A friend sent this link to a video that has truly re-inspired me to live every moment to its fullest. Even though it's a very sad story, it is evidence of the joy that God gives. I saw these parents interviewed, and the mom said, "I knew what was coming, but I decided to be sad later." She and her husband chose to celebrate every day of their son's life. Make sure to watch 99 Balloons today. Warning: Make sure to have a box of Kleenex beside you.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I am so blessed to be able to say that my mother was my first mentor, and her influence is ongoing in my life. She has consistently modeled the fruits of the Spirit for me. Her love made our home a wonderful place to grow up. I always felt safe and accepted unconditionally. She was and is one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I'm filled with thankfulness for her ongoing encouragement.
Titus 2:3-5 gives an extensive list of the things that older women are to model for younger women. In that list it says that younger women need to be taught to be busy at home. My mom is the enduring example of this in my life. She is an excellent housekeeper, decorator and cook. Even though I probably almost drove my tidy mom crazy in my teenage years by leaving dirty clothes all over my floor and bras draped over furniture, she persevered in setting a high standard and teaching me. Some lessons didn't take--I'm a lousy cook--but she certainly did her part!
When I lived at home, it irked me to no end to be asked to straighten up, but I knew that her lessons had taken hold once I left for college. My roomate was terrific, but I loved the weekends that she went home to be with her boyfriend. On Friday, I'd clean like a wild woman and then bask all weekend in a spotless room. Looney, but true...
In my household today, I've had to relax my standards a little. Living in an active family means that there's less time for cleaning, but I still love to have the house picked up even if there's dust on all the furniture. I'm also learning to enjoy the fruits of cooking family meals even though I don't love all the work before.
I treasure the lessons learned in my mom's home. She taught me that a well-run household is a gift that brings peace in a family. Our homes can be a harbor for our husband at the end of a hard day and our children who come home exhausted from a big day at school. It's not so fun while we're in the midst of the hard work of maintaining our homes. However, this is the fruit of being busy at home---that it's a place that we all love to be and where we all feel loved.
What are you learning about keeping your home? (I bought my first zester last week!)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Welcome to any of you who are coming from Encouragement for Today! It's such a privilege to have you visit, and I look forward to our contact on devotion days. I want to spend a special shout-out to those of you visiting from other countries. It makes me look forward to the day when every tribe, nation and tongue gather around the throne of the Lamb.
Today's devotion is on a topic that is one of the passions of my heart. God has used other women in my life over and over to strengthen my walk, challenge me and grow me up. In today's world, we use the word "mentoring" to describe that kind of relationship. The truth is that it's not a modern concept. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, and this is no exception. His idea of mentoring, though, doesn't read like a self-help manual. He wants us to lead others to Jesus and to help them grow into a life that looks increasingly like His. The word that seems to have fallen somewhat into disfavor that I think better describes God's goals is discipleship.
I have been blessed to have many women in my life who have poured out their life into the women around them. I'd like to take a few posts to tell you about some of them. I hope that these posts will encourage you to begin praying for your own mentor or considering who God may be calling you to mentor.
When I first took on the title of Women's Ministry Director, I was young-ish and completely inexperienced. I was excited by what I believed was God's calling, and He had given me some ideas and inspiration. Excitement came spilling out in Pastor David's office as I explained my goals and plans for the ministry. I'm thankful that in great wisdom David recommended that I find a mentor and then directed me to Mona.
Mona was the receptionist at our church. She was the first face that anyone saw who entered the church. Her voice was the first that anyone heard when they called. If that job wasn't important enough, God had given her the position of resident lay-counselor, Bible teacher extraordinaire and softest shoulder to cry on. Everyone in the church knew Mona, and everyone loved her.
Mona had a bench in front of her desk in her office at the church's entrance, and it was rarely empty. There was a constant stream, that included our pastors, of people who sought Mona for counsel. The reason was obvious. Mona knew the Word of God. She didn't dispense her opinion or pithy sayings. She didn't respond out of pity or sympathy. Mona would take people faithfully to what God's Word had to say about their situation, and then she would pray. Oh yeah...she was also known for being a woman of prayer. Her phrase that she became known for was, "Beloved, run to Jesus!"
I'm exceedingly grateful for the day that David pointed me toward the bench in Mona's office. I spent hours there seeking her guidance, support and wisdom. She was faithful both to encourage me when I was low and to tell me the truth when I needed to hear it. I came to value how Mona would tell me hard things, and I always felt her deep love for me while she shared.
I learned so much from her. I learned to seek God's Word for the answers that I needed. I learned to "run to Jesus" first. I learned to ask for the truth from others that I loved and trusted.
One other lesson that was so important is one that I love to share when I speak. Mona was a woman of tremendous power as the receptionist of our church. The very nature of her job allowed her to know LOTS about the workings and the people of the church. If she had been a gossip, it could have been the demise of the church. She wasn't a gossip, though, and she also wouldn't allow gossip in her presence. Many times as I occupied the bench, someone would come into the office to "share". (You KNOW that real Christians don't gossip. They just "share"!) If the sharing started going down a bad path, Mona would gently interrupt and say, "Beloved, that is something that I just don't need to know." Amazing! With the exception with one clueless person who was a terrible gossip, that gentle phrase never failed to shut down the gossip. I had the phrase used on me a couple of times, and the rebuke stung a little. I was so grateful, though, to have an example of holiness lived out for me.
Even though I've moved, I think of Mona as one of the major influencers of my life. Her example of godliness has stayed with me, and phrases from her teaching still run through my mind. I love her and long to be like her for the younger women around me.
Do you have a mentor who has taught you to be more like Jesus? I'd love to hear about this person as I share mine over the next week!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tears stung my eyes and my heart ached as I climbed into my car. My emotions swung wildly from assurance that I had said the right things to doubt in the stand that I had taken. I pulled my cell phone out of my purse to call my friend Holly, and then the lesson that I had heard that day took it's place with me in the front seat.
"Moses returned to the Lord and said..." (Exodus 5:22). Moses was in the midst of a very discouraging situation. After years of mistakes, learning in the desert and insecurity in his speaking skills, he had finally done exactly what the Lord said. He had gone to Pharaoh and said, "Let my people go." Surely now all the pieces would fall into place. He was exactly at the right time and place, and he had obeyed what the Lord had told him. Moses was about to learn a lesson that many of us are facing. He may have expected Pharaoh to get a thoughtful look and say, "Of course you can go, Moses. I know that God is leading you, and we just need to do what He says."
That's not what happened, though. Not only did Pharaoh mock God, he doled out even harsher treatment to the Israelites making them continue making bricks without the provision of straw. The people were outraged, and they turned on Moses. How discouraging! Things weren't going at all the way Moses had imagined. Now that he was on the right track with God and walking in obedience, life was supposed to get easier. Right?
Here's what encouraged me about Moses' story. God really had done a work on him in the desert, because we see that despite his disappointment, he turned to God in prayer. It was a distressed prayer, but it was real and heart-felt. When he faced an indignant Pharaoh and his angry people, Moses returned to God and poured out his heart.
In the car, I set my cellphone down, closed my eyes and bowed my head. I poured out my confusion and disappointment to God--and He met me there. My emotions settled, my mind found rest and God's peace poured over me. He is good!
I shared with Holly later and she said that she was glad that I ran to the throne and not the phone! I started thinking about the other place that I've turned in times of confusion or sadness. I've turned to food or the television. I've tuned out or revved up. Returning to God is the lesson that Moses learned, and I'm thankful for God's Word that helped me with that lesson, too.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This has been one of those days that's been busy but enormously productive. It's easy to go to sleep happy on a day like that.
The main thing that leaves me with peace is that the prep for Loving Your Children is done. Thanks so much to those of you that left comments. I've used each one in a different part of the message. It's a God-thing that they fit so well.
Preparation is always a blessing in and of itself. Don't you all find that? Time digging into God's Word never fails to challenge me and refresh me.
So this is brief since I'm ready to snuggle into bed and get some zzzzs. I was just thinking about my friends in the blogger world and wanted to wish you all a good night. Good night moon. Good night spoon. Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!
Monday, October 13, 2008
One of the delights of my life these days is participating in Apples of Gold at my church. Apples of Gold is a wonderful mentoring program that teaches women from Titus 2 about the characteristics of godly womanhood. I love that it's so Biblically grounded.
The other huge perk connected with AOG is that we eat together. A woman from our church comes and gives a short cooking lesson and makes dinner for the group. We eat in my friend Debbie's gorgeous dining room in the warmest most beautiful historic home. It's a girly treat for everyone involved.
On Thursday, I get the opportunity to lead the session on loving your children. I'm in prep mode, so I wanted to ask you for some help. What is a way that God has led you to show love to your children recently? I'd love to share some of your comments with our group!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
At She Speaks I bought this awesome silver, bangle bracelet from the super-cool Vern. In the morning when the cool metal slips over my wrist, I think about what it says. During the day when it jangles against my other bangles, it reminds me of what it says. I love it, and here's what it says:
Count your blessings instead of your crosses.
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your smiles instead of your tears.
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your health instead of your wealth.
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.
My sweet Daddy always says that he doesn't mind his birthdays rolling around as long as each year is better than the last. Despite the fact that there have been some hard years, he says that each year HAS been better than the last. That's because my dad lives by the verse on my bracelet. He counts his blessings and gives the rest to God.
I want to live on that path, too. This year has been better than the last, so I'm counting my blessings.
- 41 years of grace and mercy from the Lord
- A husband who still adores this ever-more-wrinkly face
- A boy who loves music and his mama
- Another boy who pretends to do homework while he makes his mama a birthday Power Point
- A little red weiner dog who does the full-body-wiggle for me every morning
- Friends who lift my days with their love, support and laughter
- A mom and dad who call early on vacation to wish me a happy day
- A mother and father who gained me through marriage and have loved me enough to make a German chocolate cake from scratch
- The Dohm choir--my brother, sissy and kids who sing like angels
- The P31 team who inspires me, prayer for me and makes me laugh until I fall out of my chair
- A job that lets me meet tons of wonderful people and the world's best boss
- Another job that lets me declare the glory of the Lord!
Life is good and today I celebrate it!
Monday, October 6, 2008
October is my very favorite month. It's one of the most beautiful months here in NC.
The nights get cooler and most days do too (although I was very drippy at the soccer game yesterday with the sun beating down). The leaves on the trees start to turn, and it's time to plant pansies. Although mine are still babies, they'll start growing like crazy and bloom in the snow before they burst out in the spring. My friends from colder climes think it's crazy, but pansies love the winter here.
October is also my birthday month. It's terrible how shamelessly I promote my birthday, isn't it? I can't help it. My mom was the best about making our birthday special as we grew up. I didn't get lots of expensive gifts, but I always got something truly thoughtful. The best part was deciding on our special meals for the day and on the type of cake. Birthdays were a big deal, and I still love my day--actually, my family accuses me of hyper-extending it to the whole month!
This year it has already been special. Barry suggested a birthday tree for my present. We've owned 3 homes in our marriage. At the first house, we planted the Anson tree. It was a pretty little red bud. At the second house, we planted the Nolan bush-- a lacy hydrangea. As the completion of our front yard project, Barry proposed the Amy tree. It's a little red maple that is already showing off it's beautiful colors. See?
Hopefully we won't be moving anytime soon, but we love to ride by our old homes when we're in Burlington and look at how the Anson tree and the Nolan bush have grown along with our boys.
On top of that, my mother-in-law slaved over making a wonderful treat for me. I love her mother's German chocolate cake, so she got the recipe and spent 1/2 a day making it from scratch. It was a labor of love that I soooooo appreciate, and it's DELICIOUS!
What's your favorite month? Do you have a favorite birthday memory or a birthday tradition at your house that you'd share with us? I can't wait to hear how you celebrate!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
All it takes is one evening of watching the news to drive most of us to our knees these days. The election, the state of the world's finances, environmental issues, crime that reflects the ravages of sin.... It's enough to make use cry out.
I was reading from Exodus 2:23 this morning, "During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God." God is so faithful to use every circumstance for His glory. He even uses very hard times to draw His people back to Him.
Instead of being discouraged by the news, I'm starting to convert some of that despair to prayer. Exodus 2:24 -25 follows with good news about God's response to prayer, "God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." God responds to our cries even when we are forced into them by desperation.
There is a 40 day prayer guide online that I've been using in my prayer time leading up to the election as we cry out to God for our country. I encourage you to take a look at the prayer guide and begin praying through it for revival. Excitement and expectation are growing in my soul as I pray. I'm watching for God's response around me even as I am seeing His response within me.