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

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.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

One Sinner's Hope

I bet if you're reading this you are human, and by nature of being categorized as such can sympathize with me in a certain area.  Over the course of your life, I'm willing to bet money that you've had at least one week where everything seemed to fall apart.  Got your attention yet?

This past week was perfectly riddled with imperfection -- my own imperfection

It seems that from start to finish, I managed to fail a million times within each day.  As my little list of failures continued to grow, so also did my frustration with myself and others.  From there it was one easy step to slip into the blame game.

Work, family, and relationships were all incredibly difficult for me.  Once I had struggles in one area, I let it bleed into another and build upon the other struggles that were non-existent until I let that first area infect the rest.  Craziness, I tell you!

Those are the things that threatened to undo me this week.  Every time I turned around I had a new attitude to change, a new perspective to fight for, and a new resolution to kill my terribly inward focused attitudes.

If you don't struggle with this, my hat goes off to you.  Truly.  My personal bane is my constant need to fight for a proper outlook (See?  Even "outlook" connotes looking outside of oneself) when it comes to life.  I know it's not about me, but I'm so good at forgetting.  So very, very good at it.  I think I've attained expert level.

This week has been a sad string of bloody battles that I have lost more than won.

But I have hope.  I have hope that Jesus isn't done sanctifying me.  I have hope that His plan for my life doesn't end in the despicable mire of my own sin, but rather in freedom from it that is final.  I have hope that this too shall pass.

I pray that God would continue to burn away my dross.  I know that I have quite a lot, and I'm aware that it's painful in the moment, but I also know that it's utterly worth it in the end.  And so my journey continues.

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, January 16, 2015

Numbering our Days

The smell of brewing coffee and cooking eggs filled the air.  Waiters and waitresses hustled and bustled about serving their customers cheerfully.  I looked across the table at my mom as she and I considered a portion of Scripture together over breakfast.

Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom."

As my mom shared her thoughts, I immediately saw a timeline in my head.  At birth, everyone is given a timeline that will be filled with various events and decisions, big moments and small moments.  The catch is, though, that each person only has so many years to accomplish these things before time runs out.

I thought back on my own life.  I have already spent 22 years of my timeline.  22 years that I will never get back.  How many more years do I have to complete my part in history?  Life is so fleeting, and my desire is to live with a passion for righteousness.  But have I accomplished that?  I think in some ways I have, and in a lot of ways I haven't.

If we are taught to number our days, it's as if there is a level of urgency in our lives that may not otherwise have been there.  We only have so much time left on our timeline... are we using it wisely?

I think that's where the heart of wisdom comes into play.  If we are numbering our days, doing a countdown of sorts, then it forces us to realize that we MUST live wisely.  We must decide on our priorities, and not lose ourselves in worrying over things that hold zero value.  We must devote everything we've got to a job well done, and avoid foolish mistakes and distractions as much as possible.  Time is oh so precious and therefore something that we can't afford to waste.

At the end of all things, I long to hear my Savior say, "well done, good and faithful servant."  In order for something to be done, I have to do it in the first place!  I don't want to look back on a life filled with regrets and worries over things that don't matter.  I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I was faithful with things that the Lord entrusted to my care.

Personally I believe that numbering our days should inspire us to live humbly, faithfully, and wisely.  After all, this life that we are living is not going to last forever.  So with the time that we have, let's live in such a way that we may hear, "well done, good and faithful servant."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

C'est La Vie

Today I picked up the phone in the hopes of hearing my little brother's voice.  It rang a few times before he answered.  We spent the better part of the next hour catching up on all things life.

It's amazing how quickly life can change on a person.  One minute everything's exactly how you've placed it, and the next leaves everything completely rearranged even though things were perfect the way you had them.  And yet, sometimes it takes a while for the new arrangement and it's functionality to sink in.

Over the summer, we said goodbye to the old way of life and welcomed the new.  Luke got married.  He's the first of the 11 to start a family unit of his own, and as much as I wanted to process it at the wedding or in the days following, it didn't happen.

I and several of the other older ones in the family were there for the little ones as they learned to let go of the only life they knew how to live, one where an older brother came home for holidays and summer vacation.  It was hard to watch them grapple with a change that was out of their control.  And yet, it was amazing to see how well they adapted shortly thereafter.

I was there as friends we grew up with dealt with their buddy being a married man.  I was there to help them think through it.  I was there as they recounted old memories, and I wished with all my heart I could have joined them fully.

I had wanted to cry, to miss him right away, and to wish for the days when playing cops and robbers was our highlight.  But I couldn't.  I couldn't bring myself to tears, and as hard as I tried, the memories just wouldn't come.

This past week was the first time I felt the twisting of the heartstrings that comes with the winds of change that cannot be undone.  It finally began to hit me that some of our habits as siblings will never happen again.  There are chapters in our story that we won't be able to revisit.

I can't go downstairs and expect Luke to be sitting there waiting to cook up a midnight snack.  I can't simply lace up my running shoes and go for one of our walks where we share our hearts.  I can't tune in to one of his outlandishly dramatic and hilarious tales whenever I feel like it.  Not anymore.

But I do have the memories.  And I lived to remember and soak in the moments for a reason.  Now that he's establishing his own family and coming into his new role as husband (to a fantastic sister-in-law, I might add), I may not be able to reenact the things we used to do together, but I can sit back and relive the memories that I have stored up all these years.

I've said it before, but I will say it again: life is bittersweet.  I love that I was given 20 years to make memories with my brother.  I love that while we once walked through life together as kids, we can continue to walk through life together as adults.  And I love that I'm finally able to fully enjoy this new season of life.

And you know something?  Life is a beautiful, beautiful thing.