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.