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How to Build Courage in Sons + Daughters

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Open doors… even ones opened just a little are before each of us! Sometimes we have to wrestle them open all the way to do the thing Jesus is calling us to~and it takes unbelievably hard, grueling work!

Have you read about Gladys Aylward? Oh my goodness, it’s phenomenal how she pushed open a door slammed shut in her face by men, so that she could do the thing she was passionate for and called to do. We are studying Early American History this year, but we had a couple of books from last year’s study of the world that we hadn’t read yet, and I just couldn’t leave this one behind! I grew up (thinking) I knew her story through a movie based on her life, but it really is nothing like her real story!! Her depth of courage and character, all that she endured and prayed and accomplished is in the book! If you need a true heroine for you or your daughters, read “Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime.” Even my ten-year old son was on the edge of his seat begging for another chapter + my older ones gasped at the courage displayed in a few of the accounts given. Best kind of #thriller 😍 .

Phil and I often pray that in these increasingly dark days, our children will be equipped to love boldly and stand firmly for Christ. We know that this will only happen by the grace of God on each of their lives, but feel strongly that we are called and equipped to raise them up purposefully in a way that will strengthen them for their callings!

Teach them to enjoy hard work. Physical work in daily chores, plus walks or hikes, pushing them to do more than they thought they could (age appropriate) builds character!!

Know the Word of God: Reading + Memorizing Scripture builds their faith and gives them truth to reference when a difficult situation arises in their life.

Read Living Books: This gives amazing courage and sense of adventure with God by reading these stories of Christians who have gone before us ~ these are a few of the most important things we are discovering!

When faced with possible death at the hands of communist rulers Gladys prayed, “If I must die, let me not be afraid of death, but let there be a meaning, Oh God, in my dying.”  And isn’t that what we all want?! To live and die with purpose and meaning!! My children gasped aloud when we came to the part where Gladys witnessed the questioning of two hundred Chinese students as to whether they would pledge allegiance to a communist party or to Christ. When the each chose Jesus, the general ordered that they all be harassed and pressured by fellow students for a month, and then asked them again. This happened several times, and finally, they were faced with certain death if they didn’t deny Jesus. The first young woman questioned, replied, “Sir, three moths ago I thought Jesus Christ was real, and I thought the Bible was true. Now after three months of your hatred, I KNOW Jesus Christ is real, and I KNOW the Bible is true.”

Now that’s the courage I want in my own heart, and of course that of my children!

“I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.”

If you have favorite books and historical characters (and other tips) for building courage in your children, I’d love to hear about them!

Rainy Day Work

Her face will stay with me for a long time, haunting my days~waking me in the nighttime hours. A beautiful young woman with the most gorgeous skin tone and curly brown hair~walking determinedly, loudly spouting off her reasons of why she had to do it. There was no other possible way.

The rain fell steadily all morning. Wrapped in ponchos and sheltered beneath large umbrellas, we were wrapped securely in the knowledge that we were in the right place for this moment. Doing the work of speaking truth, pleading for the cause of the children, and for those who walked not three feet in front of us, most times herded, and what could safely be called intimidated along by two strong men, into a dark and bloody place. The desire to preserve and save a life~upwards of twenty lives a day~does not always end in success. Sometimes you simply obey~and trust~that your presence fills a place in the gap, that for today nobody crossed the threshold of that terrible place without knowledge of the truth, without causing a moment of “pause” in which they could have chosen life. The rain pouring down felt like a welcomed friend, crying down the tears welling inside that hadn’t yet found their way out.

Her baby would have been absolutely beautiful. It hurts beyond words to know what has happened to that little boy or girl. Ripped apart, piece by piece, from the safest place on earth. Oh, Jesus, forgive us. Reassembled on a tray to be sure every part of a precious human being has been removed. God, how did we ever get to a place where mothers allow this crime to be done against their bodies and their descendants? To be thrown out with tonight’s garbage. The very creation of a Holy, tender, righteous Lord~ How, Jesus? For the first time in my life, my arms feel empty because another woman’s baby has died. Back in the shelter of my home and in the arms of a man who loves me and values children, and LIFE, my tears join the rain. Deep sadness for all we have lost. Grief for the grief she will undoubtedly walk through after today.

One of her final questions as she passed through that dirty glass door, half covered with black paper was “You’d get up in the night with this baby!? Really!?”

We’ll already be awake in the night, love. A beautiful brown-skinned, curly-haired baby to carry us through would have been no trouble at all.

“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children…” Lamentations 2:19

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When a Hero Goes Home

No words will do complete justice in giving honor and expressing gratefulness to a woman who has had a profound impact on my life! Who else has taught us so much about “the surrendered life” or “the path of lonliness” or about the beauty of “passion and purity.” Through her stories and writings, and publishing her late husband’s journals too, countless ones of us have been inspired by her (their)willingness to be used by God for the sake of souls hearing the Gospel, even at the risk of death.

“God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.” 
― Elisabeth Elliot

“To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss.” 
― Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes

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It was she who introduced me to Amy Carmichael when I was around 16 years old in the pages of a book that was the thickest I had read to date: A Chance to Die. I read it and began to pray and dream about ways that God might use my life for His kingdom’s sake. It was during those years that a love for the children of India was born in my heart, and is something that has only grown and continued to be a leading, influencing factor in my life.

She was the first woman I read who loved and embraced the gift of womanhood, with all of it’s gifts and responsibilities unique to being a woman! She called to the girl in me and made me desire to be a faithful woman of God. I clearly remember that. I also remember the way she painted word pictures about family . . . and I can still hear her voice in several audio recordings giving clear, practical advice on the shaping of a Christian family!

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

“…my plea is let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.” 
― Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

Oh, and about singing hymns from first verse to last, not skipping any of the verses. That made me smile and nod my head . . . and to this day I think of her when a song leader leads us to “skip” the important middle verses of a hymn. :)

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When I was seventeen years old I met Elisabeth (Elliot) Gren and her husband Lars for the first time! They spent several days teaching and speaking, as well as sitting with groups of us at meal times while Mr. Lars Gren kept things lively with his humor. :)

And then, after every meal, and before parting ways for the evening, Elisabeth Elliot taught us to sing a verse in Scripture that I have never forgotten and have often sung to myself or over my children at night.

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“Now unto Him who is able to keep, able to keep you from falling . . .
And present you faultless before the presense of His glory with exceeding joy!
To the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty,
Dominion, and power, both now and forever. Amen!” Jude 24,25

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn8vqm0mXaM (Click to listen to Jude 24, 25)

And now~now~to imagine Mrs. Elliot in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One she adored, lived for, and encouraged so many of us to do the same! What glory! What a welcome home celebration must have been going on there in the past week!

It’s hard to see another faithful soldier of our older generation leave us. It makes me realize each time it happens that more than ever, it is MY privilege and joy to carry on the baton of faithfulness  to the next generation, as they have done to ours. We can depend on no one except us . . . we are the ones called to love and puruse and trust & obey our Heavenly Father as have our heroes in the faith.

She often quoted the words of Betty Scott Stam written on the inside of her Bible, “Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Your will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all utterly to You to be Yours forever.  Fill me and seal me with Your Holy Spirit.  Use me as You want, send me where You want, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”

She truly lived this. And as stated in this article about her life, she is one of those Faithful Ones of whom the world truly was not worthy!

Her books will continue to be read and reread in my home, and even more so The Book she loved and knew so well. The song she taught will continue to be sung, until we too are called home, presented faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!! And in my daily life, her words of direction which often ring in my ears. . . “Just do the next thing” . . . will continue to encourage me in her practical, no-nonsense manner to take a hold of the tasks before me ~ in the time and place where God has me ~ and to do it all to His Glory.

“The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one’s life for others. Then they are no longer routines. By being done with love and offered up to God with praise, they are thereby hallowed as the vessels of the tabernacle were hallowed–not because they were different from other vessels in quality or function, but because they were offered to God. A mother’s part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility, but it is the route, as was the humiliation of Jesus, to glory.” ― Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

Thank you, Mrs. Elliot, for everything. By the blood of the Lamb and grace of our God, we will soon meet again . . .   through those gates of Splendor.

P.S. I would love to hear from you in the comments . . . how has Elisabeth Elliot influenced your life?

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