Words

“In the beginning”

“My Father who art in heaven”

“We hold these truths to be self evident”

“I have a dream”

“I do”

“I pledge allegiance”

“Never, never, never, never give up”

Words are important.

Words start nations, start wars, start movements, start families.

With our words we choose to bless or curse, to love or to hate, to give up or go on.

I’ve been parked in the book of James lately. I can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere in my mind, my heart, my books, my radio, my church. Words change things, especially God’s Word. Jesus is the Word. In the beginning was the word. The word is God. The word is with God.

Consider these holy words:

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”

Do you get it?

Our tongues aka our words are powerful. Just like the rudder on a ship, our words chart our course. Our words set our destination. Winds and storms of life come upon us. A phone call. An email. A text. Bam. Out of the clear blue sky. Everything shifts. It was this, but now this!  Look at our verse. The winds and storms of life threaten to blow us off course, but what keeps us tracking? The rudder of words. Words. Our words. We stay the course when God’s word become our words.

What we speak into the storms of life makes a difference. We can go forward or join the fray. We can walk on in faith or join the destruction.

Into the storms of life speak, plant, pray, say, pour, splash, shout His Word.

Healing words.

Helping words.

Holy words.

Speak His words.

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com

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What Makes Christianity Different?

I recently attended my daughter’s graduation baccalaureate service. Students from varying religions addressed the audience to express why their faith was important to them. I found their answers quite intriguing.

“I was born a Jew.”

“My faith, Hinduism, is the oldest religion and therefore, must be true.”

“It is how I have been raised by my family.”

“My religion provides a moral compass. In other words, it is how I know the difference between bad and good.”

 Finally, a young man talked about Christianity. It varied from all the other religions because of one singular reason: JESUS. All of the other faiths spoke of their efforts to reach up to God. Only Christianity spoke of God’s effort to reach down to mankind. All of the other faiths discussed their efforts to appease their god by being a good person. Only Christianity spoke of a personal relationship with God because God chose to set His affection on us, despite our continual bad behavior. Our relationship with God is not hinged on a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather on admitting that we need a savior. We can never be good enough on our own merits. All of the other beliefs had much to say about their God, but only Christianity focused on Jesus and the resurrection.

Unbelievers may have a general sense of who God is…they may recognize that creation came into existence somehow or by someone…they may even acknowledge there is a God. Remember, even the demons believed in God. Listen to James 2:19 (NIV), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” However, they do not have Jesus. And since they do not have Jesus, their prayers are like flare guns being shot aimlessly into the dark.

As believers, we are promised a mediator, whose name is Jesus. On our own merit, we are not better than an unbeliever. We are not smarter. We didn’t come to the conclusion that God exists on our own. No…we all are sinners according to Romans 3:23. We all deserve to die (Rom 6:23). We all are broken. And God is a holy God and cannot bear to be in the presence of sin. It is only because of Jesus that we have an advantage. It is only because of the work that Jesus did on our behalf on the cross. It is only because God has chosen us. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Because of what has been afforded to us, it only makes sense that we would want to know God.

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God

We pray so that we can know God more. Prayer, in its fullest sense, is our pursuit to know God. It is an ongoing, continual conversation with Him that begins in His Word and pours out into the fabric of our daily lives. Into our struggles. Our celebrations. Our encounters with the glory of God.

Have you forgotten about the privilege of knowing God? Are you overly focused on being good enough? To measure up? Remind yourself today that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He is most after relationship.

Sue Allen

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Should We Seek Perfection, Progress, or Neither?

For years, the media has sold us an image of perfection. We idolize celebrities and models in movies, TV shows, and print ads. We envy their photo-shopped looks and overflowing bank accounts, all the while feeling totally inadequate in comparison. In response to this, the following advice has become commonplace: “Seek progress, not perfection.” Apparently, Hollywood can be perfect, but we common folk should settle for progress.

However, lately I’ve been hearing a new message: “You’re perfect just the way you are.” So, now it doesn’t matter what we say or do; we just have to wake up in the morning to be perfect. And since everyone is perfect, no one has to feel pressured to seek progress.

Each of these messages can be used to justify our actions (or lack thereof). So, what’s the truth? Do we seek perfection, progress, or neither? As Christians, we should look to the Bible for our answer.

 

Be Perfect

One of the grandest statements in Scripture is found in Matthew 5. After admonishing the disciples to love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NAS).

If we can’t even compare to celebrities, how can we be perfect as God is perfect? How should we interpret this today?

First, note that Jesus was NOT talking about heaven. He simply said the disciples would be perfect if they loved and obeyed God and loved their fellow man. As Jesus’ disciples today, this applies to us, too.

Second, the word “perfect” here is derived from the Greek word teleios, meaning “complete” or “having reached its end.” This does NOT mean that we’ll gain special powers, that we’ll stop making mistakes, or that we’ll never need to ask for forgiveness again. I will NOT become Super Woman, and you will NOT become Anne Hathaway.

However, this Scripture DOES mean that we’ll become complete, mature versions of ourselves—the epitome of what God intended us to be when He created us. I’ll be the perfect me, and you’ll be the perfect you.

 

Make Progress

I’ve heard parents say they wish their children could remain babies forever, but they don’t really mean that. Instead, they want what is best for their children: for them to grow and mature until they realize their full potential as adults. As our Heavenly Father, God wants the same thing for us!

Paul explained that we must “grow up in all aspects into Him” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS). He then said that we should use our talents and the roles God gives us within the Church Body “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 NAS, emphasis mine).

The word “mature” here is the same word teleios meaning, “perfect, complete, having reached its end.” In other words, we should strive toward righteousness, obedience, and unity, growing in the knowledge of the Lord until the whole Church Body is where it should be.

This act of maturing, of perfecting, is not a one-time activity! It is not relegated to the point of salvation, baptism, or confirmation. Instead, it covers a lifelong pursuit of God and His holiness in our lives.

And God expects us to make progress.

 

Progress in the Pursuit of Perfection

God is not concerned with the world’s definition of perfection, and neither should we. The media’s messages might tickle the ears, but they are empty of real truth. God’s message is much more meaningful and valuable! His Word says that we should seek Him first, and that we should strive to be what He made us to be so we can do what He’s called us to do.

In other words, we should make progress in the pursuit of God’s perfection.

If this is a new concept for you, I encourage you to study these verses and meditate on their meaning. If you feel convicted to make progress in your spiritual life, ask the Lord what steps you should take. Then, stand in faith that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6b NAS).

 

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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Queen Esther

Queen Esther

Esther was a young beautiful girl when she and many other young virgins were summoned by King Xerxes. He needed a new queen since he had sent Queen Vashti away for not obeying him. We find their story in the book of Esther, a portion of their story follows:

As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had directed her not to do so. 11 Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to find out about Esther and what was happening to her.

12 Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. 13 When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. 14 That evening she was taken to the king’s private rooms, and the next morning she was brought to the second harem,* where the king’s wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name.

15 Esther was the daughter of Abihail, who was Mordecai’s uncle. (Mordecai had adopted his younger cousin Esther.) When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.

16 Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter* of the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. 18 To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone[1]

Esther and the other girls must have been really scared. They were taken away from their families to the palace of the king. I wonder if they knew why they were being taken away from home. Once they were settled in I imagine they began to enjoy themselves. They were assigned servants to wait on them hand and foot. They went through spa treatments for 12 months. I think I could handle being pampered like that for a while, but not for that long. I would get restless and need something more to do. I like to feel like I have accomplished something at the end of the day.

Once Esther was queen she found out that Haman, the scheming prime minister of King Xerxes, was trying to kill off all of the Jews, she contacted her cousin Mordecai. He told her that he and all of their people would fast and pray for God’s deliverance. Queen Esther also fasted and prayed. At the end of her fast she went to King Xerxes without being asked to come to him, coming like this could be punished by death. No one was to come to the king unless he requested them to be in his presence.

She found favor in his eyes and invited the king and Haman to a dinner she had prepared. Then she told them that she knew what Haman was planning to do and that she was also a Jew and would be killed. King Xerxes had Haman taken away and killed.

Esther was a simple Jewish girl that became a queen and saved her nation. This is quite a story of faith and strength. We daily face things that we have to deal with. They usually aren’t as big as what Queen Esther had to face, but what we do in our lives is just as important to us and those around us.

Many years ago I was offered a chance to take a series of video class through Trinity Seminary. After three years of study I was commissioned as an Associate in Ministry. This opened a whole new avenue for me to serve our gracious Lord. He has used me in many wonderful ways since my commissioning. The path He has me on now is to write for His beautiful little children to bring them closer to Him.

The movie One Night with the King is very good and gives you a visual of what Esther’s life might have been like.

 

 

I would like to know how He is using you in this beautiful world. Please share with me your path and tell me if there is a way I can help you on your path.

Jann Martin

Visit Jann @ jannwmartin.com

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[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Es 2:8–18). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

 

Organize Your Spiritual Life

We need to reorganize spiritually from time to time.

I have recently returned from a writer’s conference and was overwhelmed with information, resources, and new opportunities. It started me thinking about getting organized. Being the creative type, this doesn’t come easy for me, but I know if I don’t get organized I cannot capitalize on everything that I learned at the conference.

Just as we need to learn to be organized in our work environment, we also need to reorganize spiritually from time to time. This will help keep us from floundering around with no direction in our spiritual time. Being organized does not mean being rigid. We always want to leave room for God to direct us in our spiritual growth but God can also direct us in the organization.

Quiet Time

  • Location

Find a place to have your quiet time. Maybe where you have been doing it isn’t working out so great. If your current place is not working or if you feel your quiet time is stale try a new location.

  • Materials

Have a basket, tote bag or some other container to hold your materials. The most important material, of course, is your Bible. Get a version that you are comfortable with and can understand. If you use a devotional book or magazine keep it in your container. Be sure you have a notebook and pen to write down what the Lord says to you or the insight that you gain from scripture. It is also good to have a notepad that you can jot down a phrase or concept that you don’t understand. If you have it on a notepad you can take that with you to your computer or commentary for further research.  Also keep a prayer notebook containing your prayer requests. Be sure to write the date and how God answers each one. You will have a record of God’s faithfulness in your life. You might also want to keep praise music in your quiet time location if you like to begin or end your time with the Lord in this way.

  • Time

Decide on the time of day that you want to have your quiet time. While I think that it is important to meet with the Lord at the beginning of the day that may not be the optimal time for devotional and Bible reading for everyone. Not everyone is a morning person. Some people work nights; others may need to get everyone out of the house before quiet time is even possible. So, you have to decide what time is right for you. A word of caution, don’t put it off until you get busy in other things or too tired to think. Give God the best part of your day.

Worship

  • Attend worship services regularly. God designed the church to enable us to serve.
  • Find a place of service. You can serve God in your church, community or through missions. Part of being organized in our worship is not letting opportunities of service slip by us.
  • Plan ahead for ministry. Allow time to serve on committees, to help with VBS or to go to cleanup day at church. Get your church bulletin or newsletter and plug those important dates into your calendar.

Spiritual Enrichment

  • Books

Make a list of books that you would like to read. Maybe you have already bought them and just haven’t gotten around to them.

  • Special events

Is your church having a women’s conference? Go ahead and save the date.  Is your favorite Christian performer going to be in your area? Call a friend and get tickets.

  • Plan a budget

If you know that you want to buy new books or attend a concert put it in the budget. Invest in your spiritual life like you do your wardrobe and other areas.

 

“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) (KJV)

Sue Potts

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Quite An Assignment

Loving God and others with our all is quite an assignment. Fortunately, we serve quite a God!

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Keep these words in your heart that I am telling you today. Do your best to teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”

This passage found in Deuteronomy 6 reminds me that God does not think of loving Him and living for Him as a minor matter! He does not expect His believers to categorize it as a minor matter either!

How do we keep it at the forefront, no matter what activity we are engaged in and time of day it is? How do we have conversations about anything else, if we are supposed to talk about “these words” while we are “sitting in our house, walking on the road, lying down, and getting up”?  I mean, that pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it?

Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength and teaching that to our children when we are “sitting in our house,” should undoubtedly be the easiest assignment on the list, right? After all, we are surrounded by the people we love the most! Treating each other in a loving way using loving words is probably pretty easy when life is going smoothly. But when a conflict arises, caused by someone who lives in our house with us, do we handle it in a manner that shows our family that one of God’s highest priorities is also one of ours? If it is, then we will decide to show God’s grace and model His forgiveness. We will demonstrate His humility and display His peace. Family disputes will be settled using Christlike principles, therefore falling in line with the Deuteronomy precept.

Loving the Lord with our all when we “walk on the road,” makes me think of our everyday life and everyday routine. When we are at our jobs, at school, attending the basketball game or the church social, and sitting in on the city council meeting, how do we speak to others? How do we speak about others? Is our love for God and His ways evident in the way we work with others and cultivate relationships in our community? Do our children see the way we treat others as an extension of our Christian faith? If we are loving the Lord the way He talks about in verses 5, 6, and 7, then our love for others (yes even those hard-to-love people…) will overflow from that!

This passage also mentions when we lie down and when we get up as times to teach God’s love to our children. If we begin the day asking for God’s presence, love, and protection, and end the day thanking Him for all of the above, then our lying down and our getting up is also following Deuteronomy 6’s command.

Loving with our whole heart, soul, and strength should not only be talked about, but modeled as well. God is exceptional at showing us how.

Loving God and others with our all is quite an assignment. Fortunately, we serve quite a God!

Gwen Thielges

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Relinquishing Control: What I Learned At The Dentist

Going to the dentist is an exercise in relinquishing control. God has been teaching me a lot about that this year.

I had to go to the Dentist.

Need I say more? A crown came loose and I was counting on an easy fix. Instead, we may have to take out a second mortgage to pay for what needs to be done!

Going to the dentist is an exercise in relinquishing control. God has been teaching me a lot about that this year.

Everyone knows that a trip to the Dentist is stressful for most people. Look at the lengths a dentist goes to in order to make his patients relax. Many offices provide waiting rooms that look more like your living room than a doctor’s office. With their big overstuffed chairs, subdued lighting and large flat screen televisions they hope that before going into the ‘back’ you will relax and take a few deep breaths. At the Dentist’s, your stress starts before you even begin, you stress in anticipation of what is to come.  That’s why some dentists even provide televisions in the exam rooms. To keep you calm while you wait. After all, once they start working you cannot see the TV when laying back and you cannot hear it over the whirr of the equipment. However, no amount of distraction can transform the experience entirely. There simply is nothing pleasant about having to lay back with your mouth wide open while someone is digging around in there. And of course, if you need work done, there is the pain factor also.

Did I mention you have to relinquish control?

Once in that chair, you feel vulnerable and

what needs to be done,

how long it will take,

how much it will hurt and

how much it will cost

is all out of your control.

So what do many of us do? We avoid the dentist.

Our discomfort and fear of what he will find, and of what he will want to do, cause us to stay away.

Sadly, some of us avoid intimacy with Christ or the truth of His Word for the same reasons.

We are afraid of relinquishing control of our lives.

We are afraid of what He will find or what He will want to do.

We do not like feeling vulnerable.

We are unsure about what needs to be done, how long it will take, how much it will hurt and how much it will cost us.

Those are understandable concerns when you are at the dentist. My dentist’s office does everything they can to make my visit more comfortable. But they can only do so much to make an unpleasant experience bearable. The good news is that my time spent there, my willingness to relinquish control, does help me in the long run. Whether it is just a little cleaning and check- up or serious repair work.  And that is why I go back.

Do you want to live for God? Do you want to grow more like Christ? Do not avoid Him.

Keep going back to spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word. Growing in our walk as Christians requires time spent with Him where we make ourselves totally vulnerable and trust our hearts to His loving hands. We must lay back and open our hearts and minds. We must let Him do regular checkups and some deep cleaning. And know that sometimes we must give ourselves over to some serious repair. Rejoice if He sheds light on an area of your life that needs change. Remind yourself that being uncomfortable for a little while may be necessary for lasting change to happen.

I have some unpleasant work ahead with the oral surgeon and dentist. It is simply part of the maintenance needed on this decaying earthly body. At least I will end up with some beautiful new teeth.

The work that really interests me is the work that will last for eternity! I am ready to be all that God wants me to be.

How about you?

Are you ready to relinquish control to Him and see what new and beautiful things He can create in you?

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

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Faith and Obedience Must go Hand in Hand

We pray because prayer changes us.

I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.

However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.

Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.

Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.

Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.

It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.

Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders.  According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

It is faith that propels our prayers.

Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”

Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.

Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”

But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.

We pray because prayer changes us.

Sue Allen

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Are You Praising Her?

Are You Praising Her?

“Her children praise her…” –Proverbs 31:28 (CEV).

Even though I have a multitude of conveniences most of us consider necessities, I occasionally enjoy washing dishes by hand. I didn’t buy my first dishwasher until my second son was born in 1981.

My generation was raised to believe women did all the housework. Times have changed. My generation had mothers who were stay-at-home moms. Most of us came home from school to homemade snacks followed by a made-from-scratch dinner.

My mother seldom bought store-bought cookies, and although T.V. dinners debuted the year I was born, they weren’t a regular staple on our kitchen table. Pre-made or convenience meals were almost unheard of during that time. Eating out was a luxury and fast food was a rare treat.

Because dishwashers weren’t commonplace in households until the 1970s, my sister and I learned to wash and dry dishes without the advantage of a machine. I can recall our mother inspecting the dishes to make sure we had properly cleaned all food residues from the interior and exterior of each one. If we overlooked any remnants, she would promptly return the dish to the sink for another scouring.

While I’m sure my sister and I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my mother’s desire to teach us to do a good job and take pride in whatever we did carried over to other areas of our lives. Instilling responsibility in her daughters meant we completed a list of chores posted on the refrigerator every Saturday morning before we went out to play.

Even though we didn’t have the conveniences now taken for granted, I think life was much simpler back then. The days of hand washing and drying dishes, preparing healthy food at home and hanging clothes on an outdoor line to dry had some benefits.

I contemplated this recently as I washed and dried a sink piled high with dirty dishes. I hadn’t started my full dishwasher yet. Busy with activities that had kept me on the run, I knew my mother, if she were alive, would have lectured me about the mess. However, I found solace in the simple task of putting my hands in the soapy water, scrubbing and rubbing until each dish and piece of silverware was clean.

Another word for solace is peace. After hectic days of rushing from one activity to another, I found comfort in a simple task requiring no thought, no conversation and no planning.

During that peace-filled time, my thoughts turned to my Creator who knit me together in my mother’s womb. Letting His peace settle around me like a blanket of love, I thanked Him for a mother who taught me the value of responsibility and doing my best.

After my mother died in July 2004, my sister and I discussed those things she had taught us. More than a homemaker who cooked from scratch and made all of our clothes, she taught us organizational skills and instilled in us a work ethic remaining today.

My mother also modeled compassion. Whether it was home-baked food or a kind word, she reached out to others in need. She instilled in her daughters a legacy that only love can buy.

As Mother’s Day approaches, consider the following anonymous quote: “No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you—life.”

Are you praising her?

Carol Round

Check out the author’s website at www.carolaround.com.

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When to Say Thanks

Say Thanks

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years!

 I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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*image by Lindsay Osborne.