Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

April, 2009

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

My Mother, My Friend

“Her children rise up and call her blessed.”  Proverbs 31:28

My mom has been visiting for the last couple of days, and I have been enjoying having her here very much!  She has been a real encouragement to me, and I always enjoy just being with her.   I can truly say that I am blessed to have her as my mother.

I enjoyed the following story that was quoted in our church newsletter.  I don’t know the source, but it is quoted from Bible.org.

The Meanest Mother in the World

We had the meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from other kids had, too.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do. She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds. Then, life was really tough! Mother wouldn’t let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.

Because of our mother, we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other’s property, or ever arrested for any crime. It was all her fault. We never got drunk, took up smoking, stayed out all night, or a million other things, other kids did. Sundays were reserved for church, and we never missed once. We knew better than to ask to spend the night with a friend on Saturdays.

Now that we have left home, we are all God-fearing, educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that’s what is wrong with the world today. It just doesn’t have enough mean moms anymore.

I know that my children often think of me as a “mean” mother.  I hope that they someday look back and realize that they are thankful that I a “mean”, even as I am very thankful for the times when my own mom was “mean”!

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Unqualified

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?   And why are you disquieted within me?   Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”  Psalm 42:5

I have not felt qualified to post anything for the last several days.   Who am I to think that I can offer encouragement to other moms when I can’t even get my own children to do what they are supposed to do?  Who am I to think that I have anything worthwhile to say?  Who am I to even think that I know anything at all about mothering?

Yes, I’ll admit to having somewhat of a pity party during the last few days.  I have been discouraged at the apparent lack of growth and maturing in children who seem to have the same issues come up over and over again.   Why do the same things have to be addressed time and time again as if for the first time?

Hmm.  I think I see a similarity here.  Does the Lord not have to address the same things over and over again in my life, too?  Is the Lord ever discouraged about my lack of growth?  I seem to have a problem learning the lessons that the Perfect Parent is trying to teach me, so maybe I need to not be quite so hard on my children when they don’t learn the lessons that this very imperfect mother is trying to teach them.  Maybe instead of focusing on my discouragement with my children, I need to look inward to see what the Lord might be trying to teach me.

To start with, I find that I need to let go of my discouragement and put my hope in the Lord.  The above verse is found three times in two chapters with almost the exact same wording.  (It is also found in Psalm 42:11 and 43:5.)  The Lord must have really thought it important to have included it so many times.  You might think that He knew that there would be times when we would be discouraged and need to have our focus redirected to Him!

Secondly, since I believe that the Lord has put this desire to be an encouragement on my heart, I need to obey whether or not I feel qualified.  Maybe it is that very lack of qualification that can be an encouragement to someone else.  No one need feel that they can never measure up to me, because I certainly DON’T have it all together!  I will just keep posting as the Lord gives me words, and pray that I don’t ever get to the point where I feel that I can do this without His help.

Has anyone else felt discouraged and unqualified as a mother lately?  If the Lord has given you something to encourage you, please share it.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

He Never Forgets

“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified!’   But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me.”  Psalm 40:16-17

The Lord has made Himself real to me time after time.  He has made me feel His love, He has shown me His care, He has let me hear His still, small voice.  You would think that I would be continually grateful, that I would continually be basking in the Light of His presence.   Unfortunately,  I have a tendency to forget Him.

In my self-centeredness, it is not always praise for the Lord that immediately comes to mind when things are going well.  Nor is it always an immediate cry for help that comes to my lips when thing aren’t going so well.  Instead, I might feel self-satisfied when I feel that I have done things right or just plain down-in-the-dumps when things don’t seem to be going my way.  It’s really not about me, though!  I was created to bring glory to God, and focusing on myself and my circumstances definitely does not help me to fulfill that purpose.  When things are going well, it is not MY doing, but the Lord working through me.  And when things seem hard, that is precisely when the Lord can step in and work.

Apparently, David had a similar problem.  He recognized that it is RIGHT to rejoice and to magnify the Lord continually, but he also realized that he was needy in his self-centeredness.  Oh, the hope there is for me, though, in his next words … “yet, the Lord thinks upon me.”  I may forget the Lord, but He does not ever forget me.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Temptation Escape

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  I Corinthians 10:13

Temptation is a daily part of life, unfortunately.  Some days there are more temptations than other days, and some temptations are stronger than others.   Some temptations are for minor things … like complaining … and others are for major things that are easier to recognize.

I memorized the above verse when I was in the 10th grade, and it has come to mind on a regular basis since.  It has been a real encouragement to me when I have felt overwhelmed, and the Lord has proven Himself time and time again.  Recently, we were assigned this verse for memorization in the Bible Study that I am going through, using the book Growing Strong in God’s Family.   (Tyranny of the Urgent is another post referencing this study.)

I had the verse written out on a 3 x 5 card in my Bible along with the other memory verses for the study.  Yesterday, one of my children was lamenting the fact that temptations can sometimes be very difficult to overcome, and I was able to pull out the card and give it to the child.  I need to also pass it along to the rest of the children.  I hope that it will be as much of an encouragement to them in their lives as it has been to me!

The opportunity to pass along a meaningful scripture yesterday further illustrated the point to me that it is important for me to be modeling a quiet time and scripture memorization for my children.  I know that it meant a whole lot more to the child receiving the verse yesterday that I had pulled it out from my Bible rather than having to go look it up and suggesting that it be written out.  It was obvious that the verse meant something to me more than just a platitude to pass along.  I just wish that I had been more faithful with my quiet time and memorization earlier, but it’s never too late.  I pray that the Lord will help me to be more faithful from here on out!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Pestered, or Blessed?

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.”  Psalm 128:3

Part of the price that we pay for the blessing of children is the discomfort that is often a part of pregnancy.  I have spent the last 3 days in a fair amount of pain, and I know that there is more to come.  But right along side the pain, there is joy.  Just a few minutes ago, as I sat my aching body down in front of the computer, my three-year-old came to me with a hug and said, “I want to pester you.”

:-D

Did I feel “pestered”?  Not one bit!  Rather, I felt very grateful that I had a little one to hug and hold.  I felt grateful that “pester” isn’t a bad thing in our family, so that my little one felt perfectly free to come to me for some lovin’.  I felt grateful for the ability to be home with these precious children.

Along those lines, I’d like to encourage you to go read this post from a mom who has far more experience than I.  She is the mom of 14 children, with another on the way, and also a grandmother.  I found her post very encouraging today.

I’m going to get off the computer and go enjoy my children!  :-)

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Myth, or Reality?

“According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.   For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.   But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.   For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”  Philippians 1:20-23

I have a confession to make.  I LOVE Southern Gospel music, especially the older stuff.   I didn’t even know what Southern Gospel music was until the mid 90′s, but then my family was introduced to one of Bill Gaither’s Homecoming videos, and I was hooked.  I grew up listening to the Gaither Trio and Doug Oldham, but I had no idea about such groups as the Statesmen, the Blackwood Brothers, the Happy Goodmans, or other such groups before seeing the Homecoming videos.

Last night, we pulled out Singin’ In My Soul from our collection of Gaither Homecoming videos and watched it as a family.  At one point, Tanya Goodman Sykes was singing a song written by her late father, Rusty Goodman.

Look for Me (Words and Music by Rusty Goodman)

When you finally make your entrance to that city
Of jasper walls and bright golden avenues,
As you behold all its beauty and its splendor,
Remember there’s just one request I make of you:

Look for me for I will be there, too.
I realize when you arrive there will be so much to view.
After you’ve been there ten thousand years,
A million, maybe two
Look for me, for I will be there too.

As you go down your list of firsts there’s no question
We’re gonna have to see our loved ones, me and you.
And when you feel you’ve shared your story with the last one
Who wants to hear just how you made it through,
Look for me for I will be there too.

I realize when you arrive there will be so much to view.
After you’ve been there ten thousand years,
A million, maybe two,
Look for me for I will be there too.

Rusty’s brother Howard was still living and was present as Tanya was singing.  He sobbed his way through it, and then made the confession that, as he was getting older and thinking about his own mortality, he had doubted at times whether all that he had sung about for so many years was just a myth, or if there really would be a Heaven on the other side of death.  Tanya’s singing had helped to renew his faith in the Lord he had followed for so long.  What followed Howard’s confession was a sweet time of sharing and singing as others revealed that they, too, had struggled with doubts, but that the Lord had helped them to come to the point of trust.  Bill Gaither sang his song “I Believe”

I Believe (Words and Music by Bill and Gloria Gaither)

I believe, help Thou my unbelief.
I take the finite risk of trusting like a child.
I believe, help thou my unbelief.
I walk into the unknown trusting all the while.

I long so much to feel the warmth that others seem to know.
But should I never feel a thing, I claim Him even so.
I believe, help thou my unbelief.
I walk into the unknown trusting like a child.

Have you ever struggled with doubts?  I have.  Somehow it’s encouraging to think that even those who spend their lives in service for the Lord can have these doubts.  Yet the Lord is gracious, and He has made Himself real to me time and time again, and doesn’t chastise me when I fall back into doubt now and then.  Instead, He draws me into an even sweeter walk with Him.  ”For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”  Psalm 103:14

Friday, April 17th, 2009

A Wise Fool?

“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”  Proverbs 17:28

The Proverb chapter for today included a verse that reminded me of a humorous incident that happened several years ago.

When I first started homeschooling, I was blessed to be a part of a wonderful support group made up of Christian homeschooling moms.  We laughed together, prayed together, had park days and field trips for our children, and generally encouraged each other.  Even though I have long since moved far away from that city and have only infrequent contact with a few of those ladies, I still cherish the friendships that were established when I was a young mom of young children and sometimes overwhelmed by the responsibility of motherhood and homeschooling.

After a couple of years of being a part of this group, I was privileged to be asked to be a part of the leadership for the group.   We were having a “board meeting” one night, and plans were being discussed.  As the youngest member of the group, I was mostly sitting quietly and observing, especially since I didn’t feel that I really have anything of worth to add to what was being said.  Finally, one of the other moms turned to me and said, “What do you think?  You’re always so wise, sitting there quietly while the rest of us are all talking.”

Well, our family had just recently read the above verse, so I immediately quipped, “Even a FOOL is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut!”

We have often repeated this incident in our family and laughed about it.  There has been more reason for repeating the antecdote than for a laugh, though.  We have tried to teach our children to not just feel that they always have to be interjecting into a conversation, but to wait until they really have something to contribute.  When we are seen as someone who always has to say something about everything, others tend to give less credence to what we have to say.  However, when we are thoughtful about what we say, people tend to listen more and give our words more weight.   I certainly wasn’t sitting in the middle of that group of ladies feeling at all wise, but my opinion was specifically sought BECAUSE I wasn’t feeling that I HAD to interject myself into the conversation.

It has often been said that we are given one mouth and two ears for a reason.  We are to listen twice as much as we speak.  How often do I instead speak twice as much as I listen?  Am I even more guilty of this when it comes to my children, or am I careful to listen to them?  Ouch.

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Freebies!

Homeschool Freebie of the Day is a site that regularly gives away free educational resources.  Today, they are giving away FOUR resources related to Paul Revere and his famous “Midnight Ride”.   These resources will only be available through this weekend, so hurry over and get them here!  :-)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

A Soft Answer

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

As part of my scripture reading, I like to read the Proverb of the day.  (There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so I read the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month.)   Today’s chapter started with a verse that I am trying very hard to implement in my life and teach to my children.

Some days it seems as if the bickering and arguing is constant.  One child makes a snide remark, the next responds in anger hurting the other’s feelings, and soon you have them seeing who can outdo each other with the loudest and most hurtful words.  If the child who was the recipient of the original remark had responded with something that had diffused the situation rather than adding fuel to the fire, there would have been a quick end to the bickering and fewer feelings hurt.

When we allow ourselves to raise our voices in anger, it very often breeds more anger.  The blood pressure goes up, our voices get louder, the anger increases, the ability to think clearly decreases, and the cycle continues.  When I was in the 7th grade, I had an English teacher who told us that she and her husband had decided early in their marriage that they would lower their voices instead of raise them if they were angry.   She said that you could tell when they were really angry because their voices were so low that you could hardly hear them.  Rather than emotionally tuning each other out, they were more likely to pay attention to what the other person was saying because they had to really listen to them.  The result was that their anger was not escalated by the sheer adrenaline produced by shouting, and they were able to work through things much more reasonably and quickly.  Their home sounded a lot more peaceful, but it truly WAS a lot more peaceful, too!

As a mom, there are MANY things throughout the day that get on my nerves, and some of those things make me angry.  Do I respond harshly, or do I try to calm the atmosphere with a soft answer?  I am afraid that I have been guilty of yelling far too many times.  I know from experience, however, that yelling lowers my clear-headedness and either induces feelings of rebellion in the child being yelled at or causes them to withdraw.  While there are times when it may be appropriate to raise my voice, more often than not it only makes matters worse.  On the other hand, if I practice lowering my voice, I am able to stay more in control of my emotions and speak more logically and KINDLY, and my words very often get through more effectively.

Now if only I could be consistent in giving soft answers, maybe my children would finally learn how to do so, too!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Where Are the Green Pastures and Still Waters?

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures;  He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”  Psalm 23:1-3

This is a favorite Psalm of Christians worldwide.  It brings to mind a picture a life of ease in an idyllic setting.  But more often than not, we find ourselves weary and thirsty.  The cares of daily life wear us down, and those green pastures and still waters are only a mirage.  We search for things to restore our souls, but end up feeling more and more used up and exhausted.

Wait a minute!  Maybe the key is that we’re searching for THINGS to refresh us!  While there’s nothing wrong with mom’s nights out or scrapbook crops or a good book and cup of coffee, those aren’t the things that we should be relying on to refresh us.  Those things can help, but has anyone else ever noticed that the more things we do to give ourselves a break, the more we need/want?  Too often, it seems that the more I try to use things or activites to give me the time off I need, the more restricted I feel.  I seem to shrivel up in my soul, rather than grow and mature into a more happy wife and mother.

The Lord has promised refreshment, but He has said that HE will provide it.  If I am not spending time relaxing in His presence, no amount of other things will satisfy my soul.  He can certainly use outside activities to provide some of our rest, but it is time with Him that will truly rejuvenate me and cause me to mature and grow.  I have seen this happen over and over again – why is it that I am still so quick to neglect that quiet time when things get hectic?

Why, oh why am I constantly having to relearn the same things over and over again?!

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