Something incredible happened this week

Something incredible happened this week. I was introduced to a new little girl.  This girl was sweet and had much potential.  But this girl was so misunderstood due to serious learning disabilities.  She couldn’t function in so many ways, so many settings.  Her mom thought her frustration and stubbornness was the overflow of a hard and rebellious heart.  Her lack of attention in school and certain subjects as laziness.  Her moodiness and selfishness to be exasperating character flaws.

However, this little girl was dying for love, understanding and security.  She needed someone who would patiently embrace her differences and lovingly guide her through the frightening, dark labyrinth she was trapped in.

Instead, this girl faced alone her struggles with learning and understanding the simplest things.  Math was a foreign language with no translation.  Hearing books read out loud was ‘wa-wa-wa’ in her ears.  She couldn’t focus on what she had just heard. She couldn’t make sense of what she WAS able to focus on.  Her world was frustrating, confusing.  She could see that others could ‘get it’ but she couldn’t.  Too young and immature to express her feelings, thoughts and frustrations, she coped by shutting down.  There were no smiles, no eye contact, flatness in her expression, no response or tiny voice.  It was not just an academic issue, it was a life issue.

Mom grew increasingly worried and exasperated.  Feeling increasingly inadequate she prayed for help.  Everyday battles and ugliness drew tears and anger.  Feelings went from ambiguity to almost a repulsion.  Certainly a strong dislike.  Barely tolerant of this daughter’s behavior.

Then one day, mom met a woman who God used to change everything.  She helped the mom to see that inside the hard, cold, angry exterior was beauty.  She knew how to chisel the bits of marble away until the angel she saw inside, emerged.

Suddenly, mom’s eyes were opened.  She understood.  She saw! She could see her little girl’s beauty!  It would take work, maybe years of careful, loving diligent and even painful, effort.  But God gave mom new eyes to see the precious treasure that was her daughter.

When mom went home, she realized that her feelings and reactions toward her little one changed.  There was a tender, patient and understanding heart when faced with the same resistant behavior.  She cheerfully diffused ugly faces by creatively enticing smiles and hugs.  Then when she said goodnight to this one tonight, a strange, unfamiliar squeeze in her chest took her off guard.  It was a feeling she hadn’t had in years towards her daughter.  It was love.  Tender, eye-soaking love.

I can’t wait to get to know this little girl better. The freshness and calm I feel when she comes bounding in the room with smiles just delights me.  Something exciting happened this week.  I met a sweet, young lady and suddenly I know how blessed I am when she calls me mom.

Haiti: We can do more than pray

This is long but please read

Please don’t turn a blind eye to those in need in Haiti. They are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. Lately, the Lord has been stirring our family’s heart toward those who are in need – namely, the poor, the hungry, the naked, the blind. Our initial motivation to help was to appease our guilt or some similar reason, however, as we read the words of Christ, I cannot help but see his compassion and concern for those who suffer in poverty.

LUKE 14:12-14

Last week, I listened to these verses read in Luke 14:12-14 where Christ tells his audience to not serve those who are able to pay you back but to bless those who are “poor, crippled, lame, blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

I plead with my fellow believers, for the love of Christ, to put feet to our theology and have compassion on those who are helpless and unable to ever repay you. Your reward will be great in heaven!

I read this indictment against Israel, and wonder how much this applies to me.

Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”

I ask myself, Did God place me in one of the most prosperous nations in the world only to pad our retirement funds, stuff our waistlines, adorn our houses and divert our attention to pleasure? I really don’t mean that saving money and eating etc. are sinful. But we can forget that the Lord has equipped some to be able to jump in when necessary to minister to those who can’t help themselves. I do believe that if you are able, now is one of those times. Praise the Lord that He is merciful and abundant in His provision to us!

What happens in the next few days are critical as they will need equipment to move large debris that will save people trapped under collapsed buildings, they need the basics – food, water, shelter, and medical supplies – so that those who survived the earthquake will survive the elements and injuries they’ve sustained. They need money to mobilize aid in the places that are needed most with the supplies that will be most helpful. If you can, I would urge you to take two minutes and make a donation to any of these organizations that I have listed below. If you know of others that are respectable and honorable in their ministry, please post them here.

DO MORE THAN PRAY: SPREAD THE WORD

Of course, we will pray. We will not forget that the God of the universe, the Sovereign Lord hears and answers prayer. However, another thing you can do is spread the word. It’s another world out there, one that doesn’t touch us. Look at those images and see if your heart doesn’t get stirred by the suffering. We can lift up prayers and open our eyes in response to the gospel that Christ preached. But we can do more than pray.

* Copy this and post it on your own facebook notes. Tag as many people as possible.

* Take one day and encourage others to take a few minutes to pray and make a small (or large) donation!

* How about challenging people to give up one night out and donate the money saved to Haiti?

* Wouldn’t it be surprising if we opened the news and there were no headlines drawing our attention to the disaster? How about giving up your status update for one day to remind our friends that there’s more to life than the errands we ran that day?

* I’m not writing this as an indictment. Just a heartfelt plea to come out of our comfort zones for just a little and take a good, hard look at what people are suffering right now!

TEACHING COMPASSION TO OUR CHILDREN

I have some ideas of what we’re going to do with the children in order to give my children opportunities to extend compassion and aid. I’m really bad about this as I’ve taught my kids the opposite!

* I’m putting up a little map of Haiti in our kitchen.

* Print out the page on Haiti from Operation World and start praying for this people group

* Get a roll of quarters and let your children do extra chores, etc. and give them money to put into a donation jar. Let them watch you make the donation on a website.

* Read verses that speak of Christ’s compassion.

* Sell some items (toys, books, clothes) and raise some money to donate.

* Let your older kids get exposed to some of the photos that vividly show what happened. I think we shield our children too much sometimes. Shield them at your discretion, however, let them see some of the nightmare that these children in another part of the world live through.

* Fast through one or two meals. Every time they feel hunger, have them put a coin into a donation jar.

* One person wrote that she’s making bread and baked goods to sell to raise money. Great idea!

ORGANIZATIONS

Children’s Hunger Fund

Samaritan’s Purse

Compassion International

Sovereign Grace Ministries Disaster Relief

Feed My Starving Children

Northwest Haiti Christian Mission

World Vision

Renewing Our Minds in 2010

It’s that time of year for reflection, rejoicing, renewal and planning.  We look back to assess 2009 and face the new year with prayerful hope and expectation.  One serious undertaking is considering which Bible reading plan I am going to embark on.  Last year, I started with reading the Bible chronologically with many others in our church.  However, I got sooooo hungry for reading more of the New Testament that I decided to drop that one.  I switched to an old favorite by Professor Horner.  It is an intense, vigorous but wonderful Bible-reading program!  I read the 10 chapters a day in my more youthful college-years but 4 (almost 5) children later, it’s difficult to find the time to keep up with it.  I do highly recommend it though!

Another favorite of mine is the M’Cheyne bible reading plan.  It goes through the Bible, reading 4 readings a day.  It’s separated for family worship and private reading but some like to read one part in the morning and the other in the evening.

This year, I found something that can go on my ipod.  YouVersion has 20+ reading plans that you can choose from.  I wanted to read through the OT once and the NT twice and well, there it was! There are many websites that offer a list of reading plans but you can start with looking at the ones I’ve linked to in the side bar.

Whichever plan you choose, remember, this is only a plan.  I find that often a reading calendar is a source of pride or fall.   “Yup, I’m totally caught up!” with a little air of self-satisfaction.  Or, too often, with shame and discouragement, “I dropped off the schedule by the end of February.”  It was good to read this blog where it was mentioned that a Bible-reading plan is not something that is to bind the conscience.  Too often, it’s another checklist or resolution that invokes guilt and resentment instead of being the tool that it is.  To have a Bible reading plan is to have a plan.  It puts “a sense of organization and structured thinking to a Christian’s life.  If I don’t follow the calendar every exact day, it’s no big deal.  The main thing is that I would organize my schedule and delight in God’s inscribed Word…”

Undoubtedly, reading and meditating on God’s Word is foundational in our Christian walk and discipline.  May the glory of God be deeply impressed on our heart, souls and minds this year as we delight in His Word!

“Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.” Thomas Brooks

“It was only yesterday, after laying down the Bible, that I wondered what kind of mind I would have had if I had not the Book of God, the Book containing the astounding idea of ‘from everlasting to everlasting,’ the development of all that is worth knowing … One would think, that as I have critically and, I think, devoutly read and examined every verse, every word in the Bible, some a score of times over, I should not require to open the pages of that unspeakable blessed Book. Alas, for the human memory! I read the Bible today with the same feeling I ever did, like the hungry when seeking food, the thirsty when seeking drink, the bewildered when seeking counsel and the mourner when seeking comfort. Don’t you believe all this? For alas, I read it sometimes as a formal thing, though my heart condemns me afterwards … I am yet astonished at my own ignorance of the Bible!”  Robert Mofatt

The Myth of ‘Me-Time’

Moms, you won’t like this. But this resonated with me this morning.  You can read the entire blog post at Walking Therein.

Written by a mom of 8 named Jacque:

I am sorry, but “Me-Time” is a myth. We are mothers. We do not put ourselves first; we make sacrifices because that is how God has created us. Jesus is the best example we have of sacrifice, and we will certainly not be called to make the sacrifices he did, but, just as he did, we have to spend time with the LORD and prepare for the days ahead.

I fall down miserably in this many times a day, and I want to cry to – or scream! – but, if I take God’s view, I will see it is very different than my feelings.

BUT!!

I am stressed out!! WHAT CAN I DO!!!

First of all, do as I said above: RENEW your mind in the WORD! If you are feeling like you need “Me Time”, it’s probably because you need “Me-and-God-Time”. Do an in-depth study of what the WORD says about children and if you can’t figure it out, ask God how they are being blessings right now. “Show me them as blessings, LORD!” I will tell them they are blessings from God when they misbehave and tell them I expect them to be a blessing too.

Secondly: Stop listening to what others say about how you need a break and how tough it is and just building up your own pity-party. Yes, it is tough, and yes, you feel like you need a break, but that is unreasonable. You are the mom, you have the responsibility, put yourself second and your children first and ask God to remove those feelings, and if need be, those friends. Instead, if they see you struggling or ask how you are, just tell them you are studying God’s Word and ask them to pray you will find God’s plan for you and your children.

Third: Change your environment – and theirs!

*Go outside. Even with young children, we can go on a walk or go outside and play in the dirt.

*Play hide and seek in the house.

*Give them a rag and clean something. No, the job won’t be done well, but that isn’t the goal. The goal is to have fun and change your perspective at the moment.

*Go to your bed, grab a favourite book of theirs and snuggle and read. And Read and snuggle.

*Make some hot cocoa.

*Go out for ice cream.

*SMILE. It is amazing how different you feel when you smile, even in the midst of a fit! You will start to see a different reaction in your children as well, as you smile at them and they smile back.

Fourth: If you are dealing with physical changes in your body that wreak havoc in your system, be sure to:

*Spend alone time in the WORD and soothe your spirit.

*Eat healthy! Eating organic will help rid your body of pesticides that will ruin your system and play on your hormones. Cut out the caffeine, junk food and even dairy if it sets you off. I can’t eat anything with nitrates in it or I get terrible migraines.

*Get fresh air.

*Take natural supplements if you need to. I got to where I knew if I was lacking in B-vitamins, because stress drains your system of B’s, and I could tell when I needed them.

In addition: Are you nursing a baby?

If you are, you need extra calories and nutrition. You will need more water. You will need time alone to sit with baby while the other children have QT. No, this won’t happen at each nursing time, but at least once a day.

Fifth: Do your children have a QT or take naps? Set rules, stick it out until they know they have to and do it. Make it a Quiet Time on their beds. Let them read a book or hold a favourite toy. The rule is quiet.

Finally – or Firstly, whichever fits for you: Talk to your husband about it. Let it all out. Tell him you are struggling. Tell him you need his advice. Ask him to pray for you and with you. Don’t expect it to be all the right answers, and you might even feel worse after talking to him – but, he needs to know and will likely come back after mulling it over with some good advice, and at the least, you have unburdened yourself to a trusted friend whose interest in your children is above all others!

A Word of Warning about having someone else watch your children while you “take a much-needed break”:

It is habit-forming. If that is the first answer you turn to, then God cannot work in you to overcome the feelings you have and renew your mind. He wants you to enjoy your children and have patience with them and love them as he loves you. He desires your heart to change. He gave these blessings to you for his glory. Taking an absence from that will not allow his will to be done in your life or your children’s. Period.

Beware of the quick-fixes and allowing your children to learn that is the answer. It is not. Being a mother is a hard job because it is a God-given one. It is shaping the hearts and minds of God’s people and building his kingdom for his glory. It is the most important thing you will ever do.

Puritan Picks

Thank you Tim Challies, once again, you find the best stuff!!!

I am totally signing up for this!  Puritan Picks is similar to Netflix except they have great Christian DVDs for rent!  In just skimming the titles and speakers in these dvds, I got really excited!  

John Piper, the Blazing Center, Desiring God conferences, R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Conferences, Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, new DVDs I saw at monergism… etc.  Yay!!  

 

You pay $4.99 a month, rent just like Netflix, and watch all these great sermons, speakers, messages, series without paying tons of money! Yay!

Can’t wait to show my husband. :-)

Great deal on ESV Study Bibles

Timberdoodle is selling all their original Crossway ESV Study Bibles for a fantastic price!

Their genuine leather one is going for $45! 

The trutone ones are only $37.50!  Great price on great Bibles.

The Ploughshare Must be Sent Deeper

This is my heart’s cry:  That the ‘ploughshare’ be sent deeper.  That my love for Christ is not an emotional medley of hearsay theology, but that it might be rooted and grounded in the eternal Truths of His Word.  My heart aches while considering how so few desire to pursue a clearer picture of the Heavenly One, the Holy One, the Savior, the Righteous God.  We squeeze out our tears and lift up barren hands on Sunday… then go on as if He did not give us anything at all… as if His radical plan of salvation is worthy of a few twinges of grateful (perhaps guilty) acknowledgment.  How hollow is our ‘religion’?  How fair-weather is our ‘friendship’ with Christ?

 

I speak as one who would be condemned, not as the condemner.  He knows my heart well, how desperately wicked, how futile my efforts to grasp eternity would be, if not for the Spirit working in me, if not for the finished work of Christ that brings the sinner into favour with God. (Bonar)  How far exceeding is His grace to make Christ the perfect substitute on our behalf that we might approach Him as our Abba.  Do we contemplate the marvel of the gospel enough?  Or is it worn and wearisome to us?

 

Is it enough to be recognized and commended as a believer, impressing with outward professions of faith but void of inward reformation and renewal?  Does it suffice to be warmed by the coziness of a loving Christ and yet be offended by the scope of His Sovereignty and wrath?

 

I’m echoing the words of Horatius Bonar, a 19th-century preacher, in his book “Everlasting Righteousness”:

Religion is fashionable in our age…But… Is it that of apostles and prophets?  Is it the calm yet thorough religion which did such great deeds in other days?  Has it gone deep into the conscience?  Has it filled the heart?  has it pervaded the man?  Or has it left the conscience unpacified, the heart unfilled, the man unchanged, save with some external appliances of religiousness, which leaves him hollow as before?  There is at this moment many an aching spirit, bitterly conscious of this hollowness.  The doctrine, the profession, the good report of others, the bustle of work, will not fill the soul.  God Himself must be there, with His covering righteousness, His cleansing blood, His quickening Spirit.  Without this, religion is but a shell:  holy services are dull and irksome.  Joy in God, which is the soul and essence of worship, is unknown.  Sacraments, prayer-meetings, religious services, labours of charity, will not make up for the living God.

May His Word so deeply probe, penetrate, excavate our hearts that stubborn roots of unbelief may be ripped out and replaced by a humble, ‘more excellent’ treasure.

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