Guest Post: Hannah’s Heart

I’d like to thank my dear friend Monique Demas for writing today’s guest post.

Playing mommies as little girls, now blessed mommies as grown-ups!

Have you ever desired something so much that you lost your appetite and sleep over it? Have you ever fervently prayed for something and waited for God’s answer?

During a difficult period in my life, I remember sleepless nights with painful tears and constant prayers. My husband and I desired to have a baby.  We had been married seven years, and the doctors told us that we might not be able to have a child. However, the constant reminder that the God of the universe is in control gave us strength.

When I read Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1, my heart understands her anguish.

Sometimes we do not understand God’s timing. Every year, Elkanah, Hannah’s husband went to worship at Shiloh, and his other wife Peninnah provoked Hannah about being barren (1 Samuel 1:5-7 ESV). Verse 7 mentions how Hannah wept and would not eat. The Scriptures say in verse 10, “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.”
Hannah’s heart was in the right during this painful time. Verse 13 says she was speaking in her heart while praying. While praying, she made a vow to God, “O Lord of Hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor will touch his head.” (verse 11)

The Lord blessed Hannah with a son, and she gave him back to God. In verse 22, the Scriptures say, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” Wow! How powerful! Hannah’s son Samuel was to appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.

On December 2, 2010, we found out we were having a baby. Our hearts were full of joy when God blessed us with a baby boy! It was very convicting to read of Hannah’s heart whose deepest desire was for her child to dwell in the presence of the Lord forever. We see from the Scriptures that Hannah’s desire to have a son was a godly desire. We are able to see the difference between a godly desire and fleshly desire in this story. A fleshly desire is a yearning for something that upon receiving, one refuses to give back to God.

As mothers, we must have Hannah hearts. Our children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and we must train them in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6).

Let us constantly remember that our job as mothers is to train our children to have an understanding of their Creator and to dedicate their lives to Him. Live each day with Hannah hearts!

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Remember the Easter story

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘Easter’? Hopefully you said something like ‘Jesus’ or ‘sacrifice’ or other words related to the reason behind the season. Hopefully you didn’t say ‘chocolate’. But the truth is, most of us have a very strong association between Easter and chocolate. Whilst I’m not against buying Easter goodies (I confess to being rather a chocoholic…), I do think it’s very sad that eggs, chicks and bunnies have taken precedence over Jesus at this time of year.

Taking the first question a step deeper, ask yourself (or even better, your kids) – What is the first thing your children think of when they hear the word ‘Easter’? If they are only little, you may be inclined to be more understanding if they answered ‘chocolate’, but I think this is just more sad. They have had less time exposed to the commercialism of the world, and are more influenced by us. What are we teaching our kids? Are we actively and intentionally teaching them about Jesus’ gift to the world, or are we letting them grow up to think of Easter simply as a time to buy chocolate?

The commercialised world we live in puts an unthinkable amount of money and resources into strengthening our association between Easter and buying chocolate – and baskets, and stickers, and cards, and fluffy chicks, and stuffed bunnies and anything else it can think of. But nice as these things can be, they have nothing on the awesome events that we are actually celebrating this Easter. How can chocolate compare to salvation?! As parents, we should be passionate about teaching our children the real, eternal significance of the events that took place on the first Easter.

But how can we do this? Teaching our kids to think of Jesus before chocolate isn’t always easy! I think the answer is twofold:

  • Firstly, we need to emphasis the Easter story to our kids. Tell it to them over and over. Write it down, make crafts about it, draw pictures of it, sing songs about it, watch movies on it, play games about it. Get it into their heads and hearts every way we can think of.
  • Second, we can make use of commercialised products, and teach our children to associate them back to Jesus. We must help our kids to see Easter eggs, chicks and bunnies, and immediately think of ‘new life’ and what that means to us as followers of Christ.

At our house this year we had an ‘Easter Story Treasure Hunt’. I wrote down a simple version of the Easter story, and along side each section I put a clue, helping them to find the next part of the story. At the end of the story was a prize.  Below are the story and clues I put together, which you are free to copy and edit for your own use, and some pictures of my kiddies enjoying the hunt!

About two thousand years ago something amazing happened. God came to earth in the form of a baby boy – Jesus. As Jesus grew up, He became wise. God was pleased with Him.

The next clue is somewhere that Princess goes every morning when she gets dressed.

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When Jesus was a man He taught people about God’s love, and His plan to save them. After a few years, Jesus knew it was nearly time for Him to die.  He went to a garden one night to pray.

The next clue is in hiding with some sweet food.

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Jesus was very sad, but He told God that He would do whatever God knew was best.  Soldiers came and took Jesus away.  Lots of people told lies, saying Jesus had done bad things.  They decided to kill Jesus.

The next clue is with your Word friends.

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After Jesus had been beaten, He was nailed to a cross where He died.  But this is not the end of the story!  After three days Jesus came back to life again!

The next clue is somewhere cold.

———————————————————————————

Today Jesus is still alive.  He left us the Holy Spirit and the Bible so that we can learn about Him, and about how we can have a new life after we die, too.

You will find your prize somewhere warm and snugly.

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Fun on our Easter story hunt 2012.

May we all remember to delight in the joy of the Easter story, and pass it on faithfully to our children.

Leave it to God

‘[Jesus] said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”   But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.”
Luke 5:4-6

Sometimes we try and try and try to do things on our own, and they just don’t work. We try to be a good parent, or a good friend, or a good spouse, yet we fail again and again. We lose our temper, break a trust, or act in selfishness and pride. When I read this passage in Luke today it reminded me that we are nothing on our own strength – but everything with God.

Would you go back out in the boat?

I love the total faith and obedience Simon Peter shows in his response to Jesus’ command to go back out fishing. Although he acknowledges that he had already tried this on his own, he doesn’t hesitate to go and try again. I think my response would have been more along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding?! Don’t you know I’ve been trying this ALL NIGHT LONG, and there’s not a fish there! It’s not going to be any different this time. I might as well give up.” Certainly, this is how I’ve felt at times in my life.

Now, I’m not a fishing person (worms? raw fish with the eyes still in? EW!) But I have my own ‘fish’ to catch. I’m trying to get a firm hold of patience, and wisdom, and peace, and righteousness. And too many times I go fishing on my own, exhausting myself in a futile attempt to catch them by myself, believing that if I just try harder I will do it this time.

To make it more practical (since I’m a girl after my Dad’s own heart), here are some areas that I find myself slipping out of God’s strength and into my own:

  • Teaching my children to love the Lord.
  • Figuring out financial problems.
  • Trying to keep my family healthy.
  • Inspiring people close to me to love God deeply and follow Him sincerely.
  • Dealing with sin in my own life.
  • Educating my children.
  • Showing my husband support and encouragement.

Whilst there is no ‘three step plan to relying on God’, there are some things I have found that make it easier for me to remember to draw strength from Him:

  • Read the Bible regularly.  However, don’t let this become another check box on your list of things to do. Rather let it come from a heart that earnestly desires to know God more.
  • Pray with passion.  It’s easy to quickly pray before meals, before bed, or at church. This is all good, but it is no substitute for prayer that comes from deep in your heart. Pour yourself out to God.
  • Relax.  When we try to work things out for ourselves, we get stressed, fatigued and burnt out. We need to take a deep breath and look to the example of Jesus, who loved to the point of death because He relied on God. When we take the pressure off of ourselves and turn our face to Him, we find a new strength, an endless hope, and a joy to see us through.

Praise God for His faithfulness. When we offer Him the little we have, He gives us the same power that can raise the dead back to life! With Him, all things truly are possible.

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