Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebration in the Air (Titus 2 Tips on Thursdays ~ A Guest Post}


The truth is: I like to do things well. Running was something I could not do well. Even as a child I dreaded the once-a-year-all-school cross-country race day. I often felt it was a minor miracle that I survived to the end of the 1 km run. Running was tough, all those hills to navigate, the need to persevere even when you could barely breathe and always finishing last was difficult on my pride.

Two years ago, my husband started training for half marathons. I was adamant that I would never go into such a thing. Yet something deep within intrigued me about the actual race day. There was celebration in the air that comes from goals accomplished. Laughter and joy permeated the atmosphere. Strangers cheered one another on. That’s the part that touched my heart. A sense of community with people I had never met, rooting for one another when life felt hard. It was beautiful.

My children wanted to follow in the footsteps of their father. I didn’t want to push them into anything. I know that the running world can be intense, focussed and driven. Let them be kids and run when and wherever they want. Not everything needs to be structured in their lives. Yet they both said they wanted to try and now they love it. Their smiles are big and genuine. They are learning life lessons about setting goals, working hard and finding joy in finishing what they have started. Their enthusiasm called me to take to the track as well. My young daughter’s words run through my mind each time I lace up my running shoes. “Don’t worry, Mom. The first kilometer is the hardest. It gets easier.” My trainers, my family, have loved me through the hard bits and found ways to help me persevere.

A few months after my husband started his running training, I also joined a club. My group involved women from different ages and stages of life getting together a couple of times a month to share stories of how God was working in our lives. I needed to hear from those who have walked through valleys in their faith and have come to the other side and still say “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I don’t always run the race of faith well and I get discouraged all too easily. My support group, these women of wisdom, articulate the importance of listening for God, using our eyes to see Him and opening our hearts to understand His Word. Our time of prayer together renews, breathing hope and joy into my life. They are not merely cheerleaders, but coaches who need to say challenging things at times to help growth occur.

A journey of faith requires living in a community that loves, supports and encourages. 

Meditate on the powerful words of Hebrews 12:1-3: 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” 
Listen for Him.

Look for Him and keep your eyes there when you find Him.

It will reap blessings far more precious than any running medal ever could.



 
Stephanie loves children and knows that they have taught her many life lessons about faith and loving Jesus. She is a wife, mom and Kindergarten teacher.  
Although reluctant at times to embrace change, she loves to learn from others. 
This year she may even enter her very first running race.


A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here.


"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Finished Work on a Cross of Wood {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}

"And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 
There were also women looking on from a distance . . . "

I had never watched someone breathe the last breath of life until two weeks ago.


I never really knew how horrible it was to watch someone come to the end and suffer the last days of life. I had never heard the moaning of a loved one as the body begins to shut down. Or knew how laboured the breathing would become. And that the rattle of death echoing in the room was like the last battle cries mocking life.


I had never stood at the side, weeping as the heart slowed to a stop and the laboured breath drew to a close.



Some of the others knew what to do.

I was a woman wanting to comfort, to minister, but I was clueless and helpless.


I just sat watching.

We prayed for Grandma's suffering to cease. We sang, we talked, we weeped, we waited.

I read Words of comfort, of hope, mercy and goodness.


I was looking on from a distance.


I had not come face to face with death before.


I could see the agony and do nothing about it.


I could not swab the drying tongue or lips.


I offered no sponge.


I just sat watching.


Waiting.


Weeping.


Holding her hand.


Hoping.


She breathed her last and I headed home.


I drove into the setting sun knowing, "It is not death to die".




What it was like for those women who looked on at a distance at the Place of the Skull, Gologath, where their beloved Master was led to be crucified?


The one they loved so dearly, with His bleeding head hung so low.


His pierced hands nailed to the wood of a cross.


His wounded back arched away from the beam of wood.


How he laboured.


How He lowered himself.


How he loved.


They sat watching.


Waiting.


Weeping.


What it was like to hear the final cry he uttered?


Not one of defeat, but of victory.


"It is finished."


As he breathed his last breath.


And willingly gave up himself that we might have hope.




I know death is ugly.


I know the darkness of it.


I know a little of the desperate loneliness of it.


But, unlike the women who were watching at a distance, I know the resurrection hope that comes.


Wait.


Watch.


Weep now.


Death seems dark.




But, joy comes in the morning.


These women that sat watching at a distance at Golgotha . . .


 . . . a few days later departed quickly from the empty tomb with great joy, knowing Jesus had risen.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"And this "giving"—this giving up, this giving away, this giving over,—began indeed in Bethlehem in a cradle made of wood. But it wasn't done till he was killed by a cross of wood on Golgotha." (Walter Wangerin Jr., "Reliving the Passion")


A Soft Gentle Voice

{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}



Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Prayers on Your 13th Birthday {Meditation of My Heart Mondays}


It never dawned on me when I looked down on you all pink in my arms that I would have to look up at you in a blink of an eye. At 7:02 I heard your cry for the first time after groaning in labour all that long Good Friday. We made a few calls to let family know of the safe arrival of our firstborn; our baby girl. We heard later that word went round to our friends at the Toronto Easter Conference. That's how the news traveled those days, before Facebook and insta-announcements on social media. I know I should not be surprised. I figure I will be outgrown by all my children. I honestly didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

Exactly a blink later, so it seems, we were singing a jazzed up Happy Birthday to you on Palm Sunday at 7:02 on your thirteenth birthday. Yeah, we completely forgot to sing it with your friends and family gathered around to celebrate you. You wanted home-made donuts so I mixed, rolled, cut out and we cooked up a hundred of them and friends and family surprised you and came to help you eat them all. Somehow all those people fit in our kitchen and living room and your Dad spoke words of praise for you and to your Creator and thanked family and friends for speaking words of truth into you and appealed to them to pray for you as you begin these years of becoming a young woman.









After the donuts had disappeared, friends and family had filled pages with words of love and encouragement from their heart, and they took reminders to pray for you, we counted down minutes and sang in celebration.

We blinked and I'm still learning to breath. It still hurts.

I'm not sure who has learned more in the last thirteen years. I know we have both grown in unbelievable ways. I'm also aware that I used to be taller, but the bend in my back has notched me down an inch. I thought I knew everything there was to know about being a Mother, but it took me less than 12 hours to come to the conclusion that I had a lot to learn. It's a humbling experience, to become a young Mama and realize you have a lot of growing up to do. It notched me down, made me to bend down low and surrender everything I thought I knew, admit that I can't do this in my own strength,  and cry out the One who loves you more than you or I will ever realize, to give me wisdom and grace and love.


"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father . . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14,16-19)
I beg prayers for you, cause I've learned I don't have the slightest idea of what I am doing. I hardly knew how to grow a child and I confess to you I have no clue how to raise a young woman.

Oh, it's true, I've read a lot. Ever since we stared stunned at the two stripes, listened in pre-natal class to learn how to properly breath a baby into the world, and checked on Google to see if I really was in labour a week early, I've read and read and read some more. Turns out I didn't really need pre-natal or to search the internet. You were coming whether Google said so or not and whether I was ready or not.

I've tried a slew of what some claim to be tried and true methods of children rearing, sleep training, ways to grow children. Dabbled in some of it, but thankfully didn't get sucked in and eventually tossed them aside. You and I didn't fit the mold. We didn't work well under strict, regimented rules. We cried together and even screamed and I should have known better. But, I didn't.

We've locked horns and I've had to pick the hills to die on and you've stomped your feet and I've put my foot down. I expected perfection and we've cried together as we have grown to learn that peace is so much more precious.

I wanted an easy way to raise a perfect child. I learned that there is no easy and there is no perfect. How should a mother demand perfect when she is no where near it? But, until she's taken down a notch, she might be blinded to see what she really needs. What her children really need.

We needed grace and love. And to be granted wisdom.


"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." ( Colossians 1:9-10)
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what I am doing as we venture into the years ahead. But, I try not to depend on Google anymore, but turn to God first.

I worked hard the day you were born and the day you turned thirteen. But, I don't take any credit for the young woman you are becoming. God is working in you to bring you to completion.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
Not for my benefit, or even yours, but all for God's glory.

We both have a lot of growing to do, but I am thankful that I get to be your Mom. To watch you transform from a beautiful child to a beautiful young woman—and not because of the make-up you could hardly wait to get your hands on. I'm mesmerized how you care with tender heart. How you can laugh at your mistakes and cry with others who are hurting. The way you are learning to persevere when things are hard and help others even when this world tells us to help ourselves first.



And when you hugged your weary Mama the night you turned thirteen and you seemed to tower over me already as I still held you it my arms, I breathed with a sign of relief that God is growing us both in grace and He looks down on both of us and holds us in His loving embrace.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)


A Soft Gentle Voice


Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Letter From a Mentor {Titus 2 Tips on Thursdays ~ A Guest Post}





"Dear Rebekah,

As I have reviewed many of the times of the Lord's guidances in my life, it has been a joy to recall, and as well, remember times of struggles! Our Lord has ALWAYS remained faithful in His love and mercies! Certainly there were times when I tried to understand and even thought that I knew "better", He kept on guiding me and loving me as He taught me. I am writing a quick summery of many years and I desire to highlight areas where I was shown that His ways and His timing are always best!

My life in Jesus began when I was only eight years ole. My parents had just become Christians and began to teach us from the Bible. Older Christians were often in our home and I recall listening to many conversations regarding the Scriptures. Even at this early age, I was influence in a direction to please our Lord Jesus Christ. I was privileged to attend summer camp where Biblical teaching challenged me to surrender my life to the One who knew how best to direct my future. Little did I realize that surrendering to Him would also mean growth, sometimes hurtful, in many parts of my being!

Early in my teen years, I had a desire to help others and felt that the teaching profession would be my choice. Following my graduation I was placed in a city school where children were from mixed backgrounds. I prayed, "Why?" This is not my choice to begin my teaching experiences. I was upset and questioned my Lord! This resulted in teaching me so, so much! I was more prepared to face my years living in South America with teams of young people from many backgrounds. "Yes, Lord, You knew best!"

Shortly after being assigned to a teaching position, I was married to my sweetheart, Claude. The next 41 years (my husband died suddenly) and the birth of five children showed to us that our Lord supplies every need: spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Spouses and children do teach us in so many various lessons! As I look back and remember, I recall times of joy, sorrow, questioning, doubting, amazement, etc!!!

I especially recall one time when at the bedside of my dying grandfather when I envisioned myself facing the Lord as He said that it is possible to have "everything", but have "nothing" unless it is from Him! I remember driving home as I repeated to my Lord that He may have me, my family, my desires, my all and use me as "You, O Lord, see best!" When I entered my house, I said to my husband that I am ready to go or stay or whatever is the Lord's will. I know my husband was shocked since I had thought I could never leave my house, my city, my relatives. We began to pack to live in South America and to serve in several ministries in various parts of the world.

Now, since old age is upon me, I see that so many areas of my busy life have changed. I often say that my "head says one thing and my body says that I don't think that you are able to achieve that". Again the lessons are still being given to me!

I have written of some experiences hoping that folks will be encouraged to surrender to the One who not only created us, but has a plan for each life!!!

That includes many smaller plans as one grows closer in relationship to our God.

First and foremost, build a close relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Also, build relationships with friends and others in need (physically, emotionally, or just desiring to know our Lord in a closer relationship). This area builds trust as we get to know each other. Often this takes a lot of time and sometimes I say "lots of coffee"! 

As a person is brought to my heart, mind, I make it a point to get to know them, doing something together. It is exciting to see the Lord work through us in His ways.

His blessings as you surrender to Him,

Marion J Loney"




 Marion has always had a heart to minister and mentor. 
She is blessed with 5 wonderful children and 6 awesome grandchildren, 3 good sons-in-laws and 1 good daughter-in-law. 
She has ministered around the world and loves the Lord God and His people.

A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here.


"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What You See When You Stare Death in the Face {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-Up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}


Death rattled deep for days.

Her breath laboured until the breath of life

in her ceased.

Grandma lived ninety long years.

But, it was still agony to watch death encroach upon

her final days.

*

Clouds parted and the sun beamed radiant on her face as we gathered round her deathbed as she breathed her last breath.

Heavens opened and the spring rain weeped steady as we gathered round her coffin to celebrate the life she lived.

Death, no matter the length of days, never makes sense.

We're forced to look at the depravity of man when we stare death in the face.

But as we gaze, we turn and there is the glorious grace of the Gospel.

*

Words fail when loved ones depart.

But love endures.

Love with outstretched arms offers living hope and eternal life.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,
we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,
much more, having been reconciled,
we shall be saved by His life.


A Soft Gentle Voice
{Also linking with holleygerth.com .}


Monday, March 31, 2014

"Death is Swallowed up in Victory."

 {I will be quiet here for few days as the Gentle Shepherd called my Grandma to walk the valley of the shadow of death that she would dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
As the sun was beginning to set on this day, we rejoiced that she was free from suffering when she breathed her last breath on this earth to be with the Lord for all eternity.}





"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever."




I found much comfort from the words of hope in this song. As I drove home into the setting sun after I was with Grandma as she passed from this life on this earth to life eternal, I praised God that "it is not death to die".

"O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save 
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die."

 I pray that if you have going through a similar season, God will comfort you with His redeeming love, rich mercy, living hope, and amazing grace.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Words of Wisdom for The Weekend ~ Oh, the Deep Love of Jesus

"that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you,
being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend 
with all the saints what is the 
breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." ( Ephesians 3:17-19)


"Oh, my Lord, the dawn of your death day! 
The sky is grey, the roofs of Jerusalem dark in the grey, and the street at your feet is dim. 
You walk from the high priest's house to the Praetorium. Are you tired? Have you slept at all? 
You ate last night—but that was last night. You prayed last night an exhausted prayer. And last night you endured a long, malign investigation—you alone, and none beside you to support you. You suffered conventional gestures of contempt and official rejection: the death sentence, acoomponid by degrading games. Did they wash your face from their spittle? No. It sticks to you still. To them you are a pariah, unclean in blasphemy. Why should they watch you? Why should they feed you? Why should they give you something to drink? To them you are a problem to be solved. 
To me you are the Lord. 
The city scarcely stirs, but here come the rulers with you in the midst. Serious faces. Where are they going? To the governor's forum. The Romans begin their work-day frightfully early, so the council is hurrying, lest they miss their chance for and audience and a quick imperial trial. Go! Go! They prod you from behind. Go, don't drag your feet! What's the matter with you? Tired? They themselves are filled with hectic energy. Sleeplessness has nerved them, and their purpose verges on frenzy. Go! 
Jesus, how do you feel? What are you thinking? You don't talk. You mouth has been closed for such a long time now. Last night, before the legal machinery caught hold of you and began to grind you in its wheels, you said your soul was sorrowful, even unto death—and then your eyes revealed grief. I saw it. But now, in the dawn of your death day, your face is expressionless. I can read nothing in your eyes. Jesus! Jesus! How do you feel right now? What moods contend within you? What worlds collide inside your soul? O Jesus, are you hating? Are you praying? Are you screaming silently? Are you thinking about me right now? 
You walk, step by weary step, from Jerusalem to Rome, around the world, from life to death, away, away. Away from me. Away from my knowing, into mystery. O Jesus, it terrifies me that you go so far away from me! Please, give me a sign! I really can't stand this not knowing. Give me some sign from your solitude, Lord, please, please, that you are thinking of me. 
Lord Jesus, do you love me now?
***
Wordlessly, Jesus answers:
The walking itself is the sign, child.The loneliness which I have chosen, and the cross that closes it—these are the signs that I love you ever. I have to leave you to love you best. I go where I want you never to go, precisely because I love you. 
Can you say "Amen" to that?"

~Walter Wangerin Jr., Reliving the Passion

***




***

A Soft Gentle Voice



{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 

For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}
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