Saturday, March 19, 2011

Armor Up!

"So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.”
                                                                                      ~Ephesians 6:13

Shawn and I smile as we watch our seven-year-old, Ethan, dash across the hardwood floor while reciting, “Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God.”

Yes, our kids are crazy. No, they don’t usually run around the house quoting Scripture. It just so happens that I came across the Ephesians 6:13-17 (Armor of God project) and wanted to use this as their next scripture memory. You can find some awesome resources HERE:

The kids had so much fun with this project that the boys asked to do more than one a day and also reminded me to keep up with it. Even Morgan gobbled it up. She would take forever coloring her little piece of armor for the day while we waited patiently for her to finish; of course, big brother couldn’t understand why every piece of clothing/armor was pink – (her favorite color).

I experienced life’s “Pop Quiz” Friday. Here’s the rundown in present tense:  I am in a department store enjoying an outing with my two youngest. My eye catches the most beautiful bird cage and I stop my double stroller and wander a few feet away to behold this beauty. Gone only thirty seconds, I suddenly notice an elderly lady – waiting -- since she is blocked by my stroller. I immediately start apologizing: “I’m so-o sorry. I didn’t know you were there!” Her reply, “I was here.” Spoken like a true choleric! She might not have meant anything by that statement, but sometimes the way people word things sets me in panic attack mode.

I didn’t think too much of it and tried to stay out of her way the next time I saw her. Later, while I was in my van, I started beating myself up about being so stupid to have had my stroller blocking the aisle for those few seconds. It’s a good thing I can’t think fast on my feet, since my delayed reaction supplied some “really good comebacks” I could have used, but would not have been appropriate!

Wait! What does God’s Word say about your feet...? What if I had chosen to respond unkindly? “Listen lady, your kids are grown, you have food, sheltering and clothing; what makes you think you need dibs on the whole store at your disposal?” I doubt three-year-old Morgan would have been impressed with my angry tone, and certainly the lady would NOT have seen me wearing my salvation shoes that should have loudly declared peace.

Belt of truth, breastplate of God’s approval, shoes showing peace with God, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword, which is the Word of God -- All at our ready disposal, if we only take and use them. Satan is NOT nice. As Landon prayed, “…We don’t like the devil ‘cause he’s a big meanie and You’re the nice guy…” God knows we need His armor for the attacks we are sure to encounter.
If I don’t suit up before I go out to fight my battles, then how will my children and those around me create a habit of grabbing their gear before their battles, too?

Before you head out, make sure your armor is securely fastened by staying close to God and His Word. I love the NLT which puts it like this: "So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks,and when it's all over YOU WILL BE STANDING UP.”  Just visualize that! Should we get wounded over and over if God has given us the best of the best armor? Can your feet be heard running away from those “…fiery darts aimed at you by Satan…?” They better be. Now, forward, march, hut, two, three, four, forward, march…

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Sheltering Myself

A friend will shake your hand in success and he will wash your feet in sorrow.

I have been spoiled today.  Life has been a wee bit tiring the last couple months.  Fun times sprinkled throughout doctors appointments while trying to get some physical issues on track, routine school days, and lots of "busy."  Busy is good, but I've learned the hard way that in the middle of the busyness a little play recharges my batteries.  So today I sheltered myself and played a bit.

My friend, Lorna, and I went to The Ruby Pear Tea Room.  Is there anything more relaxing than drinking tea in a beautiful old house?  We shared news about our families, the good things happening in our ministries and discussed forgiveness -- the giving and receiving of it.

What is it about sharing with a friend that soothes our hearts?  It sweeps down the cobwebs hanging around our hearts and airs out the chambers.  I know God ordained friendship because His friends were important enough to be counted in His Bible.  Abraham was called the friend of God, God talked to Moses face to face as a man talks to a friend, and David was a man after God's own heart.

God has given me many friends throughout the years.  The first friend I remember having was Debbie.  Her family operated a farm and I loved spending the night with them.  They were such a big happy family.  Last year I had the privilege of visiting their Pennsylvania home once again and all the special memories flooded back.  I remember the smell of homemade pasta sauce and the taste of peanut butter Easter eggs Mrs. DeHaven made for each of her children.  ...Just two simple memories, but recalling them brings me great joy.

I had other childhood friends -- some for a season, and many who became lifetime friends.  Some friends I don't hear from for long periods of time, but when we make contact, we pick right up and share our lives again as though there has never been a break in the action.  I have friends I can call or text when I need prayer,  friends I can count on to listen while I talk through things that are bothering me, and friends who mentor, encourage and shelter me.  I am so blessed. 

I'm doubly blessed because I also have a friend who will stick closer to me than a brother.  I have a baby brother -- six years my junior -- who cares for me like a big brother.  He would do anything within his power to help me if I were in need.  But I have a friend closer than Craig.  His name is Jesus.

Several hymns I've known since childhood come to mind when I think of my Friend --  "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear..."  "There's no a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one..."  "I've found a friend in Jesus, He's everything to me..." "Friendship with Jesus, fellowship divine..."  And one that's a bit newer, but summarizes it beautifully -- "Yes, in Him I'm fully trusting; yes, in Him I'll conquer all. For I know He saves and keeps me, and He'll never let me fall..."

* * * * *

Lorna brought me a gift today and I wanted to share it with you.  She created the card and it's so special -- ivy leaves, with the words inscribed: Friendship is a Sheltering Tree -- perfect, huh? 

Tea for two...
Catching up on things from yesterday and looking forward to all the tomorrows! 
But I'm especially glad we have today. 
Lovingly, Lorna

There's one friend I didn't mention in my list of friends -- RB is my best friend.  Those of us who can count our husbands as our best friends are truly blessed. 

I wanted to use my new dish, as well as prepare a special surprise for RB.  He's been mentioning something about a chocolate cake, so I took two hours to prepare a treat for him.  I'd post the recipe, but whew...I really don't think many of you want to make one.  Why?  It took 4 bowls, 3 pans, a mixer and more measuring cups, spoons, spatulas and spreaders than I want to dirty in a week.  RB's pleasure did make it worthwhile, but I think I'll try something faster next time I want to bless him -- like penuche.  Here's the recipe for that:


3 cups brown sugar
1 cup milk

Slowly bring to a boil.  Boil until mixture reaches soft ball stage.
Remove from heat, add a teaspoon of vanilla and a stick of butter. 
Cool then beat until the mixture begins to thicken.
Add 1/2 cup of nuts, if desired.
Pour into 8" square glass dish.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just a Kid Beneath it All

The imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived His.  ~Henri Nouwen

The policeman stood before me, dressed in his blue uniform, hat perched on top of his  head, ticket book in hand.  On a closer look I saw the radio in his pocket, shiny badge on his hat and, gulp, hand cuffs.  Surely this "policer man" wouldn't be too hard on a grandma.  Think again!  He was giving me a ticket for speeding, not wearing a seat belt AND being bad.  Wait a minute -- being bad? 

I looked a little closer at the face under the hat.  Hmmm...beautiful bright blue eyes, deep dimples -- and were those pjs peeking out under his police jacket?  Sure enough, it was just a kid beneath the police clothes. 

I quickly paid my fine of two cookies but couldn't help but think how often I, too, feel like a kid beneath my clothes -- an imposter.  Someone sees my daughters and comments on the great parenting job I did.  I remember the days I was impatient, when I expected too much out of my three-year old, and spent too many hours at the computer instead of planning tea parties.  I'm just a kid beneath my parenting garb.

I hear, "You're so organized," and in my mind I open every cupboard and closet. I may have all the fancy file folders, a beautiful piece of furniture masquerading as a file cabinet and matching hangers, but behind my numbered tubs of craft supplies I'm just a kid, trying to mark off my entire to do list in record time.

Then there's the Bible teacher title.  I love digging out those nuggets of truth, following the people of the Bible through the days of their lives, trying to connect them to my own life and to the lives of those I teach.  Yet behind all my manuscripts, my Bibles of many translations and books of Bible backgrounds, there's a kid who feels like I've barely scratched the surface of what God wants to share with me. 

Do any of you have days you just feel like a kid trying to dress up as someone else?  I wonder who I am if I'm not the good mother, organized homemaker, deep Christian I'm dressed up to be.  And in the middle of my wondering the Holy Spirit gently whispers, "Your identity isn't what you do or fail to do.  Your identity is who you are in Christ." 

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

How that frees the bondage in my heart.  I don't have to be what people say I am.  I can be real, authentic. 

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it (Colossians 3:12).

I like the style choices of God.  He has chosen me--and my all-purpose dress.  I have to grow into some of the wardrobe; I'm not a kid beneath it all, but a woman with a heart for God--filled with the Holy Spirit.