The Influence of Godly Mothers

Today we pause to honor that special person in our lives whom we lovingly call “Mother.” The Bible says of the virtuous woman and mother described in Proverbs 31:10-31, Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her — Proverbs 31:28.

History records almost all Christian workers who have been greatly used of God had godly, devoted mothers. It is no accident God put His hand upon a young man named Timothy, for he grew up under the influence of a godly mother, Eunice, and a godly grandmother, Lois (see II Timothy 1:5). With Moses, there was a faithful Jochebed (see Exodus 2 and Hebrews 11:23). It’s very unlikely Samuel would have become one of God’s mighty messengers without a godly Hannah (see I Samuel 1-3). With very few exceptions, great men have had godly mothers.

Susannah Wesley spent one hour each day praying for her 17 children. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour every week to discuss spiritual matters. It’s no wonder two of her sons, Charles and John, were used of God to bring blessing to all of England and much of America. Here are a few rules she followed in training her children:

1. Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul.

2. Teach him to cry softly.

3. Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak.

4. Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely.

5. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed.

6. Commend and reward good behavior.

7. Strictly observe all promises you have made to your child.

May God give us more mothers whose chief concern is the rearing of children for righteousness; mothers who make the home a little corner of heaven on earth!

Dear God, give us mothers whose gentle hands speak of sacrificial labor for their families; whose voices sing softly of Jesus and His love, and who uphold their families in prayer.

With grateful hearts, some of us relive fond memories of such a person. For many, she waits on the shores of Glory. For others, her face still smiles in life. We should rise up to call her blessed. Profound is the influence of a mother: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” How great and how wonderful the influence of godly mothers!

Our reflection this week is from the desk of Pastor George A. Mulford III of Grace Bible Baptist Church, Leesburg, FL. He was licensed and ordained by Faith Baptist Church in Sarasota, FL, after receiving a degree in Bible from Heritage Baptist University. He was called as pastor to Grace Bible Baptist in March 1991. On Nov. 9, 2014, after 39 years of faithful ministry and pastoral care and having met all of the academic requirements, Pastor Mulford was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Trinity Baptist Seminary chartered under the laws of the State of Georgia. He and his wife, Kathy, have four children and eight grandchildren.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Believe you can and you’re halfway there. — Theodore Roosevelt

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Prayer Time

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

This week, let’s remember we just celebrated the Empty Tomb. Our world is currently being battered and torn with the coronavirus pandemic. But we know through that Empty Tomb, Christ defeats all evil – illness, death, and even Satan himself.

Approach the throne room and respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation! Sometimes, all it takes is just one prayer to change everything. Something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer.

What is one of the most important things we should do as Christians? Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

And, so, Lord, we come to You with our petitions, knowing and expecting Your will to be done.

Please bless and comfort mothers, Lord. Help their loving hearts to continue to love and give of themselves to others. Strengthen them when they are down and give them hope when they are discouraged. Most of all, Lord, on this Mother’s Day, give them the graces they most need and desire today. For us whose mothers have departed to live for eternity with You, Lord, we thank You for the memories we have. We thank You she was made in Your image and reflected Your love.

Thoughts and prayers to all worldwide suffering from the consequences of coronavirus flu – and all other strains. Many – many – of the prayer requests are covid-19 related … people diagnosed … people sick … people dying … relatives worried and isolated. We are in this together – in prayer!

Please keep the victims of household abuse in your prayers. Whether it be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect, this time in particular is very horrifying for them to be trapped in a house with their abuser(s) and not being able to escape.

Ray is recovering from a triple bypass. Pray he continues to heal.

Isaac underwent brain surgery Monday, but was released today. Prayers needed for continued improvement.

Prayers for Baby Calvin, who was born 10 weeks early, and is in the NiCU. He weighs just 3 pounds.

We were asked to pray for Alice’s job situation.

Andrew continues to struggle. He is having a tough time breathing and was down almost for the count Thursday. Tough times for a tough guy, Prayers – and a sense of humor – are keeping him afloat.

Dave continues to need prayer — lots of prayer — as he battles his biggest challenge: loss of hope.

Fayth is resting after being rushed to the hospital with chest pains. She was diagnosed with stress from carrying a baby with a suspected kidney disease and acid reflux.

Ariel pulled or strained some muscles around the ribs of her right lung and now it’s painful to phlegm out. Prayers welcomed.

Please pray for Noah, a young man who has been prodigal and distant to his Christian mother. Please pray for him to return to the Lord wholly and completely and please pray for her not to be discouraged.

Alec is battling a medical battle. Wednesday (May 6), Alec was diagnosed with brain aneurysm. He has become paralyzed but continuously fights with a positive spirit. According to his doctors, Alec needs an urgent surgery … and lots of prayers.

Prayers are urgently needed for 15 year old Holden who has fallen into a coma.

Joe admitted he was breaking down and asks for somebody to pray for him.

Alexis’ angina pectoris is back. Pray for her.

We also lift up the congregations still struggling with whether to reopen church buildings, use alternate services or continue with online worship. It’s not a building, we know Lord. But it is a fellowship that has been strained.

There were a host of unspoken prayer requests and we heard of a number of deaths this week. Prayers for their families as they go through this earthly trial. We grieve … heaven rejoices.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week – including the blessing shared from Griffin’s Mom and we welcome Bo and Samuel. Some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Ray, Isaac, Baby Calvin, Alice, Andrew, Dave, Fayth, Ariel, Noah, Alec, Holden, Joe, Alexis, and all those needing Your healing and guiding touch. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: … a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. – para. 2558, Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

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Five Minute Friday: Refrain

Here’s this week’s installment of Five Minute Friday. You might remember the task is to write for five minutes on a specific prompt word.

There are a couple hundred bloggers who pause to post on the prompt word of the week. It’s fun getting the prompt, thinking about it for a couple of minutes {or hours} and getting to work producing something readable (you hope) in just five minutes. You should link over at  fiveminutefriday.com/ and read some of the posts. They don’t disappoint.

As an example, I have been sharing testimonials about the group from our writing corp. They are taken from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat compiled by Susan Shipe. This week, don’t listen to me, listen to Cathy.

“When I began blogging about eight months ago I had no idea it would bring me into contact with such a wonderful ,encouraging group of people. I have been surprised to form such deep connections, and even friendships, with people I have never met in person and I have been blessed a lot by being part of this community.

“FMF has also provided great motivation to write. There are weeks when I saw the prompt and feel I have nothing to say but it is amazing what comes out once I start and those week have produced some of my favourite posts in the end.”

The prompt this week is REFRAIN. But before I submit the post, I have to offer a couple of caveats. I decided to go the poetry route. I am NOT a poet. I started the post with the refrain, which wasn’t a true refrain. When I actually started with the stanzas, it was quite obvious five minutes was not going to work, so I  abandoned the timer. Anyway, with apologies to my poet friends, here goes.

 

As I awaken in the morning and open my sleepy eyes

Allow me to look at the day with wonder and excitement

And focus on the beauty all around … the chirping birds, the green grass, an ever-changing sky

All given to us by You, Lord, for our enjoyment.

Refrain

In the morning, Lord, allow me to see Your presence in the ordinary.

 

 

As I spend time with You, Lord, and ponder each phrase

Allow the words to speak to me, personally, to prepare me

For the trials and joys I’ll face throughout the day

So the journey is not just me but We

Refrain

As I spend time with You, Lord, allow me to see Your presence in the ordinary.

As I actually walk down today’s path, may I know I’m not alone

Sometimes pushing, sometimes carrying me, sometimes holding me back …

Yet always loving me, always forgiving me, always encouraging,

because You are with me step by step so nothing I lack.

Refrain

As I walk through the day, Lord, allow me to see Your presence in the ordinary.

 

As I lay my head on the pillow tonight, may I thank You for the blessings,

May I marvel at the joys and unexpected gifts. May the trials turn into lessons.

I ask You to watch over me, my family, and friends. Grant us peace and rest.

Knowing You know my failures are overshadowed by our successes.

Refrain

As I gratefully close my eyes, Lord, allow me to see Your presence in the ordinary.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: After the rain, there’s a rainbow; after the storm, there’s calm; after the night, there’s a morning; and after an ending, there’s a new beginning.

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Random Thoughts

I’m in one of those writing phases. I think we all can relate … there is a lot locked in the mind but you can’t just get the words through the fingers. They are random thoughts — one liners, fragments just waiting to be expanded upon.

So today, instead of sharing a story about life and love — the Thursday anchor — I am going to just fire off those observations. Feel free to add yours.

I don’t have a Firecube or other voice-activate devices {except for my phone which I rarely use}. It is a convenience. If I want the lights turned on, I just say “Alexa, turn on lights” and voila, on they come. Except, you do have to be a little more specific, like “living room lights.” I learned that the hard way. After my first attempt, all the lights in the house associated with the command turned on. But I always feel a little guilty. I often say “Thank you” after the task is completed. Alexa apparently doesn’t like the compliment. She also won’t respond if you call her Siri.

Lately, I’ve found the intensity of my dreams increasing. For the past few years, most of my dream world had me as a visitor. Lately I have been involved in the intrigue and action. I’m getting in my exercise. Last night, for example, I was chasing a cat down a back alley that went on seemingly forever. The other night was climbing over a fence like I often did as a pre- and early teen to get onto the vacant lot for a ball game. In recent weeks, I’ve had conversations and interactions with friends  and relatives — some still very much here and others who have crossed over. The dreams have been vivid but fractured … nothing I could weave together into a story line.

I have also found myself social media surfing more. It’s like I need that Facebook/Twitter fix to keep me going. It leads to more Googling than normal.

The Kentucky stay-at-home orders have a plus side. I went to the post office Tuesday and still have just under a half tank of $1.35 per gallon gas I purchased almost a month ago — and that’s after a couple of trips around the Kentucky countryside. While encouraging stay-at-home, Kentucky isn’t restricting intrastate travel as long as people of social distancing. Interstate travel is more restrictive and could land you in a 14 day quarantine. The state has been enforcing that at border crossings from Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio with rolling roadblocks. I understand Maine is as well, as are other states.

Other than for exercise (?) or finding interesting photo ops, my travel has generally been limited to picking up food, going to the grocery store or visiting the post office. I’ve been surprised by the compliance of mask wearing {a recommendation, not an order here in Kentucky — yet}. It’s pretty much split — half do, half don’t. The surprising part, however, is it is generally true older shoppers go mask-less while younger folk cover their faces. I haven’t decided if the older folk are just plain stubborn or the younger ones drank the Kool-Aid. In total transparency, I did not have a mask on at the grocery store or post office.

Speaking of masks, I do understand the rationale of the “new normal”.  Kentucky is toying with making them mandatory as restrictions start to ease Monday (May 11). I am in the vulnerable age group with underlying medical conditions. I would hate to be coughed, sneezed or breathed on, nor would I want to cough, sneeze or breathe on someone else if I’m a carrier. However, that was true under the “old normal” as well. Just use some common sense, people. I did wear a mask once during this crisis, and actually found it affecting my breathing even though I do not have any underlying respiratory issues.

According to the latest statistics, about 16% of those tested nationwide tested positive — somewhat skewed because of New York which has the dubious distinction of just over 31% positives. I haven’t been able to determine the actual hospitalization rate, although I suspect it to be just over 10% of the symptomatic positives. The morbidity rate is alarming, about 5.5% nationwide, somewhat skewed by New York/New Jersey numbers which is about 6.27%. These numbers, as best as I can discern, include death certificates that list cause of death as pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19. But remember, that’s 5.5% of the 16%. Most people — estimated around 98% — recover.

One death is too many, but most had underlying conditions  like hypertension, obesity, metabolic and cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Less than 10% had no underlying conditions.

Let’s contrast those numbers and take the virus out of the equation. There are 52,420,000 seniors in the United States. Each year, three million seniors are treated for fall injuries (5.7%) and 800,000 are hospitalized (1.5%), 300,000 with hip fractures (0.6%). Although the elderly comprise about 12% of the population, about a third require hospitalization, Over one in four are related to the treatment of circulatory disorders. Respiratory disorders result in nearly 15% of all hospital stays in this group. Congestive heart failure is the single most common condition requiring hospitalization, with pneumonia the second most common reason. Coronary issues and strokes cause cumulative around 2,000,000 of the six million plus senior hospitalizations each year.

See what I mean about Googling?

The point is I am well aware of the dangers lurking around. But I  refuse to be shackled by worry. I mean I might prevent getting sick by staying home, but I could also fall or have a sudden heart attack or stroke right here on the couch. And I would have missed the rainbows and flowers sprouting and geese and the world changing from brown to green. Call me stubborn, but the only way to get through life is to live, not shelter-in-place. I intend on soaking in as much of this world as I can. I am not going to waste that time worrying about my next step and the perils it might present. After all, I may not know the path or route, but I do know the destination.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. — John Maxwell

 

 

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Midweek Mothers Day Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

It’s time for some pre-Mothers Day Midweek Mirth with a bonus  to help us get through this a virus shutdown, so let’s smile a little!

A Word About Mom

When a son graduated from high school, he had to give a speech. He began by reading from his prepared text: “I want to talk about my mother and the wonderful influence she has had on my life. She is a shining example of parenthood, and I love her more than words could ever do justice.” At this point he seemed to struggle for words. After a pause, he looked up with a sly grin and said, “Sorry, but it’s really hard to read my mother’s handwriting.”

And now for the bonus …

Two Views of Stay-At-Home Orders

The introvert view:  Finally, introverts experience a world that is suited for us. All events canceled, we don’t even have to go through the trouble of canceling at the last minute. No one is making random small talk or physical contact. Everybody minding their own business.

The extrovert view:  Once this is all over with, I’m hugging everybody. Get ready for long, awkward hugs.

The takeaway:  Introverts, check in on your extrovert friends. They have no idea how this works.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh. — Tom Nansbury

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Editing

One of the questions I was asked was whether professional editing was necessary. Wow. What a loaded question.

The short answer is yes, yes, yes. The bigger question is who is a professional.

The worst editor you could choose is yourself. After all you’re looking at the manuscript through the eyes of the person who penned the words, placed (or didn’t place} the punctuation, created the flow, added the dialogue, broke it into chapters. You won’t catch the errors. You will read over mistakes. Period.

Chances are, as an author, you have researched your book, written the words, revised the words, self edited, rewritten parts of the story, drafted another version, and worked through that cycle over and over before finally being ready to publish.

Before that, however, your manuscript has to be read by outside eyes. If it has any chance at salability, that is a prerequisite. But does it have to be an editor?

Well, ultimately, yes, but there are few steps in between. I am a big advocate of beta reading. Beta reading is like a think tank for authors. By choosing people you respect and familiar with the genre you’re writing in, they will critique your work honestly. Often, they’ll pick out some grammatical or consistent spelling errors, but their role concentrates on the story line and flow. They will tell us (authors) when we deviate from the story too abruptly; when we talk about a character introduced early who suddenly reappears; when a paragraph, dialogue, chapter doesn’t make sense; when something is missing in the story; when something is too repetitious; whether the syntax is correct; whether the context is appropriate; whether the phrases or scenes fit the historical time frame of the story. Their role is not to nit pick whether you used the Oxford comma or not.

After the beta reading — more than one  person — you will most likely rewrite parts of it. That’s when the editor comes in. That’s where the problem comes in. They ain’t free.

Good editors will either charge by the word count or a flat fee. They are usually supplied if you go through a traditional publishing house. Even small individual publishers will offer some level of editing. For the independent author, however, you are pretty much on your own. You will get what you pay for, but recognize, it’s all upfront cost — $100, $200, $300, $400, more. It doesn’t cost much to self publish, but when you factor in the editing costs, you are starting in a financial hole. Recognize most independent authors, especially new independent authors, rarely sell 100 books a year.

Editors make changes and suggestions that will improve the overall quality of your writing, particularly in relation to language use and expression. They will likely proofread as well, correcting grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and other language mistakes. But they also have their own style and strengths.

I was a newspaper editor  for about 40 of my 52 years in the business. I’m not a big fan of the Oxford comma. The word “that” drives me crazy. Determining pronouns should match. Possessive apostrophes should be used properly. Over those years, I would clean up copy, make sure it followed our guidelines, maybe rearrange paragraphs or sentences. But it was never my intent to rewrite. If the story needed rewriting it went back to the writer. If a deadline was involved, I might bare bone the story before sending it back for a followup rewrite.

And, editors are not infallible. It’s your book, it’s your document, it’s your manuscript. If you are fond of “that” so be it.

When I wrote the novella Heaven Shining Through, I went through a publishing house which had editing included. When I submitted the document, t went through the normal editing process. Except for a few style notes (including my lack of the use of the Oxford comma), it came back with relatively few red lines. I responded I knew I was an experienced editor, but I expected a little more input. The manuscript was forwarded to a higher level editor who gave me the feedback I needed and was expected.

I followed much of the guidance. But I retained the phrase “the rabbit died” when referring to getting pregnant. Both the lower level editor and upper level editor didn’t understand the phrase and its significance in the late 60s. My readers did.

After self-editing My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through, I turned  it over to three beta readers. They returned their comments. I was stunned. All three said “something was missing.” I incorporated their individual comments in the rewrite, but quickly put the manuscript aside for a few days while I mentally looked for what was missing. Thus, Sam’s opening letter was born. It served to frame what the book was about, the overall back story. When I showed it to my beta readers, they quickly responded, “That’s it!”

From there it went through the editing process at Higher Ground Books & Media.

That’s my two cents. Editing is necessary … but be careful when choosing an editor.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in. — R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

 

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Wisdom and Patience

How about some visual Words for the Week.

I think you might draw some lessons on Wisdom and Patience just from the picture. The pooch displays both.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. — George Müller

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