Preserve Me

I grew up watching my mom and grandmother can anything that was “cannable”.  Preserving food was just part of summer.  I can still remember those hot afternoons standing in a chair cranking that tomato juicer as my mom dropped in what seemed like a never ending supply of fresh tomatoes.

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After the sun had gone down we would drag our tired selves inside for a bath to scrub away the splattered tomato juice from wherever it had landed throughout the day.  Honestly, at that time, preserving food on my own was the furthest thing from my mind.  But over 20 years later, here I am standing in my kitchen juicing tomatoes from our garden so I can do the same for my family.

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As I was reading one of David’s prayers recently in Psalm 16, I was intrigued by the words he chose to use and how he chose to use them.

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  (emphasis mine)
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Due to all the food preservation I’ve undertaken this summer, David using this word as a prayer for himself to God made me stop and reread this passage a few times.  For some reason I was having trouble wrapping my mind around asking God to preserve me.  All I could think of was green beans and pickles and tomato juice.  How can I be bottled up and preserved for later use?

After some help from my Psalms commentary I found that the word preserve means to,

“keep” or “save”, “guard me” as bodyguards surround their monarch or as shepherds protect their flock . . . I need to be preserved from the power of evil . . . God is the preserver of men (Job 7:20) . . . Jesus would be preserved (Isaiah 49:7-8) . . . Jesus asks for preservation for himself and all in Him (John 17) . . . If Jesus looked out of himself for protection, how much more must we . . .

Just as I am “keeping” or “saving” the vegetables for the colder, out of season days so David is asking God to “keep” or “save” him from evil.  The older I get the more aware I become of sin in my life and the more I realize how much evil is around me in this earthly life.

Spurgeon, in the Psalms commentary, goes on to describe that this cry “O God”, David’s cry,  is the Hebrew word El which is used of God when under a sense of great weakness.

So David is crying out for God to keep him, save him, guard him in this time when he is under a sense of great weakness.  Oh haven’t you felt like this?!  This is balm to my sores, light to my darkness, hope to my hopelessness.  I live in a fallen world and it is inevitable that I will encounter difficult times here.  I will experience a sense of great weakness.  This may come during times of great suffering.  Or it may come just on an ordinary day when it seems everything is “great”.

But David doesn’t stop there.  “For in you I take refuge.”  Do you want to know what Spurgeon says about this?  “As chickens run beneath the hen, so do I come to thee.”  I have a place of security, safety, a refuge!  I have a place beneath my heavenly father, in the shadow of His wings where I find all that I could ever need or even want.

As I sterilize yet another lid and screw a canning ring on another quart jar I don’t look see just a jar of tomatoes.  I see a reminder of my God, the same God David cried out to, my God who preserves me!

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Let Me Be A Woman

I have sat down to write this post no less than 20 times.  Each time typing as fast as my hands can go and then re-reading what I wrote only to hold down the backspace button unsatisfied.  Not that I am fully satisfied with what I’ve ended up with but really enough is enough.  Here’s the bottom line.  Over the past year and a half I have experienced a lot of change and transition.  And over the past year and a half I have struggled through this change and transition.  There I said it.  Why has it been so hard to admit that?  I suppose because it’s hard to be vulnerable.  It’s hard to share struggles especially when His blessings are so abundant.

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I know I am not alone in this struggle.  After Roxie came home a friend and I exchanged several emails about the struggles of moving from one season of life to another.  We agreed that moms had such a difficult time talking about these struggles.  This conversation provided clarity and encouragement on what was going on in my life but the changes and transitions continued and so did the struggles.  I eventually found myself asking the question, Who in the world am I?  And what is going on?

God began to open my eyes to the root of this restlessness I was experiencing.  I was failing to understand my true identity and embrace it fully.  So what did I do?  I started back at the beginning.  Back to the basics.  As Elisabeth Elliot says, “In order to learn what it means to be a woman we must start with the One who made her.”   I began a journey to learn what it means to be a woman, starting with my Creator.  It has been a journey filled with humility.  My eyes have been opened to how I have failed as a wife in so many areas over the past four years.  The sin in my life has been brought to the forefront where I cannot ignore it anymore.  And the responsibility of being a mother has weighed heavily on my shoulders.  But in the midst of this there has been peace and clarity.  As Elliot says, “I know that real satisfaction and joy come in response to acceptance of the will of God and nowhere else.”

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This may seem vague and somewhat random.  It is not my desire to focus on the details of my own struggles.  And I sure don’t share this for pity’s sake.  I share this because I am convinced I am not alone.  As women, we struggle in so many unspoken ways through various seasons of life.  But I honestly think the problem is with our identity.  Regardless of the roles I play, circumstances I find myself in, or relationships I have my “identity is certain and secure, it does not shift.   I am a human being created in the image of God.  I am created as a woman.”

This journey will be lifelong.  This journey might even conflict with other worldviews regarding women and their role.  As I journey along I will remember Elisabeth Elliott’s encouraging words, “When you are overwhelmed by all that God has required of you when He let you be a woman, read Isaiah 41:10-11.”

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. 

 

God has led me to some wonderful resources that I hope you find helpful as well.

Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson
Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman
A Woman’s Wisdom by Lydia Brownback
Biblical Femininity (just started this one)

Incline my heart

Each morning before the house awakes I sit here in my sunroom reading.  A room with so much light has convinced me to begin a small collection of houseplants.  I watch them from day to day determining what needs water or which plant has outgrown its planter and needs an upgrade.  Sitting nearest to me is a small violet in which I have made its home in the cutest little vintage hippo planter.  It started small and I wasn’t sure it would live.  However, over a period of weeks it has flourished and doubled in size.  Recently, I noticed that it was leaning, almost hanging over the planter.  At first I wondered if I hadn’t rooted it well and it was becoming top heavy.  Then my thoughts went to the light.  If you have ever grown plants you are aware that plants grow toward the light.  Why?  Plants turn the light into energy which then allows them to grow or perform any other activities needed to survive.  We also know this process as photosynthesis.

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I decided to conduct a little experiment to determine the reason for my leaning violet.  I turned the planter 90 degrees so the opposite side would face the light.  I didn’t notice anything for several days but a week later I can already see a difference.  It is in a more neutral position.  My guess is that over the next week or two it will again be leaning toward the light.

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Left to my own devices, my own flesh and blood, I have little in common with the violet.  Naturally I do not lean toward the light.  Actually, I lean away from the light.  Romans 3:10-18 explains the evil of my flesh.  Verse 12 specifically says “all have turned aside”.  Turned aside means “to lean in the wrong direction”.  According to John MacArthur these words were used to describe “a soldier’s running in the wrong way, or deserting”.  He also goes on to say that “all people are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own.”

What if my little violet were to lean itself away from the light?  What would happen?  My assumption would be that it would not flourish and grow and very possibly it would die.  Isn’t this true for me as well?  What happens if I continue to live according to my flesh, my “natural” ways, leaning away from the light?  Will I also wilt?

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But . . . there is hope for my natural ways!!!!  Jesus Christ!  He was crucified, buried, and rose again in order for me to be able to lean toward the light.  He is the light of the world (John 8:12) and He lives within my soul!  I have the light of life because I am a follower of Him (John 8:12).

Does this mean I am perfect?  Will I always lean, as my little violet, toward the light no matter what position I am placed in?  Absolutely not!  Even though I am a child of the one true God there is still, while on this earth, a battle raging in me between the flesh and spirit.  I will still have a tendency to lean away from the light.

My encouragement in this battle is that I don’t have to wonder how the battle will end.  He is victorious!!

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace?  Romans 6:14 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57

And as I battle, my prayer is that I will delight in His law and that He will incline my heart to Him!

My delight in the law of the Lord will result in me being like a tree planted by streams of water which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”   Psalm 1:3 
“Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.  Psalm 119:36
 
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Don’t Make Me Count to Three

The pleasure I find in reading literature has grown as I have grown.  There is now a sense of overflow.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I can never be full of literature and come to a stopping point.  What I mean is that I want others to enjoy reading the written word as much as I do.  We can all benefit from a good story.  That is why I want to share with you Bookworm Mama.

In this space, I am going to overflow a bit and send some good reads your way!  I have no intention of bashing authors or a style of writing or someone’s story.  Primarily, what I say here will be about books I have read and think others will enjoy reading as well.  In each Bookworm Mama review I will provide a synopsis followed by 2 reasons I think you should check it out also.  Nothing fancy, just my thoughts.  I hope you enjoy!

Title:  Don’t Make Me Count to Three
Author:  Ginger Plowman

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A mom’s practical approach to biblical parenting.  Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp definitely made me rethink the way I look at parenting.  In my opinion, Don’t Make Me Count to Three takes Tripp’s book and puts “feet” to it.  Plowman addresses many “issues” that I as a mother struggle with or have questions about.  She addresses these “issues” with scripture.  It was extremely encouraging and a great resource!  Reading Tripp’s book first, was very beneficial for the reading of this book.  However, it is not necessary.

2 reasons

Practical.

I like theory, philosophy, foundation, etc. but when it comes down to it I am a practical girl.  I want things black and white, yes or no, up or down.  This book is practical.  As I said in the synopsis, in my opinion, it takes the foundation of Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart and puts “feet” to it.  Plowman gives examples of how to handle certain situations in the home.  She literally writes out conversations between parent and child.  It is so very helpful!  Probably my favorite part is in Chapter 8 she provides a resource in the form of a chart for addressing certain sins in your child’s life.  The chart includes questions to probe the child’s heart and scripture to use in reproof and encouragement.  This has been great for B and I to work on together so that we ensure we are using God’s word in correcting and teaching our little ones.

Connection.

Plowman points out the connection between how training our children to respond to parents is preparing them for a future relationship with Jesus.  Noel Piper also addresses this in her book Treasuring God in our Traditions, “When we train our children in godly patterns, godly traditions, we’re helping them to get ready to move with the responsibility into adulthood.”  (Piper, 2007) When we teach them to obey immediately, completely, and with a joyful heart we are teaching them to respond to God in this way also.  This doesn’t have to be a secret we keep to ourselves but we can share this with the child as we teach them.  God uses his Word to discipline and guide us and so we must do the same with our children.

Favorite quote

“Children will rise to the standard that the parents set.”

Click here to learn more about Bookworm Mama

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Plowman, G. (2003). Don’t make me count to three. Shepherd Press eBooks.
Piper, N. (2007). Treasuring god in our traditions. (pp. 17-18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

May Designs

While it is extremely difficult for me to narrow down to saying one thing is my absolute favorite in the whole wide world, there is a

long list of things I really like. Here is just one of the items on my list. I like to call these my Brown Paper Packages!

I received a text one day from my sister that was forwarded from one of her friends.  “50% off all May Books.”

What in the world is a May Book?!  I must say I do love a good sale and 50% off peaked my interested.  So I did what anyone does when they don’t know something.  I googled it.  Let’s just say, May Designs had me from hello.

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In short, a May Book is a “stylish notebook”.  Literally on the May Design website you can find the quote “Mica was sick of using ugly notebooks, so she made some pretty ones.”  And boy am I glad she did!

Each one is customizable.  That’s right; you personalize the book to meet your fancy.  Step one, choose a pattern.  Side note, my favorite right now is the wildflower.  Next you choose a background shape, then a typographic style, a color for your style, what your monogram text will be, and finally how to fill the inside pages.  Seriously, the options are endless.  The inside pages can be a yearly agenda, kids coloring book, address book, meal planner, wedding diary, and many more.  The book is the perfect size to drop in your purse so you never have to be without.  They start at $19.  However, they have sales often.  When I have purchased them they have been 50% off the $19.  I follow them on Twitter and Instagram and they post their sales in both places.  P.S. They make wonderful gifts!!

P.S. Right now May Designs is running a special, 50% off May Notes.  (It says through April 7 but they are still marked down today.)

Click here to learn more about Brown Paper Packages.

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