Saturday, May 26, 2012

Goodbye, Father



"Mother, mother! Why did she have to die? Is she in purgatory, right now?" Tears streamed down his cheeks, turning into icicles almost instantly. The biting winds stung his face. He stumbled over a hard lump of snow. Jamming his hands into his pockets, he clutched his woolen coat closer.  With gloves on, he fumbled to open the lock on the massive gates of the private parkland where he was a gardener. He closed it behind him. He had had to work that Tuesday, as heavy as his heart felt; as much as he missed his mother. She was gone now. Gone from that dreadful TB. She had died that very morning.

The year was 1911. Peter was 14. And this was St. Petersburg, Russia, in the cruel face of winter. Heavy clouds dropped snowflakes endlessly. Even the sun hid for the sorrow of it all.

"Ivan. Stanislav. My brothers! They died only last year. Now mother too?
Where is she?" he wondered and cried. 
The funeral didn't help him know any better. The priest sprinkled holy water constantly, it seemed. Did he even know where she was? At one time, he said she was asleep in the grave. But only minutes later, he said she was in heaven. He also said she was in purgatory, and waved some incense on her coffin. Where, oh where, was she really?

He traipsed home through the snow. There would be his stern father, home too, from his job of dispatching goods at the railway station. But mother would not be there! Even if she had been so sick and on the verge of the shadow of death for a while, he missed her quiet presence so much! At least there was still Elena, dear beloved sister! The thought cheered him for a moment. But then, she had taken it hard too. His heart sank again.

But wait. "Music?" he gasped quietly. He stopped, listening. Yes, it was music. It was singing! Where was it coming from? He scanned the landscape. He could see the majestic, golden domes of the St. Petersburg cathedral in the near distance. But over there, on the snowy slope was the source of the music. Huddled under a great big canvas tent was a small group of people. He felt himself drawn to them. Soon he was there, among the growing group of curious spectators. There was a man playing a piano accordion. Another was playing a violin. Others were singing hymns. They were missionaries--Seventh-day Adventist missionaries.

He hurried home. Father was not happy to hear about it, however. He was a patriotic Pole. Nothing but the Catholic religion would be right in his home.

Peter kept returning to that tent, whenever he got a chance. He made friends with the missionaries. He learned about their beliefs. Conviction burned within him. There was something more in what these people had, that he hadn't seen before. 
"Do they have the truth?" He pondered it often.

The missionaries gave him a Bible. He studied it earnestly. He struggled with conviction, but finally came to an answer. If he was to follow God with all his heart, he was going to keep His commandments. Including the Sabbath.

"Peter, we are Catholic. I do not want you going to those Seventh-day Adventists across town, son!" 
Marcel was very disturbed with his only and last son's disloyalty to his heritage. The tension grew. Peter learned more and more. Mother was not in hell, purgatory of heaven, he discovered. She was asleep in the grave. He became growingly convinced that it was the truth, that the missionaries had brought. It was with difficulty that he kept the Sabbath. Neither the country, or his father approved.

The tension mounted and climaxed in 1913.
"Peter!" his father shouted angrily one day, "you either leave home NOW or abandon your foolish beliefs."
"I will go then, Father." Peter's mind was made up. He had come to treasure the truth. Nothing mattered more to him, than being faithful to God.
"Go then! And go far away! I don't even want to breathe the same air as you."

Peter packed his few belongings. Elena looked on in silence. Father had tried to get her to talk him out of his beliefs. But she didn't even try. She knew she could never change his mind.

The two siblings looked at each other for one last moment. Their eyes filled up and tears streaked their faces. Peter gave her a quick hug, and ran. How could have guessed he would never, ever see his precious sister again?

The next moment he was at the train station. He was so familiar with the place. He and his siblings had come and helped their father here many times. But now wasn't a time to remember. A ticket was purchased with a few coins from the scant amount of rubles he had. He hauled in his small suitcase. There was little in there. A few clothes. A Bible. His dear Bible - the reason he was making this trip. The scenery was whizzing by. The miles clocked up, taking him further away from his home, his dear sister, the place of his birth. The train took him Far East. One thousand miles away. 

Siberia.

Alone, the teenager had to find work. Work? Not anything would do. Who would let him keep the Sabbath? He first tried to get a good job. Flowers. It didn't last long. He was promised leave on Sabbath, but his boss would try and get him to plant. 
"You agreed that I wouldn't work on Sabbath but would make up for it on other holy days," he would reply.
The manager began pleading with him saying that he had taken a silly position. "Your ways don't suit me," the boss stated.
"I'll talk to you further on Sunday, today I cannot do my own pleasure by discussing this any further," Peter said.

He lost that job. Next he was a fire stoker at the jail. But he was told there would be no work for him if he wouldn't work Saturdays. He got another job at the water board, only to be given the same ultimatum after a month of working there.
"I guess, I'll stop looking for good jobs now," he decided finally.

He took a shovel and became a trench digger for pipe installations. He worked hard along with Chinese labourers. He was the only white worker, no other Europeans would do such work. They had to dig a trench 3.5m deep, 1m wide and 2m long to earn 3 roubles. He wrote his sister letters.
"Often before the sun rose I would already be working like a mole," he told her.
That job didn't last forever either. He supported himself in other ways too. Coach driver. Farm and factory worker.

The years slipped past. He experienced a lot of hardship and pain. But God blessed him amazingly. He was baptized, along with a few others. Eleven years after that bittersweet winter's day, he met and married his young sweetheart. They moved south to Harbin. Here a one-off Bible school was run by two American Adventist ministers. Peter was one of those who graduated as a Bible teacher. 

Their firstborn little girl was born during that period, Nadia. Two years later she had a little sister. Over the years, two more little girls were born and lastly, a boy. 

They had many hard times. One time, their home was inundated due to major flooding. They had to be evacuated. Other times, they had to live in a single room in a central part of a city.

Peter kept up correspondence with his sister. She stayed in Russia. She married too. They went through the Bolshevik revolution; the Stalinist purges, where 20 million were killed; the communist oppression.  She and her husband were not able to have any children. That is, until they adopted a little girl. Very soon, they were expecting their own little one. They however, were not Christians. Elena had had a negative experience with a priest and decided to never follow any religion. Her life is a stark contrast to her brother's.
The sibling’s lives provide an amazing illustration. They show two lives, one disregarding of God and the other with God as Supreme.


         Elena:
           ·     Suffered through the Bolshevik Revolution.
           ·          Divorced after 8 years of marriage.
           ·          Had one biological child.
           ·          Her descendants are still in Russia under the Soviet Union, and are poor.
           ·          Has only a few posterity, of whom little is known.




Peter:
·                     Escaped the revolution and purges, which most-likely would’ve been his end.
·                     His daughters all say that they have never seen as happy marriage as their parents had.
·                     He had five children.
·                     God blessed him with great wisdom, so that he was able to prepare his family to move to Australia after his death. When they arrived, they were able to put a deposit on a house immediately.
·                     He has over 100 descendants, including doctors, ministers, lawyers, nurses, teachers, barristers, missionaries and more.

His posterity are God-fearing, comfortably-situated, well-respected citizens.


Peter was my great-grandfather. As I look back, I see a bigger picture than he would've been able to. How God led him to those missionaries. How that choice to follow God, whatever the cost and inconvenience, affected the rest of his life and the lives of his posterity. I and all his descendants are where we are today, 100 years later, thanks to great-grandfather, Peter. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jehovahjireh


The agony which must have coursed through Abraham's soul after those fateful words were spoken: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” could hardly be imagined. I marvel at the tremendous amount of faith and love Abraham and Isaac had as they worked to fulfil the divine command, though it seemed that God was asking something unreasonable, and contrary to all the promises that were given to Abraham. As Abraham lifted the knife to slay his beloved son, God called out "Abraham! Abraham! Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." At the climax of this test, at the climax of their faith God stepped in. It was enough. He knew for a certainty where Abraham's love and loyalty was and He provided. Abraham saw a ram caught in the bushes so he took it and offered it for a burnt offering to God instead of his son, Isaac. Abraham called the name of that place "Jehovahjireh" in other words, "The Lord will see to it or the Lord will provide". Most assuredly, all who put their faith in God will also have a Mount Moriah where they may, as Abraham did, rename "Jehovahjireh".

Perhaps the Mount Moriah in your life is salvation and whether or not you can be forgiven and accepted of God. Well, the Lord has already provided for you. When the human race was condemned to die, through Jesus, a way was provided whereby all who trust in Him might be saved. I won't say it is free, for it cost the blood of Jesus, and that is the highest price that ever could be paid for you or for me. Doesn't that thrill you with awe that the life of the Son of God was shed for you, that you might be saved and have life? You must only believe-believe enough to give your whole heart to God and have faith in His promises.

Perhaps the Mount Moriah in your life is character perfection. If you are struggling with discouragement that you do not have strength to overcome, God has promised to grant power and victory to all who ask of Him. He will provide the grace necessary to sustain you. He will complete the work that He has started in you. It may drive you to your knees in prayer, but it is in realizing our total helplessness and having faith enough to depend on One who is stronger, that the victory will be gained.

Maybe it is financial issues, needs, decisions, or a whole host of other things. The promise is there “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) God will provide! He'll supply your needs physical, mentally and spiritually.

I heard a story once of a grandmother who had to take care of her grandchildren. She was poor and struggled daily to put food on the table. One day, they had nothing and the children were hungry. Grandma set the table, she took the bread knife and sharpened it, then she gathered the children around her and thanked God for the food that He was going to send them. After they had finished praying, someone knocked on the door and said he had felt impressed to bring them food! God rewarded their faith and did provide!

There other stories, some on how God revealed His will to His servants to go and speak to someone, or preach at meetings when they were so ill they had to be carried into the meeting room. However the moment they stood up to preach they were filled with strength and power to proclaim the messages God had given them to share. It took faith, much faith to travel and even to try, but God provided the strength and the health!

Perhaps the trials in life will not make any sense to us. Perhaps our 'Mount Moriah' experience will take us out of our comfort zone in faith, and stretch us, like Abraham. Perhaps we will have to set the table and sharpen the knife as the widowed grandmother, or be taken in our sick bed to the meeting so to speak, but if we will resist every cloud of doubt, believe God and act on our faith according to His will, He will provide! As our faith, so shall it be! If we ask much and expect much, we shall receive much. For Abraham's faith, God promised "in blessing I will bless thee.."(Genesis 22:17) and that promise is just as much to you and I for our faith, as it was to Abraham and his.

What a motto to build a life, shape a life and carry through life - "Jehovahjireh - The Lord will see to it, or the Lord will provide"! Shall we make it ours?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jeremiah and the Ethiopian


A dear friend and I were discussing the end times. 
"It's daunting what the future holds," she confessed.
"I know that feeling, I really do." I agreed.
"It's so soon! It feels like it could almost be tomorrow," she added.
"I know. That's why I'm so grateful Jesus gave us signs to know when it's at the door. Even though it's extremely soon, not all the signs are fulfilled, so thankfully, we can know it won't be tomorrow!" 
There was a thoughtful pause. 
"Hey you know, I've been meaning to tell you something! I have a new best friend! Well, sort of. He died a few thousand years ago." I announce chirpily.
"...but in his story I feel a real connection. Like he could've been my brother. He inspires me - despite being long gone. He was young. I think he might've even been a teenager, like me. His name? Jeremiah.
"It all started when God spoke to him one day. Told him of His special watchcare over him since He formed him in his mother's womb. He told how from that early time, He'd chosen him to be a prophet unto the nations." I animatedly tell her.
When Jeremiah heard this, he was shocked. "But, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child!" 
"When I read this, my heart leapt." I told her.
"You know, That's how I feel! I know God has called me to be a missionary, and yet constantly, I feel my inadequacy. I hear myself saying those words."
I continue my dynamic narrative. 
"As I read on, I heard God's answer to Jeremiah -- and His answer to me, 
"Say not, I am a child... be not afraid of their faces... they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee." 


"Everyday I've been reading through Jeremiah. Even though I've read the Bible a few times through before, each new day, I've been surprised by a new twist of events in his story. When I read of God's  promise to be with Jeremiah, I was comforted. Those who follow God, have wonderful lives, with His promised blessings! At least, that's what I thought...


The next day or so though, I was stunned by God's answer to a complaint of Jeremiah's. He had said, 
"Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me."
God answered, 
"I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you."
Jeremiah pleads, "O LORD, you know!...that for Your sake I have suffered rebuke."


God continues, "If thou return, if you are faithful, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me..."


"You know it amazed me," I told my friend, "when Jeremiah asked if he had to go through it all, God said he did.  Yet, God's promise was -- if you are faithful through all this, you will receive your reward."


"Oh Christella, that's just what I needed to hear!" my friend interrupted.


I resumed my story, but only for a moment. 
"Oh, I need to go for now, Stella. Mum's calling me, but I'll talk to you again tomorrow, hey?"
Our phone conversation ended. My thoughts didn't. The story continues. I remember back to a few days ago when I read of Jeremiah's experience.


What?! I'd thought. This isn't the way it's supposed to work! If we're obeying Him, we can escape what everyone else is going through, can't we? 


I keep reading. Things get hard for young Jeremiah. The priest's son, "smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks."
Ouch! Poor guy! 
I stand back though, as I read Jeremiah's response. He's not intimidated. God's given him something to tell this Pashur, and he tells it. 
"And you, Pashur, and all that dwell in your house will go into captivity: and you will come to Babylon, and there you will die, and will be buried there, you, and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies."
Boy, Jeremiah had courage! Flogged, yet he was un-flinching in speaking out!


Apart from the scene of action though, Jeremiah cries out to God. 
"O LORD, You have deceived me... I am in derision daily, every one mocks me."


I watch as Jeremiah's courage weakens. The conflict within him is intense. Firstly, no one wants to listen to his warnings. They don't just ignore these warnings, but they mock it. On top of it all, he is physically hurt.  It's all too much.
In his own words, "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name."
The struggle doesn't end there though. "But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." 


Once again, Jeremiah takes up his disappointing duty. This time though, he trusts, and works. Trusts God, even when he is thrown into prison. Even, into a dungeon, left to die. As he calls out to God, my heart goes out to him. This abused messenger, is only a young person?!  God hears his cries. An Ethiopian friend hears of Jeremiah's location in the dank mire of the dungeon. He makes his way to the king's house; speaks to the king. It's serious, the young man being stuck in there. He'll die of starvation! The king sees the issue. He sends a group of 30 men to help the Ethiopian in rescuing Jeremiah. He is drawn up with chords, having old rags between the rope and him, for protection. God delivers him. 


Things don't get rosy though. He is kept in the prison until the day of doom that he'd been foretelling. It's the king's prison though. Not a dungeon, so not as bad. 


Questions fill my mind as I read more. Why did he have to suffer so much? That's not the way it's supposed to work! 


Did my friend ask these questions? I don't know. Yet, I can only believe that he just kept trusting God to be faithful and keep his promises. 


I see Jeremiah, captured along with the rest of the wicked nation. As the Babylonion armies maraud the city, there is a turn of events though. "Look after Jeremiah well," Nebuchadnezzar instructs. I can only imagine the smile on the young prophets face as he recalls God's now-fulfilled promise, "I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction."  
Despite this good treatment, Jeremiah is still in chains. 
Unexpectedly, he is set free, with the choice of going to Babylon or staying back in Jerusalem. He chooses to continue his calling among the few left in their own land. 


I stop reading. Lift my gaze from the page to the hills across from me. I see the picture. God was testing him, testing Jeremiah. It's not until the last moment that he is given freedom. I see the smile on God's face as He sees His servant pass the final test. Sees him be faithful. I see God's joy in fulfilling His promise of bringing him back again. 
~~~~
It's dark, everyone is in bed. As I kneel and pray, my thoughts go back to my morning reading. How did they relate to my day? The happenings of the day came back to mind. Awe fills me. It was a hard day. A very difficult one to get through. Tears and discouragement kept welling up and almost overwhelming me. I'd felt like giving up the fight. As I think of my morning reading and my day, I'm fully in awe. 
"Why Father, you planned it perfectly! Only this morning I read about how Jeremiah had to suffer, yet you promised that if he was faithful anyway, then he would see his reward. I know I haven't suffered like him -- yet, it's perfect. I needed this today and by your power I will be faithful in what you've called me to do. I love You!"
~~~~~
I didn't get to finish telling Jeremiah's story to my friend. How did it relate to the end times anyway?


Well, that Ethiopian friend came back into the story. While still in the king's chains, God gave Jeremiah a message to pass on to Ebedmelech. 
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.  But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee.... because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD."
I have wondered, especially as a little girl, how can I go through that all? Will God deliver me? 
In God's message to this Ethiopian, I hear the answer.
"You will not be given into the hands of the men of whom you are afraid," He promises.
"Because you have put your trust in Me."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mean Mama

"I hate the lead-up to Mother's day." So said a friend last week.
Silently, I agreed. For a different reason though. For her, it was a reminder of the bad relationship she had with her mother. That was not it at all, for me. My struggle is different. It's knowing how to fully show my appreciation for the amazing Mama that I have. And I never succeed at it. Because, each new day I come to appreciate her more.

As a young child, I used to wonder if other Mummy's were nicer than mine. Why, I had to be in the loungeroom at 7 every morning (and evening) for worship, even in winter! I had to wash the dishes too! When I didn't, I got punished. Surely, other mothers weren't that mean! It seemed the list was endless, what I was meant to do.

And why wasn't I allowed to drink soy milk straight from the carton? Too bad! I would do it when nobody was looking. After I had first prayed and asked God to not let anybody catch me though, of course. Mysteriously, it always worked. ;-)

It didn't make sense either why when I had to wipe the table after breakfast, that I couldn't wipe it onto the floor. I mean, Able could sweep the floor after me, instead of before I cleaned the table, couldn't he? Apparently not. Bethany demonstrated for 5-year-old-me how to properly wipe it -- into my hand; not the floor. I was not impressed. So yucky! I didn't want all those crumbs and food bits in my clean hands. Mum didn't bend though. She wanted me to learn to be tidy, and not leave a mess after me.
I learnt.

Another thing that used to puzzle me when I was four was, why couldn't I keep my eyes open in prayer? It was much more interesting than keeping them tight shut for ten minutes. It felt like that's how long the old people prayed for, anyway. One time, doing her motherly checking, she saw me with my eyes open during prayer. After worship, I was taken to Mum and Dad's bedroom.
"Did you open your eyes in prayer, sweetheart?" Mummy asked.
I didn't want to lie. I felt terribly bad. "Yes, I did, Mummy! I'm so sorry!"
"That was naughty of you, but because you told the truth, I won't punish you. Let's pray together and ask God's forgiveness."
Kneeling facing each other, Mama held my little hands, and we prayed.
I was so happy. It felt good to tell the truth! And to be forgiven. After that, I never opened my eyes in prayer again. Mummy had made me happy by not punishing me, so I wanted to make her happy too.

 Sometimes, I'd be walking on the veranda, and hear a certain sound. Crying. Praying. I'd tiptoe to a vantange point - where I could see where the sound was coming from. It was Mama. I heard our names. She was praying for us. Why did she have sad days?

Now I know. I've come to grasp more of what it would've been like for her to birth, potty train, discipline, raise, and worry about 8 children. I'm the second youngest. I never had to be the assistant mother, like my eldest sister and the other girls, did. I never knew the attitude that people had towards her for having so many children. But I am an older sister. And an aunt. I became an older sister at two, and an aunt at eight. As my summers have added up, so has my understanding. I know what it's like to cry and pray for a brother or sister that is struggling. Or a nephew that is lost for ten hours -- in the cold and dark.

The way Mum raised us, I come to appreciate each new day - literally. Every night I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing mother. She's faced a great deal pain and roughed it so many times. Yet, she's clung to God... and loved us continually. I love the way she trusts me. I can't help but trust her too.

Not long ago, I wanted to go overseas. I planned. I dreamed. I talked. And I prayed that God would convince Mum that she should let me go. Finally, I got an answer. A. Definite. No. It disappointed me -- to say the least. Why did my mother not want to me to enjoy myself? My hopes were dashed. But I accepted the answer, and moved on. Mum always said she wanted only the best for me, but why couldn't I see it right then? I decided to trust her anyway. One day maybe, she'd let me do something wonderful and adventurous.

One night, it was just Mum and I still awake. It was late. I confided to her about my discouragement over the happenings of the day. She encouraged me to keep going. We sat together on the bed. And talked. Slowly, she shared the vision she had for my life. I was stunned. They far surpassed my puny longed-for-adventures. She told of the desire she had for me to be more fully, a missionary. The plans warmed me. And I grasped a bit of the picture. Of what it means when God says He has good plans for my life, and not evil ones. And I realized the reality of how much Mum wants the best life possible for me and my siblings.



The little details of how she raised us -- from encouraging us all to learn music, even sitting beside us when we were unmotivated to practise; to holding my hand as I went to sleep as a five year old; to reading us the same Bible story every day for a week, until she was sure we'd grasped it (we never noticed it was the same!); training us to thing hard about deep things; to how when we asked questions, she didn't just answer, but showed us how to find the answer for ourselves in the Bible, as well as teaching us to read the Bible everyday.  The list is endless.

My Mama being mean, is a lie.


She's really the BEST!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blessed is the Man or Woman...


“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalms 1:1-2

I've been pondering the law of God recently. Righteous people had the law of God in their hearts “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” (Psalms 37:31) Jesus did too. “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:8) So what does it mean to have the law of God in our hearts? How does it practically fit into our lives?

As I read what someone else had said: "God's law is the transcript of His character;" and also Jeremiah 31:33 where God says "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" it became more than just a law, but practical and beautiful. Do you see it? To have God's law written in our hearts is to have the character of God written within! Jesus is our perfect example of the law of God lived out - the perfect expression of God's character. And He is the source, the strength and power that enables us to have the law within us.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul...” (Psalms 19:7) An alternate reading of "converting" is "restoring", and at the heart of the law is love so we can say "the love of the LORD is perfect restoring the soul". It is love - God's pure love and character that draws us to Him and heals the wounds in our hearts and it is the same that is written in our hearts that restores us into His image.

Truly, blessed is the man or woman who delights in the law (character) of God and has it within their hearts!

Don't forget, if we are willing, God promises: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts". He will transform our characters to be like His and He promises “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Psalms 89:34

What does God's law mean to you?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Resolutions of Eliza Lucas Pinkney

Eliza Lucas Pinkneys personal resolutions are so inspiring! They are as follows:

"I am resolved, by the grace of God assisting me, to keep these resolutions which I have frequently made and do now again renew.

"I am resolved to believe in God, that he is and is a rewarder of all that diligently seek him, to believe firmly and constantly in all his attributes. I am resolved to fear him and love him with all the powers and faculties of my soul, and to keep a steady eye to his commands, and to govern myself in every circumstance of life by the rules of the gospel of Christ, whose disciple I profess myself and as such will live and die.

"I am resolved by the divine will not to be anxious or doubtful, nor to be fearful of any accident or misfortune that may happen to me or mine, not to regard the frowns of the world, but to keep a steady upright conduct before my God and before man, doing my duty, and contented to leave the event to God's providence.

"I am resolved by the same grace, to govern my passions, to endeavor constantly to subdue every vice and improve in every virtue and in order to this I will not give way to any of the least notions of pride, haughtiness, ambition, ostentation, or contempt of others. I will not give way to envy, ill-will, evil speaking, in-gratitude, or uncharitableness in word, in thought, or in deed, or to passion or peevishness, nor to sloth, or idleness, but will endeavor after all the contrary virtues, humility and charity, and to always be usefully or innocently employed. 


"I am resolved not to be luxurious or extravagant in the management of my table and family on the one hand, nor niggardly and covetous or too anxiously concerned about it on the other, but to endeavor after a due medium and manage with hospitality and generosity as much as is in our power; to have always plenty with frugality and good economy, to be decent but frugal in my own expenses, to be charitably disposed to all mankind.

"I am resolved, by the divine assistance, to fill the several stations wherein providence has placed me, to the best advantage, to make a good wife to my dear husband in all its several branches and to make all my actions correspond with that sincere love and duty I bear him, to pray for him, to contribute in all my power to the good of his soul, and to the peace and satisfaction of his mind, to be careful of his health and of his interests, of his children and his reputation, to do him all the good in my power, and next to pleasing God, to make it my study to please him.

"I am resolved to be a good mother to my children, to pray for them, to set them good examples, to give them good advice, to be careful both of their souls and bodies, to watch over their tender minds, to carefully root out the first appearing and buddings of vice, and to instill piety, virtue, and true religion into them, to spare no pains or trouble to do them good, to correct their errors, whatever uneasiness it may give myself, and never omit to encourage every virtue I may see dawning in them.

"I am resolved to make a good sister, both to my own and my husband's brothers and sisters, to treat them with affection, kindness, and good manners, and to do them all the good I can.

"I am resolved to make a good mistress to my servants, to treat them with humanity and good nature, to give them sufficient and comfortable clothing and provisions, and all things necessary for them, to be careful and tender of them in their sickness, to reprove them for their faults, to encourage them when they do well, and pass over small faults, not to be tyrannical, peevish, or impatient towards them, but to make their lives as comfortable as I can.

"I am resolved to be a sincere and faithful friend wherever I profess it, and as much as in me lies as an agreeable and innocent companion and a universal lover of all mankind.

"All these resolutions by God's assistance I will keep to my life's end, so help me, oh my God, Amen

"Memorandum: Read over this daily to assist my memory as to every particular contained in this paper, before I leave my chamber, recollect in general the business to be done that day." 

I encourage you to make your own personal set that you review often and pray over that will rekindle the fire within you, help keep you focused, inspired, and pressing forward!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"No!"

I don't like it when toddlers say "no" before "yes"!
I really dislike that word. I know I did at least, when I was little. Even now, it's not my favourite thing to hear. Especially when I'm hoping for something. Like when I ask if I can go visit my sister, and because I have other things I have to get done first, it's a "no". Even if it makes sense, that "no" can still be plain frustrating.
God answers with that word sometimes too. I've dreamed of going overseas. The answer? You know it. But, it's not always disappointment and frustration.

I've learned it can be a weapon. Well, maybe not. Maybe a better title would be, 'powerful tool'. Really, it's not the word of itself. It's the action; actually, both.

Almost two years ago, I realized I didn't do well eating tea at night. I decided to do my digestion system a favour and give it a rest at night, when I slept. I kept my resolve that night. Not the next though. We were having my favorite type of popcorn -- flavored by my brothers with olive oil, salt and a bit of cayenne pepper. I could not resist the aromas. I joined them all in their evening meal.

That was the story for quite some time. One night, I succeeded, the other, I couldn't help myself.

In my see-saw of resolve, I learned something though. When I made that decision, and stuck to it, no matter how delicious the food, I was not tempted.

Sometime later, we had a splurge of watermelons. A paddock full of them. We were all thrilled. It didn't take long though before my brother came up with an idea.
"Hey, I dare you to do a week long fast -- just eating watermelons."
"I'll do it too," he added smiling winsomely.
"Sure, I'm up for the challenge." I grinned. Who could say no to a fast like that?

The first day was great. We both had a watermelon each at meal times. Considering it was mainly water, I had half of one in the evening too.

The next day though, was another matter. Mum made our very favorite meals. We could handle it when she made pasta salad with soya mayonnaise, even though it did look enticing. As dessert for that meal though, she made something that almost made me buckle. Pumpkin strudel. (Those of you who have never tried traditional strudel, have missed out on alot!) Strudel was always my favorite dessert growing up. We only had it about once a year, like when we visited our European grandma and great aunts. All of us children loved it - including my brother. At the sight and smell, he quit; leaving me more determined than ever to succeed.

I so enjoyed the pure, delicious juice for every meal, that my fast turned into three weeks. Then, our watermelons started running out. That was one sad walk through the garden... picking the last few.

If anything taught me self-discipline with food, that sure did. I look back on that experience and smile. Sure it was hard (even though it was yummy), but due to it and learning to say "no, thank-you" for teas, (another) brother gave me a very encouraging complement recently.
"Stella, you sure have food under your belt!"
At first, I was a bit taken back. Was that a backhanded way of saying I was fat? Like all my sisters I'm slim, so why would he say that? In fact I looked at my skirt and belt, bewildered for a moment.
At my look of dismay he clarified, "I mean, you have it under control."
"Oh. Thanks, bro!" We both laughed. He had meant it though.

It's not just food that this word has saved me with. Or rather, helped me lots. Occasionally, there has been pressure to compromise in ways, I'd rather not. Ways, that I know aren't right.

I'm glad I've learnt to say "no".
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...