When God “Loses” Something

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Several years ago, I lost one of the matching dresses I had made for my girls. I had spent a lot of time, money, and energy making these dresses and I was proud of the final product. One Sunday I went to put them on the girls, however, when I looked for the dresses I found that one was missing. Puzzled I racked my brain, as to where the dress might be, but it wasn’t anywhere I looked. I looked all the places it should have or could have been, and when it wasn’t there, it bothered me even more. I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a dress but these dresses were special, I had created them in love for my girls

It bothered me all day, and I had a lot of trouble concentrating on anything else. The missing dress was ALWAYS in the back of my mind. I called up my mother and mother in law and asked them if they had seen it, and would they look for it. You may think I’m crazy, but I also asked if they would pray that the dress would be found. I can’t tell you how many times I have lost something and stopped my frantic searching for a moment while taking a deep breath and asking God to help me find it. I know some people think that we shouldn’t bother God with such trivial things, but so often after I pray, He leads me right to it. It’s one thing He often does for me, I believe, to show that He cares.

It took awhile but I finally remembered that I had entered it into the fair a couple months back and could not remember seeing it since then.  Thankfully, the lady in charge of the fair thought it looked like an item someone would come back and claim and kept it. When I finally found the dress, I was SO excited! I could have thrown a party.…or at least hugged the woman for not getting rid of it when it wasn’t claimed after the fair right away.

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I can’t help but think of Jesus’s parable of the lost coin every time I lose something and find it. The woman lost a lot of money, she searched high and low, and when she found it, she wanted everyone to rejoice with her. I know that feeling all too well!

It got me to thinking that that must be what it is like for God when one of his own is “lost” or away from him. He created us and spent a lot of time on us. When you invest in something – or when it’s worth something – you don’t give up easily trying to find it. The more value assigned– the harder you look for what is lost. No matter our worth in the eyes of others, we are irreplaceable to God. He may have a whole “fold” full of children, but just like the shepherd in Luke 15, He doesn’t rest until we are back in His “fold” and following His voice.

When we are “lost” he diligently searches for us. He enlists other Christians to pray to try to help “find” us. When he does “find” us, we may be dirty, messed up, even damaged. In fact, the longer we are missing…The more likely the damage. However He find us though, He still rejoices when we are found or return home, just like the father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.

Not only does He rejoice, but if we are dirty, He gets right to work cleaning us up. He sets to work on repairing us and to make us usable again if we are damaged. When something gets repaired there are often scars. In fact, sometimes the damage is irreparable, and He must use us for something else. For instance, take a dress that has holes in it being made into a quilt. It wasn’t the plan for the dress, it’s not as glorious, but it’s still useable and worth something, it just cannot be used for the original intended purpose or as beautiful. Think of a pastor who has had an affair, he may not be able to ever lead a church again like he once did, but it doesn’t mean that God can’t use him in a different way. Also, think of someone who has gone to jail, they can use their mistake to portray God’s forgiveness in the worst of circumstances, but I’m sure God’s original plan for them did not involve being behind bars.

Let’s take it a step further, what about those who are in God’s will, those He is not searching for? God is like a parent asking for help to find His lost children in the woods. I would gladly help someone who lost their child…yet am I willing to let God use me to recover one who is lost?  Do I share the gospel with a lost and dying world? Do I pray for others who are not walking right with God, or do I talk behind their backs? Do encourage them, or do I judge them? When God does find them, do I rejoice with Him or am I like the prodigal’s brother and resent them because of His attention on them (Luke 15)?

We are all precious. We are all valuable. I find it so comforting to know that if I am lost I am worth diligently seeking for to God. I don’t know about you, but I am thankful He is not content to let me stay lost, even if He already has a purseful of other “coins.” I will continue to lose things and ask God’s help in finding whatever it is, but maybe now I will use it as a reminder to not forget to also help God in His search for those lost, just like He helps me in my search.

Have you ever lost something that upset you to the point of distraction until you found it? How did you feel when you found it?

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The Strange Woman – Part 2

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These are my concluding points about “The Strange Woman” from last week. If you didn’t have a chance to read the first 7 points please go back here and start first.

9. She told him she desired him (Proverbs 7:15)
A. Our kids are always desperately longing for approval. If they don’t receive it from us they will go elsewhere to find it. As moms, we need to make sure that we praise our children as much as we criticize them. Are we their biggest cheerleader? Their love tanks should be full so they don’t look elsewhere to fill them.

B. “Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face and I have found thee.” (Proverbs 7:15) The definition of the word ‘seek’ in this verse fascinated me: dawn, to be up early at any task with the implication of earnestness, to painstakingly search for, see diligently early in the morning. Everyone wants to feel desired… Men, boys, girls, women… All of us. It’s flattering to feel wanted, however, do we make our husbands feel desired? If we don’t, I believe another woman will. I once heard a woman speak who had been on the verge of divorce. She watched her husband dote on their little girl and wanted him to do the same to her. She said she started watching her daughter. When her husband came through the door their daughter came running and squealing and ran into his arms. She decided to start doing it as well and admitted that it was the first step in her winning her husband over again.


10. Made her bed desirable
(Proverbs 7:16)
A. What was this woman telling this young man? “I’ve laid out the best for you!” We need to admit to our kids that sin is desirable and that it is fun – for a season. We also need to make sure that our kids are not getting our left overs. Are we too busy to pay them the attention they need?

B. This could be a touchy subject as well. I know how easy is it to throw all the laundry in our room (and it stays in the corner for days) and to leave projects laying around the room. After all, the master bedroom is normally the biggest. It also is the one company goes in the least so we hide things in there. My husband is VERY possessive of our room. No toys are allowed, the kids are only allowed in there if we are in there, or with permission. However, after a decade of marriage things started to look a little worn.I began project “master bedroom” and slowly I started changing things. We didn’t have a lot of money so I did a little at a time and started small. We over time we bought a new mattress, new sheets, and a comforter. (and I didn’t scrimp, I bought us the good stuff) The next year we splurged and bought a bedroom suite that we both liked.  It hasn’t been overnight, and it still isn’t done, but our bedroom is becoming an oasis that we both love and look forward to going in. I want us to love our bedroom over any other place. Let’s make sure our best is for our husband.


11. Smelled nice.
(Proverbs 7:17)
A. The devil uses all our senses to tempt us. We need to warn our kids that it is not just our eyes that can get us into trouble, even though they are a big contributor. Their ears can with the music they listen to or be listening to the lies the world tells them, sweet things someone whispers in their ears, or advice they take from friends. Also, our tongue can cause us problems by what we say or even by what we drink. We need to let them know how nice it feels to be touched by someone and how they will crave more if they start down that path. Even how nice someone smells can all be things that cause us to take a second look at a sin we might not have before.

B. One thing I must admit is that this has never been a strong suit of mine. I take a shower every day and use deodorant, but because of my allergies I had always used the excuse it would give me a headache to wear anything else. While that is true for a lot of smells, one day after a pedicure the technician had rubbed Bath and Body Works Vanilla Sugar on my legs. All that evening my boys kept going “What’s that smell? It smells so good!” They couldn’t believe their mommy smelled like that, and it got me to thinking. If my kids noticed and enjoyed me smelling sweet, why wouldn’t the same be true for my husband? I wanted my family to be able to smell a certain smell and think of me … and I didn’t want it to be deodorant. So, I asked my husband to go perfume shopping with me. It took several hours but we both ended up finding one that we both liked for me and for him. Men like things that smell nice, why not have a certain spray you wear just for him – especially on date nights and when your “in the mood?”

12. Offered to pleasure him All. Night. Long. (Proverbs 7:18)
A. “Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves in loves.” (Proverbs 7:18) The root of many of these words fascinated me. Especially the ‘solace’ which meant to leap for joy, wave joyously, peacock.  To me this verse is her telling the man “Come on! Let’s have sex all night long until both of us can’t go anymore and have stories to tell everyone about all the crazy things we did.” Like I have said several times, sin is fun. We need to make sure we don’t lie about that part, but we really need to emphasize the consequences of a moment of pleasure compared to a lifetime of joy. When we ask our kids which one they would pick I’m pretty sure they would all pick the life time.

B. I am tired. A lot. Homeschooling four kids, teaching 15 piano students, and doing photography on top of ordinary housework wears me down. I have learned if I look wore out my husband notices and won’t even bring up the subject of being intimate. It is in my court to make sure that I get enough sleep and am not too tired for him. Now I’m not saying that we should make love to our husbands all night long every night, but hear me out. Lately, have we taken the time to focus solely on him and be available to his wants and desires? Is there something new he would like to try? Have you ever tried waking up your husband in the middle of the night for a quickie? At least one time a year do you focus on the intimate side of your marriage? Maybe by going away for a day, or sending the kids to grandma’s overnight?

13. Made it sound naughty. (Proverbs 7:19)
A
. The more we make something sound forbidden the more people want it. Case in point: The Garden of Eden. For teens, I think we need to make it sound natural and totally to be desired IN MARRIAGE. We do a horrible job of making marriage sound like something our kids should hold out for.

B. Have you ever talked spicy to your husband? Granted, in marriage it is not naughty, but there are ways to still make it sound that way. My husband and I sometimes send messages back and forth letting the other one know that we are thinking about them. I believe it is important to still flirt with our husbands and make them feel desired.


14. Much fair speech
(Proverbs 7:21)
A. Proverbs 7:21 says, “…With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him…” This verse doesn’t just say “fair speech” it says, “MUCH fair speech.” Much in the original Greek meant “abundance, plenty, multitude.” Fair Speech means “in an active and sinister sense inveiglement.” I wasn’t for sure what inveiglement meant so I googled a definition from Dictionary.com: “to entice, lure, or ensnare by flattery or artful talk or inducements.” Merriam-Webster put it: to win over by wiles. The verse goes on to say she caused him to “yield” which means “bow down.” In other words, the poor guy couldn’t help but listen to all the lovely things she was saying about him, he wanted to hear more and more. “Flattering” meant “smoothness of the tongue like oil.”

B. There are so many verses in Proverbs about the mouth. It has the power to build and it has the power to destroy. Men need praise and respect. How do we show them these things? Well, with our speech. In other words, men need us to praise them all the time. Again, if we don’t’ someone else will. Would our husband say our words are sweet or like vinegar? I am not saying that we aren’t allowed to be mad, but maybe we can hold our tongue until we are cooled down and can discuss it calmly. We don’t want to be called contentious, angry, or brawling like the women described in Proverbs 21:9, 25:24, and 27:15. Would our husband rather dwell in the woods than put up with us? Do we lived in a large home and he still tries to retreat somewhere far away from us? Are we as annoying as a dripping faucet? Do we make everything a contest or quarrel? Do we sow discord and love drama and strife? Do we give them a reason to have vexation, grief, indignation, or provocation? Are we spiteful, provoking, and hateful? Proverbs 30:21-23 says “For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.” Odious means: to hate, hateful, enemy, foe. We should be his biggest cheerleader, however normally after “I do” we are his biggest critic. I’m preaching to the choir here people as I am as guilty in doing this as anybody. We should still flirt with our husband. We should still tell him he is the best-looking guy ever. Do we gush over him in front of others? Sometimes I admit I go a little over board. We still laugh about the time when I told someone he ran a minute mile.

15. Forsakes the guide of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God. (Proverbs 2:17)
A. ‘Forsake’ means to loosen, relinquish, forsake, leave, refuse. ‘Guide’ means a gentle friend. What this verse tells me is that even if we teach our kids everything we should in the right way they still have a free will and can choose not to listen. However, our job is to make sure that they understood right path.

B. What does this verse tell me? That even though I am saved, it can happen to me, and to fall all I must do is forget about God. Start by skipping out of church, then being too busy to pray, and forgetting to read my Bible. Each is a step in not keeping God at the forefront of my mind. If God is not at the forefront, then I am focusing on myself and I can get into all kinds of trouble on my own.

“Never fear to suffer, but oh! Fear to sin. If you must choose between them, prefer the greatest suffering to the smallest sin.” Thomas Guthrie

We need to remember that none of us are above becoming the “strange woman.” For example, the woman in Proverbs was married. Even if we know to do right and have ever since we were young, and even if we grew up in church, and had the best parents we are a one decision away from falling. I can’t help but think of Sampson and David.

David was a man committed to the reality of prayer. He prayed over nearly everything – except never once in the Bible do you find David praying about His love life. Not once – it was perhaps the on area of his life he never yielded, and it almost crushed him.
– Beth Moore.

16. Thinks no one will ever find out (Proverbs 7:20)
A. She convinced the young man that there would be no consequences. We need to continually remind our kids that you reap what you sow. My mom always reminded me before I was married that if I had sex before I got married there would be no big wedding. This married woman chased after a young man we need to protect our kids from not only kids their own ages, but also Adults. Are we being diligent to make sure they are not alone with the opposite sex no matter the age or relation? This day and age, sadly, it just isn’t safe.

B. Proverbs 5:21 says, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.” Even if we think no one will ever find out, we need to remember God is always watching us. He sees where we go, who we flirt with, who we are talking to online, or what pictures we send on our phone. So, in summary, what steps can we take to keep from becoming a strange woman?

  1. Stay far away from compromising situations
  2. If you find yourself in a compromising situation – FLEE
  3. Dress modestly
  4. Get rest
  5. Think before you speak
  6. Strive for a quiet spirit
  7. Love and Listen to instruction
  8. Obey
  9. Be content with home
  10. Watch how you touch/ treat the opposite sex
  11. Be honest and open with your husband
  12. Be available to your husband and have fun together
  13. Listen to gentle teachers
  14. Remember who you belong to.

One last thing, but I believe most important because if we follow if the list above will come naturally, Proverbs 5:1-4 talks solely about reading God’s word and memorizing it. When God’s word takes preeminence in our life, it helps us keep all the above list and gives us wisdom and understanding. Resisting temptation isn’t just about running away – it is about what we should be running towards: God.

The Strange Woman – Part 1

looper wedding K 247The strange woman in the Bible has always fascinated me. Proverbs devotes multiple chapters in warning men of her woes….and only one to the Prov. 31 women. I find it interesting that the Bible says we can’t figure her out (Proverbs 5:6).
“Lest thou shouldest ponder (weigh mentally) her path (manner, well-trodden road) of life, her way (track) are moveable (scatter, to and fro) that thou cannast not know (to properly to ascertain by seeing, comprehend) them. “

I think mainly God doesn’t want us studying the wrong woman, but the right one. Just like the FBI doesn’t have their men study counterfeit bills, they study the right one. Plus, like fire, her ways are so changeable you can’t. She is always going on to the elusive next ‘fix’ where ever it may be. However, since there are so many verses in the Bible about the strange woman I also think God wants us to realize several things about her.

Why? Because the first thing I noticed is the Bible talks about how the young men are “…void of understanding.” (Proverbs 7:7) After looking up the root meaning my summary of this verse is that he is a silly, foolish, seducible son under the age of 20 who has little to no understanding. I assume he hasn’t been taught to beware. Case in point – he was out late, alone, and somewhere he shouldn’t be.

It is our job as mothers to teach our sons what to watch out for and remind them what the consequences will be. Proverbs 5 is full of them: bitterness eating at you like a poison, a disappointing future, discontentment, losing your honor and good name, years of your life with cruel people, bondage, losing all your money to strangers, depression, diseases, and death. One verse even says “…her steps take hold on hell.” While thinking about the consequences I could help but think how some of the consequences sounded an awful lot like prison, losing a job, child support, divorce, STDs, AIDS, and pregnancy. Those are some very heavy consequences, with such high stakes why are we leaving our children’s futures in other’s hands?

We need to make sure our kids have someone watching out for them and keep themselves out of in compromising situations. Are we teaching our kids how to react like Joseph if they find themselves in a compromising situation despite their best efforts? FLEE!
Proverbs 5:8 says, “Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:” This verse says to stay far away from her. That they shouldn’t be anywhere near her door. That isn’t what the young man did in Proverbs 7:8 though, “Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:”

So many times, kids ask, “How far is too far?” I have been reading “The Talk” by Jonathan McKee and he gave a great allegory to share with kids:
Fact: Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least six feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush. How many of you are going to store your tooth brush just five feet away? It’s only a foot shorter than the dentist recommends. Maybe only a few urine particles will splash onto your toothbrush. How many of you are going to store it right next to the toilet by the toilet paper roll? You could build a little shelf right there. How many of you want to hang it by a string in the toilet bowl so that it is practically rinsed every time you flush?
We need to make sure we are continually encouraging our kids not to see just how close they can get to fire without being burned, but how far they can stay away from it. A lot of the verses talk about ignorant youths falling to the strange woman. Even small boys notice women, so we should be pointing out when our sons are young what to watch for and to our daughters how not to be one.

Second, as a wife, I should want to know what does she does to get his attention. Why? Because as a wife I believe I should be working diligently to keep my husband’s attention. If it works for her, that means men find it desirable. What I have tried to figure out is why so many STRONG men fall by her.

For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” (Proverbs 7:26)

At the risk of making a lot of women mad, I believe a good deal of it is because they aren’t getting anything at home. Am I saying it’s not the man’s fault if he goes astray? Absolutely not. He is a grown man, and God places his decisions on his shoulders. However, I made a pact with myself as a bride that if my husband ever did cheat on me, it wasn’t going to be my fault. With that being said, I can assure you that after 14 years of marriage every encounter together does not sizzle, especially with four kids. My husband had some complaints, and we have worked hard together to change things. I think the main point is we need to keep trying to seduce our man. She does, so shouldn’t we work equally hard to keep his attention?

So, I decided to do a study on the things the strange woman does. I wanted to know how to prepare my sons, warn my daughters, and what things draw men so I could work on my own family and marriage. I came up with a list of 16 aspects to consider and a two. Point A will focus on our children, while Point B will focus on ourselves and marriage.

What are some things the strange woman does?

1.Dress like a harlot.
(Proverbs 7:10)
A. We all know that sex filled images bombard our children everywhere they look. This is a subject that should be easy to bring up with them since it is everywhere. Every family has their own personal standards and I think it is vital that we share with our kids the “why.” When my boys comment that a lady is pretty my husband will ask them why they think that. We also emphasize to our kids how they should be focusing inward beauty instead of physical attractiveness. I have tried to start sharing with them how some things are “good, some things are better, and some things are best.” …including clothes.

B
. How does this relate to me as a wife? Do I still dress attractively? Men notice what women wear. Don’t let your husband be around nice-looking women all day and come home to yoga pants and bed hair. I believe it is important to try to be attractive to your husband, especially at bedtime since that may be the only time alone with him you get for the day. I bought me some nice pajamas and wear them every night and not just when I’m “in the mood.” I liked it so much that now on my birthday I request new nightclothes just so they never get ratty again, and my husband has something pretty to look at. Go to the mall and try on appealing pajamas until you find one that makes you feel attractive and wear it often.

2. Get him at night while he’s tired.
(Proverbs 7:9)
A. Rest. This is something our culture is sadly lacking. I think a lot of our energy problems and health issues stem significantly from not getting enough rest. It’s our jobs as mothers to make sure our kids are rested. In fact, when we are tired our defenses are down and our self-control is lacking. The story of the strange women is why it is important for kids to have curfews and yes, even bedtimes. The young man in Proverbs 7:9 was out: “…In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night…” Even as a teenager I was made to go to bed when my parents did. Frankly, it is likely that most kids just get into trouble after 10:00 pm. With possibly little to no supervision, kids today stay up extremely late watching TV, playing on phones, texting. I hope if my children ever get a cell phone that I take the phones up at night. Children probably aren’t going to get the rest they need without us making them; additionally, this includes making sure their schedules aren’t overly full. There are so many opportunities in life, we need to make sure the ones we participate in are what is BEST for them.
B. Even as adults it is difficult to stay strong when we are tired and our self-control is lacking. I know my babies could get me to do about anything at night. We need to make sure rest is a top priority for us and our family. If bedtime is a priority in your family both you and your spouse will have more energy to be intimate plus chances are both of your moods will be better throughout the day because you have had fewer fights since you’re both aren’t as snappy.

3. Subtle of heart. (Proverbs 7:10)
A. Subtle means to guard in a bad sense, to conceal, to keep something hidden. We need to warn our sons that women are great at hiding things. Think just of social media alone, how perfect people can make themselves look. We need to warn our kids to know what is important to them in a potential spouse before they start dating. That just because someone is okay with something now, they may be doing it just to get you and won’t after your married.

B. Do we hide what we do from our husband? Are we open with him? The Proverbs 31 woman’s husband has “no need of spoil” … in other words, he doesn’t worry about her. Marriage is built on trust, and being subtle is the opposite of that.

4. Loud (Proverbs 7:11)
A. My husband always says one of the first things he noticed about me when we first met is that I wasn’t giggly and loud like most girls. He also faithfully reminds me of the one night I got that way after not enough sleep and about lost him. Funny thing is sitcoms and the world teaches girls that this is what guys like and that it’s the only way to get their attention. We also need to remind our sons that if you marry someone who is loud before you say ‘I Do’, chances are she will act the same way when you’re married.

B. If I told you to name me one loud woman, you could probably same a name without blinking…maybe even more than one. Now think about what makes them fit that description. Chances are they are constantly trying to steal the attention from others and redirect it to themselves. They probably are a one-upper, flirt constantly, talk loudly, wear excessive makeup and attention gaining clothes. They will do or say anything to get attention, even if it is the wrong kind of attention. We don’t want to be like that. Proverbs 9:13 says, “A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.”

5. Stubborn (Proverbs 7:11)
A
. Pretty much this means she won’t quit going after him, and she will do whatever it takes to get him. Think of the example in the Bible of Joseph and when his boss, Potiphar’s, wife pursued him relentlessly until he had to run away from her. We need to warn our sons that there are certain women that just won’t take no for an answer.

B. We need to be determined too but in a good way. Marriage takes being stubborn and going after our guy even when we don’t feel like it. When my husband is stressed he likes to build what I lovingly refer to as “a wall.” I kid him all the time that I have a hammer and he can just keep laying them bricks because I will just keep smashing them down. I know there are many days that I must work hard to get my husband in a good mood after a particularly stressful day. There are days that I am tired too and would rather just go read a book, but marriage takes grit and determination. We need to have the same mind set of “whatever it takes” to make our marriage work. It might be less time playing on our phones, watching what he wants to watch, less sleep to we have more time with him, doing what it takes to get us in ‘the mood,’ and saying ‘yes’ to sex even if we are tired, etc.

6. Not content at home (Proverbs 7:11-12)
A. So many kids want to be anywhere except home, is that our fault though? Are we willing to have their friends over and feed them? Do we make our homes a fun filled atmosphere? Even if we aren’t at our house, are we doing fun things as a family or are they always hanging out with friends? I can honestly say as a teen I liked being home because my Mom and Dad took us fun places and did things with us that we enjoyed.

B. So many women today want to be everywhere BUT at home. I love going places, a lot, but I try to show my husband that our home is my first priority. I at least try to be home before him, but I will admit that this is an area I struggle in. We should work harder at not filling up our schedules so we have more time to devote to our home like the Proverbs 31 woman. Are we content with where God has us or do we want more?

7. She caught him. (Proverbs 7:13)
A. This seems especially true today. Girls now chase after the guys, instead of guys after the girls. They are bold and use their bodies to get what they want. We need to teach our sons that some girls are just out to conquer him. The more forbidden he seems or unattainable, the more she will chase after him. Girls love to touch guys…the playful slap, rubbing their back, surprise piggy back rides. I think this is one reason the Bible says, “it is GOOD for a man not to touch a woman.” It doesn’t say you can’t, but it can lay the foundation for more.

B. How about us as wives? Does my husband know that I want him? Does he know that I like being married to him? Guys sometimes like to be the one pursued – especially in the bedroom. Sometimes I text my husband during the day to let him know I’m thinking of him. Other times if he is at home I might smack his butt or just come up and lay a good kiss on him. Don’t make him beg for sex.

8. She kissed him (Proverbs 7:13)
A. I find it interesting that the definition here for kissing is: to catch fire, burn, kindle, to cling to, to delight in, have a desire, to set in love. I think as Mom’s we may not do a good enough job warning our kids about the dangers of kissing. I once read as a teenager that kissing ignites a flame, so I decided that I wouldn’t kiss anyone but my husband. Goodness, I’ll admit it was super hard, but I stayed true to my conviction. I wanted to kiss my husband so bad while we were dating, but I knew that if I did then I would start to focus on other things I would like to do. It’s a progression that I really believe starts with kissing. Am I saying that it’s a sin to kiss a boyfriend? No. I’m just saying it lights a flame that we need to warn our kids about. If it’s a kiss they would be comfortable doing in front of their grandma, they are probably okay.

B. I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed to admit there have been many days that I have gone all day without kissing my husband. At first it wasn’t like that; in fact, after no kisses while dating we made up for lost time. However, after 4 kids and my husband working a demanding job, it just became easier and easier to forget. I have tried to do better after reading that one of the characteristics all marriages that lasted have versus ones that have divorced is that the couples kissed longer than 30 seconds a day. I guess it’s hard to stay upset with someone you’re making out with. Try it. Well, don’t let your husband know you’re going “One Mississippi…Two Mississippi…”, but you’ll be surprised how long 30 seconds is and how it does make you feel closer and notice each other.

I didn’t want to make this post too long so stay tuned next week and I will conclude the final seven points!

God’s Fingerprints

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The other day while sitting in the van with the windows down and a cool breeze blowing across me I couldn’t help but stop and worship. As I sat there, I began to ponder about how every time I feel a breeze I can’t help but think of God. Maybe it is because, just like God, I can’t see it but I can feel it … see its effects … know it’s there. It can be gentle, but it can also be powerful. It can be oh, so, refreshing. Every time I feel a breeze I can’t help but lift my face up, embrace it, enjoy it, and thank God. I love the way it feels, the way it makes the nature around me “sing.” It brings storms and also refreshes. I love the fact that the wind obeys my God. “…even the winds and the sea obey him…Matthew 8:27

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As I continued to sit with the breeze rustling my hair and I started thinking about how the wind is not the only “God fingerprint” for me. Every time I’m out in my garden I think of him. When you hoe and weed, you can’t help but think of the many parables Christ taught about seeds. Nothing shows you just how much you rely on God and his provision as putting seeds in the ground, watering them, and knowing that there is nothing else you can do but wait for God to make them grow. You are at the mercy of the weather and pray for a bountiful crop. You can’t make it rain. You can’t keep the hail away. Whereas when gardening you are utterly dependent on God, it also reminds you of how dependent on Him you are in the rest of your life as well.

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Other fingerprints for me are my children. Just like seeds, I couldn’t make something from nothing… but God did.  To quote one of my favorite songs, “That’s what Amazes Me” by Go Fish,

“Little fingers curled ’round mine
A perfect heart beats right in time
Brand new eyes look all around
As tiny ears hear every sound
And like the artist creates his masterpiece from nothing
So this child came to be
From the love of two came a whole new entity
And that’s what amazes me.”

Having our first child was not an overnight experience for us. No matter how badly you want a baby, you can’t create one without God allowing it to happen.

However, I’m not just talking about the miracle of conception, but the whole birth process. I once watched a movie on how each little thing must happen at exactly the right time in the womb, and when it doesn’t that is when birth defects occur. Which happened with our second born. There is one special moment in the womb when the diaphragm is formed. If it does not occur then all the lower body parts are not kept out of the chest cavity allowing the lungs to form fully. I learned how precious a fully formed, healthy baby is and how miraculous they are. Before I had her, I took it for granted and just expected it. After our miscarriage, I learned even more just how precious the miracle of life is; I cannot look at my children and not see God.

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Lastly, for me, is the mountains. They have always done something to my soul. They calm me, they speak to me and remind me that God is awesome. They speak the truth to me that God is bigger than all my problems. I have lived many places, but my heart always has remained in the mountains no matter where I lived. Every time I am near them, it feels like God made them like a hug just for me.

I believe there are things that remind everyone of God. Not the same thing, mind you, but something very personal that every time you experience it, you can’t help but worship and know there is a God. I know for some of you the ocean is your “fingerprint,” and maybe for some of you, it is animals. I’m sure for the scientist tiny cells in all their micro-glory testify that there is a creator who loves details. I know for my husband it would be music. I love watching Him experience music. Again, to quote “That’s What Amazes Me”:

A musical blanket
Woven together with a melody and rhyme
The songs we live our lives to
Take us to another place and time
And like the snowflakes that fall from heaven
Each one different crafted carefully
From only eighty-eight keys come endless possibilities
And that’s what amazes me

(Want to hear the song?: click here)
Everything created points us back to God. The Bible says,

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Romans 1:20

There is no excuse for failing to recognize God. Granted, different things speak to each of us; He is just waiting for us to stand in awe of His creation and notice how miraculous it is. Yes, I know the devil has twisted many wonderful things in creation to his use, but I know it didn’t start that way. I can only imagine how it must delight God when we take the time to appreciate Him and His creation. Any artist’s goal is for the audience to appreciate his masterpiece.

How about you? What are the things that “sing” there is a God to you?

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Signs

What if people had signs hanging around their necks that said what was going on in their lives or saying what had happened in their past?

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am wrapped up in my little world … okay, a lot of the time. I focus on how people treat me or make me feel, and treat them accordingly. However, that isn’t how Christ interacted with the public. He focused on the people who surrounded him instead of himself. Lately, I’ve noticed just how far a small act of kindness can go when dealing with others. In February, every year, our church has “Kindness Month.” We are encouraged to do acts of kindness all throughout the month and write the deeds (with no name) on little hearts and stick them up on the church wall. The goal is to focus on others; however, what is amazing is how much people respond to even the smallest acts of kindness.

People remember kindness. If you do something kind for someone, they are more apt to remember you and respond positively the next time they see you. People want to be noticed, in fact, they long for it. That is what made me ponder this thought at the beginning of this post. What if people wore signs around their necks that said what was going on in their lives, or saying what had happened in their past? Would I treat them with more respect and compassion? Sometimes after I get to know someone and find out stuff about them it makes it much easier to interact with them – it makes me more understanding… and kind.

For instance, think of the cashier who seemed sullen and wouldn’t converse with you. What if her sign said:
“Waiting on test results to see if my Mom has cancer.”

Maybe your waiter didn’t meet your scale of attentiveness. What if she had a sign that said:
“Working two jobs.
Single Mom.
My kid has the flu.
The person who was supposed to relieve me is an hour late.”

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What if the nurse who was gruff and unkind had a sign saying:
“My Husband served me with divorce papers today.
My kids are moving away.”

What about the coworkers we are around each day that irritates us? What if one of them had a sign saying:
“I was repeatedly molested as a child.”
Or another maybe:
“My Dad was a mean drunk who used me for his punching bag.”
I know people with signs that would say:
“My child has Autism.”
“My spouse has cancer.”
“My Parents did drugs. I was raised by a family member.”
“My husband cheated on me.”
“Nothing I ever did was good enough for my Dad.”
“My baby is teething and won’t sleep or quit crying.”
“My husband is a soldier stationed overseas, and we haven’t seen him in 5 months.”

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If we saw signs like this, would we be more understanding? Would it make a difference in the amount of grace we give them?

Instead of leaving a small tip, would we leave a larger one? Maybe instead of complaining we might smile at them, say their name, look them in the eyes, and ask how their day is going. Furthermore, would we ask questions to show we care about them? Maybe even give them a candy bar with a smile and say, “Everyone can use a bit of chocolate in their lives!” (Isn’t that the truth?!)

Kindness, it truly shows God’s love to people. Jesus really saw people … their past, their struggles, their burdens, their trials. Some signs we would condemn, but Christ saw them all and still loved these people. He also spent a massive amount of time in prayer so he could stay attuned to the Father and needs of others. Oh, to have eyes of compassion like Jesus: He listened… He cared… He helped… He was kind. The people could tell, and it drew them like moths to a flame. Everyone is drawn to kindness. Possibly, the element missing today in spreading the gospel is the added touch of kindness.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

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How about you? Have you ever wondered the same thing? How do you show compassion to others?

This is the Day to Choose Joy

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I was a brat, there was no two ways about it. My husband was having shoulder surgery and things were quickly slipping from my control. Additionally, after a misunderstanding, I learned I wouldn’t get to sit with him in his pre-op room. Whereas one paper said yes and the other no, I had to sit out in the waiting room an extra hour and a half.

First, his surgery started late, and I even had to ask if it had started. The surgery lasted an hour longer than they said it would, making me very anxious. Finally, I waited over and hour to hear from post-op when everyone else in the waiting room was asked back after just 15 minutes.

I wish I could say I calmly handled that day, but I cannot. It’s a good thing “the force” isn’t real because Darth Vadar and his death glare would have had nothing on me that day. Also, I wish I could say I chose kindness, but I can’t. I really wish I could say I chose to trust God, but I didn’t.

My friend had a moto last year: Choose Joy. I knew I should choose joy the day of my husband’s surgery, but I was scared. My husband and anesthesia don’t jive well, and I also can’t stand when my he is in pain. My fear comes out in ugly, ugly anger. So instead of choosing joy, I pouted.

Fast forward 2 weeks when a missionary came to our church and helped us observe the Passover. While all of it was fascinating, the part that stuck out to me was how after the Passover the Jews always sing “Psalm 118.” He commented that Jesus observed the Passover (the Last Supper) right before his death. In the middle of Psalms 118 is the verse 24:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Jesus was singing about rejoicing on that day … which makes Him my hero. The day His friends betrayed him … the day they lied about Him… the day He was tortured … the day He died. I’m sure He feared the pain ahead, He was human after all, but despite that fact, He chose joy.

Today we go back to the doctor for my husband’s first check up since his surgery to have the stitches removed. I’m choosing to sing “This is the Day”; Not because there aren’t nerves, but because I want to be more like Jesus and chose joy even when I’m scared. This is the day I choose joy.

What type circumstances makes it harder for you to choose joy?

12 Ways to Choose Joy

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We all have those times when our hearts feel overwhelmed. Maybe it is a death of a loved one, perhaps you are feeling all alone, possibly it is a financial crisis or job loss, could be you received bad news about your or a loved one’s health. Maybe your child is going down a dark path and you feel helpless, or maybe it is just something as simple as a fight with your husband. Whatever it is, we all have times when it is difficult to find joy. For me, I have learned a few simple steps that help me regain my joy and turn my focus off of my circumstances and back onto my all-knowing God.

What I do when I have trouble finding my joy:

  1. Simple Prayer
    – Sometimes when I am distressed I have trouble praying a long prayer or I don’t know what to pray other than just a simple, “Help me, Father!” Eventually, I pray longer, but this is my appeal when I don’t feel like praying.
  2. Cry
    – I do not cry often, but I have found that when a situation is overwhelming me, getting out the emotions helps me to move through my feelings faster. The bible is FULL of verses about crying out to God, and even Jesus wept. God gave us the ability to cry for a reason (other than just cleaning our eyes), and I believe a reason why is so we have the ability to release pent up emotion. I think this is a gift He gave us after the fall, because He knew our hearts were not created to hold pain. I love the fact that God even says that he bottles our tears. One day He will wipe away all my tears forever, until then I am grateful for His gift.
  3. Write About It
    – Granted, I will admit I like to write and not everyone does, but personally I have found that it really helps me to process what I am going through. Whether by writing out a prayer about how I am feeling, or a letter to a person I am upset with this method works well for me. No one ever sees my prayers and I always destroy the letters, it still gives me the release I need without saying anything I will regret.
  4. Listen to Good Music
    – I really believe that music is a balm for the soul and can really help brighten our outlook, just like David’s songs soothed Saul. Sometimes they remind us of truths that we might not be willing to hear any other way. When we are depressed they remind us of God’s truths.
  5. Keep Going to Church
    – Sometimes the last place I want to be when I am upset about something is church. I don’t want to be around people, I don’t want people to know I’m struggling, and I certainly don’t want to act like everything is okay. However, church is normally just what I need whether it is a song that is sung, a sermon preached, or maybe someone encourages me. I think that is one reason why God created the church. We can worship God on our own, but we can’t encourage ourselves.
  6. Confide in Someone I Know Will Pray
    – It is a great comfort to me to know I have a very small circle of friends that if I call and ask, I KNOW they will pray, and they will also not share it with other people. The bible says where two or more come to Him …”there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) It always immediately makes me feel more at peace knowing that I’m not the only one petitioning God in a situation.
  7. Write Down One Thing I’m Grateful for Each Day
    – This very small act has helped me so many times. When I had a miscarriage, and was is a dark place for a few months, this one act really helped me to see how much I still had to be thankful for. I got a small pocket calendar that had squares just big enough to write one thing a day on. I then made myself find something in that situation to write down each day to be thankful for. It really helped me step outside of the situation and see how God used even an awful situation for my good.
  8. Read Psalms
    – If anyone knew despair, pain, and joy is was David, he had moments of feeling utterly alone, friends turn on him, he had deaths of loved ones, etc. (Ps. 16:11) Every time I need encouragement or need to feel like someone knows how I feel, I read Psalms. It never fails to encourage me.
  9. Write Out Verses
    – I write down encouraging verses on note cards and tape them to my mirror or window over my sink so I am continually reminded of God’s promises, which encourages me. It’s hope to cling to right in front of my eyes all day long.
  10. Go for a Walk
    – I have learned in recent years that when I am upset walking greatly helps me to clear my head. Not only is it peaceful and quiet enough for me to gather my thoughts, it also is great way to expend pent-up frustration.
  11. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
    – It never helps to sit around just feeling sorry for yourself, because the more you sit, the more you brood. When I get up and do something for someone I turn the focus off myself and start to notice others again.
  12. Doing Something I Enjoy
    – After doing all the above I chose to do something which normally brings me joy. A date with my husband, reading a good book, taking a walk, going somewhere fun with my kids…eating chocolate cake… are all things that make me happy. Yours may be totally different, whatever it is, make sure you do something that leaves you smiling.

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All of this doesn’t happen by chance. I have to CHOOSE to do it. I must CHOOSE to find joy. What are some of the things you do during a rough patch to help you regain your joy?