Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pride or Peace?

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

131:1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high; (I have a humble heart.)
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me. (I have a simple heart.)
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me. (I have a quiet heart.)

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore. (I have a trusting heart.)

What a beautiful Psalm! It portrays a man who is blessed with inner peace, rather than being torn up with turmoil.

Our elder, Hugh, preached a sermon on Psalm 131 this past Sunday, and I have been pondering it since. I have to admit, I do have noise inside me. I get irritated, worried, frustrated and fearful. I want things to work (like the dishwasher that died, and the freezer that is more like a fridge). I want my family to understand me, and I want my home to be a haven of hospitality and beauty.

Hugh taught us that the biggest obstacle to inner peace is PRIDE. Self-will makes me the center of my universe. As soon as I feel angry, worried, fearful, etc., I need to examine my heart to discern where I am putting my trust.

David Powlison rewrote Psalm 131 to describe the opposite of a man who trusts in God. This is a man with a proud heart.

My heart is proud,
And my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
And I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
So of course I’m noisy and restless inside;

It comes naturally,
Like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap,
Like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everything all the time.

If my heart is proud, I am not content. I look down on others, comparing myself with them. I worry about things that aren't in my control, instead of resting in the Lord. I worry about what others think, rather than concerning myself with what the Lord thinks.

Hugh brought out the point that even self-belittling tendencies are really expressions of pride. Instead of viewing ourselves as God views us, we want to be recognized, to get attention, to gain some measure of comfort or adoration from others. This is pride.

He quoted Charles Spurgeon, who said, "We're all proud by nature, though there is not one among us that has any reason to be proud. Every man thinks more of himself than God thinks."

We ought not to concern ourselves with great matters, because even the smallest things are beyond our control. I am not able to control anything. Everything I have, everything I am, is a gift of God.

David rested in the Lord, waiting on Him. It didn't matter that he had been anointed - he waited for God's timing to take the throne. He was satisfied with what the Lord had ordained for him, and he is the only man in the Bible called "a man after God's own heart."

We cannot achieve inner peace by trying harder. We try to climb the ladders of Appetite (control, ease, lust, goodies), Avoidance (ducking and running, avoiding rejection, fleeing from suffering), and Achievement (recognition, victory) but they fail to satisfy. We feel happy as we're climbing, but nervousness sets in. If we make no progress, we worry. If something gets in the way, we rage. If we're higher on the ladder than someone else, we are haughty. And when the ladder falls, we feel despair, bitterness, anger, or hurt.

The only answer is to Come to Jesus. Only He can replace the idols, and satisfy us. Apart from Him, there are only idols, and there is only pride. Without humbling ourselves before Almighty God, we are doomed to a life without inner peace, a life of climbing ladders of futility.

The only appropriate response is repentance.

O Lord, I confess that I have lifted up my heart and raised up my eyes. Forgive me, and give me a humble heart.

I have occupied myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. I have worried about money instead of trusting that You will provide. I have stressed out about my family instead of trusting that You will work in the hearts of those I love. Forgive me, and give me a simple heart.

I have fretted and planned and worried and resolved and tried again and again to order my world and make things in my life work, but all I have experienced has been frustration and sorrow. Teach me, O Lord, to quiet my soul. Teach me to recognize my pride. Teach me to be satisfied in You, and You alone, for You are a Beautiful God - full of Beauty, and abounding in grace.

Oh, Janet, hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forevermore. O Lord, You are the One in whom I trust. You are the One in whom I hope. There is none like you. You alone made the heavens, and You rule the universe. I cannot control one little thing, but I can put my trust in the One who controls all things.

Thou will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on Thee. Amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Big C's

In preparation for our trip to Quebec, we are learning about early Canadian History. I taught my children and grandchildren the following poem(Read: fourteen hundred and ninety-two):

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
In 1497, Cabot decided cod fishing was heaven!
In 1534, Cartier erected a cross onshore.
In the year 1608, Champlain built a fort at the river's gate.

We talked about how the early explorers would sail into unknown waters, with no means of communication. They had no cellphones, no satellites, no tvs... no way of knowing what was ahead or what was happening in their home countries.

We read stories about all of the men listed above. We learned about cod fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland; about the St. Lawrence River and the Gaspe Peninsula. We talked about Tadoussac, the Saguenay River, and beluga whales. We learned about scurvy and vitamin C, and about the Huron, Algonquin, and Iroquois Indians. I think the grandchildren's favourite story was the one of Pilotte, the little dog who would scout for Iroquois who might attack the little fort at Ville-Marie.

What a rich history we have in Canada! It will be such fun to go to Quebec and see some of the areas we are learning about.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not long now...

The twins are coming! The twins are coming! I feel like Paul Revere, making the announcement that the British were on their way.

Truthfully, I don't know when my daughter's twins will make their way into this world, but Rachel looks like she is done! At nearly 37 weeks pregnant, she is huge! Her belly is gigantic. She can hardly walk, and she feels as if everything will soon fall out.

Our whole family is excited about the babies' impending birth. It has been a sacrifice for everyone who loves Rachel. Of course, she is the one with the sore back and swollen ankles, sleepless nights and nausea. However, her husband has had to be gracious with his emotional and sometimes impatient wife. Her family has had to put up with her frustrations and fears as she deals with an OB set in her ways. We have had to "lend" our children to her, almost every day. (I miss having the entire family home at once.) One of the children is always missing...or we have Rachel's boys here. She simply can't do it by herself.

Although it has been a sacrifice, if you were to ask me if it is worth all the time and effort we have invested in order to help bring two precious souls into this world, you KNOW my answer if you know me at all: OF COURSE! Absolutely. Positively. Rachel needs the help. We happen to have a family large enough to have plenty of helpers. And God knew it all beforehand!

I sat and watched Rachel this evening as she sat in her chair, feeling the babies move. The skin of her tummy is shiny, it is so stretched. It looks like a balloon ready to pop. Rachel looks tired, but happy. She murmurs to the babies as they stretch, and we see a little knee push out, or a foot defined and obvious. She smiles as her two year old talks about the babies and pats his mommy's tummy.

All is right with the world, and the babies are coming.


Janet, soon to be a grandmother to 14!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Alive in Christ AND Fulfilled in Marriage! Imagine that!

I have never considered myself part of a movement. Yes, my husband and I were convicted as a young married couple to present our bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God. That meant that we decided to use no birth control, and we joyfully received from the Hand of God the children He planned for us to have. We were "quiverfull" before the term was coined. We rejoiced in reading Mary Pride's "The Way Home", but it did not sway us. It just cemented what God had already taught us.

Yes, we have homeschooled our children all the way through (except for the eldest, who attended a Christian school for the first four years, and a public school for a short time.) When we began homeschooling, we did so because Deuteronomy makes it very clear that we are to teach our children when we sit down, when we rise up, when we walk by the way... all the time. There were no homeschoolers that we knew, no curriculum vendors, no public speakers. We were not part of the homeschool movement. We were simply Christian parents who wanted to raise our family to know and love the Lord, and to glorify His name.

Yes, I have been a stay-at-home mom for most of our nearly 34 years of marriage. I have tried to obey God's word and line myself up under my husband's leadership. Except for a short time as a part-time bus driver, and a short time as a Communications Co-ordinator for Carey Outreach Ministries, I have remained at home, serving my family. I guess I could be accused of being part of the "Patriarchal Movement". I don't see it that way. I was simply obeying the Word of God.

There is a discussion going on right now in cyber-space, and women who are Christians AND feminists are up in arms, decrying those who decide that large families, homeschooling, and traditional roles for men and women are God's plan for their lives. In other words, people like me and my daughters are apparently deluded or under some sort of legalized bondage. We simply can't know what it is to be Alive in Christ if we are stay-at-home moms with large families who are under our husband's authority.

I will quote one of the comments on the "true womanhood" site:

Imagine it… where would you rather be when you’re thirty, when you wake up and read what the Bible REALLY has to say??? Would you like to have 7 children already and a husband you have trouble respecting because he abuses his leadership, or be single and in a position to start your life fresh????? Marriage is for keeps… there’s no sending children back… so say you did wake up in this situation, you’re only option is to pray for a miracle in your husband’s heart!!!! While you gradually become the outcast, because everyone in your circle will eventually catch on to your “rebellion”.

Or, you can grieve for the years that bondage to legalism stole from you, but you can pick yourself up, pray that God would redeem the years that the locusts have eaten, and start living like an ALIVE woman in Christ.

You know, I have been married to the same man for nearly 34 years. I have kept his home and done his laundry (but not always his socks! - at least not always on time!!) and made his meals and answered his telephone and done his errands and carried and birthed and nursed his children. I have taught his children, prayed with his children, and delighted in his children - for they are mine, too!

I haven't woken up and felt that all of those years and all of those tasks were wasted. In fact, I believe that God is pleased with my servant's heart, and that He is glorified by my nose-wiping and my dish-doing and my child-rearing.

When I examine my life in Christ, I realize that God has used my marriage and my children to refine my rough edges and make me more Christ-like. How would I have learned patience and trust in a Sovereign God, were it not for wayward children? How would I have learned submission, were it not for a husband who did not always see things my way? How would I have learned applied theology, were it not for teaching my children the catechism, and having heated discussions with my husband regarding the doctrines of grace or the role of women? As iron sharpens iron, so my relationship with Rick and the children God has given us has sharpened me.

How would working outside the home have been more fulfilling? Having to get up early in the morning, fight the traffic, arrive on time, sit in meetings... how is that more blessed? How could having a boss other than my husband have been better? My husband respects me. He knows my strengths. He encourages me in my talents. No boss can ever know me like Rick knows me...I haven't the time left on this earth to invest 34 years in another relationship.

The poster above says

"you're (your!) only option is to pray for a miracle in your husband's heart!"

She says that like it is a bad thing to pray. However, we who are Christians know that it is a privilege to enter the throne room and petition Almighty God on behalf of someone we love. It is a privilege and joy to have a relationship with one man, and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ together.

Oh, you young thing... how sad I feel for you. How you have missed the joy of learning by paradox that the way down is the way up, and that to be low is to be hight. You have missed that to give is to receive, and that to have nothing is to possess everything. You know nothing of the joy of servanthood, and you have failed to realize that we are most like Christ when we share in His sufferings.

Jesus made himself of no reputation. He did not seek after degrees or recognition. He was content to stay in a tiny area and minister to a miniscule group of unimportant people.

Kind of like a stay at home mom, under the authority of her loving husband, ministering to her children.

Alive in Christ, I'd say.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dealing with Labour - My response to Amy.

Amy wrote in Amy's Humble Musings, "In this way, it is possible that two people can perform the same action and one is sin and the other is not. If I end my fertility because I am afraid of labor, it is much different than ending it to receive cancer treatments. One decision is made in fear and the other in faith.

The other problem with this scenario is that life is too cruel to allow a person to escape a trial that easily. If it is not one thing, it will be another. Better to face it head on and say once and for all, “I fear God and Him only.”"

Amy, THIS was an interesting comment. I’ll get to it in a minute.

As you may remember, I am the mother of 12 children. My pregnancies weren’t easy, and my deliveries were all different. The first was a 19 hour marathon, with all of the typical hazards of giving birth in a hospital in the 70’s: shave prep, enema, vomiting through transition, episiotomy, etc. I was blessed to have taken a “Lamaze Method of Natural Childbirth” class, and I honestly believe that knowing as much as I did helped me to cope. My 8 lb baby was beautiful and alert, and I was exhilarated to have accomplished the feat.

Subsequent deliveries were progressively shorter until I settled into a pattern of about three hours of very hard labour. I dreaded the whole thing - both the labour and the delivery. However, I put my trust in the living God, knowing full well that it was HE that had blessed us, and that He would be with me, no matter what.

The sixth baby was three weeks overdue. I had to be induced. She was sick for a week, on iv… not a lot of fun. Seventh was similar, though only 10 days overdue. Doctor induced me, and I experienced the worst pain of my life. The contractions started suddenly, stayed unremittingly, and ended with the birth of a 10 and a half pound baby girl 55 minutes later. I prayed that God would take my life. I didn’t think any human being could endure such pain without a heart attack. Apparently, I was wrong.

The 8th was a placenta previa pregnancy. I would have to have a C-section. Blessed thought! I really was relieved that I would not have to experience the pain of labour and delivery. The C-section wasn’t all that bad, but the fact that my baby nearly died made me think that I could, in fact, go through another delivery, if the Lord would choose.

My ninth was actually not that bad, until he got stuck at the shoulders. The tenth was fine (painful, but endurable), and the Lord sustained me with the 23rd Psalm. I was blessed to have a picture of a person walking through deep woods on the wall, and I meditated on “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”. After baby #10 was born, my placenta broke and I retained half of it, nearly bleeding out. After watching the docs pump blood into me with a blood pressure cuff around the bag to pump it in quicker, I knew that my survival was in the hands of God. I felt great peace, and was actually surprised when I woke up from surgery, alive.

During the eleventh pregnancy, I absolutely dreaded the pain. I wasn’t afraid to die, but was dreading the whole experience. I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I told my husband how much I feared the delivery, and he prayed, too. My eleventh delivery was by far the best: I had contractions three minutes apart, with a real break between (unheard of…with all the previous labours, the tightness and pain never let up, but with this one, my uterus completely relaxed between contractions!!). This continued right through delivery. It was amazing. Three hours start to finish, and a 9 and a half pound baby, with all of that time to relax between contractions! Wow! If all labours could only be that good. Let it give you hope for the next one, Amy. My eleventh was the very best one!

I lost the 12th pregnancy with a miscarriage at 13 weeks. My 12th baby was born via C-section, due to another placenta previa.

Now we get to your comment:

"In this way, it is possible that two people can perform the same action and one is sin and the other is not. If I end my fertility because I am afraid of labor, it is much different than ending it to receive cancer treatments. One decision is made in fear and the other in faith."

We made the decision to end my fertility after all of the pregnancies, deliveries and complications. I was 44, and just didn’t have the energy ( some would say faith!) to go through it again. You can not imagine how many well-meaning Christians rebuked me for my lack of faith.

To be truthful, I do believe the decision was made with both fear and faith in mind. My husband chose life, my life. He felt none of the angst that I experienced after our decision. I did fear the thought of going through that all over again. I didn’t want to be separated from my children for months at a time again. Twice was enough.

You also wrote:

"The other problem with this scenario is that life is too cruel to allow a person to escape a trial that easily. If it is not one thing, it will be another. Better to face it head on and say once and for all, “I fear God and Him only.” "

Amy, I can hear Elisabeth Elliot in these sentences. I agree that it is better to face the trials of life head-on. God gives grace. He really does. He gives the grace to endure the pain of childbirth, and he gives the grace to endure the rebuke and judgment of others. He is Sovereign. All things really do work together for good to those who love Him, to those who have been called to be His children.

I believe that your experiences have been used of the Lord. You have written so candidly, and countless women have been encouraged and blessed by your honest sharing…even when you were sharing the confusion you felt when you suffered so much.

I would recommend that you consider writing a book in response to “Supernatural Childbirth”. Of course, you’ll have to do so in your spare time. :biggrin_wp:


Monday, July 02, 2007

Dominion Day, 2007

O Canada!

O Canada ! Our Home and Native Land !

True patriot-love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North, strong and free,

And stand on guard, O Canada,

We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada ! Where pines and maples grow,

Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,

How dear to us thy broad domain,

From East to Western Sea ,

Thou land of hope for all who toil!

Thou True North, strong and free!

O Canada, glorious and free! etc.

O Canada ! Beneath thy shining skies

May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,

To keep thee steadfast through the years

From East to Western Sea ,

Our own beloved native land!

Our True North, strong and free!

0 Canada , glorious and free! etc.

Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,

Hold our dominion in Thy loving care.

Help us to find, O God, in Thee,

A lasting, rich reward,

As waiting for the Better Day

We ever stand on guard.

O Canada, glorious and free! etc.

Lord of the Lands!

The following version is by Albert Durrant Watson:

Lord of the lands, beneath Thy bending skies,

On field and flood, where'er our banner flies,

Thy people lift their hearts to Thee,

Their grateful voices raise:

May our Dominion ever be A temple to Thy praise.

Thy will alone let all enthrone;

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!

Almighty Love, by Thy mysterious power,

In wisdom guide, with faith and freedom dower;

Be ours a nation evermore

That no oppression blights,

Where justice rules from shore to shore,

From lakes to northern lights.

May love alone for wrong atone;

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:

Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!

Lord of the worlds, with strong eternal hand,

Hold us in honour, truth and self-command;

The loyal heart, the constant mind,

The courage to be true,

Our wide extending Empire bind,

And all the earth renew.

Thy Name be known through every zone;

Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own;

Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own!

I am proud to be a Canadian. I know that it is the Lord's providence that put me here in this province. It was great to see the fireworks and celebrate Canada's birthday with my family.

Greater still is pondering the Glory of God and His control over the nations, including Canada.

Psalm 8:6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet. When I read Psalm 8, I am astounded that God would exalt sinful, lowly humanity, giving them dominion over all of His creation.

Psalm 72: May he have dominion from sea to sea. (Ad mare usque ad mare!) Psalm 72 tells us what that dominion should look like, in practical terms:

*we ought to be a nation that judges people with righteousness. Sadly, a regular reader of the papers or Reader's Digest (That's Outrageous!) will see corruption and unfair practices happening throughout Canada. We must pray for those in authority, including police officers and judges.

*We ought to defend the cause of the poor. Yet poverty abounds, and the rich get richer while the poor stay stuck in a rut with no way out. An education will almost bankrupt a student.

*We ought to give deliverance to the children of the needy. Yet abortion still takes place in this country, despite the fact that the number one wish on CBC's wish list was that there would be no more killing of Canadian babies.

*We ought to crush the oppressor. Yet the people of Canada are whining about soldiers dying in Afghanistan, instead of supporting the troops that are going after the Taliban, or other such oppressors of women and children.

It is the Christian's responsibility to PRAY for his nation. We are to humble ourselves and pray. According to 2 Chronicles 6:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Oh, Lord, help me to do so, each and every day. And thank you for ordaining that I should be born a Canadian.