millions of peaches, peaches for me!

>> Monday, August 31, 2009

Well, okay, maybe not millions...

...but I do have 14 quarts of canned peaches in my pantry now!

My best friend, Alicia, and I decided to have a peach-canning bee on Saturday. Actually, when she took me out for coffee for my birthday Thursday night, I whined about still feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the idea despite having done some with my mother-in-law not that long ago (7 quarts of cherries), and she took pity on me. I'm so lucky to have a friend who's so well versed in the more traditional homemaking arts, like sewing, gardening, canning, etc. The lucky part being, of course, that she's actually willing to teach me!

Peaches were on sale in our neck of the woods last week, so when The Bushman was in town on Friday, he picked us each up a 20-lb case. On Saturday, I washed up my quart jars, bought some new snaps and lids (which turned out to be too small ~ fortunately, she had enough in her own pantry!!), and packed everything into the van and headed over to her place.

First, we measured 3/4 c. sugar into each jar.

And then we peeled and cut up peaches. The skin is supposed to neatly peel off when you dunk them in hot or boiling water, but that was not the case with our peaches. We actually had to peel them like potatoes even though they were ripe. With the two of us working at it though, it didn't take too long.

In the mean time, we sterilized the snap lids in a small pot on the stove and also added about a cup of boiling water to each jar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then the jars were ready for the peach pieces.

After jamming as many as we could into each one (it feels like you really have to mash 'em in there, but one case of 48 peaches fits quite perfectly into 14 quart jars ~ two full canners), we wiped the jar mouths clean and dry, topped them with the sterilized snaps, and fastened the rings as tightly as we could. Ready for the canner!

The water had already been boiling, but because of the flat-top stove, it took a long time to get the canner boiling again once the jars were inside. But once it was, the jars boiled for 15 minutes.

And then they come out looking like this, all sweet and golden and beautiful and whatnot!!

All of hers sealed, but I had one that didn't, so it sat in my fridge until being happily devoured last night. YUM!!!!

After we'd cleaned everything up, we had a wonderful picnic supper there ~ burgers, hotdogs cooked over an open fire, tacos and dip, macaroni salad, and a watermelon I'd brought from home. It was a beautiful evening; warm, sunny, and no bugs!! Perfect for sitting outside and enjoying friends.

She'd used paper plates and plastic cutlery, so there were very few dishes to wash and afterwards, while the men went quadding and the kids played either in the basement or outside, we went for a nice long walk and enjoyed each other's company for a few more minutes before I packed up my kids, my leftover sugar, and my freshly-canned peaches and headed home to get the girls into bed.

I wonder if this is how young farm wives would have done it 50 years ago? (I wonder if there was such a thing as a 30-something farm wife 50 years ago who didn't know how to preserve fruit... haha, probably not!) As we reflected on some of the lost arts of homemaking, I think we both decided to make more of an effort to pass some of these things on to our girls, if for no other reason than to preserve a bit of tradition. (no pun intended!!)

I'm not a busy woman by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good to slow down a bit, take a peak into yester-year, and do something "old-fashioned" for our families.

Not to mention, canning peaches together was faster and infinitely more fun than doing it alone!


by contrast...

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remember my last weekend at the lake? (I'll refresh your memory)

Believe it or not, this is the same place only a week later:

These pictures are actually all from Sunday. Since the forecast was good, we decided to try and get at least one over-nighter at the lake this summer, so we were there from Saturday afternoon till Sunday evening.

Saturday was hot and sunny here at home, but cloudy and breezy up at the lake. Still a nice day, but a bit cool for sitting outside. Sunday, however, was absolutely incredible! PERFECT lake weather.

It was an awesome weekend ~ spent with our church family this time ~ and a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday!!


True Woman Makeover: week 10!!

>> Tuesday, August 25, 2009

True Woman TuesdayWelcome to Week 10 ~ the final week!! ~ of the True Woman online Bible study!

Wow. Ten weeks... GONE. Hard to believe, isn't it? I've so enjoyed this study. These last 10 lessons have seemed a little disjointed for me, but I've still learned lots. The lessons were all still very convicting and inspiring.

Did you listen to or read through the last three lessons? What did you think? God's Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1-5

Lesson 28 calls us to be not so much SELF-controlled as SPIRIT-controlled. Even though it's called self-control throughout the lesson, I don't really see it that way. The version of self-control they're talking about here ~ the kind that Paul was talking about in this passage ~ is the kind where we have died to self and are under complete control of the Holy Spirit. Everything is reigned in by the Holy Spirit as a result of having thinking that is sound.

If we have sound doctrine, then that will result in sound thinking about all of life—wise, discreet, sensible, self-controlled, sound thinking about all of life. That will result in sound living.

How many of you were uncomfortable with the list of characteristics a woman who is not sophron would display??!! (PLEASE tell me it wasn't just me!!) Geez, as Nancy went through the list, I was thinkin', "check, check... yup, got that one, too. Mmm-hmm, check, check..." Dang. I am NOT a sophron woman!!

I love Nancy's description, however, of a woman who IS sophron:
"Her heart and her mind ~ if she’s sophron ~ are grounded in the Word and the ways of God. A woman who is sophron ~ the Word of God, the truth of God, the ways of God form boundaries for her life. Therefore, she exercises restraint and self-government in every area of her life—her thoughts.

"She’s temperate in and restrained in her reactions, not easily provoked, slow to get angry. She’s emotionally stable. She can be calm under pressure. She’s purposeful in her use of time. She’s a good steward. She’s morally chaste and pure. She has a well-ordered life. She has good judgment, the ability to solve difficult problems. Her behavior is controlled by the Spirit of God and conviction rather than her circumstances and emotions. The woman who is sophron lives a God-centered and an other-centered life. She lives in the light of eternity. That’s what determines her choices and her reactions. She’s intentional about her life. She’s willing and able to endure hardship for the sake of ultimate gain and reward.

"When life doesn’t work, the woman who is sophron hopes in God anyway. Her heart is steadfast. She can give thanks in all things. She experiences grace in the midst of the fire. She makes her life decisions based on what is wise and biblical, even if that requires difficult choices. She’s able to pray.

"The Spirit of God controls her flesh rather than the other way around. She’s spiritually and morally vigilant. Her heart and her mind are always under the guard and the protection of the Spirit of God, the truth of God, and the truth of God’s Word."
THAT's how I wanna look!! I know I'm a long way off, but what a way to be remembered that would be!

I thought it was sad how, according to Lesson 29, in the last hundred years or so we've called it "progress" to completely shun the virtues and practices that were once the norm for "true" women. These days, those four virtues that were once considered cardinal virtues ~ having a heart for God, purity, submissiveness to God-ordained authority, and being domestic or having a heart for home ~ those things are all widely marginalized and mocked, even in Christian circles; viewed as old-fashioned or extreme or sexist. How sad that even Christian women have come to view godly womanhood this way.

It shouldn't be difficult for people to see we're really Christian women. "The unbelieving world is characterized by impurity, and believers of Christ are supposed to be pure. In a raunch culture with girls gone wild, Christian women are supposed to stand out."

I love the attention Nancy pays to the difference between positional and practical purity in this lesson. I've often wondered why we need to keep striving for perfection and godliness when the Bible says God's grace covers us regardless of our sinful nature.

"Positional purity, she explains, is what took place in our lives at the moment that we were born again. We were regenerated. We were declared righteous and pure positionally by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ—justification. That's our initial salvation. God sees us not as we were but now as being in Christ. We have been saved, and that positional purity is true of every believer.

"...but then there is practical purity. This is what theologians more often call sanctification. This doesn't just happen once for all. It's a lifetime process of becoming practically pure, of living out that which God has already declared positionally to be true of us."
We can't train someone else to become a Christian. That happens by the grace of God alone, through faith. It's a work that God does in the heart, drawing people to Himself. But we can ~ and are supposed to ~ disciple one another in the process of becoming personally, practically pure.

And our desire for personal, practical purity ~ which should be clearly evidenced in the way we live ~ shouldn't make anyone feel uncomfortable, but should rather inspire wonder and awe in Christians and non-Christians alike. It should make God look good! We need to stand out in a good way!!

And then Lesson 30 ~ the final step in this "holy makeover" ~ relates to the heart attitude with which we serve. Having a kind heart is good, but it's not good enough. Out of a kind heart is supposed to flow a lifestyle and lifetime of good works.

Good works are motivated by kindness. It's easy to feel taken for granted ~ especially as an unpaid stay-at-home mom! ~ and resentment comes easy when I feel unnoticed and underappreciated. I start to feel sorry for myself very easily. But here in Scripture, God says our motivation for serving our friends and families should be a kind heart, regardless of the rewards. (or lack thereof!!) If we're living God-centered, others-focused lives, we will be living the joyful, abundant life God desires for us as Christian women. Service flows out of being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ.

I love the passage and reminder Nancy closes off with:

"In Titus chapter 3, verse 3, there’s a description of what we used to be like before we were saved, and one of the descriptions is we were hateful. We were hateful. We hated God. We hated others. We were foolish and disobedient and hateful.

"Look at verses 4 and 5 of chapter 3, “But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”

"When did He save us? When we were hateful. That’s when His kindness and His goodness came into our lives. When we as God’s children are kind to those who don’t deserve it, we show people what God is like. We reflect the gospel. We reflect the amazing undeserved kindness of Jesus Christ. He’s been kind to us. We pour out that kindness to others. God is kind to the ungrateful, those who don’t even recognize that He’s been kind, who never say thank you. And to those who are evil. If He weren’t He couldn’t have saved us. But He was kind to us when we were ungrateful and evil."
What a beautiful picture of our own history in Christ! It's an awesome responsibility to be called to mirror that for others, focusing on eternal, heavenly rewards rather than the praise of those we serve here on earth.

Personally, I think this was a great way to sum up this journey. All through these lessons, I've often felt like there were SO MANY THINGS I needed to change in order to become a true woman, but really, there's just one thing ~ I need to live a more God-centered, others-focused life. I need to seek heavenly rewards, not earthly praise.

I need to develop the heart of a servant.

Oh God, we've learned so much! At times, it's seemed overwhelming, but we know it really isn't that complicated. Help us to decide daily, hourly ~ even moment by moment ~ to seek your counsel and to live in such a way that others would see you in us.

Throughout the course of this study we've been convicted over and over, and yet inspired and encouraged at the same time. Give us the heart of a servant and the desire to live lives in stark contrast to the world around us ~ not so we will get noticed, but so your light will be seen through us.

Lord, thank you so much for uniting myself and these women in this common goal. I pray we would take what we've learned here together and decide to teach it to others. I pray each of us would desire to live life a little less independently and to really involve ourselves in the lives of other women around us ~ to impact the younger ones and to learn from the older ones.

In your name, Amen.

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Ladies, it's been wonderful sharing this study with you ~ thank you so much for joining me on my virtual front porch this summer! I've appreciated your thoughts and your honesty as we shared this journey together. My hope is that you've been convicted and inspired the way I have been to pursue true, Biblical womanhood, and my prayer is that we will go from here, teaching others what we've learned through our words and through noticeable changes in our lifestyles as we desire to model God in a new way to those around us.

Wine Country Gardens


today is...

>> Saturday, August 22, 2009

Today is my birthday ~ thirty-seven years young,
But as spry as a teen and even more fun.

Today is my birthday ~ I have lots of grey hair
But hey, I'm not balding, so I don't really care!

Today is my birthday ~ I hope you can bake...
Fat and calories don't count, so bring on the cake!


rain, rain, go away!

>> Thursday, August 20, 2009

We were up at the lake this past weekend for my dad's family's annual summer gathering. It rained.

The WHOLE time.


At home (which is only about 45 minutes from that particular lake) we ended up with 4 inches of rain in total over Saturday and Sunday.

As disappointing as it is to spend a whole weekend cooped up in a camp dining hall with 50 people all weekend, in a way it was nice because there was definitely more visiting and reaquainting going on. And playing with Lego. I spent time chatting with several relatives and cousins' significant others that I probably wouldn't have if we'd been able to participate in water sports and other outdoor pursuits.

By Sunday afternoon, most were sick and tired of sitting indoors, and despite the rain and incredibly sloppy ground, the traditional cousin football game was still played. It was a bit shorter than usual ~ and amazingly injury-free. Afterwards, all the players jumped in the lake to try and rinse most of the mud off their bodies and clothing before heading to the showers to warm up.

The damp spectators went back inside.

(Note the standing water beside the driveway!)

The girls begged and begged to go swimming and despite us telling them it was far too cold, we finally let them experience it for themselves. It didn't take long for them to realize we'd been right.

It was cold and cloudy back home on Monday, but at least we didn't get rain; we saw the sun for most of the day Tuesday and got nice and warm, but yesterday it drizzled and poured alternately again. No rain today (so far!), but not much sun either.


PhotoStory Friday
(Hosted by Cecily)


True Woman Makeover: week 9

>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

True Woman TuesdayWelcome to Week 9 of the True Woman online Bible study!!!

Can you believe this is our second-last study??!! Ten weeks sounded so long when we first began, but here we are with only one week left!! Did you listen to or read through lessons 25, 26, and 27? What did you think?

Lessons 25 and 26 deal again with honouring our husbands ~ making our husbands a priority in our busy, child-oriented lives, and allowing them to be shaped by God rather than trying to chisel away at them ourselves.

I liked what Nancy's friend Mary Anne said: "It’s a hard thing for a woman to give praise when sometimes they wish their husbands would take out the garbage without being told, or they wish they’d do something else, or they feel that their expectations are not being met. Then I started studying about expectations—and only Jesus meets our expectations."

Wow, what a thing to read in a week when I'm struggling with EXACTLY THAT!!! Again, another reminder to look to God. To look ONLY to God. As much as I hate the idea of expecting less than perfection simply to avoid disappointment, I guess there might be some wisdom in it!!

I appreciate Nancy's admission that she felt a little unqualified to teach these lessons on properly loving our husbands and children. This, I think, is a perfect example of what we talked about at the end of last week: someone teaching the way Paul taught ~ and not shying away from some topics simply because someone else might not think we're necessarily an expert. She says:

I’ll start out by saying I have never been a wife or a mother. As I’ve studied and prepared for these sessions, I have honestly felt a bit ill-equipped to teach on women loving husbands and loving children. I’m not exactly what you’d call an expert on either of those subjects. I’ve been a little hesitant to teach this passage because I realize that it’s one thing to be able to teach on this kind of subject, but it’s quite another to live it out, as many of you are doing in the context of everyday life.

But where the Scripture speaks, we need to be able to teach the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, and this is where the text takes us.

So I realized that God would give me, by His Spirit, wisdom and grace to teach the text in a way that I hope will be profitable for your heart as a wife and mother.

Personally, I think she's done a beautiful job of teaching in these areas. She's sure managed to prick my conscience and spur me into trying to be a better wife and mother anyway!!

Why is putting our husbands first such a simple concept and yet so hard to actually put into practise? The Bushman may be ahead of the girls on the priorities list, but I have not put him before other priorities like my household routine, and especially my hobbies. You would not believe how antsy I am if he spends more than half an hour at a time at the computer!!

When my husband is at home, I have not made myself available. Nancy clarifies this doesn't mean I need to be at his side every waking moment, but that he needs to know that when he’s here, I'm available for friendship, for talking, for enjoyment.

"It’s just a way of saying that your world and your schedule need to revolve around him. Don’t expect his world to revolve around you.

You. were. made. to. be. his. helper.

It's important for women to realize that their calling is to let their world revolve around blessing and ministering to and enjoying and serving and partnering with their husband."

I haven't been. I have never viewed my relationship with him that way, and certainly not since becoming a stay-at-home mom. When my husband is gone, all I can think of is how much easier things would be if he was at home, and yet when he's home, I almost always find myself resentful that MY routine has been messed up. Most often, I'm grouchy and annoyed that things don't run as smoothly (translation: MY WAY) as when he's gone for the week.

And I never thought about it either that this really isn't an option. It's not just some romantic notion. It's a command. And there are no exceptions. Regardless of what kind of man we married, loving our husbands is the number-one way that [we] demonstrate [our] commitment to sound doctrine.

Lesson 26 carries this subject further and urges wives to quit trying to change their husbands and let that be God's job. Our only responsibility is to love them.

Remember that your husband’s strengths and weaknesses are exactly what God knew you needed for you to become the woman God wanted you to be. That’s true vice versa as well. Your strengths and weaknesses are what God knew your husband needed for him to become the man he needs to be.

Regardless of what his failures or sins may be, remember that it is no less a sin on your part to respond to his failures in critical or harsh or unloving ways. Did you get that? Regardless of what his sins or failures may be, it’s no less a sin on your part to respond to those failures in a critical or harsh or unloving way.
I love the Elizabeth Elliott quote Nancy shares about focusing on and enjoying the percentage of her husband that meets her expectations rather than the percentage of him that doesn't. What a great reminder! I also appreciated the refresher on how to be an encourager ~ I'm not an encourager if I'm thinking and feeling positive things for my husband; I have to SAY them!!!

Lesson 27 moves on to loving our children, and I had a good chuckle over the email Nancy shared at the beginning! Too funny!! (I found it several places online and there's actually a longer list of "lessons" than what she shares. You can read the entire list here.)

We really do live in a day and age that considers children to be something of a burden rather than a blessing, and I'm so guilty of buying into that mentality. Like Nancy points out, "This is not the heart attitude of Scripture. Anywhere you read about children in the Scripture, or about having children, you read that this is a blessing. This is a gift; it’s a privilege."

She goes on to share several verses to prove her point and ends with the one about children being like arrows in the hand of a warrior ~ a statement I don't think I've ever fully understood. But "what would a warrior be without ammunition? He’d be powerless. He couldn’t fight the battle. Arrows are essential in the hands of a warrior. Children are essential in God’s plan and program for the propagation of the gospel and the representing of God’s heart and His way in our world. This is not an option. This is not an add-on idea, although many countries of the world are now having children at such a slow rate that they aren’t even replacing their population."

Having seen this unsettling YouTube video a few months ago, I find this an interesting statement. I regret not seeing it much earlier in life, but I'll do my best to make up for it and try to train my two li'l disciples well!! (Note: I mention this video here ONLY to show how our culture and the spread of the Gospel of Christ is indeed on the decline, NOT to start a discussion of Christianity versus Islam. However, it's obvious Muslims have embraced this method of spreading a message, a way of life ~ a culture ~ while Westerners in general have disdained it.)

And then here's the sentence that I found the most convicting out of all three lessons: delighting in your children means enjoying them, not just fulfilling your responsibility to care for them.

Oh, ladies, here comes another confession. I have not been "delighting" in my children. Sure, I read them stories, go for bike rides with them, jump on the trampoline with them, etc., but often not because I really want to. Most often, it's because I feel a little guilty that a whole day or two have passed since the last time I paid them some quality attention.

Like Nancy points out, it seems God knew that mothers could get caught up in the everyday practical responsibilities of mothering, and they might forget to really love their children, and that's why reminders like this pop up in various places throughout the Word of God. He knew we'd need to be reminded to enjoy our children, to treasure them. And thank goodness He ~ and young children ~ are so quick to forgive!!

Being faithful to God's calling is of utmost importance. But in the midst of being faithful, we need to be careful we don’t lose the joy of our calling and the chance to really enjoy the husbands and the children God has given us.

Again, dear God, we come before you glimpsing how far short we fall and yet at the same time, knowing your forgiveness is there when we ask for it, and your grace is there to help us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try again to be the wives and mothers you'd have us be.

Please help us to consciously think of HOW to cherish and delight in our husbands and our children this week and to live out this responsibility ~ this honour, this calling ~ to your glory. Help us to view and live our lives ~ even the mundane unglamours details ~ as a testament to your presence in our lives.

In your name, Amen.

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It was wonderful seeing you again this week, ladies, and I look forward to spending one more day with you next week as we wrap up this study!

Annie's Cabana


Why We're Not Emergent (by two guys who should be)

>> Friday, August 14, 2009

Why We're Not Emergent @ I've heard a lot about "the Emergent Church" recently. Mostly from The Bushman, who listens to a lot of satellite radio, which is all American; I don't think I'd actually heard the term before he started bandying it about the house. Since then I've seen it pop up here and there in church conference publications and whatnot, but mostly, the stuff I've read about the Emergent Church is stuff I've come across online in my search to find out more.

Not all of it's bad, but most of it seems to stem from rebellion against the dogma of scripture; rather than following God's narrow road, the preference is a wider path and now there are all sorts of apologetics springing forth arguing the path really isn't as narrow as the Bible says it is.

There are surely faults with traditional evangelical churches, and these two young authors, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, point those out as well ~ most notably, that exemplary, fundamentalist evangelical churches are potentially indoctrinating and discerning themselves into extinction. They focus keenly on not compromising with the world (which is good), but they're not engaging it either. (which is bad)

But in the quest to appear less exclusive, this new "emerging" Church has become a little too inclusive. It seems this "new" faith is doing a good job of loving what God loves, but not necessarily remembering to also hate what He hates. Like these two authors point out, it seems the Emergent Church is quick to point out the sins of overly-judgmental and slow-to-forgive evangelical churches, but in doing so, "end up rebuking not just the faults of these churches, but their strengths as well, tearing down what Jesus commends in order to strengthen what Jesus condemns." (p. 247)

This book reads like a conversation. The chapters written by DeYoung, pastor of a Reformed church, are deeply theological, but they're well balanced and alternate with the shorter chapters written by Kluck, a sports journalist for ESPN, who gives a more "on-the-street perspective." (from the back cover) Tackling major doctrinal issues and direct quotes from Emergent leaders like Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Spencer Burke and the like, they frankly state their problems with the emerging, post-modernist view and, using scripture, ask some very pointed questions.

According to this book, which is heavily laden with direct quotes from Emergent leader writings, there are some rather startling statements being made by church leaders today. There is some VERY questionable teaching coming out of the pulpits in evangelical churches all over Europe and North America today, and this book is an urgent call to Christians to sharpen their discernment skills.

I like that this book affirms the good the authors see in the Emergent movement rather than just bashing the whole thing. I like that there's no name-calling (which sadly, can often be found in books of this sort), but rather a careful, thoughtful study of what they've experienced and read from the movement and their concerns about it. I like that this book has been written by two guys roughly my age who want to make very certain their lives and teaching are doctrinally sound.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has heard about the Emergent Church and would like to know more, and to any Christian who wants to live life founded on orthodox beliefs about God, propositional truths about Jesus, and the authority of Scripture.


because we haven't walked together in a while...

>> Thursday, August 13, 2009

Are you ready for this? It's only 6:45 am. It's been a while since I've walked this early in the morning ~ either the Bushman's gone and I go biking rather with the girls later in the day or he's home and I walk later in the day because I've gotten lazy and started sleeping later. In any case, it's been a while since I woke up an hour or more earlier than everyone else in the house to go out walking.

This week, I started again. It felt awesome. I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Here's the sun, only up for about half an hour, peeking out from beside the trees that surround our yard:

And the soft, peaceful sky a little further south (I love those whispy clouds!!):

It always amazes me how, in pictures, it looks like a completely different time of day when you compare pictures taken looking into the sun and looking away from the sun! Here we are at about the half-mile, but looking west towards our little village instead of east, into the sunrise:

Again, looking west at a hayfield with the first cut sitting in bales. I love this picture. Can you smell the sweetness in the warm humid air? I love walking past this field when the breeze is coming from the southwest ~ the scent is amazing. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe deep:

Here's some clover beside the road. I love how the dewdrops look like strings of crystal beads in the early morning sunlight:

And now we're almost back to our yard. The sun's a little higher now, but not much ~ I didn't tell you this ahead of time, but we've actually been jogging half the time, so only about 20 minutes has passed since the first picture was taken.

And here we are back on the yard. Whew! I love sunlight and dew pictures, and here's another blossom that caught my eye:

And then I noticed this brilliant stranger that I can't remember seeing in my flower weed bed before:

And now it's time for a LONG cold drink of water. And a shower. It's been rather muggy around here the last several days and I. am. dripping. Thanks for joining me today!!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily


True Woman Makeover: week 8

>> Tuesday, August 11, 2009

True Woman TuesdayWelcome back to the True Woman online Bible study!!!

We're on Week 8 already, can you believe it?! Did you enjoy the little break? How did you spend it? I spent mine entertaining several overnight family guests, a bit of freezing and canning (yes, you read that right ~ I actually said CANNING!!), and running my computer back and forth from the repair shop a few times. Ugh.

So, is it just me, or did anyone else feel a little lost when, in these three lessons, Nancy kept saying stuff like "as we discussed yesterday" ?!? I actually went and listened to a few extra broadcasts so I could feel more in-the-loop. I guess for the purposes of this particular series, she didn't really want to focus particularly on any of the subjects covered, but I found those stand-alone broadcasts feeling a little disjointed. (Although I'll admit I appreciate they didn't receive the same treatment modesty did!) Once we finish with this online study, I intend to listen to the entire 27-part Titus 2 series.
God's Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1-5
Both lessons 22 and 23 hit a nerve ~ just moments before listening to lesson 22 on the "sins of the tongue," I had entered into an email conversation with a friend about two "someone elses" and an event in the past. I'm very tempted to argue that there's a bit of a grey area sometimes about when it's okay to pass "information" along and when it isn't, but I don't know. What do you think?

As for the addictions lesson... well, I know I am just somewhat enslaved by my computer. Obviously, over the last 3 weeks it hasn't been as much of an issue, but only because my captor has been a little under the weather!! The little cartoon I have at the very bottom of my blog that states "a clean house is a sign of a broken computer" is sadly all too true around here. I've purposed numerous times in my heart to spend less time here and to focus on doing the things that need doing around the home rather, but it's a stuggle. So far, in the week since I've had my computer back, I haven't done that well.

But it was really lesson 24 (as well as the lesson before it in the Titus series) that really resonated with me. It was at once both humbling and empowering. (Isn't it incredible how Nancy's so gifted at pointing out our failures while building us up at the same time?!!)

I'm pretty sure none of us are in the 'season of life' that Nancy talks about ~ our kids mostly out of the house already and wondering what to do with ourselves (wow, I can't even imagine!!) ~ but there are some thoughts to PREPARE ourselves for this season and to remind us that no matter how old or young we are, there is always someone younger whom we should be teaching, and someone older whom we should be learning from. Especially since physical age is not necessarily an indication of spiritual maturity.

I guess this is a bit of a sensitive issue for me. Ever since we moved out here to The Valley 7-1/2 years ago, I've wished for exactly this kind of a relationship. I've heard so many stories about two older women who have both passed on now, but who were kind of like the two mother hens in our church. The tellers of these stories spent hours with these two ladies and were encouraged, taught, guided, and mentored by these two wise, godly women. I wish someone had done/would do that for me. But, like Nancy points out, I never took any initiative in starting this kind of a relationship either.

I see pride as being a huge issue for myself here. Asking for help is hard, regardless of age. And the commitment of coming alongside someone ~ life-to-life, as Nancy puts it ~ involves a lot more time than we're generally interested in investing in other people in today's culture. We seem to believe we really ARE "islands unto ourselves." No one asks for help and no one dares insert themselves into the life of another.

Another stumbling block or excuse I see is that we all feel underqualified and we fear failure. Who am I to demonstrate the life of Jesus? I'm not perfect. How can I "BE" Jesus to someone else when I know so little about Him myself??!!

Ahhh, yet another reason to have STRONG, SOUND DOCTRINE. Not only so that we don't fall prey to good-sounding but unbiblical teaching; not only so we can boldly stand up for our beliefs... but so that we have something to pass along to those who come behind us ~ whether it's our children, younger women in the church, or even older women who may have only recently become a part of God's family or may simply not be as spiritually mature.

I think we're under the impression that no one has the right to say, "Look at me. If you want to know how to live like Jesus, live like me." It somehow seems wrong, doesn't it? (Like seriously, just who does she think she is??!!) And yet Paul specifically says to Titus that his life should be a pattern for others to follow. Paul himself says to the Corinthians, "You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1, NLT)

We seem to believe only Paul was qualified to say that, but God calls ALL those who believe in Him to say it!! Like Nancy says:

"Don’t look around and say, 'Who’s teaching these women?' That’s a good question. You’re supposed to be doing this. Teach what is good. Train the young women. It’s not just for women who have public ministries. This is what YOU are supposed to be doing."

"If those women talk the way I talk, if they shop the way I shop, if they eat the way I eat, if they pray the way I pray, if they trust the way I trust—what will their lives look like?

If their lives never surpass the example of my life, what kind of disciples will I be producing? What kind of disciples will you be producing?

The Scripture teaches us that the capacity to reproduce spiritual life and truth in others is a sign of spiritual maturity.

If you’ve known the Lord for many years and you are not at a place where you can reproduce spiritually in the lives of others, there’s something wrong."
(all but the first paragraph are from the lesson before this one in the Titus series)
It's our job to grow our faith. It's our job to KNOW what we believe and why. It's our job to LIVE what we believe. And it's our job to teach it to others.

It feels weird to think of people as "projects," but maybe it's time to start. Just like raising our children takes years, training disciples will, too. This isn't just a job for women with seminary training or public speaking careers ~ this is YOUR job. MY job. Because. we. love. God.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Forgive us for not seeing our responsibility to the Body of Believers. Forgive us for believing only our relationship with you is important. We know that IS of utmost importance, but as we've been learning over the last several weeks, we've also begun to see how intentionally and practically demonstrating what that relationship means to us through our actions, our words, and our influence on others is equally important. Please help us to humble ourselves and ask for help, for a mentor from among the older Christian women in our lives. Give us the desire to come alongside the younger women, whether in physical age or spiritual maturity, and intentionally give them a pattern to live by that glorifies you.

In your name, Amen.

So what did you think? Ready to share it with the rest of us?

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