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This Dream

Every kid has a dream and I had mine.

It was stories that lit me up, got me through the long, boring days of summer. The isolation I often felt while living miles away from anywhere…homeschooled.

I loved books and kept an open one hidden in the drawer of my desk while I was supposed to be doing schoolwork…“I’m looking for a pencil, mom.”

I loved old radio programs. Seriously. I found where they could be borrowed from the local library and spent countless hours listening to the over exaggerated action of Dick Tracy and the comedy of Groucho Marx and Benny King, was it? They were stories and I loved the places they took me.

We finally owned a television. Movies. Old ones, new ones, I loved them all.

I got a job and bought my own TV and VCR…you remember those, right? I probably spent just about every dime I made renting movies for $.49. Ask me if I’ve seen it…I probably have.

All this time those stories I devoured were a kind of nutrient for me. The stories I read/heard/watched, maybe they were more like blood transfusions…defibrillators for my need to tell stories.

But my writer’s voice never could take that first breath, or the next. It would just lay there dormant. A dried up ink pen waiting for the right kind of paper to draw out the words hidden inside it.

I have always longed to write. That was…is my dream.

I am 29 now and for most of those back-years I felt the pull to write and often did…tried. Everything felt forced and difficult. I found no joy in it, just a great need to do it. My lack of confidence was also the death before the birth of any creativity; fear of punctuation and a morbid obsession with being judged.

These days I feel a bit like Hannah must have. She longed for a son and I longed to write. We were both given what we prayed for and both for the glory of God.

Presumptuous?

I realize that my talent is pretty tightly pinched in at the edges. More importantly, I understand that I have been given a gift, in whatever limited capacity, and I must do the best I can to glorify God with it. After that, what is left for me is this joy of feeling like I have been loosed in a way. You might know what I’m talking about if you have found your creative outlet.

This writing is a way for me to worship. It is a sort of a wire transfer between me and God. When I abide in Him and in His words a match is struck. It leads me to learn so much when the flame of something is lit inside me and I have to study God’s Word in order for it to flare up like a diesel fed bonfire. I am hungry for what inspires me and I pray my openness of soul becomes food of a spiritual nature for someone else…a reader.

I cannot over exclaim the joy it has given me this past year to finally start really writing. My fingers pick at words from the keyboard that tell the story of my heart. So all of you who read are eyewitness to my own open heart surgery, as you peer inside this…the cavity of my spirit turned inside out onto a page.

I wish each of you could know how precious it is to me that you have taken the time to read these murmurs of my heart. Thank you for bearing with me as I stumble through the candid writing down of my life, bits of it anyway, and worship of The Most High. Will you continue to follow me on this journey as I leap from cliffs of self-doubt and pride to plunge into discovery and communion? Please do. I would love for you to be by my side.

Follow me here as I learn that all is because of the grace of God:

https://rebekahlife.wordpress.com/.

Squeezing in a little thank you here to my husband who encouraged me to not just wish I was writing, but to write. Also, a thank you to my mom for the nudges and the faith.

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For about a month I planned and pondered an outdoor, tea party themed, baby shower for my sister-in-law who is giving birth to her first baby girl. I was so excited for the shower and spent a great deal of time preparing for it. It did turn out beautifully. The setting was lovely, the decorations were sweet, the tea was wonderful, and the food was oh so yummy, the ladies in attendance looked stunning and were so helpful. It all turned out just as I planned with the exception of one dreadful thing.

It was insanely windy. It was horribly windy. It was…destroyed the baby shower windy.

Before the shower started I had just a short window of time to decorate and set up. During that time the wind was really starting to whip and all the pretty little pink things I was trying to set out were flying away about as fast as I could put them in their place…I started to pray.  I could have cried after all the effort and heart I had in the whole thing. By the time the wind reached its epic scale it was too late to easily move the party indoors…I was committed and so we all gritted our teeth and held onto our “tea” hats with clenched fingers and everyone tried desperately to keep skirts from flying over heads. It was a sweet mess and I am sure it will be a precious memory for all of us someday.

Through it all I was grimly determined that the wind WOULD die down. I just knew it and I knew it because I was praying and desperately believing that it would. I prayed over and over, “Lord, please let the wind stop. Let it stop.”

The wind didn’t stop and you know…

It started to rain.

Wind and rain.

Fortunately, we had scooted and squished safely indoors right before it began to sprinkle. Everything still turned out okay. The mommy-to-be was able to open her gifts and we all enjoyed very close company and the food still tasted wonderful after it was brought inside.

In spite of my very best efforts to make everything turn out exactly how I had planned, it turned out completely differently and not necessarily any less enjoyable…better memories I’m sure!

But, it left me questioning, as I have often done in the past: “What is the point of praying about all these fairly insignificant things? Praying about them rarely turns the tide of how they end up turning out. How many times have I prayed for something and it hasn’t worked out anyway?”

Does anybody hear me on this? Have you ever felt the same? Doubted the same?

I had not realized how deeply this thought pattern had dug itself under my skin until I read this by Elizabeth Elliot this morning:

The Weapon of Prayer

News came one day which indicated that a matter I had been praying about had deteriorated rather than improved. “What good are my prayers, anyway?” I was tempted to ask. “Why bother? It’s becoming a mere charade.” But the words of Jesus occurred in my Bible reading that very morning (and wasn’t it a good thing I’d taken time to hear Him?): “If you, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:11, NEB).

Are you as often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer? But Jesus prayed. He told us to pray. We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good. If it is not exactly what we expected, chances are we were not asking for quite the right thing. Our heavenly Father hears the prayer, but wants to give us bread rather than stones.

Prayer is a weapon. Paul speaks of the “weapons we wield” in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. They are “not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds” (NEB). The source of my doubts about its potency that morning was certainly not the Holy Spirit. It was the unholy spirit, the Destroyer himself, urging me to quit using the weapon he fears so intensely.

I was struck by her words! How exactly they admonished the doubts I had been having. If nothing else, I should pray because Jesus tells me to pray.

After reading this devotion by Elisabeth and asking The Father for forgiveness for the doubts I had been having, I found the work needing done in my heart was not quite finished, because then I read this from, “My Utmost for His Highest:”

God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you.”

Those words are a bit difficult to stomach, but I believe they hold so much truth. The Lord did not intend for everything to work out perfectly for me during the shower. At the time, I did not feel exactly blessed and happy.  I don’t know His reason for the gales of wind and how the blusteriness of it all affected everyone who helped with and attended the shower, but it seems quite clear that I needed some chipping (or perhaps blowing) away at my old self and a working towards “ultimate perfection.”

On a bit of a side note, here are some of the recipes and ideas I used for the shower: http://pinterest.com/, people!

For a baby shower!

This turned out so cute!

down the rabbit hole tea party... from blue satin sashes blog

It was almost (the grown-up version) this cute and pretty!

Baby Shower Tea Party Chocolate-Covered Strawberries: 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped,   1 pound large strawberries (about 20), washed and dried well,   1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (optional)   Directions: Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat; then sprinkle chocolate-c...

My mom made these. What’s not to love about chocolate dipped strawberries?!

A Price Above What?

He comes home from work and in my eyes he just spent the day ruling a kingdom. This husband of mine, he may as well be the president of The United States. He makes so many decisions and carries so much responsibility. I would crack and then shatter if it were me. Perhaps today he built a shop building and then drove a hundred miles to finish another. Maybe he hired a new employee or made a business decision involving more financial ins and outs than I would hope to deal with in a lifetime. He loves it all…a wonder to me. Sometimes, he comes home with his tales of the day and I am just mystified…a mixture of respect, gratefulness that I’m not in his shoes, and even sometimes a feeling in my stomach and a voice that attacks my mind…I’m not worth anything; what did I do today that could ever compare to what he accomplished? Then he asks the question: “How was your day, honey and what did you do?” An innocent and sweet query and most of the time I joyfully jabber on about the fullness of my day and how cute the kids were. Today, though, his question just kind of sliced through me and I mumbled something like, “oh, just my usual.” What I was really thinking was close to, “NOTHING…I did nothing compared to what you did today…why do I have so little to offer?”

There are days when I lose my worth. I forget what I am worth. At the end of the day what I have done is worthless.

After our conversation I went back to business as usual and busied myself with feeding everyone and then cleaning afterward, then bath time, then bedtime. All the while this wretched worthlessness dragged at me and I felt a little panicky that I have so little to show for myself. I’M NOT WORTH ANYTHING. Finally, my busyness slowed down and I realized how I had scourged myself mentally. I wonder whose voice it was that really put the wretched thoughts in my mind and then it strikes me…my mind processes, ”Get thee behind me.”

How can I think that I am of such little value? I have been entrusted with the lives of two of God’s most precious creations. It is my job to train them, to love them and protect them. All of the sudden I’m on the flipside of how I felt before. I have great responsibility and the stakes are incredibly high. I have little room for error in how I lay out this life in service to my God, in being a wife for my husband and in raising my children. I have been blessed in more ways than I can tally and thinking back on all the things I did today I am kind of overwhelmed. All the games of “Hide and Seek,” the teaching, the cleaning, the playing, the cooking, the training, the loving, the all of me that I lovingly poured out for my family today.

In a way, we have all been given our own little or large kingdoms to rule. We each have huge responsibilities and must make decisions that are sometimes so big they alter lives. And as for what we are worth…we are worth the price that Christ was willing to pay for us. He is the great equalizer and offers the same redemption and eternal life to me as he does for you. Each one of us is precious. Sometimes I just need that reminder.

Funny how a verse read in the morning fits just right at the end of the day…

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)

May each day find me striving for this,

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.(Proverbs 31:10)

The Craft Corner

Just thought I would share a little mommy tip that really works for me. I’m sure other moms have these too and are way ahead of me in how they organize and do crafts with their kids, but this is how the craft and book corner is set up at our house.

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As you can see, Martha Stewart has a lot on me. The books are shoved in and everything looks a little dumped, but it’s an arrangement that works for us.

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Puzzles and games are on the top shelf just out of reach because little hands love to dump these.

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Books and paper are on the second shelf and are easily and frequently accessed by the little ones. On the bottom shelf is a tub of paint and other craft supplies. Also a basket with scraps, pipe cleaners and other craft supplies. This is also our play dough station.

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The table and two chairs see a lot of use. I keep an old beach towel on the shelf that I throw over the table when it is time to paint. Also handy are two of daddy’s old t-shirts that I throw on the kids as full body protection against paint splatters.

We love our “craft corner” and use it constantly. When you are a busy momma trying to keep toddlers occupied fuss free is the best policy!

I would love to hear how you organize and do craft/book areas with your children.

It took this little boy’s hands, his gesturing, to wake me up to it…

Crying, he woke from his nap wanting the warmth and lap time snuggles that I offered him. His head rested soft against my chest and little hands reached out to pull toward us this book sitting on the coffee table. A book about David, when David was a boy, too. The story about how David used something very small to be victorious against something very large…or was it the other way around? What events transpired that made this shepherd-child become a king? I read the story with colorful illustrations aloud again, just one of many times. My two little ones with blond hair will know why this boy-child became a king.  But what other truths will my children gain from this story that they will hear and read again for a life of time? What spiritual epiphanies will knowledge of David simmer in them through childhood and boil over to joyous understanding in another, perhaps adult, time of life? Reading the child aged story to my sleepy boy was just such a “time of life” moment for me.

I was the one to really wake up this time.

David faced an impossible foe. Entire armies and a powerful king were too afraid to face the giant named Goliath. Do you face an enemy like obstacle that seems equally invincible? Is there a giant in your life? An addiction; guilt because of sin, both past and present; feelings of inadequacy? What is your Goliath and is the obstacle you face so impossible and overwhelming that the large majority of people would tell you that it could not be beaten…you are already defeated? David tried to wear Saul’s armor and carry his sword to face Goliath. None it fit…the weapons weren’t right. What weapons have you used to battle your giant? Are they the right ones? Stripped of the best defense and offense that man had to offer him, David went to his knees and trusted. He laid down his fear at the feet of God and this time his weapon was just right. What was David’s secret in defeating his giant? He was willing to do whatever it took to destroy Goliath and he was obedient to what God desired of him, even to the precipice of death itself.

The brain ticks off “buts” and excuses. The excuses might go something like this, David was one called by God, someone that God directly spoke to. He was special. He was a king; the Psalmist, for goodness sake! What am I when compared to him? The answer is flesh and blood; a sinner; the same. Even after David’s triumphs he still failed and he failed miserably. He had one of his best soldiers killed so that he could posses the man’s wife. Most of us can’t even fathom committing a sin of that magnitude. Yet, David was forgiven just like you and I can be forgiven. Is your sin and your “giant,” too, unforgivable? Are you past the point of ever returning to “the fold,” to The Shepherd? How did David win this battle and how can you defeat your sin? David confessed his sin, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Samuel 12:13) He took full responsibility for the sin he committed and didn’t blame it on the way God made him, or place blame on Bethsheba. David said, “I have sinned.” Then he asked forgiveness for what he had done, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:2-3). He poured out his heart before God and realized that only the grace of him who saves could rescue him from his own depravity: “ . Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit”.” (Psalms 51:10-12)

Put simply, this is how was David able to turn from his sin: He repented; true, honest repentance. He laid himself out…broken…willing to serve, and God heard his cry.

God will hear our cries, too. It is not too late to turn back to Him just like it wasn’t too late for David even after his atrocious sin; or for the prodigal son who returned repentantly, willing also, to serve.

But remember, God sees our hearts and knows fully our intentions and sincerity. He will see past any fluff, or lack of true willingness to repent. You must choose now to ask forgiveness and you must decide as an act of your own will to truly repent. There is no promise that says this will be easy. Here are further instructions on how to do it that offer the promise of redemption, though not easily earned: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7: 14)

If this is the state of heart that we offer God while seeking forgiveness, it will be done. We will be, “washed white as snow.” I like how Corrie Ten Boom describes this…in my own loose paraphrase: “ What sin is behind you will be like a fish tossed back into the water; it won’t resurface unless you fish for it again.”

What Joy

It has been a spring breathed through runny noses and seen through crusty eyes. But oh my, it has been a lovely one, despite the blurry vision and hacking coughs.

The redbuds splashed the gray and scraggly woods with an early showing of stunning pinks. The nearby fields have been fertilized and they are lush from a cycle of sunlight, rain and the waste from a nearby chicken farm. The trees look more shapely and less ice storm broken with their new green soaking in rays, drinking, nourishing, unfurling. Dragonfly larvae have emerged, water nymphs skimming the pond, flecks of constantly moving colors.

red

Changing, growing, stretching, rooting, flexing, learning, living, thanking…

Adjectives to describe the season…words that tell some of what pulses through me as I shift, merge and mature along with all of nature’s new growth.

Going through a season of quiet, less of the desire to seek, less of being fed than in previous months. Feeling a little withdrawn, also, sort of like I’m finding so much comfort in my home, my family, and this “new project” that has kidnapped much of my thoughts. But I am working still to be in His presence (“the fullness of joy,”) and I am not removing the blinders as I pursue, wait, listen, obey…

A season of weighing out choices, considering responsibilities and commitments. Aiming for a balance that makes my focus a crying out, “Abba, Father,” and wondering what weights I need to shed to bull’s-eye this target. Seeking to hear and conform; to “cleave steadfastly;” obedient to follow what is opened up next, and leave behind what might be closed. Asking for discernment as I navigate whether I need to give more of myself and refocus on a few existing responsibilities, or if some of them are the “weights I need to shed.”

I want my choices to have roots dug deep in His will; nourished with light from above, and blossoming in a manner pleasing to Him.

Follow the link for a lovely post, worth reading, and one that had just the right words for some of what I am considering: http://www.incourage.me/2012/03/hold-your-dream-loosely.html

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;


do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

 

 

 and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I cherish his strong shoulders, carrying the heavy labor and weighted with responsibility.

His heart, generous, so that he gives both to serve and to love.

The friendship that makes him my closest, my deepest companion.

His hands that lift and build and give.

The courage that makes him a warrior; because he knows he can do all things…

His leadership that could rule a kingdom; always merciful, always just.

The arms that say nothing, but say everything when their strength becomes tender.

He is my husband. My imperfect, stubborn and sometimes frustrating soul-mate. A man of God. A servant of the Divine Kingdom.

All filled up, today, with thoughts about this man with the strength and fierceness of a lion; the same kind of amiable charm and calm self assurance that made Roy Rogers my childhood hero. He is neither a large feline nor a cowboy, but he is my one and only and I would just dangle without him beside me. As a pair, we are far from perfect. But mine is a grateful heart knowing that the grace of God matched our souls and is continuing a good work in us…in spite of us…together.

I am writing this today because I have been considering how we as wives may honor and love our husbands.

A little pre-apology if I appear presumptuous or anything other than sincere and humble in this post; also, for wondering if I might peak into your heart that so loves your own husband…

Here is this man beside you with so much good, yet a mile wide streak of fault. He was born of flesh and is not perfect. There is so much to love and so much to admire, but what of the rest of him that works at your patience, sometimes, everyday? The times that he doesn’t always listen to the things you are saying…moments when what he says isn’t what you needed to hear? He is a prince, just maybe not of the faultless, fairytale variety.

There are valleys that sometimes turn into Grand Canyons in a marriage. Times when all the negatives add up and begin to tip the scales; bending the spoon (reality,) so it’s hard to see all of the good and the foundation of why you love him. I wonder if the weight of negativity has ever become so heavy for you that it all slips off and crushes…do you even love him at all anymore? Is he worth all of the giving, all the disappointments?

I am going to take a leap across what might be a colossal gully or just a tiny crevice in a marital relationship and say:

He is.

Because…

He is God’s gift to you.

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

Consider whether this is your heart: The missionary and woman of faith, Elisabeth Elliot, wrote that, “Unhappiness (in a marriage) springs not from (a) husband’s failures and limitations, but from your failure to accept him as he is. Please don’t come at me with a mental pickaxe for those words. I’m just borrowing them for a minute and am pondering what truths they hold for me and my own marriage. I do realize that what Elisabeth had to say is difficult to accept. It irked me a little…okay… maybe even a lot when I first read it and I’m not even unhappy! What it means is that all those extremely annoying habits he has that keep splitting the two of you (or me and mine) apart are still annoying, yes. But it also means that now you are responsible for loving your man and serving him in spite of his failures. I’ve got to love my guy too, in the same way! Yikes! I feel as though I’m crushing a whole lot of women’s eggshells here, but taking a big gulp and continuing to tread just a little less lightly on this one. Let me ask this, is wearing yourself out, and him, because of his failures, even productive at all? Does the fact that he is hen-pecked bare to change a habit, or that you despair because he just won’t communicate, ever going to help improve the relationship you have? Is your agonizing over how he has disappointed you, really going to change him or benefit you? Is it? “Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.(1 Corinthians 13:5 ) I’m wondering if you might be thinking, “Easy for you to say! You don’t know my husband. You don’t know how wrong he can be sometimes.” And you’re right…I don’t know, and I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who is a man of God and loves me with all his heart. You’re completely correct that I don’t know your situation. I just wonder if maybe you might prayerfully take into consideration that those problems of his…God knows a lot more about them than you do. Maybe it’s time (myself and mine included) to let go of all those negative emotions that do nothing other than make that relationship gap wider; instead accept that God is in control and knows the heart of your guy way better than you do. Let go of how “disappointing” he is and ask God to do a work in your heart first and then pray for earnestly and trust for a change in his!

Because…

 To love someone, you must sacrifice.

You know this is as well as I do, but for the sake of what I am saying I am slipping in this reminder. Take a mental fieldtrip back to your blissful wedding day. The diamond in your engagement ring still sparkled and you were both probably a few pounds lighter. Remember when you looked into his gorgeous eyes and promised to always love him, and love him forever? What a major life alteration. From that “seal it with a kiss” moment forward, in the eyes of Christ, you and your husband became “as one flesh.” The Father of Love meant for you to love each other with the same selfless, Ephesians 5 love that Christ has for His church.  He wants us to love each other just like He loves us…sinners all…in spite of our failures. In fact, Christ is the ultimate teacher of love and we need only look at His example of forgiveness and complete sacrifice to realize how we must forgive our husbands for their shortcomings.”This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16) To forgive is to sacrifice and to sacrifice is to love. It might also be said that to love is to sacrifice and to sacrifice is to forgive…it’s sort of a hand-in-hand deal. Mother Teresa said that, “True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask Him to give us the courage to love.”

So, shoot for the stars ladies and love your man courageously. Honor him, and realize  you were never promised that love wouldn’t come without some pain!

 vintage love 7 Myspace Layout 2.0

I just have to share something a dear friend posted on Facebook the other day that inspired me to begin writing this post. She and her husband undoubtedly struggle as they have moved from state to state while he searches for a job. I appreciate so much her sweet way of honoring her guy with these words to him and about their children:

Thanks for working so hard so that I can stay home and we can build up such spiritual treasures together with our children!!!

I just had the most encouraging quiet time with (our son)! We read Acts 3 and then proverbs 1:18-33, and I was able to make it understandable to him…..he made his own little life connections and asked questions! (this was from my bible….not a kids one) Then we co-wrote a tune for psalm 62:1 for his guitar and he was rocking it while singing the words:) (we are working on memorizing it this week) I was elated! We had so much fun and he was learning and applying! Who says babies can’t understand basic bible/gospel principles!!!! What a happy morning!”

 

Lastly, I feel that I would be amiss if I neglected to include this nugget:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless.

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)