Saturday, April 29, 2017

Three-Foot-Tall Adults


Stop laughing, Mom and Dad! No Vicki Caruana did not steal your journals from raising me:
The two most common phrases to come out of the mouths of three-year-olds are "Why?" and "I can do it myself." Questioning authority and making your own decisions are hallmarks of adulthood. But it tends to rattle us when the "young adult" is only three feet tall and stands with her hands on her hips and her lower lip pushed out and, once in a while, stops her feet...

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I'm quoting from the devotional The Joy of Letting Go, a book about embracing your child's journey to independence. With our first bring-home, after-infertility baby only about a month from high school graduation, I was blessed to review a complimentary advanced copy of this sweet little treasure at a great time in my life. (I was given the book in exchange for this review, however opinions are fully my own!)


About the book: 

With readings of encouragement and inspirational quotes, this devotional helps parents prepare their hearts for their children's independence, whether their kids are just starting kindergarten or graduating from college.

Parents let go of their children every day, even in ways they don't realize. The 52 devotional readings within shine a light on all the times readers have loosened their grip on their children and encourages them to continue to let go in life-giving ways. Written by a parenting and education expert, The Joy of Letting Go will comfort and inspire parents in all seasons of parenting.
Maybe your baby just got his driver's license. Or maybe she slept in through the night in her own crib all through the night. As Vicki points out, our letting go moments start with the cutting of the umbilical cord!

About the author:
Dr. Vicki Caruana is the author of 20 books and the blog Apples & Chalkdust-named after her bestselling book that has touched the lives of a million educators around the world. Caruana is one of four parenting experts on "Starting Points," Focus on the Family's parenting DVD series. Formerly a public school teacher and a homeschooling mom, Vicki is now an assistant professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College in New York. She lives with her station wagon loving husband, Chip, in Newburgh, New York and has two grown sons in Colorado Springs.
Find out more about Vicki at http://vickicaruana.blogspot.com.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Veiled Glory

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I haven’t written on this topic a lot because Jesus, that He died on the cross in payment for my sins, that He was buried, that He conquered death by raising from the grave, is the main issue!

For those who already believe Jesus died and rose for you personally, have accepted Him as your Savior, I in no way wish you to feel I’m adding the weight of legalism. Christ died for your sins. No works are needed to finish His saving grace in your life! Jesus is enough!!! Just like neither baptism nor communion are requirements for salvation, rather God’s desired observances for his people who already know and love Him, I absolutely do not feel head covering to be a requirement for a Christian woman when it comes to the soundness of her faith in Jesus Christ as her saving and forgiving God of grace!


God is unchanging, but He is also gracious to allow us to digest His Word in steps, His Spirit revealing Truth to us, convicting us gently and gradually, not demanding transformation into the image of His Son in a single moment, but patiently imprinting His will on yielded hearts. The thoughts I am about to explore took me over 30 years of walking with Jesus to even consider. I share them here ONLY for those interested in putting yourself more deeply under the Lordship of our God. If those words don’t sound inviting, please stop reading now. This article is not intended for you!

Back in 2013 (about 2 years after my strokes, thus the typos and rambling thoughts) I wrote on head covering once before. (I spoke on angels and other issues specific to this passage then.) I shared that my thoughts were still developing on the topic, that I had been prayerfully considering and exploring the ramifications of 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 for the Christian woman in my era and culture, for about a year prior to my strokes (so for about 3 years at the time of that article’s writing, about 6 ½ years now) and had recently become convinced to follow this course of action, in large part because of my experiences directly resulted from my strokes.

This is not my picture but I think it is beautiful!
I found it floating around Facebook. Does anyone know who should receive credit?
Here’s where I now stand:

I believe that Christian women [who] in the church [where] are called to cover [what] for prayer and prophesy [why]. This is true of structured worship services, but also something that should be seriously considered even when only two or three are casually or spontaneously gathered together for the purpose of corporately entering God’s throne room.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=112010173492 is the start of a 3-part radio sermon series that offers sound teaching on the subject, if you wish to explore more. If you are unsure you want to invest three hours into examining these few verses, I would encourage you simple to pray for God to teach you what He desires you to know on the topic, then prayerfully listen to just the first 14 minutes of that first sermon. From there you can decide if this in an area God would have you investigate further, or not. Having been raised in a tradition where women were told head covering was not needed for today, that it was cultural instruction for a specific time and place in early church history, I would have had no interest in listing to sermons like this series, figuring my hair took care of the matter!  There are so many excellent resources to the contrary, such as the Head Covering Movement. I’m so glad I asked God to show me if there was anything He wanted to reveal to me about a subject I considered irrelevant to my life! I was beyond stunned that there was anything He did want to teach me on a matter I felt totally indifferent toward. The results of heeding His call in this area have been dramatic, even life changing!

Personally, I am convicted to cover full time, any time I am not under a roof provided by my husband (our home, a hotel room he has purchased for us, etc.). I do NOT place this conviction on others, and will continue to seek God’s direction for my life in future seasons. Corporate worship is the only issue the Bible seems to be addressing in head covering [when], as far as I understand the context of this passage. I think my full time drive to cover may (or may not) come to a close with the publication of the book I’ve been writing through the entire course of my head covering journey. (Speaking in representation of Jesus is prophecy! I believe any form of public ministry, such as public speaking on topics related to the Bible, should be approached very prayerfully, and falls under this same category of prophecy.)

I also cover in my own home for most personal prayer, again a matter of personal conviction, not something I believe Scripture instructs for all women at all times.

Practically speaking, it has become my habit to wear head covering nearly every waking hour other than showers. Simply, it is easier for me to fix my hair once in the morning and already have my covering in place when I step out the door or sit down to worship the Lord.  I take the action of preparing my head (and heart!) at the start of a new day and this helps put me into a mindset of thinking on Jesus throughout my day. Again, personal preference. Just sharing how it works well for me.


Type of hair covering [how] can become a hot topic. The Bible doesn’t get into much detail on this point. We are told to do, and left with great freedom in how that instruction is implemented! A couple of observations you might want to consider as you pray through God’s specific plan for how you prepare your physical head when you enter His presence are:
1.       A woman’s hair, given to her as A covering, is also referred to as her glory. Since our purpose in prayer is to give glory to God, veiling our created glory He’s given us, allows more focus to be on Him and His glory. (If our hair were THE covering referenced in this passage, how could we put it on, or how would a guy take his off each time he entered a worship service?)

2.       With the veiled glory concept in mind, I don’t think God objects to cute or stylish head coverings, but simple would want us to be mindful of not detracting from Him, not trying to draw undo attention to ourselves. He loves us. He created us. He created beauty. He gave us hair for our glory. He isn’t trying to take anything from us, make us feel frumpy or self-conscious! It often takes some practice, time to explore our options, but if there’s a head-wear style that makes you feel beautiful but still focuses eyes (our own as well as the eyes of those around us) on Christ, when we find something we can wear with comfort and confidence in Jesus, that’s what we are looking for.

3.       Along the same lines, in my first article, I mentioned simply wearing a flower clip in my hair as a possible answer to head covering. I would like to expound on this thought a bit and say that while the emotional and spiritual struggles of beginning head covering can be intense, God faithfully honors any and every effort we take towards obedience of His Word! During my flower wearing months, it mattered that I was striving to obey! I strove for consistency to the point of folks noticing that I was never without something in my hair. (Sometimes I explained why, other times I just silently thanked the Lord for the work He was doing in my heart in this area, then went on with my day). I worked through a lot of questions and fears by keeping doing what I was doing.
However, today I would not feel a flower clip in my hair to suffice as covering for my head, a veiling of my God-given glory to ensure more focus on Jesus. My advice is to focus on head over hair or “how much” hair is to be covered. Keep seeking God’s direction for your life and He will guide you in every detail!


4.       I love simple, comfortable ball caps myself. They offer a lot of coverage, are culturally quite normal, and are typically no-fuss and non-attention-drawing. One consideration to be aware of is that the etiquette required of a ball cap is the same for a man or a woman. If you are at a ball park, a church or school, a parade, or any other occasion where our national flag is honored by men needing to remove their hats, the same requirement applies to women in ball caps. (Interesting that the removal of a man’s hat was instructed in reverence to God clear back in the early church, yet is still reflected in our culture regarding entering a building or honoring our flag to this day!)
A woman’s “fashion hat” (clearly distinguishable from a traditional man’s hat style such as a ball cap), a headband, or a scarf, is exempt from expected removal. If you don’t mind taking your hat off for our flag, feel free to wear one, just maybe think about the pros and cons of wearing it into a worship setting if there’s a flag present.

5.       If God has unveiled (pun intended) to you the truth that His instruction that Christian women covering our heads in prayer is valid today, ask Him to guide you in exactly how that should be accomplished in your personal circumstances.
I know missionary women who take on traditional Muslim attire in ministry and God blesses them abundantly and strengthens their families and their faith. I also know of women who take on Muslim headscarves in initial desire to fulfil this instruction for Christian women to practice in worship of Jesus, but satan uses that style embraced by another faith as a foothold to start leading these women down a path of spiritual searching that ultimately results in denying Jesus and pledging allegiance to another god.
My kids attend a heavily Muslim influenced school and my conviction to stay covered was confirmed about the time they started there. It has been interesting to watch how being consistently covered has gained the respect of administration and fellow parents who do not offer the same credence to the opinions of uncovered women. While I chose head covering, I intentionally chose styles distinctly distinguishable from Muslim, so there is no question that my loyalty to someone other than allah.
I avoid styles readily identified as “Muslim” (same would be true of other faith practices with distinctive head covering styles) because I attempted a certain head style commonly associated with another faith and, while I had no personal issue with what I saw to be a freedom of expression, I learned my choice was perceived as a “conversion” to another believe system and was a stumbling block to a fellow Christian. That was the last time I tried that specific style!
I know some women who will only wear a certain style of covering, perhaps a certain shade of blue, specific length of veil, a special bonnet, or all white or black. There is nothing wrong with any of those choices. In fact, submission to local church leadership is to be applauded, so if your church instructs a specific style, wonderful! The desire for head covering that doesn’t draw attention away from the Lord is fantastic. (I am often the ONLY woman in my church or other local circles who covers for Christ, so this has not been my issue.)
I would simply caution against legalism. Whatever covering you are wearing should not become a source of piety, religious pride, a meaningless ritual, or covering for the sake of covering tradition rather than as a reflection of a heart seeking submission to God’s order of authority. Once the issue of if to cover gets settled in my spirit, my attitude behind the act of covering needs to be regularly taken before God in order to assure that my motives stay glorifying to Him!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Prayer

Prayer has been a huge issue God has been working on my heart the past few years, especially the past 8 or 9 months. I've been so convinced that the prayer of a righteous man [or woman!] avails much (Proverbs 15:29; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12), and yet there is none righteous, no not one (Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:9-10). I'm so thankful that Jesus imparts His righteousness to me (Romans 1:17; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:22; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:19; Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 1:11; Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 3:5; )!

I'm living through a long, dry season of huge "unanswered" prayers. Not only are the things I'm praying about not getting resolved, some situations are getting worse... and Worse... and WORSE! For months on end, even years! Keeping faith gets hard!

How amazing that at Mount Hermon, I had chances to pray with several different people and repeatedly see significant and immediate answers. Also, I had an almost fully pain-free week and had notable lack of many profound stroke deficits during my week there! What refreshing reminders that God is still powerful and active in my life.

I appreciate this article on prayer that begins with the powerful description of a common prayer struggle, "We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke." 

It's as if we've had a stroke! For obvious reasons, these words  have profound impact for me!



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Silent Saturday

Sandwiched between the anguish of Good Friday and the glory of Easter Sunday is Saturday, the day Heaven was silent.

Life often feels like the day Jesus lay low in the grave. The drama of acute is over, yet celebration has not yet come. Thankfully, though it often feels that way, Heaven is never truly silent.

I'm glad yesterday is over! I look forward to tomorrow. For today, I pray us each peace!




Monday, April 3, 2017

Travel With Me

I'm leaving on Wednesday to start making my way to Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. I will be tweeting daily updates from @RenoMom (my personal page, with motherhood and stroke focuses, along with northern Nevada interests, if I can get my phone to work with that account) and/or @InfertilityMom (my big infertility, miscarriage, adoption page, where my phone likes to post by default), using hashtag #MHWriters2017 either way. Please journey with me! :)


Want to leave me encouragement or post your prayers for the journey? Please use #HarvestingHope as your tag so I am sure to find you. :)

Hubby and oldest miracle baby preparing to leave for his prom this past Saturday.

I would especially appreciate your prayers for Rick and our kids as they hold down the fort while I'm away. I'm cutting three days off my original trip plans, but still will be gone for nearly a week.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Winner

Random.org selected Sarah H. is the winner of our Laura Story CD giveaway. Enjoy Open Hands, Sarah. Please check you facebook PM within 48 hours. :)


Saturday, March 18, 2017

When Others Remember My Babies

Tee, thank you for remembering our babies in Heaven and honoring them today!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Planning My Funeral

This is not a morbid post. Promise! In fact, stay tuned for a fun giveaway.

No, I have no particular timeframe in mind, no imminent expectation of needing to implement my funeral plans. This is simply a topic I've pondered ever since nearly dying almost 5 1/2 years ago and long-outliving the wildest possible expectations of maybe 3 or 4 years, as the long, most ludicrous possible outcome.


I would argue that funeral planning is a topic all of us might do well to consider. Life is 100% fatal, after all. There's a good chance you will have a funeral someday. Wouldn't it be great, as is true of making a will, your own plans and ideas could be honored, your loved ones relieved of the weight of decision-making?


I'm sure I'll add more ideas as I clarify them, but the one list I've been mentally creating for years is one I want to get started today:

For my children, I want the song Give You Faith by Laura Story, from her new album Open Hands, played.



For my husband, Your Hands by J. J. Heller, is my message to leave him. Likely also a Steven Curtis Chapman song, but I haven't decided which one yet. (Suggestions?)



For my grieving friends and family, I want Blessed Be the Name played or sung.



As a congregation, I want several hymns sung. I've jotted down several, so I'll add them as I remember or find my notes, but I'll Fly Away is one for sure.


Also, a hymn that saw me through our miscarriage and infertility years, It is Well With My Soul.



This is just a start, but help me with my list please. What do you want played/sung at your funeral and why? What should I consider adding to my list?


I want to focus for a moment on just one of these artists, Laura Story. Perhaps you know the name from her popular song (another of my favorites) Blessings or Mighty To Save. Something I didn't know about this GRAMMY winner is that she has recently written a new book and bible study curriculum I want to get my hands on, When God Doesn't Fix It: Lessons You Never Wanted To Learn, Truths You Can't Live Without.

If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of Laura's brand new CD, Open Hands, please leave a comment answering my above question about what song you would want played at your funeral and why. Be sure to comment with a valid form of contact! I'll draw a winner Monday morning, so please enter soon and share widely. (For each share of this link via your blog, social media, even emailing to friends, leave me another comment in order to gain another entry!)







“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.