Sweet and Lovely

One of my friends is a Catholic and used to get upset that her mind wandered when she prayed. She once told a priest: “I think about my brother, or what we’re having for tea.”

This lovely priest asked her: “Have you thought of including those things in your prayers?” He encouraged her to talk to God about her brother, and thank Him for the food she had.

I think we can do a similar thing with worship: Not always; there’s definitely a place for those times in God’s presence when our focus is on nothing else, but when others around us are singing and our mind’s wandering, we can bring those wanderings back to God. I sat beside a good friend in church yesterday. I found myself thinking what a privilege it was to sit next to him and how I loved to hear him sing, and then I thought: “That’s how God feels about all of us.”

Song of Solomon is perhaps the most passionate book in the Bible. Written by King Solomon years before Jesus was born, it depicts the romance between Christ and His church. In it the Lover says: “Show me your face, and let me hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Whether in church on Sunday or in your lounge at home, imagine God saying that to you:
Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Discovering Your Spouse and Yourself: “Romancing Your Better Half” Book-Review

“Romancing Your Better Half” is an odd title for this book; you would expect it to advocate putting your other half’s needs before your own, when in fact the recurring theme is: “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” If you’re anything like me, when you pick up this book, you might feel it starts slowly or that the author generalises too much: Men like this; women prefer that, but in some instances, this is helpful. I found it interesting to read (in chapter 7) about our different ways of dealing with conflict. Author Rick Johnson has been married for over thirty years, so at least you know he’s speaking from his experience of a lasting relationship that works.

As an unmarried woman, I wasn’t sure how much of this would apply to me. I think it could be extremely beneficial for courting or engaged couples as well as marrieds, but there’s also advice in there that could help anyone in their friendships or family-relationships with those of the opposite sex. At first, I didn’t expect to be recommending this book, but I think it is probably one I’ll go back and reread.

31 Days of Song: “Still Calls me Son”

I’ve been reading Song of Solomon this week.  For anyone who hasn’t read it, it’s an absolutely lovely book in the Bible.  When I read it, I think of the man (the lover) as Jesus, and the woman (the beloved) as the bride of Christ – the church, which I’m a part of.  When you look at the man’s words and see them as Jesus talking to His church, well … let me show you what I mean.

“My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you” – Song of Solomon 4:7.  It blows me away to think that God sees me that way, and He does:  Because Jesus died and took my punishment, God looks at me through that lens and sees me as flawless.

“There may be sixty queens and eighty slave women and so many girls you cannot count them, but there is only one like my dove, my perfect one” – Song of Solomon 6:8-9.

“I belong to my lover, and he desires only me” – Song of Solomon 7:10.

“So I was to him, as one who brings happiness” – Song of Solomon 8:10.  That last one is one of my favourites.  We may not always get it right, but what we’re designed for is to bring contentment to our Bridegroom, and we can do that now and for eternity.

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I hope those verses have blessed you as much as they have me.  This song talks about God’s favour too – that when someone comes back to Him searching for forgiveness, He looks at them and calls them His son.

A-Z: “Street Children of Brazil”

S is for “Street Children of Brazil” – a book by Sarah de Carvalho.  First of all, I should tell you I get my Braille books from a library and have to send them back once I finish reading.  It’s awhile since I’ve read this one, but I wrote some quotes down at the time.

 

From what I remember, Sarah worked in television and left a job with a very good salary to go to Brazil, where she worked with street children in Belo Horizonte.

 

It was there that she met her husband, and I liked the fact that she felt God pointing her to Isaiah 61:3 (about bestowing on mourners beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of despair).  They would be called oaks of righteousness.  When she and her future husband read the verse together, she found that Carvalho in Portuguese is ‘Oak’ in English.  Probably a woman thing, but I love to hear those kind of stories about God drawing 2 people together and giving them the same verse to seal their engagement.

 

The plight of those she worked with prompted Sarah to write (in chapter 10):  “Now we may walk on streets made of tarmac and full of litter and robbery, but in heaven it’ll be gold and there’ll be purity, joy and everlasting love.”

 

Compassion is mentioned in the book, which surprised me.  I didn’t know they worked with other ministries.  I assumed the only children they funded were those in their centres, but the most striking similarity to what I do as a Compassion-sponsor came in chapter 4.  “God’s answer to my question was, ‘The children are covered in wounds:  Clean their infections.  They are hungry:  Give them food.  They are cold:  Clothe them.  But above all be their friend.’”  If you sponsor through Compassion, your sponsorship provides medical help with your child’s infections; it buys food and clothes, but through the letters you send, you have an even greater privilege – to be their friends.

Wait for that Dream

Have you read any books by Holley Gerth?  Or maybe one of your friends has found some of her encouraging words and popped them in an E-mail.  Well, Holley’s doing a series on her blog this year, all about God-sized dreams.  I haven’t been great at participating, but I’m joining in this time as she’s asked us to find a God-sized dream story that inspires us, and write about it.

There are so many dreamers in the Bible, but the one I want to think about is Jacob.  He had a dream:  She was beautiful …  Her name was Rachel.  He met her one day when she was a shepherdess, looking after her father’s sheep.  Rachel was Jacob’s cousin and he was about to stay at her family-home.  By the time he’d been there a month, he was in-love with her, so when his uncle asked what wages he should give him, Jacob knew:  He wanted to take Rachel as his wife, and he agreed to work 7 years for the privilege.

What must those 7 years have been like?  Who did Jacob meet?  Were there other young women in town, and was Jacob very good-looking?  I wonder if anyone tried to persuade him not to wait 7 years for the one he loved …  But the Bible says very clearly that they seemed like just a few days to him because of his love for Rachel (Genesis 29:20).

Then it happened – the wedding day came, but his uncle Laban tricked him.  When it was dark, Laban gave Jacob his daughter – the other daughter; Rachel’s elder sister, Leah.  I wonder how Jacob felt when he woke up next to Leah.  Did the doubts come sweeping in?  Had the other girls been right all along – was this a door closed?  Because not everyone respects the one who waits.  Some people, when they don’t see instant results, will say:  “What if it’s not God’s will?” or:  “God can do anything, but …”

Do you know why Jacob inspires me?  Because he didn’t let anyone dampen his spirits.  He didn’t give up on his dream and just accept second-best.  He confronted his uncle.  “Didn’t I work to get Rachel?  Why did you trick me?” and the confrontation paid off.  Within a week, they were married and starting their life together.  Could it be that when you feel like giving up, the best is just around the corner?

I read this quote from Henry David Thoreau recently:  “Friends are kind to one another’s dreams.”  Don’t listen to the buts and the naysayers.  Hold tight to those friends who encourage you to dream big, … and wait for that dream.

As One Being Pursued

Every morning, Monday to Friday, when I turn on my computer and go to my E-mails, usually the first one I look at is a devotional E-mail called Girl-friends In God.  You can sign up for it here.  The week is shared between 3 writers – Mary Southerland, Gwen Smith and Sharon Jaynes.  I personally love Sharon’s writing.  I want to read one of her books one day, because I’ve a feeling she has more to say than can be packed into a 5-minute E-mail.

 

Today Sharon wrote about when she met her husband and how, even though she was smitten from the start, she didn’t necessarily want him to know that because she wanted to be romanced by him.  She went on to talk about God’s love, pointing us to the book of Song of Solomon and asking (if our Bibles had headings) that we read the ‘Lover’ parts as God pursuing us.  I went to my Bible and started to do this, and some of the things God said about me – it seemed strange writing them about myself.  Almost too wonderful!  But here they are.  You can see what you think.

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1:9-11:  I am like a horse, once running wild and without restraint but now with the Lord’s yoke steering me in the right direction.

1:15:  I am beautiful, with spiritual eyes.

1:17:  Jesus has His home in my heart.

 

2:2:  I’m like a precious flower on thorny ground.

2:14-15:  My spirit is hidden in God.  Jesus wants to see me and hear me speak.  Jesus wants to harness anything that would ruin my good relationship with Him.

 

4:  I am flawless.  Jesus wants me to come away from those who would tear me to pieces and who stubbornly refuse to change.  I have stolen Jesus’ heart; He calls me His sister and His bride.  He prefers my love to wine and my perfume to any man-made one.  He thinks what I say is sweet and I smell fresh and clean – a garden locked up, then a garden fountain of flowing water.

 

5:  He has found me!

 

6:4-9:  I’m beautiful, lovely, majestic.  Jesus is overwhelmed when I look at Him.  I’m perfect; unique; favoured; blessed.

6:11-12:  Jesus’ desire is for us.

 

7:1-9:  I am royal.  I stand as a victory God has won.

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Have you taken books or chapters of the Bible and made them personal to you?