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Friday, November 30, 2007

INSIDE LOOK: From Ethiopia to Everyday... Lessons in Motherhood

For this month's "Inside Look"(a firsthand point of view on the first of each month), I wanted to feature the perspective of a lady who has taught me many things, and from whom we could all learn much.

I first "met" Renee about a year ago through a homeschooling forum, and have continued to learn from her heart for children (both through birth and through adoption), and from her general wisdom about life. I hope you'll enjoy her perspective on mothering -- in situations that range from the very familiar to the completely unfamiliar to us as American moms:

It was a grey and rainy day as we zoomed along the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We were four days into our trip, and I snuggled our newly adopted Ethiopian baby boy in my arms.

On the schedule for the day was a visit to the orphanage where another of our Ethiopian children had lived before coming home to us a year prior. During my time in Addis I had seen poverty which shocked my mind, and it broke my heart. I was still not prepared for the scenes which were playing out on this day.

I could scarcely hold back my tears as I saw the desperate conditions which seemed to grow bleaker with each passing mile. There were many small children wandering the streets alone. They had no shoes and their clothes were tattered. They were precariously close to the cars, and at times they wandered right into the traffic.

The streets were the home to the sick, the infirmed. The pain and desperation was palpable. I wanted to see and remember each person.....for they were someone's child, someone's mother, someone's father, someone's sister, someone's brother. They were real flesh and blood people, and they mattered. They mattered to God, and I wanted them to matter to me too.

As we made a turn I saw her lying there..a woman who looked to be about my age. She was lying in the mud. She was obviously sick. As our car passed, by she weakly lifted her head and looked our way. It was then that I noticed that she too had a baby in her arms.

I immediately thought to the night before when the rains poured down so heavily. I wondered where these two precious people were then. My heart told me probably in that same spot. While my new baby and I slept in a warm and cozy bed...they slept in the cold rain with mud for their bed.

I tried to imagine what it must be like, and then I thought back to a question that I am sometimes asked, in reference to my Ethiopian children; "How could their mother ever give their children up? I love my children too much," they say. God help me, I have had those thoughts too. How could a mother give her precious child up?

It was at that moment that God taught me what real love is. It is laying down your life. My children's birth mothers laid down their lives for their children so that their children may live. I can clearly look at my children, and tell them that they were loved. They were loved dearly, and desperately. Ethiopians love children dearly. It is evident everywhere you go how precious children are to their culture. They grieve over the poverty, disease, and loss too. Even though death, illness, and poverty touch their lives more often than it does here in America, it doesn't hurt them any less.

One of the greatest lessons God showed me why he said in His word "to judge not lest you be judged." How unfair I am to judge a situation I truly know nothing about.

While I worry whether or not my children are consuming hydrogenated oils, there are mothers in this world who wonder if and when their child will eat.

While I worry about choosing the perfect homeschool curriculum there are mothers who know their children will never get one single day of education.

While I moan about yet another "well baby" check-up there are mothers whose children will never see a Doctor, even if they are desperately ill.

Jesus taught me so much about grace on my trip to Ethiopia. He taught me about sacrifice, and His love, and how He wants me to walk.
He has not put me in a position where I have to lay down my life literally for my children. He has shown me that I do need to lay down my life each day. I need to lay down my time, my plans, my wants to train up these precious children whom He has entrusted to me. These children are ultimately His. I am merely a steward of them for a short time.

It can be an uphill battle in a culture which seems to breed selfishness. Mothers are told they need to do something more with their lives than stay home and wipe noses and wash laundry. There is little glamour attached to a "Stay at Home Mom". The catch word of our day is "me-time."

Life in America can be a struggle. There are many distractions which draw me away from the call of managing our home and the training up of our children in the way they should go. I have learned over the years that the distractions are not necessarily evil. In fact, many times they can be useful. The problem is that they may not be God's best for our family. I need to seek Jesus daily in His Word for His plans for our home and family, not mine, not our cultures, but His.

I am so thankful for this calling of Motherhood. It is a blessing, and a gift, and one I treasure.


Renee is the wife of Jim and the mom of eleven children, two of whom are waiting to come "home" from Ghana. Some are biologically "hers", and others are "hers" through adoption, but all are dearly loved. She blogs at Steppin' Heavenward, where she writes openly and honestly about the life of a mom of many, the life of a mom of adopted & biological children, the life of a homeschooling family, and the life of a woman striving to be like Christ.

Making Home readers, I would encourage you to add her blog to your favorites, as she has so much to teach all of us.
I pray that this was a blessing to you, as it was to me. Thank you to Renee for sharing a slice of your life with us!

Consider Giving the Gift of Herbs This Christmas

Herbs are always a welcome gift that will make good use of your stash of home grown or purchased herbs and spices. Try making batches of some of these herb blends to give away. Use decorative jars, and make your own printed labels:Chicken Herb BlendBouquet Garni Herbes De ProvenceBlackened SeasoningOld Bay SeasoningTaco SeasoningChinese Five SpicePickling SpiceCajun Blend

Redesign Your Blog #1: DREAM

After my recent blog redesign, which yielded this lovely brown design that is so much warmer and more relaxed than the previous red design, I've received a lot of comments and e-mails asking me for details about how to do a blog redesign. I've received enough questions that I decided I'm going to do an entire series about it. I hope it's helpful for you bloggers who, like me, aren't html experts or computer techs, but simply want to have a nice, personally-pleasing design that suits your blogging purposes and intentions.

Let me preface this whole series by saying these things:
  1. I am by NO means an expert. But if I have learned one thing by watching good "managers" and "governors", it is this: you don't have to be an expert about every little thing if you consult and can rely on experts who DO know what they're talking about. And the internet gives us the opportunity to connect with people who DO know about html, backgrounds, color codes, and all the rest. So throughout this series, I'll be referring you out, to tutorials, to tips, and to great resources-- all of which can help YOU redesign YOUR blog, if you are so inclined.
  2. This is written from one perspective: that of a non-tech-minded Blogger blogger (me). If you use Wordpress or some other blogging platform, you may be able to adapt these general principles, and many of the resources may still be helpful for you. But I can't answer questions or give advice about those other platforms, and frankly, even answering questions about the Blogger platform will be limited to my own experiences and whatever information a quick google search can provide.
  3. If you don't want to do any of this, you can always pay someone else to do it! There are advantages and disadvantages to this... but if you aren't in the mood or mode to fiddle with your own blog, then by ALL means, you can pay someone else to do it for you, usually costing anywhere from $50- $200, depending on what you want the designer to do. And there will be good results, I'm sure.
OK, onto the fun stuff. First up, here's what this blog looked like, prior to my recent redesign:This one lasted about 6 months... maybe a little longer. The one prior to that was the one I started out with-- pretty much a basic Blogger design in a fun green color. So I started out blogging with a standard Blogger-offered blog design, slowly implemented a few changes, and then went to a whole new redesign in May or so. I have slowly learned a little bit here and there about redesigning a blog, from a NON-expert point of view, and I think the best place to start is with DREAMING.

DREAM ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT!
To have a satisfactory outcome, I start with considering what I want. There are many things to consider (colors, theme, header, general "feel", usefulness of the layout, how many columns, etc.).

STEP #1 - Look at your current design.
Ask yourself: what works and what doesn't work about my current blog design? What are you tired of? In other words, what one or two things, if unfixed, are really going to continue to bug you? Perhaps it's the color (as it was in my case... I was tired of the over-energized red.). Perhaps it's that your design looks boring. Perhaps it's hard to read because of the font or layout of your blog. Figure out what bugs you, and determine to fix that/those things.

Remember to acknowledge, also, what you like about your blog. In my case, I liked the two-column layout. It's simple... text on one side, links and everything else on the sidebar. I liked the size of the header-- it is commanding without taking up the whole screen. I also like having a designed header rather than just the words in print that come standard with Blogger. So, figure out what you like, and try not to change those things.

STEP #2- Look at other blogs that you like.
You won't want to copy their "design"... in terms of exactly replicating their colors or "feel"... but you WILL want to think about what you like about different blogs you visit. Are links more simple to find and click on because they are in a different color? Do they have a combination of many colors and leave you feeling energized, or does the simplicity of the colors they use relax you? Does their blog design match the themes and subjects that they write about?

What is it exactly that you like about other blogs? A cute or fun header? Graphics and bold design, or simple pictures and backgrounds? A fancy signature at the end of each post? A layout that allows for more links and extras on the sidebar? Perhaps blogs you like to read have a more "down home" feel, or a more streamlined, academic look. Figure out what you like, and that's what you'll want to consider including in YOUR redesign.

STEP #3- Look at Blogger blog designs.
Look at the basic options Blogger offers to see if any of their "schemes" or "designs" suits your needs. It doesn't have to fit, colorwise... we're going to talk about how to change all of that. And even the sizes of columns can be played with. I'm talking basics... for example, do you like the order of the columns (some have links on the left, some on the right)... do you like the simplicity of the layout, that kind of thing.

Choose a blog design that will be easily adaptable. For example, don't choose one that has a big butterfly on the bottom right corner. Choose lines and formatting that suit your taste but that will also be easily personalized to your specific design requirements. My blog design is all based on the same basic layout I've used from the very beginning, called "Son of Moto"... it used to be thin and green, then I made it wider with reds, and now it's browns and simple. It's a good basic layout, and I'm happy with it... I just adjust it for my purposes.

STEP #4- Think about the colors, background, and/or theme you'll want to use.
If you're looking for a particular graphic or photo, go to a photo warehouse (I like inmagine.com) and browse for the kind of picture(s) you want to use.... if you're doing a teapot theme, for instance, search for teapots, tea, teacups, tea time, etc. If you're looking for something with a house in it, search for that.

You'll also want to consider if you'd like to have a background design. Go to a place like Squidfinger (you can also do a google search for blogger backgrounds, or blog background designs, etc., to find more design sites that offer these for free); each potential design will give you a basic tile of what the background would look like... I used a design from squidfinger, and completely love it. It's a simple way to distinguish your blog from others. I'll tell you how to use these in another post... but for now, just browse and maybe bookmark your favorite options.

Spend time thinking about what color combination you'd like to have. If, like me, you're not a naturally-inclined interior designer with aesthetically amazing color combinations oozing out of your brain, you'll want to look around you- browse magazines and websites to find color combinations that please you. Mine this time is a simple brown/cream/white theme. Last time, it was red and black with a touch of yellow, for an Asian feel. Think about what you're going for... perhaps a field of lavendar flowers? A nest with robin's eggs in it? A well-worn couch with a stack of books on it? A leather covered journal with a quill pen laid across it? Think of a theme that will match where you are in life, or that you'll simply like, and then coordinate your colors around that theme.

Don't limit yourself to one idea, but I wouldn't seriously pursue and try to work with more than two or three color combinations or theme ideas.

OK, SO I'VE SPENT TIME DREAMING, WHAT NOW?

Once you've DREAMED, determining what you want to get rid of, and what you want to keep from your current blog design, browsed other blogs to get ideas, looked at blogger templates to find a good, basic template, and decided on a basic theme or color scheme that you want to center on, even having selected a few possible pictures or graphics to include in your design, then you're ready for the next step-- getting into the nitty-gritty of DESIGN: designing your header and any other graphics you'll use on your blog (signatures, bullets, banners, etc.). That's next-up in this series of posts. Click here to read Redesign Your Blog, Part 2.

Then we'll talk about DEALING WITH HTML-- how to get your ideas to work... backgrounds, headers, widgets, etc. Click here to read Redesign Your Blog, Part 3. I hope this will be a helpful series for you as you consider redesigning your blog. If you're considering doing this, and have any specific questions or issues you'd like me to address, leave me a comment! I'd be glad to try to help you through any issues you're encountering (as long as you realize that I really am no expert!). ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sage is Good for More Than Stuffing

You may have been introduced to sage via your spice cabinet, but it was an herbal remedy long before it became popular for culinary use. Sage was a medicinal go-to herb for the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it's been used as an antibacterial agent and to promote soft tissue healing for centuries across Europe and in the U.S.

 Sage In Your Medicine Cabinet

Sage is a natural antiseptic and

Monday, November 26, 2007

NFP and 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

We've discussed birth control many times before here on Making Home... but it's been a while. A recent post I read on another blog again raised a question I've had in my head for a couple of years. I posted about it roughly a year ago, but didn't get any "takers".

This time, I'd really like to hear from you, if you are currently, or in the past have, or would like to be, an NFP (natural family planning) user. Essentially, NFP is a method by which women monitor their bodies in order to determine times of fertility. During fertile times, which is generally defined as 7 days before ovulation and 3 days following ovulation (based on the lifespan of sperm and eggs), couples abstain from times of intimacy in order to avoid pregnancy for that month.

Personally, though, I can't see how, for the Christian couple, that method can "square up" with 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
With 10 days of fertility that come with every monthly cycle for a woman, NFP seems to require abstaining from sexual relations for 10 days out of every 28-ish days. I can't imagine intentionally abstaining from intimacy for 1/3rd of my married life... and frankly, it seems like it would do precisely what 1 Cor. 7:5 warns about-- having temptation creep into the marriage relationship from the outside. To me, that kind of planned time apart on a regular basis doesn't sound like the small amount of time spent apart in devotion "to prayer" (not for birth control) that may occasionally be used ("perhaps") "for a limited time."

So, those of you who use NFP (or have used it in the past), really, I'm wanting to know-- how does this square up in your mind? It may sound like I have my mind made up, and truthfully, I don't really see how it could square up-- but it's possible that I just haven't heard from NFP users who have thought about this and have a good explanation. Please, bring your thoughts... and if you are a reader who hasn't used NFP but would like to join in the conversation, come on! I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on this issue.

Seed Catalogues

The weather has turned cold, grey and rainy with bouts of wet snow flurries, definitely not gardening weather. Walking to the mailbox isn't as enjoyable. The walk back to house was enjoyable Friday despite the nasty weather. I had the new Stokes catalogue safely tucked under my arm. Seed catalogues always bring a bit of sunshine on the dreary, cold days. I'll read through them, dog ear pages

Holiday Note from the Herb Gardener: If you are a lover of the environment, please consider going green this Christmas by sending e-cards, buying wrapping paper made from recycled stock, and conserving energy this holiday season. Teach a young person the value of being eco-conscious, and give a gift that will benefit all of us in the years to come.

Putting Age in Perspective

An acquaintance of mine recently asked a group of women that I'm a part of if we ever felt like the best years of my life were behind us... she is struggling with transition issues (children growing older, changing her "roles" in life, etc.).

Here is how I responded:
There's a book I've been reading, called "The Best Half of Life" by Ray & Anne Ortlund... and in it, Anne talks a lot about how the last half of our life can be our most useful and joyful half, if we are purposeful and see the hope in it. I am already beginning to adjust my mind to thinking this way-- not that NOW is the "time of my life" (which is what our culture SCREAMS at us), because I'm still in my 20's... but that my usefulness and joyful service will not run out until my life does. That the last half of my life (which, according to the world, should be filled with maladies, medicines, depression, and a critical, unsatisfied spirit which always talks about "the good old days") will be even better, even more useful, even more fulfilling, and even more effective for the Kingdom, as was the first half of my life. And then I will hope to hear those sweet words, "well done, good and faithful servant."

Something she (Anne Ortlund) wrote has really stuck with me. She said her life verse is Proverbs 4:18- "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn; it shines brighter and brighter until full day"... she prays that God will make her life like that... never diminishing or becoming less bright... but that her life will continually burn brighter and brighter until she burns out, at which point she'll be in His presence.

That's something that resonates with my heart- maybe it will with yours too.

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately- - how unaware we are of the way our culture lies to us, telling us that the best years of our lives are those when we are most foolish and clueless about life. NO- Christian woman! Don't buy into the lie. The best years of our lives are to come... the best years, when we are most wise, most experienced, and can be used for the Kingdom of God in the most fine-tuned way are AHEAD of us!

Part of the problem is that it is ingrained into us to only think of the present-- to "live in the now". And while it's true that we do need to be focused on usefulness and spiritual growth today, we also need to balance that out with verses like James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." We need to recognize how quickly life passes... and learn from those who have gone before us. If life indeed passes quickly, then I don't want to make the foolish mistake of being entirely wrapped up in the "now".

See, I'm 28 right now. Many of you are in different places, age-wise. But here's the deal: I could spend the next couple of birthdays lamenting the loss of my youth... then in ten years, do that again, and then in ten years, go through it once again. I'm not suggesting that there won't be any adjusting to seeing a different number on the page when I write my age. Nor am I making light of the wrinkles and sags that I'll undoubtedly find multiplied on my body twenty years from now. Nor am I minimizing the true biological and hormonal changes that women of various ages have to adjust to.

But what I AM saying is this: I want to age gloriously. I want to burn brighter and brighter, like Proverbs says. I want to delight in the fact that I am closer to meeting my Savior, and that I am (prayerfully and hopefully) wiser and more like Christ than I was in my younger years, rather than to be downcast because I am not as young, hip, and shapely as I was when I was ____ years old.

Don't you want that?

I don't want to be a woman who pines for days gone by... instead, I want to be one who is able to rejoice at the things that have passed, rejoice in "today", AND rejoice in what God will do in the future! Let's not buy into the lies of the world and have our years and our joy stolen from us. Be useful now, yes, whether you are 24 or 44 or 64... but also let your mind joyfully wander to those future days, when your body may be fading, but your spirit, your wisdom, and your countenance will be all the brighter in shining for the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sweet Woodruff is a Delicate Addition to Your Garden

Sweet Woodruff is a beautiful little herb with delicate leaves that grow in tight whorls. It makes an attractive groundcover, and has the reputation of being invasive, but it's shallow rooted so easily kept in check. It grows best in shade, but will tolerate a sunny spot if kept moist. It makes a nice presentation under a larger shrub like a hydrangea. It’s also a natural for your azalea bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Three Reasons for Thankfulness...

Just had to share this precious picture from yesterday... these are three reasons that I'm thankful for being precisely where God has me... in life, in marriage, in love, and in our family:
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! :)

Natural Pain Relief From White Willow Bark

Willow bark has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years and has chemical properties that are being tested for their immune boosting, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain reducing capabilities. It is widely known as the aspirin herb, because it contains salicin, an aspirin like chemical.The use of willow bark for the treatment of pain and inflammation has been traced back to 400

POLL: Baby Names- Does the Meaning Matter?

Just curious how you guys see this issue... Some people put great stock in the meanings of the baby names they choose. Biblically and historically, this was often an influence in the naming of children. Some people might even see name meanings as a sort of expectation, prophecy, or prayer for what the child will be like: maybe brave, or a strong man of faith... perhaps a gracious woman or a woman of renown.

Nowadays, in America, it seems that meanings aren't as critically important to us. For one thing, I don't know any little boys actually named "Sonofmyrighthand" or "Godisgracious". But I do know people named Benjamin and John. The meanings of girls' names can sometimes be more easily pegged: for example, girls are often named after character traits: Faith, Hope, Grace, and Charity.

So I'm curious how you see this issue... how important is the meaning of the name to you?
  • VERY IMPORTANT: It may even be prophetic in the child's life... this is a high priority for me when choosing names.
  • IMPORTANT: I like a good meaning and select names with that in mind.
  • WORTH CONSIDERING, BUT NOT CRUCIAL
  • NOT IMPORTANT: If I like the name, it matters very little what it means.
  • IRRELEVANT: Meanings are completely meaningless. I don't consider this at all.

Answer the poll on the right hand sidebar, and leave me a comment! :) I would be interested in hearing not only what you've named your children and why (if you just want to leave the meanings for anonymity's sake, that's OK)... but also what YOUR name means and if you like it, and if you've lived up to it in any way.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

[Graphic generated at redkid.com]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grow Aloe Vera and Have Its Healing Properties at Your Fingertips

I just brought my aloe vera plants indoors for the winter. I bring them in before the first frost and leave them in a westerly facing window until spring. I only water two to three times during winter, and put them back out again at the end of April. I've been doing this for about the last eight years.Uses for Aloe VeraSure, we all know about how great aloe vera is for healing and reducing the

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Thrill Of The Hunt

Greetings everyone! Well last Friday was the first day of Renninger's Antique Extravaganza here in Florida and as I was in need of some smaller inventory, I took the day off and when antiquing. First off, the weather was glorious here! I actually started the day off in a coat, but by afternoon I was in a sweater. 40's in the am and 60's in the afternoon. That's winter here in always hot and sunny Florida! As I am not a native, I welcome these breaks from the typical weather and to combine the cooler temps with antiquing--well it was almost more than I could take! But I endured, as all us die-hard antiquers do and pressed on in search of treasures. I wanted to share some pics of my finds below. Lots of tarnished silver, some ironstone, a great old drawer, great frames, two cute stools, a plant stand, an oil painting and a print in old frame and wavy glass, vintage soft balls (I don't know why--just thought they were fun), an old working clock, 2 fab old books with hand-written dedications inside (love old hand-writing), and a great old route 259 sign. I also got a great chimney cupboard (not shown) and a really awesome old cafe umbrella with cigar advertising on it. That will appear in a future post I promise. Well enough already--please enjoy the pics of my finds!















Happy Thansgiving To All!

Shelley

Titus Two Today, Part Three: Being Mentored & Mentoring

In continuing this stretched-out series on Titus 2 mentoring, I thought I'd share some of my own experiences with mentoring- both as the younger woman, and recently, as the older woman. I hope this gives you some practical insight into where I'm at in the whole process of learning about Titus 2 mentoring.

BEING MENTORED
I'll admit it, I've been one of the voices crying out for Christian mentoring and discipleship in a crooked and perverse generation. We need women who will affirm the things of God in our lives. Even if our mothers are godly, praiseworthy women (and when they are, we praise GOD!), we still need other women to teach and train us. No one women has all the answers, and as much as we can, we need to surround ourselves with wise counselors. As a young Christian woman, I have longed for and prayed for women who are ahead of me on this road of life to be willing to take me under their wing and TEACH ME!

And I must say, I've been fortunate to have not just one, but many women willing to share their lives with me and teach me.

One friend of mine, Angie, who has mentored and befriended me for over 12 years now, welcomed me into her home when she had young children. We talked about life as I watched her nurse her babies. We talked about ministry and the life of a wife and mother as she changed diapers and fixed broken toys. We talked about priorities in parenting and how to maintain a strong marriage while her daughters (now young ladies) swam in a kiddie pool. She shared her convictions with me as I shared my struggles with her. I love this woman. I can't tell you how much of an impact she and her family have had on my life. Only God knows how much.

Another woman, Christi, has taught me about grace and beauty. She takes great pleasure (and has a real, God-given talent) in beautifying the home environment. She is the woman who first piqued my interest in the MBTI personality typing. From her, I have learned to appreciate the beautifying of our homes... and learned to have grace towards people who are different from me. She has had the guts to challenge me at times when I spoke too harshly or forcefully about personal convictions, and she in turn has been humble and sought to learn things from me (for example, when I'm reading an interesting book, learning something new, etc.) . I really appreciate her friendship.

There have been others too, but these are two women who have challenged me and loved me and taught me, even though they are very different women and have gone about "Titus 2ing" me in different areas.

MENTORING OTHERS
About three years ago, a college student approached me one night at a church fellowship and asked if I would consider setting regular time aside to mentor her. And so began what is now a precious friendship.

Lindy & I have talked and walked through various life issues together-- dating relationships and marriage, what it's like to be pregnant, how to think about and prepare for marital intimacy, what books are good preparation for womanhood, and just life issues as they come up: pride, submission, God's will and how to discern it, cloth diapering, friendships with guys/girls... all kinds of things. So much of what I've "passed on" to her have been things that were taught to me by Angie in particular. It's been such a blessing for me to have things to share, as well as to pray for her and walk alongside her as she strives for biblical womanhood in this world.

There have been other friends, too, who have taken more of a learner's posture in our friendship and might characterize our friendship as more of a mentoring situation... but Lindy is one who came to me in that capacity and who I have grown to love as a result of that specific time together.

TITUS 2 IN REAL LIFE
I'm so thankful for these neat opportunities I've already had in my life to not only learn from others, but also to teach younger women about the things Titus 2 challenges us to implement into our lives. Here's that passage one more time:
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get Natural Relief From a Cold or the Flu

‘Tis the season to sniff and cough, and when the inevitable cold or flu comes calling, you are going to be looking for fast relief. Before you run to the pharmacy, check your kitchen cupboard for useful and inexpensive remedies.DecongestantInhale the steam from a strong cup of camomile tea to open nasal passages, and add lemon to beverages to take advantage of its antibacterial properties.Fresh

Saturday, November 17, 2007

ADVICE & ANSWERS: Past Sexual Sin Affecting Marital Intimacy

An anonymous reader brought this question for your consideration:


I recently married my husband. We are both Christians, both with past sexual sin. We are in crisis. I never have, and still don't, enjoy sex. I don't know what to do. I have no sex drive. My husband is thinking the worst of our marriage, feeling as though I don't find him attractive, etc. I really do love him, but I don't have any sexual desire towards him at all. Looking back, the lust of the world is so much more appealing. I know it's bad to say, but it's the truth. How can I get a sex drive? Please help.




Think about what you would tell this woman if she came to you for advice, and leave your advice and answers in the comments. So many women struggle with these same themes... past sexual sin, lack of desire for intimacy, etc. Perhaps you, too, have struggled with these things... if so, I'd invite you to share your thoughts, struggles, and successes in this area. I hope that the advice shared here will be biblical and helpful to any and all who may struggle with these or similar issues.

*** Because this is a sensitive subject, and I want to encourage your ability to share openly, I will publish anonymous responses to this question. ***



If you have a question you'd like to submit for the Making Home Answers & Advice column, CLICK HERE.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Marital Intimacy & Companionship

A friend of mine recently asked what specific things my husband and I do to feel connected and intimate in our marriage. After writing out my response to her, I thought I'd share it with you.
  • We spend significant time together nearly every evening. Here are some things we like to do with that time:

    - We like to get TV series (older ones on DVD) and watch one or two episodes in the evenings. We're not all rigid about it, but we'll sit down and watch Lost Season 1 over the course of a month, or we'll watch Frasier and laugh it up together, etc.
    - We also watch occasional movies together... if it's a long one, we'll break it up over two or more nights.
    - During those times, we fairly regularly give each other massages... he rubs my feet anytime I ask (and sometimes without me asking- what a man!!!) ... and if his back is hurting, I'll sit behind him and rub his back. Having that physical touch gets us relaxed and readies us for other physical intimacy! ;)
    - We also play games together. This one is less frequent... and it goes in spurts...
    - Sometimes we just both grab good books and hang out on the couch reading or one of us browses the internet for news while the other one reads. But most evenings, we'll spend time once the kids go to bed (they're all in bed by 7:30/8pm) talking and laughing together and just hanging out.

    This is a HUGE priority for us... and has been since our first was very little. Once the kids are in bed, that is our time to spend together, kind of like a regular, in-home date time. Sometimes we have to use it for other things (language study, taking a relaxing bath, etc.), but more often than not, we use that time for TOGETHERNESS.
  • We have very frequent times of intimacy. This, too, is a priority for us. We don't go long stretches... ever... and we are very open to spontaneity... we don't tell each other "no" or withhold in this area. And we talk openly about what we need/want. Neither one of us pulls any punches, so to speak. If we want more of x,y,or z in the bedroom, we just say so. We are happy to meet each other's needs and wants in this area, and we really try to delight in each other physically. We make this a priority and are happy to keep each other happy in this area. (This may be TMI for you, and if so, sorry. But I have a personal conviction that this area is TOO tiptoed around by Christian couples, and we need to hear more Christians speaking up and saying that intimacy within marriage can be completely fulfilling and enjoyable! I'm not going to give specific descriptions or times, but I will gladly and openly admit to regularly enjoying intimacy with my husband.)
  • We share what's on our minds... we read news articles out loud to each other. We laugh together a LOT. We talk about politics and parenting and relationships of the families we know, and what our convictions are about certain things. We're constantly refining our thoughts and beliefs together. We know what is uppermost and secondary and even minute on each other's minds. It is rare for one of us to go longer than a day thinking about something without bringing it up to the other one.
  • When there is a need or desire for something to go differently in the home, we talk about it AND act on it. When I felt the desire to begin having family devotionals, I asked him about it, and he stepped up and hasn't backed down from that. When our family schedule needs to shift because of a new time constraint, we talk about it and shift our expectations to meet the new demands. We try to meet each other's needs... not just short-term... but for the long-run.
  • We regularly ask each other things like, "is there anything you need that I'm not giving?" And we regularly tell each other if something's not right... "I feel like we haven't seen each other all week.", "Can we just hang out tonight and snuggle and watch something brainless?", "Lately, you've been _______, and I really need _______.", etc. We aren't afraid to just speak the truth, in order to have a better and more honestly fulfilling relationship.

So those are the "main things" that we do that keep us connected and keep our needs met (and yes, I asked my husband to read through it and he agreed that this pretty comprehensively covers how we maintain our companionship and intimacy).


I'd love to hear what makes YOU feel connected to your spouse... cause we're all different- what makes me feel close to my husband may not be the same as what would make you feel close and intimate in your marriage. So what is it in your marriage that helps you to feel connected with your husband or wife?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Disparate Housewives in Genesis; Part Two: REBEKAH

As I've read through Genesis this last month or so, I've been struck by some interesting observations about the women of Genesis. (Perhaps I owe much of that to the insights gained from my recent reading of "Her Name is Woman" , books 1 & 2, by Gien Karssen- an amazing pair of books!) First, we looked at HAGAR: a rejected servant protected and guided by God.

This time, we'll take a look at Rebekah:

A BEAUTIFUL VIRGIN WHO SEEMS TO BE FULL OF FAITH
When we are first introduced to Rebekah, we are told she is a relative of Abraham's, and is a "young woman", "very attractive in appearance"... and is a virgin. (24:16) God affirms the choice of Rebekah as the right bride for Isaac when she offers water for Isaac's servant's weary & thirsty camels. In this action, she seems to be a generous and selfless woman.

She then agrees to move away to marry a man she's never met (Isaac) on the word of a servant she just met... which, to me, seems like a huge act of faith. She may have had other motivations, or she may have had no other choice, but still, this act seems to set Isaac up with a faithful bride. But as we will learn, appearances can be deceiving.

A BARREN WIFE BLESSED WITH CHILDREN
When Isaac meets her, she soon becomes his wife and she comforts him after the death of his mother. We are told that Isaac "prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived." (25:21) Surely Isaac must've been told countless times that it was God Who opened his own mother's womb so that she could conceive him. When his own wife is barren, his natural inclination is to look to God, and God grants children to the childless. It seems, again, that Rebekah would be learning from this faithfulness of God and from the love and wisdom that comes from her husband. But things are not always as they seem to be.

A MANIPULATIVE WIFE & MOM WHO PLAYS FAVORITES
Later, though Rebekah has been given a family and could have been a beloved and admirable example to us all, she chooses deception and trickery to control her family's heir (chap. 27), and to usurp her husband's authority as the son of Abraham. Instead of protecting her husband in his weakness and the frailty of old age, she takes advantage of his blindness and uses it to trick him; she is clearly not the faithful wife she may have seemed to be. Without any hint of regret or trepidation, she manipulates her husband and even works against one of her own children in order to play favorites and hand-select her own favorite as the heir.

A WOMAN WRAPPED UP IN HER CHILDREN
What I noticed reading through these stories this time is that Rebekah derives all of her self-image and joy from her children. How many moms I have known like this! Her whole identity is in her children, and she occupies herself more with their concerns than with her husband. She was willing to deceive and encourage her child to disrespect the man she was one with, all because she was overly concerned with her children. She was wrapped up in their affairs, rather than being a helpmate and lovingly seeing to her husband's needs.

In the end, we find that her choices have not made her happy. The last substantive thing we hear about Rebekah is this: she herself says, "I loathe my life", and asks, "what good will my life be to me?" because her son's choices for a wife are so limited. (27:46) Perhaps it is her keen awareness of her own LACK of faithfulness to her own husband that causes her to be so disheartened by the lack of faithfulness in the young women around her.

REBEKAH: IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
Rebekah seemed to be a woman with so much faith and promise, and yet, in the end, she chose to deceive her husband, use his weaknesses against him, and encourage her son to use trickery as a means to get what he wanted. Not a faithful wife, not a godly parent, she is left in our eyes as an unhappy woman, whose favorite son ended up moving away from her because of her choices. I think it is interesting that in her effort to "bless" and "favor" her beloved son, she ended up losing fellowship with him, as he had to move far, far, away... and she spent the rest of her days with the man she had deceived and the son she had worked to steal a blessing from. What a pitiful end to what could have been a beautiful life.

Though she was physically beautiful and even blessed by God (despite her initial barrenness) with the gift of children, she did not look to God in faith with her concerns, and instead took matters into her own hands, which resulted in her ultimate sadness and lack of fulfillment in life. She chose to be wrapped up in her children rather than delighting in her husband, and in the end, she loathed her life and counted it a waste. What a lesson Rebekah's sad life is for us as wives and mothers!



[Ed.note: Lest you think me a bad speller or somehow mistaken about the title of the popular TV show that has a similar ring to the title of this series, I just wanted to share with you the definition of disparate: Fundamentally distinct. This series is about distinctive women in Genesis (examining the ways in which they are different from one another) and gleaning what we can learn from them. So, yes, the play on words is intentional; it is not misspelled or random. Hope that makes the title a bit more clear, in case anyone was wondering! :) ~Jess]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TWO MUST-READS: ALCORN & PIPER

Within 12 hours of my "Show & Tell" post, two excellent articles by my two favorite Christian authors/speakers were posted... and I must share them with you. They are both absolutely excellent and worth your time. Please make time to read them.

  • RANDY ALCORN writes about Pat Robertson's bewildering and shameful endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, an unabashedly pro-choice candidate, last week:

    SACRIFICING CHILDREN ON A REPUBLICAN ALTAR?

    He writes:

    Over the years, I have sometimes appreciated Pat Robertson, and often disagreed with him. Now I am truly saddened for him. I shake my head in wonder at what has happened to him and other Christians who once stood up for innocent lives and moral concerns, but whose devotion has now shrunk to social conservativism and Republicanism. That an evangelical spokesperson—though I’m not sure who Robertson really represents anymore—would turn his back on unborn children to endorse Giuliani, who f
    avors legalized abortion, is tragic... Continue reading here.

  • JOHN PIPER writes about the very phenomenon we've been talking about lately... adult-escence, or kidults (adult-aged people still acting like "teenagers"), and gives an excellent analysis that shows how the church should respond:

    A CHURCH-BASED HOPE FOR 'ADULTOLESCENCE'

    Here's part of the article:

    "How Should the Church Respond?

    How might the church respond to this phenomenon in our culture? Here are my suggestions.

    1. The church will encourage maturity, not the opposite. “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

    2. The church will press the fact that maturity is not a function of being out of school but is possible to develop while in school.

    3. While celebrating the call to life long singleness, the church will not encourage those who don’t have the cal to wait till late in their twenties or thirties to marry, even if it means marrying while in school."
    ... Continue reading here.


PLEASE click on & read both Randy Alcorn's & John Piper's important articles.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Show & Tell: Bloggy Depth & Breadth


I'm continually amazed at the breadth and depth of the blogosphere... there is so much to learn, so much to read, so much to challenge and encourage. Here's some of the good stuff I've come across in the last week or two. Take a break and pick out some (or all) of these articles to read... I hope you enjoy these great reads as much as I have. Seriously, I know I probably say this every time... but this Show & Tell is FULL of great articles. ~Jess



Some deeper analysis of HOT-BUTTON ISSUES:

  • MYTH OF ADOLESCENCE: [In a recent "teach your children about sex" post, I went off on a tangent about the term "teenagers" that was interesting to many of you.] Here's a GREAT summary of how the adolescent years have sadly declined to become seen as years that are expected to be wasted away, when "teens" are really capable of much, much more. Written by one of the Harris brothers (who was himself a teenager when he wrote this), it's a great read. Click to read the "Myth of Adolescence".
  • Barbara Curtis, of "MommyLife" blog fame, wrote an interesting article in Crosswalk called, "Why Some Evangelicals Are Throwing out Birth Control." Regardless of where you fall on the issue, it's a good read.
  • What did the leaders of the Protestant Reformation think about birth control?, you might ponder from time to time. Well, maybe not. But if you're interested in reading a fairly concise summary of how Reformers dealt with the birth control issue, this article is definitely worth reading.
  • Another example of pets taking priority over people. Blegh!
  • SELECTIVE ABORTION: How a mother could casually choose one child over another and then continue to raise and "love" the "chosen" child is absolutely beyond me... Terry has written a great article about this horrifying issue of our day.
  • Newsweek has a heartbreaking and eye-opening article about the continued sexualization of American young daughters, and how it played out at Halloween this year.
  • Linda Hirschman has gotten a lot of ink and airtime over the last year by blasting homemaking women. But my bloggy friend over at "The Cappuccino Life" has highlighted an interesting hypocrisy in feminist circles. A WOMAN who stays home with her children is often degraded and made fodder for derision, but a MAN who stays home with his children is praised to the heavens. She points out that, according to their thinking, homemaking is fulfilling... but only if you're a dad!
Political Commentary from women like us:
  • Elizabeth considers the Presidential race in her article: POLAR BEARS OR ABORTED CHILDREN? This interesting article examines the choices we have to make when ranking our priorities in the political races that are coming up. For her, it's how does her environmental concerns stack up against her desire to see abortion end. For you, it may be something different- but it's a good read.
  • Tamara asks, "Is America Ready for a President in a Skirt?" (just a hint: she ain't talking about Hillary)
CONSIDER THESE ARTICLES, examining the breadth of the life of a Christian woman, in order from young womanhood to death:
  • Bekah has written a great article about walking in freedom after being raised in legalism.
  • I've been enjoying wearing skirts much more often this last six months, and found this post with some pretty (read: not frumpy) options for wearing skirts, particularly in the colder months. (I especially like the cute greenish plaid one halfway down.)
  • Anna of Domestic Felicity wrote a great article about her own experience of courtship as a young woman with an imperfect past... "Courtship with a Difficult Background". Let this be a reminder to all of us as we raise our children... to not be closed off towards imperfection in our children or their potential mates, as though we ourselves are without flaw.
  • Amy Jane has an EXCELLENT article for young women preparing for marriage: HERE COMES THE WEDDING NIGHT. Even if you're already married, you'll want to bookmark this one or print it out for a young woman you know or to save for your own daughter... she has done a very thorough job of addressing real issues surrounding preparation for the wedding night.
  • Justin Taylor and his wife have adopted two children and are in process to adopt another. His article about adoption has compiled some very interesting information about adoption-- how Muslims view adoption, how Christians should see adoption, and biblical basis for adopting. VERY interesting read.
  • The illusion of "The Perfect Family". This pride in perfection (of behavior, spirituality, etc.) is a very common problem that I've seen among homeschooling families I've known- and something we try hard to avoid. Having super-human expectations sets our kids up for failure and ultimately, for rejection of our "fake" and "forced" faith. Here's a couple of interesting quotes that sum up some of my thoughts as well:
    "It is vital that our children understand the “why” behind our actions and decisions and if we are too proud or busy to take the time to be open about these things, we will breed rebellion."

    "Unrealistic expectations have a very real and detrimental side effect… anger. When perceived expectations and standards aren’t met, anger follows, and it can destroy a family."
Interesting stuff. Now, for the humorous end to this Show & Tell... today I've got two "laughs" for you...

Amy's son's failure to READ directions, AND a Wal-Mart cake decorator's failure to FOLLOW directions.

They're both hilarious-- so check em out. Happy, happy reading! :) (And let me know what you think about all or any of these links, if you get the chance!)

Quick Query #24: Which Risky Thing Would YOU Choose, if there were no risk involved?

SO... I'm curious... on a recent 150 things about me post, I revealed that I would SO engage in risky behaviors if I didn't have a loving husband who protects me from my own risky ways. :) I would love to go sky diving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, cliff diving, base jumping... I really would love it! But until the kids are grown, I'll wait.

So I know you're not all like me, actually wanting to do these things, but I'm curious... if you could engage in a risky extreme sports kind of action and it wouldn't have the risks associated with it (death, injury, etc.), but you could still experience the actual event and the adrenaline rush of it, which of these would you choose?

(Come on, play along... it's no fun if you don't answer!)


IF YOU COULD PICK ONE OF THESE, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE:
  • (A) SKY DIVING
  • (B) BUNGEE JUMPING OVER A HUGE RIVER OR GORGE
  • (C) HANG GLIDING
  • (D) DEEP SEA DIVING WITH SHARKS
  • (E) HARDCORE OFF-TRAIL SKIING/SNOWBOARDING
  • (F) MOUNTAIN CLIMBING (like K2, Everest, etc.)
  • (G) CLIFF DIVING OVER A DEEP WATER BODY (landing in the water, of course!)
  • (H) BASE JUMPING (jumping off of a high cliff with just a parachute)

Leave your answer in the comments! :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tis The Season

Happy Holidays Everyone! I've been busy as an elf lately getting the shop transformed into a Christmas wonderland! It was a lot more work this year as the shop is bigger and I fear I could have used a little more inventory! Oh well there's always next year! Here's a peek inside....







I am in love with all the fabulous architectural pieces I've added! But most of all, I adore the angel wings I found in Tennessee last summer and was going to hang them from the ceiling. But I'm sure you'll agree that they were meant to be used just as I have!







May The Joy Of The Season Be Yours!

Shelley

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:

I have written before of our heart desire to adopt children one day. God has not *yet* made that a part of our family's story, but what a joy it is to see other families that God is blessing in this way. One of those families is that of my friend, Renee.

I just wanted to publicly rejoice with her and share with all of you the JOY of a godly family receiving God's blessings through adoption. Their family of 11 (currently 9 children, some biological, some through adoption) is about to grow to be a family of 13, as the adoption of their two sons in Ghana, Joel and Ebenezer, has just been finalized!

She has just written a beautiful post thinking through some of the small things that will be huge adjustments for these two new sons (not to mention the BIG things, like language, culture, etc.). Would you please take just a moment to pray for Joel & Ebenezer, that God will begin preparing their hearts for all the changes to come, and that their time of transition will be eased by His grace?

James 1 tells us that caring for widows and orphans is a way to practice TRUE religion... I am so thankful to rejoice with and offer prayer support to a family living out the love of God!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Do YOU "Impose Your Values" On Your Children?

I am astonished. I honestly don't know how I missed this:

Last month, at the Democratic presidential debate at Dartmouth college, John Edwards made a statement which should HORRIFY all Christian parents who have any interest in their children's moral upbringing.
Boston.com reports:
[The candidates] were asked about a controversial incident in Lexington, Mass., where a second-grade teacher, to the dismay of several parents, had read her young students a story celebrating same-sex marriage. Were the candidates "comfortable" with that?

"Yes, absolutely," former senator John Edwards promptly replied. "I want my children . . . to be exposed to all the information . . . even in second grade . . . because I don't want to impose my view. Nobody made me God. I don't get to decide on behalf of my family or my children. . . . I don't get to impose on them what it is that I believe is right."
Folks, this is but one step away from completely communistic thinking. I, the parent, don't get to have input and control over what goes into the mind of my child?! Have we completely lost our SOULS as a nation? What is a parent for, then? To simply clothe and feed children? Can't the government do that too? Why have families at all? Do you see where this leads? This rhetoric from Edwards leads to the complete fracturing of the family.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBLE TO PARENTS? OR VICE-VERSA?
It used to be the case that the public at large saw the government education of children as beholden to their wishes as parents... that the GOVERNMENT was responsible to the PARENTS for the dollars spent, education received, and activities of their child while on the school's watch. Now, we are at risk of the complete opposite: now, in the words of a major contender for the role of leader of our nation, parents would be "imposing their views" on their children if they teach moral behavior... and, dare I say it?, if we merely teach what the Bible says.

I can't tell you how these words from a potential president chill me to the depths of my soul. Can you imagine if this kind of view became normative in America? In many countries around the world, already, moral and religious education of minors is illegal. Can you imagine if the American government (which funds abortions, teaches kids how to use condoms, hands out birth control--with or without parental awareness, increasingly not only tolerates but encourages same-sex relationships, and does an increasingly shoddy and shameful job at actual education of children) begins not only taking over but forbidding anyone else to perform the moral training of our youth?

It has been oft said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world... What say you? Do you think that the moral education of our children ought to be left up to government schools? Do you think that you are "imposing your views" on your children when you teach them right from wrong according to the Bible? Does this frighten ANYONE else?!?

If you know me, you KNOW I'm not normally driven to emotional pleas or arguments... but this truly does frighten me. Let me hear your thoughts...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Disparate Housewives in Genesis, Part One: HAGAR

As I've read through Genesis this last month or so, I've been struck by some interesting observations about the women of Genesis. (Perhaps I owe much of that to the insights gained from my recent reading of "Her Name is Woman" , books 1 & 2, by Gien Karssen- an amazing pair of books!)

First up, we'll take a look HAGAR: a rejected heathen servant used and abused by man, but protected and guided by God.

A PAGAN SERVANT BECOMES A WIFE & MOTHER
Hagar is first introduced to us as Sarah's "female Egyptian servant" (Gen. 16:1). It soon becomes clear that she will be used for the purposes of man. God had promised a son to Abram, but he was convinced by his wife to take a servant for a wife and impregnate her, because she (Sarai) was so old. So this poor servant woman gets pulled into a sexual relationship with her master, all because of other people's lack of faith in God. WHAT A WAY to start a marriage!

We aren't told how she felt about the arrangement. We're just told that Abram "went in to Hagar, and she conceived." (16:4) She began to look contemptuously at Sarai because she conceived- and we aren't told the motivation for that either. It could be that she looked down on Sarai's barrenness, but it is just as possible that she resented having to carry a child she never asked for or had any decision about creating. (How often are we told by our society that such a situation merits abortion!) A used, penniless woman, forced to be intimate with a man, turns up with child. And yet...

GOD SEES AND SPEAKS TO THIS HEATHEN WOMAN
After Sarai deals with her harshly (which is generally interpreted as Hagar being beaten), she flees the home of Abram & Sarai and goes out into the wilderness. And YET, God meets her there, at the place of what was likely the greatest distress and need of her life. He makes a promise to this used, heathen, slave woman... that her descendants would be innumerable... and even speaks a prophecy to her about what her son will be like and what his name should be. And then, something totally new happens...

SHE IS THE FIRST HUMAN TO CALL GOD BY A NEW NAME
Genesis 16:13~
So she called the name of the LORD Who spoke to her, "YOU ARE A GOD OF SEEING" (El Roi) for she said, "Truly here I have seen Him Who looks after me."
Though she had a master (Sarai) and a husband (Abram), she recognized that it was GOD, El Roi, the God Who Sees, that looked after her. She was aware that though she had not called out to Him, He was taking care of her- that He saw her in her distress and took her under His wings.

Because of her encounter with the true and living God, she obeyed God, going back to the very situation she had fled from: an unprotective husband and an abusive master. She gave her son the name God had given to her, and we don't hear any more about her for over fourteen years of her life. Five chapters later, we find that the old tensions between Sarai and Hagar have been revived when Sarai herself has a son, so...

HAGAR GOES AWAY, AGAIN, & GOD MEETS HER THERE, AGAIN
This time, her exit was not at her own desire to flee, but because she was sent away by Abraham (who had been so led by God). Abraham sent her away with bread and one animal skin filled with water, and gave her "the child" (who at this point, must've been very nearly a man... an older teenager at least). So again, she flees to the wilderness (21:12-14).

What must have been going through her mind? Somewhere in the back of her mind must've lurked that nearly 20-year-old promise given to her in the desert... did she cling to that, trusting God to protect her? Did she run away in fear? We aren't told, but we are told this much:
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off... [saying], "let me not look on the death of the child." And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard... Lift up the boy, and hold him fast... I will make him into a great nation."

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness... and his mother took a wife for him from Egypt."
WHAT ABOUT HAGAR'S CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN?
This is the last substantive thing we hear about Hagar... that she chose a pagan wife for the son of Abraham. Did she truly have faith in God? And if so, did she pass her faith down to Ishmael and his family? Perhaps. He, too, had heard the voice of the Lord-- once in utero, and once as a young man. And it says that God was with him. But clearly, the living "testimony" of Abraham and Sarai was enough for her to not desire to have anything to do with their relatives or kinsman. She took a bride for Ishmael from among her own people, the Egyptians.

The amazing thing, to me, is this: though she had an encounter with the true and living God, the unkindness of God's people was enough to drive her and her children possibly away from God forever. Nevertheless, Hagar is a remarkable woman, in that she has direct encounters with God... she recognizes God as an all-seeing God... and she names Him "El Roi".


SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EACH OF US?
Just as Hagar was seen by God, He SEES each of us. He sees you as a woman with the needs that you have. He sees your marriage, and all of its defects. He sees your mistreatment by others. He sees the needs of your children. He sees that you haven't been given enough to live on. He sees you in the wilderness, disheartened, frightened, alone, rejected, beaten, and in despair.

HE SEES.

And just as He ACTED to meet Hagar's needs and care for her, He will meet your needs and care for you if you will look to Him and listen to His counsel in your life. I am so encouraged by the story of a woman who was used, abused, and rejected by men... but who God saw and reached out to, with love, with provision, and with grace. He offers the same to each of us today!

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