Friday, September 13, 2013

Three Things Single Women Should Know

After a two month hiatus I'm finally back writing. Not long after my last post my mother ended up in the hospital twice in as many weeks. One of those times was because she had another stroke. We were lucky with that...again. This stroke it almost seemed that her reset button was hit. She's not like she was before her first stroke, but she's better. After that few week period, I just didn't get back on to write, but God has laid on my heart something that I want to get out.

Recently I pre-ordered the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph and received 10 free ebooks (to learn more about this book and the gifts you can go here). One of the ebooks is Single Girl by Ashley Schnarr. I haven't read much of it yet, in fact I'm only in the first chapter but I have understood somethings already by just skimming through some of the book. I have come to the conclusion of three things that I believe every single woman needs to know and they all tie in together.

1: Marriage won't complete you. You can be just as lonely in a marriage as you can being single. Marriage isn't the answer to all our problems. If we want to be complete then we need to turn to God. God is the only One who can make us complete, no matter if we are single, married, have children or are childless. He's our completion whether we are 18 and full of curiosity about the world or the wizened old age of 90. That will never change.

2: People can put pressure on us to marry, even when they don't realize it. Don't listen. The only one that we need to worry about listening to and attuning ourselves to is, you guessed it, God. Being single is not wrong or sinful. Not everyone will marry. Not everyone is supposed to. I know it's hard when all you want is to have a husband to love and children to raise. I know what it's like to stare that dream in the eye and wonder if it will ever come true. God's timing, and His plan are greater than our wants. Sometimes that means giving up our deepest earthly desires. Remember though to "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart" Psalms 37:4. When we do, we might be surprised at what our hearts desire truly is for it may not be marriage but to know God more.

3: Be content no matter what by focusing on God. Having contentment has nothing to do with the situation we are in or what is going on around us. Contentment is found fully in focusing and relying on God. Philippians 4:11-13 gives us the secret: We can be content because Christ give us the strength for it. Proverbs 3:5, 6 also tells us how: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Contentment is really a choice, just like joy. We can chose to trust God and lean on Him to give us the means to be content, or we can rely on ourselves and end up miserable.

Truly though, all three of these can boil down to one thing: focus on God. I know I struggle with this at times. I focus on myself, my job situation, my family's health, my wants and desires. I have found when I am most miserable is when my focus shifts from God to me. I'm most at peace when I keep focused on God.

Just a few thoughts and encouragement for us women for I know I need it too.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Doing Something Different

I did something strange today. Well, at least strange for me. I read the sports section of the newspaper. I've never been a huge sports fan. I generally let others tell me what's happening in the world of sports with our local pro sports teams, but lately, I've been following the St Louis Cardinals very closely. I've always liked the Cardinals. I enjoy going to the games, though I rarely do. I've always rooted for them to win, but hadn't closely paid attention to them unless they were in a championship series. At that point I would become glued to the t.v. or computer to keep up with the Red Birds. This season, however, I have changed. I have become a Cardinals fanatic. I can't always watch the games, or keep tabs on them, but I never miss the highlights that has. I've watched the emergence of Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig who are 2 of the 6 Birds in the All Star game. I have groaned with the fans when Mitchell Boggs went from great closer to being traded after not performing, and watched the rise of the Chief: Edward Mujica. I even made it a point to go to a game this year (it had been 5 years since I had been to a game mainly because I won't go alone). I got tickets for my father and I to go to Christian Day at the Ball Park on July 7th and we both had a blast. I loved watching our guys play, and win, against the Marlins. I even got to get some decent pictures of some of my favorite players. The more I watch the Red Birds, and the more I learn about the players, the more respect I have for not only the guys, but the organization in general. They are a group of men who give back to the community. They love this city and love to play for us. There is even a strong Christian presence on the team from the up and coming players such as Trevor Rosenthal to the ace pitcher Adam Wainwright to the manager himself Mike Matheny. There have been many ups and downs with this club. There has also been some speculation in the past that they wouldn't be as great of a club with loosing two key people. One thing that I have learned from them is to never count them out until the game is over. I saw that last year after Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa left the team. A lot of people thought we wouldn't get as far as we did with out them.
Yes, I am a Cardinals fan. I love my team, I respect the guys, but most of all I have learned some life lessons from them: don't be ashamed of who I am and never give up.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I am Aunt Jojo

Taped to the top of my desk at home I have a picture my nephew drew me. My sister has 5 kids, 2 daughters and 3 sons. They are always making pictures and drawing scenes for my parents, but rarely do they do that for me. My 6 year old nephew and my 7 year old niece do though. I came home from work one day to a picture in my recliner and a strong recommendation from my mother to let my nephew know that Aunt Jojo did indeed received his picture. Apparently he was afraid that I wouldn't get it and told my mother several times to make sure she gave it to me. I taped it to my desk so that every time I look at my desk (which is a lot) I am reminded that though I am not Nana, Bupbup (my father) or my nephew's parents I am still special to this special little boy. Every time I look at it I smile and know that I am loved by a child- not just him though, all of his siblings. I just don't get the pictures that my parents do. I do, however, have 4 children run at me full speed when they see me. The youngest is not yet at the age where he can do that with all the others. I am reminded every time I look at not only this picture, but one his sister gave me, that they love having me around. This is a different type of love, a special love, between an aunt and her nieces and nephews. I have a special bond with all of them, though my 7 year old niece is attached to my hip when I'm around. I love this reminder I have from my nephew. It helps to ward off my "woe is me" moments when I want to feel sorry for myself that I am not a wife and mother. I am something different and unique. I am Aunt Jojo.

"I love you Jojo you are very special to me I love Jojo"

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Life is hectic. Sometimes a bit overwhelming. Life has been that way the last week or two for me. Looking for a new job, maybe starting a side business, trying to get time to write up devotionals to go with some patterns I have, and write out other patterns I've done are just a few of the things that have been on my plate recently, not to mention still keeping up with my family and getting time alone with God. The last one is the most important one to have, but the one I'm most likely to put on the back burner with every excuse that you can think of. "Only for today, I'll read twice as much of my bible tomorrow"..."I don't have enough hours with work and family to squeeze in any "alone" time and I know God understands"..."I'm just too tired to read my bible and pray"..."I have hats I need to finish for my one friend, I can't put that off any longer" and they keep coming. But what does that really say about me? Even Jesus found time to go to a secluded place to pray and he was always surrounded by people who vied for His attention (Mark 1:35 and Luke 4:42 to name just a few spots). One thing that learning about the Proverbs 31 woman is helping me to see is that life is busy, but having our priorities in the right order is necessary. She "burns the midnight oil". Sometimes it feels more like burning the candle at both ends. Sure does give off a lot of light, but only for half as long. We are made to work, but not to wear ourselves out. I'm also learning that sometimes I get overwhelmed with life because I'm working for immediate results and not willing to be patient and wait. What do I mean by this? Well, for example, I've been lead to write a book. I've barely started and I'm already wondering why I don't even have the first chapter written down. I have it outlined (yes, I know, something I learned in school really did come in handy. I never thought that I would actually need to use an outline outside of the classroom). I get discouraged just thinking about how little I have done and how much there is to do. I want it finished NOW. With everything, priorities and goals need to be set. We are going to have busy lives, there will be times when we are worn out. We need to put the most important things first, work for a goal, and not be hasty in things. But most of all, make sure that we put God first and in all things seek Him.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

An Excellent Wife, A Godly Woman

I decided to do a summer bible study with several other women on Proverbs chapter 31, how to be an excellent wife. I started this study for a few reasons, I wanted to stay connected through the summer with some women that I love to learn from, I want to know how to be a Proverbs 31 wife if I ever have the opportunity to be one, and I want to see if there is anything for a single woman to learn from this chapter, even if she never marries. The first few days were fine for me. It was just about King Lemuel and what it takes to be a great king. Then came day 4, Proverbs 31:10.

"An excellent wife, who can find? 
For her worth is far above jewels"

Okay, I agree with this one wholeheartedly. An excellent wife (or noble in the NIV translation) is a rare jewel in any circle that you may run in, especially in our society today. I was doing good until I read these verses:

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband" (Proverbs 12:4)
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the LORD." (Proverbs 18:22)

I got to thinking. Sometimes that is a dangerous thing for me to do. I got to thinking maybe I'm not good enough to be a wife or mother. I got to thinking that maybe I'm not worthy of being a gift. Like I said, sometimes things that get me thinking are dangerous. I know better. I really do. So I did something about it. I prayed. I even wrote my prayer out so that when I feel like this again I can go back to it and read my thoughts, my hearts longing, and remember that I am from God. I am right where He wants and needs me to be. I want to share that prayer since I know that I'm not the only person who struggles with being singly satisfied.

Oh Lord, God of creation, I was created, knit together for a reason. I'm here and alive, though I should not have lived past a year. My heart aches. Studying Proverbs 31 shows me I have a long way to go to be a good woman, a Godly woman worthy of being called a gift from God. So many women strive to be an excellent wife. I know my season right now is one of singleness but even then, learning how to be an excellent wife can teach me how to be a Godly woman. Even if I am never blessed with a husband, I am still a gift from the Lord. I am a gift to those around me- my family and my friends. My greatest dream has always been to be a wife and a mother: two things that are sacred and holy. I know that even if my dreams do not come to fruition, as long as my gaze stays on You and You alone, I am right where I need to be. Surrendering my greatest dreams may be the hardest emotional journey that I alone can make, but being in Your will is the greatest destination. I know that You have plans in motions specifically for me. I may never know on this side of Heaven what my journey will do, for me or for others. Like Isaiah, when he was asked who will go, my response is "Here am I Lord". I'm here to be used for Your glory and honor. I'm here to do Your will. I'm willing to go on the journey even if I can only see the next step. My fears, my worries, my anxieties- many as they are, I give to You. Here am I Lord, send me where You will.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Through The Storms

Hunkered down in a room in the basement, the only room in the whole house without windows, listening to the wind, rain and hail pound on the building. The sound of water rushing in the basement right underneath the front door from the shear force of the winds outside. The winds so loud you would almost swear there were planes flying low to the ground, or train tracks right outside your house. This is what it's like to have a tornado come at you. This is what it's like wondering if you will still have a house in 5 minutes. This is the sound of Spring in the Midwest. Not a beautiful sounds, but fearful. 
Damage is done

There is devastation

But there is still hope. Yes, a 32 mile long path of an EF 2/EF 3 tornado was forged in Missouri hitting my neighborhood...again. We are no strangers to tornadoes. We even had another one hit two years ago in almost the same path. Both times damage, great damage, was done, but there is still hope. Hope found in delicate flowers that lived through 100+ mph winds, tiny baby bunnies who survived the rain and hail, and knowing that though the winds swirl around us, the rain pours out in sheets and hail is hurled at us, we are on a foundation that cannot be shaken. We are to be like the wise builder in Matthew 7:24-27. For when we have our foundation in Jesus, "the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock" (v 25). Trust in God through the storm.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gleaning from Gideon

I must admit, I'm behind on my bible reading. I'm supposed to be through 2 Samuel and ready to start 1 Kings, but I'm in the middle of Judges. I've never read through the whole book of Judges (ashamedly I've never read through the whole bible-but that's my goal this year) and I find the book of Judges very fascinating. I recently was reading about Gideon and how God used him to free the people of Israel from the Midianites. I've read this story many times. I've even taught this in my Sunday School class many times. I know the story very well. I thought I had known it so well that I had gotten all that I would get from it. I was wrong. This last time I read the story of Gideon I saw a few things that I had never noticed before, and I love the lessons that I have learned from his story.

Lessons Gideon can teach us:

1: I have learned that God will call whom He wills, regardless of status. Gideon was not only the youngest son in his family, but his family was the least of the tribe of Manasseh (6:15). The youngest son was not the most respected in biblical times. He was often given the menial tasks that the others didn't want to do. Gideon was truly a "least of these" man, but God called him anyway.

2: Gideon doubted that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and was given the opportunity to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the angel of God (6:17-24)

3: Gideon had fear, but faced it. He was told to tear down the alter of Baal and the Asherah (a grove or pole) beside the alter. He did this at night for fear of the people. When day came and people saw what had been done, it was Joash, Gideon's father, who stood up for Gideon telling the people that if Baal was a god, let him take retribution over Gideon (6:28-31).

4: Gideon also had trust issues. He asked God twice to show that God was with him, and both times God granted the request (6:36-40).

5: But the biggest thing to learn from Gideon is that he DID trust God and obeyed Him, even when the odds were against him. God had Gideon dwindle the army down from 32,000 soldiers to 300 (7:1-8). Think about that for a minute. Huge Midian army, and only 300 men to fight them. Odds were definitely against Gideon, but he persevered and overcame and defeated the Midianites, with only the 300 men.

What I took away from reading about Gideon this time was that we are all human, but God is God and He is with us. We will have doubts, we will have fears, we may even have some trust issues, but if we put all of that aside and continually seek God and His will, we will overcome, even if you are one of the "least of these".

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Excursion into Single Savviness

For  a while know I've been wondering something. I've been wrestling with the fact that I'm in my 30's and never been married. I don't mind the never been married part much, but what I've been wondering about is how a single woman fits into the church. Throughout history, women have been married at young ages with the primary role of being a wife and mother. Though the role of wife and mother is sacred (what better way to shape the world than to be a mother?), there has to be something for us too. Something for those who have either never been called to marriage, or have yet to be blessed in marriage. The resources for us are slim, almost none, when it comes to how a single christian woman can fulfill a place in the body of Christ. Most of the books and websites out there are about how to find a spouse, or how to be fulfilled while you wait for a husband. But what about us who may never marry? What is our role? Are we to just sit on the sidelines and be forgotten? Sometimes that's how it feels. That we are the last ones picked for the team, that we are the forgotten or overlooked, or even, dare I type it, defective. Don't worry, we are none of those. God is out constant companion. We are to get our fulfillment from Him no matter what stage in life or circumstances we are in. I have been called on a spiritual journey to find out how I, a single christian woman, can make a difference. Hopefully my journey will help other women, and even men, who are in the same boat as me.

For a while I have had God telling me to look into this. For some time I have been putting it off. It is kind of frightening, breaking through the overgrowth of a path long forgotten to get to the truth that has been put aside. I had almost given up on going on this journey until I was talking to my sister about how discouraging it was to not have any places of encouragement for people like me. How that in and of itself is extremely discouraging. I was telling her of all the blogs I've come across that are written by christian women are geared to being a wife and mother. Once again, don't get me wrong, those two roles are extremely sacred and wonderful roles to be in. But once again I felt...forgotten. My sister looked my straight in the eyes and said "Why don't you do something about it?" Wow. Yeah. Me? No way I can do that.

Then God laughed. He has such a good sense of humor. He giggled and told me "My daughter, what does Philipians 4:10-13 say?" Oh boy. Of course, one of my favorite bible passages. Paul, a single man who devoted his life to teaching the gentiles about Jesus, wrote that in every situation he is in, he knows how to be content. He knows how to be content because God gives him the strength. So my worrying over what I come across in my studies, how to write what I learn, how to encourage people along the way, it's all really me not trusting God to be faithful to complete the work He began in me (that is also from Philipian, but in chapter 1).

So now with the knowledge that I indeed can do all things through Christ because He gives me the strength my journey begins.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Laodicea, a city that was neither "hot nor cold", a city that God Himself threatened to vomit out (spew out) if they did not repent. They depended on their own wealth, not seeing how in need they were. Sound familiar? I thought so too. Western Culture fits this description to a T. I'm someone right in the middle of Western Culture, fortunate enough to be in a place where people are still fighting for God. I'm also in a place where I see the struggle, I feel the struggle, sometimes I am the struggle between God and myself. We are Laodicea

In Revelation 3:14-22 Laodicea is given a letter:

 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”  (NASB)

This letter seems bleak. After all, being spit out of God's mouth is not the way I'd choose to be remembered. Being lackadaisical, not producing fruit, not showing people who God is, that's what this church was being chastised for. They forgot God! They decided to not depend on Him. They relied on their own abilities thinking that they were good, they were fine, maybe even starting to think that God was not needed or no longer there? Just maybe?

How often do we forget that God is here? That we do need Him? That life not worshiping God is no life at all. We try to fulfill our lives with stuff. We live in a society that promotes materialism as being the path to happiness. But does it truly? No, it does not. I've worked retail, and I work currently in a retentions department for a cell phone company. I see and hear every day how only the latest and greatest new technological device is the only thing that will make people happy. I honesty feel sorry for them. They will be as miserable with their new toy as they were before. Oh there's a period where they are happier, but the honeymoon is soon over. We rely on our wealth to save us, just like Laodicea.

There's good news here though: if we start relying on God, like the church in China or Korea, or any other country where it's illegal to be a Christian, we can see ourselves for what we are. We are poor, we are unable to provide anything without God providing it for us. We are blind to the needs of those around us. I love what verses 21 and 22 state: God knocking, requesting to be a part of your life. Waiting for us to hear Him, wanting to not only dine with us, but to be with Him in Heaven. Are you willing to open the door, heed His voice? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prayers Squared: The Twelve Tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

yarn: 4 ply ww yarn
hook: I/9
tapestry needle to weave in ends
Special Stitches: Bullion (BN8): wrap yarn around hook 8 times, insert hook in sp indicated, yo, pull up a loop, yo pull through 8 loops, yo, pull through remaining 2 loops.

Finished size: 6x6” square

rnd 1: Start with a magic loop, ch 3, 11 dc in loop, sl st to top of ch-3, pull tail to tighten loop (12 dc)

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in next st *(2dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, dc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, sl st to top of ch-3 (24 dc)

Rnd 3: Ch 3, BN8 in next st, ch 2, sk 2 sts, *(2 BN8, ch 2, 2 BN8) in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 sts**, BN8 in next 2 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, and to ** once more, BN8 in same sp as beginning ch-3 sl st to top of first BN8 (24 BN8, 8 ch-2 sps, not counting the corner sps)

Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in same st, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, sc in next 2 sts *(3 sc, ch 2, 3 sc) in ch-2 sp, [sc in next 2 sts, 3 sc in ch-2 sp] twice, sc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, (3 sc, ch 2, 3 sc) in ch-2 sp, sc in next 2 sts, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, sc in nect st, sl st to first sc (72 sc)

Rnd 5: Ch 2, hdc in the next 8 sts * (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in ch-2 sp, hdc in the next 18 sts * repeat from * to * 2 more times, (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in ch-2 sp, hdc in next 9 sts, sl st to top of ch-2 (88 hdc).

Fasten off, weave in ends.

© Copyright May 2013 by JM Jones, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying—without the written permission of JM Jones. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit JM Jones as the designer.

I sat down at my computer today wanting to write about the twelve tribes of Israel, and how they were important during key times in the history of Israel, and all I did was sit. I had a little research done, had some information on the importance of the number 12 in the bible, but there I sat. No words of wisdom, no stories of strength, no enlightening encouragement to be had. So I went and got a glass of milk-my current favorite beverage-and finish cleaning up dinner to just give me a few minutes to collect my thought. It did not work. So I sit here once again trying to come up with something to say about the tribes, like how there is no tribe of Joseph, but instead his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, have the tribal status. How, In the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, Gad, Reuben, and half of the tribe of Manasseh requested to have land west of the Jordan River, and was granted the land, but still were required to help the other tribes conquer Canaan. Or how still having only twelve tribes, though there are 13 titles tribes (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Asher, Issachar, Gad, Zebulun, Dan, Judah, Naphtali, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh) only 12 were given land, The tribe of Levi was not given land because they were the priests and all over the area (the distribution of the land is in Numbers 34 and starting in Joshua 13). the tribes were separate, yet worked and fought together to conquer the Promise Land. They were not a perfect people, they wandered the desert for 40 years while a generation died off after only 2 of 12 men reported truth about the land (Numbers 13:23-33). They were God's chosen people who are yet to have 144,000 sealed, 12,000 from each tribe according to Revelation 7:4-8. Israel as a whole has been through captivity, destruction, terror from rulers, yet were given blessings from God when they remembered Him and obeyed His commandments. That's a great lesson to learn from Israel: When God is your focus, you have plenty of blessings. Take your eyes off of God at your own peril, turn back to Him when you see you are not focused on Him.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Noteworthy Life

As the day ends today, I sit back reflecting on the past few years while I start a new year in life. Today is my birthday, another year older, another year (hopefully) wiser but not a lot to show for it. That got me thinking, and honestly a little depressed. After all, what have I really done that's noteworthy the last few years?
I know that I have a lot left in life that I can accomplish, and as long as it's a Kingdom perspective, that's all that matters. The other day, however, while I was evaluating my life I became very depressed. In fact I did something that I never do-I cried. I was desperate to find something that I have done to leave a mark. After all, I'm not the typical woman anyway you want to look at it. I'm not a "career girl", I don't have a husband or children, I have only an Associates degree for education. I'm not going to win any popularity contest anytime soon and even work isn't going so great right now, so what have I been doing that is noteworthy?
Then it hit me as I was teaching my Sunday School class. We are doing a study on the first 11 chapters of Genesis and right now we are on chapter 9, before the tower of babble, but after Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth, plus their wives, had come of the Ark. It was only a short segment on how God values human life, but it was enough to bring me out of my funk. One of the verses we cross-referenced with Genesis 9:6 was Psalm 139:13-16:

For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

A set of verses that I had known most of life. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He has my days ordained for me. He knows what I am made to do. All I have to do is trust Him. Let Him lead me. A radical thought of not letting myself get in the way of God. How simple a solution! How hard to actually do.
Then, today, I had another epiphany. I was reading the book Follow Me by David Platt. I'm only in the first chapter, but oh the insight I have gained! I'm not doing what I'm supposed to as a Christian. I'm not making disciples. Not as Jesus wanted us to do. Yes, I teach Sunday School. Yes I try to influence my nieces and nephews and point them to God. Yes I work hard to do as the Bible commands, but I'm not being a missionary in my mission field. But all of that is a blog for a different day. Right now I'm just basking in the light of God. Taking in the truths He's shown me. Learning to trust Him even if it's a day by day, minute by minute, second by second decision. This lady does not want to be a lukewarm Christian, but someone willing to stand up for truth and what's right. When that is accomplished, life is noteworthy. When seeking God's kingdom is my first priority (Matthew 6:33), everything else fades away. For in God I can show love. In God I can show mercy. In God, I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Eagles and Geese

When I was in high school I remember going on a youth retreat where the theme for the weekend was Eagles and Geese, and how as Christians we are to be like eagles and geese. These two concepts may seem mutually exclusive but are not necessarily so. When I see eagles, I always see them high in the sky and alone: always soaring, and very majestic. Geese are different. They move in groups and are seen on their migration packs in a V formation and move in a flock, never really alone. So, how are we to be like both of these birds?
In Isaiah 40:27 Isaiah asks the question

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
To me this verse speaks of the pain of being alone, of feeling alone. There are times when we may be physically surrounded by people, but feel alone; feel as if there’s no one we can go to, and no one we can rely on except ourselves. Isaiah refutes the theory that we are always alone having only ourselves and our strength to rely on. The rest of the passage states that we have God! By ourselves we cannot do it, we do not have the strength and the fortitude to persevere (verse 30), but through God and His strength we will (verse 28, 29, 31). Isaiah tells us in verse 28 that He is the everlasting God, in 29, He grants strength to those who need it, and in 31 that He will make us soar like eagles. 
Sometimes we are also asked to stand alone, be the only voice of truth. The same concept applies. We are not alone, we are not called to bear the burden alone, but through God and His strength we will make it. Verse 31 is one of my favorite verses, it’s a promise that God will not leave us or forsake us but be the wind beneath our wings and the power that we soar majestically on. 
But also, we are to be there and bear the burdens of others. Have you ever watched geese fly when they migrate? The fly in a V formation, the bird in front doing the majority of the work, making a path through the sky for the rest of the geese making it easier to fly, especially the further back in the V the bird is. When the lead bird gets tired, he moves to the back of the V and another bird automatically takes the lead. In the back of the V, the bird is not flying on his strength, but the strength of the birds before him. Romans 15:1-7 talks about this:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 
“Bear with the failings of the weak”. I love that phrase. I know I feel like I’ve failed when my strength gives out. I feel like I haven’t given my all or tried hard enough. But that’s what the friends I have around me are for. They aren’t there to complain to, but to be the shoulder, to tell me that I’m loved, to edify and encourage me when there is nothing left but feelings of failings as verse 2 tells us to do. Christ was our perfect example with this. Christ took on all of our failings, all of our sins (and feeling like you’ve failed when you ran out of your strength is a sin because we did not rely on God) when he died on the cross. He gave us the eternal supernatural strength that we need, and this strength can come through our fellow Christians, our Sister’s, lifting us up and encouraging us. I won’t lie, there are times when we are the lead bird, bearing the brunt of the burdens of others. I have also found out that most of us prefer to be the lead bird, it’s our comfort spot, but God in His infinite wisdom gave us a way to recover and recoup from the brunt of the work. There are times when we need to let someone else lead and lift our wings for us, to be our strength. God does not expect us to live off of our strength alone, but by the edification of Him and His word, and the others around us.

Bible verses taken from the NIV

Monday, April 8, 2013

Prayers Squared: Gleaning Wheat

Gleaning Wheat

Materials: 4 ply WW yarn
Hook size: I/9 5.5 mm

Special Stitches:
Bullion (BN8): wrap yarn around hook 8 times, insert hook in sp indicated, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 8 loops on hook, yo, pull through remaining 2 loops.

Finished dimensions: 6x6 square

Special notes: The rounds all start with the corner, this is accomplished by doing a hdc into the top of the starting ch-3 for each round instead of a ch 2, sl st to top of starting ch. Beginning ch 3 counts as a dc throughout pattern.

Start with Magic loop
Rnd 1: Ch 3, 2 dc in loop, *ch 2, 3 dc in loop* repeat from * to * three times, hdc to top of ch3. 12 dc, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st (around the hdc), *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next st**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch-3. 24 dc, 4 BN, 4 ch2 sp

Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same st, *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3 sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next st**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch3. 36 dc, 8 BN, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in same st, *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3 sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next st **, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch3. 48 dc, 12 BN, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 5: Ch 2, hdc in same sp, hdc in each st around working (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in each corner sp, 2 hdc in last half of the first corner, ch 2, sl st to top of ch2. 19 hdc per side= 76 hdc, 4 ch-2 sps

© Copyright March 2013 by JM Jones, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying -- without the written permission of JM Jones. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit JM Jones as the designer.

The book of Ruth is one of my favorite books in the bible. There is so much one can glean about Jesus in this short book! Ruth, a woman from Moab, followed her mother-in-law Naomi to the town of Bethlehem in Judea after the death of Ruth's husband, Naomi's son. In Bethlehem, Ruth started gleaning barley from the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi's late husband. Boaz eventual became the kinsman redeemer for Ruth and Naomi, a picture of what Jesus would later become for us. According to*, a kinsman redeemer is a close family member who "has the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a family member who was in trouble, danger or need", someone who buys back or redeems a debt. This would include marrying the widow of a close family member, which Boaz did in the case of Ruth. By Boaz marrying Ruth, he gave her protection, and a safe place to live. But oh what a picture this is of Jesus!

Jesus paid our debt on the cross, He suffered and was forsaken by His Father so that the chasm between God and man would be bridged. Jesus redeemed us, he paid a price for us, so that we may once again know fellowship with God. Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi when he married Ruth. Jesus (or redeemer) redeemed us when He died on the cross for our sin debt.

The thing that I think is really cool about the story of Boaz and Ruth is not just the picture of the Messiah seen, but how that fits into the lineage of the Messiah. After Ruth married Boaz, they had a son named Obed, father of Jesse, grandfather to King David. Ruth, a woman from Moab, was chosen to be in the lineage of Jesus.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What does love look like?

Jesusknowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”  Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:3-8

I love this passage in John 13. This passage alone shows not only what it means to be a Christian, but what we need to allow to be one. Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, doing work that is considered servants and below His status, because He wanted to teach the disciples another lesson. Even knowing His time to die was near, He took time to show humility and love.

How does washing someones feet show love?

Well, you know how your feet look when you walk on a dirt path in the Summer barefoot? Imagine that, but worse. Feet so dust covered from walking everywhere in sandals that probably didn't cover the whole foot that just swirling them around in water would only make the dirt stick more to the feet instead of cleaning them. This is the type of cleaning that is not just gently wiping off the dust, but actually scrubbing off the dust to make the feet clean. I don't know about you, but I don't like to clean off dusty anything from someone. For me it is a true act of love to wash off my nephews hands, legs, and arms when he comes in the house during the warm months after playing in the dirt.

It's an act of putting someone else's need before your own not because it's your duty or job, but because you love them. That's what we are to do as Christians, that is what people should see in us-that we are willing to put ourselves aside to take care of a need of someone else...willingly. When people get curious enough, then we can tell them the core of our love for others is rooted in Jesus.

The other thing this symbolizes is how Jesus washes away our sins. for we need to be washed in Jesus to have our sins forgiven and be a part of Jesus, one of the joint heirs with Jesus.

Love: putting others needs ahead of yours. That's what Jesus did not only with washing the feet of His disciples, but with washing us free of our sin.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Hope that does not Disappoint

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  Romans 5:1-5
Have you ever read, really read Romans 5:1-5? I love the progression in these verses. This passage starts off with peace with God, and ends with hope. Just the first two verses of Romans 5 alone show that the chasm between God an man has been bridged: through Jesus, by our faith into His grace. Hope comes next. Hope in the glory of God. Our hope for our future. But we don't live in the future, we live in the present. Before we have the glory of God, we live here, work here, play here, celebrate here, and even suffer here. This is where the progression of this passage is great-for we still have hope!

We will suffer, yes, but we can exult in our trials and tribulation. What happens when we "exult in our tribulations" we begin the progression that ends in hope. Hard times teach us to overcome. Overcoming shows our character as a Christian, it proves who we are. Our character gives hope. Hope to not just us, but to those around us who see this progression lived out. And do you know what hope doesn't do? Hope does not disappoint. Our hope, when properly placed in Jesus, will not disappoint us. It won't disappoint us because of the Holy Spirit. Verse 5 states that "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts". God's love is in us already because of the grace we have through Jesus, which is our hope, and hope does not disappoint.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Prayers Squared: Castle Wall

Castle Wall

Size: 6” square
Hook: I/9 5.50 mm
Yarn: Worsted Weight TLC
Special stitches:
Puff st (puff): (yo, insert hook in st (or sp) indicated, yo pull up a loop) three times, yo pull through all 7 loops on hook, ch 1 to close

Pattern notes: if you are using a lighter weight yarn, you may have to fortify the castle wall by repeating rnd 5 until you have a large enough square to make 6” with rnd 6

Rnd 1: Ch 4, 11 dc in 4th ch from hook (starting ch 3 counts as first dc now and throughout), sl st to top of ch3. 12 dc

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in each st around. 24 dc

Rnd 3: Ch 1, (2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc) in same st, *sc in next 5 st**, (2 sc, ch 2, 2 sc) in next st*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, sl st to first sc. 36 sc, 4 ch2 sp

Rnd 4: Sl st to ch2 sp, ch 3 (dc, ch2, 2dc) in ch 2 sp *(sk next st, puff in next st) to last st before corner, sk last st,** (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, sl st to top of ch3. 16 dc, 16 puffs 4 ch-2 sps

Rnd 5: Sl st to corner ch2 sp, ch 3 (dc, ch2, 2dc) in same sp, *ch1, sk 2 st, puff between dc and puff, puff between each puff until last puff before corner, puff between last puff and next dc, ch1** (2dc, ch2, 2 dc) in ch 2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, sl st to top of ch3. 16 dc, 20 puffs, 8 ch1 sp, 4 ch-2 sps

Rnd 6: Ch 2, hdc in next st *(2 hdc, ch1, 2 hdc) in ch-2 sp, hdc in next 2 st, 2 hdc in ch 1 sp, hdc in top of and in between each puff, 2 hdc in ch1 sp,** hdc in next 2 st*, work from * to *  three times and to ** once more, sl st to top of ch2. 80 hdc, 4 ch1 sp
FO and weave in ends.

© Copyright February 2013 by JM Jones, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying—without the written permission of JM Jones. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit JM Jones as the designer.

Thanks to my testers Carmen, Ryan Nichole and Brenda

A Bulwark Never Failing

Have you ever heard of a Bulwark? Martin Luther wrote in his song “A mighty fortress is our God” that God is a “bulwark never failing”. A bulwark is part of a fortress or a castle. It's a wall that's built up to protect. It's a rampart. God is a bulwark for us. Over and over again in the Bible, especially the Psalms we are told that God is our strength, our stronghold, our refuge. He is our protection. Proverbs 18:10 states:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Even God's name is a bulwark, our protection. This is not the only place in the scriptures where God is called our protection. Psalm 62:1-2,5-8 tell us:

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken...
My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us

My hope is in God, I will not be shaken for He is my refuge (protection, shelter). HE IS MY ROCK! I can anchor myself in Him and not be greatly shaken. We can “pour out our hearts to Him” for He will protect us. How comforting this is. How encouraging to know even when we feel alone, God is our strength and protection.

God, in her palaces,
Has made Himself known as a stronghold.
Psalm 48:3

Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.
Psalm 61:1-3

Take heart, we have our protection.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Holy Holy Holy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
I am a person of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, full of sin, wickedness and unrighteousness.
Forgive me for my sins for You are my Strong Tower, Redeemer, Savior.
When I acknowledge You and lean on You, You direct my ways and straighten my path.
Transform me, Lord, by renewing my mind, keep me from being conformed to this world, but to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Scripture from Isaiah 6:3,5; Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 78:35; Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 12:2

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prayers Squared: Crossing The Red Sea

2 colors worsted weight yarn, CA and CB
Hook: H/8 5.00 mm
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Special stitches:
Cross stitch (Xdc): (worked over 2 st) sk 1 st, dc in next st, working in front of dc just made, dc in sk st 
Half treble (htr): yo twice, insert hook in st indicated, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook), yo, pull through two loops, yo, pull through remaining 3 loops

Form a magic loop (or ch 4, sl st to first ch to form a ring)
Rnd 1: With CA, ch3, 15 dcs in loop, sl st to top of ch-3. (16 dc)

Rnd 2: ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dcs in each st around, sl st to top of ch-3. (32 dc)

Rnd 3: ch 1, sc in same st, *sc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, hdc in next 2 st**, sc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sc in next st, sl st to first sc. (16 dc, 4 ch2 sp, 16 hdc, 12 sc)

Rnd 4: ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 5 sts, *3 sc in ch2 sp, sc in each st across* repeat from * to * three times, sl st to first sc, fasten off CA. (56 sc)

Rnd 5: attach CB with a sl st in any corner sc, ch 3 (dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same sp, *3 Xdc over the next 6 sts, ch 1, sk next st, 3 Xdc over the next 6 sts**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner sc*, repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sl st to top of ch-3. fasten off CB. (24 Xdc, 16 dc, 4 ch2 sp, 4 ch1 sp)

Rnd 6: attach CA to any corner ch-2 with a sc, 2 sc in same sp, *sc in next 8 st, htr in front of ch-1 sp into unworked st from rnd 4, sc in next 8 sts**, 3 sc in ch-2 sp*, repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sl st to first sc. (76 sc, 4 htr)

Rnd 7: ch 1, sc in same st and each st around, working 3 sc in each middle sc of the corner 3 sc. Sl st to first sc, fasted off, weave in ends. (88 sc)

Moses: A biblical character that all children who attend church learn about. 

We learn about his mother, who hid him for until she could hide him no longer and then made a waterproof basket for him to float down the Nile in. 

We learn about how Pharaoh's daughter found the baby in the basket and took him as her own. 

We learn how he was a Prince of Egypt, but fled to Midian when he murdered a man. 

We also learn how he returned to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. 

We learn about the 10 plagues of Egypt.

We learn about the Passover.

But there's one thing that we don't really see with Moses and leading his people out of Egypt, and about us as followers of Christ.

You see, when the Israelites left Egypt, they were leaving an old life of slavery and oppression behind to start a new life of freedom in the land that Abraham was given. When they crosses the Red Sea, the past life was behind them and their future, bright as the morning sun, was before them. A picture of what salvation is to us: leaving the old life behind with the promise of a future better than anything we can dream of. When we accept Christ as our savior, we are like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. We are leaving our old life behind and entering a new one, as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It would be perfect if the story would stop here, but it did not. The Israelites had only been following Moses to the Promised Land a short while when they decided to make a golden calf as an idol and worship that as the god that delivered them from Egypt (Exodus 32:1-6). Oh how we do that too. We follow God, worship Him. But after a time, other things take the place of God. Our work, our hobbies, even our family can take the place of God in our lives. Just remember though, when we all "crossed the Red Sea" how we gave God prominence in our lives, and that we can always make Him prominent in our lives once again.

Just as when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, their journey was just beginning, ours also just begins at salvation. We will turn away. We will get off track just like they did, but we can also get back on track and continue on our journey.