"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." ~ Proverbs 31:30

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mornings and Monsters

 Life around the H house can sometimes be comical in the mornings.

Recently, I purchased activity trackers for my husband and I to wear in an effort to be more intentional about being active.  These trackers have a setting where they can evaluate how much sleep you're getting, as well as the quality of said sleep.  Further, you can set an alarm to go off so that only you can feel it (a quick buzz on the wrist), and without risk of waking up your partner.  That being said, my husband usually rolls over and to wake me when his alarm goes off.

Now that the important background information is out of the way, let's take a peak into what happened *this* morning.

We knew he had to be up and at it this morning to be at the church to meet a guy who was looking at the foundation.  --- As an aside, the church wall is sinking.  So that's fun.  But back to the story. ---  He also remarked how I was going to have a full day today given that last night he had listened as I rattled off a litany of things I wanted to do.  The point being that we both had things that needed doing, so we both needed to wake up and get going.

I despise mornings.  I force myself to wake up at a decent time, grab my coffee, spend time with the Lord, and go about my business... but I hate them.

I haven't slept well in a long while due to various aches in my joints.  This has been due more or less to pregnancy.  I often toss and turn, which means that my poor husband also hasn't been getting high quality sleep of late.  I feel bad, I really do.

This morning, I was in an odd awake-asleep-dead tired-but all too aware of my surroundings state.  My husband's alarm apparently went off.  I was aware of him getting up and leaving the room, but thought he was coming back to bed.

Then I heard his shower start.
Then I got grumpy because he didn't wake me up like he was supposed to.
Then I looked at the clock and got even grumpier.

Did he not hear me clearly last night when I told him of all that I wanted to do today???  I had to get going.

I was sorely tempted to waltz into the bathroom and tell him how disgruntled I was that he didn't wake me, when I thought better of it and marched into the kitchen to turn on my coffee pot instead.

This was God's grace on our marriage.

As I waited for my coffee to percolate, I considered climbing back under the warm comforter and starting my quiet time.  But it hit me that that might be a selfish thing to do (trust me, in this case it would have been), so I made my husband breakfast instead.

Um, that doesn't make any sense, you might be thinking.  I know, I know.  But even in my grumpy mood I didn't want to send him off to work without a hot meal.  It's been especially cold and damp this past week, so I wanted him to know I had still been thinking about him.

It was then, and only then, that I talked to him and said, "gee, thanks for waking me up this morning!  You have breakfast waiting for you when you're finished."  I assure you, it was said with a light-heartedness that I had not been feeling earlier.  He laughed and laughed when he heard my side of the story.  "I knew you hadn't slept well last night, so I was trying to let you sleep!"  "Yeah, well, I decided to love you instead of light into you.  So there's that," was my still-slightly-miffed-but-warming-to-him response.

We had a good laugh together.  I was then able to proceed with my quiet time in better spirits and a better conscience than had I done so before deciding to kill my selfish, grumpy, morning self and put him first.  I'm so thankful that I married a man who will care for his monster wife in the mornings.   She definitely doesn't deserve it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Reclaiming Joy

Seasons come and go.  We all know this, but it's harder to remember that when we're in the throws of an especially tough one.  Last year was an especially tough one for me.

There were a lot of changes that went down.  If you know me at all, then you know that change and I do not necessarily get along very well.  Oddly enough, I myself had forgotten this, and I let those changes effect me in negative ways.

Fast forward to November, I finally realized that I needed to get my act together.  No more letting a little friction in a relationship get me down for the whole day/multiple days.  No more thinking poorly of circumstances that I couldn't change yet had to live with.  No more complaining, bad attitude, or long-term frustration.

No more.

This year I began a thankfulness journal.  I'm only a month in, yet the effect of such a practice has been, in short, reclaiming joy.  Now whenever friction arises between me and another, I thank Him for the way in which resolution was reached and/or the love that was expressed through working out a problem with others.  Other times, I thank Him for family, church members, my dear sweet husband,  cheesecake, a new-to-my-family car, gorgeous weather, etc. 

Everywhere I look there are things in abundance for which to be thankful.  The result has been an improved mood, joy inexpressible, and the ultimate sense that God is weaving together from the faded threads of my life a beautiful tapestry that displays the furtherance of His kingdom here on earth.  I love life again, and I have less shame to grapple with.

I feel as though I'm able to learn and grow again.  My daily devotions have a renewed life about them.  The Lord has been showing me His faithfulness and goodness, even in the hard seasons of life.  He is showing me that it's pointless to try to fix my life/mood/reactions myself, and that it is worth everything to entrust them to Jesus' safe keeping.  I'm no longer anxious, angry, or frustrated.  I have joy and peace.

Today is the final day of January.  I did not begin my journal til the second week of the month, but I tried to add to it on an almost daily basis.  Already I have accumulated 45 things in the month of January for which I could praise the Lord; 45 things in such a short span of time.  I cannot wait to see how God will show Himself worthy of praise in the coming months.  He is good.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
 ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Learning to Relate

Have you ever been thrust into a situation where you had to work among people who found it hard to relate to?  Like, really hard to relate to?

Let us take a quick look at the community in which my husband currently pastors.  Drugs are a big deal out here, which means a lot of mental problems for whole families.  There are a lot of broken families.  It is a very poor area.  Those who have hit on hard times out here have really hit on hard times.

As a way to involve myself in ministry, I agreed to teach the 1st-6th graders on Wednesday evening.  Given the size of our church (anywhere from 50-65 regular attendees on Sunday morning), I never know if kids will actually show up on Wednesdays.  I could have zero kids, or I could have six kids.  Each week is different, and there is no such thing as advance warning.

There are a couple of different crowds who tend to show up.  One consists of well-mannered, sweet brothers who are interested in learning and listening to what I have to say.  The other crowd is, to put it quite simply, not.

Let me briefly describe the background of this other set of kids.  They come from broken homes, have less than ideal living conditions, and are rough around the edges.  They would much rather play than listen to the lesson, and they have very little Bible knowledge whatsoever.

I confess, whenever I hear them outside in the church parking lot, I pray fervently for grace and lots of love to show them as I gear up for what I know is going to be the longest hour of my week.

This Wednesday, I found myself praying over and over again, "Oh, Lord, please help me love them," as I felt the frustration rising within me when I had to tell them yet again to put the stapler away and pay attention.

It's hard to love someone who isn't just like me.  It's hard to be understanding and have grace for where they're coming from if their history isn't similar enough to my own.  And yet, I am called to do hard things.  Loving those who don't look just like me is specifically something I am called to.

Matthew 4:47 says, "And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"

That's a high standard to attain when it seems you have absolutely nothing in common with the people with whom you are interacting.  But attain it we must, for the very next verse tells us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. (vs. 48)

I come from a big family with parents who love each other and have remained married for the past 30 years.  I was taught from birth to love Jesus.  Every week, my family went to church to learn, and were then quizzed on what we learned on the car ride home.  Every.  Week.

When I have this rougher crowd in my classroom on Wednesdays, I have a really hard time relating to them.  We have practically nothing in common aside from the fact that we are all created in the image of God, and that He is gracious to all of us.  I didn't get to pick my background, family, living conditions, etc., and neither did these kids.

It is imperative to remember that we are all the same before God.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  We are flawed, broken members of the human race in desperate need of love.  We have very stark outward differences, but inwardly we are all the same.

And so, even if I spend my Wednesday evenings trying my hardest to get those kids to stop getting paint on the table, or to not throw bean bags at each other, this could be the most meaningful hour of my week.  They may very well not be recipients of Christ's love at home.  If I can meet them where they're at and be gracious and loving, then it is an hour well spent.

Oh, Lord, transform my heart and attitude

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Starting the New Year off Right

On this day, I have found myself being thankful for various seemingly small things.

I'm thankful for laundry to fold, because it means my family has clothes to wear
I'm thankful for dishes to wash, because it means my family has food to eat
I'm thankful for a house to clean, because it means my family has shelter
I'm thankful for old vehicles to maintain, because it means my family has transportation
I'm thankful for illness, because it shows me that my husband loves me when he does various chores that are usually mine so that I don't have to today
I'm thankful for cold weather, because it means there is a God in heaven ;)

These are just a few of the things I've been meditating on and thanking the good Lord for today.  Thinking on these things has the ability to calm an anxious heart and allows me to enjoy today for today.  :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sanctification and God's Great Love

Sometimes life is all rainbows and unicorns, but more often than not it's a tough season in which many of us find ourselves.  Lately it seems as if nearly everyone is in a period of serious growth.  This growing, though a means of achieving richer, fuller lives, brings with it much pain.  It's uncomfortable and often makes us want to throw in the towel and say, "enough!"

Over the last several months there have been several in my life, including myself, who are dealing with growing pains.  Sometimes it feels as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes, we see glimmers that alternate between being nearer to us and farther off depending on the day.

The pain is very real, but I would like to offer a bit of encouragement.  God uses difficult trials to mold our character into something that better reflects His glory.  It is through difficult times that we should be praising God for His constant care for our lives.  Does that make the pain any less?  Not always.  But sanctification should bring to mind that God has not forgotten us by any stretch of the imagination.  Rather, He is very much actively involved in the minutest of details in our lives.  Yes my friends, He cares that much.

When we look at it that way, how can we help but to recognize His love for us?

I often have a difficult time resting in the love of Jesus.  I know it's there.  I know it's real.  But my emphasis has always been on His discipline in my life.  However, it is wrong for me to separate His discipline and His love.  The two go hand in hand!  Being the loving Father that He is, how can He see poor behavior or a faulty mindset and not correct it?  It is challenging for me to see the loving side of His character.  When I'm going through an intensely trying period where I know I have character flaws that are being corrected, I sometimes have to make myself pause and see His great, steadfast love.  When I take the time to do that, I am humbled.  The God who did mighty works in the Bible is alive and well and still working with His people, not once leaving them to their own devices.

Do you not see how the sanctifying trials that God is leading you through today are expressions of His love?  He desires that we become more like Him.  Our sanctification is how He makes that a reality.  

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, "But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."

Be encouraged today.  If you're going through a sanctifying trial right now, take a moment and meditate on the reality that God does not yank you around but that He has a very defined purpose behind having you walk through the fire.  He loves you and wants you to be like Him.  That is His heart's cry for His people.  He wants us to be holy as He is holy.

Take heart and know that you are hidden deeply in His love.  There is no escaping it.

Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Rest in that today and be refreshed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hope in the Midst of Darkness

94 Lord, God of vengeance,
    O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
    repay to the proud what they deserve!
Lordhow long shall the wicked,
    how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
    all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
    and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
    and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
Understand, O dullest of the people!
    Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
11     the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
    that they are but a breath.[a]
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
    and whom you teach out of your law,
13 to give him rest from days of trouble,
    until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
    he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous,
    and all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who rises up for me against the wicked?
    Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17 If the Lord had not been my help,
    my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
    your steadfast love, O Lordheld me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
    those who frame injustice by statute?
21 They band together against the life of the righteous
    and condemn the innocent to death.[b]
22 But the Lord has become my stronghold,
    and my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity
    and wipe them out for their wickedness;
    the Lord our God will wipe them out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Grace is Sufficient

My grace is sufficient for you

How often have we as believers heard those words?  I'm sure that many among the conservative homeschool crowd have embraced their pioneer wannabe-ness and slapped it on a sampler of some sort as they learned how to cross stitch.  Sorry.  I felt the need to throw that in there.  :P

How many believers know the context of this verse?

Aha!  Ok, now we can have a real discussion about real life applications.  Boom!  Excited yet?  I sure am!  Alright, let's dig in...

My last post was focused on how poor my attitude had been of late.  And as I'm well aware, this is the one lesson that I have to continually revisit.  But I went to a speech and debate tournament this past weekend!

What in tarnation does that have to do with diddly squat?  Please. Allow me to explain.

I judged many different speech categories while I was there.  Among these was apologetics, where the students have 4 minutes to prepare a 6 minute speech for the judges.  One young lady worked 2 Corinthians 12:9 into her speech, and she did a phenomenal job of applying it correctly.

The context of the verse is that Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, so to speak, to keep him from becoming conceited.  That is, he had a weakness that he pleaded to be removed from him three times.  God's answer?  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  To which Paul responds, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

For the first time in my life, I heard that verse as a rebuke of sorts.  God leaves no room for question.  That's it.  His grace is what we get.  But if we realized how much grace we're surrounded in, I think perhaps we'd have the understanding that of course His grace is sufficient!  How could we possibly desire anything else?

And with that perspective, it doesn't matter what terrible task we've been commissioned with, what job we're working, how many unlovable people we find in our lives, or what sort of place we may be living in.  His grace is sufficient, because at the end of the day, it's really not about you anyway.  It's all about Him.  And it's through those dreaded instances that He makes something that looks more like Him in you.

But that takes a right understanding of what grace is in the first place - unmerited favor of God

I think if I spend a decent amount of time reminding myself of God's grace, what it is, and how it changed/is changing my life, I would never complain again of anything else.  That is what is key to a right attitude.

Oh God, help me begin to understand how much grace you offer and how truly sufficient it is.