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Monday, March 28, 2011

BOOK STUDY: Twelve Extraordinary Women / Mary--Blessed Among Women

It's been a couple of weeks since I've continued with this book--spring break, family vacation, working on our taxes...

Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur
Chapter 6
Mary: Blessed Among Women

Luke 1: 26-38
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin 1engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 

There is so much controversy among denominations about Mary.  The Bible makes it clear that she herself knew she was profoundly blessed by God (Luke 1:48) not that she was a fountain of grace to be given to others.  That role is for her Son, Jesus, alone.  She is not the mediator between God and us. Again, that is the role of Christ.  Much superstition and religious tradition lead many to worship her, pray to her and trust her for salvation which totally contradicts what scripture, and Jesus Himself,  says about her (Luke 11: 26-28).  

What we can learn from Mary's example is her humility.  Here is the mother of the Lord here on earth who remains mostly in the shadows being Joseph's wife and Jesus' mom.  I fear that I myself might have wanted to "slip" and let everyone know just who my son was if it had been me.  Mary was certainly in a difficult situation after the angel appeared to her with the news of having a baby and not being married.  There is no indication in scripture that she was afraid of what would happen but trusted God for the outcome  (Luke 1:38). She had great joy over the Lord's plan for her.

Wow!  How do I / you react when we recognize His plan for us and it becomes uncomfortable, awkward or even painful at times?  Mary was probably a young teenager when all this transpired yet her maturity is amazing in the midst of such circumstances and unknowns.  I pray that I continue to grow (yes, even at my age) and respond with worship to the Lord rather than anxiety and/or complaints.  How about you?

The Magnificat

And Mary said: 
My soul exalts the Lord, 
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; 
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 
For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 
He has done mighty deeds with His arm; 
He has scattered those who were proud in the2thoughts of their heart. 
He has brought down rulers from their thrones, 
And has exalted those who were humble. 
And sent away the rich empty-handed. 
He has given help to Israel His servant, 
In remembrance of His mercy, 
As He spoke to our fathers, 
To Abraham and his descendants forever.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

National Ligonier Conference 2011 / Orlando, FL / Listen Live Online

I've blogged previously about Ligonier Conferences that our family has attended. Excellent teaching in the Reformed Christian faith.   This year's featured speakers are:  
  • Sinclair Ferguson
  • W. Robert Godfrey
  • Steven Lawson
  • John Piper
  • R. C. Sproul
  • R.C. Sproul, Jr.
This year's  national conference topic is:  Light & Heat: A Passion for the Holiness of God.  It is this weekend beginning today in Orlando at First Baptist Church of Orlando.  Our family again will attend starting on Friday but will listen some online today LIVE.  So, if you are not planning to attend, and are interested in reformed theology, click HERE and check it out.  There will be live streaming lectures today, March 24, beginning at 1:00 p.m. (DST) through Saturday, March 26. A donation OF ANY AMOUNT is required on the site to listen.

A specific schedule of topics is at THIS LINK.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Sproul's introductory letter:
...Several essential doctrines of the Christian faith are under attack in our day, even from within the church, and it is important that we be well grounded in these truths so that we may have a deep affection for our triune God. John Piper will join me and Ligonier teaching fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. as we look at several important tenets of the faith, such as divine sovereignty, biblical worship, evangelism and missions, apologetics, and justification. John and I will also host special sessions on the history of the work of both Ligonier and Desiring God, and we will endeavor to share some of what we have learned in our ministries as pastors and theologians...

I'm sure you (and I) will be blessed by listening live, online or in person at the conference.

Photos from the conference:
Dr. John Piper

 Worship with a few thousand other believers

Dr. Sproul

  Hallelujah Chorus at the end. I got to be in the choir. :)

Colossians 3:16 
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom 
teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, 
singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Colossians 4:3 
...praying at the same time for us as well, 
that God will open up to us a door for the word
so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interesting Fact about July 2011

A friend sent me this yesterday.  Thanks, Jacque.

This is the only time we will see and live this event.
This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Family Travel

Updated Nov. 16. 2012:  

No big trips this year but from 2011...

While my husband was in Europe (England, Scotland, France) for a  10-day architectural/history tour with Reformed Theological Seminary, my two sons and I took a short trip to Washington, DC together.  I love many things to do and many are free, and how exciting when you watch the news to realize that everything is happening right there!  And the bonus is I got to spend some special, fun times with our two sons.   My older son was only 8 and the younger, age 3, when our family last visited DC.  This time, at 21 and 16, there were many more memories to add to our previous visit.   The Lord has miraculously provided the funding for both trips (my husband can even count his as a class for continuing education and a consequent tax write-off) so the family budget has not even taken a hit on these travels.   We were hit hard (literally--fallen trees, property damage, etc.) by some tropical storms the previous two years so we didn't go far from home due to the expenses we incurred.  I am so thankful to be able to have taken this special trip  with my children.  This picture below says it all...  :)    

I came across this blog post from 2009...

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

12. I am thankful that I have been able to travel to other countries and to have visited about half of the United States.

When I was growing up, our family traveled primarily to Daytona Beach in the summer from Augusta, Georgia. Once we visited my grandmother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. That was the extent of our travels as a family to other states. When I graduated from college my parents gave me a 3-piece set of red Samsonite luggage. Believe me, it really was this red (see below). It was certainly very easy to find in the airport baggage claim areas. I finally donated all of it to Goodwill last year--32 years later!  It was still in good condition!  :)

In the fall of 1977 (after graduation) I began traveling regularly to a different place I have never been each year. While I was single (age 18 - 30) I would usually travel alone and meet friends in other states and countries. Some of my favorite places were New York City and the Adirondacks, Pasadena, Los Angeles  and Santa Barbara, CA, Washington, DC/Virginia, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Salt Lake City, Utah, Venezuela, Italy and Germany.

After my husband and I were married we took a two-week honeymoon and drove up the eastern coast of the United States to New England, stopping at bed and breakfasts all along the way for at least a couple of days in each location--St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, Washington DC, Boston, Rockport, Newport, Williamsburg... What a wonderful trip that was. 

Since we have had children most of our trips have been in and throughout the South, mainly Florida (for economic reasons)--St. Augustine, Palm Beach, Tampa, State Parks, Atlanta & North Georgia-- and of course, the beaches. Disney World exposes us to the "look" of faraway places as well and we have been regulars there ever since our sons were small. We have taken two "big" trips with them to Charleston, SC, Washington, DC and also to Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. Butchart Gardens and Botany Bay on Vancouver Island in Canada are probably two of the most beautiful, peaceful places I have ever visited.

A very generous family that my husband met at a Super Bowl party (that my son dragged him to) provided us with a free place to stay in a beautiful expansive log "cabin" in the mountains of Tennessee for four years in a row. It was a blessing beyond belief to be there (it was really a 3-story lodge, not what we would call a cabin) and we are so thankful for their graciousness to us. We traveled with another family each time so that there was someone for everyone to play with, talk to, adventure with...and had wonderful family trips together there.

I/We indeed have been blessed to be able to see different parts of the country and the world. My older son has had the travel bug since college and took a 5-week mission/arts trip to New York City in 2009.  He's also been to New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville on spring and winter break trips.  I am happy for my children to be able to see places that I was not able to when I was their ages. Some places show the wonder of man's designs and ideas; others show the wonder of God's. I am thankful that I have been able to experience both-- alone, as well as with my family and dear friends.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flowers from Your Own Garden

I love fresh flowers, especially those in the springtime.   Most of our garden flowers we keep outside  IN the garden, but I trim a few when I can and bring them indoors.   This spring our azaleas are gorgeous.   

When you grow your own, you can cut just a few, put them in a pretty vase and voila--fresh flowers for your home for practically nothing.  I added some stems from a Christmas plant on our porch which needed pruning desperately, added a couple of store-bought roses and made two arrangements.  Here is one of them on our kitchen table.  :)  Just a little simple beauty to make everyone smile (including me).  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BOOK STUDY: Twelve Extraordinary Women / Hannah, A Portrait of Feminine Grace

Twelve Extraordinary Women  by John MacArthur
Chapter 5:  Hannah, A Portrait of Feminine Grace

1Samuel 2:1 
Then Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Thy salvation."

Hannah's name means "grace".  A study of her life reveals the classic profile of a godly mother.  Grace, godly do we put the two together?

Hannah's  life closely parallels that of Sarah especially re: her faith and perseverance.  She foreshadows Mary the mother of Jesus.  1Sam. 2:1-10 is very similar to The Magnificat in Luke 1: 46-55.   Surrender to God's will cost each of them dearly in terms of emotional suffering.  In Hannah's case, the separation from Samuel while he was a toddler.   Those of us who have sent children off to school for the first time can understand a bit of this, although Samuel never came back  home to live with his mother once he left.   

The Old Testament women we have discussed so far--Eve, Sarah, Rahab and Ruth-- all had the hope of God's promise of a Messiah to sustain them.  None of them lost hope even though they never saw Him in their lifetimes.  How we must learn to be like them in never losing hope that the Lord keeps ALL of His promises to us and never waiver in our confidence in Him.  

Hannah longed to be a mother and scripture is not vague about her grief at not being able to conceive. (1Sam. 1:5-10).  I have friends now for whom I pray (one young one in particular) who ache to have a child.   This is one gift that we older women can give the younger, is to pray for their heart's desires.   John M. reminds us that motherhood is a noble calling and one that God has uniquely gifted women to fulfill.  Honor and eminence in the Bible is nearly always closely associated with home and family.   The answer to Hannah's prayer request was the birth of a son who was the beginning of a series of events that helped turn back the spiritual darkness and backsliding in Israel at that time.  

One thing he mentions that is easily overlooked in the story of Hannah is her love for  her husband Elkanah.  I love what John M. says about this:  Contrary to popular  opinion, the most important characteristic of a godly mother is not her relationship with her children, it is her love for her husband.  This is the key to a thriving family.  Families should not revolve around the children.  How we mess things up when we alter how God has designed things.  I speak from experience on this as  we have made this mistake on occasion as well.  Keep on the lookout for this "easy to fall into sin" as it can create major disunity in the family, immediate and extended.

The remarkable prayer that Hannah prayed for her son included the clause that he would be fit to serve in the tabernacle [i.e. razor shall never come on his head].  She WANTED to give him back to God.  Here, another "not of this world" attitude that most mothers have a difficult time with.  We raise these young arrows and then when it's time to shoot them out of the quiver, we tend to hang on to them.  Again, I'm speaking from experience with this one.  I have gradually been letting go of our older son over the last few years; our younger son will begin his journey in 2 years as well.  God is good because generally we don't empty the quiver all at one time!  :)

Lots of lessons to be learned from this godly woman, Hannah.  She is certainly a good role model for all of us, whether we have children or not.  I encourage you to get the book and read the entire chapter.  It will enlighten your life and renew your mind about what the Lord has in mind for us as women, contrary to what popular culture maintains that women should be. God can do amazing things through the life of just one faithful woman devoted to Him.  Remember this, if you are at home with toddlers and/or teens, typically stressful times in the life of a mom.

NEXT WEEK:  Chapter 6--Mary, Blessed Among Women

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mimi's 50% Off One Entree March 8-11, 2011

Here's another Mimi's coupon for you.  There's one about 5 minutes from our house.  It's a favorite place to eat or take a friend for breakfast for lunch.

To download your printable coupon, go to THIS LINK.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Comfort Food for Weekend Nights

On  Friday nights if we don't go out to dinner, I have more time to make a good one.  My husband loves to come home to a dinner in the oven.  What is your favorite comfort food dinner?  I made this last night and there were actually leftovers even with the men here getting seconds!  I think that's only because there were two  of them here eating instead of three.  This meal always gets raves from our family... don't know why I don't make it more often.  Usually I make meatballs from the same ingredients as the meatloaf but this time I just made two meatloaves instead.
  • Meatloaf (ground beef, chopped onion, fresh parsley, bread crumbs, a little bit of Manwich sauce)
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Fresh green beans
  • Fruit salad (cantaloupe, blueberries, bananas) with whipped cream
  • Hot tea

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crown Financial Ministries / Final Broadcast Today March 4, 2011

One of my favorite radio programs  airs its final live broadcast today.   Crown Financial Ministries, which is my favorite money management advice ministry site, has been broadcasting this program for many years.   I can't tell you how much this program has ministered to and benefited our family.  It was started by Larry Burkett who passed away a few years ago and continued by an old friend of ours, Howard Dayton.    I often share what I hear on my blog and with others that I talk to who are having financial struggles.  Having formerly worked in banking with credit analysis, I am naturally drawn to this type of programming so I really appreciate what I have learned  from listening.  

Crown Ministries will continue to have free podcasts which you can download to your iPod or MP3 player on their website at THIS LINK.  I download the podcasts to  iTunes and listen while I walk in the mornings or am working at my desk.   There are also many other resources, books, free  financial counseling services, etc. that tare available.  This is a ministry that we support financially so that others may learn good stewardship of their money and use it and their gifts for God's glory.

So, if you want to hear the final broadcast, it airs at 3:30 - 4:00 p.m. today.  Here in Orlando, it is on WTLN 950 AM radio.  Check your local listings.  

Luke 19:17   
"Well done, my good servant!" his master replied. 
"Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities."

Morse Gallery / Laurelton Hall FREE through March 20, 2011

Posting this from my friend Virginia:

Morse Museum Free Admission Now through March 20, and New Laurelton Hall Exhibit 

The world's most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) is housed at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The Museum's Tiffany collection includes jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass windows and lamps, and the chapel interior the artist designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Museum's holdings also include a major collection of American art pottery and representative collections of late 19th- and early 20th-century American painting, graphics, and decorative art.

The Morse Museum’s new galleries feature the recently restored Daffodil Terrace and 250 art and architectural objects from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. 

The Morse is offering free admission during regular hours (9:30 AM - 4 PM Tuesday - Saturday and 1 PM - 4 PM Sunday) now through March 20.   Admission is also free on Friday evenings (4 - 8 PM) now through the end of April. 

There is live music on the second Friday evening of each month.  On Friday, March 11 you can hear Celtic Crossings (Celtic harp, flute, and violin), and on Friday, April 8 will be Lynn Peghiny (piano).  More information at THIS LINK.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BOOK STUDY: Twelve Extraordinary Women / Ruth-- Loyalty and Love

Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur
Chapter 4:  Ruth--Loyalty and Love

The story of Ruth is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.  Just like Esther, an entire book is devoted to its telling.    Set in the Old Testament times Ruth's name means friendship.  As you can see from reading, she had friendship with her mother-in-law and an eternal friendship with the Lord who blessed her more than she probably ever asked or thought.  

After Naomi's husband and two sons died, Naomi lamented:  Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me?... she wants them to call her Mara, which means bitter.  John M. explains that she was not suggesting that she had become a bitter person but that God had handed her a bitter cup to drink.  She was actually a woman of great faith, willing to leave the pagan land where her husband had moved them and return to her homeland in poverty.  A righteous woman as well, under the umbrella protection of the Lord for her obedience to her authority (her husband in this case).  

God provided for Naomi through her loyal daughter-in-law Ruth who refused to leave her.  I can only say that Naomi must have been the perfect mother-in-law because such devotion to an in-law is often not the case in our culture. Though expressed from a younger woman to an older one, the  poetic way Ruth refuses to leave her from chapter 1:16-17 is often used in weddings for its message of firm resolve and commitment as well as its beautiful words.  Naomi apparently loved Ruth and as was customary in that culture set about trying to orchestrate an arranged marriage for her.   Widows in that time were destitute without a man to care for them.

You've heard the illustration, I'm sure, of the tapestry of life, how we see parts of the weaving from the underside and the Lord sees the completed piece of fabric from the top with every stitch blending and fitting together as He has planned.    That is so evident in Ruth's life.  From Ruth's marriage to a Jewish man who had left his homeland for a pagan land (very unusual), to the ancestry of Boaz (his mother or grandmother was Rahab, a foreign woman like Ruth herself), to Ruth finding a job in the fields of the kinsman-redeemer for their family, to Boaz having a significant harvest where Ruth could work and get food after so many years of famine...the list goes on.  Romans 8:28 is illustrated throughout this entire book.  Sometimes in living our daily lives we miss seeing the little twists and turns of life as an actual path that the Lord has prepared for us.

God chose Ruth in his beautiful tapestry and rewarded her for her faithfulness, loyalty and love, as well as her submission to authority by providing her with a husband to care for her and her mother-in-law as well as giving her a son who was to be a predecessor of  King David and hence, Christ.  Her name is recorded in the Bible for all eternity, something that she probably would  never have asked or thought.  

Have you ever taken time to ponder your own life's timeline, its highs and seeming lows, its twists and curves from what you have planned and where you are today?   Take a few minutes today and actually write it down as a pathway that you have been on, remembering that your path has not yet ended if you're reading this. :)   If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know that my mother passed away recently and that I was adopted into our family as an infant (like Ruth was adopted into the family of God).  Due to family conflict among our elders resulting in 40+ years of separation, several in our family were reunited this past week and our family in many ways was reborn for my brother and me. So, even in death, we have discovered new life in our family.  I was even reunited with a childhood friend after 30+ years of separation as well.  A little twist in the road from our day-to-day lives resulted in abundant blessings for us as the events of the week were far better than I would have ever asked or thought as with Ruth.  God is good.  The tapestry continues weaving as our lives go on...

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, 
according to the power that works within us, 
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. 

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
  to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

NEXT WEEK:  Hannah--A Portrait of Feminine Grace

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