Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goodbye for now!

Next Tuesday the three Drews will land in Johannesburg, South Africa. I don't expect to have time to blog next week (since most of Monday and Tuesday will be spent on planes)!

We look forward to introducing our little man to his family and his many friends in South Africa. 

I hope to drop by my blog with a few updates while away, but I'm not sure if it will happen! We will be back in Tasmania on August 31.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sick of it all?

If you're anything like me, you sometimes get sick of trials. I find myself thinking "I'm tired of this", "I can't do this", "I'm sick of this and I don't want to do it anymore". Often these thoughts come in the context of ordinary duties of life, difficulties and differences between people, and various forms of physical suffering. Today I opened my Bible to a passage that seemed just right for tackling this pattern of thinking.

My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

I love the way the NKJV says you "fall into" trials. It often feels like that - you're going along OK, and then all of a sudden hard things just happen. When they happen, God tells us we can count it joy rather than resenting it. I've made these verses a memory project for today!

House keeping for the glory of God

I have recently realised how easy it is to place keeping house above loving people. I am not implying that having a clean house and loving those who live in it are necessarily in conflict! However, I have some serious physical limitations due to a back injury and sometimes I just don't have the strength to do all I want in my home. Recently I've found it easy to resent the mess that people inevitably create. When I do this I'm forgetting that my home and everything in it are to serve people. Nothing in my home matters eternally except the people who walk through its doors. If welcoming and loving people means that at times my house is not even the slightest bit neat, that should be OK. Often, I want my house to be neat and clean because I like it that way. My motive is self, not the glory of God or the good of other people. In the context of this, I've appreciated revisiting Lindsay's blog post Serving vs. Enjoying Our Families. As Christian wives, mothers and homemakers our most important work is to create and maintain loving, joyful and vibrant relationships with our families and our God, and from that place to reach out into our churches and communities. When we do prioritise these things, and use our homes to serve and enjoy people, our  house keeping can glorify God.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Have you noticed that it is the so called "minor" sins that cause the most unhappiness and tension in your life? I have. My anger, discontentment, frustration, anxiety, pride etc. lead to countless unhappy moments (in my life and the lives of others) that need never occur if I learn to conquer these sins. They stop me from loving others, and God, as I should. Respectable Sins looks at these sins (and many others) in the light of the Bible and the gospel. It is the continuing presence of these types of sins in my life that continually reminds me of my need for Jesus. Yes, I'm still a sinner and I can't change on my own! I need God's help, and continually need the forgiveness of sin that only comes through Jesus. I am only half way through this book, but already want to recommend it! You can read a review at Ligonier Ministries.  

Keep smiling!

Elnathan has become more interactive and is giving us more smiles! We can't wait to see him smiling at Gran and Gramps in South Africa.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Talks by Carolyn Mahaney

Visit Sovereign Grace Resource Library to download excellent talks for free! I have listened to several of them, and found them to be challenging and encouraging.

Is that a smile?

Elnathan has several smiles for us each day now, but they are hard to capture in photos!

Growing with the kids

Growth Spurts! is an encouraging post about having a godly attitude to changes in your children.

If I pray for a growth spurt, for ideas on how to help them, to make this a fun new phase, and to appreciate their new needs, then the change on my part usually clears up a lot of things! I am not saying that this eliminates the need for discipline, but it makes it gloriously clear cut and sweet. My attitude is no longer a player, and it is no longer a big “situation” but just normal life.

I have already found it challenging to adjust to changes in Elnathan - and he is only nine weeks old (ten tomorrow!).

Hospitality tips

I've enjoyed a few posts on hospitality on the True Woman blog. Check out Making Things a Little Easier for some hospitality ideas. I also enjoyed the comments section on this post, and made my own comment about some of our hospitality adventures! We have had lots of people over in the last few weeks, and sometimes I've had to choose not to worry about the state of my house. If I was going to wait until my home was clean to invite people over, it would probably never happen - unless we hired a cleaner!

Early morning fun

Getting Elnathan ready to go!

Elnathan's travel cot came yesterday. We purchased a Kinderkot, which looks like a little baby tent! Since we will be moving around a lot while we are in South Africa, we needed something that was easy to put up and down.

There is lots to think about when travelling with a baby!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning to be content

Last week I visited BabyWorld and spied a nappy bag called "Traveller". Dave, baby and I are heading to South Africa in three weeks, so I took a closer look. The bag was fantastic, much better than our hand-me-down nappy bag. Wow! $100 seemed reasonable for this amazing baby accessory. I thought . . . I work hard and this would make life easier . . . when we're spending so much on airfares what is $100 to make the trip go more smoothly . . . I've spent so little on baby things so far, don't I have the right to choose some of my own things? I went home hatching a plan for how I could persuade Dave that this really was the best ever nappy bag and we should have it. 

Fast forward two days, and it dawned on me that it was ridiculous to want to replace a perfectly good nappy bag with a better one in order to travel to a country where people make homes out of political posters (and whatever else they can find). I was reminded of Zukiswa's comments on the recent South African elections:

After today my street lights will not be littered by mugs of politicians and parties. The posters will however become useful elsewhere. I have noticed in the past that they tend to come in handy for some of my enterprising fellow-citizens (I am thinking here of an old poster that I saw in some informal settlement some months back covering the dwellers from the summer rain. The poster said, Vote ANC, A Better Life for All.)

I am not saying there is anything wrong with fantastic nappy bags. However, there is something wrong with the desire to replace good, sufficient things with better ones. This goal is what our consumer society is built upon. It leads to greed and waste, and diverts money that could be used for God's kingdom. I don't have a hard life and I don't have a "right" to have better things.

God has used a few things to drive home this reminder not to be covetous. One is the ABC sampler I'm making for Elnathan's room. The verse on the sampler reads ". . . For one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Luke 12:15b". There is a picture of a flourishing garden and a home, basic things and places that sustain us. 

Secondly, God used 1 John 2:15 - 17 to remind me that chasing after possessions is not godly. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but from the world.And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Femina blog has several articles about contentment. I find that it is easy to be discontent about many things - from the amount of time it takes me just to do the laundry, feed Elnathan or wash up, to the behaviour of people close to me, to my level of knowledge and mental ability. Just about anything can become something to be discontent about. A prayer in the Valley of Vision  reminds me that it is how we respond to our circumstances, not those circumstances themselves, that matters . . . "may my character and not my circumstances chiefly engage me." This is just one aspect of the long journey toward truly trusting God. Do I trust God that he has provided me with enough possessions, ability, knowledge, health etc. for this time in my life? Not yet, but I pray that I will.

Monday, July 6, 2009

An advertisement for midwifery

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

I love this book. It prompts me to pray in ways that I otherwise would not know how to pray. It helps me to think of God as I ought, reminding me of truths about who he is. It challenges me in regard to my sin, and leads me to call upon God for greater faith and obedience. I not only enjoy reading the prayers aloud and making them my own, but also using them as starting points for my own prayers. On many occasions parts of the prayers have come to mind as I lay in bed or went about my work. I  have worked on committing some to memory. Today parts of the prayer "Openness" (those sections in bold) have reminded me to pray for a life that is focused on things that will matter eternally:

Lord of immortality
Before whom angels and archangels veil their faces,
enable me to serve thee with reverence and godly fear.
Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts,
help me to worship thee in spirit and in truth.
Thou who art righteous,
let me not harbour sin in my heart,
or indulge a worldly temper
or seek satisfaction in things that perish.
I hasten towards an hour
when all earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain,
when it will be indifferent whether I have been rich or poor,
successful or disappointed,
admired or despised.
But it will be of eternal moment that I have mourned for sin,
hungered and thirsted after righteousness,
loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity,
gloried in his cross.
May these objects engross my chief solicitude!
Produce in me those principles and dispositions
that make thy service perfect freedom.
Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame,
so that with firmness and courage I may
confess the redeemer before men,
go forth with him bearing his reproach,
be zealous with his knowledge,
be filled with his wisdom,
walk with his circumspection,
ask counsel of him in all things,
repair to the Scriptures for his orders,
stay my mind on his peace,
knowing that nothing can befall me
without his permission, appointment and administration.