Monday, December 27, 2010
Teens have been giving me a run for my money. Holiday busy-ness has tried to steal my joy. Marriage has not been "roses and daisies" of late, and more than anything- I keep choosing to worry rather than pray. Terrible place to be.
As I was hurrying to work this morning, God reminded me of Martha. You remember her- the sister who gave Martha Stewart her name? (Not really- but you know you always think of it too.) Luke chapter 10:38-42 shares her story. Let's recap:
Jesus and His homies rolled into Jerusalem and had a sweet little lady named Martha, invite them to dinner. The home was comfy and clean, and Martha's sister Mary was so excited to have Jesus there! She sat down right at the Lord's feet- enthralled by every word He spoke. Martha, on the other hand, was setting the table, cooking the roast, rolling out the dough, cutting vegetables, making punch and setting up 3 big, beautiful pies for desert. She didn't hear a word Jesus said- but she certainly had some choice words of her own to share with her stinky, slacker sister! She was completely distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. At last, Martha came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here (on her fat, lazy tail) while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me!!!”
But Jesus looked at her and said, "Martha dear- you are WORRIED about all these DETAILS. Just details, love! Stop trippin' and realize- there is only one thing worth being concerned about. What I have to give YOU. Mary had figured this out, and no one can take it from her."
(Please don't be horrified by my liberties in story telling- go read the actual story. So much better. My version is just what comes out after I have read it. :)
I have always read this and been like "Well, sure. But all you all's bellies would be EMPTY if it wasn't for MARTHA!" Even in this story, I get hung up on the details. But today God reminded me that- whether Peaceful Mary was learning at Jesus's feet (sitting on her butt with idle hands, btw) or Joyful Martha was learning in the kitchen, listening to her Lord's words as she kneaded the dough- BOTH could have been more concerned about the "one thing worth" thinking about.
That was the key- to have the willing and teachable heart. Whatever your bent is. A pastor said today "Worry STRANGLES the divine perspective." As Martha focused and stressed on how to get the "big dinner" on the table and her pats on the back for being Betty Crocker, she missed the best thing. Jesus was in her home- letting her SERVE HIM. Oh, fix my worrying heart, Lord! I want to see people, the world, LIFE- from Your Perspective! I like being Martha- doing, doing, doing. But don't let me be so distracted by the worry, that I miss the essential things. Or give myself a coronary. I don't want to be "strangled" by the concerns of this world..when in the end, you work it all out just right anyways.
So good for me today, and I hope it comforted you too- whether you are Mary, Martha, or some where in between. Hang out with me in Luke tonight, and see what else God has for you.
(And I did make a new reminder sign for the kitchen- "Clean enough to be healthy. Cluttered enough to be happy." My family will appreciate it if I was a little LESS OCD.)
"When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. " Psalm 94:18-19
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People need help but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
(A sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan- a children's home in Calcutta)
God bless you with a motive like that, friends!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I hate to admit that I totally get this girl but I do. Taking matters into my own hands and being impatient comes naturally to me. Surprised, right? ;)
I was not in the mood for a lesson from the righteous today. And God reminded me of Tamar. (There are a few Tamar's in God's Word, but this chick has my heart.) The best thing about this story is the evidence of God's grace. Judah was a jerk, Tamar was a lonely woman who decided to do something about it- and yet they both get to become part of the lineage for Jesus- our wonderful Savior and the Son of God! Back up with me and read Genesis 38. (I always forget to mention, if you don't have your own Bible-message me. I have a pile and would love to send you one! And for now, you can look up the passage at www.biblegateway.com)
Tamar married the wrong dude, then due to their really whacked out heritage rules, she gets pawned off to the brother, then she gets promised if she waits- she will get to marry the youngest brother when he comes of age. Yeah- I know. Gross beyond gross, but that's how they swing it back then. (Her husbands kept dying off because they were "evil in the sight of the LORD". I wonder if she was glad- she was the one who had to live with their EVIL!)
Anyways, things just got worse for her after that. She waited alone for awhile, and Judah, her father in law, never kept his promise to give her the next little bro for a husband- even though he was old enough now. I know it sounds weird, but imagine the situation as a woman in a culture where your only worth came from marriage and the production of sons. Tamar had no hope of that now, and no hope of being a part of the lineage of her people- Abraham's descendants.
What she does next is just gnarly- I can't even TRY to describe it. Read Genesis 38:13-19...I'll wait.
Yeah- wow. Can you even imagine the desperation that it would take to bring a "good girl" raised in the strict fashion of the Hebrews to do this? WOW. That's like trash t.v. unstaged!
The best part is yet to come, as always! Good ol' Judah has still got some live ones- Tamar gets pregnant with that one shot. Yep. Now there is going to be trouble! When Judah finds out his daughter in law is pregnant, he gets all self-righteous and says "Off with her head!" (Well, not really...but I have been watching too many old movies lately.) Clever Tamar then sends him back his seal and staff to prove who Daddy is...big OOPS for Judah.
NOW is the best part- for once in his life, Judah does the right thing. Judah owns up to his sin, and declares Tamar more righteous than he. He recognizes that she just forced him into doing the right thing- providing her first husband (and his first born son) an heir to carry on the family name.
Reading commentaries about this- was Tamar right, should she have gotten what she wanted, what about Judah?Blah, blah, blah. The insight from this passage can go on and on but the beauty and point I think- is the GRACE of GOD.
In spite of it all, God provided for Judah, Tamar, and for US. You see, one of the twin boys this couple produced becomes a direct ancestor to Jesus. Romans 5:20 says it so beautifully, and I needed this comfort today:
"The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more..."
What a lesson! Sin never wins, hurts won't always rule our minds and and in the end, God's Grace will always be more than enough. Oh, hallelujah! Who knows? Maybe this life lesson in chapter 38 was one of the changing factors for Judah. Where he once sold his own brother into slavery (Genesis 37), he than became the man who stood before Egypt's ruler and begged to be thrown into prison instead of his other little brother (Genesis 44:33) But that is a story for another day....:)
Oh, Lord, how gracious you are. Thank you for being our God and loving us like no other. If only we were all as good to one another. Help us remember Tamar and Judah, help us live cleaner and love better.
(Pretty horse, huh? Her name is Bella...)
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"Several women in the church prayer group were visiting an elderly friend who was ill. After awhile, they rose to leave and told her; "We'll do what we can to help. We promise to keep you in our prayers."
"Just do something more useful like wash the dishes in the kitchen," the ailing woman said, "I can do my own praying."
Bahahahaha! What a great joke to make me smile yesterday when I so needed it! Hope it made you laugh too. Gotta love the honesty of the elderly.
(Joke was from Mike's Funnies, a daily joke email website and the photo was from http://blog.douggreensgarden.com/garden-viewpoint/ )
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Check out the link above. Best random thoughts I have read all year. God, grant us all perspective. No matter what it takes. (Terrifying words to pray!)
"These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." Colossians 2:17
Sunday, November 28, 2010
As I haven't read any wonderful books of late and don't feel overly inspired or witty now, I asked God what I might share that would bring encouragement to your heart. He reminded me of a sermon I heard awhile back that one of our interns presented. It was fantastic and something I go back to often. It's based on Mark 4:1-20 and describes the 4 Types of Hearts. Huh? Yep. There are 4 types of hearts out there, and we aren't talking human, bovine, aquatic or otherwise. These are definitions of the "condition" of our spiritual hearts. Read through the passage with me, and then see what you think below.
Tyler, our intern, said it so much better than I can- but I will give it to you in a nut shell and pray that you will honestly evaluate where YOUR heart is right now, and ask if that is where you WANT it to be. Sometimes a painful exercise, but always a beneficial one. If you don't know what you are aiming for, you will miss it every time right?
Heart #1 : Hard Heart. This is the person who has a blatant disregard for God. This can be an open rejection for God or a passive one. The open ones I love, because at least we both know where the other stands. But the passive ones are tough. The idea is that they are "all in" when the music is good, friends are to be had, and the message is fun and inspiring. But because this person never actually pursues their own RELATIONSHIP with God, they never really get it. So sad. Their very LACK of conviction is their undoing. (Read verses 4:15)
Heart #2 : Shallow Heart. This one is soft and willing, but because they didn't dig deep- they don't build good roots. So when the "stink" hits the fan- they wither up and die. :( I think this one is the hardest to see. Because they are the ones we love so much, but can't understand why they won't read their Bibles, talk to God, find fellow believers to walk alongside- you know, the good stuff. They are the ones that when they go- you miss so much but knew it was coming. (Read verses 4:16-17)
Heart # 3 : Busy Heart. Yeah, now it gets really uncomfortable! This is the one who lets their love for God be suffocated by the "tyranny of the urgent". The important things aren't always the urgent things, you know? In the passage, these are the hearts that get so caught up going in different directions, their root system suffers too and they can never get the nutrients to truly be HEALTHY. (Read verses 4:18-19)
Heart # 4 : Open Heart. Ahhh...this is where we all wish we could be, or stay. This heart is "not too hard, not too shallow, and not to busy...It's soft and deep and AVAILABLE." Don't I wish I could say I hang out here all the time? But if I am honest- I know I tend towards the Busy Heart more than anything. Help me, Lord to be open to you. Change my heart.
Tyler didn't leave us on a depressed note though, so I won't do that to you either! He pointed us to a verse that brings that old Sunday School song to some of our minds, or just the simple comfort that you aren't alone in this.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22a That's what a person with an Open Heart looks like!
God wants to bless you with a new heart- one that is "all in" for him. How awesome, yes? And if I look at that list with my busy heart- trying to get all that "fruit" with my own strength, I suck at life. But when I look at it clearly, knowing that God will do the work, if I just soften to Him in obedience and make myself available to Him in my commitments- Woohoo! That's when we can rock this world with the love, joy, peace, patience, blah blah blah that can not be ignored!
I hope you realize today how much God wants to work FOR you, friend. He adores you. Open your heart to Him, and get to know Jesus better. There is nothing like it.
(The photos of my goombas were simply for your entertainment. All my flowers are dead, the yard is a mess from the freeze- but the most beautiful things to me are these sweet faces. God, give them all a heart after You!)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Read a story today that was so what I needed to remember. I feel like a pretty thankful person- I have a great life, with a great family and more than enough in just about every way. But at church we sang a song that made me blubber like a baby- simply because it reminded me how "unthankful" I really am. And I never want to feel that way again. Then God showed me this blog post that brought this concept home again- and all I can say is "For all you've given to me,
For all the blessings that I cannot see...Thank you lord!" It's long, but sooo worth it!
"I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.
By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.
When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.
Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.
The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.
That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.
But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.
As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.
Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor.
That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed–I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!
I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.
Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.” Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.”
We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!"
If you want to know a little more about Eddie Ogan, the author of this story- check here: http://www.mikeysfunnies.com/archive/richFamily/aboutEddie2.html
God bless you, friends. And may you use that blessing to bless the socks right off the people around you!!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I had a moment this week where all was right with the world, and it was wonderful. Busy, busy after work and school, sent my boy off to his friends and got my things to head to the barn. As I drove to pick up Jazz- who do I pass but my boy again, riding his bike down the road, head phones on, blue hoodie flapping with the wind in his hair. Of course it put a smile on my face, but as I passed him and waved out the window, my side mirror showed me a glimpse of why we mamas do what we do. I saw in the mirror the face of my boy, but finally saw that he isn't a boy anymore. My man child is growing up, half way to 16 and full of his own ideas and opinions, goals and passions. And that is a good thing. In that mirror I saw him lift up a hand to wave, and a pure, joyful smile on his face. That smile put the anxieties in my heart at ease, my faith in God strengthen and my hope for the future generations secure. That smile reminded me that God is God alone, and no matter my fears or concerns for what might, should or will happen- it is going to turn out just right, according to His great design. I will keep pushing, keep praying, keep loving and keep BELIEVING God will hold these dear ones close to Him. And I trust that the prayers I give my Father will not go unanswered, or unheard. Oh, what a wonderful moment of peace in the midst of a really tough week.
Thank you, Papa, for always being faithful to me when I am not. Thank you for moments that take our breath away at the thought of Your greatness. My peanut brain can not understand how you maintain the Universe while at the same moment bless this silly mama's heart when you know she needs it most. You, oh Lord, are a great God.
“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." Jeremiah 32:17
(Getting pictures of this guy lately has been tough, but I will persist! :)
Friday, October 29, 2010
What a whirlwind couple of weeks. Is it seriously going to be November on Monday? Time is flying way too fast lately. I guess everyone says that- but sometimes it is more true than others.
Tonight I was reminded of the Proverb: "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." 14:1
I have been struggling with balance lately, nothing new. The reason for my balance issues is my own doing though- horses. All I ever want to do is be at the barn playing with my horses, and that is not all I am SUPPOSE to do. Bah. Anyways, today I made the decision to be very self sacrificing and be home with dinner waiting for my husband...in spite of the gorgeous blue skies, fresh air and PERFECT riding conditions this afternoon. So I cleaned up after work, spent some girl time with my amazing daughter, and waiting obediently for my husband. Mmmhhhmmmm. You know where this is going. My dear man worked late, and instead of coming home, he went straight to the church to work the sound board during worship practice. Now, I could have said, oh- what a great guy, he worked late and is still willing to donate his evening to the greater good, blah blah blah. But no- I focused on the fact that he didn't CALL me to tell me that he wasn't coming home, and if he had, I could have been at the barn. Foolish, foolish woman, right? Way to tear down your own "house" (marital relationship) you have worked so hard to build up!
I often wonder why it is so easy to see my mistakes once I have already successfully made them, rather than see them and STOP before I am right in the muck again. But God is so faithful. After I apologized to my poor husband for throwing a fit, drove to the church to give him a kiss, and got to the barn for a quick horse fix, God blessed my socks off. He gave me the chance to chat with a new friend, and in that conversation- He gently reminded me that even when I blow it, I can't wreck His ultimate plan. If I had not gotten to the barn late, I would have missed out on the great fellowship I had with my barn buddy and the opportunity to share and talk about our Lord and Savior together. She and I both left feeling blessed and encouraged!
I have been hanging out in 1 Timothy this week, and God reminded me of verse 8 in chapter 4 as I was driving home from the barn. Check it out:
"Bodily discipline (physical training-will power) is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training- faith power) has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
I can try all I want to be perfect, to discipline myself to accomplish that wonderful balanced life that I dream of- the one where I am an amazing wife, a wise and wonderful mother, a gifted horse trainer, an excellent nurse and the best friend anyone could dream of. But it's never going to happen- no one can be all things for all people. And all that forced structure is of only "some value". Instead, as I choose to LOVE my God first, and that love overflows to my husband, my family, my patients, my friends...even my horses- THAT will help me to grow in "godliness" and truly find the value in all things.
Oh, thank you Lord that when I think I am being oh so cool, you remind me what a goomba I am, and still work in me and through me. Your plans are wonderful, Father.
(This is by far my favorite picture of Jazz and Freckles. He is such a "dog"! Bahahaha!)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
This week has been full of great firsts and terrible frustrations. I'd like to blame it on menopause or something, but I am just not that old yet. Drat.
Today though, I remembered how gracious God is to me. He gave me time to slow down, to talk to Him, and to remember. To remember that my purpose is bigger than figuring out how to ride my horse. My mission is bigger than how to get along with rebellious kids. To remember the "hope of His calling" and keep my eyes open for the ones who need Him NOW.
Steve blessed me with encouragement and love this week as I struggled with self-centered grief over my kiddos. They aren't any different than any other American teenager, but having been spoiled with close relationships with them, it hurts like crazy to feel those relationships be strained. Steve reminded me that God is God, and He is in control. Waking up to this man that I love this morning, this man who is my best friend, this man who I used to hate- reinforced the truth of God's power. Thank you Lord for your mercy. That you would pick me up out of the mud, wash me clean and give me a man after Your heart. Your goodness is amazing...Check out Ephesians 5 this week. Such a beautiful picture of what marriage is suppose to be like.
Jazz showed me this song and it brought tears to my eyes. May you and your beloved "dance in the minefields" together always and "kick down the doors" that try to block God's hand in your life. May you "sail in the storms" with a grin and remember that is "what the promise (of 'I do') is for"...
(When the video goes black, just click on the sentence in the middle "watch on youtube" and it will open another window.)
Lay your life down for him, sister. And watch God blow your mind with how He honors your obedience.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. " John 15:12-13
Friday, October 1, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
All I can say is....YESSSSS!! To tired to be creative, but just wanted to share some pictures of what we have been doing this weekend. God is so good...truly- He gives and takes away, blessed be His name! Nearly two years later, after giving up horses for city life and meeting the needs of the men in our lives- God has given us the opportunity to refresh our souls again! If you don't love animals, I can't really explain the joy I feel to you. But that is the only word for it. JOY. This week was full of crud, but knowing the weekend was coming and I was going to have my hands on a horse made it all bearable!
"For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O LORD..." Psalm 92:4-5
Jasmine "boosted" all the pics to make them look cool, which I love. It will make the memory of this beautiful Saturday even better. This is her horse, Freckles. None of the shots of my guy came out very well as he was a bit antsy, but I will keep trying.
Could God have given us better weather? Oh, He is gracious!
Jasmine had this sour ol' school horse in her back pocket within 48 hours. She is amazing!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I have a feeling that like her other book this one is going to be read nationwide so I thought you might actually like to read a biblical minded reviewer's thoughts. Here's the link:
This really frustrated me today because I know this idea is rampant in our society and it is so sad. The premise of The Secret was basically that you could affect/cause the things you want to happen through positive thoughts. The author calls it the "law of attraction". How she has the right to make up laws of the natural world is beyond me- considering she doesn't have a PHD behind her name or any experience AT ALL in physics, chemistry or biology. But hey- that's just me. The Power is what drives "the Secret"- the force behind getting everything you want. And she defines that as LOVE.
Here's a quote from her book:
"If you believe that your body will deteriorate with age and that disease is inevitable, you are giving out that belief, and the law of attraction must return it to you clothed as the circumstances and state of your body and health.” WOW! Now we know the true secret to living forever! I am not making this up. This is what our buddies Oprah and Ellen are toting as a must have!
So if I want to fix the starter on my truck, I just need to LOVE that starter until it starts working again? Hmmmm...in reality though, here is a clip from Tim Challis article that shows the devastating world view this kind of thinking can develop:
"What happens when bad things come? We have nowhere to go but introspection; no one to blame but ourselves... I read recently of the systemic rape in an African nation—thousands of women raped, many of them repeatedly, as soldiers march through their land, are chased out, and return again. It’s horrifying and nauseating. And the law of attraction can explain it only by saying that these women brought about their own rape by thinking negative thoughts. They were afraid of rape and therefore they were raped. When the armies of drugged-out, terrorized young boys came marching through their land, these women felt fear and negativity and brought rape upon themselves. Do you really want to believe this? Unbelievably, Byrne even quotes the book of Job as she goes. Job! Didn’t she read to the end? How on earth could an honest reading of Job do anything but convince people of the folly of her brand of reasoning."
So if you are single, it's your fault. If you are poor, it's your fault. If you got cancer, it's your fault. If your daughter died last night in a car crash, it's your fault. If ONLY you had thought 51% more positively, none of that would have happen. ARGH! How dare someone write this, and how dare someone else PUBLISH IT!
Ok, I am done- I'll behave. Needless to say, I didn't plunk down my 20 dollars for this waste of paper. But I did fume over it for a bit and then went back to my Bible to remind myself of the truth. Sorry the sarcasm is coming out in my post...I am still working on it. ;) But I pray that you take the time to read the complete review and educate yourself on what your friends and neighbors might be reading. If the topic comes up, it's nice to know some reasons why you DON'T want to borrow it. And maybe a few responses of why they should borrow your Bible! Ok- for real this time, done being a brat... Stay away from Target...especially the book department.... :)
"The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. " 1 Corinthians 1: 18-20
Sunday, September 12, 2010
What a birthday for my girl! She isn't officially 14 until Tuesday, but her party was so much fun this weekend. I loved that the girls she chose to invite were all her TAG buddies, sisters in Christ who love her. It was such a wonderful thing to sit and listen to all these little women talk and laugh- and just be REAL with one another. Middle School is a time of awkwardness and need for approval and each of these ladies probably struggle with self esteem and confidence while they are at school. But Friday night they were safe. Each girl was able to be as silly or as serious as she wanted and it was ok. I just loved that. I loved that they all have different circles of friends at school, but one God that connects them. I love that out of all the "friends" Jasmine has, THESE were the ones she chose to spend her special day with...because she knows they love her no matter what.
As much as I loved it, I noticed the risk of "being comfortable". As I watched them hang together, I thought of all the middle schoolers who don't have that. The kids who walk through the stress of school life everyday, come home to more turmoil, and never have that feeling of love and acceptance that God's family brings. Who never KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that SOMEBODY loves them. It breaks my heart. That don't have a girl's night like I was watching. I wish I could walk over to her middle school and hug each one of them and tell them how much Jesus loves them. Tell them that there is one place that they can always be safe from ridicule and sadness...in the arms of the God who made them.
We listened to a sermon this last week that came to mind after seeing these sweet girls- about the importance of committing to God's calling- to worship and to share God's message. It's based on Colossians 4, kind of weird since this is just a bunch of goodbyes to Paul's friends. But the principle was soooo right on. That we need to aggressively worship our God, aggressively minister to those who need- rather than hanging just with my mature, comfortable fellow believers all the time. The pastor just smokes the idea of the "holy huddle". Not that it isn't important to spend time, like Jasmine and her friends, refreshing our spirits with our brother and sisters in Christ. But in Colossians 4, God makes it very clear that we aren't to just run with "good people". Hanging with the "cool kids", who look good on the outside. God wants us with "FEROCIOUS believers". Check it out. These guys Paul was writing to were ANIMALS- madly in love with God and madly attacking the streets with the love of Jesus Christ. One of the questions the pastor asks is "Are you running in a Moron Herd?" Sounds ridiculous- but it is so true. He states that it seems that mature, grown Christians tend to hang with the same, and immature, foolish Christians tend to flock together. So you have a group that is wise and has knowledge of God's Word, but not sharing it, and vice versa. Something to think about, and something I see as true in so many ways. We want to hang with people like us...yet we need to "mix it up" if we are to be effective. Matt Chandler from The Village Church says it so much better. Here is the link to the message- oh, how I pray you have the chance to listen. I won't ever read Colossians 4 the same again.
If I am honest, I choose to spend time with my friends that are "easy", rather than the ones who are more stressed, struggling, or more needy. How shameful. That's not my purpose here. That quote above really hits it home- "It's easy to forget what cold feels like when you are warm." The farther I get from my first taste of God's warmth, the easier it is to forget how badly I needed it. I forget how much the people around me need the warmth of Jesus and His people. And I don't want to forget anymore.
Lord, help me to not grow weary and to be more intentional in my worship of You. Let me worship You by sharing my life, my blessings and my heart with those who need You most.
"...pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:3-6
(On a lighter note- just wanted you to see what I get to see all the time! My girl is so fun- laughing is our best medicine! :)
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
It seems so fitting that it would pour buckets on the last day of summer vacation. I am not complaining- it was nice not to have to water the flowers. I am just NOTING that the weather seems fitting for my mood.
Tomorrow my beloveds are off to school again. Second year of traditional school, second year I am not a homeschooling mom. I hate it. They love it. What a place to be.
As much as I hate missing them, I see the "rightness" of them being in school at this time. And I am determined today to remember that. As I looked out at the dreary gray skies and the rain, I thanked God for His provision over the years. How blessed I am.
So as I go into this next season with a smile and a prayer for discernment, I leave you pictures of what I get to see for a little while longer. And THAT is reason enough to celebrate. Soon there will be pumpkins and scarecrows on the porch, apple cider brewing on the stove and blankets to crochet. But for now, there are still weeds to pull, shrubs to prune, flowers to talk to and warmth to enjoy. God bless you, friend.
"...He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17
Thank you for reminding me to be thankful, Lord.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Our final day in Lakeview! So sad, no matter how excited we were to get to San Francisco. I don't think there was a single one of us that really wanted to leave. VBS was wonderful, and meeting the kids parents and families at the hot dog lunch was really special. If we are blessed to go again next year, a lot of these kids will have grown so much we won't recognize them! Father, grow them like crazy and keep them close to You all the days of their lives. Our Bible Point the last day was "God's Word is for EVERYONE" and that couldn't be more true. Psalm 119:90 says "Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth You created." As we helped the children memorize that verse, I am praying that our teens hid it in their hearts as well. May their lives always reflect the faithfulness of God.
We survived! We conquered! And we were rewarded! San Francisco, here we come!
Such a beautiful drive through the Vineyards in Napa Valley. It truly was breathtaking. We were able to visit with a dear family in Christ who let all 17 of us stay at their house. We played some more mafia, laughed until our sides hurt, and got to spend a day traipsing around San Fran, eating food, seeing sites, and even took a boat ride and tour of Alcatraz. We did lose one kid, but we got her back, so it's all good! (It truly was one of the most terrifying moments of my life- long story- but God was good and protected her, and someday I will be able to forgive myself and look her mother in the eye again. Thank God it was only for a few minutes, or else I might have gone ahead of you to live with Jesus- death by panic attack!)
Never making a mistake would be so nice, but not even close to realistic. The best thing about this trip was being able to be real with one another. Nerves got frayed, frustrations flared, but not once did we forget to be gracious to one another. Not once did we take for granted the opportunity to love someone else. It was awesome. Too often I think that living like the Heroes of Faith- Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Rahab, Mary, even Paul- is totally unattainable. That somehow, they had the hookup and could do it "right" because God gave them an extra dose of "spirituality". Or maybe they just were less of a sinner than I am. But God reminded me that "special super powers" wasn't the key. We all want to come to God perfect- all fixed up and never sinning, so that He will hear and answer our prayers. But at the end of James 5 we are told to pray with passion- and BELIEF, just the way we are. To confess our junk and believe that God would do great things, and expect it because it is all for His glory. I know that with my head, but when it comes to praying that way sometimes I chicken out. If I am honest, I know I don't really think God will answer my prayers because I am too "bad".
Here is the awesome thing that James 5 told us: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." James 5:17-18
Read that again! Elijah, prophet of God and the BOMB DIGGITY as far as Heroes of Faith- and God calls him "a man just like us"! I so pray that gives you hope tonight! No matter what, God loves you and wants to answer your prayers! It might not look the way you expect it too, but I can guarantee you, His gifts are not ever going to be something you want to return! A long week of sleeping on a couch surrounded by teenagers, a strange small town in the middle of nowhere, Cup of Noodle lunches and sleep deprivation sounds like a bummer. But when I think of all God did in Lakeview in our hearts and through our labors- I KNOW He was answering prayers and blessing me like crazy. I so hope you let Him do that for you too. I love you. God bless you!
"God's Word is life-changing!" This day of VBS we have the honor of sharing the gospel. Robin taught the lesson and I was so blessed to help her. The story was of the cripple that is healed in Acts 3:1-4:12. Such a beautiful statement of every Christian- if we remember it. "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you..." That's all God asks of us. That we share our stories. We share our lives and His love with everyone around us. What a privilege.
During the lesson this day we got to have the kids take the gauze bandages we had put on them, the wounds that represent the sin, or "bad things" we had done, and place those bandages over the cross. As they took off their "sin" and laid it on the cross representing Jesus's death for us- they said the words "Jesus, change my life." Nothing magical about the words. Nothing powerful about the piece of wood we held up. But, the presence of the Holy Spirit was so there! It was wonderful to see. Sure, there were kids who were goofy, or thought the exercise was goofy. But there were also kids, and adult helpers, that meant what they said. And it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Robin did a fantastic job of guiding the lesson, and letting God do the work in our hearts.
How happy it is to be forgiven and free, yes?
This day was also one of quotes for me. Let me share two of them. One was so cool, and the other just funny. The cool one was a little girl, remember the first grader I told you about the first day who said I almost made her pee thanks to my amazing acting skills? I didn't tell you the best part! She had truly been scared Roman soldiers were coming to get us, but then by Thursday she pulled me aside and said, "You scared me so much- I almost peed my pants! BUT...(she even paused for emphasis) God's Word is comforting! Let's Go!" What a comfort He is! Not only did he answer my prayer that the little children wouldn't be permanently damaged from my lesson, but He was obviously using each day's bible point to teach these little hearts! Wow!
And the funny one came from our 6'3" high schooler who was lounging around, as usual, and put into words how we were all feeling- exhausted. Everyone wanted him to play some more Righteous Ball, and as he yawned and rolled around on someone's sleeping bag, he answered : "I'm busy getting tall." Enough said. What a week we had! By Thursday we all were more than ready for "quiet time" after lunch!