Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Bubbling Over with Hope

I’ve discovered More to Be’s Transformed Tuesday. Along with a linkup, Elissa gives a verse for next week, so you can ponder and soak in it all week. I like having “an assignment” and I really love this week’s verse! Come visit if you can.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NASB)

I read it in several translations, and as usual, different things jumped out at me.

The HCSB said “… as you believe in Him…” Not only is God the God of hope, WE must take and active role.

The GNT stressed, “… may God, the source of hope… hope will continue to grow…” Where do we get our hope? From God. “Abound” is not a word we use too much anymore, but I “continue to grow” makes perfect sense.

And the Amplified added “… joy and peace in believing [through the experiences of your faith]… abound in hope [bubbling over]…”

So the Auntie Em translation, piecing together all of these and adding my own insight, goes something like this:

Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace, believing Him not only because of what you read in the Scriptures and observe in others, but from remembering your very own personal experiences. This deep, heartfelt belief will cause your hope to be steadfast and continue to grow, until it overflows and spills on to those around you.

I wrote a post called “Got Hope?” back in October that goes along with this theme– go check it out if you missed it!

bubbling over with hope

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See, the Winter is Past…

The flowers appear on the earth...

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This is the Day…

this is the day the Lord has made

What will you do with your day?

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Need a Buffer Zone?

buffer zone- Jesus Calling

For we fix our attention not on things that are seem, but things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what is not seen lasts forever.
1 Corinthians 4:18

They [the seraphim] were calling out to each other:
“Holy, holy, holy!
The Lord Almighty is holy!
His glory fills the world.”
Isaiah 6:3

I wait eagerly for the Lord’s help, and in his Word I trust.
Psalm 130:5

This is from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It’s been packed in my still-unloaded book bag from when I went with Sunshine and had my blogging retreat 2 weeks ago so I’m behind! This selection shouted out at me, though, with talk of a buffer zone. I call it brain space, or margin. For me it looks like a little down time between activities, time for me to think about any follow-up I need to do, tie up any loose ends (like unpacking the book bag and putting things away!), or what I need to do to prepare for the next thing. I’m not very good at it, possibly because I try to cram too much in. I’m still working to learn that lesson that time is a finite commodity!

How about you? Do you need a buffer zone? Together, let’s ask God to create one around us– to grant wisdom in figuring out what to do and what NOT to do, then to have the will to be obedient!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

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Got Patience?

patience

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23 NAS

Do you need an extra dose of patience in your marriage? Most of us do, because when we are at home, we often take off our masks– a good thing! But that means that our spouses sometimes bear the brunt of the jabs and snarls we have been holding back from everybody else.

Join me over at A Biblical Marriage and let’s talk about the Spiritual Fruit of patience!

 

 

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Just Do It PS

The day I wrote Just Do It, I watched Joyce Meyer sermon (while I was walking on the treadmill, yay!!) called Finish What You Start. She talked about her daughter’s 50-lb loss and knew that the audience would want to know how she did it. (How many times have I asked that question?) She said, “I’m not going to tell you!” God has a different plan for everyone, whether it’s weight loss, or Bible study, or discipline in any other area, and we already know what to do! We just need to do it.

We already know what to do!

Oh man, isn’t that funny how God speaks to us? In the other post, I focused on the DOING. Today, as I was walking the treadmill (again– yay!!) I began to focus on the KNOWING.

What exercise plan should I follow? How about the one that you already have everything you need? I have a treadmill, a nice neighborhood, and good walking shoes for walking. But I have had knee surgery and walking might aggravate it. Well try it and moderate it if that happens. I have a balance ball workout video. I have 1- and 5-lb weights and resistance bands, and Youtube, which is full of free videos.

What Bible study plan should I do? Read it. I already use plans on the Youversion app. I have many devotional books on my bookshelf. There are a gazillion online studies. Pray about it, but don’t obsess. If you don’t get any specific leading, flip a coin or something, anything, just start one! I’m feeling led to continue my 3 bookmark plan of the Bible (OT history; OT poetry/prophecy; and NT) but add Good Morning Girls’s SOAP method– write down the Scripture; write down some observations; write down some applications; and pray using the Scripture. I won’t do this for everything, but when something speaks to me, I will.

giving, money

How should I give? Well obviously, tithe to your church you attend. If you don’t have one, find one, and get involved. Check out their beliefs and make sure they are Scripturally sound. (You can usually find this on their websites.) Make sure there are open, kind people who make you feel welcome. But we have been so financially blessed that I want to give beyond that. I’ve seen many opportunities from bloggers, but I want to be sure that the recipients are above board and that the majority of my gift will go to the need. Well, while you are researching, give where you already know it will be used well.

  • Our little town has the Christian Care Center. My church donates to it; many of our members volunteer there, so I know it’s a good, well-run organization.
  • My in-laws travel and work with Volunteer Christian Builders, a group that builds churches around the country, and while the churches provide construction materials, the workers provide all their travel expenses and any other incidentals that arise, plus administrative costs.
  • I listen to Andy Stanley and Joyce Meyer regularly, so gifts to them would be obvious.

How should I serve? Well what is your strength, or what has moved you? When Mr X had his motorcycle accident recently, we got several cards and meals that meant so much to us. BINGO! I can continue my mother’s DSC_6857tradition of mailing encouragement, plus indulge my Pinterest-food obsession. Making meals just involves a bit of planning ahead, and making more than you need. When you are putting some in the freezer for next time, or using extra for second-generation meals, just make a bit more for another meal. Freeze it, and before long, a family you know will have a need. My experience of care-taking was very short but exhausting. It really made me empathize with those who do it long-term.

While you are waiting to see if God wants to you go on an overseas mission trip, do the little things that are easy to overlook. There is a tendency to think God is going to call us to some grandiose mission, and while we are waiting, we are missing the many opportunities to be His hands and feet right where we live. And please remember– your first mission field is right in your family.

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Just Do It

I love the promise of a new year– a fresh start, a second chance. It is a good time for reflection of the year passed, and assessment of it: not to beat ourselves up over disappointments and failures, or brag on ourselves for our successes, but to use the lessons we’ve learned from all of them to help determine our road map for the next year.

I particularly enjoy seeing worksheets and master plans– they give order and manageability to a potentially overwhelming task. And now with Pinterest, I’m in new-year-plan heaven! Therein lies my problem.

As long as I’m obsessing over which plan to use, or what task to give priority to, or how to implement the plan, I’m not DOING anything. I tend to operate at 1 of only 2 speeds: running, usually at work, and laid out on the couch. I have the perfectionistic difficulty of doing something unless I can do it all, preferably in an ordered, scheduled manner.

James tells us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. I have to adapt that Scripture to myself. DO it! Don’t wait for the perfect plan or perfect time. If the window is dirty, take 5 minutes and clean it, even if you haven’t dusted and vacuumed, or picked up the rest of the house or even the room. Clean and straighten a single drawer or a shelf, even if it will take a week to get the closet done. Remember, every little helps.

Make plans for 2013. Call them resolutions, or not. But don’t get so hung up on planning that you don’t DO.

Are you planning for the new year? Without a vision, the people perish!

20121229-083408.jpg

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Give Me A Man

On the way to church this morning I prayed for a marriage post idea, which I usually do, and I got one, albeit from an unusual place! 1 Samuel 17 tells the story of David and Goliath. I wouldn’t have expected parallels to marriage to be there, but they are!

Give me a manDavid has gone to the battlefield as his dad instructed, and sees Goliath taunting the Israeli army. He is huge; he wears 120 pounds of gleaming bronze armor and carries a spear weighing in at about 23 pounds!

He seems unbeatable.

He makes fun of the men. “Why did you even bother putting on your battle gear? … Choose a man for yourselves, and if he can beat me, then all the Philistines will be your servants!” Can’t you just hear the sarcasm dripping off his tongue? Then he adds what looks to me to be the Old Testament equivalent of a double-dog dare: “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together!” As soon as our pastor shouted those words, I knew they were a battle cry, from God, for marriages! “Give me a man, that we may fight together!” Our enemy puts giants of temptation in our paths all the time in our modern world: incessant advertising to tempt our greed; sexual images literally everywhere you look to feed our insecurities and stir up lust in our husbands; perpetual distractions that can easily take our focus off the most important things. It’s a constant battle– however, when we feel defeated it’s because we haven’t used all the weapons at our disposal. Our pastor brought out how, oftentimes, we are so AFRAID of criticism or failure that we are paralyzed and do nothing. Look at the couples who don’t marry, but give in to the myth that love can’t last and marriage is foolish.

What can a young man learn about being God’s man and leading in marriage?

Give me a man

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

David was young and inexperienced in war. His brothers tried to shush him, and the King discouraged him. But he was confident in God.  The battle against marriage is between our enemy and our Father. We are just little soldiers. God is FOR marriage, and He will fight the enemy for it. We just have to realize what is really going on, and follow His rules.

Don’t be stupid. (My loose translation of Ecclesiastes 10:3–  …the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.)

David wasn’t foolish– he took 5 rocks, not just one, and he did have experience using a sling. Don’t rush in and marry the first person you are attracted to. Take some time. Have a plan. Have some resources at your disposal. Get counsel from older, godly people whose judgment you trust.

The battle is the Lord’s.  1 Samuel 17:47

David knew he wasn’t fighting in his own strength. Neither are we, if we will surrender our will to God’s, and take orders from Him. He’s offering to lead our battalion!

The difference in David’s battle and marriage is that David’s  was just one battle, and marriage is More like Whack-a-Mole– Any “giant” might rear up again, and when you do finally kill it, another one might take its place! When you take a stand for God, be prepared for war. That’s why we are given a full set of armor in Ephesians 6, and are warned the the devil is like a roaring lion, looking for a meal. Girls, we need to do our part in encouraging our husbands and raising our sons to be strong, godly leaders. Listen– do you hear it? God is calling– “Give me a man, that we may fight together!”

Source David and Goliath  Source Bride and Groom 

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Stormy Weather?

hurricane sandyI’ve been thinking about storms a lot lately. My heart hurts for the people who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy– down here on the Gulf Coast we are used to hurricanes, and every summer it’s a coin toss whether or not we’ll get something from the tropics, but the Northeast had never seen anything like that before!

Hearing about Sandy brought to mind 2008, when Hurricane Ike hit our area and 2005, when Rita tore through our town. We lost over 50 trees in our little 1.3 acres and had a 100-foot pine tree on our roof, plus a few other punctures through the roof. (I’ll do a post about it sometime.)

Then tonight our pastor preached about storms of life. Ugh… We all have had them. We’ll have more. If you’ve been married more than a few weeks, you’ve probably had some degree of a storm in your relationship– maybe just a tropical storm, or maybe a Category 5.

I read Acts 27, Paul’s storm at sea, and got some insights into marital storms.

  • In verse 10 Paul warned them that a storm was coming. “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on–shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.”

I’m telling you the same thing. That won’t stop it from coming, but you can prepare. At least you won’t be shocked and think your marriage is over because you will know that ALL marriages go through storms.

  • In verses 18 and 38, the sailors threw cargo, even food, overboard. The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. (v 18) After eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard. (v 38)

You might lose some things in the storm.  You might throw selfishness– or something you’re putting ahead of the needs of your spouse– or your pride– overboard, when you realize that they are endangering your ability to stay afloat.

Your storm might last a long time. Maybe you’re in a storm WITH your spouse; it’s not a problem between you. Maybe caring for a special-needs child, or an aging parent. Maybe one of you is in school and resources are stretched to the breaking point. A chronic difficult situation can seem never-ending and is exhausting. You might go “many days without seeing the sun or stars and give up all hope…” (v 20)

However, Paul assured them that they would live through it. “Take courage! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told.” (v 25) and “Not even a hair on your heads will be lost.” (v 34) God assures us, that even in situations that look absolutely hopeless, He is able to bring good.

  • But read what happened in order for the men to get to shore–they had to crash the boat and jump into the sea. …they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. (v 39)

Imagine how scary that looked to them! Don’t you think some wanted to take their chances and keep sailing? Sometimes, especially with a long-term marital problem that has been ignored and never dealt with, bringing it to the surface and confronting it seems more painful than ignoring it. But it’s like a splinter. It starts out as a little sliver, but then the skin gets red and irritated. Infection sets in. Maybe an abscess forms. An unacknowledged problem is still there; it just grows under the surface and gets more and more painful. You MUST deal with the problem if you want your marriage to thrive.

There are countless Scriptures promising help and support– here are some of my favorites.

  • Isaiah 43:18-19 Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to the things of old. Look, I am about to do something newl even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make highways [not just a footpath] in the desert, rivers [not just a piddly stream].
  • John 16:33 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.
  • Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
  • Isaiah 43: 2 When you pass through the deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
  • Joel 2:32 All who call upon the Lord for help will be saved…
  • Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
    though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
  • Psalm 107:28-31 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
    He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
    They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
    Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

I pray you are not in a storm right now, but if you are, grab a life ring and stay afloat. Catch your breath, and rest in the knowledge that it won’t last forever. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Brighter days are ahead.

stormy sea

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Speech is Not Free

“Speech is not free, and can never be fully refunded.”

(Care to tweet that line?)

free speech

One of my (favorite) former students posted this on her Facebook status recently, and it got me to thinking. How very true it is! Once more, I was reminded that, though we live in America and are so fortunate to have many rights, with those rights come responsibility. John Adams, our second President, said it this way:

…this country will be the most miserable habitation in the  New World; because we have no government armed with power  capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality  and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale  goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a  moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the  government of any other… (See the full text here.)

Our Constitution does not control us unduly, because it’s understood that we will exercise SELF-control. I sometimes get depressed and discouraged, listening to the news and hearing about selfish people demanding their “rights”, regardless of how those “rights” affect other people. I suppose those thugs who demonstrate and spew hate at military funerals have the “right” to do so, but it is still WRONG for them to do it. There is a legal battle going on now in my neighboring town of Kountze, where the high school cheerleaders began painting encouraging Scriptures on the run-through signs (instead of things like “Kill the bears!”) and ONE PERSON got offended and wants it stopped. My two cents says my freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can’t practice your freedom of religion. We are right smack in the Bible belt here in Southeast Texas, and the vast majority of people who attend the games are very supportive of the girls (even before it became such a hot issue). If I were in a predominantly Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim community, and the children held up signs with teachings from their Sacred Books, I would not be offended and insist they take them down, or add Christian messages!

But I thing my student was really just talking about zipping her lips. Sometimes we all say things that maybe are right, but are not necessary. What’s the acronym? TRUTH? Is it true? Is it right? Is it ___??? Is it helpful? (I can’t remember or find them all! Help me!) Or as the Bible says in Philippians 4:8, Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. I don’t think we would be defiling Scripture if we would say SPEAK these things.

So thank God for your rights and freedoms. But don’t take advantage of them and hurt others. Speech is not free.

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

James 1:26

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