Friday, 23 January 2015

Fighting the Enemy of "Failure" {Let it go}

I was chatting online to a sweet friend, recently. She was telling me about some of her struggles, and I was trying to encourage her. 

It got me thinking back to when I was in a similar situation to her.  It seems like so long ago, now.  Those days when I had only little children, and quite a few of them.  I know it's not as close together as some have them, but I had my 5th when my oldest was 6, and that was a c-section, with its longer recovery. 

I look back and remember how I struggled with so much.  I had a small house, which was REALLY difficult to keep tidy.  Lots of people, with all their "stuff", and not really old enough to help with the big jobs, makes life HARD. Cooking and cleaning. Doing school. We also hosted students from America at weekends, which was such a joy, but brought extra work, too. I baked a lot, and made my own bread.  Life was busy, but it was a battle.

You see, I look back - and I look AROUND  - and I see an enemy. It's an enemy that creeps into the heart and mind of most mothers, I think. 

It's self-expectation, and failure. 

We make demands upon ourselves, that no-one else places there, or we THINK others are placing there.  We THINK we should be doing X, Y and Z in order to be the perfect mother our children need.  We base it upon what we have decided life should be like, but when it doesn't work out that way we mentally beat ourselves up about it.  

We think we are failing.

We grieve over the time we were able to spend with our eldest - that same time seems to be spread so thinly now.  We feel that we are failing because the same activities cannot be done with other children that we did with the first. We started a lovely thing and cannot keep it up. We can try, but we can easily burn out if we even attempt to do it.

Sadness can quickly set in.  

I remember I had a baby book for Josh.  It was completed, with all the details of this, that and the other.  All carefully and excitedly filled in, as each milestone was reached.  I got on when I had Beth - about half of that was completed.  I bought one when I had Daniel.... it got a name written inside.  That was it!  I can remember feeling so guilty - that I was a failure because I couldn't even fill out a simple baby book! 

Laundry, which was so easy to keep on top of with one -  even between the demands of adjusting to life as a first time Mum - can quickly pile up. 

Dishes, which we so quick to wash up with just two adults, and a baby who didn't yet need dishes, now sit stacked up.

Toys, strewn around the house, with only little people to "help" - little people who are perfect at MAKING the mess, and not so much at the tidying up part.

Jobs you never seem to get around to doing, because even the basics are hard to accomplish..

All the while, in your mind, you are accusing yourself of being useless, a failure, just not keeping up, or meeting up to expectations.

The worst part, for me (and it still is!), is people saying "Oh, I don't know how you do it!", whilst inside I am screaming "I'm really not as wonderful as you think!".  The swan scenario playing out, every time someone sees your family - the calm exterior, whilst what they can't see, under the "water" of the closed door of your home, is you madly "paddling" to try and keep life moving.  Knowing you just have to keep paddling, but at the same time despondent that your paddling isn't moving you as quickly as you would like, or in the direction you had hoped.

I wish there had been someone to tell me THEN, what I know now.  A message I need to remind myself of, every time the mess starts to pile up further, and the jobs keep getting left that I think should be done NOW.

Not getting things done doesn't make you a failure! 

Motherhood isn't a test.  There isn't anyone standing there observing us, with a set of rules and regulations, grading our abilities to be a good mother.  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother, or care for a home.

You're not in some contest, up against the other Mums you know, in an attempt to gain "mother of the year" status.  

You don't even need to be comparing yourself to what you were able to do last year, last month, last week, or even yesterday. 

You don't need to hide the fact that you are a Mum who struggles, and who isn't "perfect"!  You don't need to push yourself even further to make sure your house is spotless when people come to visit, lest they think you are "failing".  

You need to look at today, and the strength and opportunities you have to do your best. YOUR best.  Not someone else's best.  You need to do everything in YOUR power, by God's grace and help, and within the limitations He has placed upon your life, to live your life.

Maybe you have  chronic ill health, which makes certain jobs nearly impossible?  God knows, and you can only do what you can do.

Maybe you are going through the struggles of pregnancy and morning sickness?  God knows, and the laundry that's falling behind because you are exhausted, or the dishes that never seem to be "caught up", will get done when your energy returns.

Maybe you have lots of little children who are always making mess, and you struggle to keep on top of it all.  They have fun, whilst you fret.  Don't! They grow up SOOOO quickly, and mess is not dirt. As my husband reminded me the other day "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."  Children are our "oxen". Children = mess! But, there is "much strength" in children.  They are a blessing, and the mess they make will pass before you know it, and we will be bemoaning the fact that the phase passed in such a flash. 

Maybe you planned to follow some school book, and it's just not working out for you. It doesn't make you a failure, it just means it wasn't right for you and your family!

None of this, and many other things beside, makes you a failure.  Hiding your life from others won't make you "perfect", it just makes you good at hiding reality!  All that matters is that you are being faithful.  Faithful to God, in doing all you can to get through this day, this hour, this moment. Glorifying Him by your heart being right, and your attempts being, well, ATTEMPTED! Doing the next thing, and not dwelling on what you DIDN'T do.

If you are a mother of small girls, or if you are just a person who has exposure to the world, you may have heard of a song called "Let it go"?  When I was thinking about the concept of "the past being in the past" a moment ago, I thought of that song, and looked up the words.  I know there has been criticism of Elsa singing "no right no wrong, no rules for me", and it is something we have told our children that, from a Biblical perspective, is not correct.

For a moment, though, take a look at this song from the angle of MOTHERHOOD.



"A kingdom of isolation"

Do we make our life a kingdom of isolation, because we don't want to let people in to see what REAL life is like for us? 




"Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know"

THIS IS MY LIFE!
I feel I have to put across some impression of having it all together, so that no-one judges me for not being a "perfect" mother.  I am quite sure that most people DON'T expect that, but I feel I will be failing the "team" of large families who homeschool, if I don't "fit" the "right" way to be a mother.



"Well now they know"

Well, now you know!  *grin*

I'M NOT! 

There, it's out.

My house is often messy. There is often laundry waiting to be done.  I shout at my children. I make mistakes.  I don't always get things done that I think I should. I waste time. I'm not always submissive.

Now you know.



"Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door"

Ok, so, slamming  door isn't really showing self control, but I am going to CLOSE the door on my days that are past - my jobs that didn't get done yesterday - the stumblings and sins of yesterday.  Today is  new day, with the capabilities that God has gifted me with.



"I don't care
what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on."

I don't. I don't care what other people say about what THEY think is the way I should live my life.  It's up to my husband, me, and our consciences before the Lord, to decide how our life needs to be. In the Bible it says to be "careful" for nothing. Full of care.  Anxious.  Worried. I cannot spend my life being worried about what other people think.  If they judge me wrongly, that is between them and the Lord.  I need to just keep being faithful right where I am.



"It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!"

You can be free from what others perceive as the "right" or "wrong" way to be a mother.  There ARE no rules on parenting - no man-made ones, anyway.  Other people cannot dictate to you how to live your life.  God's Word is always and only the "rule" for you.  That's it! Not your parents, your siblings, your family, your friends, or the media.  What you choose to do with your life, each and every day, can only be decided by you. God will give you, and only you, the wisdom to discern what needs to be done, and what can wait.



"I'm never going back, the past is in the past"

We don't need to keep going back over what we did in the past, or what we DIDN'T get done!  We can't dwell on the sins of the past, or the disappointments of yesterday, or the opportunities we lost, or the jobs that didn't get started, never mind finished. 



The Bible says

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1


Paul was speaking to those who felt they must follow all the rules and the law - circumcision, being one that was mentioned.  He told the Galatians they were FREE from the law - being a Christian isn't about "rule following".  Christ has set us FREE from that! Living like that is like being a prisoner.  Christ has saved us, not only from our sin, but being bound to follow laws that can not, and will not, earn us merit or salvation.  

Our day to day life, as mothers, is no different.  We mustn't become prisoners to fitting into the mould of "the perfect mother". Christ has made us free, and we can live our lives in the individual way that God has made us.  

Following God's commands? Yes! 

Following the laws and rules of others? NO!

Are you stuck in a life where you are always feeling your "failures", and only seeing where you are NOT achieving, rather than what you ARE doing?  

LET IT GO!

Are you worrying about what others will think about your life, and your struggles?

LET IT GO!

Do you feel you should be following the "rules" of motherhood, as others think it should be?

LET IT GO!

Mothers, set yourself free from the bondage of feeling like a failure, and let it go!









A Divine Encounter

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Women of the Word {Esther - For Such a Time as This}





When I was considering Esther, and what I would say about her, THIS is not what I planned on saying.

I had thoughts of husbands, and communication.  There's a lesson to be learned about that, and MAYBE I will return to it, but the Holy Spirit whispered a different message into my heart this morning, and that is what I will share.  Those quiet moments in the morning, when I manage to drag my tired body out of bed, to savour the stillness with my Saviour, are ALWAYS worth it.  Those are the moments when I hear His voice speaking to me.

Esther.   "Fair and Beautiful".  A girl, carried away in the captivity.  Her parents are dead, and she lives with her cousin, Mordecai.  They live in a foreign land, far away from all that they knew and loved - most certainly separated, by traumatic circumstances, from those they held dear.

Esther.  Taken into "custody" - a prisoner.  A year spent preparing herself for a glorified beauty pageant. All her days spent amongst those primping and preening - all for  the possibility of becoming the Queen of a mighty ruler. Paraded before a godless king, to have her beauty admired.

Esther.  The one admired by those around her  - her inward beauty most likely shining forth, even then, as well as that outward beauty.  The one chosen by the King, obtaining grace and favour in his sight, over all the other maidens.

What struck my heart this morning was this.

She was a woman who accepted.

She gently, quietly, without fuss and drama, ACCEPTED her situation.

Who would CHOOSE to be taken captive, as a young girl, far away from all you held dear?

Who would CHOOSE to be paraded, like an animal in a market - gazed upon, weighed up alongside the others - to be the potential Queen of a ruler looking only upon your outward appearance?  An ungodly King, apparently easily influenced by those he places in power alongside him.

Esther didn't choose the situation she was in, yet she calmly accepted it all, and MORE.

She became a woman who owned her life.  She became a woman who accepted what God had given her as her portion, and poured herself into it.  She emptied herself into the situation she was in, and redeemed it to the glory of God, by redeeming the people of God.

She quickly took upon her role of a supportive wife and helped to save him from the plotting of his enemies (chapter 2:21-23).  She didn't have to do that.  She could have sat quietly by, whilst the husband she didn't choose for herself, and a man who had so easily dismissed his previous wife, was assassinated.  But no, that was not in her nature, nor a reflection of the inner beauty she possessed. She owned her life by being everything that she should have been.

She placed herself in a place of potential sacrifice, in order to approach her husband.

"If I perish, I perish."

She was willing to die for those she loved.

Knowing the King, and what had happened to Vashti, she didn't admit defeat, and think there was nothing she could do. Instead, she immediately fasted and sought a solution to the dire situation. She found herself in a state of affairs that put those she cared so deeply for at risk, and she went about making sure that she saved them.  She set aside her earthly comforts, to seek heavenly counsel about her situation.  We are told she fasted, and this invariably, in scripture, goes hand in hand with prayer.  It's an assumption, but one that is not unlikely.  She put self aside, in order to live fully, sacrificially, and with compassion, in the situation she was in.

What lesson did the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart, this morning?

We cannot always choose the situations we find ourselves in.  In God's sovereign dealings with our life, we may find ourselves in a place not of our choosing.  We may experience heartache.  We may be thrust into situations that are hard. We may have to go through trials that test us on many levels. We may be in relationships that require patience and grace.  We may be in marriage that is far from perfect.  We may be far from those we love.

It's not right for us to fight the perfect plan of God.  It's not right for us to grumble, to complain.

God did not create us to live a mundane life, where we don't embrace the season we are in and live it with passion.

We are to be "Esthers".  Esther was the outliving of the words of Paul.

"For to me to live is CHRIST, and to die is gain".

He didn't say "For to me to exist".

He didn't say " For me to endure".

He said, "For to me to LIVE".

We can only live fully, to God's glory, if we do everything in our power to live it for HIM.

To honour Him.

To praise Him.

To obey Him.

To joyfully embrace and own where He has us.

It cannot be done in our own power.

It cannot be done for our own gain.

God has placed you in your situation "for such a time as this".  Like Esther, you have a work to do, right where you are.  The circumstances don't dismiss you from this delightful duty - they simply dictate the way you will live it out. Each with our own story, to HIS glory.

Our lives can be lived as ones of incredible influence, just like Esther. No matter where we are, or who we come into contact with, we can influence others greatly, for God's kingdom, if we accept our circumstances, and live fully devoted to God. I am sure Esther never imagined, as a child fleeing persecution, that she would be so greatly used in the wonderful plan that God had for the redemption of His chosen people. Esther, willing to be used. Not sitting by, simply existing. Willing to go, with confidence, to live a life of boldness. A life that would be recorded for the generations to come, to read of her willingness to serve in the hard places.

Am I willing to live that kind of life? To accept, with humility and a burning passion to see Christ glorified, RIGHT HERE?

I don't need to be in a palace.  I don't need to be on the mission field.  I don't even need to go outside of my HOME.

God can work in me, and through me, if I am willing to live a life that is bold and full - owning my life, glorifying Him, and faithfully following His lead.















Monday, 19 January 2015

My first knitted hat {Capucine}

Well, today I finished my first knitted hat.  One of my online friends, who hand dyes yarn, had shared the pattern on Ravelry.  It caught my eye, and when I looked at it, I figured my limited knitting skills could give it a whirl! Conveniently, I also had some chunky yarn I could use, in a gorgeous, bright colourway.

Beth needed a new hat, so I figured it would be perfect for her.

The pattern I used is called Capucine, and it's on Ravelry for FREE! Yippeeeee!






For this pattern, you will need 5mm circular, and optionally some 5mm straight ones, for the weight of yarn I used.  I used Robin Candyfloss, in the Ferris Wheel colour way. (Number 4457)

You start off on the straight needles (or the circular, if you prefer), and then transfer onto the circulars for the crown of the hat, knitting in the round. I had to look on YouTube to find out about "join in the round", but it was very simple!  I have shared the video I found the most useful (I have actually subscribed to this channel on YouTube, as her instruction videos are very clear and helpful).





In this video, she talks about making sure none of your stitches are twisted, but in this pattern you are joining quite way through, so it's not an issue.

This pattern is INCREDIBLY simple, and only requires a few, basic stitches.  Knit and purl, and then two types of decrease stitches -  knit two together (k2tog), and slipslip knit (ssk) - the latter being new to me.  Here's a video for that one.






The crown section is in stockinette, but because it's knitted in the round, you don't have to do any purl rows! I still feel a bit "ham fisted" purling, so that pleased me greatly! The way the decreases work in the crown, you end up with a lovely spiral effect at the top. I love it.

Now, to my two bugbears.  None of it was to do with the pattern - all to do the materials and equipment. Oh, and maybe me....

First the yarn.  It's a yarn that is created by a very fine twist of fibre wrapped around a thick, fibrous strand. This means it is VERY easy to stick your needle THROUGH the yarn, or get a TINY piece of fibre twisted into the wrong place.  On the whole, it was easily fixed by either fixing the stitch straight away, or lifting it off when you knit into that stitch on the next row. It was mildly irritating, rather than it putting me off ever using that yarn again.

My next issue was with using the cable.  I bought myself the Knit Pro Starter set, with a metal, wooden and plastic tip, in 4 mm, 5 mm, and 6 mm. (One of each)  It came with 3 three cables (one of which has gone "walk about", annoyingly, but they are very fine, so it could have slipped somewhere - alternatively it grew toddler sized legs....), and I used the smallest  I had.  When I got to the last, maybe, ten rows, there were very few stitches left to work with, and I was using a 60 cm cable (the cable itself is 40 cm, but once you add the tips, it's 60 cm).  It took me quite a bit of fiddling and faffing, pushing and pulling the cable through various spots along the stitches, to be able to knit the stitches.  FINALLY, by the last couple of rows, I realised I needed to pull all the work onto my left hand needle, and knit them onto just the tip of the right hand needle.  Once they were knitted, I pulled them all back round the cable to the left hand needle again.  It didn't feel very "natural", and it could well be that I was just being a bit dim. I must ask on the crochet/knitting group I am on, as I know someone else who made it. (She told me she used a shorter cable, so I will research that!)

Other than that, it was a REALLY simple pattern.  I made the tassels by just cutting the yarn to the length I wanted, and looping them on through a stitch along the edge, with a crochet hook. I did the old technique like you would use to attach a ribbon on a bookmark. Is there a name for that??  For the "pom pom", which I feel, technically, was more like very thick tassel, I tied  length of yarn around the centre of a "pile" of yarn. I decided, first of all, what length it needed to be, then cut it all.  I kept checking how big a "bunch" it made, to see if it was the desired size. Really technical, I know. I then pulled the piece of yarn, which I had securely tied around the "bunch", through the crown of the hat, and secured it on the inside.

Et voila.

Hat!




Front




Side



Back

The pattern mentioned adding felt birds, but with a highly coloured yarn, I didn't think that was necessary.

This is, overall, a good pattern for a newbie knitter, like me. I only started it at the end of last week, so, I doubt it took more than  few hours, total. 

I will share about the other things I have knitted, soon, as well as getting back to sharing about some of my crochet projects from last year.






Friday, 16 January 2015

Making mistakes can be hard to fix {life-lessons from a newbie knitter}

Sooooooo, I have recently hopped over from the world of crochet, to the world of knitting.  I am thinking I may need to rename my "crochet" tab as "yarny yummies" or something like that!

I have really been enjoying the challenge of learning something new.  I still love crochet, but pushing myself to try new things, and learning to knit, has been very satisfying! There is something quite therapeutically beautiful about the uniformity of knitted stitches.  So far, I have completed two items - a shawl/scarf, and a sleeveless cardi for Tabitha. On my needles, right now, I have a cardi for myself, and a hat for Beth.

I will share a bit more about that in another post, but right now I want to share about a lesson the Lord spoke into my heart, whilst knitting.

You see, I have come across a fairly major issue with knitting, that you don't have with crochet. The issue of fixing mistakes.  In crochet, you work out pretty quickly that you have gone wrong, and you just rip it back to where you made the mistake. You could, often, leave it there, and it may not be noticed by any other than the very experienced eye. However, I fairly quickly realised that knitting is a whole other hand craft.  The biggest issue with knitting is dropped stitches.  If you drop a stitch it can ruin the whole piece you are working on.  You have two choices - learn how to pick up the stitch, or rip it back. Sometimes you may just realise you have made a mistake, or knitted an extra row, or not changed something soon enough.  There are two methods to get back to where you need to be - take it all off the needles, then hope you can pick all the stitches back up again, without dropping any, or painstakingly, and SLOWLY, go back, stitch by stitch, to the point you made the error. Neither is easy.  I made the error of not reading the pattern properly, and had to go back quite a way to fix it.  It was TORTURE! All because I didn't read the pattern properly. Other mistakes are just through carelessness, or trying to do things in a hurry!

"What's the lesson?", I hear you ask?

Well, it's simple.  If you are not careful, you can create problems in life that are really hard to undo.

The one that sprung to mind was the words I speak.  Since I was little, I have had a battle with my tongue.  "Think before you speak" is something I struggled with, and still do, to a certain extent. These days, "before you type" is just as applicable.  If I don't speak the right words, it's ever so difficult to "undo", and get back the point I was at before the words got out.  It's so easy to hurt others, even without intending to, by saying things you shouldn't or speaking at all.  In my marriage, in my home, with my family and friends, and with online connections.  When you say things you shouldn't repair can be made, but it always takes time, and careful attention, to make things right.  If you don't fix it, you will end up with "holes" in the relationships you care about, and things can entirely unravel and fall apart, leaving an unusable mess.  Relationships can quickly unravel if we make the mistake of using unwise words.

Maybe it's not words.  Maybe it's choices we make. Maybe we don't read the "instructions" of life carefully enough, before launching headlong into life.  If we don't refer to the only "instructions" we ever need - God's Word - we can so easily go wrong.  Then, we end up trying to "undo" our foolish choices and make things right.  Thankfully, we have a gracious and forgiving God, who chooses to forget our sin, when we come to Him in repentance.  However, actions have consequences, and, humanly speaking, we may end up having to try and repair the "mess" we have made in our lives, but going OUR way, instead of God's way.

I have certainly learnt the importance of carefully checking the pattern, and following it carefully.  Taking my time, and not rushing, so I don't end up spending valuable time fixing mistakes, instead of creating something beautiful and useful.  I need to make sure and apply the same principle in my life, where relationships are so much more vital to make beautiful and useful.




Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Women of the Word {Vashti - how not to be a good wife}

Before I launch into looking at Esther - that young girl who went from humble beginnings to Queenly status - I think it's very important to look at Vashti.

The book of Esther is intriguing. No mention of God at all.  Yet, filled with a story of redemption.

Esther - an example of strength and bravery.

Vashti - an example of how NOT to be a wife.

Let's get the back story, First. King Ahasuerus decided to throw a lavish party. It was no small feast - it lasted one hundred and eighty days! At the end of this great feast, where he displayed his power, he threw a shorter feast - seven days - in his garden.  It was a place of great beauty, reflecting the great riches of the Kingdom, with colourful hangings, marble and a multi-coloured flooring!  All the people drank from golden cups - each one unique. They didn't drink with excess - it all fell within the limits of the law.  It must have been quite a feast!

At the same time, Vashti made a feast for the women, separately.

On the seventh day, the King requested that the Queen should come to him, so he could show off her beauty to those gathered.  He quite obviously admired the good looks of his wife, and wanted others to appreciate such.

Then came the problem.

Vashti point blank refused to come.

It made Ahasuerus angry.

He consulted his wise men, to decide what should be done.

It was decided, according to the law, that she would no longer come before the King, and her estate should be given to one "better than she".

All of this was decided for one pivotal reason - they didn't want  Vashti's in-submission to be a bad example to the women in the kingdom. They needed to see that it was something that was wrong, and had consequences.

As much as the kingdom of Ahasuerus was an ungodly one, there was much wisdom in their views on marriage.

Here is the basis for the decisions of the wise men.

"Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. 
For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 
Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. 
For he sent letters into all the king's provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house."
Esther 1


Vashti's actions could potentially cause other women in the kingdom to "despise" their husbands, and lead to "contempt and wrath".  In other words, it would lead other women to think they could copy the actions and attitude of Vashti, leading to anger and contempt. It wasn't the way marriages were supposed to work.  Going against the way that things should be would cause hurt and damage.

Now, before I get to the nitty gritty...

I am a woman, trying to share with other women what I find in the Bible. It is not my job to teach men, or instruct husbands. So, I will not be dealing, in any great detail, about what men should, or shouldn't, be doing.

I have simply come to this topic as a natural progression, studying through the women of the Bible, and I am not trying to make a point out of something that's not obviously there.

That said, what can we see from Vashti, and what can we then conclude from what the Bible teaches, elsewhere?

Firstly, what can we learn from this chapter, from the incident with Vashti?

* Vashti, as a wife, was expected to obey her husband.

* Vashti didn't obey her husband.

* It was wrong to disobey her husband.

* Vashti was being a bad example to other wives.

* Men are to rule their homes.


Amongst many, this would not be popular or tolerated.

Obey husband? Men rule in the home?

Seriously?

Surely this is just a heathen kingdom's rules, and not at all in line with GOD'S teaching?

Erm, wrong.

If you are a child of God, who longs to serve and honour Him with every fibre of your being, the ruling given in this Persian kingdom is EXACTLY the same as what God requires of you.

EXACTLY the same!

Don't believe me?

Read on.

"thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Genesis 3:16


This is an edict given in GENESIS.

THE BEGINNING.

Husbands, ruling over the wife.  This is the start of it all.  The fall.  The curse.  The punishment given to women.  We are to be ruled over by our husbands, and it's our CURSE.  We won't like it, and our spirit, by nature, will fight it, tooth and nail.  Ergo - it's not going to be easy, but it's what God has ordained.

It's so disliked, even to this day, that feminism has reared its ugly head, and tries to imply that this must mean that women are somehow lesser beings by this requirement, and we must battle to gain equality.

What sad, sad falsehood.

God has created us equal, in His sight.  He loves women and men equally.  He hears and answers our prayers equally.  He desires to bless us equally.  We are equal.

However, due to sin, and our fallen nature, He established that there needs to be order within our lives.  There can only be one leader in every marriage.  It's not actually the man.

No.

It's GOD.

He is the ultimate authority, and we are both, as husband and wife, under His authority, and expected to obey Him.

Life, of course, throws out, time upon time, instances where decisions have to be made, and leadership is required.  God has planned that the husband is to take that role.

GOD.

HE decided.

Now, please bear in mind, I am NOT talking to non-Christians here.  I am talking, primarily, to those who claim Christ as their Saviour.  I am telling you that GOD chose that this is the way it should be.
This ALONE should be reason enough to want to follow it!

It's not about being bossy, oppressive, or most of all misogynistic. It's not an excuse for men to exert unloving, and harsh, command over their wives.  It's about taking on the role of "the buck stops here, so I need to make choices as the head of this home", and the wife lovingly accepting that's the way it should be.

I'm not saying that wives have no opinion, no point of view, or any other such nonsense.  If a man loves his wife as Christ loved the Church, He will want to hear what his wife has to say, and treat her as a spiritual equal, with respect and love.  It doesn't mean that she gets to be disrespectful and obstinate. It doesn't mean she has leeway to be self-centred and manipulative.

Look back at the verse in Genesis. The husband rules.

The example of Vashti is a clear one, regarding respect for our husband.  If your husband asks you to do something that is not wrong or sinful, then we should desire to respectfully do it.  If we respect that role of leadership that God has placed in his hands - which is no small thing, and bears the weight of responsibility to God for each decision he makes - then we should WANT to submit. If we want to honour GOD, we will want to honour our husband.  He is accountable to God for the decisions he makes, which require our submission - we are accountable to God to submit to our husband.  It's that simple.

Biblical headship is ultimately about protection, not "being the boss". It's about Christ protecting families, husbands protecting their wife and family, and wives protecting their family and caring for their home. We all have responsibilities to rule well, and to honour the Lord in how we do it.  So, as wives, if our husband asks us to do something, we submit.

I once saw a graphic that explained it well, and I have attempted recreated it myself.






You can see here the way it all works.  It's about caring, protecting, and ruling well.


"One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;"
I Timothy 3:5


Yes, it's an instruction to those being considered as Elders, but given that they are in a position of example, we can safely say it's how  ALL men should behave!  Ruling WELL their household, which includes the wife, as well as the children.  Ruling well means loving like Christ loves us.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." 
Ephesians 5:22-24

"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
Ephesians 5:33


This is the biggie.   We submit to our husbands as we submit to the Lord.  Maybe that is where we need to start, in our hearts. DO we submit to the Lord, first and foremost? Are we desirous to honour Him, love Him, respect Him, and obey Him, above all else? Listening to His voice, over the clamouring voices of the world?  If we are, then we will WANT to submit to our husband.  Christ is the head of the Church to lead her, guide her, protect her, teach her, love her.  In the same way, the husband is the head of the wife. Christ isn't domineering, abrasive, unheeding, and without love and care.  Neither should the husband be. Likewise, as we, as a church, should be subject to Christ - in EVERYTHING - so should we be to our husbands - IN EVERY THING.   We need to deeply respect our husband, and SHOW it.

Herein was the downfall of Vashti.  She did not respect her husband, and his desires, and was plucked from her lofty position as wife of the King, and all honours and riches were taken away. He didn't ask her to do anything wrong or crazy. He just asked her to come to him.  To leave what she was doing, to come to him.  She didn't want to.  That curse that was put upon her, as all women, was fighting within her, and she gave in to self.  

Like Vashti, when we choose NOT to respectfully, and humbly, come  under the authority and protection of the headship of our husbands, as God has ordained, we put ourselves in harms way. We are sinning, and choosing to disobey God, when we fight against it.  It displeases God.  It grieves His heart. It's not for us to judge whether our husband is making the best call - it's up to us to respectfully obey, and leave it in the hands of the One under whose authority our husband stands. 

As for the reasoning behind Vashti being removed from her role as queen, we read that it was so that her actions were not a bad example to other women.

We can see, similarly, what I Peter teaches  us.

"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 
Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."
I Peter 3:5-6

We have the GOOD example of women like Sara - she loved and respected her husband so deeply, she called him "lord".  Yes, LORD.  We are her daughters - we are from her lineage, as those who faith in God.  We need to follow her example, and BE an example to others, too.  To the world, watching what real love should be.  To our daughters, growing up and learning how a good marriage should operate. To young Christians, wanting to learn how to live a life honouring to God.

*sigh*

It's a HUGE issue.

It's a HARD thing.

It's simply not easy, and we will battle with it until our dying day, because it's part of our curse.  Our child bearing years will pass, and so passes that part of the curse - but, until our husband passes to glory, it's our duty to submit to our husband.

Hang on.

Let's just finish on a positive.

If submitting to our husband is submitting to God's will, how should we be doing it? Yes, it's our duty. Yes, it's a command.

The Psalmist sums it up.


"I delight to do thy will, O my God:"
Psalm 40:8


DELIGHT.  That's how we should do God's will.  With delight.  With joy.


"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."
Psalm 119:2 


If we obey God's commands, and seek to follow after Him with our whole heart, we will be blessed.

I can tell you, unequivocally, when you don't honour and obey your husband you will NOT be happy. You will NOT be blessed.  You will be miserable. Seeking self, and thinking you know best, will NOT lead to joy and happiness. Ask me how I know.  Actually, don't.  Just take my word for it.

Is it easy? 

No.  Fighting against sin and self is not easy.

Not every husband is easy to submit to, I must add.  Men are sinners, just like women.  They don't always lead and rule with the love and grace that they ought to.  Does that mean we shouldn't have to do our part? NO! We are only ever accountable for ourselves.  Leave it to God to judge our husbands.

Is it worth it? 

Yes. Obeying God's perfect will is ALWAYS worth it.  I can tell you, hands down, that my marriage has been more joyful, happy, blessed, and strong, when I have submitted to Robert.  Do I always get it right? Do I always do what I should? Shamefully, no.  When I do, we have such sweet union, and heartache is averted. 

Don't be like Vashti.  Don't be headstrong and self-willed.  Delight to do God's will, and see the blessings that come your way.





TheJoyfulKeeper

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tots on a Tuesday {Trouble, but totally adorable, Tabitha}

So far, my "Tots on a Tuesday" posts have been more about what I do with my little boys, who are 4 and 2.

All of a sudden, it's Tabitha that's also becoming my "Tot"!

She is getting bigger, and suddenly getting more "grown up".  She is understanding more, doing more, and trying to talk more.  I told her she needed her nappy changed, and off she toddled and got a nappy and wipes! She's no longer my baby, she's growing up.

Today, that truth hit home in a slightly different way.  She's started doing things that I remember Simeon doing - pulling the children's plates and bowls out of the drawer they live in.  Then, she was pulling my purse out of my handbag, which I quickly returned to where it belonged.  This afternoon, I was doing science with the older children, and thought Simeon and Tabitha were just playing upstairs. I should have learnt by now - silence, with tots, is not always golden...

I went upstairs, later on, to find a trail of disaster.

My purse (pocketbook?) was now upstairs, totally emptied, with the contents strewn across the girls bedroom.  The toy room had toys all over the floor.  There was an entire bottle of strawberry scented bubble bath tipped all over my bath in my en suite.

Yes, my tot is getting in "trouble".

To be fair, a good part of it was her older brother leading her astray.  Regardless, it heralds the beginning of a new phase.   I have come to realise this phase can be challenging...

For a first time mother, this phase can be exhausting, and leave you feeling like the men in white coats should be on stand by, ready to whisk you away.  It's a stage where they are working out they can DO stuff, and then doing it.  ALL THE TIME. It's a trying stage, for sure.  It doesn't need to be a negative one, though.  If you are going to be a mother who takes charge of her life, this phase just requires a few simple realisations.

* It's a time for training
The reason why a small person starts to get into mischief is because they are developing and learning.  They are trying out new found skills, and their wonderfully created little brains are working out that they can do things they couldn't do before. To begin with, it's not wilful disobedience, it's just exploring.  This is where the training part comes in, if you want to try to avoid immense frustration.  You need to then TEACH them what they should and shouldn't do.  Train them what's ok, and what's not ok. Take the TIME to do it. It doesn't just happen naturally, I have found! It's our role, as the parent, to teach them. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of time, and effort, but it IS worth it.

* It's a phase
When you remember that "this too, shall pass", it helps you get through it.  Sure, some days will seem looooooong, and you will be pleading for it to be bedtime, as your little one gets into one pickle after another. However, it won't be long before they are out of that phase, and have learnt what they can and can't do. They grow up SO quickly. I am sure it was just yesterday that it was Joshua I was training. Hang on, that was 12 years ago. Yikes.

* God provides for ALL your needs
You know those days where you are screaming, in your head at least, "I CAN'T DO THIS!"?  You're right. YOU can't. God equips those He calls, and He called YOU to be a mother.  He gave us our precious children, and will provide for all our needs, as we seek to raise them to His glory.  God providing for our needs isn't simply some promise for our "daily bread". It's for ALL our needs.  If you need patience to deal with a toddler, God will provide it.  If you need wisdom to discern how best to train your little one, God will provide it.  If you need physical strength because your day has been demanding, God will provide it.  If you need a sense of humour because the day has only been filled with despair, God will provide it. We can do it, because God is our strength.

* The trying moments balance out with the sweet
All those times when you feel like you say "no", over and over and over, and THEN, you get those precious moments when they hug you. Or they say a new word.  Or they finally obey when you tell them "no". Or they just SMILE at  you.  There are endless little precious moments when you realise that it's all totally worth it. Children ARE a blessing, all the time. Blessings are not dependant upon life being perfect. Blessings are not based upon things all going well.  Blessings are not based on how we feel, or how we act.  Blessings are a gift from God, seen most clearly when we look through eyes of thankfulness, and not frustration.

My day didn't end with that list of trouble.  Let's just say that poo was involved.  Thankfully I didn't jump to the conclusion that I first came to, and that naughtiness was involved. (You KNOW, don't you? - if you have small people, you KNOW that yucky, naughty moments can happen, right?) I remained calm, and ascertained that it was my shoddy nappy fastening that had caused the trial. That same adorable little person is still the one who, having given me a kiss goodnight, whilst I was in the middle of something, but didn't hug me, looked all sad and said "Mummy, CUDDLE"!

Tots can be trouble, without doubt, but totally adorable, too.







Monday, 12 January 2015

Matriarchs are moving {and winner of the Give-away!}

As part of my plans for a new year, I am attempting to be more intentional and organised with my blogging life. As I have said, previously, it's as much of a development of my own spiritual walk, as it is a ministry to others. However, I want to maximise its benefit to others, and one thing I noticed was that my readership is lower on a Monday. I am almost certainly sure that it's to do with the busyness of life, on that day.  So, in order to share the lessons from the women of old with as many as possible, they are moving to a Wednesday. I had thought of it before, but "Matriarchs on a Monday" didn't really fit in on a Wednesday, or any other day of the week, for that matter...

Finally, I thought outside of the box - the title just needed to work in for another day of the week.

Wednesday it was.

Women + Wednesday = works.

So, on Wednesday, we will see "Women of the Word Wednesdays"

Come back on Wednesday to read about Queen Vashti!

So, the WINNER!









MEGAN GREENWOOD!

Congratulations! You will receive an email from me, letting you know how to claim your prize.

Sorry to all the others who entered - how I wish I had a bottomless pot of money, to buy you all one.  If you are able, do buy yourself a copy, and if you are not, put it on your Birthday list!

My prayer is that many, MANY women are blessed by the message of this book.





Friday, 9 January 2015

The Imperfect Mother {what God uses}

Do you ever have a day when you look at yourself, as a mother - as a woman - and see only the sin and failure.

Who am I kidding?

That needs to be...

We ALL have days when we look at ourselves as mothers - as women - and see only the sin and failure.

As sinners, by nature, we are acutely aware of our imperfections.  They are glaringly obvious, or they certainly should be.  They should be, if we use the mirror of God's Word to gaze upon our own soul.  Reading scripture, and seeing what God requires of us, shows us our inadequacies, and faults - plenty of them.

Day by day, we battle with our sinful natures.  Children can bring out the best, and the worst, in our personalities.  They bring challenges, almost every moment, that test our sanctification.

Then, some days, we read God's Word, and it can bring an inner sigh of reassurance and blessing.  When you read a truth and you could cry from the grace it brings to your soul.

Matthew 1 did that for me today.

Listed, in that genealogy, are four women.  We often think of them as simply women, named in a genealogy.

Many of you will know that it was highly unusual to list WOMEN in a genealogy.  These lists are usually the place for naming men - the progenitors of a family - the lineage of a particular person.

Matthew 1 is wonderfully special.  It's the genealogy of the family that bore our Saviour - the earthly family for our Heavenly Brother.  The family that God chose, from the beginning of time, to bear our Redeemer,  and, referred to,  in that family line is not just ONE woman, but FOUR.

Tamar.

Rahab.

Ruth.

Bath-Sheba.

Not just women.  MOTHERS.

Four mothers, who all had a "past".  Four women, chosen by GOD, for the special purpose of being matriarchs in the family line of Jesus - Saviour.

Tamar, the deceiver, who disguised herself as a prostitute to trick Judah into bearing her a child.

Rahab, the prostitute, who had a reputation known to a whole city.

Ruth, a foreigner, from a nation who served a false god, and who should never have married into God's people at all, according to His laws.

Bath-Sheba, the woman taken by David, to serve his own lusts.

All women who must have felt shame in their pasts.  Women who could look upon their lives with sadness and regrets.  Some are worse than others, but none of them were perfect.

How many of us look at our lives and see, with shame, things which we would rather forget?  Things that hold sadness and sorrow?  Choices we have made.  Family we are born into, far from perfect.
Situations we find ourselves in, that we may not have chosen, yet bring us a sense of shame.

How many of us STILL look, day by day, at things we battle, and struggles we wade through.  How many of us acutely feel the weight of inadequacies, and sigh inwardly at our constant stumbling?

Yet.

God uses the imperfect.  He CHOOSES to use us.  Weak.  Weary.  Sinful.  Far from perfect.

He has chosen us to be His - to be used to further His kingdom - to be part of HIS lineage, in an eternal kingdom.

He has chosen us to be mothers, too, just like these women. They all bore children who God used to lead to the Saviour.  It should be our earnest desire that OUR children would also be used to extend His Kingdom. That we, some day, can lead THEM to the Saviour, and they, in turn, can lead others to Christ.

When we look at our imperfections, we can remember how God used these ladies, of centuries past.  We can remember, that, by God's grace and mercy, He can also use US, to His glory.  No matter how much of a "past" you have, God can use you to build a future.  What we can do for God isn't dependant upon where we have come from.  It's not dependant upon what we have done, where we have been, or the choices we made in days gone by.  It's dependant upon God's grace, and what HE can do with us, when we are part of His lineage - His family.








Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Own Your Life {today's the day, for a GIVE-AWAY!}

Finally, the day has come.  Sally Clarkson's new book, "Own Your Life", has launched into the world of books.  Women, from all around the world, who have been waiting eagerly, now have it in their hands.



Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson



Except me.


I have it on my iPad.

I gave in.  I figured that having a digital copy is, well, handy.  I will, of course, need a physical copy.  I can write notes in the margin, and highlight to my hearts content, in that.  I also need a copy to loan out to other people, which, of course, you cannot do with a kIndle version.

Ok, I admit it.  It's simply because it was the instant way to get to read the book.  Having heard Sally give us a "taster" in Oxford, in the autumn, I knew it was going to be a "goody".

I have also been involved in the "Launch Team" (which makes me feel very Cape Canaveral), helping to share the news with the cyber world.  Most people spend a lot of money launching books, which Sally just hasn't got the funds to do.  So, she turned to online friends, who happily stepped up to help.  What a joy it has been - working alongside a group of women, all with the desire to honour God, and encourage other women. I know it's been a humbling and special experience for Sally, to see women pull together to help her.

So, here it is.  It has arrived, by mystical and mind-bloggling technical means, on my Kindle.  And, I had a scrummy breakfast, having my soul fed, whilst filling my bodily needs.

I can tell you, it's worth it.  No surprises there, given how used of God Sally's previous books have been.

Own Your Life is a book all about living for Christ, exactly where God has you.  God wants us to look at where He has us, and turn away from the emptiness that comes from trying to fill up with things that do not satisfy, to live full, Christ-centred lives.


"God has created you with the potential to live  a purposeful, meaningful life that is spiritually strong and vibrant... . But you have to choose to follow Him, to believe Him, to live for Him.  You must choose how to live every day.   Own your life.  Choose whom you will serve.  Live into Christ's love and the power of His spirit working through you.  If you follow hard after Him, God will make your life count in ways you can't even yet see."
Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life


I have only got a few chapters in, but it's already challenging me.  Challenging is GOOD.  I greatly respect Sally, as a Titus 2 example, and having her words, pointing me towards serving Christ, are just what I need at the start of a New Year.  Page after page is filled with words pointing me towards a life filled with service.  Giving up, to gain.


"We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love.  And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are."
Sally Clarkson, Own Your Life


If you want to live a life, fully and wholly for God, this book will help you on your journey.

The chapter I have just read hones in on the lives so many of us live tody - ones of busyness. Days filled with so much, we don't know which way is up.  So much to do, so little time to do it.  Our life cannot be one of focus and productivity, if we are just DOING all the time.  Sally gives some practical suggestions as to how to live a life that isn't empty.




I want YOU to be able to benefit from the blessing, so I am running a give-away, only until Saturday, to win a copy of the book!  You can enter by simply commenting on the blog, or by popping over to my Facebook page and leaving a comment there! Easy peasy! Better still, you can come back EVERY DAY, and comment, for further entries!  I am sure the Lord will use this book to bless whoever wins.

I KNOW you will find it a blessing, as I am.

Now, where's my Ipad, and my coffee?....




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 5 January 2015

{The Return of.....} Matriarchs on a Monday - Shallum's Daughters

Yes, a New Year, and "New" things. Many moons ago, I was working through the lessons I was learning from the women of the Bible.  I got somewhat discouraged that those Monday posts, which blessed me so richly, seemed to be read by so few. I was considering what I wanted for The Joyful Keeper, for 2015, and I decided that returning to something like this was never going to be a bad thing! Yes, it may get fewer "hits" than some other topics, but I trust they are a blessing to those who DO read it.

I looked back to where I had finished, and decided to pick back up with some "nameless" women in the book of Nehemiah.  Shallum's Daughters.

Thinking about this title, put upon these young ladies, made me smile.  I grew up with my Dad as my Pastor.  He preached around many Churches, at home and abroad, and was known by many.  When I would visit other Churches, I would often be introduced, or introduce myself as "David Cassells' Daughter".  Sometimes  often I would grow weary of this title.  I would get an "Ahhhh!", from that introduction, but had I just said "Caroline", it would have meant nothing.  Funnily, I minded less, and in fact it was a novelty for quite some time, to become known as "Robert Cordle's Wife", instead.  I do still find myself being introduced as the daughter of my father, even at the age of 37!

Like me, these girls are only titled by their relationship with their father - these daughters are never given individual names.  They are simply "Shallum's Daughters".

We don't know how many there were.

We don't know how old they were.

We only know this.

"And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters."
Nehemiah 3:12

We know their father was Shallum.

We know he was a ruler, in an important position.

We know he had at least two daughters.

By inference, given it was the norm for sons to help with physical labour, he had no sons.

It would be very easy to skim read over this passage, as it is a list of all those who helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, alongside Nehemiah. You know how we all pore very carefully over lists in the Bible - taking in every detail, and absorbing every fact.

No?

Bible lists are hard work, but they often hold gems of truth, worth considering.  God's Word is exactly that - GOD'S.  It's all profitable.


So, what lessons can we learn from this family?

I was thinking about the backdrop of this passage.  It's the wonderful account of Nehemiah - the King's cup bearer - who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. He and Ezra were the two men instrumental in this all taking place.  He journeyed back, surveyed the walls that had been torn down, and he set to work.  Due to the nation falling away from God, He had allowed the Babylonians to swoop in and destroy the land.  Families had been torn apart - just think of Daniel and his three friends - land destroyed, and cities decimated.  Jerusalem, their main city - that treasured place, where the temple was - had been pulled down.  The strong walls, that had seemed to be so secure, had been pulled down, and the gates taken off. Nehemiah was heading up the work, and had called on people to help.  Enter Shallum, and his daughters.

I think about the walls that are torn down, and I think of my spiritual life.  When we turn away from God, He will often allow us to fall into hard times - the walls of our life can be pulled down by unwise choices.  We can end up surrounded by a life that is in spiritual ruins, if we are not careful in where we place our confidence.  Our confidence should be in God alone.  If our life becomes one of ruination, we CAN rebuild.  There is always mercy and forgiveness to be found in Christ.  Those people of old needed to simply repent, and begin the work.  Likewise, we need to simply repent of the bad choices we have made, and get to work.  God has created us with the ability to make choices, and it is as equally within our power to make the RIGHT choices, to rebuild our life, and make it one which we own for God's glory, or to make the WRONG ones, which tear us down. We can all rebuild, by God's grace and help, just like Nehemiah, the many men, and the DAUGHTERS, too! We, as Daughters of the Heavenly King - THE ruler of the New Jerusalem, awaiting us in the future - can rebuild our lives, that have been torn down by our bad choices. It doesn't matter what our past has been affected by - it doesn't matter how bad we feel we have fallen - our lives can be rebuilt.

"for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."
Psalm 130:7

We need to take a good hard look at ourselves, seeing if there are any "walls" in our life that are broken down, and get to repairing them, by God's grace and enabling.  What better time to start, than in the New Year?


The next lesson is one for families.  I TOTALLY love that this is a scene of a family pulling together.  As parents, it's our job to make sure we involve all our family - male or female - in whatever we do for the Lord.  Remember, ALL that we do is for God, and in ALL that we do, we can involve the whole family! The family is the first and highest calling that God has given us - they are our Kingdom work! Get them stuck in, alongside you, in whatever you do in the Church.  If you neglect them, in favour of something "more important", they may grow up resentful and rebellious.  If you get them involved - let them see the importance of reaching out to those in need, evangelising the lost, or even, like Shallum, the nitty gritty of physical jobs needing to be done in the Church life p they will grow up seeing the blessing of working for God! I am not sure whether those girls were physically BUILDING the walls - we simply don't know - but they could have been mixing mortar, carrying things to the workers, bringing refreshments.  It's all speculation and conjecture to try and specify, but we know they were there, and WORKING! Families - get involved in God's work TOGETHER!  If you are  single woman - get involved! If you are a mother, encourage your daughters to get involved.  Working for the Lord is NEVER in vain.

The final thing I thought of was the fact that single young woman can be involved in Church work - FULL STOP (PERIOD!).  I think, somehow, it can be perceived that because so much of the early church details were about the work that men were to do, as the spiritual leaders, the role of women was somehow obsolete.  Single young women, who don't have the responsibilities of being a wife and, more especially a mother, can do much to help. Sunday Schools, toddler groups, youth work, outreach, evangelism, nursing homes, catering, and practical jobs to be done in a Church building, can all be done by a woman.  Anything, in fact, that is not specifically outlined as a role for only men! We see, many times, that women are mentioned as part of the early Church.  In the sight of God, men and woman are spiritual equals. As individual members of the Body of Christ, we are all God's children, with equal responsibility to get involved in Church life.  Both men and women, in the early Church, gathered together, praying, learning, and evangelising. Young women, GET INVOLVED IN YOUR CHURCH! Don't just sit there enjoying the ministry -  think about what you can do to help, and get on with it! Once you are married, and more especially if you are blessed with children, there will be things you simply can't do any more, because, rightly so, your children will become your main ministry.  Work in every way you can, while you can.  We don't hear talk of the wives working, because their job was at home, but his daughters were there, "getting their hands dirty".  I was involved in various different Church activities, in my single days.  I am so glad that I did, because they were such a blessing, and a help to me as I now seek to minister in my own home, and whatever ways I can in our own Church and community.

It doesn't matter who you are, or what your status is - Shallum was most probably a man of some wealth and status - you can repair the walls in your life, and you can train up your daughters (AND, your sons) to get involved in the Lord's Work.















My Joy-Filled Life


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Top Ten posts on Spiritual Encouragement {Looking back to 2014}




Today, to usher in the New Year, and as an "easy" post for me, whilst trying to have a  relaxing day, I thought I would share with you my Top Ten posts, on the theme of "Spiritual Encouragement", from 2014.  It has been an interesting exercise for me to look through the posts from this last year, and see which ones were most read.  There are some that I really poured heart and soul into, but were far less read. Then, there are ones which would not be my main desire to promote, yet they were more "popular"!

It is a reminder to me that it's not always what I think is most important that God uses to speak to others. In my spiritual walk, and what I desire to encourage others in, God knows best. It may be that the Lord directs me to write a post purely for the benefit of one.  It's a lesson I have learnt this year, to be honest.  I nearly stopped blogging, late in the year, you know. I was feeling a little discouraged, as some of my posts seemed to have very few reading, and virtually no-one was commenting. I am a person who loves to have interaction with others, and no comments, to me, seemed to imply that people did not want to read what I was writing.  The truth of the matter hit when I discussed it with some blogging friends. They asked me to think about WHY I was blogging. I blog to share with others what the Lord teaches me, and what He lays on my heart. Obviously, there are also some posts about things I do, and things dear to me, such as home education, crochet and curriculum. The main emphasis, though, is to try and encourage spiritually.  Even if ONE person read and was encouraged, it fulfilled my aim! The SAME DAY I was pondering this, several people sent me personal messages and commented, thanking me for the post I had written! The Lord truly confirmed, to my heart and mind, that I should keep on.  Success is not measured in numbers.

So, I carry on, and the Lord continues to bless and encourage ME with new people reading the blog,
and encourage me with their comments, both on the blog, and on Facebook.

Even if it's only an encouragement to one, that's worth it.  Totally.

So, onto the Top Ten.  (I have excluded the posts that were related to give-aways, because the stats re always skewed!)

10 - A Warning Against Spiritual OCD {Pouring Out Love}

9 - The Servant Mother {Getting Your  Ear Pierced}

8 - Engaging Boys {How to Prevent Unnecessary Discipline}

7 - Clear, Pure Water {Are you a Soda Drinking Christian?}

6 - Children Learn What they Hear {Yelling...}

5 - Having Your Cake {And Not Eating It...}

4 - Blogging Through the Alphabet {Quickened, Redeemed, Saved}

3 - Accepting our Cup {Word of Wisdom from a Meeting with Sally Clarkson}

2 - Day 4 - A Time for New Beginnings {5 Days of Spring Life-Lessons}

And, Number 1....

Birthday Blessings {God is Good}


I hope these are as much of a blessing this time round, as they were the first time - if not MORE!

I trust the Lord continues to help me to share with YOU, throughout 2015.