Intentional Praise

I’ve been planning to write a post about my praise jar for about a week, but I just haven’t. I’ve been super-overwhelmed with a lot of things, (mostly Bennett and his notsleeping), and so I’ve put it off. Today, however, is so full of praises that I figured it was the very best day to write this post!

My neighbor, Rebecca, posted a very Pinterest-y idea the other day on Facebook:

I thought it was brilliant! I decided to make my own, with the specific intention of its being for praises. So here’s mine:

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No, I don’t dot my “i”s. In print. I do dot them in cursive. And yes, my jar is small. That’s what I had on hand. I’m hoping to upgrade when it gets full! Anyway, I wanted to make sure that my jar was prominently displayed in order to remind me of it, and I wanted to make sure that it was clear that this is all about making note of everyday praises. At the end of the year, I can look back and praise God very specifically for all the ways He blessed me during 2013! Awesome! I’m so excited, and I’m extra excited today, which is why I’m posting this particular post at this particular time.

I put several praise post-its in my jar today.

  1. I am exactly at my pre-pregnancy weight! Five months and three days after having my stomach sliced open and being handed a baby, and then curiously still being left with a giant belly and lots of pounds to lose! This is a great day. I celebrated by eating, and I’m going to celebrate again tonight by eating. 🙂
  2. Bennett’s notsleeping, as mentioned above, has been a huge issue. Huge. I’ve done everything I felt like I could do based on his age and my related discomfort with cry-it-out sleep training at his age. Anyway, my friend Alison gave me the courage to try something that she told me to wait until bedtime to try, so that I’d have my husband for reinforcement, but I tried it anyway at both naps today. BENNETT HAS TAKEN TWO NAPS TODAY WITH MINIMAL PROTEST! AND HE’S BEEN ASLEEP FOR AN UNINTERRUPTED ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES ON THIS SECOND NAP, AS I TYPE VERY EXCITEDLY IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS MUCH TO YOUR ANNOYANCE!
  3. I have an amazing husband who is a great encouragement and help to me every day.
  4. I have an amazing friend, Andrea. (I have lots of other amazing people in my life, too, but she was most recently amazing.)
  5. I have an amazing God, who has been preparing me extremely specifically through Scripture (the book of Titus) for a spiritual battle. He is sustaining me, comforting me, and encouraging me spiritually as this is happening during a season of both physical and emotional exhaustion (see #2 above).

Amen, and amen.

(You should make a praise jar, too. It’s too easy to forget or ignore the good things when there’s so much crumminess around that’s too easy to dwell upon.)

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Adorning the Doctrine (a page from my journal)

January 4, 2013

Titus 2:9-10

Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own master in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

  • “Bondslave” – “doulos” – permanently a slave, his will is altogether consumed in the will of another
  • “Master” – has unlimited authority over slaves, not always for good.
  • The slave is to be absolutely obedient without arguing or being self-seeking (pilfering)
  • Adorn the doctrine: reveal the beauty of it, enhance it, make it noticeable and pleasing to others

Obviously this passage is referring to literal slaves who legally belonged to their masters. Since that’s not really part of our culture, I often ignore or skim passages like this, or I loosely and not very seriously apply them to an employee/employer situation. Today, however, I was reminded that I am the bondslave of the Lord, just like Mary and Paul. I need to be absolutely obedient and not argue back! While the “master” referred to in this passage may well have evil intent, my Master does not — so how much more should I obey Him! What I struggle with is discerning His voice, so I need much help from the Holy Spirit. Even so, there have definitely been times I’ve been really pretty sure, but said no or protested before relenting. Often in the latter situation, where I finally just give in, I hold back or don’t completely obey. That’s a kind of pilfering, really. I’m holding back something for my own gain, usually the avoidance of embarrassment, awkwardness, or inconvenience. So this passage about bondslaves in the ancient world? Totally about me. If I learn absolute obedience, the total yielding of my will to God’s, then I will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, a doctrine which is explained in the following verses:

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 for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

My job here, on this earth, is to give my life over to the beauty of God’s will. In a way, I’m like an ornament meant to accentuate the beauty of God and His redemptive plan. What an honor it is to adorn the doctrine!

~Maranatha

Urging Young Women to Love Their Children, or, The IUD Unveiled

**AUTHOR’S NOTE: Please read all the way through, including the comments. I learned even more about this topic from the first commenter, to whom I am very grateful. I agree with her and her convictions, now that I know more of the truth.

It may be no great revelation to you that the IUD, which is a popular and long-term form of birth control that involves surgically implanting a device into a woman’s uterus, can cause what some might term a miscarriage as one way to prevent pregnancy. It was a revelation to me, however, earlier today.

It all started with Hobby Lobby. A friend posted an article supposedly written by the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, David Green, stating his defense on his company’s stance to defy new government healthcare laws that requires companies to offer medical coverage for emergency contraceptives. Like most things posted on Facebook that are polarizing and attributed to some person in authority in order to lend credence to a particular viewpoint, I checked it out on Snopes. It turns out that the CEO did write the article, and you can find it online under the title, “Christian Companies Can’t Bow to Sinful Mandate.” After confirming that it was true, I re-posted the link my friend had posted because I agree with Hobby Lobby’s pro-life stance, and I stand by their right to follow their conscience on this issue.

This post, however, is not mostly about Hobby Lobby. That’s just the background for why I’m writing about IUDs. It was in the Snopes article, which I linked to above, that I read this sentence:

Hobby Lobby has filed a federal lawsuit challenging that mandate because it includes such contraceptives as the morning-after pill and IUDs, which the plaintiffs consider to be forms of abortion.

I read that sentence aloud to my husband this morning, and we were both surprised. The morning-after pill, sure. That’s the point of that one, right? To prevent the implantation of the already fertilized egg, if there is one. But we were both surprised to see that the IUD was considered to be in the same class, at least by the folks running Hobby Lobby. So, I did some research online. It’s not any big secret, apparently:

“In the event of fertilization of an egg, progestin tends to prevent implantation, meaning a woman would naturally miscarry a fertilized egg.”
 
Hormonal IUDs also slow down the growth of the uterine lining, making it inhospitable for fertilized eggs.”
 
“…releases a progestin hormone…creating a barrier to sperm, as well as renders the lining of the uterus inhospitable to implantation of a pregnancy.”
 
It also keeps the lining of the uterus (endometrium) from growing very thick.1 This makes the lining a poor place for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.”
(all emphases added by me)

While I do not use the IUD, or any form of hormonal birth control, for that matter, I have friends who do. Since contraception is a personal issue, I likely have many friends who have the IUD, but I don’t know about it. That’s why, after praying a lot this morning, I decided to write a blog post. If the sources above are telling the truth, then the IUD can cause what could be considered an abortion by folks like me who believe life begins at conception, which is before the implantation of a fertilized egg. As I prayed about how/when/with whom to discuss this, I felt led to this verse:

Older women likewise are to be reverent…teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children… (Titus 2:3-4)

That’s why, young women, I’m pleading with you to love your children. Be aware of the choices you’re making with your body and how they might affect your unborn children without your knowing.

Of course, I am fully aware of the natural implications of what I’m asking; if you currently have an IUD, then I’m ultimately encouraging you to consider undergoing surgery to have it removed and then reconsider your contraception choices to see what is safe for a fertilized egg and what is not. This is why I prayed so much about it this morning, and even asked a couple of friends to pray with me. It’s uncomfortable for me to give unsolicited advice to anyone about their birth control, especially given the lengths one might have to go to if she decided I was right. But seriously, the answer is clear to me: Love your children. I couldn’t NOT say something.

I tell you this because I love you, and I love your babies. Pray about it, please, if this applies to you. I know that I would have any surgery in the world if it kept my little boy alive. Wouldn’t you?

 *Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am a pro-life Christian who believes that life begins at conception, and I posted this in view of my own conscience out of obedience to what I feel is the Spirit’s leading. Like I said, I couldn’t NOT say something. 

Three-week Study on Titus

Well, I’m in the same situation I was in about a month or so ago, with a little time between scheduled Bible studies. I haven’t decided for sure whether I will be participating in Good Morning Girls’ Luke study, which begins on January 14, because I’m not sure what the ladies’ group at my church will be studying or what my husband and I may decide to study together. Regardless, I am faced with a few weeks with nothing scheduled for me, so I have decided to study Titus! I really enjoyed my earlier study on Jude, and I wanted to invite you to join me for a similar journey through Titus. I think it will be great!

I will be following the Good Morning Girls’ SOAP Bible study format, which I invite you to do as well! I’m still loving this approach to Bible study, so I’ll be continuing it. Here’s how it works:

S– The S stands for Scripture- you physically write out the scripture……you’ll be amazed that what God will reveal to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading!

O– The O stands for observation- what do you see in the verses that you’re reading. Who is the audience? Is there a repetition of words? What words stand out to you?

A– The A stands for Application- this is when God’s Word becomes personal. What is God saying to me today? How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? What changes do I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take?

P– And finally P stands for Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in His Word, pray about it. Confess if He has revealed some sin that is in your life.

That’s it, once again! Simple, yet powerful. So grab a Bible, a journal, and a pen, and feel free to join me. Many blessings, and Merry Christmas! (Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to let your Bible study slip… If you’re not doing this, do something!)

Titus Reading Schedule: 

WEEK ONE
December 24 – Titus 1:1-3
December 25 – Titus 1:4-6
December 26 – Titus 1:7-9
December 27 – Titus 1:10-11
December 28 – Titus 1:12-14

WEEK TWO
December 31 – Titus 1:15-16
January 1 – Titus 2:1-5
January 2 – Titus 2:6-8
January 3 – Titus 2:9-10
January 4 – Titus 2:11-14

WEEK THREE
January 7 – Titus 2:15 – 3:3
January 8 – Titus 3:4-7
January 9 – Titus 3:8-9
January 10 – Titus 3:10-11
January 11 – Titus 3:12-15

 

Be a Blessing,
Angela