Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Until Then

 Dear Linda,

I do not weep for you.  My tears are for the empty spot inside of me.  I rejoice for you.  You are with the One you loved more than this life.  No more pain.  No more suffering.  If you can get this message in heaven, I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for all the memories.  My heart is full of gratitude to God for the blessing of you.  Thirty-eight beautiful years I knew you, and I treasure every one.



God brought you into my life when I was in 8th grade.  You taught our girl's Sunday School class at church.  We were a silly bunch of giggling middle school and high school girls.  I remember you shaking your head and laughing along with us. You would invite all of us crazy girls to your house for fun and taffy pulls.  You even braved loading us up in your car for shopping trips to Bartlesville each year.  You knew our secret crushes, our dreams, and our struggles.  We were all your girls, and I think you kept up with each of us over the years.


As I walk through the years of memories, I am filled with gratefulness to God for the gift of You.

I am thankful for...

-Guidance and love in my formative teen years.

-Sunday School class.

-Taffy pulls.

-Shopping trips.

-Phone conversations.

-Honesty and wisdom when I needed it as a minister's wife.

-Your listening ear.  You were the best listener!

-Lunch dates in Independence when I needed a break from all my kids.

-Your love for every single one of my children.

-Your faithfulness to God and your church family.  (Remember when we called the cops to do a well check when you didn't show to church one week.  That became a favorite story of yours.   "Don't miss a service at the Church of Christ or they call the cops.")

-The trips you made to Rose Hill just to see us after we moved.

-How you made me feel important, special, and loved.

-The last time I saw you at Family camp.  The last hug. The last goodbye.  (Oh, Linda, if I had known I would have made it all last longer.)


As I have been grieving, yet giving thanks and rejoicing in your home going, I've realized that I've not just lost a dear friend and mentor on this earth.  I've lost a mother.  That is what you have been in my life.  God knew it would take more than one mother to raise and guide me.  :)   Thank you for being you and taking me and so many others you knew under your wing.  You mothered many.  I am honored and blessed to have been one of them. 


Scripture says that, "Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning."  It is forever morning for you!  One day I will join you and lay my crown beside yours at the feet of our Jesus.



Until then,

Natasha

 





Wednesday, June 15, 2022

To Love Their Husbands

There are several women who have been role models and teachers to me.  Esther Friend was one of those people in my life.  Titus 2:3-5 says,

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Esther taught me much about how to love my husband.  I remember meeting Esther when I was twelve years old.  To me she was beautiful.  She often had a smile as she cheerfully worked serving those around her.  She was in her element when she had a kitchen at her disposal with lots of people to feed.   Over the years what stood out to me about Esther was the way she worked alongside her husband.  They farmed together, raised dogs together, and drove a mail truck together.  Whatever her husband was doing, she was there helping him and supporting him.


At Bible study one day Esther told the younger ladies that each day she got up and did her hair and put on her make-up because she wanted to look good for her husband.  That made an impact on me because I realized that often I only "did myself up" when I was going out.   I rarely did my hair nice or put on make-up for my husband at home.  She was one of my "older women."  I needed her wisdom.  
 
There were tears when I learned God had called Esther home.  She was a formative part of my life teaching me what it meant to love my husband.  Yet my mind quickly turned to praise of God.  I praise God with the psalmist who says, "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts." (Psalm 145:3-4)  

Esther loved to tell about what God had done in her life, about prayers he had answered, and the way God had led their family.  She commended the works of God to me and pointed me to him always by the way she lived.  

I know Esther missed her Billie these past four years, yet I saw her face the days with courage and in the love of her Lord.  She lived for Jesus.  She pointed us to Jesus whether it was through her love for her husband or her love for her family.  It wasn't about her.  

So it is with tears for this night, but with joy in the morning that I can say..."Great is the Lord and worthy of praise!"  

When I remember Esther I think "Jesus," and that's exactly what she would have wanted. 


Monday, November 15, 2021

To Obey or Disobey



An Overview of the Book of Deuteronomy

It is hard to remember something when we just hear it once or even twice.  We all need reminded over and over about what is important. I believe that is what the book of Deuteronomy is all about. It is a retelling of Israel’s history, the Law, and God’s keeping of his covenant promise to them. They needed reminded of what was important.

The Book of Deuteronomy - YouTube


Lesson:

Deuteronomy is a 2nd telling of Israel’s history, a 2nd telling of the law, and another reminder of God’s faithfulness. He is a God who keeps His Word.


Read Deuteronomy 6:4-8.  What are the Israelites asked to do in 6:4? 

They were asked to hear in a manner that required more then just an auditory intake of sound into the ear. This hearing was something that required action. 

Listen and Do.

What actions are required that you find in verses 5-8?   How were they to do this? 

They were to keep the commandments on their hearts, impress them on their children, talk about them wherever they were, write them down around their houses and tie them as symbols on their hands and bind them on their foreheads.

These instructions were important...so important that they are repeated in 11:18-21.

Listen and Love is central to the book of of Deuteronomy.

God wanted them to Listen and Do. It was an active hearing.

God wanted them to Love and Obey. It was a love shown through obedience.

A large part of the book of Deuteronomy then is a recounting of the laws God wants them to obey. The 10 commandments are reviewed...some of them in much more detail then found in Exodus 20.

By the time we get to chapters 27-29, the Israelite people are faced with a choice.

To Obey or to Disobey???

God tells them if they obey they will be blessed. If they disobey, they will be cursed.

So the questions became…

Do they want blessings or curses?

Do they want life or death?

Read chapter 28:1-14.  Find 10 blessings that the Lord will give if they obey him.

Read chapter 28:15-68.   Name at least 10 curses God will put on them if they disobey.

Read Deut 30: 19. The Israelite people had to make choices.

Blessings or curses?

Life or death?


Application:

Today we still face this same choices. However, we have hope. We have the hope that though we are much like Israel...a disobedient people, God has made a better way for us.


Read Deut. 30:6.   Moses tells them that after they have rebelled and are scattered, if they repent he will gather them back together and still keep his promise to them.


We still have to choose to obey or disobey. Read John 14:15.

He still says in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”


However, here is the difference between the Old and the New Testament.  Read John 14:16-17.  God hasn’t left us alone. He has sent us an advocate (an intercessor), to live in us and to help us. This advocate is the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit also reminds us of something important. Read Hebrews 10:15-18. God has made a new covenant with us. His laws are no longer on stone tablets, but they are written in our hearts. Then this important reminder is added, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Why? Because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin, so no more sacrifice for sin is needed. We have been forgiven of our sins.


We still have to choose life or death. Read Romans 8:13

The gift of the Holy Spirit is so important. The Israelites failed time and time again. They could only strive in the flesh to obey. The flesh lets us down. As Christians who receive the Spirit, we get the choice of living by the Spirit. By it we can put to death the misdeeds of the body. We can choose life.


We still have to choose blessings over curses?

Read Revelation 1:3.

How do we choose blessings over curses?

What is the ultimate blessing we receive if we choose blessings?

Read Hebrews 3:16-4:1-2, 4:9-11.

To obey or disobey? To choose life or death? To choose blessings or curses? The choice is ours just as it was for the Israelites.

The Bible Explained: Deuteronomy - YouTube




Saturday, May 29, 2021

His Words to Guide Them

    Parenting is tough.  We have seven grown children and two still at home.  The longer I've parented, the more I realize I'm pretty much a mess.  I don't have the answers.  I can't claim all seven children as wonderful success stories.  Parenting our last two isn't easier after already raising seven.  That's probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is reality. 

    It is scary for me to attempt to offer advice.  The best thing I can offer is the Holy Scripture.  I love Isaiah 55:8-11 which says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  God's Word will not return void or empty.  That is a promise I've hung onto in parenting.  I strive to teach His Word and trust Him to do His work.  




Teaching through God's Words

    Psalm 78:1-8 says, "O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old--what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children; the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.  They would be like their forefathers--a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him."  

    Use teachable moments.  In Psalm 78:1 there is a plea for God's people to "hear my teaching" and to "listen to the words of my mouth."  My prayer as a parent is that my children will truly listen to God's instruction.  I've found that my children are most teachable when they are engaged in activity with me.  One relaxing summer evening our family was out at the lake.  The sun had gone down and the sky was bright with stars.  We lay back on the grassy bank gazing into the heavens and tried to remember all the Bible stories or verses that mentioned stars.  It led to the overwhelming realization that despite the vastness of the universe, God loved and cared for us though we were smaller then specks in this vast universe.

    Every parent has probably experienced the wasted toothpaste swirls in the bathroom sink.  One day as some hurtful words were slung at each other, I challenged the kids to see if they could put the toothpaste back into the tube.  Then we discussed how when we say words, we are unable to put them back in our mouths.  Teachable moments aren't often planned moments.  They are moments that I pray God will help me be in tune with, so I can illustrate the truth of His Word to my children.

    Read books with moral value.  Psalm 78:2 says, "I will open my mouth in parables."   Even Jesus used stories to illustrate a point.  There are many wonderful children's books available that teach valuable life lessons.  One time I was reading about a boy who had bent his mother's good paring knife and the lied about it.  The boy had a dream about a giant bent paring knife hooking to his suspender's and pulling him under water.  The lie was tormenting him.  One of my boys piped up, "Mom, that's just how I felt when I stole the Easter candy."  Often when I'm reading a story, my children will start discussions about their feelings or about what is right or wrong in a situation.  Children beg for another chapter in a book, but they won't beg me for another lecture.

    Tell stories of God's faithfulness.  Psalm 78:4 states, "We will not hide them from their children; the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done."  The supper table or car rides are natural places for sharing stories.  Children love to hear stories about those close to them.  I often tell my children about how God was faithful to my Great Grandma when she was a widow with five children during the Great Depression.  She had a wonderful testimony about learning to tithe when it seemed there was nothing to give.

    Five of our children were adopted out of foster care.  When they were younger they begged to hear the story about how God answered prayers and moved to bring about their adoptions.  It would be a shame if they did not know the stories about God's faithfulness to them and to those who prayed. 



    Spend time together in family Bible reading.  In Psalm 78:5 it reminds me that, "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children."  When I was growing up my dad always made it non-negotiable to have family devotions.  There were many times my brother, sister, and I complained and grumbled, but today we all are grateful to our mom and dad for showing us what was important through their example of establishing God's Word as a  priority in our home.  My husband and I strive to do the same thing, but it can get discouraging when the children are less the cooperative.  I have to take a step back and remember my children won't always appreciate what is good for them at the time.

    Encourage personal Bible reading.  Going over to Psalm 119:9-10 I read, "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands."  It is important that "our faith" becomes "their faith."  I have to teach my children to seek the Lord.  With some of my older children who were book lovers we made a deal.  "No books until we read the Bible."  They caught me more than one time reading something before reading my Bible.  We kept each other accountable.  We started this as soon as they started reading.  Currently with my two children left at home, we have a 30 minute "quiet time" in place each morning where they are to do personal Bible reading, prayer, journaling, and listening to Christian music. I can't necessarily force them to do it, but I can create opportunity for them and encourage them.



    Memorize Scripture.  Reading on in Psalm 119:11 it says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  Children have remarkable memories.  My husband has helped the children learn Scripture by making up songs.  During our devotional time, he will have them repeat the same verse each day until they learn it.  Three of our children memorized whole chapters of the Bible.  It is important to teach them to hide the Word in their hearts because it will help keep them from sin.

    Why spend so much time in the Word?  Psalm 78:6,7 gives the answer, "...so the next generation would know them (referring back to the law and statutes of God), even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.  Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands."  Future generations depend on parents passing the Word on to their children.  



Hebrews 4:12 says His Word is "living and active."  It works when I have nothing left to give.  It works when there is nothing more I can do.  God's Word is my hope in parenting.  It is their hope for life.