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Monday, May 28, 2012

One Amazing Summer -Bible in 90 Days

Today, I begin reading the bible in 90 days as organized by Terri Lynne Underwood and friends in what is being called "One Amazing Summer". I have also been doing the study of the Proverbs 31  woman with Good Morning Girls.

God has been doing amazing things and I fully expect Him to do even more, but guess what? While God is revealing, healing and transforming, the enemy is plotting and attacking. Whenever we set out to improve our relationship with God or to do what is pleasing to Him, stuff starts happening! I'm sure there are others out there who have observed this phenomenon!

The enemy knows our weaknesses, every- little- one!  He may start off attacking you in subtle ways, little things that break (or big things like  my car and my air conditioning!), he may try to break your spirit by  setting up lots of little obstacles in your everyday life, or he may even go bigger and try to cause you to have a car accident. Been there, done that too, almost every day!

Ah, but most of us are stronger than that! We are into  the Word  and the Word strengthens us, but what the devil uses most, on me anyway, is my mind. He infiltrates my thoughts with venomous little whispers, he reminds me of my insecurities, he uses my weaknesses against me. He also tries to revive bitter memories and old resentments. Before long, if I haven't recognized his tactics, I'm reduced to a pile of crying, useless flesh. He works systematically to break me down. Do you have the same problem?

For the past several weeks, I have had one trial after another, but the thing that has broken me was this...a weariness, physical, emotional, mental,spiritual...complete weariness and the feeling to give up.

This is the single, most effective ploy that the devil can use on me. You'd think I'd be smart enough to avoid the pitfall by now! I AM WEARY!  I get careless, complacent, discouraged, depressed. I can say its PMS, hormones, the heat, but what it REALLY is...an attack on me to keep me focused on myself, to keep me distracted from the goals I've set and the true purpose of  God.

When I'm down in that pit, I stop listening to the voice of God, I listen to my own voice, complaining, whining, full of self-pity and giving in to bitterness and resentment. This is exactly what the enemy wants! He WANTS me to fail! He WANTS to keep me in that pit, believing  that I can't do any better, that I'm weak and pathetic.BUT I AM NOT!!

It takes great effort, but I CAN come out of that pit,with the help of God. I CAN and WILL succeed because if I keep my eyes on Him, He will give me strength. When I am weary I can go to the Word and receive refreshing Psalm 92:10 "You give me the strength of the wild ox, you anoint me with fresh oil"

As we begin this first week of "One Amazing Summer", I want to share this with you all and to warn you to guard your heart against the enemy. Pray and cover yourself  with the protection of the Lord, all aspects  of your lives, your families and your possessions (the crafty one will use anything against you!)

1 Cor 16:13 "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong". This is my prayer for all of us as we do this thing together. United in prayer, we shall be victorious!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Joan's Legacy

Today I'm linking up with Mom Heart  for their very first link up. We are supposed to share on our lives as moms and in particular share about the legacies that we are leaving for our children. I want to share someone else's legacy though.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that my mother in law has been ailing from cancer these past 5 months or so. It seems as if she has been in a steady decline with no will to fight for her life. The moment she heard the word 'cancer' she seemed to shrivel up and shrink away from God and from life, even refusing to eat until a feeding tube had to be inserted so the family could 'force-feed' her because she is malnourished.

Yesterday she was admitted to hospital again for a blood transfusion and a battery of tests. As I looked at her asleep on that hospital bed last night, it seemed as if she is in an unreachable place. I wondered how much longer we would have her with us and I understood the quiet anger that simmers beneath the surface of the family's regular activities that she has given up...that she has not fought for more time with them.

My thoughts ran on the legacy that she has built up. I looked around the room at all four siblings who are quietly drawing strength from each other. Even if her presence and participation is weak, it is enough to be the central force of their connection...as it has been their whole lives.

She, who taught them that family is the most important thing, who doggedly continued to cook Sunday meals just so she could have her family visit every Sunday, even though I kept telling her that we should be cooking for her and even though, as children grew, fewer of us came.

She has taught them to have faith in God and to turn to Him for answers. I remember my husband telling me that when he had major decisions to make she would tell him to pray and that his heart would know what to do.

She, who had to depend on that faith in order to allow her children to spread their wings and fly out of her nest, also taught them to let go and let God. It couldn't have been easy to let her firstborn leave her and travel to North America to study at the tender age of 17, in a time of no cell phones, Skype or email. How she must have prayed for him!  This same son who was later involved in two serious car accidents...what a strong lady she has been!  She had to repeat this emptying of her nest three more times, sending two more children to university and giving one over in marriage.

Yes, she has taught them to be strong...to believe in themselves. She once quoted to me what she used to say to them "Nobody is better than you are." She didn't just talk the talk but walked the walk too having to rely on her own strength so much in the years that my father in law travelled heavily due to his job and even having to live apart from them for a while. I just cannot imagine doing this without my husband!

She has encouraged them to see the lighter side of things. This has always left a deep impression upon me, having come from a very uptight family. They always banter and tease and joke around, even with their mother lying in the bed before us they could find something to smile about. I feel very uptight by comparison!

There's so much more I could say, but I would be writing a book! I know I should be writing about my own legacy, since this is what we are linking up with today. I promise to do so next time, but today I wanted to share with you about my amazing mother in law and to ask you to continue to pray for her and to thank you, all of you who have been lifting us up in prayer.

May God bless you all abundantly and may His protection be with you and yours.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Modern Day Proverbs 31 Woman

Here we are at week two of our study of the Proverbs 31 woman. Its been such a rewarding experience thus far. As I've mentioned before, I think, I've done all my studies solo and never really had anyone to discuss and commiserate with. Since joining GMG on Facebook, I've had the wonderful experience of sharing and learning from others and it just brings to life Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another" These ladies make me think!

After a lively Facebook discussion this week, I got to pondering how we can apply Proverbs 31 to modern day woman. If King Lemuel's mother were to speak to him in today's age of advanced technology, declining values, alarming events globally which are directly against all biblical teachings...what would she say?  How would she describe the 'perfect wife'?
The Harvester by Adolphe Bouguerea

This is written a little bit 'tongue-in-cheek' to inject a bit of humour so bear with me, but here's what I came up with.

My son, I've been around a lot longer than you have, I've seen things you cannot even dream of. I've seen a world that used to love God and women who worshipped Him and not their beauty, pocketbooks or status in life. You see, once upon a time, there was something called the women's liberation movement, which sought to liberate women but only imprisoned them more. They turned from God's true purpose for them and became a sort of mutant form of female, more male than female, suppressing their natural instincts to love and nurture, they instead, embraced a hardness that would enable them to succeed. They began to see children, a precious gift of God, as burdens that would hinder their climb up the ladder of success.

My son, don't go breaking your heart with these women...they love themselves and can never love as God wants them to love. Yes their beauty is breathtaking, but brittle and cold. Let me tell you what to look for in a future bride.

She will first love God and this will make love her greatest attribute. From this love will blossom a desire to sacrifice, serve and nurture. (remember son, you are not always lovable and this doesn't come naturally ... but will take lots of surrender, prayer and self-denial)

She will serve with joy, diligently, even though she may grow weary at times, she will endure and persevere to the end because of her great love for God and for those she serves. (yes my son, she will grow weary many times... two-year old tantrums are the worst!  Picking up after the kids isn't easy either and, not calling any names here, but when older people also leave their stuff lying around...well, a mini eruption can occur. Be patient, she will come round...eventually)

She will seek God's wisdom, over her own heart's desires and over her own human understanding, so that He will guide her steps in all things. (and if she sometimes slips up...give a little grace ok? Just watch out for Facebook!)

She will be a great steward of all that you give to her, because she treasures you and how hard you labour for her and those for whom you are responsible. (and honestly, don't judge too harshly if she thinks that the deal on a month's supply of laundry detergent was worth it...men don't see things like women do!)

She will have such a heart of compassion that she will give to those in need, both of her time and talent and whatever she can spare. (if she should someday give away your old, holey, but favourite pair of  jeans, please don't yell at her, that homeless man really needed them more than you anyway)

She will teach her children to love God first and teach them the values that you hold dear and she will be a blessing, a gift from God to you. (you may not always think so, especially at... ummm...certain times of the month, but wait it out son, it too shall pass)

Because of these you will trust her wholeheartedly and you will find great happiness and contentment. (I promise you that no matter how rough the ride becomes,  you'll look back on it all and you will smile and you WILL find that you are content and happy)

Yes, this Proverbs 31 lady is a tough act to follow, but not an impossible one. Honestly, I believe with all my heart that the key to emulating her lies with  my number one point...she will love God first! Loving God for me means surrendering to His will, gaining strength from Him and wisdom and understanding. Loving God means that I can tap into His great love and have it spill over into my life and all my undertakings.

I pray for all of us doing this study, may God enlighten us, strengthen us and fill us with His love.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Woman of Great Love

Hello there my bloggy friends...its been a while. I have missed writing so much, but there has been a lot going on. Have you ever been in a place where you feel like you are being crushed from all sides by the weight of trials? Sometimes it seems as if there is no easing up of the pressures.

The past few weeks have presented numerous challenges for my husband and I. At the risk of sounding like I'm re-writing the Book of Lamentations, I'll just fill you in briefly.

The smaller stuff, like the car needing repairs, the air-conditioning breaking down in the midst of some seriously hot weather, internet service that's unpredictable and an old computer that's temperamental...these all together make for some pretty frustrating and worrisome times, but added to the other, more serious things... well it all adds up to the kind of burdens that have you wrinkling your brow, tension headaches and stiff neck and shoulders from stress.

My mother in law has been declining (cancer) and now requires round the clock care. It is a heavy burden the family carries now and there has even been talk of putting her into a hospice...a final step that is weighing heavily on hearts. We are praying and we would appreciate your prayer as well for guidance, for healing. Where there is God, there is always hope.

Even in the midst of all of this, the Lord speaks and the Word encourages and strengthens. 

This week we have begun our study of the Proverbs 31 woman. A fascinating woman, a woman of strength and one thing is very clear to me. The greatest attribute of this woman is her LOVE for others. What propels a woman out of bed before dawn? What causes her to watch over the affairs of her household? If it is duty alone, then what joy is there in her service to her family?

Jesus explains very clearly what love is in John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" This is what, in my humble opinion, the Proverbs 31 woman exemplifies. She does what she does because of her love and compassion, she lays down her life in service...joyful service...to those who are in her care. A tall order, especially on days when we feel burdened, tired, stressed or wrapped up in our SELF (more on that later on), but not an impossible one. As Courtney points out in her video on Monday, if we keep focused on God, keep our eyes on Him, He will give us the strength to do what He wants us to do. She quotes Hebrews 12:2-3 where we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, to consider all that He endured so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.

How easy it is to grow weary and lose heart! I hold these words especially dear at this time, in this season of life. What an awesome encouragement from Courtney this week. I encourage you, if you haven't already, to look at her video here 

As we go through our mundane tasks, the repetitive and often menial duties we have as homemakers, wives and mothers, let us not lose sight of the reasons we are here, in this place, doing them. Let us strive to do them with love, for love of our loved ones and of God. Then we can be sure that we are one step (or many steps) closer to being like the Proverbs 31 woman.