Sacrifice Or Reasonable Service?

There’s been much mulling in my mind of how I will handle the very busy holiday season that’s almost upon us. I’m talking about church events and responsibilities/ committees we’re on etc. These things are out of my control.  How can I be serving cheerfully without becoming stressed when it feels like life really is too busy? How can I enjoy the moments instead of focusing so much on what needs done that I miss out on the special events, even when I’m present?

Every Friday night or weekend for the next 5 weeks, we have things going on that were distinctly involved in and/or responsible for.  Each event is clearly mapped out in my mental and physical calender. A trip, a variety of church/school functions, and a local wedding which means hosting and more. Besides this, I also happen to be on to clean church, be Sunday host and teach the ladies Sunday School class one Sunday in the next month to 6 weeks.  Facing it with dread because I’m unsure how I’ll handle everything, isn’t the best route, but it’s the most natural for me. (Praying about it comes naturally too, just sayin’.)  Any more prayers for survival are welcome. Jerald reminds me these are all opportunities to serve Jesus and I heartily agree.  A willing spirit, ready to serve is super important in church life. If we don’t possess that spirit, it tells things about our heart. I think my heart is willing, but the Bible also says the heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9) I should probably do a heart check. (Psalms 139:23 & 24)

I do love to serve Jesus but I wish these shindings and responsibilities weren’t arranged in one big splat. I wish it was more spread out and it wasn’t at such a busy season. What am I indicating by this wish?  Do I like to serve Jesus at my convenience?? That doesn’t sound like the Bible I read where it speaks about sacrifice and self denial. Sometimes we’d like to congratulate ourselves for the multitude of sacrifices were making in all our serving. But that goes kersplat when you read Romans 12:1 where it speaks of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice which is your reasonable service. We’re only doing what we’re called to do. We can never sacrifice enough to repay the sacrifice Christ made for us. Debtors indeed! Am I living like I’m grateful for His sacrifice?!

Its true. The Christian life isn’t about serving at our convenience. Yet at the same time,  how do we balance church related functions which, indeed make us busy, combined with our own family/personal needs? I become irritated that life has to be so busy.  I’ve felt it before this time of year. It annoys me that the beautiful Thanksgiving/Christmas season is dotted with so many activities that I’m nearly left panting. What’s a person to do? You can’t cut out church events like the Thanksgiving or Christmas supper, the youth functions, the school Christmas program, the caroling. You can cut out things like shopping for gifts, but that’s not a project on my agenda.

How do we keep from becoming overworked and underslept? Some of us women are more apt to feel overwhelm than others. Are you feeling like me? There’s times I wish I could just run away and hide until its over. Kinda like Elijah who was depressed with life and asked God to let him die and the Lord said “no, I still have work for you to do.” (1 Kings 19)

I wonder, Is God testing me to see how I respond? I’ve been praying that He would heal me and He has been. There’s no way I could have handled everything I have going now, a year ago. Is He putting me to the test now, to see if I’m willing to serve Him even if it makes me extra busy? The quote ”busy is blessed” is so true.  I’m blessed to be involved in a good church!  I’m blessed to have health to serve!  What if I suddenly broke my leg and would be laid up for the next 6 weeks? Beyond a doubt I would repent in dust and ashes immediately or sooner.  How much rather I’d be up busy and serving, than to be laid up needing to be served!

So how do we find balance? Here’s a few points I came up with but it’s not a conclusive list. I’d be happy to hear yours!

☆ Be diligent in Bible reading. We have many responsibilities, but it’s also our personal responsibility to maintain daily efforts to stay engaged in our walk with God. If I’m losing my connection with God because these other activities (which are good and right!) are so involving and stressful, then I have erred.

☆ Spend time in prayer. If I’m only praying on the run instead of on my knees, I’m missing out. Praying on the run is fine and I do it all the time but I still need that solo time in dedicated prayer.

☆ Ask God each morning for wisdom to know exactly what’s necessary to do and what I can cut out. This can be very hard to discern.

☆ Ask God to fill my heart with peace instead of the ruffled feelings of stress.

☆ Ask God to help me be grateful and serve with joy. Maybe there’s more of my attitude that hinges on ungratefulness than I realize.

☆Be intentional with limiting my own projects at home, so that I’m able to give where God has asked me.

Examples. Maybe I can’t clean that space that’s bugging me. Or sew that dress for the Christmas supper. Maybe I’ll have to give up baking sourdough bread right now.  I can’t plan my own days so full and expect to still serve elsewhere with a heart of love. If I’m low on sleep and high on stress, its nearly certain I’ll inadvertently pull on the coat of martyerdom. I’ll feel picked on and be huffing and puffing about why I have to work so hard and why we have to be helping with this and on and on I’ll stumble down Complaining street. (Psalms 144:14) And I completely miss the opportunity for joy in serving. 

☆ Before the events, ask God to help me be fully engaged in, and enjoy the moments of serving. Not just plowing through with a survival attitude.

Here’s a poem about Elijah that I wrote many years ago. Can you relate?

Under The Juniper Tree

How often are we like Elijah of old? We’re tired of life and the duties we hold

So we find ourselves a “Juniper tree”- From cares of this life we ask to be free.

The Lord may answer and grant our request, But He wants us to grow by passing the test

The Lord may speak with something quite great, Or sometimes He’ll answer, “for now you just wait.

In a still small voice He often will speak, To find that Voice we must diligently seek,

So listen real close what He has for you,  Arise and work with strength anew!

♥️ Wishing you Christ’s Peace and Joy in serving this Holiday Season. It is only our reasonable service.

The Quiet Days

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved;  in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.  Isaiah 30:15

To clarify- The quiet I’m talking about in this post is quiet as in uneventful. Not quiet as in silence. Here is a glimpse of an ordinary day:

I rise out of bed a great while before my children. After rinsing my mouth and a gulp of water, I dip my finger in a jar of coconut oil and poke a glob into my mouth. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so oil pulling refreshes the morning mouth. I do this while getting dressed and tidying the bedroom. 

I gather laundry and start a load. Next I prep my supplements for the day. The early morning sun begs me to stroll in its beauty. By the time my walk is completed I am starving hungry.  I fix breakfast of avocado toast, bone broth and fruit. Whenever possible I like sitting on the deck to enjoy my breakfast and read my Bible. I cherish these precious morning moments and find this stillness very refreshing.

I feed my children whenever they wake; my husband doesn’t eat breakfast. After the children are dressed, the breakfast mess is cleared away and the house tidied, I start my day’s work which might only consist of changing laundry loads, or making food. Or maybe mixing up a batch of sourdough bread, cleaning or a sewing project.  Naps or quiet time isn’t until two thirty or three, so the hours until then is the main time I have to accomplish my work for the day.  After naps its time to get laundry off the line and put away before starting supper. I slide a casserole in the oven and chop a salad. Josie is the table setter. Brewing sweet tea for my man takes a meal just a notch higher. After supper dishes I’ll sit in the sauna for 30-40 minutes. At 170 degrees, the pores roll with sweat. With an open lymphatic system, it boosts detoxification. After showering and family devotions, getting children tucked in bed is priority.  This is the end of a quiet day. I like ordinary. How about you? 

I don’t think its the vacations, the weddings, the company, or the social events that are essential for quality of life. Those are all enjoyable in moderation but I can’t properly focus on the important things of life when my mind is in a whirl of intense activities going on around me. Don’t we all need the quiet days when we can muse on life in an unhurried fashion and remember what life really is about? Maybe you thrive on social life which is fine. But can you be faithful and fulfilled in the quiet days?

Think with me about Queen Esther in the Bible. We don’t how she lived her life prior to becoming queen. This particular story recorded in the book of Esther covers only a few days of her life.  But what we read of her reveals a deeper level of dignity and righteous living.  I’m confident many of her days were quiet and ordinary.  She had no idea she would someday be a queen with a life or death matter hinged upon her! She was a wise woman to ask the Jews to fast and pray for her, while she and her maidens did the same. She could not have been the courageous woman she was had she not been faithful in her quiet days.

Among the Jews, women were expected to be quiet and serve in their home. But Esther stepped out of the cultural norm and risked her life to help God’s people.

Many of us are quietly serving in our homes day after day for year after year. Who notices when we strive to teach our children obedience when we are bone weary? Who notices when we take the time to prepare nutritious meals? Who notices when we faithfully wash the clothes and put them back in the drawers? Perhaps nobody but God. And as soon as we don’t do it, somebody notices!!

But how important it is to live faithful lives! We have know idea what prominent place we could be called to yet in our lives.  But if we were, could we be courageous like Esther? Only if we’re rooted deeply in faithful obedience to the Lord in the ordinary can we also be faithful in the prominent.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.  Luke 16:10

On a typical, hanging out laundry type of day, be grateful for a quiet day at home. Think of some eventful things your glad are not happening today. Are you glad you don’t have a court hearing to attend? Are you grateful your not on stranded beside the road with vehicle trouble in downtown New York city? Something I often think of is how glad I am I’m not scheduled for surgery that day. Or how grateful I am were not in the hospital with a child. Think your life is boring and uneventful?  Be grateful for the ordinary, and keep on faithfully serving where God has placed you right now. Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14

Here’s a few more snapshots of quiet days at home.

Spruce up your water with fresh mint sprigs
Recently I tried making artisan sourdough

Resurrection Rolls

Sunday in church it was announced that we won’t be having school on Friday because it’s Good Friday. This news was taken with a disgruntled puff of disgust by my first grader sitting beside me. She adores school and the daily activity that involves. “Staying home from school is boring!” she says. Josie hasn’t missed a day of first grade yet, so we’re crossing our fingers for perfect attendance! I perceive we’ll be noticing substantial withdrawal symptoms when school dismisses in a few weeks.

Knowing she’ll be home on Friday, I began thinking what we could do to make it special as well as teaching the real meaning of Easter.

I knew it had to be simple and not majorly time consuming. Josie loves helping with food prep so I knew she would be thrilled to help make something yummy to eat! These Resurrection Rolls is what I came up with. No, its not original with me. I’m not brainy enough to think this up myself. But they are super simple and fun to make! I also plan to have a Bible reading time with the Easter story, then explaining what each item of the rolls represents. Reece and I made these while Josie was at school. It will be a surprise for her on Friday.

Here’s what you need:

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls, 8 large marshmallows, 1/4 cup melted butter. In a small bowl, mix together 1 Tablespoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.

Use a sprinkling of flour and flatten out the crescent rolls. Dip marshmallows into butter and roll into cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll the dough up around the marshmallow and pinch the sides well. (I had trouble with the marshmallows leaking out with some of mine.) Place in greased muffin tin. Bake at 350* for 10-11 minutes. Doubling the recipe might be a good thing- this recipe only makes 8 scrumptious rolls!

These are delicious fresh but if you let cool completely, you can add a cross on top, with white icing. I had some leftover frosting in the fridge so I simply put it in a ziploc bag, snipped off a tiny corner and squeezed it to draw the cross.

Reece had fun playing with the leftover sugar and cinnamon. I saw a drop of something wet in the bowl and asked him if he spit in it. “Yes, I didn’t like it” he said. So be sure there’s plenty of germs equally divided among the rolls! I also asked him to get a rag to clean up the frosting on the floor. He quickly volunteered to lick it up instead.

Explaining the rolls-

The marshmallow represents Jesus: He is pure and white. Sinless. Jesus never did anything wrong but there was still people who didn’t like him, so they crucified him and hung him on the cross.

Dipping the marshmallow into the butter and cinnamon mixture: Jesus’ friends and family were very sad when he died. Because they loved him, they rubbed special oils and spices on his body to prepare him to be buried.

Wrapping the marshmallow in the dough and sealing the seams: Jesus’ friends wrapped his body in special clothes to bury him in.

Place the rolls in the muffin tin: They laid Jesus’ body in a Tomb. The soldiers sealed it with a big stone and guarded it.

Baking the rolls: Jesus was in the Tomb 3 days then He rose from the dead!

Take a bite out of the rolls: And there is the empty Tomb! Praise God, Jesus arose from the dead! Now He is in heaven!

This idea may not be new to you but it was for us. I hope it’s something you can do with your children, to teach the Easter story. This would be a perfect project to do on Easter day. Or if there’s more children off school on Friday, you can have in home art classes! Be sure to include any preschoolers around home too!

Break Time For Mom

The daily rhythm of Mom life can feel ever so mundane. Like, make food, wipe faces, load dishwasher, do laundry, read stories, clean house, go to bed. Get up and repeat. For days and months and years. An occasional break from the cycle refreshes the soul. I felt privileged to experience a delicious refresher in September.

How freeing to be responsible only for myself and my bags as I trotted through the airport. Only one plate to fill when I was in line for lunch. No hair to braid and shoes to tie before heading out the door. But wait. What’s the little ache in my heart? Being away from my family reminds me how much I love my Mom and wife career. How much I love my people. How much I love my home and housework. Am I boring? Maybe I am. But it’s my life and I love it.

September 16 I flew to Atlanta Ga where my longtime friend Valerie Miller picked me up. Together we drove to Hartwell to attend the annual ladies seminar that weekend. We’ve been besties since teenagers but now live miles apart. Quality time for just the two of us has not been reality for a lengthy stretch of years. It was a definite gift from the Lord who orchestrated all things so that we could enjoy an inspiring weekend together!! I wish more of my friends could have been there!

Decorations by the main door of the Seminar

Friday morning’s first session was by Jen Miller from Westcliffe, CO. Jen has had 3 daughters who all carried a genetic disease that caused them to be handicapped with a shorter life span. She has lost all 3 of her beautiful daughters. She spoke of her dreams being crushed. Her struggles in surrendering to God’s plan in her life. I was inspired all over again; I’d heard her story some years back. Seeing how God healed her broken heart. Hearing her testimony of His faithfulness. His supplying the little drops of grace moment by moment as she needed them. If you would like to read her story you can purchase her book, Life is a Gift. So heartbreaking. Here are some highlights of her sessions:

We all experience dark seasons of life, but God’s beauty can be seen in our life as we endeavor to learn what God is teaching us in that time. There’s beauty in the cross of Jesus. The cross teaches us brokenness and surrender. My sinless Savior surrendered himself to the cruel death of the cross. How can I not surrender my dreams to Him? Brokenness is rough. This journey to surrender is not silky with fragrant blooms to soothe our feet. It’s dark and jagged, but the beautiful peace at the end of our struggle to surrender is worth the rocky road. It leads to beauty! God may change us and our dreams but that is a surrendered lifestyle. We must remember He sees the whole picture. We do not. Only as we fully trust Him can we fully surrender.

Control and fear go hand in hand. Surrender and peace go hand in hand.”

Jen also shared this quote– It’s not so much the giving up what we can’t have, as the embracing what we’ve been given.” -Trish Hostetler

God’s love does not depend on my performance for Him. This performance mentality is something I personally have struggled with much in my life, but slowly, at turtle speed, I’m learning. He loves me as much when I’ve failed a woeful amount as He does when I’m living in sweet victory. He loves a saint of 70 years no more than the poor sinner of 80 years.

Serve Christ because my heart is brimming with love for Him, not with a slave mentality. Be quietly confident God will supply my needs. Emotional needs. Physical needs. Grace needs. Whatever your need, know and trust He will supply!!

When we’ve been hurt it’s easier to build walls around us but that gets us nowhere. Lean back into God’s embrace and learn to embrace the seasons of life!

People like to talk about the hurts they have from what others have done to them. But we need to be talking about what God has done for us instead of what people did to us! Then we can go from being a victim to a victor. In John 5:1- 9 is the account of Jesus healing the lame man. Jesus asks him, “do you want to be healed”? (Wilt thou be made whole?) We tend to think, of course he wanted to be healed! But does everyone really want to be healed? This man was laying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years! It had become his life. His response to Jesus’ question was not an excited “yes Jesus!” He simply stated how he’s never able to get to the pool in time. Was he complaining? I’m not judging him; I know how easy it is to get stuck in our ruts. All we can think of is the woeful circumstances we’ve been given and murmurings readily spring forth! Some people enjoy their “mat” of hurts so much and for so many years that they really don’t want to be healed! Get off your mat and Jesus will heal you- if you really want to be healed!

Beautiful snack tables at the Seminar Friday evening

I also thoroughly enjoyed the class; Cultivating a meek and quiet spirit amidst the challenges and demands of Motherhood, by Deborah Heatwole from Waynesboro GA. She is a homeschool Mom of ten. Here’s glimpses of her session:

My children’s attitudes are very closely tethered to my own.

We must prioritize God over phone time. Read your Bible before checking your phone. Put your phone down when your child is speaking to you. Look him/her in the eyes.

Listening to Bible audio is a great way to engrain scripture in our minds amidst our bustling Mama schedules. Pray out loud when you pray by yourself.

Everyday faithfulness is an act of worship, not just survival. (I heard this quote before and she also shared it, but I don’t know who to credit for it)

Cultivate your relationship with your husband! It’s hard to have a quiet heart if your not in tune with your husband.

Discouragement and Distractions are the Devil’s tools. Are you discouraged with your unending stack of jobs? Discouragement can creep in super easy and for a slew of reasons. Is your phone distracting you? Is it distracting you from more important relationships than those on social media?

If your workload is overwhelming, keep cutting back until it’s comfortable. This can be hard to know where to cut back! Ask your husband for his thoughts. Husbands can often give good advice. Also, Ask for and accept help. People are generally quite willing to lend a hand if we humble ourselves to ask.

The house may be falling apart but if organization and order are found in my heart, I’m doing fine. I love this! It’s ok when we’re not always on top of things. We can have peace in our hearts amidst the clamor of life. Having my heart in order is what really matters! – Much easier said than done.

Read read read to your children.

Listen to your children talk. Let them ramble on their day’s events. If we want them to ramble about their life when they’re teens, we better take an interest and listen to them now.

Apologize to your child when you’ve been frustrated with them. Make sure they know they’re more important than the milk they just spilled.

Involve your children in service. No better way to teach them service to God and others than by your example.

Children have no time concept. Slow your speech and do not constantly rush them. Things really do go better if they have ample time to dress and do their jobs without us reminding them to hurry, every couple minutes.

We must take times to rest. Resting ourselves from the buzzing life around us. Rest is where we realize the time restraints and limitations God has given us. Rest by doing something to rejuvenate yourself. We can’t likely be in solitude for hours, but take the mini vacations when you’re feeling overworked and underpaid. Enjoy a walk in the crisp, autumn air or relax with your favorite magazine and don’t chide yourself. We need those moments.

Live a life of gratitude. Thank and praise God for His unnumbered blessings! Praise Him for all He’s done, is doing and will do!

My friend Valerie and I

Reviving Bibles And Souls

How many of us have multiple Bibles in our homes? We’d probably all raise our hands. We are exceedingly blessed with the freedom of Bibles in our homes and plenty of them. God’s Word is precious, but in our abundance, let’s not take it for granted!! There’s many people still praying for Bibles today!

Do you have a Bible you dearly love but it’s well worn and falling apart? We did! A couple months ago we sent off two Bibles to get rebound. Both were in really bad shape. Mine was a soft cover Life Application Bible I got years ago and absolutely loved it! It was soft and easy to page through. I also loved it for the application notes. It was my everyday Bible. I marked, wrote notes and underlined it all up. It became very dear to me! But it was in such poor shape. The cover was so badly worn and pages falling out. I sadly stuck it away several years ago, because it simply doesn’t seem appropriate to dispose of a Bible even if it’s in bad shape!

Jerald also had a Bible he used for years. It’s been his church Bible. The cover was badly peeling, plus he also had a few pages coming out in the back. Every now and then I would mention he ought to get a Bible cover. But he never wanted one. He always said he just don’t like Bible covers.

There’s a place in Virginia that we sent our Bibles to, called One Cut Bindery. They rebind any books or Bibles. And to top it off, it is very reasonably priced. It was around $45 for the largest Bible and even less than that for the smaller one. They offer a variety of colors in leather. I will share their information and pictures of our Bibles.

Jerald’s Bible before
Jerald’s Bible after being rebound. He chose not to get anything stamped on it.
I don’t have a before picture of mine but I wish I did! This is afterwards. They also put in that beautiful ribbon marker, and stamp on the side. I enjoy using this Bible again! It brings back many memories/struggles I had in my younger days. God is so faithful!!

🪴On Reviving Our Souls🪴

Our private time with God on a daily basis is vital for a flourishing Christian life. Communion with God and daily reading His Word must have first place in our lives. But how do we know if we really are giving God first place, when there’s little faces and countless duties that greet us every morning? What if it’s not doable to get up at an early hour, because your health and sanity depends heavily on sleep? Or your up a lot at night with your baby and every minute of sleep is desperately needed? Can we still give God first place? Where is the balance between our needs and sacrifice for time with God? I’ve often felt guilty for not spending as much time reading my Bible as I used to when I was single. But I’ve concluded, God gave me a family and He knows my heart, and perfectly understands my predicament. Not that I can be sloppy and rarely read my Bible, but that I simply can’t spend a whole hour or two everyday, as I’d like to do. Reading my Bible and praying is something I endeavor to be very diligent in, although it’s not always as long or as uninterrupted as I’d like. Also, as life’s seasons change, my devotional life has shifted as well.

We should be giving our first fruits to God because He deserves our Best! First fruits is not something cheap or free. It costs us something. I like the description given in 2 Samuel 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. Giving God our best will require a sacrifice on our part. We will need to sacrifice something. It may be sleep, some work, relaxing, reading or whatever. Included in giving God our best, is giving Him our best time of the day to read His Word. And a good prayer before we begin reading is, Psalm 119: 18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

If you do not spend time with God each day, it is not because you’re too busy, but because you do not care enough about God. Quote from Women at the Cross. This is a challenging thought!

So how much do we truly love God and His Word? If we’re neglecting the Bible, perhaps that really is more of our problem than we like to admit. When we don’t get our Bible read, it sounds better to say I was just too busy, than to say I didn’t have my devotions today because I just don’t enough care about God. Psalm 119 is loaded with verses about keeping and loving God’s law/word/testimonies/statutes/precepts, or something that gives the indication of the Bible. If I counted correctly, all but 6 of the verses mention that. I noticed especially the latter part of it, from verse 97 to the end that there’s many times it’s in the connotation of loving His Word, and a longing to not forget them. Read that Psalm and take note of the writer’s intense love for God’s Word! Is our love for God and His Word that strong?! I hope so!

97- O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. 111- Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. 127- Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. 162- I rejoice at thy Word as one that findeth great spoil.

So when is the best time to read and meditate on God’s Word so that we can give Him our best? We’ve probably all heard the first thing in the morning is the most golden time for solitude worship with the Lord. And ideally it is. But if your adjusting to a new baby, struggling with serious fatigue or stress and sleep is crucial, is it still golden? Is it sinful to not read it first thing? Here’s some suggestions:

* There’s no virtue if you get up, plop in the softest chair with your coziest blanket, and try reading your Bible while your still waking up! If your so tired, you nearly fall asleep, choose a different time when you can properly give God your best. Or take a cold shower to get you fully alert!

* If an early morning routine fits your life’s season, that’s wonderful! I like doing it in the morning, but something I need to be on guard against then is that I don’t just rush through it, because I feel pressed by the day’s duties! But God also understands when there’s times it just doesn’t work so well to read and pray as soon as I’m up.

* Or maybe you find a slot of time later in the forenoon, after the morning rush of getting your big people out the door and the younger ones fed, dressed and combed, laundry started etc. There’s been times when that has worked well for me. Especially when I had a small baby and mornings were a bit unpredictable. The catch then is, it takes real discipline! For me anyway. I can so easily slide right into my day’s work and suddenly I remember I did not read my Bible! My daily round of duties that really do need accomplished, can actually be Satan’s tactic for me to forget my time with God!

* Perhaps your best time is after your afternoon nap and the children are still sleeping . You feel refreshed and have a small block of time where you can read your Bible and pray. Or maybe you don’t need naps and you can’t have your devotions while your babies are napping. That too can be a first fruit to God because it’s what works best for you.

* And maybe your one of those who loves to relax in the evening by praying and reading your Bible then. That works too if your not so tired your bout to fall asleep! If you feel it’s your best time for God, then that is fine. In any of these scenarios, we just need to make sure we’re giving God our best time. Not our leftover time.

* And sometimes there’s those unpredictable, emotional and precious weeks of a newborn in the house. God certainly understands when a day slips by and we didn’t have a slot of quiet time with Him. I don’t think it should be often or that we should use that as an excuse, but in reality, it happens. Tiny people are 100% consuming. Here’s some suggestions for those wobbly weeks: *It is ok if you can only read three verses before the baby howls with hunger. God knows your heart and your own hunger for His Word. *Post some Bible verses by your changing table or kitchen sink. Those areas are ‘hot spots’ where you’ll be many times in a day. You can read, meditate and memorize even through the constant care of a newborn. (I still like having verses posted in my kitchen. It helps me memorize and meditate on one specific verse.). *Another idea is to keep an open Bible beside your favorite chair. When you sit down to feed the baby, you can glance over and read or, even as you pass through the room, pause and read a verse or two.

Currently, I do not have a baby, and my health and sleep are much better than they once were. So in that respect, I find a morning devotional working good for me. I have a glider rocker in our bedroom. Beside it I have a cute stand with my Bible and much paraphernalia- my devotional book, tablet, pencils, high lighter, sticky notes and colored pencils right close by. Sticky notes are used for writing meaningful verses, then transferring out to my kitchen sink. In the past I’ve had my spot in the living room. Which is fine too, but I noticed how easy I could get sidetracked if I went out there in the morning! Here’s how I could easily slide. I go out to take a few supplements that are best taken on an empty stomach. Then I’d do a quick check on my phone (I do not keep my phone in our bedroom) then I’d try to quick start my laundry or get sidetracked by something else that I really wanted to do before the children are up, and before I knew it, I’d hear them waking. So then there’s breakfast for them, the day is upon me and I’ve not read my Bible! That is why I started having my devotions in the bedroom. I try not to leave the room until I have read my Bible and prayed. It still doesn’t always happen like that but it is my goal. It helps me to stay disciplined.

Feeding our souls is imperative to a vibrant walk with God! Why should we not give our best to God who gave His very best to us? Give Him your best time of the day too!

How do you as Moms or other busy women manage your devotional time with God?

Why Hast Thou Made Me Thus?

This is an article I wrote for the Inspiration Emails several years ago, so bear with me for those of you who’ve read it before. This topic is something I have really been struggling with again lately. I was doing an extensive fast the other week, only to weigh myself and discover I had not lost a single thing but instead, gained a whole pound!!! A woeful predicament indeed!! Obsessing over weight sure doesn’t bring happiness. But why does it bother me so much? There’s various reasons of course, but I conclude the bottom line is simply pride. It humiliates me that I cannot at least be a little less fleshy than I once was back in my new bride days…

And so it is, that I endeavor to resign myself to the body God has given me…. Perhaps it’s not your weight that bothers you. Maybe it’s a self acceptance of your personality, your looks, your health, whatever it is for you, know that God created you exactly as He thought best! You can serve Him the best just the way you are! (Who needs this reminder more than the writer herself!) 🙄

I heaved another big sigh as I began dressing for church. “I don’t want to hear it!” my husband quickly replies. “I know what you’re thinking!”
Yes, my dearest on earth knows me quite well! “But why can I never be thin?!” I grumble inside. “I try so hard to lose weight and the stubborn pounds cling on for dear life! And often, when I do lose a few, it isn’t long till they’ve found me again.” Dark thoughts continued to torment me as I tried on one sweater and then another hoping one would at least make me appear a little thinner than I really was.
I have a bigger build and never owned a cute sized waist. Plus, several full-length stomach surgeries have left me with bumps and bulges that I call mini Appalachian Mountains. I can’t imagine me with a lovely smooth tummy and I’ve murmured discontent way too often.
“Honey, I love you just the way you are!” Sweet words from my sweet man! I know he wearies of my complaints but how much more does God? Nay but, o man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay? (Romans 9:20, 21)
Shame on me! Being discontent and not accepting ourselves is sin. When we struggle to accept ourselves, we are focusing on ourselves instead of God! Our evangelist this fall spoke one evening on man being the crowing glory of God’s Creation. “We are here to bring honor and glory to God and one of the ways to do that is to accept ourselves the way God made us. Take the focus off yourself and serve God the best where He calls you!”
It’s okay to try losing unnecessary pounds but when it becomes obsessive, it becomes wrong. Let’s accept ourselves the way God chose to create us and remember He made us exactly like he wanted us to look! Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! (Isaiah 45:9)

365 New Days

A brand New Year ahead of me-

What it will hold I cannot see.

Let it NOT be the year of a turning away,

From the LOVE of Christ to seek the world’s way.

For this MAY be the year of our Lord’s return-

“Is my heart ready?” Should be our concern.

Or this COULD be the year that’s the last one for me-

Eternity’s ahead, let’s live carefully!

Regardless what comes, let’s do Christ’s commands

We surely can TRUST our lives in His hands!

-Violet Rhodes

Perpetual Blessings Demand Perpetual Praise

Recently our church had its annual Thanksgiving supper with a mini service beforehand. Jerald led the youth in giving a small program of singing a few songs in the service. I had babysitters, so was able to participate this time. One of the songs, My God How Endless Is Thy Love, has taken on a special meaning for me. The text was written by Isaac Watts and was set to music by James S Martin. The music to it is simple and beautiful!! (you can listen to it on Tract 1 of Tapestry Singers Arise album)

My God How Endless Is Thy Love
-Isaac Watts-

My God how endless is Thy love;
Thy gifts are every evening new;
And morning mercies from above
Gently distill like early dew.

Thou spread’st the curtains of the night,
Great Guardian of my sleeping hours;
Thy sovereign word restores the light,
And quickens all my drowsy powers.

I yield my powers to Thy command,
To Thee I consecrate my days;
Perpetual Blessings from Thy hand
Demand perpetual songs of praise.

Perpetual blessings demand perpetual songs of praise! Constantly, God is granting good things! He bestows His mercies on us daily! Am I as perpetual in giving Him songs of praise as He is in bestowing blessings?! I confess I am not. But it’s certainly my desire to do so! Hopefully you are better than I am! But we all know it’s our natural inclination to be negative. It takes no effort. To be positive and grateful requires effort!

I think even just having a quiet, thankful heart of praise, whispering our thanks throughout the day, can still be praising God. Even though we may not always literally be singing. Although that is a wonderful habit!

If we’ll only look and take notice of God’s abundant gifts, we’ll see them all over! I know the world is in perpetual turmoil and if that’s where our focus is, we’re sure ‘nuf gonna miss them blessings!! It’s all in where our eyes are turned. Turn your eyes upon Jesus…. and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Will you, with me, make a conscious effort to take notice and not only Thank God, but Praise God for His endless love and His endless mercies bestowed upon His children?! Certainly thanking Him is the first step but choosing to Praise Him, when we think we have plenty to complain about can be our sacrifice of Praise. Hebrews 13: 15 (Amplified) reads like this; Through Him therefore let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.

What do you have to Praise God for today? Can you round up enough songs of praise to equal His blessings?

Nebraska night sky

Nine Tips To Eliminate The Sunday Morning Rush

But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Psalm 5: 7

Are you a Mom who dreads the Sunday morning commotion of getting children fed, dressed, combed and all around supervised, as you prepare for departure to church in a timely fashion? With children, you cannot predict what may or may not happen in a few short hours. It’s best to have plenty of time rather than not enough. Also, the Bible does say, Let all things be done decently and in order…..That especially seems fitting for Sunday morning preparation to enter the Lord’s house. When your racing around all morning, and catch your breath as you slide on to the church pew, it’s hard to be in the spirit of worship. And I suppose you moms that have 5 or 6 children would likely have more advice to share than I do with 2, however, here’s my strategies:

1. Begin Saturday! My food prep on Sunday morning for our lunch must be very minimal, so usually Saturday is a day to prepare food. Prepare Sunday lunch as much as possible! I like to have my food ready so all I need to do Sunday morning is slide it in the oven and adjust the temperature. Something my mom taught me was, get the food in early and bake it at 350* for an hour or hour and a half, then you can turn the oven down to 210*- 220*, and you don’t need to worry about food not being finished when you get home. I cannot plan to have much food prep AT ALL Sunday morning, unless I get up a lot earlier. (Which I do if I’m having company or something.) Maybe you prefer cooking up pancakes and eggs for your lunch after you get home from church but in my book, that doesn’t fly. It’s already later than normal and we’re all ravenous when we get home! Plus, I am in no mood to listen to whiny, hungry children while I cook lunch. And besides, it brings me a sense of peace to know we have good food waiting once we get home.

2. Do not plan your Saturday too full. I try to leave my Saturday rather open but invariably there’s other things that crop up and too often I end up having a crammed Saturday! So, in fact, it actually begins Friday! Getting the cleaning done Friday helps open up Saturday for those unpredictable events that may come up. Also, we like to make sure we’re not out too late, or working on a project late on Saturday evening. Getting everyone bathed and hair washed before late is a high priority for me. As is getting to bed in good time.

3. Prepare your purse/diaper bag. Especially when I have a small baby, I like to pack the diaper bag on Saturday. It gives me time to do it properly and make sure I have what I need. My baby is 13 months, so by now it does not take as much so I don’t always do it Saturday. Still, I find it good to organize it a bit, check/restock the snacks, and set it out by the kitchen table. Then it’s ready to grab and go.

4. Get up in good time! Sunday morning is not a time to sleep in, sorry! (It’s only one of the many mom sacrifices, right?!) I like to do my hair first thing so I have ample time, in case my hair does not cooperate. (Hey, it happens and if it’s almost time to leave and my hair is heading towards a bad hair day, I feel disgruntled and frowzy) It also gives time to lay out clothes for the baby/children, so that Jerald can help with getting them dressed. Otherwise, he asks what Reece is wearing and I try to explain and next thing I know, it’s the wrong set or something that don’t fit right! You could also do this Saturday but it can be little risky for getting the clothes rumpled or strewn about meanwhile.

5.Get the children up before too late. It’s not beneficial for anyone to try rushing children through breakfast and dressing. It’s nice if they have time to relax and wake up a bit before they must eat.

6.Have a simple breakfast. This could also be prepared on Saturday. Jerald and I generally do not eat breakfast, therefore, I usually just quick cook a little oatmeal and he feeds the children, to give me more time for other things. (I think it gives more alertness in church if I don’t eat breakfast, or at least very little)

7.Lay out Bibles and Sunday School books. Place these in a convenient spot to pick up as you go out the door so they won’t be forgotten.

8. Be in the spirit of worship. We have a tradition of playing worship music on Sunday mornings. I really enjoy listening to good worship songs as we anticipate and prepare for church. Our favorites are the Hymns Of The Church CDs by Oasis Chorale. We have Hymns Of The Church in our songbook racks at our church and hearing those songs before we even get there is a wonderful way to begin worshiping God! Plus, it contributes to a peaceful atmosphere.

9. Have a structured departure time. Get completely ready for church in ample time, so you have a few minutes to spare. Maybe somebody gets the wrong socks, or there’s a messed diaper to change or who knows what all manages to happen when we’re pushed for time! Jerald likes for us to be ready and sitting in the living room 5 – 10 minutes before we need to leave. Honest confession here- I try, but somehow, I don’t always get it accomplished! But when I do I like how it gives me time to mentally collect myself and anticipate the worship service. This is also a good time to refresh Josie with her memory verse.

Of Church and COVID-19

As everyone everywhere has been affected in one way or another by COVID-19, it makes one aware of the many things we took for granted! One of those for me was Church. We love our church and church family, but having had that privilege of going to church taken away, it was extra special to meet together yesterday! (Sunday)

March 15 was our last church service. Nebraska never issued a stay at home order, but it was encouraged. Also, groups were not to be larger than 10 people. So our church decided to do in home services, meeting in small groups. While that was better than not meeting at all through those 8 weeks, it still was not like real Church! In this respect, going to church yesterday was a treat! I had to think of the verse in Psalms 122:1 I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.

Our church- Providence Mennonite Church

But how important is church to us on a regular basis, when we can go every Sunday, year after year? Does it still bring gladness to our hearts to go into the house of the Lord? It certainly should! Do we realize how important it is to our spiritual well being, to be part of a Biblical body of believers? How quickly we would be more apt to cool off and lose our fervor for God, if we did not have our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us along! Hebrews 10: 24, 25 says, And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching. Also, the discipline it takes to study our Sunday School lessons and especially if we need to teach! Or for the men who need to prepare for devotions or the ministry as they study for messages. We are such weak, needy people in our earthly bodies. If we just coast along, we’ll soon coast right into an eternal destiny where we do not want to be!

We are still under some restrictions. We needed to comply with the 6 feet social distancing, no passing of the offering basket and such. The basket was conveniently placed on a chair where we filed past to enter the auditorium. We sat together in families, using every other bench. We could not have Sunday School, but someone had a children’s class. And then there was a devotional by our deacon and the message by our bishop. He preached a message on Mothers, since it was Mother’s Day. Afterwards, we were advised to file outside to visit if we wanted to do so. Outside it was easier to respect the distancing, plus safer with the abundance of fresh air! It was a sunny day, but chilly with a strong breeze! It was so good to worship collectively and to see everyone again!

Sometimes God takes things away from us so to teach us more important things of life…

How has your Church life been? Have you been able to start having services again? I hope so, but more than that, I hope your Spiritual life has blossomed even through the quarantine days. Perhaps God took social life away from us to shake us out of our normalcy, so that we focus on Him! We can find our satisfaction in Him, even when our whole lives were/are topsy-turvy! God hasn’t changed- oh wondrous thought! and He was not taken by surprise when everything shut down. God is always available and open. He will never “shut down!”

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3: 17, 18