Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lessons That Need Repeating

I just read this blog post over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee, I just had to comment. As I read her post, I found myself thinking, "I could have written this." So, I commented and linked back to my blog.

As I was nosing around through past posts I had written I stopped on this one from August. 

Boy, I sure needed to read that again.

I needed to be reminded that God is working within me. He gives me the desire and the power to do what He has called me to do.

This is a lesson that maybe someday I will have down.

I loved the comment from The Queen Mommy in Sarah Mae's post....

“…don’t let the enemy – the defeated one – get away with his lies of insignificance and worthlessness. God made you a mama – YOUR children’s mama – for a perfectly divine purpose.”

Satan is "the defeated one" and he spews lies into our minds full of insignificance and worthlessness because he has been made insignificant and worthless by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

He has been defeated and I do not have to listen to him or believe him.

But I do need to work at believing what Jesus tells me is true.

"Christ is not weak in His dealings with you; He is a mighty power among you. Although He died on the cross in weakness, He now lives by the mighty power of God. We, too, are weak, but we live in Him and have God's power."  -- 2 Corinthians 13:3b-4

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Like a Life Giving Fountain

This morning a friend called me.

Just to say hi and to catch up on what's going on in my life.

As we talked, she made an observation about my life.

She affirmed me.

Just a few simple words.

But oh the difference they made.

Words are powerful things.

With them we can heal or we can harm.

We can build up or we can tear down.

I am thankful my friend used her words for good today.

I'm thankful she took the time to give me a call and to pour life into me today.

I have many little lives to pour into today.

May my words be life giving to them.

So encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.

-- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 --

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.
-- Proverbs 10:11 --

Kind words are like honey  – sweet to the soul and
healthy for the body.

-- Proverbs 16:24 --

A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman
tears hers down with her own hands.

-- Proverbs 14: 1 --

Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing.

-- Proverbs 12:18 --

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fresh Air and Sunshine

This afternoon I snuck outside to be in the fresh air and sunshine.


I am so thankful for the warm breeze and the blue sky today.

My friend Mary often talks about knowing what "fills your cup". Well, I think that I can definitely say that being outside in the fresh air and the sunshine "fills my cup".

I need time to sit and think, to soak up the sun and let the breeze blow away the clutter in my head.

I brought my Bible and my notebook outside with me. Those are a couple of things that also "fill my cup".

I read Proverbs 13 today and jotted down some of the verses that jumped out at me. Here are some that I wrote in my notebook:

Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything. -- vs. 3

Pride leads to arguments; those who take advice are wise. -- vs. 10

People who despise advice will find themselves in trouble; those who respect it will succeed. -- vs. 13

The advice of the wise is like a life giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.  -- vs. 14

A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person walks a rocky road. -- vs. 15

If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored. -- vs. 18

Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm. -- vs. 20

What jumps out at me from these verses is that we are not meant to do this life alone. It is very important who we surround ourselves with and to whom we listen to.

I am so thankful for the wise people God has brought into my life. I am blessed to have some wonderful advisers in my life.

So, now I'm wondering... now that I have posted this, will I be having to listen to a bunch of criticism soon? I better be careful how I handle it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thoughts on Waiting

"I wait quietly before God, 
for my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, 
my fortress where I will never be shaken."
Psalm 62:1-2

Waiting often sounds good to me.

I, unlike a few of my very good friends, am not an activator, achiever, striver.

I like to find a cozy spot and hang there.

I like what is consistent, predictable, what is expected of me.

So, if I have to wait, and I'm in a comfortable spot, I am set. I can wait as long as I need to.

But waiting isn't always like that.

In some areas of my life I have been in a type of waiting that is not comfortable.

It has not been cozy, consistent or predictable.

I have often found myself wondering what is expected of me.

This kind of waiting is hard and a place that I do not want to hang in.


This is where the Lord has said, "Shhh. Wait here. I know what I am doing. Just trust me."

Thankfully, He has given glimpses of hope, peeks at what may be to come, indications of departure preparations beginning.

There are times when I freak out and fuss and make broad declarations and start making my own plans to move. I may even take some steps out on my own.

But He knows the plans He has for me. He walks before me and beside me and behind me.

When I follow my own way, even though it looks so good and right at the beginning, it soon becomes becomes so clear that it is not His way.

So, back to the place of waiting I must go.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; 
do not depend on your own understanding. 
Seek His will in all you do, 
and He will direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

"Teach me how to live, O Lord.
      Lead me along the right path,"

Psalm 27:11

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
      no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

Psalm 34:5

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meeting Hannah

I met Hannah this morning in the quiet darkness of my sleeping home.

Yes, I have met her before... I think the first time she was a paper figure kneeling on a piece of felt in a Sunday School room that smelled of crayons and fruit punch.

I knew that she prayed to the Lord and asked for a son.

And He gave her Samuel.

And then, she gave him back.

That always scared me a bit when I was a little girl. I imagined being dropped off by my mom at this dark and cavernous place with an old priest and voices in the night.

It scares me now as a grown woman who has children. Could I give one back to the Lord? Could I give them all?

This morning I feel like I got to know her a little better. She became more flesh than paper to me today. More real.  

She was one wife of two.

She had no children. The other wife had at least two, if not more.

Her husband loved her, but he didn't understand her.

She had deep pain.

She was laughed at, and taunted.

Her husband thought that she should be happy that she had him. (How's that for an ego trip?)

When her sorrow got too much, too heavy to bear, she finally went alone before the Lord and cried out to Him for help.

She made a big promise.

She was looked down on while she was praying and even thought of as being drunk by the priest.

When she told the priest why she was there and what she was doing, he heard her and believed her.

The priest gave her hope.

And Hannah walked out in faith, believing that she was heard and that she would receive what she prayed for.

Her faith changed her outlook and her behavior.

And she gave birth to a son.

I was blessed to meet Hannah this morning. And the world was blessed because she took her pain to the Lord and because He granted her request.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

He hears me!

I sat out in the coolness of the morning and laid my heart out before the Lord. I've been feeling unsettled, unsure of what I was to be focusing on, not sure what direction to take.

I told Him about that.

It wasn't pretty, or well said.

But I told Him.

It happens this way almost every time.

I guess I expect to get an immediate response. Like an owl flying up with a letter from God in its talons or something. But that never happens.

But He hears.

He always does.

And, almost every time I cry out to Him, He gives me an indication that He heard.

Within the day.

That happened today.

Two very clear indications to me that He heard me.

Direction came.

"I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayer." Psalm 120:1

But the most important reminder came while I was still outside sitting alone with Him.

I had been wondering what I should be focusing on.

The answer came immediately....

Not what, but Who.

Once again, He had to gently take my chin in His hand and direct my gaze back to Him.

Thank you, Lord.

I need to keep looking up, not around.

That's when my way remains clear.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face, 
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Now and The Not Yet

The song in the video above came flooding into my mind this morning after I was reading in Philippians and then went on to have a great conversation with my friend Mary.

I love it so much when God uses many different ways to show me something that He is wanting me to learn. He used Philippians 3:7-14 to talk with me about being careful not to judge others for where they are on their journey with Him. This thought continued as I was talking with Mary this morning. We each were sharing different things we are learning and doing in our lives, and we came to the realization that some of the things we are learning could only come through time and mistakes and getting up and trying again. It would be so much easier if someone could have just told us what we needed to learn and we immediately mastered it, but, most lessons need to be learned the hard way --- living through them, making the mistakes, trying one thing and failing and trying another and seeing it work.

I am seeing that I need to be very careful once I have learned something new in my journey with Jesus. I find that it is so easy for me to fall into judging people around me when they have not yet been taught the lessons I have learned. I find myself feeling more "spiritual", more "mature", "more than" them. YUCK!!!

What a dangerous and horrible place to be.

Paul, THE apostle Paul... didn't consider himself as "more than". He saw that even he had not arrived yet.

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be." Philippians 3:12

It is so easy for me to spot the mistakes, the flaws, the "less thans" in others. To laugh and put myself above them in my mind. But that is so wrong!

I am NOT "more than" anyone!

We are all on this journey. We all are pressing on to the end of the race, to the prize at the end.

Some started their journey at a different place than I did. Some have fallen down and need a helping hand up. Some need a friend to cheer them on as they push through the pain to keep going.

They certainly do not need someone standing on the sidelines yelling at them that they are doing it all wrong.

The other day I went to my friends' daughters' cross country meet at a local park. As the girls ran past in the pack, I cheered along with her parents when she ran by. As the race went on, I watched as her dad ran across the park to get to where she was heading. He waited there for her to come by and as she was pushing on toward the finish line, he shouted encouragement to her. "Keep going! You can do it! You can do this!"

We all need encouragement to press on, to keep going.

I know I do.

And I want to be that encourager for others in my life. I want to be standing there cheering my friends on to keep going, not telling them that they aren't doing it right.

We are no longer what we were before, but we are not all that we will be.

I want to keep that in mind as I walk this journey, for myself, but also for others.

"No, dear friends, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven." Philippians 3:13-14
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." Hebrews 10:24
"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Removing What Gets in the Way - Pt. 2

I realized something today.

I am being distracted. There is something in the way of understanding, communication, connection.

But it is going to take a lot more than just a shift of my position so that I can clearly see.

I realized that I have a log in my eye.

A big one.

It's more like a tree.

I think it is big enough to have roots that go way down deep, circling my heart. It definitely affects the way I think.

Because of this log, I do things that I do not want to do (Romans 7:14-24). I judge, I am critical and hurtful with my words. I am impatient and unforgiving and selfish (Luke 6:37-38).

Oh how I need this log removed from my eye.

It's a good thing I know the Gardener.

Lord, please remove this log from my eye. Pull the roots from my heart and mind. Restore my sight so that I may see as You see. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Removing What Gets in the Way

"...seeing well is the art of subtraction.
Shift to see. This is the art of subtraction."

-- from Ann Voskamp's blog post "Fine Art of Subtraction" at Holy Experience

So often I am distracted by the extras. Too many things get in the way — block my view from the realness that is there — the truth. Too often I focus on the clutter — the things that irritate, annoy, anger. What lies beneath is the treasure — what is real, what is vital, what belongs. In my rush to get rid of the clutter I trample over the tender shoots — blocking the way once again to connection, relation, understanding.

To shift I must pause.


Carefully move my position to remove the distraction.

Change the way I think.


"Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." 
Philippians 4:8

"Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."
Romans 12:2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Worry.... Be Happy (Ha!)

I'm sorry about the title of this post... do you have the song running through your head now? I know I do. But it's not that easy, is it. To just stop worrying and immediately BE HAPPY! Yeah right. Not this girl. I tend to go from not worrying, to maybe fretting occasionally while trying to be happy and then back to worrying again. So how do I get from worrying to being happy? Do I just imagine the worry just blows away --- Poof?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6

What about a grouchiness? Can I substitute the word complain in this verse? Is that re-writing God's Word?  Today I am feeling rather grouchy instead of fretful or full of worry.

Ann V. at Holy Experience has been humbly sharing her journey of gratitude and the fruit that it has been producing in her life. She is so beautifully modeling how to take the time to purposefully stop and thank Him for all that He is and does.

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

It is so ingrained in me to think about what irritates me or is ugly, what is wrong, what I don't like.

Fix your thoughts... Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Philippians 4:8

I need to make an effort. I need to choose to fix my thoughts on what is pure and lovely. They are here, those beautiful, undeserved gifts. Because He is here. He is always here.

I must choose to see them. As I lift each one and examine it, soak it in, whisper thanks, then peace is experienced. The peace that is always there, because He is always there.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

So I will begin to put into practice fixing my thoughts on what He has done and thanking Him, searching for evidence of His presence, His touch, His breath.

I give thanks for:

1. The cool crispness in the air.

2. Glorious blue October skies.

3. My daughter's blue fuzzy slippers warming my toes.

4. Philippians 4:6-7

5. The sounds of my children energized by the fresh fall air.

6. The sacredness of fellowship around the table with fellow followers.

7. Baby fascination with sock covered toes.

8. A borrowed camera to play with.

9. A bagel hot from the toaster slathered with cream cheese.

10. The opportunity to join the journey of gratitude.

Will you join me in this journey? What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where does my help come from?

Tension was settling in on my shoulders, my back, my mind.

The questions that come at times like this started rolling around in my head.

What am I doing wrong?

What do I need to change?

Am I doing enough?

Maybe I need a schedule....

How does she do it? Or what about her?

Their family seems to have it all together, they look happy in their craziness...  how do they do it? Maybe I should ask them....

Last night I was practically marching from one task to another, almost desperate to get each one done, knowing that there was one more to do, and then another. Why is there a part of me that almost seems to enjoy that feeling... the feeling that only I can do this, and "whoa is me! I have so much to do!".... And all the while my tension grew. Relief did not come through accomplishment. Huh.

Quietly You tapped me on the shoulder this morning. You, once again, reminded me that I was looking in the wrong place for relief, for help. That's all it took. Your quiet, gentle reminder. But this stubborn ewe sheep of yours didn't come quickly or easily.

Written thoughts on my journal page became my prayer, my turning my face to You. Thank you for drawing me back, for so patiently, gently reminding me that You are all I need. Ever. You are enough.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Bread Analogy

I bake bread.

3 to 6 loaves a week.

Every week.

What picture does that bring to your mind when you read that?

What kind of person do you think I am because I bake my family's bread?

Do you know what recipe I use? or what equipment I use or don't use?

How about how often I bake bread?

Does any of that matter?

So, why am I rambling on about making bread?

Well, it seems to be a good analogy for a couple of different struggles I have had in my life.

I have struggled with my calling to be a homemaker.

You see, I had a picture in my head that I thought was the "right way" to be a homemaker.... the Biblical way, maybe, but for sure the "right way".

This homemaker that lived inside my head and did everything "right" had the perfect schedule that she used to make sure that every little chore got accomplished. She went about her chores happily. She loved to bleach the grout around her bathtub and mop her floors. There was never dust on her bookshelves and her living room got vacuumed every other day.

And this is big... her husband NEVER had to do any housework!  Because homemaking was her job! And if her husband mopped the floor, that would certainly mean that she was a failure as a homemaker. That's what it says in the Bible, right?

(well.... no, not really...)


The reality is that I can never live up to that picture in my head.  Maybe one day, when I don't have 5 kids at home with me all day, every day, I will look something closer to that picture... but definitely not at this stage of my life. And you know what? I don't want to look like that picture anyway!

Then there is my other major life struggle... how I walk out my relationship with Jesus in my every day life.

There always seemed to be these hidden "rules" in my head or they were suggested by others as the "right" way to live the Christian life. Ways to serve, ways to worship, ways to "do church"....

OK, so all this stuff has been rolling around in my head. And the Lord has been showing me so much as I have grown in my relationship with Him... showing me what is true about my struggles. And I so wanted to share them here, but I wasn't sure how to do that.

That's where the bread comes in.

A lot of my friends bake bread.

But not one of us does it exactly the same.

And that is where God brought me one of those "Ah Ha!" moments.

I started thinking about this...

Those of us that bake bread each do it the way that fits us best.

We use different recipes. (or modify the recipe to suit us)

We bake at different times.

Some grind their own grain, others buy their flour at Publix.

Some hand knead their dough, others have Kitchen Aid mixers or Electrolux mixers from Switzerland...

All these differences, but at the end of it all, we all are baking bread!

There is no one "right" way to do it.

And that is what is true about being a homemaker, a homeschooler,  a wife,  a Christian. (and so much more) There are no lists in the Bible that lay out what a Christian homemaker does every day. (Nope, not even Proverbs 31!) There are no lists that detail out how we are to live for Jesus every day. At least none that start with rising before dawn to have a quiet time and end with serving in the nursery every Sunday. (smile)

For me there is so much freedom in this realization. And there has been joy in the discovery of how I have been made to do what God has called me to. I don't have to be anyone else. Just who He made me to be.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Come and Live

I've been going through the motions, again.

Do you ever do that?

Do what you know you should do....

But you just don't feel it.

I've been doing that.

When this happens I never see it coming, but life just takes on an Eeyore shade of grey. It all stays right in the middle, no big highs, no big lows. Just blah.

For a while.

But it doesn't stay there. It starts to go down. More and more negative thoughts creep in. Grey starts turning charcoal.

Thankfully, out of nowhere, light breaks through a crack in the dullness. A word, a song, someone's thoughts in a blog post.

Like a refreshing drink of water, Light returns and restores my mind, my heart, my soul.

Restores my sight.

Things that once seemed unchangeable, heavy, too big, are now full of new possibilities.

My heart has heard You say, "Come and talk with Me," and my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming!" Psalm 27:8

You call me to come. You whisper truth to my heart. Thank you, Lord.

"Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?" Galatians 3:3

Is that why everything was turning sour? Becoming too hard? Feeling like chains around my wrists?

" according to your new life in the Holy Spirit." Galatians 5:16

I am not meant to do this on my own, in my own strength. None of it.

My job is to depend, serve and equip. -- Jeff VanVonderen

"I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me." John 6:57

Monday, September 21, 2009


Coins given to a sister from a generous heart. 

Lord, You want me to be generous.

You are generous.

You left behind all your riches to become very poor for my sake. Your poverty has made me rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

You want me to give from a willing heart, not under pressure, not reluctantly. (2 Corinthians 9:5, 7)

You give me many opportunities to do good. You provide the gifts to give. You grow generosity in my heart. (2 Corinthians 9:10)

Lord, please take the little bit of generosity in my heart and make it grow. Open my eyes to the opportunities you give me to do good. Whisper in my ear, "Here is a way for you to give." Spur me on to show Your love to those you bring my way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2 Corinthians Ponderings

This morning I have been reading in 2 Corinthians. So much was just jumping off the pages at me. I was loving all the imagery that I found. Word pictures always help me to get a visual for a thought or idea and as I read these words, I could just "see" what the Lord was showing me today.

Along with the beauiful imagery I also was having this thought. For all that is true about me when I have Christ in my heart, when I am not believing what is true, when I am listening to lies and not following the Lamb, I am turning my back on these truths and pretending that they do not exist.

I am a fragrance presented by Christ to God, and this fragrance is evident to all those I come into contact with.  (2 Cor 2: 14-15) But what about when I am believing lies? What about when I am choosing sin instead of freedom in Christ? What do I smell like then? I know for a fact that it certainly isn't a sweet, pleasing aroma!

The veil that covered my mind before I believed has been removed because of my belief in Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 3:14) That veil covered my mind and caused me not to understand the truth. When I choose to sin, when I choose to believe lies, I feel like I am pulling that veil back over me and I am choosing to return to confusion and misunderstanding. I have had that "veil removed so that I can be a mirror that brightly reflects the glory of the Lord." So, when choose to pull that veil back over me, I am covering over the glory of the Lord that dwells inside me! When I believe lies, when I sin, I am hiding the glory of the Lord from those I come in contact with. I am also keeping myself from seeing His glory.

Oh Lord, thank You for all that You have done for me! Thank you for stripping away the veil that covered my mind and kept me from believing in You. Please keep me from pulling that veil back over me. Help me to believe You and what is true. Please help me to recognize when I am listening to lies. Help me to run from them and run to You. Thank you for filling me with the sweet aroma of Christ. I pray that your pleasing fragrance will be evident in my life today. Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Choosing His Strength

He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -- Isaiah 40:29-31


Worn out.

Ready to give up.

Resenting my calling.

Resenting those I have been called to serve.

I could point my finger in many directions, placing the blame for my weariness.

But You are there. Always there. You wait for me to come to You. You long to show me your compassion. Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, Oh Lord, My God.

I will wait for You.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Comforted to Comfort

Life had been crazy. Good things, hard things, bad things all whirling together. Sorrow, anger, contemplation, discussions, insights, pain, growth, stripping away, reliance, understanding. All were part of this time of testing, trial, growth. 
Then came calm. The storm had passed. Relief and rest. Ahhhh.
But now, what is this feeling of discontent, disconnection, aimlessness? What now? 
Rest is good. The calm after the storm brings relief and reflection. To remain in this place sounds so good, well deserved. So, why the discomfort? What is causing the staleness?

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."
2 Corinthians 1:4
I have been been comforted. Now I must give it away. 
During the storm I clung to the Lord. I found His arms wrapped tightly around me, holding me, carrying me, guiding me in the way to go. His Words brought Light and Life. His Spirit gave Counsel, Wisdom, Strength. 
In my emptiness I had been filled. But I have not been created to be a storage jar, to sit on a shelf filled with the goodness of God. I have been created for use by my Creator. He has fashioned me to be used for His glory... to comfort as I have been comforted. 
Fresh water comes in, fills and moves on. It has to keep moving to remain fresh. Stagnant water fills and sits and becomes poison. I must pour out what I receive. I must keep being filled and keep pouring out.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing me through the storm. Thank you for using the storm to teach me, once again, to rely on you, not myself. Thank you for bringing me comfort. Pour me out, Lord. Help me to comfort others as I have been comforted. 

This morning's reading was 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wonderful Words of Life

This morning I read a wonderful post by Sally Clarkson that was just what I needed to read. Not only is the picture she shares at the top beautiful, the clear sharing from her heart and the Word is so encouraging and affirming. To read Sally's post, click on the word "post" above.

A couple of verses that she shares in her blog post are below.  I am making these verses prayers. I so want for the words of my mouth to bring glory to the Lord and uplift and encourage those He brings into my life. Way too often my words are critical, harsh or just plain mean. I want that to change.

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. Proverbs 15:28

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of  disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple. Isaiah 50:4

It always amazes me when God brings new Scriptures to me that speak directly to where I am at. I am so thankful that we have His Word to teach us how He wants us to live. And again, I am so thankful that it is He who gives us the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. (Phi. 2:13)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Acknowledging the Blessings

Give thanks in all circumstances 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
1 Thess. 5:18

I am surrounded by blessings. They are everywhere. But when I refuse to see them, refuse to acknowledge them and give thanks for them, I am missing them completely.

This morning I had the unusual opportunity to be alone in the quiet of our early morning home. I sat and read God's Word and talked with Him, laying before Him my hurt and confusion and disappointment. I felt so weighed down by it all. And the weight just seemed to be getting greater. I just kept seeing more and more things that I am not, ways that I don't measure up or things that I cannot do. I started to despair that I had no joy and I had no idea at the moment how to get it back.

But God is so faithful.

He reminded me, oh so patiently, that joy is in me because He is in me. I just have to acknowledge it. I have to open my eyes to all that surrounds me, that He has done in me and for me, and give thanks for it.

My friend Amaryllis sent me a devotion this morning. It was not a coincidence that it spoke directly to my need. God was just making sure I got the point. Things may not be going the way I hoped or planned or think they should. I may not be doing as well as I think I should. My kids may not be who I think they should be. But, when I focus on what they are not, I miss what they are. I miss the beauty, the joy that is all around me.

I'm asking the Lord to help me to see the blessings that surround me today. And I am choosing to acknowledge them, giving thanks to my Heavenly Father who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Limits of Unbelief

I just read a blog post here that really stirred me up. Go, read it for now, and you'll understand.

After I read that and dabbed my eyes I started getting really angry. But, instead of having righteous anger like the author of the blog post my anger was directed at myself. Just this morning I have been wallowing around feeling sorry for myself because I'm tired, I have all these full of life kids that are in my life to train up in the way they should go, feed, clothe and love.... I was deep in the pit of self pity. Just this morning I had been sitting on the couch feeling overwhelmed and so unable, along with a big dose of "I don't want to".  After I read that blog post, I was mad at myself for crying for starving babies in Africa and yet not being able to love my kids and be joyful in this place that God has put me.  I was actually believing that God could not change me. I was (and maybe still am) believing that I am stuck in this selfish/self-centered existence and that I will never be the person God made me to be.

I started ranting to God about this. And somehow, His still-small voice made it through all my hollering in my head and reminded me of the verses I read yesterday in Mark.

I was reading in Mark 5 and 6.  What stood out to me at first was the first six verses of chapter six. Jesus had been teaching in His hometown and the people there could not see Him for who He was (is) but they could only remember the little boy growing up in a carpenter's home, living a life very similar to theirs. They were deeply offended by Him and refused to believe Him. Because of their unbelief the Bible says Jesus was unable to do any mighty miracles among them. Unable! Their unbelief was so strong that it stopped the Son of God from doing what He does best!

As I read and contemplated those verses I jumped back to the verses in Mark 5 about the bleeding woman who touched Jesus in the crowd and was instantly healed. Her simple faith in Jesus made her well. She believed Jesus was who He said He was and that He could do what He said He could do. Her belief unleashed His power in her life. Because of her belief He was able to heal her.

Yesterday, as I read those verses and even wrote some of them in my journal, I asked the Lord to show me if there were places in my life where I was harboring unbelief. Even as I am typing this, I am realizing that He heard that prayer and is giving me at least a part of the answer right now.

Do I really believe Jesus can change me? Do I really believe that He is my strength? Do I really believe that when He calls me He will equip me to do what He wants me to do? Philippians 2:13 (a verse the Lord is wanting me to live and believe right now -- well, always -- but He keeps bringing it to mind lately) says that "God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him."

Lately I have been believing some lies. And for me, these lies are ones that often resurface in my mind.  I have been believing and rehearsing in my mind that I can't be a mom to all these kids, that I can't handle one more argument between the kids, that if I hear my five year old repeat herself one more time I will go insane, that I am not creative enough, loving enough, good enough, able enough to do this.

And I think, that just for a minute or two after I read the blog about the starving African babies, I was offended by God. I had Him in a box... at least in my life. Sure, He's able to send the blog author to Africa and enable to love and serve her own family as well as sick and starving children in Africa, but me? Change my heart toward my calling? Yeah right! I might as well put on my robe and go live in ancient Nazareth with the scoffers in Jesus' hometown. My unbelief limits what He can do in my life.

"And because of their unbelief, He couldn't do any might miracles among them..." Mark 5:5

Please root out the unbelief in my heart. Please forgive me for not believing You will give me the desire and the power to do what you want me to do. Please help me to believe this. Please give me the desire to be the mom you want me to be.... not the mom I think I should be... and please give me the power to do it. 

Thank you, Lord for bringing all this together for me this morning and not leaving me to wallow even deeper in my self pity. 

In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just too cute

Ruthie sucks her thumb. She is my first child to do this, and I just find it to be the cutest thing ever. I may not feel that way if she is still doing this when she is 7. But until then, I will just smile and enjoy it.

Changing the Way I Think

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is." Romans 12:2

I need the way I think changed.

I can't do it.

Especially when I am choosing to listen to and believing lies.

Lord, help me to hear and believe what is true.

Please transform me.

Please change the way I think.

"Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace." Romans 8: 5-6