Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Abundant Joy: The Legacy I want to Leave

Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is
on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and
does not eat the bread of idleness. Charm is deceitful and
beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I once heard the illustration of a mother being compared to a protractor. When you use a protractor, the center (or the mother) stays steady in one place while the pencil (her family) moves around her. This sounds a bit daunting I know, but let us look in comparison to all we have learned this far about God and His intentions toward us and for us.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that God is Sovereign.
• Galatians 5 encourages us to walk by the Spirit, which is not emotional.
Colossians 3:23 tells us that everything we do is for the Lord.
• The most valuable aspect of this is our heart attitude.
Psalm 139 expresses how intimately God knows you as your Creator.
• His grace allows Him to work in your best interest, because you are precious to Him and He loves you. That is something sure you can trust.
Colossians 3:12-15 shows us how to outwardly express our hearts.
• Ephesians 4 calls us to put off our old self first, so that we can forgive and experience the fullness of God’s joy.

You may be looking at the idea of leaving a legacy as a huge task, and you would be right! But, let us gently be reminded from last week that we will not be able to do this perfectly, but only through God will we even be able to make an honest effort. So, we can relax and trust in the power of God’s redemptive work in our own lives to show us the direction He would have for us in leaving this legacy.

Deuteronomy 6:4-8 tells us that the passing on of God’s truth to the next generation is so important that it must be done in all things! Now, by what means does God tell us to do this? Yes~ by talking! (He knows us so well!) Before we get too excited, let’s take a look at the following verses:

o Luke 6:45
o Psalm 119:11
o Psalm 19:14

Now we know what we are to be talking about and when. The how I really do believe is your journey as you walk with God. Each family unit is structured so uniquely, that God will give you the perfect insight to knowing how to more effectively reach the heart of those you spend your day investing in. Seeking wise counsel from older women or those around you that see are doing it God’s way is also a great place to start!
We must do the same thing as we journey in leaving our own legacy. Families are not perfect, because we are not perfect. So, we must have a whole-hearted trust in the knowledge that God is working and that He will bring about what He wants, as long as we remain and abide in Him and be faithful.

Luke 6:43-49 & Proverbs 24:3-4

Our homes must be (1) grounded in wisdom, (2) strengthened by understanding {or good judgment} and (3) prospering because of our continuing in the pursuit of knowledge.

If we are building our house on anything else, we labor in vain. (Psalm 127) How heart-breaking it would be to have spent years of our life investing in those things that do not matter. Deuteronomy 6:5-7a says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently…”

Here is our starting point for what God is concerned with when we spend time leaving a legacy. God’s word, as He has showed us so faithfully each week, shows us what He has to say about all aspects of our life! (Psalm 139:16-18)

What is the focus of your home right now?
How does this line up with God’s agenda for your home?
In what ways have you sought God’s knowledge on knowing how to reach the heart of each
person (individually) in whom He has asked you to invest your time?
What kind of legacy do you desire to build and leave?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Abundant Joy: Family, The Legacy left to me

Family is one of those words that when mentioned in a crowd of people, you are sure to find a vast difference in what comes to mind to each person there. Legacy is a word that people either misunderstand, find intimidating or know and greatly value. God's original family was created in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. But, we all know how long the ideal lasted and how much the ideal family structure has deteriorated over time.

When I looked up the definition of legacy in Webster's dictionary, the first definition was in regards to receiving a gift of monetary value. Interesting, because I am quite certain that in God's idea of us leaving a legacy, He had in mind the second definition of ancestors passing on to future generations, the knowledge and foresight they had been given. After all, what do we find in Deuteronomy 6:4-8?

  • Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your hear. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they be as frontlets between your eyes."
Regardless of what kind of legacy you were left, none of it will be wasted. As we learned in our last study, God has had a plan for you since before you were even created. He has not overlooked any of the details and is aware of what is in your past. All He asks is that you trust Him and allow Him to use what you have been given as a part of your testimony to His goodness in your life.

How would you answer these two important questions from your childhood:
1. Was I loved?
2. Could I have my own way?

The combination of the answers you have to these two questions can have more than likely had a profound effect on your life. I am currently reading Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel and he speaks of three inner needs that every child desires to have met:
  • A Significant Purpose
  • A Sincere Love
  • A Strong Hope
Why? Because the three aspects provide a strong foundation for one's maturing in their trust of a Holy and Sovereign God. Now, I do not know what kind of legacy you were left by your family, but we are going to take some time and look at two important responses we must have in focus when processing and living with that legacy.

Ephesians 4:29-5:1 What words seem significant to you from these verses?
Paul is writing in context about the shedding of your old self and the putting on of the new self; which is in the likeness of God. Here in these verses he encourages us to "let all bitterness....be put away from you" and to "forgive just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

Bitterness is a steady harboring that poisons the whole inner man. It will rob you of joy and wreak havoc in homes. Instead in Psalm 133:1, we are encouraged to dwell in unity. When evaluating our legacy, an array of emotions can surface, but we must remember to filter them through the lens of Truth and not act on them alone. Harboring bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells in our heart and we lose the joy of our salvation. It also grieves the Son of God who gave His life for us and our Heavenly Father who loves us and desires us to be walking a life that honors and pleases Him.

Unforgiveness is Satan's playground, and too often Christians turn it into a battleground. Satan wants a foothold because he desires to use that which may be a shortcoming in our family legacy as a stumbling block to our faith. God wants us to forgive with an attitude that is gracious.
  • Forgiveness is choosing to deny a transgression (name it) the power to adversely affect my relationship with the transgressor (name him/her).
Through Christ we have the ability to forgive and then move forward to having a heart of gratefulness. We know that nothing is wasted with God, therefore we can have confidence in the hope Christ alone provides. He will use our story, if we let Him.

Colossians 3:12-15. We are reminded that we are chosen and must put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We must bear with one another and forgive, for love is the perfect bond of unity. Then we are encouraged to let the peace of Christ rule (or umpire every circumstance in life) in our heart.

Forgiveness and gratefulness alone are an extraordinary witness to the work of God in our lives when it comes to overcoming difficult circumstances that we did not choose for ourselves. You have been carefully watched over by God and He will give you the ability to live that honors Him, regardless of what you bring along with you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trying to get back in touch....

Hello! I am so sorry I have been MIA... We have been fighting illness in this house and my "little blog that could" has become the "little blog that isn't"!

I am going to be catching up with the Abundant Joy study in the next few days, so check back! Thank you for your patience! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Abundant Joy Pages!

The first layout is for pages on "Bits & Pieces"~
The second one is for "A Look Inside Me"~

Monday, October 19, 2009

Abundant Joy: A Look Inside Me

"For you formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:13-14

Here again we see God's sovereignty displayed, only not in the vast comprehension of creating the universe and holding all things in His hand. No, this is an intimate picture of the God of the universe, "knitting me together in my mother's womb."

Read Luke 12:7, Psalm 39:4-5 and Isaiah 64:8
~ these verses portray so beautifully how intimately God knows each of us. They also show insight to the fact that before I even had the opportunity to know God intimately He knew me. I was under His care and watchful eye. this picture of God's sovereignty is so precious because it reveals the heart of love that God has for each of His treasured creations. Now, we are undeserving of this kind of love, and as we will read in Isaiah 43:1-7, God's love and protection has nothing to do with our merit. Answer the following questions based on the text:

What is God doing here for the Israelites? Why? Who is verse seven speaking of specifically? How do we outwardly mark ourselves as "authentic believers" or those called by His name? Do you think in the world today you can have an effect on others because of how you "set yourself apart?"

I once heard RC Sproul, Jr. says that so many of us make a point to align our doctrinal beliefs and views clearly by what God says in His word. We make sure to align ourselves by His steady plumb line on the heavy theological issues of today. But then we tend to rely on our own guiding compass when it comes to music, friends, clothing, activities and our home life. How can we honestly say we have "set apart" ourselves for the purposes of God if we are not living in such a way that shows the world, "I belong to a Holy God!"?

Read Psalm 139:16-18.
How many thoughts does God have about the details of my life? How much value do you personally place on God's opinion of your daily life?

How is God able to love us and see us as precious when we do not merit this kind of affection? One simple word: GRACE. J.I Packer defines grace in his book Knowing God as, "God's love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love."

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.

It is not popular to look at oneself as "wretched" of "in need." But that is certainly what I am without Christ. On days when I have relied on my own guiding compass, I often display this kind of attitude or judgment on the things of my life. An honest "look inside me" should reveal a heart that is knit together by a Master not an amateur. God can fully be trusted with all of me, after all I am His original idea. I am created with a unique skill set, spiritual gift, heart and mind that when given freely to Him has potential I will never be able to realize on my own.

Have you fully surrendered all to God?
What does this personally look like to you?
Where do you need to make some adjustments so that God can be developing in you a heart that longs to solely please Him?
What does your heart long for that can only come from the hand of God?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Abundant Joy: Bits & Pieces

Bits and pieces is really what makes up each of our lives. A collection of the experiences we’ve had, trials we have overcome, relationships, daily routine and lifelong goals. Recently, I read a book (The Rag Quilt) with my boys set in the period of the Civil War. The story centers around a woman who lost her husband and has a daughter who longs to go to school in town. The small town does not have enough money to buy books for all the children, so she decides to make a quilt to be raffled, in order to raise money for the books.

She did not go to the country store and buy new calico, instead she used scraps from her rag basket. She stitched and cut and stitched until it was finished. What lay before her? Not a worn-out scrap quilt, but a beautiful quilt of many colors and design. A quilt that earned enough money at the raffle to buy books for all the students.

As I thought about this idea of having bits and pieces making up our lives, I thought of how often we look around at our life and see scraps. It may be an old couch, out of style clothes, the same trials we have been facing for years, the list goes on and on. Our heart attitude begins to sour and then begins to flow into all we do. The joy is gone or barely hanging on and we are busy wishfully thinking of ways it could all be better. But, I wonder if we stepped back for just a moment to look at all these bits and pieces through the eyes of God, if we wouldn’t see something just a bit different.

If we looked at the big picture, might we see something beautiful? The bare threads that make up our lives are, when joined together, a tapestry ~ a beautiful quilt. And, as I think back to the story I think of how the quilt was done completely by hand. Hard laborious work on the mother’s part, but done with the heart attitude of love and joy for the purpose of bringing joy to other’s lives.

Colossians 3:23 says that in “whatever we do,” it should be unto the Lord. Have you every really thought about what this means? It means that on my part it cannot be surface devotion or half-hearted work of my hands.

It must flow out of a deep heart devotion to living in God’s love, joy and peace. It flows out of me abiding with my great God whom I love so very deeply. The fifth load of laundry, the term paper, the boss that is hard to work for, the physical challenge, the difficult relationship~ all of it must be done unto to the Lord. He has not left us where we are and we must remember He alone is Sovereign over all things. He is walking beside us each step of the way and I know for me, He has carried me many times when I was much too weak to take the steps on my own.

Step back and look at the tapestry of your life, it will be beautiful when you are letting God take the lead. When you are abiding in Him, He will guide the threads in the way they need to be put together. Up close there will be tattered and bare places, but those add to the beauty of one’s life.

Do not waste time looking just at the individual bits and pieces, but look at it as a whole, the journey to completeness in Christ, as you and God stitch together piece by piece.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily; as for the Lord
and not for men.”

· “whatever”: everything, anything; no matter what
· “heartily”: with zest or gusto; with all sincerity

Colossians 3:17 Why do we do it?
Colossians 3:23 is the practical application of the above verse, reminding us once again that Christ is to be at the forefront of all we do.

Last week we talked about walking with the Spirit and abiding with God, so that we may live in His love, joy and peace; therefore living out the fruit of the Spirit. To walk with the Spirit means to live in His word. Is this where you begin each day? What does your quiet time with the Lord look like right now?

Those around us in whom we invest our time and efforts need to be seeing a heart that is doing what we do for the right reasons. There are many things in life that we often work very hard for in order to achieve~ perhaps our attitude should be to work for all things in this same manner.

Ephesians 5:18-20

What kind of communication does v. 19 encourage us to take part in?
What is significant in v. 20? Yes, the fact that it says "always" and "all". Do you know that this verse is one that truly defines you as a child of God? Why do you think that is?

Proverbs 31:10-31 This description is of a woman’s lifetime of hard work and focused attitude. What do you see in these verses that speaks to you as an encouragement and/or challenge?

Remember that “whatever we do” we are to do “heartily.” Life often presents many challenges that makes this concept difficult to actually live out everyday, but I do believe that it matters most in our heart. Think back to the Bits & Pieces Devotion from this week~ why did the mother work so hard and laborious? Because she had a hearts desire to bring joy to others.

Is this honestly your attitude when you are working? What kind of work fills your day? Does your heart need an attitude adjustment? Write down some areas where you can use a re-focusing of your heart based on what God’s word has to say about what we do with our hands.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just a note.....

Ok, I opened up my blog in Internet Explorer and it had all these weird symbols and stuff in the text that are not there when I open it in Mozilla~ so I'm not sure what you are seeing, but hopefully I will get it straightened out next time! sorry :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abundant Joy Devotion

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

· God is sovereign and He uses all things to refine us

· The key is our nattitude

· Why do we lose sight?

· We must be content with God’s sovereignty

In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he talks about anxiousness and how this is a form of arrogance on our part. It expresses that we think what we are facing is so important it warrants us stepping out of sync with God to find a solution on our own. But, what do we find in God’s word about staying in step with Him?

Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25

· The Spirit and the flesh are set against one another

· v24 “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

· Walking in the Spirit is not emotioinal

· v25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is a crop of fruit, therefore they cannot be separated. To live in love is to produce more love, joy produces more joy and so on. The flesh cannot produce fruit because it is ultimately rooted in pride, but the Spirit alone produces fruit because it then brings glory to God. The Greek word for love here is agape (a divine love), a gift from God. When we live in His love, then we experience joy. How do you define joy?

Warren Wiersbe defines joy as “inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances.” Love and joy together then produce peace, which passes all understanding. Now, with a proper understanding of from where the fruit of the Spirit flows, we can practice the outward flow of the remaining fruit.

We are not given this crop of fruit to display, but rather to invest into the lives of those around us. We have the freedom in Christ to act as an ambassador for Him in every circumstance we find ourselves.

How do we live in the “peace and sufficiency” provided for us?

John 15:4-5

· v5 “apart from Me you can do nothing

· Living in God’s abundant joy does not equate a life of striving

· Galatians 5:16 “walk by the Spirit”

We cannot get ahead of the Spirit (seen in us trying to figure it all out) or lag behind (seen in us remaining in disappointment or fear). We must keep in step with the Spirit, because this is where we experience the joy needed to produce the fruit God will be pleased with.

Will you yield to the Spirit and walk with Him? What do you need to confess in order that you may have a clean slate to start fresh walking in His peace and sufficiency?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Abundant Joy study

I love the journey. I appreciate the security I feel in Christ, even when the world I’m living in feels a bit shaky. The challenges, the pressures, the roles I have as a woman, the commitments…the list goes on and on. “Where exactly does the idea of joy fit into all of this?” Well, I say, right in the middle.

Not because it is always evident in our circumstances. Not because our lives are easy and blissful all the time. No, not because of us or anything in the world, but because of our amazing God! A loving and merciful God who saved us and made available to us, His everlasting joy. It is accessible, so you and I must choose to live it out each day, amidst our daily lives.

Abundant Joy was written to encourage us all to take time out and really look at what makes up our life. We will spend time evaluating what it is around us that influences us, where we find our priorities leading us and where we find that our life holds the most joy. My personal prayer is that joy is found in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that the benefits of abiding in Him flow over into all aspects of your life and influence you in a profound way~ A joyful way!

God placed the idea for this book on my heart in November 2007, right before we went on a family vacation for eight days. I can tell you that I definitely battled with Satan on “feeling” joy during parts of the trip. We were tired, out of our routine and even sick with the stomach bug, but of course, God was faithful!

As I write this, we are traveling home in the car for eight hours and my two year old is singing in the back with Miss Pattycake, “When-o, when-o I pwaise God! Haweywujah.” My heart smiles at this precious sound. This is joy to me~ yes, I am tired and longing for my own home. I am also making sure my three year old throws up in the bucket and not all over the car. The journey. I have to choose joy over frustration. God’s way over my own. I am a natural optimist, but with Christ living in us, we can all make the choice to live in God’s abundant joy in whatever circumstances we face. In His joy, I have an inner peace and contentment knowing there is nothing I would rather do today or any other day!

I think about Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” God’s gift to us when we have a personal relationship with Him, is the Holy Spirit, which means the fruit of the Spirit is available to us at all times. Our relationship with God, gives us the ability to live a life based on love. Following love is the inward focus of joy and when it is in its proper place, the others are produced in us. We often long for the “outward” actions of the fruit of the Spirit, but without love and joy, we are incapable of actually using this gift we have received.

I pray for us all to open our hearts to our awesome God and what He wants to teach us about His everlasting joy! Purpose to grab hold of His joy today and really live! Enjoy this process and continue walking steadfast in His Truth, abiding in Him each step of the way.

Each week our group meets on Fridays for the study and then creative fun of putting together our scrapbooks! I will post the study on Mondays here and a picture of my pages! I hope you will be able to join us in the journey and post a comment if you post your pages on your blog! Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Barren Desert

I do not know how many of us have spent very much time in an actual desert, I know that I have not. I can imagine the dry air and blowing sand, the heaviness of one's feet as they journey through the barren land looking out upon a wide span of brown sameness. We do all know of the "oasis" idea that is often a mirage, but this desert I see is just simply barren.

I came across this verse today in Psalm 66, "He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him!" (verse 6) On my heart has been the journey of one in a spiritual desert. This I am sure is something each of us knows something about in our life. There can be so many words to describe this dry journey, but to sum them all would be to say it is not ideal or enjoyable, yet we persevere and endure.

Our tired feet keep treading through the sand and we continue keeping our eyes forward, seeking the vast wide-open land for an oasis. The heat will become too much for us and our parched lips will nearly cease to be able to speak. We feel the burden of becoming overtaken, rather than overcoming.

I have sat here in this place and looked back to see where my footsteps have come from, but the wind has blown them away. There is not a clear path behind or ahead, but as I came to this verse today, I felt incredibly encouraged. I am not at all claiming this verse to mean what it spoke to my heart today in application to everyone, I am just sharing a moment of God's whispering to me here in this sandy spot.

I had been in a place where the waters were rushing and although I could see the other side of where my heart longed to be and my body needed to rest, the waters were impassable. Today when I read, ""He turned the sea into dry land; They passed through the river on foot; There let us rejoice in Him!," I whispered, "Thank you Lord for this place for me to pass."

It is not one that I would have chosen for myself, but I know that You Alone are Sovereign. To me, that is my oasis in this journey. I can simply trust and keep walking. I do not need to have all the answers or even understand at this time the reason for such a long barren road, but I
do need to remain steady and trust.

I know that my heart speaks the words my lips are too parched to say themselves and that the eyes of my heart see a hope my body is much too weary to feel. So thank you Lord for the dry and barren deserts that keep me humbled, close to You and dependent upon Your Sovereignty Alone. And yes, I will "rejoice in Him."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Simple-mindedness & Sovereignty

For the past few days I have been unable to quiet the many thoughts that run around in my head looking for clear direction and anwsers. Unfortunately, because they center around the whole idea of God's "chosen" and those "not chosen," it is not likely that I will actually come to a nicely packaged black & white anwser. Although this is how my brain works that best.

I know that I will land on the side that God is Sovereign, but I can't help to ask the questions and wrestle with it in my head. Which then leads me asking, "Why are some things easier for me to leave solely in the hands of my Sovereign God, while others things I feel need an answer or help from my hand of control. (Ha! Ha!)

Like for example, the picture at right was taken just a few days ago and I do not at all spend time questioning how God is knitting together in me another precious life. It is so beyond me, I just rest in knowing He is in control. We don't like to find out if we are being blessed with a boy or girl. I do have a hearts leaning toward one, but I rest knowing God knows who we need to be joining our family and I am excited about finding out who that little person will be.

Over the past few days as I have wrestled with the thoughts rambling on in my head, I have found that I greatly love the characteristic of God that He is Sovereign. Just saying that outloud causes me to take a deep breath~ nothing is out of His watchful eye and hand of perfect provision. The most amazing part is that it is ALL for His glory, which is bigger than I can comprehend, so although I will never understand His perfect will, I can fully trust it.

And what may I ask is full-proof trustworthy today? Nothing, except the Sovereignty of God, which is not at all simple-minded. Psalm 139:17 "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them." God has something to say about all aspects of my life, nothing is hidden from His sight. Now, I also have much to say about all aspects of my life, but do they line up with what my Sovereign God of the universe has to say?

Well, let me be still so I can hear just what He has to say. I am certain it will be beyond my own simple-minded thoughts, yet just right for me to understand and know what He is asking of me. God is pretty cool like that, I think.....Big enough to take care of it ALL, and near enough for me to feel and hear Him whisper to my heart His desires for me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In the Little Things

Hello again....

Last night we met with our small group, which we love, and it had been awhile since we had all been together. Our pastor is doing a sermon series on Revelation (click
here to check it out!) so we are spending our small group time in further discussion about the sermon.

We discussed the July 5 sermon, and we spent a great deal of our time talking about ways in which we "deny" Christ. Denial can take many different forms and we discovered that here in our plush, un-persecuted world it is very easy to slip by having to really "stand" for Christ. It doesn't help us either that as adults we have been trained and influenced by many different fears and ways of thinking passed onto us from family, experience and worldly pressures.

I am always quieted when my five year old asks someone if they love Jesus~ he hasn't been influenced to think that that is not a good idea~ he just thinks everyone should love Jesus. He is always so excited to tell a perfect stranger that he has received Jesus into his heart. Ah!~ The beauty of child-like faith. All he knows is that he loves Jesus and this is worth sharing!

Now, don't we know that same thing? Don't I have 26 years of experience with God's faithfulness in my life, His drawing me nearer and nearer to Him, His perfect provision always sustaining me as I walk in realtionship with Him? Yes! Of course I do~ but why do I sometimes act as if I do not?

Fear, doubt, denial.

So, where do I strengthen these muscles? Last night we all agreed that it was in the small things. Developing my faith and trust in God in the small decisions, strengthens me for trusting in the big things. When I can keep walking in full trust in the daily decisions and things that pull at me, then this is my default mode when the big storms come raging. As one friend last night said, "The storm is raging around me, but I am walking on steady calm ground."

God is big and He is actively at work right now. We read in His word about a burning bush, a talking donkey, a staff that turns to a snake and we think, "Wow! What it would be like to see such a miracle." Well, stop just a minute and think of a way He has divinely provided for you in this last week. Have you seen a baby in a mother's womb? Have you been able to forgive someone through Christ? Have you read anything about the modern day persecuted church around the world? God is still in the business of miracles and I believe in everyday kind of miracles.

Trust, faith, perseverence.

Let these be the words that define us and drive us towards living a life that stands more firmly for Christ. Do not deny Christ the glory due His name anymore. Live your life in such a way that it shouts, "I belong to Christ!" See what He might do through you to reach the lives of those living in the greatest denial, which is unbelief.

Monday, June 1, 2009

God Alone.

Hello! Sorry it has been awhile, I have been away at my mama's house for 2 weeks and I am just back in for a week before I travel again up north to visit more family...

Here are some random thoughts I am having right now...

1. I love the blogs that I read and I was realizing that most of them are an everyday kind of "the day in the life of" type blogs and that is why I like them. Although they are also challenging in ways which I appreciate, because I love when something makes me think, question, or try something new.

2. My blog is not really a "day in the life of" kind of blog, but I also love that! I have sometimes thought about posting everyday kind of stuff, but usually end of erasing it~ although I haven't pinned down the reason why, except that I really think my life is quite ordinary. (Which I am VERY happy with, by the way...)

This leads me to thinking about an ordinary life... does mine really fall into this category? Here is my life in a nutshell:

I am a stay at home mom with 2 children.

I am fiercely devoted to my husband.

I love to be home, doing homey kind of things. Or sometimes...shhh! Nothing at all! Oh my!

I don't watch tv and could not tell you who the biggest loser was or is.

I don't ever shop, except for household stuff, which I would just as soon order on-line and have sent to me!

I love the Lord and really try to set about doing that which matters to Him, most of the time. (I do fail, but I know that faithfulness counts with God, so honestly making the effort matters!) As you know, this sometimes happens at personal cost, but it is most definitely worth it!

I love to learn from older women.
I miss all of my family and would really love to live within 10 miles of them all!

I really do not have "tons" of friends and I have never really had "tons" of friends. I like it this way.

I am not out in the world much but when I am, I often feel a bit mis-placed. But not to my discouragement.

I hate to do dishes and usually forget one load of clothes in the washer each week.
I am still trying to perfect making home-made bread.
I sometimes let my boys eat popsicles for breakfast!
I love that God has wired me to be ministry-minded and the world makes most the most sense to me this way.
I try not to seem like it can only be my way, I just often come equipped with a vision and it is hard for me to let go of that sometimes.
At least once a week one of my boys climbs into bed in the middle of the night and I leave them there becasue I like having them close.
I often feel like I talk too much, but sometimes have nothing to say.

So, I wonder...is this an ordinary life? Yes, because it is so different than everyone elses or no because it doesn't look at all like most of the 30 something SAH moms around me. What do you think? How do you view your life? Are you content with the view you see? Why or why not?

Most often I am found discontent because God is at work and He is causing me to be aware that something vital is missing. Does that happen to you? I really want to live an ordinary life if it means leaving out all the stuff that gets in the way of living sold-out for God. Even some of the things I might aspire to do seem ordinary to me, because I am ordinary. What makes my life extraordinary? God alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Purity: In quietness I find my strength

The day awakens early and I feel that I am not quite ready for it. I lay in the quiet and can see just beyond the darkness, the sun waiting to push into full view. One small chirp from an eager early-riser, I turn over trying to quiet my mind back to sleep. It does not take long for the rush of "things" to begin to fill my head. The lists and questions, the overwhelming amount of work waiting just at the end of the bed.

Oh Father, how do I remain undivided and available to You when even here in the early quiet hours so much seems to distract? It is like a beautiful song being played that rushes to it's climax, the notes continually rolling into one another. I can feel the need for the meter to slow down and for it to come to a place of rest.

All that I "need" to do continually rolls into each other and my day is full before my feet have hit the cool floor. I want only to have time to do what it is that You are asking me... Life needs to be done at the same time: laundry, chores, quiet time, school work, time for play and creativity, reading, encouraging, ministry, writing, organizing, cooking

You have given me this home to care for, this life to make it count for You alone! Oh how I do not feel as though I am always "set apart" for Your purposes. Help me to see the beauty in being an eager early-riser. Starting with my best for You. Before the pull of the day begins to take it's toll and my mind is lost in this list of life needs.

I must purpose to start my day blameless, set apart only unto You. As the sun begins to eagerly rise up from the horizon, I am so peacefully aware of Your mercies that are new every morning! They surround me with a freshness that can only be found in Your presence. Oh Lord, I pray that I will start there, remain there and end there~ which will prove to be true in saying I never left You. You say in Your word, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:2) How could it be that I would leave You? My one place of safety and peace. I so often wear out from the life that beckons me to come meet it's needs, yet in You alone I will find a steadfastness that will keep me strong to not grow weary.

I do not rise up on eagles wings within my own might and strength, but rather in the shadow of Your wings. May my eyes see the beauty of purely living in refuge of Your wing. You...so faithful and blameless, so pure and holy, so available to me. Thank you precious Savior~

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Purity: Distractions

2 Corinthians 11:3 says, "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ."

Paul's father-like heart for the Corinthians was concerned that they were being led astray and adding to the simple truth of Christ. I don't think that sounds too far off from where we are today. In all the things this world has to offer that we think simplify our lives, we actually find distractions and complications.

Do you remember our definition for purity? uncontaminated, blamelessness, undivided, uncompromised

Today we are going to park at undivded. I know that we have all heard before not to divide our allegiance to Christ, or not to lose our first love. I am afraid we have become a bit calloused to those ideas, because so much in the world is accepted. How is it I wonder that we have lowered the standard to include "socially accpetable" things, just because we see other believers doing the same things.

It is true that each believer must make decisions for themselves about what they will or will not do concerning things such as drinking, watching R rated movies, etc... But I am going to be bold in saying that I think the idea of being undivided in our thoughts, heart and actions applies to everyone! So then we have to ask, is there really room for all that other stuff?

The pursuit of Christ is an on-going process that each of us will grow, stumble, get set back straight and continue on and on through-out our life. Paul tells us that it is simple and pure.

My question for all of us today, is what do I do to "complicate" my devotion to Christ? What do I do that causes me to be "divided" with my time for Christ? He gets the best of us! (Notice I didn't say "should get the best") There is no time to waste in today's world to be divided on the issue of devotion to Christ.

Make a list of what you do tomorrow starting first thing in the morning. Then go back and look at where you could have made a different choice that would have simplified your life and left room for God. Where did you leave room to really be "available" for Him and His purposes? I understand that the world puts many demands on us and that lives are just plain complicated at times. My point here is that we do not need to add to those complications~emotionally, mentally, or physically.

It's time to clean up and move out all that that divides our hearts for Christ. Trust me, this will take some time praying and really evaluating our lives. Changes like these do not always come easy, but they definitley take that stance that you are choosing to continue in your "simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" rather than be led astray.

Stand firm on what you know is good for you and what God is asking of you. Do not be swayed by outsiders, who sometimes can mean good, but really just add to the confusion in our minds. Go to God and ask Him before seeking counsel from friends, parents, a spouse or boyfriend. Although they can have good intentions, they can also be a distraction to us really hearing directly from God what He wants for us!

James 4:8 "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

For His Purpose Alone

I recently mentioned in this post that God was at work in my heart about staying home full-time. In the previous mentioned post I wrote about trusting God, because having me work less really doesn't sound like a good idea in today's world. But, at the same time I also knew that He would make a way, because this was His desire for me.

Well, I didn't mention this before, but this has been my hearts desire ever since our oldest was born nearly 5 1/2 years ago. I love to be home, I love home-making and taking care of my husband and children. I really have not liked having my day end by 3:00pm each afternoon in order to go to work and find care for the boys and the list goes on.

So, deep in my heart saying "yes" to God really wasn't that hard for me, but circumstances made it seem more difficult. Now, fast forward one month and here we are today. What has God done?

He freed up our finances in such a way that I do not need to work~ Yes, amazing I know. I can most often be found still speechless. This morning I was talking to God and listening and He made it so evidently clear that yes, this was a desire of my heart, but He had done all of this for His purpose alone.

He made the path so clear, so brightly lit with neon lights for me to be home 100%, I can say, "Only by the hand of God." You see in the midst of HIS great plan, He also found a way to encourage the deepest part of my heart and remove a source of stress to me. He found a way to gently lead me directly down the path He intends for me to be walking.
And you know the most beautiful part of it to me is that He has rendered my heart speechless, except for the song of praise I have continually sung since the day He did this amazing work on our behalf. Do you remember me saying recently in this post that God always gives us what we don't deserve? Well, that is exactly the kind of God I serve and I am humbled that He would work in such a detailed way to bring about HIS purposes in my life while also blessing me beyond what I could imagine.

Thank you God for showing me that this was not about me, but it was all about You! You are not concerned that I am comfortable (so to speak) or that I get all I would like to have in life, rather you are concerned with the state of my heart. You are also concerned with my focus being on doing that which matters most to You! What is really amazing is that when You choose, You are capable of setting me firmly on the path You desire, while also making my joy complete in You alone. Thank you, I do not have the words....

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Purity: Remove the Idols

We know that in order to be living a life set apart for Christ and walking in purity, we cannot have anything competing with first place. Who does this place belong to alone? God!

I found this short post with some great questions to get us thinking~so go check it out and spend some time this next week with God getting rid of your idols. This is take us being real and honest before God, but He already knows. I also encourage you to ask a faithful friend or an older woman to keep you accountable to what you have said you will lay at the foot of the cross!

Click here to check it out!

"You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What I do deserve....

is well, something much different than what my Heavenly Father has given me. What is it that He bestows on me? grace

My husband and I have been given the incredible privilege to be a part of a body of believers that is led by what we would call a "true shepherd." In the recent words of my husband he is a man who is "unwavering and unashamed of the Gospel. He sacrifices much to make God look good." A recent example of this is a sermon series he just finished on grace. Click
here to listen on-line.

What was so wonderful about the entire series was that is was not about "saving grace," but something entirely different. It was about how we actually live out and grow in grace! Two weeks ago, Pastor Jim said, "God always gives us what we don't deserve and withholds what we do deserve. This also means that grace frees God to give us what love requires." I was literally silenced for the rest of the day! Just a side note: this is a rare thing! :)

You see, we were recently gifted with something far beyond what I would even call reasonable. Something that we knew we were most certainly undeserving of, yet in God's perfect ways He saw fit to "grace" us with. Why? I'm still not sure, except for the simple fact that God always gives us what we don't deserve. We are very aware that with this gracious gift comes great responsibility that we do not take lightly. A beautiful thing it has developed in me is this constant awareness of my thoughts concerning this gift.

I know this is also the beautiful hand of God at work getting me to return to a constant state of open communication with Him. He is so good to work that way. Kind of like letting us learn to be humble by giving us children to raise! If you have any, you know what I'm talking about, bless their sweet little hearts~

And speaking of children, through this series and the lavish gift of grace God bestowed upon us, He rendered my heart still at the thought that I had much room to grow in offering grace to my children. Honestly, this is sometimes hard for me because of the amount of training involved in raising two strong and charging young men! They sometimes seem so differently behaved than their peers and the things they come up with to do simple leave me speechless sometimes. I tend to lean on the side of firm, rather than grace.

But, you know what? I was chosen to be
their mama! I was chosen to to do for them what no one else can do! I was asked by God to walk in the grace He has given me, in order to give that grace to these precious children entrusted to me for their time on earth. This does not always come easy, but then....am I not a child of God who is also sometimes acting in such a way that makes it difficult to be one who is shown grace? YES! I definitely am~

So, what I deserve is nothing even close to the idea of grace, but what I am given is grace in it's purest form. Love that springs from the heart of my Heavenly Father, because He desires for me to walk in grace, be strengthened in grace and live out grace to those around me.

Who around you needs to be shown the beautiful hand of grace? Are you aware of what you have been given, not just to be saved but to bestow upon others? Well, then to all of us I say, let's get to work "springing grace" on those around us! (You will understand this more after listening to the sermon series!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Purity: Guarding our thought life

A few weeks ago, I was given the privilege to spent three weeks with a group of young women, teaching them about purity. It was so fun! I learned much about my own heart as well as what pressures face our young people today. At the end of my time with them I longed for a way to stay in touch with them and continue influencing them to live a life of purity. So, I decided on Thursdays, I would post about purity~

The following is a re-post from the original.

Blameless. Uncompromised. Uncontaminated. Above reproach. Morally upright.


Will I keep watching the same shows? Will I keep responding the same way? Will I go to the same activities and keep the same friends? Will I keep practicing the same habits?

All of these are decisions we must be intentional about making. Our lives should be reflection of Christ. Christ is always with us, so what do we have going on in our lives that would bring Him shame?

The heart behind what and why we do things is most important. My best advice is this: If you have aligned your heart with God, then follow what it tells you to do. Do not be swayed by friends asking, why don't you do this? why don't you come along with us? why? why? why?

You alone are responsible before God for your life. Set the goal to be found faithful. Use the questions and doubts from others as an opportunity to be a witness for the things that matter most to God.

This past week, the question was raised to me, "What do we do with our minds in our free time?" Have you ever given much thought to this type of question? Laziness in our thinking opens a wide door for temptation and distraction. How are you guarding your thought life?

Satan works very hard to lead us astray in our thought life by introducing all different kinds of distractions. Do you remember in Paul's letter to the Corinthians that he says,
"I am afraid that...your minds will be led away from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3) Nothing would please Satan more than to see us compromise in our own minds, because then our internal thinking will be the catalyst to throw off all of our thinking. When we are compromised in our own mind, we are more likely to find ways to "justify" that which does not align with what God desires for us.

You see our minds are powerful and they can come up with all sorts of scenarios all on their own. How many times when faced with an unknown outcome do we begin to "think" of all the possibilities, both good and bad? This is when we enter the door of trouble. So, here is the place where we must STOP!

How do we combat lazy thinking? Getting in God's Word. More recently, I keep hearing this answer for so many things. Does it sound cliche? Well, yes to some it may, but it is absolutely the right answer every time!

Why? Because in today's world we cannot afford to be lazy and give Satan open doors to our minds. This is the ultimate contamination! Purity is to be free of contamination.

Let this be our prayer this week:

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Child Training Tuesday: Library List

The Squire and the Scroll...............Jennie Bishop
Paintings by Presto McDaniels
This book is a wonderful training tool for young boys, concerning guarding their pure heart. There is also a version for young girls. It tells the story of a young squire who accompanies a knight on a quest to rescue the Lantern of Purest Light. Along the way, he uses the commands taught to him by his parents from his scroll. An example is "Make level paths for your feet." A wonderful training tool and a good story with beautiful paintings.

One Boy.........Laura Vaccaro Seeger
This fun book uses cut-outs within the page to help make words on the following page. Very fun reading with bright primary color pictures.

Inch by Inch..........Leo Lionni
(Caldecott Honor Book) A simple and eye-drawing book of artwork with a story of a winsome inchworm who measure everything under the sun!

Charlie & Lola: But excuse Me that is My book................... Lauren Child
Based on the television show Charlie and Lola, this book is very fun to read and look at! The pictures and print are whimsical and crazy. The story is about a book Lola loves that she is unable to bring home her favorite book, but finds something new and exciting!

ABCDrive........Naomi Howland A fun alphabet picture book that uses all the many different things we see as we travel for the alphabet words.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.......Virginia Lee Burton
If you have not been exposed to Ms. Burtons artwork, it is enchanting! The sweet story of enduring friendship and loyalty will inspire your children to look out for the best for others.

The Little House......Virginia Lee Burton
This is one of my all-time favorites! The precious story of a little house that struggles to not get pushed out of her homestead as the city grows all around her. A very special person soon comes to bring life back to the Little House as the story comes to a sweet ending.

Island Boy.......Barbara Cooney
This book tells of a boy name Mattias and his lived that is well-lived. From the beginning of his life to the end, he made choices that were for the good of his own heart and those whom he loved. The artwork is amazing!

How My Library Grew by Dinah...........Martha Alexander
A very sweet story of how a little girls town library is built and how she and Teddy find something special when it is all finished!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Story Cookies (to be made the evening before Easter)

1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
zipper baggie
wooden spoon
Preheat the oven to 300°~ Do this first thing!

1. Place pecans in zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3

2. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

3. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

4. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.

5.Add 1 c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalms 34:8 and John 3:16.

6. Beat the mixture on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

7. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thank you...

As my boys and I were outside this morning, dark clouds began to roll in and the skies became overcast. I love thunderstorms, but this morning just really had me quiet. Thank you God for the reminder. Thank you for not letting me forget today.

And they began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no guilt in this man."

Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him." But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. (From Luke 23)

Tonight, we are going to go the cross and spend some time in prayer and share with our two sons what today means. How might you find some time today to stop and just say "thank you." Although for such a free gift, thank you seems quite small, let God see your heart at sometime today. Honest before Him in absolute awe and gratitude for what He has done for all humanity.

Pray for someone that is not a believer and share the true hope of Easter this year with someone God's places in your path. Find some way to remember today, so that your heart will sincerely be ready to rejoice in the hope of Easter morning!

Come back tomorrow for a special Easter Cookie recipe to share with your kids Saturday night & Sunday morning!

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