Tag Archives: proverbs 31 woman

Friends and Family

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Friends and Family

“The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”  ~ Adrian Rogers

My mom just got remarried over the weekend! Congratulations, Mom and Jim!

They are stopping by our place on their way back home and like any good daughter, I’ve been scrambling around the house cleaning like Mom always did when we had company 😉 After all, I don’t want them to think we live the way we actually live with clothing thrown over the back of the couch, dog toys scattered throughout the house, and empty water glasses on every visible surface…

Anyway, the separation of my parents and their lives with their new significant others got me thinking about God, and family, and His power to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think about my childhood and I remember good times I had with my sisters and brother; kickball in the back yard, bike rides around the cull-de-sac, playing in mud and convincing my youngest sister that it was dark chocolate pudding, roller blading around the neighborhood and the wrap around porch… There were some good times. Life wasn’t all bad, although I wasn’t oblivious to the struggles that were present.

I think what I’ve learned most about family is that it’s not just the people whose genetic make-up you share that count as your family. It’s about the little old ladies across the street whose houses smell funny, but they’ll always invite you in for some Schwan’s Ice Cream. It’s about the friends you had, then and now, who call just to see how you’re doing, and will come and sit in your living room and not do much of anything at all, but be content in spending time with you. It’s about the people you meet in the midst of chaos and struggle who choose to stand by you anyway. My friends are my family, and my family make up a great bunch of friends.

This is important; so much more now that I’m grown, married, and live hundreds of miles away from my little sisters. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I were closer to them and my brother. But I’ve seen first-hand how God can take something broken and hurting and use the pieces to build this brand new thing that’s more complex and beautiful than anyone could have imagined it to be. I imagine the fictitious bird, the phoenix, bursting in to flames, and then rising majestically and beautifully from the ashes.

If you think about this transformation in regards to Christianity, you see that the very best things, the only things worth living for come out of death. In marrying my husband, I died to my single self, and became one with him in body and spirit. In the separation of my parents, two new couples emerged with the blessings of step-siblings (and I’m still the oldest 😉 ) From the pain and adversity that came with the divorce came faith the likes of which I have never seen displayed before by my parents. By the death of Jesus Christ came salvation for my short comings and failures; righteousness from the torture and death of an innocent and pure man.

Some times, strong things or people have to take a hit so that a weaker being can survive to be strengthened in the future. In the same way, sometimes, weak things have to die to make way for stronger things to emerge in their place.

I see God working in ways I never really understood but I see now that he had a plan for my family’s mistakes; he had in mind for us all to be stronger, more courageous, and more faithful than we had previously thought possible. And I will praise Him every day for the rest of my life for that.

Left to Right: Mitch, my husband; Step-dad, Jim; Mom, Amy; and me

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Doggie Prayers

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Doggie Prayers

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal…” Proverbs 12:10

I have a very – using the word ‘very’ liberally – sick doggie. 😦

Three mornings in a row Anna has had accidents in her crate, and can’t seem to control her bowels throughout the day. I’ve handled dog messes before, but for whatever reason, this time it’s hitting me harder. I look at Anna and see that she is in discomfort, and it breaks my heart. I’ve been doing the standard care for bowel issues; pick up the food for 24 hours, liquids all day, gradually ween the animal back to solid food via rice, boiled chicken/ground beef, low fat, low sodium… She ate a little bit of rice this morning, but she isn’t her usual self.

For those of you who think I’m a psychopath for being so concerned and caring for my little Anna Beth, let me share with you a few of my memories of her:

 

 

 

 

 

Those are only a few of my fond memories of Frisbee, “tennis ball hockey,” and her first romp in the snow… Anna has been a lifesaver, of sorts. When Mitch and I first got married, we moved into an apartment with another couple, who happen to be our best friends, and Mitch was without a family pet for the first time in his life. He got depressed, we started bickering over little things, and he just wasn’t happy… Every time we would go back over to his parent’s house, he would play with their Aussie Shepherd, Copper and he was himself again. I decided we needed a dog; Mitch needed that companionship. He needed that unconditional love and bond that only comes from man’s best friend.

I started scouring every classified section in all the news papers I could find. We did endless research on what breed, size, and energy level would be best for us and our lifestyle. About that time, we saw an ad in the paper for 6 border collie pups about an hour away from us in Missouri. I called the number and asked about the pups and we arranged a time to go down and meet them, and gauge their personalities. I was unable to go, but Mitch and my mother-in-law went down and looked at all the little fuzzies.

I’ve always considered Mitch to be somewhat of an animal whisperer, because he is able to connect with animals that generally hate everyone (for example, his parent’s sunshine conure who abhors me…) He tells me that when they pulled up to the address given by the breeder, there were at least 8 adult border collies chasing in circles around the house after their leader, who was holding a tennis ball. The puppies were in a kennel, sleeping in two separate piles. It was the middle of July, so it was blazing hot, but there was one puppy sitting apart from the piles who were sleeping in the shade: our little Anna. She was alert and focused in on Mitch as she sat between her brothers and sisters. Mitch knew instantly that she was the one.

When I got home from work late that night, I fell in love with her sweet little face! HOW COULD YOU NOT!? she was our baby! I loved the way Mitch just lit up when she would play with him. I loved how he spent the nights sleeping beside her crate so she wouldn’t cry, and how while I was getting ready for work in the mornings, she would sneak up on to the bed and they would snuggle. Ever since we got Anna, she has been a huge part of our lives, especially Mitch’s. He has a special bond with her.

When Mitch went away to boot camp, Anna was devastated.

Anna, the day Mitch left for Pendleton

She literally sat in the corner and cried for days on end. I just wasn’t the same as her daddy, and she missed him; we both missed him. Anna is very emotionally sensitive and she picks up on our emotions. I started to really bond with her while Mitch was gone. We were sad together, we went hiking together, we played frisbee, we went on runs, we took drives. We did almost everything together! She was there for me in a comforting way that I can’t explain. I couldn’t be sad because she needed me. Anna depended on me to take care of her, and I honestly believe that having something dependent upon me for their health and well-being really forced me to choose faith and hope over depression and sadness.

I think about what our lives would be like without her, and it brings me to tears. We love Anna! She is our first baby girl! She keeps us strong and joyful! She comforts us when we are sad. She comes up and licks my face when I’m crying as if to say, “I’ll get rid of those tears for you, mommy.” She KNOWS us, and she loves us.

That is why seeing her in such discomfort and sickness hurts me. I don’t have children of my own, but I do have Anna, and she and Cyd are my baby girls.

Anna and Cyd both have veterinary appointments tomorrow, but I would appreciate your prayers that she holds out until tomorrow; that Anna will be able to sleep and drink so that she doesn’t become more sick. I felt a little silly this morning as I prayed for her, because yes, she is just a dog. But then I found Proverbs 12:10… Anna isn’t just a dog. She is MY dog, and I love her. If you can get over the “silliness” of praying for a doggie, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for my baby girl. 🙂

Updates

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Updates

“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18

So far at our new house, I haven’t really done anything to make it “mine.” I did repaint the bathroom in the master bedroom, which I feel is a vast improvement solely based on the fact that the color no longer distorts the lighting when I do my makeup. Three cheers for NOT looking like a clown on Sunday mornings. It actually wasn’t that bad before, but the periwinkle/lavender with chrome and white accents it has going on now is much more my style.

We are discussing/planning to replace the sliding door to the back yard and build on a deck/patio area! This is a major project- the first one we have encountered as a married, home-owning couple thus far so I pray God gives us the resolve to finish it, as well as the finances to complete the project and do it well, and that God just destroys my pride so that we can get through the building project without putting a strain on our marriage… We’ve built things together before for our shows in college, but the infamous “Sweeney Todd Wagon” was just down and out an almost relationship destroyer… or at the very least, it tested us both in patience and communication.

Also, when I start making Thanksgiving and Christmas posts respectively two months early, I’m not crazy, it’s just that with the deployment looming ever nearer, I’ve decided to mega condense all of our holidays as the NC Elstons, so that we get to celebrate them ALL together.

That being said, I need to start planning my Thanksgiving dinner! (And figure out some way to have some football on since we don’t have cable TV) Football aside, I have never cooked a turkey before so this will be an interesting experience. I DO however have wonderful friends who are foodies and HAVE gone all out and made the whole spread before, so I’m looking forward to learning from their expertise!

Lately I’ve been in to the whole DIY thing with making my own cleaning/gardening supplies without using so many harsh chemicals and going toward more of a natural/non-toxic route. May I just say that baking soda and white distilled vinegar are my new favorite things!

Here is a recipe I used for my version of Windex:

  • 1 tsp. Dawn dish detergent
  • 6 Tbsp. White distilled vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Jet dry solution
  • 1 empty Febreeze bottle; fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use
  • I got the original recipe from Pinterest here. I tweaked it to add the jet dry for a streak-free shine. Making your own household cleaning products is far and away cheaper than buying the brand name stuff from the store, and I liked this particular recipe because it was free of ammonia, which frequently irritates my eyes and my lungs. I’ve been finding/using lots of helpful cleaning tips found via Pinterest and you may follow me by searching “edenelston” on the site.

Anyway, that’s my update of sorts. Check back to my page entitled “Home Repairs” for more hints, tips, and pictures of our work on our new home!

Thanks for reading, and God bless!

Powerful Prayer

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“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

How wonderful is it when you can tangibly experience the power of prayer and God’s Holy presence working in your life?? I say it’s pretty amazing. First, I’d like to point out that I’ve reached the point in my life where I can now navigate my hard copy Bible- yes, I mean actual leather bound book with paper pages- faster than I can the Bible application on my android. I don’t know whether to be excited that I know the scripture that well, or upset at my lack of interest in technological advancement… either way, I have some incredible stories to tell.

So as I’ve been writing since April, my husband and I decided to purchase a home- our first- and we finally were able to close on it last week! Praise God! That’s some incredible news that has been a long time coming, for sure. But, that’s not the best news. The best news started out as some awful and gut-wrenching news…

…I was going through the last stages of preparing for closing on the house. Because we purchased from the owner without using a realtor or realty service, we- the buyers- were responsible for all of the closing costs. Well to make a long story slightly shorter, I was checking my email like a fiend, waiting for the final HUD, or statement of closing costs so that we would know how much money we were responsible for at the time of closing. Our date was set for Friday morning, and it wasn’t until Thursday evening I got the email that said our closing costs came to a total of over $4,000, because I had not yet paid the insurance premium. I swallowed my tongue a little… T0 a couple who has only been married and on their own for 2-ish years, that was a SIZABLE chunk of change, and most of our bank account. Guess what I did after I read that email? For those of you who guessed panic and cry, you are correct. After THAT, I began to pray. I prayed with tears in my eyes. I texted, called, emailed all our closest friends and had them start praying too… We prayed and thanked God for allowing us to find the perfect home and be able to live in it 4 months prior to closing so we weren’t homeless. We prayed for God to handle the financial situation, as we had asked Him from the beginning of the whole process.  We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. [1 Thes. 5:16-18]

After I paid the insurance premiums out-of-pocket, the closing cost rounded out to just about $3,000… Thursday evening passed with more prayer, and more reading of scripture to ease my worrisome mind. Friday morning came. With a rock in my stomach, Mitch and I gathered our thoughts and prayers and went to get the money orders made out before closing that morning. We walked in to walmart and stood in the line. Just as our turn in line came, I got an email notification on my phone. Out of habit more than anything else, I checked it immediately. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I felt like my body was about to perform every function it knew how right there not the least of which was wetting my pants with joy and surprise. It was the FINAL revision of the HUD, and it was over $800 less than the amount we were about to verbalize to the cashier who was waiting to print up our money orders! HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it! I started to cry and got all flustered. Our prayers had been answered! God had made sure we had enough money in our account to cover closing costs, as well as allow us to eat for the rest of the month! It was at that moment I realized the value of good Christian friends and family who will pray for your needs. It wasn’t until later that I marveled at how God didn’t increase our wealth, He simply made what we already had to be enough. That was what really touched my spirit. The words of Philippians 4:19 echoed in my mind as well as the words from a song that goes something like, “…His grace is enough for me…” Hallelujah! How true that is! God’s word is alive and thriving people! It is relevant! It touches my life every day. If this isn’t proof, then I don’t know what is.

With this whole little “financial miracle” as I like to call it still fresh in my mind, I pondered a devotional I read this morning. It brought up Psalm 90:15, and how the closer we walk to the light, the more clearly we can see what is around us. Amen to that. Those times when I feel so lost and out of control are always the times in which I’ve gone days without any devotional time, or prayer. And I’m discovering more and more that I AM growing in spirit and in faith because where I used to have to slide back into depression to feel God pulling me close to Him,  I can now sense that I’m chosing God more often than not, and I’m chosing prayer where I used to choose worry, anxiety or fear. I read somewhere that fear is simply lack of faith. What I’ve learned is that either I believe God is who the Bible says He is; who He’s proven Himself to be in my life, or I don’t. There isn’t a halfway. And the more I look at where I have been, the more I understand where I am now, and the more I want to continue to grow closer to the Lord every day for the rest of my life. My faith is stronger, my marriage is better, my friendships are more genuine, and my life is overall more joyful than ever before. The reason Christianity has survived for over 2,000 years is because it is the truth; the ONLY truth. If I ever I was shaky in my faith in God’s provision, I’m more firm in believing that He’ll sustain me than I ever have been.  I hope this experience is an inspiration to you who read this to draw close to God through reading his word and heart-felt, sincere prayer and praise to God the Father.

In His Time

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“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

I’ve been exploring God’s timing recently. Let me tell you, for someone like me who likes to know the who, what, when, where, and why of everything, it’s been a challenge to let go of that mentality of what am I going to DO, and grabbing on to the concept of trusting that when God is ready and when he sees that I am ready, ____________ will happen.

I always use words like, “funny,” “ironic,” or “interesting” when I see two pieces of God’s puzzle come together, when it’s not happenstance or chance at all, but rather the fate that God has designed according to his meticulous and masterful plan. So instead, I’ll say it was masterful, in speaking to my father this morning, how he also brought up the subject of God’s perfect timing in the midst of my embracing it, over my timing. Without going in to too much unnecessary detail, Dad is coming to realize that there are things out in this world that may have been right under our noses for years and years, yet we simply never encountered them until God was ready for us to do so; until God knew we were ready to do so.

I believe my struggles to rest in not knowing and having patience and contentment in every situation is directly related to my inability to relax and be comforted in the knowledge that God already knows exactly what I need out of life, and when I will need it. I also believe that God has put people in my life to help drive that point home. A corny way I’ve thought of putting my new-found wisdom is this: It’s not about keeping up with the Jones-es, it’s about keeping up in my relationship with God; constantly seeking His presence and wisdom through His word, and through prayer. THAT is the only thing that is able to satisfy my anxious heart and give rest to my spirit.

The truth is, we make mistakes that sometimes lead to bigger mistakes or disappointments, or heartache, or despair. But God is always present and active in the lives of His children and we need only seek his guidance and presence for them to be found. Every day (now that I look back on the past month, or week) I can see a pattern of God presenting me with situations in which I have a choice in how to react, specifically in reference to His timing and my journey toward a peaceful, gentle, and contented spirit. And every day this week, I have met each instance differently, and inconsistently, to the point that when I stepped back from my situation to make an assessment of my reactions, I was incredibly disappointed to see how often I met them with failure. And here I thought I was doing so well… This only proves that I’m still a work in progress, and that God isn’t giving up on me. I’ll continue to be faced with these challenging and spiritually stressful or frustrating situations until I consistently choose reliance on God’s perfect timing and contentment in whatever situation I may face.

The clarity of my life only comes when I reflect upon it through Christ. So that, if nothing else, is what I would like to communicate to all of you today. Take a moment to really sit down and pray to God about your struggles and ask the Lord to reveal Himself and His plan to you so that you may follow His paths for your life, rather than you own, that you might experience the fullness and joy of a life in which you daily choose Christ. I’ve recently noticed that when I look for, find, and pray a piece of scripture that sort of encapsulates my current life situation, my prayers seem more complete and my spirit feels more fulfilled than when I sit and ramble on and on and on trying to pray something eloquent on my own. Lately, my prayer has been this:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23-24] Amen.

Calm Before the Storm

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“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Today is Friday, which means it’s the last weekend of calm before the chaos starts back up this fall. Am I going to miss the calm? Most definitely. Will the challenges I face this fall be rewarding? One can only hope.

I was reading today and discovered something interesting about myself… I am (or used to be) one of those people who always said, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray” as if that were my last resort. I found that rather than carry unnecessary burdens like I almost always do, I could just pray and be done with it! How incredibly, mind-numbingly simple is that? Call on God, and He lifts your burdens. I always seem to struggle with my life’s challenges for as long as I can, until I’m breaking under the pressures of each of my commitments to Church, marriage, family and friends. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

God showed me this morning that by just taking a moment to lay it all out before Him in prayer, I can continue to have calm while the world around me experiences the storm. Funny, I never really get scared of literal storms. I think it goes back to when I was younger… I was at a basketball practice with my Aunt Cat where she attended college. On the way to the college, the sky was looking ominous and dark and as most young girls would be, I was a little… nervous. Anyway, I took a peek out a window in the lobby and noticed the sky was pretty scary looking so I just ducked into a hallway and prayed that the storm would pass us over and that we wouldn’t get a tornado. Shortly after I prayed, I peeked outside again, and the sky looked like it had never even thought of raining. Now maybe twelve years have caused me to remember the event in a more exaggerated way. Who knows? What I do know is that even when I was at my darkest point in life, I always remembered that one instance of prayer that God answered for me, and I think that sliver of hope is what kept me from doing anything stupid when I was in one of my dips of depression.

God hears and answers our prayers. I haven’t feared a literal storm since I was perhaps eight years old. I’m an adult now, and God is reaching me more than I ever thought he could, so why choose fear, when I can choose God’s peace? All it takes is for me to seek God in prayer; maybe an entire thirty seconds out of my day, to just sit and feel connected to God, and bare my anxieties and my concerns, my needs, my wants, my fears to the One who can banish all the bad and make something beautiful, and leave me with a peace that passes understanding. Amen to that.

So Simple, It’s Complex

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So Simple, It’s Complex

I’ve made a recent discovery; faith in God is so simple, it’s difficult. That is, so simple, we over-complicate it… or I do, anyway…

I’ve been doing a study of the various names for God used in scripture and how the various Hebrew words and their meanings all bear significance in identifying God for who He is. For example, “El” was a Hebrew word meaning “god” little “g”. But we see something in scripture that can’t be explained by the “rational thinking” people of that time- El gets hyphenated and added to in order to reveal characteristics of the one, true God. For example, Elohim- describes the nature of God and his plurality, yet unity; El-Shaddai-God Almighty; El-gibbor- Mighty, or Heroic God; El-de’a- the God who knows; El-emet- God of truth; El-kabod- God of glory… All of these are used to refer to the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The only problem is that I often times forget that my God is the God of ALL THINGS, and not just the God of some, or most things… I forget that I don’t have to struggle, or go it alone, because I have God on my side.

Too often I ask myself why I experience periods of doubt and uncertainty instead of just leaning on God and relying on His promises… the answer is simple: instead of turning to God, I turn inward and attempt to control that which is beyond my comprehension. It’s like when our lawn mower mysteriously went on the fritz (We bought it in April, so there’s really no reason for it to not be working…) We tried everything… I replaced the air-filter, Mitch siphoned the old gas, and we added new fresh gas, we checked the oil, we changed the spark plug… We consulted the owner’s manual… Now all that is left for us to do since after all our attempts to fix it have failed is to contact the manufacturer and have it replaced or exchanged…

As annoying as the whole lawn-mower ordeal is, what it’s taught me is that I have virtually zero knowledge of small engine repair and/or maintenance… So why do I continue to pretend I do rather than just consult the maker of the product? Why in my life, do I assume I can deal with the stresses and problems that crop up on my own without regard to the One who made me? You see where I’m going with this? I’m not saying to call Husqvarna every time you struggle with anxiety or depression, but I am saying that when there’s a problem in your life you can’t fix, consult your manufacturer God.

Huh… What do you know? I’ve taken an annoying homeowner’s issue and used it as a teaching opportunity… maybe I can be a teacher after all… 🙂 Blessings to you all!