The Measure of an Aging Woman – Guest post on Blessed Transgressions

 

themeasure

Just what is the measure of a woman who has grown to an old age? When the joints hurt doing simple household chores? When she feels unable to help herself or those she cares about? What if she lives in a total care facility — even has to wear a diaper? Or when Dementia or Alzheimer’s or a stroke or heart attack has taken the mind or abilities away? From a physical standpoint, old age seems immeasurable.

The world measures by physical beauty — slender figure, wholesome complexion, youthful hair color and agility. When so much of that worldly beauty changes, what is there to measure? Gray hairs, wrinkles, poor eyesight, hearing loss, protruding belly, mental slowness? The world’s yardstick is tough on her.  The moral and spiritual character often is torn asunder. Yet, God measures differently.

Creator God made His children in His Image. Can one allow the world to be the judge? God is Judge — He sets the standard. No other. Beginning to end, He sustains, carries, and promises.

Follow me to Ericka’s site ~ Blessed Transgressions for the rest of this post.

newfpmass2

8213ba8b106f9c53124e7f45360e2f1f

He Has Dealt Bountifully With Me

gbdblog_button_zps2b5eecb6

(I am blessed to be a guest devotional writer today over at Granola Bar Devotional.)

gbdlindagillsing_edited-1-1024x816

I would cry out, “How long, O Lord? How long” as I would leave the nursing home where my mother spent the last five years of her life. Due to a terrible fall and surgery, Mama would never be able to fully walk again. Previously, her mind had slipped into a roller coaster of dementia-ridden fear, repetition, accusation, jealousy, confusion, and hallucinations. Diabetes turned to Type 1 at age 85, making her insulin-dependent until the day she died at age 98. Then in her last year of life, she got an extremely painful, odd cancer.

I loved my Mama dearly and she loved her family. I loved to see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her motherly arms around me.  She lived near me the last fifteen years of her life where I watched and lived her life daily so also watched the hard side to aging.

Mama was one of those 1940s gals who went to work for the war effort. She married a Navy doctor. She owned a dress shop. She raised three daughters alone after Daddy died from Pancreatic cancer. We were only 12, 10, and 7. She had her hands full raising us in the 1960s and 70s, but she did. She loved us through the hard places, never giving up on any of us. She took care of herself. She was just an amazing lady.

As her body and mind deteriorated in her aged years, I saw my proud, strong mother become dependent, confused, in pain. Mama could be so afraid over something imaginary, be so angry or jealous with those who cared for her; her blood sugar would drop so low that she required hand-feeding, or the pain of the cancer would be intense. Anguish built up in me. I would hold on, quietly praying for Him to calm us both. As I left her in the care of others, I would cry out to God, “How long, O LORD?” Not that I wanted her to die for I would (and now do) miss her terribly, but watching her go through so much for so long, I just wondered if God had forgotten her.

He had not. God never left either of us. The number of Mama’s days were in God’s hands. He is the LORD Who sees, Yahweh Roi. God was drawing Mama closer to Himself all along through beautiful avenues. He drew me into His arms of peace, of hope, of gentleness. I can sing with joy for He, indeed, dealt with me bountifully.

Memory Verse:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
– Psalm 13:5-6 (ESV)

Prayer Prompt:
“Father God, I rejoice and sing to You. You truly have dealt with me bountifully and lovingly….”

Originally published @ @ Granola Bar Devotional…

This post has been linked up through Granola Bar Devotional FaceBook as well @ https://www.facebook.com/GBDevotional

31 Days of God-Woven Moments – October 25

31 days PNG

And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.  And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.  2 Kings 23:3-4

And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.  2 Kings 23:7

King Josiah took down anything and everything related to idol worship upon making the covenant with the LORD.  He desired to walk in the ways of His God which meant a lot of cleaning, both of the people and their ways.  One aspect of this problem was that the women spent time weaving for an idol (which brings the topic to weaving).

The houses King Josiah broke down were “not solid houses, but tents, called elsewhere [2 Kings 17:30] Succoth-benoth, “the booths of the young women,” who were devoted to the service of Asherah, for which they made embroidered hangings, and in which they gave themselves to unbridled revelry and lust. Or the hangings might be for Asherah itself, as it is a popular superstition in the East to hang pieces of cloth on trees.”  Asherah is…

אֲשֵׁרָה

‘asherah

  1. Ashera(h) = “groves (for idol worship)”

    1. a Babylonian (Astarte)-Canaanite goddess (of fortune and happiness), the supposed consort of Baal, her images

      1. the goddess, goddesses

      2. her images

      3. sacred trees or poles set up near an altar

I know that I have been drawn into places that were not of God.  I know I have allowed satan to lead me along paths where I knew I should not have been.  How easily I was drawn into things that are worldly, calling me into disobedience to God.  In reading this (and in other books of the Bible) I take a moment to discern whether I have done this creative hobby in any kind of disobedience to God.  I believe not.  But I want to discern any wayward ways and then to make sure I am staying firm in my walk with the LORD.  Prayer, honor, respect and reverence for the LORD, time with Him, walking in faith are where I find my obedience and love for the LORD.

Father, I pray for the ability to stay on the path that You direct for me.  I ask Your forgiveness for those places along my lifelong journey where I have strayed.  I know I have when it comes to idol worship when I wandered into uncharted religions that I would call “New Age” today.  I did not know then what I know now.  I am sorry.  I ask to have a tight hold upon me that I would walk close and straight with You.  I thank You for Your love and care for me.  You loved me first.  I am blessed.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

 

To catch up on the previous days of this 31 day challenge, you can find them listed here.

31 Days of God-Woven Moments – October 12

31 days PNG

During the week with family in California, I spent a couple of hours with my mother’s dearest, lifelong friend who is now 92 years old.  She was so special to my mother that she, and her first husband who has been deceased for many years, were named my godparents.  I called them Aunt A… and Uncle B….  They were close and cared about us almost as much as biological parents.  After moving Mom to Texas in 1998, Aunt A would call me about every 6 weeks to check on Mom.  When Mom was in a good place and felt like talking on the phone, we would call Aunt A.  The two of them would reminisce, catch up on family, and laugh like girls.  They met in 1942 when they worked for the Naval Supply Depot in San Diego, California during WWII.  Mom was 27 and Aunt A was 18.  Mom was given the task to train this young new employee.  They became best of friends and stayed in touch over the many Navy moves we had and then stayed close through the rest of Mama’s life.  After finding out about Mom, Aunt A would always ask about me, how and what I was doing, and then reassured me that she would be praying for me.  She knew that I was in a hard place being a caregiver as she was one twice, for both husbands.  She understood what I could be facing and was always there for me.  I also knew that I could call her to talk, cry, or laugh.  She cared and understood.  I love this woman so.

We were blessed to see her and two of her three daughters.  We loved, laughed, and I had tears at the end.  As I was leaving, not only did I think to myself that this might be the last time I would see her on this earth, but she said to me, “You look so much like Eleanor (my mother).”  Then I turned back around to her and hugged her.  She then said, “When you walked in today, honey, I thought, ‘Oh my, she looks like Eleanor!'”  Tears welled up and they are now as I type these words.  I was so blessed, knowing that I have been truly loved by both women.  Aunt A is so dear to me as was my mother.

I had a God-woven moment that day and am having one now while I type these words.  I am truly in His Presence.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  Exodus 20:12


Thank You, Father, for these precious women in my life.  I thank You for my mother.  She bore me, raised me, and loved me for 65+ years.  She was just the best.  I thank You for Aunt A as she still loves me to this day and cares so much.  I was just nine months older than her son whom she has lost now.  I thank You that You gave her three daughters as well.  Her prayers, her care, her love have meant the world to me, especially these past years as I cared for Mama and after Mama died.  She is just so special.  Thank You for the time my sister and I had with her and her daughters last week.  You wove beautiful moments with love and words that I hold dear.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

 

To catch up on the previous days of this 31 day challenge, you can find them listed here.

A Heart Adorned — Part Four of Four

Originally published “At the Well – A Titus 2 Ministry,” this four-part series ran in November, 2010.

May this short study bless you as it has me and others.  May the glory be ALL God’s.  Amen.
 

A Heart Adorned
Part Four

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASB)

Welcome back to “A Heart Adorned”, our final day on these two verses in 1 Peter 3.  Our focus today is on what “is precious in the sight of God.”  As we walk with You, LORD, may the precious jewels hidden in our hearts be uncovered so that we would become a brighter beacon to Your world.  

Just as we can easily believe that our outward appearance is of importance in who we are, so too must we consider this outer shell to be precious to God.  He created our bodies.  His Holy Spirit dwells in our body-temple.  Caring for it should be of prime importance.  Caring for God’s temple is important and truly necessary.  Yet our bodies, clothes, makeup, and jewelry are only our outward appearance.  God knows the beautiful bodies He created and considers them all such and we must remember that.  It is important to see ourselves in the mirror through God’s eyes, seeing the beauty He created without judging ourselves by worldly standards.

In my young adult years, I really struggled with self confidence and esteem.  With a little help from a precious friend, I began looking into the mirror and saying, “I love you, Linda”.  I said that a couple of times each day, but I could not look myself in the eyes in the mirror when I said those words.  Yet I kept it up.  One day, well into the third month, I caught my eye in my reflection and turned, focusing on myself, and said, “I love you, Linda”.  I repeated the words several times, each time looking myself straighter in the eyes.  I began to see myself differently.  Over time, with repetitive reflection, I began to see the love of God towards me, knowing that He created me, beginning to discern that He loved me.  And I began to see the inward beauty of my hidden heart.  God knows the inner me, the inner you, and wants His beauty to shine and be reflected to His world.  Look at the reflection of the roses in the picture.  The reflection is near perfect in the glass compared to the actual roses.  Imagine we are those roses with all their beauty reflecting Christ as He is beautiful.  Allow the world to see Christ in us.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).   Belonging to Christ does not eliminate the pressures of the world.  In Christ, our lives are changed as we become a new creation with ever-renewing minds.  We are the dew on the roses of today, sound minds grounded in Jesus, our LORD, to discern His will.  This word “discern” in Greek is “dokimᾱzo”, meaning that “by putting something to use the worth of it can be found”.  Let’s look at some of what we can put to use for God’s Kingdom by finding that which is precious to Him.

  • Be adorned with modesty, discretionary taste, godliness–Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. (1 Timothy 2:9-10) 
  • Bearing fruit, we are God’s jewels.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • We grow from His incorruptible seed by abiding.  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
  • Embrace hope, chasteness, submission, obedience, reverential awe as many women of the Bible displayed.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3:5-6).  Mary, the mother of Jesus, Ruth, Esther, are just a few of God’s examples of holy women for us to ponder.
  • As we abide in the Word, we become an epistle, a letter to the world.  We speak His Truth without fear.  In purity, we do not malign the Word of God.  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32)
  • Trust, hope, and love for God produces inner peace and a deep-seeded joy reflected in our countenance.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  (John 15:11)
  • Adorned in respect, dignity, integrity, security, consistency, graciousness, we bring light to the world.  A gracious woman retains honor,….  Proverbs 11:16a  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  (Titus 2:3-5)
  • Wisdom, discernment, and an inward righteousness are precious to God.  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
  • Glorifying God in all we do, in all we are is truly a part of our heavenly adornment.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him!  Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;  (some versions of the Bible read – in the beauty of holiness, or in holy attire) (1 Chronicles 16:29).  “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us” (Psalm 90:17). 

 
LORD, we ask that You teach us Your ways so that we are clothed with Your beauty.  May we open our hearts and minds to Your revelations.  May we be willing to change, to grow, to cleanse our hidden hearts.  We love You, LORD, and want to please You in all we are and in all we do.  LORD, I love each precious woman joining us for this study.  Guard, guide, and grow Your daughters to be more precious day by day.  Remind them as they seek You that You created them beautifully.  Amen. 

CULMINATING QUESTIONS FOR STUDY:

What image are you reflecting to your world?
In what ways does your image affect the ripple effect?

Are you seeking the true beauty of holiness in your own life?  In what ways would you like your holy attire to change (permitting that we are not perfect!)?

 

Photo 1: “Rose Reflection” by Beverly Taz@stock.xchng  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1147813 Standard Restrictions/Creative Commons license; permission granted

Photo 2: “prayer 7 alt” by KHRawlings@Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/khrawlings/3925045109/; Standard Restrictions/Creative Commons license;permission granted

Photo 3: “Ripples” by clix@stock.xchng; Standard Restrictions/Creative Commons license; notified

A Heart Adorned — Part Three of Four

Originally published “At the Well – A Titus 2 Ministry,” this four-part series ran in November, 2010.
 May this short study bless you as it has me and others.  May the glory be ALL God’s.  Amen. 

 

A Heart Adorned
Part Three

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASB)

Welcome back to “A Heart Adorned”.  Today, we reach toward understanding “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.”

Oh, I so wonder how I could shelter anything within me that is “imperishable”, “incorruptible”, “unfading”.  I am human.  I am just me.  Yet, God’s Word tells me that I am to “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality”,  revealed in other versions of the Bible as “with the unfading beauty”,”with incorruptible beauty”.  The words “incorruptible” and  “imperishable” mean that something does not decay, or become corrupt or worsen with age.  The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says “imperishable jewel.”  Think of the diamonds, the rubies, the amethysts buried beneath the surface of the earth, covered, hidden, and even disguised by layers of rock and dirt.  We don’t know they are there until they come into the light, have the layers of dirt cleared off.  We have that precious jewel within us awaiting the indwelling of Christ.  The value of me increased when Christ came to dwell in me and even more so with each layer of worldliness removed.  I become more Christlike with every particle of dirt that is washed away.  Value grows with our years when we stay near to the LORD.  Our preciousness to God seeps out from the inner heart touching those we are with and near.

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides,….” 1 Peter 1:22-23 brings me to my knees as my heart wraps around these truths.  I am reborn, remade, renewed by the “incorruptible seed” of the Word.  I am new and beautiful because of His sacrifice for me, FOR ME!  FOR YOU!

This precious commodity is described as “a gentle and quiet spirit”.  Colossians 3:12 tells us that Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.   Humility is often translated as meek, quiet, gentle.  None of these words should be treated as inferior, weak, or worthless.  Being meek is wholly relying upon God in all situations, good or bad.  I have heard it described as “strength under control”.  A horse trained to plow a field is strong yet gentle, able to be guided, under control.  The etymology of the word meek in Old English is “soft, mild, gentle”, and “easily flexible” from the Middle English; from the Old Norse, is means “gentle, courteous, kind”–nothing negative in any of the original meanings.  God calls us to clothe ourselves in these characteristics.  A gentle person does not center upon the self, and is able to trust in God’s goodness and control over any situation.  Of course, this is not about us, our will, or determination.  It is about the Holy Spirit at work in us.  As we wear meekness and gentleness, we carry an easy temperament and a quiet obliging behavior.  We refrain from pride, jealousy, and uncontrolled anger.  Our soul becomes more beautiful to the eyes of the world.

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 29:19)  LORD, may we know this fresh joy, this incorruptible seed, know it as it flourishes within us.  One day the dirt and grime will be washed away.  May the sun hit upon this precious jewel.  And may we shine brightly to all those around.   May it be so in me, LORD.  May it be so in me.  May I exult in You, my Holy One.  May I shout in exultation.  Amen.

THINK ABOUT:
What are you clothed with this day that shines upon your world
speaking of your relationship with Jesus?

Has the word “meek” been a word you have disdained?  If so, how can you change that to fit with the Scripture in 1 Peter 3?

 

 

Graphic 1:  Zach Fonville/redferriswheel @ Flickr; http://www.flickr.com/photos/redferriswheel/3060090408/; Some Rights Reserved/Creative Commons license; permission granted

Statue: “Gentle Woman” by Quinn Dombrowski @ Flickr; http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/3389946008/; Bonaventure Cemetery Set; Some Rights Reserved/Creative Commons license; notified

A Heart Adorned — Part Two of Four

Originally published “At the Well – A Titus 2 Ministry,” this four-part series ran in November, 2010.
May this short study bless you as it has me and others.  May the glory be ALL God’s.  Amen.

A Heart Adorned
Part Two

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASB)

Welcome back to “A Heart Adorned”.  In session one, we pondered “Your adornment must not be merely external”.  We are called to shine from the inside-out so that the world will see Jesus in us through that which is our outer shell.  Today, we are peeking into “the hidden person of the heart”.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)  Oh, how we think so much about how others perceive us.  We dwell on being accepted, appreciated, or ridiculed, rejected.  As God’s daughters, we truly must take this scripture to heart and allow Him, and only Him, to mold us and make us into His image.  He is our judge and sees us for the women we are, from our heart.  He sees the spiritual beauty that is enveloped by the outer self.  He knows the steps we take towards becoming more beautiful each day.  The life we live, the speech we utter, the works we do, the care of our body-temple, the reading of His Word, the utterance of prayers to Him, the thoughts we think, our care of our children, respect for our husband, the integrity of our walk and our talk, and so much more makes up this hidden person of the heart.
A Heart Adorned -- Part Two of Four

The heart is not only for loving, but it is where the Holy Spirit dwells.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9)  The heart is our soul, the very center of our being.    The heart is where we are to live our days, dwelling in the wisdom and love of the Holy Spirit so that we are transparent to the world.  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

Another beautiful reminder is Psalm 51:6:  Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.  Oh, that we should be steadfastly listening with the ears and seeing with the eyes of our hearts.

When we asked Christ to come into our hearts, we were crucified with Him.  Our sins have been hung on that Cross with Him.  We have been made new.  Everyday is a new day for us.  Everyday is the beginning to live anew with our LORD.  We do not need to look back with an unforgiving spirit upon ourselves.  We do not need to wish we had not done something.  We start fresh by asking for forgiveness, by seeking His Ways, by being willing to be yoked with Him, that He would help us carry burdens, guide us in our steps, teach us as we go.   I love Luke 24:32:   They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”   Should not our hearts be burning, be set on fire as He teaches us from His Word?  As He speaks to us on the Way?  Oh, that my heart be ablaze!  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

There is a lovely song written by Albert W. T. Orsborn (1886-1967).  It is called “The Beauty of Jesus”:

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
All His wonderful passion and purity
Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
When somebody has been so unkind to you.
Some words spoken that pierces you through and through.
Think how he was beguiled, spat upon and reviled.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. Amen.

LORD, may You refine me as silver, removing the dross, that I would be made more pure as You want me.  Abba, You love me as I am for You created me, yet I have wandered in and out of Your life during mine, and know that is not Your way for me.  Please take me as I am and make me wholly Yours.  Bring the parts of my heart that are unlike Christ to the surface so that I may be refined and purified.  Show me the hidden parts that are You that I may reflect them and glow before others in Your Holy Name.  Let Your Beauty be seen in me, LORD Jesus.  Amen.  

PONDER AND SHARE WITH US AS YOU WILL:
As you thinks about the words to Mr. Orsborn’s song, what is on your heart?

What is hidden in your heart that you reflect to others … positive and negative?

Have you asked the Holy Spirit into your heart?  If so, what is He teaching you?  Is your heart on fire?

And if the Holy Spirit has not been invited to dwell in you, please feel free to contact me @ BeingWoven@gmail.com  —  He desires to lives within you, sweet sister.
 
 

Photo 1: “Hidden” by Thomas Norsted, Denmark/stock.xchng; http://www.sxc.hu/photo/776852; Standard Restrictions/Creative Commons license; permission granted

Song by Albert W. T. Orsborn:  “The Beauty of Jesus”–date of publication—1947

Image 2: “Branch with Hearts” by Renate Kalloch, Germany/stock.xchng; Standard Restrictions/Creative Commons license; http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1254865; notified