Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grateful List

Photo Credit:  Brian Lofgren

31.  Our Savior - Immanuel - God with us!!
32.  Rose colored sun through sparkling frosted trees
33.  Family time together - Precious memories
34.  My parents - what a heritage of Christian love and service
35.  Dad still with us for the holidays
36.  Anna playing piano
37.  Extended family - my siblings and my grown children gathered
38.  My beautiful, precious grandbabies - kisses on downy heads
39.  Grown children making good choices
40.  Beautiful voices caroling together - celebrating Christ
41.  A warm house and warm hugs
42.  Plenty of good food
43.  Healthy children laughing and playing
44.  Christmas cards and pictures connecting us with friends and family
45.  Big girls to babysit on date night
46.  Beautiful frost on the trees
47.  Hearing Dad preach once again and almost all his grandchildren there to hear it
48.  Wonderful books to read aloud
49.  Mom and Dad reading aloud to us
50.  Warm sledding weather

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us

With the Christmas season here, I've been pondering the coming of Christ.  One devotional I read pointed out that He didn't come to earth the day He was born, but rather the day He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  God, who breathed the universe into existence, now conceived within the womb of one of His creation.  

The season's here,
It's time for us to wonder;
The birth of Christ,
The Son of God to ponder.

The God who breathed--
The Universe created;
With just a word--
Is now made flesh, ill-fated.

The Word made flesh,
The Mighty God received;
Into a womb,
The Son of God conceived.

That Son of God,
  Deserving only splendor;
Humbled Himself
Giving up His grandeur.

His grandeur gone,
A lowly place was given;
What a stark change
From ruling all of heaven.

From ruling heav'n
To dwelling in a dark womb;
His life was set
To end within a tomb.

From death life springs,
 Christ raised to life from the tomb,
 Planted in Mary's womb. 
                           Patti lofgren

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gratitude is Happiness Doubled by Wonder!

“I would maintain that thanks
are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness
doubled by wonder.”
- G. K. Chesterton

Additions to my gratitude list follow....

11.  Beautiful Snowflakes under a low-power microscope 

12.  Grandbabies, cuddly and sweet

13.  Children grown and children still growing

14.  Freedom to home school , books and ideas and energy to teach

15.  Big girls who walk and pray with me each morning - carrying the spiritual burdens together and
          fighting the good fight side by side.

16.  First letters strung together into words - another little one reading

17.  sledding hill and snowmen

18.  A nativity play put on by little ones 

19.  money for this week's bills and groceries

20.  A son who has been away, returned home

21.  Answers to prayers for family and friends

22.  Hugs and more hugs from the youngest

23.  Putting puzzles together--together

24.  A feast of books to read and a fascinated audience

25.  Dark winter evenings to spend together

26.  Candlelight dinner and soft music for Shabbat dinner

27.  Warm flannel and denim dresses and a long, warm winter coat

28.  The Word of God - new every morning

29.  Forgiveness and healing

30.  A church to belong in, to love in, to serve in

I started this list discouraged, meaning to find 10 things to be thankful for--the list easily doubled to 20--God is good and there is much to be thankful for!   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Participating in the Miracle

I recently read I Dared to Call Him Father, by Bilquis Sheikh with Richard H. Schneider.  It was so good that I then read it aloud to the family.  I highly recommend it.  I have been pondering a quote from the book,
" My heart singing, I tried to explain to Khalid (her grown muslim son) that the Lord wants our companionship.  When we pray, He wants to work with us.  It was the Moses' Rod Principle.  If I had just put the problem in the Lord's hands without stepping out in faith myself, I might never have gotten the clearance.  I had to step out by doing everything I could.  I had to ask to see the man in charge.  Just as God required Moses to strike the rock with a rod, He asks us, too, to participate in the working of miracles." 

God had taught Bilquis to trust Him and obey Him whether she understood what He was asking or not, so it wasn't a matter of her making God do what she wanted, but rather a participating with what she believed God was doing in the situation.  Faith meant she went ahead linking her actions with her belief.  And God rewarded her faith with a miracle.

I've been thinking about this in terms of our children -- do we treat them with faith in what God is doing in their lives?  Do we speak into their lives according to what we have seen in the Word that God wants to do in their lives?  Do we hold onto what God wants to make of them regardless of what we see before us, viewing them through the eyes of faith?  Do we give them hope that they can be spiritually victorious and that we believe God is doing and will do wondrous things in their lives?  Sometimes a wayward one doesn't have faith for their own overcoming, perhaps doesn't even want to overcome, but what we think of them -- how we see them affects in the long run how they view themselves.  This is especially powerful in the family/home setting.  It IS God's will that they are saved and that they walk with Him.  He asks us to pray, sometimes to fast and pray, and to obey Him step by step (one time striking the rock, one time speaking to it) in our dealings with them.  We must stay very close to the LORD to hear His voice and follow His directing, participating in the miracle He wants to perform.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1000 Gifts to Give Thanks For

Ann Voskamp has challenged her readers to come up with 1000 things they are grateful for.  This is the beginning of my list....

1.  God the Father -- Someone is in charge! capable, all wise, Good and trustworthy, and He asks us to call Him Father!

2.  God the Son -- Jesus, creator and sustainer of all.  The miracle worker who has made provision for our redemption from the clutches and kingdom of sin and Satan.  Jesus, our High Priest making a way into the Holy of Holies and a possibility for holy living

3.  God the Spirit -- Comfort, insight, wisdom, guidance, the protection of conviction.

4.  Nature -- The created world is one of beauty and wonder!  Inspiring and full of spiritual metaphor.  A grand finger pointing to our creator with all its awesome detail and intricacy.

5.  The Bible -- What a book!!  Alive and complete, all we need for life and godliness - comforts, convicts, enlightens and enlivens.  It teaches us History and how to understand it -- the roots of mankind and God's dealings with him as well as our future what God has planned for the world and man.  It teaches us how to live in the present and gives promises that we can live by faith transforming our lives.  It is God's voice, used personally by the Holy Spirit to touch our lives and carry us through the hard times.  Full of admonition, example, and promise.  It is the very best of literature - beautiful in all details.

6.  A Christian upbringing -- I am so very thankful for the life, and example of my parents - how easy it made it to believe when there was so much truth imparted into my life as a child.

7.  My Dad -- A truly godly man - a living inspiration - a man of insight, love, life, endless enthusiasm, wisdom, patience, self discipline, and generousity.  Dad always had our best in mind and generously spent himself to invest in our lives.  He passed on his love of the Lord, nature, hard work, projects and people.  He has not only loved me, but also my husband and children.

8.  My Mom -- my greatest fan - my Mom loves me, believes in me, and inspires me.  She has made my Dad her life serving beautifully behind the scenes, making his dreams come true. Her patience in ill-health, and uncomplaining spirit as well as her thoughtfulness for others are an inspiration.  Her love of books and ideas passed on to us and even her granddaughters head to the book section of the used store first. 

9.  My sisters -- forever friends - committed and loving through thick and thin, we've shared the trail through time and trials.  Though we are quite different, we have respect and love and want the best for each other.

10.  My husband -- 30+ years together, commitment through the joys and trials.  I'm thankful for his ability to stretch a dollar and spend it on things that will last.  Even on a limited single income he has managed to get us out of debt and keep us there by trusting the LORD and spending carefully and wisely.  He is careful and detailed balancing my view of the whole.  He has insights into people and spiritual things often overlooked by others.  He is a handyman that seems to be able to keep old things running long past their usual life of service which is very handy when you have 10+ people using the things all day every day.  A trustworthy man of integrity who has learned not to give his word unless he thinks he can keep it. Humble when he sees his error he is willing to apologize and change. 

Only 10 but a good start.  I'll write more another day or perhaps elaborate on these....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prayer, a Place of Rest

"...There is only one kind of person who can really pray, and that is the childlike saint, the simple, stupid, supernatural child of God; I do mean 'stupid.' Immediately you try to explain why God answers prayer on the ground of reason, it is nonsense; God answers prayer on the ground of Redemption and on no other ground.  Let us never forget that our prayers are heard, not because we are in earnest, not because we suffer, but because Jesus suffered.  It is because our Lord Jesus Christ went through the depths of agony to the last ebb in the Garden of Gethsemane, because He went through Calvary, that we have 'boldness to enter into the holy place.'"   If Ye Shall Ask... excerpt from ch. 2 by Oswald Chambers

What a place of rest!  Knowing that He has made the way for our prayers to be answered.  Romans 8:32 promises:  "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" All things!!...  Today I ask for the souls of my children and I know that it is His will for them to be saved and so, because of His redemptive work, and in spite of my own inadequacy, I look with hope for the answers to my prayers."

Painting by Greg Olson

I couldn't find the name of the artist of the painting of Jesus in Gethsemane.  I found it on Google images used on other blogs.  I chose it because it seemed to show Jesus agony and yet, even there in the Garden of Gethsemane, His face was lifted to His heavenly Father and He was yielded.  I would like to give credit if anyone knows the name of the artist. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hope Through Me, God of Hope

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."  Romans 15:13

Hope through me, God of Hope,
Or never can I know
Deep wells and living streams of hope,
And pools of overflow.

Flood me with hope today
For souls perverse, undone,
For sinful souls that turn away,
Blind sunflowers, from their Sun.

O blessed Hope of God,
Flow through me patiently,
Until I hope for everyone
As Thou hast hoped for me.
                                                             Amy Carmichael

Today, having battled on my knees begging for a breakthrough, enlisting friends and family to pray and we seem no closer to our requested answers than we have been, I am tempted to throw in the towel, forget the fight, give it up, stop the hurting by stopping caring, but this devotional Rachael shared with me this morning specifically for lost souls gave me a glimpse into His heart - He wants to hope through me when I am at the end of hope.  Well, here I am, LORD, I'm at the end of my own hope, please hope through me. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

She Had Her First M&Ms Today

She had her first M&Ms today;
She needed something with which to play.
O Grandbaby dear, you're already sweet,
Sitting quietly in your car seat.

Tight in her fist she held them fast,
She quieted down content at last.
The package would hold her eyes and her ears
Keeping at bay those much dreaded tears.

"She must he asleep," her mother said;
So quiet behind, she was misled.
The package now soggy began to spill
Its wonderful contents -- a new thrill.

So smooth and round and wonderfully sweet,
Melting in hand, and mouth, and car seat.
Mama turned 'round to see the sight
Daddy looked too, "She's a mess all right!"

Surprised and amused, her mouth now was blue;
They stopped the car, what could they do?
The candy was now all over her lap;
Hurry and get her out of her strap.

They cleaned her up as best they could,
And waited to see, would she be good?
Except for blue hands she showed no effect;
Only the start of adventures, I expect.
                     Patti Lofgren

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Treasure Day

Today was one of those treasure days you want to store in your memory in fine detail, to pull out and savor forever.  We gathered as a family - Dad and Mom along with the three of us girls with our husbands and our children who are still at home.  We spent the afternoon laughing and sharing memories of our growing up years.   We remembered them showing up at our school on a Friday mid-day and "kidnapping" us and taking us on a "grand adventure" to a cabin or other retreat spot for the weekend.  We remembered canoeing down the Mississippi starting at the headwaters in Itasca State Park and staying at those remote landings which seemed forever around the "next" bend but took hours to get to.  Dad would cook for us over an open fire and let us swim in the river.  We remembered ice slides Dad helped us build - one even after we were married and there were grandchildren.  

Since reading aloud together was such a wonderful part of our growing up years, we asked Dad and Mom to read aloud to us.  Someone had brought a series of Pat McManus books and Dad read us a chapter.  We laughed uproariously and wiped our eyes from laughter tears.

Then Mom read a chapter from Winnie the Pooh.  More laughter.  After our first chapter of Pat McManus we had called the children to join us so they wanted a chapter, too - thus a second chapter of Pat McManus.

Mom read from Walter Wangerin a chapter out of The Ragman and Other Cries of Faith.  We shared a bit then pulled out the hymnals and sang awhile together. I asked Dad to quote one of his memorized passages of scripture to us - he does it with such expression!   My sister, Jenn, had brought a Tolkien book and read a moving excerpt about Frodo and Sam in memory of how much we had enjoyed hearing Dad and Mom read it aloud to us in our youth.  Then in typical Dad style - he announced that he needed to get going as he and Barry would like to go to the evening church service. 

It made me think of the day about a week ago when he and Mom had been to the doctor and gotten the news that his lung cancer was quite advanced and no more testing would be done and hospice was called in.  Mom, Joan and I were sitting visiting with Dad at the kitchen table after his nap.  We shared a bit and cried a bit and talked about his cancer,Joan's upcoming trip, and various other things, then after about 20 minutes, Dad pushed back his chair and said, "Well, I think I'll get back to work..." and he headed out to the new addition and began working.

He looked so good today I could almost forget that he is dying.  What a heritage Mom and Dad have given us!!   Hours and hours reading and singing and traveling and talking.  Memories to hang on to and a legacy to pass on to our own children.  Today was a day of celebrating that legacy.  I will store it away and bring it out to brighten some day yet to come. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sunrises, Sunsets, Geese and Gulls

     Once when we were in a family crisis, my Dad was here caring and sharing the pain.  He said, "It doesn't seem like the sun should still shine, does it?"  but somehow it still did.  Now Dad is dying, they've called in hospice and unless God intervenes and miraculously heals him, we don't have long left with him before he goes home to heaven.  This is somehow so much more difficult even than that other crisis and yet the sun does still shine, and our days still unfold in front of us with everyday details much the same. The children run and play and the household chores still need to be done.

      But my heart balks and rebels and the first thought on waking is a thought of grief and many thoughts thereafter.  Everything reminds me of him.  His life is so intertwined with ours.  I gave him a haircut last night and he wanted it short - wish I could have just cut a little so I could do it again, soon.  I wondered why he wanted it so short around the ears - is he thinking he might not have another one? 

     I took the children to the park today for nature study and for a few minutes forgot the pain and just drew and wrote in my nature journal and watched the children laugh and chase the geese and toss pieces of pancake to the gulls.

      I guess having to keep going is a mercy, there are still sunrises and sunsets, geese and gulls at the park, children laughing and playing to ease the pain and help pass the time.   And one of these days, when we've finished our work here and watched our final sunset, the rest of our heart will follow the part that has gone ahead  home with Dad, and we'll join him in heaven where there is no night and no more tears! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

In Thy Light We See Light

Psalm 36:9  "For with You is the fountain of life:  In Your light we see light."

Psalm 43:3  "Oh send out Your light and Your truth!  Let them lead me; ..."

Psalm 27:1  "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?"

Genesis 1:3 "Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 

II Corinthians 4:6  "For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness," has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  But this precious treasure--this light and power that now shine within us--is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.  So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own."  NLT

LIGHT–noun1.something that makes things visible or affords illumination

Out in the night and darkness crying
Fumbling and groping trying to find
Some way out of my frightening blackness,
Can't see my way--desperate, dying.
Fear grips me now, in madness raving 
Stumbling and falling, finally I cry,
Lord, please help me now out of my blindness
I need your hand--rescuing, saving.

Then come the words, yes illumination
Stilling and freeing , "Let there be light!"
God takes over and all things are clear
I find Him strong-- life in formation..

Light takes my hand, with guidance twining,
Trusting and yielding, I see the truth.
God's glory blazes bright in Christ's face,
He fills my frame--enlightening, shining,

I have this treasure, Almighty's radiance
sparkling, yes beaming out of my life
My heart's the lamp and He is the flame.
God and mankind, holy alliance.
                                   --Patti Lofgren

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Fleeing from you,
nothing he sees
of Your preceding
as he flees.

Choosing his own path
how could he know
Your hand directs
Where he shall go.

Thinking he's free,
"free at last,"
unaware that Your hand
holds him fast.

Poor prodigal!
seeking a "where"from
how does one escape

Waiting for darkness
to hide in night,
not knowing, with You
dark is as light.
                                                                         --Ruth Bell Graham

"I can never escape from your spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.   I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night--but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.  To you the night shines as bright as day.  Darkness and light are both alike to you."  Psalm 139:7-12   (See also Luke 15)

Monday, October 18, 2010

"O my people, listen to my teaching.  Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable.  I will teach you hidden lessons from our past--stories we have heard and know, stories our ancestors handed down to us.  We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord.  We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did."  Psalm 78:1-4 NLT

"I don't want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. ...These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did or worship idols as some of them did.  ...All these events happened to them as examples for us.  they were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close."  I Corinthians 10:1,6,11 NLT

What a blessing that we have the wonderful stories of the Old Testament showing us God's heart and how He dealt with people.  We will benefit from reading and rereading them learning the lessons God has in them for us.  Also we are to pass them on to our children.  The Bible is the very best and most important book we can bless our children with.  Over and over I have noticed in my reading these past months that God is credited as the force behind the history.  He raised up kings and prophets and turned their hearts to do His will.  I'm in II Kings right now and an example of this is in 14:26 "For the Lord saw the bitter suffering of everyone in Israel, and how they had absolutely no one to help them.  And because the Lord had had not said he would blot out the name of Israel completely, He used Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, to save them."  There are many examples of times he raises up the king of Israel or Judah to go to battle and be destroyed in punishment for their idolatry.  These little key phrases attributing these things to the Lord have been jumping out at me.  God is sovereign - He directs the heart of the King like a waterbrook says the Psalms.  What a comfort to have a God in charge who is directing the affairs of man for His glory.  The question is if I value His glory, too. 

I have also been pondering the idea that our personal history and God's workings in our lives are also valuable family stories that bless our children both with our failures and our successes in following God.  Times of seeing how He carried us through crisis and where our journey of faith has been can be a stepping stone for them and be informative for wisdom in their own lives.  With that in mind I've been reminiscing about some of God's workings in some of our early experiences. 

When Dad (Brian) and I first married he was in school and I supported us financially.  Later we both worked while we waited to have children, but we put aside my income in the bank so that we wouldn't become comfortable on two incomes.  Those days of careful frugality were foundations for what God knew would be a pattern of our lives - enough but never an abundance.  When we had Nate I quit working outside the home for good, and Dad became our sole breadwinner.  He had just finished school and we didn't have much money coming in.  It was a stretch to make the money go around.  I remember the Lord giving me Matthew 6 emphasizing verse 33 as a promise to me,  (31) Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  (33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow:  for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."  Precious words and instructions for a young couple!  "Trust me, worry about My Kingdom and I will provide the earthly things you need."  I can say that after 30 years we have always had something to eat and something to wear.  I have had further lessons in not seeking after earthly things as we Gentiles are so prone to, of valuing what is truly important and sometimes I was forced to admit that what I thought was a need, God must see as a "want" because He wasn't providing for it.  I must confess that the lessons in trust continue to the current moment.  Last winter when Dad didn't have work I am sad to admit that I sometimes murmured and led you in worry rather than faith and I pressured Dad who was seeking to trust God to look around for work without the guidance of God.   Each new day needs its own daily bread and each new situation requires a new trust in the ever faithful God, but His provision all these years does make trusting easier.  I hope that the lessons of this past year and some of it's miraculous provisions will make the coming winter easier.  I also hope that Dad's courageous stands on not spending what you don't have and being grateful for what you have rather than murmuring about what you don't have will be patterns you seek to follow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Late Blooms

Rachael returned from the Ukraine last Fall with two Dahlia rhizomes, a precious gift from Ludmilla. They looked like two small elongated potatoes.  Ludmilla said to plant them in the Spring like you would potatoes.  I suggested Rachael keep them in the refrigerator through the winter.  In the Spring they looked shriveled up and dead.  We feared we had ruined them, but  decided to plant them anyway, just in case.  After several weeks there was still no sign of life, and I lamented to Rachael that they were dead.  Some time later when I was working in my flower bed I saw two small shoots coming up and yelled to Rachael to come and see!!  We were thrilled to see life coming from Ludmilla's tubers.  All summer long those plants grew and grew, but never a blossom.  There were stems and leaves in abundance, but no blooms.  Finally when the rest of the garden was about done, and things were starting to go into dormancy, the Dahlia got buds and then slowly they began to open up.  Now when it's the very end of the season (many years we would have had frost by now) the Dahlia is in full bloom!!  Beautiful dark pink blossoms in profusion!!  We've put them in vases around the house and yet there are plenty left in the garden.  When I showed a friend she could hardly believe that all that plant and bloom came from just two little tubers.  It set me to thinking about my children's spiritual life and how sometimes I am tempted to give up too soon because they aren't showing much sign of life, perhaps the best blooms will come late.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Watching with Thee

"Then saith He unto them, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death:  tarry ye here, and watch with me. '   ...And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, 'What, could ye not watch with me one hour?'"  Matthew 26:38,40

Lord, today I see my grief
as a loving gift from you.
A welcoming call to share your travail.
A partnership I won't rue.

When I ache and long and pray
for those that have gone away
I am crying along with you, my God,
for my wayward ones gone astray.

Is this the way you feel, my Lord,
About all your children dear?
Who have left the fold and followed the world
And want You no longer near.

What would it be to see, O God
Never to turn away;
To know all the pain, the filth, the sin;
Watching the world night and day.

Mercifully my little stage, O Lord
Can only play my small life
I can't imagine what you must feel
Carrying the whole world's strife.

Lord that you welcome me to join
Taking me by the hand
Ask me to watch and pray awhile
Gladly I will stand.

How could I do any less, my Friend
You've already made the way.
Grief a gift to help keep me awake,
Gratefully I will pray.
                                           --Patti Lofgren

We seek them with Thee

              SAVE THE CHILDREN

O save our children, Lord, we come to Thee,
Nor can we rest till they are gathered in.
O save them lest they wander carelessly;
Save them and keep them from the power of sin.

Grant they may hear Thy love's persuasive call,
Good Shepherd, who for our dear chldren died.
We seek them with Thee, till Thou find them all,
And Thy long travail has been satisfied.
                                               --Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tiny Fingers Curled Round Mine

Tiny fingers curled round mine,
Fuzzy head and eyes that shine
Silken skin that smells so new
Baby, how I treasure you!

Steps that wobble, falling down
Tries again without a frown
Smiling big so sweet and smart
Toddler you have won my heart!

Learning numbers 1 2 3,
Saying letters "A B C",
New ideas, learning's fun:
I love you from sun to sun!

Adolescence here we come
Hormone's challenge -- I'm undone!
Yet I still through tears can say,
"I love you more every day!"

Growing up and sprouting wings
Jobs and weddings - joyful things.
I'm so proud of all you are
Can you feel it?  I love you!

Courtship, marriage, babies start
Flowing in to fill my heart;
Prayers of thanks and eyes that shine
Tiny fingers curled round mine.
                                                         --Patti Lofgren

Photo credit:  Ryan Hosher


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Growing a Child

We had a fascinating message today by Jesse Rensbury.  Being a new father he used the analogy of birth in all it's aspects and compared it to new birth. One of the things in Jesse and Monica's experience was that the timing of the birth is not in our hands at all but in God's hands.  Their baby was a month "late" as compared to average.  As he spoke I thought about the fact that there are things a pregnant woman can do like eat healthy foods and get enough exercise and rest.  She can take vitamins and have a good attitude and restful spirit.  She can even read the Bible aloud to the baby before it is born.  A woman can also do things that will be detrimental to her baby - going without food, drinking alcohol or smoking.  But there are many parts of the process that she has no control over.  The process of the second birth for our children is also a process that we want to have a part in and we can have an influence.  We can introduce them to Jesus by word and by our actions.  We can help to form their character which can in turn protect them from many bad choices and make it easier for them to receive the truth.  On the other hand, there are many things we cannot do in terms of the new birth process.  We cannot force them to believe or to submit to God.  We cannot convict them of sin or draw them; only God by His Spirit can do this.  As I took great care to be healthy while I was pregnant with my babies, I want to do my part to help my children come safely to the second birth.  I can't control the timing or the circumstances of this new birth any more than I could control their first birth.  Two of our babies came six weeks early.  Many were late, one even  came four weeks late, but all were healthy and born just on time by God's timing.  Some of our children have come to the new birth at a reasonably early age, some seem to be coming late.  As I learned years ago while waiting for our four week late baby, I can leave the timing in God's capable hands patiently and faithfully doing my part. 

                           *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   

Thoughts from Ruth Bell Graham's, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them:

                         The Possible and the Impossible

   We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible.  We are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen and care for the physical needs of the family. 
      We cannot convict of sin, create hunger and thirst after God, or convert.  These are miracles, and miracles are not in our department.

My Part ( the possible):                 God's Part (the impossible):
  love - love expressed                       conviction of sin
  to pray intelligently                         creating a hunger and thirst 
       logically                                           for righteousness
       urgently                                           conversion
       without ceasing                               bringing to the place
       in faith                                                 of total commitment 
  enjoy being a mother                           showing us ourselves
  provide a warm, happy home                   as we really are
  minister to their physical                          (without ever
       and emotional needs                             discouraging us!)
       as I am able                                     continually filling us with
                                                                     His Holy Spirit for
                                                                     our sanctification
                                                                     and His service

                                  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *    
Called, yet I feel so inadequate
Only You can grow a child.
You ask me do what I can do
Helping to raise a child!

I can nourish their bodies, Lord,
Only You can make them grow.
I can furnish their minds with truth,
But You can fill their soul.

I can change a diaper, Lord,
Potty train that sweet tot.
But You alone can clean their heart
Cleanse every sin and spot.

I can furnish a quiet home,
Filled with things good and pure.
But I can't enter their minds, dear Lord,
Countering sin's allure.

I can teach them modest dress
But the world might take its toll.
I can  fit them with garments, Lord,
You can outfit their soul.

I can teach them much truth each day
Showing them paths that're right.
I can model for them the way
But You embody the light.

I can give hugs and love and touch
Daily forbid them to fight.
Only You can give them life
You draw them to faith not sight.

I can point out a way that's wrong
But you convict them of sin,
I can open your Word to them
Your Spirit works from within.

There are many things I can do each day
But without you all is lost
Strengthen me Lord, to do my part,
I beg for your miracle most.

Lord, I count it a privilege
To partner in this little while;
That you would kindly welcome me
To help with raising a child!
                               -- Patti Lofgren


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bringing our Children to Christ

The following quotes are by Charlotte Mason, an educator from the early 1900's.  She loved the LORD and she loved children and I have found her work inspiring.  I have read and reread A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.  The following two quotes come from chapter 2 of that book. 

"To bring the human race, family by family, child by child, out of the savage and inhuman desolation where He is not, into the light and warmth and comfort of the presence of God, is no doubt, the chief thing we have to do in the world.  And this individual work with each child, being the most momentous work in the world, is put into the hands of the  wisest, most loving, disciplined and divinely instructed of human beings.   Be ye perfect as your Father is perfect, is the perfection of parenthood, perhaps to be attained in its fullness only through parenthood.  There are a few mistaken parents, ignorant parents, a few indifferent parents, even one in a thousand, callous parents; but the good that is done upon the earth is done, under God, by parents, whether directly or indirectly.  The highest duty imposed upon him, it is also the most delicate; and he will have infinite humility, gentleness, love, and sound judgement, if he would present his child to God and the thought of God to the soul of his child.                                               --Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children

Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ the King.  How?  How did the old Cavaliers bring up sons and daughters, in passionate loyalty and reverence for not too worthy princes?  Their own hearts were full of it; their lips spake it; their acts proclaimed it; their style of clothes, all was one proclamation of the boundless devotion to their king and his cause.  That civil war, whatever else it did, or missed doing, left a parable for Christian people.  If a Stewart prince could command such measure of loyalty, what shall we say of 'the Chief amongst ten thousand, the altogether lovely?'"                                                                    --Charlotte Mason, Home Education

Lord, I bring them to you today,
These children you've entrusted to me.
All that I do and all that I say,
Reflected in what they will be.

Alone, I surely will fail them here,
These children you've entrusted to me.
I am not apt or able, I fear,
To fulfill all they need me to be.

Lord, I'm counting on you to give
These children you've entrusted to me-
A heart that is clean and ready to live,
A life that is fruitful and free.

I'm also willing to learn because
These children you've entrusted to me
Will sooner believe and seek to obey
A God they have known here through me.
                                       --Patti Lofgren

Painting above by William Adolphe Bougoureau

Listen, LORD

Listen, Lord,
a mother's praying
low and quiet:
listen, please.
Listen what her tears are saying, 
see her heart
upon its knees;
lift the load 
from her bowed shoulders
till she sees
and understands,
You, Who hold
the worlds together,
hold her problems 
in Your hands. -Ruth Bell Graham

"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you."  Psalm 9:10 NLT