Monday, January 29, 2024

Create Your Own Book of Treasures

 


Like apples of gold in settings of silver,
Is a word spoken at the proper time.

- Proverbs 25:11  

Because I lost my mother at an early age, reaching the ripe old age of seventy last year was a bit of a triumph. Now that my father is gone, the realization has hit - as my brother recently told me - our generation is "queued up" to be next at the finish line. A rough patch of health issues and family trials has me understanding a lot more about my dad's penchant for nostalgia and his wistful recounting of the old days. I know now why my mother wept for her daddy years after he was gone. 

The love never dies. 

Many times I've longed to revisit the familiar and gentler days in my own life, vignettes dipped in gold, rough edges mercifully softened by time. God is the faithful editor of our life story. He covers the sins, redeems the failures, and restores the brokenhearted. 

I yearn for those I've lost along the way, some of whom are still alive. Others, like my parents, are gone but left a rich heritage behind. My father gave me Mother's study notebooks after her death in 1994, simple spiral-bound notebooks you can find in most discount stores. Along with the careful Bible notes she kept in her beautiful handwriting I found random notes on stray pages: a long-lost phone number, a prayer request from a fellow church member, a grocery list. Orphan Scripture references. 

Notes from daily life recorded in the moment.

Some were quotes or memorable statements of others that had touched her enough to write down, ones like this: 

God accepts you the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.

Those books are among my treasures. They are living testaments to the essence of the woman, touching her soul, remembering her spirit, teaching me from beyond the grave. Now that I'm officially an old person, I realize the importance of sharing our hearts with the people we love. 

Give the gift of your soul for those you leave behind.

Last Christmas, my thoughtful eldest daughter gave me a lovely journal. It is a vintage red leather. The color is dark and distressed to appear aged. The blank pages inside have a appearance of being very old, like in the kind of book you might find in a Hobbit library. It's almost too special to write in. I've decided to make it my Book of Treasures. In it I plan to write moments and Scriptures and where my soul is on any given day. Things I want to remember and yearn for my children to know.

This kind of treasure can be just as easily immortalized in a dollar store notebook. Like humans, the gold is not always evident by the outside appearance. It doesn't matter what it looks like on the surface. 

Keeping a journal doesn't have to be lengthy or hard. 

Just write. Small moments. Stray Scriptures that speak to you. Memorable quotes. Events like the baby's first tooth, burying a beloved pet, or saying hello to a new one. Write your spouse's tears or your child's smile and what you cherish about them. One sentence will do. You don't have to be eloquent or wordy.

Share your soul, your spirit, your joys with those who will follow and will need to hear your voice, even if it is from beyond the veil. You never know when your words can give life and hope to someone who desperately needs it.

As hard as it may be for you to imagine now, one day it will become their book of treasures.

Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

- Matthew 13:52 ESV




Saturday, December 30, 2023

It's a New Year...Time to Look Up!


Shaking off the dust of an old year?

And she smiles at the future.

- Proverbs 31:25

A news commentator recently mentioned how eager she was to "shake the dust of 2023" off her feet as 2024 dawns. For many, this year has been one of unprecedented challenges and sorrow. Most of us will gladly join the symbolic gesture to pitch the baggage of the old year for the chance at a fresh start. 

Yet others look with trepidation to the coming year as storm clouds gather over the nations and America morphs into an unrecognizable and polarized sea of unrest. The air is charged with the collective sense that we are holding our breath for the next blow. What will the new year bring?

Oddly enough, 2023 was one of my best years in recent memory. Never have I been more excited about the future.

But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

- Luke 21:28

Anyone who knows our family's story understands our long fight to serve God under trial. This year we emerged from hard battles fought concurrently on different fronts. I awaken each day filled with gratitude for the healing and victory our Savior has won for us. I understand more about His grace and fierce love toward those He calls His own. I feel less worthy to be loved by Him but filled with joy that He calls me His own. 

As the old year winds down, more battles loom on the horizon... as they always will. The fight is not mine, though. A mighty Deliverer is my fortress and shield. God knows what's coming, and He can handle it. He's more than enough: He's truly everything, and He's on the move.

Time to Look Up

If you feel broken and bowed, there is never a better time than today to let the Lord lift those burdens off your tired shoulders. Straighten up, lift your face to heaven, and trust that what you see happening before you is the culmination of history as the Biblical prophecies of old are being fulfilled before your eyes. God is at work in your life. He eagerly awaits the new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells with those who love Him. He is coming back to restore His beloved creation and destroy evil. Until then, life in abundance can begin today in the secret place of your heart, under the safety of His wings.



Want to know more?

If you've never read our story, you can find it here . For a limited time, if you send me an email or write me at Pam Thorson, P.O. Box 42, Kendrick, ID 83537, I'll send you my Caregiver Bundle at no charge. This bundle consists of my first two books, Song in the Night and Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver. Send no money. This is my new year's gift to you.

God's doing amazing things in our world!

For more information on what God is doing in our world today, visit Blood Falls and sign up for my newsletter. Check out the incredible true stories and Biblical research behind my new novel, Blood Falls, at Behind Blood Falls.


Blessings and Happy New Year,

Pam


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Christmas Cards Are Looking Iffy again This Year

 


Holidays can be hard on caregivers and families.

It's the last week before Christmas, and a stack of Christmas cards sits unsigned on my desk. My dreams of homemade fudge and divinity are melting under the heat of the day's urgencies. Stirring up a batch of our family's traditional lefse has been pushed to a "maybe" for New Year's. The reality is I'll be doing well to get the presents wrapped in time to open.

'Tis the season.

Parents and caregivers always told to "take care of ourselves," but that's a sketchy task most of the year and more impossible than usual during the holiday season. The extra effort involved just to make a batch of cookies can be daunting, even for those who love Christmas as much as I do.

Nostalgia creates a haunted road this time of year.

Reliving Christmas past can be comforting. It can also bring to the forefront all that we have lost. For those who have buried loved ones or are adjusting to other life changes, living in a new normal filled with loss can be overwhelming. How can we cherish the memories without letting them throw us into depression?

The manger awaits.

Christmas is about one thing: Celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Jesus came to deliver us from an empty existence on Earth and an eternity of torment without Him. Christmas equals Hope. Christmas is the reason people suffering around the world can celebrate from prisons and hospitals and sickbeds. The knowledge that the pain of this life can't be compared to the glory to be revealed in us is a powerful reason to rejoice. Death has already been defeated. 

Those who have accepted the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for their salvation will never die.

They just change residence. All creation awaits the moment the Lord returns to finish the redemption, which is the resurrection of their bodies to eternal life. When our existence is viewed through lens of eternity, every day is worth celebrating! Gratitude fills us with joy and puts every event of our lives into proper perspective. Then we can cherish our good memories for the treasures they are and bear the indignities of today knowing they will pass. 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

- Romans 8:18

Until then, we work...and rest.

Our duties will be there as long as we have others who depend on us. Cookies and lefse may or may not happen. Christmas cards are looking iffy. The yearning for the glow of Christmas past will still haunt us at times.

But Today is filled with the joy of hope because Jesus came two thousand years ago. A new Future awaits!




Sunday, December 10, 2023

Pioneer Files: Sometimes the Glow Is from the Heat

 


While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another.

- Ben Franklin

 

Only now let us remember once more that God is to be our portion, and that knowingly and willingly we trust our lives and those of our children to Him; if He fails, we are done for; but how can He fail?

- C.T. Studd to his wife 

One morning she awakened with a sore throat. She and her husband had a disagreement before he left for work. The children were hard to awaken for school and grumpy at breakfast. As she gathered them together around the kitchen table and went through the motions of a prayer time before the day's lessons, a dull headache began to throb behind her eyes. An hour later, she was muddling her way through a page of Algebra I with her irritable teenager when her toddler ran into the room and tripped, dumping an entire glass of milk onto the floor.

It was all too much, and she erupted. She berated both children as she sopped up the mess from the carpet, knowing neither of them deserved it. The little one began to cry. Her teen looked away, reproach written upon his tense face. Stunned by the fierceness of her outburst, she dissolved into tears and retreated to the bathroom, completely undone by the realization she had Failed Again.

This was not what she had imagined it would be like to homeschool. She wondered if her parents were right. Maybe she didn't have the patience to work with her own children. Everyone had warned her that she would ruin them. Was her pride keeping her from doing what was best for the family?

She sank to her knees on the cold bathroom floor and sobbed. Just two words beat against her brain: What now?

 Nobody's perfect here.

Though the story above is fictional, it comes much too close to describing how many days went down during our twenty-four years of homeschooling, not because we didn't care, but because we wanted so much to do it right. Parents who choose to educate their children at home are typically conscientious people who demand much of themselves. They feel intense pressure to "produce," occasionally fueled by the criticism and watchful eyes of family and friends. Having made plain either their spoken or unspoken disapproval of the public school system, they now feel intense pressure to do better.

It's easy to criticize a system, but when that system has been challenged, suddenly it becomes a formidable giant against which to compare one's own efforts.

The usual chores and stresses of life won't automatically recede to make time and energy for the extra effort required for homeschool. No matter how we strive for a flexible and fun schedule, there are going to be days of mental stress, interruptions, and disagreements.

Each child, being fearfully and wonderfully made and all, has been gifted with his own unique personality. Being together for most of the day every day will inevitably reveal personality conflicts of some degree. Problems seething under the surface for some time will suddenly rise to the forefront and blast a hole in a parent's heart. Like a kettle of precious metals over the refiner's fire, the pot often threatens to boil over and those ugly impurities begin to surface.

Is this bad? Not at all! Those impurities were already there, whether we knew it or not. Probably the most surprising thing about homeschooling is what we learn about ourselves. We are also being schooled in the prism of grace. 

The answer to What now is not to run from failure, but to learn from it.

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul explained that within each believer rages two natures at war: the sinless, inner man who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, and the old man, who operates through the desires of the flesh. The new man does not sin 1. and is tormented by the selfish old man. Our real, redeemed inner souls are released from this corruptible nature either by physical death or the coming resurrection, when we receive a new, incorruptible body. 2.

Until the day of our release, are we doomed to everlasting failure and bondage to the filthy old nature? Of course not! By the daily crucifying ("I die daily") of the old nature, we let the new man reign through Christ.

Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! There is therefore now no condemnation for those wo are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Romans 7:25; 8:1-2

Is this freedom a license to sin? No, but it releases us from the guilt and self-condemnation that rushes in after repentance, when we have disappointed ourselves, our loved ones, and our God. We always have the hope of a fresh beginning, a new day. We can always start again.

The heat is a necessity.

J.C. Brumfield, in his wonderful little booklet Comfort for Troubled Christians, explains how trial is the fire the Holy Silversmith builds under our earthly kettle. This kettle contains two substances, the precious silver, and the worthless dross. As the fires of trouble burn hotter, our Master, like the silversmith, stands near the kettle, watching to ensure the fire never gets too hot. 

In the heat, the dross of our sinful natures separates from the silver and rises to the surface. The Holy Spirit shows us these sins, not to condemn us, but to convict us for righteousness' sake. Each time we repent and turn away from a sin, some dross is skimmed off. Thus we, like the precious metal, are purified.

How did the silversmith of old know when the silver was ready? When he could see his reflection in the surface of the silver. Through the heat of each trial, we are being refined until our very lives shine with the reflection of God's image.3.

For Thou hast tried us, O God; 
Thou hast refined us as silver is refined.

- Psalm 66:10

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.

- Proverbs 17:3

Take away dross from the silver,
And there comes out a vessel for the smith....

- Proverbs 25:4

Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things,
he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

- 2 Timothy 2:21

So, what happens now? 

When we mess up, we own up to it, ask for forgiveness, and start again. The lessons learned will far outweigh whatever we could have gained from Algebra I. 

  

1. Romans 7:17, 20

2. 1 Corinthians 15: Romans 8:23

3. J.C. Brumfield, Comfort for Troubled Christians (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1961), pp. 4-14.

 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Pioneer Files: The Hill We Die On

 


We take captive the rebel mind
Let the fire refine, if we compromise
We jeopardize
Daughters and sons, who they become
Show them the hill that we die on
The fight for the soul, is here and now
While every heart beats like a war drum pounds

"Trenches" by Jeff Lehman
Behold the Beloved
Hope Will Arise
https://beholdthebelovedmusic.com/                                                                                                                     

Rebel Mind


We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, 
and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ....

- 2 Corinthians 10:5

They chant in the streets, wave the flags of racist organizations, and assault people of a different ethnicity. Reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan marches of the South in 1866 and the Nazi rallies in America in the 1930s, this new wave of hate dirties our cities as society devolves into chaos. Many of these rebels were groomed in the arena of public thought and education while ill-conceived government policies assaulted the family on every front.

Incensed parents have called out errant school boards, principals, and teachers who violated their sacred trust. Many have taken their children out of public school to be tutored privately or homeschooled. 

It's one thing to rail against a broken public education system, though. It's an entirely different challenge to take on the molding of a new generation ourselves. As the public education sector has flamboyantly demonstrated, children do learn what they live...and live what they learn. Home education is an awesome tool for both literacy and character development. 

Then the question remains. What will they learn?

Set the books down for a moment.


One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, 
And one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.

- Proverbs 16:32

Kids are sponges. Almost from the womb they are absorbing their environment. Soon they are mimicking a parent's every move. In the teen years, their individuality asserts itself and they see their parents in a different light. They often become hypercritical of every move a poor parent makes and use our real or imagined flaws to justify their newfound desire to rebel. But they're still watching. 

Since we are all flawed, parents have no chance to get everything right. You can't be the perfect parent. The key here is consistency and choosing your battles. How do you know what battles are the important ones? 

In any war, you can tell the importance of the ground you are on by the amount of resistance you encounter from the enemy. 
Who's your enemy? Not your children, of course. Your enemy is Satan. He really hates relationships and will do everything possible to destroy your relationship with your family. Your dedication to your family is a declaration of war on hell. The devil will fiercely resist you. Expect a lot of bewildering distractions and messy days as God reveals your own weaknesses and the holes in your parenting skills. Expect it, and learn from it. Navigate the stormy waters with humility. Let your children see you work through issues and choose the path of integrity, even if it means a loss for you. They don't need to know every detail of everything happening around you. They just need to see authenticity and tenderness.

What do you want to give your children for eternity? Is it just teaching them to read and write? Is it just creating a safe place for them to grow up? Or is there more?

Choose your hill.


Since your children are watching your every move, give them what counts. Conquer your own rebel mind. Choose righteousness; listen to God; press into your faith. Decide what hill you will die on. Let your family see you making the hard choices. If you cave to pressures to compromise at home or at work, they will only learn there is nothing worth fighting for.
 
You can't create perfect children or give them a perfect life. You can, with God's help, show them how to live; how to bask in the sunshine, dance in the rain, and reach toward heaven through it all.