For the Bride

This devotion was written to my daughter who is preparing for marriage in a few short weeks.  It was written by her mentor and my dear friend Melana Hunt Monroe and read aloud yesterday at a bridal shower. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. My prayer is that this encourages someone today.

“Endurance IS the currency of heaven” ~Melana Hunt Monroe

 

My beloved Cassidy,

The day you got engaged you posted, “We are overjoyed and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for this next season!” If I could confidently share words that would enable you to navigate marriage with all the joy and hope you have right now, I would in a heartbeat. But that wish reveals my tendency to shrink from thinking on a loftier, grander, heavenly scale.  I think I would be closer to God’s heart to share with you how He matures our love and joy and hope towards resembling His own eternal, unchanging emotions, through a million minutes of happiness, grief, dread, delight, terror, amusement, enchantment, disappointment, and ecstasy over scores of years.

 

Truth be told, we all deeply want this. No one wants to have the maturity of a twelve-year-old at the lovely age of eighty.  Your Father has a VERY specific plan to ripen your spirit, and He has designed every single step (every.single.step.) in a way that will give you the greatest, purest joy.

 

Though your journey will be entirely unique (because you two are unique and He’s designed your path for YOU), there will be common features of the terrain that His children recognize (remember Christian’s journey to the Celestial City).  I’ll share a few landmarks I’ve seen, in the hope that you will recognize and embrace them as they come along.

 

WAITING.

There will never be a time you are not waiting. Right now you are waiting (eagerly) for your wedding. You will wait to graduate, wait to find a house, wait to find out if you are pregnant, or with some, wait through months of agonizing infertility for repeated dreaded news, maybe eventually wait for delivery, wait to see if the baby is “ok” (I could write a lot on that one), wait for good news, wait for bad news; waiting can become agony. You will always be waiting for something, and sometimes that process is excruciatingly hard. God places incredibly great value on waiting well. Trust, hope, faith, dread, all imply that what we see ahead must be bought with intentional patience. Hidden in all of the hundreds of Scriptural admonitions to wait (even the whole creation is waiting eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God), is the key, tucked in the opening verse of Ps 62: For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Then repeated in verse 5: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.

 

You see, my dear Cassidy, every desire of our heart, if it does not lead to waiting on God only, can quickly morph into an idol. The process of waiting reveals what we value the most at any given time.  When what we are waiting for consumes our emotions and energy, when it is what our mind boomerangs back to, it becomes the thing that – when fulfilled – will bring happiness rather than the Giver of every good gift Himself. And joy from an idol is hollow, frail, and temporal. I’ve found that God has kept me waiting until “waiting” becomes a friend. Waiting, as a true friend, leads me to Him, and is not just a (frustrating) constant companion. Here you can be a great helpmeet for Tad.  You will lean on each other to wait well, being strong when the other is weak, to intentionally keep your focus on God alone.

 

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Ps. 25:4-5). “Waiting all the day long” leads to:

 

ABIDING IN CHRIST

Do you remember Augustine’s prayer, “Command what You will, but give what You command”? When we apply his ancient wisdom to Christ’s commands in prayer, the commands become not only doable, but life-giving and hopeful (“hope is the present enjoyment of a future blessing” – quote from my dad).  It is strikingly evident when Christ Himself gives the ability to believe and obey His command to ‘Abide in Me.’ Faith is a gift; it is not attainable through effort, Eph 2:8-9…that’s why the perceptible presence of faith itself IS the evidence of things not seen, Heb 11:1) Many choices in married life are not ‘right or wrong’ or ‘black and white.’ Whether to eat this or that, live here or there, are not as important as the time in prayer together, searching, abiding in Christ with one mind.  This process can take a LOOOONG time. Which is why we have need of:

 

ENDURANCE

I think endurance can develop through three different situations. First, there is a kind of enduring where, though the trial is real, painful, and wearisome (even vexing), the outcome is visible and sure. An example would be these last creeping, slow days before your wedding, or the last agonizingly long month of a pregnancy. Even a terminal illness like my mother suffered fits in this category. The days are long, but the end is visible.

 

Second, there is a kind of endurance where the outcome is unknown.  The trial is long, and there is no indication or evidence that it will resolve, if ever. The fiery test has no expiration date; although we can ask God to resolve the issue, His concern is that we learn to be longsuffering, develop patience, resolve, trust; to study, learn, apply, pray, and ultimately simply stand until He says stand down. I’m thinking here of a dear friend, a lovely young woman in her thirties, who longs to get married, but has absolutely no prospects.  Other examples would be waiting for employment or for funds to come in, or for resolution to a horrible family relationship. There is hope for an end, but no timeline at all, if ever. The process is the terminus.

 

The third “flavor” of endurance is when we know for sure there will not be a resolution or end to the trial until He glorifies us after death. Here, your own dear father’s suffering, and my little Eve and Lissy are good examples. Embracing His strength in our weakness is the goal. We can even learn to see joy inside of the sorrow.  Every time I look at my granddaughters I feel both intense joy and overwhelming sorrow simultaneously.

 

I believe endurance is the ‘currency’ of heaven. It has such extreme value, Hebrews says that it was worth the horrific agony of the cross to pay for ‘the joy set before Him.’ Love makes endurance possible. Endurance does, however, have a limitation: we can only develop our eternal capacity for endurance here and now – what will there be to endure there? What will there be to be patient with in heaven? So if we earnestly yearn for an eternal weight of glory, sorrow and suffering will accompany us up our mountains, faithful companions to our Much Afraid. But remember that the Good Shepherd does change Sorrow and Suffering into Grace and Glory!

 

Back to your post. The Lord has in store for you great, massive, verdant meadows of great joy for frolicking. Some of that joy will come as a gift, from the Giver of all gifts, who simply delights to give you delight. Enjoy it immensely. He also will have you wait, agonizingly, to the point you can honestly say “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in Thee.” You will abide together in Christ, so that “you can ask what ye will, and it will be done unto you,” and through abiding, together you will “bear much fruit” and your “joy will be full.”  And together you will endure pain, because your unity will become purer and stronger and brighter in the crucible. Everything “in store for you” is already planned for your good and His glory. Embrace it all. Jesus is Lord.

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Encourage THINKING–Not the Thought!

Practice Parenting

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

We think that when our children are small we want to encourage them TO THINK.

We delight in all their funny thoughts and repeat every witty comment every said over a meal or to a grandparent!

When Scott said to my sister, “Why doesn’t God just kill the devil? Oh I know! He has that pitch forky thing!” I thought we would double over laughing. The theology did not worry us! The four-year-old was  THINKING!!!!

They make home runs and we CHEER! They strike out and we say, “You’ll get ‘em next time!” Most of all, when they are young we are the BIGGEST cheerleaders. They make a 100 on their spelling test and we see visions of ‘writer’ in their future. They flunk a math test and we cross ‘engineer’ off the list of…

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A New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day One)

A Pastor's Glory

a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in…

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The Parenting Secret

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“Just wait till their teenagers!”

This was the common refrain we heard every weekend at the ballpark while cheering on our six year old athlete and chasing her three younger siblings around the bleachers.

I often think back at how I felt when I would hear those words: overwhelmed, fearful, confused, even sad. It was as if people were communicating to me, “One day you’ll be sorry for having all those kids!”

How sad

Here’s a newsflash

It is 17 years later….and

I’m not sorry

Recently, my husband was asked to give his #1 parenting advice.  If he could tell young parents one thing, what would it be? How does he raise such great kids? Without a second thought he spoke the most profound words…

Wait for it…

joey and cassidy

“NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES

YOU MUST WIN THEIR HEARTS.”

He went on to say that one reason why our family is…

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The Strong-Willed Child

Many of my momma friends are in the middle of summer chaos at home and have needed a word of encouragement. Whatever you do…if you are raising a Strong-Willed child…DON”T QUIT!!

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Sitting in my office, I am  listening to my 20 year old son make breakfast for his 4 year old sister.  The two are laughing and giggling and referencing different silly cartoon characters.  My son prepares to begin a day of back to back piano lessons as students and families come in and out of our home all day.  Our son is in his Junior year studying piano performance at Sam Houston State.  Each Monday and Friday I get the blessing of interacting with different moms who love to tell me about how much they enjoy the lessons, while I also listen to him teach his young students about discipline and control on the keys.  The value of doing something WELL…over doing something FAST, and I have to smile.  Mommas….he was my strong-willed child.  Enjoy the read

The Strong-willed Child

Are you raising a strong-willed child?  If you are not quite…

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Why I choose PACES PAideia

IT’s that time of year again and homeschoolers everywhere are trying to decide which route to take. If you are any where within an hour of the North side of Houston, come check out the PACES Paideia program. http://www.pacesinfo.org

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Why I choose PACES PAideia to educate my kids.

I’ve been home educating since 1997, coming up on 20 years. We have 8 kids, and have graduated three from homeschooling with PACES, each of which have gone on to higher education. We started our PACES journey in January of 2004. Right in the middle of Year 3…the Pilgrims.

Every summer, usually right about this time, I look at my husband and say, “Why can’t we just do this at home and stop doing PACES? I’m exhausted and the thought of gearing up for another school year just leaves me wanting to hide in bed”

To which he wisely replies, “Erin, you say this every July. Whether you realize it or not, PACES is for you too.” He has taught me to see the joy is in the struggle, and that the learning is not the only end game, it’s about…

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Four Busy Moms Share Thanksgiving Recipes

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It’s that time of year again.  We all have our favorite traditions, recipes, and rituals that we look forward too.  For our family, Thanksgiving week is the highlight of the year.  It usually looks like this, but could change depending on the football schedule!

Sunday – Family meeting where we plan out the Thanksgiving menu and the December events calendar.

Monday – Clean house

Tuesday – Shopping Day

Wednesday – COOKING Day followed by several games of 42 and chile for dinner!

Thursday – Thanksgiving and well…..football!

Friday – We stopped getting up early years ago, but we still look online for those Black Friday deals.

About four years ago, three friends and I put together a list of some of our favorite family recipes for Thanksgiving.  Each of us get the joy of laughing and cooking with large families this week so we wanted to share these with you.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!

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