Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Excerpts from Elisabeth Elliot

I was just reading Elisabeth Elliot's blog and thought I would share some great nuggets from today's devoetional.

Thirty years ago I was standing beside a shortwave radio in a house on the Atun Yacu, one of the principal headwaters of the Amazon, when I learned that my husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the five missionaries missing. They had gone into the territory of the Auca Indians, a people who had never heard even the name of Jesus Christ. What did I do? I suppose I said out loud, "O Lord!"
And he answered me. Not with an audible voice (I've never heard him speak that way in my life). But God brought to mind an ancient promise from the Book of Isaiah: "I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned....For I am the Lord your God" (Isaiah 43:1, 2).
l am the Lord your God. Think of it! The One who engineered this incredible universe with such exquisite precision that astronomers can predict exactly where and when Halley's comet will appear--this God is my Lord.
Evelyn Underhill said, "If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped."

Does God love us? Karl Barth, the great theologian, was once asked if he could condense all the theology he had ever written into one simple sentence.
"Yes," he said. "I can. 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'"

Whatever dark tunnel we may be called upon to travel through, God has been there. Whatever deep waters seem about to drown us, he has traversed. Faith is not merely "feeling good about God" but a conscious choice, even in the utter absence of feelings or external encouragements, to obey his Word when he says, "Trust Me." This choice has nothing to do with mood but is a deliberate act of laying hold on the character of God whom circumstances never change.

Does he love us? No, no, no is what our circumstances seem to say. We cannot deduce the fact of his unchanging love from the evidence we see around us. Things are a mess. Yet to turn our eyes back to the Cross of Calvary is to see the irrefutable proof that has stood all the tests of the ages: "It is by this that we know what love is: that Christ laid down his life for us" (John 3:16 NEB).

I hope that this is as much of a blessing to you as it was to me!

Another thing conquered

I can check off yet another thing that I have conquered since being on my own. I used the big snow blower all by myself today!!!! New England is digging out of yet another snowstorm (my ruler measured 9 inches in the driveway.) We are also on winter break this week, so many people are gone- including much of my help for the winter. I had to get out of the drive for a couple of appts. so I had no option but to face the big beast and overcome it! An hour later and some very tired arms, I am proud to say I have conquered!!!! I did only just enough to get out, but praise God, I CAN DO IT! I will certainly still be relying on others for help as that took just about all my physical strength, but I now know that I am not powerless. Of course, I could be out shoveling.... I would still be out there!!

We are going away tomorrow morning to northern Maine. Our church is having a family retreat and we are all so excited to go. The kids are calling it the "winter camp out." I will have to post pics next week. I am especially excited because I have paid vacation from work this weekend. So, even though we will be back from the retreat Sat. afternoon, I still do not have to work Sat. or Sun.!!! It will be a much needed rest!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Smarter... answers

Hats off to the Schoonover family!!! You are smarter than me, for sure!! The answer to "when is it ok to fly the flag upside down" is when you are in distress. You also raise the flag quickly and lower it slowly. Well done if you knew the answers, and hey, I did not know them.... Kristen has had much fun over the last few days asking all the adults she sees these questions. Most did not know them!! She took great pride that she is soooo smart!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are you smarter than a second grader?

While quizzing Kristen tonight on her history homework, I was struck with the horrible realization- I did not know some of the answers! Do you? I will post the answers Monday.

"When should our flag be flown upside down?"

"We raise the flag at what speed and lower it at what speed?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Glorious passing

I just spoke with my sister, and she shared with me the news that our beloved piano teacher from many years ago, Mrs. Dorothy Kemp, passed away over the weekend. I looked up her obit. and it is so beautiful I had to share it with all of you. I only hope if I reach the age of 86 or beyond, I will have done so much for my Lord!

Refiner's Fire

I had not really planned to write today because I have been challenged of late by several little "this is just for free" blurps that our pastor has thrown into his messages. He challenged us about how much time we spend emailing, blogging, on Facebook, etc. as opposed to how much time we spend in the Word. Ouch. Big conviction. So, as a very busy mom, I have resolved to waste less time "plugged in" to the electronic world and more time "soaking" up God's precious words!

But as I was doing a quick check on my favorite blogs today, my friend Ann-Marie had some very honest and challenging words. She got me to thinking about the Refiner's Fire. My baby turned a year old this weekend, and the other big "one year mark" is just a few weeks away. It has been quite a year. I had a friend call on Valentine's Day to see how I was doing. I am so happy to say it didn't even phase me that it was a day to celebrate love. That is the beauty of the Refiner's Fire. God has so wonderfully melted all the anger and hurt away and left peace in its place!!! I can honestly say I am a better person because of this life-changing trial I have been through. God has a reason for every trial that we go through. He has a purpose for our lives. The fire hurts so much, but the beauty that comes forth is so worth it!

Job 23:10
But He knows the way that I take, when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

I also wanted to pass on a link to a daily devotional site that I have found on Tina's blog. It is from Elizabeth Elliot. I can honestly say I did not realize this woman was still alive. Her blog is light but also very thought-provoaking.

I will apologize for any misspellings. For some reason my spell checker is not working.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Even Mitt Romney agrees...

I have not had the greatest of days dealing with New Hampshire being hit by yet another snowfall overnight. (Remember how I said I have to depend so much on others?) The snow and ice keep piling up and when my neighbor's big plow takes care of the bottom of the drive, it does not quite ever get all the way down to pavement. This is normal and many are having trouble. A week ago, we got a storm that gave us more rain and ice than snow. That created an "ice hole" at the bottom of my drive. I know where it is and have just been avoiding it. After quite a long ordeal of getting the kids off to school this morning, I arrived at my home to find two city plows blocking my drive. I stopped on the street and asked if I could help them. They proceeded to tell me quite groughly that I have a large ice hole that they got stuck in and that I need to do something about the hole. Now, mind you, I have already been crying all the way home. Choking back more tears, I simply said, "I am a single mom and this is my first winter on my own. I don't know how to fix the hole." The guy just said, "Yeah, well, just get the hole fixed." They got the truck out by submerging a cement block in it- yeah, it is that deep! If a city plow can get stuck in it, imagine what it would do to my van!! So, I went inside and had another long cry. These are the days when it hurts so much to be alone. I called trusty Grandpa and he told me to fill it with sand and place a five gal. bucket in the hole to at least mark where it is. So, for now, the hole is not fixed, but marked!

My title mentions Mitt Romney. Ironic that I would come across his consession speech today while looking for a weather update. He was speaking to a conservatives convention and the beginning of his speech was aimed for that. I tuned in just in time to hear him say (I am paraphrasing) how births to unwed parents are at an all time high. He gave several stats but for whites that rate is 25% of births are to single moms. The next statement made my hairs stand up. "A nation founded upon the principles that our forefathers set up can not continue to stand when fathers are not present in the home."

You may be a Mormon, Mitt, but you are right on. And people wonder why I want to be married again... :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On D and R, part 2

I stated that divorce and remarriage are hot topics among Baptists, and I am realizing that I have inadvertantly created a firestorm! I continue to be amazed at how my story has reached so many. I have received numerous emails in recent days, thus prompting this "part 2."

I must first clarify a gross misunderstanding. I will copy the part and then comment on it.

"Beyond this, think with me logically for a minute. We have all been taught that God is merciful and full of love. He told me point blank that he left me because he no longer wanted to live the Christian life and I did. What does it do to the idea that God is loving and merciful if He would condemn me to a life of singleness and my children to being fatherless when the only thing I did wrong was be Godly and serve Him??!!! Seriously, oh Conservative Baptists, does that really make any sense?"

I was a bit surprised that this was taken wrong, but upon re-reading, maybe I used the pronoun "he" too much. What I have been told multiple times is that because I am divorced, I do not have the right to remarry-ever- unless Rodney has died. This is a direct misuse of Matt. 19:9. And I did not mean that God condemns single people of if you lost your spouse in death, or that you should HAVE to remarry. I think this was taken the exact opposite of what I meant. You never hear someone who has lost their spouse to death told it would be best if they stayed single, just us divorced people. My thoughts are that if God is loving and merciful, then why would he punish me to never living a happily married life again for a sin that my then husband committed? I think this was taken exactly the opposite of how I meant it. It just doesn't add up. I hope that this makes a bit more sense, and I appologize for the misunderstanding.

The next big question that I have been asked multiple times is "why not just stay single"? That answer has many levels. I was greatly challenged by the comments left by "Saul or Paul" in the comments section. I know there is great debate on whether Paul was married. I studied I Cor. 7 intently, and I now understand why my Pastor tells us so often to "interpret Scripture with Scripture!!" If you read I Cor. 7 alone, it would seem that Paul would have that no one be married or that the only reason to be married is to avoid inappropriateness. I certainly am no scholar on this issue, so I will not even attempt to expound on it. But the teaching of Paul sums up "it is good not to marry, but if you do, you are not sinning." (You all understand that I am implying the premise that I have a Biblical right to remarry. )

I have a deep desire that my children have a father. I vowed long ago that my children would never know the pain that I went through growing up. But here we are, with them the kids of divorce. I know that while I did have Godly male influences in my life, I still craved and sought out fatherly love. That came in the form of some very poor dating choices in my high school years. The statistics are horrifying about kids-especially girls- who grow up without a father in the home. Yes, I know that God can protect them and send them good men to help fill in, but nothing can replace the day-to-day influence a man has on his children. That is MY belief and passion. Yes, I know all the verses about how God is our father, but that is a tough thing to tell a kid who is supposed to were her daddy's pajamas to a slumber party and she doesn't have any to use. God doesn't wear pajamas, does he?

Another reason that I do not feel "called" to stay single is my constant need to depend on others. I am a girl of very small stature and weight. It is phyically impossible for me to do many things needed to take care of a house, snow removal, etc. Again, I realize the church is commanded to care for the widows and husbandless- and you all know how much my church does this!! However, is it not by God's design for us to have a "help meet"? There are many more reasons why I desire to be married again, but I think I have made the point.

I would also like to address one thing that I left out of my last post. I have had many comments on the importance of forgiveness and not becoming bitter. I couldn't agree more. Not allowing bitterness to take root has been the key to my recovery through this process. It is why so many look at me and say "she is so strong." I have mentioned several times the "Quieting a Noisy Soul" series by Jim Berg. It has been a lifeline. Lesson 15 covers dealing with the "other side" and lessons 20-23 are about overcoming your anger, bitterness, despair, and discouragement. I have listened to these four lessons countless times. One point that he makes is that forgiveness does not always equal reconciliation. If one commits a murder and then gets saved and is truely sorry for his sin, is he not forgiven? But can he bring that person back to life? Will he still have to pay the earthly consequences of killing someone? This same is true for me. Are there some who take their spouse back after unfaithfulness? Of course. But the only thing Biblically that I am required to do is forgive and keep my heart free of bitterness. Sometimes one must pay tough consequences for sin. If Rodney does ever repent of his sin and come back to Christ, that is great! I do pray for this regularly. But it does not mean that I am under an obligation by God to remarry him or to forever put my life on hold waiting for a possible repentance.

The final thing I would like to address is the topic of "God's Will." Way back in my senoir year of high school, my pastor gave me a book by Jay Adams called "My Sufficiency in Christ." It gave an illistration that I have never forgotten. So many people think that God's will is like some "celestial crane" that will pick you up and plop you down right where God would have you to be. Sometimes, that does happen. But sometimes, you have to seek councel about a topic, pray, but then take action!! All the while, praying for God's direction. If you are truly seeking the will of God, then He will shut down what you are doing if it is not in His plan! Could God "plop" a man in front of me with a neon sign proclaiming "marry this one"? Yes, he could- but will he? Probably not. That is why I have Godly people I go to for advice.

My current pastor also has recently pointed out to me the story of Ruth. For those of you who think it is wrong for a woman to "pursue" after a spouse, I challenge you to read the Ruth 3. Ruth very boldly put herself at Boaz' feet seeking him for a mate, and ultimately, the line of Christ came from them!! Please realize again, that I am not saying this is a free-for-all for a girl to go flaunt herself!! Balance is the key to life.

Thank you for bearing with me through yet another lengthy and weighty post!! Please just all know, that I am in no rush to find a man. I am very much seeking GOD's direction in this. I have MANY solid influences that I am going to for advice. And, really, when you have been through the trauma that I have over the last year, do you really think I would want to make the same mistake again?!!!