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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Spiritual Growth Articles

Jun
07

Where Do You Look When She’s Lost Her Voice?

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megaphoneIt has been a quiet week at the parsonage. Far quieter than usual. I cannot remember a time when it was quieter. If silence is golden, the week glowed with a yellow brilliance.

Have you ever noticed when you lose something, it is always in the last place you look? I could save a lot of time, not to mention energy, if I would look for that lost item in the last place first.

Back to the sounds of silence in the parsonage.

When the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage awoke from her beauty sleep on Monday morning, she discovered sometime during the night she lost her voice. It was a strange sensation that bears repeating – often.

At first, I thought I lost my hearing. I am not accustomed to starting the day with such silence. I could see my Beloved’s lips moving, but nothing reached my ears.

I must confess that there have been times when I feigned not hearing her, but this time I really could not hear a word she said. Immediately I plunged a finger in each ear to check for any foreign correspondent.

My fingers reported nothing. I must admit that clean ears are a novelty for me. God gave me such large ears attracting all sorts of stuff.

My ears produce enough wax each week to take care of 17 Rolls Royces. The strange thing was, I had just waxed my car the Saturday before.

With nothing in my ears – or between them, for that matter – I could not explain this sudden silence of my Little Lamb.

I am the kind of person who tries to find good in everything. Some circumstances severely try my efforts in this endeavor, but, believe it or not, I was able to find some good about this little incident in our parsonage.

The good news was my wife had lost her voice; the bad news, however, she insisted that I look for it.

Have you ever tried looking for something you hoped you would not find?

Through the years, I have engaged in many things my heart was not totally in full sympathy with.

Such things as Christmas shopping with my wife at the mall; going to a wedding reception for some family member; attending the Christmas play by first graders at the elementary school.

All these activities are good in and of themselves; if only they would merely keep themselves to themselves, it would not irate myself so much. As a dutiful husband and father, I bolster up both chins and go forward.

Being the considerate soul that I am, I submissively went through the motions of looking for the lost voice. (I did have my fingers crossed.)

My problem was: where do you begin looking for a lost voice? In my lifetime, I have looked for many lost items. My car keys, my wallet (especially when the check at the restaurant is due), and my mind, which I have yet to find.

However, where does a voice go when it turns up missing?

I began my search under the sofa and found a set of car keys I lost seven months ago and my checkbook that I looked everywhere for and finally had to close the account and start over again, but no voice.

I spent a few moments meditating in the garage, but did not find or hear the voice of my Beloved.

I looked in the refrigerator – pausing for a small snack without fear of remonstration from you know who. Of course, I may have been remonstrated, but I did not hear a thing. Read More→

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Jun
05

The Power of Words in Business

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I love email. I know it’s silly, but I truly love receiving emails – especially from women who are a part of my ministry, Christian Work at Home Moms. I love hearing what God is doing in their lives and how He is creating businesses out of the very fabric of who they are and the things that they love to do.

I received an email not long ago, however, that wasn’t nearly so encouraging. The woman was upset. She had been hurt by people during her work-at-home journey, she felt used and abused. She took that anger out on me. I was heartbroken as I read that email and felt this woman’s pain. My heart ached not just for the anger that she expressed, but at seeing the pain behind her words.

Words give us power. They allow us to communicate what God is teaching us. They give us the ability to share the joys and triumphs of life.

And yet, words can be used to wield another sort of power as well – the power to injure. We can so easily hurt others with the words that write and speak. I can think of countless times that I have spoken something without thinking – with no intention of hurting someone – and injured the person on the receiving end.

James 3:3 -6 tells us:

“Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

What a powerful statement that last line is. Read it again: “It [the tongue] corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” The words we speak can corrupt us if we choose to speak words that belittle others, hurt others or tear others down.

On the flip side, in Proverbs 31:26 we find out how a godly woman uses her words:
She speaks wise words and teaches others to be kind.” Read More→

May
29

Don’t Hide From What You’re Passionate About

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WOvercoming Fearhen I was in college one of the requirements to graduate was to take a speech class. I was a fairly quiet girl who tried to blend in the crowd as much as possible. So, the thought of getting up in front of the crowd was terrifying to me.  Every time I thought about having to speak in front of my friends and classmates my heart would start racing, my palms would sweat and I would quickly distract myself by doing something else.

Eventually, though, I had to find a way to conquer speech class. So, one semester I had the brilliant idea to take speech class during the summer term at the local community college. This way, I could make a fool out of myself in front of strangers instead of my friends. So, that summer I hid out at the community college and suffered through speech class.

But, the joke was on me. I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me in college, but God would eventually give me opportunities to speak before audiences…and I would learn to enjoy it. I might possibly even say I developed a passion for speaking (and writing). I now take the opportunities God provides to share about working from home and how we can incorporate our faith into our business lives.

The Bible gives us a great example of someone else who – literally – tried to hide from his calling. In 1 Samuel chapter 10 we meet Saul. Saul has just been informed by the prophet Samuel he is to be Israel’s first king.

Samuel gathers the people of Israel together to announce God’s decision, but when he calls for Saul to step forward, guess what? Saul is nowhere to be found.

Samuel had them pass by in family groups, and Matri’s family was picked. Then he had each man of Matri’s family pass by, and Saul son of Kish was picked. But when they looked for Saul, they could not find him. (1 Samuel 10:21, NCV)

And where do you think Saul was? Read More→

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May
11

Mother Said There’d Be Days Like This

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mom and daughterMothers are the greatest dispensers of advice since God said, “Let there be light.” Some, not me, refer to it as maternal instinct.

My own mother gave me some splendid advice when I was growing up. Unfortunately, much of Mom’s advice shed light on nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Let me outline some advice my mother gave me that, to this day, I have no idea what she was talking about.

I distinctly remember my mother standing before me, with hands on her hips, scolding me for something and then saying, “Who do you think you are?”

This always disturbed me and caused me to wonder about my nativity. As a young person, I often pondered this question myself.

As with most teens, I had long moments of identity crisis. (When you are young most of your energy goes into producing hormones, and so the brain functions on low voltage.) It greatly confused me that the person who should know who I was, asked me the question I had been asking myself. If she does not know who I am, what hope do I have?

Then there was the time I asked my mother for money. She whirled around and replied, “Do you think money grows on trees?”

Up to that point, I have never given the matter much thought. I simply assumed money came from my father going to work and being paid. However, here was something new to ponder. Where does money come from, really? What added to my confusion was the name of our bank ‑ The Elm Tree Branch of First National Bank of Harrisburg. Now I was totally confused.

When I was quite young, I remember asking my mother for something in the store. I think it was some small toy that I took a fancy to and asked my mother to buy it for me. She flatly refused. I complained and demanded to know why. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because I am the mother, that’s why.”

To this day, I still do not know what in the world that statement meant. What did her being a mother have to do with buying me that toy?

When she saw my confusion, she told me, “When you have children of your own, you will understand.” I have children of my own as well as grandchildren, and I still do not know what she meant. It must be a mother thing, which is all I know.

Then there was the time I wanted to do something with some friends and my mother would not let me. “But everyone else is going,” I protested in vain. That’s when my mother gave me her spin on the situation at hand.

“What if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?”

The thing that confused me was, nobody was going to jump off any cliff. In fact, nobody in his or her right mind would ever think of such a stupid thing. Nobody, that is, but my mother. I figured she must have gotten her sadistic side from her mother. It must be something mothers pass on to their daughters, because as a man, I don’t get it.

Most memorable of her nuggets of wisdom to me is that piece of advice I still abide by. Before I would leave the house, my mother would say, “Make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get in a car accident and have to go to the hospital.”

I have never figured out what clean underwear has to do with going to the hospital, but that piece of advice made for the worst day of my high school years. Just as I drove into the school parking lot one day it dawned on me that I had forgotten to put on clean underwear. Panic raced through my teenage heart like never before. I was certain some disaster awaited me around the next corridor. Read More→

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May
04

Black Eye Causes Quandary of the First Order

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bedroomQuandaries come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. As someone who is somewhat of a connoisseur in this area, I can readily attest to this. However, many do not realize quandaries come in two categories.

First are those quandaries that come about through no fault of the person in said quandary. For all practical purposes (and those in a quandary are usually not practical), it is impossible to adequately prepare for such an event in life.

Second are self-imposed quandaries. This, unfortunately, is the area where I flounder the most. To be perfectly honest, and I’m not suggesting that I’m perfect; I have created most of the havoc in my life.

Believe me, I would like to put the blame on someone other than myself in many of these situations but, alas, I am to blame. What I am about to relate belongs to the first category.

I found myself in a quandary recently through no fault of mine. And yet, I’m not able to prove it. This is the most discouraging thing. I know it was not my fault, but nobody will believe me.

Through the years, I have adopted a certain nocturnal procedure. When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I keep my eyes closed. There are two very simple reasons for this:

One, I know exactly where I am going, so I don’t need to open my eyes.

Two, I do not want my body to know that I’m awake. I want to fool my body into believing I’m asleep. Read More→

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Apr
27

Life Does Have Its Compensations – Occasionally

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sun through the cloudsAt times, it seems as if there is absolutely no justice in this world, and then something wonderful happens making up for almost everything. This past week I was fortunate enough to experience one of those rare jewels of life.

I must say not all weeks are like this. My weeks usually range from bad to worse to when will this ever stop?

A normal week for me is when I take two steps forward and get run over by a car. Or, just when I think I’m caught up, I discover I’ve been working on last week’s to-do list.

Not that I’m complaining because complaining never gets anywhere in life. At least, no place I want to go.

A man who complains aloud is a man who is not married. Wives have a way of turning their husband’s complaining into “Well, its your own fault.” It’s amazing how this one phrase can cover a multitude of sins.

So, I’m not complaining, I’m just musing on my life and celebrating a great event this week.

I got home on Tuesday and the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was not there. I made myself a cup of coffee and got comfortable in my easy chair to rest from the labors of the day.

A good cup of Joe goes a long way to smooth the rough edges of any day. No sooner was I settled than the telephone rang. It was my wife.

“Are you home yet?” she said in a very meek and quiet voice. From the tone of her voice, I knew something wasn’t exactly right.

For a moment, I was tempted to answer her question in the negative. But then I do value my life. I knew the question was rhetorical and was not the reason for her calling. Something was up.

“Could you come over to the church right now?” she asked.

I had just settled in my easy chair and was a little reluctant to extricate myself from my comfort zone. I could, but I wondered why she wanted me to come over.

It wasn’t my birthday so I knew it was not a surprise party. It wasn’t our anniversary. And as far as I knew I was not in any trouble, which in itself does not rule out my being in trouble.

“Why,” I queried.

“I just need you to come over here right now, pleeease.”

When my wife says “pleeease,” I know there’s a very good reason for it. Namely, she is in trouble and needs my assistance. Granted, this is a rare occurrence.

“Is there something wrong? Are you all right?” I asked.

“Well,” she hesitated, “I think I locked my keys in the car.”

Life does not get any better than this. Read More→

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Apr
25

Take Control of Your Thoughts

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PrayerFrom the time, we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night, thoughts are coursing through our minds. Not just one thought but many. In fact, according to Dr. Leaf we can think 4 to 7 things are the same time.

One day last year I remember feeling gloomy all day. I didn’t want to talk to the kids, I was feeling a lot of anxiety and discouragement over business and finances. I didn’t know why. Life wasn’t that bad but I couldn’t seem to get my feelings out of the gutter. I stopped myself and looked back at the week asking, “What has happened that is leading to me feeling this way?”

It took a while for me to sort through my thoughts to recognize the underlying problem. I realized that earlier in the week I had gotten a phone call about a job I had done that needed to be corrected. It was a minor thing, but from that little incident my thinking had been spiraling downward for several days. I was negative about my abilities in work, which snowballed into worrying about finances (since work is a livelihood in my mind a bad job mean less money).

Things like this happen to all of us. The problem is that we can’t let our thinking spiral because of it. Rather than just knowing that we are grouchy, we must get to the root of the issue.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are told how to take every thought captive. It says, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

The verse says to demolish arguments and pretensions which are not in alignment with the knowledge of God. Here is why it is so important to know who we are in Christ and to know His promises.

An example in this situation would be that my thoughts were saying I’m never going to make it as a business woman because I made a mistake. However, that is not what God says. God says, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) He also says that He knows the plans He has for me to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) And He says that He loves me and calls me His child, reminding me that I will be like Him if I continue to hope in Him. (1 John 3:1-3)

God has given us the ability to separate from our thoughts and take authority over them. In His Word He has given Read More→

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Apr
20

The High Cost Of Speaking Your Mind

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What is your marriage modelingOne thing I have learned throughout my life is sometimes speaking your mind only gets a piece of somebody else’s mind – and not the good piece.

The old saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I’m surprised the old dog doesn’t know the old tricks. What good is a new trick if you have not really mastered and learned from the old tricks?

My experience in this area stood me in good stead for many years. An incident happened recently bringing to light how valuable this “old trick” really is. I may not be good in the new tricks, but I think I have mastered a few of the old tricks.

I really do not know when this incident started, but somewhere along the line I said something resembling a guttural “uh huh,” and forgot about it. What you say in these odd moments may determine your quality of life for many years to come. This points out the difference between husbands and wives.

The only way a husband can remember what he had for lunch is to look at his shirt. A wife’s memory, on the other hand, is so keen she can remember things that never happened.

In the midst of a mild domestic discussion, any wife worth her salt can bring her husband to his knees by simply stating, “But, Honey, you promised me.”

At that point, no husband has the equipment to counter that argument. He may well have promised, but there is no way to prove one way or the other.

About a month ago, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage got it into her mind to remodel the kitchen. During this time, I did a pretty good job of staying out of her way. When the rare opportunity came soliciting my personal advice on a matter associated with this remodeling project, I quickly and enthusiastically supported her decisions.

The man who carefully measures his words will add happy years to his life. I sure don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want that time to be happy.

Following the kitchen remodeling my wife proceeded to remodel her bathroom. At this point I should have had some suspicions, but I didn’t. As a husband, I am not equipped with a “suspicion detector.” Experience should have taught me that if one project is done successfully it only inspires another project.

When a wife gets it in her mind to remodel part of the house that thought gets stuck and there is no stopping her. After each remodeling project is completed, my wife always asks my opinion of the job she has just done. Read More→

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Apr
13

All My Friends Are Getting Old

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Getting old seems to be a long and slow process. The longer it goes the older you get.

I didn’t really think I was getting old until a few weeks ago I was visiting with some friends from high school. You know those old high school friends that you had fun with when you were young enough to have fun? And oh boy, what fun we had.

A sharp difference exists between being young and being old. You have to get old to really understand the difference because when you are young you do not have enough time to think. That’s the problem with young people today. So many things to do and so much technology they do not have any time left over to think.

Those young whippersnappers.

There is a huge difference between being young and being old.

When you are young, you enjoy having lots of fun.

When you are old, you enjoy remembering all the fun you had when you were young.

The best thing about being old and remembering those good old days is that you can exaggerate about how good they really were. Even when you are exaggerating with friends that shared the same fun, they go along with you.

Whether it is the absence of memory or just wanting to enjoy fun to its fullest extent, I do not really know.

As my friends and I were talking about the good old days, I happened to notice wrinkles on their faces. I did not say anything at the time, but they sure looked old to me. Also, I did not quite remember how grey their hair was when we were young.

When I was young and having all that fun, I never gave a thought about how young I was or that I was getting older. My whole focus was on the fun element of life and I thought that would carry me through the rest of my life.

I remember my 20th birthday very well. I was celebrating getting out of those teenage years and becoming an adult. For some reason I thought you became an adult at 20. Little did I know that it takes many years to become an adult and some do not really make it. I simply assume that the older you get, the more fun you can have. Boy, was I ever surprised!

Celebrating the good old days is quite remarkable. Because in it all, I noticed my friends were getting older. One of my friends repeated a story three times and not to embarrass him, I laughed all three times.

After the meeting and driving home, I began to think about myself. Am I as old as they look? Read More→

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Apr
12

One More Step: Famous Christian Pilgrimages

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country churchSometimes, life can be pretty unfair whether you’ve been passed over for a promotion for work, the kids just aren’t behaving themselves and even though you’ve run every other day this week somehow you’ve still gained three pounds! You know what, it’s ok if you need to take some time out for yourself, have ten minutes where you don’t need to do anything else except breathe and make yourself a soothing cup of tea. We often think that the first line of defense against stress, worry and frustration is to eat better, get lots of sleep and try to exercise more frequently and while these are all fantastic ideas might there be a more adventurous solution?

While we’re not saying that you should embark on a three month Eat, Pray, Love style quest for enlightenment travel does tend to broaden our minds and open our hearts. So if you’re struggling with a big decision or emotional issue, take a trip even if it’s just to a different city for a couple of days. Having said that you could always save up for a few months, take on a couple more shifts at work or travel with friends to help split up the cost. Then visit some of the most inspiring, enlightening Christian pilgrimage sites on earth! Not only have thousands of people achieved real inner peace, come to life changing decisions and felt a renewed sense of faith here but have also been transfixed by the sheer beauty and quiet dignity of sacred spaces.

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, have been sad and melancholy for a while or are struggling with feeling fulfilled at work it may be better to take some annual leave, pack your passport and non-judgmental attitude and visit some of the most spiritual places on earth. Don’t worry, though, wherever you choose to go God will be with you as you find your renewed faith.

Lourdes, France

Believe it or not, the Roman Catholic church has recorded sixty-six separate miracles at Lourdes, where shrines were built in homage to the mysterious figure that appeared over 150 years ago. It was a day just like any other, when 14-year-old servant girl Bernadette Soubirous stopped on her way to the market and saw a woman standing over her. On it’s own this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, but what made this moment unique was the fact the woman was floating above her, surround by a halo of radiant light and would appear to the young girl over seventeen times, changing the course of Bernadette’s young life forever. Today, millions of people flock to this small French town to pay homage to the rocks where the Lady Of Lourdes first appeared while Bernadette is now one of France’s most beloved saints.

Christian pilgrims stand quietly in line, waiting for their chance to touch the rocks, leaving candles, flowers and other offerings as well as drinking the water from a nearby spring that’s said to be infused with healing properties. Pilgrimages to Lourdes usually began at Easter, going all the way through to October as Christians come to sing hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Torchlight processions, extended services and group prayer circles are common as are songs dedicated to Massabielle rocks. In the niche where the vision first appeared stands a statue of the Virgin Mary, dressed in white as she was said to have been clothed originally. Her hands clasped in eternal prayer she looks towards heaven.

Camino de Santiago, Spain

Another famous Christian pilgrimage site is the tomb of the apostle St James in Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. It’s a beautiful city, so much so that it appears on Unesco’s World Heritage register as well as being one of the major Christian pilgrimages that are still accessible. Having said that it starts near the French border and ends at the Atlantic coast so it’s certainly not an activity you can accomplish in an afternoon. Most people tend to either drive, walk or cycle the 783 kilometers turning the pilgrimage into the focal point of a vacation in Spain. The full journey, if you choose to walk it, will take around a month but there are plenty of inns, hotels, and albergues, or pilgrim hostels that you can stay in. Be aware, that many of these pilgrim hostels will be Spanish speaking, you may need help getting a prayer card, and you’ll require special credentials, or a pilgrim passport to prove you’re undertaking the great walk to the Camino.

Jerusalem, Israel

Even the smallest child knows the story of the nativity and how Mary, Joseph and their unborn baby had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted for the upcoming census. However, on the way Mary went into labor, and so Jesus, the first Christian and Son Of God was born in a lowly stable instead of an inn. Despite a turbulent history, and the constant threat of low-level violence between Palestinians and Israelis many Christians still feel the need to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the biblical birthplace of the man they revere. One of the most popular sites is Bethlehem’s Church Of The Nativity, where in a small underground grotto, a silver shining star marks the site near where Jesus was said to have been born. Close by also lies the Manger Square, surrounded by several other churches of great significance.

For Christians, a visit to Jerusalem is not complete without paying a visit to the Church of The Holy Sepulchre, the site where Jesus is buried after supposedly ‘dying’ on the cross only to roll the stone away from his own tomb three days later. Those looking to God for strength, love and support often like to make the trek to the Mount Of Olives where it’s believed Jesus prayed on the night that Judas betrayed him. However, perhaps the most sacred site are the cracked, stone steps of the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus walked to the cross and one that countless people have taken to better understand what it means to sacrifice everything for love.

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