My Prayers for My Family

Joel

-that he will give his heart fully to the Lord each day

-that he would desire to be the spiritual leader of our family

-that he would have a deep and unconditional love for us

Isaac

-that he would show respect for his parents and other adults

-that he would desire to serve the Lord and others

-that he would use kind words

Jacob

-that he would be able to focus on his school work

-that he would make huge improvements in his reading

-that he would desire to serve the Lord and others

Caleb

-that he would show compassion for those around him

-that he would understand what it means to live for the Lord

-that he would desire to serve the Lord and others

Lauren

-that she would learn to be kind to others

-that she would learn to share

-that she will learn about Jesus and grow to love Him

Myself

-that I would grow to love the Lord more each day

-that I would remember to adore Him

-that I would have patience, understanding and wisdom as I teach school each day

Sluggard?

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” Proverbs 6:6

I have never considered myself to be lazy.  When I was 13 I worked in the corn fields of a local seed corn farmer.  I detassled corn.  I worked 7 days a week from 6:00am to 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.  It was hot, dirty and labor intensive work.  The first few days, each year, I would wake up in the mornings with my hands so stiff I could barely move them. I got paid $3.75 an hour and if I was there every day they would add $.10 an hour to my wages.  I did this for 2 years before we moved.  What I learned from that job was how to work hard. And that the satisfaction you get from a job well done is well worth every ounce of sweat and grime.

While doing family devotions tonight, we read the above verse and I was convicted.  I’m pretty sure, this summer that I was a bit lazy.  Not overly lazy, but a bit slack nonetheless.  We finished school up the first part of May and I just kind of felt blah.  I didn’t want to do my spring cleaning.  I didn’t want to do the regular housework.  I let things go that I shouldn’t have.  What I did spend my time doing was blogging.  I let myself get consumed by it.  I still struggle with this, to be honest.  I love writing.  It is a passion of mine and a great outlet for this stay-at-home mom.  However, I let it take over my life.  I didn’t attend to my duties.  Looking back I can even say, I probably ignored my children a bit too.  I think I was just burned out and looking for relief.  I found it in the form of writing but at the expense of my family. 

My new goal is to consider the ant.  I won’t quit blogging, because it has been good for me in many ways.  It has brought me back to doing my devotions each day.  It is helping me to journal about my life and my children’s.  But, I won’t be blogging when my family needs me.  I will be blogging on my free time.  In the evenings or early mornings.  I want to be wise with my time and I am hoping to make a change starting now.  I really don’t like to think of myself as a sluggard, so I will be trying harder to be like the ant! 

I know that quiet time and relaxing are also important.  I know that I need some time to unwind and enjoy life.  So, I will be doing that too.  But, I won’t be letting my duties go ignored.  I will be straightening out my priorities.  Putting what needs to go first, first.

Hannah

Every time I read the first 2 chapters of I Samuel, I am awed by Hannah’s story.  I can’t begin to imagine what struggles she dealt with because of her inability to have children. 

“He (Elkanah) had two wives’ one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah.  Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.  And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.  This went on year after year.  Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival (Peninnah) provoked her till she wept and would not eat. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.  And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.'”     

I Samuel 1:2,6,7 & 10

In verse 10 it is written that the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb.  How interesting is that piece of information!  We don’t know the reason why he chose for Hannah to be barren, but my guess is because he had great plans for her.  I believe he was preparing her heart for what was to come.

God heard Hannah’s plea and blessed her with a son whom she named Samuel.  “…saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.'” (verse 20).  After she had weaned him (which I do believe was at 3 years of age) she took Samuel to the temple to live with Eli, the priest.  Hannah fulfilled her vow to the Lord. 

This story convicts me every time I read it.  Hannah new that Samuel was a gift from the Lord.  I know that my children are gifts from the Lord.  The difference between Hannah and I is humbling.  Hannah knew and remembered that Samuel was truly the Lord’s child.  She gave Samuel over to the Lord, not just mentally and emotionally, but physically.  Oh, how I struggle with this.  The love I have for my children is so deep that I tend to hang on to them- tightly.  I want to control what happens in each of their lives to keep them safe, happy, healthy.  These are bad things for me to desire, but it becomes a problem when I shut God out.  My children are HIS.  I need to remember to give them back to Him.  I know He loves them even more than I do (my mind knows this, but it is hard for my heart to remember).

How hard it must have been for Hannah to leave her little boy at the temple.  She couldn’t just stop in to see him whenever she wanted.  Her visits to the temple only happened once a year.  Which suggests the temple was quite a distance from their home.   My heart just aches when I read that part of the story.  Could I do that?  I think I would fail miserably.  I know I need God’s grace and strength when it comes to giving Him the control of their lives and futures.  I can’t do this on my own.  God is going to have to help loosen my grip, because at times it becomes so tight and clinging.

Hannah on the other hand, is amazing!  She doesn’t lament leaving her son, but in prayer, praises her Lord.

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high.  My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.  There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

I Samuel 2:1-2

Having a mothers heart myself, I am sure her heart ached to leave her precious son at the temple.  At the same time she knew that it was what the Lord wanted for Samuel, because God had great plans for her little boy!

 

Lord,

You are my rock, my strength.  Your love and beauty surrounds me.  Your blessings abound.  I pray, that I may be more like Hannah.  Help me to loosen my grip.  I desire for you to raise up my children to love you wholeheartedly.  Guide me and use me to raise them as You desire.  Help me to follow the path you have laid before us, because I know you have great plans for us. 

Isaiah 40

Isaiah 40 begins with comfort for the people of Israel.  They have had to pay for their sins, but now Isaiah brings them reminders of God’s power and love.  Here are just a few of the verses that struck me:

Verse 8- “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever.” The people of Israel are reminded of God’s promises.  God keeps his word, it never changes. 

Verse 11- ” He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”  This verse carries with it a vivid picture.  A shepherd never shifted his eyes off of his flock.  He was always expertly watching over his sheep.  Ensuring their safety.  So when I turn that bit of knowledge into a picture of the Lord.  I get this amazing sense of security.  God is watching over me.  He is protecting me from evil and harm.  What touches me even more is that the verse goes on to tell me that he gathers the children into his arms and envelopes them in his love and protection.  Can’t you just picture it?  God hugging our children close to his heart!  But the awesomeness of the verse doesn’t stop there.  God gently leads those who have children.  Wow!  Somehow I have never seen the significance of this verse until now.  God knew how hard a job being a mom is.  He knew mothers would need an extra measure of His guidance.  Can’t you just see Him leading a mom by the hand down a narrow, dirt, mountain path?  This makes me look deep inside myself and wonder why I try to navigate that path by myself.  How easy it is for me to wander off into the meadow or into the forest without my Lord.  Why do I let go of His comforting hand?  His love for me is amazing- how easily I forget that.

Verses 28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  These verses speak for themselves.  They give strength when I feel I have none.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea-billows roll:

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul

 

My sin- O the bliss of this glorious thought,

My sin- not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

And, Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds rolled back as a scroll,

The trump shall re-sound and the Lord shall descend,

“Even so”- it is well with my soul.

 

Refrain

It is well (it is well) with my soul (with my soul) it is well, it is well with my soul.

The above hymn was written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873.   Mr. Spafford was a prominent lawyer in Chicago.  On October 8, 1871, he and his wife Anna were grieving over the death of their son, when the Great Chicago Fire occurred.  Horatio had invested heavily in the real estate and the fire took almost everything he owned.

In 1873, the Spafford family decided to take a holiday in England where Horatio’s friend D.L. Moody would be preaching.  Horatio was delayed by business so his wife and their 4 daughters Tannetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie, went ahead without him.

On November 21, 1873, the ship that they were traveling on collided with an iron sailing vessel.  Two hundred and twenty-six people lost their lives, including the Spafford’s four daughters.  Anna, alone survived.  Upon arriving in England she sent a telegram to her husband starting with “Saved alone”.

Horatio took a ship to England to be with his wife and in the process passed the spot where his daughters had lost their lives.  While he was on the ship he wrote the words to the above hymn. (Information found on Wikipedia)

 

Every time I sing this song, I think of Horatio Spafford and his amazing faith.  What an awesome testimony for us all.  It alludes me how he could write this amidst so much grief.  I don’t know if I could respond with such faith.  Would I be able to say “It is well with my soul”, if I lost all of my children.  This hymn touches my heart so deeply, tears run down my face, when I raise my voice to sing.  It makes me think about my life.  At times I feel it isn’t well with my soul, but when I sing this song I realize that I have nothing to complain about.  This hymn reminds me to take my eyes off myself and turn my gaze back to Lord.  God sent His son to die on the cross for me, a wretched sinner, so that it would be well with my soul.

Psalm 119:71 says “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” We discussed this concept in our Sunday School class a few weeks back.  Can we be a willing vessel in service to the Lord if God hasn’t brought us to our knees first?  Do we fully rely on the Lord if we haven’t dealt with some sorrow in our lives.  I know this is true for myself.  If I hadn’t had to deal with my illness when I was 24, I would never have taken the focus off myself.  That illness helped me to become an empty vessel for the Lord to fill up with his love, mercy and grace.  I am now a more willing servant for the Lord and am continuing to learn the lessons He has for me.

 

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.  Psalm 116:7

 

Lord, please help me to see you clearly.  Help me to turn my eyes to you.  Horatio Spafford lost so much yet, he was able to praise you and find peace in your love.  Lord, I pray that I will not focus on the difficulties I face.  Help me to give my life fully to you, so that I can say “it is well with my soul”.

A Study on Joy

 

What is joy?  Is it happiness or something more?  Does being happy mean I am joyful?  I believe that joy is totally different from happiness.  Joy is much deeper and meaningful.  It is God given.  I think happiness is an emotion that those who don’t know Christ strive to find.  We aren’t always going to be happy.  I don’t think that is what God intended.  I do believe He wants us to feel joyful. He has given us proof of that is His Word.  In the New International Version of the Bible the word joy can be found 217 times! 

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines JOY in this way- to experience great pleasure of delight; to rejoice

“Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”   Psalm 86:4

Our LORD wants us to rejoice and be glad.  Only when we lift our souls up to Him can we feel the joy He wants to fill our hearts and lives with.

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.”  Psalm 98:4

When I read this verse it reminds me of the beauty of nature.  Even the very earth, which God created, sings to Him.  The flowers shout for joy with their brilliant scents, colors and intricate petals.  The birds praise Him with their beautiful, individual songs.  The sky and clouds give Him glory through their rich color and beauty .  The freshness of a breeze reminds us of his gentleness.  And the sun warms us like God’s everlasting love.

 

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“Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.”  Psalm 97:11

This verse really speaks to me.  If I have an upright heart I will feel joy.  Living for the Lord, glorifying Him with my life, serving Him, loving Him, all of these acts will fill me with great pleasure and delight.

In a word- JOY!