Thursday, December 7, 2017

Thankful Thursday ~ The Day Is Sweeter

I braced myself for the day. I've been having some coughing and congestion for several months now, worsening this past couple of weeks, so my doctor sent me for a couple of diagnostic tests. Had the last one today. Praise, that nothing was found except some "scar tissue from a distant illness, possibly childhood." I don't remember it, but I must have been one sick kid sometime back then. Strange, though, that this is the first report I've had of it. Well, I'm glad that it's over, but I do hope this congestion and cough goes away soon. It's rather bothersome.

Such times bring me to contemplate my spirit, though, as I consider the possibilities of outcome. I think it's prudent to consider the possibilities so as not to be unduly shaken if what is possible does come to pass. That's not to say that I dwell pessimistically on the possibilities, but rather to consider how I might respond and glorify God in them. His grace is always sufficient, and I need and want to draw upon it.

Isn't the day always sweeter when the dread of it has passed?

Painting ~ Preparing for A Walk, Samuel Baldwin 1818-1891
Wikigallery public domain

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In The Shadow of His Hand

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_C._Tarbell
I came across a brief passage today in my reading that I recall having on my refrigerator several years ago during an arid time in my life. It was very much an encouragement to me then as I was feeling rather without purpose. It's a reminder that God first calls us to faithfulness. How he launches that faithfulness rests in the shadow of his hand.

Sharing the passage with you in hopes that it may be an encouragement to you as well.

Fit yourself for God's service; be faithful. He will presently appoint thee... in some unlikely corner, in a shepherd's hut or in an artisan's cottage, God has his prepared and appointed instrument. As yet the shaft is hidden in his quiver, in the shadow of his hand; but at the precise moment at which it will tell with the greatest effect, it will be produced and launched on the air.
F.B. Meyer in David, the Shepherd, Psalmist, King

Painting ~ Girl Reading, Edmund C. Tarbell, 1910
Wikipedia public domain

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Weekend Daybook


Outside My Door...
Bright Christmas lights and decor going up in the neighborhood. Deflated Santas, a Minion, and Mickey Mouse globbing on the lawns during the day. Not very attractive. So the glow at night makes up for the glob in the day to some, I suppose. My own pho--I'll be glad when that fad has passed.

Brought a smile...
A little fella and his daddy out for a walk in the neighborhood. Exchanging greetings as I decorate the front porch. Little fellas always bring a smile to my heart. :-)

Thinking...
It is sad that the rights of parents need to be stated in an amendment to our Constitution, but that is the society we live in today. The Parental Rights Amendment has been introduced in the Senate and the House. The first section of the amendment: "The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right." Please consider calling your Congressmen and encourage them to co-sponsor the amendment, if they have not already. The more co-sponsors, the more likely it will get to committee for a hearing. More information at parentalrights.org
   
Thankful...
That the White House has Merry Christmas greetings this year. Glad the slippery slope has slowed a little.

Noticing the sound of...
My Beloved quietly playing Christmas music. I'm surprised that he waited until December. :-)

Around the house...
















In the Kitchen... 
Not much has happened there this week while My Beloved is experimenting with intolerance to certain foods. Something doesn't agree with him, but I think he's getting closer to figuring it out.

Looking forward to...
Getting rid of this cough and congestion.

Reading...
https://www.paultripp.com/come-let-us-adore-him-advent-devotional
I like to choose a book about Jesus the Christ to read and reflect on during December as we celebrate His coming into the world. This year I've chosen Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp. It's a daily advent devotional that also includes a central theme suggestion to discuss with children. For example, he suggests that you talk with your children about why people sing, and talk about why the angels sang at the birth of Jesus.



You can enjoy some brief 2-minute Advent/Christmas videos with Tripp on similar topics at his website:  paultripp.com

Pondering...
"The Advent story reminds us that our past, present, and future hope rest not on our willingness, but on the willingness of the One for whom the angels sang, the shepherds worshiped, and the magi searched. Willing Jesus is the only hope for unwilling sinners!" ~ Paul David Tripp, in Come Let us Adore Him

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Weakness, A Good Thing?

https://www.wikiart.org/en/william-adolphe-bouguereau/the-nut-gatherers-1882
The Nut Gatherers, William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1882

Sometimes we have to be strong for the weak. My sister who lives with my parents is weak mentally from birth complications and needs the strength of her family, those who surround her with love and care.
And we urge you, brothers, ... encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.  (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Yet, where do any of us find our strength? I often feel weakness rather than strength. But it is in that very weakness that God gives grace, and His strength is then made manifest.

Acknowledging weakness brings hope. Then we can look beyond ourselves and autonomy. We were created for relationships, to be interdependent on one another. Where I am weak, another is strong. We bring our strengths and weaknesses to one another.

Yet, back to the question... where do any of us find our strength?
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:2)
For when I am weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

It is good that His strength is seen through our weakness. Our purpose is to glorify Him, and it is as others see Him at work in us that we glorify the giver of all grace and all strength. For it is in Him that they will find hope and call out for His strength in their own weakness.

My sister struggles in ways others of us in our family do not. But her faith in Jesus is strong, and she is a true prayer warrior for those she loves. I know God will strengthen her with His abundant grace when she needs it most greatly. Our parents are elderly, and I sometimes wonder how she will cope when their final days come. I've seen anxiety and fear arise quickly within her whenever our mother becomes ill. In time, she will need God's strength pouring from His hand through her family to uphold her. I am thankful we can look beyond ourselves in our need.

So you, too, dear one, be strong and of good courage, for the giver of grace and strength is at work in you, if you are one of His children. But if you are not one of His, do seek Him, and you will find Him.  
Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 56:6)

Painting ~ The Nut Gatherers, William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1882
WikiArt public domain 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Training Children to Love One Another

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Critical_Moment_High_Res.jpg

For the past couple of weeks in our Sunday School class, we had been talking about principles of parenting from the book of Proverbs and pulling a few points out of the book Wise Parenting Principles by Chris Cutshall. He has 40 principles, but we discussed only ten of them. One of those principles was 'Wise parents train their children to love one another.' 

God established the family as the foundational community for teaching and training, as we know from Deuteronomy 4:6-7--And these words, which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 
  
Learning to love and care about one another in the home is the training ground for all of the "one anothers" that we find in the Scriptures. But since we were working from the book of Proverbs, let me list just a few of the verses I found there that can help our children learn to love one another in our homes.

· We stand by one another when times get tough.
Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

· We do good to one another.
Proverbs 3:27Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

· We do not pick on each other or bicker with one another.
Proverbs 3:29-30Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives insecurity beside you.

· We do not tattle on one another just to cause trouble.
Proverbs 24:28—Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.

· We are honorable and do not quarrel.
Proverbs 20:3Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.

· We do not tease or trick or deceive one another and call it joking. 
Proverbs 26:18-19Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “I am only joking.”

· We are kind and truthful to one another. 
Proverbs 3:3Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck; Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Too often children grow up not liking or loving one another. Much is lost when that is true. A book I would recommend is Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by the Mally siblings. I posted about it here, if you'd like to read a little about it. The siblings, ages 22, 17, and 12 wrote how each of them viewed different situations and how they came to appreciate each other's perspectives.
 
The Proverbs are wonderful for teaching wisdom principles to our children. Another book I'd recommend is Proverbs for Parenting: A Topical Guide for Child Raising from the Book of Proverbs by Barbara Decker. She organizes many of the Proverbs into categories that can be used for memory work or referencing as we train our children and grandchildren. The book is currently out of print but can be found from used book dealers.


Painting ~ A Critical Moment, Harry Brooker 1848-1940
Wikimedia Commons public domain

Friday, November 24, 2017

A Turn Toward Joy

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_115927/John-George-Brown/Walk-InI stopped by to see my mother this morning, and talk naturally turned to Christmas now that Thanksgiving has come and gone. The opening gate of the Christmas race is upon us, although Halloween is vying for that position as we've seen Christmas decor in the stores for more than a month already. The powers-that-be know that we'll keep shopping until the closing bell at the midnight hour, no matter when the race begins.

For many of us, Christmas has deeper meaning than shopping and gift-giving. For us, our thoughts can meander through the various facets of our cultural celebrations, and we can enjoy many of its colors. We hold tightly to the eternal and loosely to that which soon dims and fades.

For some, though, the giving of gifts can easily become a burden. I was saddened to hear of my mother's dread of going through the season once again. And yet, I can understand how overwhelming it is to her as she thinks about the physical aspect of shopping itself. She has difficulty getting around these days and tires easily. I encouraged her to shop online, but she doesn't like to use the Internet. She's also easily overwhelmed when thinking about what to purchase for those she loves.

As I've considered how I may be able to help her work through some of the hindrances to her Christmas joy, this may be a gift I can give her. Perhaps a shopping trip next week will do her some good. The sooner the gifts are gathered, the sooner she can relax her mind and reflect upon the aspects of Christmas that do bring her joy--rejoicing in the birth of our Savior and Friend. He is the only One who can bring us joy. I pray that her celebrations will soon take a turn toward true joy.

Scrooginess can easily set in if we aren't alert to it. So for us, dear one, let us continue to look for the true joy in Christmas. He is there.

Painting ~ Walk In, John George Brown 1831-1913
Wiki Art public domain

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

https://www.wikiart.org/en/eugene-de-blaas/a-helping-handI'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



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