Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas and 1 Corinthians 13

I had to pass this along ... it was printed in Rev. Jimmy Hopper's column of the Danville Commercial-News (which we don't subscribe to but I happened to glance at it when we were at my mom's house). It especially spoke to my heart, because I had just read 1 Corinthians 13 in my devotional time this week, and I can look back in my own life and see instances where I "missed the point". Like this past week when, at my wits end (after I thought the children had 'helped' enough with baking), I screamed, "For the tenth time, everybody out of the kitchen or I'm never going to get these cookies done for the Christmas party!"
Take a minute, slow down, and be blessed. :)
1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style
©By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Let's Pray ... Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, that starry night in Bethlehem. Like the Shepherds, I am still amazed at Your great love. May I not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, but celebrate Jesus' birthday with joy!
For the sake of Your Kingdom - Amen - may it be so!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Healing -- not feeling but believing

We arrived home from Waiting School 11 in Maine, sponsored by Elaine Pettit Ministries, just a few days ago. As I've told many, the trip was not necessarily fun (more on that later), but the Waiting School (as always) was so worth the trouble!

As I've mentioned previously, I have serious personality and mind-altering pms issues. It's something that is very difficult to deal with, not only for me, but for my family. I've prayed, been anointed several times, taken vitamins, minerals, and herbs, etc. Most recently, at the urging of my husband, I went to the doctor. There was no underlying health issue, but she suggested either oral contraceptives or antidepressants. The allure of "normalcy" was a strong one, so I decided to start taking the "pill". Oh, what a disaster! It simply magnified all the negative things I was already experiencing, and made me so tired that I literally slept all day at one point. After about a week, still in the undertow of that experience, I had a melt-down one day and took an antidepressant (which I decided not to continue). All the while, I would cry, and pray, and I could only hear God say, "My grace is sufficient."

At the healing service during the Waiting School, I did not know whether I should go forward for anointing. So, I stayed back to pray for others. I was really upset after the service, though, and couldn't leave the sanctuary. I was so confused about God's will in and purpose for my struggle. Chuck encouraged me to go speak to Elaine after the service. There were several vying for her attention, so I waited. She graciously gave of her time, and her words were so encouraging. She told me that we should seek healing unless/until God showed otherwise. She anointed me, and prayed over me, and it was really a beautiful sight as there happened to be several women hanging around after the service that laid hands on me also. Elaine declared that she knew that God heard us, and was responding, as the Spirit bore witness to her, and other agreed.

I "felt" nothing really. Nothing unusual. No lightning bolts from heaven. Honestly, I still don't "feel" much different. So what was different about this particular anointing?

At the Waiting School, I picked up a copy of "Praying Clear Through" by W.J. Harney. I've been stuck for a few days now on Chapter 7, "He That Believeth". Harney's book points out that we too often want a "feeling"--"the witness"--before we will even believe. That is where I have been living. Wanting God to pour out His Spirit--resulting in a "feeling" or some outward manifestation.

The scripture reference is 1 John 5:10. I went to 1 John and began reading in Chapter 5. I am fully aware that in 1 John 5, John is talking about belief in relation to salvation. But, I think it applies to any kind of believing prayer. James 1:6 tells us to "believe and not doubt" when we pray.

I've had trouble with that. Of course, I believe that God can and does heal. My struggle has been, "Does He want to heal me?" Or is this just the thorn--like Paul had--that I'm supposed to deal with?

Knowing that when we prayed, the Spirit bore witness, I had a decision to make. Do I believe and trust in the testimony of God that was given to those praying for me--they had an assurance that God had heard and was responding. When I read 1 John 5:10, it struck my heart, "Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar." Whoa--I definitely will not consciously be guilty of calling God a liar! So, I am choosing to thank Him for the healing He is bringing, for I trust that His healing power is at work even now.

John goes on in v. 14-15 of chapter 5 to tell us that we can be confident in approaching God when we ask in His name (with right motives), and that we can know that we have what we asked of Him.

God also brought a couple of songs to my mind regarding this matter, which resonate so perfectly with my heart:
"Faith is the Victory" (the hymn)
"The Voice of Truth" (Casting Crowns)

In little ways over the past week, God has been using different things to really drive this message home. Just yesterday, I heard Chip Ingram teaching on the radio (I love his teaching!). He spoke about how a "feeling" may indicate an encounter with God, but could mean not much else when there is no faith to back it up. What really matters is believing, life-changing, faith.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I heard recently that one of my favorite radio stations (91.7 WBGL) was hosting a special contest where parents or kids could nominate their favorite teachers.  It made me think about my journey from "official certified public school teacher" to homeschooling mom.

People often ask how long we will do this (like it's some kind of experimental thing), or when we will send our kids back to school, and I just tell them that we take it one day at a time.  Honestly, whenever I think about placing them back in public school, it is because I am starting to doubt my ability, or I have some "selfish ambitions" popping up.  I still don't fully understand the reasons for this calling God has placed upon me, but I can tell you that it is the most challenging call I have ever answered and there is no way I could do it without Him.

Homeschooling is an all-consuming endeavor--a call to completely give of ourselves not only as parents, but a those preparing and providing an education.   The blessings of homeschooling are sometimes hard to see, and probably much of the fruit of our labors won't be seen for many many years. There are no salaries, no financial benefits, no accolades.  There is no start or end to the day, no planning times, and very little "alone time".  There is no point in even attempting to base our worth on performance as we might be tempted to do in any other setting.  Sometimes we homeschoolers start to feel unsatisfied, thinking that other parents have it all figured out and we don't, thinking that this job would better be left to someone else, wondering if our kids "measure up".  And then we are reminded that as far as God is concerned, our worth is based upon the life of Christ in us, our hope is in Him alone, and God's grace is more than sufficient.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Systems vs. Humanity

The following is an excerpt from the prologue of John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education.

Bianca, You Animal, Shut Up!

Our problem in understanding forced schooling stems from an inconvenient fact: that the wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a systems perspective. You can see this in the case of six-year-old Bianca, who came to my attention because an assistant principal screamed at her in front of an assembly, "BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!" Like the wail of a banshee, this sang the school doom of Bianca. Even though her body continued to shuffle around, the voodoo had poisoned her.

Do I make too much of this simple act of putting a little girl in her place? It must happen thousands of times every day in schools all over. I’ve seen it many times, and if I were painfully honest I’d admit to doing it many times. Schools are supposed to teach kids their place. That’s why we have age-graded classes. In any case, it wasn’t your own little Janey or mine.

Most of us tacitly accept the pragmatic terms of public school which allow every kind of psychic violence to be inflicted on Bianca in order to fulfill the prime directive of the system: putting children in their place. It’s called "social efficiency." But I get this precognition, this flash-forward to a moment far in the future when your little girl Jane, having left her comfortable home, wakes up to a world where Bianca is her enraged meter maid, or the passport clerk Jane counts on for her emergency ticket out of the country, or the strange lady who lives next door.

I picture this animal Bianca grown large and mean, the same Bianca who didn’t go to school for a month after her little friends took to whispering, "Bianca is an animal, Bianca is an animal," while Bianca, only seconds earlier a human being like themselves, sat choking back tears, struggling her way through a reading selection by guessing what the words meant.

In my dream I see Bianca as a fiend manufactured by schooling who now regards Janey as a vehicle for vengeance. In a transport of passion she:

  • Gives Jane’s car a ticket before the meter runs out.
  • Throws away Jane’s passport application after Jane leaves the office.
  • Plays heavy metal music through the thin partition which separates Bianca’s apartment from Jane’s while Jane pounds frantically on the wall for relief.
  • All the above.

The best advice in this book is scattered throughout and indirect, you’ll have to work to extract it. It begins with the very first sentence of the book where I remind you that what is right for systems is often wrong for human beings. Translated into a recommendation, that means that to avoid the revenge of Bianca, we must be prepared to insult systems for the convenience of humanity, not the other way around.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Unexpected Snow

Lord, Your way is so beautiful, so unexpected. Like the surprise blanket of snow this morning, with unhurried flakes still falling. The snow that is completely oblivious to the turmoil it causes for those unable to slow down and take in its beauty. The snow completely unabated by the grousing of many poor souls, blind to the magical wonder of it all.

If they would only allow themselves to stop for a moment. Oh! What peace they would know in the lazy, gentle descent of the snow. What rare treasure they would see in the sparkle of each crystal gem that dazzles the landscape. What beauty they would see--a beauty that transcends the transformed world ablaze in pure white.

And they would see You, Lord. Surprising. Unexpected. Magnificent--in all You do.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Year's Resolution for Healing

Okay, so I've never been big on resolutions at the New Year. But it just so happens that some obvious changes in my life started taking shape right around Christmas this year.

One big thing I've been dealing with for several years is PMS. Some people might read this and just blow it off, thinking, "yeah, everyone deals with that" Maybe to some extent. But mine has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of thing. My husband actually got me a PMS book for Christmas this year. And no, I did not throw it at him in disgust. I was actually glad that he cared that much to want to help. (There was a gift certificate for a massage too).

Anyway, the Monthly Monster really puts a strain on the family, and significantly alters my ability to function. I had a doctor's appointment a few years ago. He was about an hour late getting into the exam room, and by that time, I was a complete hysterical mess! I think he was scared of me. He gave me some pills to "help" until my bloodwork came back, and I scheduled a follow-up appointment. The pills were "as needed", and didn't really help. When the doctor's office called and had to cancel my follow-up appointment due to a conflict, I decided not to reschedule.

I then turned to homeopathic treatment. I think homeopathic medicine is great. It has worked for me many times. Just not this time. Then I tried herbs, which helped some. My latest consideration was to go on birth control pills (artificial hormones), which I really didn't want to do, but felt like it might be my only option. It was just days before an appointment to go have a prescription written for The Pill that I heard from God. I was off-handedly speaking to Him in my thoughts about healing. And I heard Him whisper, "30 days." I didn't really know what it meant, or what form my healing would take, but I was so excited!

One day during Christmas break, I was at the YMCA to teach a Saturay morning water exercise class. It's not something I usually teach on Saturday mornings. I really wasn't looking forward to it. I was feeling a bit drained physically and spiritually. Nobody showed up that day. I was relieved, and thought, "Good! Now I can exercise alone, then go have some God time." So I did. And it was like a light went on, and God said, "You should do this every day--first thing in the morning."

I realize now that God doesn't always zap us with a miracle. God created our bodies to function a certain way, and what I am learning is that all of the basics have to be in place for a treatment to be effective for any disease. In fact, the cause of many diseases is a failure to pay attention to the basics, and simply doing so will likely result in healing without additional treatment. So what are the basics, you ask? Well, it is what most people *don't* want to hear!
3. Excercise every day
2. Eat right every day (limit junk food, processed food, and ESPECIALLY sugar!)
1. Spend "alone" time with God every day

It may be hard to do these things, especially if you are a mom with little ones like me. But I find that no matter how unencumbered we are, there are always excuses. So start by praying that God will help you see how to make "the basics" an important part of your day. Sometimes God actually wants to turn our ship around, and that takes time and effort. I'm in it for the long haul, with God as my Captain.