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Family relationship perplexities

Sunday, 12. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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We could get some kind of idea of how complex relationships are (by God’s design, by the way) if God were to ask us questions such as (per C. S. Lewis): “How many hours are in a mile?” and “Is yellow square or round?”

Relationships are incomprehensible, yet they exist all around us in all 360 degrees. Close family relationships, especially, are what they are!

God scores a great victory when we finally move beyond mere necessary entanglement and a wing-it responsiveness to actually scratching our heads in wonder about them: “What ARE they?”, in the first place, and “Why are they in our life?” in the second place, and “Why are each of these people so utterly different from ME?”

What God is doing in and through all relational dynamics is big business with Him. He uses them in our lives for something now and for something even that is yet to be. In reference to them, He has called us to walk softly, marvel more, stay alert, and pray compassionately.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Disgruntled with each other?

Thursday, 09. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Oh, we get so frustrated and irritated with each other. Our spouse just doesn’t “do right.” Our children don’t “do right.” Our relatives don’t “do right.” The Bible (Galatians 5:15) warns us, though, to “Take heed (`watch out!’), lest you eat and devour one another.” Our agitated thoughts can lead to a kind of “dinner” we hadn’t counted on. A wise old saint once said, “There is enough about each one of us to make us out to be either a demon or a god.”

The Bible also says (2 Corinthians 5:16), “Know no man after the flesh.” In other words, we are urged to cultivate the habit of not viewing each other’s earthly dross but each other’s heavenly dress.

At funerals, that optimal/optimizing focusing seems to happen quickly and spontaneously. We are able to see the priceless departed one in his or her redeemed state already. We find ourselves wanting to recall and pick out only the good things to speak about at that time, now celebrating the life that we know God designed and purposed for that loved one for all eternity, which was in embryo here while on earth, steadily developing.

If we were to stand on a street corner and suddenly, supernaturally, see one another as we shall be in eternity (a kind of street transfiguration!)—as if the veil had been instantly torn away from us—and see what God is making of each of us, even now, no doubt it could make us apt to worship one other! When that actual hour does come, we won’t; instead, we will worship Him for what He has made of us. If, however, we could see it in each other now, surely it would “take our breath.” Sons of God!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Words at the marriage altar: Are they sentimental promises or lifelong vows?

Wednesday, 01. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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A typical married couple who attends a wedding these days may gulp a little bit when they hear the modern made-up sentiments and promises gush across the lips of young couples…most of whom have already shacked up together for a year or two beforehand, just in case. (One might ask, “In case of what?”) And how is the Hollywood-style sentimental love that they express so dramatically going to be different, after the wedding?

Sentiments and promises can be added to the long standing well worded traditional vow of “to have and to hold, from this day forth, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, til death do us part,” but to replace the time honored well-honed wording of that vow could have some real problems. Even when couples nowadays do say this time-honored matchless traditional vow, what they actually mean, subconsciously, is, “forsaking not ALL others, I’m with you in health, and in wealth, and until it doesn’t feel so good anymore.”

Let’s think more deeply about what it is that we are actually doing here, at the marriage altar. Might the words below prove to be a better foundation to the time honored vow—at least to embrace these loyal thoughts in our hearts?

Underpinnings of a godly vow:

“I hereby commit before God and before these witnesses to plunge into this commitment to the vast unknown. I commit to circumstances and deep relational dynamics in all sorts of directions, whatever they become, of which I cannot now know or possibly imagine. Furthermore, I commit to this heretofore unknown life, for the rest of my life, with a person I barely know, and who is largely unknowable even over a lifetime, to himself/herself, let alone to me. Therein I commit myself to a specific small destiny, a specific “lot” in life, that I will not jettison, preferring another.

I will wholeheartedly accept this “lot” as God’s perfect design for my sanctification in both this life and the next. I am committing to one person, forsaking all others out of several billion possible choices, trusting God that this person was divinely brought specifically across my path at this juncture in 6,000 years of history, in this particular geographic setting, by God’s own hand, or else I would have been born in some other age and would have intersected with a different lifetime mate.

I acknowledge that to love God’s “lot” for me is to love His will for me, His version of my best self, and to submissively trust His destiny, perfected on my behalf for all time, IN the marriage, THROUGH the marriage, and BY the marriage. Only because I know YOU, God, do I have the courage to so utterly abandon myself to this commitment—for in it I commit myself afresh to You.”

Perhaps such a heartfelt commitment would send the divorce rate sprawling.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Navigating hubby challenges: Tips for wives

Monday, 23. July 2018 by Renee Ellison

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It is wonderful to know that, in God’s grand design for marriage, a wife is given (via the Holy Spirit) coping strategies and intuition that are totally unique to her relationship with her specific husband.

There may be times when she is at a loss to know what to do. But in prayer God will lead. A husband may have a response to something, now, that comes from hard-wiring that happened long before she ever met him (the same is true of her wiring, too!)—wiring that began to be formed in childhood and in adolescent responses to other conditions and circumstances, far outside of the marriage relationship and the couple’s life today.

Through prayer God may simply give a wife only an enlargement of understanding of what IS—even if there are never any changes whatsoever in her husband’s behavior.

At times, however, a good wife can lovingly and delicately help her man introspect (that is part of being a gentle help-meet for him)—but it has to be when things are calm, at a time when other things are going well. As most all wives know, one can wait a long time for those more ideal moments to transpire. When they do arrive, she may be able to escort him into a little bit of introspection for his own emotional deliverances.

Her aid in helping her hubby understand the value of introspection (what do you suppose triggered that? to what END do you withdraw? what are you hoping to accomplish?), may be the first help he has ever had in being able to do that to good benefit for both of them. Whatever the area that is needful of introspection, it must be packaged for HIS advantage—how it will do HIM good. You can show him how the increased objectivity upon himself can bring more rest to his soul, increase his bonding potential with a child or two, a neighbor, you.

God tenderly wants to coax each of us in the art of falling forward into the marital relationship via conflict rather than shutting down or escaping it. To learn to “fall forward” in one’s only intimate relationship is one of the deepest things the Lord is accomplishing in the marriage relationship. It is the art of love at its zenith.

We all have miles to go in understanding love’s longevity, and love’s spaciousness for the other to just be. In this sense, marriage may be far more of a spectator sport than we realized at first. As my dad said on my wedding day, “Marriage is an adventure in adjustment!”

Here are three more tidbits to add to these thoughts:

One:

Love doubles-down and loves anyway, loves in spite of…finds a way through the maze to be even more loving towards the spouse in and through the difficult challenge. Mature, seasoned love continually finds new ways to express itself. We can learn to rummage around inside the Trinity’s long love and discover MORE of how it acts. We can learn to experience love by expressing it at greater and more insightful degrees—to surprise the beloved that it YET comes forth and to enlarge our own souls.

Two:

Because a woman is first, last and in-between a responder (as Elisabeth Elliot pointed out), her husband’s cold-shoulder, shut-outs, or shut-downs can be very painful because she can’t help responding—she was build that way even anatomically. Therefore, the woman must pull herself out of the trenches and re-define herself as a responder to the Lord Himself, and find something there to respond to. If she can change the source of what/who she is responding to?—built up vertically—this will free her up to continue to love afresh horizontally.

Three:

....and let us not forget to be deeply grateful for what a man is. Let us be grateful for our men. Heaven help us without them. As women, we may tend to be overly confident that we have far more relational savvy (or at least elasticity), but that is not the only yardstick by which even God measures human strength (otherwise He would have made man a duplicate of woman—something women’s libbers desperately and shortsightedly think they want).

Let us be deeply grateful that our men can often pierce through to the heart of a political, church, technical, functional or even relational issue (many of our best counselors and theologians have come up with stunning leaps of insights) out of the blue, or to muster incredible single-focus to protect our nation, as our Navy SEAL teams do. Try living through just one of their days. A man is able to shut off the infinite latitude of relational sensitivity and move the domestic ship forward in quantum ways, or harness unbelievable testosterone or endurance when a crisis requires it, where perhaps the woman might be blind-sided, weakened and/or encumbered by a preoccupation with less overall significant matters at that moment.

Many ordinary godly men are marvels. Men may actually “see” life differently. Adam knew he was sinning; Eve was deceived. This is not always the case, and may seldom be the case, but if it happened once, we need to be humbled by it, and realize that it happens again and again in large ways and small in the wide, wide world; we need to respect this possibility. There may be profound levels of this. The Virgin Mary pondered all of these things in her heart, but her husband Joseph got up and took them to Egypt! Our womanly evaluation of things may not be the last word—though the dominant culture today will never tell you otherwise.

Listen to even a young man in the Lord. Down in his gizzard, he may know something you/we don’t. Sometimes we do well to sit in the bleachers and realize that life is far larger than our knowing. We do well to walk softly amidst the mysteries of the husband/wife relationship.

Filed Under: Home management tips

New book: Impossible Evolution

Friday, 20. July 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Renee’s artful skill for “making-complex-issues-simple” emerges yet again in her newest book, Impossible Evolution. Because it is loaded with visual graphics, the reader is able to catch each asserted impossibility immediately. Thus, it can be taught quickly to a child. Other sections of the book grip the attention of the adult, too, as the issues are looked at deeper as the book progresses.

This simple book clarifies both sides of the Intelligent Design / Evolution debate solidly and for good. In Part One each issue is pictured, with short, clarifying easy text. Part Two has three short meaty essays developed on these topics:

One: the Impossibility of Theistic Evolution (a compromise between the two main theories, that doesn’t work—it breaks down under the force of logic),

Two: a detailed look at some scriptures and their astounding implications related to the issue, and

Three: a commentary upon the inevitability of Intelligent Design’s infinitely superior position in the debate.

The closing section of the book is loaded with questions to artfully ask others who, in their thinking about this topic, still live in the darkness of evolution. Like all Socratic questioning techniques, it leads the pondering person, himself, to the inevitability of the right answer.

Grab this exciting summary of the most insistent lie of our day and share it with everyone you know. The fog will lift and you’ll walk under clear blue sky in your thinking about this, from here on in.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

On handling anxiety

Sunday, 24. June 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Are worries getting you down? George MacDonald had these wise observations:

“It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.

“God begs us to leave the future with Him and mind the present. We think that we come nearer to God than the lower animals do by our foresight, but there is another side to it. We must do our work in the great present, leaving both the past and future to Him to whom they are both ever present, fearing nothing, because He is in our future, as much as He has been in our past.

“If we have a disagreeable duty to do at twelve o’clock, do not blacken nine and ten and eleven, and all between with the color of twelve. Do the work of each day and reap the reward of peace. So when the dreaded moment in the future becomes the present, you shall meet it walking in the light, and that light will overcome its darkness.”

[Source: 3000 Quotations from the Writings of George MacDonald, compiled by Harry Verploegh (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Fleming H. Revell, 1996).]

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, New American Bible, Revised Edition).

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Famous people’s quotes about their mothers

Sunday, 13. May 2018 by Renee Ellison

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To inspire you today!

My mother was the source from which I derived the guiding principles of my life. (John Wesley)

My mother had a slender small body, but a large heart—a heart so large that everybody’s grief and everybody’s joy found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation. (Mark Twain)

She tried in every way to understand me, and she succeeded. It was this deep, loving understanding as long as she lived that more than anything else helped and sustained me on my way to success. (Mae West)

For the mother is and must be, whether she knows it or not, the greatest, strongest, and most lasting teacher her children have. (Hannah Whitall Smith)

You can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your child’s. The influence you do exert is through your own life, and what you’ve become yourself. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

From Jennie Bernstein, mother of the famous Jewish musician and conductor, Leonard Bernstein: Lenny always wanted an audience. And in the beginning, I was that audience.

My mother was as mild as any saint, and nearly canonized by all she knew, so gracious was her tact and tenderness. (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Mother was one of those strong, restful, yet widely sympathetic natures, in whom all around seemed to find comfort and repose. (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

My mother made a brilliant impression upon my childhood life. She shone for me like the evening star—-I loved her dearly. (Winston Churchill)

All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. (Abraham Lincoln)

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am, I owe to my mother. (George Washington)

What tigress is there that does not purr over her young ones, and fawn upon them in tenderness? (Saint Augustine)

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret love outlives them all. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

She was such a good loving mother, my best friend; oh, who was happier than I when I could still say the dear name “mother,” and it was heard by her, but whom can I say it to now? (Ludwig van Beethoven)

I have found that no kisses can ever compare to “mom” kisses, because mom kisses can heal anything. You can have a hangnail, a broken heart, or catatonic schizophrenia; with moms, one kiss and you’re fine. (anonymous)

I think my life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face. (George Eliot)

The older I become, the more I think about my mother. (Ingmar Bergman)

Grandparents: Love your grandchildren without usurping their primary love relationships

Wednesday, 21. March 2018 by Renee Ellison

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We must “love” carefully in all of our relationships. As we love, we must strive to not usurp the God-ordained primary loves of those around us. If there is a desire in our hearts to have the supremacy in the heart of a close relative, for example, or a person at church or work, or neighbor, outside of God’s expressed order, we could unknowingly be involved in a type of subtle mental adultery.

Let’s look at this subtle tendency even with the natural love of grandparenting, first, so that the transfer of this vital relational principle is more easily understood with any similar additional situation. It is a natural temptation for a grandparent to want to be thought of as wonderful by their grandchild—right up there with Mary Poppins—but if we are not very circumspect in this regard we can unwittingly supplant the child’s love for their own parents in preference for affection toward us. That may feel marvelous to us, but feels terrible to the parents.

Often, parents are weary and beleaguered with the daily challenges of chores and discipline and when a grandparent pops in and out of the scene the child can begin to PREFER the unbridled sentimental and lavish expressions of “love” from the grandparent.

So, what the grandparent must continually do when with the grandchild is to support and uplift the efforts and personages of the parents. This can include being swift to point out the labors of the parents in the child’s behalf, the goodnesses in the parents’ character, etc.

Also, it is important to refrain from having secrets with the child of what we shall persuade the supposedly unwilling parents out of. No collusion! We must avoid strategizing with the child as if the parents are the reluctant enemy.

We see this delicate sort of successful loving expressed perfectly within the Trinity, itself. Christ was always referring to the love of the Father. The Father was drawing attention only to the love of the Son. And the Holy Spirit humbly draws the heart to Christ and the Father, and never to Himself. This is how holy love works.

Mom’s Day Out Workshop

Monday, 05. March 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Want to be queen for a day? Have a personal mentor all to yourself? Come to Renee’s “Mom’s Day Out” one-day workshop and you’ll never be the same.

You’ll expand your own skills in one to three vital domestic areas. You get to select one of these skills, or have a combination of two or all three. Not only do you learn them yourself, you also will be able to turn around and teach them to others.

With these highly focused streamlined remarkable methods, you can teach these skills to your children, or make some extra spending money from home via teaching other moms and daughters in your area.

Your own personal satisfaction, delight and expansion with your newly found skills will be your biggest gain. You’ll go home filled because someone invested in YOU, for a change, like you do with your children and others every day. Pamper yourself AND grow capable, in one day.

The three skill areas:

· Personal and domestic organizational tips and tricks

· Beginning sewing skills

· Beginning piano chording

The workshop fee is $99, and includes two free nights of simple sleeping accommodations, meals, and free pick-up and drop-off at the DRO airport for those who need to fly in. (The Durango-La Plata County Airport is just ten minutes away; no need for a car rental.) Bring a friend and/or your daughter, 12 years or older only; one fee per person. Make your reservation now via email.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Thoughts on committed love vs. sentimentality on Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, 14. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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I think it is most interesting on this Valentine’s Day to observe our culture’s mania over engaging in sentimentality and materialism, all too often with a series of transient lovers (beginning in Jr. High, continued at the office, and ending in Senior retirement communities of multiple divorcees and re-marriages playing crib together) in preference to gripping the real foundations of a lifetime singular love.

Such a solitary love is built upon an increasing fidelity, loyalty, having each other’s back through thick and thin, focus, selflessness, self-sacrifice, adjustment to another human being in all of its delicacies, promoting the other human being in others’ eyes, believing in them, working side by side in various life projects, etc. One Chinese man built for his wife a stairway up their mountain of 500 stairs, made of rock, presented them to her with pride, and walked up and down them with her over the remainder of their crippled old lives together. She was his entire horizon.

As a culture, on the other hand, we would far rather throw money and tinsel at the situation with a temporary love than do the work of love’s longevity and depth of “knowing.” The old hymn expresses real love so well in its words: “He shall hold me fast.” That is the lead pipe of human love as well:“I shall hold thee fast.”

Filed Under: Home management tips