April 25, 2016

Busy Bodies

Do you know a  busy-body? We all know or have met at least one I think.  My dictionary defines a busy-body as "one who obtrusively meddles in the affairs of others."
My Bible says this about busybodies:
" We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busy bodies.
Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down
and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers,
never tire of doing what is right."
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13
"They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes, and to
give the enemy no opportunity for slander."
~ 1 Timothy 5:13-14


I recently read an online parenting article that said calls to local children welfare departments have more than doubled since the scandal of the "free-range" parents hit the news. While there are genuinely toxic families out there, in my opinion, some of these calls may be of the busy-body type. It's a hard judgment call to report the real cases of abuse, but some of these "tattle" calls may crash the child welfare system. Social workers face constant criticism and immense public pressure and some children may fall between the cracks.  
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. Children aren't born with an instruction manual and I was so focused on being a good mom and wisely parenting our son that I about drove people crazy asking for advice before we got hooked up with Dr. Ketterman.  I loved practical advice from other parents who told me what worked for them and who to read. I soaked up their praise when they told me I was a good mom! Once when we went on vacation to visit military friends, we stopped at a gift shop near their home and even though we didn't have much money to buy souvenirs on that trip, I had to have a plaque that I saw there (it's still hanging in my kitchen). I stood in the store and embarrassed everyone around me by crying  like a baby as I read it. grin!  It was a lovely touching God-gift during a moment I was feeling pretty low about my abilities as a parent. It said:
A Special Housewife
Though you think your career is less fulfilling than those with a business life, it takes a lot of love and stamina to shape a little one's life. You teach your children about the Lord;
you lead them in His ways, and little can match the undying love of a faithful mother
who prays. And when on that final judgment day the saints gather
around His throne, it's little wonder that many will say,
"I'm here 'cause Mom stayed home."
~ DEXSA, The Giving Company, Lakeland, MN.
I washi-taped a quote of  Stephanie's to the back of my February divider in my Documented Faith-notebook. The theme was LOVE and she said: "When I begin to feel critical of someone I must IMMEDIATELY STOP and make a list (in my head or maybe on paper) of those person's positive qualities. Again, every single time I even start to have a critical thought I must STOP and correct my thinking. Remember that we are here on earth for a reason. To love God and to love others. Let's all make a conscious effort from this day forward that we treat others the way we want to be treated and then . . . ask yourself what you want from people and then do it for them!"
Imagine what would have happened if the callers in the above article had stopped for a moment to think how their report might impact everyone's lives?  It is easier to anonymously tattle (which is a spiteful desire to hurt someone) rather than making an investment of time in building relationships with people. What if . . . they had tried to find something good to praise their neighbor for first instead of reporting their poor parenting to the authorities? Wouldn't that be amazing? I know I would have been thankful for a wise neighborhood friend who had noticed we were trying to be good parents. As it was, we lived in almost constant dread of, before our son was diagnosed with ADD/ODD, that a misunderstanding neighbor would call the child welfare system on us. I truly believe that God protected us from that.
And speaking of gratitude, I have much to be grateful for, but here are a few for today:  
  1. My heavenly Father - he's the perfect Daddy!  He is ever loving (the friend who just stands by) and is never too busy for me and my questions or petitions. He's also a great hugger when I'm needing some comfort. He has loads of parenting wisdom and much of it can be found in the Bible.
  2. My co-parent, my husband. He stood by me when I miscarried our much wanted first baby and occupied our son when I needed to wind down from a hard day with No. 2 child. My hubby has the patience of Job; he learned how to consistently discipline our son and to close ranks with me when the boy wanted to play us against each other. I felt cherished and important to him by his actions (he was rewarded $$ in the love bank of our marriage! grin!).
  3. Creative ideas for a refashioned wardrobe to go with my new leg brace found at Pinterest. I'm loving the lagenlook style of clothing with leggings.
  4. a RAK from a friend across the pond that shall go into my FISH money because it was unexpected and a penny found on the sidewalk in front of a clothing store.  
  5.  hearing from old friends.
  6. Sunshine and rain.
  7. A free pass in the snail mail to the Kansas City zoo (we went Thursday -- I was thankful for my rolling walker with a seat and the amazing variety of critters God has created. He must have had fun designing!)
  8. Other goodies in the mail = a gift card from Cenex  (Cenex has a nifty program called "Tanks of Thanks") and a restaurant gift card from 54th Street Grill which we have yet to use.
  9. New information on my 3rd great-grandfather from the Primitive Baptist church archivist.
  10. My faithful readers & new visitors. This month is my gratitude journal's 3rd anniversary and I've had visits from these countries (in order of no. of visits) = United States of America, Russia, Malaysia, France, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Canada, China, Australia, France, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, El Salvador, Switzerland, and Thailand.
And finally, after four months of taking sermon notes, my note-sheet is beginning to form itself into sections. I've begun to fold a 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper this way.
  1. Worship details = date, pastor/worship team, sermon title and scripture reference.
  2. Gratitude notes = things I cull from songs or think of during the service that I'm thankful for
  3. Sermon Notes
  4. Scripture text references or people to pray for
  5. Sermon Notes 
  6. Art Spot = illustrations or ideas that come to mind
Here's what today's notes look like (I erased names in this copy to protect the living):
(to read: click on image to enlarge)
On Sundays after church, I have been adding in important dates from my sermon sheet and the church bulletin into my faith-book calendar while our dinner is baking.  Then I check my email for Stephanie's scripture for the week and add it onto my scripture sheet that's hanging in my kitchen.
It's interesting the verse she picked in two different Bible versions to go with our monthly theme word ENCOURAGE this week =
Learn to do what is right. Treat people fairly. Help those who are treated badly. Stand up in court for children whose fathers have died.
And do the same thing for widows. ~ Isaiah 1:17 NIRV

Learn to do right; seek justice. Encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
~ Isaiah 1:17 NIV

It appears as though Stephanie and I are at odds with one another, however, God doesn't contradict himself in scripture. First of all you have to read all  the verses in context -- read the whole chapter of all three books where the scriptures are found. Next you need to pray and ask God for discernment. What is he really saying to the both of us? Then if you continue to have difficulty understanding, look up the verses' key words and their definitions  in your dictionary/thesaurus.
 The first thing I noticed when comparing the two thoughts is that one, being an encouraging mentor takes time and effort. You have to be willing to be a supportive, praying friend.  
Busy-bodies can't find the time because they are too busy playing the blame game. They are spiritually powerless because they would rather hurt  someone to make themselves feel more important than to make others feel good about themselves. Earlier in the chapter of Thessalonians, it says to stay away from every brother who is idle. After listening to our pastor today telling the story of Abraham rescuing Lot by going to war with his allies (Genesis 14), I realized, basically,  busy bodies are selfish people who cannot be trusted to personally fight for me or others nor would they make a good ally at my side.

So knowing all that, go out and be a blessing to someone this week! Okay?

April 02, 2016

Faith-booking Journaling Prompts

We're moving into the month of April and I've been thinking of some questions to prompt me into writing about my relationship with Jesus for my faith-book. I have answered some the questions  already, either here on this blog or one of my other ones.  Last year I mentioned something about scrapbooking my ancestors' faith in Jesus, which I have yet to accomplish, so perhaps this will motivate me to begin. If I choose one prompt a month to journal, I should be able to get through this list in about three years!
  1. When did you first recognize Jesus? Lisps First Word (see sample below)
  2. Who introduced you to Jesus?
  3. When did you first go to church and who took you there? Do you have photos of them you can add to your journal page?
  4. Which ancestors of yours were Christians? Record evidence you may have personally witnessed of their spiritual life such as reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, praying, etc.
  5. What churches did you attend?
  6. When did you get your first Bible? 
  7.  What are your favorite Bible scriptures and why? 
  8. When did you asked Jesus to come into your heart?
  9. When were you baptized? Who helped you celebrate this important milestone in your Christian life?
  10. Have you experienced or seen evidence of miracles -- extraordinary events that can't be explained by earth's natural laws? What did that do for your faith in Jesus?
  11. How do you know Jesus loves you? What symbolizes Jesus' love for you?
  12. Tell about why you received certificates, special cards or encouraging notes from your teachers, youth leaders, your pastor or your spiritual family.
  13. What were your favorite activities with your spiritual family? Where did they like to hang out? Did you do anything with your spiritual family outside of church?
  14. Have you written anything about your relationship with Jesus and what was it? Was it strictly for yourself or friends? Was it ever published?
  15. Did you ever create artwork or crafts based on your faith? Tell about it.
  16. Who were your Sunday School teachers? Write a short biography about one (or more) of them.
  17. Consider who you admire in your past or present spiritual family? What do you admire about them most and what would you would like to emulate in your own life?
  18. Did you or do you personally know any missionaries? Did you ever consider becoming or are you a missionary? Who influenced you to become a missionary?
  19. What were your favorite church camp memories? Or camp meeting memories? Retreats?
  20. Did you meet your spouse at a church activity? Did you get married in a church? Tell about it.
  21. Were your children dedicated in church? By whom?
  22. What lessons have you tried to teach your child(ren) about Jesus? Have you personally led your child(ren) to Christ?
  23. What faith books were in your library at home?
  24. What famous Christian biographies have you read? Write a 300-word biography about one of them.
  25. What poems, quotes and sayings have you collected that mean at lot to you in your relationship with Jesus?
  26. What is or are your favorite hymn(s)?
  27. What are your favorite memories of traditional holiday meals? What special things did you eat and who did you eat with?
  28. Did you ever submit a recipe for inclusion in your church's cookbook or another publication?
  29. Tell about a time you walked away from Jesus. Tell what brought you back to him.
  30. What leadership roles have you taken on at church? Describe all or one of them. What were your best memories of your service?
  31. Did you attend a Christian school (private school, college, university, seminary)? Tell about your experience and what lessons were the hardest for you to learn; the easiest?
  32. Tell about a traumatic event in your life. Who were your best supporters?
  33.  What is or was your worst habit? What would or what did it take to overcome it? How did or does it affect your relationship with Jesus?
  34. Have you ever visited the Holy Land and walked where Jesus walked? If so, tell about your trip.
  35. Write about heaven in your own words. Describe what you will see and do there based on scripture. Can you imagine how exquisite the praise music and the banquet table will be? Who do you hope to meet there?
  36. What are you thankful for?
Some of the questions above were inspired by the book called "The Book of Me: A Guide to Scrapbooking About Yourself." By Angie Pederson. 2002.

~~ <> @ <> ~~
Doodled by Stephanie Ackerman
Painted by me!