Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Thoughts Exactly

I opened my inbox and this was here today.

Dear Mrs. Cowell, you have spoken my heart today. Thank you for your example of endurance. I, too, am weary. Your devotional and my dear friend's spoken word have helped to revive me.

Thank you Jesus for the body of Christ.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Tired Soul

That's me.

I don't know about you, but I believe it might be true of you too. Parenting is such a difficult and tiring road.

So today I am meditating on these verses.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Burden Bearer. He promises rest.

In light of this I want to love well too. I find myself so snappy and on edge when I am worn out. Sleep is important, but I love the days like today when I wake early without an alarm with prayers on my lips. I know the Spirit tends to do this when my heart is heavy and burdened. So I tossed and turned hoping to pray myself to sleep. But to no avail. I arose. I grabbed my Bible, journal and Devotional book (Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes) and put the coffee on. Three o'clock seemed a tad too early, but I always end up treasuring those days that I rise and have much more time than usual. Today was one of those days.

Though my body and mind were up when many others are resting, God met me and gave me rest in Him. My heart was heavy. My burdens were many. Six-thirty came and I was rested. My Jesus helped me to focus on Him and His will for my life.

Oh. What a great added dimension too. My lover, "Mr. Cartwright", was part of this morning. Nothing does a heart more good in marriage than when you read God's Word together. I love that man!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gentle Love

I love the little book of Philemon. Such a deep letter from Paul's heart to his fellow brother. As I read these epistle letters to his brothers I like to imagine myself there. Historically there. Without our written word. Relying on the next penned paper to arrive from the leader of the church. Hoping he was still alive. Knowing he would encourage us on in our faith.

Philemon found himself being lovingly admonished to accept back his slave Onesimus, after he ran away. In God's sovereignty, Paul "met" up with this man after he had run from his master. And God used Paul to lead this boy-man to a saving knowledge of Christ. Now Paul has the task of telling his brother, Philemon, that he has found Onesimus and directed him to go back home. As I read this story, I was struck by Paul's loving, but direct command appeal.

Verses 8-10 relay this appeal: "Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul - an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus - that I appeal to you for my son, Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains."

This struck a chord in my heart because I find myself in a similar place. Those of us that have almost grown children, can find ourselves very often confronting irresponsibility or begging for wisdom on how to handle situations when someone has sinned against us. That's a hard one. When we are sinned against and have every right to come and speak truth, we so often forget the loving  part.

So I find myself particularly intrigued by the way Paul lovingly entreats Philemon. He has lovingly entreated me today too.

Speaking the truth in love is so key to a healthy relationship. We as parents are so used to demanding obedience, for we have every right to. I mean, we are the authority, aren't we? How often have I wanted to say, "You will not question me! You will do what I say, because I am the parent." Yet, God has taught me so much lately in denying my own "rights" and appeal to their own conscience. Obviously, I am talking about grown children. Little ones need much more direction and training and cannot make these decisions. But as our children grow into their own people, and learn to fly (especially getting ready to take off) we must not demand. We must learn to love and exhort.

This takes so much time and energy. Most importantly it takes the knowledge and nohow by being with Jesus.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Missing Her, But So Thankful For Her Legacy

Today marks four years since Mom went home to be with the Lord. I miss her just as much as the day Jesus took her home.

There may be less days with tears, but the days that there are tears, they can fill a 10 gallon pail. And as I contemplate the home she resides in (and will for eternity) I think back on yesterday. I really mean yesterday.

Easter. Resurrection Day. The Empty Tomb. The Stone Rolled Away.

This is where my hope lies. I will see my mom again.

Until then, I have so many amazing memories and she left one gigantic legacy that is alive in all of her family.

There are songs. There are faces. There are habits. One particular song she often sang to my children when they were younger was:

"Alive, Alive, Alive forevermore. My Jesus is Alive, Alive Forevermore. Alive, Alive, Alive forevermore. My Jesus is Alive. Sing Hallelujah. Sing Hallelujah. My Jesus is Alive."

Oh, how this speaks volumes now.

This year I decided to ask my children what was one of their favorite memories of their Gran.

"Hoss" and "Little Joe" are continuing to deal with it in their own way. This is a difficult day for them too.

"Marie" had lots to say: "I remember her reading to me and playing war. I loved the days she would take me out by herself for lunch and a surprise gift. I really loved her laugh mom. (Everyone loved mom's laugh) When we spent the night she would always have a special breakfast for us. I remember making good fun of her old granny glasses that sat on her nose. She would always make a silly face too. She always told me how much she loved me and how special I was."

"Inger" remembers, "Popsicles, Ice Cream, and the cookies, Miss Patty brings at Christmas." (Since my littlest has very few memories, I am so thankful for "Aunt Patty", Mom's best friend, who keeps some memories alive. Raspberry Meringue Kisses my mom made every year at Christmas for as long as I can remember.)

Someone recently said, "When a believer dies, they are not going from the land of the living to the dead. They are going from the land of the dead to the land of the living."

I can't wait to join her!

Friday, April 18, 2014

His Righteousness For My Heinous Sins

Good Friday. Absolutely Glorious Friday. Grievous Friday. Absolutley Painstaking Friday.

Today is the day we remember a beautiful exchange. Christ took all of the sins of all who would believe on Himself and gave us His righteousness. Wow! God crushed His only Son for us! 

Friday is here, yet we know without Sunday, his death would have meant nothing. We needed our sin forgiven, but our Savior could not stay in the ground. He had to overcome sin and Satan. 

He did and for this I will meditate today.

Titus 2: 11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Let us not walk in our flesh gratifying its desires. Think about this each step you take, each word you speak, each thought you think.

One more thought friends, ("Mr. Cartwright" asked me this), "If God couldn't look on Jesus as He was crushed and took our sin, what do you think Jesus feels each time we choose sin?" God the Father is displeased and hates sin, and yet, His son bore that wrath for us. Willingly. Obediently. Full of Loneliness.

Praise to the Lamb. May I live in view of this each day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Fun Photo Shoot

It was time to snap pictures again for this Mama's picture wall. As most of you moms can relate this is one of the most dreaded fun tasks in a household, especially as our children age. Hopefully soon, we can get an entire family shot! So here's to "Inger's" enthusiasm! 

What a happy face! (You've got to admit she's got some muscles though. Just trying to see the positive.)

We had to get one with Max in there!

My princess!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

True North

Today, "Inger", "Marie", and I embarked on our last science class for this year at Crystal Springs Preserve. It was an awesome class teaching all the fundamentals of using a compass and eventually taking us on a geo cache scavenger hunt. I am a tad behind the times, as I do not have an iphone, ipad or even texting on my phone. I have never geo cached, although I would love to after experiencing our fun today. The most intriguing thing to me was the raw basics of the compass. I'm sure sometime in my life I have learned this, but certainly don't remember. (Sorry 3rd grade teacher somewhere who reads this.)

As we learned about the magnetism of the earth, my thoughts went immediately to our Great Creator. And to the wisdom He gives to men to work with His awesome handiwork.

Using a compass is much more difficult than a computerized thingy (not sure the name) you use to geo cache. But it is much more accurate. The key is to keep the needle of the compass directly on due north. AT ALL TIMES!

This brought to mind many songs and poems I have heard comparing Christ to True North.

So I started asking myself questions:
When I feel far away from Christ, where is my soul's "needle" pointed toward? Many times it is pointed south towards ME.
When I'm feeling lost and afraid, is my needle aimed on my True North? Most of the time, I need to change my posture and align it back up.
How can I find my way out of sin and despair? By locating my True North. Less of me; All of Him.

When we have our aim solely on Christ, securing our focus on Him, lining up our "needle" on North, we can dispel fear, anxiety, worry, and sin. We have a Refuge and Strength who can direct us back on track.

I'm so thankful for this! Aren't you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Writing Itch

It's back.

The writing itch.

I have been empty for words for quite a while, but I'm back hopefully for more than a few days. Can't wait to catch up with all of you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Married My Best Friend

On the night of October 23, 1993, a gentlemen, by the name of "Mr. Cartwright", called me up and asked me out on a date. That was the beginning of the most important friendship of my life. We hit a movie and had dinner, and then talked into the wee hours of the morning.

My health was not that great. I had gone through several years of chronic pain, and two weeks after we met I had my first surgery to diagnose my condition. He was a constant through those times. He read Scripture to me and prayed with me to encourage me. Our love was truly founded on our love for Christ.

Christ was the center of both of our lives, and on May 14, 1994, he asked me to be his wife.

Our wedding was simple, yet, beautiful! The Gospel was proclaimed to all who came, which was the most important thing in this day for both of us.

So today, I repledge my vow to my best friend. The one I wish to share the rest of my life with. The one who is my constant. The one who points me to THE ONE!

"I, "Mrs. Cartwright", by the grace and enablement of our triune God,
do pledge to you, "Mr. Cartwright",
my sustained efforts in assisting you to protect and to nurture our sacred, one-flesh union.
With joyful anticipation, I look forward to the building of our new life together on Christ's foundation.
I promise to love you and to submit to your divinely ordained leadership in our home.
I consecrate to you my fidelity and tender care as long as we both shall live.
My priority on earth shall always be this precious home established by God.
No matter what He, according to His sovereign plan, may bring into our life as one in Him,
I dedicate myself to being a Godly wife at all times for your good and God's glory.
May our gracious God be pleased to fulfill, through this fragile but dependent disciple of His,
my covenant commitments to you and my heart's desire to our new life as one.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!"

(This was my original vow said on this date, 19 years ago.)

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Strong Faith in A Stronger God

The girls and I have been studying through the story of the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings. Elijah had been through many trials which included running for his life from wicked King Ahab. He was fed by ravens appointed by God. He was fed by the widow who was on the verge of starvation herself. He was used by God to bless that same widow by pronouncing the coming birth of a son and then later when that son became sick, raising him from the dead. But when we came to the end of the escapade on Mt. Carmel, I was struck by Elijah's faith.

His faith in God to provide. (Which I too often lack)
His insistent prayer for rain. (Prayer that resulted in a continual knocking on the throne of heaven. An expectant prayer.)

Remember God has caused a drought to come on the land of Israel for their sin of rebellion. I found it quite comical that as Elijah was setting up his altar on Mt. Carmel, he called for the men to dump water all over it....3 times. Not only did God come down and lick up the sacrifice. The fire of the Lord sucked up all the water too!

Elijah then kicked butt. He slaughtered all the false prophets. He joined his servant whom he asked to go find King Ahab and tell him to jump in his chariot and get going for the rain was coming.

But there were no clouds.
There was no wind.
God hadn't promised rain yet.


He sent his servant back SEVEN times to look for a rain cloud. (This makes me wonder how our prayers affect God's will and sovereignty.)

This brings to mind James 5:16b-18
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Oh, do I desire to have this type of faith. So many of us worry we are presuming on God because he hasn't spoken forth in an audible voice, but we have so many promises from His Word of his faithfulness and care.

Let's pray, friends. Let's be prayer warriors.

As I write this, I look over to my right and see the wall of prayer we have had up for 3 years. A wall of prayer that God has heard and answered in a DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT way than I could have every imagined.

And my heart is filled with thankfulness.