Archive for A Wise Woman

Weeding Wisely to Increase Joy

I spent most of the day outside, tending my herb and flower garden while my 3 year old played nearby.

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It’s warm enough now to plant, so I bought a few herbs to replace several that didn’t survive the winter: parsley, mint, and basil. I spent hours pulling weeds and showing Brayden how to find and eliminate them so we could replace them with something better.

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Among the herbs, I also added pansies (a favorite of mine), freesia, pink flowering ornamental strawberries, and violets.

While I worked, I listened to my Bible App (Hebrews) and also enjoyed a podcast.

I also tried my hand this week at propagating roses for our yard. Though there are detailed YouTube videos on how to do this, you basically cut a piece of new growth under a leaf node off at a 45 degree angle, dip it in water for a minute, scrape the outer layer of the stem off with the side of scissors, dip it into rooting hormone, and place it in a cup full of potting soil or perlite. It is then misted with water until moistened and placed in a ziplock bag to make a small greenhouse environment for each plant. They’ll require misting every few days and in 6 weeks, roots should form. I’m very excited about the possibility of propagating some of my grandmother’s roses and bringing them to my yard. I have a bleeding heart bush from my husband’s childhood home that I propagated using root cuttings and it makes me smile whenever I see it. There’s something satisfying about connecting times and places and people through flowers and conservation.

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Whenever I garden, I’m reminded of how much it parallels life. Jesus used gardening terms when he taught: branches connected to the Vine, sowing, reaping, various types of soil and ground, broadcasting seed, mustard seed sized faith, plants thriving near rivers of water, and the life of the godly being compared to watered garden.

Especially as I pull weeds, I’m reminded that so many areas of life need to be removed in order to make room for what is truly life-giving. Weeds easily overtake and crowd out those aspects of life that bring beauty, nourish your soul, and feed and heal your body.

Weeds will choke out your joy if you’re not alert. “The cares of this world.” It’s a slow creep, barely noticeable. Weeds crowd and steal space and use necessary oxygen.

We may need to weed out busyness where we’ve over-committed and run ahead of God. We may need to plant ourselves still before Him so we can worship.

We may need to weed out the hidden-in-plain-sight sin that has so entangled us that we believe it’s just part of our DNA –who we are.  We may need to plant the Word before our eyeballs and meditate on Truth in order to get back on the righteous path.

We may need to weed out friendships that are mediocre or toxic, or worldly influences that are not honoring God nor helping us thrive spiritually. We may need to plant ourselves with godly friends, older women, and those who are doing right and acknowledging God in all their ways.

We may need to turn off the noise, the social media, the books, the TV, the hobbies, the chatter that steals our attention from the One who truly deserves our undivided devotion. We may need to rearrange our time so that God gets the first fruits.

Weeding is tedious, hard stuff, but it makes space for the crop that you want to harvest in the end.

Saying no to one is saying yes to another. Weeding wisely increases your success and your joy.

Summer is right around the corner, and I want to challenge you to do some weeding so your life can flourish and grow with grace.

Might you have a few weeds to pull? Ask:

  • What is sinful, ungracious, and unlovely?
  • What is hindering me from following God and pursuing His best?
  • What is keeping me from loving others first and best?
  • What is weighing me down?
  • Where am I easily offended and where does Satan enjoy tripping me up time and time again?
  • Where am I easily angered and frustrated? Again, where does Satan keep me defeated by pushing my buttons?
  • What friendship leaves me depleted? Which one is not based on mutual respect and edification?

To purposefully plant, ask:

  • Lord, what do you have for me in your Word today?
  • Lord, where is my first circle of influence and what jobs have you assigned only to me? How can I be most influential there?
  • Where is God burdening me to act?
  • Who needs my kindness today?
  • What is God teaching me through this thing?
  • What virtue is the Holy Spirit asking me to put on?
  • Which friendships refresh and encourage me? Which friendships are based on mutual respect? Whose life points me to Christ?

I hope these questions help you to navigate the maze of your own heart and encourage you to seek the important and eternal aspects of life that will bring you joy.

Have a lovely week tending the garden of your heart and hearth,

Sarah

10 Ways To Refresh Your Soul

Looking for ways to refresh this winter? The common theme among my friends is that we are all looking for ways to rest our bodies and revive our hearts a bit after a hectic holiday season. We all know that doesn’t happen automatically. It needs to be planned, especially if you are responsible for the daily care of babies, toddlers, teens, or the elderly. These stages of constant giving can be draining.

I’ve learned from experience that when I am depleted, I’m not the wife, mother, or friend I want to be. The more I feed my own soul, the more I have to give out.

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I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite ways to refresh. I hope you’ll share yours as well. Maybe your list looks different from mine–that’s okay. But we all have this in common–we all need to rest. So, pour yourself a cup of tea and repeat after me: “Caring for yourself is wise and everybody needs to rest.” 😉

Here goes:

  1. Spend time alone. New research suggests that quiet time–literally solitude and silence–can be therapeutic in the noisy world we live in. If you have young children, try to find a few snatches of time in the early morning, late evening, or during afternoon naps to just sit and listen to the silence. This is a perfect time for a warm cup of coffee, your Bible, a journal, or to meditate on a daily verse. Bonus: A worshipful life gives us the added benefit of direction and strength to face each day, no matter what comes our way.
  2. De-clutter your soul. As you sit, listen to what’s going on in your heart. What recurring theme pops into your mind? What worry, disappointment, regret, or memory is disturbing your peace? Recognize it, acknowledge it, fix it if you can, repent of it if you must, and then give it to God and move on! Don’t let “mind noise” keep you from thinking on “things above.” Colossians 3:2
  3. Rest. We weren’t created to run, run, run. What comes up must come down. After the adrenaline of the holidays you must take a good nap or go to bed early. “You are only as spiritual as you are rested.” ~Jim Berg
  4. Pray. Did you know that simply talking to God and sharing your burdens, disappointments, frustrations, and ambitions with Him is more beneficial than telling them to a friend? Plus, God can actually intervene and do something about all you share…and He’ll never betray your confidence or reveal your inmost secrets. There aren’t too many friends that you can trust like that.
  5. Spend a moment reading for pleasure. Charlotte Mason was a huge proponent of reading quality material in small chunks, allowing the brain time to process and make connections with the material. I’ve found that over-reading can hinder comprehension and appreciation of the material.
  6. Plan time for friendship. Who are your 3 closest friends? If you haven’t told them how much you appreciate them lately, what are you waiting for? Text, write, phone, or visit your friend and make time to laugh, shop, and eat together. You’ll both benefit.
  7. Plan for beauty. When winter is blah, I know that arranging some small vase of flowers, a candle, a freshly pressed table cloth, or some other simple seasonal display does wonders for the atmosphere of my home. Simple creativity bring so much pleasure.
  8. Change of scenery. If you are a stay at home mom or a homeschooling mom, I KNOW it can be hard to load all the kids into the car and go somewhere but just do it. Head to the library, your favorite bagel shop, or to a friend’s house. Go somewhere where you can grab an inexpensive treat and the kids can play. This is a mood booster, especially during long New England winters.
  9. Plan for stimulating conversation. I’m not a small talk person. I love to talk about heart and life matters and I’m not afraid to ask the people I respect their views on difficult subjects. My happiest moments are over a cup of tea discussing philosophy of education, motherhood, and ministry life with a dear friend. If you are far from friends, listen to a pod cast or seminar online about topics that interest you. I loved this one from Sally Clarkson.
  10. Learn a new skill. Anything you ever wanted to learn is on YouTube. What a time to live! Right now in our home, we’re practicing calligraphy and hand lettering, and crocheting.

What refreshes you? Share in the comments.

Fear and Faith

Senseless violence and killing. Islamic Terrorists. Scenes I never imagined I’d see in my lifetime playing out on the lovely streets of Paris.

I spent my Friday night watching my Twitter feed, nervously awaiting news of the hostages in the theatre. I heard that they were killing them one by one. My heart sank and my legs felt weak.

Peter and I were out shopping with the kids, trying to go about our night like it was a normal one, walking the mall, eating Thai food with chop sticks, oohing and ahhing over toddler clothes for Brayden, trying to shield my youngest from the fact that the situation was deadly serious because she’s so very afraid of ISIS and already has nightmares about it.

Friday night, I didn’t fall asleep until 2 am, half watching the news, half praying, trying to make sense of the absolutely senseless.

God, in His perfect timing, reminded me of a book I’d read but never reviewed on the blog, by the lovely Trillia Newbell, the author of the book Fear and Faith.

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She asked me to share a little bit about my experiences with fear and that post will be published on her on  her blog on Tuesday. Tuesday, here, I’ll also share some of my favorite quotes from her book, because as I’ve told you before, I am the world’s worst book reviewer. I just love sharing the quotes that especially spoke to me.

I think fear comes naturally for me. I come from a long line of worriers, all the way back to my Italian great grandmother. I can hear her words in her broken English now:

“ma-Sarah, put on your coat. You’re going to catch a cold!” or “Get down! You’re going to break your leg.” or “ma-Eat! You’re going to get sick if you don’t eat the broth.”

Fear is something I had to deal with when my kids were young, and mercifully, God has opened my eyes to my own specific “brand” of fear which was control, especially when it came to my kids. I tell more about that in my article for Trillia’s blog, and after you read it you’ll think I’m a certified crazy woman but suffice it to say, I was living my life as though I was solely responsible for the safety of my children and it was a heavy burden to bear, because I am not God.  It wasn’t until I embraced the idea of God’s sovereignty and goodness in all areas that I was able to relinquish the reins (and my children!) to Him.

Fear manifests itself in so many ways: anxiety, anger, restlessness, indecisiveness, irrationality, stubbornness, etc…

(Side note: the terms fear and worry are such “acceptable” words in Christian circles. We should call it what it is: unbelief, lack of trust, doubting God. It’s that serious and ugly.)

Are you a control freak? Do you get angry when things don’t go your way? Do you have a hard time trusting men or women? Do you find yourself doing and saying things for the approval of others? Do you assume the worst about everyone’s motives? Do you fear the future?

Bottom line: fear issues are trust issues. We don’t think God’s big enough. We don’t think He cares enough about us. We believe He’s shortchanged us and we doubt His love.

We live like orphans when we are the most beloved children of a good God. We live like beggars when we have all the resources we need in Christ. We live like outsiders when God’s invited us into His inner circle to dine and live with Him forever.

Trillia covers so many common fears in this book: fear of man, the future, tragedy, not measuring up, and, hello, other women! 

She then brilliantly unfolds how God’s sovereignty, wisdom, love, and goodness all play out in His plans for our good. She then instructs us to turn all of this truth that we know about God into action as we worship and fear Him.

If you’re struggling to break the grip of fear in your life so that you can walk a life of faith and freedom, I highly recommend this book.

*Post contains affiliate links. I received this book at no cost to review. All opinions are my own.

Contentment is a choice.

Contentment is a topic that kept resurfacing over and over again this past week, and whenever that happens, I know the Lord is trying to teach me something.

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Discontentment can creep into our hearts in the subtlest ways, like the other night when I just wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet. It had been a busy day, and I had met the needs of everyone in the house, and had a busy “ministry” day.

Peter made a nice fire in my fireplace so I could read, but I couldn’t seem to get to my bedroom to enjoy it. As I ran around, tidying up the house, I could feel the frustration building and discontentment growing each time I passed my bedroom and saw the warm glow flickering and heard the wood crackling. The internal complaining began:

What am I, the maid? Can’t I have five minutes to myself? Am I the only one with two arms and two legs in this house? Why am I doing everything?

God graciously convicted me after a few minutes that my complaining thoughts were not okay. Wanting a fire and solitude are wonderful things, good gifts, but

not the ultimate thing. When I desire good things too much, and it morphs into demands, you can be sure discontentment and covetousness are at the root.

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Nobody wants to be discontent. I strive to be joyful, but without contentment,  joy is completely impossible and elusive.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve sat and listened to many women who find joy elusive. It’s always just out of reach because everything is not the way they’d dreamed. Happiness would come:

  • If I were thinner/prettier
  • If my kids weren’t so disobedient
  • If finances weren’t so tight
  • If I had an attentive husband
  • If I had a better childhood
  • If people respected me more
  • If that person would just leave
  • When this thing ____________{fill in the blank} changes

But do other people make us unhappy or is this just a way of blame shifting?

Jerry Bridges, in Respectable Sins says this:

“Your circumstances may be much more difficult than any I’ve ever experienced, but the truth is, it is our response to our circumstances rather than the degree of difficulty that determines whether or not we are discontent.

My contentment is not based on my situations or circumstances, but on my responses and the focus of my heart.  Contentment is a choice.

Lydia Brownback, in her lovely book “Contentment” says this of Rachel:

Jacob’s wife Rachel was never a very happy person. She wasn’t a very productive woman either. She spent the majority of her life seeking the things she wanted at any cost and at the expense of other people. God never satisfied Rachel, which is precisely why nothing else satisfied her either.

Discontentment is an equal opportunity tormentor and we see it in every walk of life:

  • the single girl who wants to get married and the married lady who wishes she wasn’t,
  • the woman who struggles with infertility and the woman who has so many children she can’t hear herself think,
  • the woman who lives in a teeny-tiny apartment and the woman who can’t stand to clean her enormous house,
  • the mom of toddlers who just wants a break and the empty-nester who thinks her life is over now that her kids are gone
  • the woman struggling to put food on the table and the richest woman in Hollywood.

When God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, He prefaced all ten of them with this statement:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

So when we’re breaking the 10th commandment by coveting (which is idolatry, because of discontentment) we’re forgetting the Lord our God.

I am the Lord thy God. Period. I am everything you need. You are no longer in bondage. I am in control. I am doing what’s right for you. If you follow my ways, you’ll be blessed.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

Be content. Why? Because I am the Lord your God. I will never leave you or forsake you. You have everything you need.

Everything. If we have Christ, we have it all. Anything else is just an extra blessing.

Sow thankfulness, reap contentment.

How are you pursuing contentment?

*post contains Amazon Affiliate links to books I recommend at no cost to you.

You Need To Rest Because You Are Not The Savior

“You can rest in Heaven.”

I heard this blunt one-liner many times as a child, and every time I hear it today, I cringe. I’m not sure who coined this callous phrase but I wonder if they had a “savior complex.”

 

In our pride, it’s easy to believe that WE are the reason that things get done when behind everything we do is the Lord, the Sustaining One, who holds us all together and gives us life and breath.

 Acts 17:28a, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being…

Busyness seems to be the American norm. Everyone runs themselves ragged. We have more conveniences than any other era and we still have no time.

I believe busyness has its roots in idolatry. We run ourselves ragged because we’re trying to keep up the appearance that we are good moms, ministry wives, business women, friends, etc. We serve these idols tirelessly and “busyness” is the means to this end and our bodies and spirit become collateral damage and totally depleted.

Eugene Peterson says that busyness is an “illness of the spirit” and “we are busy for two reasons: vanity and laziness.”

In the Contemplative Pastor he says,

“I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself–and to all who will notice–that I am important.”

Can you relate with this quote? Do you feel a boost in self-worth when your phone is ringing off the hook or you are running here and there to meet the needs of all.the.people. (“savior complex.”)

Remember Martha? Her problem wasn’t serving others, but trying to find her self-worth, significance, and meaning apart from Jesus Christ.

I just had a lengthy talk about this with my oldest daughter as we hashed out what it looks like to “serve” others with a humble mindset while balancing our own needs and schedule and not burning out.

She said something along the lines of “There are certain people who think “Leadership” means always having the answers, being the one everyone goes to…like they have no needs themselves. I like to look at counseling as, “Today, I’ll help you, and tomorrow, you’ll most likely be helping me.” (I just love her!)

I thought this was a great way to avoid becoming too big in your own mind and burning yourself out meeting needs you weren’t ever meant to meet, because

We have a Savior, and He has already come.

So have you allowed busyness to become a measuring stick for your self worth or your commitment to the Lord or the church?

When we get too busy, our body will rebel.

We ran quite a bit the last few weeks, so yesterday we took a “Beautiful Day” to recoup and refresh.

Beautiful Days include staying in our jammies late, sipping coffee on the couch while checking email or reading a magazine, lunch, a walk, music, a candle. We went to the Plymouth Waterfront for lunch and enjoyed watching the boats. We were still and quiet. We noticed the lovely all around us.

Are you run down? Maybe you need to plan for rest and refreshment? Especially you moms of littles who believe that you couldn’t possibly get out/alone for a few hours of leisure.

Let me warn you, don’t be a martyr mom. Don’t kill yourself trying to do it all and never think about your own well being. There’s nothing holy or noble about running your body into the ground.  I don’t see Jesus burning himself out in scripture. I see Jesus resting, getting away for private prayer and solitude, enjoying meals and weddings, and connecting with His disciples.

And then we have his lovely invitation for rest: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden (burdened down) and I will give you REST.”

Here are a few ways I’m resting and rejuvenating my body and soul these days:

How you exhausted? What are you going to do about it? :) Let me know in the comments.

 

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Some Lesser Known Lessons From Elisabeth Elliot {pt 2}

Yesterday I shared some of my notes from lectures by Elisabeth Elliot. Today I’ll share a few more words that may bless you from her life.

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From Let Me Be A Woman

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience…it looks for a way of being constructive.
Love is not possessive.
Love is not anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own ideas.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.
Love is not touchy.
Love does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.
It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.

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elisabeth-and-kidsFrom Quest for Love

“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.” 

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This quote has been taped to my fridge so many times during the years. It was such a help to me during my early motherhood years!

“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

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From Keep A Quiet Heart

Why is God doing this to me? When I am tempted to ask that question, it loses its power when I remember that this Lord, into whose strong hands I long ago committed my life, is engineering a universe of unimaginable proportions and complexity… yet He makes note of the smallest seed and the tiniest sparrow. He is not too busy to keep records of even my falling hair. Yet in our darkness we suppose that He has overlooked us. He hasn’t.

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From Keep A Quiet Heart on Jesus sleeping through the storm

He slept in the calm assurance that His father was in control. His was a quiet heart. We see him move serenely through all the events of His life–when He was reviled, He did not revile in return…Jesus in the unbroken intimacy of His Father’s love kept a quiet heart.

Purity of heart is to will one thing. The Son willed only one thing: the will of His Father. That’s what He came to earth to do. Nothing else. One whose aim is as pure as that can have a completely quiet heart, knowing what the psalmist knew: “Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure.” (Ps. 16:5) I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned.

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A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. All is grace.

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What do we really want in life? Sometimes I have the chance to ask this question to high school students…I am surprised how few have a ready answer. Oh, they come up with quite a long list of things, but is there one thing above all others that they desire?

“One thing have I desired of the Lord,” said David, “This is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…”

In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us that the seed which is choked by thorns has fallen into a heart full of the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things.

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An Empty Chalise, Lecture

If we are true servants, we won’t make a fuss about the fact that that’s not my job.

“Let thy love abound in our hearts and sweetly and powerfully constrain us to all faithful and cheerful obedience.”

Mary was a shining example of servanthood. She was a child, really, and she loved God. Jesus said, John 14, a clue to what it means to love God…if you love me, do what I say.” The singing and the talking and the praying about loving God does not come close to obedience. The only valid test of our love for God is our obedience.

“We love because he first loved us.” and it was his love for God that was shown in His obedience. (Jesus) “The world must be shown that I love the father and will do exactly what He says.” And that is still true. The world must be shown that we love the Father and will do exactly what He says.

Mary’s response to the angel…she was troubled…but she was a girl who knew how to keep her poise, but the words, “The Lord is with you.” The angel said, “You have found favor with God. You will be with child, you will name him Jesus…His kingdom will never end.”

What are the limits to our love? The Lord says, “If you love me, do what I say.” Can you search your heart and see what the Lord is telling you to do that you are evading? Are you consciously disobeying? If we are to be made proper servants, proper servants, we surrender all our rights.The servant is at someone elses orders. He has no agenda of his own.

So, ask, Lord, What are the limits of my love?

Am I supposed to love that woman in the church who makes things so hard for everyone, or that woman on the committee, that difficult person…difficult spouse.

Do we love enough? True love is always sacrificial.

“Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Let it happen as you say it should.

Mary said, “Yes, Lord.”

Betty Stam: “Anything you say, Lord. I give up all my own plans and purposes and accept (receive with both hands) thy will for my life.”

When people ask me about finding the will of God in life, I tell them that my experience has been that if we are obedient in this present moment, this one day–because we have no guarantees of tomorrow– that tomorrow’s guidance will be perfectly clear when tomorrow comes.

“In acceptance lieth peace.”  Amy Charmichael. Obedience is the proof of love.

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The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.

 

 

Lesser Known Lessons From Elisabeth Elliot

Like many women, my life is better for having read and heard the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot.

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I appreciated her gracious, no-nonsense approach to teaching, perhaps because I am from New England where emotions tend to take a back seat to common sense.

She spoke truth and didn’t apologize for God’s Word, and she didn’t conform God’s word to the whims of the women she spoke to.

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I have to admit that she was one of the only women that I actually enjoyed hearing speak. (I have a hand full, and she topped the list.) She practiced what she preached, and her experience from her own authentic walk with God gave her credibility. She challenged her listeners to get to know God in an era where everyone was trying to find themselves to be fulfilled. She didn’t care if her message was popular or not because she lived for the approval of One and encouraged us to do the same.

There are many tributes to Elisabeth this week, all sharing her wonderful quotes. Today I want to share some of my personal notes from lectures I listened to over the years. Hopefully they will bless you as much as they’ve blessed me.

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From a Contest of Wills, lecture

Are we accepting the will of God? Are we prepared humbly, and gratefully and faithfully to receive his will and say “Not my will be done, but Thine.” 

He knows better than we do. He is a loving Father and he knows what’s good for us. I hear mothers talk about having a “strong willed child.” My question is, “What kind of Strength is it?” Is it strong enough to pit His will against yours?

Jesus in his agony in the garden said, If it be possible let this cup pass from me. But if it is not possible nevertheless not my will, but thine be done…and that is strength of will.

{A strong willed child} does not have strength of will… it is just stubbornness. Everyone of us is born a rebel.

A contest of wills. We will never have a quiet heart until we bring our own will into harmony of that of God. There will always be conflict and anger….One of the reasons I wrote, Keep a Quiet Heart, is because I don’t seem to meet many women who have a quiet heart.

Whose agenda are you accepting? Have you decided that you are angry with God, because He has not conformed His will to yours? What pride and presumption. Presumption is defined this way: audacity, insolence, arrogance, effrontery, shameless boldness…presumption.

If God is my heavenly father and laid down his life for me, isn’t is reasonable to assume that he knows a whole lot better than I do what’s good for me? Angry at God? Our heavenly father wants nothing but the best for any of us.

God is in control, and I am not at the mercy of {circumstances.} So I can keep a quiet heart.

Whose agenda? God’s or mine?

God knows what you need and also when you need it.

When He withholds that one thing we believe will make us happy, we’d do well to remember his promise, that he’ll meet all our needs.

I get so many anguished letters from women and they feel that God is withholding that one thing in the whole world that would make them happy…

Whose agenda? A contest of wills. Is it my will or His? My God shall supply all your needs. And if you don’t have it, you don’t need it today.

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A Quiet Heart Means Confidence in God, lecture

How can we quiet our hearts before the Lord?

Lord, give to me a quiet heart, that does not ask to understand, but confidence steps forward in the darkness, guided by thy hand.

We live in a world of noise. So where can we find quietness? Quite often it’s hard to find physical quietness, but it is always possible to have a quiet heart.

Where does it begin? It comes from a long, steady, sustained gaze at God himself. The life of Jesus. Jesus lived a very busy life…people plucked at his sleeves, asking for things, arguing with him, believing him, disbelieving him, interrupting his prayer times. Jesus had a quiet heart because he only did one thing, the same thing that you and I have to do…the will of the Father.

When I keep that in mind, it completely changes the look of things. My life, my heart, it changes my home and how I do things.

That doesn’t mean that I forsake the laundry or peeling the onions for soup.

Our inner eye is directed toward God.

I am doing the laundry for God.

I am peeling the onion for God.

Everything in my life is an offering…my body, life, heart, emotions, time, work, possessions, sufferings, joy, work, is an offering to God and that gives me a quiet heart.

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Glad Surrender, lecture

Contentment is a command. My mother used to say “Behave yourselves.” Contentment is really taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and behaving yourself when you are feeling discontent about anything. It’s being still. “Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side, bear patiently the cross of grief and pain.”

We often confuse meekness with weakness. Meekness is teach-ability. Are you teachable? Or are you only selectively teachable? Sometimes God assigns to us very strange counselors, but we aren’t meek enough to receive it from THAT person.

From my favorite devotional that has been around for a hundred years, Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary W. Tileston

If we wished to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:—

1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.

2. Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.

3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.

4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.

5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. “The Lord will provide.”

E. B. Pusey.

Heb. 13:5, “Be content with such things as you have.” That’s a command. We are to trust that God does know what He is doing. We have a Father who is faithful, fortress, friend, and helper. Do you believe that? That’s truth. You can’t possibly be contented without trusting that God does know what He’d doing…

Psalm 16:5 is one of my life verses. “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup and have made my my lot secure.” Isn’t that a calm, peaceful sense that we have when we realize that God has assigned us our life, lot, and portion…

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Continued tomorrow.

What are your favorite lesser known lessons from Elisabeth? Please share with us in the comments or on FB.

Moms, You are the Difference Makers

Do you feel like your life counts and is making a difference? Does the fact that you are a young mom with kids at home make you feel side-lined?

A shot of hope: You’re making a beautiful difference right where you are.

Have you heard this prayer? It’s one of the most beautiful prayers of all time.

In it, St. Francis of Assisi speaks to the longing in our human hearts for noble service and difference-making a world so full of hate, prejudice, war, and hurt.

peace

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I gravitate toward difference makers and I want to spend time with people who are bettering the world around them.

I want my life to count and you do, too.

But we think everyone else is making a difference. Me? I’m here at home, doing my thing, making meals, schooling kids, changing diapers, tidying toys.

So who are the actual world changers? Are they the people who have a confederation named after them? A conference? Do they have a newsletter or blog? A nationally syndicated TV show?

St. Francis of Assisi gives us clues. At first glance, the prayer sounds like it’s for the lofty worldwide-peace-global movers and shakers.

But upon further examination, it’s small. It’s local, even right down under the roof of your own home.

It’s all about one-on-one human interaction, because isn’t our theology lived out in our human interactions?

So, who is nearest to you right now? That’s where you make the difference.

Moms, you can answer this prayer without ever leaving your house.

You can and will make a difference for the Kingdom of God by caring right where you are. 

Who needs your comfort? Your love? Your care? Who needs you to be a voice for justice in their lives? Who could use your encouragement? Who needs a meal? Who needs a listening ear?

My friend Joy is using her gifts alongside her husband in Uganda. It’s easy to admire here because she’s rocking babies on the other side of the world. But, what if you could make a difference here by rocking babies in a church nursery or by welcoming a younger mom into your home for refreshment and a needed break?

Why do we overlook the local, while glamorizing the distant and global?

Who is hiding deep hurt? Who doesn’t know where to go for help, like the son of this woman who lives a town over from me, who didn’t feel as though anyone cared, so he killed himself.

We are the difference makers if we’ll open our eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to  direct us. Christ through you. A conduit of hope and peace.

Yesterday, was a perfectly normal day, but I prayed that God would take my day and use it for the good of others and His glory, as I pray each morning.

The “others” came in the form of my kids first as I taught them. I checked cursive handwriting for neatness and served leftovers for lunch. I tidied the house.

I noticed an ambulance outside my window through the falling snow. It was my elderly neighbor in need of help. God prompted me to go out and stand with the son as he waited for his dad. “There’s nothing I can do,” I reasoned. “It’s snowing and I would just be in the way.” But the Holy Spirit prompted me to go out. So I did. I stood in the snow with my neighbors worried son, and told him we’d watch the house and pray. I have no idea how that helped, but I showed up.

We had kids over for some snowmobiling fun, came home, and ate dinner. An hour later we had 12 teen girls in for Winter Bible Study. We talked, laughed, and I served more food. I had a table full of women after the event, so we sat, ate, shared life, and prayed for the needs represented at the table. My college daughters want to chat late at night, so I did that.

Was my day remarkable? No. There was absolutely nothing radical in it.  But the Spirit prompted me to go and help and pray and serve and I did. That’s the radical part. 

We’re not living a soliloquy. It’s not all about our story. We are part of God’s bigger story, a Kingdom building story, and the radical part is showing up in the small.

 

Where are you today? What is God prompting you to do? Who can you serve? Chime in and tell me what He’s called you to today.

Humility hands over the controllers.

Do you struggle with control issues?

I have. I always joked about being a “smother”–you know–one of those moms.

There’s a certain lunacy to trying to be in control–a fantasy world, really. The truth is that we can barely control ourselves let alone anyone else.

My kids enjoy playing video games. I watch with amazement as their fingers dance and scurry over their controllers at break neck speed and precision. They are expert controllers of the PS3.

ps4-controller

Well, the Christian life is about handing over the “controllers” because we know that God understands life better than we do, and that He’s actually capable and powerful enough to handle life, while we are not.

I know we live in a culture that defines  a successful woman as someone who is calling the shots, controlling others, influential, assertive, mouthy and equal, if not equal-er, to men. If you want to be seen as “someone,” you need to take charge, be sorry-not-sorry, and be in control of your destiny.

But a successful Christian woman realizes that she’s not a controller, but is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. God has plans for us, and they are good and best.

A controller makes her own plans and works to make sure everyone else carries them out. A controlled woman seeks God’s face each morning to find out His will for her day. “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

A controller takes matters into her own hands. A controlled woman takes God’s hand and allows Him to lead and direct her steps. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”

A controller says too much, does too much, meddles too much. A controlled woman is cautious about running ahead of the Lord’s plans. “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

A controlling woman, in her pride, thinks that she is the only one capable of handling the situation but humility hands over the controllers.

Let me just say this: we are not Spirit controlled woman when we are controlling women.

You may seek to control your kids, your husband, your friends and manipulate to make life work your way behind the scenes. But has all of your striving brought inner peace?

There’s great peace in handing over the controller to the Lord:

  • You don’t always have to be the driver.
  • You don’t always have to be right.
  • You don’t always have to fix.
  • You don’t always have to perform. 
  • You don’t always have to speak or give input.
  • You don’t have to be angry when your plans are disregarded.  
  • You don’t have to be bitter or critical when your expectations were not met.
  • You don’t have to get impatient when people are in your way or not doing things your way.

Instead, just like watching your kids play a video game, you observe and rest.

When God has the controllers

You can watch what He is doing in your life.

You can be at peace knowing that He can handle anything that comes up. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

You can be at peace knowing that He is in control.

You can trust your Heavenly Father because He’s promised that He’ll use the controllers to passionately pursue your holiness and best interests.

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be:
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy Rest

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God;
So shall I walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me,
My poverty or wealth.
Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my guide, my strength,
My wisdom, and my all.

Horatius Bonar

7 Ways to Encourage Online

We live in amazing times, and I’m thankful that there are ways to use all of this electronic goodness for good!

Today, I’m sharing seven ways to encourage your friends online.

Words, whether delivered face to face, via text, through messaging, are powerful. Use them wisely. You’ll be accountable for them someday. EVERY. ONE. OF. THEM.

encourage pic

 

1. Send Scripture that promises comfort or courage. We’ve all gone through hard times and sometimes we need the perspective of scripture when our thinking gets murky. Scripture is a lifeline and it speaks truth into your friend’s life without our own flawed opinions getting in the way.

2. Tell them you are praying for them! Seriously, this makes my day. The Lord can help me, and knowing that my friends are praying that way for me makes me more determined to keep on keeping on.

3. Be thoughtful about what you say publicly. Some women love being “in the know.” If that’s you, be discreet and considerate. There’s nothing worse than sharing something in confidence only to have your friend blab it to the whole world.

4. Encourage them through their trials. Hey, we all go through them, and we all stumble and fall. Don’t be the “trial police.” Don’t criticize choices your friends make during hard times unless you’ve been given permission to by being asked your opinion. If you are really concerned it may warrant actual action. Instead of a vague online comment of disapproval, why not visit to help them out physically, or run their kids around so they can get some extra sleep or time alone.

5. Encourage the friendless. Let’s face it, Facebook is weird, and can be very seventh-gradish. Be the nice person. Like or comment on things for the sake of another person.

6. Promote solidarity, and don’t stand for online bullies…and by bullies… I mean the mommy-wars. Don’t go there. Just don’t. Someone posted that she was criticized all the time because she had a c-section. Who would criticize that? That’s so small minded. I don’t get this. I hated nursing my kids…but I loved them to pieces. Breastfeeding is a good gift, but it shouldn’t be used to club other women over the head. Ditto for homeschooling, natural birth, organic eating, etc…Can’t we just assume that we all want what’s best for our kids and move on?

7. Praise others instead of yourself. Selfishness is natural, and other-centeredness is supernatural. Listen to others instead of inserting your own story. Promote someone else instead of tooting your own horn. The Lord would have us outdo one another in honor. To live a life that promotes self at the expense of others (whether online or at home) is to live a small, sad existence.

I know this list is incomplete! What are some ways you’ve found to encourage one another online?