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


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.

Praying the Word

1 Kings 19:11-13

11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
      Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
      Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

snowy How does God speak to His people today? Is it ever anything like He spoke in these verses to Elijah? Check out this scene on the mountain, and you’ll pick up  a few clues to hearing God’s voice in your life.

First, Elijah had to be available. He had to be  where God wanted him [1 Kings 19:11]. If you’re living in a place or in a way that you know isn’t pleasing to God, you won’t be able to hear His voice.

Second, Elijah had to be quiet [1 Kings 19:12]. That’s the only way to hear a whisper. You can’t hear a whisper if you’re already talking. You can only hear the whispers of God when you’re silent.

Third, Elijah had to get rid of distraction [1 Kings 19:13]. He covered his eyes with his cloak. Do whatever you have to do to remove distractions from your listening. Cover your eyes. Or look at something peaceful and soothing. Turn off the radio and TV. Reduce the clamor of your life in order to induce the sound of the whisper of God.

Fourth, Elijah had to take the time to hear God’s voice. The events of these verses didn’t happen quickly. Learning to recognize God’s voice takes time.

Today, rather than praying with words, pray with silence. Spend your time today in stillness before God. Focus on Him. Let  your whole being be filled with an awareness of His presence in your life. Then listen for HIs voice, for His quiet whisper.

Lord, speak to me, I’m listening…

Borrowed from The Women’s Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda

Praying the Word

Jude 3

pray13~Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.~

The devil would like nothing better than for believers to become complacent and self-satisfied. Jude urged believers to  “contend earnestly” [NKJV] for the faith. In your prayer time today, ask god to reveal areas where you may be complacent and then ask Him to show you where you need to declare firmly your allegiance to Christ.

Lord of all, I know that I am at times less than eager to protect and affirm the faith I have in You. Show me the areas where I need to change and grow. Then help me to be one of Your front line defenders of the faith. Love You, Lord, and my heart’s desire is to serve You wholeheartedly. Amen.