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Is Jesus Enough This 2020 Easter?

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Sweet sixteen my heart full of dreams.

I had a plan for my life. I thought I wanted to be a marriage and family counselor.  I headed to college with this goal and a dream.  A dream to meet a guy, get married, have kids.  I wanted five boys! My prideful heart wanted to raise young men who were fun, gentlemen, and knew how to treat a girl – I didn’t always find this in the college boys I knew! I flirted with babies and cuddled them.  A stranger in an airport once commented that I must love children as I made friends with a baby across the aisle.  I nodded – of course!

I was 25 when I had my first date.  I was shy of 31 by two months when I had my first “real boyfriend” – I’d only gone on a handful of dates with a handful of men before that.  I married “my first real boyfriend” two years later on my 33rd birthday.  This man is nine years older.  God gave me cysts on my ovaries while in college, putting me on hormones for 13 years before I ever got married, causing doctors to not know what that would mean for having children later.  God gave me an older husband, and a wedding long after I thought He would. God gave us things as a couple that made conceiving difficult.  And He took my desire for kids of my own and gave me peace even if I had none.  Complete peace.  No longings, no yearnings, no jealousy of others.  He gave me nieces and a nephew, and great nieces and nephews on my husband’s side.  He told me to love them, pray for them, and for their parents.  He took my baby flirting too… and now I can hold and cuddle them, but the desire within me to have my own is gone. I pass them back with utter peace. How strange! How different than my teenage plan!

I had thought long ago that I knew what I wanted.  Now I find myself unsure what I want.  College and grad school to become a counselor came and went. That didn’t seem right, and a counselor I’m not.  I married a man and we discussed children before and thought we’d be fine either way, we discussed adoption and infertility and made choices against.  I struggled with feeling like I “should” until my pastor said that if that’s not what God has put on our hearts, that’s not His plan for us.

It is now four years later.  I’m not living the dream I had so long ago.  What am I living I sometimes ask?  Why am I in social services, I never thought I’d be doing this!  What do I want? I muse over and over.  This life is good, and yet it’s not what either I or my husband thought we’d be, me this close to 40, and he to 50! We thought we’d have more, be more, do more.  Hmmm.

My husband, my friend.  Our lives now one.  We can’t make decisions alone anymore.  My goals and dreams now encompass another. Being one with him becomes the plan.  Yet we are individuals too.  What is God’s plan for us?  For him?  For me?  I question this now over and over and pray that he and I become all we were meant to be – which in God’s plan includes unity between us.  Hmmm.  I ponder this life, my old dreams, and who I am now.

And then, COVID 19.  Things we love stripped from us: socializing, hugging, connecting, church fellowshipping.  Easter weekend is here.  No church!  No family gathering! No Easter baskets or hunts!  (I’ve decided children really do promote some of the “fun” of holidays.).  No shopping just for fun. No eating out.  No going for a lazy drive just because.  No friends in our home. Travel reduced.  Work cut off.  Finances less.

I ponder all this.  I ask myself: Is Jesus enough?  Really enough?  Enough to be my everything, when everything around is different than the dream?  Enough when there is no other?  He says He is.  I say He is Lord over me.  But here I find myself wanting things this world gives!

It’s Easter tomorrow.  Jesus died and rose again for my sin and yours.  He bought my life and the right to each day as He chooses to give it. He made a way for a relationship with Him both now and through eternity.  He is enough!  But praise be to God who gives so generously! He gives a world full of beauty and color and emotion and relationships and delight!  He gives work and meaning and purpose.  He gives blessing after blessing.  He allows us to choose.  And sadly, so many of us choose other loves over Him first and foremost.

Perhaps this strange Easter season, this season of social distancing, and quarantine, and a pandemic, new words to our ears — perhaps this is all to remind us that Jesus is enough, and to show us just how much hold all these other things have over us.  Perhaps?  Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know Him.  He promises to be more than enough for all we need, and to give us all we need for life and godliness!  Press on, and Happy Easter!

Coronavirus – A Shaken World

Good Morning precious sisters in God!

He has the whole world in His hands!  Praise God for who He is! He is Creator, Sustainer, and our Rock.

Here is a wonderful song that my husband has introduced me to.  I have been singing the chorus a lot lately.

Covid 19 has rocked the world.  It has shaken that which we felt stable.  It shows us how much for granted we take normal interaction, gathering at church, or going out to eat.  March 5th I was watching the news and it was talking of Japan and things closing down there due to the spread of the novel coronavirus originating out of China. I paid little attention — it was a “problem over there.”  But I thought of a former exchange student who lives in Japan.  So I emailed her asking her how she was and saying I had heard of the coronavirus.  She wrote back that she’d been sent home from college, had no idea when graduation would be, or what was next, and she was just sitting at home.  She then said she hoped I and my family were well also as she heard “it” was in the U.S. too.  Well maybe in a very minor way, I thought.

At staff meeting later that week, a co-worker came in with hand sanitizer and wouldn’t sit by anyone, and seemed overly anxious about the coronavirus and Italy’s death rate.  I had not paid a lot of attention to the news.  I knew enough, but not enough.  I leaned to the other extreme of indifference.  Neither were good.  That weekend my parents came, and it was just starting to become a problem.  Mom and I had a women’s retreat that was still going on, though other things were closing. We went. We were blessed.  Sunday came and Sunday school was cancelled but the service was still on, and people over 70 were asked to stay home. My 70ish parents who were in town for the weekend came to church, just as always.  A man at our church spoke of some statistics.  Fear begin to overwhelmingly fill me.  I had moved slowly from indifference to acceptance with peace.  But for some reason while he spoke dread filled me.  Filled me.  I teared up, I snuggled into Brad just as the man was saying how serious he was that if you could touch someone you were way too close.  Thankfully after he spoke another woman immediately spoke the words of Psalm 23 – “Yay though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil!”  I struggled all morning through that service with fighting fear, and speaking the Truth of Scripture over in my mind. I didn’t pay attention to much else of the sermon.

That was the 15th.  Since then many of the people I support have been temporarily laid  off, I’ve been asked to do more work remotely, businesses and schools have closed, I’ve struggled to get enough hours at work, and finally yesterday I was told that I too would be sent on furlough.  The last two and a half weeks, I’ve been more intentional than ever to not look at the news much.  I’ve purposely found out the facts of what is happening via sources like the CDC – only when I wanted to look. I’ve worked the stats to discover that while the death toll sounds like astronomical amounts that it is roughly 5% that die from getting this.  That sounds easier to digest than the actual death toll numbers.  I’ve faced the rising fear that has reared it’s head when I see too much news.  But through it all, I’ve also found Psalm 46, and this podcast series on this Psalm to be sources of great peace and solace.

My quiet time lately has me journeying through Jeremiah.  Jeremiah warned of coming destruction and spoke of God wanting His people to turn back, to follow Him, to repent of their ways.  Throughout the book though, the phrase comes, “Yet they would not listen.”

Dr. Youseff, a pastor who I believe preaches solid Biblical wisdom, spoke of things that are global problems, like COVID 19, and how this might be something God wants to use to get the attention of the world.  I think I agree with this, as in Jeremiah disease, famine, and sword were things that God warned were coming on the people because they were insisting on turning their backs on God.

Dear sisters, I do believe that God is reminding believers that He is God alone.  We, even believers, put our hope and trust in so many things that are not God.  This is a world wide problem, but what about the little things that are happening in your life?  About a month ago I wrote in my journal, “Would I really ‘rather have Jesus than silver or gold, than riches untold, than anything this world affords today’?”  And the thing is, sometimes I want what the world offers.  I was writing that in my journal because of a small problem in my personal life. I had to ask myself if Jesus is enough.  Oh, I say He is. But do I live that way?  It made me think.

How about you?  Would you rather have Jesus?  God is giving us all a chance to think of His power and of dependence on Him alone.  We can’t depend on wealth, material things, government, work, or any other temporary thing.  Praise God for His mercy.  One day Jesus will return.  One day God will bring judgment on the world.  Things like the coronavirus are just foreshadows of that final day of destruction, when all who have rejected Jesus as Christ will perish. Oh precious sisters – press on to know God and make Him known. He alone can not be shaken.  He alone holds the world in His hand. He alone can speak one little word “Enough” to stop this pandemic in it’s path.

 

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!   I like romance and flowers and pretty things too. I do. It’s true!  (And cheesy rhymes are good today – right?!)   And yet, lately I’ve been thinking of love and of how warped the world’s view of love is.  I’ve seen afresh just how easily my own heart and feelings have been shaped by the world’s concepts, rather than God’s concepts.  Some of this is because I’m now married, and I’ve learned quickly that dating and romance are not the same as marriage and love. Lust and love are different.

 

True love is God’s love – agape love at it’s finest: selfless, pure, giving, sacrificing, a choice.  And it’s hard.  And it takes God’s love in me to be able to give it freely. It is costly.  It is constantly being shaped and refined in me.  It can not be demanded from anyone, least of all my spouse.  So it starts in my own heart, and it lets go of expectations from another.

For instance yesterday morning was Valentines Day.  I’d already discussed it earlier in the week with my husband.  We decided to go out to eat on the weekend, not Valentines Day.  He’d already said clearly that he didn’t need or want anything (even a card).  This stuff doesn’t matter to him.  I’d said I like something, something little.  Something.  This stuff matters much more to me. So yesterday morning he smiled at me and called me his Valentine and hugged me tight.  My heart swelled with feelings of being loved.  Then he said, “Is it ok then if I don’t get you flowers today, but wait until next week?”  My heart’s warm bubble burst in a second.  “Why?” I asked.  He looked at me and said slowly, “Well, to save a few bucks.”  I had an instant choice.  Love him, or demand from him.  If you know my husband, you’d know he loves me. He is generous to me, and good to me.  He also knows I like flowers, and wanted to give me some.  However, we are in a season where our income is lower than it was.  He used to carry $100 in his pocket each week for spending.  He once insisted on buying me a dress at full price, simply because I liked it.  Now he tries to limit unnecessary spending as our income has dropped, and in many ways it is him who has sacrificed the most in this area.  In an instant I decided to love him.  You see, Brad feels most loved when he feels my understanding and kindness to him.  My husband is always honest with me, and I know that Valentines day flowers are more expensive then any other day.  I know this. So I chose to respond in love.  And you know what– my heart swelled afresh with feelings of love and his heart did too! And I was fine, really fine, with just getting a sweet card from him later in the day.  I told him, “You know, if you bring me flowers, any flowers not just roses, as a surprise some day, that means more to me than 100 Valentine flowers.”  So we’ll see if some flowers are bought next week, or if they get forgotten in the manner of life.  But I’ve already determined that I love Brad regardless of if he remembers next week or not, and I’ve already determined to let it go if he forgets.

True love. God’s love.  That is what each day is for. Valentines Day is a fun day.  It’s good to remember to say we love those in our lives, and maybe give them an extra gift, or offer some exciting romance.  But it is not what makes for true love.  And when I was a single, I wanted the romance and the extra attention.  I know Valentines Day can be hard on singles, widows, those whose marriage is not good, or even those whose marriage is good and they want the extra attention but don’t get it.  Regardless, God’s love is true and was given on a cross freely.  His love can make any day, even Valentine’s Day, full of love.  But it will cost you — it will cost you the will to choose this, and that can be hard!  It helps if we are already developing the practice of being loved first by God, and giving His love away — without any demands from any other person.  Precious sisters, you are loved by God so much.  May you press on to learn to give love away everyday.

 

 

Christmas Has It’s Cradle

Merry Christmas!  We are three days away from December 25th and the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I’ve struggled a bit with holidays lately.  Marriage brings differences between individual’s ideas of a holiday, family traditions, and the challenge of making new traditions and blending old, or even doing away with some things!  I didn’t realize how much I liked the traditions of my childhood and family, until they were no longer constant in my life. And this challenge for me didn’t happen until I married.  I was the last of three children to marry, and when my siblings married, they were not always home, but it didn’t bother me as much because I could still go home and be with my parents and the familiar.  When I married and there became two families to visit and divide time between, and travel included more than me and my schedule, and gift giving and budgets became involved in more than just me and my way of doing things, I had to learn to be a part of new traditions and change expectations.  And it was hard!

I finally understood this year (after 4 years of marriage) that this is probably hard on my parents too!  All this change and kids spread out! (Sorry Mom and Dad! Thanks for going through the adjusting process too!)

I haven’t done as much baking as I used to. I made a total of 46 cookies this year! That is 30 of those pretzel rolo bites, and 16 pecan goody cups.  Not a lot of baking, and not very time consuming!  But it was fun to do, and fun to do while listening to Christmas music! And I needed something to make it “feel” Christmasy!

Today I was thinking of our upcoming Bible Study, which is going to be studying the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I begin to think of a song we used to sing at church that talked about the cross and the cradle and how Christmas has a cradle but the cradle points to the cross.  I decided to look it up. Sort of like O Come O Come Emmanuel this hymn is somber and rich with meaning.  The following are the words:

It is called Christmas Has It’s Cradle and it was written by Rae E. Whitney.

Christmas has its cradle
Where a Baby cried.
Did the lantern’s shadow
Show Him crucified?
Did He foresee darkly
His life’s willing loss?
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its cross.

Christmas has its cradle
Shepherds came to see
Little Son of Mary
Lamb of God to be.
Had His Father warned Him
None would grant Him room?
Save in the Christmas cradle
And in the Easter tomb.

Christmas has its cradle
Wise men came to bring
Myrrh and gold and incense
Off’rings for a King.
Myrrh alone stayed with Him
Death’s balm for this Boy
From the Christmas cradle
And to His Easter joy.

Christmas has its cradle
Where that Baby cried.
In the Easter garden
Christ lay crucified.
When death’s pow’r was conquered
God’s life through Him poured.
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its Lord.

 

I’m excited to start studying the death and resurrection of Jesus directly as the new year approaches, and as the Christmas season fades.  Each Christian needs a fresh reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection at this season when, “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior. He is Christ the Lord” is read and reread.  Why?  Because we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  Jesus, the Savior.  How does Jesus save us?  Well, He was born of a virgin.  The inherent sin of man wasn’t in Him for He was not of man’s seed.  He was the Son of God.  He took on flesh and dwelt among us.  Thirty some years later, He was crucified on a cross because of blaspheme – claiming to be God’s Son.  When He was crucified He took on the sins of all mankind.  He traded His sinlessness for humanity’s sin.  Because He, the sinless Son of God, was crucified all humanity can accept this gift freely given, and trade their sin for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  But it only is good because of the resurrection of Jesus.  All religious leaders have been born of man.  Only Jesus is God’s Son.  All religious leaders have died.  “Dead, Dead, Dead!” Dr Youseff says. Only Jesus was raised to life.  For He had accomplished taking humanity’s place and bearing the wrath of God over human sin.  He took it, He faced the punishment.  He rose to life.  And those who accept Jesus as Savior and ask Him to take their sin, are acknowledging that Jesus came to earth, died on a cross for the remission of sin, and rose again and will come again in victory one day soon!

Oh precious sisters – Merry Christmas! “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”

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!