There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To My Child: Things I Can and Cannot Do

This was in Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle's mailout. It's a keeper...

I can share your life,
But I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things,
But I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions,
But I cannot always lead you.
I can allow you freedom,
But I cannot account for it.
I can teach you to worship,
But I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong,
But I cannot decide for you.
I can give you love,
But I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share,
But I cnnot make you unselfish.
I can teach you to respect,
But I cannot force you to show honor.
I can tell you the facts of life,
But I cannot build your reputation.
I can tell you about lofty goals,
But I cannot acheve them for you.
I can teach you to obey,
But I cannot answer for your actions.
I can warn you about sins,
But I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as my child,
But I cannot place you in God's family.
I can teach you about Jesus,
But I cannot make Him your Saviour.
I can teach you about prayer,
But I cannot make you pray.
I can tell you how to live,
But I cannot give you eternal life.
-Author Unknown
Proverbs 23:19 "Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way."

How true! Dear child,
How I pray you will allow Him to work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure and to stand perfect and complete in all His will.
Your mom

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My God shall supply ALL your needs...

Our family is working very hard at eating healthier this year. So I've been counting WW points for all of us, cooking with lowered fat and higher fiber, and we're working at playing games that make us move instead of think! :) (We have a new ping pong table so that helps.)
Yesterday my husband went to a local store that is comparable to a Big Lots but it's groceries. It is the United Grocery Outlet and we all call it UGO.

After my husband left I realized that I hadn't asked him to check for lowfat breakfast meat at UGO. I have a system that works better than any cell phone call in the world for this. I pray and ask the Lord to prompt my husband to check for the item I've forgotten. This saves a world of irritation on my husband's part for my forgetfulness.
It is one of the most wonderful things the Lord has taught me when it comes to authority. You give the issue to the Lord, ("Thy will be done-not mine.") Then you ask the Lord to prompt your authority if it is truly something that needs attention, and you proceed to trust Him to answer. If the authority doesn't mention it or think of it you know it wasn't important or isn't important yet. (Rest assured I don't ever do this on my own, the Holy Spirit has to nudge me.)

Well, let me go back to the original story. After I prayed I remembered that when the older children were little I would tell them about what I had prayed so they could see the Lord answer. So I stuck my head into the dining room where they were all doing school and told them I'd forgotten to ask their dad to look for healthy breakfast meat and that I had prayed and asked the Lord that their dad would think to look for it.

If you understand a store like UGO you realize that one week they might have Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes for $3.99 and then you might not see them again or it might be six months before you see them again. If it's a good deal you'd better grab it then!

When my husband popped in the door he started pulling out the items and there was breakfast meat that he'd found a good deal on! He got these sausage links (lowered fat) for 69 cents a box! Needless to say, we've got breakfast covered for a while with low fat sausage links! But the most wonderful part for me was the children seeing that God cares about their diet, and he cares about answering prayers for relatively small things, and that prayer is a vital way to handle relationships.
This all took me back down memory lane on why we have this wonderful grocery (which lowers our grocery bill significantly each week) in our neighborhood! I tell everyone that mentions UGO that God put it in our town as an answer to a prayer I prayed way back in the early 80's.

Back then we were living on a tight, tight budget (If I remember right it was about $125/week and we had four children.) and we literally had to pray in our money for food and shelter and clothing. One day I was listening to Christian radion and I heard them giving statistics on how much food was wasted in America. It was mind-boggling! I simply couldn't believe the amount of food that groceries and restaurants throw away that is edible. I stood right there in my living room and told the Lord that if He would bring it to us we would eat it.

The next few weeks were incredible! My 80-year old neighbor called me and said that someone had told her that the produce man at Marsh grocery would let you buy strawberries with crushed tips, bruised peaches, etc. for a little of nothing. We had to drive over to the store and meet him to get them. We got all kinds of fruit for around $3.00. I'd have to dig my journals out for the exact count but I remember having fresh pies made from the nectarines (I froze some of them) and lots of strawberries and other vegetables to eat.

Then my other elderly neighbor lady got to leaving me little dibs and dabs of vegetables from her garden on my picnic table. It wasn't enough for a meal but each time she'd leave them I'd blanch them and freeze them. I ended up making 26 quarts of vegetable soup from her little love offerings. The other funny part of it was that we ended up using almost all of them at one time when we had a houseful of people come over during a missions conference!

After that a man in our church worked in a meat department told me he'd be glad to bring us the lunch meats that were scheduled for being thrown out because they were outdated. I jumped at the chance and when he'd bring them I'd put them in the freezer. The children's lunches improved overnight.

Then a man who ran a potato chip route asked if we could use their throwaways. Of course we could! I had boxes of chips, cookies and other goodies stacked to THE CEILING in my utility room and ended up sharing with other families who were running a tight ship financially in our church. By that time I was a very excited woman!

Then a lady called me that went to our church and said their freezer had died and she was going to throw everything in it away. Would I want to get some of it to cook up and freeze or can? I made the trip to her house to see what I could salvage. I ended up with fish, meat and lots and lots of other things. I canned most of it and there was a lot to can.

I went to the local day-old-bread outlet and asked what they did with their throwaways. They offered to sell me all I wanted for $4.00. My back seat and trunk were full! I emptied it out in the back yard and had two or three of the other ladies from church come over. We took all of it that had cuts in the bags and laid that in the pile for the chickens. All the rest we divided between ourselves. My freezer was packed when I got done and it not only fed our family but others. We did this on a regular basis till the day we moved from Indiana to Tennessee.

God has been faithful since the day I prayed that prayer to answer it wherever we have lived. Once I heard of a man that was going to till his garden under because he was tired of it. The corn alone was a pickup truck's worth. My husband stopped by a field of green beans they were plowing under (because they had gone a few days over the picking time) and they let us have as many as we wanted. He had to simply uproot the plants and bring plants and all home to stay ahead of the plows! Our carport was literally covered with green beans as tall as my children's waists and we spent several days as a family "fellowshipping" around piles of beans! ) Do you remember this kids?

I have stopped by truck patches and offered to pick beans if I could simply have one bushel of beans for each bushel I picked for them. It was a deal. My little ones sat in the van and watched as I picked two bushels of beans. One for them and one for us.

Once at a youth activity the kitchen staff offered us the leftover sloppy joe mix. Little did they know that it fed us for one week. I became very creative at changing sloppy joe into a variety of meals. All these are true stories and I'm just telling some of them!

When we moved where we live now we were delighted when the UGO store opened. I jokingly said the Lord brought it to town for me! A lot of times it is very high quality (albeit sometimes unusual!) food but it has fed us some wonderful, near-gourmet meals!

When I went on Weight Watchers we were thrilled with the Healthy Choice lunch meat we got every week for anywhere from 33 cents per package to $1.00 per package. In the store the same meat was about $3.00. They also had light cottage cheese, regular cheese, and many other items that were needed on Weight Watchers for a fraction of the cost.

Then in 2007 I had my bout with Clostridium Difficile and because of the damage I could no longer eat the lunch meat and some of the other high fiber foods we had consistently had found at UGO. My husband came home one day from his weekly UGO trip and said, "You know Tami, I think God did put UGO there for you. Since you'd been unable to eat the Healthy Choice lunch meats they've not had them a single time." God does love humor doesn't He? He also loves to show us His love and care.

"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. It not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" ( Matt. 6:25,26)

I'm afraid when I hear young women complaining and whining about how terrible things are and they even begin to express anger at their husbands for not providing (or they start talking about how they're going to have to go get a job and leave their home and children) I find myself thinking of the verse "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (I Tim. 6:8)
It doesn't even mention a house!

Most of the ones I hear moaning the loudest have high speed internet, two vehicles, cable or satellite tv, cell phones for hubby, themselves and sometimes the kids, they spend enormous amonts on groceries and eat out on a regular basis. I could slash their budgets by $200 per month with just a few adjustments. We don't have a right to complain until our houses contain only what is required to survive and we're without clothing or food for the day. (Remember, we are to pray for "daily bread".

He promises to dress us as beautifully as He dresses the lilies of the field and take better care of our feed than the fowls of the air.

May I recommend that you give Him each and every area of your life? Long ago I gave Him my wardrobe and I've had such beautiful clothing since then. It's been with very little effort on my part on top of that! I have given Him my possessions, my home, my food and my time. He's such a wonderful Keeper for us.

Learn to accept the budget the Lord has put you on and make the best of it. Learn to let Him provide your needs and be willing to roll up your sleeves and use some elbow grease when you see an opportunity. Learn to live within your means instead of sacrificing what really matters to the gods of materialism and carnality. Learn to find joy in all the wonderful free things the Lord has for us. Learn to be creative and use what you have! Ask the Lord today to give you His value system and give you joy in what He provides! Take what He provides and use it to serve Him. It's a wonderful, wonderful life!

Monday, January 4, 2010

January is here...and so are resolutions....

Dear Daughters,

I'm sitting here with my new prayer journal open and comparing it to last year's. Going through my new prayer journal always gives me a a look back. That in turn makes me want to further my obedience and spiritual victory for the new year.
The first week of January I keep pencil and pen close at hand so I can write down projects, goals, etc. for my new year. The Lord's mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23) and for that I am so very thankful. I am also thankful for the new year. It's like having a clean slate handed to you from the Lord to use as a springboard to "start anew".
The BIGGEST (and really only) lesson I learned from my depression, wilderness years was that all the good that I do can only be performed with joy and energy when the Lord does it for me and in me. I have realized that most of what I was doing in obedience to the Lord (for many, many years) was being done in the power of my flesh. The flesh cannot do it and either rebels or becomes so exhausted it lays down on us. That's what happened to me and when I broke I did a bang-up job of it!
I never really realized how powerful my flesh was until the depression hit and I couldn't stop the fear, worry, unbelief, and emotional pain no matter how I tried. I also never realized how completely Calvary set me free from my every sin till I learned to turn to Him in the midst of my battle and confess to Him my guilt, my complete turning from those sins to Him and His resurrection power and then resting in Him to fulfill the work of Calvary in my life by His work.
Now I have had my BIG battles. I still have my BIG battles. My flesh likes things its own way and when it's got its own way for a long time it doesn't lie down easily. I just recently had a two week battle with the flesh over an issue. However, when I faithfully turned to Him and told Him I wanted no part of that wicked sin and I was relying on Him to give me the victory and freedom that were mine He was right there to meet my need. For about two weeks I had to come to Him over and over when the temptation would hit, but He won the victory for me with Calvary and the flesh lost.
Now that was what seemed to be a diversion from the main topic, but it's really the foundation for resolutions that work. YOU CAN"T keep resolutions in the power of the flesh! In January when every one is in the mood for a "new me" you're surrounded with the support of friends, media hype, and your own brand new gust of energy. However, after just a few days of the flesh rising up and telling you it's always had it's way in that area and does not intend to lie down and do right without a fight you'll be glad I wrote those last few paragraphs! :)
Since my depression I try to stop about twice a year (New Year's and my birthday) and make what I call my "guilt list". These are things that drive me crazy about myself. You could call them my besetting sins, my hard-to-break bad habits, or whatever you want to call them.
After I've made my original list, (and that list includes health habits, use of time, irritations, people problems and how I deal with them, etc.) I mark the ones that I have the power to change. You know there are some problems that we have no authority to change and there are things that are totally out of our control to change. If I cannot change it I must simply give it to the Lord. I use Colossians 4:12 in those situations and pray that all involved will allow the Lord to do a work in their hearts (me included) to stand "perfect and complete in all His will" in the situation.
Then I go through and ask myself on each of them if I have a Biblical reason to feel guilty. Satan loves to accuse the brethren and he will try to make you feel responsible and guilty for everything he can. Make sure you have a specific verse that counts you guilty. If that is true go to the Lord with it, confess it, ask Him to show you His solution and then begin to carry out the plan.
With what I have left that I am responsible personally for and I have a Biblical reason that I need to change then its time to obey.
Let's take our prayer life for example. If my prayer is half-hearted, sounds like a child repeating the alphabet, ("Lord bless mom, dad, sister, brother, all the missionaries, etc., etc., etc.) there's plenty of Bible to let you know things need to change!
Memorize those verses that tell us to pray and pray seriously. Get a good book on prayer and start reading it. Get your spiritual engine fueled up. May I recommend reading Prayer, the Greatest Force on Earth by Thomas Payne as one of the first ones to read. Take your Bible and as you're reading through it start marking the prayers in the Bible with a special color of pencil. Take note of the men God loved and made comments on their prayers. Take note of the mighty works of God that happened as a result of prayer. But most of all, begin praying. Just like any thing else that you want to become an expert in the way to do it is to practice it!
Now let me assure you your flesh will not want to pray. But the Lord has taken care of all that and you are free, free, free from the flesh being in control because of the finished work of Calvary. You don't need to try, strain or endure. You simply need to obey the written word and the Spirit's little loving urgings by His power poured out to you from the mercy seat.
Another thing I strongly recommend you do with all your new resolutions, goals, ideas, etc. is to get them on paper and then lay them out before the Lord and ask Him to take them all and show you which ones are your ideas and which ones are His ideas.
I'm an idea person. For every suggestion I have hundreds of wonderful little ideas pop into my head. I know where the book, article, or online page is to feed my ideas. However, I've wasted a lot of precious time by not thinking through a project I started. In carrying out many of my projects I got my priorities out of order and I neglected God-given responsibilities to do a Tami-project.
You can only spread yourself so thin becoming the "new you". Look very carefully at your goals and make sure they're going to make you spiritually stronger, that you'll be ministering within your God-given realm (our ministry heart is our home) and that as a result of carrying out your goals you'll be a better child of God, wife, mother, homekeeper, and church member.
If getting yourself in shape means you'll be leaving the children to go to a gym 5 days a week you might want to consider rethinking the thing. You can get yourself in shape with two milk jugs with water in them for weights and toddlers laughing as they try to do workouts with mom.
However, the checking account, the babies, and the Lord will all be in better shape if you do it His way--keeping at home! (Titus 2)
If you've set a goal to help your husband with the tight finances but you choose to neglect that he is worse than an infidel if he doesn't provide for his family, that you are to be a keeper at home (with a full list of duties that will keep a saint working from daylight till dusk) and that your children's Godly training is you and your husband's responsibility not the local church's or the government's, than you've not only made matters worse but you also will have to do the entire thing in the power of your flesh because the Holy Spirit will not minister Christ to you for that new job you took to help with finances!
It would be far better to take a hard look at what the Bible gives a woman to do and learn to be a thrifty wife and mother. You also need to ask the Lord to give you His value system and not the world's! The Lord is totally unimpressed with rather you have the newest cell phone, the right brand of purse, or the "world-approved" year and make of car! My husband often says that we don't need more money we need to learn to make sure we've learned to live within the budget the Lord has given us.
All of the above are just some motherly cautions. Some of them I've learned as I searched the scriptures and applied them to my life and some I've learned by trying it my way over and over until I finally figured out that somewhere I wasn't listening to Him and His word. It's much better to hear the truth and apply it before the sin has left a scar in our life or the lives of those we love.
As an older woman I see so many young women with good desires and goals but they try to carry them out the way the world does. It is in all of us to try to find an escape to our sins and the curses that accompany them--but there is truly only one cure---Calvary!
I pray that each of your resolutions that the Holy Spirit has put in your heart come to be a truth applied in your life this year.