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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Progressive

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the Gospel"  Philippians 1:12.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Post script

Several "letters to the editor" suggest additional descriptions of Katie that are too important to omit.  I could have gone on and on about her in the first letter but tried to restrain myself.  Still, these two need to be added.

Loyal and capable. Oh yes.  If Katie is your friend, it will be to her dying day.  She will support you and defend you and enjoy you forever.  (Conversely, if you have earned her distrust, it takes an awful lot to move you off the "naughty list".  Just warning...)  And capable.  Oh my, this kid is capable.  She does all things well and makes it look easy. Our family says that Katie has the Midas touch. She succeeds at everything. She's my hero.  Seriously.  If she would just move closer, we could hang out more and increase the chances of her rubbing off on me.

Thank you to those folks who added these descriptions.  You cannot imagine how it blesses a Mama's heart to know other people love your child!

One last note.  I got a couple of playful jabs and eyerolls at my unabashedly bragging on my kids.  Understood.  But, in my defense, "bragging" would imply that I take some credit.  I don't.  I am just thankful.  And, my example is my Heavenly Father, who publicly expressed His love and pride in His Son.  "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased".  So, please know my heart.  I just want to affirm my children for who they are and instill in them the assurance of my forever love. 

Now if I just had some doves at my disposal.....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First letter

As I wrote "Just some things we must tell the children", another whisper came to me.  These life lessons that I want to impart are important.  And I want to be sure my kids get them.  But there are things just as important that I need to communicate to them.  Maybe even more so. Things like how much I love them.  How incredible I think they are.  And how blessed I am to be their Mom.  All four are really  amazing and fabulous gifts.  And I want the world to know them, too.

Lego building


My friend Nancy is one of , if not THE, most compassionate, caring, thoughtful folks I know.  She is tenderhearted and merciful and most people would probably expect her to be a pushover. However, she is anything BUT.  So when she shared with me the advice she gives her kids when they face difficulties, I laughed in surprise.  Then I had her repeat it and I ran to write it down.  This is fabulous.  Had to share it with you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The beginning of Living Letters

I have always wanted to write a book.I didn't have The Great American Novel in mind, just a book. Something inspirational. Or life-coaching sort of thing. Maybe I thought it would be cool to see my name in print. Or maybe I wanted to polish my autographing skills. But mainly I think it's cuz I have so much to say! I am not an expert on anything but that never stops me from having an opinion. On most everything. I never could understand how someone could NOT have an opinion! (Right about now you are expressing sympathy for my husband. Duly noted) A few years ago, it dawned on me that I was probably never going to write that book. I was whining to myself about that fact and trying to use the excuse of being a busy Mom of 4. A busy wife of a busy husband. A Bible study writer/teacher. On and on ad nauseum. (I chose to ignore those amazing women that can do all I do and more....and still publish books by the truckload.) So anyway, in my state of complaining and denial, I took it up with my Boss. And He had the coolest answer. He told me that I was writing a book already! In fact, 4 books. They were not completed but were already published as works in progress. Being read widely. And, although editing is continuous, the reviews are favorable. Yeah, I may never write a book that is available on your Kindle, but make no mistake - I am an author. The apostle Paul shares my confirmation in 2 Corinthians3:2-6 "You are our letter(s), written in our hearts, known and read by all men, being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts, and such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves but our adequacy is from God." I am a contributing editor to the Katie book, the Mary book, the Chip book, and the Betsy book. And my heart hopes that I have written some lines in the lives of some other folks! Lately, I have been bitten by the blog-bug. I have joined the flood of folks that just have to get their thoughts in print, one way or the other. In spite of my cyber-illiteracy (that's what children are for, right?), I plan to use this forum to share my heart, my thoughts and ideas about "Living Letters", writing into the lives of others. So, if you are a woman and you want to write on hearts, come join me. Share your story. And let's write living letters together!

Friday, February 15, 2013

All the wrong places?


"Finally, my brothers, (uh, sisters), rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard to for you."  Philippians 3:1

I must have read the book of Philippians a hundred times before I saw the last clause of this verse.  Rejoicing as a safeguard.  Whatever could the Apostle have meant by that?

 God is certainly serious about rejoicing......commentaries tell me that "rejoice in the Lord" is mentioned nearly 200 times in Scripture. Let's unpack what He means, why it's important, and how it is a "safeguard for us".......

What does it mean to "rejoice"?  To find joy?  I think it's as simple as it sounds - being happy and satisfied and content and pleased. 

We all want to be happy and satisfied.  All of us.  We pursue it, whether we realize it or not. To quote one more wise (and famous!) than I -
Blaise Pascal, who saw that "all men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. . . . The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves"

Some Christians think that seeking to be happy is wrong.  That we should just want to be holy. (Note to self:  those are hard friends to have fun with!)  I don't think that's God's perscpective - He made us to long for happiness.  He even commands us to be happy!  And He lovingly guides us to the source of immutable happiness....Himself.    Finding our joy is who He is.....that's what "rejoicing in the Lord"means.

Why is it important?  Well, back to those folks that think we should just be holy -- do they make you long for a deeper walk with Christ?  Mmmm, didn't think so.  I like what John Piper says - "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."  Joy in the Lord is magnetic.  It draws others, not really to us, but to the source of the force field within us.....Jesus.  And that honors the Lord.

But rejoicing in the Lord is not only about Him.  Or others.  That's where the "safeguard" part comes in.  It is for us.  Since we are designed to seek happiness, we are going to do it....automatic pilot, sort of.  The decision on our part isn't whether we will seek to be happy but rather where we are going to find that joy.  Being satisfied....content.....happy....joyful in the Lord means I don't need to find it anywhere else.  Not in other relationships or possessions or status or circumstances.  When those things "all line up", they are just icing on the cake.  But when they don't, my joy is not threatened. And if I can grasp the Truth that those things really can't deliver on the "joy" promise like Christ can, then I don't wear myself out trying to get them to.

Here is how God explains it through Moses, in Deuteronomy 28:47-48 - "Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart . . . therefore you shall serve your enemies" .  And that's exactly what happens.  When we aren't satisfied in the Lord, we wind up a slave to whatever else we think will make us happy.  Beauty.  The opinions of others.  Material gain.  Whatever promises to make us feel valued or loved or accepted.  Unlike our powerful Heavenly Father, those things are hard masters.  They demand our time and affection....and yet they don't make good on their promise.  Any happiness we find is temporary, subject to unceasing demands to give more, more, more of our time or energy or emotion. And yet delivering less, less, and less happiness.

So that's what the "safeguard" part of that verse means.  Finding my joy in the Lord keeps me from looking for it in all the wrong places.

Rejoice, sisters, rejoice!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We love Him because He first loved us.  What shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. If you love Me, keep My commandments.

And we have known and believed the loved that God has for us.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Training sessions

I just love that, because God's Word is living and active, I can read a verse that is intensely familiar to me and still get a fresh Truth!  Depending on my circumstances or my level of obedience/maturity at that point, God often treats me to new nuggets of Himself even with portions of His Word that I have read many many times.

Such is the case for Wednesday's Word today. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just some things I must tell the children....

Some of you are in the trenches of parenting.  Physically fatigued.  Never a moment to think, much less to ponder what life lessons to teach your kiddos!  I understand.  I am not far from those years.  I still have two at home.  But with one grown and gone and another pretty much gone, I have time (in the shower!) to wonder if I have done a good enough job training them.  In between piano lessons and swim team and AWANA and Latin, did the messages I meant to convey ever get through?  Looking at my kids, they seem to be doing well.  But I still worry that I never got around to communicating satisfactorily some things that I think are important.  So I sat down today and made a list.  Just some things we must tell the children....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sometimes life's just hard

Famous line from Remember the Titans - "sometimes life's just hard. for no reason at all."  Coach Boone's wife commenting and consoling after the tragic accident of young Gary Bertier.

I love that movie.  And I can relate to that line. I prefer to blog positive, uplifting, even humorous posts but sometimes life's just hard.  Right now I have friends wrestling with really hard stuff.  Marriages in crisis (as in peril - not just a spat about where to spend the holidays).  A Mom struggling to preserve a pregnancy.  Valiant battles with cancer or other diseases.  Parents with rebellious kids. People that are hurting, really hurting. Even the carnage from Sandy in the NE.

I am sure you have the same situations and more keeping you on your knees.  As much as I hurt for my friends, as much as I cry out to Heaven on their behalf, I very much realize that I get a break from their pain.  I can find respite in the normalcy of my days.  They can't.  This reality is piercing.

So what are we to do?  I don't have steps 1,2,3 to make it all better.  All I know is to pray.  REALLY pray.  And sometimes there are things we can do that help.  Pray about what those are - don't assume you know.  While I don't recommend barging in and taking over, I think we should just do some things....not just say "let me know if I can help."  When folks are hurting, they probably don't know or won't ask what you can do to help.

  And I think it is right to hurt with them.  God help us if our hearts cease to hurt with those who hurt.  Bearing burdens.  I know it doesn't remove the load but it helps to know someone else cares enough to hurt on your behalf.

Back to that line from Coach Boone's wife....."for no reason at all".  I have to take issue with that part. As a Christ-follower, I know that nothing that happens to me is "for no reason at all".  It may be Eternity before I see the reason, but I walk in confidence that there is one.  And that it is good.  Because He is good...all the time. 

I know because He tells me so in His Word.  He promises me that all His ways are loving and faithful. That all things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  That He is always at work on my behalf.  That all His plans are to prosper me and to reveal His glory. That He will never leave me. And that His grace is sufficient for all my days.

And His Word is truer than my circumstances.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two receptions

A couple of weeks ago, I had two similar, yet dissimilar, experiences that God used to speak to me.  I'll bet you can relate.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Homemade granola bars

Several of you have commented that you have tried some of the recipes we shared on here and you love them. And lots of you are trying some of the "less is more" tips.  I am so glad!! Kudos to you all for making strides towards reducing excess, cutting costs, learning greater contentment, and experiencing the joy of giving.  Keep those stories coming!!!

 
My friend Morgan recently asked me for a granola bar recipe that wasn't crumbly. She is pursuing cost-cutting and hoping to be healthy about it.  I directed her to a couple that I repinned on Pinterest.  Those are great but Morgan's inquiry sent me to the kitchen - I wanted one just a bit differnt than ones I had tried.  I found some recipes and tweaked them to likings of my family.  Here's the result.  Hope you enjoy!!