Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Find Your Fight Song And Sing It

Hello, friends. Don't you just love this time of year? The Autumn season is my very favorite time of year, even above Christmas.  There is something about fall that lends itself to a time of reflection and pause. Isn't it amazing that nature gives us such a picture of beauty from a state of dying? When the leaves start to change their color, it make me want to put on my scarves and boots, eat a bowl of chili and sip a cup of hot apple cider. To snuggle down and usher in our dutiful, and maybe a mite intrusive, great- Aunt Winter.

This year's fall has found me in a state of deep and pensive contemplation as I survey the state of things around me. My world, your world, our world, is changing. And not for the better, so it seems. Many aspects of life that have defined me have shifted, have changed so that sometimes I cannot even recognize the landscape around me.  I must confess, I feel more and more like a stranger here, in a place where I once thrived, and that breaks my heart. And by here, I do not mean a physical location, but I mean here, in an atmosphere where the values, principles, and beliefs that made me who I am are no longer  regarded as valuable. They are being thrown out the window like yesterday's McDonald's paper bag. They are being scoffed at, mocked, declared as ignorance. They are being reasoned away by new, enlightened doctrines and theological reasonings. All around I see an indifference for the things of God, an undermining of our precious Holiness heritage and beliefs. It is heartbreaking, devastating, and if we let it overcome us, it's downright depressing.

I am completely and utterly convinced, my friends, that Holiness is right. This conviction has not come casually, but from an exhausting, gut-wrenching digging in prayer and in the Word.  I have asked myself all the questions, I have weighed in the balance all  the inconsistencies that we see in the ministry and in the church. They are glaringly obvious. I came to a point where I had to search out and ask myself, "Why am I living this way? Why do l believe like this? Is it so I can belong to a "movement', a social group, so I can be accepted in a certain clique? is it so I will be invited to sing on Bro. So-and-So's platform at Such-and-Such campmeeting? Is it for my husband? Is it for my parents? Why? And the answer I keep getting, is none of the above. For if it were, it would be for the wrong reason.  I have purposed in my heart to live a life of Biblical holiness, not "movement" Holiness, because of this one reason:  a lifetime walking with and an eternity spent with Christ is all that matters.  I will stand before Him for my own judgement, which will not be based on my parents', my pastor's, or my husband's walk with God, but mine and mine alone.

As a mother, it has been especially troublesome to view the present state of such circumstances, and downright scary to imagine the future. What will be left for my children in ten years? Fifteen, twenty? When our precious prayer warriors are passing on to glory, and no one is picking up the torch they've left behind. When our churches are filled with sleepy elderly saints, jaded, indignant adults, and shallow,  disinterested youth? How will my children ever get their footing spiritually in a time of such discord, division, and confusion? Forgive me for sounding so negative, but this is reality. Yes, God is still moving, saving, filling with the Holy Ghost and healing, and I have not lost faith in Him or His ability to do any of that. It is not the Holiness message that is flawed,  but rather the application of that message. The motives and intents behind our lifestyle have got to be pure and solely for the purpose of exalting and glorifying Christ. And that is where we are missing the mark.
So what does a mother do, when faced with these questions that relentlessly pelt  her mind and heart? She must take them to her Savior. And when I did, He drew my attention to a few mothers in the Bible who defeated the spiritual odds, so to speak, and in the midst of similar, and probably worse circumstances, raised children who not only thrived spiritually, but rose up to become mighty leaders in their generation.

Let's look to Hannah, who brought her son to a man of God who had become weak and ineffective, who had compromised greatly. It was a perilous time of dissension in the land and the temple--and yet Samuel became all God needed Him to be for that hour. And then there's Jochebed, whose son cried his first cry in a world bent on his demise. He was born into slavery and bondage, his people at the very bottom of the totem pole in every sense. He was then placed in a home that knew nothing of God's truths. Yet God brought Moses out, called Him to a place of close-knit communion with and witness of the mighty power of God.

How did these children defy such odds, in environments of spiritual darkness? I have to believe it was a result of a mother's unrelenting, passionate prayers over and for her children. These mothers gave their children over to God unselfishly and with the utmost trust. They laid them on the altar, prayed, believed, and let go.

So, do I stand and wring my hands over what the future holds? No, I go to war on my knees, my goal sharing eternity around God's throne with all four of my children. the devil can't have a single one! Will you join me, dear mother, dear aunt, dear grandmother, in fighting for our next generation? Now is the time to rally our spirits and push through the thick fog of lethargy. Now is the time to fight! Our children are worth it!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kiss the Wave, Cling to the Shepherd

    Of all times for the good Lord to nudge me to write more, why would it be now? As I speak, my house is stacked with packing boxes, as we prepare to move out of our house next Friday. As on the 30th. Of September. As in 6 days from today! Needless to say, I've been running on full speed. I've watched the clock strike 3 am a couple of times this week....while I cleaned out closets, and sorted stuff out for yard sale, keep, throw/give away. All the while trying my best to keep school, laundry, music lessons, and meals flowing. This will be our eighth move in 14 years of marriage, so I'm pretty much a pro by now! We're moving 40 miles away, where we will be closer to our church, family, and all other activities that we frequently drive over for. We outgrew our house a long time ago, and if all goes according to plan, we will be moving into a much roomier house at the end of October.

   Yet with all this going on, there's other concerns on my mind. Burdens and troubles. My mind is often troubled about certain situations. It seems these days that one barely catches one's breath from one ferocious storm, barely finds one's footing after being knocked down by a merciless wave when watch out, here comes a tsunami. Lest you think I am exaggerating, let me assure you I am not.  The past year has been the most tumultuous of my adult life. Yet it has taught me, to fix my eyes upon Him who is the orchestrator of all calm and peace. Even in the midst of confusion, hurt, and unwanted changes, He is a solid rock.  He alone can be depended on to never change, to never falter.
So I endeavor, that no matter who around me fails or disappoints me, no matter if the world around me becomes unrecognizable, to fix my eyes upon Jesus Christ. As a trusting lamb fixes his eyes lovingly upon its' shepherd, so I will fix mine upon Him.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow
strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace."
~Helen H. Lemmel

A prayer/poem I recently wrote:

"A Lamb's Prayer"

My Shepherd, my Savior,
Let my eyes never leave yours,
Let me dwell near the hem of your robe
Let me never leave the warmth of your feet
Let me never wander away from the sound of your voice
Call to me, Lord. Scold me when my eyes look away to distant fields
Use the crook of your staff to draw me and discipline me
Let me dwell with you in the cool, soft grass of your presence
Let me thirst for you as I do the still waters
Be my Protector and my Guide
Protect me from the wolf and the bear who wish to devour me
You fight for me, you are my deliverance
You are the source of all my provision
In you is all life and strength and truth
You're all I need

He is all we need.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Ready Heart, A Ready Writer

Hello, my dear friends.  For those of you who have my blog on your list, who still click over to read when I happen to post one of my sporadic ramblings, thank you for doing so. I don't really know if what I write on here matters, or why it would in particular matter to anyone. I know some probably read out of nosiness curiosity, some read because you know me personally and it's a way to connect with me (cause you love me, I hope).  Either way, I am ever so humbled that anyone would choose to spend time here in my little corner of the blogosphere.  Time, I well know, is precious, and that you would choose to give of yours to read my accounts is important to me. So thank you.

As of late, I've been repeatedly admonished by certain (you know who you are) various people to please write on my blog more often. I've been nudged many times over the past 6 months (maybe more) in my spirit to write. Just write. Write what's on my heart, write down those little whispers that come to my heart during my personal Bible study times. Write down my struggles and my triumphs, as a mother, as a wife, as a Christian. I recall a few months ago when I felt the tug, but was a little frustrated because our laptop was broken and had been for months. I prayed about it one morning, saying OK, Lord, I hear you, but you're gonna have to fix this little problem of a new laptop. Later that evening, as the husband and I were taking a walk, he says, "You know, the Lord dealt with me this morning to buy you a new laptop. So you can write." Swallow.

I'm really baffled at this persistence from so many directions, but I'm surely not going to ignore it. Now that I sit here typing away on a new sweet little laptop, I am following orders :). Yes, sir. At your service. I really don't think my writing is anything special, but if that's what you want me to do, I'm gonna do it. I'm not going to worry about what "niche" I fit into in the great world of blogging, or if anyone is even reading. I'm just going to write. I may not have breathtaking photography to  post along with my writing (at this moment I believe my camera is lost somewhere in the realm of things misplaced by absent-minded people like myself). I'm just gonna write. Apparently that's what I'm supposed to do.

I'm not writing to impress anyone or to attract attention. Writing is always a little scary for me--it comes with risk. It's putting a piece of myself out there for inspection and that makes me feel a little vulnerable. Dare I be as honest as I would like to be? Dare I venture to topics that I know my peers can relate to and must be pondering over as well, even if it may be met with opposition? Dare I? I almost feel that I must.

So, dear reader, here is a little taste of what it is to come on this blog of mine.  Hold onto your hats (or not), I'll be here,  writing.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Perspective on Marriage and Anniversaries

Fourteen years. Fourteen moons have shown since we stood in front of God and everyone and said, “I do”….when we didn’t have a clue what we were really doing! But here we are, fourteen years later, and I can honestly say our love has grown into one that is steady, mature, and sweetly strong.

Yes, John and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this year(on May 25th), and my amazing husband completely pulled out all the stops and planned the sweetest, most thoughtful anniversary trip ever. This is the stuff of sappy chick flicks, y’all. ‘Cept it really happened, to us. It was perfect and absolutely the most relaxing and fun trip I’ve ever been on.  Of course, I chronicled our adventures on Instagram—how he planned our whole trip and kept all the details a secret. The only thing he let me in on was that we were going zip lining in the mountains of Gatlinburg, TN (so that I could acquire appropriate modest attire for such an activity). Other than that, I was completely clueless, up until the point that we actually pulled into our second destination—the Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, Ky. He also planned a surprise meeting for me and a friend I met through this blog, around ten years ago. We had grown to be great friends through texting, email and Instagram, but never met in person. I had no idea until she walked up to us while we were eating a picnic lunch (well, I had hoped, but was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen). I almost choked on my chicken salad sandwich and had to stop and chew it up before I even said, “Hi”, but it was an awesome moment anyway!

I was not the only one blown away by John’s thoughtfulness. I can’t tell you how many women have asked, “Can he give my husband lessons?” or “Why can’t my husband do things like that for me?” I want to say, “If you only knew…it hasn’t always been like this.”  And I can hear myself asking the same question, even a year ago.  Rewind to last year’s anniversary, when John took 6 boys from our youth group on a camping trip on our anniversary weekend. I was NOT a happy camper (in a tent or otherwise). I moped and pouted and complained. I cried on a friend’s shoulder, “How could he be so thoughtless?” Well, this (very wise) friend looks at me and says, “Amy, John loves you and shows you all year long. He is faithful to you, provides for you, and loves you and your children with his whole heart. Why do you need him to perform one weekend out of the year to prove that he loves you?” Needless to say, I felt a little abashed and sheepish about my childish griping. She was right, and I knew it.

That little encounter got my attention and got me to thinking, why do we women put so much pressure and emphasis on our husbands to shower us with gifts, dinner, and attention on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day? Not that we don’t deserve it, but why do we deserve it any more than our husbands? Society has turned these events into elaborate displays of over spending and unrealistic expectations. Our husbands (in most cases—I am aware that many women hold jobs outside the home as well) carry the weight of responsibility for the leadership and financial well-being of their families, on a daily basis. A man like mine, who gets up every morning and goes to work, whether he feels like it or not, so his wife can enjoy the privilege of being at home with her children, certainly deserves to be honored and respected. Do we realize how much our men crave special attention and appreciation from us? Attention that goes beyond the basic, every day meals and honey-dos? How might our marriages grow and change for the better if we took the initiative to do special things for our husbands, instead of sitting and waiting for them to do it for us?  Ladies, I know for a fact you would be blown away by the change in your husband!

Believe me, I am fully aware that there is that ever-present issue of funds and finances. If you’re like me and have no source of income other than what your husband brings home, you may find an obstacle when it comes to finding the means to fund that special occasion. For me, it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money he earned on his own (even though I know it is our money) on a gift/event that is for him. Well, ladies, God made us to be creative creatures, and now is the perfect opportunity to blow your husband’s mind with how creative and fun you can be! Don’t have the money to go out to eat? Send the kids to their grandparents (or aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc) for the evening. Dress up your back porch with Christmas lights and a pretty table, whip up a yummy meal, and create an evening that he will never forget! A certain friend of mine built a romantic “fort” in her living room with blankets, Christmas lights, and a mattress. Her husband was blown away!  

This past Valentine’s Day was a special one for us. We had came through a tough trial in our marriage, one that we fought and won together, through lots of prayer and dedication. This situation brought us closer together than ever before, and I wanted to really shower John with a special Valentine’s Day, to celebrate that we had made it to through the valley, to the top of the mountain. So I got my husband’s permission to spend a certain amount of money on a special weekend. Surprisingly, he was thrilled with the idea and told me to go for it (I about fainted!). I can’t tell you how much fun I had sneaking around and planning things. I ordered an Edible Arrangements bouquet and had it delivered to his office, picked him up from work and took him to a high-end steakhouse in our area (that required reservations), bought him a personal gift, and finished the night off with a stay at our favorite local hotel. So if you have the means to fund such a weekend, go for it. He deserves it! He might be so pleased that he turns around and takes you on the anniversary trip of your dreams ;).

Let’s not take our marriages for granted, ladies. Let’s not forget that a good marriage takes a lot of hard work, on both our parts. But we can’t just sit around and wait for our husbands to be the one doing all the work. A little spontaneity every now and then can turn a good marriage into an extraordinary marriage. You never know what God has in store. Go for it!