God Is:

 

I  have a husband who loves hymns!  He listens to them and hums them a lot!  This summer I happened to hear one that he was listening to, that I’d never heard before, and it was super catchy.  I found myself singing the one line I had heard over and over and over. We went on a little weekend trip, and Brad started humming that song.  I asked him to teach it to me.  He said it is just a chorus that his church used to use to tie hymns together, and it goes like this:

 

 

Let’s talk about Jesus–

The King of kings is He,

The Lord of lords supreme–

Through all eternity.

The Great I Am, the Way,

The Truth, The Life, The Door.

Let’s talk about Jesus more and more!

Love it!  I find myself singing it often lately.  Another line of a song I’ve come to learn through my husband is, “In times like these, you need an anchor.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock.”

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker said in trials of life we need two anchors.  She said boats in a stormy sea actually need two anchors so to tether the boat so it doesn’t pull against one anchor and eventually snap the anchor with all it’s thrashing.  She noted that in stormy seasons of life the two anchors that have tethered her are: God is good and God is Sovereign.

I find that lately I have been repeating some lists of names of God I’ve noted in my recent quiet times.  When life is stormy, uncertain and we don’t see the goodness around us –rather we see the evil, the trials, and the hardships — these are the times we need an anchor.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus says He is the exact representation of God.  God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the three aspects of our Triune God.  Our God that is an amazing God!  The more I dwell on who God is, and what He does, the more peace floods my soul.  Peace that the world –and my life- is in God’s control.

Do you need an anchor today?  Here is a list for you.  As I read through Isaiah recently I made a list of the names of God listed just in this book.  I challenge you to say out loud  — God is:

  • The Holy One
  • The High and Exalted One
  • The Almighty One
  • The Maker and Creator
  • The Righteous One
  • The Majestic One
  • The Upright One
  • The God of  Truth
  • The King
  • The Lawgiver and Judge
  • The Defense for the helpless, needy, and distressed
  • The Teacher
  • The Potter
  • The Father
  • The Lord God of Hosts
  • The Refuge
  • The Rock
  • The Savior
  • The Lord God
  • Jesus: The Everlasting Father, The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace

Dear sisters — let’s talk about Jesus more and more!  Our God is our anchor in every day life.  He is good.  He is Sovereign.  He is our Counselor, our Defense and Refuge when we are needy and helpless.  He is the Lord God of Hosts, and everything is in His control!  Praise God!  May you press into all He is today, in whatever season you are facing.  He loves you so much!

 

A Poem (an honest look at my heart)

 

Lord,

Teach me to pray, I plead.

He gives me a man,

Who according to plan,

Is different than me,

Submit to he.

 

He gives me a season

And tells me no reason.

Backwards I feel,

and sometimes cheated!

Life was a blast, but that is past.

I was growing and thriving,

But now I feel dying.

Lord! Who am I? Where are You?

What are You doing? I cry!

 

He asks me to trust

His plan is the best.

He changes my ways

By giving me trials.

He changes my habits

By revealing my madness.

 

Madness?

Yes, madness:

The things down inside

I try so to hide.

Things like pride,

And my selfish side.

 

Don’t get me started

On how life has parted

From child-like simplicity

To adult complexity.

Do I even like the me I see?

 

Sin in me.

God’s grace to me.

He reveals and prods,

My heart He pokes.

I don’t like it! I angrily balk!

 

Then talk! Responds He to me.

Tell Me your dreams and worries.

Tell Me your fears and joys.

Tell Me your sorrows

And whisper your secrets.

Confess your sins and ask My advice.

Ask Me about My promises,

And verbalize your praise.

 

Then read My Word,

Let Me tell you:

My plans not yours,

My will not yours,

My life for yours.

Your surrender a must

So therefore trust.

 

Teach me to pray, you say?

My Child,

This season is reason

To pull from your heart

The madness and confusion —

To set you apart

To make you who I want.

 

Trust Me, dear child,

I know what I’m doing.

A man, you his wife,

This season, your life,

Are but tools I use

To teach you to pray.

Look Into Your Father’s Eyes

When I met my husband five and a half years ago, I delighted in meeting his friends and those who knew him well.  I wanted to watch him interact with people whom he was comfortable with, people who knew when he was being real or putting on a show for the new girlfriend!  I need not have worried, for my husband is real.  What you see is what you get.  Anyway, the second couple he introduced me to were Holly and Joe.  The first time I met this couple, my now husband warned me that the wife was in a wheelchair.  He knew I had no problem with that, he just wanted to prepare me.  Before the end of that first meeting, this woman enthusiastically informed me she wanted a picture of me because other friends were curious as to this new girl in Brad’s life!  She had a warm heart, and a nice smile.  I immediately liked her.

When deciding who to ask to stand up with him at our wedding, my husband picked Joe.  Over the next years we hung out occasionally.  Two weeks ago, I was shocked to hear that Holly had died.  As I mentioned, Holly lived her life from a wheelchair.  But it wasn’t always so.  She developed Muscular Dystrophy in her teens.  The cause of death was not directly related to muscular dystrophy, rather the muscular dystrophy perhaps caused her body to not be able to fight as well.  I learned she coughed and choked, and this led to cardiac arrest, which turned in to her being hooked up to life support.  That was a very hard day for many people.

At her funeral many wonderful tributes were read.  Much of what was said impacted me.  One story keeps replaying in my brain.  Her father told of the time after she had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.  There are multiple forms of the disease, so doctors needed a muscle sample to determine which form she was facing.  As any type of anesthesia would keep them from reading the results accurately, they needed to take a sample from her arm with out the use of a pain numbing aid.  There were very few dry eyes in the room (from those easily given to tears that is), as her dad relayed how she had determinedly locked her eyes onto his and squeezed his hand, tears streaming down her face, and the barest amount of sound being aloud to escape from her mouth.  No complaint.  Just determination, locked eyes with her dad, and a tight grip on his hand.

That story moves me.  That story caused her dad to tear up as he relayed it.  I’m sure his mind and emotions were grappling with not only the story, but the memory of that day.  Memories have a way of becoming real to us, sometimes.  I bet that memory was very real to her dad as he retold it again at her funeral.  I’m sure he saw her eyes, felt her hand squeezing his, and felt afresh the emotion of watching his child in pain with nothing he could do.

It’s been making me think of our own trials.  It’s been making me think of how most of us walk through painful experiences.  And this life, as Jesus once told us it would be, is filled with troubles (John 16:33).  We are told to rejoice in trials, for the testing of our faith ultimately produces character and maturity in us (James 1: 2-4).  Now, most of us do not rejoice in trials.  We complain.  We hide.  We run.  We minimize.  We fear.  We seek an out at all costs.  This, I’m convinced, is a growing process to learn to rejoice in trials.  However, as I think of this story, I’m also convinced that the only way to face any trouble, pain, or trial is to lock our eyes onto Jesus, who faced extreme suffering for us.  We must hold his hand and squeeze it for all we are worth.  How do we do that?  Whatever our circumstance, we pray and cry to Jesus.  We ask that we suffer well.  We tell ourselves over and over the goodness of His character.  We cling to all we know of Him.  We determine to trust His plan, even when it seems like our world is crumbling.  We hold tightly to God.  We offer a sacrifice of praise — verbally and internally choosing praise.  We confess our distrust of God and His character.  We confess our fears.  We confess our complaining spirit.  I believe all these things are the ways we lock our eyes onto Christ and grip His hand through our troubles.

Christ Jesus knows suffering.  He is the Man of Sorrows.  Isaiah tells us that Jesus, “was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”  (Isaiah 53).  Oh precious sisters in Christ!  What a blessing it is to have Christ Jesus on our team whenever we suffer, walk through painful trials and seasons, or are in a time of trouble!  Press on dear child of God, for Jesus is the Man of Sorrow whose hands have known the piercing of a nail as He was hung on a cross.  His pain became unimaginable as His physical pain was overcome by the emotional pain of God the Father turning His face away.  Jesus hung on that cross, crying out to God asking why He was being forsaken.  The amazing truth is that God had to turn from the sin that Christ took on Himself for you and for me.  But praise be to God — because Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself, you and I will never experience what it is to have God himself forsake us!  He states, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Joshuah 1:5).

Oh dear sisters, in whatever season of trial you find yourself in, may you lock your eyes on Jesus, cling to His hand, and triumph over the enemy of your soul.  Satan wants you to drown in pain and defeat.  Christ Jesus became the Man of Sorrow so you would be able to overcome.  Oh, let my friend Holly’s story be a vivid reminder of how precious is the hand and face of your Father in whatever you are facing!

Oh Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

There are so many voices in my head.  Of course there are my own thoughts, but then in the culture we live in we are also exposed to so many other people’s thoughts and opinions.  We have tv and radio.  But we also have oodles of books easily available at the library or bookstore. We even have books available for download immediately. We have tweets and social media posts.  We have blogs and online access to a world wide database.  We have podcasts. We have magazines.  Need I continue?  I doubt anyone disagrees over the vast wealth of resources available to us, vast amount of noise we hear each day, and the vastness of the messages entering our minds.

Yet here I am writing on a blog.  Ironic.  Sometimes I wonder if I should stop writing.  After all, I’m just another voice.  In fact, I rarely read other blogs.  I don’t follow any.  I’ve even been working on giving up cooking blogs.  I find myself comparing how the author lives her life or if she cooks with organic or gluten free food, or if she is building her dream home.  I come out either lacking or winning.  I find myself engrossed in another person’s life, when all I really wanted was a recipe.  I’m heading back to cookbooks so I can work further on this.  Most people now want recipes on their phone or tablet.  I understand that I am an abnormality to want a book to hold! None of this stuff that I’ve just listed is bad.  Neither are the books, resources, and things we hear.  Some of it is helpful and great.  Some of it is wise.  And having access to sermons, Bible studies, and the like is wonderful!  Yet still, I’m wondering…

Wondering deep in the recesses of my being:  What is Truth?  What is it that I listen to and take in without even considering truth.  And I can find lots of contradictions and disagreements, even in the Christian realm.  I wonder if we have so much access to others ideas and opinions that we fail to be in the Word of God as we should, or in prayer as we need.  I’m not pointing fingers.  I’m right there with you.  I want to know God and His Word, I want to spend time praying, because I know I need it.  I know the voices from all over are easy and alluring, even the good stuff.  And the good stuff, is good.  It is helpful.

But what happens when I’m more confused than ever when other voices speak?  What happens when I don’t know what to think anymore?  I’m learning that I must be in God’s Word more and more.  I need my mind renewed with God’s mind.  He promises us everything we need for life and godliness. 2 Peter 1: 2-3 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  I love that, we can have peace, and everything we need for a godly life!  And it comes through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.  This is found in the Bible!

Oh precious sisters what are we listening to?  Today I read an article that I found myself mulling over.  The topic of the article: divorce.  This from a woman who experienced the trauma of divorce, the stigma, the years of praying that God would change her marriage, and now being out of her marriage and finding God loving her still.  I found myself wondering and thinking.  I have several people in my life in very hard marriages; some of them want out.  This article got me thinking.  She had read an article on sins that Christians overlook, one being divorce.  She responded in her article by stating that, “Divorce always involves sin, but divorce itself is not always a sin.”   I went back to my own thoughts on divorce and marriage.  I know a pastor who advocates that no one divorced should remarry.  I have several people in my life in happy second marriages, not just happy but seeking to honor God in their second marriage.   But the biggest take away I had was a deep desire to study marriage and divorce from God’s Word for myself, afresh. In fact a friend and I just decided to study this topic together, and I’m super excited!  But the warning is that context and the whole counsel of the whole Bible have to be considered.  It is far to easy to take one passage and twist it to my way of thinking.  Rather, I need to read God’s Word with His help.  I need to listen to the Holy Spirit teach me Truth.  Because here is the thing:  I didn’t read the original article on the sins Christians overlook that prompted the article I did read.  However, I know in our culture that divorce can be a sin.  I like that this author stated that divorce is not always a sin, but it always involves sin.  She went on to say, “divorce only requires one hardened heart to turn against God and against his/her vows.”  True, sin is involved whenever a heart is hard to God.  But all this to say, this article provoked my brain.  I thought and thought and thought.  This article became another voice that I needed to take in and process.

Oh be careful little ears what you hear… for the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little ears what you hear.  I know for certain my ears and mind are hearing things, and I’m also certain that I need to pursue God’s heart and truth with all that is within me.  I sadly feel that we’ve lost something in our society with all the instant news, opinions, blogs, and books available.  I feel that we (me included) have lost the ability to be still with God.  We read articles and hear sermons, and we fail to go back to God and His Word.  I am convinced that when we do go back to God and His Word and actually spend quality time listening to God, He will reveal His Truth, and His will for our certain situations. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if what they heard was true (Acts 17:11).  Oh precious sisters, let’s search out the Word of God this year!  Let’s pray and work on developing the practice of hearing God’s voice!  Now, I’m not saying we are not busy people.  And I’m not putting guilt on us when we are busy and have a hard time reading the Bible.  Trust me, I’ve been there!  What I am saying is that I want you and me to be women who desire to be in God’s Word, who speak with Him about ways we can be in His Word more, and who find ways to listen to God above all the other voices — even above good voices of pastors, sermons, and Christian authors.

Press on dear women!  God’s Truth and Word are available to tune our ears so that what we listen to is first and foremost from Him! Godly counselors can help us hear God, but here is truth:  The only thing we really need is God and His Spirit.  How I pray you and I ask God for more of His Truth and His Spirit in us to teach us how to listen and decipher all the voices.  For God is a God of love, and He loves you so much!

 

Christmas Musings

Merry Christmas!  I sometimes feel this is a phrase we say as a marker to the season, when sometimes in our hearts, merry and cheery are not actually how we feel at this season.  Sure there is beautiful snow, but unlike when I was a child and loved the snow, making snowmen, or sledding, this year as an adult who drives a lot for work I see ice and hard driving conditions.  I see cold.  Instead of delighting in the making of cookies, I see calories and all of them adding to my waist that I already feel is expanding.  Instead of a cozy fireplace and stockings hung with care, I see lack in what I have versus what I think I want.  I miss the carefree days of childhood, when Christmas lists, cookie making, shopping, wrapped presents under the tree and snow days called me with wonder.  As an adult I find myself more cynical, more hardened to the joys of the season.  In fact the other month I told my sister that I sometimes feel like a child playing an adult.  Really, I feel like I haven’t truly grown up yet.  And I’m not talking maturity or aging, I’m talking the feeling of not having arrived yet. It’s the feeling of “who am I?”

This adult longs for the delight and simplicity of childhood.  I want the innocence of not understanding the cares of life, of worries over jobs, or of not having what we thought we would by now.  I want the above picture when my life actually feels like the bottom picture.  You know what I’m getting at?  So is it a Merry Christmas?  Even this blog hasn’t been touched much in the last year.  Has God not been talking to me this year?  Well, not exactly.  I just think He’s doing a lot of inner work inside of me.  Hidden work, known to Him but to me it feels like a long and weary season of “not yet.”

In fact, today, Christmas Day 2018, I am at home, quieted by the flu that arrived suddenly the night before Christmas Eve day.  Our plans disrupted, my husband eating tv dinners while I huddle in bed, sleeping or hoping to sleep.  Today I’m better, but our plans are still down to none.  The little gifts we have for each other still sit under the tree, there is not a spread of delicious food, there is not family or friends, we didn’t go to church, and Christmas cookies lie unopened on the counter their allure all but gone.

Today I read again the Christmas story as told in Luke.  Familiar words, yet new today, another birthday of Christ to remember.  Just like our birthdays, every year a chance to remember.  I’ve had the phrase in my head: The Jesus whose birth we celebrate this season is the same Jesus who died on a cross to save us from all sins.  Yet in the first few stories of his life as told in Luke, we see him a baby born, and then a preteen who gets lost from his family.  He stays behind in the temple and his family looses him.  He responds he had to be “in my Father’s house,”  which his parents didn’t understand.  But then he returns home and submits to them, and grows in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God.  And all of this Mary, his mother, ponders in her heart.

Hmm.  In Luke 2, Jesus story is all about growing up, and we hear very little of all of it.  There is much that is untold, much that is silent.  Chapter 3 has Jesus baptized and beginning ministry.  Matthew starts much the same, the first chapter is the geneology of Jesus, the 2nd his birth, and the third chapter his baptism and start of ministry.  Mark and John skip telling anything of the birth of Jesus.

So here I am on Christmas, lounging at home, eating soda crackers, drinking 7-Up and feeling the mundaneness of a typically exciting holiday.  I guess it just goes to show that the people and traditions make the day, not the day itself!  But as I think over this past year, and the season of long waiting, and as I reread Jesus’s story, I’m beginning to wonder.  We are told little in the Bible of Jesus’s growing, life, or years before His ministry.  And much is left out from what we are told, as John notes, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”

Am I in a season of silence? Yes.  Do I feel weary in waiting?  Yes.  What is it I’m waiting for?  I’m not sure exactly.  Who am I and what am I to do?  God knows, even if it feels I do not.  But this I know for sure, I am a child of God.  I am loved by Him.  He is at work in my life.  Perhaps this is just a season of learning to give up control, of learning to wait, and of learning more of God’s love despite this.  Jesus grew in stature and wisdom and in favor with God and man.  That’s all we know.  Perhaps that is my season as well: a time of learning, growing, and becoming.

Precious sisters, are you where I am too?  Are you wondering what God might be doing in you or through you?  May you find encouragement in the wait.  May you and I together press on in the mundane, silent, and uncertain seasons of life.  May we know God’s love, and His promises.  May we, like children, do our growing with unknown and uncaring attitudes!  As children we wanted baby teeth to fall out, drivers licenses, and priveleges that came with growing up.  But did we ever ponder how we’d grow.  No!  We just lived life each day, and looked in the mirror sometimes and saw new changes!  May we be that way as we go through a season of waiting, weariness, and feelings of “not yet.”  One day, we will be where God wants us to be, if for now we just focus on living one day at a time for Him and His glory!  Press on dear sisters!! For it really is a Merry Christmas, as Christ our Savior was born, and lives again, to one day return, and free us all from the weariness of life on earth! 

 

Number of the Stars

When I was a girl I read a great book called Number of the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I always liked it and read it several times.  I haven’t read it in years.  It’s about a girl whose best friend was a Jew.  She and her family helped this friend and her family escape from the Nazis.

I don’t remember if it states at all why the book is called Number of the Stars. But, I was reminded of this the other day during my quiet time.  I’m doing a study called: Walking in God’s Promises by Elizabeth George.  It is a “character study of Sarah.”  Since Sarah is married to Abraham, it is a study of both of their lives.  And God said to Abraham that he would become a great nation.  Abraham didn’t understand as he and Sarah had no children, and so he asked God for something tangible. God brought him out under the heavens and instructed him to look up and see all the stars.  God then told Abraham that his decedents would be more numerous than the stars!  That’s a great picture of how many decedents would come from Abraham.  Reading the Bible, we see that Abraham’s son was Isaac.  Isaac’s son Jacob was later called Israel by God. (Genesis 15:1-5, Genesis 21:1-3, Genesis 32:28).  Therefore, Abrahams descendants are the Israelites, or the Jews.  The Jewish race is more numerous than the stars, and it all started with this promise to Abraham! Perhaps, that’s why this book was titled as such, as the Jews were in danger during the days of Hitler, and this one Jewish girl and her family escaped.  Their (fictional but based off of reality) family line endured, and the Jewish race (more numerous than the stars) has never been eradicated.  It can’t be.  God promised Abraham.

When I was a little girl I also loved something else.  I loved our big front yard in the country.  I loved looking up at all the stars.  My mom got me a book on constellations.  I was no good at finding most of the stars.  But the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion with his belt, and the North Star were all fascinating to me.  I could find those all the time.  I miss the beauty of the vast night sky now that I live in the city.

I got to thinking the other night, as I was looking at the portion of sky that I can see, about God’s promise to Abraham and the Jewish race.  Then I was reminded of a verse I’d memorized in an especially dry and lonely season of singleness.  In a season when I felt God had forgotten me and my desire for a husband. It goes like this:

To whom then will you liken Me that I would be his equal? says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord,’ … Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary.

As briefly mentioned in my previous post, I and my husband are in a season of weary waiting.  What is next?  Are we on the right path?  My job is fine, but exhausting in ways I never considered it would be.  I come home from work more often than not drained.  My husband and I ask God over and over for wisdom and help in this season.  We are feeling weary.  And honestly, that same feeling of “forgotten by God” sometimes likes to creep back in.  Just like Jacob (Israel) we assume “our way is hidden from God!”  And it frustrates us!

But, then my mind runs to my Bible study — walking in God’s promises.  God promised Abraham a child, a child that would have children, who would have children, and all of them would be known to God (even though they as a nation are more numerous than the stars!).  God knows each person of the Jewish race, and each person in general — even the number of hairs on each person’s head! (Psalms 39 assures me of this).  And in this passage I just quoted (Isaiah 40:25-29), God knows the names of each star!  Not only that, but because of who God is, not one star is missing!

I have to be awed over this.  Have to be.  I can not help it.  In the midst of my life season, I have to cling to who God is.  In the short passage of Isaiah I just quoted He is named: Holy One, the Lord, Everlasting God, and Creator of the ends of the earth.  He knows the number and names and placement of the stars.  He was able to promise Abraham a future of generations more numerous than the stars.  He knows the number of hairs on my and my husband’s head (and I just lost several this morning with a good brushing — He knows!).

Thus, I can not say that “my way is hidden from the Lord.”  I do though. I complain to God, forgetting this.  In his great mercy and patience, He forgives this in me, and brings me back again and again to His Word and the truth of His promises, His faithfulness, and His might and power over my life.

Dear Sister in Christ, are you also in a weary season of life?  God knows your name, the number of hairs on your head, and where you are!  He knows all this about the stars, and we as women made in His image have a much greater value to Him!  We can rest in this promise of God.  Our way is not hidden to Him. He is the Lord, and He knows.

Press on, dear woman!  God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… and of you and of me!  How encouraging is that!  Our God is faithful to each promise He makes, and because of His power and might, not one star is missing!  Never forget that!  And if you need a reminder of this amazing God … walk on outside tonight and look up!

 

Independence Day

Hello friends!  I’ve been slacking in writing here on this blog lately.  My thoughts are collecting in my journal, piling up complaints to heaven, whispering lies to me at night which keep me up at 3 in the morning.  My Bible study is feeling heavy, my study is ongoing and applicable so I should have much to write about, but I’m finding myself feeling weary.  I’ll give you an update in my next post, but for now one of the things I’m greatly appreciating during my morning drive time is listening to pastor and Bible teacher Michael Youssef.  Yesterday he presented a phenomenal sermon about our nation and the state it’s in.

We live in the end of times, I’m convinced.  My weariness in life — even in Bible study; the ways of the culture; politics; daily news stories; weariness of others in their lives; attending funerals.  I could list a bunch more! But really, we have an unseen enemy, and his power is limited and his demise is certain.  So why does it seem he wins so much?  These questions are all in the Bible too.  I just read Job the in the last couple of days.  Job’s trials were wearying to him as well.  Life hardships are nothing new.  But as we look at culture and read God’s Word, we know that the closer we get to Christ’s return, the greater satan’s anger.  He is brutal in every area of our lives.  Just writing that reminds me why life sometimes feels as it does.  He attacks us personally, he attacks our  marriages and families, he attacks our churches, he attacks our world, he is involved in politics, he is behind the scenes in all the ugliness of life!  Praise God we know his demise is certain, and that God’s power and Sovereignty are higher!

So friends, this Independence Day, may you be reminded of Christ Jesus, reigning on His Throne!  May you remember afresh God’s love poured out on the cross.  May you and I renew our passion for Christ, and His ways, His purpose, and His life in us.  I’m needing that reminder.  I’m needing that heavenward goal. I’m needing to “not grow weary in doing good.”

Blessings to all of you as we ponder our freedom, God’s gracious gift of love to us in Jesus, and the return of Christ which is ever nearer.

Here is the sermon I mentioned earlier by Michael Youssef.  Please listen to it!  It really is a reminder of how far our nation has come.  “Someone must pay,” he repeats.  Under every move of our nation away from God, regardless of the person or peoples behind it (who will be accountable before God) — lies Satan.  Satan knows his time is short.  Satan knows that God rules and reigns and will be sending Christ back to earth again, and he has upped his attacks.  Am I ready for Christ’s return by faithfully living for God today?  Are you?  Press on sisters!  I need to also in this season of weariness!

(PS: In case you are wondering… at this point in my blog my photos that I use are all free and have come from sources such as: publicdomainpictures.net)

Record Snowfall, Blocked Drains, Cleaning Fish Tanks … and Marriage

Whew!  What a title!  But here is my question for you: What do record snowfalls, blocked drains, and cleaning out a fish tank have to do with marriage?  I’m about to tell you!

This past weekend we marveled at the large amount of snow that fell.  Today is April 16th.  April 16!  And we had a blizzard!  On Friday the weather forecasters were saying 6-12 inches.  After the second time of shoveling my husband groaned that it felt more like 18 inches.  And the snow kept coming. I’m not sure the actual snow accumulation of this past weekend, but the birds started singing again this morning and the squirrels and bunnies were out prancing through the snow while the sun cheerfully came from behind the gloomy skies of yesterday.

To make the weekend even more eventful our kitchen sink drain backed up.  This too made my husband groan.  Around Friday evening it was draining slowly.  He commented he’d have to clean the trap.  Sunday morning (no church due to weather) while he cleared snow again, I made cinnamon roll biscuits, a nice treat to welcome him back inside. But as I washed the dishes the sink filled higher and higher.  Uh oh!  I gave him the delicious breakfast treat and told him I hated to give him the news but the drain was very slow.  VERY SLOW!  He said he was beat and he’d deal with it the next day.  But by that night, the slow draining turned into complete blockage.  Gross!

Monday morning we awoke and snow had stopped, but the blowing had pushed snow into the driveway again and plows had filled in the end of the driveway.  Our double kitchen sinks were both half-full of nasty water.  And I received the unexpected and welcome news than my work was cancelling the daily routes due to the weather.  Knowing my husband’s back was sore, and he was beat from a weekend fighting weather, I suggested I help him shovel.  He said no need to get my back sore too!  He looked at the sinks and told me they’d have to be drained with a bucket and a sponge.  He went out to shovel telling me that he’d deal with that later.

I grabbed a bucket, a sponge, and a plastic cup.  I can help you, I said.  So while he was out shoveling, I was cupful by cupful emptying nasty water into a bucket, toting the bucket to another sink, and cleaning out the sink.  That was a slow process!  But as I dipped that cup into the water, I was reminded of a similar chore at a different time in my life.

Our house flooded when I was in junior high.  We packed up belongings as high as possible, we took some stuff, we moved into a small apartment for the summer.  Before the apartment was ready, we’d all gone to different houses.  Our dog had go to a shelter for a short time while we were all split up, and boy was that hard!  Our dog had never been to a kennel of any kind!  But we left behind our fish in the tank.  I’m sorry fish!  I honestly didn’t think a whit about them.  My dog on the other hand, that was a different story!  So one day when we are cleaning in our home, my dad gave my sister and I the nasty chore of cleaning out the fish tank.  You can use your imagination I’m sure.  The electricity had been off, the poor fish had therefore frozen, and the tank of water and fish had sat for at least a month before we got around to cleaning it.  Talk about gross!

My sister and I put masks over our nose (it stunk!!) and went about it (perhaps not very cheerfully).  We were about half way into it when one of us (I’ll give her credit) made up a silly little song about cleaning a nasty fish tank out. We sang that little song over and over, until the task was done!  And we smiled at the silliness of the song and the looks of us with masks on, and the disgusting job we had been given.

Today, I’m thankful for that nasty task.  The cleaning of the sink wasn’t half as gross, or tedious!  While I worked today, I listened to my husband work outside.  He consistently pushed the shovel back and forth; I consistently dipped the cup in and out.  I thought while I worked.  I remembered the disgusting fish tank.  I remembered the singing and how it helped my mood.

So this morning as I worked I thanked God for unpleasant tasks.  Unpleasant tasks that come around so rarely are great reminders of how good we actually have it!  I have indoor plumbing and sinks that I normally give little thought about.  I have a husband who does the brunt of all the outside (heavy) work.  And I thought also of the blog post I’d read recently.  I really appreciate this author’s work.  She was talking about the ideals of marriage verses the reality of marriage.  She notes that “the monsters of suffering and difficulty are the friends you must learn to love.”

Hmm…. love.  I’ve been pondering love a bit lately.  Agape love is God’s unconditional, unselfish, wanting the best for the other type of love.  It’s the opposite of the selfishness that can happen in a marriage.  When my husband and I gladly help each other with some of the unpleasant tasks, when we give up our desires for the other’s best at the moment, when we tackle life together in all the moments of difficulties — it’s in those times that we love each other best.  When my husband thanks me for helping him with cleaning out the sink, or I appreciate the hard work he put in to keep the driveway ready for me to drive out without doing any work myself, then I know that we are learning the secret to lasting love.  We are learning that romance and passion can not carry a marriage.  But suffering and working together and laying down self for the sake of the other go a long way to make me a happy wife and him a happy husband!

 

Recipe For Success!

I love to cook!  Absolutely love it!  I love planning meals, I love grocery shopping and imagining meals.  I love preparing meals.  I find it calming to chop veggies and stir brownie batter.  I admit though, I hated canning as a kid — helping Mom preserve numerous cans of peaches and pears in the middle of the summer with no air – conditioning in the kitchen was pure drudgery!  But I loved the result of home canned peaches and pears!  After college I attempted my first solo canning experience. I put up four pints of tomato soup.  Four pints!  That is a VERY small amount!  I had four jars.  I looked at those jars lined up on the counter and was SO proud of myself.  They looked so homey!  I cried later in the day when I accidentally dropped one of those jars on the way to the pantry!  I haven’t really attempted canning since.  Now I have the same proud and happy feeling when I spend a day prepping freezer meals to pull out during the week or month for fast and delicious dinners that please my husband and fill our bellies with yummy food.

Recipes are forgiving.  Last night I made a taco casserole that was a little spicy for our liking so next time I’ll decrease the spice.  Cooking is experimental.  I find recipes that I’ll make again and again, and others that are disgusting in my opinion (even if they get rave reviews from others).  And making meals for just me is different than making them for me and my husband!  For instance, a favorite meal of mine is meatloaf. He can’t stand it!  I love the challenge of finding meals we both like!  Here is a “recipe for success” — at least in my kitchen this recipe is a winner!  (I will likely never have a cooking blog, though that sounds like fun!) But here is a new favorite I’ve made recently: Flourless Chocolate Torte from Well Plated.   Enjoy!

A successful recipe is different than a recipe for success.  Right? You might like that torte recipe and those you serve it too will as well. It might be a recipe that turns out perfect every time.  That is a successful recipe!  But a recipe for success?  Is that possible?  Many books claim 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or The Success Principles.  I’ve not read these books, but I’m sure the author’s lay out a roadmap of sorts.  They give hints and helps to “make it.”

But today, in my Bible reading, I came across secrets to victorious living.  I want to finish my life well.  Just yesterday I happened upon a sermon on just that topic, so others want the same thing! This morning as I read, I listed what I saw. In Deuteronomy chapters 3-5 Moses is talking to the people of Israel. He is recounting their past, and pointing them towards the future.

Some of the principles I find within these chapters include these “ingredients” for successful living! These are only a sample of what I saw!

  • No matter the obstacle, acknowledge God is Deliver and able to get around it.  Do you need delivered out of something that holds you captive, or do you need a way to overcome something?  God is able, and tells us not to fear the enemy or obstacle. (3:2-6)
  • Remember God’s faithfulness in the past and all He’s done for you.  Know that He fights for you! (3:21-22)
  • Learn God’s statues and judgments and commands.  Listen to them, follow them only. (4:5-6)
  • Keep yourself diligently. (4:9)
  • Fear God always. (4:10)
  • Worship God alone. (4:15-19)

These things are not like a recipe for food. They are not forgiving or adaptable.  These are how God lays out a plan for success.  But like a recipe they are meant to be shared and enjoyed!  Success according to God is not a secret!  These principles are to be tried again and again.  They are to be passed around to others.  They are to be savored like fine food!

Oh Sisters in Christ, may you enjoy the delight of delicious food (regardless of whether you or someone else cooks it!), and may you enjoy the commands and principles of God even more!  He wants us to be successful and to finish life well!  He wants to say well done to all of us when we get to heaven!  How will that happen?  Only by following the recipe for success layed out in God’s Word!

 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Ps. 63:1-5)

 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us … And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 1:26-35: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

Luke 2:6-7: While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:8-11: In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:22-24: Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

Merry Christmas fellow followers of Christ!  We get the amazing privilege of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Fortold by the prophet Isaiah about 700 years before his birth, this baby Jesus came to earth.  But this baby was special.  He would be called Immanuel, God with us.  Isaiah also told us that He is Mighty God and Prince of Peace.  He is God with us.  He is Jesus!  May you have a blessed Christmas celebrating the gift of Jesus to the world.

I’m including two messages from Dr. Michael Youssef.  They focus on these titles for Jesus “Mighty God” and “Prince of Peace.”  They are excellent and worth listening to if you have some time (perhaps while folding clothes… that’s a time I often listen to messages!)

http://www.ltw.org/listen/teaching/series/jesus-the-only/part-2

http://www.ltw.org/listen/teaching/series/jesus-the-only/part-4