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Learning to Listen to God

14 Jun

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Looking into my child’s eyes, with his cheeks resting in the palms of my hands, I answered the question – for the third time. “Each time you asked I replied, but you weren’t listening.” I continued, ” You need to learn to be still for a moment and listen!”

I stopped and reflected on my own words. How am I doing on listening? How many times do the children speak before I hear them? Do I quickly take care of something my hubby may have asked me to do, or do I procrastinate?

Mark repeatedly has done a character study with the kiddos, beginning when the older were the younger…

Part of it includes something like this:

True listening means paying attention with your ears, eyes, mind, and hands.

1. Ears: Try to block out any other noise, and focus on what is being said.

2. Eyes: Give full eye contact, not looking away, distracted by something else.

3. Mind: Embrace what is being said, thinking it through. Mull it over in your mind.

4. Hands: Put into action what you have heard.

In my recent post In a world full of contradictions… , I referred to gaining wisdom by seeking God. Learning to listen to God can be just as hard as teaching our children to listen to us, but it doesn’t have to be. The same principles apply to both situations.

1. Ears: Take time to be still, quiet before the Lord. (As a busy mother of young children, sometimes the only semi-private moments are in the bathroom!)

2. Eyes: Take time to read the Word of God, even just a verse or two if time is short.

3. Mind: Ponder what you have read, applying it to your daily life.

4. Hands: Don’t just forget and move on. Put it into action.

These are lessons I am still learning. In fact, I am sure it will be a lifetime of learning. But, I have seen that the more I practice listening – and put in to practice what I have heard – the better listener I become.

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In a world full of contradictions…

12 Jun

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“Take the blanket off your poor baby, it’s much too hot! He needs air!”, were the bold instructions Mark and I received as we began to walk through the church parking lot. It was the first Sunday morning of our newborn’s life. Before reaching the entrance to the building, we were admonished again, this time for not having him covered better. “He’ll catch a draft if he is not wrapped!”

The nurses at the hospital sent us home with strict instructions to feed our baby every three hours and no sooner! By the time our fifth and sixth babies were born, the view on feeding had changed dramatically. “Feed on demand.” When our later babies came… well, I guess I really don’t know what the advice was. We did what we thought was best for each child.

Should we put our children into public school, private school, home-school? Should we choose a classical curriculum, unit studies, text books, work books, co-ops, or simply un-school????

In a world full of experts and contradictions, I need wisdom!

At the end of the day, it’s not the well meaning people in the parking lot, the nurses at the hospital, or the latest books on education that are responsible for our actions. We, as parents must make our own sound decisions.

Seeking God personally, as a couple, and as a family has consistently been our greatest resource.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

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she looked up at me, stunned

8 Jun

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Sitting next to my eighth grade lab partner, we attempted to conquer the day’s assignment. The frog was placed before us.  Our job was to dissect the unlucky creature. How we had ended up as partners, I don’t remember. What I do know is that I was glad she got along with me. I had seen how she treated her enemies, and it wasn’t pretty.

During the course of our science experiment, we chatted together about our classes, people, likes and dislikes… I have no remembrance of what I may have said, but at one point she looked up at me stunned. “Becky, I have never heard you speak poorly of someone else before!”

At this point, I was stunned.

First of all, I was amazed that she would have even noticed or cared. After I processed her comment, I was ashamed that I had been guilty of the accusation!

This fellow student, who was known for treating others harshly, left a lasting impression in my mind.

The words we speak are powerful, possible of tearing down or building up. As a family, our goal is to always speak well of each other. Even when criticism is necessary, it should be given in love, never spoken of behind another’s back.

A family is a great place to begin the process of learning to treat each other with respect. What a delight to hear a wife carrying on about her wonderful husband or a brother speaking highly of his sister. It takes making a deliberate effort to change our habits – to relearn, but it is worth the effort as harsh words should never be allowed!

Since that day in the science lab, I wish I could say I have never made the same mistake again. Unfortunately I have, but I am thankful my “friend” took notice and confronted me. Because of her, I guard my words more closely.

K.I.S.S.

5 Jun

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The plumber just left informing me that, although he would be fixing our plumbing issues, he had to go through the proper channels. This time he was going to be sure it was done right. He didn’t know what day, but he would be back. In the meantime, we will patiently wait – looking forward to the day the nice plumber man comes back and the septic is no longer backed up into the bathtub!

Life is so full of the unexpected. At least, my life is! How often do I make plans to find they need to change – again, and again.

I used to be a pretty big planner, disappointed when I couldn’t achieve everything I had set out to do. The words of my father-in-law frequently still ring in my ears, “Becky, remember the KISS rule: Keep it simple, Stupid!”

With a large family, our lives being pretty full, flexibility is essential. To keep it simple, I daily try to focus on the most essential things in my life:

1. Take time to honor God, focusing on His will rather than my own.

2. Take time to nurture my relationship with my husband, letting him know he has my love and attention.

3. Take time to nurture my children – through a kiss on a wound, a tickle attack, a phone call, a listening ear, freshly made chocolate chip cookies…

4. Take time to encourage others as the opportunities arise.

When life gets so busy that I fail at these things, I can hear my father-in-law’s voice reminding me to “Keep it simple, Stupid!”

mercy triumphs over judgement

1 Jun

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Listening to an audio version of a book while I scrubbed my bathroom, I was struck by these words, “mercy triumphs over judgement.” I played the section again… “mercy triumphs over judgment.”

The thought has lingered in my mind as I have gone through the day. How does that play out in our marriage? How about in our relationships with our children?

Judgement always drives a wedge between, killing intimacy – showing a lack of understanding, a lack of forgiveness, a desire to withdraw.

Mercy, unmerited favor, reveals an unconditional love – strengthening a transparent, secure relationship where honesty is encouraged.

May our household be filled with mercy!

mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13)

we talked, we ate, we laughed

31 May

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Late in the afternoon, I got a call from my sweet hubby. We hadn’t gotten around to making plans for celebrating our anniversary. With birthday season, Memorial day celebrations, Mother’s day gatherings, and keeping track of a houseful of schedules, we hardly felt we needed one more event. Never-the-less, Mark was not about to let this day slip by!

So, dinner it was. We found a wonderful restaurant tucked just below street level in the historic part of town. We had the place to ourselves, or at least it felt like it. If others were there, we didn’t notice.

We talked. We ate. We laughed. We simply enjoyed each other’s company without any distractions. It was like cool refreshing water after a long run. And we had been running, not literally, but busy entertaining lots of people we love.

Life is so full, it is easy to let essential things get crowded out. I am thankful to my husband for setting the example for me – to not neglect the nurturing of our marriage.

31 years in the castle

30 May

Thirty-one years ago today, I made a commitment to the man of my dreams. The music we chose for our wedding, at the time, represented the vow we were making to each other and has now become a reminder of our continued focus.

 

I have waited such a long, long time for this day to come
And all I have to give is the love from God’s only Son
He gave to me, I give to you.
I pray that God will be with us night and day
Guide us all the way in our life.

There will be no strife with Jesus Christ
And His Kingdom which has come
And made it possible for you and I to be one.
I will make you queen of our home under the glory of the King.
We’ll raise our family in a castle full of love and trust the Lord in everything.
Let us sing to the King Hallelujah

In times of trial when things are hard to see will you stand by me with Love?
It can heal the pain, so let it rain on the roof of my soul,
There is no hole that love can’t fill.
So let us climb, let us climb the hill together
Let us climb the hill together. – Paul Clark

 

Looking forward to continuing the climb… happy anniversary, Mark.