Saturday, September 19, 2015

Oh, the Tongue!

Our society has gotten too comfortable with some words. How do you decide as a family which words to use? Everyone has different standards. The Bible doesn't have a list of words that are rude or unacceptable.
When thinking through certain words that I find unacceptable, the original 1828 edition of Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language is a good place to start. I looked up some nasty culprit words and they aren't there. Looking up bad words in the dictionary, childish, right? But if Noah Webster didn't think they were nice to say, they shouldn't be said. That can't be the source because any word can be used as an insult with the right tone behind it. (And our society loves to invent and change the original meanings of words.)

I've often thought of the sweetest little old lady that I know. Would she say the word?  That may not be the best guide either, I've heard some filthy talk come from the elderly. But the point is, would I want someone that I respect and admire to hear me say what I'm saying?

Thinking about words we use:
  • Speech matters. What you say reveals your heart, mine too.
  • Never allow words that could be used to condemn, to hurt, or cause harm.
  • Bathroom words belong in the bathroom.
  • Every family has words that are not allowed. Respect that. (Some of ours are - shut up, hate, stupid, idiot.)
One of my all time favorite children's books is called Little Daisy and the Swearing Class. It's about a little girl (of course) who sets about to change the way people she meets uses words. Her gentility wins over the hardest of hearts and changes the whole town for good. Yes, I know, I want the world to be too much like Pollyanna.

Practicing Affirmation is a book I started a long time ago but recently picked it up again to finish. The idea is to praise people for God given talents, behaviors, and such, making sure you give credit to whom credit is due - God. This book discusses issues like self esteem, flattery, pride and positive thinking cultures while staying true to God's word. If we use words to build others up instead of tear them down, wouldn't everything change? That's a common message, but it's important, especially when it refers to praising God for the good we see in others. God is praised and others are encouraged.

I struggle with talking way too much, so I have to remind myself often what scripture says about the mouth. I truly want my speech to be gracious, seasoned with salt. Scripture and especially the Proverbs are packed with good scripture to memorize to help with the tongue.

These girls have the gift of "sister speech." This is Sarah and Hannah when we were at the beach this past Summer. It's fun to see them play, since they are so grown up and work and do school all the time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Colossians 3:20-21

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

God cares about our child's feelings. He doesn't want blind obedience from children, He wants their hearts. When parents "do not provoke" they are training their children to follow God.

How do we provoke our children? I can think of so many ways -
  • expectations too high
  • expectations too low
  • lack of attention
  • attention that spoils
  • not meeting needs
  • giving too many material possessions
  • harsh answers
  • no answer at all
Hannah, Sarah, Abigail, Mary and Lydia trying to figure out how to get a group picture  in Daytona Beach. Obviously, Abigail had her own idea of how it was supposed to be done.

Parenting is hard. And when the pressure is added of knowing that we could be the source of our child's discouragement, that could lead us to withdraw from actually parenting. I have often found great encouragement in talking to other godly parents and reading great parenting books.

The theology of parenting is well explained in the Bible. We are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Proverbs is loaded with things we are to do. Even Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me." We know that we are to shepherd our children so that their hearts are drawn to God. I don't think theology is the problem in parenting.

How do we raise our children? The practicalities of parenting can be found in so many places. We know how we were raised and can learn from that, positively or negatively. We can ask other parents,  pastors or counselors trained in parenting, lots of people can help. Books are really helpful too. My favorite parenting book is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.

A lot of times, a situation will arise that we need immediate help with. A three year old throws a tantrum in the grocery store, an eight year old ignores a direct command to clean his room, a teenager slams her door to make a point. Our society at large is so confused about gender and authority that it could be hard to know where to turn. There should be other parents in your circle of friends or church that you can go to ask questions.

Ask another parent to mentor you. Have them get to know you and your children so that you can send a quick text to ask for help. Be open to them telling you when something looks wrong. Spend time with them asking specific questions. Let them pour into you and your family. Every child is different and you'll need wisdom how to raise each one. But don't be afraid to say, "Hey, I need help." I wish I had asked.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Sin Is So Great That Can't Be Forgiven?

What about my own sin in marriage? Do you remember, as a Christian, the moment that you realized that you were truly forgiven of your sins?

Have you ever examined the blackness of your heart and seen the forgiveness of Christ cover that? I heard a lady talk about how one day she begged God to show her the blackness of her sin. She described a truly awful moment of evil within her own heart, and yet, by her own admission, she still goes back to sin again.
 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 
She still falls into sin because she does what we all do - we sin. We are sinners by nature and we need a savior.  We love to sin, we hate to sin, we sin. Because I am a sinner, my marriage will suffer. I married a sinner too. If I continue in my sinful ways, whatever way that is, my marriage will not flourish.

This could get very depressing couldn't it?  If there were no hope of forgiveness for the dark deeds of life, there would be no hope in life at all.  I don't understand how non-Christians live day after day with that.

My mind, heart, words and body must focus on the work of Christ and what He has done to rescue me.  So, as I battle a bad attitude toward Ray or a lack of focus on my husband, I have to remember Christ and repent.

What about those big sins? The good news is that no matter what sin we have committed, Christ can forgive us.

The stories in the news of suicide shake me. Most recently, a pastor we knew and respected committed suicide. What man's sin is so great that it can't be forgiven by Christ and his people? This particular man had a long history of sin and was about to be exposed. (I know there must be consequences to sin, but forgiveness is possible.)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

How does that transfer into marriage? Husbands and wives often sin against each other and sometimes those sins are huge. We have to remember that while we ourselves were sinners, Christ died for us. If the Holy One of God can forgive us in our blackest hearts, can't we forgive our spouses? Not only we can, but we must. 

Someone might say, "That's easy for you to say, your husband hasn't abused you or committed adultery or anything really 'big'." That's true, but I know the Savior who saves. The forgiveness He offers can flow through me. 

Now, if in the future I am faced with one of those "big" sin issues. I will have to face the reality of that truth. There will be hurt, anger, and every terrible emotion to be thought of I'm sure. But I will have to ask myself the same question, "What sin is so great that can't be forgiven?"

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Ephesians 5:31-32

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

We are to leave all other in this world and cling to our spouses. Whatever is in this world that satisfies - job, children, possessions, status, comfort...ladies, what is the first thing that you think of when I say, "What brings you the most joy in this world?"  Don't blurt it out because it could be very embarrassing.

This refers to Christ and the church. What did Christ do for the church? He died for her. He willingly laid down his life for His bride. That's what God calls husbands to do every day for their wives. God is glorified in that.

But, what must the bride do? 

Ephesians 5:22 - Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.

Colossians 3:18 - Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

We can talk about the word submit all day long. It has been discussed many times, by so many better than I. The little phrases at the end of each of those two verses keep jumping out at me. 

"as to the Lord" and "as is fitting in the Lord"

If we filter everything we do for or against our husbands through those words, how would our lives change? I bet we wouldn't -
  • grumble under our breath
  • text a thoughtless comment 
  • sigh a little extra loudly to get the point across
  • roll our eyes
  • think thoughts that are less than God honoring
  • "forget" to do something that he asked to be done
  • allow our children to say, do or think less than honorable thoughts about their father
  • be easily offended because he is exhausted from working 
That's just a short list of that came to mind quickly. What are the "little" responses that you sinfully make in response to your husband? 

If the phrase "as is fitting in the Lord" was on the minds of more women, how could our marriages be changed?  It's these "little" sins that compound. They become huge when multiplied. 

So, right now, write across your heart, "as is fitting in the Lord." How will you respond to a hurt, reply to a thoughtless word, repent of a sinful deed? There are so many things in our lives that could call for a "big" response. Filtering our responses through this lens would make dramatic changes. 

If you don't know what "as is fitting in the Lord" means, try spending some time in the Psalms.  The psalmist knows the Almighty, ever present God who created the universe and is involved in the tiny details of our lives. Worshipping that God gives earthly brides a way to honor their earthly husbands.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

It's Official!

I'm the worst mother ever! This week, I've earned the title. I have-
And there's this...
  • Made my kids do school while I laid down.
  • Made one wash the cat food bowls even though her greatest fear is tiny worms and spiders.
  • Failed to remind one enough times that a bill was coming due, so it was late getting mailed.
  • Allowed one of them to keep doing school past five, even though they are supposed to stop at three.
  • Made them memorize two verses this week instead of one because it was too easy.
  • Had one ask me, "How long does menopause last?" That was in the middle of her two hour cleaning chores.
  • Punished one because she "just felt like" telling another sister how awful and spoiled she was.
  • Insisted my girls tell me EVERY time they leave who they are riding with. (Yes, I know bad grammar, but you can't use bad grammar and be mad, can you?)
But the best was when-

I ruined one of my girls' life because I wouldn't let her swim before breakfast. She actually said, "Well, thanks for ruining my life!"

At least I've been appreciated this week....

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Good Medicine

One of the hardest things about being laid up is that I wasn't able to  hold these sweet babies. Rachel has been so good to bring them to see me and make sure they didn't climb on me. But that's also been one of the best things.  Nothing makes me feel better than to see those smiles and hear those giggles. God has been kind to give me healing and I am much better. Some days, I wonder if I'll ever be "back to normal."

I have a learned a few things -

  • God will lay me down to rest.
  • It's easy to pray when you can't do anything but lay on your back.
  • The housework will wait, but the piles are getting gigantic!
  • I have no patience, at all.

  • Josiah is better at the spirometer than I am. I was supposed to blow in it about six times a day. I may have tried it twice.

  • I really like holding hands.

Abigail and "Just Plain Elephant"
  • It's time for Abigail and "Just Plain Elephant" to move back tho their own bed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Recently, Rachel and Adrian invited our entire church over to their house. The plan was to set up tables in their front yard and everyone eat outside and play games. She was a little busier than she expected and couldn't get things as clean as she wanted.

I told her, "Don't worry about your dust, it'll make people feel more comfortable."

No one can attain perfection in their housework when they have small children. (That can't always do it without children either but it is a little easier I think.)

Have them over anyway. Make them comfortable.  I've had a few people seem relieved when they have found my house in a mess. No one can keep things perfectly clean, but that's easy to forget.

On the day that our church was to gather at their house, guess what happened?

As God would have it - Rain, and lots of it. People still came. 

We took of our shoes at the door and piled in. 

Adrian pushed the furniture against the wall and we ate together, sang together and played together. It was loud, but so fun.

Abigail and her sweet friend Karalynn held hands while they sang for a long time. The picture above doesn't show how many children there were gathered to sing together, but it was a sweet time. 

This Summer our church celebrates ten years together. I am grateful to God for the sweet fellowship.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School

Abigail was bright and ready to start very early today. Who wouldn't be ready with a large pan of plastic lemons, eggs, and playhouse people? I never got to do any school with her, but that's okay. She is only three. Notice that Mary was not ready!
The first day of school usually isn't very pretty, but today was a ugly as it gets. The bright spot was a successful recipe for mocha frappuccino. My friend Kelly keeps telling me that we will have to give our kids lots of extra grace through this start up. But it's my kids who are giving me grace. By 11:30, I was hurting so bad that I had to go lay down. I took a two hour nap before I could do anything else with them. Eventually, I'll get back enough strength to be running through the house again, but until then, we are extending much grace.

The school desk at the beginning of the day was a shambles. The girls had started cleaning up when we snapped this picture.
When I told Lydia to pull down her science book, she sighed and said, "I sure do miss Jeanie Fulbright."
I kept the school planning table set up in the den since I wasn't running up and down stairs. I'm sad to say that looked like this for weeks, except of course, for the chocolate. That came and went very quickly. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015


After many trips back and forth to the doctor and hospital in May and June, my mom got a pacemaker put in. She is feeling much better and back to working full time. (By the way, she's seventy-four.)
On one of my trips, I got to visit with my Aunt Anne who lives in a nursing home. She  and my other aunts played key rolls in my early childhood memories. It's sweet to see these two sisters interacting, knowing all that they've been through in their lives.

During a Saturday afternoon visit, Papa got to play with the babies.
I spent too much time reading magazines, eating candy and watching Food Network and learned that the people in Macon are friendlier than I remembered.

Monday, August 17, 2015

God of the Detail

God's Hand is evident in the "big" things of life. Creation, the Exodus, oceans, childbirth, etc. are just a few examples that are easy to see the big ways that God moves. But what about the details? Have you ever seen the tiny close up detail pictures of sea creatures that live on the bottom of the ocean floor? No one sees them but God. Psalm 104:26 says that God created the Leviathan to play in the ocean, yet no one knows where or what the Leviathan is. God moves in every detail.

Nearly three weeks ago, we were in a car wreck. The van crumbled in the impact (and was totaled, by the way.) Yesterday, Ray talked to a man who was involved in a car wreck several years ago, very similar to mine. He was driving an older suburban, like I used to drive. The injuries they had were so extensive that the man and his wife nearly died and spent a long time in the hospital. The suburban didn't crumble, it bounced everything off of them, it stayed strong. The detail that I see God's hand in and how does it apply to us? I just bought a van with the latest safety features, it was supposed to crumble and take the impact of the crash, so we didn't have to. Some engineer, that I don't know, researched and figured out that a crumpled vehicle is safer than a metal bouncer. God has used those tiny details to save lots of lives, including Hannah, Abigail and me.

In front of the Tower Bridge in London.
But what about other details? Today, Ray and I celebrate twenty eight years of marriage. How many details has God orchestrated to get us here, where we are today? Many bumps in the road, many mountain top experiences are under our belts, lots of "big" events, we do have six children and two grandchildren. Yet, detail after detail God has moved us together.

I am thankful for twenty-eight years of details that God has intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:15)