November 3, 2009

Obstacle #3-Spiritual Enemies (The Devil)

John 10:10 - The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

I won’t spend much time on this particular obstacle because it speaks for itself.

Satan’s power is increased through our choices, which is why he tempts us to do things his way. He knows that we must open the door to let him in.

He will use many things to divide and rob us of relationship. Breaking up the family unit is something he must do to gain power on this earth. We give in to him through impatience, anger, deceit, offenses, misunderstanding, unforgiveness, stubbornness, pride, and everything else that is contrary to God.

I can remember a time in my life when I was bound by perfectionism (pride). Because of this I had a need to be in control of my life, which included my husband, children and anyone else that wanted to be a part of it. After years of getting undesirable results, I began to consider that maybe all the difficulty and lack of peace I was experiencing was due to something in me that needed to change. Just maybe the people in my life who didn’t do things to my satisfaction weren’t as wrong as I thought they were. As I began to seek answers, the Lord began to reveal truth to me (it came so slowly). I learned that the love and grace that exudes from Christ was there to cover all of my imperfections and that He wasn’t standing around with a big stick waiting to oust me if I did wrong. I learned how to walk in His grace toward myself. Then I was able to extend it to others. I thought by being in control of my life (which as it turns out I wasn’t) and making sure it was all done right (in my own eyes) that I would gain acceptance from the Lord. Now realize, change didn’t take place over night. It has been a long hard road of being humbled by the Lord and I assume because of my sinfulness it’s not over yet. But when God reveals things in our lives that need to change, He is faithful to give us the strength we need to obey Him. But the choice is ours and every time we make a deliberate choice to not do things His way we welcome the influence of the enemy of our soul into our lives. Now, as it relates to parenting, when I choose as a parent to not obey God’s instruction, I am deciding to open the door for destruction, division, and whatever else comes with the flesh, devil, and world. The consequences of our choices are far reaching, even to the next generation. We may never know until our children are adults, with children of their own, just how much our disobedience has cost.

Be encouraged today to walk closely to Jesus. He is the only one who can truly guide you. Even though we do have an enemy, we have a heavenly Father who is capable of protecting, teaching and leading us. He will keep us as we surrender our will to Him.
Due to my lack of relevant photographs, I continue to take advantage of the opportunity to post some of my favorite photos. Grace-Works

October 14, 2009

Obstacle #2- Social and Cultural Conditions (The World)

Well for those of you who were following the Parenting Series here is the next Obstacle...if you have lost track of where we were you can go to the last post on June 28 and reread the first obstacle to character training, the flesh. Sorry for the delay but I think I am back on track. Thanks for your patience.

I Corinthians 15:33- Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Many times we are naive as parents as to how impressionable our children really are. In not embracing this truth we often place them in risky environments. I have said on many occasions that parents seem to put their children in environments that they would not put themselves in because of the negative impact it may have. For example: Spending unlimited time with a peer who has negative behavior. We understand as adults how we are influenced by negativity but for some reason we often think our children are immune to it.

Proverbs 22:24-25 – Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, 25 lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.
One of our children in particular seemed to be easily influenced—very impressionable. It never failed, when she would spend time in social settings she would return with behavioral changes. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are all influenced by one another in some capacity or another but this was dramatic. It was so obvious that her attitude, body language, accent, and words would all take on the appearance of whomever she had been with. It was as though the other child had come home with us instead of our own daughter. I do believe that although all are susceptible to this, some children tend to be more vulnerable than others. This could work out well for you if your child is being influenced in a positive way but not well at all when the influence is contrary to what you are training. This is why it is so important to be involved in our children’s lives. Know who they are with and what that child’s tendencies are so that you will know how to counteract it.

Know the parents of the children your kids are involved with, whether or not they adhere to similar philosophies as you do. If we are going to parent Biblically, we have to accept stewardship over what influences our children. Be willing to accept, no matter the cost, that some influences just aren’t good for your particular child and make the adjustments necessary. For Tim and I adhering to this philosophy was a priority and quite costly but also rewarding later in life as the fruit remained.
John 16:33– In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
A cultural battle is inevitable for those who follow Christ. In this passage Jesus prepared His disciples for what they would face in this world and how they were to deal with it. We must do the same for our children.

Here are a couple of practical ways to address this issue:
 Extended family and friends: Not every family will have the same ideals and standards in every area. You and your spouse are responsible to clarify your standards in specific areas for your extended family and friends. Allow others the freedom to live according to their convictions or preferences without judging them and be free to live your own without worrying about whether you will offend. Others will not be the ones to give account for your stewardship.

 Media: A philosophy struggle takes place in this arena perhaps more than any other. Media has more influence over our children today than at any other time in history (I will do a separate post on the affects of media on our children). Most parents are overwhelmed with trying to keep up with their children and the influence media has on them. Some questions we need to ask ourselves in regard to what our children are exposed to are: How is this activity going to affect his /her attitude toward God? Is this a positive influence on my child? How does it glorify God or promote honor toward Him?A common mistake many parents make is having the philosophy that says “Well, I turned out all right even though I had some bad influences and made mistakes.”
Remember, you are not the standard, God and His Word are.
Proverbs 16:25- There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Child training involves absolutes. There must be concrete boundaries in the life of a child. Absolutes bring a sense of security. Limits provide protection and freedom for children. They simply say “I love you more than I love myself and that’s why I will sacrifice whatever necessary to protect you and guide you.”
Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

October 6, 2009


Strange times they are…
Long drawn out days- short not enough hours, wearisome and depleted- energized, and exuberant, confused- clear thinking, great joy- deep sorrow, no answers- profound insight, accepted- rejected, integrity- lies, here-gone, abundance-need, fun and laughter-anger and misery, sickness-health, life-death, despair-hope…
These are the days of a life. What strange wonder in it all… how does one manage? Dependence-Independence…fight-surrender…Ahhh…SURRENDER…understanding enlightened!

October 2, 2009

I’m back! It's crazy how fast time passes. Some of you may have been following me over at “Maime’s Hospitalitea Cottage” and know what I’ve been up to. If you haven’t, feel free to hop on over and catch up with what’s been keeping me busy.
I have also been enjoying my sweet little granddaughter. We have been reading books, playing with Noah and his arch, playing peek-a-boo with doilies and riding around in the big red wagon. I feel so special! Who ever knew life could be so fun?

Thank all of you who have prayed for my Dad. Considering that he and my Mom’s life has changed drastically they seem to be adjusting well. I think they would both appreciate if you would continue to keep them in your prayers. Everyday life from here on out will be very different for them as Dad continues to move toward a complete recovery.
In case you were wondering I will continue the Parenting Series but I will say, I am eager to finish because I have so many other things I want to share. I am currently working on several posts so please stay tuned for what’s to come… Grace-Works

August 18, 2009

I'll Be Back

Thank all of you who prayed for my Dad. He is doing better but has a long road of recovery ahead of him. I am in the middle of planning a wedding for my daughter so I am a bit low on time these days. Until I return to Grace-Works you can keep up with the happenings at Maime's Hospitalitea Cottage at I am looking forward to coming back soon! Please keep watching for my return!
Grace-Works, Elaine

July 11, 2009


For those of you who don't already know, My dad is recovering from a stroke. I appreciate all your prayers and thoughts. I will do my best to be back as soon as possible.

June 28, 2009

Obstacles To Character Training- Sin Nature (The Flesh)

So far, I covered the importance of parental stewardship and that God is seeking godly offspring. Also, I shared the importance of having a biblical philosophy of parenting. Today, I will talk more about character training and some obstacles you may be facing.
Obstacle #1 – The Sin Nature
I know this is hard for some of us to acknowledge but our little bundle of joy was born with a wretched sinful nature. You will not have to teach him or her how to say “no”, how to not share, say “mine”, or to outright defy you. It all just comes so naturally to this precious little sinner.

Galatians 5:16-1:7 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

If you are not expecting your child to disobey you and use every bit of his strength to oppose you, you will be a disillusioned parent.

Proverbs 22:15 is clear “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Our primary objective, as parents, is to teach our children to surrender to the Spirit and not to the sinful nature.
One way to accomplish this is to teach them self-control.

When Tim and I were young parents we learned this reality through very difficult circumstances. When our oldest daughter was eighteen months old she was diagnosed as hearing impaired/deaf. She had no form of communication other than screaming with great frustration, flailing her body, or throwing whatever she had in her hand. Sometimes she would bite, pull hair, or push another child down in her attempt to communicate. It was a very difficult time for us as parents because we had lofty ideals about training our child and they just weren’t working. No matter what we tried, nothing seemed to get through to her.

One day someone said to me “The greatest thing you can teach your daughter is self-control. If she can learn to control herself, she can learn anything.” It was an ah-ha moment for us. We started on a long journey of discipline and instruction. After much prayer and deliberation, Tim and I came up with a plan that we were both comfortable with and agreed to follow it consistently. Teaching our daughter to control herself became a priority. For example: If she wanted a snack she would have to use sign language and use her voice in a calm manner rather than screaming uncontrollably. We had many long days of nothing but instruction. For many of those days, I was tempted to give up because of discouragement. But by enduring, we were able to teach her to control herself so that she could learn. So much peace came to her once she realized that there was another way to communicate which was pleasant and got her the desired response. She started using her voice in a more pleasant way and became an all around pleasant little girl.

I don’t want to minimize the work that went into this process. Because it was apparent our little girl would never be able to function in society if we didn’t make the changes necessary, it propelled us to do the hard work. In our case, the consequences of not teaching self-control were obvious. But for many, the results aren’t seen until it’s too late to make a difference.

Many times in our attempt to address a behavior we, as parents, actually react with the same behavior we are correcting in our children. This makes our attempt to correct or instruct meaningless.

We cannot simply allow our children to negatively “express themselves” without correction. We must love them enough to resist their self-destruction.

Galatians 3:24-25 clarifies this process: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law(boundaries), locked up until faith should be revealed, so the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (NIV)

Our goal is not to just have “good” or “well behaved” children. Our goal as parents is to be good stewards over our children directing them to Jesus Christ by the law. In turn, they will grow in relationship with Him through faith and therefore become obedient to His Spirit. This is when they have there own personal AH-HA moment and realize, “This is why Mom and Dad taught me self-control, so that I would avoid self-destruction before I came to Christ.”

Galatians 5:18-23: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)

I encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to build character in my child?” Will you make the adjustments necessary to model the character you are teaching?
Grace-Works, Elaine

June 3, 2009

Charting The Course

Here are a few passages to ponder as you continue charting your course through the parenting series.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

You must know where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

Proverbs 4:26-27 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Once a course is charted you must consistently stick to it.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Parents plant things into their children daily. The things planted will produce a harvest. A parent cannot plant criticism, sarcasm, and insults into their children and expect them to produce love, encouragement, and kindness.

II Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

You must make certain commitments to your children and keep them in order to reap the rewards of pleasant children. Two hours of family time a week cannot compete with unending hours of television, computer and other influences. (Remember the Duet. 6:4-7 principle).

II Timothy 1:5 When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice ,and I am persuaded is in you also.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a genuine faith. Leaving a legacy of spiritual fervor rather than just having a religion is essential to passing on a godly seed.

Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

“A child’s birthright is the right to spend time with his family.”
Frank Minirth

Setting time aside at the beginning of each year to pray and seek God’s direction as you chart your course for your family is helpful. Tim and I have done this for many years. We typically get away one weekend in January. The whole purpose for our trip is to reevaluate our goals from the previous year and then to seek God’s direction for the current year. Our charting includes many aspects of our lives. When our children were young we would discuss areas we thought we needed to improve in as parents, as well as areas of difficulty for our children. We would develop a plan as to how we could possibly teach and train them in those areas to help them grow stronger. We would typically focus on particular character traits as well as certain behaviors. For example, one year our goal was to focus on being a servant to others. We felt that some of our children were struggling with selfishness and ungratefulness. In order to combat this attitude, we spent time volunteering and doing acts of service as a family. We reinforced the concept of being a servant by memorizing scripture pertaining to serving others, reading books about those who serve, as well as consistently addressing attitudes that were opposite from that of a servant. Behavior problems were a bit different. We would define the problem and then decide as a couple what we thought were appropriate consequences. After informing our child of our decision, we would work together at being consistent with discipline. Though working together as a couple makes it so much easier, I am aware that you don’t all have that luxury. I encourage you that if you don’t have an involved partner, consider seeking the Lord for guidance and begin to implement a plan as an individual. Parenting is a difficult stewardship and without the support of your partner it can be quite challenging. When you get discouraged and want to quit always remember that Grace-Works.

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Just a few pictures of Julia from our recent camping trip!

May 12, 2009

Eight Facts about Your Parenting Philosophy

1. Successful parenting requires teamwork –unity is essential.

2. No matter what your philosophy has been, it can change.

3. Most couples never discuss their parenting philosophy prior to marriage.

4. Differing parenting philosophies is one of the major causes of marital conflict.

5. You may not agree on every single decision, but you must agree on your overall approach.

6. Each parent has a specific role to play in the life of their child.

7.As Parents you must decide if you are going to parent according to your own philosophy or the Bible.

8.Read Colossians 2:8 and beware lest you be cheated by following the wrong philosophy.

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May 2, 2009

I'll Be Back!

I'm still here! Life has been very busy for me and posting in my blog has taken a back seat. I find that I don't multitask as well as I did when I was younger. In the past month I have started planning my daughters wedding; planned and presented a premarried seminar; made a trip to LA to visit family and friends; spoke at a "Spring Tea" for our local home school association and planned a rehearsal dinner for a friends son. Even though May is looking even busier than April, I am going to try to finish the parenting series because I have so many other things I want to share with you. Please be patient with me, I'll be back soon!

April 8, 2009

Parenting Is A Stewardship

There is so much chatter about being a good steward over your body, your finances, and your possessions. But rarely do we hear about one of our greatest calls to stewardship. (Please read Malachi 2:14-16.) As we continue our discussion about parenting, we will look at another reason we are parents: God seeks a godly seed. Not just any seed but a godly seed. We can conclude from this passage in Malachi and the passage in Psalm 127 in my previous post that parenting is a stewardship. A steward is one who manages another’s property, finances or affairs. Though being the steward over our children may be the most difficult challenge we face as parents, we are well suited for it. We have not only been given our children as gifts but we have also been given a prescription and an objective as to how they are to be cared for. (Please read Proverbs 22:6.) Parental stewardship involves discipleship. Biblical parenting has to be intentional. With this in mind, we can surmise that parenting is no less than discipleship in the home. Unless we see the gravity of our responsibility in this matter, we will fail to put forth the effort necessary to train up a godly seed. (Please stop and read I Corinthians 11:1.) In this passage the word follow means to imitate. When we are discipling others, whether they are our children or not, it is important that we are careful to use the “do as I do and not just as I say” approach. Tim and I decided that speaking kindly and with respect to one another was something we wanted to be the norm in our home. We were diligent to hold one another accountable for this. When our children came along, we found it to be much more of a challenge to maintain our desired end. In order to eliminate the possibility of a set back, we allowed our daughters to speak to us any way that we spoke to them. Because we were committed to this, it worked really well for us. For example, if I spoke to one of the girls with a raised voice, she had the liberty to speak back to me in a raised voice. Fortunately, to the best of my memory, it never happened that way. I do recall on occasions having one of them remind me of the rules and say “do you want me to talk to you that way?” I would say that our children grew up in a home where there was a minimal amount of unkind words or disrespect for one another. If this behavior did occur it would be addressed promptly with an apology, no matter who the offender was. So often we want to be examples in word only. God calls us to something much greater in our parenting. Your children know when your words are sincere. Even at a young age they are able to perceive if your words match your actions. This poem by Guy Dowd says it well:

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day
I’d rather you walk with me than merely point the way
The eye is more a pupil than ever was the ear
Good advice is often confusing
But example is always clear

Discipleship or training requires deliberate intentional effort and a well thought-out strategy. Discipling our children is a process that doesn’t give immediate results. My next post will be titled “Parenting is a Process.” Grace-Works

April 1, 2009

Gifts From God

I told my daughter Mary that I can’t wait until Julia starts asking all the “but why Mommy?” questions. Those were the ones that always tripped me up. The good thing is that they sent me looking for answers. Parenting requires humility and a teachable attitude. There is no room for pride and selfishness. Tim and I have always said that the most beneficial preparation we had for ministry was parenting. As parents, we learned about depending on the Lord; serving even when we were exhausted; the importance of having right attitudes; admitting our short comings and weaknesses; continuing to learn so that we could teach others; and the list goes on. It is important for us to ask ourselves why we are parents. One reason would be because God desired to give us a gift, a reward, or an inheritance (Read Psalm 127:3). Children are valuable gifts that God has given us. When we begin to view them the way the Bible speaks of them, we take our role in their lives more seriously. This concept hit home for me late into the night when my daughter Bethany was about four years old. She had been suffering with an ear ache earlier in the day. We prayed for her, gave her medication and tucked her into bed. Tim and I had been asleep for quite a while when we were awakened by her crying at his side of our bed. My back was to them and as I awoke and turned toward her, there standing behind her was a tall man or woman (I couldn’t tell which). It appeared that he was watching Bethany’s interaction with her Dad and writing in a notepad as though he was taking notes. I immediately reacted by yelling, “Who are you, what are you doing here?” He looked at me with a surprised look as though I wasn't supposed to see him. As I continued to yell the question, he began to back out of the room and faded away. At that point, Tim jumped out of bed and frantically searched the house for an intruder. When he came back to the room to tell me no one was there, I couldn’t believe it! It was just so real! Whether it was a dream or a real encounter with Bethany’s guardian angel, I may never know for sure. I choose to believe the later. Nevertheless, the purpose of it was served. I was convinced more than ever that every interaction with my children was being observed by someone who cared very deeply for them and was keeping a record. Needless to say, I became a much more conscientious parent after that night. Children are valuable little people that God has given to us for a reason. As a society, we are guilty of not valuing our children and believing them to be gifts. They are every generation’s most valuable resource. In the next post, I will talk about our responsibility for this gift. Grace-works!

March 30, 2009

Introduction to Priority Parenting

It’s heart warming for me to play a supportive role in the lives of our daughter and son-in-law as they parent our granddaughter. Benj and Mary are a unique team! They work together very well, which brings a lot of security to Julia’s life. Their preparation for parenting started long before Julia was born. I would venture to say even before she was conceived. The thing that I admire about them is that they have prepared with purpose. They are submitted to the Lord and His purposes. They continue to look for resources to help them be the very best parents they can be. Some of us fail to plan at all for the most important aspects of our lives. I remember when Tim and I were young (wait a minute, we are still young!) and newly married. We wanted children right away. We both wanted a large family and had agreed on having twelve children. It took me a long eleven months to conceive, but finally Rebekah, our first bundle arrived. Eighteen months later, Rachel came along; twenty two months after Rachel, Bethany; and lastly, nineteen months after Bethany, Mary, our youngest, was born. Due to health complications, I was only able to carry four children. Our reproduction endeavor turned out to be a sprint rather than a marathon. We had an overall plan back then, but had never really thought about the purpose in it, except that we knew we believed in procreation. Needless to say, we chose the crash course in parenting unlike Benj and Mary.
We all have days when we feel like we are good parents, and others when we feel that we have failed miserably and are convinced that we are the worst parent in the world. This is normal! There are no perfect parents! The hard days in our roles as parents can be like surfing a wave “we can let it overwhelm us or let it lift us and carry us. It’s important to allow ourselves to be challenged to become better parents. It’s never beneficial to give in to self-defeating thoughts that tend to cripple and discourage.
Due to some of the questions that have come up lately in conversations with parents of younger children, I’m going to spend the next few posts sharing some parenting philosophies that Tim and I have learned through the years. In introducing these articles, want to note that there are several approaches to parenting. There is the “how to” approach and the “why” approach. I will focus on the “why” approach because, if parents understands the goals of parenting, they will be better prepared to apply the information that is available to them. There are also the psychological approach and the biblical approach. I will focus primarily on God’s design for the family and the biblical philosophy regarding children and their make up. Whether you are a Christian or not, the principles we will cover will be beneficial to you as you consider your overall approach to parenting your child. Keep in mind that these posts are only overviews. They will only address the high points. If there is any particular concept you would like further information about, you may email me. To be continued…Grace-Works

March 25, 2009

Happy Generation!

I have been meeting with a group of young married women in my home for the past few weeks. All of them have been married under seven years, which makes me feel very old. We are reading and discussing a book together. I must tell you that it is so refreshing to be around these women and their children. They have so much life and energy. I am also very blessed by their desire to know the truth in God’s Word. The book that we are reading and discussing has been challenging to all of us! It has been great to have an opportunity to share some of the mistakes I’ve made through the years. Hopefully they can avoid making the same ones I’ve made. The last couple of discussions have included the concepts found in Titus 2:3-5, where Paul is telling the older woman to teach the younger and then he gives a list of what to teach (read it when you get a chance). In our discussion, I surmised that in our culture there aren’t many environments where we spend quality time with people who are older or younger. How can the young women learn from the older if they are seldom around them? In many environments, age segregation starts at the cradle and ends at the grave. We have robbed ourselves of so many rich experiences by not pursuing opportunities to be with all age groups. I have some really strong opinions about this particular concept and have to remind myself to observe the instruction in Titus 2—to be discreet, which means modest in my opinions and passions. Nothing warms my heart like the scene I observe on Sunday mornings as I look out across the congregation of our Church. There are entire families sitting together worshiping as a family unit. And what makes it even more special is when I see the Pops and Maimes (grandfathers and grandmothers) sitting there with their families as well. This is just one sweet picture of age desegregation. I have often wondered why children are perceived as such a nuisance that, on one of the most significant days of the week, for one of the most important things a family can do together, we would send them away to be cared for or ministered to at an age appropriate level. Okay, okay… Now I’m abandoning my discretion. All I really want to say is, you might begin to think about how you and your family can be less age-segregated in your everyday life. What opportunities can you make for you and your children to be around someone from a different generation? If foolishness begets foolishness then what does wisdom beget? Are you and your children walking among the wise? It’s much easier to think about this as it pertains to our children but we must ask ourselves as adults, am I gleaning enough from those who are older and wiser to sustain me in the future? Am I seeking instruction from those who are a bit further down the road than me? Be encouraged today to think outside the box. Ask yourself these hard questions. A Hebrew proverb reads “Happy the generation where the great listen to the small, for it follows that in such a generation the small will listen to the great.” I’m so glad Grace-Works!

Enjoying Another Generation

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March 24, 2009

New Blog

I just want to let everyone know I have been working on a new blog. It is a bit different from this one. Check it out at . May the fun begin! I’ll update you on the details later.

March 16, 2009

Bethany and John Ryan

Bethany on her birthday morning!

Bethany as a little munchkin!

Happy Birthday Bethany!

Happy Birthday Lovely Lady! My third daughter Bethany was born on the 15th day of March, 24 years ago. Her birth was quite eventful. I went to the hospital early on the morning she was born for a scheduled c-section. Everything appeared to be going just fine except the epidural I was given didn’t seem to be working. After administering the maximum amount of medication, the anesthesiologist was convinced I would be numb by the time the surgery began. When the physician came into the operating room to start the surgery, he poked me with what felt like a needle on my oversized abdomen and based on my response said, “Oh, sorry. I guess you can feel that.” Needless to say the failed epidural caused me to have to be put to sleep for her delivery. My recovery room experience was horrendous. My sweet gentle husband told the attending nurse not to touch me again until we spoke with the Doctor. I was so glad to have him there to stick up for me. After speaking with the Doctor, we were convinced that either the nurse didn’t get the memo that I had had a c-section or she was taking out her frustration on me. Of course all the pain went away when I got to see my sweet little baby girl. She had dark hair and dark eyes and was obviously unique from the moment I saw her. She captured my heart just as her sisters had. From our first encounter I knew my heart was set to take the very best care of this fragile little life God had entrusted to me. At two weeks old, she quit breathing during an evening feeding. Tim and I did everything we could to get her to breathe but to no avail. Now remember, this was before 911 was in affect and we lived 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. Tim handed her to me and telephoned a local physician who lived down the street from us. The physician told us to get to a hospital and Tim responded with “there isn’t enough time.” When he hung up the phone, he fell to his knees and cried out for God’s mercy, convinced that she was gone. I just couldn’t give up. I proceeded to work on her and just as the physician was walking through our front door she took a breath. I quickly handed her frail body to him and he proceeded to examine her. He said he thought she was going to be fine except for maybe some bruising from us trying to get her to breath. I cannot put into words how helpless and weak Tim and I felt that evening. It was a stern reminder to us both that we as parents have certain limitations in the lives of our children, but their heavenly Father is without limits and cares for them more deeply than we ever could. Bethany quit breathing again the following evening around the same time. We took her to the hospital this time to try to figure out what was going on. After a five day hospital stay, and an enormous amount of trauma, we were told that there was nothing wrong with her and that she had had coincidental choking spells. Anxious and relieved, we headed home knowing that the affects of the whole experience brought us to a new found dependence on the Lord, especially in the area of parenting. Through the years of her life, Bethany has brought us a tremendous amount of joy! I truly believe that the enemy had a plan for her the evening she quit breathing that was different from the Lord’s. There have been other times in this journey of stewardship in Bethany’s life when her Dad and I have fallen to our knees and cried out for God’s mercy and, always, the Lord was there to give wisdom, strength, protection, courage, grace, and forgiveness as it was needed. I am so thankful that the Lord’s purpose and plan for her can not be thwarted by the evil one, his devices, or her or her parent’s weaknesses. My heart is overjoyed today as I reminisce over the life of this beautiful woman. She is not only my daughter but my friend and my sister in Christ. And, I have no doubt that her life will continue to bring praise honor and glory to her King, JESUS. I love you Bethany and hope you had a wonderful birthday!

March 9, 2009


Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me to continue writing through your comments and email. It brings my heart joy knowing that all this writing is benefiting someone other than me. It has been a wonderful outlet! I told Tim that it’s like unclogging a main artery to my heart. I have a fresh appreciation for those who are courageous enough to put their words in print. I have been thinking a lot lately about how much I need people in my life to spur me on and inspire me. Because I love definitions, here is how the free online dictionary by Farlex defines inspire: to affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence; to fill with enlivening or exalting emotion; to stimulate to action; motivate; to affect or touch; to draw forth; elicit or arouse; to be the cause or source of; bring about; to stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence. Wow! You would think that in order to inspire someone, you would have to really work hard at it. On the contrary, what I have found is that those who truly inspire are those who are busy being who they are created to be, whether anyone is observing them or not. I personally have been inspired by the character of many in my lifetime. To name a few: my husband by his fervor and passion to live biblical truth; my father by his patriotic commitments, along with his integrity; my mother by her ability to persevere through enormous difficulty; my daughters, each in their own unique way, but primarily in their continued desire to live lives that honor God; my son-in-law by his tenacity to pursue the dreams God has put in his heart; all my friends and family members who continue to seek after God with all their hearts even in the midst of a world that is hostile toward their beliefs; Christian leaders who persevere through opposition and preach the truth of God’s Word uncompromisingly, no matter the cost; and, on a lighter note, Author and Speaker Emily Barnes for teaching me all about taking tea! A person who can be inspired by another is one who has learned an important aspect of survival in this life. Many times our pride will keep us from allowing others to speak into our lives. Proverbs 18:1 tells us “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” There have definitely been times in my life when I have not allowed others in. After going through a period of isolation, I realized how much I needed other people. It is so tempting to try to be an island because it initially seems safe, peaceful, or just easier all around. It doesn’t take long to realize that isolation only brings stagnation and growth becomes obscure. We were created to have fellowship with one another and without it, we will grow weak and vulnerable (Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching). As I make attempts at welcoming others into my life, I realize the importance of seeking out those who also appreciate being inspired. These individuals seem to be the ones who are growing. “Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with spark, or motivated.” (Johann Gottfried Von Herder) I have noticed that when I am truly inspired, I have an unquenchable need to affirm the one who has inspired me. Hopefully in return, they are compelled to continue being who they were created to be and consequently inspiring others. When was the last time your ideals were stimulated? When were you last divinely influenced or touched? If it’s been a while and you can sense some stagnation in your life, it may be time to get in the boat and sail off the island of isolation toward the mainland where inspiration abounds. I believe there are great things awaiting you there! Open your heart and allow someone in! Grace-Works!

March 4, 2009

"The Hard Work"

I’m in Branson Missouri as I write. Tim and I will be heading home today after celebrating the twenty-ninth anniversary of making our marriage covenant. No, I didn’t say wedding anniversary because the wedding was the least important part of what we actually did on that cold winter day in March of 1980. The most meaningful part of that day was the fact that we made a covenant with one another that has kept us together through many difficult seasons. I really don’t think either of us knew what we were getting into when we made that covenant but the making of it was something that we were both committed to. Tim and I spent our anniversary weekend speaking at a marriage seminar in Lamar, MO. and I can honestly say it was a very meaningful way to spend our time together. We so enjoyed the group we were with. They were like sponges soaking up truth. It was refreshing to be around so many couples who desire to honor God through their marriages. At the close of the seminar Tim sang a song to me, as he typically does, that he wrote for me on our twenty-fifth anniversary. I share the words with you partly because it’s so special to me but also to make a point.

My Promise

It’s been a long time now
We’ve been together girl
I’ve come to know that you love me
in ways I have never known
We’ve shared good times and bad together
And our love keeps growing strong

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way
We’re a match that was made in heaven
But the flame is kept here on earth
To love and cherish, this is my promise to you
This is my promise

I will warm you in the winter when it’s cold outside
I’ll be your friend and will listen, even if it takes all night
We’ve shared good times and bad together
And our love keeps growing strong

It’s been twenty-five years since I said “I Do”
I’m not gonna lose you now
One day at a time, for better or worse
I’ll be here in the morning

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way

I’m with you no matter the weather I’m here to stay
I’ll be here through the rain and the sunshine it works that way
We’re a match that was made in heaven
But the flame is kept here on earth
To love and cherish, this is my promise to you
This is my promise – This is my promise

Through our years of ministering to couples, we have heard this phrase over and over,“You’re a match that was made in heaven.” I will admit to you that though some may have said this to us as a compliment, it was usually followed up with “our relationship wasn’t made in heaven and that’s why we struggle so much” which, in that case, would make me a bit annoyed. Many think that couples who live joyful harmonious lives together have some sort of magical or supernatural gifting that is only available to some. But I believe the truth of the matter is that those whose marriage relationship is honoring to God are those who have chosen to do “The Hard Work” as I like to call it. “The Hard Work” refers to the surrendering of your will to God’s will. This includes:

• Choosing to love unconditionally even when it is undeserved
• Making the decision to serve your spouse when you are tired and have nothing else to give in your own strength
• Choosing to see your spouse through God’s eyes and not your own
• Freely giving the gift of forgiveness that you have freely been given
• Choosing maturity when it would be so much easier at that time to take offense
• Allowing the Lord to work in your own life so that you will be better suited for the relationship
• Accepting differences without being angry about them
• Deciding to be a godly influence rather than trying to change your spouse
• Being quiet when you really want to speak and speaking when you would rather be quiet
• Choosing to trust the Lord when it comes to “The Hard Work” in your spouse’s life as to whether he/she is doing it or not
• Respecting yourself and your mate by having healthy boundaries
• Not allowing your spouse to become an idol in your life by choosing their acceptance above God’s acceptance of you.

This list could go on, as you well know. The interesting thing about “The Hard Work” is that once you have made the decision to do it and step in that direction, something supernatural does happen and the Lord empowers you with the strength to do what you never thought possible. This doesn’t negate the fact that you have to take the first “Hard” step and continue to make “Hard” choices. It’s never easy for anyone! Whether you and your spouse are a match made in heaven or not, the flame is kept here on earth by continuing to stoke it and give it the oxygen it needs to burn. I want to stress the point that the oxygen our marriages need is called surrender. Where surrender begins, the struggle ends. I don’t mean to simplify the difficulty that some of you face, but I do hope that you would consider the truth in God’s Word as you face those difficulties. My marriage relationship would not and could not have survived this long had it not been for surrender on both Tim’s and my part. In the many years we have been encouraging couples, we have never seen marriages survive or restored apart from surrender. I encourage you today, whatever issue you are facing, choose to do “The Hard Work” and surrender to the Lord. I must add that your surrender alone may not bring about a solution but a solution will not come about without your surrender. Grace-Works.

February 4, 2009


At the end of January, my husband, Tim, celebrated his birthday. I’m not telling how old! All I will say is that he robbed the cradle when he married me. Are you laughing? Anyway, I love giving gifts! It’s one way that I communicate love. I also like giving gifts that have symbolism. I think the Lord communicates through symbolism such as: the rainbow he set in the clouds as a symbol of His covenant between Himself and every living thing (Genesis 9:12-13); the tearing of the curtain in the temple (Mt 27:51; Mr 1:38; Lu 23:45); and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17) just to name a few examples. As Tim’s birthday approached, I kept thinking of some type of symbolism I could use to express to him what I felt in my heart toward him. I was also looking for something that would not only encourage him but also communicate honor. I remembered two events, one being when my friend, Gwyn, presented her husband with a sword on a special occasion and the other, not long ago, when Tim presented our son-in-law with a sword on his wedding day. The sword Tim presented symbolized the fact that he was relinquishing the role he once played in Mary’s life as her protector and was now passing it on to Benjamin. After the wedding, many men, both young and old, commented to us how meaningful the presentation of the sword was. I don’t pretend to understand what the symbolism meant to all those men, but I do know that at one point in the ceremony I was concerned that Benjamin was more excited about the sword than he was his new bride. It was a definite distraction! Well, needless to say I decided to give Tim a sword for his birthday gift. Even though he never expressed a desire to have one, somewhere deep inside I knew this would be the symbolism I was looking for. After much research I decided on a particular sword that replicates the legendary sword used by St George, as well as King Arthur as they slew the dragons of their day. The highest achievement of a hero in medieval legend was the slaying of a dragon which typically represented evil. I had Tim’s name engraved in the sword along with the word “WARRIOR” next to it, as well as a favorite passage of Scripture. The following is the decree that I wrote and had framed to display with his sword:
This “Dragon Slayer Sword” is presented to Timothy Dale Russo as a symbol of his relentless determination in the spiritual battle of slaying the Dragon (evil) in his own life and assisting in the lives of others as well. I have observed his life from a front row seat and through that observation I have come to the conclusion that this man is a warrior of great perseverance. This day I pay tribute to his valor, courage, resoluteness, and triumph over all that opposes him. I applaud him for the bravery he possessed in times of severe weakness, to not retreat in defeat but endure and overcome, leaving a legacy for those who follow of strength, determination, and ultimately victory over evil. This man is a strong and noble man deserving of honor. May the symbolism of this sword always remind him of his past victories as well as his future duties. May he be encouraged to continue in this great battle against evil with a conviction to fight the good fight, to not grow weary in doing well, and to depend on the strength of His God in times of weakness. In medieval times, the highest achievement of a hero was the slaying of a dragon. I hereby state on this twenty-fourth day of January the year two thousand and nine, that Timothy Dale Russo is my hero! In conclusion I offer the words of the apostle Paul from II Corinthians chapter ten, verses three through six: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
My presentation went over well, and I got the desired affect. My husband was encouraged, honored, and inspired by his new gift. It will be an heirloom that will be passed on to the generations to come of the honor this wife felt for her husband. Now many of your husbands may have swords coming out the wazoo (whatever that is). But for my man, this was a special symbolism. I am encouraged as to how the Lord will show each one of us individually how to give our husbands the honor they need. This truly was what I call a “God Idea!”

February 3, 2009

A Tribute to Lydia

At some point during the early morning of Jan. 29th my dear sweet friend Lydia Wheeler slipped into eternity. Who could have known that before a new day dawned this world would suffer such a great loss and the kingdom of heaven would gain such a jewel? I have known Lydia for what seems like a lifetime. She and her beautiful family waltzed into my life in a timely manor. I was a young mother with four young daughters and I was desperately looking for a role model. It only took a few visits with Lydia for me to know that she was a woman I could look to for wisdom and insight into the depth of God’s heart for me and my daughters. If ever there was a woman who modeled Biblical womanhood it was Lydia. In answer to the words of King Lemuel’s Mother “Who can find a virtuous wife?” I respond, “Spike Wheeler can!” For as long as I have known Lydia, never was there a disrespectful word spoken to me about her husband. Her heart throbbed with fervor to do him good. She was such and example to me as I watched her walk through some dark days. In her suffering her passion was to glorify her Lord and honor her husband above all else. In those difficulties, she was continually asking herself how God and her husband could be honored through her life. Her family was always her utmost priority. Lydia had a love that was immeasurable for her husband, children, son-in-laws, and grandchildren. Lydia’s love didn’t stop there; it bled into the lives of everyone who crossed her path. She was always looking outward as to how she could serve those in need. Kindness was her way, as well as distributing the best home made bread in the south. We shared many sweet times of food and fellowship throughout our friendship. Most of them pertained to exhorting one another to keep our Savior first above all else no matter the cost.
My life has suffered a great loss at the passing of my friend. I feel a great emptiness knowing that I can’t pick up the phone and call her or sit and have a cup of tea or be the recipient of her wealth of wisdom and kindness. Even in her death, she has inspired me to love more, and to serve others more today!
May all of us who have had the privilege of being touched by Lydia’s life hear what it spoke to us; “Follow sound doctrine, be reverent in your behavior, be teachers of good things, love your spouse and children, be discreet, be chaste, be homemakers, be good and obedient to your own husband, and above all love the Lord with all your heart soul and strength.
Lydia was survived by her husband, Craig Winsor (Spike) Wheeler; four daughters, Jessica, Melita, Emily and Jael; a son, Zaanan; three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren.
I close with the words of King David Psalm 39:4-7 "LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them. "And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You

January 29, 2009


As I sat on my sofa in the early morning hours yesterday, I gazed around my living room. It was one of those moments when I just sat quiet and pondered. My eyes bounced from the newly decorated mantel to the whimsical end tables; from the old world prints on the wall into the dining room and kitchen filled with little junkies. During my moment of ponder, it dawned on me that I am a collector. Now those of you who know me well are probably thinking “now come on Elaine, everyone knows that about you.” So true, yes, so true. I guess what I mean is that I had a moment of revelation concerning my collections. I started doing a survey of my goods. I collect birds, bird cages, bird baths, old mirrors, prints of old world women, old pieces of architecture, tea cups, tea pots and everything that goes with tea time, books, quotes, willow tree angels, pictures of my family, frames, soft instrumental music, clear cut glass dishes, and great Hallmark movies. I’m sure if I looked a little closer I would find many more collections but I’ll stop due to space. Anyway, as I sat there and enjoyed my stuff, I considered how temporal it all is. Though finding new additions to my collections is fun and somewhat of an exuberating hobby, it doesn’t bring fulfillment to my soul. Yes, things can add a form of comfort in this temporary life and make our surroundings beautiful but as far as eternity goes, they have no worth. I love the saying; “You’ll never see a hearse with a u-haul behind it.” The American Heritage Dictionary states that to collect means: 1.To bring together in a group or mass; gather. 2. To accumulate as a hobby or for study. In that quiet moment of contemplation, I felt compelled to survey my spiritual life against the backdrop of being a collector. I asked myself some hard questions. If I truly am a collector, how does this play out for me in the spiritual realm? Am I studying God’s Word and accumulating knowledge of Him? Am I gathering truth? Does knowing Him bring me pleasure? Through this intense retrospection I was encouraged to exert more time and energy into gathering for my spiritual life. In doing so, I find my soul is fulfilled and at rest. Hopefully, if I continue on this path I will not only leave a legacy of collectables but also one of spiritual fruitfulness. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33(NKJV)

January 24, 2009

Time Out for Inventory

The new year has brought some opportunities for growth into my life. Once a month I drive to Ballinger and enjoy an evening of fellowship with the women of Grace Fellowship. I call them the Women of Grace and I might add that they are gracious women indeed. We started off the first meeting of the year with the theme “Time Out for Inventory.” As the women arrived, they were greeted at the door and given name tags with little clocks on them made by a crafty lady named Carolyn. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of taco soup, salad, cornbread, and brownies put together by Diana, Carolyn, Mylea, and Me. We had sweet fellowship around a table decorated with many different types of timepieces. When our meal was over we proceeded with the message. It was geared toward encouraging all of us from Galatians 6:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 13:5; to not think we are something when we are nothing, but to examine ourselves. Now I know this passage is talking about spiritual matters but I had to share with the ladies about a mirror my husband gave me for Christmas that magnifies ten times what is normal. I proceeded to tell them how shocked I was when I first looked into the mirror. Prior to this day of revelation, I had no idea of what a bad job time had done on me! Amazingly, after using the mirror every day I found myself gradually getting use to what I saw and becoming convinced I could do nothing to change it. In comparison, I find that I sometimes do the same with my spiritual side. At times I am shocked by what I see in my actions. Again as time passes and I consistently do nothing to change, I become more and more accepting of my sin. I’m afraid the inventory we all did together on Wednesday evening revealed some heart attitudes that needed magnification. One thing I have come to realize since I got that huge magnifying mirror is that if I will deal with the imperfections, while they are little, they won’t get out of hand and cause major ugliness later. So it is with sin in our lives. If we are going to eliminate it, we must deal with it quickly otherwise it will just get uglier. I invite you to get a mirror! And ask yourself, “What’s going on in my life that I’ve been ignoring or making excuses for?” The more we examine ourselves, the more beautiful we become because it is then that we are reflecting the image of our Savior!

January 20, 2009

Soul Rest

I just got back from a weekend getaway with my oldest daughter, Rebekah. Both of us needed a bit of soul rest so we took off on Friday afternoon. Rebekah has been interested for quite some time in the Texas School for the Deaf so we zipped through Austin and toured the school on Friday afternoon and then headed to Salado for a weekend of doing whatever we pleased. It was great! We stayed at Stone Creek Settlement, a Bed and Breakfast that I have enjoyed in the past. We both had some reading goals and of course we spent some time shopping, playing cards, visiting and plenty of laughing. Overall it was refreshing for both of us. On the way to Austin, Rebekah and I spent some time talking about sin and it’s affect on our souls, how to rid ourselves of guilt and shame over those sins. We also opened ourselves up to each other to share what we see as weaknesses in each others lives. It may sound like a really heavy conversation but when the truth is spoken in love it can be quite refreshing. My life is enriched by the things she shared. I realized this weekend how easy it is to take the people in our life for granted. As a mother, I have been guilty of focusing on the areas my children need to improve in and not always giving credit where it is due. Though Rebekah and I live together and talk a little every day, we don’t always have time to sit and share the deep things of our hearts. Our time together was sweet, and I was reminded of what a wonderful woman she is. She has always been characterized in my mind by her ability to persevere through the most difficult circumstances. Her optimism and enthusiasm for life are contagious. In circumstances where most people would quit, wallow in self-pity, or blame someone else for their situation, Rebekah perseveres and refuses to feel sorry for herself. She takes full responsibility for her actions. Our trip brought back a lot of memories from the past. Primarily the visit to the TSFD, as our tour guide shared with us how young children are when they are brought to live there. I was reminded of the decision Tim and I had to make 25 years ago. When Rebekah was diagnosed as deaf/hearing impaired at 18mths old we were advised to send her to the School for the Deaf to live. Rebekah’s prognosis was grim at that time. There have been many difficulties through the years but there is much to be said about investing in the present so that you may reap in the future. I have been refreshed in my role as her cheerleader, though I must say at times her adventurous spirit makes me want to police her and sometime arrest her. She is an amazing woman that I feel very honored to be able to call my daughter.

Soul Rest

January 8, 2009

January 7, 2009

Perfect Day

At the beginning of each year Tim and I try to find a quiet place to spend a couple days setting goals for the year. This year we spent our time at Lake Brownwood in a secluded cabin on a hill overlooking the lake. Tim did some fishing and I did some reading.

Our trip started out on one of the most pleasant days of this year. The weather was perfect! By the following day I noticed the camp ground was clearing out and by that evening we were quite alone with the exception of the campground host. As we settled in for the night we noticed it was getting colder so Tim made a fire in the fireplace. The next morning as Tim was leaving the cabin to go fishing it began to rain. He checked the weather report on his cell phone and found out that there was freezing rain in the forecast, scheduled to arrive at any minute. Unless we wanted to get stuck at the lake we were going to have to leave right away. Needless to say our stay came to an abrupt end as we quickly packed and headed home. We took our time and traveled slowly, stopping occasionally to get the ice off our wiper blades. There was a delay in one city due to an icy bridge. After we arrived home safely, in reflection I thought about how often I make plans and set goals not expecting that they may be thwarted by circumstances beyond my control. It humbles me to think that no matter how well I plan for the coming year I must always have a dependence on my heavenly Father and His promise that He will order my steps (Ps 37:23-The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way). It is quite comforting to know that the outcome of my journey is not dependant on my abilities, but on my dependency upon His abilities (Pro. 19:21-There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand).