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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31: Contentment / Making Good Use of Your Time / First Quarter 2010


Psa. 34:18-19 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all. 

Deut. 33:27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms...

Jer. 29:11-12 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.' 

Words: Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, 1787, by John Rippon

Music: Foundation, LyonsSt. Denio

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

A Strong Contentment in God
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
Whose heart is kind beyond all measure

I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,  Mingling toil with peace and rest.
(Hymn by Carolyn Berg, 1865)

[Excerpted from Contentment: A Matter of the Heart
by Karen Horsey / Karen's Kreations]

Day by Day was written by a young Swedish woman who learned early in life the all-important lesson of living each day with the conscious presence and strength of her Lord. Lina Sandell has often been called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden” for her many contributions to gospel hymnody. From her pen flowed approximately 650 hymns which strongly influenced the waves of revival that swept the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

At the age of twenty-six Lina had an experience that greatly influenced her life. She was accompanying her father aboard ship to the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, across Lake Vattern. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father, a Lutheran minister, fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter. Although Lina had written many hymn texts prior to this tragic experience, now more than ever poetic thoughts that expressed a tender, child-like trust in her Lord began to flow freely from her broken heart.  SOURCE

This is my last article in this month's series on contentment.   For the month of April I will be posting daily thoughts from a display that I keep on my kitchen windowsill, de-cluttering and cleaning, continuing to weed out my Ebay store, finishing up homeschool for the summer, among other things.
Wow.  Today marks the end of the first quarter of 2010. If you look at the calendar above, the first line containing January, February and March could be crossed out for this year. Where did the time go?   If you make a list of  one or two main things that happened or that you accomplished during each of the first three months of the year, what would it include?  For me, besides daily home management, homeschool and church service...
  • January:      A month of funerals and a wedding, Christmas decor put away and all holiday bills paid
  • February:    Jury duty on a criminal case for 8 days, boost in music home business          
  • March:     Accompanist for regional band competition + rehearsals, update blog, illness, weed out Ebay inventory, open Amazon store, do taxes, plant flowers

Some of these things "just happened" and  I didn't really plan for them.  I didn't have have a "vision" per se of what the first quarter would look like.  Generally I make weekly goals rather than monthly goals but I'll start with April and see what I accomplish.  For this month I'd like to:

  • thoroughly clean each room in the house, de-cluttering along the way
  • revamp my Ebay store and add inventory
  • plan courses and start gathering 11th grade homeschool materials
  • polish up some rusty piano pieces
  • assist my elderly mother more in her home

I''ll check back on these at the end of the month to see how I did.  Have a great day!

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law. 

Psalm  90:12
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30: Contentment / Online Privacy and Meeting Real People Online


2Cor. 4:8-10 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 

A grumble-free contented woman receives willingly 
from God's hand both pain and pleasure.
She knows:
  • The God Who "causes everything to work together for her good".  (Rom. 8:28)
  • The God Who "disciplines her for her good that she may share His holiness."  (Heb. 12:10)
(adapted by John Piper)
[Excerpted from Contentment: A Matter of the Heart
by Karen Horsey / Karen's Kreations]
I had an interesting morning yesterday.  For the first time, I spent part of the morning with a blogger friend whom I have only previously known from our online conversations  (I know her parents here in town).  She is just as delightful in person as she is on her daily blog about families and being a mom at home.  I wasn't surprised like I said, because I know her family but it was good to know that some people online are REAL.   This was something I probably would not have done except for it being in the company of others for the first time.  
Everyone I have as a Facebook friend is someone that I actually know. Some of them, I used to know well, when I was younger and I have reconnected in person with a few of them due to FB.    I know people who have used eHarmony and met their spouses that way.  If I did that, I'd probably have been online friends with him for years before committing to a marriage (I'm not that trusting of strangers).  Once in awhile I'll sell something on Ebay to someone here locally and to avoid shipping, I plan a rendezvous location that is crowded and public. I always take one or both of my sons with me when I meet a customer who is a stranger.   
Women especially, need to be a bit cautious about meeting people in person that they  chat with and/or do business with online.  In ann online situation you can "be" anyone you want to be with no accountability. I've even heard of people representing themselves with photos of someone else who they think would be more appealing to others.  I don't visit chat rooms online but I do comment on blogs and a discussion every now and then.   I never give out personal information to people I do not know either.  I am amazed at the amount of easily recognizable, personal and family information some people put on their blogs and on their FB.  I have my privacy settings at the highest level and all my postings and photos can only be viewed by my friends.   
Google, although an extremely valuable and useful service most of the time, has also taken away much of our privacy.  If you know someone's last name and their city, they can usually be found, even to the point of seeing a photo of their home in zoom.  When Google updated their maps last year, our home was photographed with our garage door up so you can see both of our cars.  My neighbor can even be seen in their front yard.
Be careful out there. Not everyone deserves your trust and there are predators who lurk here and there in cyberspace.   It can feel very safe in your home on your own computer in your fluffy slippers, but use some common sense and a little caution when opening up to someone online you do not know anything about.  This is particularly true for children who have unlimited internet access. Be safe now, not sorry later.

Matt. 10:16 
“... so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29: Contentment and Passion Week / A Light in Dark Places


Phil. 2:14-15  Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 

Acts 26:17b-18 whom I am sending you,  to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ 

A grumble-free contented woman is 
a bright reflection of God's glory in a dark world.
She knows:
  • The God through Whom she can do all things. (Phil. 4:14)
  • The God Who will complete in her the work He has begun. (Phil. 1:6)
  • The God Who rejoices to do her good with all His heart and soul. (Jer. 32:41)

[Excerpted from Contentment: A Matter of the Heart
by Karen Horsey / Karen's Kreations]
When I think of the verses above, I am reminded of the quote from J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy (and movies of the same name)  The Lord of the Rings, when Galadriel gives gifts to the Fellowship.  
To Frodo she gives a small glass illuminated bottle and says:  And for you, Frodo Baggins, I give you the light of Earendil our most beloved star. May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out

[For an interesting read on the biblical parallels of Lord of the Rings, check out Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues.]
We all have various spheres in which we live and talk with others...our families (both immediate and extended), online friends such as Facebook, neighbors who are close in proximity, church friends, business acquaintances, clubs & organizations, carpools, our children's young friends and their parents, blog friends, personnel in the shops and stores we visit...the list goes on and on of those we are in contact with in any given week.  Often, relationships are shallow with a few dear deep friendships in the midst.  But even in the shallowness, there is always an opportunity to give a little spiritual lightness to any conversation.  Make the most of each opportunity both in sharing the gospel per se, and also in sharing the Good News of the true Light of the world.  There is much deception and darkness / spiritual blindness all around us, even in some of our churches.

As we begin Passion Week, the remembrance in the Christian calendar of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and the week during which He was betrayed, crucified, buried and resurrected, may we also be on the lookout for ways that we can each be a Light to others in the dark world  in which we  and our children live.  

Matthew 5:16 
Let your light shine before men in such a way
 that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father Who is in heaven."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28: Contentment and Palm Sunday Easter Egg Hunts

Eph. 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 

Eph. 5:18-20 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;  always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 

A grumble-free contented woman 
dwells on the gracious providence of God.

She knows:
  • The God Who withholds no good thing from her "from those who walk  uprightly." (Ps. 84:11)
  • The God Who supplies every need of hers according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
[Excerpted from Contentment: A Matter of the Heart
by Karen Horsey / Karen's Kreations]
To  hunt? or not to hunt?  Many Christians ponder over this question since they want to focus primarily on Jesus' death, burial and resurrection during Easter weekend.  Many grandparents just don't understand if you forego this family tradition.  Each family must of course, decide for themselves, but here is my take on this issue...
When my sons were young, about age three, the grandparents wanted to continue this tradition.  After all, we had Easter baskets and egg hunts when we were their age.  After much discussion my husband and I decided to go ahead and have the egg hunts, but we always did them on or before Good Friday.   I think we even called it a Spring Egg Hunt rather than an Easter egg hunt.  Typically, Palm Sunday was the chosen day for our egg hunts.  The kids enjoyed finding the eggs so much that many times we would hide them several different times during that week, both inside the house AND outside the house (no treats after the first one though), for them to seek out and find.  I guess it's the hunter/gatherer instinct in boys/men that loved this activity so much.
We never found it an obstacle to teaching about the true meaning of Easter which we did on a regular basis.  In my previous blogs on March 24 and March 25  I described how we made homemade Resurrection Eggs filled with items that represented the various parts of Passion Week.  We would open one each day from about Palm Sunday up through Easter morning.  We did not do Easter "baskets" per se, but did buy Easter candy as a treat.  There was no confusion especially since it was all done before Easter/ Resurrection Day.

We did not, however, emphasize the Easter Bunny but told our kids (like we told them about Santa Claus) that it is a part of Easter that many children believe in and for them to NOT tell them any differently.  That was for their parents to do.  We firmly believed in explaining and telling them the truth about these traditions in our culture and also let them know how they originated, i.e. St. Nicholas, bunnies being fertile, etc.
There is no need to be stressed out about this issue. Just pray and ask the Lord what is better for YOUR family, despite the well-intentioned advice of other family members and friends.  

James 1:5  
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, 
who gives to all generously and without reproach, 
and it will be given to him. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27: Contentment and Walking for Pro Life True Life Choice


Prov. 27:19 As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man. 

Jer. 17:10 “I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds. 

Jer. 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD. 

Matt. 7:25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 

Contentment in God
The circumstances that come into our lives will show us what is in our hearts...Everyone takes their turn in enduring something they would rather not face.  (Henry Brandt)

Those who know God have great energy for God, have great thoughts of God, show great boldness for God and have great contentment in God.  (J. I. Packer)

[Excerpted from Contentment: A Matter of the Heart
by Karen Horsey / Karen's Kreations]
This morning my husband and I walked to raise money and awareness for True Life Choice Women's Center in our city.    We were joined by several hundred other like-minded people in the area, many from local churches walking 2 miles as a large group around a a lake in the center of Orlando.  

Many of us wore these T-shirts as we walked.

One interesting display on one of the walls near the food area was a row of baby shoes which represented the number of abortions performed in Florida alone in one day. 
It was a beautiful morning to get out and support a worthy cause.

Proverbs 31:9
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. 
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