Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turning the Hearts of the Fathers

My husband and I have recently finished reading through the OldTestament, ending with one of my constant prayers: Malachi 4:5,6
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Over my life I have seen God turn the hearts of many fathers to their children, and many children to their fathers. We have known a young couple for several years, and have prayed for them as they yearned many years for children. When they were married, the husband told his wife he wanted children, but he also wanted her to work even when children came along. They worked many years, hoping for children. When it seemed they would never have any, the wife became pregnant! What joy for them to welcome a beautiful little girl into their family!

Then the "impossible" miracle happened-- God turned the heart of the father toward his daughter! Though he wanted many children, he did not realize just how precious a child is. When his wife had to take the baby to a sitter and go to work, the husband cried! He told his wife he never wanted her to work again-- he did not want anyone to care for their daughter and rear her apart from her own mother at home.

This father loves to care for his daughter-- he even read books to her and talked with her before she was born! He plans his work schedule around his wife's work schedule so that their daughter will at least spend most of her week with her own parents. He and his wife are praying and planning for the day when only the father will have to go to work.

The mother gets up early to feed her daughter one more time before going to work. As she nurses the baby, the mother reads Scripture aloud so the child will grow up hearing God's Word from her mother's lips.

Please pray with us for these parents whose hearts have been so mightily turned toward their precious daughter! May God bless them with their hearts' desire to have mother and child at home.

Psalms 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Beauty of Jesus

Recently I woke up with this song on my mind. I learned it as a child, and found myself singing it one morning.

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All his wonderful passion and purity.
O, thou Spirit divine
all my nature refine,
till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

My husband has been preaching through Christ's sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Many people, including me, have often wondered what the difference is between verse three and five, since they seem so similar.
3 ¶ Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

First of all, my husband pointed out that the "Beatitudes" are not a series of mystical feelings and attitudes which offend no one. Rather, they are strong Biblical actions which emanate from the Christian heart. They are practical applications of the laws of Christianity, and cannot be separated from one another nor from everyday life. They create astounding hostility from the wicked, as well as from some professed Christians. When consistently followed, they led to persecution and even death, as happened to the prophets of old, to Christ and to all of the apostles except John. Christ even warned that his followers (which include present Christians) will also be persecuted

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The difference between "poor in spirit" and "meek" is what struck me most this week.

Christ started his sermon right at the root of the blessings of God with poverty of spirit, or humility before God for salvation. To be poor in spirit is to be aware that one is a sinner and has no righteousness or hope of heaven on his own apart from Christ. He cannot enter the kingdom of God apart from the new birth, John 3. He must humble himself, become as a child and come in simple trust in Christ for his only hope in the kingdom of heaven. To be poor in spirit is to take the first step to receiving the rest of God's blessings.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness, on the other hand, refers to being broken to harness, as you would "break" a horse or elephant for domestic use. Notice how the horse bucks until it finally realizes it cannot buck off the rider. The horse does not lose his strength, but his will is broken so his strength can be used constructively. The horse's strength and stamina is not compromised. Rather it is harnessed.

Look at Jacob, Moses, Joseph and many other Old Testament saints. Their pride and self-sufficiency had to be broken before they could be used of the Lord. Meekness refers to our natural strength and abilities being harnessed by the Lord to be used according to His word.

Meekness includes receiving injuries with the confidence that God will vindicate us. Meekness is the opposite of sudden anger, malice and long-harbored vengeance. Meekness does not include cowardice. Meekness has an honest opinion of self. It neither boasts, contends nor exalts itself over others.

When we think of meekness, we often think of hiding in a cave or behind closed doors for fear of what is going on outside. Godly meekness does not sit back fearful of attacking evil and wickedness, Rather, godly meekness enters into the fray depending not on self and self esteem, but depending on the Lord working through us according to His word.

Meekness not only hears the Word, but submits to it in thought, word and deed. Through meekness, we are promised that sin in ourselves and in the world around us can be conquered. Meekness is required in the one offering the truth, and meekness is required in the one receiving the truth. Meekness conforms to God's truth.

Meekness describes our King: Matt. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

I Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Those who have the meekness of Christ are like their King, and they shall reign with him. They shall "inherit the earth."

Poor in spirit inherits the kingdom of heaven. Meekness inherits the earth!

O, thou Spirit divine
all my nature refine,
till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done!"

To God Be the Glory

Text: Fanny J. Crosby
Music: William H. Doane

1. To God be the glory, great things he hath done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

2. O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

3. Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
and great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

This wonderful hymn by Fanny J. Crosby has been my favorite since I was a young girl. The words reflect the omnipotence and sovereignty of God throughout time and beyond. We owe Him our praise and honor. Ps 136:4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

When I went into surgery Monday morning, Oct. 5th, I was surrounded by the power of God through the prayers of our faithful family and friends– what peace I had! The surgery went well, and I was able to be discharged Wednesday afternoon.

This knee replacement has been better than my first one, two years ago. I believe the increased prayers on my behalf have made the difference– to God be the glory!

Thank you all for being the body of Christ in action in your prayers for me. May God richly bless you with His unfailing joy!

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Knee!

What a blessing that God has allowed man to discover ways to replace a knee, or hip! Truly, in Him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:3

Two years ago I had my right knee replaced-- what a difference it has made in my ability to move pain free! Last summer was the first time in years that I have been able to have a vegetable garden. This summer we also had a garden, but arthritis has taken its toll, and I will be having my left knee replaced October 5th.

Pain will be my companion a bit longer as it took me at least seven months to adjust to my first knee replacement and get past the pain of physical therapy and the repairing of tissues after surgery. Knowing in advance what to expect of the healing process is a blessing, and I have peace knowing that "this, too, shall pass!"

Holy Scriptures are full of encouragement to us frail humans as we encounter difficult and painful times:

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalms 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

Psalms 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Psalms 63:7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

Psalms 30:5b in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalms 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Psalms 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Psalms 103:22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.
Psalms 104:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Long Wait Is Over!

After many false alarms, common in first pregnancies, we finally have a beautiful healthy granddaughter! Our bags had been packed for many days, and when we finally got the call, we left home, driving the eight hours to Ohio hoping to get to the hospital in time to see our newest family member.

Wouldn't you know, the hospital had sent the mother home-- another false alarm! But God in His divine Providence had ordered all things for the best. We had a relaxing night 's sleep at my step-daughter's home, and were present when the real contractions began Thursday September 10. By 11 at night, she called her doctor who confirmed that she should go to the hospital.

My husband, his younger daughter and I sat up and tried to find comfortable positions in the waiting room chairs most of the night. By 6 a.m. we decided enough was enough, and headed back to the house to await the birth announcement!

Corey called at 1:30 p.m. to announce, "The head is crowning!" We got back into the car and made it to the hospital in time to see our 20 minute old granddaughter nursing and bonding with her mother! We stayed another day, and met Corey's mother and sisters who had driven from Indiana to meet Madalynne Carol!

We are back home in West Virginia, and have spoken with Jessica several times in two days, with the good news that mom and baby are getting along well-- not much sleep for the parents, yet!

What a blessing it was for me to be with my step daughter for part of her labor, and to rejoice together with her in the safe delivery of her healthy baby! Children are the heritage of the Lord, and grandchildren are the icing on the cake!

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lady in Waiting

For 21 times in the past 12 years, I have been a lady in waiting-- waiting for the phone call telling us a new grandchild was on the way or had already been born! This week I have been once more a "lady-in-waiting," ever since my stepdaughter informed us of her baby's "imminent" arrival. Little Maddie is due September 9th, but first babies mostly defy that deadline. Not wanting to discourage the family, we told them we would pack our bags and be ready when they called with directions to the hospital. Still we wait.

What a blessing grandchildren are! As we have watched them developing their distinct personalities, a unique sense of humor, and observed them relating to their parents, siblings, others, and us, we see the hand of God fitting each one into His design for contented families.

How startling to discover that David has his grandfather's cowlicks, or that Douglas inherited Grandma's "bird" shaped ears; that the darling brunette has turned into a stunning curly headed blond! Jeffrey has been "grown up" and very serious about his future life since age 2; by age two, William displayed the most advanced vocabulary and maturity! John, Alex, and Thomas are master Lego builders with creativity in engineering design that boggles our old brains! And the girls are truly feminine wonders, creative at work and play! The very much non-identical twins are best buddies. The youngest ones smile their biggest smiles for Grammie and Grandpa, and we are totally in love with all.

What will this newest one be like? And the little girl coming in November, and the mystery one coming next April? Ah! The joy and anticipation of a lady-in-waiting!

Psalms 127 and 128:
1 ¶ A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

1 ¶ A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Second Childhood?

Well, I finally gave in and let my husband Ovid buy a bike! And what a bike! We rode it Sunday afternoon for about a half hour, laughing so hard we could hardly pedal! Yes, we bought a bicycle built for two! On our way home from the Martinsburg Hospital where Ovid had an echo cardiogram (routine test), we saw a man selling bikes from his front yard, so we stopped to look. He adjusted the front seat for me and told us it is hard for a man to adjust to being in the back seat where the power pedals are-- men normally want to be in the driver's seat, so it takes communication, coordination and working together to really get adjusted to a bicycle for two. As newly weds (8 years), we can always learn more about communication and working together!

Well, we took it for a test ride Sunday afternoon, since the man who sold it to us said if we did not like it, we could bring it back. We got on, balanced ourselves, and headed down the hill-- what fun! With cool air whizzing past our faces, the exhilaration was great! We felt like children released from an unwanted chore to go flying out the door! That is, until Ovid thought I was going into the ditch on the side of the road and got frustrated that his handle bars attached to my seat did NOT give him the power to turn the bike! The seller told us the bike would be different than a single seater-- we just had to learn HOW different! It also did not help that my seat was slightly loose and when Ovid tried to steer from the back, he kept turning my seat! We were laughing so hard we had to stop in the middle of the road-- my tears were blinding my steering ability!

Ovid had brought the tools to reset my seat, and once he could not move my seat around, we managed to have a great ride! It sure is a cardiac workout on the uphill-- I was in a full sweat. But the exercise for my knees is wonderful. I can feel the workout on my thighs and flexibility on my knees without so much weight bearing pain as when we take walks. My left knee gets replaced Oct. 5th, and hopefully I can strengthen my muscles in both legs before the surgery, and also ride the bike after surgery to restore flexibility in the left knee. God is so good! We have not laughed that hard in ages!

Thought you would want to know what us old folks are up to!

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on Aging

As a goal oriented, type A person, I have always had my plate full. When I was first married, I taught in a Christian school while my husband was in seminary, and also did the ordinary wifely things of homemaking and hospitality. When our children were born, I no longer taught at school, but continued homemaking and hospitality, and added the feeding, diapering, training and discipling to my duties as a wife. Balancing those things was sometimes difficult, as it was easy to let some things fall by the wayside. I now had to work hard at not neglecting my first job-- that of wife to my husband!

Then we added homeschooling to our list of priorities. The first year was hard as our children complained that it was not "real" school and I was not like their teacher from "real" school! Enter Daddy, the husband, father, homeschool Principal! Over the years we both learned to "balance" quite a lot of activities. My husband was very helpful in helping me decide what new tasks to take on-- praise God for His plan of submission! It was great to be able to say, "My husband does not feel I can do that at this time."

When the children grew up and married, I had to learn what to do with time again. I volunteered to wash dishes for Senior Citizen lunches at church, taught a couples Sunday School class with my husband, and continued upholstering and custom sewing for other people, as I had time in between homemaking and hospitality.

When I was widowed at 52, EVERYTHING changed! For four years, God sent other activities to fill my days and I eventually adjusted to the loss of my husband. I still was active in homemaking, hospitality, church activities, and sewing, but now God added grandchildren, and mentoring and discipling younger women to my plate. What a joy that has been!

When I remarried at 56, God gave me lots of new activities, including moving across country twice in a little over a year! Homemaking, hospitality, sewing, mentoring and being wife, stepmother, and grandmother to a growing tribe of Blessings completely filled my plate again. God is so good!

Yesterday, I realized my days of multi-tasking may be limited! As I was pinning a slipcover together, I pricked my finger and bloodied my hand. On my way to the kitchen to wash off the blood to avoid staining the fabric, I spotted the hummingbird syrup cooling on the stove. So I picked up the pan on my way to the sink, and poured the syrup into the hummingbird feeder. I noticed an ant walking around the edge of the pan, so as soon as I finished filling the feeder, I set it down to rinse the ant down the drain. Suddenly I was covered with syrup flowing over the counter onto my dress and the floor! I had set the feeder onto the counter without first putting on the bottom part and turning the feeder over so it could stand without dripping. How many times have I filled the feeder in my life?!

Yes, I know that is a silly matter on which to base my conclusion that I can no longer multi-task, but it showed me that I AM aging and cannot expect to do so many things at once as I once was able to do. I walk into a room looking for something and spot some task I have not done, do it; then realize I should also clean my desk, or maybe finally add to my blogs, and a few minutes later, my husband walks in to ask me why the kitchen faucet is running in an empty sink!

My dreams lately have been of having a day when I can sit down and read a book all the way through in one sitting, instead of taking weeks to read it between other daily chores. Or of having a day when I can really clean out the flower beds, instead of just watering them occasionally because I must pick the vegetables in the garden and can them before the next batch comes in-- and guests are coming for supper, and I have not finished folding the laundry yet. I used to be able to do all those things at once without even thinking.

I believe God prepares us for each stage in our lives, and His preparation for me now may be to slow down and gratefully accept my limitations so that when the time comes when I may be really limited, I will not stress about it and complain that I cannot do all that I once did. Praise God, I may get to slow down and read that book in one sitting after all!

Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tribute to a wife

A few years ago as we traveled down Rt. 221 South near Louisville, GA, we happened to see a sign for a Revolutionary War cemetery. Curious, we pulled off the highway and followed the dirt road back to a small cemetery tucked among the pines. We wandered among the stones in the dappled light, reading the tributes to soldiers and others who lived more than a hundred years ago.

A massive monument with writing on four sides caught our eyes and we thought it must be a tribute to an important soldier.  Here are the words that so captivated us:

A Christian Woman 

is the highest, best gift of God to earth: and here lies one of its brightest exemplifications!
Christianity was with her a sentiment deeply interwoven in all her thoughts, feelings, and affections.

Kind and benevolent, unexacting and charitable, brilliant but humble--
Vigorous in intellect, sweet and lovely in person, meek and gentle in disposition--
her life and character have left their impress indelibly fixed in the heart of those whose wise counselor, and devoted partner, she was through all the vicissitudes of an eventful though brief career.

Though married when young, ardent and hopeful, in the midday splendor of youthful hopes and aspirations, she entered upon her domestic duties with an energy and devotion which could feel no decline; and by the purity and vigor of her own character she won from the most slavish passions, him whose welfare was her highest happiness, and whose character was her own handiwork.

Her exalted mission accomplished-- she laid down her Cross,
Took up her Crown,
and now sweetly rests in the bosom of her Savior.


Mary H.    daughter of Mary & Dr. Wm. Savage
wife of Col. A.R. Wright
born Dec. 28, 1825    married Apr. 26, 1843
died June 23, 1851

What a tribute to a true I Peter 3 wife!  "1 ¶  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blessed are the available

Blessed are the conduits,
the tunnels, the tools. 
Deliriously joyful are the ones who believe
that if God has used sticks and rocks
to do His will, then He can use us.
Max Lucado

 Very often I feel totally inadequate for most anything! I often feel inadequate to make even the simplest decision. Has that ever happened to you?

Amid the bill paying, dishwashing, laundering, cleaning, preparing meals, visiting, talking with people, driving here and there, a small voice says-- "What are you doing great for God? You are just a cog going around and around the wheel." My life is very ordinary, and it sometimes seems that I am just going through the motions of life.  

Then  a friend sends me a card with the above words, and God shows me it is faithfulness in the small things which we think are unimportant in "LIFE" that God is most present! We may never know that our daily faithfulness in the dirtiest chores has affected the life of someone else, unless someone tells us.

If you are down in the dumps, take the time to remember when someone else's faithfulness in small things encouraged you-- send them a thank you letter. You may never know how much it cheers them, but God will!

Lord, help me to focus on you and others instead of on my own little corner of life.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Philippians 2:4 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life and Death-- Spring and Winter

Spring almost came in March! After I spent a few warm days of cleaning out the flower beds, getting my hopes up for an early spring, winter returned, dashing my hopes. Along with winter, death came to our small community.

We attended a memorial service locally for one of our neighbors who died and had been buried in Ohio. The husband and wife pastor team leading the service acknowledged they did not know the deceased very long, and then proceeded to “preach him into heaven!” Because he loved his children and had pizza parties for his grandchildren, “he was a good man– I am sure he is enjoying the love of God in death.” A new believer in our church was disgusted– she knew the deceased well and knew he was not anywhere near being saved.

The next funeral was for the last “Bean” of Bean Settlement where we live. He was 95, had lived a godly life, and his consistent message– to his dying day– was, “It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus!” The preachers leading the service testified to his godliness and constant encouragement to others to know Jesus.

The third funeral, two days later, was for a man who was a member of the Lutheran church, a Ruritan member, a leader in the farming community who befriended anyone he met, and who was instrumental in introducing us to others in the community when we moved here two years ago. During the “viewing” the night before the funeral, over 800 people stood in line– a line that wrapped around the building outside in the cold wind– to pay their respects to the family. 

The preacher leading the service the next day compared the man to country songs about cowboys who loved getting back on their horses after being thrown in a rodeo. He said the deceased loved farming, nature and livestock, and died doing what he loved best– taking care of the cow who killed him! (I lost my first husband in an accident, and it bothered me how casually and jokingly the preacher mentioned how the man died.) Those who gave testimony to the deceased’s friendship included one of his sons, who testified that his dad never pushed him into anything, but always told him what he became in life was up to himself to decide.

How sad! The one man whose life was a testimony to the saving power of Christ had few at his funeral, compared to the crowd at the last funeral. Mr. Bean only had one son, who has only one daughter with two children . What a loss to the world that the godly man had so few children to be discipled and led to Christ! The farmer had three sons, with several grandchildren. Since he worked at Southern States and among the farmers, he met many people during his lifetime. Was his testimony to them, “Be what you want to be,” or was it, “It’s all about Jesus”?

Losing my first husband and then my parents two years later, I realized how uncertain and short  life is, and why we must take every opportunity we have right now to make each minute count for God’s kingdom! Don’t just be friendly– introduce your family and neighbors to the only Friend who is eternal. Don’t let your friends live in perpetual winter– introduce them to the One who bought our salvation and gives us eternal life. Spring is the season of new life– how I look forward to God’s renewing the earth, too!

Hebrews 9:27, 28  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Psalms 30:5  For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Practical Love

Proverbs 31:10 ¶  Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

Titus 2:4 tells older women to teach the younger women to “be sober (to be wise and prudent in their conduct to their husbands, and in the management of family affairs), to love their husbands.” Proverbs 31 shows us a wife whose “husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” A woman who will “do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

"The heart of her husband can be at rest, it can rest on her whom it loves—he goes after his calling, perhaps a calling which, though weighty and honorable, brings in little or nothing; but the wife keeps the family possessions scrupulously together, and increases them by her laborious and prudent management, so that there is not wanting to him gain, which he properly did not acquire, but which the confidence he is justified in reposing in his wife alone brings to him. She is to him a perpetual spring of nothing but good." (Keil and Delitzsch) 

O, that we would always be a perpetual spring of nothing but good! How do we love our husbands– with working up “mushy” romantic feelings, or also with practical deliberate actions? Especially in times of financial turmoil, we women need to be very practical! Older women must teach younger women to be content and learn to “make do” with what we have. As a woman who loves to re-arrange her furniture and thus “get a new room,” I love to paint the walls and “get new furniture to match.” One of the best ways to get “new” furniture is by covering what you do have with an inexpensive slipcover.

One of my dear neighbors, Laura, was helping her cousin clear his mother’s house of her furniture when the house sold, so my husband and I also went along to help. Laura was on the verge of throwing out what seemed like a “lost cause” couch, when I persuaded her to keep it, and we would fix it up together. The couch seemed better suited to the trash heap, but I sat in it and thought the basic structure was still sound. So we put the couch in our garage– to my husband’s (temporary) dismay!

Laura is not a “floral fabric” person, so it took several months to find inexpensive material that she liked.  One day as we checked out our local Wal-Mart’s meager fabric supply, we found upholstery fabric Laura liked. Upholstering (and slipcovering) directions suggest that 9 or 10 yards would be needed for her love seat which has 4 detached cushions. Alas! There were only 7 yards! So we purchased a tan upholstery fabric to use for the rear of the couch if needed and took it to my house.

A couple of weeks before we started work on the couch, two sisters contacted me about doing a sewing apprenticeship. I mentioned that Laura and I would be working on a slipcover for a couch, and they said they would love to help, but due to their homeschool schedule, they only had from a Wednesday noon until Monday noon to help. Since they live only two hours away, we agreed to a date. (My daughter, Jennie, encouraged me to photograph each step and make the slipcover experience into an E-book– new idea to me!)

The sisters arrived with their mother for lunch, and after their mother left, we began removing the “skirt” of the couch, photographing each step. We 
were only able to work one hour Wednesday due to our Bible study that evening. We worked on the couch Thursday, Friday and Saturday for 6 to 7 hours each day, taking breaks to fix meals, listen to the sisters play the piano and their harp, and photograph the five or six deer that came up on our back patio to eat the bird seed! 

Laura and the girls learned to “drape” fabric on the couch to decide which way the stripes should go, cut, tuck, pin, sew sections together, match stripes, “rip” out mistakes, re-position fabric, and when we found we did not have enough to cover the front skirt of the couch, to cut some from the backrest piece and add some tan fabric in its place! The sisters also learned how to use the serger for the cut edges of the fabric. 

We had two machines and the serger going most of the time. When I was on my machine, sewing the final bulky parts on Monday, the sisters made two pillow covers with velcro closings. God is so good! We had enough of the main striped fabric to cover the couch without having to use the tan material except for under the cushions!

Photographing each step of everything we did took a long time– whoever was not doing something at the time became the photographer. Having to photograph each step worked out to the girls’ benefit, however, in that they experienced each step of making a slipcover. Working against the deadline of “finish before noon Monday” when the parents were to come have lunch and pick up the girls was a bit stressful, but we were just putting the decorative pillows on the newly covered couch when the parents arrived!

How privileged Laura and I were to be able to work with Rebecca and Bethany, introducing them to a skill that may be a blessing to them when they have their own homes! Many homemaking skills are being lost to the next generation, and it is up to us older women to take up the Titus 2 call to teach younger women the things that they need to know to pass on to their own daughters and granddaughters. 

I encourage the older women who may read this to consider what God has gifted to you that you can pass on to younger women!

Titus 2:3  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fear and Trusting God

When my first husband, Jeff Ethell and I began working with drug addicts in 1970, we were newly-weds (2 years) with a zeal to serve the Lord. What we read in God’s Law assured us that God is sovereign and that He provides for His own, and we took God at His Word! The organization we were under (Richmond Youth Challenge) was struggling for funding, but we trusted God would supply our needs.

At first we lived in an apartment over a camping sales business, and had two former drug addicts living with us. Over and over again God supplied for us in many ways. One day someone drove by and left some money on the kitchen table while we were out. Their note said they had been impressed by God to give us everything in their wallets– $16.35. That was the exact amount we needed for paying a bill! 

When God provided Richmond Youth Challenge with a large two story house as a place for women addicts, the blessings continued – we would be given bags of groceries, or pieces of furniture with which to furnish the house. Church friends used their carpentry skills and materials to add bedrooms and baths to the unfinished upstairs. We saw many women saved from the power of sin, and God’s constant provision was faith-building to them and to us.

Jeff and I had no medical insurance, but God provided funds to pay for our children as they were born– Jeff’s grandfather’s coin collection which he inherited paid for our first daughter’s birth. When our son was born, Jeff’s childhood comic book collection paid for that. Our third child was also covered by God’s providence.

Later, when we left the drug ministry, God provided a home for us. Though the lending banker was skeptical of our ability to take on a mortgage since we had no “regular job”, after we told him how God had provided for us for six years, he said, “You know, somehow I believe you!” And he gave us the mortgage! We lived there for 5 years and were always able to pay our bills. When we sold the house in 1984, we ended up with $15,000 equity which we used to buy another property and build a house!

Psalms 37:25  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

I am 64 years old, have trained three children, discipled several young ladies, and have lived through many trials, including the loss of my first husband in a plane crash, and the loss of my parents two years later; yet God’s presence and His sustaining hand has never left me. As we all face the uncertainties of our present financial turmoil, let us not be discouraged. God is still King supreme, the world and all it contains belongs to Him, He raises up and puts down nations, and there is nothing that happens– not even a sparrow falling!– that is beyond His control!

The first and last  “Fear not” in the Bible (with countless others in between!):

Genesis 15:1  After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, FEAR NOT, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Revelation 1:17  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, FEAR NOT; I am the first and the last:
18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Depth of the Riches

Romans 11:33 ¶  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 12:1 ¶  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We returned safely home from Alabama to our own beds, rejoicing in a wonderful week with one third of our grandchildren, and when we opened the front door this morning to welcome our church family to worship in our home, what should we find on the front porch but a "love" package from "adopted" grandchildren in Arizona! How great is our God to give us children and grandchildren the world over! We consider it a joy and a privilege to be loved as grandparents to our own flesh and blood, as well as to others in the household of faith. God is so merciful to us sinners-- He not only calls us to be heirs with Christ, but also gives us an extended family on earth!
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome to my new blog!

My daughters have asked me for years to sit down and write about biblical womanhood. But I've been so busy as a wife and mother that I've just never taken the time to put my thoughts down. Now as an older woman with an empty nest, I've decided to start writing for my daughters and other women who'd like to hear from a woman who has walked the path before them.

I've been a wife, a widow, a wife again, mother to three children, step-mother to two, and "Grammie" to 21 grandchildren. I've loved every moment, and each year has been an adventure.

I look forward to sharing through this blog, and I hope to inspire you with the JOY that is wrapped up in living Proverbs 31, Titus 2, I Peter 3, and all the many biblical examples of godly womanhood. I'm not perfect, but I know the One Who is, and it is He Who equips us to live out His Word.

Please drop me a line if you have questions, or leave a comment here. I've gotten lots of questions over the years, and I plan to post Q&A here as I have time. I hope I can be an encouragement to all my younger sisters in Christ as they run the race. It is worth every bump, bruise, and stumble. Press on!