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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Anticipatory Prayer

Hello, my friends. I hope that your Advent is shaping up to be all that you want it to be. I wanted to share another one of my own Advent/Christmas traditions with you. This beautiful Christmas Novena is one that  I've been saying ever since I was a child...you don't know how many Christmas end of term exams this one got me through! 

It  begins today, 30th November, and ends at Christmas. It must be said 15 times per day. I know it sounds like a lot but I usually split it up into five prayers, three times a day.

This prayer is  the Christmas Anticipatory Prayer but is more popularly known as St Andrew's Christmas Novena because it begins on his Feast Day.


Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment
In which the Son of God was born
Of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem,
in the piercing cold.

In that hour, vouchsafe, oh my God, to hear my prayer
And grant my desires (here mention requests)
Through the merits of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ
And of His  blessed mother
It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew until 
Christmas will obtain what is asked.

You can learn more about this tradition  at this link.and this one. I have also included a link to a new blogging friend, Anne's website, where she has made the beautiful bracelet you see below. Click on the picture and go visit her lovely blog for some more Advent inspiration.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas In My Heart

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Hold on to that thought... I'll be returning to it.  Shopping malls are lavishly decorated, radio stations have begun playing Christmas music and advertisements proudly announce Christmas sales. Special foods my countrymen eat at Christmas are filling up the grocery shelves and people are frantically buying up fruits for our local Christmas fruitcake and ingredients for other local Christmas fare. I'll be sharing a few of our local traditions and foods in another post.

I recently went to one of the most prestigious malls in our country and there were gorgeous ceiling-high Christmas trees, giant ornaments and rotating snowflake patterns projected onto the floor. Quite impressive....oh and there was a Nativity Scene. Where?  Tucked away behind one of the escalators...almost hidden from view.

There, in the main atrium, stood a lavishly decorated 40 foot tree, beside which many people posed for pictures, but Our Saviour, "the reason for the season" was set aside...a side attraction. I didn't see anyone taking a picture there!

 Christmas has become another reason to eat, drink and be merry. It has become a tool to boost sales, a time of excess and insobriety. Santa has become the central figure of Christmas, the focus on receiving presents. Shopping and making sure homes are looking their best for the entertaining of friends and family has priority over anything else at this time.  The paint stores do a booming business at this time of the year.

Did anyone else  notice the words on that card in the first picture? "The Spirit of Christmas"...on a Christmas Tree laden with presents, with an image of Santa in the background!  Is that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

People are so focused on preparing the tangible, the homes, the presents, the food...they forget to prepare their hearts.

I have grown to dislike the phrases "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" and even "Merry Christmas". When I was a teenager, our parish priest explained the vast difference between 'merry' which suggests revelry, often the drunken kind  and 'happy' which suggests joy. When someone wishes another a happy Christmas, he or she is wishing the other the peace and joy of the Infant Jesus.

He or she is reminding the other that Christmas is about the fulfillment of the promise of God to send a Saviour to redeem us... a happy and joyful occasion. Did God intend for it to be a merry one? 

Are all of the ways in which we celebrate Christmas, the way God would choose for us to celebrate this historic, phenomenal event? I'm not trying to imply that there's nothing good about the way we celebrate. Certainly at Christmas time lots of people spread goodwill and help the needy and poor and provide a good Christmas for the underprivileged. Christmas time works the miracle of bringing together people of all different races and creeds and, even religions.

 Its a time when the peace and goodwill of God seems to spread over the earth. We are told  that on that Holy Night, all of creation worshipped God and celebrated.  There is a magic in Christmas. Have you ever heard the story of The Christmas Truce that happened during World War 1? Take a little read of it here and here where some of you will be lucky enough to have the story played out on the stage in your area.

This is what Christmas is all about. I have come to learn that preparing my house and all the trappings is but secondary. I must first prepare my heart. This is the purpose of the Advent Season, beginning this Sunday 27th November...the first  Sunday of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare our hearts for the coming of the little babe who was born to become Our Saviour.

I have found so many little nuggets of inspiration across the blogosphere lately. I have read of so many wonderful Advent traditions of other families. I plan on adopting some for my own. You can read about some of  them here and here and here and here.

This year I want to put the focus right onto Jesus...from the very beginning. I plan on decorating my tree with mostly angels and stars and things that will remind me of that Holy Night. I plan on keeping up my Advent Wreath prayers this year... the best of intentions always seem to fall through. I get caught up in the baking and fixing and shopping... just like everyone else.


Not this year! This year I'm determined to give to the Lord, the best of myself and make sure that my heart is in the right place... that my motives for doing all that I do in this busy season is for love of Him and not to impress others or out of a sense of  duty to tradition. This year I will offer to the Lord a birthday gift of a bouquet of roses, each one is an act of love, some an hour spent before Him in adoration and reparation. This is something I have strived to do each year and never quite fully accomplished.

I look forward to the setting up of our Nativity Scene... a little differently this year. This year, in accordance with a new book I purchased for my youngest daughter, we will be setting it up one character at a time and we will read about that character and his/her part in the Christmas story as we place him/her in. Of course, the Infant Jesus will be placed on Christmas Eve when we usually have a special evening with a little ceremony, which I'll explain in my post about our traditions.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... in the place where it matters most.. my heart!  My friends, I want to just encourage you to examine your own hearts and, while we're running around shopping and planning and making sure we're giving to our friends and family, let's make sure we're also giving to the One who matters the most in this joyful season. Let's not get too busy to remember to keep Christ in Christmas... to keep Christ in our hearts.

Linking up today with:

Growing Home

Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrating Children - Universal Children's Day

This Sunday, November 20th,  is Universal Children's Day as decreed by the United Nations. My 5 year old daughter will be celebrating with ice lollies at school today.

I reflected on what the observance of this day really means and checked out the UN's website. Interestingly enough, as I perused the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, its 3rd paragraph states:

"Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.." 

Did anyone else pick up on the last part of that sentence... before as well as after birth. Yet millions of babies are aborted all around the world. Children are starving, dying, discarded. Some are used for labour, exploited in the porn industry, sold in human trafficking.  This reality makes a mockery of this declaration.  All around the world adults fail to protect children...sometimes it is the children's very own parents who exploit them. So sad, but true. These precious ones lose their innocence at a very young age.. who protects them and loves them and cherishes them?

Children ought to be celebrated as a blessing from God. How sad it is that in today's world, even in so-called functional families,  that is far from the norm. They are seen to be burdens and an impediment to social and economical progress.  So many people, even within Christian circles,  are critical of those who have more than 2 or 3 children. I could direct you to a multitude of very nasty comments made about the Duggar's who are now expecting their 20th child.

Each child is unique and brings blessings far different from any of the others. The Duggars believe that they are honouring God in celebrating each new baby they receive from the hands of God, each new opportunity to be blessed and to bless. I do recognise that this is a hot and controversial topic within even Christian circles. My own faith teaches me to be open to life, but I know that there are many who do not believe in the practice of leaving their wombs open to the will of  God. This post is not about judging others' decisions. I have read so many arguments for and against that my head is spinning, but my heart remains the same, my convictions the same.

There are many who argue  the irresponsibility of  raising large families and the financial burdens and how unfair it is to children etc. For my own part, I firmly believe that God does not give us more than we can bear. Conception of a child is a miracle in itself and God is our partner in this new creation. I believe that these so called 'financial burdens' are based on the values of the world.

Every child does NOT need to have i-pods, laptops, expensive shoes and clothes and the latest toys and gadgets. Every child NEEDS to be loved... unconditionally, they need food, clothing and shelter. They need to be nurtured, protected and cherished.  Everything else is unimportant. We want to educate our children but a tertiary education is not a NEED... in fact I am of the opinion that soon the world will have a complete glut of MBA's and PHD's. I truly believe that people who raise their children with life skills will be the ones to benefit in the long run. But.. that's just my humble opinion.

Being a parent is an awesome responsibility and I have learned it is a vocation in which you always have room for growth. Our children teach us even as we teach them. They present, daily, new learning experiences and challenges as they grow through different stages and  we have to learn and grow right alongside them. These precious ones are the future of our world. How are we equipping and training them for their futures?

Today I want to applaud those women who gratefully accept each new blessing that is placed in their wombs, the ones who reach out and embrace unwanted children through adoption or fostering or those who mentor other people's children.  I want to grieve with those who have lost children to heaven and rejoice with those who daily walk the arduous path of motherhood, training their children to love God and to serve Him.

It is the greatest of all vocations and our children are the ones who make it possible. Let us celebrate them this weekend and remember to say a prayer for children worldwide who are not fortunate enough to have loving parents or who are living lives fraught with suffering. Let us remember the ones who live in squalor, who are forced to grow up before their time. Let us remember the ones who were violently ripped from their mother's wombs. Let us remember.. and pray!

Let us not forget those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring messages of hope, to comfort and provide for even one child through programmes such as Compassion. May God bless their efforts and may He work on hearts so that these precious ones will find relief, comfort and hope and through the kindness of others they will see His face.

If  your heartstrings are getting pulled on, please visit:

Sponsor a Child - Compassion International  and thank you! :-)

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Have a blessed weekend everyone and may the angels walk with you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God's Immeasurable Love

Sacred heart of Jesus with blood drops, Cross, and Thorns drawing image download religious pictures for free

This week the GMG's study of  1 John is all about God's love and his mandate to us to love one another. St John uses some powerful words here. He tells us that if we fail to love then we cannot love God! He had said previously in Chapter 3  that whoever does not live uprightly and love his brother is not from God and that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and cannot have eternal life in him! Wow! I don't know about you but I know that it is not easy to love those who annoy me, inconvenience me or are rude and obnoxious. I wont say that I hate them... hate is such a strong word, but if I cannot find an drop of 'like' in me, is it the same thing? In 1 John 4:8 we are told that  "Whoever fails to love does not know God because God is love."

When I examine my heart I know that this is true. If I claim a relationship to God, I must have God's love for all in my heart. Why is this so hard? 

1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love one another God's love remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us"  I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that what I'm getting out of this is that love needs love... the Father's love. I envision it this way... I'm like a conduit as well as a receptacle.

When I remain in God, His love enables me to give love to others, which is then returned to Him. That's a really powerful thing to read.. God's love comes to perfection in us! We are called to love as God loves us. How is that even possible? It is possible because he enables us, he empowers us to do so. The secret... to remain in relationship with Him.

Throughout every situation in my life... some of which were extremely painful... I have gone before God and received the same mandate. Love is the answer.. love more, give of yourself. This is not ever an easy thing to do when the very people that God is telling us to love are the ones who are hurting us. Yet, there it is... and I can testify that love IS the answer to all that plagues us. 

Love gives us the power to forgive what to human eyes is unforgivable. Love gives us the courage to reach out and face possible rejection over and over again. Love makes us strong in ways we did not believe we could ever be. Love stretches us and makes us give what we thought we could never give and do what we didn't think we were capable of doing.

 That goofy little picture above says it all... He gives us love, the kind of love we need, the righteous and Godly love. He mandates that we pass it on.. completely.. withholding nothing.. just as He withholds nothing of Himself from us.  We find that when we do give love as God asks of us, He then begins to work  in a miraculous way. Somehow, we, the conduits of His great love, enable Him to topple walls and crumble defenses and chip away at stone  to get to the true heart of others. We then find that He comes into the very same situations that cause us pain and starts to wrought change in them, creating new hearts and minds. 

I had been feeling discouraged myself lately, burdened with too much to do and too little time. I was feeling sorry for myself and listening to those little voices in my head, telling me that nobody appreciates what I do, that my almost grown children and my husband live in their own worlds and just take for granted that I take care of them and they don't 'see' my needs. You all know about those little voices don't you? They are the voices of the enemy of our souls whose purpose it is to draw us away from the love of God

I, then, did my bible study and read those powerful words and heard them echo in the stillness of my heart.. the memory of all those times the Lord ministered to me in my brokenness with that one mandate "Love and give all".  The mistake I made, apart from listening to those 'voices' was to not go to God Himself, the source of  all love. As Courtney said in the video in this post, there is a God-sized hole in each of us that we cannot expect anyone else to fill. When that hole is filled by God and with His love, we don't look to others to fill us up. God's love tells us to give love, not to take it.

This morning, I opened my email to see a message from someone who was reading my blog for the first time and was blessed so much by their words. It was confirmation for me that I must follow that mandate to give love.. always, despite the circumstances and my own feelings.

                                                       Love makes the world go round

That cliched and much maligned little saying that 'Love makes the world go round' is exactly correct. God's love and the passing on of that love is what keeps the balance. Don't be discouraged, my friends, draw your strength from Him and keep on loving, even though it may seem that you love in vain, you give without receiving and you are completely taken for granted. Nothing we do with love and for love is ever to be discounted... God Himself is pleased to accept our every love sacrifice as a rose in the bouquet at His throne.

1 John 4:10 "Love consists in this, it is not we who love God, but God loved us and sent His son to expiate our sins." There it is... the supreme sacrifice of Jesus, proof of God's immeasurable love for us. Can we help but do as He asks.. pass it on?  There within this most precious heart of God's only begotten Son lies a wealth of love and mercy for us to tap into.. if we could just do this.. we would love well and completely as He asks.
                                                   Sacred heart of Christ color drawing art picture with Cross and angels download free religious photos and Christian images

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanking Him in Every Season

It is Thankful Thursday again! We are almost halfway through the month of November.  In the Caribbean, where I live, we don't have the changing of the seasons to signal the passage of time. We have two seasons, half the year its rainy, the other half its dry.   I have envied you the beautiful seasons and the opportunity to  change and grow with them... your clothing, your decorations, your very moods. We also don't celebrate Thanksgiving.. this is probably the only American holiday I would adopt if I could ;-)

God calls me to be thankful in my own station of  life, season of life, place that I live.  I may not have a big celebration like you do, but I can celebrate every day in my heart.. which is how I guess it ought to be. I can thank Him when it's sunny because I can save electricity by not using my dryer. Its such a wonderful thing to see a line of clothes flapping in the breeze and drying in the sunshine. Gathering them off the line.. inhaling that one of a kind smell of clean air and sunshine.

I know that when I see the beautiful pouii tree blossoming in all its glory it is a sign that the dry season is upon us.

I can enjoy the hot weather with my family at a beach and marvel at how beautifully God creates those magnificent crests of jewel toned waves. A glorious sunset on the beach is nothing to thumb your nose at either!  I can be thankful for the fruits that are available in the dry season and be thankful that I can have water when so many don't in this season.

In the rainy season I can be in awe of the display of God's power in the thunderstorms that we get. My children happen to love this type of weather...though it is best appreciated indoors, in my opinion. Its not unusual to have flash flooding, landslides, trees falling in some parts of my country. This is hurricane season... from June to January. Yet, there IS something about standing at the window and watching powerful flashes of lightning, hearing and feeling thunder rock the house and watching torrential sheets of rain soaking the garden. There is nothing like that thunderous roar of heavy rain on our roof... it drowns out every other sound... its like the voice of God Himself. When its like that it gets very dark and we snuggle up all cosy and warm and  there's  gratitude that we can have shelter in the face of the inclement weather. We even do goofy things like play in the rain! (In my day the purpose was to actually get wet!) We'd stand right where the guttering ended at the edge of the roof and get a bath like no other!

In any season.. in all seasons.. even the varying seasons of life, we must be thankful to God. He provides, he protects, he comforts, he empowers. Even in the midst of a storm, we can see His hand of protection and provision. In the midst of a perplexing trial, we can receive His counsel and be strengthened and guided. In the midst of the fires that test us.. He is empowering us, even as He purifies us.

I got a really powerful reminder when I visited a blogger friend's place this week. You can read it here if you like. It hit me like a ton of bricks.. how many times did I not even ask... I longed for something.. it was a thought, a wish, a sigh.. and God gave it to me anyway... without my even asking!  Do I give God all the gratitude He deserves? How many things does He do behind the scenes every day of my life that go by without acknowledgement or thanks? Am I like one of the lepers who were cured but never came back? Do I take my God for granted?

Oh, please NEVER, NEVER let me forget or take for granted the favours the Lord grants daily! As Craig so aptly named his post LOVE SAYS THANK YOU 1000 TIMES... Let our hearts say thank you forever, continuously, into eternity... just as the work that Jesus accomplished on that cross continues into eternity.

As America celebrates Thanksgiving this month... let the whole world, all God's people celebrate continuous thanksgiving in our hearts. For indeed He is worthy to be praised, thanked and adored... into all eternity!

Thanking Him with my friends:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Get Service or Give Service?

A fellow blogger shared this some time ago and I wanted to pass it on it because I think the message is so profound. It certainly resounded in my heart! As you know, I've been in a very busy season of life.. along with it has come moments of total impatience, lack of tolerance, irritation.. so much that is not in keeping with my role as a woman who is joyfully serving Her Lord and her family. I ashamedly and regretfully admit that I saw myself in that young man in the video. Do you see yourself too?

This 'Get Service' mentality is wide-spread and seems to infect the whole population of the world today! Everyone seems to be in a hurry, thinks no one else's time is important and it is manifested in a lack of common courtesies and respect for man or law. I see infractions of the law every day on my nation's roads. I see  self-centered people bulldoze their way through life without a thought or care for anyone else. I see people cutting in line in stores, people who cannot even say 'Good morning' or 'Thank you'. People who are rude and unkind to others.

What a crazy world we live in! If we had 'Jesus glasses', like the fellow in the video... I wonder what we would see. Would we run away from the overload to our senses and emotions? How could our Saviour take that amount of pain and overwhelming suffering upon Himself?

Yet, He did! He looked through the ages and saw ALL OF US.. our ancestors, our descendents.. the good, the bad and the ugly.. and then He opened His arms on the cross and gave His life for us anyway! Where is our own compassion and tolerance? How do we so easily forget our role as Christians?

I sat with tears streaming down my face as I watched this... this reminder that we are on this earth to SERVE not to be SERVED.

We are called to do everything we do with Christ in mind, for Him and through Him.. for love of Him who came to serve us!

How easy it is to fall in with the standards of the world.." Its a dog eat dog world and I don't want to be beaten so I'll take the offensive."   "Everyone is doing it... if I don't I'll just never get anywhere".    "Nobody cares, why should I?"    "I have my own problems.. let somebody else help."

The Good Morning Girls study of the book of 1 John has some very appropriate advice on this topic.  1 John 3:16 tells us "This is the proof of love, that he laid down his life for us and we too ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 

When we act as the rest of the world does this is what we reap: 1 John 3 :17 "If anyone is well off in worldly possessions and sees his brother in need but closes his heart to him how can the love of God be remaining in him?"

The bible is clear ... see Matt 25:31-46... we will be judged according to how we loved on this earth, how we treated others and how Christ-like we have been. Matt 25: 40 "In truth I tell you, insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."

Jesus' Sacred Heart is full of compassion for all.. He calls us to have His heart here on this earth. I am convicted... I hope sharing this video convicts you too.

Psst...in the spirit of this post,  I just want to direct you over to my friend Kristin who has a heart for the homeless and hungry. Visit her at Ponderings and see what her latest mission is...and thank you!

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Marriage Monday - Difficult In-laws?

Today Marriage Monday is tackling the delicate topic of handling difficult "in-laws".  Does this subject make you want to run and hide? I will admit I didn't know if I had the courage to tackle this one, but I had to give it a try.

I think it must be a very rare thing, indeed, to enter a marriage and have a wonderful relationship with the in-laws right away. Its a bit like learning to walk all over again, in my opinion. For those of you who fell in love with the family alongside the husband... you are so fortunate. For the rest, I'm guessing its been a long road of learning, compromise and some aches and pains and bumps in the road along the way.

So, here's my little list of what I think is crucial to maintaining relationships with the in-laws.

Respect is crucial to any relationship... even more-so in a relationship with in-laws. Coming into marriage we are all from different backgrounds. We first need to respect the differences between ourselves and our spouses' families. While I am of the firm opinion that you marry the man and not the family, as so many others like to say, that family is important to the man you married and, therefore, you have to cultivate a respectful relationship.. even if you don't agree on everything. Respect their right to their opinions, lifestyles and in return, hopefully, they will also respect your right to be different.

If such respect is not forthcoming and you have multiple differences in opinion, feel like you are judged constantly and, generally, cannot seem to please your husband's family, you still need to be firm in your own value systems. Within your own household you rule...you are queen and he is king. You both decide what is best for yourselves and your children.

Your in-laws may not agree with your choices, but they are your choices to make. The important thing is to be as loving and respectful in your 'rejection' of their disapproval. Let's face it.. some of us disagree with our own parents at times. Their advice or their ways of dealing with situations don't always appeal to us.. it doesn't mean we don't value their advice and we don't want to deliberately hurt or alienate them by open or angry rejection.

It takes tact to respectfully disagree,  but it can be done. Let me hasten to add here that not ALL of the in-laws' advice or opinions may be 'bad' or 'wrong' for you and you have to be careful of not falling into the trap of rejecting them outright merely because of resentment at their interference.

Have you ever been in a situation where your husband has fallen out with his family? It is not a nice place to be. You, the wife, need to be peacemaker because, ultimately, even though he is angry, your husband needs to remain being a part of his family. In my own family, one uncle's wife was completely unaccepted by his parents and, as a result, he was torn between his wife and his family.To her credit, she never discouraged his visits to them even though she wouldn't go herself. She was wise enough to realize that a man shouldn't have to be alienated from his family to have a healthy marriage. It must have put strain on their relationship, but she encouraged him nonetheless.

Sometimes a wise wife has to compromise in order to maintain the peace. She must understand and weigh the consequences of each situation individually. Sometimes giving in bears fruit that far outweigh the negative fall out of standing her ground.

There have been many times that I have not wanted to do something that my husband's family had planned.. I didn't feel comfortable with it or it was against my own value system. Several times, though, I weighed the happiness it would bring to my husband and the opportunity for the family to bond against my own feelings and the outcome was enough to confirm that I had made the right decision.

It can be exceedingly difficult to cultivate relationships with people you may feel you have nothing in common with. Coming from such different backgrounds, I never felt that I fit in with  my in-laws. They are social, extroverted and strongly opinionated.. I was raised in a more rigid household with far more rules and my father did not encourage us girls to dialogue on current affairs or politics. I felt grossly provincial when in their company. It took many years for me to feel comfortable. When the children came along it became a bit easier as they created a common ground. I also discovered that my love for cooking and baking was a way to reach out to them as none of them were fond of being in the kitchen and they appreciated my culinary efforts.

Finding some kind of common ground is important and sometimes you have to be the one to reach out and make the effort. Some people are blessed with sisters-in-law who bond with them instantly and a sweet and supportive mother-in-law,  others have to work a little harder. Its worth it to build relationships with the people who are important to your husband.

It is unfortunate that some people have to deal with constant disapproval and criticism from their in-laws. I have seen that first-hand and it is not an easy thing to deal with.. the woman in question either becomes indifferent to them and maintains a cool facade beneath which lies a wealth of hurt and bitterness, or she becomes withdrawn and hides behind that wall of pain. Either way, no building of relationship takes place.

The best thing you can do to win over your in-laws is to show them how much you love and care for their son/brother.
All parents, even difficult ones, want the best for their children. They may think they know what the best is and maybe they even think that you are NOT it, but, the proof is in the happiness of that son or daughter.
If you are loving and caring for him and his happiness is shining through.. THAT is something that they cannot deny.

This is crucial, but a little bit tough. It is important that your husband knows and understands what his family may be doing to upset you or undermine your efforts to maintain a good relationship with them. I know that there are people who are vindictive and malicious enough to try to damage their son's/brother's relationship with his wife. It is an unfortunate reality. While, the husband needs to be aware of his wife's feelings, she needs to be VERY careful how she conveys them. Remember, this is HIS family... none of us would like to hear our spouse bad-mouthing our families.

Always remember that people change and grow. I have seen so much growth in my husband's family in the last twenty-one years, in particular his mother. As I've said above, your in-laws may not agree with the way you and your husband have chosen to raise your children or your lifestyle, but, they will warm up eventually when they see how it works for you and how their son is blossoming in the marriage. Don't let past transgressions, unforgiveness or bitterness keep you from enjoying an improved relationship with the people that matter to your husband. Seeing your willingness to cross the barriers will mean a lot to him, especially if there has been bad blood between you in the past.

Never discount or forget the importance of prayer! Praying for your spouse's family is crucial, especially if you are struggling to forgive or battling with their rejection. When you pray with your husband for his family.. despite how rocky your relationship might be, you show him that you care about what and who is important to him. When you pray for his family you invite the Holy Spirit to wrought change to the situation. Prayer yields fruit!

The most important thing of all is that you and your husband are on the same page. You need to have his support and maintain a united front in the face of any opposition from his family. For instance, my husband and I have a very different value system to his family's and though, over the years, we have been challenged many times on our decisions, we have stood by them together. Twenty one years later, I believe that we have earned the respect of his family even though they still do not agree with our views.

Well, I guess my list wasn't so little after all :) 
If you are one of those people who have to deal with difficult in-laws, I really hope that some of the above will be helpful to you.  Be sure to visit e-Mom at Chrysalis to see what everyone else has to say on this rather controversial topic. Join in the conversation... I'd love to have your comments.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanking Him and Praising Him

My friends.. I am stealing a moment to write this because it just NEEDS to be written. I've spent the last two weeks being blessed by your words and having my own tumble around in my  heart and mind without the time to write them down.

I literally BEGGED God to give me time to do this because my heart cannot contain these words any longer. I have to share what marvels the Lord is working, even in this busy and overwhelming season.

Two weeks ago I wrote a Thankful Thursday piece on being grateful to God for his faithfulness and provision... even when it seems that situations are impossible and problems insurmountable. As I finished that piece, literally as I posted it,  my husband came into the room and said he hadn't purchased our daughter's airline ticket for her to come home for Christmas. We just simply didn't have the money and we would have to use our credit card, which we are determined to pay off and get out of debt.

The very next day my sister asked me to pick her up because her car had gone to fix and while we were chatting in the car, she pulled out an envelope and said "Don't say anything, I just want you to have this and don't argue either.. just take it as a gift from God". Tears came to my eyes as I realized it was about half the money for my daughter's ticket home. I hadn't even discussed my situation with her.. and yet... God was providing through her generosity!

It doesn't end there my friends... oh no! There is no limit to what our gracious God can do for us. Within the next week, both my husband and I received monetary gifts from relatives that we could put onto our credit card to help pay for her round trip tickets.

Last Thursday, I offered a Mass of Thanksgiving for my husband and youngest daughter's birthdays, for my daughter Brittany for all that God has done for her in her life and for my daughter in Florida and her own special needs. That very same night... on her daddy's birthday.. Brittany received news that she had placed second in all of the Caribbean in one of the subjects she'd written at exams this year. Excitement and jubilation filled my home that night as we celebrated with our extended family. Her words to me were: "Mom, look at that...you offered thanksgiving for me and I hadn't even gotten the news yet!"

My friends, keep on thanking and praising our God... never forget what He has done and continues to do for you! 

Praise Him and thank Him, even when things look bleak, hopeless and you are overwhelmed, fatigued and your faith is taking  a dip.

 Praise Him and thank Him even when the things to thank Him for seem small in comparison to your burdens.

 Praise Him and Thank Him,  even when your heart is aching or breaking or your world is falling apart.

In the midst of our praise.. the blessings will flow and flow.. and overflow .. and, like me,  your cup will runneth over!

Today I'm giving thanks with my friends:

Please visit and be blessed by what others are giving thanks for.