Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Too Much Rubble

 A few days after Christmas, I assessed our situation. It was Monday, and I hadn't decided when we would start up homeschooling again after a few day's Christmas break.


 

I looked around at the after-Christmas clutter in our bedrooms, the decorations that needed to be stored and put away, and at the general disorder around me. 

And I decided that we needed to "clear the rubble" before we began to "build the wall" again. 

It would be difficult and frustrating to delve into our studies when there was so much "build-up" all around us. And so I told my two children (much to their delight), that we would be taking a few days to clean and organize before we delved back into our books. 

We needed to clear the rubble before building the wall. 

 



Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”  

Nehemiah 4:10 NKJV

Isn't this true in our lives? The "walls" of whatever it that the Lord has called us to need to be built. They need to be physically or figuratively built; they need to be spiritually built and strengthened through prayer. The walls need to be built.

What has God called you to build, friend? Is it the spiritual foundation of your family? Is it the strengthening of your devotional life? Is it a ministry or a special project that He has placed upon your heart? What walls are you building? And are they surely the "walls" that the Lord has called you to build?

 

 

I've found, so many times in my own life that I need to STOP and re-access what I am building. Did the Lord really call me to a project or to an endeavor, or am I building the "walls" of my own fancy and design? 

When He HAS indeed called me to a project or to a work, is there clear ground around my feet, or "rubble" that I may trip over and "mess up" the wall that He has called me to build? This "rubble" may take on many shapes and forms--it may be distractions--spiritual or physical distractions that need to be "cleaned up" and dealt with. It may be a besetting sin that "trips us up" and needs to be repented of at the foot of the cross. It may be the "extra clutter" of things and activities that the Lord has not called us to and doesn't want us to pursue, even if in appearance they seem like a "good" thing. As Oswald Chambers says, "Beware of the good that is the enemy of the best." 

 

 

Clear out the rubble, friend. Tidy up your spiritual house. Deal with things quickly with the Lord. Keep short accounts. 

And then "tidy up" your physical house. Has the Lord called you to eat in a healthier way to serve Him better? Clean out your refrigerator; get those offending foods out! Has He called you to wake up a little earlier to spend time with Him? Has He called you to go to bed a little earlier so that you may serve Him better during the day?

Has He called you to "show hospitality?" Give your kids a dusting rag and a broom and together physically clean out the rooms in your home. It will be easier to fulfill His calling when we are obedient to Him in the day to day "tidying" of our homes. 

Has He called you to take the spiritual lead in your home? Dust that Bible off--pick out a good family devotional and clear that rubble of kid's complaining and "lack of time," and pursue the spiritual growth of your home with the simple spiritual "tools" that the Lord has given to us--a Bible, and hymnal, and a mind that can memorize God's Word and hide it in our hearts. 

We don't need all the extra things-the "rubble" is holding us back. 

In the summertime, often my kids will try to start building something in the sandbox while all the other sand toys are lying around and cluttering up the project area. I often tell them--"you can't build with all of this clutter; clean it out first." 

And how true this is for us as well! So come before the Lord. If you can kneel, do so--if not, spread out your hands to Him and ask Him what it is that He has called you to do. Make a list. Get rid of the things that He hasn't called you to, that are just the "rubble" of an extra burden or activity. 


And then get up and build. He has given you the tools. He has given you His Spirit. He will strengthen your hands and your heart. And through your obedience, you will know His smile and pleasure. 

Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“Be strong, do not fear!

Isaiah 35:3-4a NKJV



Book Recommendation--this is an excellent one to start off the new year--

Discipline: The Glad Surrender, by Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wednesday Hymn

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
~Charles Wesley


Book Recommendation for the Advent season: 










Monday, November 30, 2020

Encouragement for Monday


There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.

~Hudson Taylor




Have you read Hudson Taylor's Biography? This book will be an encouragement to your faith~~

 Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Scripture Saturday~~Habakkuk 3:17-19

           

 "Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

He enables me to tread on the heights."

~Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV








 


    

 


Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Secret Place of Thunder Book Release!

 



About the Novella:

The mountains have imprisoned her long enough...

Edna Sue O’Connell came back to the Kentucky hills out of duty and can’t wait for the chance to escape again. Her work as a horseback librarian in rural Appalachia provides enough income for her invalid father to survive in the midst of the Great Depression, but it affords her with little else.

When an opportunity arises for Edna to take on an additional book delivery area, she spies a glimmer of hope that she might find a way out of Willow Hollow after all… and that she might actually make something of her life apart from the tragedy that has filled it thus far.

But the new routes give Edna more than she ever bargained for. Slowly, she finds that the mountains contain many valuable secrets – if she has the grit to meet them.



My Review:

What an incredible book! There were many facets to love about it, but I'll share my three favorites--close attention to historical detail, the centrality of the Gospel message, and finally, the poignant, engaging story line. 

Every time I read one of this author's books, it becomes "one of my favorites" of hers. This one was no exception. The research into the historical period that she wrote about (including tiny details that fleshed out and really "explained" the time period and location in the Appalachian mountains where the book takes place) was fascinating for me. The book was well-researched and important details were carefully and engagingly highlighted without making the book boring in any way, but rather enhancing the story. The Gospel message was clearly given in a simple and winsome way. And finally, the story line was phenomenally engaging. This book was difficult to put down. I also loved the way that the author wove the hymn "He Hideth My Soul" into the story; it was really beautiful and touching. 

I give this book 5 stars because as usual, this author delivered a poignant, powerful, Gospel saturated, sensitive, compelling story that left me once again at the feet of Truth. I am looking forward to her next release with great anticipation! 


About the Author:

Alicia G. Ruggieri grew up breathing in the salty air of coastal New England. She now writes grace-filled, Christ-centered fiction from her home in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and sweet second-hand mutt. She loves old graveyards, dusty libraries, and excellent cannolis ~ not necessarily in that order.



About the Series:

The Secret Place of Thunder is part of the Librarians of Willow Hollow multi-author novella collection. Each novella stands on its own but is connected to the others in this historical Christian fiction series set in 1930s Appalachia.

Other books in the Librarians of Willow Hollow series:

A Strand of Hope by Amanda Tero

I Love to Tell the Story by Faith Blum

Hearts on Lonely Mountain by A.M. Heath

Come along as four packhorse librarians find adventures outside the books they carry!


Links:

Purchase the Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BFBF93T -- Available in e-book and softcover

Author’s Website: http://www.aliciagruggieri.com

Author’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/AliciaGRuggieri

Author’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aliciagruggieri

Find The Secret Place of Thunder on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54151965-the-secret-place-of-thunder


Release Week Giveaway!

To celebrate this release, Alicia is giving away an Appalachian music CD, a mini Appalachian Breakfast soy candle, and a set of whimsical bronze bookmarks! (Due to shipping costs, the giveaway is limited to the continental U.S.)

 A Rafflecopter Giveaway

(Click on the link above or the photo below to enter! :-) )





Blog Tour Stops:

9/15       Welcome to the Tour at A Brighter Destiny – http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/abrighterdestiny

                Amanda @ https://amandatero.com/blog

                Raechel @ https://godspeculiartreasurerae.wordpress.com

9/16       Kaitlyn @ www.maidensformodesty.com

                J.E. Grace @ http://bizwingsblog.blogspot.com

9/17       Rebekah @ www.readytobeoffered.com

9/18       Jane @ www.janemouttet.wordpress.com

9/19       Connie @ https://connie-oldersmarter.blogspot.com

9/20       Abigail @ http://readreviewrejoice.com

9/21       Tara @ www.towerintheplains.wordpress.com

                Ryana @ www.lifeofheritage.com

9/22       Wrap-up & giveaway winner announced @ http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/abrighterdestiny

 

Thank you for stopping by! :-)


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Snapshot of a Person of Faith~~Corrie ten Boom




Corrie ten Boom, among other things, is a beautiful example of living joyfully and casting every care upon the Lord. Many believers are familiar with Corrie ten Boom, or at least with some of her quotes. For anyone who is not familiar with her, Corrie ten Boom was a native of Holland who endured incredible suffering during WWII under Hitler’s takeover of her country and of his subsequent persecution of the Jews in Holland as well as other countries. Corrie and her family hid Jews in their home, were discovered, and she, her sister and brother and father were sent to concentration camps. Only Corrie and her brother (who passed away shortly after he was released) survived. The Lord used Corrie’s joyful witness in the midst of suffering and sorrow to speak to many countless people about the love and forgiveness of God and His peace in the midst of suffering. If someone has not read any of Corrie’s books, I would encourage you to go and find one; any one! (A list will be included at the end of this post). Her joyful, loving, down-to-earth example is like a balm for the soul. Corrie encourages her readers to trust in God for everything. She says, “Worry will not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it will empty today of its strength.” Corrie knew the Word of God; she had huge portions of it memorized and the Lord’s  joy through His Word radiated from Corrie. She believed God’s promises literally and often saw His hand at work in horrible circumstances. Corrie tells a story about one time in the concentration camp when she was discouraged and asked the Lord for a sign of His goodness. He showed her one single flower outside her window and her heart was cheered. Corrie believed God’s promises and leaned upon Him continually for strength; He was her strength and she trusted in Him. If we believe the promises of our Heavenly Father, as Corrie did, it is difficult for worry to gain a stronghold in our lives. Corrie taught that God may be trusted, even through the most difficult of circumstances. He is the living, risen Savior who holds tomorrow in His hands.

In her subsequent ministry after she was miraculously released from the concentration camp, Corrie continued to depend upon the Lord as she traveled and spoke to many people about the joy of the Lord and of His work in the lives of sinners. Often, she felt weary in the work, but she pressed on, hoping and depending upon her merciful Savior, and taking the strength for each day that she needed from Him. How many of us often need a refreshing touch from the hand of the Lord? We grow weary in the day to day business of taking care of our families and children. We love the work that God has given us, just as Corrie did, and yet sometimes we get worn down by the strain that it takes upon our strength. We can cry out to the Lord in these times, just as Corrie ten Boom did, and He will give us fresh supplies. He will put a new song in our mouth and as we press into His purposes in our lives ~~serving Him by loving and training up our children and being a servant in our family—He will refresh and revive us and cause His fresh springs of water to flow through us. Sometimes we feel like we cannot take another step forward, whether physically or emotionally. And this is where the strength of the Lord comes in. We don’t have the strength in ourselves to go forward, and so we take from the fathomless resource of His strength. And we are filled and useful to Him.

What about us? Do we trust in the Lord as Corrie ten Boom did? Do we rely upon His promises? Do we trust, as the old hymn says, that He “will lead His dear children along” or are we worried and fretful, fearing what may come tomorrow? May we rest in our merciful Savior and be filled by His sustaining, strengthening grace!

I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He's always near
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart
~Alfred H. Ackley




Encouraging Books Written by Corrie ten Boom: 
(Clickable links to Amazon)

The Hiding Place
Each New Day
Tramp for the Lord
In My Father's House
I Stand At the Door and Knock

Monday, May 4, 2020

Children and Hollyhocks

My dining room is full of hollyhocks. Last year, I had the grand idea of planting 400 pots of these lovely flowers--the former owners of our home grew old fashioned hollyhocks on our property and I love their sweet, simple beauty. We have a farm stand; I sell flowers there sometimes, and so last fall, I collected thousands of tiny hollyhock seeds with the intention of planting them in the early spring to sell on our farm stand. 



I dried the seeds painstakingly and protected them from the little mice that sometimes appear in the attic of our old farmhouse. I collected yogurt and other plastic containers as well as pre-used plastic flower pots. They quickly began to fill our little milk house (where I keep some of my gardening things). In the early spring, I began to fill pots up with my two children and my niece. 400 pots in an attic is a lot of pots! I realized this mid-job. And yet, undeterred, we carried on. At the end of it all, we filled a little over 300 pots with garden soil; then came the job of sorting the seeds and planting them in the pots. This took several days. At the end of it all, when my little seedlings started to sprout, I realized that the attic wasn't providing enough light! There is one large window in our attic and many of the plants weren't getting the light from that window--they were looking sickly--I would say that they were looking green and sickly, but plants are supposed to be green ;-). And so, I decided to transfer the over-300 hollyhock babies into my light-filled dining room (well, at least when the clouds aren't hiding the sun here in the sometimes-temperamental Midwest ;-)). I set up folding tables in my dining room and made a kind of greenhouse there--I could watch the plants and water them and pray that they would grow being right before my very eyes as I  home schooled my two children at our dining room table. 

As I went through this process, a lot of thoughts went through my mind. I do a lot of gardening, but have never grown plants on this "grand" scale, and well, I was learning all along the way! I believe that the Lord teaches us His lessons through everyday, very common things, and all sorts of "lessons" came into my thinking. Many of them were related to my children and I began making connections between growing these 300 plus hollyhock babies and raising them. 

I wanted to share some of the little lessons that the Lord brought to my mind and my heart as I tended to my hollyhocks; they were an encouragement and a reminder to me--I pray that they will also be to you!




The soil must be deep and have good drainage~~
We had to fill over 300 pots and containers to grow our hollyhock seeds. I had all different kinds of containers, some gifted to and some acquired by me.  I realized that the "shallower" pots were not going to allow my seeds to grow properly into plants, so I tried to select the ones that would allow the roots to go down deep enough to be established. The containers that didn't have holes in the bottom (such as yogurt containers, etc.) required them for drainage, and so my nephew used his drill to put drainage holes into the bottoms of them. 

The same is true for children. Our homes are like our "pots." The kind of "pots" that we have will determine strongly what kind of "plants" or adults our children will become. Our homes (growing containers :-)) must be deep spiritually. They must contain the rich, nourishing soil of the Word of God. They must be filled with the fertilizer of truth and righteousness mixed alongside the minerals of mercy and forgiveness. We "water" our little seeds in our homes with love and wholesome words, with the refreshment of loving discipline and with words of exhortation and encouragement. And we never want that "water" to be stagnant, sitting at the bottom of the pot, creating a moldy mess--it is needs to be clean, clear, and flowing, creating and causing the seeds to come out of their shell and emerge into the light. Our words and actions in our homes should effect change and transformation, not stagnation or frustration. How many of us need help in this area? I know that I do! Only the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and homes will make a transforming difference--creating peace out of chaos. Our "wells" are not deep enough--and often they run dry. The Holy Spirit is a daily, living resource to tap into--where the life-giving water that always flows runs continually. When we admit that we are not able, not capable, and reach out our hands to Him, He fills our empty" "watering cans" with His water. 



Hollyhocks and other plants need light to thrive and grow
Another lesson that I learned as I planted and watched my little hollyhocks sprout up is the importance of light. I thought that our attic might be a good place to keep these little hollyhocks--it has a good sized window and a fair amount of light. But the more that I watched my hollyhocks develop, the more that I realized that the light there just wasn't enough. Many of the hollyhocks in the corners of the attic had weak stems and looked sickly. I quickly assessed the situation and decided that the hollyhocks needed an exodus downstairs into my dining room (where there is a lot more light) if they were going to survive and thrive. My kids and I tromped up and down the stairs, transferring all of those little seedlings before it was too late. I think that this step of action saved them from certain death--they began to lift their little heads up and their stems looked less "see-through." They were becoming more hearty. 

Isn't this true of our children, too? They need sunshine in their lives--creativity, meaningful conversations with adults, someone to read to them, someone to imaging and to play with them, someone to encourage them in their creativity and in their daily work. They also need the sunshine or light of being daily taught about Jesus --It's fascinating in a very simple way that Jesus is called "the Light" of the world." What does light do? It illuminates darkness. Bringing Jesus perpetually and continually into our conversations with our children and into our daily actions as we walk with Him as a Friend in our homes brings a sunshiny glow to our children's upbringing--a joy that can only come through the Holy Spirit of God and His sustaining influence in our lives as He illumines our darkness. 

Do you crave this kind of light? I know that I do~~call out to Jesus and He will teach you how to bring His light into your home~~He never turns away anyone who asks. We can try to create a "spiritual home atmosphere," but it is only when we invite the Holy Spirit in that this will become real and alive. Let the sunshine of His sweet presence fill your soul early in the day--spend time in His Word--talk to Him--and then bring that sunshine into your home as you talk to and teach and discipline and love your children. He will help you; He will do the work as you obey Him. 

Hollyhocks need water 
Oh, yes! This is important! As a busy mom, often "watering" was one of the last things on my mind. I had to keep reminding myself to water those little seedlings in the attic, and then to continue to consistently water them after they made their short journey downstairs. It's truly amazing what a big difference a little water makes!  A couple of days of neglect and my little seedlings were looking pale and weak. As soon as I watered them consistently, they thrived. 

Isn't this true in a child's life as well? At times, we grow "busy" with all of the responsibilities of daily life. We live in a world that encourages this kind of busy, rushing and racing around. We also deal daily with all of the distractions of technology--often we "connect" with people who we don't really know to the neglect of those closest to us! Friend, often I need to remind myself to be "busy" with what is truly the Lord's work--making certain that what I am doing is really His will for my life. At times, I've been sidetracked and distracted by the cares of this life, or caught up in some project or interest that is a weight and a worry to me. During those times, I've sensed the Holy Spirit lovingly and firmly drawing me back to Himself, to what is really important--to "feeding" the little sheep that He has given to me. Often, we are throwing water all over the place--little bits and droplets here and there when we should be concentrating on the specific purposes that God has called us to in our lives. One of these if we have children, is the souls of our little ones. As believers, this should be one of our primary concerns and focuses of our life. How do we "water" our little ones? The answer is TIME and consistency. We give them our time, we teach them in the ways of the Lord, we bring them alongside of us as much as we are able in our projects and pursuits, we deal with discipline issues rather than ignoring them; we pray daily for their souls and encourage them to walk with the Lord in their little lives. And when we "water" our children daily, without neglecting them, we will see the miracle of God's hand causing them to thrive and grow in His time. 

The little seedlings need to be supported and established.  
This is probably one of the most important lessons that I learned in this whole process. As the little hollyhock seedlings began to pop out of the soil, they were leaning--their weak stems weren't strong enough to hold many of them up. My Mom suggested that I put a little more soil around each one of them and gently push the soil near the base of the stem to support the plant and to encourage it to "straighten up." It took me about a week to painstakingly go through almost every little hollyhock plant and to gently reinforce it's stem. At the end of the process, some of the little plants died, but most of them started looking a little stronger and perking up. It was worth it to take that week and to meticulously go through almost every plant. 



This was one of the strongest lessons that struck home to me as it relates to children. Sometimes there are "weak spots" that we see in the way that we have raised our little ones. It may be a discipline issue, it may be a parenting issue on our end in some particular area. Maybe we should have been more consistent in another area. Our children's "stems" are a little weak and we're not really sure how their final "hollyhock" is going to look! Instead of despairing or allowing discouragement to overwhelm us, the answer comes in painstakingly strengthening the "stems." No matter how long it takes--or how tedious it becomes--the God of all grace is with us to help us.  Perhaps our little seedling's root is not deep enough--we should have pushed the seed in further--perhaps our little seedling did not get enough water or light. The answer is not to give up hope and just let come whatever may--to allow the plant to flop over. The answer is to strengthen the stem of the plant. We do this through prayer--praying over the mistakes we may have made in different areas with our children (and we have all made mistakes; we have all fallen short!) And we do this through carefully doing right in those areas that the Lord has shown us we need to work on. Day by day. Moment by moment. Dealing with the issues--not ignoring them--strengthening the stem. Pushing the rich soil of consistency around the base of the stem. Praying to the Lord to strengthen the little plants and being faithful. The Lord will bless us and our children if we truly want them to love the Lord with all of their hearts and to grow in His ways. He is a God of grace and He will bless us as we obey Him in our lives with our children. 

The plants must be hardened.
After all of the careful days of watering, watching, and protecting, comes the "hardening" phase in the lives of plants. There comes a time, just before the plants are transferred outside completely, that they must adapt to the cooler temperatures that they may face outside, away from the gentle, protecting care of the home and its pretty "unchanging" temperature. And so the plants need to be brought outside for increasingly longer periods of time to get used to being "away from home!" :-) 

Children also need to be "hardened" (and by "hardened," what I don't mean in this context is made less sensitive to the things around them, but more sensitive in His strength through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit). They need to grow strong in their faith when "cooler" winds test them. They need to embrace their faith as their own, and not merely as the faith of their parents. I believe that the greatest thing that this generation needs is young people who take the Lord seriously, who hold the promises of Scripture to heart, who are not afraid to stand in a world that will hate them and persecute them for identifying with Jesus Christ. Our children need to be "hardened." They need to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power without, finally, our support. I pray this for my children--that they will be willing to stand against the powerful flow of this culture and remain faithful to Jesus Christ until the end. How do we hope that they will do this? Well; ultimately the outcome is in the Lord's hands--but through out daily example, we may encourage them to take a stand against the wickedness of the culture around us. We may instill the principles of Scripture and the theology of the hymns of old into their minds and their hearts. And ultimately, we may be on our knees, imploring the Lord to make our children strong in Him and trusting Him to work in and through them. He is the One who does the work when we humbly come before Him. We need "hardened" (strong, courageous, hearty, bold-in-love) Christians in this world more than ever. And they will be the salt and light of their generation. 

The plants will ultimately reflect His mercy and grace
When all is said and done; when the hollyhocks are brought outside and planted in the warm, receptive soil, when their roots take deep confidence, when their green stems spring up and their beautiful faces reflect the light . . . they are reflecting the mercy and grace of their beautiful Creator  . . . we were only the hands and mouths and feet and hearts that God used, by His grace alone, to plant and to protect and to encourage and to nurture. He does the work in and through us as we yield to Him in the process of bringing our children up by His grace. Each step is grace. Each milestone is a mercy. It is all of Him. And the glory of the flowers that we grow reflect the One who formed their very seed and pronounced it good. Praise be to God for His grace and mercy!



Have you made any mistakes as you grow up your hollyhocks? We have all made mistakes~~thank God for grace, recognize the mistake, and correct it, as He helps and enables you~~get your hands back in the soil and press on through the strength and grace that He alone gives. 

Children and hollyhocks; there are so many wonderful comparisons that can be drawn between "growing" the two. I pray that the Lord will bless these lessons to your heart as much as He has blessed me in teaching me and sharing them. <3