Thank you, Mom

With just five days before Mother’s Day, let’s ponder our moms for a bit.  What are you planning to do to honor your Mom?

This Mother’s Day, let’s try something different. Let’s try to write at least 30 memories or characteristics you’re grateful for with your Mom. Then write or type them, cut them into slips of paper, and give to her for Mother’s Day in a little box. She can enjoy reading a month of encouragement over and over, one for each day. This is what I did for Mom last Mother’s Day and will write 30 new memories this year (shhh, please don’t tell her). This blog or a box simply cannot contain my gratitude. The following are the first 12 Mom gratitude memories:

1)  Thank you for serving as a wonderful, gentle nurse for me last month after my serious six-car accident, caused by a drunk driver.  You were there every moment, from meeting me at the Trauma Center soon after the ambulance transported me, to gently dressing my wounds, to serving every meal, driving me everywhere as I recuperated. Words cannot express my gratitude for you being there, being present. I have no doubt I am healing more quickly because of your care.

2) Thank you for praying for me for years before I was even conceived. Since my only brother Jamie is 12 years older than me, you said you suffered miscarriages and complications as you and Dad tried for more children after Jamie. You were about to give up when you found out you were pregnant with me.  Thanks be to God for His plan and His timing. Thank you for being my Mom.

3) Thank you for serving as a room mother in elementary school and chaperoning our field trips.

4) Thank you for dancing and for teaching me to dance. I always loved watching you and your brothers, your family shag dancing to beach music at my grandmother’s home growing up. I remember after Thanksgiving meals that the men would push aside the dinner table to create a large dance floor, perfect for dancing and making a “Soul Train”  line. We had so much fun. Watching you dance is a joy.

5) Thank you for displaying the Fruit of the Spirit each day and showing me Jesus’ unconditional love through you. “But the fruit of the Spirit IS (that means all one fruit) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and  self-control. Against such things there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

6) Thank you for teaching me that if three or more cars are in line at a fast-food restaurant, it’s faster to go inside to order your food. I don’t eat fast food much, but I still abide by this.

7) Thank you for attending all my home and away basketball and volleyball games in high school.  Sometimes you and Dad were two of a few parents.

8) Thank you for the example of your well-read, well-worn Bible that shows to me and to anyone how “Thy Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.” Psalm 119:105.  If we may be the only Bible someone may ever read, you radiate the Word. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14a NIV

9) Thank you for making me have a curfew, even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I so respect the healthy rules and boundaries you set for me growing up. You set them with love.

10) Thank you for teaching me the love of flowers and God’s majesty. I appreciate that you asked me growing up to “dead-head” our 100+ roses each day after school in our garden. I will always remember the wonderful fragrance of roses in every room of our home growing up–what a gift.

11) Thank you for letting me go away to college out of state to Appalachian State University. I know it was a sacrifice for our family to pay the higher tuition. I appreciate the investment and pray you know in my heart it was worth every penny.

12) Thank you for giving me the grace and freedom and wide open space to fail and succeed, knowing you would love me unconditionally.  You are the best cheerleader and encourager I know.

Do you struggle with this upcoming holiday?  Some have beloved Moms who are in heaven. Some struggle with their relationship with their Mom. If either is the case, my hearts hurts as yours does. I encourage you to seek out an older lady in your life who can or currently serves as a mentor to you. Please consider honoring her for Mother’s Day. Some Moms are blood-related. Others are related by the blood of Jesus.

Reflect:

–How do you plan to honor your Mom for Mother’s Day? Please comment.

Renew:

–“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” –Exodus 20:12 NIV

–“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopus), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, ‘Dear woman, here is your son.’ And he said to this disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from then on this disciple took her into his home.” –John 19-25-27 NLT

Recharge:

–Which mentor lady in your life will you show appreciation for?

“All I am I owe to my Mother.” –Abraham Lincoln

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Loving Deeply: Healing an Unhealable Marriage

By Guest Blogger Teresa Tarrant

Editor’s Note: Please welcome one of my precious role models, Teresa Tarrant, to “Pure Inspiration” again as a Guest Blogger. She is an inspiration to me and infinite others. May her story, their story, touch your heart as it did mine.

tarrants

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.” –1 Peter 1:22 NIV

Forty-three years. I have been married to the same man for 43 years. Amazing. For one thing, old people have been married 43 years…we are NOT old. For another thing, it has been a roller coaster ride, requiring both seat belt and shoulder harness!

Fortunately it has been one that GOD has patiently, lovingly and firmly kept on track. There were times I was sure we had derailed, but lo and behold, GOD’s hand guided us back to each other and to HIM.

For our 30th anniversary I decided to present my husband Guy with a video of our life together. I ruined years of carefully organized photo albums pulling visual memories of our dating, wedding (awww, such babies), first home (I still love that little house). Children (two amazing sons), pets (one dog chewed up the sprinkler system two weeks after installing….), travels, family gatherings. We cried watching it, overcome with the blessings and love…the bad times forgotten.

Just a few years earlier we were at a real crossroads in our marriage. Our older son had graduated from college and younger son was going off to college. Our glue was gone. We discussed separation. He was going to move out. My emotions vacillated between marriage and separation.

One day I woke up and found I could not stand another indecisive moment. I dropped to my knees by our bed and totally surrendered my will to God. I cried out to Him to help me know what to do. I told Him I could not live with my husband like this, and I could not imagine myself without him. I prayed for guidance and told Him I would not do one more thing unless I felt He was guiding me.

I lay on the floor weeping for quite some time until I felt a total peace come over me. It was strange. It was as if a weight had been lifted and I was not going to have to carry it any more.

Later that day I had to go to Wal-mart for cleaning supplies or something—I don’t even remember. What I do remember is how God talked to me. Yes, He very distinctly led me to the book section and showed me two books that changed my life—The Power of a Praying Wife  and Traits of a Lasting Marriage.  When I opened up this first book, the prayer I read was:

 “Lord, I lay all my expectation at your cross. I release my husband from the burden of fulfilling me in areas where I should be looking to You. Help me to accept him the way he is and not try to change him. I realize that in some ways he may never change, but at the same time, I release him to change in ways I never thought he could. I leave any changing that needs to be done in Your hands, fully accepting that neither of us is perfect and never will be. Only you, Lord, are perfect, and I look to You to perfect us.”

The prayer followed with several Bible verses, Biblically-sound doctrine for restoring me, restoring my marriage. I felt my eyes well up with tears. Could God really be telling me I needed to change and be the person my husband needs? I always thought I was…that he just wasn’t the husband I needed.

Do you know that God can turn a heart from stone back to love in a matter of minutes? He can and He did. I left Wal-mart with a smile on my face and copies of the two books. When I got home I asked my husband if he would consider reading the book with me and trying to let God lead us back together. He agreed—another one of God’s miracles.  I am blessed to have a husband who has always been willing to take every effort to make our marriage work.  I knew we were going to finally have the marriage God intended for us—one of love, commitment, laughter, friendship, joy.

We still have our differences but they are handled with a very different approach. I first go to God and ask for His guidance in solving a problem; then I approach Guy. My “old” self rears its prideful head occasionally…ok, often. I recognize that God led us back into this marriage, and He will guide us through any rough patches.

We still cry when we watch that anniversary video from 13 years ago. I thank GOD and praise HIM for HIS unending patience, grace and love. HE was present in every single event, good and bad, in our lives…Growing us to be the people HE intended. I know HE was shaking HIS sweet head most of the time at our stubbornness but HIS mercies never fail.

We now have two beautiful grandchildren…hmmm, looks like it’s time for another video!

So, if you feel your marriage is off track, turn to GOD for guidance. Focus on the good times, positive memories and blessings Trust HIM. HE will not let you derail.

Reflect:

–How are you fighting for your marriage?  Please comment.

–What wisdom can you glean from Teresa and Guy’s testimony?  Please comment.

Renew:

“Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” –Ephesians 4:2 NIV

 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”           –Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Recharge:

–What three things do you admit need changing in yourself to strengthen your marriage and/or other relationships?  Please let your spouse know today. Comment here.

Resource:

Conway, Jim and Sally. 1991. Traits of a Lasting Marriage: What Strong Marriages Have in Common. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Omartian, Stormie. 1997, 2014. Power of a Praying Wife. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishing.

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Shepherding: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

As we put away our Christmas decorations and haul our brittle and dry Fraser fir trees out to the landfill for recycling, Christmas reflections still linger. Linger like the few sweet-smelling leftover Fraser fir needles in my living room corner and in my vacuum. My mind and heart linger, still thinking about sweet baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds.

The shepherds…Before now I haven’t thought too much about shepherds. Other than I know the Lord is my Shepherd, as it says in Psalm 23. Why are shepherds on my heart?

The word “shepherd” is used more and more as a descriptive verb for guiding and motivating, leading a family or group of people. My heart’s desire is to be a good shepherd of people.

In Biblical times, shepherds were outcasts, really low in terms of social status. Imagine having to take care of smelly, stubborn sheep 24 hours a day, seven days a week, away from people. Supposedly, even in a court of law, shepherds’ testimony wasn’t even regarded. Shepherds were voiceless in society. But not to God.

God chose shepherds to be the first to see baby Jesus and tell the world about Him.  The Lord gave a respected voice to the voiceless. May it be so of each of us.

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” –Luke 2:16-20 NIV

“All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Beautiful. Just like God to give voice to the voiceless.

In this shiny new 2015, who are you shepherding?   Who is shepherding you? To whom will you tell the Good News?

Reflect:

–When have you felt voiceless? Please comment.

–When have you felt like a shepherd?

Renew:

–“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” –Psalm 23:1-3 NIV.

–“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. ” –Ezekiel 34:11-12 NIV.

–“I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and My sheep know Me. Just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.” –John 10:14-15 NIV.

Recharge:

–Who will you pray to shepherd this year? God as the Great Shepherd will guide you.

PS. Today, January 6th, at 10am, please join me to watch Lysa TerKeurst, my dynamic Proverbs 31 Ministries President and friend, on The Today Show. She will be interviewed about her New York Times Bestselling Book The Best Yes.  www.lysaterkeurst.com or www.proverbs31.org.

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