I never met him, but I have heard so much about him these last few days, that I feel like I knew him. My friend Meghan lost her father last Wednesday night, only a few hours after a sudden heart attack. No one was prepared and no one saw it coming. He left behind a wife of over 30 years, 3 children, and 4 grandsons. As I have grieved with this family, I have heard story after story about Randy Wagner and the godly life that he lived. He was a simple man, an auto mechanic by trade. But this man’s life was not his own and each day was spent serving his Savior.
Meghan said that after his Lord, his wife was his most treasured possession. This was unique because Mrs. Wagner is in the advanced stages of Multiple Sclerosis. She is confined to her wheel chair or her bed and the disease has taken its toll on her body. But she was the light of her husband’s life. He faithfully cared for her year after year, always communicating his deep love for her. Even some of his last words were spent on his love and affection for this lady. While at the hospital last Wednesday a hospital staff member jokingly implied that he would probably like a “pretty blonde nurse” to care for him. Mr. Wagner replied that he had the most wonderful woman waiting for him at home.
In addition to tenderly caring for his wife, Randy spent the rest of his time serving others, quietly and behind the scenes. For years Randy participated in Wheels for the World, a ministry founded by Joni Eareckson Tada which provides wheelchairs to the disabled around the world. As I left his funeral yesterday morning, I passed a photo of a severely disabled man sitting in one of the wheelchairs that Mr. Wagner had collected. He faithfully invited coworkers and friends out to his church. One close friend recounted at his funeral that after glancing around church one Sunday, he noticed person after person who had come to the church over the years through Randy’s invitation.
Most importantly, I have heard how much Mr. Wagner loved His Lord. He loved to sing worship songs to the Savior with his family and friends, and was a member of the choir at his church. He even traveled to other churches to bless them with his singing. Most of all, he loved God’s Word. Meghan told me that he asked her to read him his favorite Psalms as he lay dying in the hospital on Wednesday.
No one doubts where Mr. Wagner is today. His family likes to say that he is enjoying a sound system like no other as He sings praises to His Lord in heaven. I never knew this man, but I have learned many lessons from him over the last few days. He has left behind the legacy of a life well lived before the Lord and I want to be like him.
Nicole has an article on Crosswalk.com’s family channel on the subject of mother-daughter conflict. However, mothers and daughters aren’t the only ones who may experience strife in their relationship. We are sinful people living and working and doing church with other sinful people. The reality of conflict is something we are all too familiar with.
Sadly, we are far less familiar with the grace God gives to those who respond to conflict with humility. In his message “Cravings and Conflicts” on which Nicole’s article is based, my husband examines James 4 and God’s truth that transforms our conflicts. The bad news is that conflict is much worse than we think. But the great news is that it is also simpler and easier to resolve conflict than we think, because of Jesus Christ.
So if you are presently experiencing relational discord of any kind, read this article, listen to this message, and find God’s solution to conflict.
We’re all a little worn-out today, because we are recouping from Mike and Janelle’s open house baby shower yesterday afternoon. Three years ago Mike and Janelle were married in a memorable and slightly unusual wedding ceremony and reception. There was a moon-bounce and ice cream sundaes, and jars full of candy and washbasins with cold sodas. So we thought it was only appropriate that their baby shower be in keeping with their enthusiasm for all things fun.
We couldn’t figure out how to fit a moon-bounce in the living room, but each room of Dad and Mom’s house featured fun activities for guys and girls: Andy Griffith reruns, foosball, board games, photo albums, an ESPNZone, and of course, lots of yummy food.
To bless Mike and Janelle we had a money-tree in lieu of gifts. Yes, we actually set up a real live tree to receive the money, and it will subsequently be planted in the Bradshaw’s yard!
We wish ya’ll could have been there yesterday, but here are a few pictures that Mike’s parents, Jim and Kim, took of Baby Bradshaw’s party.
Mike and Janelle chat with friends and family
Aunt Karin hangs a card on the money tree
Friends Jon and Michelle talking with Mike and Janelle
A view into the kitchen and dining room
Cleanup, cleanup, everybody do your share…
This story from Laurie R. about her boys made me laugh, in part because I can imagine Andrew and Liam doing the same thing!
The boys were wearing ties for the first time (since baby dedication) at the Christmas Eve service. My husband, Jason, was leading the congregation in giving the tithes and the offerings. He said the customary, “…put your tithes in the offering basket as it comes around…” When the ushers came to our row, my son Caleb looks at me puzzled and says, “Daddy, said we’re supposed to put our ties in the offering basket?” He and his brother both grabbed their ties when I finally realized what was going on. I started laughing so hard the ushers must have thought I was crazy.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you this weekend! (1 Cor. 16:23)
(for Carolyn, Nicole, and Janelle)
We will conclude our “Highly Effective Woman” series next week, but today seemed like a good day for a Spurgeon quote (although, when isn’t it?). Marie Silard, a pastor’s wife, good friend of Mom’s, and encourager extraordinaire sent this meditation to Mom as she was preparing to speak at the Resolved conference. Yesterday, Mom sent it to me as I am scheduled to speak at a ladies meeting at our church tomorrow. However, these thoughts on Proverbs 16:33 aren’t really about public teaching. They are about all of life. May they bring you “a holy calm” whatever your responsibilities or trials or circumstances this day.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
If the disposal of the lot is the Lord’s whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by him, how much more the events of our entire life—especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father.” It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this. It would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be the better able to walk in patience, quiet, and cheerfulness as a Christian should. When a man is anxious he cannot pray with faith; when he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, his thoughts are serving himself. If you would “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” all things would then be added unto you. You are meddling with Christ’s business, and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying “providing” work and forgetting that it is yours to obey. Be wise and attend to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father’s storehouse, and ask whether he will let you starve while he has laid up so great an abundance in his garner? Look at his heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at his inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while he pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If he remembers even sparrows, will he forget one of the least of his poor children? “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
My soul, rest happy in thy low estate, ?
Nor hope nor wish to be esteem’d or great; ?
To take the impress of the Will Divine, ?
Be that thy glory, and those riches thine.
Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Morning, December 19
Attend to obeying. Let Christ manage the providing. And cue the laugh track, because Friday Funnies are coming your way next!
Good news from today’s doctor visit! My little girl’s head is way
down (doc told me that they usually don’t see the baby’s head this low
until actual labor), I’m 1 centimeter dilated, and 60%-70% effaced.
She’s been a busy girl over the last week. They did a last minute
sonogram which showed her still small (good girl!), weighing in
somewhere around 5.5 pounds. Doc doesn’t think she’ll exceed 6.5
pounds but you never know. I realize that you can go for weeks in this
state; but I certainly enjoyed this report over last week’s report of
“nothing happening.” The doctor told me to stay active, so I’m
coooking up potential plans to keep me moving around.
Until next week…
Besides being the “honorary executive editor” of GirlTalk, my husband is now blogging with some friends of his on the Together for the Gospel Blog. The T4G Blog is “an ongoing conversation between Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, and Albert Mohler.” These four men are also hosting the “Together for the Gospel Conference” for pastors taking place in Louisville, KY April 26-28 and featuring speakers John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. The TG4 Blog is directed at pastors, but I’ve already enjoyed the good-natured banter and encouragement to read more good books! Check it out and tell your pastor about it.
This is my first appearance in this “highly effective woman” series, by my request. With three little ones, “highly effective” means catching Owen before he smears lipstick all over my duvet. When it comes to Habit #6 though, several of my mom’s suggestions have made a big difference in this season of my life. Here are three tips for “establishing an efficient routine for managing your home:”
Food and Clothing First: Lately, my laundry has been spinning out of control. I don’t think I will ever see the end of it. I have been trying the denial method. I shut the door firmly and choose not to think about it. But it’s not getting any better. I’m still hoping one of my kind sisters will come and do it for me (Janelle, are you doing anything today?)
As a wife and mother of young children, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. On top of that, I really enjoy a clean home. My temptation is to find my joy and peace in the order of my house. Laundry I can shut the door on, and no one sees in my fridge, but the messiness of my house I cannot shut out.
However, in busy seasons like this, Mom has encouraged me to focus my homemaking efforts first on these two basic needs: food and clothing. My house may be a mess, but if my husband and children have clean clothes to wear and food to eat, they will be happy and life will go on. So, I guess I’m going to have to open that door to the laundry room after all!
Minimal Cleaning: Before I had children I cleaned my house from top to bottom every week. I sought to keep this standard after I had Andrew. I would stick him in the entertainer each Friday as I cleaned. Well, now with three little ones, all that is out the window. My house is almost never cleaned all at once. For example this past Monday I thought I could mop the floors—just mop, nothing else. Well, by the end of the day, I was only half way done. I still haven’t finished.
My standard, to say the least, is a little lower these days. Mom has encouraged me to adopt a “minimal cleaning” approach: develop a plan for maintaining general cleanliness in the home and save the thorough cleaning for another season. So Windex and Clorox Wipes have become my special little friends; my quick way of making my messy house look a little cleaner.
And when I stop and look at my husband and kiddos, I realize that caring for them should be my top priority. Next week my family won’t remember how clean the floors were, but they will remember the time, care, and love I gave to them.
Ruthless Paperwork Habits: As you already know, we moved into a small townhouse earlier this year. The corner of my room became the “unpacked section of the house.” If I set some bills or miscellaneous papers in the stack there was no telling when they would be found. Bills were disappearing, papers and receipts were getting lost. Thus I finally went off to Staples and purchased $40 worth of files and labels. I still haven’t bought a filing cabinet to hold them, but I do have my paper work sorted into the proper files. Now, when bills come in, they have a place to go.
In her book, Organized for Success, Stephanie Winston suggests the TRAF method for organizing paperwork. She says, “Happily, I’ve discovered there are only four things you can do with a piece of paper—four decisions: Toss it, Refer it (i.e. pass it along or discuss it with someone else), Act on it personally, File it.”
So, by practicing ruthless paperwork habits, setting realistic goals for cleaning my home, and tending to food and laundry first, I am able to at least be somewhat effective at managing my home in this busy season. These three simple goals may not serve my idol of a perfectly clean home, but they serve my husband and children, and that, I believe, pleases the Lord.
This morning, after my quiet time, I made a list. A list of all the things I have to do today. Take the bath mat that Jack stained to the cleaners. Talk to my husband about the finances. Call a friend who isn’t feeling well. Grade papers for my writing class. Run errands. Write this post. Oh, and call another friend, and return that toaster, and ask Steve about…
I, of course, am trying to follow Habit #5 of the Highly Effective Woman, which is: she develops an effective to-do list system and calendar/planning system. I’ve got this habit half-way down. I have accumulated many credit-hours of to-do list and planning experience.
But it’s the “effective” part I have trouble with. My problem is that I tend to over-plan and way over-list. (Who else puts “File Nails” as an item on their to-do list? Write me. We need to be friends). My husband cringes when he asks what I’m doing today and I excitedly reply, “I am going to organize my life.” Those seven words always spell trouble. That usually means he’ll come home to find me in a pile of papers, sighing a lot.
However, I am blessed with my very own organizational advisor. Mom’s got both the list and the effective parts down. So enough about me, and my ineffective system; here are five simple steps to her highly effective to-do list and calendar system.
1. Create a Master To-Do List—First off, Mom keeps one running list of everything she needs to do. One author calls this a “mind-dump” on paper. This is her master to-do list. Each week she uses this list to do her weekly planning. She assigns various tasks from the master to-do list to the appropriate day of the week.
2. Create a Daily To-Do List—After her quiet time each day, Mom spends 15 minutes making a daily to-do list. Although Mom does her list in Microsoft Word, you can do it just as easily on paper. At the top she writes a verse or quote from her quiet time that she wants to meditate on that day. She already has several to-do list items assigned during her weekly planning, and she adds more as necessary. When an item on her master to-do list is a big project, her daily to-do list may include several tasks to move that project forward a little at a time.
3. Create a Daily Schedule—Mom takes her daily to-do list and allocates time for each task. She says it’s helpful to consider energy levels and to schedule the tasks that require the most thinking (e.g. balancing the check book, writing a letter) earlier in the day and save the brainless tasks (e.g. folding laundry) for the end of the day. Also, do your least-favorite tasks first and save the fun ones for last. Both the daily to-do list and the daily schedule are made with an eye on previously scheduled calendar items (e.g. homeschool Chad, dr.’s appt., church event, etc.).
4. Use Your Daily To-Do List/Schedule—Mom prints her daily to-do list/schedule and carries it around in her pocket. That way she has a verse, her to-do list, and the day’s schedule with her at all times. She is also more likely to fill up otherwise vacant slots of time accomplishing something on her list.
5. Do It Again Tomorrow—Whatever tasks she doesn’t complete get moved over to the next day and the process is repeated. For all you visual learners, here is a sample to-do list/schedule from Mom.
In order to effectively manage your to-do lists, calendar items, and goals, etc. you’ll need your very own “keep it all together” tool. Mom has a notebook (which includes a calendar) and she does her to-do lists on the computer and prints them out. By contrast, I keep all my information and lists on my laptop. You will need to discover the calendar/planning system—whether digital or paper—that is right for you.
Finally, there is one vital truth to remember about to-do lists. It’s something my dad tells us often: Only God gets His to-do list done. Only God accomplishes everything He needs to do, in exactly the way He intends, in precisely the right amount of time. Only God! This truth helps me see the arrogant absurdity of expecting to complete my own to-do list. It frees me to humbly accept my limitations, and simply seek to honor God by being a faithful steward of my time.
Yesterday was the thirty-third anniversary of Roe v. Wade. According to the National Right to Life, over 45 million abortions have been performed in the United States since that day.
I don’t have anything new to say that brilliant minds haven’t already said about that simple and yet most profound of values: the sanctity of human life. I just have a picture.
Over three years ago now, early on in my pregnancy with Jack—eight weeks or so—I thought I was having a miscarriage. We were out of town and I had to wait through the weekend before I could visit the doctor. Those few days were spent crying, praying, and asking God for grace to trust Him.
On Monday morning, I went in for a sonogram with Steve at my side. In what felt like a dream, I laid on the table as the technician spread the jelly on my abdomen and used her equipment to peer into my womb. After a few eternal moments of silence, the woman wordlessly turned the screen so Steve and I could see. There was a little oval shaped body, with a tiny, opaque circle near the head. “See,” the technician pointed, “There’s the heart. It’s beating.”
She printed out a picture for us. On it, next to that little oval shape with that little beating heart, she had typed one word: baby.