What Are You Thankful For?

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Thanksgiving.  It’s a wonderful time of the year!  Is there anyone who does not like the traditional Thanksgiving foods?  Or the cozy home atmosphere that is amplified by the crisp and cold weather?  Or the chance to gather with family and friends for fun and fellowship?

Sometimes in the midst of the excitement and preparation, we may forget about the ultimate reason for this special day … it is a day to give thanks because we are blessed far beyond what we could ever deserve or expect!

So we want to host a Thanksgiving challenge and see how many things we can come up with – things to be thankful for – before Thanksgiving Day.  We need your help!  Please leave a comment on this post and share what you’re thankful for.  There is no limit!

We look forward to seeing how many things we can come up with 🙂  Ready, set, and comment!

Asking For Blessings … And Blessings Indeed!

Many of you have probably heard of or read the book by Bruce Wilkinson called The Prayer of Jabez.  A couple years ago I found it on our bookshelf and decided to read it.  It was intriguing.

For those of you who have not read the book, it was based on 1 Chronicles 4, verses 9-10, “And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territories, and that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And YHWH granted him that which he requested.”

When I finished reading the book, it went back on the shelf.  I didn’t give it much more thought because, for me personally, I felt like that prayer was for a man way back in history … in Bible times 🙂 … not something I should pray now.  I also had a hard time asking for blessings on my life … and not just blessings, but “bless me INDEED”.  I felt like I was not worthy of asking such blessings, it seemed so selfish.  So, it surely couldn’t be for me!  I think the Father thought differently though!

As I packed for our family’s trip to Israel, I looked over the bookshelf to see what books I wanted to take and read.  For some reason I was impressed to take The Prayer of Jabez.  This was an odd step for me because I’m not a big book reader, but I took it anyway.  I started reading the book while traveling and then small bits of it while in Israel.  Thoughts started running through my head and I questioned myself, “Why am I reading this?  Is it applicable to me and should I be praying this prayer?”

One morning I went up to the family room where everyone was gathering for devotions.  I was a bit surprised to see that an older man named Yohan was leading us in devotions that day … normally the father of the house did that.  But I did not mind!  We were soon enveloped in fellowshipping with our Savior.  I was so amazed when Yohan began sharing Scriptures with us and he started talking about Jabez’s prayer!  I couldn’t believe it!

I came to realize that our Heavenly Father desires to bless us and He longs to have a relationship with us.  Yohan shared an example with us that actually had just happened in front of all of us.  One of the sons of the family who took care of the house had to go somewhere.  Before he left, he came to his father for an embrace.  Yohan shared that this is how our Heavenly Father wants us to be … He wants us to come to Him and “demand” our blessings, just as the son had just “demanded” a good-bye embrace.  Yohan explained that it was not selfish to ask for this blessing.

I realized, if we cannot forgive ourselves and if we hold on to the “fact” that “we are not worthy”, we are not accepting the sacrifice and atoning blood of Yeshua.  I felt that what Yohan shared at devotions was a confirmation that I should start praying the Jabez prayer.  And so I did.  I wrote the prayer out on a postcard and prayed it once a day.

Wow … it has been an awesome experience!  I have been so blessed.  I feel closer to the Father and besides that, I have seen several doors opened to ministering to the needs of other ladies/girls.  Plus, I have been blessed in my home business.

I really want to encourage you all; you do not have to pray the Jabez prayer … you can pray your own prayer … but never be shy or think yourself unworthy of the Father’s blessings.  Seek for His blessings to be poured out upon you … but don’t let it be one-sided either.  We owe Him more than we can pay … but that is okay, He knows it and He still desires to pour out blessings upon us!  He is an awesome Abba (Father).

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3.

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Vessels For His Glory

As I packed my bags for our six-week trip to Israel, I contemplated whether to leave on the sticker that was on the front of my computer.  I had the same sticker for a long time and was starting to get tired of seeing it (I’m known for changing desktop backgrounds, etc. fairly often).  I also was considering the fact that I didn’t want any hassle through security if they searched bags (not that I thought they would give hassle, but I was being too cautious!).  So I was trying to decide what I wanted to do.

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You are probably wondering what my sticker said?  It says, “Rejoice in the Lord”.  By the way, I was not tired of the words, just the sticker colors, design, etc.  I decided to leave it on because I liked the reminder!

The day finally arrived for us to leave.  When we got to our airline’s desk, we found that our flight was delayed five hours.  But our airline quickly transferred us over to another airline.  It was a long story so I’m not going to go into it, but once we finally were headed to the plane, we had to hurry … we didn’t have much time.

When we came around the corner and saw the line to go through security, I wondered if were would make our flight on time.  Amazingly though, they opened up a different line for us so we didn’t have to go through the crowd of people and the body scanners.  I put my backpack on the runner to go through the scanner and then I walked through security.  When I went to get my bag, one of the guys asked, “Is this your bag?”  When I said it was, he asked if it had a computer in it.  I told him it did and then he explained that they had to take the computer out and run both through the scanners again.

I unzipped my bag and set my computer in romans-1-16-versethe tub the man was holding.  As I set it in, I noticed that the guy was reading it.  I looked up and he had the most thoughtful look on his face … I cannot really explain it.  I could tell that my “Rejoice in the Lord” sticker had touched him, even though I didn’t know how.  My heart became happy as I realized that the Father had led me to leave that on for some reason … and I think the reason was for that young man.

I tell you this little story because I really want to encourage you.  You really don’t know whom you touch.  It could be a kind word, an action, a smile … the list could go on and on.  When we were on outreach in Israel, the people were often hard and sometimes rude … but when you looked at them in their eyes and smile at them, they would soften.

I encourage you; consider yourself.  Are you allowing the spirit of Yeshua to flow through you and to shine forth?  I have been blessed by so many people and I think they often don’t even know it.  Have you been one of these people who unconsciously bless others?  This is the BEST way (for your reward will be in Heaven) and the key to this is knowing the Shepherd’s voice (John 10:27) and cleansing yourself, so His Spirit can fill your life and overflow it!

2540847994_200515a731“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify YHWH in your body, and in your spirit, which are YHWH’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 

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The Responsibility Of Love

responsibility of love

Everybody loves love.  You find it trying to be portrayed in the majority of movies, songs, novels, etc.  If people are in it, they want to talk about it; and most people want to hear all about it. Why?

These thoughts and more ran through my mind one warm, sunny winter day as I was in our Coton de Tulear yard (these are dogs we raise) cleaning up droppings.

“Ima, Abba wants to talk to you,” a child called to me, from the house.

“Did you tell him I was outside?” I asked.  Usually if I am outside when my husband calls, he tells the children to have me call back when I go in.

“Yes,” was the response.

“Okay, then bring the phone here please,” I said, as a thought went through my mind that something was wrong.

“Where are you and what are you doing?” Tom asked as I answered the phone.

I responded with, “I’m in the Coton pen, cleaning up droppings.

“Well, speaking of that, Jack is back, needing work.  He is divorced.”

“What?” I was shocked.  Jack had gotten married and moved away less than a year earlier.  With a heavy heart I listened as Tom explained Jack’s sad story.  As I turned off the phone and handed it to the child on the other side of the fence, she said, “What’s wrong?”

“Jack got divorced.”

“What?” she responded in sad shock.  As I considered my child’s response and the sad situation, I spent a lot of time thinking as I was picking up droppings.  The following conclusions are from those thoughts.

If you are an unmarried person, regardless of your age, hoping to be married one day, please, please, please consider the responsibility of love now, before allowing emotions to become a part of your thinking process … when a “possibility” comes along.

What do I mean by saying “the responsibility of love”?  The bottom line is; it is not about you. Yes, you get to experience a wonderful blessing with many wonderful feelings, hopes, desires, joys, etc.  But the bottom line is; it is not about you.  A couple in love is a representation of what love is and it should show Who is the author of this awesome experience.  Without Him, it is impossible to make any relationship a true representation of love.

Strong, good marriages give strength and hope to the communities they touch.  They glorify the Father in heaven and give faith and courage to many who need it in this dark world we face daily.  Broken relationships foster sadness, sickness, discouragement, bitterness and despair. THEY FURTHER THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS. PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE A PART OF THE DESTRUCTION.

Love is a decision, not an emotion.  Yes, there are some wonderful emotions that are byproducts of love, but before you stir those up, consider the seriousness of the decision.  I do not think anyone would think it wise to make a major life decision based on feelings with no facts to consider in the decision process.  So look for, and seriously consider, facts before beginning any relationship.  Here are some random thoughts, if you would like to consider some of my advice.

Don’t look for love.  Our society is so focused on “finding” love.  YHWH and Yeshua are love.  If you do not know Them, get a Bible and get to know Them.  If you know Them, get to know Them better.  Spend your time “in love” with Them, until the time is right for your earthly love affair to begin.  Seek the heavenly Father’s will for you and your spouse.  Since He knows each of us intimately, wouldn’t it be best to allow Him to bring your spouse into your life?  Avoid “romantic” movies, books, songs, etc that stir up “longing” emotions.  Yeshua gave us an example of how to live our lives as servants.  Follow that example of how to spend your time and look for opportunities to serve.

If it looks like “a possibility” may be coming into your life, go to the heavenly Father in prayer. Find out everything you can about this “possibility” from a distance … not as you are getting emotionally attached to this person.  Examine the matter through the counsel of your parents. Examine it with the counsel of mature believers.  Prayerfully consider all the facts BEFORE entering into a relationship.  Why start something that has no hopeful future?  Make a list of what facts need to be known before you can consider if someone is even a “possibility”.

It is our responsibility to portray an accurate example of what love is so that our heavenly Father can be glorified, for the furtherance of the kingdom of heaven.  Please be a good steward and fight the good fight.  Bring a smile to the faces of our heavenly Father and heavenly Bridegroom, Yeshua.  The reward you will receive will be well worth any personal sacrifice on your part.

Can The Heavenly Father Heal Today … Without The Medical System?

This article will step on some toes.  It will shake some support walls.  It will offend many.  That is not my intent.

I am writing this article for the lady who has been called to trust the Heavenly Father for her health ….. without putting her faith, hope and trust in the medical system.  You know who you are.  I have been that lady and know very few other people who have walked in this way.  It is a lonely place …… some think it ridiculous.  That is why I am writing this article for you …… so that you know you are not alone and what I have walked through can strengthen your faith.

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One hot summer night in 1990, as my husband and I were taking our nightly stroll past the hospital (we lived right in the heart of the city back then), I was stopped.  An overwhelming feeling came over me.  The thought “this is a very wicked place” came into my mind.  What? This does not make sense to me.  I told my husband what happened and we could not make much sense of it.  We discussed it a bit, then tucked the thought away.

As the years (and our marriage) progressed since then, we have had to face different health issues for ourselves and our children.  My husband and I have never said, “We will never go to a hospital!”  Yet each time we face one of these health crisis and we pray about what to do, we have never been led to seek medical help.  The Heavenly Father has miraculously healed our family of various difficulties, over and over again.  His arm is not too short and He has not needed the medical system to do His work.

I will give you one example of His faithfulness.  In November 2011 I started noticing a problem. I could not get enough air.  I could take a deep breath, there was no congestion in my chest …… but it seemed the air was not getting into my body.  It got progressively worse.  The Sunday following Thanksgiving, my husband and I got stuck in traffic congestion for hours. Couple that with a slight exhaust leak in the vehicle we were in, and a dismal overcast day with thick heavy clouds making the air stifling, and my breathing difficulties were exasperated .

I was in bed for a week after that.  The following Sabbath, I woke up and tried to get out of bed. I experienced a bizarre sensation.  My head felt huge ….. like a watermelon.  I could not control my body parts.  When I tried to walk, I was completely out of balance like I was extremely drunk. I felt like I was suffocating.  I awoke my husband and asked him to take me to the emergency room.

This request startled my husband awake.  I had not seen a doctor in over twenty years, let alone an emergency room.  His response was, “Let’s pray.”  As we prayed, I felt the Heavenly Father’s peace come over me.  I also felt to look up James 5:14.  I asked Tom to read me the passage. After reading it, we did not feel led to go the emergency room.  We called the elders.  They came as soon as they could.  We lived over an hour away.  They prayed for me, then left.

I would like to say I got up then and everything was fine …. but it was not.  I was confined to bed for almost a month longer.  Truthfully, it was one of the best times of my life.  I spent the day communing with the Heavenly Father.  It was wonderful!

Sometime, when I talked to friends, they would question me and make me feel like I had to have some answers as to what was wrong with me.  These conversations influenced me to go to Google to investigate.  UGH!!  This is an easy way to rob your faith and instill fear.  When I noticed this happening, I got back into the Word.  It had all the answers!!!  My dear friend, Sister Carolyn, encouraged me to study in the bible where healing comes from.  I encourage everyone to study this.  It is very freeing.

Near the end of December 2011, our family had plans to go to a Hanukah conference.  My husband got a wheelchair for me to use.  The plan was for me to stay in the hotel room while
our family attended the conference.  After being there a day or two, Tom asked me to go to one of the meetings on “Worship” by Tony Robinson.  I responded by saying if he got me dressed and wheeled there in time, I was game.  It was at this meeting that the manifestation of my healing began.  It involved many people praying for me.

ima-latkesThe morning after this meeting, I leapt out of bed, completely restored physically.  I had all my physical abilities again.  Halleluyah!!!  As we packed up the hotel room, I loaded up the wheelchair with all our coats and wheeled them to the vehicle.  My family was totally amazed! We made it home in time for me to cook a batch of Latkes (our family tradition) for the last night of Hanukah.

As I bring this to a close, I want to encourage each one of you to trust our Heavenly Father in a greater way than you already do, in regards to healing.  As the government works to get more control of the medical system, it is important to know who your healer is.  The days are getting darker and if we do not have faith and believe that our Heavenly Father is true to His Word, we may find ourselves compromising because we see no other option.

It may be that at times He works through those in the medical system to accomplish His purposes but too often people limit Him by turning to the system for healing instead of turning to Him.  My daughter recently read a comment in which the author discussed her birth complications and stated “My baby and I would have most certainly died if not for ultrasounds and C-sections.”  This is what I mean by limiting the Heavenly Father and putting our trust in the system.  Our Heavenly Father takes good care of us and He does not need the medical system to aid Him.

Finding The Balance

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(You might like to read:
Part One: Why Would I Want To Leave Home?,
Part Two: Biblical Reasons For Being At Home,
Part Three: What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?)

scalesThe other aspect that I want to address is that of swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction and being totally focused on preparing for marriage that you lose touch with reality.  As I mentioned before, I totally believe that young ladies should spend time learning how to love their husbands and children and be keepers at home.  But I have heard people complain about girls who can only talk about their hope chests and what they want in a husband!  Some young ladies are so focused on marriage that they are not content with living their lives in the here and now.  This is not being a successful daughter at home!  As important as it is to prepare for marriage and motherhood, we must also be honest with ourselves and admit that some people are not created for that role.  Granted, these people are few and far between, but we have to be willing to lay down our hopes and dreams and goals, and be content that our heavenly Father knows what is best.

For some people, that means marriage at eighteen and a dozen children over a period of twenty years.  For others, that means not finding a spouse until upper twenties or even thirties or forties, and maybe not being able to have children at all.  And for a few people, that means never marrying at all.  If we are not completely surrendered to our heavenly Father’s will and plan, we will find it impossible to be content in our circumstances.

Several years ago, I was frightened by the idea that I might never get married!  I saw these wonderful young ladies who were unmarried and in their upper twenties, and I worried about how I would respond if that was YHWH’s will for me.  Then somehow my heart was changed, to the point that I can honestly say … as much as I would like to be married and have a family, I believe I could be joyful and content if that was not the Father’s plan for me.  And I want to encourage all young ladies to seek that place of contentment if you have not already found it.  I know that may be a scary thought, but we must realize that we serve a God who desires the very best for us and if we can whole-heartedly submit to His plan, we will find peace and joy and contentment.

So while I believe each young lady should practice and learn how to be a wife and mother, I also want to remind you not to view marriage as a cure-all or think that you’re really not living life to its fullest until you are married. We should be focused on serving and glorifying the heavenly Father each day of our lives … which brings me to the last aspect I would like to address.

woman-praying-with-bible-w350x2321 Corinthians 7:34 says “The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.”  I think that sometimes we focus so much on the physical aspects of preparing for marriage and motherhood, that we forget about the spiritual aspects.  Learning how to change diapers, prepare meals and balance a checkbook are all good things to know, but the most important thing we can be doing with our unmarried years, is caring about the things of the Lord.  In looking back at the Titus 2 passage, we see that the young women were to learn to be discreet, chaste and good, in addition to loving their husbands and children and being homemakers.  But it seems that we often focus on the husbands, children and homemaking part, and forget about the characteristics that we are supposed to be learning and accomplishing!

An unmarried daughter has so many opportunities, whether that be ministry, or cottage industries, or learning new skills, or hobbies – there are so many things we can do with our time!  But I believe it is imperative that we focus on the opportunities to strengthen and develop our spiritual lives and learn to be holy both in body and spirit.  Again, this may look different for different people.  Some young ladies may devote their time and energies to memorizing large quantities of Scripture, while others may find their calling in intercessory prayer.  Still others may have opportunities to be the hands and feet of our Savior, ministering to those in need.  Each of us must seek the heavenly Father to know how He would have us serve Him.  In order for us to be successful as daughters at home, our focus must be in the right place … our number one goal must be to care about the things that are important to our Creator.  If we can accomplish that, then everything else will fall into place!

There are so many things that I have learned through this journey of Godly womanhood and I know that I have a lot more to learn, but I hope that what I have shared will be a blessing and encouragement to some of you.  In closing, I want to emphasize that when dedicate our lives to serving the heavenly Father and following His plans and purposes, we will experience His blessings in a wonderful way.

All throughout Scripture there is a recurring theme … when His people follow Him and obey Him, He pours out showers of blessings.  When they do not surrender their lives to Him, there are negative consequences.  YHWH makes a promise in His Word that He will honor those that honor Him.  That is such a beautiful promise and it is wonderful to know that we can trust Him to do just that.  Sure, honoring Him in our choices and decisions may not always be the easiest thing to do, but we know that in the difficult moments we can turn to our Savior who was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  And we also know, as it says in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

I have many favorite Bible verses, but there is one that is a constant inspiration and sums the way that I desire to live my life, and I would like to leave you with it.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

(You might like to read Part One: Why Would I Want To Leave Home? and Part Two: Biblical Reasons For Being At Home)

Many daughters feel the criticism from skeptics who wonder, “what do you do with yourself all day?”  Some people view stay-at-home daughters as prisoners and slaves to abusive, authoritative parents, while others view them as lazy, irresponsible and a financial drain on their families.  While I am sure there may be some girls out there that would fit either of these descriptions, my personal experience and those that I have observed in other families, has been much different!

There are several things that I have learned, and am still learning, that I believe are vital aspects of a unmarried daughter’s role and I would like to share some thoughts about these aspects in the hope that it will be helpful to someone else.

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

The first aspect is the incorrect perception of what it means to be a successful daughter at home.  I think we, as unmarried daughters, often feel the need to perform and prove ourselves … to show people that we can be just as successful at home as outside of it.  In talking with other young women, I believe there is a common misnomer among daughters at home that we have to be “doing something”.  There is a mindset out there that if you aren’t working in your father’s business, or running your own home business, or taking college courses at home, or blogging, or teaching a girl’s Bible study class, or helping young mothers, etc etc, the list could go on and on … if you only spend your days at home cooking, cleaning, running errands for your parents and taking care of younger siblings … then you’re not really being successful at home.

Personally, I have been blessed with many different opportunities and projects, including the magazine and running several home businesses.  These things keep me extremely busy.  And although I am grateful for these opportunities and I know the heavenly Father has given them to me, it is often difficult to find the proper balance between handling the responsibilities and devoting my time and energy to serving my family.  When we start focusing on other responsibilities and placing more importance on them rather than our families, we have lost the key to being successful daughters at home.  Sure, we may live in our father’s house and be under his authority, but if our projects get in the way of serving our families and learning the character traits described in Titus 2, we need to reevaluate our priorities.

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

I think one of the most amazing things about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she was not only an incredible entrepreneur and she ministered to the poor and needy, but she took care of her household as well.  That is pretty incredible!  I know from personal experience that it is difficult to keep family first when you have business and ministry opportunities.

There are times when I am trying to prepare a meal for the family and someone calls, wanting to buy one of our puppies.  Half an hour later I am still listening to them reminisce about the dog they had for fifteen years, or answering questions that have already been discussed on our website!  There are other times when I have magazine emails to respond to, or hours of work on design and layout, and my little sister wants to play a game or go walk in the woods.  Business phone calls and magazine emails are important, but my family is more important.  This is something I have to constantly remind myself of.

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

So my desire is to encourage young ladies … know that you do not have to perform and prove yourself in the eyes of the world!  While I am a proponent for running businesses from home and being involved in home-based ministries, I also know that the most important thing an unmarried daughter can focus on is serving her family.  If your whole day is centered around taking care of your family and you find joy and contentment in doing that, you are successful!

In a way, it’s similar to how people view stay-at-home moms.  Everyone commends women who can be successful wives and mothers and run a business or ministry.  But what about the mothers who spend their days changing diapers, wiping spills and rocking babies?  Their “ministry” is not as public, but it is still as worthy and commendable.  In the same way, if you are a young lady who doesn’t have opportunities for public ministry or entrepreneurial endeavors and feel like you are “only” serving your family, don’t be discouraged.  Your family is your mission field and your influence in their lives is just as important as anywhere else!

What Do You Do With Yourself All Day?

(stay tuned for the last post in the series – Part Four: Finding The Balance)