Can I Get a Yes?

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I have four children. With each pregnancy, I experienced a myriad of emotions both good and bad. I remember all so well that in a typical preggo day I could leap from the top of ecstasy mountain to the bottom of the pit of utter despair at the speed of light. Those who know me well would have zero qualms about classifying me as the poster child for helicopter moms with severe OCD tendencies. Each and every day of my pregnancies were filled with one main concern, the well being of my CHILD. You will notice I did not use the term fetus when referring to my baby in utero. I, like so many of you, understand that life begins at conception.

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“For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15

I have no problem at all bringing to mind the birth of each one of my precious babies. I can so easily recall the sheer joy I felt when they were laid upon my chest for the first time. I can still taste the tears of happiness that rolled down my cheeks when I heard their first cries. I can well remember the pride that filled my love swelled heart when dear ones cooed words of praise over my wee ones. The one emotion that I can not recall no matter how hard I try is REGRET. The reason being is there was not a single regret on the day of their births and twenty-one years later not a single regret exists in my mind and heart.

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Unfortunately, in just the past week, I have read the testament of two mothers who publicly announced to the world that they regretted not aborting their children. You may need to read that last sentence again and let it sink in a little. These mothers wish their grown children were never born and in fact wish they themselves would have taken the initiative to end their lives. Both of these mothers indicated they loved these children but didn’t love the complications that their disabilities had brought into their lives. They would rather not have the child that inconvenienced them in so many ways. Yet both ask that they not be judged. I will readily admit that I have not had to deal with the complications and hardships that come with caring for a child with disabilities. I can not say that I have walked in their shoes. I can not judge, but there is One that both can and will. God’s word is truth and will judge us all in the last day. According to his word, murder is a sin.

“You shall not murder Exodus 20:13

You see, murder is exactly what abortion is. It is the taking of an innocent life at the hand of his or her own mother. We like to wrap up ugly things in pretty packages so that they are easier to look at, but when we look at the center of that package the ugliness remains. ABORTION IS MURDER.

You may say, “I am on board with you, Shanna.” or “you are absolutely right.” Others may say, ” I would never consider aborting my child” or “I have never had an abortion.” You may think, ” I am finished having children so this issue doesn’t affect me in any way.” If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, it does affect you.

1) Do you believe God created man in His own image?

2) Do you believe in the sanctity of life?

3) Do you believe that murder is a sin?

4) Are you breathing air at this very minute?

If you answered yes, This is a very important issue to you. Here are a couple more questions:

1) Are you a Christian?

2) Are you a registered voter in the state of Tennessee?

If you answered yes to these two questions, you can do something EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. You can speak, no SHOUT, for those who do not have a voice. You, my friend, can uphold the sanctity of newborn life by voting YES on amendment 1 on November 4, 2014. Do it for me, for you, for your children, for their children, and for the children who may never see the light of day unless we ACT. We CAN do something! Our hands are not tied. Let’s not allow them to be stained with innocent blood. We may even experience regret over our inaction. If we do not say YES, in essence we are saying No.  The question I now ask you is, “Can I get a YES?”

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

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In Him,

Shanna

Ten Lessons Learned By a Note Taker

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Not too many days ago, my youngest son came to me with a new revelation brought on by self-evaluation. He said, “Mama, I think I need to start taking sermon notes. I think it would help me stay focused and better remember what was said.” If my face could have been captured at that moment, I am almost certain my wide grin would rival the infamous smile of the Cheshire Cat.

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You see, I am a note taker. I fully understand the benefits of note taking. I have notebook after notebook filled with notes taken at my home congregation, various Gospel Meetings, ladies days, CYC, PTP, and various other arenas. I cherish those pages filled with nuggets of wisdom that have been pulled from the Word of God.

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere”

These notebooks are extremely valuable. Is it because they were expensive expenditures? No. The majority of them were purchased for less than two dollars each and several of them cost me nothing at all. Is it because they are filled with private thoughts that I want to remain hidden? No. On the contrary, they are filled with important thoughts that were shared with me. They are valuable because they are treasure troves that I can return to again and again to revisit ideas, topics, and thoughts that will benefit me spiritually.

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It has been my experience that taking sermon notes helps me deal with information overload. I have found that at times I can have so much information thrown at me that it can be extremely difficult to mentally digest. When I take notes, I can rest assured that although I may not be completely wrapping my mind around the subject matter, revisiting it is close at hand only a few pages away.

biblepageThe month of April is the month of Gospel Meetings in my little neck of the woods. Chances are, that time of the year can mean back to back Gospel meetings, especially if you are a preacher’s wife like me. While I love being completely immersed in God’s word, I often find myself having trouble retaining all the good news presented to me. This is when my note taking really shows itself to be more than beneficial.

1. I find I focus more clearly when I am in the process of putting what I hear down on paper.

2. If my mind is in the right place, I am able to internalize and retain more than I even realize.

3. If I did not completely retain everything in the sermon (and who can?), I can go back to it as many times as needed and restudy it.

4. I have found myself going back to my notes time and time again when I am writing or preparing to teach others.

Here is a case in point. Our spring meeting at our home congregation was right on the heels of a meeting my husband held at a sister congregation. I went into it pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. I had really been looking forward to hearing some great lessons from our guest speaker, Bro. Jeremiah James Tatum, but was worried I was dulled down too much. Let me tell you, note taking was the answer that quelled my fears. It enabled me to be relaxed enough to savor the Word, and focused enough to listen for understanding. Did I take it ALL in? Probably not, but I got to go back and “hear” it all over again. Here are just TEN things that I was blessed to hear and REMEMBER because of my notes.

1. Obedience to God is a matter of life and death. Choose life!

Deut. 3:19

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”

2. The Word of God is available, attainable, and doable!

Deut. 30:11-14

” Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

3. In an attempt to not have to deal with things we don’t like, we often stop up our ears, just like those who stoned Stephen. Regardless of how well we listen, the truth remains and we will have to answer for our rejection of it.

Acts 7:57-58

“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

4. Satan has us distracted and tells us there is no hurry.

John 8:44b

 “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

5.In order to have times of refreshing, a cleansing must occur first.

Acts 3:19

” Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”

6. Conversion is a complete and total destruction of self.

2 Cor. 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

7. People who truly love Christ will think about the cross daily.

1 Cor. 1:18

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

8.If you have Christ, you have more to offer the world than anyone else.

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 

9. God created us so that all men have a God shaped hole in their heart.

Acts 17:27-28

“so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring‘”

10. God has promised no matter how far we stray from Him, He will always take us back.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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I am almost certain that had I not taken notes, many of these great thoughts would be far removed from my memory. Had I relied on memory alone, not only would I miss out on returning to this edification, but so would you. Note taking, as simple as it seems, can be a great tool in your spiritual growth. If you are not a note taker, listen to some smart advise from the mouth of a babe, my 10 year old son, and give note taking a try!

Shanna

Dear Homeschool Mom, You Deserve an A+

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Dear Homeschool Mom,

Has it been “one of those days” AGAIN today? Have you decided to throw in the towel or at least planned a solid escape route to go hide in the bathroom? Have you felt isolated, alone, and completely out of control? Do you feel like every decision you have made from hand picking curriculum to choosing to homeschool in the first place has been a mistake? Do you feel ill equipped, inadequate, and like a complete failure? If you had to give yourself a report card would you be in danger of not being promoted?

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Stop right there! Before you answer any of these questions, let me tell you why I believe, despite all these roadblocks, that you deserve a big A+!

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1. You trust God’s plan for you as a wife and mother

Titus 2:3-5

“the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

By choosing to be a homemaker, loving your husband and children, and being a “teacher of good things”, you are fulfilling the role God desires for you to fill. In so doing, His word is not blasphemed but exalted.

Homeschool mom, how can you be failing when you are trying your best to be what the Father would have you to be?

2. You esteem the needs of children higher than your own needs

Let’s face it. Homeschooling is a very SELFLESS act. It requires much denial of self and much giving to others, namely your children.

Philippians 2:3

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Homeschool mom, how can you be failing when you are placing the physical, educational, emotional, and most of all spiritual needs of your family above any selfish desires you may have for yourself?

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3. You know and can meet your children’s needs better than anyone

You carried your children in your womb, nurtured them from day one, and know everything about them. Why at age five should you all of a sudden relinquish your role of molder and care giver to someone who more than likely is a complete stranger? You have rejected this option for your child. You have chosen to continue in that role of nurturer and teacher even if it gets difficult, scary, and downright unenjoyable at times.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when you have chosen to remember the needs of your children and show them compassion?

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4. You are a blessing to your family

You completely understand the brevity of your time with your children.

James 4:14

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

It starts from the day you bring them home from the hospital. They grow so fast. They transform right before your very eyes. You have chosen not to miss a minute of that transformation: good, bad, and ugly. Because of this decision you are a blessing to your family. You are going to have the opportunity to help mold these precious gifts into what God would have them be, and in the process instill in them the most important goal in life. No, that goal is not being a genius, a musical prodigy, or getting accepted into Harvard. You are getting your family one step closer to spending eternity together with the Father and His Son. It DOES NOT go unnoticed.

Proverbs 31:28

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her”

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when your children call you blessed and your husband praises you?kids2

So there you have it homeschool mom. Even the worst days are working for good toward the most important objective of getting to heaven. You are aiming your quiver full of arrows towards the bulls eye with a prayerful heart and an iron will. Will you always be 100% accurate? No, we all have bad days. You know, the kind that make us want to lay our quiver aside; days we feel like complete failures that couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. We even have days we use that escape route to cry in the bathroom. We are not alone in this journey. We have one that lifts our heads when all we can do is bow them low.

Homeschool mom, how can you be a failure when you are leaning on the ONE that never fails?

In Him,

Shanna

 

 

Dear Beautiful Girl,

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I prayed to God and he blessed me with an amazing daughter. I have also been blessed to work with pre-teen and teen girls in the Lord’s church for several years. What strikes me over and over again as heart wrenching is the sheer amount of these young ladies that just seem downright deflated and defeated. It is difficult to stand by a watch such a vibrant group, full of life and full of endless possibilities, languish and struggle. I refuse to remain a helpless bystander in a sea of souls with silent cries grasping for reassurance and support. I want to throw out the lifeline to all young women, everywhere. I love you, God loves you, and this is what I want you to know.

Dear beautiful girl,

Yes, you! Don’t look around in surprise. I’m talking to you.You are beautiful! Oh, I’m not looking at you through the lens of popular culture or worldliness. I’m looking at you the way God intended true beauty to be seen.

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1 Peter 3:3-4

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear,  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”

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Can’t you see you are so much more than perfect hair and make up or labels and trendy clothing? Those things are external and can NEVER define your real beauty. They are perishable. Your beauty is internal, “the hidden person of the heart”. Those who wish to see it have to look deeply and want to know you, the REAL you, to find it. They have to listen ever so carefully to your words as well, because you have a “gentle and quiet spirit”. That gentleness makes you so beautiful to me, but more importantly it makes you so beautiful to Him.

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You are not alone. There are so many people that adore you. Your parents, your friends, and your church family. They want to see you succeed, obtain happiness, but most of all, they want you to go to heaven. They want to help you do just that. Let them. This is especially true of your Father in heaven. He loves you so much He gave His Son to make a way for you. Don’t ignore Him. Talk to Him…a lot. Lean on him. He wants to carry your burdens.

1 Peter 5:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Do not worry.Your prince will come, someday. Just remember, your King is already here. Put Him first today and always and everything else will fall right into place.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

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              Speaking of Prince Charming, make sure he is a true child of the King. Wait for Him. Do not settle. Do not rush. You are looking for someone who loves you like this.

Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

A true prince will be willing to give himself up for you. He will put his selfish desires aside for you.  He will not expect you to give yourself to him before marriage. You are worth the wait and he knows that. Pray for him, wait for him, and look for him. Don’t be decieved. No matter how many times you kiss a frog, he may never turn into a prince.

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Beautiful girl, above all else, keep smiling and letting your light shine.

Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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You are beautiful because you shine His beauty for all to see in a world that really needs light. Keep shining. Keep being what God wants you to be. He wants you to be beautiful. You ARE beautiful, beautiful girl.

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In Him,

Shanna

5 Things I Gave Up to be a Wife and Mother

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I recently came across an article with a title that immediately captured my attention. It was one of those blog posts that, once published, goes viral immediately. Unfortunately, unlike other current web successes such as open letters to daddies who are kind and understanding to other people’s children on flights, concerned mothers of sons advising teenage girls against immodest pics on social media, and husbands spreading the word that marriage is about more than “me”, this post had a decidedly more acrid tone. It was a scathing diatribe against a woman’s decision to be a wife and mother. The title, “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry”, pretty much sets the hateful tone for this short but sad article. Despite my immediate guttural reaction (and against my better judgement), I continued reading said article. I would liken this decision to passing by a horrible accident that you KNOW will be gruesome but having to look anyway. Believe me; this post was WORSE than a train wreck.

After my mommy senses went into overdrive, steam flooded from every orifice of my body, and I screamed aloud, “Oh no, she didn’t!” (well, maybe those last two are an exaggeration), I calmed down and really reflected on my role as a wife and a mother of four. The more I considered what the author said, the more I realized that she was right about one thing. To be a wife and/or mother, you must give up a number of things. Over the past twenty three and one half years as a wife, and twenty years as a mother, I have given up more than a few.

I have given up

1.Selfishness–  Anyone who has said “I do” understands that marriage requires an immediate forfeiture of self.

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Mark 10:7-8
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

On August 10,1990 the days of doing it my way and meeting only my needs became a bygone memory. The day I became John’s wife, I gave up pleasing myself, and learned to be pleasing to him.

 Anyone who has ventured into parenthood understands that with the arrival of each new bundle of joy comes the realization that even more of self has to be abandoned. As a mother, you have the responsibility of meeting every single need of a new, helpless babe. Let’s face it, midnight feedings, messy diapers, and projectile vomiting DO NOT fall into the category of things I do just for me. The day I became Titus, Elijah, Norah, and Levi’s mama, I gave up focusing on me, and learned to focus on them.

All this sounds traumatic, huh? You might even ask, “Why would you do this?”

Phil 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
And the apostle Paul said in Acts 2:35 ,
“remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
There is definitely a flip side to this coin. By decreasing myself, I am exponentially increasing my joy! My family is much bigger, warmer, lovelier, and happier than singular me.
When I became a wife and mother, I gave up selfishness to become selflessly overjoyed.

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2.Poverty I am almost positive I can hear all of you with families laughing out loud at this one.  After all, according to research the average cost to raise a child to the age of eighteen is between $200,000 and $250,000. Now in my case, multiply that by four. Math has never been my strong suit, but even I know that is a boat load of money! Well, forget the dollar signs, I agree with the John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Money cannot buy me love or happiness.

Psalm 127:3-5
Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.” Psalm 127:3-5

My quiver is full, and therefore, I am rich! The bank account of my heart is bountifully filled with deposits of smiles, laughter, achieved milestones, pulled heartstrings, and “I love yous”.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up poverty to become richly blessed.

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3. Loneliness-   Admittedly, I fall into the category of loner. I relish my alone time which affords me opportunities to meditate, study, write, read, and pray. However, no one wants to be ALONE. The Creator knew His creation needed companionship.

Genesis 2:18
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  

There is a certain lonely void that can only be filled by the intimate husband/wife relationship. Even yet, a house has a certain amount of loneliness that can only be vanquished by the pitter patter of little feet, or at this point in my life, the stomping of at least a couple pairs of size 12 and 13 feet. Whether my children and I are in the same room or miles apart, I never feel alone. They are always with me.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up loneliness to become connected for life.

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4. Dissatisfaction-  I readily admit that satisfaction can be derived in a multiplicity of ways. However, I know that I could never have reached the level of satisfaction I have attained had I remained as a  single, childless woman. (clearly, my opinion) I can’t help but go to

Ecclesiastes 4:9.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

My husband makes me better. He lifts me up when I fall. And let’s not forget that threefold cord. In my mind, the three strands of that cord are Daddy, Mama, and children. There is a sweet contentment found in being a strand in that cord.

When I became a wife and a mother, I gave up dissatisfaction to become completely satisfied.

5. Emptiness-  Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived, apart from our Lord. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he proclaimed that all is vanity. In other words, all is emptiness. However, when all had been said and done, this was his conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” 

Can I be obedient to God without being a wife and mother? Absolutely. Does having a mate that loves God as much as I do, and having children I want to go to heaven make this task easier? Absolutely. I am filled with the responsibility to ensure my entire family lives in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

When I became a wife and mother, I gave up emptiness to become filled to overflowing.

Yes, I gave up many things to become a wife and mother. Those things will NEVER compare to what I have gained. I agree with Goerge Bernard Shaw who said, “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” When I became a wife and a mother, I became everything I ever wanted to be, and in the process have been blessed to experience a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Shanna

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Filled to be Emptied

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As of late, I have acquired a new passion. I have fallen in love with milk glass. If you aren’t familiar with milk glass, it is an opaque, milky colored glass that is blown or pressed into decorative objects. It has been in existence since the early seventeenth century but began its immense popularity in American homes in the early twentieth century. Because of its vintage charm and beauty, it is highly sought after by collectors both far and near. It can be incredibly expensive, depending on its origin, and like all glass objects, is extremely fragile. I frequently bring home a milk glass jar or vase after one of my “treasure hunts” at Goodwill. With each new acquisition comes the inevitable response from my husband, “another jar?”  You see, he has difficulty understanding my obsession with something so frivolous that is clearly of little value other than being ornamental. In other words, a jar that holds nothing of use is essentially worthless.

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It brings to mind the words the apostle Paul penned to the church at Corinth in

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

We are more like milk glass than we may care to think.

Gen. 2:7

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Our bodies are in all reality “jars of clay”. However, “Christian jars”, unlike milk glass jars, are considered valuable to others for function rather than form. We, as Christians, ­­­­­have an obligation as clay jars to do the following.

 1.Fill Ourselves- We must fill ourselves with the word of God.

2 Tim. 3:16

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.

In the scriptures,

….His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2 Peter 1:3 

We are told in 2 Timothy 2:15 to,

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

If we aren’t immersing ourselves in the word of God, our jars are empty.

2. Empty Ourselves- Once we fill ourselves with the precious treasure of God’s word, we must empty ourselves of this very treasure, by sharing the gospel with others. Christ himself issued the great commission in Mark 16:15.

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

And in Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Filled jars must be emptied.

3. Safeguard Ourselves-  Milk glass and clay jars are fragile and easily broken. When we go out into the world to empty ourselves, we will face all types of peril.

Eph. 6:10-18

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”

In order to endure, we must safeguard ourselves, just as we protect precious items of glass.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

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Milk glass is beautiful to me. I enjoy seeing it displayed in my home, but in all reality, it profits me nothing and cost me much. It just sits there filled with nothing of which to be emptied and vulnerable to destruction. It is of little value. Milk glass exists to be seen. Christians exist so that the surpassing power that belongs to God and His Son may be seen. Now that is true beauty.

Shanna

Sticks and Stones

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Words. I love words. I love to read, write, and talk. Words are powerful. Words are precious when offered out out of love, and painful when spewed out of spite. Words can build up; words can tear down. Words can mend wounds or words can create wounds that may never heal. Proverbs 12:18 says,”There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Words, once spoken, can NEVER be taken back. Just like feathers carried away by the wind they can never all be gathered back again.

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We are the only one who can choose how and when we use our words. With that in mind, let us consider ways to cultivate the use of good words and eliminate the use of bad, hurtful words.

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1. Guard Your Heart

We read in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” The source of all of our words is our heart or mind. We are to protect our hearts with all that we have. If we are filling our minds with worldly entertainment that glamorizes strife and discord, we are sowing the seeds to grow similar words in our hearts. However, if we are feeding our hearts the bread of life and living water, we are preparing the soil of our hearts to bring forth words of love, joy, empathy, and encouragement.

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2. Purpose to be Prudent

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:27 Restraint is accomplished by purpose and practice. We should pray for the abilty to be wise when it comes to the use of our  words. Restraint, like many other desirable qualities, can be improved upon when put into daily practice. The perfect place to exercise this practice is in the home. We must meditate on the appropriate way to respond to our spouse and children in all types of situations. It can mean the difference between a happy home or cold abode.

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3. Think Before you Speak

We have all heard about the “count to ten method” and there really is something to be said about this skill. “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20 How many times have we said something in haste without considering the implications involved? If we will only utilize those few seconds before we speak to analyze our words before we release them, we may save ourselves and others from  many hurt feelings.

The poet John Dryden said, “Words are but pictures of our thoughts.” They are the fruit of our hearts. What kind of fruit are you cultivating? The fruit of the spirit or the works of the flesh? Praying we will not grow weary of doing good by using our words with wisdom.Just remember, we will reap in due season.

Shanna