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!

Fearless

Been in a storm lately?

Why are you afraid?Our “young ladies” Sunday school class uses LifeWay’s “MasterWork” series, using books by Christian writers and condensing them down to 4-8 week studies. This week we are starting Max Lucado’s Fearless. WOW! If the first week is any indication, it’s going to be great.

I love Max’s imagery:

Fear, it seems, has taken a 100-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and umproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.

Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.

Have you been in that prison? Are you there now?

The text for the week is the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8.

  • Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. (v 24) Matthew uses the word seismos for this storm. You recognize it in our English word seismograph– which measures earthquakes! This was not some little spring rain. It was like an earthquake on water. Of course the disciples woke Jesus up screaming for help, afraid they would be killed. Imagine how ludicrous the disciples imagined Jesus’s response to be:
  • “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” [Are you kidding me? Why are we afraid?] Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

“There is something on the x-ray.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

Your child is legally blind in that eye.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“I’m just not happy anymore.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“This is the principal.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

“Mom? Dad? You’d better sit down.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”

After all the miracles they had seen; after all the love Jesus had demonstrated, in Mark’s account (4:35-41) their first question was “Don’t you care that we are going to drown?” Fear gives us amnesia sometimes. It corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. [Lucado] And then we begin grabbing at any straw we can in order to feel that we are in control of something– our kids, our schedule, the clutter in our homes.

Christ gives 21 “don’t fear”-type commands. (There are only 8 of the second most common command, to love God and your neighbors.) I think this is an indication of how prevalent God knew that our fear would be, and how much help He knew we would need!

In the first week’s wrap-up, Max reminds us that fear will run amok in our worlds, but we don’t have to let it fill our hearts. It will knock on our doors, but we don’t have to ask it in for dinner or to stay the night! Here are some ways to fight fear when it comes knocking.

1. Stay close to Christ by spending time in prayer and in the Word regularly. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear..

2. Keep a “box of remembrance” to forestall amnesia. Bring to mind the hard times you have seen God bring you or loved ones through. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 11:19

3. Keep these “don’t fear” verses handy: (I like index cards.)

  • Matthew 10:31 “Don’t be afraid. You’re worth much more than many sparrows”
  • Matthew 9:2 “Take courage; your sins are forgiven.”
  • Matthew 14:27 “Take courage. I’m here!”
  • Matthew 6:25 “Don’t worry about everyday life…”
  • John 14:1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” (The antidote to fear is FAITH!)

How have you fought fear?

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See, the Winter is Past…

The flowers appear on the earth...

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Don’t Give Up

Do you ever get tired of doing what you believe God called you to do? Do you wonder if maybe that season is over, or perhaps you imagined the whole thing? Many times we are EXACTLY where we are supposed to be, right in the center of God’s will for our lives, doing EXACTLY what He has prepared us to do. Hang in there!

don't get weary

 

Come visit at the new linkup I found!

transfromed_tues_banner_beach

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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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Armor Up!

As you know if you are a regular here at Auntie Em’s, my husband Mr X had a serious motorcycle accident at the end of November. I’m convinced that his wearing protective riding gear– a full-face helmet, riding boots and gloves, and an armored jacket– saved his skin and his life. He wore all the gear all the time, even in the hottest of weather. He learned from a friend, who said, “I’d rather be hot than dead.”

He came out of the wreck unconscious and unable to use his legs to move his body for a whole day– he could move his legs but they wouldn’t lift him up in the ER when they were moving him from gurney to table– but he came out alive, and with absolutely no “road rash” which is so common in a motorcycle accident. The only visible blood was on his face where he (presumably) hit his windshield, which broke his helmet visor.

The gear took the damage of the road instead of my husband. The white marks on the helmet are not reflections; they are where the helmet was scraped down to the bottom layer.

DSCN0882

An armored jacket has heavy plastic plates between the jacket and the liner. The outside was torn up, but the plates were intact and did their job. The shoulder and neck:

DSCN0889

The back and hip:

jacket back

The bottom of his jeans was torn up but the boot had only a small scuffed area. I can just imagine that his ankle bone would have been shattered.

There is an explicit warning in this post for you if you ride motorcycles: PLEASE, always wear your gear!

Next time I’ll share how this life-saving armor has really got me thinking about God’s protective armor for our lives and marriages. I’m praying that you will put it on and it will withstand the assaults that are thrown at you daily.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6: 11, 14-17

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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!

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For Unto Us a Child is Born

Today’s link with Exceptionalistic for the 12 Days of Christmas was a no-brainer, and that’s a good thing because with our life around here the last 3 1/2 weeks that’s how much I have to spare! (Fortunately our God works through our weaknesses and infirmities; He uses the foolish and weak things to confound and shame the wise and strong.)  My favorite Christmas Scripture is tied in with the best Christmas song ever– “For unto us a Child is born”, from Handel’s Messiah. I love listening to it; I love singing it; I love playing it. If you’ve never been a fan of Baroque music, give it a listen. Handel weaves the separate vocal lines together so brilliantly, and when they all come together for “WONDERFUL COUNSELOR” it’s just amazing!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

day 6

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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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Do You See Me?

Kelly at Exceptionalistic featured a post from Crystal at Serving Joyfully that got me thinking about how often I’ve been working and working, and felt like nobody’s noticed or cared. Then I began thinking, “What’s the point?” Then discouragement reared its ugly head and I was tempted to just quit.

Dearies, that is just what the enemy wants us to think! If he can get us to stop what we’re doing because we’re discouraged– whether it’s providing a stable, creative home for our children, a loving place for our husbands to come home to, or a godly, supportive classroom for our “other” children– it’s as good as if we stop because we’ve become the most filthy, vile reprobate.

I remember hearing Marilyn Meburg speak about this at a Women of Faith conference . The little slave girl Hagar had been so mistreated by her mistress Sarai (of course Hagar wasn’t completely innocent in the relationship either!) that she finally ran away into the wilderness. God met her there (Genesis 16: 7-13):

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; … And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”… She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” …

She was rejected by her mistress, whose idea the whole thing was in the first place; abandoned by her master, who had gone along with his wife’s bad idea, and was in a hopeless situation. But God knew the situation, and SAW HER. Sometimes, even more than a solution to our problems, we just need somebody to see us! We humans have an innate need for connection, and I think women in particular do. Some of us need affirmation more than others, and I know when my well is low because I’ve been giving and giving, I need it more than ever!

The building season of our marriage was the hardest. At a time when we both needed extra because we were stretched so thin, we were stretched too thin to give any extra! We had 3 children in 4 years, and Mr X started back to college when they were about 6, 3, and 2. He was working full time and going to classes 2 or 3 nights a week. I was a full-time stay-home mom, teaching piano 3 evenings a week. Those days were very long. Even though we knew the end result would be worth all the sacrifice, it was still a very difficult time. Then after a few years, as he approached the end of his degree, his classes were no longer offered at night, so I began teaching middle school full time and he worked part time, which added a different sort of stress – less money, a new job for me after having been home with children for 11 years, and growing kids of 5, 6, 9.

I dealt with exhaustion and recurrent sinus infections all the time. Mr X dealt with hard math classes, trying to make his work schedule around his school schedule, and probably the guilt of my having to work full time to provide for our family. Our relationship tools weren’t the greatest that early in our marriage. And again, if a marriage is neglected simply because it’s not the biggest fire to put out, it can die just as surely as if somebody’s had an affair.

What have I learned, in retrospect?

  • Be oh-so-choosy about what you allow in your life. Choose, very intentionally, how you spend your time. If you don’t keep a tight reign on your schedule, people will add things and it will get out of control before you know what hit you.
  • Keep the first things the first things. God. Husband. Children. Then jobs, hobbies, and everything else.
  • SEE the people in your life. Let them know you do. When you start the appreciation ball rolling, it’s much more likely to keep rolling and give you what you need.
  • Tell your fan club when you need a little extra love. You know you have one.

And finally, remember that your Heavenly Father sees you all the time.

  • Isaiah 43:1 … I have called you by name. You are mine.
  • John 10:14 … I am the good shepherd. I know my own.
  • Psalm 139: 1-5 … Lord, you have examined me and know me. you know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions… You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power… (there’s lots more that is really good; read this whole chapter!)
  • Psalm 91:14 … He knows my name.

Who do you see that needs a dose of encouragement?

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