Tuesday
Mar232010

The Weekly Encourager - March 23, 2010 - To Blog or Not To Blog

The Weekly Encourager - March 23, 2010 - To Blog or Not To Blog


Greetings!  This month marks the Ninth Anniversary of The Weekly Encourager, a Christian devotional which I began writing on March 1, 2001.  The original purpose was to extract nuggets of godly wisdom from a variety of sources that might benefit the younger moms of my congregation, and to offer the quotations, along with my own reflections, to those dear ladies who had limited time to read parenting books.  Since then, the subject matter has expanded, and so has the email list, now including women and men of all ages and situations, many of whom do not know me personally.

Some of you have asked why there have not been as many Encouragers lately.  I have been focused on some other priorities at home and work, one of which is getting my web site up and running (with help from my family).  While the site is now functional, there's not much on it yet; but, eventually I would like to have a place for The Weekly Encourager and another place for my quilt business, The Quilted Heart.  For some time now I have been wanting to put the Encourager on the web site in blog format, rather than sending it out via email.  Here's why:

1. Over the years, many of you have shared your reactions, insights, advice, humor, personal experiences, etc, after reading the Encourager.  These have been a great encouragement to me as an individual; but, I always feel guilty that I alone benefit from the comments, rather than the whole group.  The main advantage of the blog format is that it will allow us to have conversation with one another about the topics raised in the Encouragers.  The Proverbs talk about the wisdom of many counselors.  I'd like to tap into the collective wisdom of the larger Christian community for the enrichment of all.  Iron sharpens iron.

2. The blog will allow access to past Encouragers and ensuing discussions, which may be of interest to new folks just hearing about it for the first time.

3. If God be pleased, unbelievers might stumble on the site and read something which might encourage them to seek more about Jesus Christ and His word, the Bible.  This will be out there for any and all to see.

4. It will be easier for you to access wherever you are.  If you switch email addresses, you won't have to remember to notify me. 

5. You won't have to "subscribe" or "unsubscribe," just visit the site, or not, as you wish.  I won't be cluttering up your email box.

6. It will be easier for me than sending out large groups of emails, and I won't have to call people to ask for new email addresses when things bounce back to me.

7. Those of you who have my email address will still be free to send me a personal email at any time.  Only I will read those emails; they will not be posted for the whole world to see.

8. I can write more often than once a week, or less often, as my schedule permits.

Those familiar with blogs can skip the next paragraph!

Now, let me address those who are saying, "Wait, I don't know how to blog!"  If you don't know what a blog is, relax.  I barely understand it myself.  From one "tech-challenged" person to another, the word "blog" is short for "web log."  It's a journal of sorts that people write and put online for others to read.  Basically, it means that you'll be able to visit my web site whenever you like and read the latest Encourager posted there.  If you wish to read only the latest one, that's fine, read it, then close the site.  If you wish to comment on what was said, there will be a space following the post for you to do so.  You do not have to comment; it's purely optional.  You may also read other people's comments if you wish and respond or not to their comments, as you wish.  In addition, you will be able to go back and read Encouragers and/or comments from the past.  Eventually I hope to offer a topical index to make this easier; but for now, it will be arranged chronologically,with the most recent post appearing first.  For the next few blog entries, I will continue to send you an email referring you to the web site to read the latest post.

Dear readers, thank you for all the encouragement.  Our gracious God has used you in my life!  As this blog format is a new venture, I am asking for your prayers that this will be used only and always for God's glory.  Pray for protection and wisdom - the internet is a big place, and it can be scary.  Yet it can be a tool to work good, strengthening God's people in lives that honor Him and serve others.  Pray as the Spirit leads.

God is faithful,
j

Copyright 2010 Janet A. Marney´╗┐

Tuesday
Mar232010

The Weekly Encourager - February 27, 2010 - Answered Prayer with Three Days to Spare

The Weekly Encourager - February 27, 2010 - Answered Prayer with Three Days to Spare

February was an interesting month.  At the beginning, I had set aside the last two weeks of February to get a quilt finished for our guild quilt show and to write an article for a quilt newsletter.  Yesterday (February 26) was the deadline for both.

Then I found out I needed new tenants for our rental property.  The workload for landlords is unpredictable: you may go several months without doing anything except to deposit your tenant's checks; but, when something goes wrong, you have to drop everything and deal with it.  This time it was simple enough to place ads, but then another blizzard came, and no one went anywhere for two weeks.  I lost potential renters because the road was too bad to get into the development.  When the roads finally were plowed, I got a bad cold with a case of pink eye.  Yet I knew that God brought the snow and the sickness.  He is Lord of all.

With only a week left and feeling really sick, on Sunday the 21st I was starting to get anxious about whether I'd find a tenant by the end of the month, or whether we'd have to cover March's rent.  Normally I would never even think of working on the Lord's Day, but that morning I felt a tinge of temptation, knowing that Sunday is the busiest day for real estate in our area.  Could this be an exception, Lord?

His answer was No.  That morning we got to church and the sermon was about honoring the Lord in our business dealings with the world!  Amidst Pastor Dave Coffin's message about the Christan's behavior in the marketplace, certain verses stood out to me:

"A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; all the weights of the bag are His concern." - Proverbs 16:11 NASB.  A reminder that the God who numbered every hair on my head is concerned about my rental property, too.  He is Lord of all.

"When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale?"   - Amos 8:5 ESV  The days the Lord appointed for worship were not of interest to the dishonest merchants; they just wanted the Sabbath to be over with as soon as possible, so that they could do business again.  I certainly did not want to numbered with them!

The main thing that hit me was, you don't have to work on the Sabbath, you don't have to lie, cheat, or steal to get what you need.  The Lord says, if you need it, I will provide it.  I walked away from that service with such a boost to my faith.  Through the sermon and the Scriptures, the Lord gave me a quiet confidence that all would be well with my rental property.  My job was to trust Him and to continue to work with diligence and honesty. 

Reflecting further, I remembered some other prayers that the Lord had answered recently: He blessed my last-minute preparations and travel to sing at my uncle's funeral, He was very gracious to Dave's brother Matthew regarding some legal issues, His hand was evident in the resolution of a problem with a friend.  The Psalmist reminds himself of what the Lord has already done for him, encouraging himself to trust in God again.  We can use that same model for our prayers: thankfulness and trust.

A few days later, God provided a suitable tenant.  I had a signed lease in my hands three days before the end of the month.  (Oh yes, and He restored my health enough to enable me to finish the quilt project and article on time!)

Another great point Pastor Dave made was that when you come right down to it, Jesus's death on the cross was a commercial transaction.  We were bought with a price.  His death canceled the record of debt.  Since our holy God's scales are always perfect, we can be comforted that the price Jesus paid was just.  We are indeed redeemed!  This same God who forgave our sins will also take care of all our financial needs.  He is Lord of all.  Thanks be to God for such a gift!

God is faithful,
j


by David Coffin, Jr.
"Shopping and Salvation, or What has Jerusalem to do with the mall?"  Part of the Proverbs series.  To hear this sermon, go to http://newhopefairfax.org/index.asp and click on Resources.
Monday
Feb152010

The Weekly Encourager - February 11, 2010 - Water, Water, Everywhere

this is my new entry:

 The Weekly Encourager - February 11, 2010 - Water, Water, Everywhere

When is a flood not a flood? 

Do you have a task you've been putting off but you know you should do?
Have you prayed for supernatural motivation?
Have you asked spouse or Christian friends for help?

The morning after Christmas Day, with two ladies and one's daughter expected for tea and conversation, I hurried down to the basement to wrap their presents.  Unfortunately, what I expected to be a lovely calm day of fellowship with dear friends by the fire, while husband and son went to a LAN party, turned out to be a frantic morning of sopping up water en famille.  Rapid snow melt after a large snowstorm earlier that week had caused basement flooding.  On one hand, if the friends hadn't been coming, I might not have discovered the water until much later and the damage would have been greater; but, on the other hand, I missed a golden opportunity for fellowship.  My friend Hannah was able to come for only a short time.  After Dave and Austin and I finally got the furniture and boxes moved out and water cleaned up, she could only stay a few minutes more.  It was sad because I only get to see Hannah about twice a year, once in summer and once at Christmas.  Yet God's timing is perfect, right?

The stressful process of moving things out of the water's path brought about some important revelations.  Are you a storer of stuff?  It seems that between my growing quilt business, my office, things saved from the past, things inherited from relatives who have passed on, my gift closet and gift wrap area, etc., I have a whole lot of stuff in the basement.  Of course, I also have a whole lot of stuff in the garage, and in our bedroom, and in the guest room.  Now, those of you who know me are saying, "I've been to your house and it always looks beautiful!"  It's true that I have an unshakable commitment to keeping the public areas free of debris so that I can invite people over at a moment's notice; but, I have to confess: I have a lot of stuff in other parts of the house that you don't see. 

Having to move so much out on short notice brought me up short.  Seeing my husband's reaction as he saw how "efficiently" [his term, bless him!] I can pack spaces, feeling the embarrassment of not having things better organized and having him see my mess, tapping into deeper issues, arguing with my son over how best to move things out of the water, and missing sweet fellowship with my friends upstairs, were all things the Lord used to motivate me to change.

The long-delayed conversation with my husband about the reasons for accumulation came a few days later.  My parents were raised in the Depression, and they taught me well the value of saving and reusing things, and buying on sale.  We've had serious injuries, deaths of loved ones, and other stressful events to deal with in the last few years, which have taken time and energy away from mundane tasks.  A quiltmaker does need a lot of physical space for all the fabric, tools, supplies, books, etc.  And the wrapping paper!  Every year my sons' schools did fundraisers I felt I had to buy one roll from each school.  But now, when we give smaller items to fewer people, do I really need 40 rolls of wrapping paper?  And the gifts!  I have had to face the fact that, for someone who's been asking people to give "no more gifts," I sure have accumulated a lot of gifts to give to them!  And sure, it's a lot more fun to decorate the living room than it is to file papers in the office, but it has to be done.

A sea change is occurring.  For the past few years, as my children have been growing more independent, I've been dipping my toes into different careers, trying to see where the Lord would lead me to use the gifts He gave me for His glory.  As a Christian woman, I should get my husband's input, so Dave and I scheduled a meeting to discuss my career options.  His insights were excellent and I took notes.  I sensed that the Lord was answering prayer.  Probably the most important thing I got from that meeting were the two things that are hindering my career at this time!  I realized that there was no way I could move forward with any of my career options until 1. I helped Dave with his business, and 2. I cleaned out some of the mess in the house.  And how interesting that both of these are things important to my husband.

Now, I've taken a long time to get here, but I wanted to record the process the Lord used to reveal His will for me at this time in my life.  I looked honestly at the gifts, interests, circumstances, etc. that God has brought, noting also what others have mentioned over the years.  I prayed for God to show me how to best use His gifts to honor Him and serve others.  I tried out various options.  I consulted my husband.  I continued to pray and work.

What I have seen is that no matter how long, boring, or frustrating these two tasks are, I must do them.  I need to honor God by taking care of the things He's given me.  I need to honor God by taking care of the things that bother my husband, especially when they are starting to affect our marriage. 

First, the business.  My husband has been asking for my administrative help with his home business (Sermons Online) for years, and I've been saying no, that's not my gift; first, let me establish my own career.  But after more prayer and the career discussion this Fall, the Lord granted me new motivation which I must acknowledge was clearly from the the Holy Spirit, not of myself.  I began to actually want to get up each day and get to that work!  Spending several hours each day on this business for months, I successfully completed the first internal audit of all the customers, clearing out dead wood and increasing revenue by about 50%.   I say this not to brag about what I did, but to point to what God did.  I also began to feel that it's our family business, rather than my husband's business.  Today there are still emails to answer and issues that crop up, but things are back on track.  When I determined to obey God and my husband and work hard, the Lord prospered the work of my hands.

Now, the basement.  Yes (pat self on back), for the past couple of years I've been freecyling at least one thing every week, giving things to charity, etc., but the flood revealed that a Major Effort would be needed to get the basement in order.  I, who have helped others with home organization (one of my career options! pride!), have been letting my own house go.  It's been too overwhelming to face alone, but with God all things are possible.  With His help, I determined to do what is right, no matter what.  Every time I'm tempted to put it off, I remind myself that no temptation is greater than we can bear, including this one.  There is always a way back to the right road.   Procrastination is a sin.

Snowed-in and with another blizzard coming, I started with one tiny area at a time.  My husband was a big help by offering to clean out some of his own junk, giving me a jump-start.  All my snowed-in quilting friends are using this winter to enjoy sewing projects, but me, I've been cleaning the basement - day after day after day, and sometimes into the evening.  Why is it taking so long?  Because I left it so long.  Simple as that - the piper must be paid.  It would be sin for me not to do it.  Again, since I determined to obey God and my husband and work hard, I am seeing the Lord prosper the work of my hands.  I have almost completely cleared the area that Dave wanted done the most, thanks be to God!

I know I haven't written in a while.  It's because I have too much to say, and I don't want to ramble on too long.  I need to know that only those who want to read this, will do so.  My hard heart has been humbled and I am seeing the Lord at work all over the place.  When is a flood not a flood?  When God means it for good.  When He pours out living water upon our souls.

If you have something you've been avoiding doing, I encourage you to pray for the Lord's direction, power to resist temptation, and motivation to get it done.  Then, exercise your will to make a start, however small.  Just make a start.  When we are weak, He is strong.  Be faithful in small things, and watch God do big things.

God is faithful,
j

Copyright 2010 Janet A. Marney



Page 1 ... 42 43 44 45 46