Sunday, November 12, 2017

When You Rise Up - Chapter 7 - Back to the Basics

The Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park (Dec'16)
1.  Share what person(s) that you most admire or respect.  Why do you respect him or her?  What qualities do you see in their lives that you'd most like to have in yours?

I most admire the woman, Charlotte, who introduced me to Jesus at a young age.  She had a husband who was not saved, but she was the best example I know of a woman who loved her husband, respected him, always thought and presented him in the best way.  She prayed for him continually and shortly before he died of cancer, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  She loved the Lord dearly, always prayed for my family, and took me to church throughout my younger years and when I would go back to my hometown, she would take me to church.  She was such a godly example.  She also was a godly wife & mother, even though her children were wayward and did not follow God, but she never gave up on any of them.  She continued to love them and pray for them through the rest of her life until she died in 2006 in her mid-90s.  She was always doing what she could to lead people to Jesus and disciple them.

2.  Read Psalm 15 - God, who gets invited to dinner at your place?  How do we get on your guest list?  “Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.  3-4 “Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable.  “Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe.  “You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”  List the character qualities that you find from these verses describing the individual who is close to God?  Name one of these that is a strength in your life?  Which one is a weakness that you'd like to strengthen?
  • Walk straight
  • Act right
  • Tell the truth
  • Don't hurt your friends
  • Don't blame others
  • Despise the despicable
  • Keep your word
  • Make an honest living
  • Never take a bribe
Never take a bribe is something I think of this list is something I can say I do not do.  It's cost me a job and a bunch of things in life.  A weakness of mine is not to blame others.  I'm working hard at taking responsibility for my stuff and not blaming others, or making excuses.

3.  I Corinthians 15:3333 Don’t be fooled: “Bad friends will ruin good habits.” (ERV) reminds us not to be deceived and that "bad company corrupts good morals."  How can we avoid corruption from wrong friendships, but still demonstrate kindness?  Is it ever okay to disallow your children from certain relationships?

My daughter knows a number of people that are not of good character at school and though they are smart and show a good face to parents, they really are not nice people, nor do they have good character.  I told her to still show them kindness and respect, even if they do not deserve it.  Always be courteous, but you do not have to allow them to get closer to you.  Yes, it is okay to disallow one's kids from certain relationships.  I am grateful, however, that both my kids are pretty good at discerning good people in their lives and when those people turn into not such good people, they distance themselves from them.

4.  From the following verses, how do you think God feels about corrupting influences in our lives and that of our children?
  • Proverbs 4:14-15 - 14 Do not go where evil people go. Do not follow the example of the wicked. 15 Don't do it! Keep away from evil! Refuse it and go on your way. (GNT)
    • God doesn't want you to follow not good people.  Don't do as they do.
    • 2 Timothy 2:19-23 - 19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”  20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.  22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.  23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.  (NLT)
      • God wants you to make good choices & decisions as well as be around people that are not going to lead you astray.  As we get stronger in the Lord, this allows us to be more used by God for His purposes.  However, if your character is not good and you are easily led astray, much harder to be used by God in a good way.  Don't argue with fools.  It's foolish.
    5.  What thought or verse from this chapter was most helpful to you?  What will you do differently this week in your parenting as a result?

    The thought most helpful to me is how am I role modeling to my son and daughter how a woman and wife should be?  Am I treating my husband with love and respect?  Do they see me treating others with kindness?  Would I want my son to marry a woman similar to me?  Do I show my daughter what kind of woman she is to be and the type of man she is to marry?  Do I show my son the type of woman he should marry?  I need to continue to be more intentional about my role as a wife and mother, as well as a woman, daughter, aunt, sister, friend.

    Monday, November 6, 2017

    When You Rise Up - Chapter 6 - The Battle For Morality

    The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park (July 2014)
    1.  Share some ways in which parents can effectively offer protection for moral purity with children, especially in the early, formative years.

    They can limit what the kids view on TV, in movies, magazines, etc.  They can also talk about what the Bible says about this stuff and how men and women are to dress.  They can know what their kids are doing on the internet, who their friends are, Find My iPhone, monitor their phones, emails, social media.  They can put blocks on things on the internet.  Also, they can do background checks on people their kids interact with (if adults), get to know the families of their kids' friends, etc.

    2.  How are children (and adults) under attack in our culture today when it comes to our self image?  What can we do to protect our families from this attack?

    Our society advocates saying and doing anything you want, as well as always being entitled.  All this goes against the Bible.  Society says if we have standards for morality, or behavior or ethics, that we are slammed and put down.  The media is really good at attacking wholesome values, but as well as brainwashing kids and people through advertisement and repeated propaganda on how to think.

    We can talk to our kids about what the media and society does and why we believe what we believe and what it takes to stand for our beliefs.  We don't have to shove our beliefs down other people's throats, but we can still take a strong stance, love other people, accept them, show them kindness no matter what they believe.  But we do not have to agree with them.

    We can also help fund organizations and people who do things to help protect our families and freedoms.  We can role model through our own behavior, our lives, that Christ is first and foremost, but that also means we are to love people, treat them with respect, treat them well.

    3.  How do these verses encourage you to keep standing firm in teaching moral purity to your children?
    • Psalm 1:1-3 Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to evil advice, who don’t live like sinners, and who don’t join those who make fun of God. Instead, they love the Lord’s teachings and think about them day and night.  So they grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream—a tree that produces fruit when it should and has leaves that never fall.  Everything they do is successful. (ERV)
      • These verses tells me that if I get my nourishment from the Lord, that I will produce good fruit, in my case, my children.  I don't join in what the world says I'm to do, but to obey and honor God in everything, obey His teachings and teach/role model them to my kids.
    • Psalm 138:7-8When I am surrounded by troubles, you keep me safe.  You oppose my angry enemies and save me by your power.  You will do everything you have promised; Lord, your love is eternal. Complete the work that you have begun. (GNT)
      • These verses tell me to keep making good decisions that bring honor to God.  God will protect me and save me.  However, that doesn't mean in this world that harm might not come to me still, but God's eternal spiritual protection is there.  I am His and the devil cannot claim me.  God will fulfill His destiny in me.
    • Romans 12:1-212 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)
      • Allow Jesus to mold me and transform me, by changing my attitude, my mind and then my actions will follow.  Daily I'm to continually lay everything down to Jesus and serve Him and that includes in my marriage & kids.
    • Colossians 3:1-4Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (AMP)
      • We're not to put so many value on things that have no eternal value.  Do things that matter and show that to our kids, too.
    4.  We are all too programmed to try to do whatever we want when we want it.  Why wait?  Look up the following verses and discuss what they reveal about God's perspective on waiting.  Share your insights.
    • Psalm 25:3No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. (NIV)
      • Not being able to wait for things can have detrimental effects.  It can destroy families.  I can use my own inability to wait for certain things or that I did wait for awhile, but ultimately gave up waiting and the consequences weren't good.  Lots of brokenness.
    • Psalm 27:14Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (NASB)
      • We're to trust God, that He has a better plan for things if we wait for God to fulfill whatever it is we are asking for.  It does take strength and courage to keep going when you don't see things happening in your favor as you trust God.
    • Psalm 37:7, 34Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. (HCSB)
      • A challenge to wait patiently and be silent.  I'm not a very silent person.  We're  not to compare our lives, ourselves, our circumstances with anyone else.  We are all unique and our destinies are all unique.
    • Psalm 40:1-4I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear [with great reverence] And will trust confidently in the Lord. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not regard the proud nor those who lapse into lies. (AMP)
      • God says to wait expectantly for Him, and to be patient.  A part of waiting is the development of patience.  God hears us, but it doesn't necessarily mean He'll answer in our timing or in the way we want.  He has His ways.  His ways are stable; they are sure.  These verses say that the man who trusts in God (and that means this isn't just in an attitude, but with action, too) will be blessed.
    5.  What are some practical ways that you can help your children to anchor their self-esteem in Christ and not the culture?  Seek out an older godly mom and ask how she did this with her children.

    I can continually encourage them, support them, correct & discipline when needed.  We can talk about God's Word, read & study it together.  We can talk through and work through situations where they need help together, be parents who really watch, observe, listen, and continually pray for them, as we role model to them godly people.

    6.  From this chapter, share what verse or though was most helpful or encouraging to you in regard to the battle for moral purity with your children.  How will you apply this to your life this week?

    I loved Psalm 27:14.  It takes a lot of strength, relying in God's strength to wait.  The world will tell us we can have it now, take all you want, but God says wait.  I have something much better for you, better than you can imagine.  It takes courage to do the right thing.  The world is so good at being a coward that if we are to stand up for what's right, wait, that also takes courage.

    I will continue to role model for my kids about having good health, hoping & praying for it as well as daily taking lots of actions to have this, and that God would heal me.  I'm going to be writing Scripture, doing EFT, doing my walks, not stressing, leaving things in God's hands.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017

    When You Rise Up - Chapter 5 - Parenting With Purpose

    My Kids in the Grand Tetons (July 2014)
    1.  Share how you came to know Christ as your Lord and Savior. 

    I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior when I was 7 yrs old in Daily Vacation Bible School.  Though CW was the one that began taking me to church at 3 yrs old faithfully until she died over 10 yrs ago, it was a woman named Grace that I said the prayer with.  However, it was the faithfulness and prayers, the love of CW that Christ is my personal Savior and I am forever grateful.

    2.  Discuss one thing that you are currently trying to teach your children.  What are some of the greatest challenges you have experienced in this process?

    Consistently doing a great job no matter who, when, where.  They take for granted that they are smart, talented kids, but without a good work ethic, intelligence & talent only goes so far without having a good work ethic.  They don't seem to get it.

    3.  What encouragement can you glean from these verses as we experience the challenges of practicing the truth in our own lives and then teaching our children truth?
    • Galatians 6:7-9 - 7-8 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. 9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (MSG)
    None of us are perfect.  But we need to study and know the Word of God and what God desires of our lives.  When sin occurs, we need to be quick to acknowledge and repent, keeping a clean account with the Lord so that the devil does not have a way into our lives to destroy things.  Often those seemingly small sins are like weeds.  If left unchecked, they grow and get out of control.  On a regular basis we need to weed sin out of our lives.  When we do this regularly, it doesn't get to be overwhelming like when we let it all pile up and allow bitterness to develop in our lives.
    • Ephesians 6:12-13 - 12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. 13 That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. (ERV)
    All of these things are heart issues and Satan has all sorts of ploys to get us off track.  So when we're having issues with things or other people, Satan is behind all that.  We must get things right with God and use the power we have in Christ to fight against Satan, who is our greatest adversary.  We cannot do it alone or with only partial spiritual armor.

    4.  Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  “Listen, people of Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God.You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Always remember these commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children. Talk about these commands when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hands and wear them on your foreheads to help you remember my teachings. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.  How important did the Israelites consider it to teach their children about God?  Describe to what extent they did this.  Then share ideas about how you can apply these same principles to the teaching of your children today.

    It was so important that they wrote it on the doorposts of their houses.  Whenever you enter the house or a room, you go through doorposts, so then you are sure to see these teachings, just in case you forget.  I can teach these to my kids, God's teachings by daily talking to them about them, praying with them, praying alone for them, role modeling to them God's Word in action.  We can also look at different situations and apply God's Word to it and see what God says on how to deal with all sorts of things.

    5.  Share one verse or thought that most encouraged you from this chapter.

    Psalm 127:3 - Children are a gift from God.  Sometimes I forget this and gifts are to be received with joy and delight, to be cherished.  As both my kids are teenagers, I forget this at times.  I have to remember that I was also a teenager once and that if God was able to take me safely through that time and to develop me, God can do similarly with my own children.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    When You Rise Up - Chapter 4 - Parenting 101

    Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada (2015)

    1.  Share your observations about how parents in our culture today try to be a pal rather than the parent.  What problems do you see with this approach to parenting?

    I think it brings a lot of confusion into our kids' lives.  They don't truly understand about healthy boundaries, or negative consequences for wrong choices.  We see a lot of entitlement in our society and you don't have to work for or earn anything.  Just because you exist is enough and it isn't.

    2.  How does forgiving your own parents (or others who have hurt you) help you as a parent?  Consider the following verses as you answer this questions.
    • Ephesians 4:26-27 - 26 “When you are angry, don’t let that anger make you sin,”[a] and don’t stay angry all day.27 Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you. (ERV)
      • When we don't forgive, roots of bitterness grow deep within us.  Then we do things that aren't good out of that bitterness, with a seething anger.  So many awful things and some people commit awful crimes because of unforgiveness.  We won't live this life without being wronged.  And forgiving doesn't absolve what was done, but it's releasing the bad ties to that person and letting God deal with that person.  If we do not release forgiveness, this gives the devil a way to work and attack our lives.
    • Colossians 3:12-13 - 12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient.13 Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. (ERV)
      • No matter what, our kids will wrong us many times.  They will infuriate us, but we need to continually forgive them and be an example to them about forgiveness and restoration (where possible).  It teaches our kids not to be prideful, because forgiveness, as I see it, is a humbling thing.  This all points to Jesus and that we do not have control of others.
    • Hebrews 12:14-15 - 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. (HCSB)
      • God is love and peace, even though He is a God who also judges.  But first He is love.  The devil has no love.  He is selfish, prideful, arrogant and filled with destruction.  If we allow God's love to dwell in us, eventually, by the grace of God, others will see this and want this in their lives. 
    3.  Read Ephesians 6:1-4 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
    • What instructions are given to children in this passage?
      • Children are to obey their parents, to honor them.
    • Name 2 or 3 observations you make in regard to parents' responsibilities in these same four verses.
      • As parents we are to teach our kids, to discipline them, correct them, but not in such a harsh manner that it causes them to be discouraged, angry, bitter.  
    • Why do you think Paul included this teaching to the church in Ephesus?  What do you think prompted this?
      • Families are so important and are the backbone of any society.  Without strong families, societies are weak.  He's encouraging all parts of the family - not just children, but also parents.
    4.  Share some successes that you have had as a mom in having fun with your children without sacrificing your parenting principles with your children?

    We have gone on many trips together that are super fun, as well as hiking and many other outings.  We never have to worry about our kids acting up or not obeying because we work on those things at home so when we are out, it's smooth going and an enjoyable time for all.

    5. Hopefully you can laugh about some of the things that your children have said and done.  Share a funny parenting store that you have experienced.  Why is laughter important to being a good parent?

    When my daughter was maybe 3-4 yrs old and my son was a baby, we were in church.  We had taught our daughter to say AMEN after prayers.  The pastor was praying a bit long and had stopped, or a long pause.  My daughter thought he was done and shouted, AMEN!  I told her he wasn't done.  But she refused to stop saying AMEN!!  She kept shouting AMEN and I had to take her out of service.  That was really funny (well, not at the time) and I could hear some people laughing.

    6.  What was the most helpful or encouraging to you as a mom in this chapter?  Share your insights.

    Not forgiving could have awful consequences that manifest in bad ways later in our lives.  So we must forgive.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2017

    When You Rise Up: Chapter 3 - Who's In Control?

    Boyce Arboretum, Superior, AZ (2013)
    1.  Share one positive quality that you respect about your husband.  This can be anything.  But it needs to be positive and honoring.

    My husband is consistent with correction and discipline while I am forgetful and inconsistent.  Though, with his help and God's, I am becoming more consistent.

    2.  How does God's view of women, as discussed in this chapter, encourage you as you consider His command for wives to respect and follow your husband's leadership?  How should this change the way you understand your role and responsibility to support your husband?

    God views women equal to men in terms of value.  No more, no less.  This means no matter what, we are to obey God and God gives husbands the leadership role.  My role is just as important in being my husband's helpmate.  No marriage can have two ultimate leaders.  Especially when I disagree, I need to relinquish the control to my husband.  God will honor this even if my husband is wrong.

    3.  While we may disagree with our husbands on different issues, what do these verses say to us about the way we are to treat him whether we agree or not?  Discuss your answers.
    • Romans 12:9-10  - Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food.  The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.
      • It's better to humble ourselves than to be prideful.  We are to humble ourselves to our husbands, especially when we think we're right and disagree.  It's better to obey God than do what we want. (NLT)
    • Galatians 5:25-26 - If we live by the Spirit, let us also [a]walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (NASB)
      • We are to remain humble, obeying God.  Allow the Holy Spirit to direct us, not our fleshly desires.
    • Ephesians 4:31-32 - 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you. (AMP)
      • We are to forgive, not allow ourselves to get bitter, angry.  Submit our emotions to the Lord.  We're to be kind and helpful.  This is extremely challenging but I found when I submit my emotions to the Lord, repent, bind the enemy and kick him out, the Lord reigns in my attitude.
    4.  How can we encourage our husbands to follow his God-given leadership, but not act as his Holy Spirit or his mother, but as his helper and friend?

    We can not nag, have a nice tone of voice, a pleasant, genuine attitude, be kind and caring.  We are to be interested and respectful when he has to make the final decisions.  We can ask if he wants to hear inputs and not try to control the situation, but allow his word to be final without holding grudges, trusting that God will work everything out in the end.

    5.  Look up each verse and consider what insights they offer to encouraging your husband in his leadership role.
    • Proverbs 15:28 - Prayerful answers come from God-loyal people; the wicked are sewers of abuse. (MSG)
      • Continually pray for my husband, but don't allow myself to say mean, discouraging, hateful, disrespectful things to him.
    • Proverbs 16:21-24 - Anyone with a wise heart is called discerning, and pleasant speech increases learning.22 Insight is a fountain of life for its possessor, but the discipline of fools is folly.  23 A wise heart instructs its mouth and increases learning with its speech. 24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb:  sweet to the taste[c] and health to the body. (HCSB)
      •  Be disciplined with what I say and say things gently, considering my husband and where he is.  Don't be harsh, but use a good tone of voice that shows him respect.  Use respectful speech.  Sometimes say nothing if it needs be.  Love my husband in the way he needs to be loved and then possibly God will help change his heart to listen to me.
    • Romans 12:16-18 - 16 - Live in harmony with one another.Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil.Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV)
      • Don't need to have my way, but really trust God despite whatever decisions my husband makes.  Don't be prideful, but be willing to forgive as well as ask for forgiveness.  Have a change of heart and truly trust God that no matter what decisions my husband makes, God's will for our lives will be done.  Don't be prideful and even if my husband is vengeful towards me, show him love and kindness instead.  Live peaceably and learn to communicate in a manner that touches my husband's mind,  heart, and soul and that's by treating my husband the way God wants me to treat him - well, respectful.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - 16 - Always be joyful.17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)
      • Even when situations don't seem joyful, joy does not come from our circumstances, rather on God.  Continue always to pray in good and bad times, because the devil wants us to be lazy.  And even when things are bad, be thankful for what God is doing because in due time, He will make things right.  God is always in control and He has His purpose for allowing or doing things.
    6.  Share one thought or verse that impacted you most from this lesson.

    Proverbs 16:24 - I am sometimes too direct and need to keep a reign on my mouth until the words I use are sweet to the taste, but truthful and loving, kind.  This is a huge challenge, but God is making progress in me.

    Monday, September 18, 2017

    When You Rise Up - Chapter 2 - What Does He Know?

    On Our Wedding Day - Simple Bands, But A Deep Love That Crossed Oceans & Continents
    1.  Share one or two differences between you and your husband that first attracted you to him before you were married.  Has this changed?  If so, why do you think it has?

    Two things that attracted me to my husband originally were his ability to really take the time to listen and his good manners.  Many Latin American men I knew were arrogant and egotistical and I was not attracted to such men.  He still is a great listener and takes the time to listen, whereas I am a hurried listener.  And, unless he's really upset, he is a gentle person.  So in both these, he has changed for the better.  And I have learned to become a better listener.  Though, I still have a long ways to go.  He's helped me to be a better listener by providing helpful feedback and with EMDR therapy, EFT, soaking warfare prayer, I am changing.  My personality is fairly aggressive and assertive, but I'm seeing that isn't always the best and seeing that there are times to be gentler, kinder.  Now my husband's style of listening and responding to things, especially when things upset him, are much better.  He's learned to acknowledge when he's wrong, apologize and to make changes to not do again.  But, we've both changed a lot for the better.

    2.  Name one parenting difference that you have with your husband that may be a difficulty for you.  Why do you think it is difficult?  (Be sure to be respectful toward your husband if you are sharing this in a group.)

    My husband is very consistent in parenting and he doesn't forget usually.  I used to be the complete opposite - really nice and wonderful, soft and then really harsh when I was frustrated, like a roller coaster.  What I was doing was not good.  My husband's consistency has been super helpful and has helped given the kids greater stability, even if they don't always like the correction and discipline.  There is greater respect, honor and order in our home, as well as peace and I believe happiness.

    Being consistent in parenting is challenging for me because I grew up in a very strict, harsh home and I didn't want my kids to feel like I felt - useless, good for nothing.  I know now that my parents didn't mean it like that but that wasn't so when I was a kid and I ended up making a lot of bad choices because of it.  I want my kids to be sparred that, but I also don't want them to feel entitled and not work for or earn things that they should be.

    3.  How does Philippians 2:3-4 - In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. (ERV) encourage you to see your husband's unique perspective?

    There are usually multiple ways to skin a cat.  Our perspective is based off our experiences, knowledge, emotions, values, beliefs.  No two people are exactly alike.  I've learned that my husband has great insights that shock the pants off me often.  I didn't think he thought that deeply about some things and he does.  Whereas, sometimes I think in some things he thinks deeply and he doesn't.  He has a high emotional intelligence and I've come often to value this great quality in him.

    4.  Is there any area in your marriage that you need to give your husband more respect?  Is there something in which you know he needs your verbal support?  how will you show him respect his week?

    I think when I'm stressed out, tired, and/or not feeling well, sometimes I take things wrong and can be quite sarcastic in a mean way.  This is not good and right now while I'm under the weather, I need to be extra careful that I'm not offensive and more understanding as he is understanding towards me.

    He loves his bonsai tree hobby and though at the beginning I fought him on it, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I am to let me husband lead, be loving, kind, supportive, but also offer good wisdom (when asked) and God will take care of things, even if my husband makes mistakes, which he will.  Learning to let this go and show him support, be interested in his bonsai stuff through taking photos, helping him with his plants with watering, misting and all the many things I do are things I show support to him.  Also, having a great attitude and truly being interested and concerned when he is.

    5.  Reflect back on the following verses from this chapter and write out how you can apply them to your marriage today.

    • Proverbs 12:18 - 18 Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal. (GNT)
      • While I'm ill, I can THINK before speaking.  Is this value added?  Is this going to help?  Sometimes silence is better than saying poor words.  I know I'm getting better in this because of all the loving things my husband is giving back to me in affection.
    • Proverbs 16:21 - A wise person gets known for insight; gracious words add to one’s reputation. (MSG)
      • I am learning that I do not have to fix or solve all problems.  Sometimes my husband just wants to tell me things and he doesn't want anything from me except listening to him.  For this, my husband is most appreciative and it makes him feel loved, feeling listened to and respected because he doesn't need me to solve everything for him.  I'm his wife, his life partner, not his mom.
    • James 1:19-20 - 19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (NLT)
      • Sometimes just by listening and not reacting emotionally, it's a great thing.  Actually, usually.  Sometimes we get angry as we don't fully understand the situation and even if we do, doing things in a calm, rational manner is usually far better than being over reactive.  God can do great things when we control anger.  Another way to help control anger is to continually forgive those who offend us so that no bitterness takes root in our hearts, thus we are not angry people.
    • Ephesians 5:33b - and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].
      • My husband has really taken notice of how much more loving I am towards him by not over reacting and being all emotional about everything and about wanting control over everything.  This has caused him to be a much nicer, gentler, caring husband as well as more affectionate in the way I want.  It's taking awhile, but if we honor God in His Word, even if it looks impossible, He will make a way.  I treasure my husband by respecting him through my words and actions.

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    When You Rise Up: Chapter 1 - The Best Job Ever

    Zion National Park, Utah (2015)
    The weeks to come, I am going to be doing with my Titus group When You Rise Up written by Lee Sumner.  It's a book of wisdom for moms who want to parent with purpose.

    1.  Share your own experience of having your first child.  What surprised you most?

    I was really surprised that I didn't gain very much weight - 13 lbs total.  And I was surprised Labor and Delivery was so quick and easy.  I had exercised throughout my pregnancy.  My daughter came 2-3 weeks early.  And I didn't really feel the labor pains.  She just really popped out.  It was fairly easy.  Despite my getting pregnant with her out of wedlock, I was so surprised at God's Grace & Mercy for me in giving me a great and easy pregnancy.  And, after I gave birth, I had no weight to lose rather I weighed less than before I got pregnant.

    2.  In your experience, what has been the most difficult part of being a mom?  What has been the greatest joy?  Who has been a source of encouragement to you?

    The most difficult part of being a mom is to correct & discipline my kids consistently.  The greatest joy has been leading both of them to Christ at early ages.  My greatest source of encouragement in this motherhood has been this women's group - Titus.

    3.  Read Luke 1:26-38 and Luke 2:8-20.

    • Describe how you think Mary felt concerning her "greatest job" ever?
    I think she felt very scared, nervous, confused.
    • What do you learn about Mary from Luke 1:38?
    She must have had great faith and trust in God.  She truly believed.
    • What insight can you glean about her from Luke 2:19.
    She had a really close relationship with God.
    • How does Mary's example as a mother encourage you as mother today?  What hope does her life story bring?
    I'm really not sure.  I feel so different than Mary.  I'm not sure what hope it brings for me.

    4.  What encouragement do you receive from the following verses as they apply to being a mother?  Share your insights.
    • Jeremiah 29:11 - God has a plan for each of our lives.  Even though we have trials and go through tough stuff, He is using those things for the better and for good.
    • Philippians 4:4-8 - I love these verses.  It tells us to think on good thoughts.  To be thankful in everything.  To bring our concerns and requests to God.  God will give us peace.
    5.  Share one thought or Bible verse from this chapter that most encouraged you.

    I really love Philippians 4:4-8.  Those verses always encourage me.  That God has everything under control.

    Monday, July 10, 2017

    To Christian Leaders

    My husband and I this morning were talking about the church - the difference between the church I used to go to and the church I now go to.  We also talked about drawing people to Christ and how our lives as Christians are in the U.S. as opposed to another country.

    Since I have never lived abroad, but my husband comes from Colombia, I don't have his perspective, but now I am seeing more his perspective after having left my previous church.  While there, people were nice to me, at least to my face.  Now, I realize that the church is made up of flawed people and no church is without flawed people.

    I have seen more growth in my Christian walk after having left my last church and I didn't realize why.  And it was because I was no longer being confined to an underlying legalism that I didn't realize existed.  Now I can see more of what it was.

    Not on social media much except in one place and I do see the how now I am shunned by most of the people that I went to church with - both still now attending that church and by many of those whom no longer go there anymore.  It's sort of weird.  I didn't leave that church because I was angry, rather it didn't seem like we were fitting there anymore.  Frankly, I'm not sure if we fit there for quite some time.

    Yes, I learned a lot and perhaps I could have connected more.  In my own brokenness, my own flaws, maybe I should have connected better.  Maybe it through my writing, my posts I connected with people.  I found it odd that some people were super friendly with me, but that was only because they wanted something from me - they needed my help, they needed me to fill in for them, or to bring something or anything like that.

    Yes, there were a number of years I was needy and I was helped by the church.  For that, I am grateful.  I wasn't asking for it, but some people out of their own hearts, came to assist me.  I'm not saying all things or even most things are bad of that former church, but I am left confused.  When I make a comment on someone's stuff and they are wanting to connect with people, I guess ignoring them, eventually they go away.

    What was my crime?  I was just trying to provide for the needs of my family and they weren't being met where we were, so with careful prayer for over 2 yrs, we made the decision to leave.  It was scary to leave my comfort zone, and after searching every Sunday for several months and talking to a number of churches, we found a church we liked that we all agreed we wanted to be there.

    Is being a Christian ousting those not in your clique?  I have been offended at some people deleting me, while yet retaining others whom we know, or ignoring my friend requests, or blocking me.  What did I do wrong?  I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a Christian, a follower of Christ.  But, I wonder to some of these teachers of the Bible, are they really just a Pharisee, claiming they love Christ, but don't really love others?

    Ghandi would have become a Christian, I would surmise, except that he saw the lack of love and the actions of those people who called themselves Christ followers.  Jesus spoke Truth to people.  He loved ALL people.  He may have not accepted or liked their actions, but He loved ALL peoples.

    My husband had told me maybe there wasn't really anyone at my last church that really liked me.   That hurt to hear, but I think he's probably correct.  Maybe all those meals I made, or helping people move, or praying for others never really mattered except to be used for at that time.  Maybe Life Group there was just to form those social cliques and if you're outside of them, you're not accepted.

    I saw some other people also at the church ousted by people from the church.  I didn't oust them.  I would still talk to them.  If I didn't talk to them, and there was only one person, it wasn't because of the church, rather it was because she couldn't respect my boundaries which I had told her directly.  I think my past church.

    Maybe I should have talked to the pastor about us leaving, but quite a few other people had tried to do that before me and it didn't go well with them.  I never felt super connected to the pastor and felt mostly that he was beyond me.  And, at the time of where I was, I didn't want to feel further rejection so I just disappeared into the night.

    Not saying everyone there is like that.  I can name one person who is not like that at all, maybe two.  But, if a church is to grow and to flourish, maybe when people leave, shutting the door to them may not be a good thing either.

    Honestly, I've never faced this before, well maybe some when I divorced my first husband and left that church.  That's understandable as his family had been there for more than 2 decades and me divorcing their son . . .

    Maybe it's just the church I left.  I didn't feel I left on bad terms.  Well, it's just the way it is.  I just need to know that I don't want to be like many of those whom are doing this - look good on the outside, play Christian well, but only use people for when you need them for whatever your purpose is and then when they are of no use, then discard them.  Keep preaching the Gospel, but don't have to live it.

    Thursday, June 1, 2017

    The Screwtape Letters (by C.S. Lewis) - LETTER 1 - Reason & Reality

    "The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy's own ground." - Screwtape

    1.  Use your imagination and describe Screwtape and Wormwood.  Take into account their appearance, personalities, and demeanor.  Who would you rather have a conversation with and why?

    I see both Screwtape and Wormwood as being very prideful.  The appearance in my mind is that Uncle Screwtape is a large, grossly fat man - aging, old clothes, fat stubby fingers.  His face is craggly and old, deep crevices, mangled skin and a bit disfigured.  His clothes are mainly neat, but ill fitting.  I imagine his voice to be firm, forceful, thundering, strong, sarcastic and commanding, condescending.  As for Wormwood, physically I see him as taller, slender, but his figure has had less disfiguration.  His hands have long slender fingers, but with darkened nails and tips with long fingernails.  He always has a smug look on his face, like he knows everything, but at least he tries to listen to his uncle and sort of thinks his uncle is a bit of a nag and pompous.  He has contempt for his uncle.

    Personally, I would like to have a conversation with Uncle Screwtape.  He has a great deal of experience and knowledge and I would like to glean this knowledge from him and get help from Uncle Screwtape's Enemy (God) to combat his own schemes.

    Both my kids saw Uncle Screwtape as slender.  But we all agreed that they were both prideful.

    2.  SCREWTAPE'S GAME PLAN - Which action of Screwtape below do you think would be most effective in keeping teens from knowing Christ today?  Why?

    a.  Convincing teens that "real life" is just like their favorite reality show.
    b.  Convincing teens that they are immortal and will never die.
    c.  Replacing "right" or "wrong" with "what's trending".
    d.  Acting without considering any consequences.
    e.  Distracting teens with media and other forms of technology.

    I would choose E, to distract teens with media and other forms of technology.  If you keep them distracted, they don't have time to think about anything.  Their time is consumed with frivolous things that take up time, waste time, and have no eternal value, yet they'll think it's important.

    My son chose B and my daughter chose C.  We had a nice discussion on this and this is where we saw things differently.  

    3.  True or false.  Satan wants you focused only on spiritual matters not non-essential matters.

    False.  Satan wants you to focus on the non-essential matters making you think they are really important.  He doesn't want you to think at all about spiritual matters, so if he can distract you to not think of things, the better.

    We all agreed on this.

    4.  Have you ever known someone who refused to come to church because of their disappointment with another Christian or the church?  How does that change the way you talk to them about church?

    Yes.  Actually much of my family is like this because Christians they have seen have a worse testimony than the lives they personally live, why would they need to go to church?  I don't really talk much about church to them, but really just try to live my life correctly, in a way that pleases God, but not necessarily like people expect or think Christians should be like.  Our actions and how we live life will speak much louder than the words we say.  At some point, however, you do need to say some things, but your life should already show the words in action.

    The kids shared about different people they knew specifically that this is applicable to.  

    5.  BIBLE STUDY QUESTION - Read Luke 10:39-42.  39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.”41 But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.”  What ordinary, everyday distractions was Martha concerned with?  Who did it make her resent?  What did she miss out on?

    Martha was concerned with preparing dinner, cleaning house, getting things ready for dinner.  How that looks like for each of us may be different, but it's really those things that have no eternal value that we put all our focus on so there is no time to think about or do what is important, that has eternal value.  Martha resented Mary for not pitching in to help her because she thought getting things done was more important than to pay attention to what Jesus was wanting.  Martha missed out on a lot in terms of really getting that doing all the dinner & other stuff was trivial in the grand scheme of things.  Not saying those things didn't need to be done, but maybe it could have been done to a less perfectionistic standard so there could be time listening to what Jesus wanted to share.

    How this looks like in real life, in my life, is I can be like Martha a lot, taking care of things and then being resentful of my family for not cooperating.  But, when all is said and done, though it's still important for my family these things get done, maybe I can minimize the "stuff" that needs to be done and really love and listen to them, take time to spend with them instead of always being so busy.

    We all were in agreement here.