Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Easter Really Means

When Christ died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He rose again, we rose with Him and now we sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. {Ephesians 2:4-6} We are now new creatures in Christ. We are dead and freed from sin. We have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of His dear Son.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is free from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; ...Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:2-11

What Christ did for us is nothing compared to Easter bunnies, eggs, and baskets. We will never be able to comprehend the grace He has bestowed upon us until we one day see Him face to face. He now calls us saints and His chosen people.

The whole plan of salvation is a beautiful love story written by the hand of God. All He asks is that we believe in Him. Then learn of Him, walk with Him, love Him and love others. He has done all the work and now lives inside of us mightily to accomplish all that He commands.

He tells us 365 times not to fear. He wants us to trust Him. He's got it 
all under control. He has conquered sin and death so now rejoice in Him always! 

This is the day that the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in Him.
Psalm 118:24

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Laine's Letters And Paying Off Debt, Part 2

Last week, I began a series of posts from Laine's Letters on 50 ways to get out of debt. You can read the first post HERE. Every week, I will share more of what I learned from her by typing out some of her letters. She is truly a godly, wise woman and I would love to know how she is doing now. {Since this letter was written in 2005, some things are not applicable today, so I will put my two cents in!}

During this series, I am going to show you pictures of my home and ways we have saved money. Ken and I try to be very careful with our money and not be wasteful or extravagant. The above picture is our living room. The piano is the one my parents bought when I was a little girl. The rest of the furniture, I got from Craig's List from one couple for $600! It is all in great shape.

4 ~ Save, save, save. Every paycheck, I do my best to put a little away. Even if it is only a little, it is a savings. We have a savings account, a retirement account where a sum is taken out of my husband's salary each month, and an emergency account for emergencies. "There is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders all that he has." Proverbs 21:20

5 ~ A good budget is a necessity. There are so many good Christian books on budgeting by Larry Burkett and Ron Blue among others. I can tell right where I am in a month just by checking my budget in my purse that I keep on 3X5 cards. {Then she has a Yearly Budget and a Bare Bones Budget in case her husband became ill or hurt.}

6 ~ A Freedom Account is something I learned from Mary Hunt years ago. I take my yearly expenses and divide that amount by twelve, then I know how much has to go into my Freedom Account each month for these yearly expenses when they crop up....It takes discipline, but it's so profitable once you've been trained by it.

7 ~ I do my best to keep our electrical and water bills as low as possible. When we were in an electrical crisis and our bill tripled overnight, we went into a very small, hip high refrigerator with no freezer and shut down our water heater. ...We had to heat our water to bathe and to wash dishes. It was rough for awhile, but I was able to keep us on our budget. {She admits that they had to truly sacrifice to get out of debt and this is an example of a sacrifice they made, no hot running water for a time.}

8 ~ I keep our telephone bill at $25 a month or lower. The way I've been able to do that is by using a phone card from Costco for long distance calling...We call my mother-in-law weekly and a few other calls during the month, but mostly we write letters or email. {Today, with iPhone, it makes having a phone ridiculously expensive! I have lived 55 years without an iPhone and I am sure you can to if you wanted to in order to get out of debt.}

{to be continued}

***We are no longer called sinners, but saints. God has clothed us with His righteousness and taken us out of the kingdom of darkness so that we might be a light to others.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cleaning With Joy

My granddaughter was hungry when she woke up, so I fixed her a smoothie with kefir, frozen berries, bananas, organic juice and a little stevia. Then I fixed her a large piece of my homemade bread, a big glob of grass fed butter {She always asks if she can have a piece of butter while she is waiting! What is it with little children and plain butter??!!}, and an organic egg on top with a runny yolk. She gobbled it up!

Then I made my breakfast of two eggs and potatoes cooked in ghee and then slices of avocado. I sat at the table to eat it. She promptly went to the silverware drawer, got out a fork, and began to eat my breakfast with me. I said, "Emma, you already ate your breakfast." She quickly responded, "I am just trying to help you out, Grandma!" {Children bring so much joy to life.}

Later, I was cleaning the bathroom. She wanted to help so badly. I was using Bar Keepers Friend on the sinks and only had one sponge. She kept asking me to help. Later, as I was thinking about it, I decided next time she cleans a bathroom with me, I want to have a small bottle filled just with water, a small sponge, and some baking soda for her to clean the sink and mirrors with me. I want items that are completely non-toxic.

Whenever I am sweeping my floors, she wants to sweep with me. This is the time to begin training your children, when they are young and eager to learn. Yes, it takes more time but it will be well worth it in a few years when they are older and can help you out.

"Mothers stressed again and again how important it is to do things with your children, household chores as well as other family projects. At such times, mother functions as teacher; she works alongside the children, imparting lessons in how to organize one's work and carry it through completion. The younger the child and the less his/her ability, the greater is his/her enthusiasm. Take advantage of it!"{Mary Ann Cahill}

Also, clean with joy! Sing while doing it and have a smile on your face. Never complain about it. Tell your children while you are cleaning the dishes how happy you are to have dishes to clean. When cleaning the sink, remind them how blessed we are to have running, hot water, soap, etc. Train them at an early age to be thankful for all the good things God has bless us with!

Charge them that are rich in this world, 
that they be not highminded, 
nor trust in uncertain riches, 
but in the living God, 
who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.
I Timothy 6:17

***We are no longer called sinners, but saints. God has clothed us with His righteousness and taken us out of the kingdom of darkness so that we might be a light to others.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Laine's Powerful Testimony

This was one of my very favorite mentor's testimony about how she went from a soap opera, dissatisfied, and unhappy wife and mother to one that rejoices daily in her God-given ministry to her family. This letter was written 
January 4, 2002 ~

I have been married 16 years to Art. I prayed since I was sixteen for God's man for me, and God was faithful to me, even when I was not to Him. I am 36 with four beautiful children: Quincy {14}, Brady {11}, Abbie {7}, and Gabe {4}. I often look at them now and whisper to God, "You make the most beautiful children."

When I was pregnant between Abbie and Gabe, I lost a baby at five months of pregnancy. It was so hard for me because I was very sick with that baby and in bed much of the time. The fact of the matter was, I was becoming depressed and feeling God was not listening to me as I cried out in sickness. Then it got baby died inside of me without my knowledge of it for awhile.

I was His child, but I was spending more time reading rough romance novels, and watching soap operas and movies that I should not have. These were the words I was meditating on all day. I was spending no time in His Word except for opening my Bible in church on Sunday morning.

I was a fearful woman who put her children first in her life. Most of my fears concerned them. In my fear, I was critical and frustrated which caused me to yell at them a lot. My husband didn't know what to make of me and just tried to cope. We often had heated discussions. I felt as though everyone was sucking off me, and the were sucking me dry...

I got pregnant two months later with Gabe. Oh, I was so excited. He was born five weeks early, but there was serious trouble two weeks later. Before I knew it he had developed pneumonia and was in  an oxygen tent in the hospital fighting to breathe and stay alive. The nurse who was assigned to us told us he couldn't keep up the striving to breathe as he was only four pounds and that his heart would give out. She was sorry but she was so swamped with patients and would we call out to her when the heart monitor went off to signal his heart had stopped so that she could rush in to tend to him. 

Well, I cried out to God as never before in that hospital room. He had taken a baby from me already and was not ready to take one I had seen and held. I had been a Christian since I was ten, but I did not feel His peace at all. I didn't feel it because I did not know my Father. I didn't trust Him in this situation whatsoever. So I started to bargain with Him. I promised Him I would get up early every morning and get to know Him if He would heal my Gabe. The heart monitor went off signaling Gabe's heart had stopped, and I rose to yell for the nurse at my husband's cry. I pleaded with God as I began to yell for the nurse. Gabe's heart started to beat again.

My husband had been encouraging me to write a book on saving money on food as I had a knack with that and had spoken to many women about it. The heart monitor went off again with a penetrating long and loud buzz that sliced into the room. I rose again to yell for the nurse at my husband's cry. {My husband just kept staring at Gabe in the oxygen tent praying for him to live.} I made a second promise. I promised the Lord I would write for Him to women if He would heal Gabe. The heart monitor stopped blaring and Gabe's heart started to beat again. Soon the room was a mass of confusion as they prepared to rush Gabe by ambulance to San Diego Children's hospital. One week later, the head doctor of the critical care ward came in and told me that they had no reason why this baby was well. But they were sending him home. I was so far from God that I did not give Him the praise and the glory He deserved to that team of doctors. I stood there silent, but thankful to have Gabe back.

Once I got home, I knew I had to do what I had promised. So I started to get up at 4:00 a.m., as this was the only time of my day that I could be alone, and I opened the Bible to the beginning: Genesis. I asked Him to show me Who He was, and not as I perceived Him to be, as I did not know Him as I should. And I asked Him to help me love Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and strength. It was very hard for me to get up at 4:00 a.m. with a nursing baby, three other children, and home schooling. And I always started to read the Bible before, but found it to be too time consuming and difficult to continue. But I feared God! So morning after morning I got up to be alone with Him. Soon I was growing and finding out who God was! And how much He loved me! I couldn't wait to get up and get into His Word, and many times would get up at 3:30 a.m. to linger longer with Him.

That was five years ago this November, and my whole life has been turned upside down with the joy and love and adoration that our great Heavenly Father brings to me, one of His Chosen homemakers. I have more energy than I did before when I was sleeping longer. He multiplies my time. {I liken this to tithing as it seems you can never afford to tithe, and then after you start tithing, you can never afford to stop. Likewise when you "tithe your time" to Him giving Him the first of your day daily.}

And this summer I have had the privilege of almost seeing completion of the book that I promised to Him almost five years ago. The Proverbs 31 Bible study is the beginning of that book as I have a passion to help homemakers as God has so wonderfully seen to help me. It was good that I was afflicted. I no longer read rough romance novels, watch soap operas, or movies that I shouldn't see. He slowly pulled each one of those out of my hands. I no longer put my children first, but can see His plan for the family and try to walk in the Light of His Word on it. I no longer fear, feel frustrated daily, and yell at those that I love the most. I ask that I walk at His Pace, doing His Priorities, by His Power, with His Peace, and with much Praise to Him along the way. I ask that I might cling, cling, cling to Him and that I never return to the state I was in before. Because I know that it is only through the power of His Holy Spirit that I have anything with you to share.

And each morning I get up so excited to see what He will say to me in His beautiful, beautiful Word. And then I have pleasure of conversing with Him as He speaks tome. Intimate conversation in a holy kitchen. I can handle other's words now so much better in my day because I have heard The Word first. {My husband told me today that as I share with other women, he can see early morning lights on in kitchens all across America. It gave me goose bumps when he said that as I know the strength a homemaker has who is sold out for God and clinging to Him.}

My husband gets up next when I am 3/4's of the way through my Bible reading, and I have never looked at him with more love than I do now. God has given me new eyes to see him. He sits next to me and reads His Bible, which he never did before. My children get up after he leaves for work, and I cannot believe the change my behavior has had on them. My eldest son says the change in me caused him to start to read his Bible through every day for a year. And the, "my servants" get up and get going, which has had the most profound effect on my outlook concerning the running of my home. It was on the umpteenth time of reading through Proverbs 31, and trying to assimilate the wisdom taught there, that He opened my eyes to see who my servants were: crock pot, bread machine, washer, oven, sink, refrigerator, sewing machine, and many, many, more. And then to get them going early in the morning after He has given me the Living Bread to meditate on all day long.

I am still striving to be all that He wants me to be. I have not arrived. I still struggle. But as I see Him afresh and anew every morning, I see He has the power to do anything with anyone who is willing to let go and let him have total control. It took me three readings of His Word to do that. Now I am His Servant, His Slave, His Daughter, and part of His Glorious Bride! I ask Him to orchestrate my moments into a life of praise to Him. May He shine, may He shine, may He shine! And may His Servant, Laine, be forgotten and may Jesus Christ be the fragrance remembered. I am His Fingerprint, wanting, oh so wanting, to leave His Impression.

With much love to you all,

I love you, Lord, you are my strength. 
Psalm 18:1