Keeper of the Hearth Publication 4

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Women within my heart

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I love this day.

It is amazing to me how God has created women to be gracious and gentle yet strong and encouraging through all kinds of circumstances. Honoring the ladies who have shaped and influenced us. Wiped our noses. Comforted us when were sick. Pulled out their hair after trying every last thing possible to discipline us. Laughed with us. Read stories to us. Sang to us. Taught us to mind our manners. And everything else they could to make us be a better person. Truly amazing.

I think of my own mom who I have seen make amazing party favors and decorations out of construction paper to fulfill our magical birthday theme requests. She did a pirate them for my brother, a princess theme for my sister, and dressed up as a court jester.

My Mom as court jester

She sat with my little brother teaching him how to draw, which he soaked up like a sponge as he was so talented drawing police cars [including sound effects as he drew!] even at the age of 4 years. She taught us how to make Easter baskets from construction paper. Then would make ‘nests’ to put inside of them [chow mein noodles coated with chocolate and butterscotch chips with jelly beans as the eggs, yummy]. A tradition she has carried out until this year. She would read us stories and interject special voices and sounds to bring the story alive in our imaginations. She made pancakes nearly everyday for my little sister who would not want anything else. And so much more.

Then there are my fabulous sisters: Jenny who has 3 children, Kristin who has 3 children and one granddaughter, Amy who has 2 boys and one grandson. I have watched in awe as this little people would tug and pull on their mom’s clothes…”mom, Mom. MOM!” Then these adorable angels would curl up into their mom’s lap for special snuggle time. No matter what had transpired through the day, these little ones would look to their moms for the direction and encouragement that was needed. It just melts my heart to see the love my sisters have poured into each one making them feel important and loved. As I do not have any children, an aching in my heart, I have been blessed from time to time with special time with my nieces and nephews that have given me only a mere glimpse of the special bond between a mother and her child. I hold those moments close to my heart and when I need a smile I can take one of those moments out of my pocket and wear it!

These women. my mom and my sisters are such rare treasures. And it touches my heart to see the wonder of their personalities, the warmth of their love, and the peace of their patience change and transform the lives of their husbands and their children. God’s love working through them reaching out to shelter their family.

As Proverbs 31:25 – 30 states: Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter-day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]! She opens her mouth in skillful and godly wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness [gossip, discontent, and self-pity] she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed [happy, fortunate, and to be envied]; and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain, [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised! ~Amplified Bible

Some quotes to honor mothers:

To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority it the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one. ~John MacArthur

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies. A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts: but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love’s lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling. ~J.R. Miller

I would take this time to honor all the other women in my life circle some who are a wife and mother, some who are a wife, and some who are awaiting for their grooms. I have the honor and privilege of having so many of these fabulous women about me. If I do not mention you specifically, please forgive me. There is Stacy, Jennifer M, Karen, Amber, Kelly and Ginnie to name just a few from my younger days as being single. I worked side by side with these women and they were so open and gracious to share a bit of their love and thoughts with me. Some of these women are mothers themselves embracing their precious role as wife and mother. There is Anne, Jenn K, Angie, Krissi, who I worked with while at Kohler. These amazing women are not only gifted and talented in their own right they personify the ‘branding’ of gracious living. There is my CSI: Annamarie, [Cute Sister In law] who makes the world of difference in my little brother’s life and is a great compliment to his artistic talents as she is most extraordinarily gifted as well. There is my cousins [Becky, Abby, Kari, Shawna] and aunts who are marvels in their own rights as they have over come the obstacles of motherhood in a single bound. There are the women I am blessed to be working with now, Lisa, Jenna, Beth, Brittany, Whitney, Hillary, Kelly, Marybeth, Tricia [and more] some who are moms already and some who are being prepared for their future. These woman who I work with every day and take their time to share a little morsel of their hopes and dreams with me. There are the women of my church family, Tena, Cheryl, Emily, Laura who simply pour out Jesus’ love to all those around them with so much grace and warmth, what a blessing they are. There is Gene and Connie who are my lovely sisters In Christ who have touched my heart in such a special way. I miss Gene’s voice, who is from Panama originally with a hint of an accent from her heritage which I could listen to speak all day long and never grow tired of, a sweet mother’s voice that has often comforted me in times of distress. I miss Connie’s laughter, who has been recently ordained to the Lord’s Ministry, an infectious laugh that reminds me to embrace all the Lord’s joy that is given me. There is the newest addition to our family, Brittnay, my nephew Mathew’s wife and mother of their child Ivan. I pray that the Lord will lead and guide her while protecting her on her new glorious adventure as wife and mother.

There are my nieces over in Austria and Iraq, Fairuz, Ola, Rowa, Mariam, Tami [and more] who have wrapped me with a most miraculous loving embrace of family and belonging. These young women are hopeful and full of God’s love. They are being prepared for the next step toward their future.

Then there are my little nieces, at the ripe old age of 9 years, Miranda and Ellen. Little miracles they are. I am blown away by their openness and willingness to share their heart with me. A precious gift I treasure. I love to watch Miranda as she often steps up to be a leader and a teacher of sorts.  Ellen who simply just likes to reach out and embrace her family. She knows so well who is who in her family and she is so good at recognizing each one of us in a special way.

I offer this to honor all women as encouragement from 1 Peter 3 2-5: When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him–to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to deeply love, and enjoy your husband]. Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of the clothes; But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. For it was thus that the pious women of old who hoped in God were [accustomed] to beautify themselves and were submissive to their husbands [adapting themselves to them as secondary and dependent upon them]. Amplified Bible

If you sit down and reflect, there are so many women around us that have touched our hearts and lives. It is hard to capture who they are in words. I know I am blessed by them all becuz, I have had the honor of being included in their lives and observing their fantastic style and flair for living life.

My love to you fair maidens and matrons. May the Lord bless you each day

A Woman is not just a person; she’s a miracle!

In honor of Mother’s Day

Ephesians 2:10

~For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.~

0_0_0_0_185_309_csupload_17106169 This is devotion written by Mary Hollingsworth:

A woman is not just a person; she’s a miracle! Like a cosmic shape-shifter of Star Trek, she can transform into anything she needs to be in an instant.

She turns into a nurse at the sight of a scrape or a scratch; in larger emergencies, she’s instantly a paramedic. When trouble comes or the enemy attacks, she becomes the fortress behind which the whole family—even Dad—huddles for protection.

Or she snaps her fingers and changes into a Little League coach, a Girl Scout leader, a homeroom mother, a corporate executive, financier, a Sunday School teacher, a playmate, a seamstress, a play director, or a volunteer for the March of Dimes. She is, all in the same day, a cook, a taxi driver, a boardroom presenter, a maid, a politician, and a referee.

In addition, she is often the spiritual heart of the home—guiding, encouraging, leading, teaching, and praying. She is God’s hands and feet, HIs laughter and joy, His tears and sorrow. She is the heart of God personified.

There’s no doubt about it—a woman is not just a person; she’s a miracle!

Learn more about Mary:

Blog: http://maryhollingsworth.blogspot.com/

Website: http://maryhollingsworth.vpweb.com/

How long does it take to make living space a home?

A living space takes YEARS to mold and bend into a "home"; especially one that is left unattended, unloved, and neglected. Time passes over, by, through and around a space that just sits. Odd really when you think about it, people may ‘live’ in a house [or any living space] yet it never becomes a ‘home’. We must add life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and MOST important…LOVE!!! [just like a marriage…we mold and embrace that relationship over years of adding ourselves to it].

Never mind the ‘things’ like: furniture, carpet or tile, stairs, pictures, walls, etc. They are inanimate objects…they are useless until one applies life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and LOVE to them.

If a space is left to just sit…then it dwindles a bit…it sags, it leaks, it chips, it fades away…then someone comes to dwell within it. Do they really ‘live’ in it? Do they notice the paint peeling off the windows or the fact that the stairs are rotting from years of neglect? Do they care enough to apply life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love? Or is it just a place they blindly use to eat, take a shower and sleep in until they need to move on? We want it all ready, shiny and new!

Think of the possibilities and memories we have the privilege of creating within those ‘unfinished’ walls. The home you are creating is alive with possibilities to provide wholeness and health–and FUN! You will identify something that is missing and address it with…"hmmm…I wonder how WE can…"

Your efforts at creating ‘home’ will make a difference. Those differences will be largely immeasurable and intangible, and yet at times you will see, as if a curtain has been opened, positive influences of home that have your fingerprints all over them. Then you will breath that little sigh…’home’…of satisfaction which is gentle and deep.

Relaxing-Fireplace-ScreensaverIt takes time to nurture a space into a home. There is the ‘inside’, the personality, the atmosphere, the warmth, and the nternal support systems essential to the place we want to call home. But a home functioning at its best also prepares and motivates us to participate in the larger world and to welcome people into our homes. That brings us to the ‘outside’, how we can extend the shelter of home into a larger sphere. Building a home is like any worth while relationship…and the care and concern we put into them varies [A LOT].

Your home is an extension of your personality and it’s where you are most you. Don’t ever forget that IT IS ALSO where your husband is most himself and your children are most themselves; and likewise for anyone in their respective homes. This is a notion that literally hit me over the head…my husband has equal contribution as to applying life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love to our home just as much as I do [I had always thought only the woman or wife cared about such things…oops…I was soooo wrong!!]. So sometimes those personalities play thumb wars…the key is how can ‘our’ home be home for ‘all’ of us? After all we all want a home base where we are accepted and rejuvenated. And no matter what the day has been like, "Now I’m all better, I am home!"

"Imagine yourself along with me sheltered within four walls that represent key concepts of home: One wall represents to us that home is a physical structure, and atmosphere; another holds the thought that home is also the relationships developing inside that structure. The final two walls encompass our need to cocoon, draw in, and be ourselves and our need to participate wholly beyond our walls and invite people to share the exeprience of what  we have within." ~quote by Mary Beth Lagerborg~

Once we understand the personality traits of those we live with, we can develop plans that take into consideration and respect the needs of all. What we do for each other entirely positive is that we share. That is the beauty of home…where you feel welcome. It conveys a thoughtfulness of comfort and a sense of the personality and character of the people who live within it. Beauty in our homes reflects our creative best…AND IT’S FOR OUR FAMILIES…not just our guests.

Bringing us to the "C" word…contentment. A precious and rare quality. It comes more easily than one might think if we search through our lives for all the things for which we are thankful. The blessing of a ‘true’ home is a responsibility, a stewardship. Plus, we appreciate and enjoy ‘our things’ more when we’re willing to share them with others.

My little sister, recently, was given a much different view of the ‘home’ we grew up in in Springfield, IL. In simple words, the home needed much TLC and many issues of which were rather embarrassing to us living there. Her dear friends of yesteryear saw our home filled with life and as though our home was some mansion!

I pray, and mostly for myself, that we enjoy the home that is ours right now without longing for a different home to be ours tomorrow. That we would cheerfully apply our hearts, life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love to the dwelling [under any roof, be it a house, apartment, condo, RV, etc] that God has provided for us to care for and maintain.

Phew…I know you were not being ungrateful in anyway… just realizing the task that lies before you. I apologize for the length [and perhaps preaching] of the topic. It comes from my heart which lately has been filled with ungratefulness and a lack of understanding of these things.

Listening to how my sister’s friends remembered our old tattered home made me realize how ungrateful I truly have been. It hit a mark in my heart and soul. I was so
touched by their heartfelt appreciation of the memories they have…and in the end…that is priceless and what matters most…the life, fingerprints, smells, creativity and love of a home.

A Husband’s most intimate companion

Genesis 2:18

Many women—whether married or unmarried—read Genesis 2:18 with a shudder, finding it difficult with the word helper. Did God really mean helper the way most people think of the word, that women are somehow subservient and not quite up to par with men?

wife The Hebrew word here, exerl, is used twenty-two times in the Bible. It is usually translated as help or helper. However, it is used to speak of Gods power in Psalm 89:9, and three times the word is used to refer to God as a helper [Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:29; Hosea 13:9], all of which provide a clue to the fact that God does not intend a woman’s position to be degrading or weak.

The woman who is a helper to her husband is not just at his side, she is on his side. She has her own distinct personality and gifts, her own abilities, her own interests.But above all, in the servant role so beautifully modeled by Christ, she is her husband’s greatest advocate. Being his helper doesn’t mean she follows behind him, picking up his dirty clothes and serving his every whim. It means she stands next to him as his equal, and they lovingly serve each other, with the full knowledge that at times serving might take the form of picking up those dirty clothes.

Reread Genesis 2:21-24, then take a little time to honestly access yourself as a woman and, if married, as a wife. Are there aspects about being a woman that you find difficult? You can talk to God about it. He’ll help you in those areas where you need to grow and change. If you’re married, ask God to help you know what it means to be your husband’s helper: his advocate, his lover, his friend, his servant, his most intimate companion. Whether you’re married or unmarried, God can lvovingly guide you in those areas where you relate to the men in your life—to your husband, to family members, to friends, to coworkers. Ask Him to help you to become the best you can be, a beautiful model of God’s handiwork in a woman’s life.

Yield, Trust, Obey

Romans 6:13

~Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God.~

1999616dq6d4pmef8 To yield anything means simply to give that thing to the care and keeping of another. To yield to ourselves to the Lord, therefore, is to give ourselves to Him, giving Him the entire possession and control of our whole being. It means to abandon ourselves, to take hands off of ourselves. The word consecration is often used to express this yielding, but I hardly think it is a good substitute. With many people, to consecrate themselves seems to convey the idea of doing something very self-sacrificing, and very good and grand; and it therefore admits of a subtle form of self-glorification. But “yielding” conveys a far more humbling idea; it implies helplessness and weakness, and the glorification of another rather than ourselves.

Yielding is not the idea of sacrifice, in the sense we usually give to that word, namely, as of a great cross taken up; but it is the sense of surrender, of abandonment, of giving up the control and keeping and use of ourselves unto the Lord. To yield to God means to belong to God, and to belong to God means to have all His infinite power and infinite love engaged on our side. Therefore, when I invite you to yield yourselves to Him, I am inviting you to avail yourselves of an inexpressible and most amazing privilege. ~by Hannah Whitall Smith~

borrowed from “A Gentle Spirit: Devotional Selections for Today’s Christian Woman”

You are not a mistake: this applies to me

Happy Wednesday to the internet community.

Below is the daily devotional that I posted on my other blog, www.lemonadestandbythecreek.sapces.live.com.

Isaiah 44:24

This is what the LORD says— gospel_1abc
       your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
       I am the LORD,
       who has made all things,
       who alone stretched out the heavens,
       who spread out the earth by myself,

In God’s family there are no illegitimate children, no mistakes, no accidents, no orphans. God wanted us. He planned us. Whether or not we were wanted by our biological parents, the fundamental truth remains unchanged: the Sovereign Lord called us into being. He planned our existence, our ancestry, our genetic code, our cultural heritage, our nationality, our personality—all with the view to fulfilling his good plan of our lives.

This same commitment in the heart of God that brought us into the world also brings all who embrace him into eternal relationship with him. Our heavenly Father has adopted us as his children and made us his friends. He has a destiny for each of our lives. We can choose to reject him and his good plans for us. But if we embrace this truth about our destiny and act upon it, he will empower us to be and do all he has purposed for us.

What have  you believed about how God sees you? Ask him to help you embrace his truth about you and his purposes for your life.

After proof reading this, the devotional hit its mark in my thoughts.

I am touched by God’s love and blessings with the thought of how He planned me. More endearing to my heart, God wanted me.

This realization hits my mind like a clap of thunder reverberating through the sky. This concept touched my heart a long time back, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, but it has taken many a winding road to reach into and settle into my thoughts. Understanding the condition my stubborn pride is like that though. A relatively simple idea so easy to grasp takes the longest to truly comprehend.

It reminds me of a book, The Shack, I read a few months ago. In chapter 9, entitled ‘A Long Time Ago, In A Garden Far, Far Away’ the story enters a garden that appears as a “beautiful mess” to the main character. Later at the end of the chapter after work in the garden was finished, this is what is revealed:

Sarayu reached up and kissed Papa on the cheek. “As always, your timing is perfect. Everything that I needed Mackenzie to do there is finished.” She turned to him. “Mackenzie, you are such a delight! Thank you for all your hard work!”

I didn’t do that much, really,” he apologized. “I mean, look at this mess.” His gaze moved over the garden that surrounded them. “But it really is beautiful, and full of you, Sarayu. Even though it seems like lots of work still needs to be done, I feel strangely at home and comfortable here.”

The two looked at each other and grinned.

Sarayu stepped toward him until she had invaded his personal space. “And well you should, Mackenzie, because this garden is your soul. This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and live—a living fractal.”

The impact of her words almost crumbled all of Mack’s reserve. He looked again at their garden—his garden—and it really was a mess, but incredible and wonderful at the same time. And beyond that, Papa was here and Sarayu loved the mess. It was almost too much to comprehend and once again his  carefully guarded emotions threatened to spill over.

The Holy Spirit moves within my heart, mind and soul working with me in the garden of my soul, my beautiful mess. God loves me and my mess. Gratefully, I receive all His tilling of the soil within my heart and the pulling of the weeds that distract from His blossoming flowers within my soul.