Monday, November 23, 2015

New Orleans

The Chapel on campus.
Ray and I drove to New Orleans in September to attend a workshop and for him to do a little Spurgeon research. We stayed on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. When we got married over twenty-eight years ago we left from our wedding to go to our honeymoon, then straight to seminary. We lived there for a little over a year before we got back to Georgia as fast as we could. We were reminiscing a lot and wishing we had enjoyed certain things about the city more while we were there.

One of the things that we would like to have done more is eat out. We lived on my part time salary as a minimum wage clerk at the bookstore. Our grocery and gas budget back then was $35.00 per week and that included eating out!

Muffalatas at Cafe' Maspero was one place where we ate more than once. It is still just as yummy! 

We didn't find things that different than the last time we were there together, twenty-five years ago. St. Peter's Square is still beautifully crazy and diverse. The darkness of the French Quarter is even more over-whelming to me. Having been flooded after Katrina, I'm sure those who know the city would think it is completely changed from twenty-eight years ago. But memories seem to cloud with time.

I don't know how we missed the Camelia Grill all those years ago, but it had the best breakfast we've had in a long time. Maybe it wasn't there....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How to Pray Based on Psalm 5:1-8

Ray has been preaching out of the Psalms for a few months and every week I have been encouraged.  Some weeks I'm actually even able to take notes. This is the result of my notes from his sermon on this past Sunday.

I. Pray with a Passion - groaning, cry. Verse 1
The psalmist prays
- with an expectation that God will hear him.
- that God's name would be great and that the Lord is lifted up in every situation. King, God.
- for God's provision.
- to a personal God who knows your needs, heart and desires. He is my King and my God.

II. Priority of Prayer - in the morning, it's his practice. Verse 3
The psalmist
- makes his first thoughts upward to God.
- disciplined, regular routine.
- watches in faith that God is going to act.

III. Purity of prayer - Verses 4-6
- does not delight in wickedness, evil cannot dwell with Him.
- abhors the bloodthirsty and evil man.
(Only through Christ can anyone stand before God. Psalm 66:18 Iniquity hinders prayer life. Repent of sin which hinders prayers.)

IV. Promise of prayer - psalmist appears before God through the abundance of God's love. Verse 7
- cannot separate ourselves from God's presence.
- enter with humility and fear and trust, because God has made the way and provided access.

V. Petitions of prayer - Verse 8
- lead me, personally, because of my enemies and the enemies of the people of God.
- make the way straight.
Our Thanksgiving Circle at church last week

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Remember my sin issue of being easily irritated? I was thinking about one of those irritating habits my dear husband has - laundry. He doesn't always put his dirty clothes where I think he should. I haven't asked him to put his clothes somewhere special, just put them in the hamper. He's smart, he can see a hamper for dirty clothes. It isn't hidden away, he just can't always seem to ring it. He isn't sinning against me, sometimes, he just doesn't put his clothes where I want.

I can choose to let that make me mad. I can let that fester into a raging blister that gnaws at me - he doesn't care about me, I have so much work to do, he doesn't respect my job, he wants me to have more work to do, he doesn't love me, he wants to hurt me, etc. Do you see how easy it is for me to sin against him over something as ridiculous as dirty socks?

Even airing his dirty laundry here (pun intended) may give rise to my sinful heart. I have to turn from this train of thought and repent.

Don't we all have a way to do things? And isn't it the right way to do that thing? Whether it's laundry, dishes, filing, cutting the grass, cutting nails, reading a book, anything can be said that there is a certain way to do things.

Whose way is correct? It doesn't matter. What matters is our attitude. Look at what the Bible says about those we claim to love -

It does not insist on its on way: it is not irritable or resentful. I Corinthians 13:5

So when we are easily irritated by someone we love doing something we think should be done a different we we need to remember Scripture - 

...bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 

Now I could roll out a list a mile long of things my husband does that is irritating. And my daughters... well let's just say the same goes double for them. But I love them, I love them more than I can explain. Because the Bible is where I get definitions of how I should live, I Corinthians 13 is key. 

I have read all of that chapter, especially verse four. Love is not arrogant either. In my arrogance, I could think that I'm not irritating or insist on my own way. We are all in need of the same love that we need to give. More on that later....

One thing I dearly love about my husband is how he loves the children. And he makes awesome pancakes!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Do Not Be Easily Irritated

1 Corinthians 13:4-5- "Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it's own way, it is not irritable or resentful."

When I love Christ and when I love my family I will not be irritable and rude. I will not insist on my own way. When I am rude and even think I deserve more than I'm getting, I am not loving others. I am loving myself.

This verse is a verse that I pray through often because I am often easily irritated.  Just when I think I have noticed that there are some improvements, I am knocked backwards at my own sin. 

Ray has been out of town for several days and this sweet little girl hasn't left my side. She has been with me every moment - sleeping, eating, bathing, yes, even the bathroom. She made a simple request to help with something, I don't remember, but it was really very little to ask. I snapped at her and told her to go somewhere else. 

One of my daughters looked at me with shock in her eyes and said, "It really isn't that big of a deal. Here, Abigail, come help me."  I made the lame excuse that I was tired and needed a little space and sulked. 

I didn't handle my irritations well at all. There are times when mothers need to be alone to rest, recharge and renew themselves. But there is still no excuse for sin. My daughter needs my attention more right now because her daddy isn't around this week. I must put aside my irritation and love her in a kind and patient way.

She has gotten in some time teaching her babies all that they need to know. The picture to the right is of her riding in the car going to music. This is basically how she usually rides, with her "Bubby" and "Just Plain Elephant".

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Yes, I'm still alive, but my computer hasn't been. I am still paying for this site and will come back to blogging as I can. With my computer back up and running, I have no excuses.....

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....