Minding My Miracles

~ and finding new mercies every morning

Love: A Guest Post

Dear Ones –

Today’s post will find you reading a story that is more than a story written by my mother-in-law.  I asked her to write it down a while back because I knew it was a story that had the potential to touch your heart and draw you closer to the One who loves you more than you can imagine.  So, grab a steaming cup of tea, pull your favorite cozy blanket around your toes and settle in to be loved.

Within the core of every human being is a deep longing of knowing that they are “known”, truly loved and have worth.

My story, as coming from a very large family of 8 children, 2nd oldest, was one of “assumably” knowing you were loved, but never hearing it.  As an adult, I was on a deeper quest to fill that deeper hole in my heart.

After becoming a Christian, that yearning kept growing and growing, as I was empty, hurting, and longing for a real Revelation of knowing that “SOMEONE” really knew “ME”, and loved “ME” and that I was seen as precious.

Little did I know that My Heavenly Daddy would use something as little as a ring to turn on the light into the dark and hurting place in my heart.

My husband (currently of 39 years) had given me a “pre-engagement” ring back in 1971.  They called them Lindy Stars in those days, a very striking cornflower blue, marquis stone with a little diamond on each side, very simple, but beautiful.  The star in it when held in the sunlight, was brilliant!  It was a treasure to me and I would soon come to find out why I so treasured THAT ring.

Fast forward a number of years and 3 sons later, still having the ring in my possession, wearing it off and on, until “the day” of discovering it was gone,  Instant panic set in and the hunt for finding my ring began to consume me.  I looked everywhere…and I mean everywhere.  Followed by endless questioning of my husband and boys – “Have you seen it?”  “Can you remember the last time you did see it?”  “Please, please help me find it.”  I can remember, like it was yesterday one time, of sitting in my attic, after thoroughly searching for, I don’t know, the umpteenth time, alone and sobbing, begging the Lord to show me where my ring was.  “If it’s gone forever, please just let me know in some way and I’ll let it go”, but at the same time not wanting to let go and knowing that He knew right where it was, because He is ALL KNOWING, and nothing is hidden from Him.

We had been going to the same church for a number of years and it was April of 1999.  We had a speaker in from England, whose sole message was on God’s Father Heart and His love.  I remember the words I was hearing touched me so deeply and moved me to just even thinking the thought, “Oh God, it would be the ultimate show of Your love for me if You would bring my ring back to me.”

Also, at this same time, I was in a women’s Bible Study and the second to last lesson , we had to tell of an experience where someone had tried to give you a gift, and you had a hard time receiving it.  When it was my turn to share, I began to open up and tell the story of my ring, what it looked like, how it was lost and how the previous summer, it being our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband had heard through my mom, who had seen another Lindy Star ring at an antique store, had borrowed the money to purchase it (having just lost his job).  When he brought that little package to me, I was inwardly hoping that he had found “the ring” and had kept it for just this occasion, but my heart sank, as I opened it and found it not to be my treasured ring.  To hide my disappointment, despite his sweet gesture was very hard.

While listening to my experience and description, our church secretary was stunned, thinking, “I have had Jean’s ring in my desk drawer for years and never knew who it belonged to, until now.”  Needless to say, she contacted all the ladies, and planned “the surprise” for me putting the ring in one of those big plastic Easter eggs filled with the grass and they were to give it to me at the end of the last study which happened to be on Good Friday.  Now as I’m writing this, tears in my eyes, thinking how awesome the timing of a loving Heavenly Daddy who gave His all, His only Son, Jesus, to show the whole world, all of mankind just that…HOW MUCH HE LOVES!

Well, needless to say, when I opened that egg, I could scarce believe what I was seeing, sobbing in utter joy in TRULY KNOWING that my Daddy in Heaven who created me to know Him, intimately knows my every thought, and holds every tear I’ve cried in His loving hands, knows what brings me joy, makes me sad, knows every single detail about ME had demonstrated that Awesome, precious love for me, and from His Holy Heaven also hears every uttered and un-uttered thought, cry and hurt of every person, and longs desperately for all of mankind to know that life-changing Powerful Love!

And I pray that Jesus will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you, as you trust in Him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and UNDERSTAND as all of God’s children should, how long, how wide, how DEEP and how HIGH His love really is, and to experience this love for yourselves!  Ephesians 3:17

Thank “Mom” for sharing your story of being touched by His love.  My prayer today is that it encourages my readers that there is a touch of His love waiting for each of them.  Dear Ones, if you have been waiting and praying for something oh-so-dear to you, do not lose heart.  He knows you and has GREAT LOVE in store for you and His timing is perfect.  You are not forgotten and you are not alone.  Feel free to leave a comment or question here and I will pass them on to my MIL.

This is not her ring, but gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Miraculously Blessed –

Jessica

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November Dawn

Dear Ones –

It has been so long since I’ve posted.  I wanted to get all settled into our new home before I tried to get back into the swing of things, but that seems to be taking much, much longer than I planned so I thought I could put a few of the scattered thoughts running through my head onto the page and share them with you.  Nice of me, huh?

So, here’s a quick recap of where things in my life are standing right now.  As of today, my due date is 36 days away.  Firstborn was born on his due date and number two came a week late.  This one seems to be working hard at getting out so I would not be surprised if he popped out early.  Early is okay with me as long as he’s not too early.  Of course, if he decides November is his month and doesn’t come Thanksgiving Day he will miss being a holiday baby.  And even though every day seems to be a national something or other day December 6th (his due date) is Saint Nicholas Day (not one I’ve ever celebrated, but I’d take it for a holiday baby).

We’ve moved into our new house partially.  We’re living here, but we still have a bunch of stuff at the old place.  Right now the closing date is November 23rd so we have a little bit of time to get some things straightened out.  It is hard being eight months pregnant and trying to move.  Not highly recommended.  My poor husband has to work so hard cause there are things I just can’t do.  I am eagerly awaiting just having to do things in one house though.

The boys are getting so big.  They love the new place.  Last night they went on an adventure walk date with their dad and I got to hear all kinds of stories about waterfalls and sticks and jungles…totally a father/son adventure.  I am looking forward to when the new place is no longer “under construction” and we can really live here.

Just a few short months ago I was a bit concerned about Mr. F’s vocabulary, but it has taken off.  Somehow though his favorite words seem to be “NO – I DO IT.”  (Yes, that is all in caps because he yells it every time.)  He is definitely a strong-willed child and I need to pray everyday that God channels his strength into a productive outlet for HIS glory…because this mom is exhausted just trying to figure out which battles are worth fighting.

I think so many days that Liam is just bubbling over with energy.  He is my energizer bunny.  It seems like the more tired he gets, the more active he gets.  It’s too funny (and hair-raising at the same time).  Some days I have to admit I am a little afraid of having three boys under one roof.  Not mention the dream I had a while back.  I dreamed that it was shortly after having this current babe and I was talking to God and telling Him that it was okay with me if He wanted to give me another boy.  Suddenly I found that I was pregnant with another boy again…very soon after giving birth.  Needless to say that since I woke up from that one I have been considering not talking to God for a while after this boy is born…just to be on the safe side.

Well, time to head off for another project.  If you, like me, woke to a dreary November 1st I just want to encourage you that you can choose to rejoice in the Lord because it is indeed the day He has made and we can not only rejoice, but we can be glad in it.  We can look for His hand and find that we are sheltered in His love, protection and delight.  You are His treasure.

Look for my next blog post coming.  It’s a guest post from my mother-in-law that I know you are going to love.

Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

It’s been a while…

Dear Ones –

Perhaps you’ve noticed, perhaps you haven’t, but I have not blogged in quite some time.  Since my last post I have lived through a cold, flew past my 32nd birthday and packed up a bunch of stuff to be moved into our new house.  Then of course there’s the fact that my youngest has been moved into a big boy bed.  Not to mention I’ve been canning peaches and nectarines as well as building up my kombucha supply.  Seems like the last almost two weeks have disappeared on me.

I hope you have been doing well.  Did anyone read George Washington’s farewell address?  If you haven’t yet, I would like to encourage you again to give it a try. (my last post)

I was trying to find a way to sum up how I have been doing and couldn’t really find the right words…but I did remember a cartoon I keep on my fridge as a reminder to my husband that when things get a little scary around here there is always a solution…

It may be a bit before you see me again.  Keep me in your prayers as I have a household to move.  Pray for my kiddos that peace remains in them.  Thank-you!

Miraculously Blessed –

Jessica

History Speaks

Dear Ones –

When you don’t know history you are doomed to repeat it.  And when you don’t listen to the wisdom of your elders you are bound to fall into a trap.  This week marks the anniversary of George Washington’s farewell address.  I ask you to take some time, work through the big, hard words and read through it.  This is not a short or necessarily easy read, but it holds great value for those willing to listen.  Glean some wisdom for your own life if you can.  Recognize a man who served his country because he loved his country not because he wanted power or position.  He was not a perfect man.  He was a man with character.  He was a man I teach my sons about as a true hero.  I would be honored if one day some one told me that my boys reminded them of George Washington.  Truth and honesty always triumphs.  Ask yourself where you stand on his wise thoughts today and take action on your stance if you can.

Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

George Washington’s Farewell Address

Delivered September 19, 1796

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, 1793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

George Washington

Chosen? For what?

Dear Ones –

Last week I heard a rabbi speaking on how Israel is God’s chosen people.  Well, of course, we’ve all heard that time and again.  Okay, so you’ve heard it before.  But, what does it mean?  Does it mean that they are special?  Does it mean that they are set apart?  Does it mean that they get something nobody else does?  Maybe it does.  Maybe Israel is a group of people who God destined for something beyond anybody else’s imaginations.

 

 

The thing is that it wasn’t the chosen-ness of the Israelite people that struck me.  It was what he was saying they were chosen for.  He was talking about how they were chosen to keep the Word of God.  He said they were chosen to work for God.  Yes, they were chosen for blessing, but he did not see that as the prime thing they were chosen for.  He spoke about how the Jews were chosen to make many angry.  And to him the blessing was found in the opportunity to light the way to God for others.

Right away my mind jumped to 1Peter 2:9-10 (But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.) which I have often prayed over my own life.  This scripture is so ingrained in me that I created a tattoo for my husband’s arm as a sign of the mark of God on his life (X marks the spot) – being chosen by Him.

When the words this rabbi spoke clicked in my mind I reread these verses with a different emphasis.  I know I have slightly thought about it from this angle before, but I don’t think I thought about it in quite this light.  This scripture is about all of us being chosen by God because of Jesus.  Through Him we are all chosen.  We were chosen by mercy for a PURPOSE.  And the purpose – to proclaim the praise of YAHWEH.  And therefore we were chosen for rejection, to be discredited, put down and thrown out.  It does not say we were chosen to be specially blessed (and yet He does bless us in extraordinary ways.)  It does not say that we were chosen to have an easy life.  It says we were chosen to PRAISE  regardless of the circumstances of life.

This is the eucharisteo.  This is what we give thanks for.  We give thanks that we were chosen to be persecuted.  We give thanks that we were chosen to be different.  We give thanks that we were chosen to stand out and in standing out be transparent before others that they may see through us directly to God.  In other words we were chosen to be invisible.  We were chosen to be hated and ridiculed.

Isn’t it a beautiful thing?  We have been chosen to be all the things we would normally want to avoid.  And also, we have been chosen to be royal, holy, special, called out of darkness, made into the people of God and we have obtained mercy.  Truly, I do not believe that there is anything more I could ask for.

Because of all of this.  Because of Jesus.  Because I have been chosen to…

I praise the Lord.  With all that is within me I praise the Lord.  When I rise in the morning I reflect on His mercies and I praise Him for this gift.  As I live and breathe, my breath shall be YAHWEH.  When circumstances come against me, I will lift my eyes and give thanks.  When I am persecuted, ridiculed and put down I will not be discouraged; instead I will delight myself in Him who is well able to and willing to be my all in all.  When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear not evil for I am not alone.  I am comforted in Him.  He makes all things new, even me.  Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!  I am chosen by Him.

I praise You oh Lord for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!  I praise You oh Lord for You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  I praise You oh Lord, for You have redeemed my life from death and crowned me with mercy.  I praise You oh Lord because of the joy that was set before You, You endured the cross.  You are my God and I surrender all that I am to You.  I praise You oh Lord for I am

Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

Yesterday my husband yelled at me

Dear Ones –

Yesterday was a doozy.  And truthfully I don’t think he actually yelled, but it was about as close to yelling as he comes.  My husband is one of those mild-mannered nice guys that everybody loves and is super easy to get along with.  He rarely expresses his anger/frustration with me so it takes a lot of button pushing to get him there.

Remember in my last post how I was talking about that elusive peace that I was looking for in my home…yeah, it all started with that search.  Between Tuesday and last night I hadn’t had much sleep combined with two little boys who didn’t think they needed that much either.  Top it off that my house has been looking a bit pitiful and I was feeling overwhelmed.  Then of course there is the whole somewhat irrational pregnancy emotions and you got quite a time bomb ticking.  Oh, and did I mention the pregnancy sciatica has started to kick in.  Ugg.  Not to be complaining, just trying to set the stage.  All of these things are actually quite manageable, but I needed some sleep.

So, after an exhausting almost two hours of trying to get the kids down for a nap I came downstairs to look at a messy living room, messy kitchen, dinner waiting to be cooked and frustration mounting.  All I wanted to do was lay down and go to sleep.  Sadly, instead of trading my frustration to God for something (anything would have been better at this point) I started wielding it like a sword at my husband (as if it was all his fault I was in this place).  I threw open the dishwasher door and pulled the clean dishes out and then began slamming the dirty ones in. (It must be noted that hubs had pretty much just walked in the door and had no idea what a nightmare he was walking into.)  This was one of those times where thinking of a Proverbs thirty-one woman was just making me angry.  I mean honestly, it reads like she was never hurting or exhausted or ever had a bad day.  And her perfectness was getting to me.  I refused to look at the sign I posted in my kitchen with quotes from Ann Voscamp about being thankful.  I wanted to be grumpy and I wanted to take it out on somebody. (Ever been there?)

As I was ranting and raving about how tired and in pain I was and how much there was for me to do he looked at me with anguished eyes.  He was seeing my pain and wanting to fix things.  He kept asking me to just lay down and rest.  he kept telling me I needed to.  I kept saying “I can’t.”  What in the world was I thinking?  Seriously, I am such a martyr.  I was making all the to-dos more important than finding a few moments of peace and rest for myself.  I was making my pain (and imagined injustice) into this shrine that all others must bow down and worship at.

Finally, he had had enough.  He put his foot down.  He told me to get my butt over to the couch and LAY DOWN.  Then he said the food I had started could wait until tomorrow and we were going out to eat when the one sleeping child woke up.  Finally he said he was going to clean up the living room and I better not lift a finger.  I can’t, I whined and then he pulled the baby card.  GO LAY DOWN FOR THE BABY.  YOU ARE PREGNANT.  YOU NEED TO REST.  (Well, wives as you all know sometimes we actually NEED to listen to our husbands.  As in NEED.  They want what’s best for us and they actually care about us.)

Needless to say I obeyed.  Within 20 minutes my back felt much better and so did my state of mind.  Then came the hard part…the apology.  Once again I recognized that I had been this person I did not want to be.  I was yucky and mean.  My loving husband readily forgave me.  He said that sometimes the baby card just has to be pulled out and I need to take care of us.

He was right and I am grateful.  We took our kids out to dinner at a place where we had a free meal and it was wonderful.  No mess for me to clean up and God’s grace helping our kids stay well-behaved.  What a blessing I have in my husband.

Ladies, I would just like to encourage you to allow your husbands to care for you.  Don’t be the martyr in your home.  (You are really just being the fool.)  Ask for help when you need it.  (Most men just don’t see the things we see, but will happily help out when asked to in a loving and gracious manner…i.e. DON’T NAG.)  Let yourself rest when you are worn out.  (When you rest you renew your tanks and can accomplish so much more.)  Finally, let the service you do for your family be a service to God as well.  He really will be a cleft for you to find safety and security.  Lesson relearned for me.  Thank God that His mercies are new every morning.

Feeling Even More Miraculously Blessed Than Usual,

Jessica

Peace…is it hard to find?

Dear Ones –

We often talk about the peace before the storm.  In our house this usually means afternoon nap time.  Which is often followed by pure craziness as I prepare dinner and the kids go a little nuts waiting for it.  And when the kids go nut, mama is not far behind.  This period (often referred to in our house as the crazy hour) is known as THE STORM.

There is just something about a storm that has the ability to throw everything out of whack.  Tempers fly and the ugliest sounds are heard.  There is crying (on all parts) and nothing is very fun.  Then comes dinnertime and we all try to forget what just happened and pray.  Haha  It’s hard to be grateful for a meal when you are frustrated and irritated.  It’s hard to relax enough to take in a “feast” when you’re so worn out from the battle that you just throw the food in without appreciating the blessing of having food on your table.

And I know I am the worst culprit when it comes to all of this.  Sure, I can use the pregnant excuse.  As in…I’m pregnant so I’m tired and I’m sick of doing it all.  Notice a theme in that sentence?  “I’m”  – it’s all about me.  The truth of it is that life isn’t meant to be lived about me.  And the other truth is that in service I can find peace before, during and after the storm.

When focused on my family I actually take the stress off of myself.  So, now comes the challenge for me.  This is what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking that I need to come up with specific focused activities for my kids to do while I am putting dinner together instead of just open play time.  They have lots of open play time during the day already.  I need to anticipate what they are going to need.  Having vegetables cut up and ready for pre-dinner snacking will keep them from whining “I’m hungry”…cause if I hear that one more time…

And for me, the most important thing I can do is have dinner mostly ready so I am not spending an hour in the kitchen as their little tummies growl.  So, it’s back to the planing drawing board.  I’ve decided that I need to schedule some things in my life…including nap time for mom (hey, my nurse told me this is a must for me).

And because I am searching to bring more peace into my household I am turning outside of myself for help.  One of the main places I am searching is you.  Do you have ideas on fun, mostly clean, needing little supervision activities that I can set-up for my kids to do as I put dinner together?  My guys are 3 1/2 and 18 months.  I have been searching Pinterest and finding all kinds of great ideas, but I would really love to hear from those of you in the trenches.

As I create some more structure in my home, I am going to focus on Psalm 23 because let’s face it…this is true peace.  He has it all worked out for me and in that I will find all that I need.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, 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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

10 years

Dear Ones –

As you know, today marks the 10th anniversary of the atrocity that occurred when terrorists took over planes and crashed them or attempted to crash them here in America.  It’s the day that many people lost their lives in unfair circumstances.  It’s a day we all went into shock that something like that could happen to us.  Because on that day all our differences melted away and we were one.  We cried out in shock together.  We held each other and grieved together.  We sat in stunned silence and stared together.  For that day many of us were lost as to what was going on.  We didn’t know what to do or how to react.  We just knew that our lives had changed forever.

For many of us it was a wake-up call.  We, who had never realized before how short life can be suddenly knew how precious and valuable life is.  We knew we needed those around us in a way we had never known it before.

For me this date is the day that I am reminded to hold those I love a little closer.  I am reminded to treasure these fleeting moments for they really are fleeting.  We don’t know what tomorrow or even 10 minutes from now might bring.  I am reminded that I have no control.  Even as James reminds those he writes to in chapter 4 of his letter ‘13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’   Today is a reminder for me that I only have this moment -THIS MOMENT – to live a lifestyle of love.  I have this moment to love my husband.  I have this moment to love my kids.  I have this moment to love my neighbor and I have this moment to love the stranger I see.

This is the moment for me to put off anger and hatred.  This is the moment for me to put off strife and envy.  This is the moment for me to let go of past hurts real or imagined.  This is the moment for me to put on the mantle of peace.  This is the moment I have.  I may never have another moment and I will certainly never have THIS moment again.

And so today as I remember what this day was 10 years ago.  As I remember and pray for those who lost family and friends, I know none of us will ever be the same.  Over our lives tragedy will change us and so will love.  The question remains, what will you become…  Will you become a peacemaker?  Or will you be one who retaliates in anger?   Will you let go of your expectations and live in the moment?  Will you allow your heart to lead you?

In this moment, I choose that I will love.  And I will remember that I have no control on what this life will bring, but I do have control on my heart and actions.   Regardless of the circumstances of life, I can choose to speak in peace and respond in love.  I will also remember that as Hebrews boldly declares in chapter 13:8 -Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I can trust Jesus that He will always be there with me in my moment.  He will be the strength I need to live differently.  He will be the  truth I need to give of myself and be more than I ever thought I could be.  He will be the love I need to really love everyone that comes into my moment.

On September 11, 2001 we asked how this could happen.  We asked how anyone could hate that much.  We asked how God could allow something like this to happen.  Perhaps today we have some of those answers.  Perhaps we don’t.  What we do have is the knowledge that God was with us in that moment.  We know that He weeps that His children could cause each other such pain.  He is with us in these moments and He grieves with us and He holds us close.  He offers the comfort we cannot find on our own and the strength for the next moment.  Turn to Him and find what you need.

And now I am going to go hold my family a little closer.  I am going to walk in the love I have for them more in this moment than I ever have before because I remember.  What are you going to do in your moment as you remember?

Miraculously Blessed –

Jessica

 

The Rote Way to Pray

Dear Ones –

(Disclaimer: After I wrote this one of my readers commented that they were unfamiliar with the word -rote- so, just in case you are… routine; a fixed, habitual, or mechanical course of procedure  from memory, without thought of the meaning; in a mechanical way)

I was without kids for a while today and thought that maybe I would try to catch up with a few people I hadn’t talked to in quite a while.  However it seemed everyone I called today was unavailable.  Which meant I listened to a lot of messages.

As I was listening it struck me that there was a common theme between them all.  And it was more than that they all needed to convey the same message.  They actually said the same thing…”This is so and so.  I’m unavailable right now, but if you leave your name and number I will call you back as soon as I can.”.  It’s like there is a formula for answering messages and so many people just blindly follow the formula.

And I must say that it’s just fine to do that.  Sure some people have messages that make you bored or laugh or just plain wonder what you are listening to, but plain Old Jane still works.  Even my parents answering message works, if you, the listener are willing to listen for a very, very long time…  (One day our #2 got his little fingers on their machine and managed to record several minutes of background talking and his own personal noises.)

Anyway, while I was thinking about message styles I started to think about praying and how some people pray that way too.  Some people pray the same words every day.  I know as parents this can sometimes just happen to you cause you’re teaching your kids to pray and in trying to build the concept you use the same words over and over everyday.  I think mealtime prayers and bedtime prayers are the most common to fall prey to these prayers.  And when you teach your kids to pray it IS the concept that you are trying to teach. (Currently our #1 prays for his little brother’s hurting teeth every night because that is apparently the only nice prayer he could think of to pray in regards to his brother one night and it stuck. “Dear Jesus, Please heal F’s teeth because they’re growing and they hurt him. Thank you Jesus. Amen”)

But what about you?  Have your prayers fallen into the rote rut?  Do you have real conversation with God or are you just praying the same prayers and words everyday?  Have you fallen into the mundane routine that happens when we are just performing our rituals instead of making a point to really talk?

Yes, Jesus did teach the Lord’s Prayer to us.  Yes, those words are life filling and a great starting point to speak with God.  The thing is that Jesus didn’t stop with only those words.  He spoke His whole heart.  He shared and He listened and it was not just tradition; it was beyond.  There are beautiful things about traditional prayers that can take us into a deep place with God.  However, it’s when we heart connect that we are really praying.

After all, in Psalms we are reminded over and over again to make a joyful noise before the Lord (Psalms 66:1, 81:1, 95:1,95:2, 98:4, 98:6, 100:1).    I think this means more than just making noise or saying certain words.  I believe it means to let your heart speak.

The other problem with rote praying is that it can often be mindless.  Rote praying can have happened so many times that we don’t even have to think about the words that are coming out of our mouths.  They just fall out ’cause that is what we are supposed to be saying.  When this happens we are doing an injustice not only to ourselves, but to the prayer itself.  Prayer is a conversation not a recitation.

All this thinking has got me thinking about my prayer time.  How much of it is what I do because it is what I do?  How much is connection?  This is something I want to keep in the forefront of my mind.  I want to remember these thoughts and make changes where things have gotten sleepy.  Want to join me and take a look at yours?  I want to go beyond the concept of prayer time with my kids and begin to work more on specific connection time.  Anybody up for joining me?  I will be interested to see if I see a difference in my life…especially my thought life.  I’m ready to be more consistently full of joyful noise.  Shoot me a note if you want to keep track with me.  I will check in around the first of October and would love to hear any stories you have to share.

I am attaching some pictures from the birthday fun we had earlier this week.  Enjoy!

Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

                            

Another year has flown by…

Dear Ones –

I could honestly write him a three-page love letter every single day.  Everyday it would be filled with things that he does that make me smile or ease my heart pain or just make everything better.

The fact that he loves me in spite of all my faults is a miracle.  The fact that he smiles and pushes me up the stairs at night even though he too is exhausted is a testament to his strength.  The fact that if I need a drink of water or forgot to do something he will go back down and get it or do it for me is a revelation of his patience.

I would really love to spend every moment with him.  I really would love to just hang out doing the laundry and cleaning the house.  I delight in making special meals for him.  He brings me so much joy, how could I not?

And so today I celebrate the man I love.  Happy Birthday Darling.  You are more to me than I will ever be able to put into words.  I look forward to trying to tell you as our years together just keep increasing.  I am more thankful to God this year than I have ever been before because of you.  You are such a reflection of His love for me and it really is seeping into me.  Thank you!

EeEeEeEeEeEeEeEeEeEeEe

Beyond Miraculously Blessed,

Jessica

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