Monday, March 30, 2009

A Verse To Chew On

A Verse to Chew On is my take on a weekly devotional. It used to appear, as a page, on the ApronStrings Ministries web site. It will now be featured here every Monday...between loads of laundry. =]

If you are new to ApronStrings, you may be wondering why I call this what I call this, instead of just a weekly devo. I think I can explain that best by taking you through his week's verse...

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8 NIV

That is my desire, and I bet it's yours too. Whether we are married or single, empty-nesters or knee deep in Cheerios (or somewhere in the middle), a college student, career woman or a full time homemaker - if we are a follower of Christ, we want to do God's will. It becomes our common denominator, connecting as Sister~Friends, those of us lacking similar interests in other areas. But how do we do the will of God? Good question.

To do God's will we need to know what it is. God's will is synonymous with His Word, the Bible. We won't specifically find chapter and verse naming who we should marry or spelling out which job offer we should accept. But, as we become more familiar with the truths of God's Word for life in general, we will experience His leading in even the most personal areas of our lives.

The psalmist says, in our verse, that God's Law is written in his heart. This, in part, refers to the Big 10, (all those "thou shalt not's"), but it's not limited to those. I believe that this statement is referring to the Bible as a whole. And notice that it says that God's Word is within his heart, not just his head.

The Lord has given us a brain to read, comprehend and memorize the Bible. But for God's Word to really affect a change in our lives and to help us discern His will, we must get it from our heads and into our hearts. We must digest it - thus, A Verse to Chew On. =]

Joshua 1:8 puts it this way, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from you mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

What the writer refers to as 'meditate on', I call 'chewing on'. Meditating on a Bible verse is not some weird mystical thing that requires sitting in the lotus position. It is like savoring a bite of juicy steak or rich chocolate cake before swallowing it. When you chew on God's Word you slow down the reading process. You take the time to contemplate what it's saying and how you should apply it to your own life. It becomes part of you - committed to your memory. Not as an academic exercise, but because, out of spending time prayerfully considering it, you have digested it.

I will be posting a new verse each Monday - hopefully it will give you something to chew on all week and increase your appetite for more of God.

"It is my desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8

Thanks for joining me as together we "taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Aprons and High Heels

I learned a couple of things this morning while catching a few minutes of the Today Show...

1) This is National Women's History Month! (Seems like I should have already known that being a woman and all).
2) In 1968, during a Miss America Pageant protest, radical feminists threw aprons and high heels into a 'freedom trash can'. (Why????)

I am all for women having equal rights and pursuing the career of their choice, but really - what were they thinking?! Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a bit of a thing for aprons, but I'm going to start my way at the bottom of this historic protest and work my way up!

High heels tossed into a 'freedom trash can"! Hum...OK, I'll start by being totally honest with you all. There are times that my toes have wanted to be freed from a pair of heels and I do tend to spend more time in my Nike's these days, but I would never think of trashing my high heels for a plethora of reasons. Like, high heels are just way too cute! - so many styles and colors, so little time and money. And how about the fact that they make my feet look smaller and my legs look longer - both an excellent thing! Last on my high heel short list - no matter what the scale says, my feet slide right into them...the same can not be said of my jeans. =]

Sister~Friend, I don't know about you, but I think we can pursue our goals and dreams in fun, uniquely feminine footwear, if we want to! (Any Amen's out there?)

What do you think of when you see an apron?...your mom, grandma or and episode of I Love Lucy? Radical women's libbers defined the apron as 'an uniform of oppression'. I see an apron as a universal symbol for women that crosses the lines of culture, generation and socio-economic status. I see an article of clothing that reminds me that women have been both hard working and nurturing for generation after generation. In different eras of our society, aprons have been more than an utilitarian garment. They became an artists canvas of sorts, on which women told stories and reflected their personalities and creativity. Another plus for aprons...the Bible says that love covers a multitude of sin - without being sacrilegious, aprons do too...the sin of too much chocolate and too few laps around the neighborhood with the family dog! =]

All joking aside, as visually impactful as tossing high heels and aprons into a trash can may have been, the action did not, in and of itself, provide the freedom that women were and may yet be seeking.

Only God can do that. Centuries before women stood up for equality, the Lord declared us equal.
"You are all (children) of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26-28

In God's eyes we were all created equal regardless of our nationality or gender. Regardless of the fact that some of us prefer jeans and tennis shoes while others don perky aprons and strappy heels.

The only fashion choice of preference is the one mentioned in the verse above. We must clothe ourselves in faith in Christ Jesus. When we do, we are God's children - heirs of all that He promises. And He promises freedom - true freedom, (see Matthew 8:36), and frankly, who doesn't want to walk around in that!

So girls, let's celebrate being women in what's left of this Women's History Month. Let's celebrate that God has created each of us uniquely and with a purpose. Let celebrate that while our pay scale may not always be equal with that of men, God sees us as equals in His sight - no one gender having importance over another. And let's celebrate the fact that in Jesus we can be truly free whether we choose to keep our aprons and heels or not!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just a Mom

Last Thursday was quite the day for me. On my agenda - the monthly meeting of ApronStrings Home Edition. On God's agenda - a little pre-ministry, ministry.

My girls and I were running a quick errand between the last school bell of the day and last minute prep for my women's group. We were on our way home, driving the posted 55 mph while I rattled off the impending to-do list and tried to motivate the troops. Something quickly caught my eye in the lane of on coming traffic...a boy and his bicycle!

Both lay in a twisted mass on the asphalt. Cars were pulling over and people were getting out. I felt compelled to do the same. It must have been God's leading. My mind said, "...but the girls are in the don't know what you'll find when you get to won't know what to do..." Even as my mind whizzed away, I found myself succinctly pulling my car safely to the shoulder, calmly calling 911 and crossing the street.

Of the others that had stopped some directed traffic, thankfully one announced that he was an off duty EMT. All I could think was, "I am just a mom". I began to pray as the off duty professional but the boys helmet and backpack off and began to access his injuries. At some point the boy regained consciousness and began to struggle out of fright and shock. I was called upon to stabilize his head and neck, trying to find a place to position my hands that wouldn't cause more trauma to the obvious injuries.

When emergency response arrived, the off duty EMT and I were replaced by uniform clad professionals. I was now face to face with a boy the same age as my youngest daughter. In panic and shock, he was questioning everything that was being done to help him. On my knees I told him that I was a mom, and that I knew that his mom would want him to relax and let the men help him. He did. I stayed with him until the ambulance doors closed.

I got back in my car, helped my girls process what they had witnessed and returned home. Then I began to shake at the trauma I had seen. As I replayed everything that happened and things that I did that I didn't think I had the stomach for, I remembered the thought I'd had when I first reached the boy..."I am just a mom" and I saw God's hand all over that situation.

God had protected that boy from being hit by a vehicle going 55 mph as he lay in the middle of the road, (his accident was caused by his bike hitting something on the shoulder of the road). God provided people to direct traffic and an off duty EMT to drive by at just the right time. And then I felt God whisper that He had provided me - just a mom - for a boy who needed just that kind of comfort.

I'm not patting myself on the back. Almost everything in me was scared and ill equipped for the situation. Everything in me but the Holy Spirit, who led me and guided me through it all.

As I processed this I wondered how many other situations God has called me to over the years, (none as obviously critical and immediate as this), that I missed responding to because I was either in route to something else or because I was scared or felt unqualified. God not only supernaturally empowered me to minister to the practical and emotional needs of this boy, He also made sure that ApronStrings Home Edition took place as well.

What I was able to do for this 13 year old boy seems small in comparison to what I learned about the blessing of obedience and the faithfulness of my Father.

"Lord Jesus, help me to see those that are hurting in my path today. Give me the courage and wisdom to be your hands and feet."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cherish the Moments

Two weeks ago my husband received some bad news in the way of lab results. This is nothing new for us. Frankly the doctors didn't think my husband would still be with us at this point. We fondly refer to him as the Miracle Man. Apparently the Great Physician had plans that the doctors didn't know about.

Although we have lived for 8 years knowing that my husband has a non-treatable illness, his results did take us a little by surprise. He says he feels pretty good, he looks pretty good :) and he is still working to support our family and busy in ministry. On paper, his situation is a little disconcerting but we are remembering that the Lord is the sustainer of his life.

One good thing that comes from news like this is the reminder that tomorrow is promised to no man. I, along with my husband and daughters, learned a long time ago not to take even the simplest things for granted. Things like time together, a sunset, or birthdays. But the longer we've gone past the experts estimation of my husbands life span, the more we've lost the appreciation of the ordinary. This news made me wake up and smell the coffee and even enjoy the decaf version of know - the days that don't have the extra caffeine zing! :)

We received some sad news last week. Friends of ours lost their young adult son to an accidental death. My oldest daughter is friends with their youngest son, my husband and I have admired and enjoyed this mom and dad. Our hearts break for them.

This entry is not meant to drag you down with the challenges and grief that this life holds, but rather to encourage us all to enjoy each day and every one we love just as they come. This week, let us all take time to smell the coffee so to speak, whether it comes in some exotic coffee house blend or a generic grocery store can. Thank God for the obvious blessings in life, ask Him to help you see the ones hidden in the mundane or challenging situations. Hug your husband and your kids and tell them you love them, really love them!

Monday, March 9, 2009

2 Certain Things

There are 2 things that are certain in life. No, I'm not talking about death and taxes, although that date in April is just over a month away now!

I'm talking about 2 things that are certain in my life! The first is Laundry Day. Almost every week for the last 16 years, Monday is laundry day. It was just over 16 years ago that I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. I traded in an 'In-basket' that was successfully empty at the end of each day, for a laundry-basket that seemed to continually 'overfloweth'. Back then we were apartment dwellers and after a little research, I discovered that Mondays were the lowest traffic days in the laundry room of my complex. That began the Monday ritual that is only preempted if Christmas falls on that day of the week. This may sound a bit legalistic to you, but I found it a real morale booster to begin my 'work week' with a chore that shows tangible evidence of a job well done. Of course once everyone returns home at the end of the day and changes clothes, it starts all over again. But hey - I just choose to look at this as job security! =]

The second thing that I'm certain of is 'trouble'. My life is peppered with it. Some of it is of my own making, (a running joke between my husband and I for almost 20 years of marriage - every morning he tells me to try and stay out of 'it' when kissing me goodbye =]). Some of it comes for a visit without being invited! Rude, but part of life in a fallen world.

Trouble can present itself in various forms - relational, medical, financial, personal and even national. Trouble can thrust even the pluckiest of us into crisis mode. You know, where you either start spinning, (like my washer is right now), or when you just want to roll up in a ball and hide. I've done both -neither works really well.

I was reminded of something this weekend that the Lord taught me several years ago when I and my family were facing trouble in every area that I mentioned above. (Well, OK, it wasn't a national crisis but it felt like one!) Anyway, the Lord showed me that there are actually 3 responses in a crisis; spin, roll up in a ball, or see it as an opportunity to grow! To grow as a person and in my relationship with Him. This mindset doesn't deny the fear or pain of the situation, it just chooses to focus on Jesus in the midst of it and learn from Him.

The reminder that I got this weekend came from my pastor. In his sermon he explained that the word 'crisis' in Chinese consists of 2 characters. One translates 'trouble' and the other 'opportunity'.

Trouble in this life is as sure as an overflowing laundry basket for me come next Monday morning. The difference between the 2 is that laundry is mundane, where as trouble presents an opportunity for me to change, grow and develop...sounds like an adventure to me!

Jesus said in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Now here's a verse to chew on. Jesus confirms it - we will have trouble. But He also tells us that He will give us peace in the midst of it and He reminds us that He is bigger than all of our troubles and fears!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Blogging has Begun...

Well, here it introduction into the blog world. After some prompting from friends, I've decided to give it a shot.

I'm calling it Taste and See based on one of my favorite verses from the Bible - Psalm 34:8, "Taste and see that the Lord is good". I have and He is!

I am a stay at home mom of 2 great teenage girls, been married to my guy for almost 20 years and I get the priviledge of speaking at Christian women's events. From laundry to ministry, I have seen the Lord do some pretty amazing things.

Some days my life looks like an episode of I Love Lucy, other days my life looks on the surface a bit mundane and monotonus. What I've come to find out is that everyday is an adventure ready to be discovered.

I gave up on perfection a long time ago...I never hit that standard anyway...and I have opted for a life of passion. I am choosing to be passionately engaged every day. Some days are a bit messy and others are a hoot and a half, but no two are exactly the same.

Here, I will share what the Lord teaches me through His Word, others around me and life circumstances. I'm betting that my life looks a lot like yours and that you will find both hope and joy when taking a look into what goes on in my home.

One of my favorite things to do is to sit at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a friend and just chat. It's my desire that this feels just like that.

Join me as we taste and see...