May 26, 2008

Major Breakthrough

We have had a major breakthrough in the Jackson house today. My husband, of 4 years last Thursday, ate an actual Mexican meal in my presence. Not only that, but it was his idea to go. We went to Sol Azteca and after I read the menu to him, to which his nose turned up LOTS of times, he finally asked the waiter a serious question, "what does not have sauce on it?" I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. So he ordered taquitos, easy enough, corn tortillas and chicken. While we waited less than 5 minutes for our food (they are really fast there) he ate 3 chips and said that was all he needed of those. I know it's not a big deal for most people but for my husband to eat those 4 taquitos, it was a MAJOR event in our family. I love him SO much!!!

A Father's Hand

"My times are in your hand." Psalm 31:15

Our times of adversity are also in God's hand. As every sunbeam that brightens, so every cloud that darkens, comes from God. We are subject to great and sudden reverses in our earthly condition. Joy is often succeeded by grief, prosperity by adversity. We are on the pinnacle today, tomorrow at its bottom. Oh! What a change may one event and one moment create! But, beloved, ALL is from the Lord.

Afflictions do not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Sorrow cannot come until God bids it. Until God in His sovereignty permits—health cannot fade, wealth cannot vanish, comfort cannot decay, friendship cannot chill, and loved ones cannot die. Your time of sorrow is His appointment. The bitter cup which it may please the Lord that you shall drink this year will not be mixed by human hands. In the hand of the Lord is that cup! Some treasure you are now pressing to your heart, He may ask you to resign. Some blessing you now possess, He may bid you to relinquish. Some fond expectation you now cherish, He may will that you should forego. Some lonely path, He may design that you should tread.

Yes, He may even bereave you of all, and yet all, ALL is in His hand! His hand! A Father's hand, moving in thick darkness, is shaping every event, and arranging every detail in your life! Has sickness laid you on a bed of suffering? Has bereavement darkened your home? Has adversity impoverished your resources? Has change lessened your comforts? Has sorrow in one of its many forms crushed your spirit to the earth? The Lord has done it! In all that has been sent, in all that has be recalled, and in all that has been withheld—His hand, noiseless and unseen has brought it about!

Ah! yes, that hand of changeless love blends a sweet with every bitter—pencils a bright rainbow in each dark cloud—upholds each faltering step—shelters within its hollow—and guides with unerring skill, His chosen people safe to eternal glory! Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows, all, ALL are in your heavenly Father's hand, and they cannot come until sent by Him!

Bow that stricken heart—yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, "May Your will, O my Father! not mine, be done. My times of sadness and of grief are in Your hand." Beloved, all is in your Father's hand! Be those times what they may—times of trial, times of temptation, times of suffering, times of peril, times of sunshine or of gloom, or times of life or death, they are in your Father's hand!

Has the Lord seen fit to recall some fond blessing, to deny some earnest request, or painfully to discipline your heart? All this springs from a Father's love as fully as though He had unlocked His treasury and poured its costliest gifts at your feet! All of our times are in our Redeemer's hands! That same Redeemer who carried our sorrows in His heart, our curse and sins on His soul, our cross on His shoulder; who died, who rose again, and who lives and intercedes for us, and who will gather all His ransomed around Him in glory, is your Guardian and your Guide! Your times are in the hands of Him who still bears the print of the nails! - Octavius Winslow

The pastor at Christ Community Church in Nashville, TN shared this with his congregation after one of their congregation lost their child this week. This seems to be the theme of my life right now. No, I have not lost a child in a tragic way or really lost anything of that value but I am learning to trust the Father's hand.

May 19, 2008

Death Gives Way to Victory

My dear friend's mother has passed away this morning, one that was loving known by our church as Nana. Though as I talked with my friend something more than her grief struck me. It was her desire to see her family come to know Christ through this death. She did not tell me how much she was going to miss this precious lady in her life or how she didn't know how she would go on without this woman in her life but instead she wanted prayer that her family would come to know our big, GREAT God. I was so encouraged by her hope and today my prayer is that if the Lord desires, that her family would come to know this BIG God we serve. That even today, as they are facing this world without a mother, sister, grandmother, friend that they would feel the comfort that only our Savior can give. I also pray for my friend as she is entering into a battlefield with her family, that she will continue to be strong and to be a light to them. I know that God is capable of mighty, mighty things and I pray that we will see God complete another miracle in this family!

May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day (a day late)

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
This is my mother. To my knowledge my mom has done good to my dad ever since I can remember. She always seeks to build him up and not tear him down. She is such an example to me.
She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.
One precious memory I have of my mom is waking up for school and finding her in her chair reading her Bible and drinking coffee. I knew that when I got up she was there either praying or reading. Sometimes she would have tears and she would tell me what God taught her that morning. Even when I went away to college I remembered that around 6:30 or so she would be reading her Bible and praying for me. Now I'm sure she missed some days here and there, for after all she is not perfect, but it is a memory that I believe puts her in this category of being a virtuous woman.
She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night.
Now she never bought a field but for many years she would actually plant a garden that did in turn yield vegetation that she would either freeze for the winter or we would eat during the summer. I remember her spending time canning vegetables or fruit that later we would when veggies are so expensive. Also I remember her making applie pie in a jar to give as Christmas presents to her family. One year she also used slate from our yard and painted a stencil design on them and gave them as gifts. My mom is very frugal. Recently I learned that my dad's income when we were little was about $1000. I don't know how she did it, but she did. She managed to feed and clothe her family of 5 w/ little money. She has taught me several cost saving techniques and I am thankful for it!
She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.
Many times I got to see my mom bring food to friends or invite people over to share with them a meal. She really has a gift when it comes to hospitality. She makes anyone who comes in her house feel like they are home.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Mom is a beautiful person anyway but anytime she leaves the house she is dressed modestly and classy. Many times she made do with what she had in her closet so that we could have new Easter dresses, but yet she always seemed to come out of her room looking very springy and fresh on Easter morning. She made several dresses for me, she even made my high school graduation dress (that had to be white).
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
I believe my mom was the first one to really teach me about the faithfulness of God. How he provides for our every need. She, along with my dad, taught me to trust that He would guide me in all decisions. They rarely shielded us from harsh times in our family. We prayed together as a family and it was as a family that we "learned to trust the smile of His face, but also to trust the blows of His fist” (Spurgeon).
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Mom was definitely not idle. Not once do I remember her sitting down to "watch her tv show" or "read her book" without seeing to our needs and the needs of her house. She taught us what it means to keep a clean house and also how to cook for your family. The cooking part I think I've picked up on, the clean house I am NOT as disciplined as she is.
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
I truly believe that my mom resembles this virtuous woman. She truly does fear the Lord and it shows in her life. Her comforting words, her constructive criticism and her teaching illustrations have all shaped me into the woman that I am. I appreciate my mom more now that I ever have. I'm thankful for her friendship and her witness to me! Thanks mom! I love you!!!

May 06, 2008

College 6

I have 5 friends from college that I absolutely love! Believe it or not we actually still keep in touch with each other and we live in 5 different states - MS, TN, AL, FL and NE. So much so that we even seem to have a "reunion" almost every year. Actually in 4 years we have had 4 reunions. I think that's pretty good myself. Now granted 3 of them have been at each others weddings but they are still reunions. Have you ever had friends that you can talk to and know immediately that they know what you are talking about? Or have you ever had a friend that when you ask them to pray for something you know without a shadow of a doubt? Well I am blessed with at least 5 ladies that do just that. They are such a blessing in my life. They encourage me and challenge me to live a life that glorifies God. I love to talk with them and hear about what God is teaching them and then in turn it challenges me. Well we just had another reunion in Memphis this past weekend. We laughed so much it was just like we had never been apart. We also prayed for Lori, who got married on Saturday. It was a special time to get to pray for her as she was about to marry the love of her life, the one that God designed for her to complete. We were reminded that God is faithful over and over. It rained so hard on Friday night and then Saturday morning the skies opened up with the most beautiful blue and the sun was so bright and then there was a nice cool breeze (the wedding was outside). It was a great weekend to get away and be with the "College 6". That's our name! I love you girls!!! You have blessed my life!!!

Am I Willing?

Lord, I am willing to-
Receive what you give,
Lack what you withhold,
Relinquish what you take.

This is from Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. My prayer today is that the above will be my response to what God provides for me. Bridges challenges us that we have to accept the good God gives but also the bad. He says "Lord, am I willing to receive this bad thing you have given me or am I willing to lack what you withheld?" I have to confess that I am not always willing to receive the bad that God gives me. I want to be labeled as content in where God has me. I want to be able to take joy in what God has decided to withhold from me at the moment. I want to trust God so much that when He takes something away from me, I will relinquish it without a fight. I know this is all apart of sanctification in my life and I trust that God is completing the work He has begun in my life. So what about you? Do you gladly relinquish what God takes from you? Do you gladly receive the bad things in your life that God has given you?