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!


Purchase the Book: -- Available in e-book and softcover

Author’s Website:

Author’s Facebook Page:

Author’s Instagram:

Find The Secret Place of Thunder on Goodreads:

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 –

                Amanda @

                Raechel @

9/16       Kaitlyn @

                J.E. Grace @

9/17       Rebekah @

9/18       Jane @

9/19       Connie @

9/20       Abigail @

9/21       Tara @

                Ryana @

9/22       Wrap-up & giveaway winner announced @


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 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Come~~Celebrate Easter with Me

~~A Special Guest Post Written by my Mom, Debbie Roque~~

Way back yonder in the “good old days”, some of my fondest memories were at Easter. Easter was a wonderful time. Let me introduce you to a bit of my past. Now that I am “old”, my mind wanders at times into memory-lane... 😊 The good memories.

My childhood was far from perfect, but there were some lovely memories. My thoughts go back to church, Easter egg hunts, a special meal, and my new patent-leather shoes. 😊 I remember walking to the little Baptist church in my town with my three sisters and brother behind my mama. We looked like little ducklings all in a row.

My feisty five-foot mama made sure we got some church in us. It was a long walk, but I don’t remember minding it at all. There was a sweet smell in the air; everything seemed to be blooming, I remember passing all the neighborhood houses and the steeple bell ringing in the distance. How simple life was. We had our little Easter hats on, with the elastic bands and the little ribbons flying in the breeze. My little brother had his bowtie on. Almost everyone dressed their best. We believed it was irreverent not to. Easter morning was one of the most special days of the year. Some day our “EASTER MORNING” will come and oh, what a happy day that will be!

Now mind you, I didn’t always have a new pair of shoes on Easter. My mama didn’t have much money, but when she had a little extra, she’d buy us a new pair of shiny patent leather shoes, because it was a special day. I must say the excitement of new shiny shoes was exhilarating, to say the least.

I remember arriving at church, seeing people walking, smiling, coming from all different directions while the church bells were ringing. I can still hear the bells! 😊 Two of my sisters and I would sing in the little choir loft that held a handful of elderly people. Funny how fast time has flown; now I’m elderly. 😊 I would try to hide behind one of the elderly women because I was somewhat shy. I can remember sitting in the pew and seeing the sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows. We would sing that great hymn: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today – Hallelujah!” The pastor was a sweet, jolly, somewhat-older man. He smiled and shook our hands as we walked out of the church.

And then we would start our little journey back home, skipping, hopping, and jumping, finally arriving to a delicious meal consisting of ham and lasagna. For us, it just wasn’t a holiday if you didn’t have lasagna on the table! 😊 I wonder if all Italians think that way! We would open our dime-store Easter baskets with a small package of jelly beans, a paddleball, and I think some sort of coloring book with a tiny box of crayons. We didn’t have much candy in those days, so the jelly beans were yummy even if some were the color I didn’t particularly like; I ate them just the same. I remember my aunts and uncles coming over for desserts, oh, so many Italian pastries and other wonderful sweets.

Good memories last a lifetime. Memories are good for the soul, especially the older you become, the more you ponder and reminisce, and I pity the person who doesn’t! 😊

I can remember an Easter egg hunt that took place in town at one of the schools. The older kids would hunt in the woods behind the school and the younger ones would be on the grounds. Eggs were strewn all over the grass. Prize eggs were placed in the woods and also on the grounds.

The Easter bonnet contest that took place with the hunt was so exciting. I couldn’t wait to make my hat about two weeks before. I believe the Easter bonnet hats had to be homemade. Now folks, understand my mama didn’t have much, and was somewhat preoccupied with difficulties and so I could come and go as I pleased up to a point. I was quite determined to create a “masterpiece” Easter bonnet with all kinds of odds and ends, little do-dads, pieces of paper, etc., until the hat pretty much looked like a very tall steeple on top of my head!

On the day of the hunt, my sister and I arrived at the school. I had my homemade hat all prepared. Lots of kids were there. I arrived to see such an array of beautiful hats with flowers and all kinds of creations. Different nettings, bright colors, etc. I wasn’t intimidated in the least. I wanted to win a prize. We all gathered in a huge circle and walked slowly as the judges made their decisions. I was trying very hard to hold that hat in place on my head from falling! 😊

The childlike person in me wasn’t distracted by those beautiful hats, I was really proud of my towering steeple! When my sister and I talk about it now, well over fifty years later, we start laughing and laughing. I always ask her the question, “Why didn’t you tell me my hat looked so ‘different’ from the others?” She was always the one my other sisters and I looked up to because of her maturity. Her answer is, “I don’t know; I wasn’t even thinking about it.” Then we start laughing again until our sides ache and tears run down our faces. Then when I catch my breath, I lovingly rebuke her for not telling me how comical my hat looked! 😊 Then we laugh some more. Good memories. We all have them – something to talk about as the years have passed.

Now, mind you, I did win a prize! YES! Whether the judges pitied me or not, I was the proud recipient of a box with a chocolate fruited egg in it. I was so proud of that hat and so ecstatic. The simplicity of being a child. It certainly was an “original”, and wasn’t the Lord good to me! 😊 I felt like I was in heaven with that little prize.

Now my sister left the school because they were ready to finish up the event, but I still lingered because someone said that a prize egg had been left in the woods. And so once again I was determined to find that prize egg, even though the hunt was over! 😊 I truly believed it was out there, and I think it’s still out there! 😊 😊

My sister came back to tell me to come home for supper – and why in the world was I still there? I told her that I was still looking for the prize egg. Yes, my friends, I was still searching for the prize! 😊 My sister and I laugh about that, too.

Good memories. It’s good to ponder. Lingering, pondering, just staying awhile. And so I sit here wondering what was it like when Mary Magdalene wept at the tomb of Jesus? In the Book of John, chapter 20, the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. Sometimes lingering isn’t all that bad. I lingered for a prize egg. Lingering can be a means of hope in a longing heart. With a childlike faith, knowing that the prize egg was there, I stayed behind. Hoping, lingering, watching. Do you ever wonder what it will be like when that great day, “EASTER MORNING”, will come and HOPE will become a reality and the great promise is fulfilled and you can cry, “RABBONI!”? All things will become new.

And so we wait. We wait because we know that we will indeed find what we have hoped for. And He our Hope, our Jesus, will wipe away every tear from your eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4)

And so, my friends, what good memories do you have?

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5a
“Behold, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:7

Monday, April 6, 2020

How Much is Too Much? Discernment, Modesty, and the Value of Blushing

"But how few women today have such control over their tongues or emotions, as my mother did, pondering holy things in their hearts, without blabbing about them, without telling 'three hundred of their closest friends.' We overshare today, more than people need to know, not discerning those things we should rightly regard as precious and holy before God."
~Valerie Shepard (speaking about her mother, Elisabeth Elliot)

Recently, I came across a quote that spoke volumes to me and I found myself inwardly nodding and agreeing with the wisdom of its words. I wanted to share some insights based on that quote with you . . . It's the one above. It's a quote taken from Valerie Shepard's recent book detailing her mother Elisabeth Elliot's and her father Jim's correspondences to one another. I've been helped in my spiritual walk by Elisabeth Elliot since I was a teenage girl; she has so much Biblical, excellent advice for women (and men as well). 

We have come to a place in the Christian and secular world where we are prompted to share everything. Nothing needs to be a secret. Nothing is sacred. 

Social media has enabled this; we all have a "platform;" and this is not in and of itself a "bad" or wrong thing. Social media gives us an opportunity to share the Gospel, to direct people toward resources that will encourage their souls. It allows us to connect with one another, even though it often encourages those connections to be on a shallow level. But again; there is nothing wrong in and of itself with "connecting" with people and sharing our faith, ideas, and convictions with one another. 

The problem comes when social media becomes a place to share and air all of our emotions, impulses, cares and fears unhinged--in a way that either draws attention to oneself or that shows a lack of modesty or discretion. The problem comes when we have not put whatever it is that we are going to share through the filter of the Holy Spirit directing each of our steps. 

Do our "friends" really need an excess of  updates on how we are spending our time, raising our children, preparing our meals, relating to our husbands, eating, exercising, listening to music, and the list goes on? We have to ask ourselves honestly--is this "sharing" helping or hindering our spiritual walk? 

Sometimes it may help. There are times (and the Lord gives us discernment to understand when) sharing about our personal experience or about some detail in our lives may help another believer. If you have a freedom from the Holy spirit to share a detail about your personal life, by all means, go ahead and obey His prompting. But before we share, let's ask ourselves, in our own conscience before God, is this necessary? Am I sharing this detail to draw attention to myself or to the Lord? Am I sharing this detail in order to help another believer in their walk with the Lord or to elevate myself? Am I sharing this detail in order to preach the Gospel through my life or am I distracting other believers away from the Gospel? We have to ask ourselves these questions before we hit that "share" button. 

Again, some sharing is good--asking for recommendations from other believers, seeking others to pray about a political or personal situation, photos of your family within reason if you have the liberty from the Holy Spirit to do that, sharing a Scripture or a quote that encourages others in their faith, a funny meme that lightens the mood of a difficult situation or that brings a smile to someone's face on a hard day--these and other things may all be used or prompted by the Lord for good

But there is a severe and mind numbing lack of discretion among Christian women (and men) today in terms of what and how much we have come to feel comfortable sharing on social media. Again; the problem is not the sharing--it is the what and the how much. Let no one misunderstand me--what I am not saying is that a person can never share about their lives on social media, but do we really need to share so much? So much that it seems to be the focal point of many people's lives? So much that we know more intimate details about virtual strangers than the people closest to us? 

Friends, there is a lack of discernment. 

Lately, I've been appalled, truly, by people sharing publicly in forums with both men and women married and unmarried, intimate details about their romantic lives with their spouses. These details might be appropriate in a private group of married women, but in a public forum where virtually anyone may be party to the information provided, this shows a serious lack of Biblical discernment. 

We have begun to trample sacred things. We are forgetting how to blush. We are placing our precious jewels on the common tables of the public marketplace and selling them cheaply. 

There are details about how you and your husband express intimacy that the whole world need not know--truly. Apart from a marriage book on physical intimacy that is labeled as such, there are details that are not appropriate to share between a mixed audience. 

This kind of "sharing" cannot please God. It cheapens our Christian witness and compromises the beautiful feminine mystique that God has given to women. 

To be honest, I feel uncomfortable with some of the "kissing" pictures that I see~~I have no problem with a sweet photo of a husband and wife, but some of the more "suggestive" ones have made me question the "sharer's" discernment. Why does the world need to see (in a very intimate way--sometimes with--usually the woman--posing in a sexual manner in front of other men who are not her husband) how you and your husband express that kind of affection toward one another? 

Consider the women of God in the Scriptures--Sarah, Rebekah, Esther, Mary--women who conducted themselves with incredible dignity, grace, and discretion, who quietly lived without directing any focus upon themselves. Rather, their focus was upon God; their hearts were caught up in serving their husbands and children and in reaching out to those around them with kindness and love. Their focus was not "me-centered" but Christ-centered. Consider their lives and examples. Mary alone is an excellent example of modesty, mystique, and discretion--after the birth of Jesus, she did not "blab" about everything that happened; rather, she pondered in her heart.

How often do we do that? How often do we merely ponder in our hearts the things that the Lord is showing and teaching us? Why do we feel the need to share all the little intimate details of our souls with the world at large? Some things should be kept quiet, sacred, carefully cherished. Mary understood this; do we? 

How much is too much? In this world of social media and sharing, how much is too much? There is no specific answer. Each person individually must make that decision in their conscience before God; we answer to God alone and will give an account for the witness that we showed and the way that we used the precious time that He gives us. 

A few years ago, I felt the Lord speaking to my conscience (and this was an individual decision that would not apply to everyone--it was just the way that the Lord spoke to me personally) not to share pictures of my children on social media anymore. I felt in my heart that all of the "showing" needed to be spent living and loving them for their soul's good and that it was a potential distraction for me to post pictures of my little ones. It is of course, not wrong to put pictures of your children on social media and I enjoy seeing the photos that others post; I just have a problem with the excess of it to the exclusion of other things and believed that the Lord was leading me personally in this way; it helps me to focus on the Lord without that added distraction. 

I'm thankful for the many women and men who do model discernment . . . they have been an encouragement to me to seek the Lord and to be careful about what and how much I share on social media. There are many women and men who use social media for good~~and  it can certainly be used for good. It can be a means to share the Gospel. It can be a means to connect with family and friends. It can be a means to share how the truth of God and His Word are impacting a person's life. And the list goes on. I know many women and men who use social media with care and discernment and these people are a blessing and an encouragement to me. 

How is the Lord leading you, friend? Allow Him to come into your secret places, like water running clear--we are often free to let other people come into these places, perhaps even complete strangers--social media allows us to do that--but not our Heavenly Father! 

We need to be washed afresh with the holy wisdom of God's Word. We need to hold things as precious and sacred rather than shouting them all the time from the rooftops and blabbing them in public forums. We need to kneel quietly before God and ponder alone all that He has done for us. I need to do this; you need to do this. May His Spirit teach us and soften our hearts. And may He give this generation of women the gift of discernment and discretion. That His Gospel may be spoken through our lives day by day--to the glory of God and to the saving of souls.  

You might find me on these link-ups:

Inspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomRaising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story,  Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdayGood Morning Mondays,  Counting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter WednesdayTea and Word