Saturday, May 23, 2015

Radiant with Joy

When we acknowledge our need for help, God will help us. ~Ben Carson

Her face is lustrous, glowing with a brilliance which does not come from a bottled cosmetic. Francine Rivers is someone whose bright eyes and joyful smile beckoned me each day I sat in her classes and joined her at lunch. I didn't want the week to end. 

Does Francine Rivers' glow come from her RITA awards, her induction into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, or the feature-length film version of her novel, The Last Sin Eater? Her novels have been translated into nearly thirty different languages, but even that doesn't produce her glow.

I believe her shining countenance comes from Psalm 34:4, Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. Francine wrote for the secular market before Christ saved her. She realized she wasn't writing edifying material and worked hard to make sure none of the titles would be reprinted. 

She looked to Him for help --

Help to deal with a three year writer's block after her salvation.

Help to face her past abortion and to write The Atonement Child.

Help each day while Francine writes as a form of worship, challenging her readers to draw closer to God.

If you desire your face to be radiant with joy, go to God for help in facing each trial and opportunity God brings your way. Help for the grief in losing a loved one, or sadness dealing with the sins of one you love. Help with the pain in rejection or lost dreams. Help with fear as you step out in the ministry God gifted to you. 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Generations, Past and Present

No one is poor who has a Godly mother. ~Abraham Lincoln

I’ve been thinking the last few days of what I loved most about my mother. But I’ve found I can’t choose just one attribute, because all of who she was intertwined, shaping her soul until Jesus shone from her eyes.

She was a woman of substance. A Christian clear to her bones. My mother lived what she professed. She was determined to live life with joy. Even in the hard times she held on to joy with a tenacity that refused to let go. 

I loved shopping with my mother, even as a child and teenager. Women would stop her and ask what she used on her complexion. There were others, strangers to us, who would stop her and ask if she’d pray for them, their children, or for themselves. She was so approachable – largely because of her beautiful smile.

My mother was a lady, and she despaired of ever making me into one. She loved all things pretty. Her grandmother had a china closet full of beautiful dishes, yet she never used them. Mom decided if she ever had anything pretty she would use it. And she did – every day. She never understood why, when there were so many beautiful folders, someone would use a manila one, why pour your drink in a plain glass if you could just as easily use a crystal goblet, or why anyone would use a plain tablet when the stores carried pretty ones.

It’s a joy to see my Melanie reflect Grandma Cessna in so many ways. She’s always fixing a gift for someone. Last week her neighbor was sick, yet had to go to work. It was ballgame night and Melanie was fixing a quick supper of Ramen Noodle soup for her family – a switch for the healthy meals she usually fixes. She made double and took it to her neighbor. Sunshine called her and felt so blessed that Melanie had brought it to her. It was probably the easiest meal she could have shared, but God takes our offerings and blesses them when they are shared in love.

My mother was also very organized. When the family was together for the holidays, every meal had a written (detailed) menu, complete with which table setting she planned to use, even down to how many highchairs we needed. Melanie plans things out in detail; each month every picture is printed and placed in albums, describing the occasion. She creates spreadsheets for her cleaning schedules and she color coordinates her highlighter with the cover of the book she is reading.

My mother was an encourager. This Sheltering Tree bit did not begin with me. She sheltered with tiny bags of surprises – cookies or chocolates, gift books or hand painted china mugs, fun-to-write-on note cards or special pens. Not only does Melanie have an active encouragement ministry, but her daughter already shelters others. Morgan is happiest when fixing a special bag for her friends, teachers or family. Mom left behind journals in which she had recorded every card and letter she sent. Both Melanie and Morgan delight in sending mail, too.

There have been so many things I have wished to tell my mother throughout the last six months, but one story would have touched her soul – Melanie has her children’s pictures take on their birthday. So from January-March they are at the photographer’s four times. There was a new photographer this year, Mary, and they got to know her through the appointments. As they were planning their fifth time for a group picture, Melanie mentioned that they should take Mary a thank-you gift. Morgan said, “Maybe we should get her a Bible so she’ll know about God.” Then she asked Melanie if they could ask what Mary believed.

After their pictures were taken and they had chatted a bit, Morgan spoke up and asked what Mary believed. Mary explained her religion (Wiccan – her grandmother was burned for her “faith” in this). Then Mary asked Morgan what she believed. Shawn and Melanie listened with tears in their eyes as 7-year-old Morgan shared that she believed God created the world, that Jesus was God’s Son, and the devil was an angel who sinned against God. Morgan’s heart for God is one of my biggest joys. 

So on this Mother’s Day of 2015, I look back a generation and I am so very thankful for a mother who loved God, her family and others. I look forward a generation and I’m thrilled with the heart for others that my Melanie inherited. And then I see Melanie’s Morgan, and I know my mother’s God lives on in her great granddaughter’s little heart. Four generations serving God and sheltering others. God is good – always -- and I am blessed.

Laura Boggess
Beauty in His Grip Button


Women With Intention

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Selfish Pursuits or Sacrificial Love?

Love consumes us only in the measure of our self surrender. St. Therese Lisieux

We have come to the final chapter of The Set-apart Woman. I have been convicted many times during our study of this book. One question stands out in this chapter: Are you continuing to embrace selfish pursuits, or are you ready to live a life of sacrificial love?

If you choose sacrificial love, it will soon become overwhelming to see all the needs around us – in our communities and around the world. Leslie said, “If you surrender your body, your life, your time, and your resources to His purposes, you can be sure that He will open your eyes to the ways in which He desires you to become His hands and feet.”

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I been living selfishly?

2. Do I feel God calling me to a lifestyle of sacrificial love?

3. What are some practical steps I can begin taking?

4. Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone in order to do this?

I liked Leslie’s admonition to be a Christian, not a humanitarian. She describes a humanitarian as one who “showcases the good side of humanity and celebrates our human ability to make the world a better place without God’s help or involvement. It has nothing to do with the glory of God, and everything to do with the glory of man."

About choosing to be a Christian she says, “The Gospel is both spiritual and practical. We can’t just preach to others about Jesus; we must also do the works that Jesus did. But as we tend to people’s physical needs, we must not overlook their much deeper need for salvation of the soul.”

We can look at our community, our nation and the world around us and wonder what good could come about with only two hands and feet. However, “Each step of sacrificial love will expand your capacity to take on even bigger burdens for the Kingdom of God (Leslie Ludy).”

I’m moving to the side of Sacrificial Love…which side do you choose? 

The Set-apart Woman: Journaling Sheet 9

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Set-apart Woman Journaling Sheet 8

The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian. --AW. Tozer

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Anxiety or Confidence?

Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength -- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. Corrie ten Boom

The above quote by Corrie ten Boon grabbed me -- Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. How many days have I lacked strength because of my worrying?

Do any of you play the "What If" game? What if RB died, what if one of the grandchildren were abducted, what if Shawn or Jonathon fell off a roof, what if one of the girls had a serious illness...

Leslie's section on "Take Fearful Thoughts Captive" -- especially this directive -- spoke to me:

We may not be able to keep fearful thoughts from entering our minds, but we can kick them out the moment they arrive so that they don't take root inside our hearts and control our lives.

Tweet: Do let anxiety take root in your heart. Think on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. #ourshelteringtree Tweet: Do let anxiety take root in your heart. Think on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. #ourshelteringtree 

These are the steps she gives for abolishing fearful thoughts:

1. Fill your mind with truth. Memorize some of the Psalms (She suggests Psalms 27, 34, 37, 46, 91, and 112).

2. Pray for someone else. Prayer for others...turns us outward instead of inward.

3. Ask God for strength to take authority over fearful thoughts.

4. Train your mind to dwell on His truth. (I love using the Philippians 4:8 list God tells us to think on: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

5. Develop the habit of immediately saying no to the Enemy's foreboding suggestions. 

Proverbs 31:25 says: Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Make sure your fashion statement includes strength and dignity. Wear a smile, and chase your anxiety away.

#livefree Thursdays

After My Coffee Blog Hop Linky Party at Prairie Dust Trail

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Set-apart Woman: Verse Sheet 2

The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the book case. Spurgeon 

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