Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Gift - 4

One by one Daughter's (start at beginning) friends were drawn to give away their gifts from God. After being hurt by the lost friendship with Harlot and Abandoned, Daughter watched her two other long time friends become distant with their choices, as well.

One friend, Careless, had been in the same church forever with Daughter. Although she had originally expressed the desire to keep her gift pure when they had been younger, when she reached the later teen years she told Daughter she didn't see much point in it, "How am I ever going to get married if refuse to share at least some of my gift?"

A new young man, Sly, had been coming to some church services and had been keeping the attention of Careless on those occasions. He was handsome and athletic and an easy talker. He talked about how he believed Christian singles needed to be wise about who they spent their time with, but dating other Christians was a safe way to keep God's gift fairly well intact. Careless had started to agree with Sly's thinking, after all he was a Christian, too (2 Timothy 3:5-7).

Careless described these conversations with Daughter, "Sly is sooo romantic when we are out. He holds my hand and tells me I'm beautiful. And he is honest about how he has already given a few pieces of his gift away, like his first kiss is gone and there are some bumps and bruises to his gift because of other relationships he has had. But, really Daughter, by the time girls and guys reach our age, how many are going to have their gifts completely intact?"

Daughter just smiled politely as she listened. She had come to realize that her friends did not want to be reminded of previous conversations about purity. She had come to recognize that there had been no conviction to stay pure, just an opinion that changed as easily as the wind (Ephesians 4:14). It was not difficult for Daughter to look at these young men her friends were walking away with and see that none of them had a strong interest in planning marriage God's way; they showed very little interest to be men of God at all. Their interests were in taking pieces of gifts from different girls for entertainment and self-fulfilling pleasure more than anything.

Then again, her friends seemed to be more interested in self-fulfilling pleasures, too. Careless and her new beau, Sly, quickly became a regular couple at all social events. Daughter did hope that, for sake of Careless, this relationship would lead to marriage. However, she had still given away alot of her gift without the promise of a future.

Her last friend, Naive, had a loose grip on the need for purity. She and Daughter had become even closer as the other friends wandered off into relationships. However, Naive soon showed her unwillingness to wait for a young man that could match his pure gift with hers. Naive started talking to Daughter about how she could effect others by joining the dating crowd - how she could be a 'light' for God to those that she dated. She told Daughter that her heart was telling her this was a good direction to take (Jeremiah 17:9&10).

It wasn't long before a young man came into Naive's life. They had met at a family wedding and Naive told Daughter that he had showed such a great interest in Christianity. His name was Opulence, and he had showered her in expensive purchases and taken her on a whirlwind romantic weekend. Anything Naive had wanted, he had purchased for her. In exchange, Naive had given him her gift.

It was an exciting time for Naive, but once the weekend was over, she met some other girls whom Opulence had romanced before in order to receive their gifts. She cried on Daughter's shoulder for hours when she had seen Opulence out with another girl only days after she had given him her gift. Not only was her gift gone, the 'light' she wanted to be to others had dimmed (Proverbs 23:3-8).

Now, after so many years, Daughter stood alone in her conviction to keep her gift intact and pure. She prayed daily that God would continue to protect her heart from the temptations that had taken her friends. Her parents consoled her when her friends were lost or estranged because of walking different paths. She was now 19 years old and lamented the fact that no young man was to be found with a gift that matched hers.

She took solace in her parents' support, but her confidence came from the promises of her Father in heaven (Psalm 62: 5-8).

Now faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Ruby Club

Recently, I have felt a burden to reach out to younger women and attempt to live out Titus 2. I have always found it difficult to accept that I would have anything of value to pass on to girls who are not my daughter. That is one of several excuses that has helped me to avoid this responsibility for many years. This summer, I took a leap of faith and started "The Ruby Club" (i.e. Proverbs 31:10).

This club is meant to encourage girls 14 - 17 years old to discuss issues in their lives from scriptural standpoints. Our goals are to strive toward the verses: 1John 5:1-3 and 1Corinthians 10:31 - to study our lives as Christian women, young and old, through the wisdom of the scriptures.

Specifically, I asked the girls a simple question; "do we, as Christians, really care what God has to say about...". And if we do care, lets find out what He does have to say. We discuss opinions and convictions - with the understanding that we may not agree with each other, but we present the scriptural basis for our beliefs. All this to encourage our growth in a relationship with Christ.

Being the inaugural run of the club, the 3 young woman that are attending are kind of my guinea pigs for finding topics that they are interested in discussing. We've had two meetings now, and these girls have alot to say - I am learning alot! I had no idea the troubles these girls would be struggling with at their age. Perhaps in my own version of naivete, I imagined that my non-christian upbringing would have little to do with the lives of these girls from professing Christian families. However, the issues that were prevalent in my teen years are present for them, as well.

Maybe, just maybe, God planned for me to do this study in order to share the mercy and forgiveness that I have learned to embrace from Him for my life so long ago. Our first topic was on mercy - receiving and giving. I'll share the thoughts from that meeting on another post.

For now, I continue to pray about leading these young women in the way
God would have them go.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

God Gave Me One

The quiverful debate rages among the Christian masses regularly these days. I have church members who are passionate about their beliefs on this subject. And passionate they should be, it is truly a glory to give your womb to the Lord and make no plans outside of His will for your family.

Unfortunately, this quiverful movement has been tainted in some ways by those who use scripture to advance their own desires and their own glory. Women who preach the verses to their husbands to manipulate their family situation. Parents who dress up their multiple children on Sunday for 'show and tell', but give very little attention to the verses about training those children up in God's way. People who believe that because they have a large family, they are instantly righteous. Those who look at small families and criticize or question their faith.

I have one daughter, eight years old. For eight years I have waited on the Lord to bless my womb again. I have struggled with miscarriages, I have patiently endured 'pep talks' from those who (honestly) believe they are encouraging me. There have been times when I have been angry with God when another woman is given another child when, from my view, she isn't taking care of the ones she already has at home. My prayers are fervent and unceasing. Still no further children come.

This is where the rubber meets the road in trusting the Lord. If just 'having' children brought instant righteousness, than why not use the medical technology to meet my desires? Why not join the ranks of those who pop pills and have surgeries to correct what my sins have done to my body? How could I then, when a child has arrived, give the glory to God? It would be a work that I achieved, in spite of God's plans. The glory would be for the doctors involved; for me in overriding God's will with mine.

Yes, I believe that today's technology could give me another child, maybe several more. I cannot convince myself that this is right in His eyes.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful unto me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1Corinthians 6:12

God does allow us, as His saved children, to make our own choices in this world - both good decisions and bad. Over time, my prayer has turned to seeking greater faith in His will when I am tempted to place my will first. The desire for more children has not left me, even though my age is advancing and each month brings...just another month. How great will be glory I will give Him should He ever grant us a baby again.

Greater still will be the glory in simply trusting Him. Isaiah 55:8&9

I really am here - and I've been tagged!

Mrs Parunak passed on a little blog game. By 'tagging' me, I need to do a post that lists 7 somethings. I have to say I made several lists that could have been used, then I decided to use the pictures I've been waiting to post. These are seven pictures from a recent 'girls vacation' that the Duck and I took with our friends. The reason for the trip was the Duck's friend, H, had her 8th birthday. Both the Duck and H are horse crazy, so what better present than a trail ride!

1. Here we are heading for the bunk house- that's the Duck, H, and H's mom:

2. Once we had our instructions (and helmets), we hit the trail:

3. There was a small issue when the horse that I was riding had a hissy fit and started kicking the horse Duck was riding. Here is the 'tattoo' that was left behind when her leg got in the middle of the short battle - the kick only grazed her leg leaving this mark and we are so thankful it didn't make a connection with her bone!:

4. But the trip didn't end there. We headed farther south and planned a day at the beach, Sand Banks National Park to be specific. The excitement for the girls included a ride on a ferry (they look like horses with their ponytails flying in the wind):
5. This is the beach babies playing in the surf. The waves were huge and H needed her lifejacket to make sure she stayed afloat when each wave washed over us! The area is quite shallow though, with 'sand banks' or sand bars for a long distance from shore, so in between the waves even short people can still touch:

6. Being the blond that I have always been, I should know better than to ignore the reapplication of sunblock. This burn is the result of four hours at the beach, even though it was overcast skies. I had a slight case of sunstroke to top it all off:

7. And, finally, what's a girl's vacation without treats? We stopped for ice cream cones on the trip home.
This, of course, is not the only treat we had while away. It was fun and relaxing and just as much a gift for all of us as for the birthday girl.

I will spare everyone from any pictures of how my skin peeled (and is still peeling) from the burn!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Time Flies!

...And I am having fun. I hope to have some pictures to prove that I haven't left the planet, even though I haven't been in the blog world in the last week. Soon I'll have time - I keep telling myself that.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Gift - part 3

Daughter (go here for the beginning) quickly learned that some of her greatest challenges would come from those she called friends. Her church youth group was filled with young men and women in her age group and they all called themselves faithful Christians. As they reached the later teen years, Daughter began to see the difference between conviction and simple opinion (Ephesians 4:14).
She had four close girlfriends. They had discussed their gift from God many times. Each young woman had expressed a desire to maintain that gift in the pure form God intended in order to exchange it at the time of marriage. Daughter, however, was the only one who used the word committed, and the only one with parents who encouraged her and took an active role in her commitment. (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6)

One day, her friend Abandoned told her about how she had started spending more time with one of the guys from youth group, Rogue.

She told Daughter how much fun they were having together and confided in some of the intimacies they were sharing. Abandoned's parents had always let her do as she wanted - there were no rules about curfew or questions about who she was out with - they rarely asked her about her day to day life. After all, they had always taken her to church and Rogue was from another church family, so they said they trusted these kids (Jeremiah 17:9).

When Daughter reminded Abandoned about their talks on purity, she was quickly admonished, "You know, Rogue said the 'churchy' people would look down on our fun. He said you can't take purity issues so seriously - not in today's world. Besides, I'm not giving him the whole gift, just some pieces." (1 Thessalonians 4:4-7)

It didn't take long for the friendship to become strained and awkward. Daughter was uncomfortable around Abandoned and Rogue because of their open and physical manner with each other. Not because she wanted to judge their choice, simply because of the immodesty in their behaviour. Rogue simply called her a prude.


Another friend of Daughters had been even more obvious about ignoring purity issues. True enough, she had never clearly expressed much interest in the discussions over the years. Her name was Harlot. She had given away her whole gift easily at a young age and seemed to target different guys for the main purpose of taking their gifts (Proverbs 1: 18&19). It was like a challenge to her. Recently she had been spending time with a boy from town called Larceny. His reputation for taking gifts was well known, too. Harlot had simply stopped coming to church (Titus 1:16).

Daughter was always saddened to see those she cared about fall away from their stated beliefs and their faithfulness to God; as well as losing any chance of keeping their gift in its pure form. She continued to serve in her church and community. Her parents encouraged her in her faithfulness and convictions. She had two close friends left, both had also expressed dismay over the behaviours of Abandoned and Harlot, but had made questionable remarks about other young men themselves. Daughter could not help but wonder if these two were actually committed to purity...

Captive Audience for Summer School

Home education is a constant thing; wherever we go, whatever we do, it includes learning. But it is nice to get to summer and relax a little bit - school without the text books. This summer I have set up a special board for short unit studies that cannot be ignored by my lovable student, the Duck. The study board is strategically placed in front view when you sit on the toilet at our house. Yes, you read that right.

There is a map of Canada that has been there for awhile now to encourage the Duck to recognize different parts of her country, politically and geographically. And, of course, right now the unit study is on the whole of Canada because of July 1st.
I post up little stories about Canada's history, resources, the anthem, etc. for the Duck to read while she is *ahem* sitting. It is unbelievable the amount of conversation this triggers for parent and child, not to mention any visitor that uses our facilities.

This is not just a passive, easy read - anyone who has taught for awhile knows there isn't a whole lot of retention with that kind of schooling. There are questions to answer, a dry erase marker to find things on the map, and memory work set up there, too. All good stuff!

Other unit studies I have planned include topics such as: individual provinces, weather, specific animals, Anne of Green Gables, and so on. Really any topic can be made into a unit study for this board (I also post songs we are learning). For the most part, the Duck doesn't even recognize that she is doing school!

There is one problem to the whole husband, is complaining that he has to go to summer school, too. It's hard to avoid it in a one bathroom home ! ;o)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Whose Watching?

Every spring there is a treasured item that is pulled out for use in the warm months. Each time I take it out I am reminded of an event that happened a few years ago where God taught me a lesson about patience - and how I, as a Christian, am being watched daily by those around me.

The item is what I call an 'old lady cart' (I apologize for the age-ism there, but that is what we call it, and I am the old lady that uses it) - a metal basket on wheels. I told my husband I wanted one when we moved into the city, because my daughter and I could walk anywhere downtown and just fill the basket as needed rather than carry bags. So, my loving husband got me one...from a ditch near his work (he's almost as cheap as I am!).

This 'old lady cart that my husband got for me from the ditch' was in pretty good shape, just a little rust here and there and I replaced the broken wheels with ones from an old dolly stroller (pink!). I was very happy with it and planned my first outing to the grocery store for later that week. My daughter and I headed downtown with my 'old lady cart that my husband got for me from the ditch' and we were moving at a really good clip. We filled the cart with groceries and headed for home.

It was a hot day, but we only lived about 20 minutes walk from the store and with my cart to hold the bags, we expected an easy run of it. Then something happened. One of the pink wheels on my 'old lady cart that my husband got for me from the ditch' started to wobbled. Then it fell off. No problem, I just shimmied it back on and planned to fix it better at home. Six feet later, it fell off again. And, again.

We hadn't gotten more than 1/2 a block from the store and it had taken us 15 minutes already. It was getting frustrating, and did I mention that this was a HOT August day? So, there I was, with my 'old lady that my husband got for me from the ditch', pushing the wheel back on every 6 feet sweating in the HOT August day. After almost 1/2 an hour, we reached the river in the middle of town and found a shaded area to sit and contemplate my situation.

We still had a good 4 blocks to go; the wheel was not going to stay on; we had about $40 of groceries to get home; it was HOT. First thought...forget the cost and throw the whole thing in the river - solves the problem and makes me feel sooooo good! No.

Second thought...find my husband and kill him for bringing home this cart in the first place - doesn't solve the problem, but still would make me feel better. No.

Last thing on my mind...look at my lovely daughter and recognize that I have a real opportunity to lead by example in a frustrating situation - solves the problem, teaches my daughter and glorifies God. Alright...I decided on this one. I said a little prayer...pretty much, 'okay, Lord, I need you to do this for me'.

I had a multi-tool in my purse, as always, and with much care I removed two of the metal strappings that were part of the main basket and reset them on the outside of the wheel spokes. This plan was the for the purpose of holding the wheels on the spokes so that even if they did wiggle to the end, they could not fall off (for those of you old enough to remember MacGyver, that's what I felt like).

Well, it worked! The wheels did continue to wiggle to the end of the spokes, but the metal strapping that had been snapped in place held them on. My 'old lady cart that my husband got for me from the ditch' rattled and shimmied all the way home. That wasn't the most satisfying part though. My daughter smiled and talked about the success all the way home, and when I gave the credit to God for getting the job done she said, "That's what I prayed for, mommy!" Couldn't you just burst!

So, whose watching you? Sometimes, we never know.

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;
but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Matthew 7:17
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for a tree is known by his fruit.
Matthew 12:33

BTW, my husband did buy me a new, fancy version of the carry-all carts. But the original 'old lady cart that my husband got for me from the ditch' is still in use with it's pink wheels. It still shimmies and shakes, but has never lost a wheel again!