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Memorial Day.  Established after the Civil War to encourage healing as a nation and to bring both sides together.  Today we think of Memorial Day as a time to remember all who have given their lives in service for our great and blessed nation. 

Although the calendar recognized this past Monday as Memorial Day, mine was yesterday.  I unexpectedly ran into the Marine Corps soldier whose homecoming I mentioned in a previous writing (A Soldier Returns). 

I first learned about this soldier when his wife and I got acquainted through email messages. We hadn’t met, but our sons were in kindergarten together.  She said that her husband was a marine who had just learned that he’d be deployed to the war in Iraq.  I began praying for him and their family that night. 

Ironically, the day his wife and I actually met was the day he was being flown out of the country.  We were at my son’s birthday party.  My heart was torn between being happy and joyous for my son and feeling sadness and concern for my new friend and her cute young son knowing they’d be without their soldier throughout most of the school year.  It was mid-September.   I couldn’t imagine my two sons having to be without their father that long.  And I thought about how hard it would be for him to miss out on so much of their lives.

I continued to pray for this soldier, his wife and son.  Often I’d think about him when I’d watch my husband with our sons, knowing that he was missing that same time with his son so that he could serve and defend our country and us.  I thought about him at Christmas while we were cozy and happy in our home wondering where he was and what kind of Christmas he’d be having.  More prayers. 

I can’t begin to imagine the sacrifices this soldier made or the discomforts and pain he endured to do his duty to honor his country on behalf of you, me, our loved ones, and all that’s important about being American.  And I couldn’t begin to put all those thoughts into words when I met him and shook his hand. What a proud moment that was for me to shake the hand of a soldier who sacrificed, endured, and returned fsafely home from war.   That was my Memorial Day and it was the most special I’ve ever had.

I managed to tell him what a privilege it was to meet him and that I’d been praying for him, but I didn’t think to thank him for his service.  I’ll write him a note to share my gratitude and appreciation for what him and his fellow soldiers.  That note will include the words of Romans 1:8   “How I thank God through Jesus Christ for each one of you.”

The 34-week long bible study I lead (Disciple) wrapped up last week. With that behind me, I can begin my summer reading. I look forward to finishing The Faith Club.  It’s written by three women who are Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim.  They all live in the NY City area and came together after the events on 9/11 to explore their faiths.  They met weekly and taped their conversations.  The book is a compilation of their candid and sometimes confrontational discussions.  I’m getting a better understanding of the Muslim and Jewish faiths – learning many things that surprise me!

I’m also starting Keri Wyatt Kent’s new book Oxygen: Deep Breathing for the Soul.   It is an interesting devotional book.  The devotions are done weekly, not daily, in three sessions a week.  Do-able!  The sessions are to be a quiet, relaxing and reflective time.  

After finishing The Faith Club, I want to pursue The Power of a Praying Woman, Wife, and Parent (those are three separate books).  

 I’ll keep up with Proverbs 31 Online Devotions (FREE!  www.Proverbs31.org), and of course I’ll be reading from my favorite book of all, the Bible.  

Whatever you do this summer, make a reading plan now that keeps you in the Word.  Even if you just reflect on one scripture per day through a short devotion, you’re staying in the Word and allowing God to reach you and teach you. 

“The vigor of our spiritual lives will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our lives and in our thoughts.”    – George Muller

How about you?  What will you be reading?  

Blessings,  – Renee

Dear Friends,   My computer died last week and, until now, I’ve been unable to access my site account.  That’s why it’s been a while since I’ve written anything new.  Until my computer is fixed, my updates might be sporadic.  (I’m working from my son’s computer.)  Please continue to check in for updates!   I appreciate your visits to my site and will do my best to give you new things to read as often as I can! 

Blessings to you,    – Renee

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  

1 Timothy 6:6 

I love my children and enjoy spending time with them, but going to the store with them can be frustrating.  They ask for this and ask for that, often asking for things they already have or don’t really need.  Although I firmly tell them to stop asking, they continue to see things that, in their minds, they just have to have. 

My responses to their requests vary depending on the situation: Not today.  This isn’t a good time.  Maybe when you’re older.  That would be a good idea for your birthday or Christmas.  It costs too much.  You might think you want it, but I know you wouldn’t use it much.  You’ve already gotten a treat today.  We don’t need it. Certainly not if you’re going to whine about it. You don’t take care of what you have, why would I get you more?  You didn’t eat/use the last ones I got for you.  You need to learn to be content with what you have! And sometimes the answer is simply ‘no’, and I offer no explanation.  

After one of our shopping trips I came home unhappy about them always having the ‘gimmes’ and was concerned about them constantly wanting more when we have so much already.  Do they not appreciate what they have?  Are they not grateful for all their dad and I provide for them?  Evidently they don’t realize how fortunate they are.  How did they get to be this way?  Their dad and I aren’t like this!  Or are we….?

As I was convicting my children, God began convicting me.  I started thinking about the things I whined about to God and the wish list of ‘gimmes’ I often greeted Him with in prayer.  Then an interesting thing happened.  As I recalled the various things I’d been wanting, I started hearing God giving me the same responses I’d been giving my children.  Things like:  Not now, maybe later.  You’re not ready for that yet.  You don’t take care of what you have, why would I give you more?  You think you want that, but I know it won’t really be of interest to you.  I can’t justify the cost right now.  You need to be content with what you have!  And just like with my kids, sometimes His answer is simply ‘no’ without explanation. 

My, was I humbled!  Then another interesting thing happened.  I started understanding situations better and appreciating things more.  I actually felt contentment with what I had – and was fine about what I didn’t have – knowing God was looking out for my best interest in these matters just like I look out for my children’s best interest.  In fact, I even began to feel good about the times He’d told me ‘no’.  My ‘gimmes’ were gone! 

Dear Lord, Thank you for being a Father who loves us enough to say ‘no’ and to look out for our best interests. Please forgive me for the times I must have seemed greedy and unappreciative to You.  Help me to do my best with what I have, continue to be content with what I have, and not to want more than what is proper for me to have.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title Do You Have the Gimmes?

Before my first son was even born, I wanted to be a good mom.  But being a good mom didn’t  prove to be enough.  I was struggling.  Finally, when he was six, I started trying to be a godly mom.  Going from being a good mom to a godly mom has made all the difference in the world for my family and me.   My inspiration to strive for godliness came from my involvement with godly women at church – especially from my friends in bible study and a women’s Circle group. 

 Our Circle met yesterday and a generational discussion evolved comparing the way things used to be for moms with the way they are today.  No doubt things are very different for today’s moms than they were for our mothers!  An older mother felt that moms today keep ourselves too busy, distract ourselves from our jobs as mothers, and that causes us to be stressed out.  A mother of young children countered with the fact that there’s too much to juggle and kids, themselves, are a major distraction and hindrance for order in our lives.  As you can imagine, this led to a good discussion about mothering, priorities, and finding balance in our lives. 

I could relate to all comments shared and felt grateful for the godly influences that have helped me in recent years.  Those influences helped me to see that I wasn’t alone in my frustrations; led me to a godly approach to my problems; and helped me to realize that I’d rather be a Spirit-led mom and than a ‘super mom’.   Actually, I think a Spirit-led mom IS a ‘super mom’! 

Because advice from others greatly helped me, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.  The most helpful advice came from a goldy mom who told me about God’s order for our lives.  It is as follows:

 1) God 2) Marriage 3) Children/Family 4,5, 6…) all other things. 

I’ve since learned from my own experience that you shouldn’t let anyone else tell you or guilt you into thinking what should be important to you, your marriage or for your family.  Let God be your guide.  Go to Him in prayer and ask Him to define who He wants you to be, what He wants you to do, and how He wants you to do the things He sets before you.  It’s amazing how things start falling into place once we let Him take the lead in our lives and start trying to be godly moms and not just good moms. 

When things don’t feel right in your life, then something is out of balance.   Too much really is too much.  In which direction are your scales tipping?  What can you do to put them in balance?  Pray about these things.  God can help you find the answers and lead you gracefully to the solutions. 

I hope the things I’ve shared will be helpful for you if you’re striving to be a godly mom.  I also hope that you have the influence of godly moms and friends in your life. 

Maybe you have suggestions to share, too!  If so, please post them for us by clicking on the word ‘comments’ below the title for this post ‘Good Mom/GodlyMom’.   We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

May God bless all moms this Mother’s Day, and may your joys and blessings continue as you strive to be a godly mom. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”        – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Growing up I was a very obedient child, followed the rules, and tried to be pleasing to my parents.   However, as a young adult in my early 20’s, I started making bad choices that gave my parents cause for concern and disapproval.  The worst mistake I made was moving into an apartment with my boyfriend. 

Dad was furious and my mother was very upset.  Dad gave Mom strict instructions not to do anything for me or help me in any way.  Mom and I have always been very close, so that must have been very hard for her and she likely felt caught in the middle between us. 

It was during this time of imposed separation that I left work one day to find Mom waiting for me.  She took me out to my car, and to my surprise I found that she had stuffed ‘Bugsy’, my VW Bug, with boxes and bundles of houseware items that she and a friend had found at garage sales that day.  I couldn’t believe it!   

As I recall, we were both a little emotional, but it wasn’t just about all the stuff.  It was about her wanting to be there for me even though dad had forbidden her from doing so.  The moment didn’t end there, though.  Mom spoke lovingly but firmly when she said, “I do not condone what you are doing, but I love you and want to support you.”  

Of all the moments we’ve shared and all the wonderful things she’s done for me, that offering of love is the one that stands out the most.  She made it clear that she did not approve of my actions or choices (and that hurt, but I understood), but despite her disapproval she wanted me to know that she loved me and would be there for me – no matter what.  Even as I write this more than 20 years later, my heart is touched deeply by what she did and what it meant to me. 

Another memorable demostraion of her love came one Christmas Eve just days before she married someone else following her divorce from my dad.  I had graduated from college, left my hometown in Indiana, and was living on my own in Florida.  At Mom’s request I took few days off from work to go back and spend Christmas with her. 

Mom had asked me to stand up with her in her wedding, but at the time I was upset about the marriage.   I knew I’d be emotional and didn’t want to ruin her wedding.  Looking back, I’m ashamed that I was too selfish about my own feelings to be happy for hers.  She deserved for me to say, “I don’t condone what you’re doing, but I love you and want to support you.” 

My rejection of her invitation to be with her at her wedding must have hurt, but still she wanted to show her love for me.  We had a quiet exchange of gifts that Christmas Eve night – just the two of us – and she had a very special gift waiting for me.  Wanting to assure me of her love and our relationship, Mom gave me a pretty opal ring.  As she gave it to me she told me that things would change when she remarried, but that she would always love me and I would always have a place in her life.  The ring was to be a symbol of our love and a reminder that she would always love me – no matter what.  I still cherish that ring and what it represents.  I wore it today. 

Most importantly, I still love and cherish my mom.

Before closing, please know that my dad is a wonderful man and was a very loving father.  His reaction to my behavior was deserved.  We later made amends and got back to having the loving relationship that we’d shared through the years.  

 There’s a happy ending with Mom and her husband, too.  She married a man that I’ve come to respect and admire.  I love him as a parent and am thankful that he and mom are together.   He is a loving grandfather to our sons and a very special part of our family. 

And this all came about because of my mother’s love. 

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title for this post. 

In a previous post I invited you to meet Granny, my grandmother.  (Scroll down two posts to find Meet My Granny.)  Today I’d like to share my mother-in-law with you.  Her name is Jeanette

“Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her…”  -Proverbs 31: 28

When my first son was small, we went when we could to visit my husband’s parents at their lake cottage in northern Indiana.   They were wonderful hosts and always made us feel welcome and loved.  Their peaceful lake home sat right on a canal.  The views from the windows looked across a tree-shaded yard to the water where their speed boat and a paddle boat were docked.  At any given time you could look out and see ducks, cranes, and other interesting ‘lake birds’, boats going by, or fish jumping out of the water.  There were many interesting things for our little son to see!  It’s no wonder he enjoyed looking out the windows when we spent time indoors. 

While talking to Jeanette by phone a couple of weeks after one of our visits to their lake home, she said, “This might sound funny, but I haven’t washed the windows since you were here.  I still enjoy seeing your son’s handprints on the glass and just can’t bring myself to wash them off yet.”  My first thought to myself was, “No, that doesn’t sound funny.  I NEVER wash our windows!”  Then my heart took over allowing me to be wowed by what she just said.  As festidious of a housekeeper as she was, she looked past perfection and sought preservation of the moments when her grandchild had been there, leaving his handprints behind as evidence of the happy moments they’d shared.  

Hmmm…  I had a lot to learn from that.  I was so busy trying to be a good mom and keep up with tasks around the house (which included wiping off all the sticky handprints I found) that I was overlooking the ‘handprints’ moments with my own son!  And I certainly wasn’t allowing myself time to stand back and cherish them. 

That was just one of many lessons I learned from Jeanette’s kind and gentle ways. 

Jeanette always made me feel more like one of her own daughters than a daughter-in-law.  I never heard her raise her voice or speak negatively about others.  She took pride in her duties as a wife, mother, and grandmother, and even became a great-grandmother before losing her life to cancer. 

Jeanette was a wonderful cook.  I think it’s because she put so much love into everything she made.  And she didn’t just make food.  She was an incredible seamstress, making wedding dresses for her daughters, a bridesmaid’s dress and wedding hat/veil for mine; as well as bed covers, drapes, lounge chair covers, and even a boat cover!  She could whip up a pie in the blink of an eye, installed her own water heater, and did many other impressive things.  And she ALWAYS looked pretty.  Until she was no longer physically able, she was an amazing caregiver and life-partner to my father-in-law who is a quadripalegic (sp?) due to a tragic fall from a tree. 

Jeanette was so loved by all of us – her husband, children and spouses, and grandchildren.  She left behind wonderful handprints of love on all of our lives that we will never wipe away.  Instead, we will treasure them always. 

May you cherish the ‘handprints’ left by your  loved ones, too. 

With love to you, Jeanette, for all that you were and continue to be in our hearts.

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title. 

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”        – John 14:23

“Every word of God is pure…”     – Proverbs 30:5

As Spring comes to an end and summer approaches, we’re often faced with choices about the commitments we want to make for coming year/fall when activities resume again after summer break.  I encourage you to make bible study one of your commitments.  There are many bible studies available through churches, YMCA’s, and even neighborhood groups. 

I’ve been involved with Disciple bible study for five years and am already excited about starting a new year of Disciple next fall, which will be my fourth year as a leader of the study.  The Disciple program offers a series of studies that start in the Fall and end in the Spring.  The first study (Disciple I) covers over 80% of the bible, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation, in just 34 weeks!  The follow-up studies spend 16 weeks each in Old and New Testaments, covering much less material so that the study can go slower and deeper.  The Disciple studies are for everyone.  They’re wonderful for those who have never done bible study and for those who are veterans of studying the Word.  Everyone grows in their biblical knowledge and in their relationships with the Lord. 

Also popular are the short term Beth Moore studies that last about 10-12 weeks.  Our church also started Life Groups where small groups of people come together to do various bible studies or meet like a book club selecting Christian books for their discussions.   Communities also offer CBS (Community Bible Study) and other similar programs.

These are just a few suggestions of studies or groups that might interest you.  Maybe you’d like to form your own group.  This can be done in your neighborhood, with a group of friends, or whoever you want to include. 

My first bible study experience was with a group of moms who became friends at their church.  They decided to get together as a play group over the summer.  While the children played they met to share lessons from the bible that they took turns preparing.  They invited me to join them and started me on my spiritual journey. 

We later moved away and I eventually got involved with Disciple.  It led me to new friends who have become like sisters (and now a ‘brother’, too), and grew my heart for the Lord in ways I never dreamed possible. 

My biggest reason for getting involved in a bible study was because I knew that one day I’d go before the Lord and I wanted to be prepared.  I didn’t want to have to say, ‘I didn’t know better’.  Somehow I don’t think God will accept that as an answer – especially when His instruction manual is right here for me to read.  I also wanted to do my best as a parent and wanted to be sure that I was parenting in a godly way. 

People come to bible study for many reasons.  The most important thing is that they come!  Be a joiner.  Get involved with a bible study group or start one of your own.  You can find out more by contacting local churches, talking to friends, visit your local Christian store, or get info online.  For more info about Disciple studies, go to www.Cokesbury.com

Bible study turned my life around at a time when it certainly needed to move in a new direction.  I’ve learned a lot and still have so much more to learn!  I hope you’ll choose to be a student of the Word, too. 

Dear Lord, the Bible is Your gift to me; let me use it.  When I stray from Your Holy Word, Lord, I suffer.  But, when I place Your Word at the very center of my life, I am blessed.  Make me a faithful student of Your Word so that I might be a faithful teacher in Your world, this day and every day.  Amen.      – Author unknown

To respond, click on the word ‘comments’ below the title. 

Dear Friends,

I’d love for you to meet my Granny.  You can read my poem and tribute to her in this month’s ETC corner of Proverbs 31 Ministry’s website, titled My Granny’s Hands.  Just go to www.Proverbs31.org  , click on P 31 Woman, then select ETC. 

Do you subscribe to P 31 Woman?  It’s a Christian publication from Proverbs 31 Ministries and it’s just $15 for a year’s subscription!  It’s an excellent magazine.  I read mine from front to back as soon as it comes in the mail.  You can subscribe at the website given above. 

Blessings to all,

Renee

To reply, click on ‘comments’ below the title. 

It’s a glorious May day in my corner of the world.  There’s nothing but lots of Carolina blue stretched across the sky, the sun is warm and bright, and the breeze is brisk and refreshing.  It’s a perfect day to get out to enjoy God’s world, so that’s just what I did.  I just came back from a 30-minute walk that was totally rejuvenating and spiritually reviving.  My ‘alone time’ with the world inspired several thoughts I’d like to share.  I can’t do so right now, though, because I have to pick up my son from school.  So please come back.  In the meantime, be sure to enjoy YOUR day, too! 

This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  -Psalm 118:24

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