenting Principles 11-15 ~ Arrows in the Hand
Wise Parenting Principles 16-20 ~ Strong Parent Leaders
Wise Parenting Principles 21-25 ~ The Small Window of Opportunity
Wise Parenting Principles 26-30 ~ The Treasure That You Seek
Wise Parenting Principles 31-35 ~ Stay on Mission
Wise Parenting Principles 36-40 ~ No Regrets
 Going to pass this book along to my daughter when I'm finished. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Finding the Way to Your Child's Heart

from J.C.Ryle:

Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. 

I do not mean that you are to spoil him, 
but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him. 

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. 

A willingness to enter into childish troubles
A readiness to take part in childish joys

These are the cords by which a child may be led most easily.
These are the clues you must follow.

If you would find the way to his heart.

~ J.C. Ryle,  from The Duties of Parents

Painting ~ Mother and Daughters Playing Chess, Francis Coates Jones (1857-1932)
Wiki Gallery, public domain
(It looks like checkers to me, but enjoyment nevertheless)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Overarching Theme, Our Good and His Glory

Sharing some thoughts from my quiet time reading today, and being reminded that God requires a few things from me. They take my mind back to yesterday's post and what God wants to be navigating my heart.
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (Deut.10:12-13)
My Beloved asked me last evening what my day was going to look like today, so that we sync our activities. What did I have planned for the day? Well, besides the routine responsibilities, returning an item to Walmart and picking up an item that I keep forgetting about until I need to use it, wrapping my sister's birthday gift and taking it to her so she can enjoy the anticipation of what might be inside for her birthday tomorrow, possibly a haircut (I surely need it!), continuing preparation for a Sunday School opportunity. All to be viewed as positive action items.

As I plan out my day and plot my journey through it, though, I'm reminded that my overarching theme is to be my relationship with God. Jesus reiterated this Himself, as we're reminded in the gospel of Matthew, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...You shall love your neighbor as yourself (22:37-39). I've had this reminder in my kitchen for several years, to be cognizant of where I let my mind wander, to put a guard over my heart as to what I allow to influence it.

It takes practice to know what does.
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
None of my action items for today are required of me, except through the filter of loving God with all my heart, my mind, my soul. Will I journey through the day with this objective in mind? Walmart will be where I meet my challenge. Practice, I tell myself. Practice.

Painting ~ The Artist's Wife Reading, Henry Bouvet
1859-1945, public domain

Monday, November 6, 2017

Surprised About Hollywood?
An Anxious Moment, Briton Riviere
Why is anyone surprised at the current goings on in Hollywood? What is seen on the screen simply flows from the heart through the pen and the voice of those with which it has to do. Why is it such a surprise then, especially to the regenerate and transformed mind, that immorality and perversion go on behind closed doors as well as on the screen? Are we that naive? Do we lack any discernment? Have our minds not been transformed but, rather, conformed to what Hollywood reels out movie after movie?

I watched a brief video on a blog today that speaks somewhat to this issue; if you'd like to watch it, click here. But I think the much more serious issue is the inability to discern what is affecting our hearts and minds and that of our children. An easy question to ask myself is, "Would I allow this to take place in my living room?" Do you enjoy watching what breaks the heart of God, the sins that cost Jesus on the cross? We are to love the things God loves and hate the things He hates. Simple enough. I'm not talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater and never watching a movie that may edify and encourage, but there's a warfare going on between God and Satan, and it's too often hardly noticed. Who is winning Hollywood? Who is winning your heart and the heart of your family?

Authors, whether through the pen, the keyboard, the lips, or the audio and visual arts have a story to tell with a philosophy to expound. Suggestion: Watch a movie (or TV show) at home that you'd normally choose and take notes. Two columns: godly themes / ungodly themes. I don't mean the overall theme of the movie. If there's a family dressed in their birthday suits taking food to their neighbors who have just had a loss of some sort, the theme of helping your neighbor is a good one, but obviously, the sub-theme of delivering the meal naked is wrong. You may not catch all the sub-themes of the movie; they're often very subtle. Watch with your spouse or a friend, both take notes, then compare and discuss. You may be surprised to learn what is actually coming into your mind and the mind of your children, both consciously and subconsciously. Food for thought either way. And the mind is where it matters. When you wonder where your children got some idea that you find foreign to your family, it may be no surprise at all. 

Some say that we need to be integrated into the culture, otherwise we'll be "irrelevant and alienated from others." They propose that watching Hollywood movies helps us have talking points with our neighbors, just be cautious of "the danger of excess." I don't see that philosophy expounded in Scripture. What we do read is that we are to test all things and to abstain from every form of evil and to hold fast to what is good. There's much more that we can discuss with our neighbors, and what seems to be unrecognized is that changes in thinking patterns slowly morph, and the change points are hardly noticed. It's like a lobster; if it's put into water that's being heated to boiling, he doesn't even notice that he's soon to be somebody's meal.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Is it you, dear one?  And what about those precious children who sit by your side, innocently munching on their popcorn?

Painting ~ An Anxious Moment, Briton Riviere 1878
WikiArt, public domain


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