Posted by: Sally | March 12, 2008

Asheville–writing a book in an old, cold house!

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I can’t tell you in words how fun, precious, validating and emotionally affirming to have my own daughter be my own giggly best friend. I can’t tell you how very much I enjoy her company. She put me to bed last night with a gentle head rub and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. As I work on a book long dreamed about, but too much to do by myself, I knew that I would need Sarah’s help with some of the details of our own family traditions as I wrote the main sections and chapters. It is going to be a very long book–like educating the whole hearted child. But I needed help from one whom I consider the better writer. So we have found ourselves here, in Asheville, as we mentioned in our articles this week. But though our B&B is delightful and we have had absolutely wonderful breakfasts served to us in our room, we have found that this room in the shade, in the early morning hours is quite chilly and just a tiny bit too uncomfortable for writing. So, we turned our little gas fire-place to high and both donned scarves and a throw and wrapped in our cloaks, we both proceeded to write our hearts out. Just thought you would enjoy seeing the snuggling writers in all our glory–no make up-in frumpy, comfy clothes changing the world with our dreams, ideas, coffee, giggles, two computers and shawls! Pray for us to be inspired! Just one day left and we have to go face the real world of home, people, dogs, messes, hugs and kisses and meal times yet again! But in my heart, I will have one more precious memory of a crazy week of artists together playing at this creative work unified in harmony and sweet friendship and deep affection.

PS Lest you think we have suffered too much, we have had one great meal a day (pan fried trout with blackberry sauce last night! Dark Chocolate mousse, for desert) split of course so we can afford it!  and at least one hour of walking a day amongst old turn of the century houses, fields beginning to bloom with lilting daffodils and shops that beg us to come in. Also, necessary is a pot of tea sometime in the afternoon at some place of our choosing! Makes for more meaningful writing and productivity. I am indeed blessed.

Today I know that I could make many of you jealous! I am sitting by candlelight, sipping coffee listening to a melancholy instrumental cd while sharing a breakfast soufflé with my dearest best friend, Sarah! (and it is only 9 o’clock in the morning!) After conferences and travel and wearing ourselves out, and homeschooling all along the way, we always plan something fun in March. March is that middle of the spring season time which is neither spring or summer and not a holiday time—cold and snow still abound for us in Colorado—and usually the moms I know are a little bit weary of the school year and  “feeling” no inspiration ahead! That is exactly why I almost always take a break in March. I make up my own holiday time for just a few days—because my soul needs rest and refreshment. This is a long journey and if I am to make it to the end with resilience, I have to plan for refreshment along the way!

Once, a friend told Sarah that her love for beauty seemed a bit frivolous. However, I have always told my children that they are responsible to keep a light burning in their souls—whatever it takes. Creating beauty and joyful moments in the midst of a fallen, sad world is what gives light to others and nurtures light in our own soul. I am not ignoring the pain or difficulties, as the still abound in my life—but admitting that in order to keep going and giving endlessly for many years to come—I have to take responsibility for replenishing my soul and seeking to fill the spiritual, emotional and physical cup of my life with nourishment. Spending time with Sarah—my sweet daughter—or with one of my dearest friends who really knows me—always fills my soul. Filling my mind with encouragement and truth always gives me guidance. Resting and exercising (walking is my therapy!) gives my body a boost.  Clay and I had a lovely dinner all by our selves last week. Joy and I went shopping and I gave her a small budget for taking us to shops and for a treat—we had a blast talking. I took both the boys on dates alone to Panera’s for coffee and a treat of their choice. I used to take the kids when they were little on a drive to the mountains with a great book on tape in the car and hot chocolate at a little café—or breakfast out at a fun mountain eatery.

Going for long walks or hiking, reading a magazine or frivolous book, sleeping in, having a tea party or lunch in the middle of the week with kids and moms for no reason, creating a scavenger hunt in the house for kids, hiding wooden painted Polish eggs all over the house for my friend’s kids while the moms gather for gabbing, taking a long extended bubble bath with divine music and candlelight and not answering the phone or the door; going to a favorite café in the middle of the week in a downtown area—even if we all share meals or just get soup (which we are likely to do with our budget tight from 3 college age kids with cars and jobs and school costs!)  Whatever sounds good and within reason, I do because I know the principle of the Sabbath—God designed for us to have and to take rest because without it, we do not endure well or see Him clearly or have the strength to believe in order to get perspective.

This is the third year I have been able to get away with Sarah for a few days in Asheville, NC—one of our favorite cities in the world. Wonderful trails to walk, great cafes in which to have savory food or a sumptuous treat and time to breathe in the goodness of long quiet times and walks amongst old, beautiful Victorian houses. Clay graciously assented to our several day trip as we look for places in the south for a potential mom’s conference next year, as well as working on a new book 4-6 hours a day. Very sweet friends are hosting Joy for a week long of total pleasure and fun while we are sequestered away to write. But mostly, just investing rest and pleasure and goodness and beauty so that we can go back home to give and give and give again—but with a smile on our face! So, take time this week to do something unexpected that will indeed celebrate God’s goodness and that will bless everyone in your home! Give your body and soul and mind a rest and time to refuel!
Blessings,
Sally

Posted by: Sally | March 3, 2008

Snow on a Sunday afternoon

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Today was a fun day. Since we can’t all get together for devotionals anymore during the week with everyone’s various schedules, we do a big breakfast and devos on Sunday mornings. Candlelight, music, coffee and pajama’d folks circling around. Today was a soufle, fresh fruit, cinnamon rolls and hash browns. It was fun to see how excited and loud everyone got when we got into a discussion from I John. I do have great memories of how our family has developed over the years into highly opinionated, articulate people. Sometimes it is exhausting, but today was fun.

It was snowing profusely and swirling in dancing gusts. A great day to stay inside and sit by the fire. Sometimes at 54, I think I should be sipping tea and contemplating my memoirs. But, I still have 12 year old who wants to play, so we just had to go out into the 22 degree weather and play. I followed in her footsteps (she had gone ahead to hide in a tree) and found my way through knee deep snow on a path that led to Sir Noble–the tallest pine tree in the area where Joy was hiding from me. We were originally going to meet at the top of the world (the top of the hill where we can look at the view of the mountain range), but after I trounced through Merryman’s passage ( the first part of the path), and on to the tree, I thought better of getting any deeper than knee high as I was already falling through her footsteps to the ground below. Joy and her exploring friend have named every section and landmark and played Robin Hood and thieves and princesses and orphans amongst the trees and paths amongst the houses. Great, rousing blowing wind and sparkling snow and a fun memory with my elf who keeps me young and celebrating the important moments of life.

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What a privilege it was to be in our conferences in Colorado, California and Texas to be amongst such wonderful mothers. My fellowship with all of you was so precious and being in the company of such committed women gave me more strength to keep going in my own role as a mom. Many sweet moms are up against such obstacles with illnesses, difficult marriages or working through the journey as single moms, knowing the weariness of the journey of constant with little or no support and financial constraints, and many having no background or model to follow. And yet, I was so encouraged by your stories and seeing many pictures of your children—you are my heroes because I know personally the work such a life requires, but I also know that your labor is not in vain and eternity and history will be different because of your great work of faith.

As always happened, when I returned from being on the road off and on for six weeks, including a trip for a funeral, I found my energy was somewhat depleted and the piles needed taming. But I am used to this from 10 years of doing it. I give myself and our family grace—we sleep later hours, leave piles unattended, school undone—knowing that in due time we will attack them all and get it all done in due season. I give us time to catch back up to life. We eat easy or store bought meals and paper plates for ease of cleaning, do leisurely, fun, “cup-filling” activities to give all of us who are depleted in the expending of so much energy, traveling and serving, a time to restore. It used to overwhelm me, but as I have studied the whole concept of seasons and even as I worked on the new parts of my book, I have found grace in submitting to the limitations of each season and leaning into it instead of resisting it. My passion is rekindled by being with all the sweet moms, my body begins to catch up, my emotions smooth out and the piles gradually disappear and I am then caught up again in the grand call that I have learned to love so much!
Blessings and sunshine to all of you this week!
Love and grace to you in the midst of walking with Him, who so wisely appointed us to this grand call!
Sally
(Sally@wholeheart.org)

PS Below is a dictionary definition, and a quotation as well as some of my own commentary on some excellent words written over 100 years ago—that still apply today! Enjoy!

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The Civilizing of Our Nation

civ·i·lize
1. to create a high level of culture
2. to teach somebody to behave in a more socially, morally and culturally acceptable way
Enlighten, cultivate, improve, advance, subdue in terms of a people or nation.

“The home is the fountain of civilization. The value and character and appetites of a people are greatly determined by the reading, training and cultivating of moral and spiritual appetites in the home.

Mothers, you are the divinely-appointed teachers and guides of your children; and any attempt to free yourselves of this duty is in direct opposition to the will of God. If you neglect them, the consequences are swift and sure. …, Spend most of your time with your children. Sleep near them, attend and dress and wash them; let them eat with their mother and father; be their companion and friend in all things and at all times.”

From Mother, Home and Heaven from Poetic, prose and literature
Of all ages and all lands. Copyright 1878-1880

The above quotations were gleaned from a wonderful book that a friend gave to me at our Dallas conference. The words written over a hundred years ago are still very powerful today. This, in a culture where the imagination of the importance of mothers to the overall well-being of soul of the next generation has been lost. How affirming it is to see that truth of past generations still applies to us today.

Often, I find that in the absence of a clear enough vision for their children and homes, mothers replace conviction and vision with lots of activities and distractions for their children. This hyper-activity and rushing around to an endless list of expensive lessons and experiences and the buying of the newest expensive curriculum and technological options make moms feel like they are accomplishing something. However, when the home-life of children is rich with excellent, classic literature, passionate Biblical devotions, rousing dinner-table discussions around sumptuous, tasty meals, lots of love and affection given and household chores attended to—and a child will become committed to all that is good and excellent and develop a moral and compassionate soul for all the divinely important values.

From the beginning of time, God created the home to be a place sufficient to nurture genius, excellence, graciousness and grand civility. But the key factor is nothing that can be purchased or owned. The accomplishment of this grand life is found only in the soul of a mother, through the power of the Holy Spirit, personally mentoring her children.

It is a personal relationship with a real person whose soul is alive in which the deepest imprints of life are given. The secrets and deep emotions shared during the goodnight hours in which a the soul of a child is tender and open; the comfort of warm, home-made food shared in the early evening as ideas are shared and discussed and prayers and devotions given; the laughter, stories, advice given in the midst of washing dishes together or sharing of a meal; the heroic and riveting stories read aloud and shared together that establish common patterns of morality, values and dreams in the comfort of the blazing hearth, mugs of steaming hot chocolate and squishing against each other on a den couch are those heavenly things which are food to the soul and nourishment to the mind and conscience of a child fully awake to all that is important in life.

There is no computer, television, software or text book that can pass on such passion, love and motivation.

It is indeed the personal touch of a mother’s heart that creates grand civility, deep affection, care and commitment to the foundations of a family. When the invisible strings of a mother’s heart are tied to the heart of her children through loving sacrifice and nurture, the stability and foundations of a nation become secure and stable. A mother, living well in her God-ordained role, is of great beauty and inestimable value to the future history of any generation. Her impact is irreplaceable and necessary to the spiritual formation of children who will be the future adults of the next generation. Fun, comfort, humor, graciousness, spiritual passion, compassion for the lost, hospitality, chores, meals, training, life-giving words, hours and hours of listening and playing and praying and reading—all are parts of the mosaic which go into the process of soul development.

Posted by: Sally | February 9, 2008

Life and love and Kingdom work

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Well, we made it through our last couple of weeks and are coming up for air before leaving for our Texas conference next Wednesday. I so appreciate the many emails, comments and cards I have received. Our family made it more gracefully through this trying time because of many of you. It is so comforting to hear life-giving words from friends and we appreciate you all very much.

We also had a wonderful trip to California. Though pretty tired, we had angels who met us in Anaheim and held up our arms as we tried to minister to the sweet moms who attended. It was such a great time of fellowship and encouragement with so many of you and lots of smaller meetings as well. I love your noble and enthusiastic hearts–what great moms you all are! So many of you said that you felt you had a whole new perspective on life. I am so grateful to hear your great comments. The most common thing people said at this conference and at the last was, “I wish I have invited more friends to come–I didn’t know how much I needed this and am so thankful I made it. Just wish my other friends had come cause they needed encouragement, too.” I have seen so often in my own life that the busy-ness and demands and financial pressures and time pressures sometimes immobilize me and I stay home from more activities just because I am pooped!

But I did see, again, how many moms need to be in a room full of moms like themselves, called to their own ideals and to renew their minds. It is why we keep doing it year after year. For all of you who came, we appreciate you supporting our  ministry by attending, as it helps us to pay our staff and put more parenting books into print!

It always helps me to be with so many of you! Thanks for your encouraging words. (I do have to say that leaving Colorado for the airport in minus 10 degree weather in the midst of a snowstorm–and arriving in 65 degree California–with green grass and flowers all around–was also a boon to us! We thawed out and really enjoyed our “animal style” In and Out Burgers” (sauteed onions, mustard and melted cheese–gooey and good!) and our trip Saturday night to Downtown Disney–just to stroll amidst the lights and people and our once a year stroll on the beach in Laguna–(which is where my picture was taken for the top of my blog last year–a moment of fun at Laguna Beach, where we went when I was a little girl!)

Just a couple of thoughts. I have been speaking through the seasons of a mother’s heart at these conferences. Spring–time for rejoicing and saying, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Learning to celebrate life and all the spring seasons takes a choice of the heart and a submission to the limitations of each season.

Summer is a time for cultivating and gardening of the souls and planting seeds and foundations. Summer is just for a season and once the season is over, there is no more time to cultivate or garden–The window of opportunity to train and instruct and inspire in eternal values and great thoughts suddenly closes–so how important it is to really take advantage of that season and know just what you want to sow and how you want to immulate the reality of God and His character during that planting season.

Fall, is when one season of life is closing (toddlerhood, elementary, preteens, teenage and college) Falls are a time of readjusting expectations, choosing to be flexible with the life God brings and choosing to accept the harvest for what it is, while planning to be faithful to plant well the next summer season. Learning to accept those ideals that were never grasped and planning for how to continue forging a godly heritage in new seasons.

Winter–the season when all appears to be dead and the times are dark and sometimes overwhelming. During this season, the soul is deepened like in no other season–as roots are pushing downward into God’s word and sap is restoring by learning to wait patiently for God’s answers–and straining towards Him. In winter, souls are made and godliness and faith is forged–no one becomes seasoned and mature in faith or compassionate or ministry oriented without winters–they reveal the true character of our souls and stretch our faith.

So many moms I know are presently in winter seasons. It seemed this conference talk opened many eyes to the reality of the many seasons and demands of a mom and many were encouraged to remain faithful and true as a result of our study of scripture together during this particular conference talk.

Clay and I committed to bringing God’s kingdom to bear in the lives of families all over the world to help equip them and to inspire them 27 years ago. We have seen, by God’s grace, much ground taken for His cause. Yet, because Satan literally hates for us to be about God’s business in helping families to restore their vision for loving and protecting their children, we have had many, many years of difficulty and spiritual warfare. Satan hates for people to be committed to the saving and building of children–just think of how he tried to destroy a whole generation of babies when Christ was born–to attempt to kill baby Jesus. What consequences would have been wrought in history if he could have stopped baby Jesus from becoming the savior of the world. He also hates for us to raise such babies for God’s kingdom and to build them into soldiers!

We have definitely had to weather much discouragement and many dark feelings, but I do believe that the longer we persevere, the more we see the consequences of the battle are great in our lifetime and at this time in history. May He give you grace, encouragement and strength to persevere in your own parenting journey–don’t give up! Don’t throw away your ideals–they are working in due time to prepare a strong, light-filled generation who will stand for Christ in the difficult days ahead and it is the most important work you will do for His kingdom.

Tell your friends who still have the opportunity to try to come to the Texas conference. (Put your curser on the sidebar about the Texas conference!) We are about building moms and undergirding them and loving them as they continue this great road of parenting for His kingdom. We so appreciate those who pray for us and covet your prayers for the trip to Texas, for all of our health (Joy, and all of her friends in history coop have strep!), for safety and for God’s spirit to work mightily through us and in the lives of all the precious moms who attend!

Finally, be sure to tell your sweet ones how much you love them. Take the time to celebrate your love as a family this Valentine’s day! We will have a Sunday morning breakfast with cinnamon rolls and cheese eggs, and verbally express what we love and appreciate about each dear person in our family and then close in thanksgiving prayers to our supreme lover for His faithful and everlasting love for us. May He fill your week with His love and grace. My favorite two family verses for this time are “Love covers a multitude of sin!”(mine and those of my children and husband!) and “Love is a perfect bond of unity.” Love gives grace and life each and every day to the home who rests in the unconditional love that Christ provides for us each and every day!

Blessings upon blessings!

Sally

Posted by: Sally | January 24, 2008

Passing from pain to eternal light

Thanks so much to all of you who have been praying for our family in regards to my brother’s illness. My oldest brother, Robert Bone, slipped into the presence of the Lord last night. I know that he is so free, now, from pain and the burdens he bore in this life and so blessed to be in the presence of Jesus! Please keep our family in your prayers in the days ahead as we complete our conferences and go to the memorial service. Also, pray that God’s grace and love would be especially evident to his three children. Peace of the Lord be with you.

Sally

Posted by: Sally | January 24, 2008

Beauty–an essential source of Life!

I so enjoyed seeing so many of you at the conference in Colorado Springs last weekend. You are all my heroines. I receive so many emails and letters and thoughtful expressions of support and encouragement for our ministry. I really keep going because of so many of you. I am sorry that I am not on top of all of my correspondence, but I do read every letter and comment and it really helps me to keep writing and speaking. I have been quite weary from the past few weeks of events, and so especially appreciate those of you who have prayed for me!

Sarah, my lovely daughter, is one of the speakers at our conferences this year. So many women said how much she really encouraged them and touched their heart. I thought I would put an excerpt from The Mom Walk that would give you a little glimpse into her life and how she has been a blessing to me. This story was about January and a friend sent it to me yesterday, so I thought I would pass it on. Please encourage your friends in California and Texas to come to a conference as we still have some room left in both conferences. It seems that the encouragement of the Holy Spirit is palpable! We teach freedom, grace, love and joy in the journey and have lots of foundational encouragement for your precious moms. Hope you have a good week!

Blessings,

Sally (Sally@wholeheart.org)

“When the soap had been measured into the washer, I grabbed a pile of clean shirts and ran upstairs in a huff to Sarah’s bedroom to find out when she was leaving for work and why it took so incredibly long for her to remember to get her laundry off the dryer. I knocked on her door loudly, still catching my breath. Her muffled voice from the other side of the door calmly bade me enter, and I did in a great hurry, feeling a need to keep up my momentum. But as I stumbled in, the sight of her stopped me dead in my tracks. I just stood there and, for an instant, was quiet.

Amid my own hurry and bustle to get the day started I had quite forgotten to spend any time in quiet. Surely with the holidays we’d had enough times to sit and be in beauty. But apparently Sarah didn’t think so. She was beginning her January in quite a different way, and I was magnetically drawn into her world. She sat in her maroon chair, regarding me quite serenely with a book in one hand and a pen in the other. Haunting piano music was playing through the room (I found out it was the soundtrack to the new Pride and Prejudice movie) and three tiny vanilla candles flickered in different spots around the room.

The unhurried beauty of the room was strongly present all around me, evidence of Sarah’s determination to make room for loveliness and serenity in her days. She had matted small prints and postcards from our trips and arranged them along her walls and in lines above the shelves that held her numerous and much-beloved books. A barely wilting Christmas rose stood in a tiny crystal vase on her windowsill, and there were pine branches still fragrant in a basket by the door.

A basket of cards and writing paper with her favorite pen sat next to her rolltop desk, guarded by the brightly painted eyes of her Matryoshka dolls. I noticed a new picture on her shelf too; a brightly sketched pair of birds, done by an artist she had just discovered in Canada. There was color, symmetry, and music, and everywhere I looked, I was confronted with the richness of a soul made visible in the world it created and quite determined to enjoy this moment despite the rush. I felt stopped in my tracks by the sudden presence of this choice to begin the busy day in an instant of soul-beauty instead of frenzied worry and hurry. I felt I was somehow catching my mental breath.

“Hi, Mom,” she said, raising her eyebrows in a can-I-help-you sort of look. I waited a minute before replying, letting my pulse (if she only knew) return to normal. “Here’s your laundry,” I said slowly when my breath came back. In the presence of her room I didn’t even remind her that it had been sitting on the dryer for two weeks. Nor did I notice the lumpy pile of new laundry, expertly concealed with a blanket next to her closet. I simply smiled and took the paper she handed me as I walked out of the room.

I had thought the note she handed me was some sort of information, but as I glanced down, I saw that it was a card for me, written just that morning. Dropping into my desk chair, I opened it and read:

Sweet Mom,

Just thought I’d tell you that I’m praying for you as you go back to routine life. I just know that God is going to bless you soon. You are so faithful and have such an enduring heart (I’ve been reading Revelation and noe of the big themes I’ve caught is endurance), and God is going to bring greatness and beauty out of your perseverance. God will redeem all of us kids because of you. He’ll bless you with the fulfillment of your dreams, and He will make my way and all of our ways straight before us. He will do something new!

So don’t be discouraged as you sit and pound away at your book and tame all the messes. Great things are going to happen and I love you so much – and that’s got to count for something.

So blessings and love and peace of Christ be with you.

Your Sarah

In that moment I felt as if I had been given a gift through my daughter. It was as if in the rush of my day, God had put it on her heart to stop me in my tracks and call me back to a spirit of calm and beauty. Sarah embodied for me what my soul held so dear – a life reflecting the beautiful reality, goodness, and love of God because of her filled soul.

Sitting in my chair and catching my breath, I realized that my sudden rush of feeling overwhelmed, I had completely lost sight of what mattered. Yes, the house needed to be cleaned and presents delivered to their various new spots and food needed to be bought for the cupboard. But it was all so that our home would be a haven, a place rich with life and warm with thought, love, and beauty. My spirit that morning, thought, was one of frenzied worry that cared only that things get done, not that people be loved or life enjoyed.

Glancing up as I thought this, my eyes caught a glimpse of Sarah’s present to me that year. For Christmas she had given me a hand-drawn scene of an old country home by a pinewood, bathed in the light of a brightly setting sun. In the sunset sky, she had inscribed my favorite verses of the year (Psalm 16:5-6) in carefully formed calligraphy:

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup.

You support my lot.

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places,

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

Beautiful to me…Sarah represented a physical reality of the philosophy that the Lord wants me to continue to embrace. The Lord’s presence in my life is beautiful, and I want my spirit to be one that accepts it in thanks and appreciation – even on January Monday mornings…

…Instead of hurrying downstairs, I took a deep breath and walked away slowly, planning what I would do next. I consciously made a decision to brush away my previous mental list of important things to accomplish and replaced it with the high priority of focusing my efforts on how to communicate love in the hours left in my day.

I put on the kettle to make Joy a cup of vanilla-almond tea. I lit every candle I could find in my little living room and turned on my favorite Celtic CD. I lit the gas fireplace so that we could have a glowing fire and made a piece of cinnamon toast to accompany my little girl’s tea. Then I called her in and invited her to snuggle up next to me on our cozy, overstuffed couch. I kissed her sweet head and told her how glad I was to have time alone with her. We finished reading together the end of the book, Heidi, cloaked in our own spell of beauty and intimacy…

…At the end of our time and to my great surprise, she suddenly turned her eyes to me very tenderly and said, “You know, Mom, I would rather have time alone with you when than even my Christmas presents and parties. I missed you when we were so busy. I just love it when we spend time alone. It makes me feel so special.”

God had used Sarah to gently remind me that, after all, I had another sweet girl just waiting for me to help her become another princess for His glory. And it wouldn’t require hurry or bustle or modeled irritation at the busyness of the world. It required love, and love expressed tangibly through time, words, and lots of beauty Love, it seemed, truly was the greatest gift after all.”

Posted by: Sally | January 13, 2008

Moving from anger to joy

Just a short note and request. (Wednesday morning, January 16) I received a message last night that my dear oldest brother is being put into hospice and having the life support systems removed. He has had leukemia since May. I would so appreciate your prayers for our family during this time–that they would all be comforted and have a renewed sense of God’s love for them.–especially my sweet brother Bill and his wife who have been caring for my brother for 6 months in Texas. Also, please pray for me as I have to speak this weekend in Colorado–that the Lord would sustain and help me to stay focussed and that many women would be greatly blessed and have their hearts inspired and encouraged.  

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“Only a Christian has a right to hope, for only he has the power of God to give substance to his hope…Earth is bearable because there is hope.” A.W. Tozer

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews

“You seem to have such an utter enthusiasm for the Lord, it seems to just pour from your soul. The wisdom you have about God seems so unreachable for me. I am a mother of a two year old, a stay at home mom who plans to homeschool someday. I am a wife to my sweet husband. I am a daughter to the King. But for some reason, I just seem to be lacking the enthusiasm and wisdom that you seem to contain. I yearn for such excitement and knowledge of the scriptures. Honestly as a 30 year old woman, mother and wife, I am not sure how to get what you have.”

Several sweet women have written letters to me in the past few weeks who have struggled with learning what it means to walk with God, to know Him, to feel that He is relevant. In the midst of these letters, I have also seen a pattern of women feeling anger and disappointment in their hearts. Life does not measure up, it is stressful, disappointing. Sometimes the anger is more personally focused–anger with their children, husband, life, circumstances (miscarriages, finances, marriage, homeschooling, themselves, etc.) I think that it is so important to know that all of us experience anger and a sense of injustice–I have been good and tried hard to please you, Lord, and this is what I get?! Anger, I believe, comes from disappointed expectations. We expected life or a person to behave in one way and it surprises us by behaving in just the opposite way that we wanted it to or hoped that it would. We feel anger when we think we had the right to expect that life or a person would behave in that way and if it didn’t we get mad and feel justified in that anger. Anger can lead to depression and despair. There are many things in this fallen world that can oppress our spirits and tempt us to despair because the end results are not as we would hope or expect.

Several years ago, I had two miscarriages in one year, all of my three children at that time has pneumonia, chicken pox, ruptured ears and ensephalitis–all within two months! We had made a move to a very tiny town in Texas and I had no friends, Clay had no job and we were almost out of money. I was quite tired and danced with depression but was really seeking answers from the Lord. We lived with my mother-in-law at the time and going for long walks by myself was the only way I could get away to think and pray. Walking some days for 4-5 miles, I would review my life and think about so many things that were against us, and then I would pray.

One day, as I was walking and pondering, it was as if the Lord said to me, “Sally, if I took everything away from you that you hold dear, would you still believe in me?” It was suddenly as though God was shining a spotlight onto the deepest part of my soul, and I found at the very bottom of it, that with all the difficulties that a fallen world could throw at me, I would still rather hold on to my faith in God and believe in His love and goodness for the rest of my life, than to choose a life of existentialism and despair. But a realization came to me that this choice would require constant vigilance–that I would have to guard my heart and feed it with the truth of God’s word and His Constancy in my life.

A part of me realized that day, that faith was planting a flag, so to speak, in my heart, and deciding to settle it once and for all–that the rest of my life, no matter what, I would choose to believe in the Bible, that Jesus was real, that God was loving, no matter what! Faith was the assurance of things hoped for but not seen. Faith was choosing to hope–to place my hope–in Him–every day, acting on that faith and hope–and understanding that without this commitment of my will to choosing to believe and hope–I couldn’t be pleasing to God or sense His wisdom and hand upon my life.

I would look back on that day as a day which would determine my present and future walk with God–I would choose to believe the best, and act in light of what scripture said He was–loving, righteous, good, kind, wise, and so on. I would believe in light when I found myself in darkness. I would believe that love redeemed and was a perfect bond of unity, even when I was confronted with unloving, immature people

“as far as it is possible with you, be at peace with all men.” Romans12:18—

Choosing to believe that God did listen to my prayers and that the prayer of a righteous person avails much–and that in His time, I would see eternal results–even if it wasn’t on my time schedule.

“Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open for you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks, finds and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. ” Matthew 7:7-8

I knew that if every time something difficult happened to me, I put God on trial again, that I would only be unstable and insecure in life–wondering and fearing when the next trial or danger would come my way. But I also had the sense that if I built my life on the foundation of believing in Him, sowing faithfulness and goodness, that I would reap the blessing of freedom and peace from sowing on true and eternal principles.

“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked.Whatever a man sows this will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

I decided never again to go to the active place of doubt–that I would disregard it because of my once and for all commitment to believe in God, period. I pictured that in the same way that I made a promise that I would stay married to Clay and choose to love him unconditionally for all of our years–that divorce would never be an option–that I needed to picture my commitment to God like that–forever and final. The promise I had made of forever faithfulness to God that day would lead me to obey in my heart by looking at the flag I had planted on that day–every time my faith was tested. As I look back over the years, my commitment determined my behavior and always gave me direct instructions in which way to go–always to God, always to faith and always to obedience always to the word.

This did not mean that I would always have good feelings or not feel fear or doubt. The Psalmists give us a pattern of the anguish and sadness that life can bring. It is all right and normal to feel deeply sad, angry, disappointed and discouraged. God is the designer of our emotions and they serve a purpose. But, even in our emotions, we need to serve God and cultivate redemption and response to His will, by submitting our lives into his hands as Jesus did–not my will but yours be done.

The Role of Goodness and Beauty

We have this sense of beauty and goodness in our ideals because, I am convinced, we were made to experience excellence and perfection in every area by God’s design. Intuitively, we sense there is a better way, a better place, and a sense of justice knows that tells us in our heart that life should be fair. We were made for justice and peace and beauty—-and these shadows of reality lead us to hope for heaven–that place where we will not be disappointed. My deep longings become a platform for my hope for heaven. Paul and Peter depended on this hope, and it was so real to them, because they had experience Jesus face to face, and knew that their hope was founded on reality. It was their sure hope of heaven that gave them joy in this world.

So, my promise meant that I would act, in faith, in light of my commitment, and believe what I had learned from scripture was true. Along with that commitment, I redoubled my efforts at making a habit of giving God the chance to speak to me as often as possible by disciplining my life to have quiet times almost every day. Sometimes the quiet times would be great, sometimes they would be extremely short and sometimes I was dull and dead inside. But, I really have learned to turn my worries, and fears, one by one, to God and leave them there with Him. (Really, this is the reason I wrote the book The Mom Walk, because I wanted to encourage moms to understand more what it looks like to walk every day with God.)

I also began to understand that righteousness is something each person must grasp for. Only I knew how I cultivated faithfulness in my heart when no one else could see. Only I could choose to believe God every day. Only I could choose to be thankful and to observe the tangible beauty that He had place in my life for my own pleasure through creation. I was a conductress of my own symphony. I was responsible to cultivate all the good things in my family’s life together so that the tangible reality of God would seem more present–setting the tone of celebrating life by bringing color and music and beauty in every aspect of our home–gathering great, hopeful stories through books, cultivating great memories with friends through parties and Bible studies meals and traditions. Lighting candles in the darkness and playing music to lift our souls. I made the goal of cultivating goodness and beauty into the moments of our days, so that our living would reflect the reality of what we believed about God.

Literally years and years and hundreds and hundreds of hours have I invested in faith and hope. As a consequence, I have seen more and more how the Holy Spirit, as a spring of living water, fills my soul–at the least expected times–with the ability to go on one more day or one more hour. My perspective has changed and deepened–I have learned little by little to let go of the things my hands grasped for in this world, to open my heart to priorities which are eternal–to those things which will reap and experience as a reward in heaven. By sowing faith, I have reaped the knowledge of God’s love for me and a deeper understanding of His transcendence and humility. I have seen the Holy Spirit springing up through living waters in my heart–more peace and freedom from pleasing others, more joy at small gifts–a sunset, a hug, a friend’s kind words, a Sunday morning breakfast with all 6 of us laughing, discussing scripture, sharing in our close fellowship and belonging as a family. My life is more centered in Him and less in my preoccupation with myself–but it has come through many years of building little by little in this direction–amidst a lot of stumbling and getting back up.

Once someone became angry with me because she said that in my blogs and articles it seemed as if my children were perfect and hers were not. I don’t have to go very far to see all the flaws of my children, my husband or of me. And it would be easy for me to take credit for all of their failures, since I am their mother–and supposed to be responsible for training them. But instead of focusing on the bad, I have focussed on faith and potential which will someday be realized after years of praying and seeing God work–faith that God can take my honest offering of faith and hope–that He will make up for my deficit–that even though I don’t understand why so many bad things happen–I can know that He is stronger and bigger than all the “bad” and that in His time, He will redeem everything. I live by faith in His power and not in my own. I trust in His ability to reach my children–not in my own lack of strength. I give Him my best and then leave the results in His hand and wait for His timing. This relinquishing, however, is one minute at a time–choosing one detail of my life at a time.

Personalizing that Faith

For instance, my oldest brother is on the border line between death and life with leukemia. He had a bone marrow transplant in early September, but now has lost so much weight and has moved into a semi-conscious stage. One nurse said it would be a huge miracle if he recovered from this. I have slowly processed these sad issues from afar–little by little. Simultaneously, Joy was experiencing some digestive problems so I decided to take her to the doctor to see if he could get to the root of the problem. He took a blood sample. Unexpectedly, Joy’s blood levels of her white cells were at the same level of a leukemia patient–very, very low. Possibilities of Mono, Epstein bar, an internal infection, and worse. This all just happened on Thursday and Friday of this week. So yesterday morning, as I was driving in my car alone to meet Sarah for breakfast, the whole issue of leukemia and what had happened to my brother came upon me. I momentarily went through a “Oh, God, I don’t know if I could bear to lose Joy. I cannot take more at this moment. Please, please don’t let it be bad.” And the sadness of some of the areas of our recent life came upon me. (the shootings and death of the two homeschool girls, my brother, our two mothers who are suffering in the senility and fragility and dissipation of old age, etc.)

But, because of habit, I turned my heart over to the Lord and gave the results of these issues into His hands. “Help me to trust you and to have perspective, Lord. Give me your words and your grace. Let me have peace in my heart.” In the next few minutes, scripture after scripture came to my mind–Elijah resurrecting the widow’s sick son, Jesus healing the little girl who had died; then my own life–almost dying of pneumonia 4 times in one year when I was Joy’s age.” I remembered God’s faithfulness through Sarah’s 7 years of being ill, of my own near death experience through a miscarriage when I hemorrhaged. In all of these times, he had carried us through. I remembered that He loved Joy and me more than I could imagine. I knew that whatever we found from the doctors, He would still be omnipotent and present. One worry at a time.

By the time I exited the freeway, to meet Sarah, I had placed my heart and my issues into His hands, realizing that Sarah needed me to be at peace and happy to be with her. By taking the responsibility of responding to His promptings, I had a blessed and wonderfully encouraging time with Sarah and emotional stability the rest of the day. It is not as simplistic as it sounds–but it is a process and habit I have learned as a way of life as I talk with Him all day!

(By the way, I just received a call from the doc and they said, “Amazingly, her blood counts are 1500 to 1700 higher and we no longer see the evidence of mono or hepatitis–her liver is clear and all of her counts are looking very healthy–so we have a different situation today!” I am so very grateful, of course, and think the Lord is strengthening her, but is also made me be more vigilant to supply her with lots of nutrients that she will need to go with us on all our trips the next few months.)

I bought some daffodils and went home to serve Joy and her friend a breakfast for princesses–candle light, fruit smoothies with whip cream, cinnamon toast on wheat bread, and scramble cheese eggs–at the girls’ request. Beautiful instrumental music adorned the moment, and as we thanked God together for the breakfast, I blessed the girls and thanked God or giving such wonderful princess of His making and of beauty of soul. It was one more memory of delight and joy stored up in these girls’ lives, which will be there for them to go to in any difficult times they face ahead.

I won’t find out the final results of Joy’s further blood tests until Monday or Tuesday, but I have put it all back in the laboratory of heaven, where God will direct and chosen to live life today in peaceful celebration of one more day to live for Him.
A final heart step, though, is humility. Unless I understand and acknowledge that God is God and has a right to work in my life in whatever way he would, I will find myself shaking my fist at Him. Two people cannot rule at one time. If we are going to really know and follow God, we have to humbly give Him permission to do whatever He wants to do. Even as Jesus recited Psalm 22 from the cross–my God, my God why have your forsaken me?” All the Jews knew the next passage–“Yet, you are holy! Indeed in you our fathers trusted.”

In other words, “You are the King, you know what you are doing. You rule and I bow the knees of my heart to your rule.”

May the peace of the Lord be with all of you and may He bless you this week with a sense of His faithful love!

Sally

PS One of the deep pleasures of my life is reading Sarah’s writing. She wrote a blog yesterday related to ideals in a fallen world at Itinerant Idealist. I think you will really be encouraged by it!

Posted by: Sally | January 2, 2008

De-Cluttering—the Secret to Peace and Rest

There is something uniquely good about January 1. It marks a new year, a new beginning, a new possibility. It also marks, for me, the reentry into simplicity. I don’t know if there is a more satisfying feeling for me during the year than when we put all of our Christmas things away, the decorations, the remnant of cookies, the clutter.

I love the celebration of life and the traditions and the fun and the beauty of special times spent with my children, husband and friends. But, there is something deeply satisfying to me about getting it all put away and getting back to normal.

Perhaps it is because my normal responsibilities of caring for my family’s needs demands so much of me—cooking nutritious meals, organizing our schedules, cleaning and organizing on a daily basis, homeschooling and add to that ministry—these are enough, but holidays put on that extra load. Routines go by the wayside and so the clutter and demolishing of the house, slowly takes over.

I am not a person gifted in handling details—too much mail, too many catalogues, too many emails, too many options, too many things. The more there is, the more I become responsible for, the more work there is to be done, and so, the more anxious I become. Same with activities. The more I commit to, the more I say yes, the more I have to drive, the more my house gets into a mess, and the more anxious I become, the more hurried we feel, and the more weary I become. When I am not at peace, nothing in our home is at peace.

We can all see how too much clutter and too many piles causes us to feel overwhelmed with life. Consequently, slowly, I have learned to declutter as often as I can—throw away unnecessary stuff. Clay is really the master at this. He helps me get rid of things, organize things and put away things. Yesterday, he decluttered our pantry—threw away chip bags that held little but took up space, cleared out empty water bottles, bad, junky Christmas candy that had been given to us, but would never eaten; baskets that had fallen off of their nails, groceries that had never been put in their place. Now, if someone came into my pantry, they would mistakenly think that I am an organized person. (Thank goodness for Clay!) It made me feel good just to open the door and to see that all was manageable again.

But, I have also come to realize that my brain and heart can be the same way—cluttered with worries, responsibilities, duties, children’s future, finances, time constraints, expectations, disappointments, critical attitudes, resentment. All of these added together, can tend to create soul piles and mind clutter. If I don’t take the time to sort the piles of mind clutter, my spirit becomes a mess and my heart becomes overwhelmed and weary.

It is what awakened me at 4:00 a.m. this morning-soul clutter and worry. It is another reason I like January. It gives me an opportunity to make a new plan, to simplify the mind messes and to start off a whole new year well. In the same way that throwing away stuff and clearing out closets brings me relief, even more, soul and mind cleaning and decluttering brings me rest.

So, as I begin a new year, and head into my conference season, a very busy time for our family, I resolve to deal with my soul-clutter, so that I may have strength to face each day in peace. I come to the place where I know I will find the help that I need. I come to my Father and ask Him to help me, His child, to show me how to make get rid of the junk that is unnecessary, and to help me clean out and organize my soul.

He speaks to me gently.

“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
You need to come to me and give me all those things that are weighing on your heart. Resolve to seek rest and peace.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

List all of your issues, give them over to me, don’t hold on to them. I am capable of taking them from you and being responsible so that you will not be weary or carry what you are not capable of carrying.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. “ Psalm 37:7

Focus on resting in me—sit in my lap, so to speak, rest in my arms. Let me carry you. I love you.. Wait for my timing. Don’t force things or beg me to hurry up. I am in control.

“Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Psalm
“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

Give me your attention and get control of your spirit. Be quiet. Be still. Recognize my sovereignty and transcendence. Remember what Jesus said, “Our Father who art in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus modeled his understanding that my will is what you need to rest in. I am in heaven and I see all things—the future, the past, your children, your relationships, –all your clutter. Give them to me. Quiet your soul and rest in my strength and power.

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this receives me.” Matthew 18:3-5

Come to me as a child—even as your children, in their innocence and sweetness of heart, know that you will care for them and meet their needs because you are a loving parent who cares for them, so I am your Father who will take care of you. Leave the burdens to your father and take your rightful place as a child. Humble yourself and trust me. Enjoy me. Delight in the beautiful moments of this day. Notice the little miracles. Live as an unfettered child. Accept your little and big children and receive them as a gift from me, and your will indeed receive me inot your midst.

“a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I Peter 3:4

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about so many things. But really one is needed and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10 41-42

Don’t worry and fret and stew and stir up unnecessary dust. Choose simplicity—just one thing I require—that you give it all to me and love me. I will take over. Even as I gave and provided a Sabbath in which all of my children should have rest from their work, so I want you to live in my Sabbath rest for your soul. Rest from your striving and labor. Take time for naps, for pleasure, for joy. This day you have to receive as a gift–I can’t promise what tomorrow will hold. But today you can love, give peace, speak kind and wise words, dance in your soul with my secret pleasure that comes from knowing that I love you.Simplify your life, don’t make choices that will complicate or add unnecessary pressure or cause you to sin or grumble. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” as Paul said.

So, as I yielded my lists into God’s hands and decluttered my troubled soul, I left feeling that even as my house has been coming to order, after we cleaned and straightened it yesterday, now my soul is moving in the direction of order.

Rest, rest, rest—in quietness and rest will be your strength every day, every year, until you see me face to face. I love you, my sweet girl. Don’t forget that I am with you each moment of today.
Your doting and loving Father.

*************************************************************************

May all of you dear friends indeed have a happy and fulfilling new year with your days filled with the blessing of His company! Thanks for so many who have taken the time to write. Each note, email and comment has given me strength and joy. I appreciate your words of life so much!

I am looking so forward to share with many of you all the ways He has led me these busy years to see His life and fruit in the lives and souls of my family at our mom’s conferences in January and February. For the many who have asked me about them, you can read about them and sign up at http://www.wholeheart.org and go to events for more information. Grace and peace to each of you today.

Posted by: Sally | December 26, 2007

Perspective on December 26th

Carl LarssonCarl Larsson

This morning, I lay in bed an extra thirty minutes after I awakened, dreading a little what lay ahead—the taming of the house from the aftermath of celebration. I feel a little like the toad in Wind and the Willows when he took the wild ride in a car he didn’t know how to maneuver, creating a bit of havoc along the way, and now the price had to be paid.

Our Christmas was filled with great family time, hilarious laughter, a few bad attitudes and bah humbugs, feastings, and lots of snow! No matter how hard we as moms try, there are still sinners in the house, but also, redeemed, and all in all, with grace extended, we made it!

I walked down the stairs to survey the damage—wrapping paper and Christmas bags that needed to be put away. Mugs with hot chocolate residue, piles of the kids’ gifts in their own corners, a full laundry basket, and dishes soaking in the sink from left over spinach casserole and brisket.

I made my morning cup of tea, proceeded to my bedroom and pushed all small messes in my room out of my sight from my quiet time chair, lit a couple of candles and plugged in my one strand of Christmas lights above my window, and slowly sipped my warm brew.

I had inserted an instrumental, Celtic hymns cd and sought to bring peace to my soul. The first song that gently filled my silent room brought inviting lyrics to my mind, “Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me, …, Come home, come home, you who are weary, come home.”

What a loving, gentle call to me as a busy mom this snowy morning. Jesus wants to meet with me to love me, to give me peace, to give me perspective. He, who is my home, is waiting for me and will be with me.

I then opened up a little devotional book that I read most mornings which has bits of scripture for each morning and evening. There, right in front of me were His words of life to sustain me,

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” I Cor. 15:58

He knows about my work as a mom! He lovingly reminded me that my toil is not in vain. He understands how much I need to be encouraged because He understands weariness—Be steadfast—hang in there—commit to a heart of steadfastness, choose to be steadfast and immovable—why? Because, my work matters, it is changing history, one life at a time—I am soul-building—it counts.

The next verses struck my heart, “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

“Don’t lose heart, Sally, I see you, I know you, and I promise that all those prayers you have been praying, all the choices of faithfulness you have made when no one else saw, I saw. You will reap a harvest. Remember, I see you and I love you and I am waiting always to speak loving words to you, because you are my own daughter.”

He had tenderly, earnestly called me to himself this morning. My piles and duties and responsibilities, have not changed, but once again, after being in His presence, I am changed. I will turn on music while I work, and I might even dance a bit around my messy kitchen! My words will be softer and my actions more patient, because He has filled me and given me courage. I can rejoice because He is here, He has met me and will be with me. Yet, I see that my heart and joy and tone establishes the whole family in joy, and my celebrating life in the midst of it all, creates in them a willingness to follow my lead.

With Mary, his own courageous, steadfast mother, I will say, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my savior.” Luke 1: 46-47

May His peace be upon you today.

Blessings and grace,
Sally
Sally@wholeheart.org

Posted by: Sally | December 10, 2007

Tragedy–the pathway to Triumph

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

Dear Sweet Moms,

I greet you this December day in the spirit of the kindness and love of our precious Lord. He pours out His abundant love and grace each and every day. He, as a good Father, wants us to be heirs of His glory and blessing. Above all, we have hope in this life—hope that He knows us, guides us, will bring us safely home into His presence where we will see Him face to face and be filled with His joy. We also have freedom from guilty or anger or inadequacy because of His provision, abundantly given through the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday, our family readied ourselves for church on a cold, 9 degree morning. Wondering if the roads would be okay to travel because of the snow the night before, we left early enough to be able to make the trek slowly.

A wonderful time of worship focused all of us on the eternal attributes of the Lord—His kindness, mercy, love, grace and sovereignty, through music. Our hearts were filled with anticipation. We all sat quietly to hear the message God had put on the heart of the visiting speaker, a wonderful older man of God. His heartfelt message pointed us to have a soft heart to be able not just to know, but to really hear the message of God coming to the world to bring hope and redemption.

As the service ended, we lingered in the foyer to greet friends, to rest in the atmosphere of peace that we all sensed from such a heartfelt message. Finally, five of us gathered to meet family friends for lunch. As we left the busy church parking lot, we passed Nathan, our son, who waved energetically as he drove off to meet with some other friends for lunch.

Within minutes of our departure, a gunman began to shoot wildly into the crowds where we had just been lingering in peace. One of my dear friends, the mother of one of Joy’s best friends, the leader of our homeschool support group of 600, was driving away with her husband, two of her daughters and a young woman who lived with them. The gunman turned toward them, shot directly at their family. The side passenger windows were immediately shattered as glass sprayed everywhere. The front window then exploded. And as the bullets sprayed into their small sedan, the seats were ripped and torn, and my friend realized that she was hit.

Her husband raced out of the parking lot, and without turning back, went hurtling toward the emergency room of our local hospital. Though the sadness of such a tragedy filled all of us with heavy hearts, we praise the Lord for the amazing miracles that He did perform. Amazingly, my friend only had a minor wound as the bullet tore straight across the top of her shoulder. How could six rounds of bullets discharged at fairly close range actually miss killing or severely injuring any of their family members, hitting the upholstery instead of the girls huddled in the back of a small car.

So far, three lives came to an end violently yesterday at our church.
We spent the rest of the day as a family praying, pondering, comforting and seeking the Lord.

“He was despised and rejected by men, A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,…, Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, But he was wounded for out transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53: 4-5

Jesus came as a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He bore the iniquity of us all—even of the madman of yesterday—out of His redeeming love. He came to grant us hope and peace. The message of Christmas this year, will mean more than ever. We are not a people left alone, to struggle with the rages and rampaging devastations of the sin alone. No, our message is that we have a transcendent God, ruler of the universe, who because of his incomprehensible love, has made a reconciliation for all times, for all people for all the evil that will exist during the short time we are alive on this earth.

As we talked until almost midnight, all of our children seemed to communicate as if from one heart. This incidence makes clear that they all want to be more intentional about giving His generous love, and forgiveness and grace to those who so desperately need hope. Each said that they wanted to find their place in God’s kingdom work. Each bowed their heart before the Father, asking for His power to live faithfully for Him.

The newscasts will focus on the tragedy. Yes, we indeed need to keep those precious families who will feel so much pain and grief as they live this Christmas without their beloved ones in our prayers.

Yet, I see the mighty hand of God at work. I see Him catalyzing an army of His children, in the ponderings of what really matters in life, to ready themselves to fight more valiantly in the battle raging in this world—the battle for righteousness for His sake for His kingdom, and the battle for the allegiance to Him in the hearts of our children. Though the enemy seeks to destroy and kill, our confidence is secure—“Greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world. He has overcome the world.” May we continue boldly in the spirit of over-coming. May the Savior Himself speak to your heart in the deepest places during this season of celebration of the meaning of His coming— the true significance of His sacrifice, and the joy of His resurrection of our lives beyond the limited time and space of our world—into the eternity that we will spend with Him in the place He has lovingly created for us where we will truly be at home! Blessings of His peace to you this December day.
Love and grace,
Sally

In light of this event, I find I am so galvanized to teach the Word of God, to encourage, to help you precious moms in the coming conferences. We pray for all of you who will attend, that you will know your strategic places in the realm of history as you invest your days in your homes for His glory! I hope that many of you will be able to be with us at our mom’s conferences this year.

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