Friday, 29 March 2013

But the greatest of these is love....

It's "Good Friday".

I'm not exactly sure where it got its name from.  There must be a story behind it.  Ultimately, it WAS a good day.  No, it wasn't just "good", it was wonderful.

It was that day, nearly 2000 years ago, when my precious Lord, Jesus Christ, gave His life as a ransom for many.

That "many" includes ME.

He is MY Saviour.  It was MY sins that nailed Him to that horrid Roman cross.  It was MY sin that he bore the punishment for, hanging upon that tree.  That He endured the pain and suffering for - whipped, beaten, thorns in brow, sword in side. The Father forsaking the Son.  The depths of darkness as He endured the cross, despising the shame.

And why?

Why would HE do that?  Why would HE bear the sins of so many upon that cross?


That's why.

"For God SO loved the world...."
John 3:16

 "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:"
I John 3:16

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 
 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 
I John 4:9&10

Despite our sin - BECAUSE of our sin, and the punishment it deserves - He loved, and gave His life.




Giving His all, so that we could have all we need.

His death, for our life.

So, what can we do with this love today, as we remember His death and His suffering?

Thank.  I can be thankful for that sacrifice - for His death - for the atonement for my sins - for my knowledge of sins forgiven - for my assurance of an eternity without Christ. I can thank the Lord - over and over - for "for his great love wherewith he loved us". 

Give.  I can renew my devotion and commitment to the Lord.  Reaffirm my life as one that is "all for Jesus", because He gave His all for me.  Give all that I have, and am, to Him - in complete dedication.  Live my life to His glory alone.


"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

We need to learn to love like Jesus loves us.  Freely.  Unconditionally. Sacrificially.  Wholeheartedly. Fully.  Unselfishly.  What a challenge.  When we see His perfection, and feel the inadequacies of our own sinful heart.  And yet, if God loved us, we OUGHT to love one another.  What a challenge.  Our husband.  Our children.  Our family.  Our friends.  Our neighbours.  Strangers.  Enemies.

Share.  We need to tell others about what God has done for us.  That we are all vile and wretched sinners, before a holy and perfect God.  That our sin must be punished and that we deserve death and hell.  That God sent His only son, because He LOVES sinners, to die and take the punishment for sin.  That if we but acknowledge and turn from our sin, and trust in Him as our only Saviour, then we CAN be saved.  Tell others of God's grace and goodness to us - that He longs for them to accept His grace and goodness, too. 

"I can do all things through Christ"

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Chatting on the Farmhouse porch

Everyday Ruralty

I haven't chatted with Patrice and her friends for AGES, and as one of the questions comes from my lovely friend, Anne, I thought it would be fun to join in.

1. Melanie asks "What kinds of seafood have you tried and liked? What is the most unique seafood you've eaten?

I have tried all sorts of seafood.  When we went on holiday to the US when I was younger, I got to try lobster, which I loved.  I have also tried crab, squid, scallops, prawns, tuna (proper, fresh tuna steak, not just from a tin!), and various types of other fish.  I can't think off the top of my head if I have tried anything more exotic.  I loved the lobster - it was really yummy.  I love putting prawns in  a fish pie, with some lovely smoked fish.  I also loved smoked haddock.  It makes the house reek, but it tastes soooooo good. 

2. Anne says, "An unforgettable holiday moment is_____________________. (She's on the other side of that BIG pond. I believe a holiday is a vacation on this side. )

She's actually on THIS side of the pond, but on the other side of the Minch. You don't know what that is?  Google.

This is a toughie.  I have several, from different stages in my life.

I have a very strong memory of going for early morning walks, through the sunny meadow, with my Grandpa, in Cornwall.  I remember bees buzzing, flowers blowing in the morning breeze, and their dog, Don.  Very precious, happy memory.

The moment I made my parents panic in America.  We had gone to a Bible conference, were they had provided a day camp for children.  They had swimming every day, and there was a really high up diving board that everyone jumped from. I DESPERATELY wanted to jump from it, but you had to be able to swim a length.  I couldn't.  I learnt to swim in about 2 days, just so I could do it!  My parents came to watch the last day, and saw me up on the diving board, and nearly had a fit!!! *grin*  I hadn't told them that I had learnt to swim, OR that I would be jumping from up THERE!  For the record, I would not DREAM of going up there to look down, never mind JUMP, any more.  Myself and heights are not best friends.....

The moment that we unlocked the bedroom door and walked into the room in the luxury hotel, on our honeymoon.  It was a STUNNING room, and I felt so very spoiled to be staying in such a place.  Also, every night when we went down for dinner, they would welcome me by my new name "Mrs Cordle".  TOTALLY unforgettable, and incredibly special.

I probably have more, but those ones came to mind first, and I do not wish to bore anyone!

3.  Arlene wants to know, "When was the last time you tried something new?"

Hmmmmm. There's a question, which may require some brain power.
A year ago, I drove a minibus for the first time!  I was fairly daunted by the task, but it was a doddle.  I am now totally used to it.  OH, except parallel parking it.  I still avoid doing that unless there is  HUGE space to drive into.

Oh. I forgot. I tried something new today.

No other words necessary.

4.  Becky asks "who, or what, inspires you?"

Well, without a doubt, the Lord inspires me.  It is His love, life, sacrifice, Word and presence that gives me life and breath.  That is, after all, what "inspire" can mean.  To be "inbreathed" or "inspirited".  It's is the Spirit of God that indwells me, and gives me all I need for every day of my life.  He satisfies my soul, and gives me strength for every moment.   Without the inspired Word of God, I would have no wisdom, truth and guidance.  He is most precious to me.

Humanly speaking, any author who encourages me in my walk as a wife and mother would be inspirational.  So, I find Sally Clarkson to be an inspiration.  Heidi St John.  I am greatly inspired and challenged by Ann Voskamp's writing.

I am inspired by the courage of the 2 Margarets.  These were 2 ladies - one young and one old - who died as martyrs, during the time of the Covenanters.   They refused to deny Christ, and were drowned in the Solway Firth.  Oh, for a testimony like theirs - faithful to death. 

5.  Madonna wants to know," How did you chose the names of your children."

Well, we started with a Bible name with Joshua.  We talked about ever so many names, and just decided together, having prayed about it, that it was the right name.  When we then had a girl, we chose another Bible name, and an "attribute" name in the middle.  Bethany Grace.   We decided for the others to carry on with Bible names, and for the girls to have the attribute name in the middle.  So now we have - Joshua David, Bethany Grace, Daniel James, Susanna Joy, Abigail Faith, Elijah Matthew and Simeon John.   I also have a "thing" about it sounding right.  So, the first name has more syllables than the second.  There is no alliteration with the initials.  The initials don't spell anything.  (not that many words end with a "C").  We also chose names that we would be happy to shorten.  Interestingly, we rarely shorten Daniel's?! But, everyone else gets a shortened name at some point. Susie now RARELY gets called Susanna.  We chose it liking "Susie", but wanted her to have the full name, so she could choose for herself as she got older.  Elijah now sometimes gets "Lij" and Simeon now gets "Sim" every now and again, mostly by Elijah.

We invariably do not decide until we are driving into the hospital.  I say "decide", but I mean the final decision.  Simeon was a rarity - we had it chosen way before!

Also, we now have had a girl's name since I was pregnant with Elijah, so if we ever had another girl, that would be all ready to use.

It was lovely to chat, Patrice.  We have had snow, too.  Ridiculous weather for the end of March, I say.  Hopefully the next time we chat, the weather will have warmed up.  Until then. I will stay inside in the warm, if you don't mind?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Picking off those "suckers"

I was fascinated to see this picture come up in my news-feed on Facebook.

IMMEDIATELY I was propelled back in time.  Zip back approximately 18 years, to my first encounters with these little "suckers".

Except, I always knew them as "side-shoots".

Do you know what you are looking at?

I present to you, a tomato plant.

My In-laws commercially produced tomatoes, for years and years.  When I first met Robert, in order to spend time together in the holidays, which were invariably the busiest season for the business, I had to go down there.  So, I would work alongside the family.  The summers were the longest, busiest, hardest and most exhausting.  We would work from 7.30 am, until late in the afternoon, sometimes into the evening.  Picking tomatoes, sorting them out and getting them ready for collection, took most of the morning, into the early afternoon.  They were picked and put into a bucket, which was then emptied into trays.  The sub-standard ones (too small, split or imperfect) were removed, before being sent off to the sorting shed.  It was HARD work, and it was HOT work.

My in-laws grew  lovely baby plum tomatoes, though. *yum*

But, I am starting to digress.  In the afternoons, there were other jobs to do, in order to maintain the health of the plants.  When I say tomato plants, we are not talking about the plants that grow a few feet tall, and live in a greenhouse in your back garden. These are big Momas. Growing in HUUUUUGE glasshouses.

They grew up a string, which was attached  to a bobbin, which hung on a horizontal wire. As the plants grew up, they had to be "twisted" around this string, at the top of the plant. Yes, the wires are high up (look at the picture above, and see where they grow up to!!) - the "twisters" used either ladders, or in the case of my husband and BIL, stilts! Once it reached the level of the wire, the bobbin was unwound, to provide more string, and the plant was "let down".  These plants then grew along, over the tops of metal hoops a few feet tall, and grew diagonally down the "alley" it was growing in.

You can see the hoops in the top picture, and the angle the plants are growing at in the bottom in picture. 

You can see in this picture, that there are no leaves growing at the bottom of the plant.  (oh yes, you can also see the person who took most of these pictures - my lovely sister-in-love Anna, who happens to be my husband's sister...she took the pictures for posterity, the last year my in-laws had the business - am I ever so glad she was that foresighted?!?!)  Moving on from my tomato munching SIL (who can blame her?). The reason they look so bare, is because they have been "deleafed".  The leaves at the bottom, around where the fruit is ripening, give them too much shade.  They are removed from the plant, to help the fruit be its best, and to ripen in the natural light.

Then, there was "side-shooting".  From our picture, right at the top, you can see that between the leaf and the stem, in the little "angle", there is a tiny shoot growing.  These side-shoots are not beneficial to the growing plant.  It takes away vital energy, water and nutrients from the growing fruit, and deprives the main plant of what it needs. They need to be plucked out, removed, taken away, in order for the main plant and fruit to give 100%.  If you don't, they will just keep growing, and growing, and growing.

Seeing this, and thinking again about the tomato plants,  brought to mind a valuable lesson in our growing life, spiritually speaking, as a woman - whether we be single, a wife or a mother.

As we grow, day by day, we get these little "side-shoots" - these "suckers" - that start to sprout.  They may look like they are supposed to be there.  They look like they are part of the plant, and that they belong there.  However, all they are are doing is sucking the life out of the plant, and stopping the real fruit from growing the way it should.

We all have these "suckers".  We all have things that want to grow in our lives, and suck the life out of us.  Like the side-shoots on a tomato plant, they may even look like they should be there!

It could be pursuits that seem to be legitimate.  Things that we spend our time doing, but they are really just stopping us from growing spiritually the way that we should.  They may be taking us away from our time in God's Word, or spending time in prayer.  Anything that does that, that we are CHOOSING to do, is going to suck the spiritual life right out of us.

Attitudes can be "suckers".  They can be BIG suckers.  If we put all of our energy into feeling bitter, angry, frustrated, disheartened, miserable, rebellious, impatient....the list goes on.....then the strength we need, to grow closer to the Lord, to deepen our relationship with him and to live a joyful Christian life, will simply not be there.  All our energy will be going into these "suckers", instead of going into cultivating the right attitudes and behaviour.

The company that we keep can be a "sucker".  OK, so, if you are a stay at home Mum, your company is limited. In the nicest possible way, our children CAN be suckers.  If we start to idolise them - if we don't raise them in a godly way - if we neglect to discipline them - if we start to behave like them, instead of showing them HOW to behave - then, they CAN be suckers! We need to be wise in our dealings, even with our own children. However, the company we CHOOSE to keep - the friends we make, the people who we choose to be in company with as we go about our daily business - they can be suckers.  If they are ungodly, and unsaved, that can be a sucker straight away.  Choosing to spend a lot of time, just for leisure, with people who do not love the Lord like we do - who have bad language, who have poor moral standards, who talk about nonsense - will suck away our spirituality toot sweet.  We will become like them sooner than they will become like us.  Supposedly "Christian" friends who do nothing but bicker, gossip, speak and behave negatively, pat you on the back and tell you that YOUR unBiblical attitudes and behaviour are acceptable, or discourage you about your godly convictions, are going to sap the spiritual strength out of you.  You need to have those who will encourage you in your Christian walk.  Those who are like-minded enough to understand your choices, and not berate them.

I know many have ungodly family, or even an ungodly spouse.  We just have to make sure that we keep strong in the Lord, when we are with them, and don't allow them to suck the strength from us.

What we think about - where we allow our mind to go - can be a "sucker".  If we dwell on the negatives, instead of looking to God's goodness - if we are thinking about the burdens instead of the blessings - if we think the worst, instead of the best - all these wrong mindsets will be "suckers".  The Bible reminds us to think about things that are pure, right, good and so forth.  Any wrongly placed thoughts will harm our peace - it will suck it right out of us.

We can even have "suckers" in our marriage.  Things that will drain out all of the life that we should have.  If we don't communicate properly - if we don't tell each other "I love you" - if we don't show love, kindness and affection - if we let problems fester - if we don't make the effort to grow closer.  Many, many things will suck the life out of our marriage, and we need to pull out any problems that we can see appearing.

Something to finish with, and worthy of remembering, is this.  Firstly, what do you think we did with those side-shoots?  Where did they go?  They got pushed up into heaps, and taken away. If you look at the picture below, you will see them all pushed into heaps, ready to get taken away in the trailer.  Eventually, they were all burnt - completely destroyed.  We need to make sure that those "suckers" in our life are completely removed, and that no trace of them is left!

 Also, do you think that when you take one side-shoot out, that there will never be any more?  You certainly don't get them back in the spot you removed them from, but as the plant grows upwards, they will keep coming where there is new growth.   If we ever got behind in jobs in the glasshouse, the side-shoots would grow, and grow, and grow - they would be trailing all over the place, and you could hardly walk up the alley!   You need to keep on top of the job of pulling them out!

It's the same in your life.  Just because you get rid of one "sucker", doesn't mean another will not appear.  In fact, they WILL.  They will keep on coming, and you will need to keep looking for them, and pulling them out.  It's a continual, and necessary job, in order to have our spiritual life growing and healthy.

So, think about it today - in your life - what are those "suckers" that you need to pull out, and are stopping you from being a spiritual "plant" that is growing strong. May the Lord give us all grace and strength as we week to pluck them out.

Oh, and just for the memory.... here's my now 11 1/2 year old Joshua, 9 years ago, with his Uncle Andrew, in the glasshouses.  My, how time flies. *sad sigh*

Monday, 18 March 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday - The Shunammite Woman {Part 1}

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

I do not know just where to begin and end with this godly woman.  There is SO much to learn from her, that I am going to refuse, yes REFUSE, to deal with it in one blog post. What an immense joy it has been to read through the vents of her life, and the myriad of lessons I have learnt as I read.

We know nothing of her early life, until Elisha meets her.  From that day in, the twists and turns - the highs and lows - the blessings abundant - seem not to cease.

So, how do we first meet this wonderful lady?

Elisha was passing through Shunem, and she

"constrained him to eat bread".
II Kings 4:8

She insisted that he should stop and eat, and she desired to provide for him what she perceived that he had need of.  He was passing through Shunem regularly enough that she had observed his coming and going.  She knew, also, that he was a prophet of God - a man of God.  Her heart was constrained to emet a physical need for him - something that she could provide.

This was not where her generosity ended, though.  After feeding him on a regular basis, she felt it would be sensible to build him a "prophet's chamber".  It was just a little room, built onto the side of their home.  It had only the basics, but everything he would need - a bed, a table, a stool and a candlestick. He simply needed somewhere to rest, in the midst of his journeying.

And, she wanted to meet that need.

It's a simple truth, but one which I know is most certainly NOT always put into practice.

If we see others who have a need we can meet, MEET IT!

There is nothing too simple.  Nothing too basic.  Nothing that is not "important" enough.

If you see that someone else needs something, and it is within your power to meet that need, then just DO IT.

We're talking about a MEAL here.  And, I would hazard a guess, that, in a post-drought and famine torn land, it was not the fatted calf that was offered up, every time he passed through.  It was far more likely to be something on the scale of the Widow of Zarapheth.  A simple meal of bread or meat.  Just enough to meet the need that Elisha had - a need for sustenance as he went about the work that God had called him to do.

Are there people in your life that have needs that YOU could meet, just as simply as this woman did?  Single, elderly or struggling people in your Church, who would love to have a meal provided for them by someone else?  How little would it cost you to make just a wee bit extra for someone else?  Make what you have go a bit further, to meet the needs of others?

Maybe it's not food?  Maybe it's clothes you no longer need - toys your children just have too many of already - things for the home that would help someone as they try and furnish a place for themselves - books you have read, and would benefit another to read as well.  The list is varied and endless - there are many needs, and many ways to meet them.

What about your home?  Are you given to hospitality, not only in the sense of providing a meal, but to have people to stay.  I know that this couple went to the time, effort, energy and money to BUILD somewhere to accommodate Elisha.  However, are you willing to let others stay with you?  Make sure you have a spare bed - even if it's tucked into a space you need to use for something else.  Have you got space you DO use for something else, but it could be better used for having available to look after others?  Are you even willing to OFFER to have those to stay who have a need?  A visiting preacher in your Church - a missionary passing through - a relation of a Church member who needs somewhere to stay when visiting?  Are you WILLING?  That's the question.

I know that some people don't have a spare room.  We didn't have one in our last house, so we would give up our own room to accommodate others.  we weren't being martyrs - the joy of having someone to stay far outweighed any relocation we had to do!

In our current home, we now have a spare room, and plenty of space.  We have had many, many people to stay since our move, and it's our joy to have them in our home.

It's a privilege to offer up your home to others - to show them kindness, to be of help and to show the love of Christ in your willingness to have them to stay.  Remember what the Lord said?  If you show kindness to others, you are showing it to HIM..  Doing all for Jesus.  That should be our motivation.

The last thing I want to note is this.  They respected a man of God.  They wanted to do all they could for him, BECAUSE he was a prophet.

Do you respect and show love towards your own pastor?  To those in the Lord's work?  Do you try and find ways in which you can encourage and them?  Do you pray for them?  Do you try and help them out in practical ways?  Do you remember that they are busy trying to study sot hat they can teach you from God's Word, and so any other things you can help them with will free up their time to study and prepare?

I am particularly blessed.  I am MARRIED to my pastor, so it's my joy to help him in every way I can, so he can focus his mind upon the Word.   If I give him extra things to think about, by having wrong attitudes, or not getting on with my role in the marriage, then I will not be helping him in his role as a Pastor and Preacher.

This godly couple loved and respected Elisha.  They saw the needs that he had, and they did ALL they could to help him out.

We need to have that same giving attitude.  One that LOOKS for a need and does all it can to meet it.  For ANYONE that the Lord brings into our lives.

Look for the need, today, and do all you can to meet it! Better still - teach your children to have the same giving spirit, and the blessing will carry on to the next generation.

I'll come back to this woman next week, God willing - there is still SO much to learn from her. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Putting on weight {finding glory in trials}

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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.

We feel the pressure of disciplining our children, when they err in a particular way AGAIN. When they push us to our limits.  When they test our authority as a parent.

We feel the pressure of those looking on from the outside.  Are we managing to keep our home clean and tidy?  Is the front garden respectable?  Are ALL of those faces clean and shiny, with the children wearing clean and matching clothes, when we go out?  Are they behaving in public?  Are they saying the right thing to the right people?

What about the simple pressure of just fitting in all the jobs we need to do in a day?  When they seem to mount up and overwhelm us?

We feel the pressure of pleasing our husband.  Wanting to know that his needs are met, in whatever ways we can.  To know that he has us there to support and encourage him, whilst juggling meal-planning, dinner preparation, house-work and home-school, amongst a gazillion other things.

We feel the pressure of the desire to have our daily quiet time - squeezing in those moments reading your Bible in peace, or trying to get a few moments to commune with the Lord in prayer.

The list is endless, and unique to each individual - in whatever way you feel the pressures of life.

But, the thing we need to keep in focus is this....are we putting our efforts into the things that are "seen" or the the things that are "unseen".

I'm not just talking about what the public sees, versus what goes on behind our front door.

I'm talking temporal versus spiritual.

Ultimately, what counts?  The eternal.  The things that mould the character of our child for eternity.

Is it not better that we spend the time placing the emphasis on training them up in the ways of the Lord, rather than worrying about the "things that are seen"?  Worrying about what others think, rather than what the Lord thinks, will not benefit anyone.

Now, don't get me wrong, and read something I am not saying.  I am NOT suggesting that these other things are WRONG.  Spending all our time and effort on them, and feeling the pressure to achieve them just to please others, IS. Putting more priority into achieving them, than in shaping the behaviour of our children, and training them up in the ways of the Lord, is wrong.

The encouragement comes in this - the pressure we feel, whilst fulfilling these good things in the lives of our children, IS worth it.  It carries weight.  A weight that is worth having.

An eternal weight of glory.

All these things that we do, with a right perspective, and a right motivation, have an eternal value.

Seeking to honour the Lord, as we fulfil our daily duties, not matter how tough those daily duties become -  holds an eternal weight.

Daily guiding and training up our children, in the ways of the Lord - a work not always seen from the outside because the Holy Spirit is working away in their heart - holds and eternal weight.

Being a good example, in our duties as a wife and mother, no matter how much pressure we feel in trying to do it all - holds an eternal weight.

Ultimately, the fact that we feel pressure at all, implies that we are TRYING to do something, and that alone holds a weight of it's own.

And, what is that eternal weight?'s a weight of GLORY! Of receiving honour, for the labours we endure. An eternal and spiritual honour, which far outweighs any honour we may receive whilst on this earth.  Whilst it's nice to have our labours acknowledged by those around us, and especially those we hold dear, it's that eternal weight of glory that we should seek to attain.  That we should keep our focus on, when days are tough, and the pressure seems to mount.

It IS worth it...all those moments of pressure and trial - add them all up, and think of the weight of glory that you will receive at the end of your days!

If the Lord wills, our most glorious moment will be seeing our children coming to a personal knowledge of the Saviour, and trusting in Him for salvation.

Lift your eyes from the "moment" and look for the "glory".

Monday, 11 March 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday - Another Widow with oil

A simple lesson, but such an important one today.  I think it's a truth that we can so easily forget, in a society where we tend to think that we provide for our own needs.

Today, we learn again about a widow. This lady had been married to one of the "sons of the prophets",
and he had died.  When he died, he left them with some sort of debt, owing to creditors. As she apparently had nothing to pay off the debt WITH, they were going to come and take her two sons away, as payment of the debt!

She came to Elisha, pleading for help.  He asked her what she had in her house.

A pot of oil.

That's all.

A single pot of oil.

Are you seeing any similarities here?

Another widow woman, another pot of oil.

Before anything else, something precious springs out here.  Did you know that in the scriptures, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit?  No matter how dire things are, no matter how destitute we are, we will always have the precious presence of the Holy Spirit!  That is something we can NEVER lose, despite our circumstances.  What a blessed joy!  We have Him to cheer us and comfort us, no matter what.

This time, it's not an ongoing need, such as was provided for both the Widow, her son and Elijah, in the lesson from our last matriarch. This time, it's a one-off need, of huge proportions.  Humanly speaking, she has no idea what to do.

Thankfully, Elisha is a man of God, which she knew, and she had faith that he would know what to do.

He told her to get every pot she could get from her neighbours, and bring them back to her house.  She must have wondered what on earth he was going to do.  What use are pots, when you don't have anything to put IN them?

However, collect pots she did.  She went round to all her neighbours, and borrowed every last pot she possibly could.

In my mind, there are visions of middle-eastern looking pots, stacked all around their simple home - covering tables, chairs and the floor.


Ready for Elisha's instruction.

Then came the miracle.

She was to pour the oil into the vessels, until they were filled up.

Now, if this had been you or me, would we have scorned the instruction, or had the faith to follow?  There was not much oil left.  How could it possibly fill ALL of those pots she had borrowed?  But, she did as she was instructed.  She shut their front door, and got started, in obedience to her instructions.

Take note.

Something struck me upon reading this again.  Something that shows a true follower of God's Words, because this was what she was.  A follower of GOD'S Word.

She filled the pots RIGHT UP TO THE TOP.

If she had lacked faith, she may have just poured until they were NEARLY full.  Not wanting to expect such an immense blessing.  Not presuming a super-abundance of supply.  But, no.  She filled them up to the top.

Such faith.

Such trust.

Such assurance that her need would be met.

Once all the pots were filled, the oil stopped.  There was no more.  Her need was fulfilled perfectly.  Not a drop more.  Not a drop less.

She then went out and sold the oil, in order to pay her debts.

What an incredible experience.  To have your needs met so perfectly.  So miraculously.  So wonderfully.

We read such an account and wonder at the miracles that God performed in times past.  Of the provisions for His people that we read of in the Bible.

Ah!  But that is not the end of it.  It's not just a story.  It's not just a picture.  It's not just "nice".  It's truth.  It's real TODAY.  Nothing has changed.

We still have needs.  Not just the day to day needs, such as food and water.  But we have bigger needs,  that we still seek provision of.  God still provides.  God is still our ONLY provider, because all that we have comes from Him.  He still provides miraculously  perfectly and wonderfully for us.  We still have those pressing needs met, in often awesome ways.  It may not involve oil that doesn't run out, but it may be an anonymous money gift for the right amount at the perfect time.  Perhaps it's someone giving us an item we desperately needed, without us even mentioning the need.  Maybe it's generosity from an unexpected person or source.  Many ways, many needs.

Do you see, though?  There's an important element in this story.

There was faith.  Faith that Elisha would know what to do, because she knew that He was God's servant.  She had faith in God to provide.

However, there was also works.  There was something she had to do.  She had to go and collect all the pots, and then fill them up.  Faith involves doing.  Faith without works is dead.

We need to step out, trusting in God's ability to provide, knowing that our needs will be met.  Doing all that we should be doing, in order to be responsible with what we already have.  Had she wasted that last drop of oil, or not filled the pots right up, or not gone and got so many pots, she may not have been provided for to the same extent.  God sees and rewards our faith when it is accompanied by the doing.

Look through Hebrews 11.  By faith, they all "did" something.

Do you have a need?  Do you have something that you need God to supply?  Believe that God can and will do it, and make sure that your life demonstrates faith in action and a responsibility with what God has already given you.

How wonderful that we trust in a God who loves us and cares for us, and who provides for us in the little ways as well as the big ways.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The illusion of the "perfect" woman - Part 2

A few weeks ago I looked at some issues surrounding what we perceive to be the "perfect woman", and some steps to take to avoid feeling defeat and frustration as we look at others.

Another issue that I think is a big one, is that so many people read blog posts, or see other people around them,  and think that other people seem to have it all together,  feeling utterly disheartened when their own lives are not the same.

They see their struggle to keep up with housework, and wonder how these ladies, with their lists, charts and various other regimes, keep it together all the time.

They are swallowed up with tears of frustration as they struggle to cope with small children testing their patience, and wonder how these ladies keep their children contentedly occupied every hour of the day.

They are trying to juggle home educating, run a home and please their husbands, without success, whilst other ladies seem to be able to keep all their plates spinning with ease.

Their days never quite turn out how they plan, despite others seeming to manage a seamlessly easy life.

They shout and yell, whilst others remain calm and dignified.

Their children are naughty, whilst others seem to have children who are "perfect".

The seemingly "perfect" women around them, make them feel discouraged and disheartened as they look at their own "mess".  Never thinking they could reach a life anywhere near the same, and hardly feeling like attempting at all.

So many books seem to outline all the positives - what we should do, and how to do it.  And yet, it seems so hard to actually make it work.

Feeling of inadequacy and failure can crowd into the mind.

"Why can others manage the perfect life, and I can't?"

So, how do we battle feeling like that?  How can we wade through the hard days, and become the woman we long to be.

Our reasonable service

Firstly, we need to seek God's Word for ourselves, to find out what GOD expects of us.

What are HIS instructions to us, in our Christian walk.  Does HE expect us to have our children all pristinely dressed, never putting a foot out of place, with immaculate houses, and highly organised schedules?

Or, does He expect us to honour Him in our actions, our attitudes and how we live out our Christian faith, above anything else?  Our love for others coming above our love for the "perfect" home and family.   Serving the Lord, before serving the expectations of the world?

I'm not suggesting, for a moment, that we do not TRY to do all we can in our homes and families.  I am saying that we can put false expectations upon ourselves - undue pressure - by not putting first things first.

I will never forget what my husband said, when preaching on the verse from Romans 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."

A living sacrifice.  

Is that how you feel your life is as a mother?

That you are being put through the refining fire - that sacrificial flame?

Do you find that having your whole life as a sacrifice, as you seek to serve your family, is just too hard?  

Trying to keep up with all that is expected of you?  Struggling to maintain your sanity?

Do you see what Paul tells us, though?

It is our reasonable service.

That means, it's not UNreasonable. 

God doesn't ask us to do anything that is not reasonable.

Why not?

Because whatever He leads us to do in this life, He gives us the grace and strength to DO!

What a  great help this is! It should give us much hope, to remember that God is our sustainer.  When we are weak, we cast ourselves upon Him.  When we are struggling, we throw ourselves into His loving arms. 

In fact, we are told in Corinthians that it is WHEN we are weak - when we feel the frailty of our humanity, and the struggles of our life - that we are strong!  It is when we see our weakness, that God's strength is perfected.  It is then that we are totally relying upon His strength, rather than our own "strength".

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
II Corinthians 12:9&10

Do you see what else it tells us?  When we are having these trying days, and we think it doesn't measure up to what we see in other women?  We are to take PLEASURE in it, and GLORY in it!!!!  We can be thankful that we DON'T "measure up" to those we see, because God is giving us an opportunity to give HIM all the glory, in our weakness.  He is giving us an opportunity to rejoice in His grace and goodness. Yes, of course these other ladies have things to be thankful for as well, but we can be thankful right in the circumstances WE face!

Dealing with misplaced expectations

The other thing we have to remember about these women is this - just because they share how well things work for them, does not mean that they have it all together, or that they expect you to do the same!!  Someone may have told them they appreciate how they do things, and could they share it?  It is then shared in the hope it may encourage someone else, in their womanly role.  Not for a MOMENT would they expect that it should make someone else feel inadequate, small, or a failure.  All they are trying to do is encourage and bless others.

If you read it and feel inadequate, there are a few choices.  You can take it in the well-meant way it was shared, and try it out for yourself.  If it doesn't work for you, that's ok!  Their shared experience was never meant to be the standard YOU need to follow.  It's just what works for them, and MAY work for you!

Next option, you can decide that it is not "your thing" and leave it alone.  (Remember, we're talking about how we live out our lives in a practical sense here - if it's a Biblical truth or command, you can't choose to leave it!)

What you should certainly NOT do, is look at every single great idea, and try them all at once!!

Above all else, we should not be bitter or ungrateful that, what we perceive to be, the "perfect woman" has her life all sorted, and we are wading through difficult days!

Odious comparison

I think that another problem often comes when we think we must do it all as "perfectly" as the women we look at, and compare ourselves to.  As I said in my last post, comparison is a huge drain.

When we see these ladies - either witnessing their lives in person, or seeing them written in a blog or website or book - we may be tempted to think that their lives are never a struggle.  That they never have moment of stress or hardship.  

The moments of serenity we see, are HUGELY unlikely to be what they experience all the time!!  You may not always hear them share about the hard days, but they are most undoubtedly there.  How do I know?  Because we are all sinners, and we cannot maintain perfection in anything.  Simply because we are not perfect.

Not anyone is a perfect wife.

Not anyone is a perfect mother.

Not anyone is a perfect woman.

We ALL have tough moments, in all our roles in life.  Moments where we feel total despair, because everything has gone awry.  We ALL have days when we feel that everything has come "unstuck" and we are being a total failure as a mother.  We ALL have days where we are ashamed of our behaviour as a wife.  

Anyone who looks at the small snapshot of someone else's life that they may get to see, and thinks they have it all together, is far wrong!

We all have a totally different set of circumstances with its own highs and lows.

So remember that when you think that others are having a "walk in the park", while you struggle with everything you put your hand to! You cannot compare their circumstances to the situation God has place YOU in.

Doing it all for HIS glory

Ultimately, the rule of practice for all our lives must be that the purpose for doing ANYTHING, MUST be for God's glory.  Not to meet expectations of others.  Not because someone else says it's the best thing to do. Not because you THINK it might be better than something you already do.  Not because you are trying to please or impress other people.

Soli deo Gloria

For God's Glory alone

If you are trying to fulfill all those other things, in effect you are not giving God the glory.  If our motivation is misplaced, then we are not glorifying God.

In a nutshell, we need to remember that each of our lives is unique.  As much as God has given certain rules to follow in His Word, a lot of life is very individual to the circumstances that God has planned for you.  Within your own life you need to seek out what is best for your own family.  By all means look and see what others do.  Read about what works for them.  Learn about possible ways tat you can improve your own life.    But, do all to his glory, more than anything else.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Properly putting your feet up {rest in the Lord}

Do you ever have times as a Mum when you are told to "put your feet up and rest". It's invariably a piece of advice that will elicit a good old belly laugh from the woman who was given the advice.

"Put your feet up and REST"?


With 7 children to look after, meals to make, problems to sort out, disasters to avert, hurts to kiss better and lots of other things to deal with, resting is not something that's always possible.

I have had a bad cold for just over a week, and when I was feeling at my worst I would have loved nothing more than to not only put my feet up all day, but to go back to bed!  However, such luxuries cannot be afforded by a mother.  It's simply not possible.

I have had times in pregnancy where I have been advised to rest.  I suppose that, relatively speaking, I have at those times "rested" more than normal, but total rest has not been possible.

I don't know about you, but the only time I properly REST, is when I jump into bed at night.  The amount of times I have sighed a big sigh of happiness, and declared "I love my bed", is innumerable   Your feet are finally off the floor, you weight is taken completely by your comfy bed, your head is snuggled into your pillow.  Rest.  At last.  BLISS!

That is, until some small person wakens up and our rest is disturbed.  I think I can safely say that some Mums I know have almost forgotten what proper rest IS!  Between a baby needing fed, or a toddler having a restless phase, even older children with bad dreams or growing pains.  It all happens.

No to mention health issues, or troubles of the mind that may keep us awake.  Tossing and turning with concerns and worries floating around in our head.

What about motherhood and the instruction to "wait"?

How many times do you have to tell your children, for the milllionth time, to "WAIT"!!!

"Just wait a minute, I can't do it right now!"

"No, your birthday is not tomorrow, or the next day, or the one'll just have to wait!"

"It's not the right time to ask me to help you with that, you will have to wait for me to do it."

"Asking me the same thing over and over and over will not make it happen - just WAIT!"

Our days seem to be filled with telling our children they have to "wait".

We are told, in the Psalm 37 verse 7, that we are to

"rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him".

As a busy Mum and wife, we hear that instruction and it seems like a big ask.



Two concepts that are a struggle for us, on a regular basis.

We live busy lives, just by being a wife and mother at all.  Our days are filled with caring for a husband and children.  The very nature of our "dominion" is one of serving and giving.  It's a busy life - physically, mentally and emotionally.

To be instructed to "rest" seems to be almost impossible.

I think there is a key truth we have to grasp, in order for our lives to gain the victory and satisfaction that this verse enticingly promises us.

"in the Lord"

Our rest must be in the Lord.  We need to rest upon Him, wholly and completely.  We need to throw that burden off our backs - we need to hand it over to Him - and put our feet up, our weight coming off our own two legs, and resting fully upon Him.  Upon the one who is strong enough to bear all that we have to carry, and who is able to give us that rest.

Rest implies a state of peace.  A lack of turmoil and struggle - an absence of distress. That true peace and rest can only be found in the Lord.

So, how do we find that rest?

Rest for our minds

"Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
Isaiah 26:3

This verse shows us that our minds can be at peace and rest, if we keep it focussed upon the Lord.  If we trust in Him, and rest in the knowledge that He is in control, and all things work together for our good, then we will have perfect peace.

It's easy for our minds to go to places of fear, anxiety and stress.  To set our mind upon the cares and trials of the day.  To worry about things that have happened, are going to happen, or may NEVER happen!  Everywhere except where our minds SHOULD be.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. "
Philippians 4:8

These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves, if our minds are tending towards unrest.  Are the things we are thinking about true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of a good report?  If not, we need to put them from our minds, and focus instead upon the Lord and His Word.  Memorise passages that put to rest those concerns and fears. Keep your mind stayed upon HIM, and be kept in perfect peace.

Rest in our hearts

"I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 
Psalm 16:18-19

The desires of our hearts, and the concerns of our daily life, can be at rest.  Why?  Because we put the Lord "always before us".  We keep our eyes upon Him, and remember that He is right there with us through "thick and thin".  Keep His Word before us.  Keep the truths that he gives us in the forefront of our minds.  Meditate upon it, and let our minds dwell upon it. It even assures us that our flesh will rest, or dwell, in hope. We will focus on hope and not despair - on being at rest and security and not desperation.

Rest from our labours

"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety."
Psalm  4:8

The Psalmist begins, in this Psalm, by telling us that it was written when he was in a time of distress.


Yup, we all know how that can feel.

Ok, well, we THINK we know what it means to be distressed, but really what we think of as distress is just us getting things a bit out of perspective.  If he, in genuine distress, could rest in the knowledge that he could lay down peacefully and sleep, then we can claim such a promise too!  No matter how much our bodies are worn and tired - no matter how much our brains can be whizzing about, thinking about the day that is passed - or the one that is to come - we can be assured that the Lord can give us rest and peace. Sleep is such an important element, to give us the strength we need for every day.  Claim that promise, sister!

"He giveth His beloved sleep."

Rest from our burdens

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"
Matthew 11:28

Oh, such a comforting verse this one is.  We can identify with this one - so many moments, of so many days, in so many ways.  We feel "heavy laden" with the struggles that we face day to day, especially as a mother.  Children have a way with them, which burdens our body, heart and mind.  Their lives begin with us in labour, and the labour continues with each moment we are blessed to have them.  It's not a complaint.  It's simply a fact.

It's hard.

It's wearying.

It's trying.

It's a joy.

But, all these struggles are very real, as we labour in our role as a mother.  In order to mould our children, and shape them, and train them, and nurture them, we need to labour.

And, it's tough.

"ye shall find rest unto your souls"

What a comfort to remember, though, that all we need to do is to bring our burden to the Lord, and He WILL give us rest.  It may not come in the way we would choose, or expect, but He WILL give us rest.  It may not be physical, but it will certainly be spiritual.  Our souls will find rest.   To have that weight taken, spiritually, and to have rest from all our burdens, is such a blessing.

So, put your feet up tonight.  Find that rest, at the end of a busy week filled with trials and struggles, in the Lord.  Take the weight off your own shoulders, and rest completely on the Lord.