Keeping “Godly Homemaking” in Perspective

August 11, 2010 at 6:29 am (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, Homemaking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

Last night Nathaniel and I (along with Elijah) attended a Bible study where a man named Titus from Nigeria shared about what the Lord is doing in his country and the need for literacy so that people can read God’s word for themselves.  It was a wonderful presentation, and a great wake-up call to consider how we can be supporting the suffering body of Christ around the world–through prayer and giving.

During Titus’s presentation, he took a small portion of time to discuss the problem of finding clean water that is an everyday reality for most rural people in Nigeria (and all over Africa).  A picture popped up on the screen of a woman carrying a very large pot on her head–so that her family would have some to drink and some with which to wash clothes.  This of course had an impact on my heart, realizing how incredibly blessed we are to have clean, running water, and how important it is to consider the needs of others, but it also made me think of how foolish we can be sometimes over here in the West, trying to paint an elusive picture of the perfect homemaker…of the “godly” homemaker.

The women in the picture had to walk miles for the water they needed, carrying a large pot and sometimes a little baby the whole way.  This could take HOURS.  Imagine if three or four hours of your day were spent walking and gathering water.  Would you have time to pursue “godly” hobbies like sewing or knitting or baking cookies?  Would you have the time to attend a ladies brunch and Bible study?  Would you have the time to post to your blog (assuming you do not have a smart phone)?  Would you have time to teach your kids Latin?  Make all of your own clothing?  Prepare every meal from scratch?  Would you have the money to buy only organic produce (because, of course, that is the most “godly” thing to do)?

How can a Christian woman in Africa be “godly” when she cannot do all the things that many conservative Christians in the West say a “godly” homemaker should be doing?

These thoughts only added to a lesson my Father has been teaching me lately.  Being a godly wife and mother isn’t about being the best housewife on the street, it’s about being godly in the role God has given me as a wife and mother.  It’s not about the outward stuff, as though the kingdom of God consisted in eating and drinking…or frugal shopping or an 1800’s-like lifestyle or wearing nice clothes.

The kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).

I’m afraid we can get all too consumed with outward tasks and outward adornment (modest, of course), and outward actions, that we forget about the fruit of the Spirit.  That we fail to be godly because God is barely in the equation anymore.

Being godly starts with God.  It starts with His work in humble hearts.  Seeking Him is of far greater value than making your own bread or using cloth diapers or growing your own organic vegetable garden.

The point here is not that any of these things is wrong.  The point is that they do not make you godly.  Nor are you ungodly if your house doesn’t look or function just like Susie Homemaker’s.   Godliness is seeking Yahweh, being empowered by the Spirit and motivated by love to obey God and joyfully serve Him in whatever life-situation or role you find yourself in.  It speaks more to attitudes than to actual tasks.

So let’s revisit our Christian wife and mother in Nigeria.  How can she be godly?  She undoubtedly rises early to prepare food for her household.  She praises God for His provision.  She cares for the needs of her husband and children–her heart is grateful to God for them and compassionate towards them.  She walks however long it takes to find water for her family.  And along the way she is perhaps meditating on what little bit of Scripture she has access to this week.  Or maybe she sings praises.  Or maybe she delights in the sunshine or rain that her Father has given her that day.  She lovingly nurses her infant, and shares what she knows about Jesus with other women along her path.

She may be very godly.  And all you would see is a woman walking a long way to get water.  And then working hard when she returned home.  A woman who, at the end of the day, may have nothing more to show for all of her labor than this:  she, her husband, and her children … are still alive.

(Assuming they were not attacked by Muslims that day because of their faith in Jesus–another reality of the Christian life in Nigeria).

She is godly because she is filled with the Holy Spirit of God and manifests the fruit of His work in her heart.  She may not know as much as you and I about theology.  She may not even be able to read the Bible for herself–only clinging to the slivers of light that came through the teaching she heard at the small gathering of believers that she attended earlier that week.  But every word of God that she finds, she devours.  And she trusts in Him to provide and protect, and to keep His promises.

May we consider that our Western, task-driven, formulaic, and sometimes legalistic view of what it means to be a godly woman might just crumple when held up to the light of God’s word.  We are not to compare ourselves with each other or with a cultural ideal.  We are to seek the Living God.  May we be Spirit-filled believers who put the skills and gifts God has given us to good use in the roles that He has placed us in.

More to come on this subject…

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Being a Loner Really Stinks

June 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm (A Slice of Life, Attitudes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

That title may be blunt, but it is so, so true. I can be quite the introvert.  So much so that despite being blessed with amazing friends, I still manage to be a bit of a loner.  But as I struggle to fight selfishness in my heart I realize that I can’t do it alone. Sure, the Lord is with me, and I can overcome sin by the power of His Spirit, but He Himself has chosen to make me a part of His body, the church, so that, by His word and by His Spirit, I might be encouraged to press on in godliness all the more as I interact with other believers. Sure it’s possible to grow when it’s just “me and God”, but that is NOT what God intends. He has so designed it, and so designed me, that I should find my greatest growth when I am pursuing Him alongside other believers, seeking their good and they seeking mine.

With this on my mind recently, I was delightedly reminded of my need for fellowship and accountability today when I visited At The Well and checked out their summer Bible study: We Are the Body.

Today’s study began with the question, “Do you have something in your teeth?” You know, it was a reminder that your truest friend is one who will tell you when something isn’t quite right. It might be unpleasant to have to be the one to break it to your pal: “Your breath stinks.” But in the end, you’ve done your friend a favor. Trust me on this one–one of my life-long best friends proved her love to me in 6th grade by telling me I needed to brush my teeth! My dad had always said, “Your friends don’t love you like your family does–they won’t tell you if your breath stinks, for example.” Haha! Thank you, Meredith, for proving him wrong!

I digress…

The point is, we need to be the loving kind of sisters that gently confront each other and encourage each other–even when it’s uncomfortable. That’s part of being the body of Christ. That’s part of being a true friend in the Lord.

Along those lines, the study left me with two questions to consider:
Do you daily study your “reflection” to see if you have “something in your teeth?” (James 1)

And:

What kind of accountability of believers do you have in your life right now?

These are good questions! First off, I shouldn’t neglect my own responsibility to seek God’s face and dig into His word, pleading with Him to show me where I need to change and listening when He does. I’ve needed this challenge recently–I all too easily get an attitude when someone falls down on their job of keeping me accountable: “Humph! If you’re not going to hold me accountable, I’m going to show you just how much you’re failing me! I wouldn’t be doing so poorly right now if you had just checked up on me!” I shake my head in shame….

The second question highlights a particular spot in which I am very needy. I am surrounded by amazing godly women at church on Sunday and during a weekly Bible study held at a lady’s home. But I’ve never sought out one of them to hold me accountable. I’ve thought and even prayed about it for a long, long time. But still haven’t acted. I’ve been an island for far too long. God forbid that I put off seeking the wisdom of a godly older woman any longer!

This comes into play when I consider this blog. Abigail and I began writing with a desire to be Titus 2 women, encouraging younger ladies in the Lord. And though we will continue to do so as long as the Lord allows, I am realizing more and more that I am one of the “younger women”. I need to be taught how to love my husband and my son (and future children), to be a sensible and pure worker at home, to be obedient to my husband–to keep God’s word from being spoken of as evil. I am not there. I need guidance!

And so I pray that my “loner days” are soon to be over. Praise God He is always with me and He has given me a godly husband to lead me–but I am eager to praise Him for what I will learn from one or more godly older women in my own local church!

His design for His people is so good! I can’t wait to be more and more a part of it!

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Purity and the Bigger Picture

March 9, 2010 at 1:00 am (A Slice of Life, Godly Living, Purity) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Lauren’s Story

A number of our readers have asked questions about my personal “purity” experience: What were some of the boundaries you set when you were single? Did those change when you got engaged? And what about now that you’re married—how do you relate to men other than your husband? I hope to address each of these questions as I tell my story below, and I’ve divided my life in to five “phases” that I hope will help to illustrate spiritual and practical changes that have taken place in my life.

Phase One: The Formative Years

Though not raised in a Christian home in my early years, I was certainly blessed with very conservative, loving parents who wanted to teach me right from wrong and protect me. Somewhere around the age of 8 we had a discussion about dating and sex. My parents told me that I should save sex for marriage and that the house rule was no dating until I was 16. It all sounded very reasonable to me, so I agreed without hesitation.

Even having those barriers in place, my little heart was already all astir with romance. I remember dragging a boy around by the arm on the playground in preschool—forcing him to marry me. And later, in second grade, I remember wishing I could kiss a little boy in my class. Most people see this as cute and innocent. But it was lust on a lower level. Disney movies probably didn’t help. And as I grew older and my movie selection broadened to romantic comedies, I was carried away by my own romantic daydreams. Isn’t it amazing how little-girl daydreams turn into bigger-girl fantasies?

So my thought life was less than clean, even at a young age. I had accepted my parents’ rules without question, but my heart had its own fun in the meantime. I seriously thought I’d get my first kiss when I was 16 and able to date—as though some wonderful guy was waiting for me to hit that magical age and then sweep me off my feet! Thankfully, the Lord saved me when I was 13, and the Spirit began His work in my heart…

Phase Two: Decidedly Single

I had a sincere relationship with the Lord from the time I was 13 and on. So as I actually approached the legal dating age, I began to evaluate my life and wonder if I was ready to date. I figured that dating wasn’t a good idea until I was comfortable with where I was in my walk with the Lord. This seemed very wise at 15, and others commended me for my view. But in the back of my mind I wondered, “When can I ever say that I’m happy where I am? How can I say, ‘OK, God, we’re doing fine, I’m deep enough with you now, so I can afford to be distracted by a boyfriend’?” At that crucial point, my mom heard about I Kissed Dating Goodbye and bought it for me. That book, though I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, helped fill in the gap on the dating question. If I’m not at a point where marriage is an option, I don’t need to date at all! I’m free to focus on the Lord and not worry about a relationship for now!

That was great in theory, and for the most part it worked in practice—I’ve never dated anyone but my husband, and that is such a huge blessing! On the other hand, purity goes a lot farther than “not dating” or “saving it all” for your husband in the way we usually understand it. Purity is a heart thing. And I’d developed some bad habits of clinging to crushes, imagining myself marrying them, and allowing my thoughts and emotions to be swept away by someone who wasn’t my husband. That was anything but pure. And to top it off, I was really shy about liking boys, unwilling to open up to my parents (especially my dad) about anyone I liked. So not dating actually made it easier to hide what was in my heart from those who loved me most. While I do recommend not dating, I don’t recommend keeping your heart from your parents.

So my high school years were a constant struggle against lust and raging emotions—old habits that had been around since preschool. Looking back it makes me sick to think that I obsessed over certain guys like I did. No, I wasn’t “boy crazy” in the since that I drooled over any “cute” guy that walked by, but when I did have a crush, I certainly paid him too much attention—attention intended for only one man–allowing my heart to wander from the Lover of my soul.

Phase Three: The Real Battle Begins

Something different happened when I met Nathaniel in the first week of my freshman year of college. Maybe I was a little more grown up, a little wiser, the Spirit having a little more sway on my heart, but when I met him and found we were like-minded (and I was interested in him), I told my parents as soon as I went home for Labor Day a week or two later—and I openly told my dad.

This new person was unlike any of my old high school crushes. Not that I thought marriage wasn’t an option with the guys I liked in high school, but when I met Nathaniel things were much more realistic. Here was a guy I really could see myself marrying—to the point that it made all my previous crushes seem silly. After I knew Nathaniel for only about 2 months, I was fairly certain I wanted to marry him. I can’t say that’s exemplary (or wrong, for that matter), but it’s my story.

Now, meeting the man of your dreams four years before marriage is a viable option makes for quite the difficult journey! And it was rough on his end, too. I remember reading and re-reading Elizabeth Elliot’s story in Passion and Purity and asking, “Lord, are you really going to make me wait four years like you made her wait???” Thankfully, unlike Mrs. Elliot’s case, Nathaniel said nothing to me about “us”. He worked very hard to guard his own heart and mine—refraining from expressing his feelings for me—until he would ask me to marry him almost four years later.

One thing that impressed me about Nathaniel, and that will give insight into my own personal standards of purity in guy-girl relationships, was that he never tried to hug me—in fact, he didn’t really touch me at all. That was quite refreshing, as I had developed a somewhat hands-off approach to guys since high school when a friend hugged me quite tight and made me uncomfortable. “Casual” barely begins to express the way guys and girls related to each other in college. Physical contact wasn’t thought to be a big deal—long hugs were given in every direction. So to find someone who had never dated, wanted to save every expression of physical affection for marriage, and who sought to guard a girl’s purity about as much as his own was an amazing blessing. That’s not to say that other guys weren’t also a blessing in that area, but Nathaniel was exemplary (then again, I may be partial…).

There were a few points of compromise over those four years. Though we both thought it best to avoid spending time alone with members of the opposite sex, we happened to end up running together when after two weeks the rest of our running buddies dropped out of the habit. We continued to run together until the end of the semester, and then just never brought it up the next semester—both of us convicted that we didn’t need to be spending that kind of time together.

Another point would be playing the “slug bug” game on road trips. Granted, these road trips included more friends than just ourselves, but somehow I think Nathaniel and I enjoyed punching each other more than anyone else…

So the standards we each (separately—we never discussed “us”) sought to uphold were not to spend time alone together and not to express any kind of romantic interest or affection—physically or verbally. I can’t say we did this perfectly, but those were our goals. I thank the Lord for guarding my heart on more than one occasion when I felt helpless to guard it myself. There were times I was dealing with something and I wished Nathaniel would have hugged me—but I’m so thankful that he didn’t. He gets to give me plenty of hugs now. And I learned to better rest in the arms of my Father at that time.

About half way through college I wrote a poem that dealt with the struggle of surrendering my dreams of marrying Nathaniel to the Lord. The poem continues to bless me every time I re-read it, and I hope that it will be helpful to others, as well.

It honestly doesn’t seem like most of college was especially difficult until the last semester. We were just friends, after all, and we enjoyed our college experience without the drama of a relationship–or of a potential dating relationship.  It was easy to keep things at this level since we both knew that marriage wasn’t an immediate option (I’d heard along the way that Nathaniel didn’t want to get married until he finished college and had a job lined up to support a family).  But when graduation was on the horizon things were different.  That “far off” time when something might come of our friendship was staring me in the face.  And much to my chagrin, I had to make plans for my life after college without expecting anything. I applied for jobs, even got offered a good one, but I was miserable trying to figure out what to do. Nathaniel had wanted to propose earlier in the semester, but the Lord delayed things on his end, which made my struggle wane on, but allowed my heavenly Father to work in my heart a complete surrender. I praise Him for His timing! During this time, I still saw Nathaniel as a close friend, but was letting go of my desire to be with him. It hurt. Misplaced emotions eventually have to be dealt with, and it’s not a pretty sight. Praise be to God that only a few days after my final surrender, Nathaniel did ask me to marry him!

Phase Four: Betrothal/Engagement—Have the rules changed?

Having been promised in marriage to Nathaniel, my life took a new turn. Where before expressing our feelings and longings would have been inappropriate (for lack of a commitment), now we were supposed to let down our guard emotionally in anticipation of our coming union. I don’t think I really “fell in love” until about three days after Nathaniel proposed—when the initial shock wore off and the last line of my defenses laid down their arms. Having worked so hard to guard my heart up until this point, I can honestly say I’ve never been in love with any other man. Despite my less than admirable infatuations in my earlier years (which now seem so trivial), I can rejoice that my heart is fully my husband’s.

In the physical sense, Nathaniel and I vowed not to touch each other until our wedding day. No holding hands as a couple, hugs, or anything. In effect, our “physical relationship”, which was non-existent while single, remained the same during our engagement. At this point, we could claim each others heart, but not each others body—that would come later, in one package. And so the way I related to other men didn’t change either. I was still guarded emotionally and physically. Hand shakes, high-fives, and holding hands in a group prayer was about it with anyone. Thankfully, our commitment was not too hard to keep since Nathaniel was in Oklahoma and I was in Texas during this time. That kind of long-distance engagement was quite nice as it encouraged communication—which we had much to do having not talked about sharing a life together before this point! We talked about all aspects of our upcoming marriage. It was a great time of anticipation and preparation!

Phase Five: Purity in Marriage

We shared our first hand-holding, kiss, and hug at the altar on our wedding day (which are a very special part of the “whole package” intended to be shared in marriage). I’m getting giddy just thinking about it. The pay-off from having saved everything was just wonderful, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Now that I’m married, purity has taken on a new dynamic. It is pure to give myself away now—to my husband. One of the best ways to guard mine and my husband’s purity is to completely and continually give what I’ve been saving for so long!

As far as other men are concerned, I’m surprisingly a little more relaxed in my standards. I don’t get offended as easily when someone tries to hug me, though I do try to turn it into a quick side hug! There is somewhat a difference to me now. I’m secure in my husband’s arms, and when there is a brother in the Lord who has a pure reputation and consistently hugs everyone around him to greet them, it doesn’t bother me—especially when we’re with another couple who we’ve known for years. There’s just something about knowing both a guy and his wife that makes things a little more comfortable. That’s not to say every woman should act as I do, but that’s my own experience. I still do shy away from any man who strikes me as flirty—even if he’s not apparently biased with his hugging. There are a few people who make me uncomfortable enough that I would work hard to avoid getting a hug from them! And in general, I don’t offer hugs, just hand shakes and high-fives! And Nathaniel is fine with my “standards” for relating to other guys.

On non-physical issues, I don’t find myself “needing” to have deep conversations with any other man. I may ask a teacher a question every now and then, or join in a group discussion over a meal, but my practice is to pick my husband’s brain and enjoy talking to him about everything! In doing this, he and I grow closer to each other and grow together in the Lord—which is the real goal of purity anyway!

My Story and the Bigger Story

I hope that what I’ve shared can help you to pursue purity in your own relationships. But beyond mere temporal application, I hope you can see the beautiful design God has for His church, and what kind of pure love we are to have for Him. You see, we were all once daydreaming about other lovers—some of us even acting on those dreams. But then this One guy came along…

When we come to see Jesus for who He is, we begin to see how petty and even ugly our devotion to other lovers has been. This brokenness leads us to plead for His mercy, and to our astonishment, He not only pardons us based upon His own sacrifice, but purifies us and makes us His bride! But we’re only enjoying the thrill of the betrothal or engagement now. One day He will come for us, and then the real celebration begins. For now we are to fall more and more in love with Him—in preparation for going to live with Him forever. We forsake other lovers, purifying ourselves because we have this amazing hope of seeing our God face to face! That is the real purity we pursue: Pure devotion and obedience to our Lord and Savior. If we miss this, we’ve lost sight of the purpose of our living as Christians. Purity in relationships here on earth is just one small part of the bigger picture! Get excited!

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Three Beautiful Blessings

July 17, 2009 at 5:01 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , )

42-16297736I’m sitting here at my desk, eating some satisfying oatmeal and enjoying the fact that my house is clean. The bathrooms have been scrubbed, the spiderwebs swept away, the furniture dusted (except for a few missed spots where little hands couldn’t reach), the floors vacuumed and mopped where needed. Ah…it’s a good feeling.

And just what is my secret to being eight months pregnant and enjoying a nice, clean home? Three beautiful blessings. Three sweet sisters, ranging in age from 8 to 17.

Not long into my third trimester fatigue began to set in (actually, it just increased—I’ve been tired this whole pregnancy!). I don’t sleep through the night, and during the day I end up having to take a one to two hour nap. And if I ever try to plow through a day with no nap and little rest, moving from task to task, I end up wiped out the next day. My big belly and achy hips mean I move more slowly, wear out more quickly, and can’t fit into places that I used to (example: one side of our bed is only about 12 inches from the wall—this means making the bed is quite the challenge!).

Add to my regular responsibilities all the little things that must be done to prepare for our son’s arrival: wash baby clothes, research baby products, write thank you notes, read up on natural childbirth and godly parenting, get the baby/guest room ready, figure out how to organize baby items and where in the world to put them, find a pediatrician, pack for the hospital… Yes, I am preparing for motherhood!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being pregnant, even with its added challenges and limitations! But about a month ago I began to realize I just couldn’t keep up. Groceries, meals, laundry, bills, and budgeting have taken priority over cleaning to be sure. So when I heard through the grapevine that one of the families we knew at church loved opportunities for their girls to serve, I gave it some thought. And when I hadn’t gotten around to housecleaning for several weeks I became desperate enough to ask!

Asking for help was quite humbling. It’s not like I can’t dust or scrub or vacuum or mop (though my back tends to dislike the latter). Each time before the girls have come over I’ve thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? Can’t I take care of these things? I’m not incapable.” And that’s true—many women in my position just clean where they can and keep moving. I could, too. But once the girls get here and we get to talk and laugh and listen to music while they clean and I tackle things like deep-cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, and paying the bills, I begin to realize what a blessing I’ve been given. Not only do I get my house cleaned, but it affords me the time to do some things that I might not have otherwise been able to do that day. And aside from getting things done, we’re all encouraged by each other’s fellowship.

I share this to praise the Lord for the blessing of His people and to encourage you to think about what you could do to help someone in Jesus’ name. It’s summer time. And that means many of you younger ladies have some extra time on your hands. Are there people in your church or in your neighborhood who could use a hand? Are any sick, disabled, or just worn out from all of the responsibilities that they have to juggle? Are there any pregnant ladies, elderly folks, or single moms in your life? Or even mothers with a few young children? Can you clean, prepare a meal or treat to share, write an encouraging note, offer to watch the kids, or just be pleasant company to those who are lonely? I encourage you to make the most of your time this summer and make someone’s day a bit brighter. You may never know what a beautiful blessing you can be!

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Oh How I Need the Lord!

April 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm (A Slice of Life, Attitudes) (, , , , )

42-16297736Oh how I need the Lord! My strength fails me. I’m so very weak. Lacking in the motivation, physical energy, and foresight to be able to conquer each day that I face. And so the moment comes when at last I realize how desperately I need the strength which the Lord provides—how desperately I need Him! And how wonderful when I remember His promises: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” “He gives grace to the humble.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” “Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world.”

What amazing grace that my God would sustain me and strengthen me to do His will. I cannot do it in my own strength (precisely because “my own strength” amounts to nothing but weakness). But by His grace I can work out this salvation He has purchased for me—because He is the one at work in me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure! What an encouragement it is to know that I don’t walk this road alone. My good Shepherd is there with me to lead me all the way—and to pick me up and carry me when I am broken! Just the thought of His tender care and abundant grace makes me want to get moving! Praise God! I may not have confidence in myself. And I don’t need to—there’s nothing there to put confidence in anyway. But I can put my confidence in my Savior and stand tall as I seek to joyfully do His will!

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New Life, New Experiences

January 26, 2009 at 11:27 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Attitudes) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

42-16297736People like to say that having a baby will change your life.  I believe it-because I haven’t had the baby yet and it’s already changed my life!  To enlighten you, I’ll just list some of the things that I can’t do now that I’m pregnant (13 weeks pregnant, to be precise):

  • I can’t drink anything with caffeine in it (they say a little caffeine won’t hurt, but a little is all I could ever handle in the first place, so I cut it out).  No coffee drinks, no Dr. Pepper…
  • I can’t run-I’d gotten up to running 10 miles a week when I got pregnant, and I could have kept up with that if morning sickness didn’t hit so hard…
  • I can’t enjoy food like I used to-anything could make me hurl!
  • I can’t do sit ups-I still don’t completely understand this one.
  • I can’t quickly pick up a three year old and lift him up over my head-I tried this on Sunday…pulled some delicate muscles or ligaments in my tummy.
  • I can’t walk into my kitchen without bracing myself for the awful smell of last night’s dinner, which can make me gag.  I’ve been using Vitamin C drops or throat lozenges to taste and smell something other than the old food odors my overly-sensitive nose now picks up on.
  • I can’t make it through the day without getting about 12 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours of nap time.  I’m exhausted!
  • I can’t get nearly as much done as I used to-because of less waking hours, all-day “morning” sickness, and lack of energy.
  • I already can’t fit into half of my clothes!

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?  Actually, I’m having a blast.  What I’ve listed above is only half the story.  And it fades in comparison with the joy and excitement that God is knitting together a little baby inside me!  Those things I listed are all things I can’t do, but this article is really about my new experiences with a new life inside, remember?  Here are some of the beautiful things I’ve gotten to do and learn as a result of God’s gift:

  • I’ve gotten to watch from the outside as my body totally rearranges to accommodate my child-God is transforming me into a baby factory!  It really is amazing.  Some new hormones take over and prepare me for carrying and nurturing our baby, as well as for breast feeding when the baby arrives!  I’ve not gained any weight yet, but I sure have grown-my waist is disappearing and my belly has gotten 3 inches bigger already!  I marvel at the fact that for the first time in my life, I’m excited to see my waistline grow!
  • I’ve gotten to see what’s taking place on the inside, too.  Ultrasound technology is pretty cool-we got to see our baby at 8 weeks, and even see its little heart beating!  For my 12 week check up we got another ultrasound, and the baby has grown to be about four times bigger than it was a month ago!
  • I’ve started to swim with a neighbor friend at a local gym.  This has been a fun, new kind of exercise for me-and it’s supposed to be great for my body and the baby!  Plus, my neighbor is pregnant, too, so we’ve gotten to know each other a lot better because of our common situation.
  • I’m learning patience and trust in the Lord because of the “gift” of morning sickness.  Feeling run over and queasy all day every day isn’t my goal in life.  But God has been good to give me precious time in fellowship with Him.  I’m learning to accept the “inconveniences” of pregnancy as gifts from His hand to develop my character-my all-wise Father knows I need it!  And I can rejoice that the very fact that I’ve been sick is an indicator that I have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Getting away from poor eating habits has been a blessing.  Despite feeling sick, I know I’m healthier than before because I’ve made changes in my diet to make sure that my baby is getting good nutrition and not a bunch of junk.
  • I’ve been richly blessed by family members and other godly women who are pouring out on me a wealth of wisdom and love, sharing their stories and how their children were worth every bit of discomfort during pregnancy!  I’m starting to fully experience Titus 2, with older women encouraging me to love my husband and my baby.
  • Having less clothes to choose from in my closet has actually made it easier to pick out something to wear!
  • Our world considers me a Mommy-to-be, with some tissue growing inside that will eventually (if allowed to be born) become a baby.  But the truth is so much more beautiful than that.  Nathaniel has pointed out to me that I’m a Mommy already-I’m already working hard to care for our baby.  And we know from God’s word that our heavenly Father already knows the days that are ordained for our child, that He Himself is forming and nurturing our baby inside of me!  All of the little details of appearance and personality have already been decided and are fully known by our God.  Far from “tissue” or merely a “fetus”, this child inside of me is a new being-a person made in the image of God, whom He loves very much.  🙂

It’s sobering to think of the new responsibilities that come with parenting.  I know we’ll need God’s grace every step of the way!  But it’s a joy to know that we are parents now, taking care of this little one as best we can until we can finally hold our baby in our arms for the first time!  So I guess this season of life is training ground for the years of in-person (hmm…or more literally, out of person!) parenting to come!

We praise God for this gift of new life!

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Judgment and Blessing

January 13, 2009 at 11:23 am (A Slice of Life, Poetry) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

judgment-and-blessing
Posted by Lauren

Woe to you who call good evil
And call evil good
The Lamb will come
When time is done
And all will be understood.

Woe to you who lead the blind
Being blind yourselves
The Light will come
When night is done
And punish the sons of hell.

Woe to you who wash the outside
Ignoring filth within
The Judge will come
The Righteous One
And do away with sin.

Blessed are you who fall on grace
Believing in the Savior
Your Prince will come
The Mighty One
And shower you with favor.

Blessed are you who follow the Lamb
Making Him your treasure
Your Joy will come
The glorious Son
To be with you forever!

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O to be a godly woman!

October 28, 2008 at 10:24 am (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, Godly Living, Homemaking, Love) (, , , , , , , , )

There’s a verse I’ve been meditating on for quite some time now, and I’m seeking to apply it to my life. I want to be a godly woman who represents Jesus Christ my Savior and my God in all that I do and in all that I am. Here’s the verse:

Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. ~1 Timothy 3:11

It’s a simple verse, really, and based on context, it is probably referring to qualifications for the wife of a “deacon” (the Gk means “servant”). Questions come to my mind: What does it mean to be dignified? The original meaning of the word is more easily understood in my opinion; it means to be “venerable”, or respectable/honorable. The Strong’s definition also says “serious”. I take this to mean that my character ought to be appropriate and honorable–in and of itself, as well as unto the Lord–and show that I take life and following God seriously. Do my words and deeds bring honor to the name of Christ? Or does my immaturity reflect poorly on Him? Do I take His word seriously and apply it to my life? Or do I read it and move on without seriously considering how what God says affects me? Do I realize how my actions affect those around me–and even generations to come? Do I consider these things enough to live for something more serious and more worthwhile than seeking my own pleasure in this world or simply living from day to day without serious, godly purposefulness? These are some searching questions that have helped me to look before I leap. (Be sure of this though: serious living is anything but drudgery and boredom. When we truly begin to live serious lives for God, we know the greatest joy that there is! And that is further motivation for taking God seriously–the fact that HE is the source of TRUE JOY for a believer! ~Psalm 16:11) 🙂

The next phrase is pretty self-explanatory: “not malicious gossips.” Now, it’s easy to say, No! Of course I’m not a malicious gossip! But we ladies need to watch what is in our nature–talking about others in such a way as to make them look worse and/or ourselves look better comes quite naturally! And we especially need to watch out for this in light of the prevalence of “prayer-request gossip”. Honestly examine your words. Does what I say give grace to those who hear? (Ephesians 4:29) Or does it tear others down? No matter what someone else may have done, do I honor them as having been created in God’s image, or do I cut them down by my words (whether they are present or not)? (James 3:9-10) This is a good way to identify if we are truly loving others, for “out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Jesus in Matthew 15:18-19).

“But temperate…” Some of you may have guessed that this word means “sober” if you thought of the temperance movement early in the 1900s. This understanding is consistent throughout Scripture–that we ought not to be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Since I don’t drink, this isn’t an area of struggle for me, but the principle can apply to other aspects of life–Do I allow God’s Holy Spirit to control me? Or do I allow things in this world to intoxicate me to the point that I don’t listen to His Word? Be watchful of distractions that might steal your heart from the Lord Jesus. I know I need to be watchful for them in my own life.

And FINALLY, this is the part of the verse that hits me the hardest: FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS. That’s no small task! In fact, that makes a big deal out of every task! That I would be faithful, dependable, consistent…even in the small things or the monotonous things–that I would truly do everything with all my heart as unto the Lord, with the aim of bringing Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:15-16). Oh that everything I set out to do I would do so as to present it as a love offering to my King! In my own conviction, this doesn’t seem to leave room for lazy procrastination. Nor does it mean I must be a workaholic, either. But that I would seek to glorify God in all that I do, pray and choose wisely what things to commit myself to, and then do those few things with all of the energy and grace that God supplies. WOW! I struggle to do that! I pray that God would shape me into a faithful woman–faithful to Him IN ALL THINGS–in obedience to His word first of all, and then in applying myself to the responsibilities and good deeds He has prepared for me. What amazing grace it is that God would concern Himself with the affairs of men! That He takes pleasure in His children learning to follow Him faithfully–OH! and that He gives them the grace and guidance through His word to do just that! What an amazing God!

Grace and Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus the Lord!

laurens-sig1

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Lessons Learned…And Still Learning!

October 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

As many of you have probably noticed, I have taken a break from blogging for, well, nearly a month now!  I’m sorry that I pulled away while in the middle of the series on situational modesty-I didn’t want to quit after dealing with only one situation!  I didn’t want to leave our readers hanging!

That said, I do not regret the decision to stop writing for a while.  My life had become rather disorderly and discouraging because of some wrong thinking and wrong actions that I had allowed to creep in.  So after talking with Nathaniel about my need for focusing on the basics, he agreed that I should put down the pen and take care of my top priorities.

And really, that’s what this has been all about-priorities.  God has created me and saved me to be first and foremost His daughter, His maidservant, His worshiper.  And He has given me in marriage to my husband Nathaniel, to be his wife, his helper, his home-maker.  My job, my career as it were, is to serve my God by serving my husband.  It’s incredible the way even good things can turn into major distractions when we set them up as more important than simple obedience to what God has clearly commanded in His word.  And such has been the case with writing for this blog.  I had begun to view it as my job, and I approached it in a professional manner, seeking to do my best, meet deadlines, etc.  And with the same mentality as the modern feminist, I eagerly threw myself into the task, the “ministry”, and allowed that to become more important to me than my wifely duties.

Having something else-something more visible to the rest of the world-made me feel important.  When people asked what I do, I could now say that I’m more than just a housewife-I’m a writer, too!  But why do I want more?  Why is serving God and my husband not enough?  Because I was seeking the praise of man, and I was allowing humanistic, feminist ideas to influence both my thinking and my actions!

It played out something like this:

Week one: I love being at home serving my husband.  I’m so glad that he supports me in staying home and not having a career-it’s such a blessing to be able to focus on serving God in our home.  With that in mind, Nathaniel has encouraged me in my decision to start a blog with Abigail-we really want to share a vision for biblical womanhood with young ladies, challenging them to obey what God has commanded us as women.  It’ll be a good outlet for my many ideas and writing.  God has done so much in my life to conform me to what He desires, and it has brought great blessing!  I want to share this with others.

Week two: Blogging is going well, we’re growing; it’s fun and challenging.  Spent too much time online reading and commenting on other blogs…I’ve neglected the laundry for a few days…I really need to get that done!  All in all, though, I’m managing things pretty well.

Week three: God seems to really be using our blog to encourage other girls in their walk with Christ!  There’s so much I want to write about!  I think I’ll write a series on situational modesty!  And I need to set deadlines…be really professional about this…other bloggers seem to be doing well by doing this or that…I think I’ll try that.  Might take a little more time, but the more people know about our blog, the more God can reach with our message about biblical womanhood!

Week four: Got up and saw Nathaniel off to work.  Then logged on to the computer.  I’ve got a lot to do today, and I wanted to get going on my writing.  Oh, dear.  I ended up spending three hours in front of the computer-writing and surfing blogs.  I’m such an information junkie.  Sigh…end of the day, what have I gotten done…whoa, I hardly got anything done that I intended to do.  And…well, I guess I’ll read a Psalm before I go to bed.

Week five: Three articles into the series on situational modesty.  It’s really been a blessing to see how ladies have responded-kinda calmed my fears that I’d be stepping on people’s toes.  My morning Bible study has been anything but consistent lately…and usually I end up reading God’s word for my writing more than to spend time with him…that’s not quite best, but at least I’m in the word each day!  I think I’ll go to the coffee shop to write and study…I feel more professional there than at home.

Week six: UGG…I do NOT want to write this next article.  The swimsuit thing was a lot of work, and people seemed to appreciate it…but this next article might really stir things up…I am dreading writing it!  Sigh…and there’s so much piled up here around the house…and I’ve been so emotional lately-it’s like I’m driven by my emotions.  What’s up with that?

Week seven: Ok, this article is not writing itself, so I’d better get started on it.  I’ll do an outline.  There, my notes are done.  Wow, that’s a lot to cover.  Oh, I want to write it now, but there is a huge stack of dishes to be washed!  Good grief!  I wish those dishes would just do themselves!  This takes so long.  How am I supposed to keep up with a decent writing schedule when it takes so long to keep up with things around the house?  And I just have to do it all over again the next day?!?!  I’m a writer, why should I have to deal with this stuff?  I’ll just get Nathaniel to help me clean up this evening…

Breaking point: Wow, I used to love serving and cleaning and organizing.  I love being at home, and I love being a home-maker for my husband.  So why have I not enjoyed it lately?  Gasp!  I’ve placed other things above the things that are most important!  I’m just like the career-minded woman-even though I’m not getting paid and I’m not even leaving my home, I have sought to escape my most basic responsibilities, neglecting them to pursue something else!  If I have as my highest daily priority something other than worshiping the Lord and serving my husband, if I am more eager to do that new priority than the other two, then I have 1) created an idol, 2) begun to embrace the feminist mindset that values personal fulfillment and achievement more than God and family, and 3) I’ve robbed myself of any joy in doing what I have been called to do, because I have come to see something else as a higher calling.

The major indicator of this problem that became most evident to my dear husband was my attitude of discontentment.  I simply wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why.  I would talk to Nathaniel about how I felt, and he gently and wisely alerted me to what I was saying-I wasn’t content.  I was looking for the things around me to be just right in order for me to be able to function, to be disciplined, to be happy.  Instead of being satisfied in my Savior, and thankful for all He’s done for me and given me, and instead of thriving where He’s planted me, I had neglected to give thanks, neglected to stay put, and I sought affirmation from other people and comfort from doing whatever I felt like doing at the moment.  Living to please yourself really is the short cut to emptiness.

And when I’m empty I have nothing to give to others.  I cannot teach others to do what I am not doing.  I cannot spiritually encourage others when I am downtrodden.  I cannot serve my husband to the best of my ability when I’m worried about serving my readers (most of whom I’ve never even met).  I cannot glorify God in my writing if I am not glorifying God in my daily life!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can fall into wrong thinking and allow everything to be turned on its head?  Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can allow something like “ministry” to get in the way of what God really wants us to be doing?  This was hard to take in once I realized what I’d been doing.  In brokenness I confessed my wrong thinking and wrong priorities and attitudes to my husband, and expressed to him what I saw to be a very clear solution (or part of the solution):  pull away from blogging.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it far from you…Let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable…All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Scripture is clear.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to cut out the idol-and for an undetermined amount of time.  And this was best anyway, since I didn’t have anything to offer-no wonder I dreaded writing my next article!  I was running on empty!

I’ve had a lot to learn in the area of personal discipline over the past several weeks-my unwarranted loyalty to blogging was only the most obvious problem.  It seemed that everything was in disarray when I finally hit my breaking point.  And now things are looking up, so I’m slowly getting back to writing, though now with a new focus.  I’d like to share more of what I’ve learned in my “time off” in future posts, but I think what I’ve written here will suffice to bring you up to speed for now.  Just please learn from my mistakes.  Don’t allow ANYTHING to get in the way of simple, joyful obedience to the things God has clearly called you to in His word.

May we keep in mind lessons learned, and may we continue learning to please the Lord in everything we think, say, and do!  Grace and peace!

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True Religion

August 19, 2008 at 10:17 am (A Slice of Life, Vignettes) (, , , )

When Nathaniel went to Tulsa last summer to “prepare a place” for me to join him when we were married, he moved in next door to a woman named Evelyn who had lost her husband of 57 years just one week earlier.  Nathaniel was able to help her and pray with her during that first month or so of grieving.  She took him in as if he were her own son. 

 

Once we were married and I joined Nathaniel in our new home, I got to know Evelyn, and she quickly adopted me as well.  Being a new wife in a new city knowing only one family within 100 miles, this lovely widow and I became fast friends.  We’d go for walks on our street, clip coupons and go on lunch dates every once in a while, or just sit in her living room and watch the birds fly around outside.  God’s timing in placing us next door to Evelyn was amazing—she had just lost her husband, and I had just gained mine.  She treasured my joy and excitement being newly married, and I had the opportunity to learn from her experience.  We encouraged each other in the Lord.

 

Hanging out with a 78 year-old was new territory for me.  At college I spent most of my days surrounded by people my age.  I’d been thinking about the verse in James that says “True and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  I realized that most of my Christian life had been focused on avoiding the stains of the world, and that I’d pretty nearly neglected the part about caring for those in need. I suppose God decided it was time for me to learn to love—to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to practice true religion—so He put me next door to a needy widow!  It amazed me how much it meant to her that I would come and visit her every few days.  On more than one occasion I got to hold her hand while she cried.  She would repeatedly tell me that the Lord Jesus was the only one keeping her going since her husband died.  And she told me she didn’t know where she’d be without friends like Nathaniel and I.  Indeed, I’d been missing out on real joy and real love when I was in college just doing my thing, having good, clean fun with my Christian friends.  God has taught me so much through Evelyn. 

 

Eight months or so after I’d gotten to know Evelyn, her health took a turn for the worse.  She couldn’t manage her home by herself, and so her family moved her to a nursing home, where she’s been for about 4 months now.  When she got into the nursing home, she was capable of dressing and feeding and cleaning herself.  She was perfectly autonomous—she only needed supervision so that someone could help her in case she fell.  I’ve continued to visit her frequently, and it’s been a great blessing.  But it’s also been hard to see.  She has gradually lost all the abilities she had when she moved in to the nursing home.  Her eyesight is failing, she can no longer walk nor feed nor dress herself.  She has trusted in Jesus all this time, and has had a remarkably cheerful attitude.  There are times she’s prayed for me and brought tears to my eyes.  But physically, she’s slowly slipping away. 

 

I was out of town last week and had promised to bring her crayons and some coloring and puzzle books.  I only wish I’d gotten them to her sooner—last week she could have used them.  Today she tried, and it was a struggle.  She lacks the strength and dexterity needed to color or write.  I fed her oatmeal this morning, as well as held her glass of milk up to her face so that she could sip it through the straw.  I thought to myself that this must be good practice for whenever I have children one day.  Sadly, this is what happens as we grow old.  We’re humbled to the point of needing people to care for our most basic needs since we can no longer do it ourselves.  We end up as helpless as a baby—and most end up about as cranky.  Evelyn has been a good example in all of this by keeping her hope fixed on Christ, trusting in Him no matter how hard things get, no matter how much her body aches.  She longs to go home to her Savior and see her husband again.  She’s been gloomy lately, but never without hope.  And the time I spend with her is precious. 

 

Evelyn considers me her best friend.  I can’t express what that means to me.  She says I’m the best friend she’s ever had.  I’m a foolish, distracted little girl with a severe lack of initiative, but God has stretched me in this past year to be faithful in a few things—faithful to my husband and to making a pleasant home for him, and to this beautiful widow and to making her final stretch toward home a more pleasant one.  I can regretfully say I have been ignorant of true love and true religion up until this past year—godly living is so much more than avoiding sin.  But I rejoice that God has put Evelyn in my life, to show me what it’s like to be a faithful friend in any season of life, being a help to the helpless, and to finally practice and experience what my God calls “true religion”.  Soli Deo Gloria!

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She who has ears, let her plug them!

August 12, 2008 at 10:40 am (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, Godly Living, Marriage, Submission) (, , , , )

It was a hot morning in early summer. I planned to mow the lawn that day and my dear husband, before he left for work, reminded me that I should wear earplugs to protect my hearing.

Grumble…”Why is it such a big deal to wear earplugs? I mowed my parents’ lawn for years without wearing earplugs! My dad never made me wear them.” This was not the first time we’d discussed this issue. Nathaniel had told me before that I should wear them, but I’d forgotten to do it the last time I’d worked in the yard. He patiently reminded me of the statistics, how a lawnmower was loud enough to damage your eardrum and potentially cause hearing loss as you grow older. He even showed me a chart on the internet based on scientific research. He was right! And still I grumbled on the inside.

So, an hour or so later, after Nathaniel had left for work and I had gone out to the garage to get the mower ready, I remembered that I should wear earplugs. I am a submissive wife, after all, I thought. So, with a sigh of resentful resignation, I obediently went back inside to get them.

As I mowed the lawn that day, I began to realize that I hadn’t been submissive at all. I asked myself the same question that I’d asked Nathaniel earlier: “Why is it such a big deal to wear earplugs?” I had made it a big deal by refusing to respond with joyful obedience. And when I finally did “obey”, it was only out of duty and not out of love for God or my husband. But, as is true in many cases, when we choose to obey even when our heart isn’t in it, God works in our hearts to change our attitudes. And He sure did in this situation. I had allowed my stubborn heart to rob me of joy–I’d been resentful and complaining in my heart all morning, leaving no room for rejoicing. When I let go of my foolish resentment, I began to see that my husband loved me and was looking out for me by insisting that I protect my ears. And he was patient with me when I was so mule-headed about it all! And I realized that my heavenly Father loved me enough to give me a husband as my head (and a quite wonderful one at that!) to lead me and protect me.

So what had been a spot of contention became a cause for joy and gratitude. I was humbled to realize that I am not nearly so submissive as I had imagined. I’ve taught others about what the Bible says concerning the relationship between husband and wife, and parents and children, and I thought somehow I had “mastered” submission. But none of us has truly “arrived”. I’m sure I will be growing in this area for the rest of my life!

I’m thankful to have come away from this experience with a better grasp of what it really looks like to honor the Lord by honoring my man: True submission is an attitude of the heart which results in outward respect and obedience. To think I do well by “dutifully” obeying is to miss the joy of true obedience and surrender to my God. And I will always have room for growth in this area–I’ve come to enjoy wearing earplugs to the glory of God, but who knows what other little issue will come up next to test me? It’s only a matter of time. By God’s grace, I hope to learn more quickly in the future! 🙂

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Return to Me

August 5, 2008 at 1:36 pm (A Slice of Life, Poetry) (, , , , , )

A couple of years ago I was reading through the book of Isaiah the prophet, arguably the most evangelistic (good-news communicating) book in the Old Testament. In it we see God’s purity and His hatred for sin, but at the same time His immense love for His people and His faithfulness to His covenant with Abraham–as well as an overwhelming number of references to the coming Messiah, the ultimate good news. Through Isaiah, and many of the Old Testament prophets and even through Jesus our Lord, God continually pleaded with the stubborn hearts of Israel, calling them to return to Him and escape the punishment that was due them because of their idolatry. Meditating on all that I was reading, I began to see God’s heart: His faithfulness, His holiness, His offer of mercy…that He desires for none to perish, but for all to come to have life in His name. We cannot begin to fathom the depth of God’s love, especially for those of us who believe.

The same offer is made to stubborn hearts today: turn from your idolatry to serve the Living and True God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom He sent to take away our sins. God’s heart didn’t change between the Old and New Testaments, as some claim; His plan has only been revealed more fully in His Son. As I meditated on the truths I was mining in my study, I wrote this poem, based almost entirely on verses scattered throughout Isaiah.

 

Stop your foolishness

Bowing before a block of wood

Your idol—though not from a tree

Will burn up just as quickly

Return to Me

Listen and receive My redemption

Consider all I have done

Consider all I have made

Are there any like unto Me?

I know of none

Return to Me

Know the shortness of your breath

Cease to do evil

Learn to do good

Seek Me while you may find Me

Call upon Me while I am near

Return to Me

Seek Me day by day

Delight in the Lord your God

I was pierced for your transgressions

O turn and be saved!

I am the only Redeemer

Return to Me

Return to Me

For I long to have compassion on you

Your sins though crimson

I will make white as snow

I will wash them away

I will forgive your transgressions

For My name’s sake

Return to Me

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A Slice of Life: An Invitation

July 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm (A Slice of Life) (, )

Welcome to “A Slice of Life,” where you can read and chew on what God has been doing in my life. I hope it will whet your appetite for the Bread of Life, our Savior Jesus Christ, as well as for the living water which He gives, namely His word.

I have been a Christian, walking with and growing in the Lord, for ten years now. I’m still a young woman (in my early twenties) with a lot to learn, but God has so blessed me over the past decade that I can’t help but want to share what He’s done so that others might also grow to treasure Him more and delight in pleasing Him! Through joys and tears, successes and failures, confidence and insecurity, praise and persecution, encouragement and lonliness, my great God and Savior has, by His word and His Holy Spirit at work in me, taught me His ways. And He’s especially taught me to cling to Him-my heart’s greatest treasure!

It is my prayer that as you see what He’s done in me and taught me through His word, you might be encouraged toward love and good deeds, delighting in God above all else. So I invite you to sample a slice of my life from time to time in hopes that you will then feast on that which is life indeed! 🙂

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