Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Hosea 2:14

“I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her."
Hosea 2:14

As I was doing my daily reading in my One-Year Chronological Bible (NIV) the other day, this verse widened my eyes and warmed my heart. I felt the Lord saying to my heart, "Sometimes I have to lead you to the still and lonely places so you can hear My gentle voice speaking to you." What a sweet, sweet treasure from my Savior's Word. Oh how tender and gentle is our Shepherd.

When I went to Blue Letter Bible, I was touched again by one of the definitions of "desert" (which is "wilderness" in KJV): PASTURE. The Good Shepherd leads me to the wide-open pasture and tenderly speaks to me. How amazing. Oh, what a precious treasure. I just lost my breath thinking about it again as I am writing this. I think of a pasture as a beautiful, quiet and special place of rest, nourishment and refreshment. He leads me there and speaks tenderly to me. He feeds me. He refreshes me. He washes me. Psalm 23 is a lovely picture of our Shepherd. We are blessed to be His lambs.

I pray this scripture is ministering to your heart as well. May He speak to you personally today as you meet Him in His Word.
"I cared for you in the desert..."Hosea 13:5

If you'd like to read Hosea 2 in context and find out what all of this meant for the nation of Israel, do some research yourself by clicking here:

Thank you for visiting Joy In The Truth on Treasure Verse Tuesday. Share your treasure!

"He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Small Bite Out Of "The Big Apple"

"Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
Jonah 4:11
On Father's Day Weekend last weekend, we went to New York City. We were invited to a high school graduation party of the son of one of Jim's colleagues (who has become a dear friend) at the ESPN Sports Zone on Broadway. It was our first trip together as a family to The Big Apple. We were able to take a nibble out of the Apple and enjoy a few sites. We took the train out of Princeton Junction and stayed at a hotel in the Financial District on the Hudson River. This is a quiet and pretty part of the city, which we really enjoyed. Here are a few pictures of our Father's Day Weekend...

On Saturday, we walked to Ground Zero, which was just a few blocks from our hotel. We viewed the site from the World Financial Center, which is just across the street. (When Jim has to travel occasionally to NYC for work, this is the area of the city to which he goes.) In the business of the city and the continual rebuilding of Ground Zero with noisy cranes and machinery, there was an overwhelming hush around Ground Zero as people came to look and remember. It was a heavy silence. Tears streamed down my face and a lump formed in my throat as I stared at Ground Zero and remembered the morning this all happened. Joshua had just turned one, and I was playing with him while watching Good Morning America and seeing it all happen live. While at the site, Joshua and Gabrielle had lots of questions, which Jim answered beautifully.

Playground meets Big City.

At the ESPN Zone on Broadway, we saw DOW JONES across the street!
(Daddy works for Dow Jones.)

A ride on the indoor Ferris Wheel at Toys R Us!

Sunday morning.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Thanks for stopping by!
Enjoy your Sunday today!
May it be worshipful and restful!

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Want The Cow Bell!

It's Friday! I am feeling silly, so I just had to share this with you:

I WANT THE COW BELL! Every neighborhood has "one of those moms". You know, the mom who blows the whistle or horn or RINGS THE COW BELL when it is time for the children to come in! I never thought that mom would be ME! But it is! I have become "one of those moms"!

Now, I do NOT have a cow bell....yet. I am resisting the urge, but my heart so wants the cow bell.

We live in small neighborhood at the crest of a cul-de-sac. Our children play in our yard, the yards of a few of our neighbors or in the big field behind our home. Or they ride bikes and the such in the cul-de-sac. Our rule is that our eyeballs always have to be able to see them and/or I have to be able to hear their voices. Usually, this happens. However, occasionally if they are in a neighbor's backyard....I WANT THE COW BELL to get their attention. I don't want to holler their names (how unseemly) and I don't want to leave the steaming broccoli unattended on the stove to walk over to the other back yard, so I have found that I WANT THE COW BELL.

I'm not, I'm not, don't worry. I'm not going to do it. At least I don't think I am. I really don't want to be "one of those moms". Perhaps a sweet, gentle wind chime would work...but they are not loud enough. I could sing, but that would embarrass the kids. I need something more bold, like a cow bell....but not a cow bell.

Hmmm....a great idea just came to me! Maybe I'll blast out the song "Hoe Down Throw Down" by Miley Cyrus when I want the children to come in for dinner! That's it! I think that's what I'll do! Not only will the children come-a-runnin' for dinner...the entire neighborhood will learn the Hoe Down Throw Down dance! I can see it now...our cul-de-sac filled with families doing the Hoe Down Throw Down! What fun!

I've been inspired here. I'll let you know how it goes! Cow bell...be gone! We're doing the Hoe Down Throw Down at dinner time! (Turn up your volume to sing and dance along here!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gwen...This Blog's For You! :)

Well, there you have it! :) Hugs to you, sweet friend!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday - John 17:3

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know You,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."
John 17:3 (NIV)

I've chosen John 17:3 for my first official "Treasure Verse Tuesday" verse because it is the verse in the Bible that defines eternal life, the greatest treasure offered to us ever in our lives. To KNOW GOD. In this passage of scripture, Jesus is praying to God. These are His Words. Jesus defined eternal life for us.

A few years ago, I studied the Gospel of John with my Precepts Ministries Bible Study class. (This inductive study of John took us two AMAZING years!) As I was reading Jesus' prayers in John 17 for Himself, His disciples and for all Christians (just before His arrest and crucifixion), these words of Jesus in verse 3 clarified the meaning of "Eternal Life" to me and became a renewed treasure in my heart. I had read that passage many times over the years of my Christian walk, but that time a few years ago it really popped off the page and into my heart.

It seems we often think of "Eternity" and "Eternal Life" as the same thing in our Christian inheritance. But ETERNAL LIFE is also for NOW, not only for eternity. To KNOW GOD, the only true God and Jesus Christ. Blue Letter Bible (click here) says the Greek word for know here is: ginōskō. This means "to learn to know, to come to know, to become known, to know, to understand, to have knowledge of". This is the depth of relationship God wants with us through Jesus. Amazing. (Ginōskō) occurs 246 times in 208 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV (click here for more information from Blue Letter Bible.)

A treasure of a verse for our hearts from His Word. Truly, no words are adequate to describe most precious treasure from God. Eternal life now and through eternity...TO KNOW GOD...such a gift is indescribable.

To know Him by reading His Word, listening to Him, praying to Him, worshipping Him, obeying Him and trusting Him. If you have happened upon this blog and would like to KNOW GOD, click here: knowGod.org. It is the greatest treasure ever given.
Soak in this treasure verse, and please share a verse you treasure!

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
2 Corinthians 9:15

"After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do."
John 17:1-4

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blessed Are His Children After Him

"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him."
Proverbs 20:7

Happy Father's Day, Daddy! We love you! You are the best Daddy ever!

Mommy says: "A scripture paints a thousand words", so we are painting a beautiful portrait of you and for you with God's Word.

"We rejoice and delight in you." Song of Solomon 1:4

"The man of integrity walks securely." Proverbs 10:9

"A good man obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 12:12

"A patient man has great understanding." Proverbs 14:29

"...walk before me in integrity and uprightness..." 1 Kings 9:4

"...acknowledge the God of your father and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind...be strong and do the work."

1 Chronicles 28:9, 10

"I will be his father, and he will be my son, and I will never take my love away from him."

1 Chronicles 17:13

"You are beautiful..." Song of Solomon 6:4

We love you, Daddy!

Happy Father's Day!

We are looking forward to a fun day together!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday

"Your statutes are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart."
Psalm 119:111

It has been on my heart to begin "Treasure Verse Tuesday" here at Joy In The Truth. On each "Treasure Verse Tuesday" I am going to share a different scripture that ministered to my heart in a special way. You know, one of those scriptures that just seems to pop off the page of the Bible and into our hearts. A treasure from His Word for our hearts.

God has given me such a love for His Word. As I read it daily, I am always overwhelmed at the depth and richness of His truths in scripture. His Word is so real, so alive, so deep. It is timelessly relevant and applicable.

Just this morning as I was reading Wendy Blight's new book "Hidden Joy In A Dark Corner", I was saying "amen" out loud when I read what she had written (page 34):

"Open His Word. Sit at His feet and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Like growing a friendship, growing in the wisdom and knowledge of God takes time. It is a journey. It is a commitment. Your first step is to open God's Word...there is only one Truth, and that Truth is the Word of God. When we open His Word, God promises to open our hearts and minds to what it says."

Knowing God by opening His Word and learning about Him. Growing in your relationship with Him. Knowing with certainty that He loves you. You growing in your love for the Author Himself.

Treasures of truth are laden all throughout scripture. Psalm 119 is said to be "A Devotional On The Word Of God". What a great place to start. If we are faithful to open His Word with a teachable heart, He is faithful to help us understand what is written. "Then He opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures" Luke 14:45

So on Tuesdays I will begin to share some treasures of truth that I am finding in scripture that have reached deep into my heart. If you'd like to join me and have a "Treasure Verse Tuesday" on your blog, please copy the "Treasure Verse Tuesday" button on my side bar. (Hugs and a big THANK YOU to Jill (Blessed Mom of 8) at Forever-n-Ever-n-Always" (click here) for designing the button for me!) I am excited to encourage one another with His treasures of truth.

"The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul."
Psalm 19:7

Monday, June 15, 2009

Delicate Cycle or Heavy Duty With An Extra Rinse?

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."
Psalm 51:2

I often wash our children's sneakers and footwear on the gentle cycle of our washing machine. It cleans and freshens up the shoes, and they look like new. We don't have to replace their shoes as often because we try to take good care of them. "Shoe Stewardship" as we call it.

Recently, after a day at the park (after a full day of rain the day before) with Gabrielle's class for an end-of-the-school-year picnic, our flip flops and sandals were filthy. The mud and wet playground mulch had seeped deep into the porous material of our footwear. When we got home, I put our footwear in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with some other delicate items.

When the delicate load of laundry was complete, I opened up the washer to hang the clothes and to put the shoes out in the sun for drying. As I pulled out our footwear, I was surprised that they were still dirty. The delicate cycle was not strong enough to do the deep cleaning they needed. I put the shoes back in the washer (in a laundry bag) with a heavy duty load, which included high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse. After the heavy duty load was complete, our footwear came out clean!

I felt God whisper to my heart as I stood in the laundry room finishing up the day's laundry. "Sometimes, Sharon, I need to run the heavy duty cycle on your heart to get out the dirt that has seeped in." Recently, I had been through some "heavy-duty cycles with high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse" of my heart. The heavy-duty agitation I experienced and the high spin and extra rinse were just what my heart needed at the time. It wasn't comfortable; it was downright painful at times. But I knew God was doing a necessary work in my heart.

He met me personally in our laundry room. The powerful wash and extra rinse by the Living Water through the water of His Word was just what I needed to shine more brightly for His glory and purposes. While I'd often prefer to keep my heart on "The Delicate Cycle" for cleansing, I fully realize that any significant growth in my walk with the Lord would not occur with out the deep cleaning my heart needs at times. And as only our amazing God can do, He is gentle with us even during the heavy-duty cycles of life. He rules over the surging seas. He stills them with a whisper. "And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:12

"O, LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are might, O LORD, and Your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, You still them."
Psalm 89:8-9
"I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify them and refine them like gold and silver."
Malachi 3:3

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Just Like Hand-Me-Downs"

"Oh my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from old -- what we have heard and known, what our fathers have taught us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power and the wonders He has done."
Psalm 78:1-4

I so appreciate the hand-me-downs we receive for our children. Our hearts are thankful that friends have thought to share their children's clothes with our children. It's so much fun to receive a box or bag full of hand-me-downs. We go through them excitedly, looking at the treasures being handed down to us. Each time one of our cherubs wears a hand-me-down item, we say a prayer for the family that gave it to us.
We are so joyful when we carefully pack up gently worn clothes and GIVE hand-me-downs to another family. It is so much fun preparing a big bag of "gently worn" clothes to hand down to another child. Our cherubs get so excited when they know one of their favorite outfits that no longer fits them is being given to someone else.
Recently during our morning devotions with our cherubs, I was reading Psalm 78:1-4 above. We were discussing how Daddy and I want to tell them about the faithfulness of God that we have seen, the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power and the wonders He has done in our lives. And then they can tell their children and so on and so on from generation to generation. As we were talking about this, Joshua nonchalantly but poignantly said, "It is just like hand-me-downs, Mom!"
This mommy's heart was delighted by our son's analogy. Yes, indeedy, it is just like hand-me-downs! Just as we receive and give clothing hand-me-downs, we want to pass down the most significant treasure of our lives...the heritage of a personal relationship with our living God. We want our children and their children and their children...for generations to come...to be clothed in His garment of salvation and His robe of righteousness. May we, our children and our future generations be clothed with our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This legacy is the most precious kind of hand-me-downs.
"Clothe yourselves with the
Lord Jesus Christ..."
Romans 13:14
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness..." Isaiah 61:10

"...so the next generation would know...then they would put
their trust in God"
Psalm 78:6, 7
"...with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations."
Psalm 89:1

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My "Mommy Report Card"

"So I reflected on all this..." Ecc. 9:1
Today is the last day of the 2008-2009 school year for our children! Dismissal is at Noon today, and we are so excited! I've made it a tradition to take the kids to lunch on the last day of school. This year, a friend invited us to join her and her two children for lunch. This is a special day, and we are excited about summer!
Today is also the day we receive our children's fourth quarter report cards for the school year. We excitedly open them in the car for a quick look-see until we get home for a complete review. Their report cards detail for us what our children have accomplished throughout the school year, including such areas as academics, conduct and Christian character. We always sit with the children and go over their reports so we can praise them in successful areas and guide them in areas needing improvement.
A few weeks ago, Joshua and I were sitting at the kitchen table together while he was having a bowl of ice cream. In our conversation, something came up about "mothers" and I lightheartedly asked Joshua how he thought I was doing as a mommy. The conversation went something like this.
Mommy: How do you think I am doing as a mommy, Joshua?
Joshua: You're pretty good, Mom. You are a 9 out of 10, Mommy. [I thought this was a VERY gracious and generous rating by my son!]
Mommy: Wow, Joshua, thanks. That's really nice! Tell me about the 1 point. I am a 9 out of 10, so please tell me where I can improve.
Joshua: Well, Mommy, sometimes you yell at us when you don't have to. That is why you are a 9 and not a 10.
Mommy: [Ouch, ouch, he's right!] Joshua you are absolutely right. Sometimes Mommy does yell when I don't have to. Sometimes when I am frustrated or frightened, I yell. [different than "raising my voice" in an authoritative mommy tone] You are absolutely right, and I am going to ask God to help me with that. Thank you for telling me the truth and for keeping me accountable.
Joshua: Here, Mommy, I am going to write you a whole report card.
Oh my! I did ask how I was doing as a mom, didn't I? Here is exactly what Joshua wrote. Remember, he was extremely gracious and kind to me! I am keeping this forever...and working to get my "yelling" grade (or lack-of-yelling) to an A+!
"About Mom - Her Report Card"
By: Joshua
Conduct: A+
P.E.: A+
(I never got an A+ in gym class! This is my first time. Pass the tissues!)
Art: A+
Good Meals: A+
Funny: A+
Loving: A+
Transportation: A+
Teaching God's Word: A+
Yelling: B+
1. You are special.
2. You are the best.
3. You are thoughtful.
4. You are caring.
5. You are generous.
God has given us the two precious gifts of our children. And even though the truth hurts at times, I am SO thankful He uses them as accountability and sanctification tools me in my life! I am SO thankful that our children know they can talk with us, even when they have to speak the truth in love and say "Mommy, sometimes you yell at us." Yes indeed, an area needing improvement! I want to yield my heart to the Lord so He can help me bring this grade up! Only by His grace!
"The quiet words of the wise..."
Ecclesiastes 9:17

Friday, June 5, 2009

Planning For Summer

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statues of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward."
Psalm 19:7-11
Summer, summer, summer, summer...we love summer! The last day of school is June 11th! We love our school, but we are looking forward to slower-paced days and a break from homework. We are craving fun in the sun and lots of time with family and friends. Rainy pajama days are on the agenda, too. I'll be working one day a week instead of two (I work at our church and have the BEST bosses!). We are taking a week's vacation at Camp of The Woods and a week in Ocean City, New Jersey.
We are excited about making summer meaningful by seeking Him as to how we can reach out to those around us in His love. Our cherubs are going to help us plan how we can serve others...and some of that will be spontaneous, too! Soaking in His Word is our hearts' top priority for our children.
Summers can be very challenging and frustrating for moms. As I began seeking the Lord a few months back about how I can best invest my time with our children this summer, He put it on my heart to "invest My Word into their hearts". I felt God impress that on my heart very clearly. Shortly thereafter, I read Psalm 19:7-11 (written above) and that confirmed it for this mommy's heart.
I am planning on going through the book of Proverbs with our children this summer. Both cherubs will have a new journal (thank you, Dollar Tree!) to record the verses for three specific themes (of many) in Proverbs that we will read and discuss: 1.) truthful lips, 2.) being a God-honoring friend and choosing friends wisely and 3.) receiving discipline and instruction. Our prayer is that God would make their little hearts rich, fertile soil to receive His Word and that the seeds go deep into their hearts and then flourish through obedience for His glory.
Taking summer breaks from my Precept Ministry Bible Study and my P31 Gather & Grow group, I am looking forward to delving into a few studies myself. I am participating in the on-line study with Wendy Blight, author of "Hidden Joy In A Dark Corner". I had started this book before Wendy announced her on-line summer study, so I am pausing until she begins in a few Wednesdays. Wendy's book is rich in God's Word. Her story of God's healing after a violent attack on her by a masked man is moving and powerful.
I am also going to read a trilogy by Nancy Leigh Demoss "Brokenness, Surrender and Holiness". Hello...the title alone shouts of the depths of this triple blessing!
I am still reading my Daily NIV One-Year Chronological Bible, which has been such a treasure to me each day. (Getting through Numbers and Leviticus was tedious at times, I must admit that readily!) In early June right now, the NIV Chronological Bible has me in Proverbs, which is right where I need to be during this season of life...learning about wisdom, discernment and understanding through His very practical Proverbs. God is good!
So, as we plan our summer, we want our hearts and our children's hearts to be anchored in God's Word. As Psalm 19 says, His Word is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, enduring forever, sure, righteous, precious and sweet. In keeping His Word is great reward. "You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word." Psalm 138:2 Would you please pray for us this summer? We will pray for you, too! Thank you!
What time is it? Summer time!
"Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;
apply your heart to what I teach,
for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
and have all of them ready on your lips.
So that your trust may be in the Lord.
I teach you today, even you."
Proverbs 22:17-19

Monday, June 1, 2009

An Annual Verse To Shape My Heart

"I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word."
Psalm 138:2

Many years ago at a woman's Bible study at my church, the special guest speaker shared something that I incorporated into my life. She said that every year she would ask God for one verse from His Word that He would use in a special way to mold and change her heart. Since then, I have been asking God the same thing. Now, it's not like He gives me a verse on January 1st every year. It may be a few months into the year before He impresses on my heart the scripture He wants me to meditate on in a special way for that year, for that season of my walk with the Lord.

For 2009, Psalm 138:2 is the verse. Especially the second part of the verse: "You have exalted above all things Your name and Your Word." His name and His word are above all things. That truth is so awesome, humbling, assuring and convicting to me. It's become a call to action that begins in my heart. I want to live my life that way, by His grace and strength. Above all things in my heart, my life, my marriage, my mothering, my family...above all things, before all things, behind all things...are His name and His word. He is above all. His only proper place is on the throne.

Being the orderly God that He is, this year's verse makes so much sense after the verse He gave me for last year:
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1 I love how the verse from last year (Psalm 115:1) and the verse for this year (Psalm 138:2) both talk about His "love and faithfulness". Amazing!
Last year's verse came with a few other verses:
"Yes, LORD, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Isaiah 26:8
"I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not give My glory to another Isaiah..." 42:8
"For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another. Isaiah 48:11 God used another godly woman speaker to wrap this up neatly with a bow. She shared that she keeps a plaque by her computer that says: "We are never more like the devil than when we want the glory". Well, just hush my mouth. He is holy. It's all for His honor and glory.

The first verse the Lord gave me all those years ago when I began doing this was Philippians 2:3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Hello....NOTHING out of selfish ambition! That is still a moment-by-moment surrender and prayer.

As I reflect back on all the Annual Verses He has given me over the years, I see His perfect design: ALL HIM. Less me.

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:6