Every Good & Perfect Gift…Our Daughter’s Marriage

Raising a child up to leave home is one of the most glorious, painful oxymorons of life. Parents are handed a soft, sweet-smelling, beautiful creature, perfectly helpless and perfectly captivating. They pour their time, love, energy, tears and prayer into that gift and beg the Lord to protect her, lead her, and give her good gifts in her life.

Then He does. And then with the same fervor and tenacity with which we held on to that beautiful child and our hopes for her, we must let her go. And we must rejoice in doing it, for it is as it should be.

We are given a gift, we invest everything, then we let go. Hard, but right.

We gave our daughter to her husband Saturday. I’ve talked about the process of letting go, but all I’ll say now is that I watched on this transformation of two lives becoming one with perfect peace and a happiness that bubbled over. They shared their hearts with each other, Kyle promising to lay down his life for Bria just as Christ has done for the church, and Bria expressing her gratitude to Kyle for this sacrificial love, already demonstrated, that makes her feel safe enough to give herself to him forever. There was such sweetness and sincerity and I think every guest was awed just a little by it. It was so pure, so purposeful and so perfect. God’s grace.

I thought I would be a puddle of tears and I barely teared up. God was so gracious to give me the gift of sheer enjoyment and rejoicing. I rejoice because my daughter and my son-in-law are pure-hearted followers of Christ. And not much can go wrong from that start.

And truly, all I could think as I watched Bria and Kyle beam at each other is,

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

And I praised Him for this gift to us all and for the gift of His Son, reflected in the glorious institution of marriage.

(I wanted to share a few pics. You can click on an image to enlarge it.)

Photography by Chandler Farms Photography



When Being at Church Hurts–Infertility

A beautiful, tough post from my cyber-friend, Jennifer:

“Some Sundays it’s hard to be at church. That may sound like a funny thing for me to say. Yes, I love Jesus very much. I love to worship Him and to be taught His word. I enjoy the fellowship meals, conversations and the love of my church. These folks are so dear to my heart. They are family.

So, what makes church hard for me? Babies. Little ones.”

Read the rest of When Being at Church Hurts



A Mother’s Work: Ministry is Not About Numbers (Just Ask Jesus)

Do not get sidetracked by numbers. Our Lord never did.

There are some fantastic ministries around, you know? And I’m beyond grateful for them. Those radio programs that reach the whole world, books and sermons and speakers who touch more lives than they’ll ever know. Praise the Lord for them. We need them.

And then I wonder if my work means anything.

Do you ever compare yourself?

If you are living a life of obedience, seeking to walk humbly with your God, your ministry is just as robust, just as meaningful as the famous missionary-biography you just read.

Jesus. Perfect. Missionary. The spearhead leader of a movement that would surpass any other religion. Let’s talk about his numbers:

One hundred fifty, give or take a few. That was the whopping number of followers He garnered while on earth. The man that performed miracles that have never been matched. The man that died and rose again.

He didn’t get caught up in numbers. He got caught up in walking alongside people. The word? Relationships.

I write here mainly to moms. If you are a mom, walking alongside people, building relationships, your ministry can be compared to the perfect Savior’s.

Don’t let yourself compare your ministry to anyone else.

And if God can take that handful of people Jesus poured into and multiply it to the ends of the earth, He’ll do the same with your faithful investing.

Tend your mission field. Build and invest and serve the people in your care. Teach them about the Father through your life. Mother with a generation vision. You have no idea what God is doing with your fish and loaves.



Why Feminists Will Never Be Happy

Guest Post by Reagan Ramm

Feminism has failed. More and more people are starting to realize this fact, but the beast just won’t die! While all of society is worse off for the advance of Feminism, the sad irony is that those who lose out the most are the Feminist women themselves.

I’m not talking about the first wave of Feminism which campaigned for suffrage and the end of abortion (though this wave was not without flaws). Yes, the first Feminists were staunchly pro-life because they understood how harmful abortion was for women (not to mention it is murder). It is the second and third waves of feminism which have failed us as a society, and failed women most of all.

The Marxist, Betty Freidan, was the spark that launched what is now modern Feminism. In her book, The Feminine Mystique, she claimed that she, and other women, were unhappy being housewives, and that women desired more than just their husbands, children, and homes. However, she actually wasn’t a “stay-at-home” mom, but worked outside the home. It was her Marxist ideology that drove her to write the book, not her dissatisfaction with being a housewife.

Nevertheless, was she correct in arguing that women wanted out of the home, less family obligations, and longed for careers in the workforce?

I am not sure if women in the 50s and 60s were dissatisfied with their lives, but what we can be certain of, is that women, and Feminists in particular, are more unhappy and dissatisfied with life than the women of the mid-1900s.

In a recent study entitled, The Paradox Of Declining Female Happiness1, it was revealed that as a whole, women are less happy than men, and less happy than women 40 years ago. Why?

This is indeed a paradox since Feminism has gained an incredible amount of ground in the last 40-years. Women today are the most advantaged and privileged in the history of the world. There are more women in the workforce than ever. More women in politics than ever. More women in college than men. Abortion is legal and easily available, which liberates women from the slavery of unwanted motherhood. I could go on, but you get the idea.

If Feminist women are getting all the things they thought they needed to be happy…then why are women less happy? More specifically, why are Feminist women, who have gained all the things they have championed for, the least satisfied with life?2-3

The answer is that Feminism works against the development of true satisfaction. Feminists can never be happy. This is because Feminism, like many other ideologies, completely misunderstands how humans (particularly women) were designed to function and flourish.

Feminism assumes that it is status, wealth, and recognition that will make women happy and satisfied. Feminism claims to “empower” and promote women as strong, and capable of doing anything men can do just as well, and even better. Feminism may hide under the guise of “equality”, but it is actually advancing self-worship.

Feminism believes that women should be able to do what they want, dress how they want, act how they want, and not have to suffer any consequences. If a woman doesn’t want to raise her child, she can kill him or her, and Feminists will celebrate her. As an example, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington celebrated “abortion heroes,” praising, “the brave men and women who performed abortions before they were legal, often risking their own lives and freedom.”4

Abortion isn’t just a choice Feminists believe women should have, it is a glorious instrument for the liberation of women. The price the unborn child must pay is of no consequence. Why? Because the comfort and desires of the mother are more important.

The celebration of abortion that Feminism promotes is just one example of how this ideology encourages selfishness. From putting careers over family, to the exaltation of the hook-up culture, Feminists constantly lie to women (and themselves) that the path to happiness is through self-indulgence. “Only you can make yourself happy,” is a common maxim, and Feminism is the ideology that allows this mantra to be lived out. The only problem is it isn’t working. Women can’t make themselves happy.

Men can’t make themselves happy either. This is the paradox the study revealed, the same paradox Jesus told us about 2000 years ago:

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:25

We weren’t created to serve ourselves, but to serve others. We were created to do good (Ephesians 2:10). It is not status or wealth that we are to live for. It isn’t our careers, or the number of romantic partners, or whether we get to wear the clothes we want, which leads to happiness and the good life. This self-first thinking leads to misery.

It is not the “empowered,” whom Jesus said were blessed. “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:11-12

If Feminists really cared about women and the well-being of women, they wouldn’t encourage women to seek their own desires, but to desire the good and well-being of others, especially their husbands and children.

If Feminists really cared about the good of women, they would be resolutely against women killing their unborn son or daughter just because the child is inconvenient, or would get in the way of the mother’s current life goals.

If Feminists really cared about women and their happiness, Feminists would not cheer for women to dress immodestly or to live promiscuously.

If Feminists really wanted what is best for women, they would not call for wives to battle their husbands, or place their career above their children and family.

But Feminists don’t want what is best for women, and what Feminists do want for women will not make women happy. Female-empowerment proponents thought “equality” was what women needed to be happy, but the data shows they were wrong. Feminists will never be happy because it is happiness, no matter the consequences, they are chasing. True fulfillment and joy cannot be found by seeking. Like a bar of soap, the harder you try to grab on to it, the more it will slip through your fingers.

The good life, the life God wants for us, can only be found through living in His kingdom, and doing what He wants to be done—loving God and our neighbors as ourselves. This is not a love that enables others to seek their own happiness, but a love that wills the good, and seeks the well-being of others above our own.

As Christians, we have no need for Feminism. The Bible clearly shows men and women are both created in the image of God, and therefore equal in worth. The Bible is also clear that men and women are different, created for different purposes, and both are to put the needs and well-being of others before themselves. Let us not fall into the trap of believing that it is more recognition, status, or wealth that will make us happier and fulfilled.

1http://www.nber.org/papers/w14969.pdf?new_window=1

2http://nypost.com/2013/12/27/conservative-women-hold-secret-to-happiness/

3http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_highbrow/2006/03/desperate_feminist_wives.html

4http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6003

 



What if Jesus Isn’t the Reason for the Season, and We Celebrate Anyway!

I’ve had a novel (or maybe not) revelation this year.

For years, Christians have debated Christmas. “Do we celebrate at all, or do we not?”  ”The origin of Christmas is pagan.” “The origin of Christmas is St. Nicolas.” ” ‘Xmas’ is an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.”  ”No, ‘Xmas’ actually uses the Greek letter ‘Chi’ which means Christ.” “Jesus wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a commercialized holiday.” “Jesus wants us to celebrate his birth, no matter what it looks like or when it is.”

I’ve read them all, extensively.

For years our family has tried to find a balance by forsaking the Santa/commercialized angle but still enjoying the season and insisting that the holiday really is/should be centered around the Christ child. No harm done.

But if we were all brutally honest, no matter how hard we try, Christmas still ends up being largely about food, squeezing in all the family gatherings and exchanging gifts. We try to focus our minds on Christ but end up feeling guilty because we’re distracted by all the celebrating.

So that’s why I’ve asked the question: “What if that’s OK?”

Can’t we simply have a holiday of fun, food, family and gifts?

Because here’s the thing: Christians neither need a holiday to celebrate the birth of their Savior (we live daily in celebration of Him, don’t we?) nor are they forbidden to celebrate, to have fun and to give gifts, just because.

I’m having a guilt-free Christmas this year! Not a gluttonous, go-into-debt-to-buy-things-no-one-needs, lie-to-your-children kind (Christians are bound to live righteously), but a joyful celebration of life, of sharing good things with my family and friends, of beautiful lights and music and candles and decorations because we were created to love beauty and beauty inspires.

Can we just enjoy the winter season and all its beauty without feeling guilty for “doing it wrong” or conscience-bound for doing it at all?

I’m not saying you can’t celebrate Jesus during this season too, setting aside a special time of remembrance. But I am suggesting you don’t have to, and that often our attempts to are a facade.

And despite the alleged pagan roots of the Christmas tradition (even our days of the week have pagan roots), our Lord has redeemed every day (Romans 14:5) and He has come that we may have abundant life, including fun times of guilt-free merriment for the pure enjoyment.

I am a child of God, celebrating the birth, death and life of my Savior every day, and throwing some parties and giving gifts to those I love in December.

Merry Christmas!



To My Children, On Gratitude

From a couple of years ago…thoughts on Thanksgiving.

Bria, Ashton, Alexa, Avalee, Brooks, Mallie, Kyla, Ellia & Jax,

If there is one trait in this life that will give you a rich, fulfilling one, it is GRATITUDE.

The ability to see the beauty in simple pleasures; the ability to let what you have blind you to the things you don’t.

Gratitude is knowing that God is enough, no matter what your circumstances.

Gratitude is not taking your life for granted. It is remembering that a healthy body is a gift, a warm house is not a right, and food at every meal is a luxury to most of the world.

 

Children, I won’t apologize to you because you don’t have all the technological gadgets your peers do. I am not sad that we can’t buy you your own car when you turn sixteen, or that you are saving your money to buy a special thing you’ve been wanting.

From my observation of the world these forty years, this will help you, not harm you.

Gifts are nice when they are gifts, but they can be too much. So much that you forget, and take for granted, and become ungrateful and feel entitled.

I love you too much for that. I praise God with the psalmist for having “neither too little nor too much”. I thank Him for daily bread and I want you to grow up doing the same.

 

 

I want you to find contentment in simplicity, looking to the relationships around you for your deepest joy.
And I want to thank you SO MUCH, that you prefer people over prosperity. Lots of people worry about our younger children taking something away from our older ones, but not once have you worried about that.

 

You have reminded us that they add something to your lives. While the others worry, you’ve even asked for more siblings…oh the purity and rightness of a child’s thoughts! That we would be able to think like you do!

 

Gratitude is so easily robbed in our culture! We live the largest irony in stating that “money doesn’t make you happy” and then sacrificing our lives to disprove our theory.

So, I pray this Thanksgiving season that you would hold on to gratitude. Be thankful for every sunrise, every warm bowl of soup, every night your Daddy comes home, for every clean item of clothing in your closet, for peace, when others are at war….be thankful, and even if it were all taken away, tune your hearts to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

 

 

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Gratitude

 



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