Saturday, July 22, 2006
Please look past our "oops-es" and get a blessing from the preaching of the word.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
We're home again, and I have a little bit of time to write. We just had a blessed week of family camp, where we fellowshipped with the brethren from both our mission works. Those from Ottawa have come every year for the past four years, but this is the first year we had those from Quebec City. Family Camp means we camp for five days and four nights on the banks of the beautiful Clyde River, sleeping in tents and cooking over camp stoves. Some of our group also stayed in the campground's motel rooms, which were very nice. We all came together for meals, prayer times, services, and activities with the children. Have you seen Rand's or Twinklemoose's blogs? They were there, and I thoroughly enjoyed some uninterrupted chats with Twinklemoose.
Why family camp? Well, why not? It is a time to be refreshed through the preaching of the Word and through fellowship with other believers. It is a time to come away from the busyness of everyday life and relax. There is time to pray -- alone and with others -- in a way we can't always experience at home in our regular routines. It's a time to focus on Christ: Who He is, what He has done for us, and what He can do through us if we are fully yielded to Him.
Things to do with the children:
1. Be a part of their swimming milestones. We don't get to swim much since we don't have a pool and we tend to avoid the public beaches (too much partial nudity). Family camp is the time we see who has advanced in their swimming abilities, and how far. One daughter swam all the way out to the raft without her life jacket (a "deep part" requirement for children who can't swim well). Another daughter swam out to the raft with her life jacket, "all by myself!!!" This daughter was petrified of the deep part last year. And the third daughter showed me proudly how she could put her face in the water without plugging her nose.
2. Special music. One of my sons has been practicing playing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" on the piano, with one finger. He asked me to sing a solo with him playing, which I did. Two of my sons sang in a young men's quartet. We also sang as a family.
3. Help memorize Scripture. Every year we divide the children into 3-4 teams, with adult team leaders. We give them a passage to memorize (this year they did Psalm 85) and encourage them to learn as much as they can. Prizes are given to the winning team, and to the individuals who can say the whole passage perfectly. This year I actually didn't help that much since I wasn't one of the team leaders, but I did listen to my oldest daughter as she struggled, for the first time, to memorize the passage. Usually she does really well, but this year, for some reason, she couldn't seem to get past the first 2-3 verses. She said it just wasn't sticking. I told her to pray about it, and ask the Lord to help her. The next day she almost had the whole Psalm down! When she stood up to recite on the last morning, she did very well, making only two mistakes. Two of my other children were on the winning team. One son said the whole Psalm perfectly, tying for first place individual prize.
4. Fish. Okay, I didn't fish. I don't have the patience for it. But my 10-year-old caught one early one morning, and ate it for breakfast. Here's the test for patience that my husband passes with flying colors, which I don't even attempt: untangling the fishing lines of about half a dozen fishing poles.
5. Encourage their character. Every year the adults nominate campers 18 years old and under for the "Camper of the Week" prize. They are chosen based on cheerfulness, willingness to serve, and overall good attitude. I got to see the tally sheet this year and was pleased to see that about half the children received nominations, and no one person received an overwhelming majority of the votes. This means we had a pretty good bunch this year, as all of the children were pretty well behaved and showed reasonably good attitudes. My oldest daughter tied for first place, and my youngest daughter tied for second place. My youngest daughter is only three, but all week we received comments about her sunny disposition and her ready smile. (Was this really the same little girl who only a month or so ago was the world's worst whinepot? What an encouragement to me that our training and discipline in this area is paying off!)
6. Pray. Twice a day the adults gathered for prayer. During this time, our two oldest sons (either together or taking turns) led the children's prayer group. None of the children resisted this; in fact, they expected it. It is such a joy to see children learning to pray.
If you ever have the opportunity to be part of a good family camp, one sound in doctrine and practice, I hope you'll take advantage of it. I like it much better than age-segregated youth camps or adults-only retreats.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I thought it might be fun for you all to see what my family and I look like. This picture was taken on a Sunday night when we were a little tired and some of us were a little giddy. I think that's the reason SOME people's personalities come through so nicely!
From left to right: Elijah (12-in-two-weeks), Sarah (14) holding John (2-in-two-weeks), Nathanael (18), me holding Timothy (3 months), Josiah (16), Abigail (7), Elizabeth (3), my pastor-husband, and Benjamin (10). Notice that I seem to be getting shorter!
Monday, July 03, 2006
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see
--William D. Longstaff
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, emphasis mine).
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).
I confess that when I was a young Christian, I did not have the habit of prayer. I did not really understand what prayer was all about, and had no idea what an essential part of the Christian life prayer is. The last verse quoted above is in the context of spiritual warfare, another topic I didn't know much about. I certainly didn't understand how the two were connected.
I married a man who prays. I didn't know anybody prayed so much until we were married. One evening after we'd been married only a few weeks, I walked into the bedroom and found him on his knees. I was surprised, and felt like I was interrupting something personal and private. I started to apologize for intruding, but he invited me to come and kneel with him. As I listened to him pray, I was in awe of this man. I already knew that he read and studied his Bible far more than I did. Now I was convinced that he had attained spiritual heights I would never know about.
Did I know that I could attain such spiritual heights as well? Maybe I sensed it, but I didn't really expect to. I know that for years afterward I compared myself to my husband and always came up short. I often felt a sense of loss, as if he was going on in his spiritual walk without me. He and God were going somewhere, somewhere very special, and I was being left behind.
But instead of spurring me on to prayer, this only made me feel sorry for myself. I whined to God about why couldn't I go along without praying so much. Surely five minutes of "God, bless my day" tacked on after reading the required chapter-a-day two or three times a week should be sufficient to make me a good Christian! Besides, the babies started coming, I had a lot to do, and surely God understands moms and their need for sleep! Surely God would not ask me to get out of bed early to pray!
I don't know when the turning point came. But I know that the Lord used three verses to convict me of my prayerlessness.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40).
One hour? One whole hour? When I was a kid with my first digital watch I used to pass the time during prayer meeting by timing how long people prayed. Two or three minutes was about average, with some of the men praying as much as five minutes or more. I thought those were long prayers! But an hour? Whatever would I say in an hour? And where would I get an hour in my busy day, anyway?
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed (Mark 1:35).
Have you ever really studied the first chapter of Mark? Two words stand out: straightway and immediately. In 45 verses, our Lord is baptized, is tempted, begins preaching, calls his first disciples, teaches in the synagogue, casts an unclean spirit out of a man, heals Peter's mother-in-law, heals many that were sick, casts out many devils, hikes into the next towns to preach in their synagogues, casts out more devils, and heals a leper. It almost makes me dizzy just to read about it. I have never been that busy. All right, so I carve an hour out of my day. But does it have to be so early in the morning?
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me (Proverbs 8:17).
Here are some reasons why I've found early morning to be the best time for prayer:
1. I'm not so tired. A little sleepy, maybe, at first, but not weary like I am at the end of a long day.
2. I can focus. Nobody else is up yet; there are no distractions.
3. I need help. If I've learned anything in the past 20 years, it's that I really can't be a patience wife and mother without spending a lot of time in prayer. And when Mom's not patient, the whole house is in turmoil!
4. It sanctifies the whole day. I get an "attitude adjustment" through early prayer that carries through the day, enabling me to meet any situation that arises with cheerfulness and grace. This works best if I pray every day, not just a few times a week.
This has been a long post, and I just realized that time is slipping away. It is now 7:17 a.m. Most of us have eaten breakfast, and my two medium boys (ages 10 and 12-in-two-weeks) have the kitchen cleaned up. They've also done their chores without being reminded, and have "reported for duty" (their words; they are into soldier stuff lately). I've got yard work for them to do, and need to do some laundry. I'm off to be Martha, but with Mary's attitude.
You will notice on the sidebar a new link. My good friend Twinklemoose started a blog on what the Lord has been teaching her regarding prayer. Like me, she is a busy home schooling mom (though she only has three children ;) ), so she doesn't write often. But I hope you'll check out her blog now and then. When I first began to read her blog, it convicted me to pray more, and I told her so. She surprised me by saying that God had used me to convict her, and that was part of what got her started on this! But isn't that the way it is sometimes? When a brother or sister is down, we help them up. When we are down, they help us up.
Going forward on my knees,