Giving Thanks

“For Thou art with me”

It has been a wonderful and interesting last few days, full of reminders to give thanks and to praise!  My beloved had 4 days off together due to Thanksgiving, and it was a real treat having him around.

I love the wisdom of the Lord displayed in designing the relationship between man and wife. I still notice, every time the door closes upon his departure (or even if I just think it’s his departure–my back is turned and I hear the door close, thinking he left) my heart dips, but then upon hearing the door knob turn at his return or the sound of his voice assuring he never left at all, what joy and gladness! Every time. What a beautiful type of our relationship with the Lord. When His presence is gone, (or even only thought to be) more than a dip of heart, what anguish this is! What would willingly be done, given, endured, just to have that back again. But, Oh! When His voice again is heard, and His presence made known, there is no joy comparable.

A sweet taste of this was enjoyed recently. On the day before Thanksgiving, I received a note from a friend after describing some symptoms that I have been having that it was likely a blood clot in my leg. This may sound unreasonable, but I was beside myself with fear. All day long I struggled with it, crying, fearing it would travel to my lungs or heart and kill me, travel to the placenta and kill my baby, or I’d get it evaluated “professionally”, get put on blood thinners, then die of hemorrhage at birth, since that almost happens every time without their help anyway.

If anyone is wondering, YES, I am a pessimist. Not proud of it, of this stronghold of fear that stands so high and makes it so hard to see anything but that. But having said that, being fearful has this one virtue. It makes the fearer that much more thankful when the emergency DOESN’T happen: when everyone in the family doesn’t die of botulism because they ate sweet potato casserole from sweet potatoes wrapped in foil and left to sit for several hours (seems like I read a story somewhere of someone who almost died of eating a potato wrapped in foil that had sat for some long period of time, after all); or of food poisoning because stock wasn’t made from the chicken until 4 hours after dinner was over (because bacteria starts to multiply after only two hours at room temperature, or so I’ve read) or that their two year old didn’t die from the hacking cough she developed spontaneously one night, (there are some weird and dangerous viruses going around the US these days, as we’ve all heard); or that what you were told was likely a blood clot actually probably isn’t. I’m just so thankful that we’re all still kicking. In spite of all that, and so much more. 🙂

However, this is a side track. Back to the original point. The next day, which was Thanksgiving, Nathan led us all in family worship, and one of the passages selected was Psalm 23. Such a beautiful Psalm, but sadly, it can become so familiar that the beauty is overlooked or even forgotten. As he read the Psalm the words rang out and struck my soul with reproof and blessing, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me”. “I will fear no evil!” Could I say that? Judging from just the day before, I failed that test. But that is because I failed to remember in that crucial (to me) time that He IS with me. Yet, He is! He will be! Of all comforts this is the greatest. Of all joys this is the truest. And though it seems at times that the measure of faith granted to me is such a small one, that I should be left to greater woe because of it, yet, yet as long as that faith is placed in HIM, not in my faith itself, not in my feelings of His nearness or lack thereof, not in the words of others that say if you doubt at all you are damned or on the other side if you only desire Him you are saved, but in Him alone, I will never be confounded.

He is true. He can only be true. And He is with me.

For this, and His innumerable promises and blessings I am truly, truly thankful.

Advertisements

The Shepherd’s Lamb

Unfinished projects. My life is far too full of those! So, to overcome this unbecoming characteristic of quitting before completion, I have a new resolution: before this pregnancy ends I want to have completed all the projects I come across that have already been started.

One that I’m particularly excited about is a poem I started 2 years ago. It’s very special to me; never before has a character become so “alive” to me in writing than this shepherd boy who is the subject of the poem. It’s written to a tune that came to me at the same time as the words, but the idea was to have it split up into a number of songs, because it will be rather lengthy. I hit a snag when the very best part was coming because I didn’t know how to capture it in the beauty that it’s worthy of, so it has been put away…for 2 whole years!

Here is the first “installment” of the poem:

The Shepherd’s Lamb


As a shepherd young in Judah’s hills I watched my father’s sheep
But on this night my heart did yearn so much I could not sleep
I thought of David young and bold, a shepherd just as I
Whom God anointed, made a king, and said, Who would not lie
That of his seed would come a King to sit upon his throne
Who in all righteousness would rule, Whom God would call His Son
And with His sword upon His thigh in majesty and might
Would with success reign by His truth, by meekness, and by right

I thought as well of David psalms writ from my heart as his
Beseeching God for mercy and His cleansing from all sins
“Purge Thou me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall then be clean,
Whiter than the snow, if Thou dost wash me, shall I be”
But where, I wondered is this found, this hyssop that may cleanse?
What did Israel’s sweet Psalmist have in mind when this he penned?
How may I be washed cleaner, even whiter than the snow?
My sins from me as far as East from West be made to go?

For though from this flock is taken out the goodliest young lamb
That myself took care of, nurtured, from the day he left his dam,
I find no true atonement when for me his blood is shed
My guilt lies just as heavy then as ere the beast had bled
That God Himself would bear the branch! Ah! this must be his thought!
His sprinkling with waters pure must make all sin but naught
Thereby would perfect grace be found and truest life be known
The joy of His salvation would then within me be sown

O Lord! that even now would come that King in majesty!
That I might kneel before Him, cast myself down at His feet
And learn of Thy salvation full, that I might drink and sup
In pastures green, of waters still, that overflowing cup
I hunger Lord, I hunger so, I thirst for righteousness
To be, as David spoke of, in that place of blessedness
My sins all fully covered and transgressions all forgiv’n
Iniquity unreckoned when confession I have giv’n

But though I weep and cry with buried face in lamb’s warm wool
And its coat is greatly dampened, yet I still do not feel whole
My tears do just as much as does the lamb slain in my place
For redemption they are empty and they can bestow no grace
I’ve sought Thee Lord with all my heart and with my whole desire
Oh that Thy mercy seat were here that I might there inquire!
How canst Thou purge me, O my God? with what shall I be washed?
And when, O Lord, shall this take place? for I, Thy sheep, am lost

Make haste, I pray, to help me, for I cannot find my way
Thy fold I gladly now would dwell in, fain would ever stay
Though enemies encompass ’round, my greatest are within
I feel that I shall perish from the weight of all my sin
Yet Thou art great, O Lord, my God, in kindness and in truth
Thy compassions never failing, and Thy mercies ever new
With this recalled unto my mind I know that I have hope
And in it I shall wait for Thee, Thy way to me to show

jesus-holding-lamb[1]
__________________________________________________

There’s another part written to it, but since I hadn’t read and reread it as many times as the first part, I don’t have it committed to memory. When I’ve been able to unpack my notebook, I’ll post the second installment.

Begging your pardon

To my dear little faithful readership: please forgive me for my long absence. There has been an awful lot happening in the past couple weeks, not the least of which is a visit-turned-relocation-in-the-making to my beloved homeland of Virginia. Even now I lack opportunity to fully engage in this little blog of mine, but wanted to at least leave this update, just so anyone who may check back will know that I’m not truly through with it yet, even if it looks that way for now.

Keep up your good work, ye handmaidens of God on high..

The Current Struggle

It’s been a little while now. I’d say that I’ve been having “writer’s block” but that’s not exactly the problem. Because, I’m hardly a writer, and “block” pretty well describes the state of my brain most moments of the day already, as it is, and that hasn’t seemed to get in the way before. No, the reasons go beyond that.

Last Sunday our church watched the “Revival Hymn“, which I strongly, strongly urge every Christian to watch. The result?  My own deadness and lack of true spiritual vibrancy within has testified against me, and though I pray for awakening within my own self, yet I am also aware that even that prayer is tainted with wickedness and pride, in desire of vainglory for some perceived “holiness”, with shallowness. How can I write about any noble endeavour when I am in such a state, without being in essence a hypocrite?

As well though too, there’s just a general feeling of contentment mixed with joy and sorrow with our current family dynamics. It’s got me feeling all sentimental, but in such a way as is hard to pen. I love how things are now, but life changes. My sweet baby is growing up and I can’t stop it or even make it slow down. Sometimes I wish I could just hold on and not have to keep moving forward, but I felt the same way about each of the others and am so delighted with how they are right now, too, and wouldn’t go back. Perhaps this is all coming on because I’ve reached the furthest point I’ve ever gone without becoming pregnant again, and baby fever is setting in, even though a pregnancy now would be met with both joy and fear. I love babies. There’s just no getting around it, they’re special. I love toddlers, too. And preschoolers. Their exuberance in everything is both endearing and chaotic.

I love this life the Lord has given me, but I hate my complacency. And yet, I do not hate it enough, for here I yet am, wallowing in it.

And that is all, for now.

What is left when all is taken away? A look at VIRTUE

What would happen if you took away all the “accomplishments” of the Proverbs 31 woman? All the housecleaning, handwork, industry, labour, and meal preparation? What would be her adornment if she was rendered incapable of all the above? I think lately I’ve been regarding this virtuous model far too much in the lens of what she does rather than who she is: a virtuous woman. Virtue! It’s not attained by rising early, working hard, working late, or even serving others the best that you know how. It isn’t a fruit of endeavouring, it is a fruit of the fear of the LORD. She isn’t virtuous because she’s industrious; she’s virtuous because she fears the Lord, and she’s industrious because she’s virtuous!

This is what the Proverbs 31 woman is at the very core, a woman who fears the LORD, who loves Him, and obeys Him with reverence and devotion. This is why her tongue is ruled by the law of kindness, why she ministers to the weak and poor, ultimately why her husband safely trusts her, and why she is truly a blessing and blessed. Oh! I am so ashamed for my lack! For focusing on outward things and letting the heart go undertouched. Virtue. Image

Considering and meditating on what this precious fruit of the Lord’s fear is, put simply, it is an outworking of true love. “Moral excellence” is the dictionary definition, and the more I dwell upon it the more I am convinced that charity is the chief virtue, such that all others flow from it: “the greatest of these is charity.”

Love is so much more than feelings of contentment and delight. Which is a good thing, too! because wifing and mothering isn’t always delightful.

There will sure be a lot of that though, like when your 8 month old plants a big, wet, wide-mouthed “kiss” on your cheek, or your 2 year old daughter comes running into your arms for the best hug in the world, or your 3 year old son pulls his chair up beside you as you cook and says “I love you, mother”, or your 4 year old hands you a bouquet of weeds with the most beautiful smile to accompany it, or when your husband talks with you about a common goal and dream, praying with and for you, encouraging.

There is a wealth of treasures in wifehood and motherhood, for sure!

But, there will be days. Days where you wake up to your 8 month old’s hollers after waking up to them all through the night, and before groggily attempting to go back to sleep you will hear an outcry from your 3 year old in another room which you will know instinctively is because he didn’t make the toilet in time, and after you clean up after that and start the dishes you couldn’t wash the night before because your sink was too backed up, your 2 yr old will start her shrill screaming to get out of bed, your husband is “sleeping” through it all, and just when you think perhaps the excitement is dying down, your 4 year old wakes up and starts arguing with your 3 year old about which one is George Washington. Yes, there will be those days, too.

Yet, charity suffereth long, and is kind. Yet, charity never faileth.

This is my fail! Oh, for more charity! for kindness being the law by which my tongue is guided and by which my hands find the will to serve; for a love for the Lord that only grows truer and deeper as He is learned through His word and fellowship; for a hunger for this that will not die; for right fear and true virtue; for charity! not easily provoked, not seeking her own, rejoicing in truth.

The virtuous woman is a woman of charity. There is only so much one can “endeavour” when it comes to this, for love is a fruit of the Spirit, and not the fruit of her hands. Let this be our focus, however. Let us sow to the Holy Spirit, and we will reap of the same. Goals, lists, resolutions, organization: they’re all good, and they are important. But they are not the fear of the Lord, they are not virtue, and they are not charity.

May the Lord make and find us women of virtue indeed.

Our Daily Thankfulness

What an integral role thankfulness plays in making a home. There is no substitute for it, and the lack of it is always evident and so very detrimental. Have you ever noticed that when you’re thankful, it’s impossible to be grumpy? Praise for the Lord is always then natural, love abounds! Grace, wisdom, and love in teaching your children is consistent, and your husband is appreciated greatly. It truly is no wonder that the Scriptures say, Be ye thankful. Sadly, when it is most needful to remember that, it is most difficult to cultivate it.

As a case in point, a couple nights ago I got grumpy. It was such a small thing really, and they often are. My husband hadn’t eaten with the family in a few nights because he either ate a late lunch, worked late, or didn’t have an appetite. On this particular night I had made macaroni and cheese (I know, I know, not the healthiest, but at least it was from scratch!) forgetting that meals “with too much cheesy makes him queasy” (his words) at the very thought of it. So I was just in a general sour mood because of his “pickiness” and my own fail in that area, and had started to take it out on everyone else–snippy responses, little patience. I had just begun to try to really watch myself, knowing this wasn’t right, when my eldest put in a request for a game: the thankfulness game.

We made this game a month or two ago when the children were acting mean toward each other and couldn’t get along, where we took turns saying something we are thankful for about each family member. They loved it. Since then we’ve played it sometimes just because it’s a good practice to bring to mind the many things we have to be thankful for.

Could we play the game? So very glad he asked! I’m ashamed to say that if the thought had entered my mind “be ye thankful” I would probably have brushed it aside and continued steeping in my grump bucket, but how could I say no to my child, whom I taught to do that very thing? So, we played. And it worked!

Thankfulness always works.

It is commanded: “In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”;
it is expected (for we are worthy of no good thing, and yet we are showered upon with good from a Creator Who is humbling Himself just to behold us, of course we should be thankful!);
and it is a blessing to those who exercise it. It will lift you up.

At the risk of being corny, I am going to use an illustration.  It’s not a perfect one, but a worthy comparison in some ways. Thankfulness is like natural leaven. It needs to be fed every day. Yesterday’s thankfulness will do you no good today. Just a few hours after feeding a starter it will reach its peak of bubbliness and then start to sink. If you use it then in your bread it will lift the entire loaf, but if you wait until tomorrow it will just get more sour. Let it go day after day without feeding it, and it will get more and more sour until it eventually dies as a leaven. Similarly, thankfulness must be maintained, and when it is, it will lift your heart, your home, to God. When it’s not, you just get more sour. Your life gets sour. Your home gets sour. Your marriage gets sour. There may often be some “reason” to be sour, but there is always reason to be thankful.

Thankfulness. May we ever have an abundance of it!

Sourdough starter after a feeding, on the rise! So cute and bubbly!
Sourdough starter after a feeding, on the rise! So cute and bubbly!

Image

Down to the Nitty Gritty

Knowing this would happen may have prepared me, but it’s still hard. Remember that post, Motherhood is for Quitters? Well, it’s starting already! Frankly, this endeavouring thing just isn’t as exciting as it was when first started, and consequently momentum from excitement has waned. Every worthwhile thing requires work and diligence, though, so now’s the time to resolve.

A bit of change needs to happen in this new month to make the goals outlined in “She doeth him good” a reality. One is to wake up earlier. Another is to regulate my time wisely so that writing about these endeavours doesn’t keep me from endeavouring! Also, to be more organized. But mostly, seeking His grace for it every day, and not trying to accomplish anything by my own might or power, only by His Spirit. It is so innate in me to be proud. Even after going through horrible times of humbling where I can see how wretched I am, when His grace again is given my foolish heart boasts not enough in the Lord and desires vainglory for it, as if it were me! Thus, I am often reminded of my weaknesses, again by His grace. Just want to be done with it, my foolish pride be killed!

As an attempt to organize the week here’s a rough outline:

  • Sunday–Lord’s day!
  • Monday–Wash day; catch up on all laundry and iron clothes
  • Tuesday–Kitchen day; mop floor, wash windows, clean fridge
  • Wednesday–General house cleaning; dusting, sweeping bedrooms, cleaning bathrooms, hubby’s office
  • Thursday–Go with the flow! Nathan’s day off!
  • Friday–Misc; research, DIY type things, laundry again
  • Saturday–Handwork day

Start day by: 7:00
Have breakfast on by 8:30
Have house tidied and laundry started by 10:00
School until 12:00
Lunch, clean-up, reading, then children nap at 1:00
Computer stuff, crochet until 3:00
Goals for the day accomplished by 4:30 (including laundry on laundry day, but started from day’s beginning)
House tidied and dinner done by 6:15
Kitchen cleaned by 7:30
Free time! Children to bed by 8-8:30
To bed by 10-11:00

The idea too is to have the children involved with a lot of what’s going on, when appropriate, and to try and leave enough time for things to be done in to allow for playing and snuggling with the baby and the Bit in between.

So now that there’s this rough draft of goals and any readers are quite thoroughly bored, as it is after 7 now, it is time to “start my day”. 🙂 Probably more baby and Bit snuggles in order for the day though, as they are a little bit sick.

I never do very good with schedules, although they always look so nice on paper! What about you? Are you the organizational type? do you have a good outline that works for you? Always open to hear ideas or critiques. After all, I’m fairly young yet, and have a lot to learn.

The Lord bless you this mid-week day!