Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Proverb for Today

"The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: what are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings." Proverbs 31:1-3

Today, choose to be a woman who gives strength to her husband, her "king". Do not be a strength sponge. Be a woman who loves and honors her beloved, and shows him through actions.

Be an encourager to your beloved. This does not mean that you are always going to say the "sweet", easy things to him. Sometimes to encourage someone, you have to say hard things ~ pray, make sure your heart and attitude are right, and then gently say what needs to be said.

Give strength to your husband by making sure that what is important to him is important to you. Give strength to your husband by honoring him in word and action. Give strength to your husband by praying for him throughout the day ~ if you have children, enlist their prayers for him as well. Give strength to your husband by joyously receiving him home after a hard day's work. Give strength to your husband by showing appreciation for his provision for your family. Give strength to your husband by carefully managing what he provides.

Be a source of strength, not weakness!

Father God,
I lift up the women reading this post. I pray Father, that You would show them how they can specifically minister to their beloved today. I pray that You would build close ties between them, and that they would truely be women whose husbands trust in them. Draw them close to Yourself, and give them the strength of faith they need to be godly women.
I ask this in the Precious Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Day That Changed Our Lives

Three years ago, today, our lives were changed forever.

Our son, Tucker Joe, was stillborn in the early morning hours. We had gone into labor with a live, healthy baby, and then a few minutes before he was born, his cord broke and he bled to death. Truely, he went from the warmth and security of my womb into the waiting arms of Jesus.

We were without a pastor at our church then, but even though it was a Sunday morning, we had 2 pastors at our house, and 3 families that are so close to us that they *are* family.

What a terrible, precious time that was. I cannot adequately describe to you the horror of losing a child. The physical pain was so great that I was certain I would curl up into a ball and die. I felt like my heart had been ripped from within me and shattered. To go from the joy of delivering a child to the panic of he's not breathing and CPR, and prayers ~ pleading with God not to require the loss of a child; it is undescribable. And yet, God. God was there every moment. We were surrounded by excellent midwives who gave every effort for our dear son. We were surrounded by friends and family that *were* the arms of Jesus to us. My dearest friends cleaned up his little body and lovingly dressed him; we all spent time holding him ~ how can I describe the love that filled our home that morning? To see dear friends holding our still son, rocking back and forth as you would with a live baby...

God was ever present, and within those first moments we determined that we *would* find things within our tragedy to praise Him about. This is a list I made within those first days.

*Tucker was born and went home to heaven on a Sunday. The one day of the week when our friends and family were able to come at a moments notice and be with us.

*We had a home birth. Because we were home, we were able to touch, and talk to, and pray over our son as the midwives worked on him. We know exactly what was done for him, and he was never taken away from us. We had friends and family taking care of Tucker and us, instead of the strangers that would have been at the hospital.

*For a wonderful community of friends, who *are* family. For Tiffani and Daedra, who lovingly washed and clothed Tucker, as tenderly as if he were their own. For Brian and Julianne, who came and prayed and held us, and cried with us. For Julianne who recorded memories for us, things that we weren't aware of, who brought herbs for my healing, grape juice to drink, and took chicken home to cook. For Pastor Randy and Chris who cleaned my kitchen, even mopping the floor.

*For not just one, but two pastors who were willing to come and minister to us on a Sunday morning.

*For two competent midwives who gave a valiant effort on Tucker's behalf, performing CPR for over 45 minutes.

*For a helicopter crew who stayed and made sure that we knew that even at the hospital, they could not have done more.

*For family and friends who held us, cried with us, ministered to our children, and held and loved Tucker throughout the morning.

*That the first face Tucker saw was that of Jesus.

*For friends who have walked a similar path, and can understand our pain and grief.

*That the children were at Mom and Dad's ~ not our original plan. We thank God for making this provision that only He knew we would need.

*That Tucker was alive until the last 10 minutes or so of labor. He was perfectly formed and beautiful when he was born.

*That we can rest in God's sovereignty. We are not plagued with "What ifs". This is the path God has chosen for us to walk. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

We learned much of grief, but more importantly, we learned much about the God we love and serve. He is gracious and merciful, and He loves us enough to walk us along hard and difficult paths. There have been many, many times that this path has been steep and rocky, so rocky, we couldn't walk ~ during those times He has picked us up and carried us.

After the death of one of his children, Robert L. Dabney wrote: "I have learned rapidly in the school of anguish this week, and am many years older than I was a few days ago...Ah! when the mighty wings of the angel of death nestle over your heart's treasures, and his black shadow broods over your home, it shakes the heart with a shuddering terror and a horror of great darkness. To see my dear little one ravaged, crushed and destroyed... and to feel myself as helpless to give any aid - this tears my heart with anguish."

Truely, one of the hardest facts of our loss was that we were helpless. The death of a child is completely out of our control. We could have been at the fanciest, most high-tech hospital, and yet, there still would have been no saving our son. We prayed and pleaded with God; we called everyone we could think of to entreat Him on our behalf, and yet, we were helpless ~ humanly speaking. Our prayers did not fall on deaf ears. God heard. God understood. But His plan for us was not to raise Tucker up for His glory. In some way that I cannot (in this lifetime) understand, Tucker's death glorifies God more than his life would have. Even though he never drew breath outside of my womb, Tucker's life has touched people I have never met. The story of how we have walked our path has been shared by friends with people who are unknown to us. I have ministered to grieving Mama's all over this country via the internet ~ something I would not have been able to do had we not walked this path ourselves. Tucker's "life" has time and again glorified God, and what more does a Mama want for her children's lives?

God is gracious and good; merciful and tender. I am so thankful that we didn't walk through this without Him.

Happy birthday, Tucker. I miss you.

How very softly you tiptoed into my world. Almost silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footsteps have left upon my heart. (Unknown)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Narrow Gate

Have you ever been somewhat obliviously reading your Bible? I mean, not even thinking about a particular area of your life ~ thinking you are no where near any scripture that's going to speak to you about a particular thing, and WHAMMO! There it is.

Well, that happened to me yesterday. I was reading Matthew 7. There's nothing about being a godly wife there, right? Apparently, wrong.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matt. 7:13-14

This is such a familiar section of scripture, but as I read it yesterday I was impressed with how this not only applies to our salvation, but to being a godly wife as well. The advice and encouragement we get from the world, the leanings of our own flesh ~ these are the wide way. But to live a godly life; to serve our husbands, to sacrificially love them, to choose not to be hurt but to respond in a loving way ~ this is the narrow way.

I appreciate Jesus being upfront with us. The narrow gate leads to the hard way...which leads to life. If I take the wide, "easy" way it leads to destruction. If I live to please myself, not thinking about my beloved or honoring and submitting to him, eventually, I will destroy my marriage ~ much like the woman of folly in Proverbs 14. But if I choose the narrow gate, leading to the hard way, I will be like the wise woman who builds her house. It is often difficult to honor and submit to my husband. Not because he is a difficult man, but because my flesh rebels against it. It is difficult to love and serve him as I know God would have me, because essentially, I am a lazy soul. To serve him in a sacrificial manner, I must put aside the things *I* want to do, and think of him first. I have to use self-control to walk the narrow way because it sometimes means that I need to keep my bountious opinions to myself. It means that I have to exercise faith, because when I disagree with my beloved, I have to trust that God is guiding him anyway.

There are many ways in which being a godly wife is a hard and narrow way, but it is the way that leads to life, and for our marriages, it leads to great blessing. The way who find it are few ~ I pray you will bless your husband by being one of those few.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

An Opportunity You Don't Want To Miss!

Hi friends,
I know that some of you may still be enjoying your Independence Day holiday, but I just wanted to take a moment today to let you know about a very special event that I would like to invite you to be a part of.
A few days ago I invited to you to get aquainted with the Estes family, who operate www.handsandhearts.com. I'm taking part in an online benefit to bless this fellow homeschooling family, who have seen far more than their share of trials and difficulties this past year.
In fact, dozens of the Estes family's friends & associates have contributed a truly HUGE package of wonderful homeschool and family resources as a "thank you gift" to folks who can help us in this worthy effort.

Estes benefit is a huge resource package that is yours for a donation. All proceeds go directly to the Estes family ~ all the resources within the package have been generously donated by the individuals and/or companies.

You truly won't believe all the resources that have been donated for this. It is really an amazing outpouring of love and support. Please take a look... YOU can be a real blessing to a family in need... and in return, YOUR FAMILY will receive can also receive a blessing from the wonderful selection of resources that you'll find there.
This benefit will only last for eight days, so take a look now... and then please tell a homeschooling friend or two about it! Be sure to check out the Estes Benefit!
God bless,

Monday, July 2, 2007

Are You Willing to Be A Blessing?

This is a bit off topic, but I want to encourage you to come back on Thursday, July 5! I will have an announcement. I've never done anything like this here, but this is a very special exception.

Until then, I would like to encourage you to visit the Estes family blog. Read through, get aquainted with this dear family, and mostly - please pray for them! You will be encouraged as you read through Kate's blog - I always am.

Then, on the 5th, come back here, and I will have a post tell you how you can be a blessing to the Estes family!