Saturday, 25 April 2015

Parenting Tips {A Complete Guide for SAHMs}


(this post contains affiliate links)



Hands up - who feels they have it all together as a parent?

What? 

No hands raised?

Phew.  I'm NOT the only one who feels like a failure on so many days, and is the ultimate "work in progress"?!?!  I regularly notice my flaws, and call out to the Lord for His wisdom, grace and strength.

It's great to also have suggestions - practical ones - from other Mums who know what it's like.  Spiritual support is vital, but wisdom from others who are in the fight, right there with ya', is wonderful.

There is a whole list of posts on parenting tips on the Complete Guide for SAHMs. (Look out on Thursday for the topic on "activities to do with children", too!) They cover a multitude of parenting topics, all very practical and helpful.

Today, I am featuring a great post from Katelyn, at "Whats Up Fagans".



Katelyn blogs about raising her children, penny-pinching and faith.  I chose her post to share because it's a treasure trove! It's a collection of 138 - yes, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT - posts that are great for training your children to have good moral, Biblical values.  There are links about serving, empathy, gratitude, honesty, kindness, manners, and MANY more topics. It's a mine of information, that you will enjoy reading through, and gleaning information from.  It's a veritable rabbit trail from the Complete Guide! 

She begins the post by saying...

"A long time ago I started a series on this blog called Instilling Values in Children.  The point of this series was to guide parents on their journey of teaching moral values to their kids, which is of more importance than raising academically capable children, or, at least, it should be...."

I couldn't agree more! As parents, we can so easily get caught up with academics, when there is so much that is important. This post is the ultimate round up of posts that will help you on your way to training up your children in "the way that they should go".

Read more here.







My own post is one that features music and harmony.  I LOVE music! I love listening to music, singing along to music, and playing musical instruments. Something that is a key (Ha! No pun intended!) to good music is HARMONY.  It's all about the notes blending together to sound best.  This post connects music and parenting!

"One day, I took my children through a local town, and there was a play area. It had big "stepping stone" type things, which if you stepped on them, played a kind of whistled "note".  They realised it was musical, and all hopped on one and jumped up and down.  A whole rabble of noise ensued, with the children quickly saying "What are these FOR Mum?  They don't even play a tune!"

Mother, with her musical background, begged to differ.

I lined them up on a "stone" each, and directed who should hop when. After a few practices, this is what we got..."


Read on here.





I hope you find these two posts encouraging and useful. Hop on over to the Complete Guide for SAHMs to read many more practical posts on parenting.





Monday, 20 April 2015

A Complete Guide for SAHMS {the place to go for inspiration, resources and connection}

Today is the start of new thing.

Did you know that life as a SAHM can be challenging?  Trying?  Lonely? Wearying?

If you are a SAHM, you will KNOW it's true. No hiding from it. It's a fact. 

Where do you go if you are feeling the strain? You may find you don't have many friends to call on, or you try ringing them all and they are not in? (Yes, I have had that happen!) 

How would you like to be able to go to ONE place, and find all sorts of articles and resources to help you in your situation? 

Well.....

A few months ago, Jaimi Erikson asked, on a bloggers groups I am on, for fellow SAHM bloggers to join in with a new venture.  A page filled with resources for fellow SAHMs!

Around 50 bloggers have collaborated their posts, fitting in with the topics covered, as a "go-to" for other SAHMs, looking for inspiration, resources, and a way to connect with others who just GET it!

If you click on the image below, you will go to the main page for the guide, and find the new posts as they are put up.





Today is the first day of THREE whole weeks of topics! Every day, there will be a new topic launched, with a whole list of relevant posts.  You will be inspired and uplifted, as you connect with these bloggers.  All they want to do is encourage other Mums, just like themselves.  Just like ME! 


So, today is a topic that I am passionate about.  It was the one that fitted most closely to my "niche".  It's funny, because Jaimi asked us to submit posts that related to the suggested topics, and I had OODLES I could have put in here. I actually had to remove some, because I had TOO MANY! lol






One of the main aims of my blog IS to encourage.  It's something we all need, because often life is just plain  DIS-couraging.  

So, now there are a whole list of other bloggers, who are seeking to encourage SAHMs in their journey, and day to day walk.

I am going to do a couple of things, as each topic that I have contributed to comes up.  I will link back to one of my own old posts on the same topic, NOT contributed to the list, as yet.  Plus, I will direct you to one of my favourite contributions from another blogger.  There you go - two, for a start, on each topic, with many more to help you out, on the main landing page.

So, today.

My "share" from another blogger, is from Lauren at "Heart of Deborah".  




Her post is about "How to Live in the Moment".  This is something I constantly am guilty of.  I am so busy looking forward to the next thing, or thinking about what I have to do, that I forget to enjoy the NOW! I so easily miss out in the small joys - the everyday miracles of God's grace and generosity - because my mind and heart is rattling ahead to something else.  We aren't promised anything more than RIGHT NOW.  To set our hearts on anything else, to the point of missing out on what God has given us TODAY, is not right. Her post gives some great ideas about how to enjoy the "right here, right now", that God has gifted to us.  It was exactly what I needed to read, when I found the post, and it challenged me.  I hope it's a blessing to you, too.

"As a somewhat new stay at home and work at home mom I’ve found different challenges along the way. A while ago I talked about my occasional “I’ll be happy when…” mentality. There are periods in my life where I struggle to live in the moment. During these times I find myself wishing for the next big thing. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to new and exciting things in life, but I believe it’s important to appreciate today. We can’t predict the future and when our ‘wishes’ finally do come true will we be happy? I’ve been thinking about ways to live in the moment and how I can appreciate life right now!..."

Click on the image below to read more about the wonderful suggestions Lauren makes, to live in the moment.




My own post is one from a couple of years ago.  Do you find that it's easier to see the trials, and forget to see the good in your circumstances? This post reminded me that we need to look to the eternal, and the glory that awaits.

"It's not every day you will find me suggesting that you need to put on weight.  Taking it off?  Yup. 

But, I was thinking today about difficult times as a wife and especially as a mother.  Undoubtedly, my most challenging moments come when dealing with my children.  Every. Day.

The word "affliction" in the verse above, can actually be translated as "pressure".  As wives and mothers, (and particularly home-schooling Mum's) we have moments EVERY day, when we feel under  pressure..."

Read more by clicking the image below, and it will take you to the post.






Both these posts are a timely reminder for me -  I have an ill child to care for, when I had other plans for today.  I need to see be thankful for the moment, and find joy, even in  these trying circumstances. Likewise, I need to remember that trials are but for a moment, and I looking for the spiritual and eternal is far more important on days like today.

So, what are some of the topics that are going to be included in the SAHM survival guide, which will I be contributing in? (Some topics I have WAY more than others!)


April 25- Parenting Tips (I will share my post on Monday the 27th)


May 5- Marriage


May 6- Connect in Faith

I plan to blog on some of the topics in the guide - looking at them has inspired me to write posts that fit. They are topics that are relevant to me, but I have never blogged about! So, I am looking forward to sharing some of my own experiences about parenting and life. 

I hope this resource is an encouragement and blessing to MANY SAHMs. Enjoy!





Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mother {the most important person in the home}

Years ago, I felt the Lord leading me into service for Him.  I remember the sermon, and the preacher, as clear as day.  An appeal was made, for those wishing to commit their lives to service for God.  It's not in my nature to do something so bold, but I went forward at that service.  I was broken, and I was willing to go wherever God sent me.

I had visions of the mission field.  I was particularly interested in children's ministry. Maybe somewhere far away - I was particularly challenged about Cote d'Ivoire.

I had NO idea that God was leading me into one of the most full-on, tear-inducing, and tiring works for Him.

He called me into the ministry of motherhood.

The mission field of the hearts in my home.

For a start, I never expected to have this number of souls in my mission field. I thought maybe 4 or 5, but I now have EIGHT precious souls that it is my job to minister to.

MY job.

What an enormous responsibility.

We have taken things a step further than many, and I minister full time to my children.

An even greater burden and responsibility.

It's huge.

It truly is.

Being a Stay-at-home-Mum is not just a choice, for me, it's a calling of God.  That may sound rather radical, but it's the truth.  If I was following my own heart and interests, I would NOT be at home with my children. I'd have fewer children, and I would be out doing something quite different.

But, my life is not about myself.  When I went forward at that meeting, I opened up my heart and life to the leading of God.  Primarily, that means I simply follow His Word. Home schooling aside, the reason why I am a SAHM is because God's Word leads me here.

Robert has been preaching through I Timothy.  Last Lord's Day he spoke about chapter 5.  To me, that passage was always about widows, but he drew out an important truth, and it's not just about widows.

So, what does it say?

"Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 
Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 
But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 
Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. 
And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. 
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 
For some are already turned aside after Satan."
I Timothy 5:9-15


Absolutely, and undoubtedly, there is instruction here for widows. 

However, it's also instruction for ANY young women.  There is a general principle that can be applied to all younger women.  (Yes, there are sometimes exceptions, but there is a general principle).

What is it?

Paul teaches that the younger women should NOT be something, and SHOULD BE something else.

Young women should NOT be....

idle
going to other people's houses to gossip and interfere in the affairs of others
speak unwisely

Young women SHOULD be...

married
bearing children
guiding the house
living a life that is above reproach

Paul tells us that it is good and right to get married, have children, be in charge of the home, and live a life that is honouring to God.

It's not just Paul's words, of course, it's GOD'S inspired word.

God has laid out, as a pattern that is good, right and honourable to follow, that we should serve Him in the home.  

Do you sometimes feel that you are belittled and undermined because of your life? 

You settled down, got married, had children, and stay at home, guiding the household (because it's kinda' hard to guide it if you are not there. Not impossible, but hard). You can be made to feel that you have chosen the lesser part - that there is something bigger and better you are missing out on.  That children are a burden, not a blessing.  That you should be out working, because God can't provide unless you get out there and work.

Ladies, you are doing a God-given task, if you are choosing to marry, raise a family, and stay at home! Whatever God calls you to, He provides for.  He won't leave you without EVERYTHING you need, if you stay at home to raise your children, and care for your home.  He is no man's debtor.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

What's more, it's not just a menial thing.  It's not somehow "lesser" than what we could be doing -  missing out and not reaching our potential. 

Neither is it something that doesn't equal what men do - something we should cast aside to have "equal opportunities".  It's a HIGH calling, because God has honoured us with that task! To try and follow after what men do is not gaining a higher calling. It's stepping down from the honoured task of being the one who guides and cares for the most privileged possession we could ever own. Our children.  There IS not higher, greater, or more honourable role that we can fill.  Not a one.

Robert said something that thrilled my heart, and reminded me that my role is not "just" a Mum.  He said that the wife and mum is "the most important person in the home"! We are there, day upon day, labouring for the Lord.  Working to raise the next generation to His glory.  Labouring, often through exhaustion and pain, to run the home, and guide the household.  It's our God-given role to be in charge of the home.  Not just some under-dog, instructed and "controlled" by the husband.  No, God has given us the role of guiding, or being in charge, of the house, under the headship, care and support of our husbands.  It's a HUGELY important job, and God has designed us to fulfil it!

I also often feel like I am somehow letting down the Church.  I am so busy with my children, that I can't do everything I would like to do, or that others are able to do.  It's like I need to apologise for being busy with my family.

I SHOULDN'T!!!

I'm right here doing what GOD wants me to do, which is a ministry all of its own.

It doesn't mean we don't participate, as a family, in all we can.  That will look different for each family, and each situation.  However, the family is my FIRST and HIGHEST calling, as a wife and Mum. 

God-given.  

The things that need to be done in a Church should first and foremost be done by those without the responsibility of caring for their God-given family. Mothers shouldn't be made to feel that what is outside of the home is more important than what's INSIDE the home.  God ordained family and the home.  It came before any other ministry and commitment, and nowhere does He backtrack on that duty and responsibility.

My children will grow up.

ARE growing up.

My two oldest have made profession of faith, and my oldest is being baptised on Saturday.  They are starting to do their own work, and also able to help me with their siblings.  That is allowing me to do things I haven't been able to do when they were all really little. I recently started playing the organ again, which, despite a few "teething problems" (I didn't know how to properly "use" the lovely organ our Church now has, and had a few incidents of dubious playing!), I have enjoyed doing again, after years of not being to help out with.   The children will grow up, and I will be free to help out more.  It will come TOO quickly.

In the mean time, I am busy doing exactly what is a God-led calling and privilege.

I am ministering in motherhood, and reaching out to the mission field of my home.

I am using the gifts and talents that God has given me to raise my children. I'm not "missing out" in something better.  I'm not "wasting" my abilities.  I'm tapping into the skills that I have been given, to embrace my calling into the home.

It's not a lesser role.

It's not menial and unfulfilling.

I am the "most important person in the home", and I intend to take on that huge responsibility and blessing with every ounce of my being, for God's glory.

Don't be ashamed or despise your roles, sweet, hard-working mothers.  More than anything, be very careful to seek prayerful guidance in stepping away from the God-given role that is yours to keep. God WILL provide for your needs, if you realise your awesome responsibility to be at home with your children. It won't be easy, and it may come at a price, humanly speaking, but the treasure that you will be storing up in heaven, is worth so much more than anything the world can offer.

God led you into it, and it's the most important thing you can do.







Friday, 10 April 2015

God - the only life-giver {when things look dead}

I have been back out into my garden again.  For those who are relatively new to the blog, I LOVE my garden.  I used to think I didn't like gardening, but that was when I had no garden to work with!  Now?  I love it! I am no expert, and I don't spend every waking hour in there, but I love seeing colour appear, and the satisfaction of encouraging life into my little corner of God's creation.

Another thing you will quickly observe, is how my garden is God's lesson book for me.  Time after time, He teaches me valuable lessons from what I see in my garden.

This week has been no exception.

Always - ALWAYS - it's perfect timing.

I have always LOVED clematis.  (How do YOU say it? CLEM-a-tis? clem-AH-tis? clem-AY-tis?....)

I already had one growing up the side of the house, intertwined as it grows, with the scents mingling together, with wisteria and jasmine. The thing is, it grew at the SIDE of my house.  The only thing that is there is a path and the BINS! So, I decided we needed one somewhere more obvious.  By the front door.  I went to the garden centre and carefully examined all the pictures and descriptions, and chose the one I liked the most.  It was purple (no surprise to those who know me well!), with  pretty, double-headed flower.

The first summer I got ONE flower.

ONE!

I was a bit disappointed, but it was a start.

Then, winter came.

And, my clematis looked like it had died.

It was brown, withered, and dried up.  It spanned the space it had grown, but any signs of life had GONE!

I consulted my more experienced mother, and she reassured me that clematis DOES that! It looks dead, but life will return.

Sure enough, spring came, and life returned.  It didn't require me to prune, water, or feed.  The life came back with no input from me at all, whatsoever.




This spring, the same thing is happening again, but as it starts to send out flowers, there is also growth, and MORE FLOWERS are appearing! I can't wait to see how it turns out this year, with more blooms to cheer up the wall it grows along.

I have had a challenging week, in many ways.  Life can be like that - did you know?

Yep, you know, don't you?  Those weeks when the challenges pull you into a sense of despair, and you need to call out to the Holy Spirit to renew you and give you the strength you need.

That plant, and the re-emergence of "life", drew my mind to my children.  I have struggles with them, as they exhibit challenging behaviour. They push all the wrong buttons, and stretch me to the very limit of my patience and grace.  They sin.  They "fail".  Sometimes, there just seems to be so little life, in a spiritual sense.

Then it dawned on me, as I gazed at my clematis.  I lovingly planted it.  I watered it as it grew. I made sure it had a trellis to grow up, and I gently encouraged it to grow up in the right direction.  I learnt about how it grows and  I covered its roots to protect them, as I knew it needed. I did all I could, but ultimately, I can't give that plant any life.  Only GOD gives life.  Only He can give "the increase".


"So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
I Corinthians 3:7


Oh, how I needed to remember that, with my children.  God, so very kindly, and graciously, has entrusted my children into my care.  I have to look after them, nourish them, and train them up. I, however, cannot breathe spiritual life into their souls.

ONLY GOD CAN.

They may look "dead", as I go through different seasons.  The evidence of spiritual life may be absent, or very faint, but I can't create it in their hearts and souls.  God can.  He is able, and I just need to trust Him, and wait for the "spring-time" to come, in their lives.  I need to keep training, watering and caring for them, and patiently wait for the signs of life to come, in HIS time.


"It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."
Lamentations 3:26

We need to keep our hope in the Lord, and quietly wait for Him to do the work in their hearts.

It's so easy to become "weary in well doing".  We keep labouring, and pouring our energy into the lives of our precious children.  Growth and development may seem scarce. But, the promise is there..


"for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"



Galatians 6:9



It's hard to wait for the blooming to happen, but the patience is worth it.  We WILL reap, if we don't give up, and keep on sowing in faith.





Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Women of the Word {pigs with piercings - being beautifully discreet}



As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion."
Proverbs 11:22  "


Today's "Woman" is another one from the Proverbs.  It's speaking to any, and every, woman.  No specifics given.  No special story or incident.  Just a Biblical principle - GOD'S principle - for how a woman should behave.

How she should use her tongue.

I love it when God uses imagery to help us understand a concept.  This one doesn't disappoint.

We have a pig, and an attractive woman.  Not your usual compatriots, right?

The topic is about the tongue.  It's about speaking when we shouldn't - more specifically, having no discretion in what we say.

We have had to deal with this issue, quite recently, with our children.  They seem to find it incredibly easy to say things they shouldn't say.  I know - they are children.  They naturally lack discretion, and need to be TAUGHT when to say things, and when to keep silence.

Of course, adults don't need such instruction, right?....

WRONG.

Boysa dear, wrong, wrong and wrong.

Far too often, women speak when they shouldn't.  This  Proverb is more specifically about lacking discretion.  That's about saying things when we shouldn't, in a more general sense.

There are several things that we can apply to the lacking of discretion.


1. A wise woman thinks before she speaks.

There's a proverb for this one...

"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him."
Proverbs 29:20  


When we speak before we think, we are plain unwise.

Openin' yer mouth and lettin' yer belly rumble.

Is that something non-UK folks say?   It sums it up nicely, hmmm, descriptively.

We need to engage our brains before we say anything.  Not doing o is indiscreet.  It's not being wise, rather it's foolish.  It will plain old get yo into trouble.  Impetuous words.

Ummmm, *raising her hand*.

This has been me.


2. A wise woman doesn't say things she shouldn't.


"A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter."
Proverbs 11:13 


This one is more to do with gossip.  Now, this KJV word "Talebearer", can be misunderstood. I know, for sure, that I have to tell my children, over and over, what it is.  It's NOT a liar! It's going to someone and telling them about another's mis-demeanour, just to get them in "trouble".  Now, with a child, it's usually "grassing up" a sibling, just to get them in trouble with a parent.  Not to tell a parent that danger is imminent, or someone has been hurt.  Those are things I WANT my children to tell me, for the sake of safety.  However, just telling me something because they know it will land their sibling in a heap load of trouble, just to be malicious, IS talebearing. I can't STAND a grassbag, and so we teach our children what the Bible says "Be sure your sin will find you out", and God will make it clear to us, if He wants us to know, and it's NOT their job!

When it comes to adults, a talebearer is one who goes to others with stories about everyone and anyone, just to spread nastiness.  Sometimes that's not even the motive, but the telling of the information is certainly not a help to them, and may even be breaking of a confidence. That's both lacking in discretion AND a talebearer.




That little acrostic should help us to decide if something should be said, or not.

Now, going to someone for advice, if you need to deal with a friend who in in error is NOT always wrong.  But, I would caution that you be VERY sure that the person to whom you speak is wise and discreet.  As a Pastor's wife, I have needed to go to other's for wisdom and advice on matters, but I don't then tell the whole world. Every other person should apply that same principle, not just those in positions of respect and regard.

3.  A wise woman is careful about what she DOES say.

"A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards."
Proverbs 29:11  

Just because you think something, know something, or have an opinion on something, doesn't mean you SHOULD say it! Often, it's better to just keep your counsel, and say nothing.

It's hard.  Trust me, I know.  It's hard to say nothing, sometimes, when you know something, or think something.  It's just not always wise, in every situation, to reveal it.  It's not being deceitful, or twisted - it's being wise.

In my marriage, there have been times when I have wanted to discuss things, and my husband has kept silent.  It used to frustrate me.  I learnt WHY, for myself.  Sometimes, the realisation dawns upon you, that SAYING something can be harmful, and unnecessary.  It's a simple case of using self control, and just saying nothing at all, to help a situation.  Saying something can simply light a fire - as truthful as it may be! It DOESN'T always need to be said.

In some situations, it's not even telling other things that are a secret, but things that are already in the open.

This verse deals with that.

"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."
Proverbs 15:2

As women, we need to wisely consider if it's a beneficial thing to share that with others, or just to leave it well alone.  In THAT situation, we need to be extra careful not to be one who keeps passing information on that someone ELSE has said. Make sure that rumours and unwise words STOP with you.  Also, we need to be wise, again, about who we speak to. If you can't trust someone, just don't say anything at all.


The verse at the start is incredibly descriptive, as I said.

A woman who has no discretion is like a pig with a jewel in its snout.  How insane would THAT look?  A dirty old pig, with something pretty in its wet, snotty nose? An enigma, right? A "fair woman" - someone who is normally attractive, whether in personality or in outward appearance - is affected by a lack of discretion.  You see it DOESN'T say "A beautiful peacock with a muddy tail".  The beautiful thing doesn't just become somewhat tarnished by the behaviour.  No.  Not at all.  The beautiful becomes mostly UGLY, with a TINY hint of something beautiful, and artificial at that.

Yikes!

I SO don't want to be that piggy with a nose stud.

Yet, our sinful hearts are soooooo easily drawn into being indiscreet with our words.  Far too easily.  It's something we need to guard our lips about, every day.  Honesty here - I've shared things I shouldn't have, or been unwise in what I have said.  I know it. Shameful, but true. I need to guard my heart, and control my lips.

The verse about talebearers, although not specifically directed to women, tells us how we ARE to behave.

"he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter"

Zip it.

That's what we need to do.  If our spirits want to be faithful to God, we need to conceal matters, not bring them into the open for the world and her husband to hear about.

"he that refraineth his lips is wise."
Proverbs 10:19


This New Testament verse sums it up.

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."
I Peter 4:8



Not just love - FERVENT love.  If we love those with whom we have connections with, we will "cover" their sins, not spread them about.  It doesn't mean you neglect to speak to the person, if they are truly walking in error.  It means you don't uncover it - tell it to the world.

Having discretion comes into the list of requirements of "young women", taught by the "elder women".

"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 
 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
Titus 2:4-5


And do you see the serious admonition? That the word of God be not blasphemed.

*slow, deep breath in, and exhale*

A woman who is not discreet, blasphemes God's Word.

It's serious stuff, ladies.

Serious.

What comes out of our mouth can do so much harm, is we don't show discretion.

It's not just about other women, here.  It's not just gossiping about your friends and acquaintances.  It can be talking about your marriage, and your own home.  Your OWN life.  You don't have to tell everyone everything.  It's not being dishonest to withhold information that people simply don't need to hear!

Giving away intimate details about your marriage.  Parading the failings of your husband in front of your friends.  Letting your husband down to others.  Criticising and moaning about his imperfections.

Dirty pig.  Nose ring.

Next time you - next time *I* - am/are tempted to speak about a matter that you just don't NEED to be sharing about - next time you even THINK about sharing something about your husband, or anyone else, that you plain shouldn't - remember....

Dirty pig.  Nose ring.

Just don't go there.





Monday, 30 March 2015

Dressing for the weather {putting on spiritual clothing}

It's spring.

The clocks have changed, and the nights are getting lighter.  Beautiful bulbs and blossoms are flowering.  Birds are building nests.

Oh, and it's perishing cold.

Yup.  It's "spring" in the UK.  Unpredictable, often wet, windy, and yet, sometimes warm and bright. The joys of a temperate climate.

Totally unpredictable.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have to check the weather before deciding what I will wear.  If I wear socks and it gets warmer, I hate it.  If I DON'T wear socks, and it's cold, I equally hate it.  Hoodie, or no hoodie? Long-sleeved top, or short? all these questions.  All just to dress right.  Working out what I need to put on.

This morning I was reading in Galatians.

"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Galatians 3:27  


It was a lovely reminder of the significance of baptism. Our baptism is a sign of "putting on" Christ.  We have accepted the robes of HIS righteous, and are clothed by Him.  It's a precious consideration - a reminder that our sins are covered by the shedding of His blood, and we then want to show others of our change within.

At the dawning of  new week, my mind was drawn to a different "put on".  It was one that is a challenge to my day to day life.  It's a putting on - a clothing of myself, in a figurative sense - of something vital.


"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."
Colossians 3:12-15


As a mother, and as a wife, I am challenged each day by situations various and many.  They challenge my sanctification, and I need to make sure that I am suitably clothed to deal with them.  This passage sums up a great little "wardrobe" that will "cover" all situations.

We need to clothe ourselves in mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering  (patience), forbearance (putting up with people), forgiveness, and love.

Well now, if I ever wanted to "look my best" spiritually, and be dressed for the day ahead, this is the "wardrobe" I need! That list just about sums up the daily challenges I face. It sums up the buttons my children push, that make parenting less than a bed of roses.  Unless you mean roses with thorns. It's just not a walk in the park.

Fact.

Parenting is HARD!

And, of course, children aren't the only people in my life.  There are others. All challenge my sanctification at various points, as I am certain I challenge THEIRS!

If I get dressed with all of these qualities, life will be easier.

Also fact.

The truth is, if we are intentional about having a life filled with these attributes, by "putting them on" each day, we will be able to handle those tricky situations that life throws up. We'll be dressed for the right "weather", because we've put on the right thing in the morning.

And, of course, if you know the weather is going to get pretty wild, you put on as many layers as you can.  You don't want to just put on one thing, you want to get entirely kitted out to deal with the crazy. Hat, gloves, scarf, jumper, coat, thermals - you get the drift.  That's what we need every morning. Putting on the layers that our spiritual wardrobe provides us with - ready for anything.

Are you dealing with children who err and sin, or who do the same things over and over?  If you are clothed with mercy, you'll deal with things in a more gracious way.

Do you have people who tend to be unkind?  If you are dressed with kindness, you can show them the best way to deal with others, even when they don't deserve it.

Sometimes we don't get things right. We don't handle situations in the best way, or we do or say things in a less than ideal manner.  Are we adorned with humility, ready to say "I was wrong", and smooth over problems, or avoid them altogether?

Certain situations make me prone to losing my temper.  Sad, but true.  If I am dressed in meekness I will, instead, show gentleness, when I am tempted to be less than gentle in my spirit.

Patience.  Now, there's a doozy. If anyone can test our patience, it's our children.  Putting on longsuffering, at the start of each new day - gracious, each HOUR - we will become more patient with those around us.

Forbearance is another challenging one.  That's all about putting up with people. As I have herd others say "I love my children, but I don't always like them". That applies to ANYONE we know, who is close to us.  We don't always LIKE the behaviour we see in them, although we love them unconditionally.  That's when we need that forbearance.  We need to put up with others, DESPITE their failings.

Being able to forgive others is another biggie.  It can be our husband, our children, or many others we know and love. We mustn't allow things to get in the way of our relationships.  We need to be big enough to say "I forgive you", and move on.  Putting forgiveness on, at the start of each new day, will help us in the right direction.

The last one basically sums it all up.

Above all else, we need to put on love.

The particular "brand" of love, here, is "agape".  It's that love shown by affection, and benevolence. It's literally a "love feast".  Showering others in love, so that they can soak it up and take their fill.  It's love in a close, and tender way.  Love that SHOWS.

When we go out on a rainy, spring day, we first get dressed in the basics, but then we need to put a coat on that covers up as much as we can, to keep it dry and protected.  Love is like that raincoat.  It goes right over the top of everything else, and protects it all.  Love. Always the most important thing.

How do we DO all this, though?  How do we keep "covered up", day, after day, after day?

Verse 10 tells  us

"put on the new man"

It's that life we have, because of Christ.  His blood has cleansed us from all sin, and the Holy Spirit reigns within  our hearts.  That new man is what we need to put on EVERY day.  Putting off the old man of sin, and being covered afresh by Christ's righteousness, which is sufficient.

"for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness"
Isaiah 61:10

THAT'S the ultimate clothing, that we need to be thankful for EVERY day.  His salvation.  His righteousness.  When we remember how Christ has forgiven us, we are clothed, ready to deal with anything that comes our way.

Go on - stretch into your spiritual closet, and get dressed, ready for whatever challenges come your way.






Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Marriage {an overarching principle}

"An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning on each other, become a strength."
Leonardo Da Vinci

I just HAD to deviate from my normal Wednesday post, when I read this with the children in their school reading, for Tapestry of Grace, this week.  I read it, and something IMMEDIATELY jumped out at me.

This quote, of course, is the definition of an arch, from a scientific and engineering perspective.  The laws of science, worked out by a great mind like Da Vinci.

But, do you know what struck me? Right, smack dab between the eyes? THIS is a picture of MARRIAGE!!!

As individuals we are weak.  We have weaknesses in so many different ways, and invariably our weaknesses are not the same.  Our strengths and weaknesses lie in different places.  Without doubt, however, there ARE weaknesses.  Not one single person is always strong, always perfect, always right.  So, in a marriage that equals two weaknesses.

But look.

LOOK.

When those two weaknesses lean on each other, they become a strength.

What a beautiful, and wonderful image!

When we lean on each other - when we rely upon each other - we hold each other up and WE ARE STRONG!  It's no good just trying to "go it alone" in a marriage.  When you are united in matrimony, you become one unit.  It's about DEPENDENCE, not INDEPENDENCE!  It's not a sign of weakness to rely on each other for support  - it's a strength to do that.

Ecclesiastes tells us about the benefits of more than one.

"Two are better than one.."

It carries on to give situations where it's a benefit to have someone to help you in life.  No lesser so than in a marriage! It's the perfect picture of partnership being important.  Not being in conflict, but working side by side.

There's more though...

In the whole construction of an arch, there is a crucial, crucial part.

The keystone.

"A wedge-shaped keystone would then hold the arch in place, forming a strong support for spanning a wide expanse."

Well now, if that isn't just GOD right there!? It's HIM who then holds our marriage in place - it's HIM who is a strong support for a wide expanse of life and circumstances.  It's God alone that gives us the strong support that our marriages need.  If he isn't there, the marriage will fall apart, just as when the keystone is not there, the arch will not hold up. He needs to be central in all that we do.  He needs to be that topmost stone, to keep us united and strong. Holding us together and keeping our marriage strong.

Ecclesiastes carries on to say this

"a threefold cord is not quickly broken"

In a marriage we need that "threefold cord".  Two individuals with Christ gives great strength, and the marriage is not easily broken.

How's your "arch"? Are you trying to work on your own in your marriage, or are you two weaknesses, leaning on each other to be strong, with Christ at the centre? I know which I want to be, and am I ever thankful that my weakness can be strength when I lean on my husband and have Christ at the centre.