Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolve or Repent


Mechanical egg timerNew Year's resolutions are notoriously short-lived.  Most of mine have had a 2 week shelf life.  There was a decade in my life where my resolutions revolved around three things.  Looking at the scale, inevitably up from the year before, I'd resolve to lose weight.  Staring around at the stacks of clutter and mounds of dirt, I'd resolve to be better at dealing with my household chores. Finally remembering the panicked pulling together of some last minute school project or paperwork, I'd resolve firmly to stop procrastinating.  Can you imagine the result?  

Friday, December 28, 2012

Eve on Resolutions

Why do you think most New Year's resolutions fail?  I think there is probably a whole host of reasons.  Sometimes we don't make our goals measurable; some of what we resolve is just not reasonable, and sometimes what we really need to do is repent instead of resolve. (Helene will be talking all about that painful little topic on Monday).   But for me, discouragement is the biggest reason I fail at New Year's resolutions. Like many perfectionists, I want to get it right the first time.  When I fall off the wagon, I am more likely to cry and give up than to pick myself up and run to jump back on again.  I am even less likely to pray and ask for the strength to meet my goal.  In our walk as Christians, whether we are dealing with true sin that we need to overcome or some personal goal we'd like to reach, we need to remember a few things.  One is not to give up, and the other is not to try to do it on our own.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I am Resolved

New-Year Resolutions list
Now that Christmas is over, our minds turn to the fast approaching New Year.  I'm not a night owl, so I probably won't be staying up to ring in the new year. However, I will eat black-eyed peas (for luck), turnip greens (for cash), and cornbread (because it goes well with beans).  Of course, we don't believe the superstitions, but it surely is a good meal!  Another New Years tradition that many people observe is the making of resolutions.  Many of those resolutions have to do with diet or exercise, but I have heard some people resolve to be kinder to their children or more romantic with their spouse. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jesus' Wish List

Furoshiki-wrapped Christmas giftI hate buying presents.  I am terrible at it.  I draw a huge blank.  Even for my children, I really have to rack my brain to think of what to buy.   As if that weren't bad enough, most of my gifts have to be transported internationally; they can't be too heavy, too bulky or likely to end up in pieces after being tossed off the back of a 747!  Finding the right thing is a real challenge.  
 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reason for the Season?

Nativity Scene Zilina
Jesus is the reason for the Season.  I have to admit it; I have always hated that phrase.  I grew up with some wonderful Christian people who believed in celebrating Christmas as a strictly religious holiday. I love them dearly, and I know that they wanted nothing more than to see me become a strong Christian woman.  Still, when I was a child, I always felt like they used the "reason for the season" as a club.  "You're having a good time with those Christmas toys?  Great!  But Jesus is the reason for the season!"  Year after year, I felt a sense of guilt that I didn't think about Baby Jesus often enough during the Christmas season.  About the time I'd start having fun, I'd feel the need to pull out the Bible and read Luke 1-2 again, not because I wanted to, but because I felt shamed into it.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not So Silent Night

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright
The cattle are lowing the poor baby wakes,
The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes...


What do you imagine the manger scene was like?  I like singing both Silent Night and Away in a Manger, but I am suspicious about the picture they draw.  Few of the times when I was present at the birth of a new baby has the picture been "calm."  Okay, maybe after baby has been given a bath, had his hair washed, is wrapped in clean clothes and swaddled in a receiving blanket and asleep, there's "calm."  For about 5 minutes until his tiny newborn tummy is empty and he's mewling for milk!  As for Mary and Joseph, first time parents with no helpful nurses, no newborn bath-tub, no Johnson's and Johnson's Shampoo, "calm" isn't the word I think of.  And don't get me started on the "no-crying-he-makes" scenario.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unexpected Hospitality

The holidays are indeed a time for parties, but also a time for unannounced guests.  The old friend that is on the way home for the holidays and realizes that you are right off of their path, or the long forgotten cousin who is just passing through.  Do you rush them off just as quickly as you can because it is almost dinner time, and you don't have anything to fix them? Or do you happily pull out your old tried and true cupboard staples and whip together food for the company?  How do you respond to these unexpected holiday visitors?   Today I would like to take a break from my normal Tuesday post about my Bible reading to continue the holiday theme posts with a look at how Sarah extends hospitality to her unanticipated guests. 
 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Cure for Sin

Like many of you, I spent Friday afternoon sobbing.  My daughter is in kindergarten, and I couldn't help but picture her in that classroom in Connecticut.  I've blogged about how my children are in God's hands no matter what, but a tragedy like this reminds me that I have yet to let that truth saturate my very soul.  So I cried, and I attempted to pray.  I know the Spirit had to intercede for me (Romans 8:26) because I didn't know the words to say.  
 

The Party Pooper

Rippl SorrowThe holiday bully is a particularly evil form of female predator.  Do you know any? She seems to get a perverse delight from hurting others.  Her tools are psychological - a well placed comment or an arch look. She can instantly size up an unsuspecting cousin or sister-in-law.  Ten extra pounds, an ugly Christmas sweater, a kid who isn't college material, a scorched casserole - it is all fodder!  She pounces!  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Life of the Party

The wedding at CanaIt's the Christmas season, and you know what that means.  Parties!  From open houses to parties at church and work, the holidays are full of celebrations.  Me?  I like going to a good party, but planning and hosting one is another matter.  I tend to get entirely too wrapped up in the details.  Helene's post about all the judges out there really hit home.  Every time I plan any kind of event, be it supper with another family or a big party, I have a list of worries.  Is the food good?  Are they having a good time? Am I boring?  Is the toilet clean?  Can anyone see a speck of trash on the floor?  Having such a big list of social concerns myself, I can understand how the "wedding planner" of the party in Cana felt when he ran out of wine (John 2).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Double Vision

Egger-Lienz - Madona
 

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you. (Lowry, Mark. "Mary Did you Know?" 1984.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making Substitutions


1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Monday, December 10, 2012

Imaginary Judges

Christmas tree, choinka 200512242008 ChristmasEve00028
It's the most craftiest time of the year (cue the swelling music).  There'll be trees for decorating, cookies for baking, wreaths for making, and cards to be delivered for all! Pinterest is ablaze with Christmas crafts! Are you looking forward to a season of fun?  Or are you buckling under the pressure? 
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lord Make Me a Servant

FootWashingIn our congregation, we have a set of teenage twins.  The young man has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.  Although his body is severely affected, his mind is not.  He is a Christian, and he has had the opportunity to lead singing and to preach.  His twin sister is also a Christian, and she is physically a typical teenager.  Recently during worship, the siblings were sitting some rows ahead of me, and I saw something that really touched my heart.  Because of his condition, the young man is unable to take communion without assistance.  As he sat on the aisle in his wheelchair, his sister sat on the pew beside him and carefully served him the cup.  It took two or three times for him to be able to swallow it all, but she patiently helped him take the whole thing.  The scene let me know that this young girl already has the heart of Christ, the heart of a servant.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas on the Prairie

When my daughter was four, approaching five, a very kind Christian woman gently pointed out to me that her attention span was somewhat lacking.  Since this woman was a kindergarten teacher, I took her very seriously.  I asked what I could do to help my child, and my friend suggested reading chapter books to her.  I have always read to my kids, but before that time, I had been reading small children's books.  I had always said I would read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my girls, and this seemed like a good opportunity.  It had been years since I had read them, and I was surprised to see how much my perspective on them had changed since childhood.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Revisiting the Nativity

Nativity tree2011
The turkey is all gone; now it is time to start thinking about Christmas.  My music has come out, and I am determined to get the tree up this week.  I also spent some time this past week reading over the Christmas story to get in the holiday mood.  As I read over the story, I was once again amazed by how many of the facts are not what I was taught in Sunday school and how we so often overlook the emotion of the moment.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

By Grace Through Faith

Let me share a passage that's been troubling me.  "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;"(Romans 5) See that's a puzzle there, right.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Shame No More


She was humiliated.  The scarlet blush of mortification stained her cheeks as she looked at the ground.  Surrounded by her accusers and others in the temple court, she felt more exposed than she had when they had caught her in the act of adultery.  She felt every eye on her as the scribes and Pharisees thrust her in front of the teacher and announced her sin for all to hear.  No one stood with her.  Her lover had been allowed to escape, and he left her alone to face the punishment and shame for their sin.  It was the lowest point of her life, and the humiliation threatened to engulf her.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Promoting the Praiseworthy

For Christmas last year I got gift cards.  Wait, don't feel sorry for me.  I don't have lame loved ones with no idea what to buy!  They were Barnes and Noble gift cards.  I have a Nook and I can stick my entire library in my carry-on.  It's a dream come true. (Now I am just waiting for someone to invent a teleporter.)   The real question was what books to buy. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clutter Cleaning and Spurring

Feather duster
Recently we hired a new housekeeper.  As she flitted around the house digging in to one task after another, it reminded me of a question that I am sometimes asked.   Do we have to go to church?  Having the housekeeper come not only got my house clean for that day, but it had a number of other benefits that reminded me of the importance of going to church each week.   I realize that these two thoughts don't seem connected, but what I recently read in Hebrews 10:19-25 ties the two together.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Greasy Stain of Sin

Two Paths - geograph.org.uk - 1397781
I remember the greasy feeling of shame. It's like a nausea that refuses to be swallowed down-a literal acidic ache.  Someone looked at me, saw my fault, and pointed it out. I'm not talking about a kindly Christian sister gently pointing out my sin and prayerfully leading me to repentance.  No.  I am talking about an irritated boss who gruffly called me down in front of coworkers or the catty friend whose "joke" left me stinging. Their attitude may have been wrong but their point wasn't.  My sin left a stain for the whole world to see. You been there? It's a cross road.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bread of Life

Freshly baked bread loaves
Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  I hope it was filled with family, friends, gratefulness, and prayers.  One thing I'm sure you had a lot of is food.  One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving is to swipe little bits of food before the meal is served.  My Grandma still gives me a mock glare when I do it, but I can't help but snitch a little ham when I can.  One of the easiest things to "sneak" is the bread.  With apologies to my paleo friends, I could never be on a low carb diet.  I love bread of almost any variety.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Dishes

Have you thought of yourself as a vessel of honor or dishonor before?  We can be holy prepared for use in God's kingdom!What dishes are you pulling out for Thanksgiving?  When I lived in America we had a couple of fancy serving platters, a ceramic dish or two just the right size for sweet potato  casserole, and a giant roaster that were only pulled out for holidays. Back then I had ordinary dishes too.  Chipped and cracked, they were familiar and useful. There was one more kind: a big ceramic bowl in the bathroom that I should have cleaned more often than I did. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Place for Everything

I tend to be an organizer.  Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not always organized; my house is not always clean.  But when I do get to cleaning, I tend to have a specific place for each item.  For instance, I can't stand having one big toy box for my kids.  Instead, I have a drawer system.  Barbies go in a drawer, Barbie accessories go in another drawer, etc.  I like to compartmentalize my time too.  If I don't have a plan for the day, with a task in each half-hour segment, I will likely not get much done.  Life seems so much neater with "a place for everything and everything in its place."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Movie Night

We've been encompassed by the story of Jesus lately.  My husband, our eleven year old and I have all read The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. I just finished a rereading of Mark (not a study-I read the whole thing in 3 days) and our girl is working through it one chapter at a time.  That takes care of us big people, but what about the little one?  Well, this week our family watched an old movie.  "The story of Jesus according to the gospel of Luke."  We ate some red beans and rice (yum), snuggled up on the couch, and even the 4 year old was enthralled.  She asked a million questions.  She gasped when the nails were driven into his hands.  She touched my face when a tear slipped down it.  She was fully engaged in the movie and I was engaged in her, wishing I could see the story the way she did for the first time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Really Bad Girl

Do you consider yourself a "good girl?"  You know the type: spent most of high school studying or working in order to spend summers going to church camps and youth group activities.  Helene, Melissa, and I were all that sort of girl.  Although we try to make the blog applicable to all types of women, perhaps we hit this target group more often.  We hope today's post is broader in scope.  Good girls or bad we all have something to learn from Ezekiel's description of Israel as one REALLY bad girl!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The God of All Comfort


Oak tree in CorsicaI have written before about my Papaw's death this spring.  That morning, I talked to my Dad on Skype, then I crawled up on my husband's lap.  He held me just like he does our girls.  I cried until both our shirts were soaked in tears.  Before long though, a thought occurred to me.  I haven't cried like this in years. Many years.  Why?  Because my life is free of real tragedy - losing a grandparent, even a beloved one, at 34, is no tragedy.  And even in that day's sorrow, I cried selfish tears.  Papaw lost nothing.  He was a faithful and godly man and his hope is mine (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Heart of a Teacher

Do you remember how to choose good lettuce?" 
"Yes, you look for one that is firm and heavy."
"Good!  Can you get me a head of lettuce?"
"Yes, Mom"
"Thank you."


I was near this mother and daughter for much of my Aldi shopping trip today.  Their venture was peppered with lessons on how to choose good produce, how to price check, and how they would be using various ingredients.  The mother  was patient in teaching, and the daughter was cheerful in obeying.  She was a real help to her mother.  I'd guess her age to be about ten, and I was impressed.  I wish I had told them how much I admired both of them before they checked out.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blogging and Faith: An Interview with Casandra Martin

Yesterday, we had a book review for a Bible study book by Casandra Martin called Living Stones.  Ms. Martin was kind enough to do an interview for Helene via email which we are sharing with you today.  We hope you will check our her blog as well.  She has a lot of good information and devotionals to share with us.  ~Melissa
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Living Stones: A Book Review

We've mentioned before that Christian blogs are a great place to learn about authors that will help us keep our minds on pure and noble things.  One author that Helene and I have followed since before starting this blog is Casandra Martin.  Ms. Martin was a school teacher before becoming a stay at home mom.  Since then, she's continued to teach through writing.  One of the things she has done is write several Bible study books in a series she calls WOW, Women Opening the Word.  Her newest is called Living Stones, and she was kind enough to send me a copy of it to review for her here on Maidservants of Christ.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Wall

How often have you devoted your mind on a goal only to get to a point in that quest where you hit a brick wall?  The wall is so thick that you can't get through it no matter how hard you try.  When we get to this point there seems to be only two choices: we can either give up, or we can reevaluate and adjust in order to keep going.  I will admit, usually my strategy has been to give up.
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Sword Through The Heart

The day my oldest daughter was born I couldn't help thinking of Mary.  Here I was in July, in an air-conditioned hospital room, hopped up on pain killers, following a C-section, and I am thinking about nativity scenes.  Weird, I know.  But I bet I am not the only Christian mom who looked at her own baby and thought of the mother of that holy baby. Mary was haunting my thoughts.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Grim Queen

Once upon a time, there was an evil queen who craved power.  She was content to be the power behind the throne for a while, directing her husband the king to do evil.  As a result of her wicked deeds, most of her children were carried off to a distant land, and her husband died of a wasting sickness.  She never grieved them but continued to manage affairs when her last remaining son had the throne.  As soon as she found out her son was dead, she killed as many of her grandchildren she could find and took the throne for herself.  This story sounds like one of the Brothers Grimm more twisted tales, the kind we skip in our bedtime story routine.  Unfortunately, this horrible narrative instead chronicles one of the darker times in the history of the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-29, 11:1-21; 2 Chronicles 21-23).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gods and Kings: A Book Review

"MOLECH ... MOLECH ... MOLECH!"
Suddenly the wall of soldiers parted, and Hezekiah got his first glimpse of Molech.  He knew he wasn't dreaming. He knew the monster was real because he never could have imagined anything so horrible.  Molech stared down at him from a throne of brass as the fire in the pit beneath the hollow statue blazed with a loud roar.  Tongues of flame licked around the edges of his open mouth. His arms reached out as if waiting to be filled, forming a steep incline that ended in his open, waiting mouth. ... Hezekiah watched in horror as the man tossed his brother into the monster's waiting arms.  Eliab rolled down the incline toward the open mouth, clawing at the brazen arms to try to stop his fall, but the metal was hot and polished smooth.  He couldn't hold on.  Eliab's pitiful screams wailed above the  roar of the flames and the pounding drums, even after he had fallen over the rim and Molech had devoured him. (Austin, Lynn. Gods and Kings: Chronicles of the Kings #1, p 14-15.).  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giving God the Leftovers

Crumbs saucer forkHave you ever planned out your supper to include leftovers for the next meal only to discover at the end of your meal that all of the food is gone?  Now I have an even more important question.  Have you ever planned out your day to include your quiet time with the Father in your spare time during the day?  This is how I have been approaching my Bible reading lately.  I have intended to read during my spare moments during the day or at the end of the day before bed.  Somehow those spare moments have become filled up.   By nighttime, I am too tired to read and pray.  I have become so far behind that I have no reading to write about today, which is particularly bad considering the fact that my reading should be three weeks ahead of the blog.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Halloween is just around the corner.  I don't need to turn to costumed children or horror movies to feel a chill of fear.  Media doomsayers, gunmen shooting up movie theaters or fanatics causing buildings to crumble-they shake us all.  We are tempted to think that terror is a modern phenomenon.  This week we'll be covering the two most terrifying ancient women we could think of-Jezebel and Athaliah. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Blessing of Children

Pierre-Édouard Frère - Interior with Woman Teaching Child to Pray - Walters 371404
When I think about how my children are a blessing from the Lord, I have a very definite set of "blessings" in  mind.  With my young children,  spontaneous kisses, wide eyed wonder, cooking lessons, bubble baths, and snuggles all come to mind.   Indeed, all of these things are blessings to be grateful for in my nightly prayers, but when I read the Bible, I find one woman thankful for much different things. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letting Go

WARNING: You might want to read today's post with Kleenex box in hand.  On Monday, Helene posted a profile of the Gentile woman whose daughter was demon-possessed, and tomorrow Melissa will put up an article about Hannah letting Samuel go.  We wanted to include a real life example of a woman letting her children go.  Today's guest post is by Anna, a woman whom the three of us have known and loved for many years.   She is well acquainted with the pain associated with saying goodbye to one's children, but also with the comfort found in our Savior's arms during such difficult times.  Anna's life demonstrates various ways in which women are called on to let go of their children.  Many of you will probably be able to relate to one or more of her illustrations.   We hope you not only enjoy this guest post but are reminded who those precious little ones really belong to.  ~ Helene, Jane, and Melissa

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Setting Their Hope

Welcome to Whatsoever Wednesday!  In the middle of the week, we like to share what we are reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise filling our minds with to fulfill the command in Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Sometimes my prayers stink.  I think God must get tired of me saying the same things over and over.  I start with the obvious address, I do the "intercession" time (You know, please bless my kids, my husband, our family...), I say thanks for this and that and I'm done.  I know there must be more to prayer than that.  Something more than the dry, methodical, self-centered, obligatory phrases I have been saying since I was 10.  I love God, but I am shallow! Or maybe I am simply out of words.  As if this wasn't bad enough, I'm a chronic emergency pray-er. When I am sad, hurt, or frightened, I can pray like a fiend. When things are sailing along, I forget everything I learned; my passion wanes and I become inconsistent again. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Do You Believe in God?

Why do you believe in God?  I don't know if you have been asked this question recently, but it is a question that Helene and I both get asked fairly frequently.  There are many reasons that I do, but today I would like to talk about one that relates to my recent reading.  I have just finished reading the book of Isaiah.  Although I admit that there are many sections in this book that I don't understand, the prophecies in this book that I do understand really strengthen my faith.  The fact that I am able to read about events that were written down hundreds of years before they ever happened really helps me to know that there really is a God and that He cares for the intimate particulars of our lives.   In addition to many details of Jesus' life and death that were foretold by Isaiah, I found two other passages particularly moving--one a surprise to me and the other an old favorite.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Desperate Mama

Have you ever thought your child was going to die?  I don't mean in a fit of temper you were going to have to kill them. All of us have had that humorous thought.  I mean have you had a moment or more than one, where you honestly didn't know if your child would live or die?  I have.  Three times in the 4 years she has been in this world, I have honestly wondered if my younger daughter would live or die.  They are three of the worst moments of my life.

Friday, October 19, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Unequally Yoked

Have you ever known a couple that was "unequally yoked?"  I mean, a couple where one is a Christian and the other is not?  I'm sure you have.  It can be a really hard way to live.  I watched both of my faithful grandmothers come to church alone every week.  Both were married fairly young and became Christians after marriage.  They loved their husbands, and the fact that they were not Christians didn't take away from their love for them.  They both would have loved for their husbands to be saved. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Post: The Hidden Infidelity

This post was originally posted at www.thechristianwoman.com.  Ms. Cosgrove was gracious enough to allow me to re-post it here as we've discussed husbands who go down the wrong path.  Her story is similar to Abigail's that we discussed last week in that her husband died.  It is also similar to the Christian woman we'll discuss tomorrow because she prayed for her husband fervently.  This painful narrative reminds us that there are not always easy answers when husbands go wrong, but that our God is always faithful. ~Melissa
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Will and To Do

Last summer, our upstairs neighbors dropped off a load of unwanted books.  Among the paperbacks was this title, The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life. To my mind the title promised more of the same: pseudo-psychology meets watered-down Christianity.  Not for me, thanks.  However, unsurprisingly as my supply of new books dwindled, I was drawn to the worn pages.  Do you ever read a book, back of a shampoo bottle, set of instructions to a remote control, child's textbook, 8 month old newspaper, or even your Bible just because you were out of stuff you wanted to read? I have.  I am a junkie. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shining as Lights

Have you ever sat outside at dusk waiting for the first star of evening to appear?  With the sun melting into the backdrop, it is easy to miss that star when it appears.  However, on a moonless, clear night far from city lights, the stars twinkle so brightly that they almost hurt the eyes to look at them.  We live in a dark world full of sin, but Philippians 2:14-15  says that when we are living as God calls us to, we appear like "lights in the world."  The NIV says we "shine like stars in the universe."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aliens and Strangers

Aliens and Strangers: Just registering my daughter for preschool in a foreign country was a huge challenge!  Don't forget God's heart for aliens and strangers!Everyone was standing in the hallway by the classroom murmuring the way you do while waiting in line.  The air was sticky and still. There were two tables, six women, four signs, and I was entirely lost. The fall semester was about to begin the next day and I needed to register my youngest daughter for preschool.  I can speak some of the common tongue but I can't read at all.  So there I am, a true stranger, staring around in confusion, wondering which crowd of people to join.  I was especially perplexed by the signs.  There was no obvious table or line where I should begin, and after the more savvy parents (the literate ones!) read the signs they seemed to know where to go.  But what do they say?  Is one sign for 4 year olds? I have no idea! Or perhaps one sign is for people who need to pay? Or to register new or returning students?  I am frozen, anxious and sure that standing there staring around has revealed me for what I am, an alien.

Friday, October 12, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Abigail

When I was in junior high, I had some friends who were not very nice.  They made fun of other people, even people who really couldn't defend themselves.  Sometimes I just stood by quietly and let the teasing go on. Sometimes I joined in.  There came a point when I realized that if I claimed to be a Christian, I could not behave that way.  I didn't want to lose my friends, so I tried to talk them out of being so mean.  I had a very lonely year.  Instead of stopping the sin, they stopped being my friends.  I could not influence them for good.  I'm sure my efforts were very immature, but sometimes a person can't be convinced to do the right thing.  What if that person is your husband? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thorns?

Today's guest post comes from my Aunt, Polly Banks.  She has been writing poetry which reflects on life and our walk with God as long as I can remember.  As soon as last week's post, Redefining the Thorn, was up, I got a note from her sister about this poem which I had not had the pleasure of reading.  Aunt Polly's sweet and positive spirit has always been an inspiration to our whole family. ~ Helene 
 

Thorns?

We walk through life
with thoughts of roses in mind.
Looking for all the happiness
and joy we can find,
But there are times many thorns
come our way,
Do we then look for the roses
hidden that day?
If we dwell on the negatives
we find in life,
We could be eaten with
worry, sorrow and strife,
But if we think on the things
of good report,
Roses amongst the thorns
and things of that sort,
And how God walks with us
through all of life's pain,
How He gives us salvation
with eternal life to gain,
And how blessed we are with
eternities values in view
We then can have a rosy
outlook in all we do.

Philippians 4: 4-9

PB

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sing and Be Happy


My son really had a rough time today.  After he turned on the garden hose (which he knows is off limits), I made him come in the house.  He absolutely fell apart.  He'd had a busy couple of days, and the exhaustion was showing in a melt-down.  It was naptime.  All of you who have had any contact with children know that the last thing a worn out four year old boy wants to do is take a nap.   He screamed; he kicked; he did all he could to keep himself awake.  None of my usual bribes or punishments was working.  So I started to sing: "Blessed Assurance" followed by "Sweet Hour of Prayer."  By the time I made it to "It Is Well With My Soul," he was asleep. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dearest Daughter,

There was a point in my life when I was quite down on myself, and taking this first chapter of Ephesians and changing it into a letter from God to me, really helped me to realize how special I was to my Father.  I used the New Living Translation as a basis for this letter, but had to slightly alter it in a few places to change it into its current state.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Faith and Works

The last time you heard a sermon on faith and works, did it mention Rahab the harlot? No? Why not? She's the perfect example! In fact, Rahab is mentioned three times in the New Testament.  Once as an ancestress of Jesus and twice in connection to the idea of faith and works (Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25).  Her example is one of the clearest illustrations of the connection between what we believe and what we do in all of the Bible. 
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Sapphire

I am blessed to have a husband who is a Christian and the spiritual leader of our house.  I thank God for him every day.  But I know that not all of you women out there have what I have.  Some of you are married to men who are not Christians.  Some of you have to take up the mantle of spiritual leader because your husbands have not. I've seen both sides over and over in my life.  Sometimes husbands and fathers go wrong.  Sometimes non-Christian husbands makes the choice to lead their wives in sin.  Sometimes believing men can make bad decisions which may harm their families.  How are we, as Christian women, supposed to handle it when a husband goes wrong?  In the next few weeks, we'll be looking at some examples of what women in the Bible did. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creepy Caterpillar

I have been thinking about caterpillars lately.  Especially how they change.  Walking to preschool the other day, my youngest daughter stopped to watch a caterpillar crawl across a rock.  For the rest of the walk we talked about the way caterpillars become butterflies.  The mystery of it still befuddles me. In two weeks one kind of creature, a fuzzy crawling pest, becomes an entirely other kind of creature, an ethereal piece of art in motion. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Redefining the Thorn


Thorns.  Aside from the ones on roses, this is not a word that brings to mind beauty and comfort.  Rather, when we think on this word, we think of pain and ugliness.  Thorns and thistles represent the bane of every gardener.  They bring about hurt and discomfort and if left too long in the skin, even infection.  No wonder Paul asked for his thorn in his flesh to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7).   Now, I am almost certain that Paul wasn't asking God to remove an actual sticker from his finger, but I do believe that he used this term intentionally to bring to our minds a mental picture of pain and suffering.

Monday, October 1, 2012

If You Had Only Been Here

I've wondered about prayer since I was kid.   I wonder how does God feel? Does my lackluster prayer life hurt His feelings, like if I just stopped Skyping my Mom?   How does He begin answering prayers before I've prayed them?  Why does He wait so long to solve problems that He is going to end up solving for me in the end?  Does He ever answer me, and then I just don't understand the answer at all?  How many "thank-you notes" for prayers answered have I forgotten to send in my life?  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Drama Queens

We have outlawed two words at our house.  Those words are "always" and "never."  Does that sound silly?  Perhaps it is, but conversations with my oldest daughter had started to sound like this:

 "Mommy, can I have a cookie?"
 "No, supper is almost ready."
 "I'll never have a cookie again!"

Baby Kisses

Today I am thinking about  kisses.  Okay, I know kisses are not books or blogs, but what can be more pure and lovely than the kiss of a baby?  You see, my baby has learned to give kisses recently.  You know the kind: mouth open, tongue out, slobbery.  I love them.  She is showing me her love in the best way she knows how.  It isn't perfect, but it is sincere.  I know that as she gets older, her kisses will be less messy.  I mean, if my son kissed me with his tongue, I would correct him. He knows better.  He and I both know what he is capable of.  And he gives the best kisses!  They are so enthusiastic without being sloppy. I dread the day my sweet boy will be embarrassed to kiss his Mommy.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sharing Daily Discipline

I have done a terrible job the last two weeks regarding my daily discipline of reading.  I need some help getting back on track, so I talked about this problem with Helene and Melissa.  They agreed that perhaps writing a bit each day this week about something that I read might help me get back on the right path.  Instead of my normal Tuesday post, I will be posting a short thought each day this week in the comments section.  I hope that many of you will also add thoughts from your own daily reading.  Seeing your comments each day will help me to continue strong.  I thank you for the opportunity every Tuesday to share this reading journey together and I look forward to our daily sharing this week. 
Jane

Monday, September 24, 2012

She's Just Sleeping

What a strange idea, sleep.  I wonder what God was thinking when He arranged for almost all of His creatures to require regular periods of unconsciousness.  He could have made us to never sleep, never dream, never wake.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Bad Job

Have you ever felt trapped in your job?  Maybe you have been treated badly by your boss or coworkers.  Perhaps you really want to be a stay at home mom, but your family can't afford it.  Maybe you are a stay at home mom, and you feel like you'll go insane if you can't get out of the house.  With the recent job market, maybe you are staying in a job you hate because it pays the bills and you are afraid to do anything else.  I'm sure people have told you that you should be grateful for what you have, and they are right.  However, I think that using our jobs, even our unpleasant ones, as an opportunity to serve God will go a lot farther in helping us be content.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bloggishness

We need to talk.  Did you realize that Maidservants of Christ has been up for two and half months?  We have forty six posts up, and we hope they  have been as much of a blessing for you to read as it has been for us to write.  I know I speak for all three of us when I say this experience has been life changing.  We certainly have you, our readers, to thank for making this possible.  Without you, we would not have the motivation to write.  So first of all, we want to say that we love you guys!  Most of you are ladies, some of you are not, but either way, we are grateful for you all! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Whatsoever Wednesday Revisited

Sunlight on water
It was an undercooked oatmeal day.  We eat oatmeal at our house when we are all out of eggs.  Oatmeal is the back up breakfast.  Things aren't running on all 4 wheels if it's an oatmeal morning.  This Sunday morning the complaints were a bitter murmur: the oatmeal wasn't salty enough, sweet enough or cooked thoroughly.  That's the kind of thing that gets a day off to a bad start around here.
 

Eat This Book

It is Wednesday again, and this week I am still thinking about Amos.  If you caught the post on Monday, you might guess that I am still stinging. Amos is a challenge at every level.  The biggest challenge for me in writing it though was bringing it down to the practical level.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thankful for Christ

Beautiful sky at LUMC
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you.  No Thanksgiving week blog would be complete without an article about being thankful.  I needed a break from Ezekiel and my husband's work recently led him to an interest in the book of Hebrews, so I decided to read the first ten verses of this book over the weekend.   As I read, I was reminded of Christ's superior power, His humanity, and of the salvation found in Him.  All these are things for which we can be eternally grateful.
 

The Rest of the Story

When I was a young girl, my mom used to listen to Paul Harvey.  He would always begin a segment then take a break and return by saying, "and now, for the rest of the story."  When we left Job last week at the end of chapter 1, many tragedies had befallen him.  He had lost his livelihood.  He had even undergone the worst pain imaginable for a person: the loss of not just one but all of his children.  Satan wasn't done with Job yet; he receives permission to further test Job by affecting his health as long as he spares his life (Job 2:6).

Monday, September 17, 2012

He Said What!?

                                                                                                                                                                                    
Has anybody ever called you a cow? You would be insulted, right? Cows are fat, lazy, and stupid! All they do is stand in the mud, poo on the ground, and chew!  What if your minister got up on Sunday morning and started his lesson like this:  


"You bunch of cows!  You women crush the needy, stomp on the poor and then exhausted from the morning's efforts, call your husbands to bring the iced tea!  You are going to be punished!  You'll be strung like fish on a line.  You are going to be marched right out of town!"

Friday, September 14, 2012

How Will You Be Known?

I have been known as many things in my life.  When I was a child, I was my father's daughter.  As a teenager, I was that bushy haired girl. As a newlywed in my husband's hometown, I was his wife.  Now I am most often known as my kids' mom.  Since I want to be the best wife and mother I can, I don't let it bother me that I lose my identity somewhat in my family.  After all, there are worse things to be known as.  For instance, how would you like to be known as the troublemaker in the church?  The woman whose fight with another woman was known by the whole congregation?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rabbi Jesus

When I am looking for a new book to read, the good meaty kind of book that gets me to thinking, I often will read blogs by authors. It gives me a chance to see if I might like their books.  In this digital age, I hate to buy a book that I don't like and can't return or sell!  One blog I've started reading recently is ourrabbijesus.com.  It is written by Lois Tverberg, who started out as a student of Ray Vander Laan, who has made a career in part out of examining and teaching the Jewish context of the Scriptures. Since then, she has become an accomplished researcher and writer on the same topic herself, particularly the life and teachings of Jesus. I encourage you to take a look at the blog.  She doesn't post with great regularity, but her words are always insightful. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Consider Job

Why do bad things happen to good people?  If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the World?  These are a few of the questions that I have heard asked by people that are learning about God.  Even for us Christians, similar questions sometimes plague us.  If God really loves me, then why did I just lose my job, my child, my house, or have some other terrible fate befall me?  I love God; why am I going through these difficult times?   How do I stay faithful to God in the midst of my trials?  Questions like these are asked frequently when we or our loved ones go through trials.   

Monday, September 10, 2012

Her Part of the Bargain

Have you ever made a bargain with God?  Standing by a bed in a hospital, have you ever promised you would read your Bible every day or give money to a missionary if God would just make this come out right?  Have you got down on your knees and begged God for a job, a child, a marriage and laid out on the table just what you would do if He came through for you?  In the extremity of our lives we are willing to promise anything, offer anything, sacrifice anything for our heart's desire.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lonely

And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." (Luke 8:43-48).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How Being a Christian is Like Running from Zombies

Helene and I know that we very similar.  Somewhat nerdly, clean cut girls who have clean backgrounds (by the world's standards, anyway).  We also know that not all Christians are like us.  There are Christians who love much because they have been forgiven much.  There are Christians who don't read Nazi era theologians.  There are Christians who use the word "boomsauce."  Toni is one such Christian.  We wanted to have guest bloggers on occasion to give a different voice to what is means to be a Christian woman.  Toni's voice is different than ours, but her love for Christ is the same.  She has a blog, Fighting Insanity, that you can read at http://fightinginsanity.wordpress.com/.  I encourage you to read it. She'll make you laugh and think at the same time.  Meanwhile, she has been gracious enough to write this guest post for us. ~Melissa
 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chasing Away the Cobwebs

During the first year my family was abroad, we received some visitors from the States.  Getting to know them was a pleasure, and they went out of their way to bless us. One of those blessings was a book.  Back then, before the advent of E-readers, it was difficult for me to find books in English, especially Christian reading material, so I was excited to dive in.  I've read it a number of times these last six years, and it has followed me through two different moves.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Single Minded Focus

Having just ended a week about confession, I must admit that the last several weeks I have been having tremendous difficulty in my Bible reading, blogging, and in doing my housework.  I seem to be drifting from one nonessential activity to another and somehow manage to avoid the things that really need to be accomplished. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rehab the Terrified

Rahab the harlot is the perfect example of why the Bible would receive a PG-13 rating.   She is one of the few women in the Old Testament commended by the New Testament writers, and what do we call her? (Hebrews 11, James 2, Matthew 1) Rahab the harlot. It's hard for women to escape their past. It's hard to make a new name for ourselves. For today though I'd love to focus on a different aspect of her character.  So for the sake of this post, let's give her a new name, Rahab the terrified.  Fear is something I can sympathize with!

Friday, August 31, 2012

His Soul Was Annoyed to Death

Okay, it's my turn to confess.  I struggle every day with nagging.  I'm a nag.  I'm convinced it is an "oldest daughter" trait.  As the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, I have it bad! (No offense, Mom) When my husband doesn't take the trash out right when I think he should, I can get kind of mean.  The nag he hates the worst is what he calls "go mode."  That would be when I am ready to go before everyone else in the family, and I nag them all to hurry. I know nagging is not appropriate behavior in a wife or mother, and I am trying to get better.  I hope I will never be as guilty as Samson's women.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Truth Be Told (Part 2)

This is the second in a series on the idea of telling the truth.
I am naturally introverted, a generally reserved person. Still, that's no excuse for putting on my mask especially with the people who love me.  As much as I would like to hide myself sometimes it's impossible. My husband is my opposite in so many ways; one of the most honest people I know, he is forthright, direct and unafraid.  My husband frequently sees right though me and he doesn't hesitate to tell me the truth about myself.  It's one of the reasons I love him, and one of the ways the Holy Spirit convicts me. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Heroic Confession

There are things we just don't say at church, and if we do say them we "code" them.  Like this: "I have sinned."  Could we be less specific?  "I am struggling with some things."  What does that even mean?  That could be 10 extra pounds, drug addiction or liver cancer!  "I need prayers."  Who doesn't?  My mom prays for me everyday-apparently I need prayers too.  Church is one of our favorite places to avoid telling the truth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sing of His Beauty

I have never been a huge lover of the Psalms.  Perhaps it is a carryover of my dislike of poetry.  While the division of this reading schedule has helped me not get so overwhelmed by a huge dose of poetry, I find that it sometimes makes me lose the overall flow and thought of an individual poem.  This week I read Psalms 33 which really struck a chord in my heart.  This chapter begins by telling us to "sing for joy in the Lord." 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Truth be Told

This week we are going to be baring our souls a little bit.  Okay, I admit, we've done a little of that here already, but this week our whole theme is confession.  We'll be confessing some sins we struggle with, and finding strength from God's word as we seek to overcome those sins. ~Melissa
This is the first in a series of two posts about telling the truth

Let's be honest.  I struggle to tell the truth.  It's not so much that I make a habit of lying directly. I almost never lie.  Instead I deceive with silence.  I smile instead of express my anger.  I swallow my resentment and refuse to speak my heart.  When my family is in a crisis, when my heart is broken, when I would benefit enormously from my sisters' support, I can't bring myself to speak. I skim over my prayers with a quick, "Please forgive me of all my sins" as if I could prevent the All-Seeing Lord from really seeing me.  I hide behind a minimal amount of truth.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Women of Proverbs: The Mother

Last week in our discussion of the women of Proverbs, we looked at the Adulteress.  This week, we'll take a look at a contrasting female type, the Mother, and how she can help her son avoid the wiles of the adulteress. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Focused

In my attempt to fill my mind and heart with wholesome things, I read several Christian blogs.  One of them is Christian Women Blogging on www.TheChristianWoman.com, and I urge you to check it out.  Several women of varying backgrounds share how they live day to day as a Christian woman, as well as devotionals and Bible studies.  One of the authors is Ms. Julie Cosgrove.  We'll be sharing a guest post from her in the near future.  You can find her website at www.juliebcosgrove.com.  In my communications with her and with the Christian Woman, I have found that she is also a fiction writer.  She recommended I read a novel of hers called Focused.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finishing Strong

More than once during the recent Olympics, the world witnessed how the outcome of a competition could suddenly change in the final seconds of a race.  One Example of this was the Men's 4x100-meter freestyle swimming relay.  Although the Americans led through the first three legs of the race, France came from behind at the end to overtake the Americans and win*.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Thousand Voices

When Bathsheba comes up in conversation...What? She's not lunch time conversation at your house?  Must just be us… the immediate thought is about her memorable bath-time adventure with King David.  But it is not the only story she is featured in.  There are a pair of stories at the beginning of 1 Kings that highlight the queen. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Women of Proverbs:The Adulteress

In our examination of the women of Proverbs, we've taken a close look at the contentious wife.  There's another type of woman in this book, and at first I was hesitant to write about her. But when I skimmed the book again, I realized that the authors spend a lot of time describing her.  The adulteress.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creation

We have recently had our Vacation Bible School.  Ah, VBS, where kids stay up too late, eat too much sugar, and do a lot of hollering.  Okay, maybe my view is a bit pessimistic.  Actually, I have to say that our VBS this year was fantastic, despite my kids being somewhat sleep deprived.  Our congregation chose the theme of Creation, and choosing that theme really helped me to do some digging into an area that I had always been too afraid to look at closely.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weeping and Rejoicing

Today I would like to share a trip down memory lane that came as I read Romans 12:15.

As we all know, men and women aren't wired the same way.  Most of us have a stronger need for relational ties and support and less difficulty in forming these connections than our male counterparts.  Friendships give us great joy during the good times and comfort during the bad.  Romans 12:15 says to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice.  I believe this is generally an easy command for us to follow.  When friends share good news, our natural reaction is to rejoice with them, especially if things are going relatively well.  On the other hand when others go through difficulties, we hurt with them.  


Monday, August 13, 2012

Stupid Tax

I have listened to Dave Ramsey for about 8 years.  He is a radio talk show host who writes and speaks on personal finance, especially becoming and living debt free.  One of my favorite things he talks about is "Stupid Tax."  In his lingo that means you did something financially dumb and now you are going to have to pay for it.  Once in a while, he takes an hour on his radio show to allow callers to explain exactly how much stupid tax they had to pay.  Like not reading the small print on the free online bill pay that says that it could take up to two weeks for the check to arrive and then having to pay late fees on the bills. What?  You haven't ever done anything that dumb?  I have! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Women of Proverbs:The Contentious Wife

When we think about the "women of Proverbs," I'm sure most of us think about Proverbs 31 and the excellent wife that Solomon writes about, as well we should.  The example of womanhood given to us in that famous chapter is one we should all aspire to.  But there are other women written about in Proverbs that we can learn from.  I would like to take a few posts to discuss them. To begin with, I'd like to take a look at a negative example of wifeliness that Solomon has shared with us.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Graduate Course in Justice

This year the daily Bible that I'm using is organized so that the reader enjoys a daily dose of wisdom literature. When I was at Harding University, one of my professors said something to the effect of, "The Psalms show all the ways that a person of faith could be reacting and relating to God."  The scope of the Psalms is astonishing-stretching from lament to praise, from complaint to mnemonics, from wisdom to hymns primarily in honor of the King.  As a college-aged student I found them from my Sunday School worldview unseemly.  It's a good thing I had not yet understood the Song of Solomon or I might have passed out.  So I am day by day reading a Psalm or proverb and getting a graduate course in suffering and justice.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Temple of the Living God

Most people hope to make their mark in the world.  Throughout David's life, he had done many memorable things; however, as he grew old, there was one more monumental task that he wanted to complete. According to I Chronicles 17, David's greatest desire before death was to build a spectacular temple for God.  When he consulted the prophet Nathan about his desire, the answer from God was that his son would be the one to do this.  His disappointment did not keep him from doing all he could to make his son's job easier. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gomer: Grace, not Tolerance

Do you know any prostitutes?  I'm not asking metaphorically.  I mean literally, have you ever been well-acquainted with a prostitute? I have-more than one.  Professionally and as a volunteer, I have worked in communities where young women sell their bodies.  One memorable night, I drove in to the neighborhood and passed a string of giggling girls seemingly between fifteen and nineteen.  They struck me so incongruously.   They were of an age to be waiting for the school bus or working nights at the Chick-fil-a.  Yet here they were In their high heels and short skirts, brazenly calling out to the johns who were creeping by with their windows down.  I hurt for them, because I also knew their older counterparts, still trading on assets long past their prime.  I have seen them dying of AIDS or of Hepatitis C.  I have no illusions.  Leaving this life is not as simple as having another option; it needs time and grace.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mary and Elizabeth: Rejoicing in Blessings

Sometimes I compare myself to other women.  Isn't that a shocker?  Sometimes I feel the need to compete with them, even if it is only in my head.  I'm jealous of Susie's yearly exotic family vacation (and of course the beautiful tan she returns with).  I feel smug when I compare Janie's monsters to my own angelic children (Fictitious example, trust me!).  There seems to be a never-ending list of things to compare.  Husbands, jobs, children, education, children's education, looks, money, houses are all tallied up in the scheme of how much better or worse I am than other women.  I know I'm not the only one to have these attitudes based on what I hear when ladies get together.  Even women in the church can be catty when it comes to voicing these jealous and prideful feelings.