How To Be A Noble Woman

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:13-31 NIV

*****

My Valley

Several years ago, I shared part of my personal testimony as a Mother’s Day post (you can see original post here). A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share a devotional with my women’s Bible study group. A few days before I had to share,  I had a pretty personal conversation with Noriko that lead to me sharing my testimony with the women (most of which had not heard it before). I did make some changes from my original post but most of it is unchanged or just rearranged. I did not share all of this with Noriko [my exchange student from Japan who was with us during the 2013/2014 school year] just the parts below that I specifically mention her. So here is what I shared with my friends:

I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school and had serious relationship my senior year and after high school another serious relationship that lead to engagement. Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We got married in 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. We had a great first year of marriage. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident which God totally and graciously spared my life. In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:

My Valley

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;

You give me strength to sing.

Only you know why I am going through this trial.

I can rest in your comforting arms.

Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;

I give this child to you.

Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,

Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,

I trust your will.

When I rest upon wings as eagles;

You will give me strength.

I shall run through this valley and not be weary.

I shall walk and not be faint.

When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil because of sin that Shane and I each individually had let into our lives. We almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.

We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal and later Audrey was born. For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major marriage crisis and I started to fall into depression. In 2009, we left Okinawa for about a month and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength.

000

In the years since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before that year. The biggest continuing struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, singing, and accountability and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me, my marriage, and my family as a whole.

A few days ago, Noriko (my exchange student) and I had a conversation that inspired me to share all of this with you. Keep in mind that often when we have to explain things to her we have to continuously use her translator for words or concepts she is unfamiliar with. So it is not always a quick explanation. She was asking why Americans have middle names. This led into me explaining that we often choose names based on meaning or family connection. Audrey means Noble Woman and her middle name, Lynae, pays tribute to both my mom whose middle name is Lynn and Shane’s mom who’s first name is Lynn. I told Noriko that Kendal’s name was even more meaningful and explained to her that I had lost 2 babies through miscarriage before she was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” We thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Noriko seemed to be in awe over all of this.

At the end of my poem I referenced my favorite Bible verses Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

While I was Okinawa, I found a plaque that has the passage in both English and Japanese which is now hanging in our hallway. I showed it to Noriko and after she read it, I explained that when we are tired and broken and are going through things that bring us down, we put our trust in Jesus and he carries us back up so that we can fly again. In response, Noriko said that she likes Christian thinking 🙂

So in conclusion, I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. My message to all of you is God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our Savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Through our hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us. God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. And he can always use our testimonies to impact other people and draw them into His kingdom.

(Eagle Photo found here)

Eat Your Peas Daughter

Eat Your Peas Daugher by Cheryl Karpen (and her mom) is a very short and very cute book of thoughts, quotes, & scripture that a mom might think or say to her daughter. It is very simply but elegantly illustrated in pastel colors of pink, blue, & green. There is a lot of open space that would be perfect for a mother to write her own thoughts or place photos. I think it would make the perfect gift from mom to daughter around the pre-teen years.

My favorite page of the book quotes Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Then the author writes, “Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and not getting what we want becomes a blessing in disguise. There is a plan for you. Have faith. Be patient, and most of all… believe.”

I think this book is great for the sentimental mom who wants to share with her daughter what is on her heart in a unique way.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Eat Your Peas, Daughter: A Little Wisdom and a Lasting Promise – eBook

By Cheryl Karpen / Thomas Nelson

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I review for BookSneeze

Then Sings My Soul

This book by: Robert J. Morgan, compiles 150 Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Patriotic, and all-time favorite hymns and their stories. There are hymns written by many different people of many different denominational backgrounds. The dates the hymns were written range from 14 BC to present. A two page layout is devoted to each hymn. The words and music are on the left and the story behind the hymn is on the right. The book can be read straight through (as I have done) or by reading them out of order. The indexes make it easy to look up a favorite hymn or songwriter.

I am a music lover and I absolutely love this book! Regardless of how a person feels about singing hymns, there is no denying the Christian history and testimony behind them. In my opinion, hymns are an important part of our Christian heritage and it is a shame that so many churches today no longer use them as a part of worship. I love contemporary Christian music as well but I prefer a balance of both hymns and contemporary. I think that this book would make a great family devotional. This book will be a treasure that I (and hopefully my family) will enjoy for years to come! I have also purchased several copies to use as Christmas gifts. I highly recommend this book!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Also, I came across this blog post yesterday and thought it fits nicely with the topic of this review: What Ever Happened To The Hymns?

*****

Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Then Sings My Soul Special Edition

By Robert J. Morgan / Thomas Nelson

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Really Woolly Bible Stories

This children’s book is filled with easy to understand stories from the Bible:  Creation, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, The Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, Daniel, Jonah, Jesus’ Birth, Jesus Loves the Little Children, Jesus Feeds 5,000, the Good Smaraitan, Jesus Walks on Water, Jesus’ Death & Resurrection, & The Great Commission. The author notes the Bible references for each story for further reading. The introduction to the book includes this poem and Bible verse:

“Through these stories you will discover

That God is faithful and true,

And Jesus, the Good Shepherd,

Will always take care of you.”

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms

and carries them close to his heart.” Isaiah 40:11

The artwork in this book is absolutely adorable–just like the the rest of the Really Woolly line! I love the simplistic way of introducing important Bible stories to children. I read the whole book to my 3 1/2 year old daughter in one sitting. It held her attention from start to finish. The book is a durable board book with a padded cover; so it is great for toddlers. The poems and rhymes are catchy and understandable for the pre-school/kindergarten age. It would make a great baby shower, birthday, holiday, or “just because” gift!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Really Woolly Bible Stories

By Bonnie Rickner Jensen / Tommy Nelson

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I review for BookSneeze

A Letter To A Special Teacher

Dear Mrs. Andrea,

You are my daughter’s favorite teacher since she was young.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are never long enough!

You taught her numbers, colors, shapes, and alphabet;

Along with Bible stories, songs, and fun!

***

It takes a special person to do what you do best.

The playground talks and classroom chats were enough to let me know;

That you have Patience, Love, and Kindness high above the rest.

***

Once again duty calls and we obediently answer.

As you go your separate way;

Know you have a gift and you will always be remembered.

***

Today was a sad day for my daughter;

In a way that she does not understand.

We said our good byes; but I pray it’s not the end.

I would love to see her little face light up;

When she hugs your neck again.

Love, Kendal’s Mama

*****

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

Today as the first installment of my Mother’s Day Series; I am going to share with you a good portion of my testimony which I have not really done yet on my blog. Before I start; I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure. Through these hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us.

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on ourbehalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

*****

I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school; the most serious relationship being my senior year with a guy that most people thought would last into marriage. When that relationship ended after graduation; a new one soon began with someone else. That guy was older and swept me off my feet into a quick engagement. During the engagement; I was having relationship problems with my parents and was told to find somewhere else to live mainly because of my attitude. I moved in with my best friend for about a week. I continued to try to mend my relationship with my parents even though I was not living at home. My fiance’ wanted me to meet him in Pennsylvania where he was visiting his family. I knew that if I did that; it would be even harder to reconcile with my parents. I felt that he was making me choose between him (who I had known for about 6 months) and my parents. When I insisted on staying in Delaware instead of meeting him in Pennsylvania; I could tell from his tone of voice that the relationship was over. By the time my fiance’ returned from his vacation; I was back in my parents home. We went out one evening and he broke off the engagement. Looking back I think that the Holy Spirit was working on my heart that week.

Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We have been married since 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. Our best year of marriage was our first. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident (God totally and graciously spared my life). In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I was so excited! I had always wanted children and had begged Shane so many times to start trying since we got married. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor’s didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. He ran some blood work and I had to repeat the blood work at two day intervals during that week. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:

My Valley

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;

You give me strength to sing.

Only you know why I am going through this trial.

I can rest in your comforting arms.

Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;

I give this child to you.

Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,

Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,

I trust your will.

When I rest upon wings as eagles;

You will give me strength.

I shall run through this valley and not be weary.

I shall walk and not be faint.

For a long time after my miscarriage; I was in emotional pain. I had a friend who was pregnant during that time and when I could I put my emotions into caring about her pregnancy. I held her baby shower at my house and offered support when I could. One morning I got a call from her right after I left work from an overnight shift (I think it may have been a double shift). She was in labor and asked me to come be with her and her husband in the hospital because her mom was not going to make it into town in time. As tired as I was; I excitedly told her that I would be there. That day was a day that I will always remember. Supporting her during that time was a huge blessing. And witnessing the miracle of a new life come into the world was amazing! Holding that beautiful baby somehow filled a hole in my heart. I don’t think that my friend understands how much God used her in my life.

When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil for several reasons. We almost did not make it before we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together. We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” Based on my poem (above); we thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Since then God added Audrey to our family as well.

For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major crisis and I started to fall into depression. We left Okinawa and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength. Since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before. The biggest struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I did a women’s study dealing with anger; and since then I have grown tremendously. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, and singing and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me and my family.

*****

My message to Mother’s who have lost children or women who have not been able to have children (or to anyone experiencing hardships):

God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. My prayer is that you will find comfort in the arms of Jesus.

Enough Faith To Follow

Today, our church women gathered for a  several hour workshop with the theme,

“God’s Raining Love”

and theme verse:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

We studied about God’s love and our faith and obedience. The speaker gave several definitions of faith including:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance

The second definition is what stands out to me. I believe that there is a lot of evidence (in several fields of study) that supports the Bible, Christianity, and the fact that there is a God (to read recent debates on this subject; see the comment sections of my blogs here and here). But the reality is; we are not supposed to know all of the answers to all of life’s questions. If we did; that would mean that God would not big enough to be our God. To be completely honest; the fact that I don’t know everything is comforting. Instead, I can rest in the arms of Christ and trust that He has the answers and will guide me along the right path.

I will talk more about the workshop on another day; but for now I am going to share a poem that I wrote today during our quiet prayer time with God.

*****

I have sometimes questioned what I believe.

I have been a doubting Thomas who wished to see.

I have searched for answers, facts, and clues;

When searching for the truth.

The evidence for You is sometimes hard to find.

But other times I would have to be blind;

If I did not acknowledge what

Confirms by faith the Truth.

Here am I Lord; ready to do your will.

I may not understand.

I may not comprehend.

But your will for me is made complete;

Through the love You have given me.