Monday, November 25, 2013

The Loving Care of Our Father God

God's Words:

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
~Psalm 27:10

This verse popped out at me in a big way this morning during my devotions.  See it circled in pen at the bottom? You are probably thinking right now to yourself, "Wow, she is highlighter happy".  Why yes, yes I am and happy to admit it!  I love me some God's Word!  By the time I'm 95 and about ready to crawl (or be carried by a very strong hospice nurse) into my death bed, I will probably have highlighted every verse in my much-adored Bible.

Anyway, as I read this verse this morning, it struck me that many children are forsaken by their parents, in many different ways; whether done on purpose or not.

There are foster children whose parents aren't capable for whatever reason of taking proper care of them.  Maybe these parents have been abused and are carrying on the horrible cycle of abuse to the next generation.  Maybe they are in the bondage of addiction, trying to numb their own personal pain, leaving them unable to give their children the loving care and attention each child desperately needs.

Then, of course, there are the children in abusive or negligent homes who haven't been rescued yet.  My heart aches so painfully for them and I wish I could save them all.  My own mother and her siblings were children just like this. They were never rescued from their extremely mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically sick, abusive father...until the day he drank himself to death when they were all grown-up or nearly grown-up. And even now, many years later, they are each still carrying the wounds and bearing the scars of how they were hurt by the hands and mouth of their own father.

Yet, God always has a plan of healing and restoration for these hurting souls; they have only to reach out to the Savior Jesus Christ and find his supernatural healing from all their pain, shame, and bitterness.  And in Him they will also find forgiveness - not only for themselves, but also the ability to forgive those who hurt them.

In addition, this verse ultimately makes me think of all the millions and millions of aborted children in the history of the world.  Yes, there has always been abortion, you know; just not always a "legal right" where there are actual massively-funded centers in which a woman can "safely" have her child dismembered, sucked, and many other despicably-cruel-and-taboo-to-mention-methods of removal.

These precious, innocent lives may be forsaken by their very own parents whom they were given to by God to care for, love, and cherish for all their life long.  After all, this is an imperfect world with imperfect people suffering from many forms and degrees of pain and sin.

But all of these beloved of God are NOT forsaken by their Heavenly Father. He WILL receive them, somehow, someway.  It's a promise.  Right there in His Word.

I think of all the aborted babies being excitedly welcomed into heaven by their Heavenly Father and His angels when their earthly parents haven't chosen to keep them, for whatever reason.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Psalm 68:5

As the wife of a pregnancy resource center director, I am more aware than the average person of the fact that many girls and women who end up choosing abortion have felt forced to do so. Some have no support from their family and friends, either financially or emotionally.  Some have boyfriends or husbands or parents who order them to kill their child.  Many others are ashamed to be pregnant in the first place and are desperate to hide their secret from the world. Or feel like their future will be ruined if they bring the baby to term, regardless of whether they choose to raise it themselves or give it up for adoption.

Unless one has been in the situation of an unwanted pregnancy, I dare say it is difficult to truly understand the excruciating thought and decision processes that these women (and their partners) go through before they make that final decision to keep, give up, or abort their child. And my heart goes out to each of them, because I don't think anyone really desires to be in that situation. 

Then I think of the many amazing people who have followed God's call to be foster parents. Oh, the selfless, self-sacrificing work they do, day in and day out, and throughout each night of caring for hurting little ones!  The stories I have heard firsthand from my fostering friends have made me cry, both in sadness and happiness.  Foster parents are my heroes (along with single parents). These specially-gifted people amaze me.  I am constantly in awe of their sacrificial love for needy children.  God comes to the aid of these children by providing temporary (and oftentimes long-term) caretakers:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress...
~James 1:27

Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
~Job 29:11-12

And I think of the numerous people who have followed the Lord's call to rescue orphans by becoming adoptive parents.  Now THOSE children are the especially "wanted" ones!  They are specifically chosen to become one's son or daughter!  Wow.  The gift of adoption is like none other and blows my mind whenever I really think about it.  God reaches out to these parentless children - in the form of new parents who want so much to have them be their very own children.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
~John 14:18

...for in You the fatherless find compassion...
~Hosea 14:3e

God sets the lonely in families...
~Psalm 68:6a

So the comfort we find in today's key verse is this:  Whenever a child is forsaken for whatever reason, God has promised, and always follows through, to receive them in one way or another.  He promises to provide for their needs, somehow, someway.  He offers them complete healing through the power of His compassionate love, His Spirit, and the saving, forgiving work of His Son which enables them to be set free and whole from the hurt of their past.  And He promises to love and take care of them, when they are unloved by seemingly everyone else. Even if that means joyfully welcoming them into heaven before they take their first breath on earth.

Have your ever suffered in some way by being forsaken by your parent(s)?  Or do you know of someone who has or is enduring this pain?  How have you, or they, been received by God?

Or perhaps you feel the call to help children such as this?  How do you feel God specifically calling you to reach out to them and be His arms and feet of love and care and protection for them?

In Christ,


Friday, November 15, 2013

My Very First Guest Post at Hip Homeschool Moms!

God's Words:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

~Ephesians 3:20-21

I'm still on Cloud 9 about the fact that the awesome ladies at selected my post about Thanksgiving for their guest post today!  This is a big, huge deal for a newbie writer like me, who will now be reaching hundreds and thousands of readers through this very cool website with the Word of God and the lesson He has taught me and my children about being thankful.

When I started writing this post two years ago, the very last thing from my wildest imagination was that God would give me the opportunity to have it shared like this and I AM PUMPED about it, to put it very mildly. The post is titled "Overflowing Thankfulness" and can be read at the HHM website here.

If you are a homeschool mom or considering homeschool someday, the Hip Homeschool Moms website is a really fun and incredibly helpful online community where you will find lots of up-to-date information on education, curriculum ideas, recipes and fun family activities and a whole lot more!  And, by the way, they didn't even ask for me to give them a plug, ha ha!  I am just genuinely enthusiastic about their awesome online resources that have already been so helpful to me as a homeschool teacher and mother.

So it's a dream come true to be included on their website.  Only God can work out things like that!  Just like the key verse states, I never imagined this would happen to me at such an early point in my writing career.  Isn't He amazing?

Hip Homeschool Moms also has a facebook page where they post even more helpful tips and ideas, plus post questions from moms like us who desperately need advice that really works from fellow homeschool teachers.  So it's remarkable to me how many encouraging moms comment back on each question, and the wonderful advice I have gleaned so far from these amazingly selfless women from all over the globe.

I hope you enjoy my article on the three effective ways I have found to teach my children (and myself) how to be more thankful throughout the year; not just during the month of November. Enjoy and God bless you and your precious family!

In Christ,


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Smelling Armpits & Other Fun Things I Do as a Mom

God's Words:

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
~Proverbs 31:27

"Where has Suzy been?", you may have been asking yourself of late. No posts in over 2 months?!?  Did she drop off the face of the earth or something?  Or... perhaps, she is just a busy mother.

Yeah, that's what happened.  I'm a mom.  That one noun (actually a predicate nominative in this sentence - sorry, that's the grammar-loving teacher in me) has so many different dimensions and meanings to it.  If you are a mother yourself, then you know just what I mean.  You also wear all the many varied hats that mothers are required to wear.  And you too try your best to remember to wear the right hat at the right time on the right day.  Wait...what day is it today...? I think it's towards the end of the week because I'm really starting to tire out and Sunday's looking pret-ty good about now.

Well, anyway, I'll tell you exactly where I've been and what I've been up to since the last wondrously laid-back, sunkissed days of summer (but you had better sit down, this might wear you out, too):

I have been busy teaching my children in our homeschool, which is a huge time commitment.  We typically spend 3-4 hours each weekday morning learning together about God's amazing world. If you caught the phrase "learning together", well that's because I am learning and relearning so many things along with my kids.  I can't tell you how many times I've said to them when we're going through a lesson, "Why didn't I learn that in school?!" (feeling kind of mad at my teachers because they left out some pretty cool stuff).  Or, "Ugh.  I don't remember how to do this/what this means... Hmmm, let's ask Dad and see if he remembers!"  I think my husband knows a lot about pretty much everything, so he usually does have an answer to most of our questions.  He could be on Jeopardy and win so much mulah we would be able to retire.   He's a smarty pants, for sure. And he is the principal of our homeschool, after all.  Ha ha, I love saying that.  But, if all else fails and not even Dad can help out with a schoolwork problem, then we always have the world wide web at our fingertips!

In addition, several days a week you will find me bustling about town, taking my well-rounded children to their co-op classes, sports activities, piano lessons, youth group, church clubs, and play dates (or "hang outs" as my teen and tween call it.  No more "play dates" for them!). Whoever said homeschoolers aren't "socialized" needs to spend a week in the life of my family! We socialize a bit too much for our own good and need to constantly work at staying focused on our school and house work!

Then there's my husband's job as executive director for a local non-profit ministry.  I have a vital responsibility to support him and the ministry by accompanying him to fundraisers, meetings, and other ministry events.  Not to mention lots of volunteer work on the sidelines and behind the scenes, such as editing, helping with events, manning information booths, and much more, including being the director's sounding board for new ideas and tough decisions.  My "job" as his wife is so important, that we were actually interviewed together for his last interview for the job! The board of directors knew that the executive director's position requires a very supportive and available spouse.

On top of all that, I also spend countless hours each week preparing music for and leading worship for my church's women's Bible study group, as well as rehearsing and singing in my church choir and praise team.  This volunteer work is my most favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.  I love every second of using my musical gifts and skills to bring worship to my Lord and helping others do the same.

But then there are the housewifey duties I also must attend to each and every day of each and every week of each and every month of each and every year. Did you catch the gist of my feelings for this part of my life?  Yeah.  Ugh.  Major ugh.  I sure do wish I could spend all my time doing the things I love to do and hire someone else to do the yucky jobs.  A girl can dream, can't she?

I really don't even know where I find the time during the busy school year to clean my house and do laundry, let alone have any time left for my other duties that probably should get done.  You know, like meal planning instead of pulling meat out of the freezer and making "chicken surprise" for dinner. It's always a surprise for Mom, too.  It's fun that way.  Or how about putting together a grocery list before I get to the store, instead of trying to remember what we need as I go down the aisles.  Oh yeah, that might help with the meal planning too, wouldn't it?

So, needless to say, that might be why I haven't posted anything lately.  I have many a mom friend, who just like me has attempted to keep up a blog, but eventually falls off the writing wagon simply because we don't have the time right now in our busy phase of young motherhood, not to mention the extra brain power, to devote to writing.

But I have lots of ideas that come to me all the time and I'm lucky if I make a note of it to keep for later.  I find random blog idea notes all over the place.  In my purse.  In my iPhone notes. Stuck within the pages of my Bible.  In my desk drawer.  You know, one of these days I should probably collect them and put them in one local designated spot.  But that would take time and don't get me started...

Yet, I imagine that some glorious day in the seemingly far off future, I will have plenty of free time to do nothing else but just sit at my desk with a steaming cup of coffee and write the hours away.  Like I said, a girl can dream, can't she?

But back to the main point of my post today.  That is, if I can remember what is was, darn mom brain.  What was it, anyway?

Ok, let's see...  We young moms are busy.  I, for one, am so literally, overwhelmingly busy most hours of the day that I sometimes don't know whether I'm coming or going.  Can you relate?

I feel like my day is one big blur of busyness from the moment I drag my sorry, very sorry-and-already-missing-my-warm-covers-body out of bed to the moment I finally convince all three of my children to please stay in bed for the remainder of the night.  Or at least just stay quietly in your bedroom and do not come out again or you had better have a good excuse that has something to do with blood or puke or fire or a fever or a broken limb.  And if you have a broken limb, then may I ask what the hey were you doing in your room?!

Except for those few and far between times a year when I don't have all three of my children with me for longer than a couple hours.  And those are ironically the times that I don't know what to do with myself...

There's no one to make a meal or snack for that they've been begging me about for the last entire hour, even though it seems like I just got done cleaning up the kitchen from their last meal.

No one to present me with the challenge to stay focused and keep my cool when they interrupt me, even though I'm obviously busy doing something that shouldn't be interrupted.  Like, can I please take a shower in peace, with the door shut, and not have to shout through the door to answer you about why your sister touched your pillow with her "gross feet" and what I'm supposed to do about it?!

No one to clean up after or to yell at them for the hundredth time to pick up your ding dang underwear from behind the bathroom door!

No one to remind to brush their teeth for longer than 5 seconds.  By the way, that very well might explain their bad breath.

And no armpits to smell to find out for myself where the vileness is coming from.  And speaking of which, no one to demand to take a!  And then wonder to myself how many days has it been since that child last bathed?  Can they not smell their own filth?  Do I have to be the one to bring it to their attention?  I mean, I realize my nose is more sensitive than the average person's, but seriously?  You cannot smell the bodily stench coming from your own pits, which are a mere 7-8 inches away from your very own nose?!!  You are somehow incapable of bending your head down either to the right or left and sniff once?  Really?  I have to do it?

Oh, the debasing things we moms do for our kids...  Not to mention smelling hands to make sure they have been sufficiently washed after going #2.  You know what?  On second thought, I don't even want to talk about poop right now... Let's save poop for another time, shall we?

So yeah, I'm busy.  I'm sure you can relate if you are a mom with kids still living at home. Whether you are a working mom, stay-at-home mom, single mom (by the way, go you!  Single moms are my personal heroes!), homeschool mom, foster mom, mom of preschoolers, and the list of amazing mother roles could go on and on.  Regardless of the specifics of your calling as a mother, you are probably as busy, if not busier, than I am.  And I'm here to tell you that I feel your pain and fatigue.  The "mom guilt" and trap of comparisons to other moms that seem to have it all together.  I understand your struggles and frustrations with trying to do it all, and do it all well.

And that is precisely why the key verse for today cracks.Me.Up.  Sometimes I think, no I know, God has a sense of humor.  I wonder if He included that very verse in this chapter of Proverbs just for the sole purpose of giving me a good 'ole laugh whenever I read it.  Especially if you read the entire passage of Proverbs 31:10-31, titled "The Wife of Noble Character", which goes as follows:

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

The word "idle" basically means choosing to be lazy.  Yet, were you as amazed as I am each time I read about all the many industrious things that lady got done?!  It's crazy how busy she was! Puts me to shame, that's for darn sure.  What about you?  I think we can all agree here that she wins as Supermom, hands down.  Let her have it.  We can all read for ourselves that she has won that award for all time.

Of course this extraordinary lady was never idle!  She already had way too much going on in her crazy-busy life to have any time to be lazy!  Once you list it all out, like the writer of Proverbs did for us, it doesn't seem possible that any one human being would be able to do all that.

There is no way this godly woman, or any other wife or mother trying her best to please God, really is able to be idle very often.  We are all too busy taking care of our families, homes, jobs, and volunteer work to have much "free time" to be lazy with!  Are you with me here?

Now, of course this phenomenal woman was a human like the rest of us and therefore did not do everything perfectly.  But what stands out to me is her attitude and her desire to serve and please God by serving and taking care of her family, household, and even the needy people in her life.  It's obvious that she tried her best at all she did.  And I know that is why she was included in God's Word.

And this is exactly what God is calling each of us women to do, whether we are mothers yet or not, and whether we are married or not.  He wants us to carry out all the duties we have on our overflowing plates, and wear all the hats we have been given (or chosen) to wear, to the very best of our ability. With a positive attitude.  And a joyful heart.  And with the sole desire to obey and please Him in all we do, for His sake, the sake of our family, and even our own sake.

"Happy wife, happy life" as the saying goes.  Well, guess what?  Every wife (and woman) chooses her attitude.  It's not all up to how her family and other people in her life treat her.  We can choose to be happy in our overwhelming busyness.  Allowing the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts, we can choose to do all our duties with a positive attitude, even though we may absolutely hate the duty itself.  Raise your hand if you enjoy cleaning toilets or vomit from the carpet!  What?! No one??  Ok, then.  Glad I'm not alone in that.

So my point is that although we may not be able to choose the responsibilities that have been set before us, we can choose how we handle them - in a way that will bless our families, please God, and ultimately be for our own good too.

And that even includes smelling our children's armpits to make sure they are clean so that they are able to maintain friendships.  Who wants a stinky friend?  Not me, I say!

And training them to brush their teeth for the entire 2 minutes so that they will learn healthy dental care and not have gingivitis, dentures, and whopping dental bills in their future.

And reminding them to pick up their underwear from behind the bathroom door so that their future wife doesn't end up hating me.  Oops...gave that child away, now didn't I?  Let's just keep that between us, shall we?  And he won't be the wiser.  Or actually, now that I think about it, maybe mass shame will be the one thing that will finally work to get that boy to throw his dirty whitey tighties in the hamper!  So feel free to mention to him what you read about him in his mom's blog.  He, he, he...

So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed with your busy life, remember the wife of noble character.  And learn from her imperfect but still exemplary life, and how she managed to juggle everything in a way that pleased God and her family. Remember her happy and hard-working attitude, in spite of her overwhelmingly busy schedule.

Her example is a wealth of wisdom and knowledge for every woman.  Book upon book could, and has been, written about those 21 verses describing her life.  Her example is a challenge to us all and we have so much to learn from her.  Whenever I need a good reminder of what my life should look like right now in this phase of young motherhood, I go and read about this woman. She shows me what God wants from me.  As a wife.  As a mother.  As a volunteer in my church and community.  As my job as teacher to my children.

What are you overwhelmed with right now in this phase of your life?  How had God helped you handle everything in a way that has benefited you and your family?

In Christ,