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Monthly Archives

A settled faith

Tuesday, 11. December 2018 by Renee Ellison


A man’s dog on a disorienting voyage at sea looks trustingly at his master as if to say, “This is a crazy world and I have stopped trying to understand it. But as long as you are here with me, it can’t be too bad. The time will come when this sea and waves business will be over and then I’ll smell some pleasing normal smells and see some trees, too.

Just don’t let me lose sight of you on deck. If you do, I shall go mad yelping with a growing anxiety and doubtless soon jump overboard and sink. The sight of you is my everything.”

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The Mysterious Fires of God’s Glory

Saturday, 17. November 2018 by Renee Ellison


Wildfires are just that—wild. They are born of rebellion and rage in rebellion. The fires of God’s glory are just the opposite. They are contained fire. They defy chemistry. They don’t rage, they sit! The fire of the burning bush had no interest in leaping anywhere. It was a fire of specificity—of definition.

The fires of Elijah’s horse and chariot framed the horse and chariot with luster brighter than gold—bent on arriving and departing with it—flying on its edges.

As described in the Book of Revelation, God himself is back-lit with fire. He uses the most brilliant physical agent he can muster to express himself. He grabs from the spectrum of light what he so chooses and then furls that light around himself in a contained but alive fire.

The tongues of fire that took up momentary positions on the apostles’ heads at Pentecost scorched nothing.

The mission of Hanukkah’s menorah fire was to just keep burning, without enlargement. Contained. Satisfied.

And then we have bolts of fire that God uses to zap his altars. For centuries men built altars to God, hoping that God would ignite them with the fire of his approval. Man built and then waited. Not only Elijah, but also Cain and Abel, Job, Noah, Manoah (Gideon’s father) and Abraham looked for the fire of God. They prepared wood for the fire, yes, but God was its spark. Fire, its benediction.

Then we have the glorious pillar of fire that marches as a well-heeled soldier through the camp for 40 years, never once causing any fear. The ever near lamp post of God. “He is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my way.”

Contained fire. Most of his saints have never seen it but through the eyes of Scripture. The Almighty God, on the other hand, thinks nothing of habitually living in it, even on ordinary days. Throughout history he baptizes his greatest acts with an obedient fire. What unbridled joy he must have at those moments, when he wields a blaze of “glory-fire” for technological effect for the surprise of man. Once more we see that God speaks using everything, stops at nothing, to love and delight his mankind.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips


Tuesday, 23. October 2018 by Renee Ellison


You can never get much of anything done unless you go ahead and do it before you get ready to do it.

Our ship would come in much sooner if we’d just swim out to meet it.

Think what others ought to be like, then start being like that yourself.

Business is like a wheelbarrow—it stands still unless somebody pushes it.

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.

No farmer ever plowed a field by turning it over in his mind.

We make our future by the best use of the present.

You can’t make a hit with the bat on your shoulder.

Works, not words, are the proof of love.

There are still a few people who believe in gittin’ up and gittin, while a great many prefer sittin’ down and sittin.

After saying our prayers we ought to do something ourselves to make them come true.

The world has finally achieved perpetual commotion.

There are 4 steps to accomplishment: plan, prepare, proceed (action), persevere.

It is simply remarkable how the apostle Paul covered so much territory and accomplished so much without a car!

You cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth, and height.

You can’t get anywhere unless you start.

Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

It doesn’t do any good to sit up and take notice if you keep sittting!

Doing beats stewing.

No thoroughly occupied man has ever been known to be miserable.

Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing.

No one ever climbed a hill just by looking at it.

Happiness is a by-product of achievement.

Choice not chance determines one’s outcomes.

If you want a place in the sun, you will have to expect some blisters.

We are known by what we finish not merely by what we attempt.

Some fellows dream of worthy accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.

You can’t make a place for yourself under the sun if you keep sittin’ in the shade of the family tree.

Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievements.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Too many cooks? Tips for sharing the kitchen

Sunday, 07. October 2018 by Renee Ellison


For most homeschoolers, training our children in domestic duties is one of the skills we want to pass along to the next generation. Sparks may fly, however, when Mom and someone else are working the kitchen at the same time. Often, the clash is simply due to a difference in personalities and the fact that there is more than one way to do things. If that is your situation, you may want to try these strategies for solving the problem:

Separate your times in the kitchen. Plan it so the two of you are in the kitchen at opposite times during a day. Totally assign to one or the other the complete holiday preparation for a special holiday. This lets one of you be the Queen of your domain for a day or for a special meal, without having to go through the other one’s psyche’s to do each step. Either you totally take control and do things yourself, or your mature daughter (or son) takes over and tackles it all; you alternate back and forth. You are available in the background, in some other place, to give advice or assistance if requested. Then, rave about the other person’s accomplishments and render great respect and gratefulness for the work she or he did. You can thoroughly enjoy the meals someone else cooked—and let each other know that via lavish praise. Sometimes, especially when one person’s mind is totally occupied with other things, she may ask you to cook and she does the dishes—splitting the workload in half, but the two of you are still not in the kitchen at the same time. This can lighten your load and brighten the atmosphere of your home if the kitchen is a scene of daily conflict. For some families and multiple daughters kitchen work is not a source of contention.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Marriage is a skill

Thursday, 20. September 2018 by Renee Ellison


Marriage is a skill that we learn by doing. A good marriage is an achievement, not an entitlement. Getting married is not like falling into a kind of Disneyland or waltzing into a permanently glittering ballroom, like our culture relentlessly and erringly touts. We must learn to square ourselves with the fact that all too often our culture is obsessed with shallow trappings rather than real essences, and its pathways invariably end in disillusionment and depression.

It often takes ten years for a marriage to wake up from this delusion and settle into what a marriage really is: staying lovingly and profoundly connected with one person for an adult lifetime. God designed this relationship to be long and to require something big of us, in order for us to even begin to understand what godly love really is all about.

Faithfully staying in the game, doing the “daily round” of family duties and responsibilities, shapes and molds us far more than we can imagine. Duty is both our challenge and our learned victory. It builds within us the maturity of self-denial. And it progressively teaches us the skill of being able to marshal our wandering disparate selves into towers of intention and accomplishment.

Devotedly loving ONE, teaches us about love for ALL. And oddly, the path to such knowledge requires a continual and determined focus of forsaking all others—trading toying and flirting with what is not ours for engendering new love for the same person day after day. Fidelity becomes our hallowed path and joy. Why? because our Lord did it first towards us, showing us how to love unswervingly even unto death…til death do us part. He perhaps designed marriage so that we, too, as mere mortals, should “have a go at it”—to see what such love “takes.”

Make no mistake, God wants every marriage that He authors to “make it”—and thus He adds a good amount of appropriate and helpful glue via sexual enjoyment, shared mutual achievements and aspirations, and joint offspring from the combined DNA.

God’s glue quietly and unconsciously grows the marriage into a nice sure familiarity, too—a familiarity that breeds comfort and security. C. S. Lewis said this phenomenon can even exist with something as ordinary as getting used to the neighbor’s cat always on your property; finally the cat works his way into your emotions, against your better judgment, and you find yourself anticipating the rub against your legs as you sip tea and read on the front porch…and eventually you might even get up and feed that cat!

Applying supernatural glue is God’s part—but our part is just as vital. You build a marriage. You don’t just inherit one. And much of what the marriage becomes depends upon you. What kind of marriage would you like? Build it.

Yes, making a good marriage is a skill, just like learning to play a musical instrument. It comes with a steep learning curve. At first, everything about it is new, sometimes hard to navigate, perplexing, awkward, even unthinkable, perhaps. Playing an instrument requires lots of practice initially and a determination to stick with it, until it eventually yields a lovely sound more easily. You can either casually fiddle with your marriage (furtively wishing you could change instruments—continually rolling the idea around like hard candy in your mind) or choose to master THIS one.

Here is another helpful picture. A good marriage can be viewed as a grand junction of two roaring rivers. The two very different lives at first make a huge clashing spray (first of infatuation and excitement, but not long afterwards, perhaps in irritation and incompatibility) at the junction where the two join, but downstream become calm and steady, gentle and beautiful. So surviving the clash becomes IMPORTANT!

A good marriage can also be pictured as a fine Swiss watch, well oiled, which ticks on and on with a steady dependability. Marriage is an adventure in adjustment, ever fine-tuning our lives in light of the other one. This unknowingly gets done so well (‘tis one of God’s ordinary miracles) that eventually, in our older marriages and in our older years, even a grain of sand in the works can be noticed (hey, it’s a SWISS watch)—something a clunky, less destined clock wouldn’t even alter its clang for.

By staying in the game, we begin to see how vast another human being actually is, and that love in the last analysis has no measure. It will have to grow deep and wide to encompass the complexity of any human being. Marriage dethrones the deep-seated love and satisfaction of self and powerfully and deftly enlarges one’s own soul.

Loving endurance (i.e. commitment) is vital to marriage. That is both its context and its oxygen. It is only through love’s LONGEVITY that we finally grow to know a wee bit what it is all about. We have eternity to learn the rest of the way love works. For now, though, let’s pass THIS test. Saddle in; buckle down. None of this “eyes darting in every corner looking for a way of escape.” God’s designs are extraordinary. Trust Him. Embrace them. Do what YOU can do today with what you have.


To read more by Renee Ellison on this topic, order Wise Womanly Ways to Grow Your Marriage. Available as a bound volume, as a downloadable ebook, and in Kindle format.

Filed Under: Home management tips

There’s a place for us

Sunday, 19. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


Just as Pascal coined the phrase that “Every man has a God-shaped vacuum inside of him that is restless until it finds its rest in Him,” so, too, George MacDonald had a parallel thought that “God Himself has little human-shaped pockets in His heart designed for each and every true believer…that never gets filled with anything but us, individually.” Our heavenly Father designed us to be utterly unique and valuable to Him. No one can replace any one of us in His affections—residing in His bosom forever.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Family relationship perplexities

Sunday, 12. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


We could get some kind of idea of how complex relationships are (by God’s design, by the way) if God were to ask us questions such as (per C. S. Lewis): “How many hours are in a mile?” and “Is yellow square or round?”

Relationships are incomprehensible, yet they exist all around us in all 360 degrees. Close family relationships, especially, are what they are!

God scores a great victory when we finally move beyond mere necessary entanglement and a wing-it responsiveness to actually scratching our heads in wonder about them: “What ARE they?”, in the first place, and “Why are they in our life?” in the second place, and “Why are each of these people so utterly different from ME?”

What God is doing in and through all relational dynamics is big business with Him. He uses them in our lives for something now and for something even that is yet to be. In reference to them, He has called us to walk softly, marvel more, stay alert, and pray compassionately.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Disgruntled with each other?

Thursday, 09. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


Oh, we get so frustrated and irritated with each other. Our spouse just doesn’t “do right.” Our children don’t “do right.” Our relatives don’t “do right.” The Bible (Galatians 5:15) warns us, though, to “Take heed (`watch out!’), lest you eat and devour one another.” Our agitated thoughts can lead to a kind of “dinner” we hadn’t counted on. A wise old saint once said, “There is enough about each one of us to make us out to be either a demon or a god.”

The Bible also says (2 Corinthians 5:16), “Know no man after the flesh.” In other words, we are urged to cultivate the habit of not viewing each other’s earthly dross but each other’s heavenly dress.

At funerals, that optimal/optimizing focusing seems to happen quickly and spontaneously. We are able to see the priceless departed one in his or her redeemed state already. We find ourselves wanting to recall and pick out only the good things to speak about at that time, now celebrating the life that we know God designed and purposed for that loved one for all eternity, which was in embryo here while on earth, steadily developing.

If we were to stand on a street corner and suddenly, supernaturally, see one another as we shall be in eternity (a kind of street transfiguration!)—as if the veil had been instantly torn away from us—and see what God is making of each of us, even now, no doubt it could make us apt to worship one other! When that actual hour does come, we won’t; instead, we will worship Him for what He has made of us. If, however, we could see it in each other now, surely it would “take our breath.” Sons of God!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Words at the marriage altar: Are they sentimental promises or lifelong vows?

Wednesday, 01. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


A typical married couple who attends a wedding these days may gulp a little bit when they hear the modern made-up sentiments and promises gush across the lips of young couples…most of whom have already shacked up together for a year or two beforehand, just in case. (One might ask, “In case of what?”) And how is the Hollywood-style sentimental love that they express so dramatically going to be different, after the wedding?

Sentiments and promises can be added to the long standing well worded traditional vow of “to have and to hold, from this day forth, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, til death do us part,” but to replace the time honored well-honed wording of that vow could have some real problems. Even when couples nowadays do say this time-honored matchless traditional vow, what they actually mean, subconsciously, is, “forsaking not ALL others, I’m with you in health, and in wealth, and until it doesn’t feel so good anymore.”

Let’s think more deeply about what it is that we are actually doing here, at the marriage altar. Might the words below prove to be a better foundation to the time honored vow—at least to embrace these loyal thoughts in our hearts?

Underpinnings of a godly vow:

“I hereby commit before God and before these witnesses to plunge into this commitment to the vast unknown. I commit to circumstances and deep relational dynamics in all sorts of directions, whatever they become, of which I cannot now know or possibly imagine. Furthermore, I commit to this heretofore unknown life, for the rest of my life, with a person I barely know, and who is largely unknowable even over a lifetime, to himself/herself, let alone to me. Therein I commit myself to a specific small destiny, a specific “lot” in life, that I will not jettison, preferring another.

I will wholeheartedly accept this “lot” as God’s perfect design for my sanctification in both this life and the next. I am committing to one person, forsaking all others out of several billion possible choices, trusting God that this person was divinely brought specifically across my path at this juncture in 6,000 years of history, in this particular geographic setting, by God’s own hand, or else I would have been born in some other age and would have intersected with a different lifetime mate.

I acknowledge that to love God’s “lot” for me is to love His will for me, His version of my best self, and to submissively trust His destiny, perfected on my behalf for all time, IN the marriage, THROUGH the marriage, and BY the marriage. Only because I know YOU, God, do I have the courage to so utterly abandon myself to this commitment—for in it I commit myself afresh to You.”

Perhaps such a heartfelt commitment would send the divorce rate sprawling.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Navigating hubby challenges: Tips for wives

Monday, 23. July 2018 by Renee Ellison


It is wonderful to know that, in God’s grand design for marriage, a wife is given (via the Holy Spirit) coping strategies and intuition that are totally unique to her relationship with her specific husband.

There may be times when she is at a loss to know what to do. But in prayer God will lead. A husband may have a response to something, now, that comes from hard-wiring that happened long before she ever met him (the same is true of her wiring, too!)—wiring that began to be formed in childhood and in adolescent responses to other conditions and circumstances, far outside of the marriage relationship and the couple’s life today.

Through prayer God may simply give a wife only an enlargement of understanding of what IS—even if there are never any changes whatsoever in her husband’s behavior.

At times, however, a good wife can lovingly and delicately help her man introspect (that is part of being a gentle help-meet for him)—but it has to be when things are calm, at a time when other things are going well. As most all wives know, one can wait a long time for those more ideal moments to transpire. When they do arrive, she may be able to escort him into a little bit of introspection for his own emotional deliverances.

Her aid in helping her hubby understand the value of introspection (what do you suppose triggered that? to what END do you withdraw? what are you hoping to accomplish?), may be the first help he has ever had in being able to do that to good benefit for both of them. Whatever the area that is needful of introspection, it must be packaged for HIS advantage—how it will do HIM good. You can show him how the increased objectivity upon himself can bring more rest to his soul, increase his bonding potential with a child or two, a neighbor, you.

God tenderly wants to coax each of us in the art of falling forward into the marital relationship via conflict rather than shutting down or escaping it. To learn to “fall forward” in one’s only intimate relationship is one of the deepest things the Lord is accomplishing in the marriage relationship. It is the art of love at its zenith.

We all have miles to go in understanding love’s longevity, and love’s spaciousness for the other to just be. In this sense, marriage may be far more of a spectator sport than we realized at first. As my dad said on my wedding day, “Marriage is an adventure in adjustment!”

Here are three more tidbits to add to these thoughts:


Love doubles-down and loves anyway, loves in spite of…finds a way through the maze to be even more loving towards the spouse in and through the difficult challenge. Mature, seasoned love continually finds new ways to express itself. We can learn to rummage around inside the Trinity’s long love and discover MORE of how it acts. We can learn to experience love by expressing it at greater and more insightful degrees—to surprise the beloved that it YET comes forth and to enlarge our own souls.


Because a woman is first, last and in-between a responder (as Elisabeth Elliot pointed out), her husband’s cold-shoulder, shut-outs, or shut-downs can be very painful because she can’t help responding—she was build that way even anatomically. Therefore, the woman must pull herself out of the trenches and re-define herself as a responder to the Lord Himself, and find something there to respond to. If she can change the source of what/who she is responding to?—built up vertically—this will free her up to continue to love afresh horizontally.


....and let us not forget to be deeply grateful for what a man is. Let us be grateful for our men. Heaven help us without them. As women, we may tend to be overly confident that we have far more relational savvy (or at least elasticity), but that is not the only yardstick by which even God measures human strength (otherwise He would have made man a duplicate of woman—something women’s libbers desperately and shortsightedly think they want).

Let us be deeply grateful that our men can often pierce through to the heart of a political, church, technical, functional or even relational issue (many of our best counselors and theologians have come up with stunning leaps of insights) out of the blue, or to muster incredible single-focus to protect our nation, as our Navy SEAL teams do. Try living through just one of their days. A man is able to shut off the infinite latitude of relational sensitivity and move the domestic ship forward in quantum ways, or harness unbelievable testosterone or endurance when a crisis requires it, where perhaps the woman might be blind-sided, weakened and/or encumbered by a preoccupation with less overall significant matters at that moment.

Many ordinary godly men are marvels. Men may actually “see” life differently. Adam knew he was sinning; Eve was deceived. This is not always the case, and may seldom be the case, but if it happened once, we need to be humbled by it, and realize that it happens again and again in large ways and small in the wide, wide world; we need to respect this possibility. There may be profound levels of this. The Virgin Mary pondered all of these things in her heart, but her husband Joseph got up and took them to Egypt! Our womanly evaluation of things may not be the last word—though the dominant culture today will never tell you otherwise.

Listen to even a young man in the Lord. Down in his gizzard, he may know something you/we don’t. Sometimes we do well to sit in the bleachers and realize that life is far larger than our knowing. We do well to walk softly amidst the mysteries of the husband/wife relationship.

Filed Under: Home management tips