08 February 2012

Loving God’s people means praying ~ part1

I have moved along way in the last twelve months on my attitude to prayer. Actually, God has moved me along way on that journey, although I am still a million miles off the destination.

I was always unhappy with my prayer life – I think that was a combination of unrealistic goals and ideas on the place and purpose of prayer. A mistaken idea of God’s character and the usual baggage of putting myself at the centre instead of the Lord. And being unprepared for spiritual opposition.

In the face of my challenge this year, of loving God’s people, I was soon reminded that the first place to start was prayer.

I thought I might share some of my journey and the things I have learnt about prayer, and books which have been a great resource.

Sometime ago, I had the opportunity to read through Elisabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael called A Chance to Die, which is an amazing read, and later while reading Elisabeth Elliot's book, Keeping a Quiet Heart, I came across some notes she had recorded whilst researching the biography. These notes were reflections Amy made on why prayer is so hard, and with reference to some well chosen Bible passages, she also wrote about what will help us most with this struggle.

 

Amy hit home in pinpointing what it is I struggle with when it comes to prayer. Maybe you do too.

Do you ever feel ‘what is the point’,

…God has it all sorted, what difference can I make? I know this has been a major handicap to my prayer life. If we feel there is no point, or maybe you feel you are too insignificant to be heard by the Lord of the universe, Amy reminds us that we must remember it is in the name of Jesus that we come to God and “His ear is always open to that Name.” We can approach God with confidence He will hear us.

 

What about that to do list that looms large each day?

Are you like me… I’ll just get that load of washing on first, and oh better load the dishwasher and…. If we feel distracted by all there is to do, we should remember that it is Satan that is trying to confuse our priorities. He wants us to believe there are more pressing concerns than prayer. He hates us to pray. As shown by both the obstacles we face when we set out to pray and be still in the Lord, and the lack of the same when we choose getting on with the to do list over prayer.

 

Does praying sometimes just seem to require too much energy

…effort you can’t seem to muster? Or is there something unconfessed weighing on our hearts which is keeping a barrier between us and our time with the Lord. Amy reminds us that our discouragement from weariness, weakness or remembering past sin can be overcome by remembering the Lord’s words the following passages; 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 44:22, Psalm 27:8 and in 2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 

I have to share this post by Scooper at Miss A La Mode called For the girl who just can’t pray. When I read it, I recognised myself in her words. She captures completely the weariness of soul that can sometimes paralyse our prayer life and give guilt a strangle hold.

Finally I will leave you with a quote from an essay Elisabeth Elliot wrote in Keeping a Quiet Heart, entitled Why bother to pray? This opened my eyes in a big way to the responsibility of prayer in a Christians life.

 

…prayer is a law of the universe. God ordained that certain physical laws should govern the operation of this world. Books simply will not stay put on a table without the operation of the law of gravity. There are spiritual laws as well. Certain things will not happen without the operation of prayer. God could cause books to stay on tables by what theologians call “divine fiat.” Everything we pray for could occur in the same way, but that is not how things were arranged. Pascal the great French thinker, said that in prayer God gives us “the dignity of causality.”

 

Wow – God has work for us to do!

 

 

 

 

 

29 January 2012

2 week menu plan

Tsh Oxenreider of the Simple Mom network has recently released a new book. One Bite at a Time is an eBook that guides you through some first steps of 52 projects to making your life simple. Simple is good!

After dithering awhile (you know if you’re buying a project book like this there is gonna be some work ahead) I have finally bought myself a copy. As expected, I am currently being inspired to simplify and get organised.

Tsh writes in the same easy friendly style you get to see on her web site, in fact about half the content is readily available on her web site. She manages to make it an enjoyable read as well as being motivational for change, all without giving you the guilts over the status quo in your life!




So which of the 52 projects am I starting with? The Menu Plan – yup – I am easing into it, don’t want to burn myself out. Smiley
I had previously used menu planning systems, but once we started getting our fruit and veg fortnightly through a co-op last year, I gave up on it. I didn’t always know what will be in our co-op box each fortnight and that made choosing anything ahead difficult. So couple that with just feeling blahh about cooking and it was all at a standstill.

Well fast forward to now and I have my cooking mojo back, I am now familiar enough with what to expect in the co-op box, and I am ready for a challenge of the unexpected (eggplant this week anyone?)

So a fortnightly menu plan is where I am headed, and I have made up a printable 2 week menu plan page for me to organise my cooking. I thought I would share it here on my blog for anyone else on the look out for a menu plan printable. For each day there is section to write what you are cooking and below it is a space to write what you need to buy.

You can find it in three options. Just click on the image you want, then right click and save it to your hard drive. Or click on the title for a pdf version.

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2WeekMenuPlan_Vintage
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17 January 2012

Words…. Reading to your children

As you can see by my blog title and the quoted proverb I have a purpose for this blog. Words are so important they can build up or tear down. They can encourage and they can hurt. I want this blog to be a place where words sing to your heart, by which they may lighten your load, share a burden or make you smile.

 

But the good things that words can deliver are not just via our mouths or our blogs. Books are an important part of my life and I have always wanted to share my passion for reading with my children and with others. Thankfully both my kids have developed my book addiction!

 Pippi-thumb-250x325-49076

My 7 year old is currently enthralled with Geronimo Stilton, Zac Power and history books especially Ancient Egypt and Mythology and my 5 year old loves her fairy tales. At the moment, as a summer holiday treat we are reading together Pippi Longstocking (illustrated by the fabulously creative Lauren Childs). It was one of those books, along with Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, that I was just busting to introduce the kids to when they were ready.

 

Back to the title. You may have picked another influence in my choice of name. Some of you may be familiar with Gladys Hunt’s Honey for A Child’s Heart. A wonderful book that offers encouragement, direction, book lists and ideas for reading to your kids. Incidentally, that book has always helped me remember the proverb.

 

Choosing good books is important. Books are not just another toy, books can nourish, amuse, puzzle, startle, delight, sadden or anger us. They give us experiences and adventures we would otherwise miss out on. We can climb mountains, meet a princess, fight a battle or fly to outer space.

 

Children's books also provide us with fabulous teaching opportunities. I love nothing better than to hear my children asking why a character made a particular choice or acted in a certain way. Books are a great conversation starter for us to talk about the big and the not so big things in life.

 

Over a series of posts I thought that I would share some of our family’s favourite books – those you simply can’t leave childhood without. The lists themselves will be available within the post and also as a separate printable.

What are some of your family favourites for littlies?

I have broken my book lists into categories based on age, but you will find some books in more than one category.

O-3 years (Download PDF Here )

14 January 2012

Where did it go?

Did anyone else blink and miss the summer holidays? I could swear just last week was the end of the school year and the ink on my list of ‘things we are going to do in the summer holidays’ was just drying. Now its two weeks until school starts back and my ‘baby’ goes to big school.

The list did have to have a lot of changes to it though. Our 7 year old thought he’d try out the broken arm thing so the beach and all water activities (read that as half my list) got scratched. And the weather wasn’t going to play nice either. Sydney had the coldest start to summer in a long time. We were wearing jeans for a week at a time!!! Jeans in a Sydney summer! Unheard of.

Before I knew it Christmas was done, New Years Eve was crossed off and we were packing for CMS Summer School up at Katoomba.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters, Katoomba. Photo by deeleea

Summer School has been our summer holiday for the past three years. Hubby and I find it a fabulous way to start off the year. The days of hearing God’s word preached and listening to how God’s word is being shared around the globe is a wonderful encouragement and helps to get the coming year into focus.

A highlight this year was hearing some missionaries speak on why and how they ended up on the missionary field. Those speakers all challenged me to think about how willing I am to hear God’s voice and to how willing I really am to give up all for Jesus if he asks it of me. Would I really leave it all behind? How important to me is worldly security and being comfortable over serving God and others?

I usually feel refreshed and filled by the end of the conference and our few extra days up in the mountains, but also challenged. This year the challenge I have been given is to love God’s People. I don’t know all that will involve for me exactly but I know I will find out in good time. I know that I won’t have to do anything alone, God will give me all I need to do His will. And I do hope this blog will be a part of that.
Here are some words you might like to meditate on:
Psalm 28:7
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
   and with my song I praise him.
Isaiah 41:9-10
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
   from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
   I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
New International Version (NIV)
Have you a particular challenge for 2012?

05 January 2012

So why this blog?

 
For encouragement – this year past I have come to appreciate the various blogs out there by godly women who in sharing their life experiences and thoughts have been a big encouragement and help in my daily life. I’d like to share that encouragement with others who maybe living the experiences that I am.
  I also hope to share helpful resources, book reviews and other things that I find useful as a wife, mother and in my walk with the Lord. You will also get to know a bit more about me. 

New years resolutions….

Each year I make New Years Resolutions of one kind or another but I don’t call them New Years Resolutions… oh no, they are “Things I Am Going To Do This Year”. They usually involve being a better mother, a better house wife, a better Christian – you know become that prayer warrior etc.…. It doesn’t make any difference what I call New Years Resolutions though I still fail to meet my expectations or fulfil my plans the way I envisaged I would.

During the week I read this blog post by Candace at His Mercy is New and I was particularly struck by this phrase “Me being better, being more will never work...because I am nothing without Him. “ This got me thinking how much do I set myself up for failure because I start with me, I don’t go to the one who made me.

I measure myself against standards and benchmarks I have set for myself. God is the one who can shape me and mould me, I try so hard on my own steam just so I can say I did it. God actually wants to change me and has a better plan for the refinement of my character than I could ever write-up. He even has his own perfect timetable for the project!

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
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So should I bother with resolutions?
I am not saying that the things I want to change shouldn’t involve any effort on my part or that they are not admirable goals in themselves, but often they are at the core, me trying to change myself, on my own, according to a plan I drew up for myself. My thinking and starting point is all wrong. I should be sitting myself down at the Lord's feet and allowing Him to orchestrate the process in the way that He wants to.
 
And what about the things I want to badly change, that do need changing, but I am left to struggle with?  I have come to believe there are some struggles that will remain a thorn in my side for the time being no matter how much I pray (beg) the Lord to remove them, as really they are how He is glorified in my life – those weaknesses and flaws are His way of reminding me that I need Him and always will. They are tough continuing lessons that tell me this is about His glory not my own. He loves me so much that these things will not remain for the purpose of frustrating me but to be an ever-present testimony in this life that He is all I need.
 
And I have his promise that He will finally change me, one day I will be with Him, completed, refined and perfected.
 
Some encouragement
If you are struggling with resolutions or habits you want to change here are two great bible readings to meditate on:
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Romans 7:21-25


See you soon…