Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dealing with Discontentment

Today I was in the process of grabbing food from my refrigerator so I could make lunch for my family.  Sounds like an ordinary afternoon, right?  However, my refrigerator is not in my house but in my friends' garage.  I quickly became distracted by all the stuff that was surrounding me and unfortunately, I immediately became discontent with my situation.

For those of you that are new to The Alabaster Jar, my family and I don’t have a place to call our own yet. We are currently living with close family friends. All of our belongings (earthly possessions) are piled up in our friends’ garage, and yes, that does include my underwear!  You can read more of my story here at: How to Lose Your Dream Home Not Just Once, But Twice

My dresser filled with my clothes.
There are many things in my life today that can cause me to be discontent, especially if I look in the mirror and see my thinning head, my extra, unwanted pounds and the wrinkles on my face.  Oh, and I can't forget those natural highlights called 'gray hair'.  But the discontentment that I faced today included my living situation.

It is very easy in this world to live a discontented life if we allow our minds to go there.

Here are some things that can trigger discontentment:

• Dealing with difficult or broken relationships
• Feeling lonely
• Longing to be married or strains on your marriage
• Financial hardships 
• Chronic illnesses
The list could go on and on.

With the world surrounding us, it tells us we should have:
• a bigger house
• a nicer car
• the latest fashions
• our children need to be in the best schools, (or use the best curriculum if we homeschool)
• we should look younger and be thinner

There is nothing inherently wrong with these things, unless of course we are looking for them to fulfill us; which is the root of the problem.

I think discontentment runs in our blood.  Generally speaking, I personally think that women are more prone to being discontent more than men are. 

For example, take a look at Adam and Eve. Adam was content to eat from all the other trees in the garden, except from the one that was forbidden by God. It was Eve who was discontent with all that was given to her. She just had to have MORE than what the Creator of the Universe provided for her!

Then there’s Sarah. Oh Sarah… what a discontented woman she was! She wasn’t happy about the fact that she still had not bore any children with Abraham. So what does she do? She takes matters into her own hands thinking of course that by doing so, she will become content. Wrong! Because of this, she makes an even bigger mess out of her life.

She had her maidservant, Hagar, sleep with her husband so she can bear children for Sarah. Soon Hagar becomes pregnant, just like Sarah had wanted, but then Sarah becomes discontent (again!) because Hagar was carrying Abraham’s child. Ridiculous! There was no pleasing this woman. She wanted to eat her cake and have it too!

We can become constant drippings... like a dripping faucet. Drip. Drip. Drip. The thought of that sound alone grates on my nerves.

Imagine how we sound when we act and say things over, and over, and over like a constant dripping faucet? Annoying! Who would want to be around a woman like that?

Repeatedly in the Holy Scriptures we see the admonition to the women about our attitudes.   Ladies, if you are not married, don’t discard this admonition because you can still apply it to your lives.

“The contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.” Proverbs 19:23

“A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Proverbs 27:15

Definition of contentment: satisfaction with what one has

1) a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed
2) sufficiency of the necessities of life
3) a mind contented with its lot, contentment

Contentment will come to us when we focus on the things of the Lord and not on the things of this world.  

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

It is only when we live for Jesus Christ, pursuing Him, knowing Him, and serving Him that will we become content. The pursuit of things that are not lasting, things that will pass away, will eventually lead to our discontentment.

Tips to fill you with contentment:
  • • Pray. Ask for the Lord’s strength to protect you from the trappings and deception of the Enemy. (Remember Eve?)
  • • Hide God’s Word in your heart and meditate on the Scriptures.
  • • Join a Bible study
  • • Listen to praise and worship music throughout the day. (if possible)
  • • Spend time in fellowship with other strong women of faith…not just girlfriends, but women who desire to know more of Jesus and who want to spend their time talking about Him! If you don’t have friends like this, PRAY, and in time, the Lord will bring you some!
  • • Change your perspective from having the things of this ‘world’ to having your eyes on eternity. This alone will make a HUGE impact on your day.
  • • Serve the Lord rather than yourself.
  • • Ask yourself what is it that you pursue? What are your priorities? Will those things draw you closer to Jesus? Or will you be drawn further away from Him and His presence?
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. Proverbs 25:28 (I’m gonna try and not have cake tonight!)

The key to contentment in one’s life is the relationship you have with Christ. Knowing who He is as you continually seek Him and realizing who you are in Him is where content will be found! “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

For those that are married, you can read my post here called, Discontentment in Your Marriage.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Dog's Passionate Pursuit

I was slightly immersed in one of my favorite books, My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, as I looked on at the kids splashing in the pool today.  I wasn't sure at first what they were playing.  Kids on either side of the dividing line (pool sweep hose) while throwing objects at one another (gently, of course).  I soon figured out that they were playing a game of water dodge ball; which included my dog as a participant.  I watched on.  

I noticed (as usual) that my dog was quickly fixated on her toy.  The one she chases.  The one that squeaks.  The one she loves.  In fact, we refer to her as a rabid dog because she is so consumed with it.  She chases it so much that it causes her paws and nails to bleed as a result of her pursuit.

I often refer to her as being an addict for her toy.

As all the objects would fly throughout the air and land in the water, it wouldn't take long for Scruffy the dog to leap into the pool to get her heart's desire.  

Although her toy became one of the balls, she could clearly distinguish between the real one (hers) and the imposters.  As more balls were hurled through the air, in no way was she distracted by what came her way.  Her eyes were on the prize; her toy.

The various 'balls' that were used to play- Scruffy's toy included.

With a dogged-determination (pun intended), she didn't lose sight of what mattered so much to her.

She got her prize.

She is a dog.  No conscience.  No soul.  An animal.  Yet, she could clearly go after something with all of her 'dog-being'.  A passionate and relentless pursuit.  A persistence that would leave her choking up water, exhausted and sometimes bleeding.  But she wouldn't give up.  

The children stopped playing.  The game is over.  Disappointment sets in.  She waits for one of the kids to throw her toy so she can continue in her pursuit again.

Disappointed but still focused, she looks on.

As I watched all of this play out, I couldn't help but think about my own pursuits.  

Am I as intentional and as focused after my Prize?   I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14  Or will I be mislead by many of the world's imposters?

Can I distinguish in this world what is worth pursuing?

Or when the distractions that are being thrown my way leave me unfocused, lost, thrown off balance, or defeated, will I be tenacious enough to continue in my pursuit?    

When life becomes a disappointment, will I still look to my Prize, the One I love?

I, being a human being, filled with the power of the Living God, will I chase after my Prize with such determination?  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

Imposters, distractions, and disappointments all showed up in the pool today for my dog, but they showed up for me as well.   

Distractions that made it difficult for me to not only seek Christ, but to hear from Him and to be in His Holy presence today.

Disappointments with extended family that brought me to tears (again).

Imposters masked as joy and peace.  Would I succumb to  busyness, food (chocolate), or entertainment to numb what I was feeling inside?  

Would I seek the Imperishable Crown?  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  1 Corinthians 9:25

As my dog bleeds for her prize, would I be willing to bleed for my Prize?  Pushing everything aside to seek Him, find Him, know Him and be obedient to Him.
In the pursuit of Christ we need to: 
  • ·       stay focused on Him
  • ·       be undeterred by distractions and disappointments
  • ·       be discerning of imposters 
  • · and sometimes we need to bleed for Him; by overcoming our fears, injustices, insecurities, and self- so we can know Him more and make Him known to others

As we passionately and relentlessly pour out our life for Christ, remember that He bled for us because we are His prize!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Lose Your Dream Home Not Just Once, But Twice (Part 2)

Out of the ashes of my life came God’s beauty.  Grab my hand as I take you to the Cross to show you the great and mighty things that the Lord has done.  “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.”  Jeremiah 33:3

If you haven’t read Part 1 of How to Lose Your Dream Home Not Just Once, But Twice, you can read it here

Although for many months our situation looked bleak, let me remind you of something:  the Hand of God is never bleak! 

God did many miracles during that time of our lives.  (You can read my post here called, Uncertainty in Difficult Times when my Beloved was rushed to the Emergency Room last October)

In this post I want to tell you about a full week in the month of December that I like to refer to as “The 5 days of Christmas”.  Each day as I opened my door, it was one unexpected miracle after another.
  • ·       On the first day of Christmas this is what Jesus did for us:  Two sisters in the Lord came by our house unannounced.  They came bearing gifts and singing a Christmas carol. They left us with some candy treats and $100.00.  God’s faithfulness: money for groceries.
  • ·       On the second day of Christmas this is what Jesus did for us:  Dear, old friends came by to drop off several boxes of their old household items for us.  They thought we could sell the items on Ebay or Craigslist and receive the profits.  In addition to the smaller items that they gave us, they informed my Beloved that if he was willing to spruce up and fix some broken items on their old van and then sell it, they would give him 50% of the profits.  We were grateful for their hearts. God’s faithfulness:  The next day we sold some items and my boys got new shoes!
  • ·       On the third day of Christmas this is what Jesus did for us:   Some new friends asked if they could stop by and see us.  “Of course, I said, we would love to spend some time in fellowship with you!”  God’s faithfulness:  They showed up with wrapped presents for the boys and a card for my Beloved and I.  Guess what was wrapped in those boxes?  Yep, Legos!  Is God cool or what!  My Beloved opened the card and inside was cash totally almost $1,000!  My eyes filled with tears.  I couldn’t believe how gracious and generous this family was towards us…they hardly knew us!  Later my boys told me they saw the money and their eyes welled with tears too!  Jesus was providing for us and my young boys were starting to see the Body of Christ at work.
  • ·       On the fourth day of Christmas this is what Jesus did for us:  Our dear, old friends came by again and told us to keep all of the proceeds from the van when it sells.  God’s faithfulness: They also handed us an envelope filled with $400 and said that it was from one of their friends that we had never met.  Our sweet friends told their friends our story and God put it on their hearts to bless us.
  • ·       On the fifth day of Christmas this is what Jesus did for us:   Some dear friends gave us a gift card worth $500 to shop for much needed necessities for our family.  God’s faithfulness:  shoes and clothing.

When I think of Christmas now, I can’t help but be reminded of God’s faithfulness to us. No amount of money in our bank account can teach us, nor our children, of how great and faithful our God is.  "There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.”  Deut. 33:26,27

Every present under the tree came from someone else.  My boys said it was the best Christmas ever!

Now here's the part of my story where God emerged as the main character of my life.  

Page after page, month after month, His story for my life was unfolding, yet during this time, I could not read most of the language that Jesus was writing in.  The language that I understood was called:
  • ·       Heartache
  • ·       Disappointment
  • ·       Self-Pity
  • ·       Uncertainty
  • ·       Fear
  • ·       Doubt
  • ·      Throne-horder (that’s my new word!)  Here’s what I mean by that.  Jesus is the one who is seated on the throne, being that He is the King of Kings and all.  He is in control of every situation, including your life and mine; the good, the bad and the ugly.  But unfortunately there are times when I want to scoot Jesus off of His throne, and that is when I become a ‘throne-horder’. There may be days that I nudge Him ever so gently with my rear or days when I even ask Him very kindly if He could move over just a bit so I can have a seat.  I am most certain that I stepped on the train of His robe a time or two, as well.  Now, the Lord is a gentleman, He won’t make a fuss. 

That’s just what happened.  I sat on my throne and ruled my kingdom.  Now, I ruled it a little bit differently than most kings because I wasn’t harsh nor mean towards others. Instead, while I sat on my throne I was filled with all the things listed above, even while I believed in the Christ, the Son of the Most High God.  My perspective was wrong and I wasn’t listening to the Lord’s language as He wrote my story.

It wasn’t until a year later that the Lord taught me a new language, and I would have to say, IT IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL and well worth the heartache and pain in order to hear it!  

This language is known as:
  • ·       His Presence
  • ·       His Faithfulness
  • ·       His Sovereignty
  • ·       His Miraculous Hand (Watch me daughter and I will show you many great things)
  • ·       His sufficiency (and not my own)
  • ·       His grace and mercy
  • ·       His plan for my marriage to be stronger than ever
  • ·       His spiritual gifts that He has chosen to give me
  • ·       His desire to want to use me
  • ·       His shaping of my children’s character
  • ·       His perfect plan for my life
While I was reading this story, even though I had a hard time understanding most of the language that God used, there was one thing I did understand, and that was who the main character was.  It was me!

After I finished reading this story, however, I realized that God was and is the main character.  He is the leading man and star of the show.  Oh how I wished I could have read that language when I first started reading the pages of this book. I think my life would’ve been easier if I just had a different perspective.

For now, my book/story is not over.  Hopefully as more pages unfold of my life, I will get out of the way and let God take center stage; so He can be lifted up for all to see. "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."  John 12:32

My encouragement to you dear sister:  When you face trials and tribulations, move off the throne and let God take center stage of your life as well.  You won’t regret it!

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Whoever Said Ministry is Easy

“I feel like I am about to perform on the stage of America’s Got Talent, yet, I have no talent.”  Those were the words that I said to my husband this morning as we drove to church.

Let me explain what happened. 

Yesterday I sent an email to a fellow blogger, stating, “If the Lord leads you to use me as a contributing blogger for your series, so be it.”  I fully thought that this blogger would graciously tell me, “thanks, but no thanks”.  However that was not the case.

She replied the same day and said that was awesome and she thanked me for being a guest blogger!  She put me down on her schedule to have my post on her blog for October 8th and asked if I could have my article in about a week, along with my bio and picture. (gulp)

Yes, I answered God’s call but I did not expect this outcome!

My concerns:  How am I going to be able to do all of this?  And can I do it all before my deadline? 

I live in a home with not just 1 family, but 2!  There are 5 homeschooled kids who run through the house day in and day out, there are two women in the kitchen fixing meals, doing dishes, sharing the washer and dryer and two schedules to plan around, not to mention the 3 animals that live with us.  There’s no peace and quiet around here because it is like a 3-ring circus!  How am I going to hear myself think, let alone hear the Lord speak to me as I write this article?

What did I just get myself into?  I thought.

I share the news with my husband and he is thrilled for this ministry opportunity.  I tell him the topic is Marriage, and then as I started to share my fears, I begin to break down and cry.

“I can’t do this, I say.”

He thought I was being ridiculous.  “What do you mean you can’t do this?” 

One of my favorite topics to share and teach on is Marriage, yet I was filled with fear.

He said to me, “If there was any subject for you to write on that you know best, it is the topic of a Godly marriage.  You’ve written on it before and you’ve even spoken on it at workshops!  You’ve led Bible studies and you’re always encouraging women to be respectful and submissive to their husbands.”  “You love to teach on Marriage!”  (We even have plans in the future to write a book on marriage.)

“I know, I know, I tell him.”  But my issue is not that I don’t understand God’s Word regarding a Godly marriage; it’s just that when I write, it is God who leads me.  I don’t write with deadlines or specific topics, or a certain amount of words, etc.

I’m not in constraints when I write, because my writing ministry is Spirit-led. It felt like I was being forced to wear a size 3 pair of pants, when in reality, I’m a size 12.

Plus, I tell him, “I am writing with other bloggers; women who are writers and who have been doing this blogging thing for a long time!  I have only been doing this for 6 months!  I feel like now I’m playing in the ‘big leagues’ yet I am still trying to figure out how to hold a bat!

“Not to mention, I’ll be in the spotlight more and I’m not a spotlight kinda gal.  Did you know I need a bio and a picture of me?  This is all really uncomfortable for me," I tell him.

I think I started to hyperventilate.  I couldn’t breathe.  Why did I sign up for this?

Can God meet my deadline, I thought?

Sure, I could write some Scriptures and thoughts on marriage, but I want to have the Lord move before me because I want His thoughts, not my own. 

He knows what women will be reading the post that day. 

He knows whose lives need to be touched. 

He knows what marriages are suffering. 

He knows….

You might be wondering why this is such a big deal to me. 

Because I am about my Father’s business and I want to please the Lord.  I want to see His daughters strengthened, equipped, and encouraged so they too will want to pour out their lives like the perfume in an Alabaster Jar.

Well of course the Lord spoke to my anxious heart.  

Daughter, turn to your online friends.   Ask them for prayer because I will move.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  James 5:16 Get their thoughts, insights and desires of what they would like to read about on the topic of marriage.

Okay Lord.

So, I will be guest posting at the Time-Warp Wife’s blog for her challenge called, “31 Days of Love”. Her challenge is for women to live beyond themselves, put aside their preconceived ideas of what romance should look like, and seek out true love that is sacrificial and intentional. 

For those that are willing to graciously pray for me, here are some specifics:
  • ·       For the Lord to breathe all over me with not only the topic He wants me to write about but also the message that He wants me to convey to His daughters so their marriages would bring Him glory.
  • ·       For me to be still so I can hear from the Lord (and for me not eat too much chocolate due to my anxiety (smile).  You know I just had to throw that in there!)
  • ·       For the article to be short in length and the message to be clear.
  • ·       For me to meet the deadline
  • ·       For the readers to be drawn closer to the Lord.

There are various sub-topics to write about within the topic of Marriage.  My post has to be short so I can’t address all of these ideas.  So, if you’d give me your time, I’d like to get your perspective.

Here are some thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind:

  • ·       Building Up Your Husband
  • ·       What Does Marital Oneness Look Like?
  • ·       Seeking and Obtaining Marital Oneness
  • ·       Leaving and Cleaving
  • ·       When You No Longer Respect Your Husband
  • ·       Disillusioned, Disappointed and Discontented with Your Husband
  • ·       Anger and Bitterness in Your Marriage
  • ·       Fixing What is Broken
  • ·       When Your Husband is Not Being the Spiritual Leader of the Home
  • ·       Any other ideas

I would so appreciate it if you can leave me a comment.  Reply as ‘anonymous’ if you’d like or you can email me directly at:  respectyourhusband{at}joleneengle{dot}org.

So, I am casting my bread in hopes that the Lord's ministry will reach many.  Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Lose Your Dream Home Not Just Once, But Twice

Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and pretend I am not living this life because this is not what I had expected, yet, this is what I prayed for.   

Between being sick for so many years and now this?  The home being lost, again!   

The Lord had asked me to revisit my dreams, to live in my home once again only to have it taken away again.  My emotions fought with my spirit.  I didn’t want to question Him because I KNOW He knows what is best for me.

Let me tell you a story about,  How to Lose Your Dream Home Not Just Once But Twice.  It’s a ridiculous story, but a true one nonetheless and I can’t wait to share it with you so you can find God in the midst of your own hardships (and sometimes absurdities) of your life.

It was March of 2010 when we received the first notice from the Bank that our home was going to be sold on the courthouse steps (foreclosed upon) on April 6th.  So we moved out and moved into a rental.  We were very blessed for our rental home and we were content there.  We had no desire to move back to our dream home on Ashbury Lane (nor did we think it was ever a possibility), instead we looked ahead to our future with hope.  That chapter of our book was now closed, we thought.  

April through August of 2010 we were able to pay our bills.  Praise the Lord!  For 5 months we were just getting by.  My health was improving and I felt wonderful.  Perhaps there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all? 

Until I turned the page of my book to September, where a visit to the Urgent Care cost us almost $400.00.  A boy's hand with a sliced finger that needed stitches was the reason.  Having no health insurance we relied on the Lord to provide, and of course He did.  But would we have enough money to pay our rent, was the thought that ran through my mind?

I continued to read on until October came.  It was during that time that my beloved was rushed to Emergency.  An EKG was ordered because of a low heart rate and a Cat Scan later revealed a kidney stone.  Thousands of dollars are now owed to the hospital, yet thankful for a healthy husband.

I now become hesitant to turn the page to November.  What's next?  Can we afford to pay rent?  The escrow my husband had been working on for months still had not closed, which meant he wouldn't get paid.  We were told by the Lender that it would close before Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving came and went but with no paycheck.  Our landlord was so gracious to us and told us to pay him when the escrow closed.  He also showed up with a small Christmas tree for our boys, in addition to gift cards for them to buy Christmas presents.  We were blown away by his generosity, empathy and compassion.  In the meantime, the property on Ashbury Lane, (my dream home) still had not sold on the courthouse steps.  The Bank kept postponing the sale of our home but we didn't understand why.  In our minds it didn't really matter to us because it wasn't like we were going to move back there. Or so we thought!

I started to think I was reading a book on horror when I came across the pages of December.  Week after week the escrow still had not closed.  In the meantime my Beloved is doing everything he can to make money to feed us and to keep the utilities on, yet some were disconnected.  Plus, it's been raining and my boy has holes in the bottom of his shoes and his socks are now getting wet.  We hardly have any money and what we do have is for food.  Jesus will provide, I tell my son.  We continue to pray for the Lord to meet our needs. 

My Beloved husband feels like a failure.  I hold him and tell him that the Lord has a plan in all of this.  “Don’t lose hope, I say.  God is moving and working on our behalf.” 

I try to encourage and affirm who he is, “Regardless of your decisions and where ever they take us, do not doubt yourself because God has anointed you as the head of the household.  I will be by your side every step of the way.”  

With tears in his eyes, he says to me, “I am like water to his thirsty soul,”

“It is not I that quenches your thirst, but the Lord, I remind him.”  Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."  John 4:10

It broke my heart to see my Knight in Shining Armor so defeated in all of this.  I couldn’t fix his problem but what I could do was pray for him and our situation and try to have a good attitude as we endured this difficult time.

The sale of the Ashbury property has now been postponed yet another month.  We receive a certified letter from the Bank.  After a phone call is made to them, they inform us that we could qualify for a loan modification but we had to be living in our property (seeing how the Bank had yet to foreclose upon our house back in April like they had told us, the home was still considered our property).  We had no desire to pack up all of our belongings and move back because we knew we would never qualify for the loan modification, plus the home could be foreclosed upon the next month!  We were hopeful that the Lord would provide for us financially so we could just stay in our rental. 

Things we owned were being sold on either Craigslist or Ebay so we would have money for food.  “God will provide all our needs”, was a constant reminder in our household. 

Our boys were told not to expect any Christmas presents from us this year because we didn’t have any money for toys.  “I am sorry boys, but you won’t be getting any Legos this year,” I said. 

It was a tough December for us.  At the beginning of the Christmas season I wrote a short e-book called, Strengthening Your Child’s Faith at Christmas and I posted a link to it on Facebook.  Unfortunately, a family member of mine decided to smear my name on Facebook because of my Christian faith which he was (and still is) hostile towards.  I sobbed.  I was so tired of being persecuted by my family for my faith. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:10 

A few days later we hear from the neighbor kids that their parents don’t like me.  In fact, they tell our kids that their parents can’t stand us and we would probably sue them for all sorts of ridiculous reasons.  What!  That’s odd to hear, seeing how we hardly spoke to them! It still hurt my feelings.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Even though I knew what the Bible had to say and I knew we were under attack by the Enemy it was becoming more increasingly difficult to bear.  How much longer Lord?  When will the storms let up?

New Year’s Eve we decided to drive over to the Ashbury home to see the condition that it was in.  I remember that day well and it is still painful to think about it.  As others were out celebrating and ringing in the New Year with hope, I couldn’t help but think we were probably moving back to the home and enduring another move filled with even more uncertainty.  Life did not look hopeful at this time, in fact, it looked downright depressing.

After a 10 month period, what we saw was a dismal sight:
Weeds around the yard that were at least 3 feet tall
Grass, bushes and trees that were either dead or on the verge of dying due to lack of water
Our once beautiful pool was now devoid of crystal blue water; instead it was filled with trash, debris and rain water. 

We unlocked our front door and stepped into the dust covered house.  I looked around to what was once filled with many memories... birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, friends, family, fellowship. I couldn’t help but question why would the Lord bring us back to this place?  Not only was the home a depressing sight, but we soon realized that our home had been broken into as the back doors were busted and left wide open and banging in the wind.  Dust covered everything.  There was minor vandalism and theft as well.  More sorrow and pain were added to my heart that day.  Along with more work because I had to clean the place!  Could the Lord really bring us back here, I thought?

My Beloved...dismayed, disheartened and downcast.

I wanted to stop reading this book but I didn’t have a choice.  So I turned the page to January 2011, where I received more bad news.   One morning I discovered that there was something wrong with my car.  Later my Beloved takes a look at it and he said I would never believe what was wrong with it.  My response, “I would believe anything at this moment based on how our lives have been.”  He informed me that someone stole the catalytic converters off of the car.  I laughed (my other option was to cry).  That was clearly the enemy wanting to discourage us.  No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me," says the LORD.  Isaiah 54:17  We later find out that parts alone for the car would cost us $3500.00.  That wasn’t in our budget!

Seeing how we had little money and the escrow still had not closed, we felt we had no other choice but to make the move back to our home on Ashbury Lane.  It was a daunting and miserable time of a move, to say the least.

Although I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and just cry, it would serve me no good.  I had a home to pack, a family to care for, my health to manage, and a ministry to run.

We got all of our things into the home around January 23rd and the sale date of the property was scheduled for Feb. 9th.  Less than 3 weeks and we might have to move again. 

Should I unpack our things? I thought.

What would that teach our boys?  Would my actions show them that I was trusting in Jesus if I left our things in boxes?  Or did these young souls need to see my actions showing them that I trusted in the Christ?

The Lord made it clear,  “Take your boys to Me.  Show them that you trust Me.”  He said.

So I unpacked our home knowing full well that we may have needed to get out in less than 30 days.   Yet, it wasn’t until 7 months later that we moved. 

So, we have now officially moved out of our dream house, not just once, but twice!  

At the beginning of this post I said, "this is what I prayed for", and this is what I meant by that:
My desire and prayer over the years that I have walked with Christ is to be closer to Him, to know Him more and to filled with His glorious presence. 

His answer: Daughter, you will lose your home…again, and you will move…again.  It will be exhausting, painful and difficult.  You will cry in anguish and you will doubt and question Me.  You will live in uncertainty and you will long for stability, but the stability that you long for is false.  I am all you need.

This is what I prayed for and it hurts (my flesh), yet my spirit sings.

But the best part of the story is yet to come!  Join me soon for Part 2 where I will tell you of the many miracles that God did during that time on our behalf!  

Plus, I will share with you what I learned about allowing God to be the main character of my story/my life, rather than me being the 'leading lady'.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Follow Me and I Will Make You Teachers of Children

As the new school year begins, some of us will face it with fear and trepidation, wondering if the choice we have made to homeschool is what is best for our children or perhaps you know it is best but you still have some concerns as to whether or not you can do this. While others may feel that this year will be the year that they will be better organized and that their children will complete all of the books, projects, and subjects that are set before them. You are convinced that this year will be the year where you will complete the goals that you have established for your family. 
Jesus is the Perfect Teacher.

Then your journey begins.  (gulp)

As the days go by and they turn into weeks and weeks into months, you start to realize that you are getting behind in your schedule or perhaps your children are not learning the way you thought they would and they are not “getting it”. 

Academics aside, perhaps your children are at odds with one another or you stop to ask yourself when will they submit to your authority without the constant consequences that you have put forth in your home. You have now become discouraged in your homeschooling journey.  You second guess your decision to homeschool because you often wonder if your children might be better off being taught by a “more loving teacher” in the public/private school than what they see in you on a daily basis. “Surely in public school they would be learning more than what is being taught in my home,” might be a thought that has crossed your mind a time or two. 

Sometimes we just feel ill-equipped in this journey of homeschooling. 

So, where does the discouraged, mother/teacher turn when this calling becomes so difficult?

We should be turning to the best example ever of the ‘Perfect Teacher’, one that we should emulate on a daily basis. Jesus is the One that we need to rely on to guide us and teach us on how to disciple and educate our children.  “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:18-20 

Peter and Andrew were fishermen; that was their trade and that was what they knew best. But God had a new trade in mind for them and they were obedient and they embraced this new calling. Were they good at this new trade of being “fishers of men”? Probably not. I am sure they started out with little confidence in their own abilities. Who was their teacher? Jesus. Who trained them? Jesus. Did they receive any training for this new trade ahead of time or did they have “on the job training”? We know by reading the scriptures that they received “on the job training”.  

Knowing that Peter and Andrew were ill-equipped to be ”Fishers of Men” (remember, they were fishermen when Jesus met them), sounds very comforting to me when I look at my own situation; areas where I continually fall short in the training and raising of my children. It is nice to know that these two men learned how to disciple others as they went about their life

Remember who taught them, Jesus the perfect Teacher.  The same Teacher that taught Peter and Andrew, can be, and should be, the same Teacher who teaches us to be “Teachers of Children”. I encourage you to sit at Jesus’ feet on a regular, daily basis; think of this time as your Teacher’s In-Service meeting! This is the time that you will learn from the Master Professor. 
  • He knows you better than you know yourself. 
  • He knows what you can and can’t handle. 
  • He also knows your children better than you do for he fashioned them when they were in your womb (or heart). 
  • He knows their learning styles, their strengths and weaknesses. 
  • He also knows what curriculum (if any) would work or would not work best for your children. 

Seek Him and ask Him to direct you on how to handle your current situation. 

Jesus is perfection as we know it.  Look at His results when he taught just two grown men, Peter and Andrew, (and the other disciples of course) on how to disciple others. Look at the impact these men made on the world. Jesus is the Perfect One to run to when you do not know how to go about teaching and discipling your children. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 

He knows all of your needs before you even bring your requests before Him.  We often have a propensity to want to go through life teaching and discipling our children in our own strength and knowledge, which will often lead to frustrations and disappointments. Yet, we know when we fully rely on the Lord, it is a much better place to be in, because His strength is perfect. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 

Allow yourself to be weak and God-sufficient, rather than self-sufficient, because if you are fully dependent upon the Lord, your children will reap the blessings.  They will ultimately be taught by the Master. 

“All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:13  

Don’t be anxious for this coming school year, you are equipped to do this. God chose you to be, not only the mother of your children, but their teacher too. There is no other person here on earth that is better suited for this job, other than you! Don’t worry, you won’t ruin your kids. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7  

He will equip you to be “Teachers of Children” if you follow Him.

Why God Has Not Called Me to Get a Job (Part 4)

Welcome back to Part 4.  Today I am going to address two concerns amongst Christian wives and mothers.
Concern #1: What if your husband wants you to get a job?
Concern #2:  Since the Proverbs 31 woman was industrious, should a Christian wife and mother get a job outside of the home? 

If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 please take the time to read them so you can get the full context of this post.

So, as a Christian wife and mother, if your husband asks you to get a job in this economy, should you listen to him?  Let’s turn to the Scriptures for the answer.
  • ·       "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22  "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:24
  • ·       “In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won by the conduct of their wives, by observing your pure and reverent lives.”  1 Peter 3:1,2

The Scriptures are clear, as a wife, you are to submit to your husband in everything.  The only time you do not obey your husband is when he is asking you to sin.  Is he asking you to do something contrary to God’s law, i.e, commit adultery, lie, steal, etc.  “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

Since the Bible does not explicitly forbid the woman from getting a job outside of the home, it is therefore not a sin to get a job, so ‘yes’ you would submit to him.

My heart breaks for a woman who has to go down this path.  Share your heart with your husband about how you feel and do your best to be obedient and loving as you head out into the workplace.  Hopefully in time he will realize it is best for you to be at home ministering to your family.    

Let's switch gears now and tackle the burning question of whether or not the Proverbs 31 woman had a job outside of the home.  The following verses indicate that she was involved in some sort of business.
  • ·       She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.  Proverbs 31:16
  • ·     She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.  Proverbs 31:24
But first, let's go in Biblical order before we deal directly with these verses.

The Word of God refers to a woman’s relationship with her husband as her primary ministry, followed by the raising of her children, and then the keeping of her home, with outside ministries and industrious endeavors bringing  up the rear. 

Below are a few Scriptures regarding the importance of a wife:

My marriage is my first ministry.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”  Proverbs 12:4

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.  Proverbs 31:10
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  Proverbs 31:11

She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.  Proverbs 31:12

Then in Titus 2:3-5, God lays out 8 characteristics so wives do not blaspheme the Word of God. 
1.      Be sober. (intelligent)
2.      Love your husband.
3.      Love your children.
4.      Be discreet. (modest)
5.      Keepers at home.
6.      Good.
7.      Obedient to your husband.
A God-fearing wife’s life is centered around her husband, her children and her home.

Then of course we have the verses that state a wife is to submit to her own husband and that the husband is the head of the wife. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  Ephesians 5:22  For the husband is head of the wife.  Eph. 5:23

Let me develop this thought for you.  Would you agree that the Proverbs 31 woman took care of her husband, children and home?  Yes?  I would too.

Being that she was under her husband’s leadership, headship, covering, etc. and the Bible says the wife is to submit to her own husband, (Eph. 5:22) would the Proverbs 31 woman have a job outside of the home?  If she did and the employer was a male (perhaps someone else’s husband-get it!) how would she be able to submit to her own husband in that situation?  She wouldn’t.  She would no longer be under her husband’s headship if she worked outside of the home.  A woman in an employer/employee relationship is under authorities that God has not enjoined her to.

But what about those verses in Proverbs???  The Word says she bought a field and planted a vineyard PLUS she made and sold merchandise!  So here's my question for you to ponder.

Do you think she worked for someone else when she did those things?  Or was she directly under her husband's leadership in those entrepreneurial endeavors? 

I believe this woman worked from her home so she wouldn't neglect her first ministry and I also believe that her marriage was so important to her that she would not have jeopardized it in any way by submitting to another man's leadership just so she could receive a paycheck.

Yes, she was industrious, but that entrepreneurial spirit would come second to her husband, her children and the keeping of the home so the Word of God would not be blasphemed.

So what would be the motivation for the woman to have a cottage industry?  Would it be to further her career or to keep up with ‘the Jones’ per se?  Or would it be to help out her husband, a means to an end, not an end in themselves.  I am sure the woman had her kids by her side as she worked in her cottage industry so she could get them involved and teach them some skills as well.

Have a biblical reason for everything you do or don’t do.

No where in the Bible does it state that a woman shouldn’t work outside of the home, but neither does it state that a man should be a keeper of the home"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable."  1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB.
Don’t look to the world for the answers.
Be careful not to define your life by what the Bible does not say, rather define it by what it does say.

I know for many of you this subject is a hard pill to swallow. I understand how you feel!  I was once a feminist who denied the existence of God.  But I encourage you to surrender to God and the plan that He has for you.

Join me for the last part of this series, in which I have entitled, God's Truths and Satan's Lies for the Working Woman.
In this post, I will answer the following questions:
Is it spiritually best for you to be in the workplace?
Will your marriage blossom when you head out the door to earn a paycheck?
Will the relationship that you have with your children grow stronger or weaker as a result of you not being home?

Be in prayer about your decision.
Use discernment.
Know that God will provide.
"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19


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