Warm Wednesday Words: More and More

taught by God to loveRecently I was given encouraging words from several different people abounding more and more in love  on the very weekend I struggled with fresh grief.  Most of the encounters were not “planned”, but I have no doubt they were prearranged by my loving Heavenly Father.

you lift my head

The first encouragement came from a friend and mentor who shot a random friendly text to me.   She knows the mutual blessing in choosing a few uplifting words.

words as apples of goldThe second “abounder” was an acquaintance I happened to see who went straight from a casual greeting to an unexpected and genuine compliment on something I had done and how it had blessed her.  The words were as a surprise shower of  light beams diffusing healing balm onto my bruised heart.  Then there were a couple elderly sisters in Christ from my church who just did what most elderly “sisters” in the church have learned more and more to do so well; i.e., one chatted with much humble empathy, specific encouragement, and a hug, and one lavished praise about me to my husband, just as she often does to me about him.   The final dose of medicine God administered to me was from laughter and good times with family during a planned birthday celebration for Tony.   Every one of our children connected with us one way or another (and that alone is a blessing) but being able to spend time together eating, talking, supporting and laughing certainly adds to the blessing.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
children, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons born in one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. (Ps. 127:3-5)

In “The Children of the Day” bible study on Thessalonians, it is clear that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy had a handle on encouraging since they acknowledged twice in chapter four of the first book that the Thessalonians were pleasing God and also loving each other well, and to do so even more.   Beth Moore points out that we are commissioned to abound more and more in living for Christ, and that, indeed we will increase in something, be it living the Christian way, or otherwise, which soon enough becomes the opposite.  She says,  “More and more one direction will force its antithesis into less and less….Human emotions have an inherent propensity to grow.  We can hate more and more or we can love more and more….(And about love)…You and I have no power to affect divine love.  It is perfect.  All we are left to do is ask to know it more and more.  And right there in the increase, a miracle of decrease is forced into play:  as we are more and more aware of His love, we fear less and less.”
perfect love casts out fear

I want to abound in love more and more so that I am bothered less and less by those who are unable and/or unwilling to love as the Lord does, and be able to abound in forgiveness, grace and love toward the unloving.  After all, we’ve all been there in that horribly blind spot in which our own vision sees ourselves less needy then we really are and God less magnificent then He really is.  Paul and his co-writers said this in 1 Thess. 4:9, “About brotherly love:  you are taught by God to love one another.”  God will always raise up some who will seek to abound in love more and more because they are as one taught to love by God, Himself.  That kind of love is portrayed on the cross and it doesn’t play favorites because it is God’s love in us, not something we contrive!  Of the three gifts that remain, love is the greatest.

29df00ac3a23e0edc1268ddd97267b20So what is my response to being overwhelmed with encouragement, even as I occasionally struggle with grievous things?   Though I try to show kindness and encouragement, anyway, it is to do so even more!  1 Thes. 4:10b, “But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more.”

grace abounds in deepest waters

In this season of your life and in this very moment you are abounding in something…even more.  Is it what you’d like to abound in?  If so, how can you practice it “more and more“?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Entertaining Angels

 

angels among us

I have had the privilege of being around people both at work and at church, and occasionally at home, who have had opportunity to be a friend to someone who seemed to have a need, and it is a blessing to witness.  I’m not really sure who is more blessed; i.e. the one making needed connections, handing out money for a need, and giving a truly interested and hearing ear to someone’s situation,  or the one receiving and feeling the glow of friendship and the encouragement of someone’s confidence.  Either way, God is glorified and needs are met on both sides; i.e. that of the one in physical need (or emotional support) and that of the one in need of sharing.  The latter is just as dire of a need, though it may be less visible outwardly!   I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, as I imagine most of us have, especially if we look at needs beyond the materialistic, and include emotional support in the mix rather then chalking it up to “too needy” or “too risky” and therefore, not giving the time and kindness that’s needed.  “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27.  ‘Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go away! Come back later. I’ll give it tomorrow”–when it is there with you.’  Prov. 3:28

Be not forgetful to entertain strangersSince most of us have (or easily can) earmark every penny of our money, those who actually give out of their “need” are the ones who become dear and esteemed by those who they help.  Their is really a mutual blessing involved in giving and receiving.

In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  (Acts: 20:35)

more blessed to give then to receiveWhen we give with right motives, God sees and blesses us, though it may not be a monetary blessing as is taught by some television evangelists.  We tend to think that that way, but God may be wanting to bless us in other ways that are more hidden, yet more fundamental; i.e. where is our trust, are we sacrificial in giving, etc., what character growth might He be interested in instilling?  Are we willing to bless those who we may have “judged” before as an act of our will or of more compassionate thinking?  I’m glad I’ve got good examples all around me.When I can touch a hand, speak something encouraging, plant a seed toward turning hearts toward God, etc., it may be that I am the one being blessed.  It may just be an angel testing my humility and generosity of heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Letter to my Children and Grandchildren

letter quill

October 12, 2014

Letter to my children (and grandchildren),

I hope you are able to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov. 4:23. Some of the aids to guarding your heart are attending church regularly, reading the Word, worshiping, and allowing the Holy Spirit to sweep through your hearts and do “housecleaning” often. I am praying that you are able to let God work in you a calm, peaceful, grateful, trusting, and worshipful heart. Your heart really is the most important thing to guard and your soul is the real you that will carry you on into eternity. Diligently guard these!

above all else guard your heart

Devote yourself to God, because He watches over and works on behalf of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He doesn’t always go to bat for our circumstances, yet He will do that as well. The latter is just secondary to our heart and soul, which, when we devote ourselves to God, we realize is the most desirable thing after all. That is why there is a Proverb “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need.” (so that my heart will stay right with you) But when we taste and see how good God is, we really do learn that the peace and joy He gives as we draw near to Him and His Word, is sweeter then honey and more precious then gold.

neither riches nor poverty

 

Remember, whatever you need to do in order to keep seeing everything from the only true perspective (a spiritual one), that is what you need to do. Above all, guard your spiritual growth and value it. If it takes making a list of things to be grateful about, even right down to details about anyone you need to cut grace to or forgive, then by all means, do just that. Putting yourself in a position to meditate on spiritual things regularly is important. I know you will experience many times of sadness in life. Everyone has sad things and many people have horribly sad things to deal with: physical disabilities, abuse, terminal illness and much worse atrocities of suffering in third world countries. Don’t allow yourself to compare to anyone unless it’s someone worse off, so that you can keep a grateful heart and remember to pray for others with a heart of compassion. Meantime, God is using many people in your lives in various ways so don’t forget to be grateful for them, and especially the handful of formidable prayer warriors who labor in prayer for you and our family often.

the more gratefulRemember to see things from a spiritual perspective. There is a battle going on all around us – each of us – in the spiritual realm. Sometimes the answers to our prayers are sent via angels who are caught up in an invisible (to us) battle, yet a real one (as happened to Daniel). It is short sighted to not see that there is an invisible battle, so we must realize that it is indeed going on. Any thoughts we may have that are not from a spiritual perspective just further aid the delay in answers because they give our enemy more ground. May it never happen with you. Fiercely guard whatever spiritual ground you gain and keep gaining more. The only way to do this is to keep pressing into God through deep prayer and Bible study. Once the enemy has a foothold he will put up quite a battle to keep it. Don’t let Him. Put every thought through the test of ‘is this God’s perspective and does this hold up to the light of His Word?’. Or does it fall into “wool gathering” (negative stinking thinking) and lies of the enemy. Everything about Satan and his names means that he is a deceiver and wants us to think we can be like God and reason things out superbly. Truth is we are like sheep and easily led astray without our Shepherd. But when we stay near our Shepherd and become students of God’s Word we are in a safe place, divinely guarded. That is where I want you to be for the rest of your lives.

Every living moment keep gaining ground toward God and away from the enemy. That does not mean you will have happy circumstances, necessarily, though I hope that’s the case. I want to be wherever God can keep me focused on Him, even if it is because I need to stay on my knees in prayer for my family members. Even if it means I can’t allow an iota of bitterness to creep into my life becx of the betrayal of friendships that mattered to me. Even if it means I must forgive wrongs that were just wrong. Even if it means I need to submit to authority that may not seem fair (as long as it doesn’t cause me to blatantly sin). Even if it means I am some day, maybe not too far off the way things are going, caused to suffer for my faith. Even if it means I have to gain whole new perspectives that are somewhat foreign to me; i.e. the blessing of a job, even while continuing in most of the same roles as before – and some days too little margin, which leaves me often exhausted and finding myself nodding off in the evening. Though, Lord willing, I will still tweak the “new” schedule to make it work, most all the things I have named just drive me closer to Christ, because in my weaknesses He is strong. They reveal my need for Him and my need for repentance in areas where I have judged, so I welcome new paths He puts me on, even if they are hard, because He is using them to soften my heart and cause me to lean on Him. That is our God. He is so dear and so amazing…so precious. But we need to devote ourselves to Him with a repentant and humble heart knowing if we never get a taste of freedom from the things that hurt us the most (the thorns in our side as Paul called his circumstances, which did include long prison sentences), He will, indeed, draw near to us and become our precious companion who we really can find joy in, even and, particularly, in trials.

bible, quill and ink

How I love you and want you to be bold in serving God as many of your very names imply in one sense or another. In the Lord is the only place you can be a hero despite mistakes, and that, because our lives become a showcase for God’s faithfulness to us, His children, despite our failings, which He will use in us by granting wisdom, perseverance, empathy, determination, forbearance, etc., through what we learn.  Whether accusations that can bring us down are true or false – there’s just a bad crowd out there that has its effect, therefore great caution is needed with who you spend time with.

 

I am so proud of the sweet relationships we have always had with all of you, even if there have been occasional gaps in communication. I am truly thankful that we can pick it right back up with love, joy, and laughter. I hope that you always maintain the work of guarding your heart by focusing so much on God that whatever has been difficult for you in the past, you are able to conquer, or if it is not a healthy habit – be it anger, expectations, physical escape, gossiping, judging, lasciviousness etc., it will no longer be a path you choose.

red flag

The wrong crowd or the bad influence will appear like a red flag flapping wildly because you will have God’s wisdom and discernment. Your soft heart toward them will not be an excuse to indulge in their ways. You will have the wisdom of a mighty God whose Word you have studied, and therefore, you will not risk involving yourself with anyone of a bad influence or even in “need” or down and out, until you have grown stronger and put yourself under the accountability of a Godly mentor, and you will become a seeker of hearts for God…a fisher of men…a “man” after God’s own heart…bent on your pursuit of Him.

bind my heart

Just as Paul was hard on the Jewish hypocrites of his day because that is exactly what he had been (hard on them in the sense that he preached at them unmercifully because he knew their game since he had played it), so you will be hard on those who play games that you’ve played and will be able to love people (towards their salvation) enough to know their game and what the need is rather then just overly relate to them and so be too soft at your peril.  Even as we pray each night for your lives and your hearts and are encouraged and blessed to know you are already about this, it is a very personal and persistent duty to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov. 4:23

old fashioned envelope

 

Warm Wednesday Words: No Fairy Dust

fairy wandEenie, Meeny, Miney, Mo
The messes at home are out of control.
When clutter and chaos can’t get any worse,
What do I do but write a verse.

vintage chore picStart a lesson while the casserole bakes,
then get up before exhaustion overtakes,
Write a letter while the dryer’s set back,
Then dream of a voice controlled Fairy Wand App.

“That to the trash!”
“This we may stash.”
“Those give away.”
“This not today!”

Thing 1 and Thing 2

But since no fairy dust flew
and no sign of Thing One and Thing Two,
I’m tossing the list.
Who cares what I missed.

three chore categories

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: The Grands and the “Girls”

 

It was a fun evening recently to have the grandchildren gather the eggs.  Candace brought them out for a while on the evening before the trip she and Dan made with Kinsley to Children’s Hospital, which, sadly, would verify Kinsley’s diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

IMG_8591I love the camaraderie our little flock has provided in our family, and the excellent care Tony takes of “the girls”.   We’ve even developed a little network of some family and our neighbors that drop off or send bags or containers of produce scraps for them, which delights them each morning when they rush out to see what treats await them aside from their usual pellets and “scratch”.

IMG_8592

IMG_8614Tony built them a total of nine nest boxes and he and Brandon have put up a roomy  roost as well.

IMG_8613There’s just something about gathering eggs….I remember doing this same job on my grandparents farm.

IMG_8593Peek-a-Boo!

IMG_8598Truxton is adequately amazed at the miracle of eggs!

IMG_8595Sophie holds the basket while Gilly puts in her warm treasure.

IMG_8597Stella seems pleased to provide her egg for the kids!

IMG_8608Oh, if you could hear the prideful cackling of the peak morning egg laying hours!

IMG_8622One of the Delawares gazes with curiosity through the screen door.

IMG_8617Kinsley carries the basket inside, with just a little protest from Gilly.

IMG_8600From being hatched in April until the current month of October, almost all of “the girls” have now begun laying.  These are high protein (fertile) eggs with bright orange yokes.  What an extremely healthy benefit to a fun family hobby.

IMG_8605