Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I really like this promise. Here is John 14:27:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid."

How can you not love that? God is promising us that we never need to be afraid again. As a child of God, we need have no fear. This can be extremely comforting to remember, especially as a parent. Fear can be a mighty force- there are some days where I really don't want Abigail to go to school- especially in the days following a school tragedy. It is at those times that I can call on God's promise, and ask him to protect my little girl, and take away my fear. And he always does.

There are times where I become afraid driving- I'm afraid that someone else will lose control and we will have a crash, or when I am walking through a parking lot alone, I'm often afraid that I will be attacked. God can take that fear away from me and give me peace as I go through my day. Because I am a child of God, I need have no fear, and that is hard to remember sometimes. I need not fear for my life, because I know if my life ended today that I would be in the arms of my Lord. I need not fear for my family's lives, because I know if they were taken away, they would be in the presence of God, and I would reunite with them later. Fear can cause us to do strange things. I seriously contemplated homeschooling my children simply out of fear. Homeschooling is so not for me, but I almost went through with it anyway. I really had to ask God for peace about sending my children to school, and my little girl is being such a fantastic witness to her friends, I imagine that will become so much more the older she gets.

We need not be afraid ever again, for the Holy Spirit is with us at all times to give us peace hen we need it. Jesus left us with a mighty gift when he went back to his Father's side. It would do me very well to remember that and ask for his peace when I feel that twinge of fear rising. He is the great comforter and will keep us safe and at peace with our surroundings.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Do you know the Bible is loaded with God's Promises? I thought I'd spend a couple of days looking at a handful of God's Promises. Because unlike a promise from another person, a promise from God is binding. When God promises, he carries through.

Romans 8:9-11 is the source of our first promise.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Here we see that God promises that sin will never control us again. By living in Christ, we have been broken free of the controlling nature of sin. The Spirit of God lives in us, and he can help us control our sinful nature. And this is a promise! Never again will sin be the controlling force in our lives. Never! We can find encouragement here in this verse when we are struggling with something. It is so encouraging to read that we have been freed of sin. While this doesn't mean that we won't sin, because we all know that we still are sinful beings, it is not the reigning force in our lives. It is not sin that will drive our decision making or our day-to-day activities. Rather, the Spirit will help us every day to conquer the sinful thoughts that may creep up on us.

I thank God for this promise, and for his Spirit which will help us. I am thankful that God is not a man and cannot lie to us- for his word can be a comfort in a time of trouble, and I am ever thankful for the many promises, some of which I will discover in the coming days.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In Search Of...

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I've been looking for verses this morning that apply to seeking God's Will for your life. What I am trying to find is some direction or instructions. Mostly- how do you know if what you are thinking about doing is actually God's will for you to do? How do you know that it's not just yourself seeking a little bit of attention, or trying to show off? That can be a fine line sometimes- and is why I don't sing in front of church anymore. I was always doing it for me- I always sang to show off, not to glorify God. Now playing the drums for me is different. Maybe part of it is that I am not very good in my opinion, so I do my best with what talent I have in that area. But is that glorifying God? And is it God's will for me?

Anyway, my search for verses led me to 1 Thessalonians, which has turned out to be a wealth of guidance, and I thought I would share that this morning. I was led to chapter 4, and the little subtitle in my Bible says "Live to please God." Right there I have a clue to helping me discover God's will, and then verse 4 starts with "God wants you to be holy." So what does that mean? God wants me to be holy? Sounds a little scary to me, actually. But at the heart of being holy, what the Bible is saying is that he wants me to be more Christ-like. Being holy means being set apart for God's use- it means that in order to do his service, a change must be made. It means that I need to wholly accept what Jesus has done for me and give up my sin. And after I have accepted him into my life and changed my ways, I can seek his will for my life.

This is where I think it is simpler than it seems. How do I determine if something is God's will for me? Put simply, will what I am contemplating doing mean that I will be more like Christ by doing it. Is it something that Jesus would have done, or will it ultimately bring glory to him. God calls us to be holy. When we are set apart for him, we will be able to serve him in all areas of our life. That is ultimately the will of God- to be holy and to serve him.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Quickie

Thank you God for this beautiful little boy. May you bless him continuously over the next year. I thank you every day for this little treasure that you've placed in my care. May I continue to be a good Mom to him and help him to grow to love you.

(And on that note, this is Heart & Soul's 100th post today!)

Friday, January 26, 2007


Today's reading led me to 1 Chronicles, chapters 3 and 4. If you are familiar with these chapters at all, you would know that there isn't much to them that is entertaining. Long lists of names, and who the descendants were of David, Solomon, and so on. Then there in the middle of chapter four, we get a bit of a break.

9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

Jabez is an excellent example for us as Christians. He had a past. We don't know exactly what it is, but we do know that he was named for distress or pain. Jabez did not want his name to reflect his life, so he decided to change things. And how did he change things? He prayed.

First, he prayed for wealth and prosperity- how often do we not ask God to bless us with riches or wealth? Why? It is quite all right for us to ask God to bless us financially. He wants us to ask, he delights in answering the prayers of his people. The second thing that Jabez asked for was that God would be with him in all that he did. This was a wise thing to ask after asking for riches. Having God by his side would help him be responsible with his fortunes and the more we practice handling our money in a Godly manner, the more it becomes habit. And thirdly, Jabez asked for God's protection through his life. And what did God do? The Bible simply says that God granted his request. Just like that. Jabez spent his life more distinguished than his brothers, simply because he asked.

Satan can suggest to us over and over that as we grow and age that our past is causing us trouble. It is Satan who plants the seeds of doubt that we are not worthy of God's love, and that something from our past will cause us problems in the future. Jabez's prayer teaches us that a difficult past can be overcome by the power of God. God answers prayer. He does have plans for all of us, but we can still pray and ask him for whatever our heart desires. When God does allow us to suffer, he also provides us the grace we need to endure the suffering, so that in the end of our suffering, it is him who is glorified by our triumph. God delights in answering our prayers- and he takes delight in delivering us from a shady past. Having God at our side while we fight our battles is what he wants us to ask him for... it is good to remember that. All we need to do is ask...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Art of Listening

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding" Proverbs 17:27

How often do we actually listen to other people? When we are busy chatting with a friend, how often do we find ourselves excessively chatting? I know I do that sometimes. A friend will be over, and it will be quiet, so we fill the air with needless chatter. Or someone will be telling a story, and it triggers our own story, so we are waiting on the edge of our seat for them to finish so we can share ours, or worse- we interrupt because we think our words are more important. The verse above clearly states that we need to listen more. We need to really listen to those around us, so we know what to pray for, and we know how our friends are really doing.

I think of our small group, and I wonder how often I truly listen to everyone as they are sharing with us. Oh, I listen plenty, but do I really hear what they are saying? Sometimes when you ask someone how they are doing and they reply with fine. Fine can mean so much. If you truly listen, maybe you can hear the cry for help or the need for a hug. Listening can be rewarded- according to the verse above, we can be filled with understanding. We can learn even more about our closest friends or learn something about something else. Other people are a wonderful source of information! So I am going to try listening more. God has so much to tell me, I would hate to miss it because I was too busy prattling on about myself or something less important- or just simply not listening. May God help me to be a better listener, because in the grand scheme of things, it will make me a better person and a better friend.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Unto the Least

This morning's reading lead me to Deuteronomy 24 and 25. These chapters concern direction and instructions towards the Israelite people. And while some of these no longer apply to lives today, there are many tidbits in here worth looking at twice. Specifically this morning I am looking at verses 17-21.

“True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. 18 Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command. 19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows."

There are clear instructions here about caring for those who are less fortunate. When we pay attention to this verse and lend a hand to those who need it, it is as if we are helping God himself. These verses give a unique way of helping the poor. You notice that it doesn't say that the Israelites needed to harvest their grain and give some to the poor. It says harvest most of it, and leave some for the poor so that they can work for it themselves. It doesn't say harvest your grapes and give some to the poor. It says pick your grapes, but don't go for a second picking- leave those for the poor to come behind and pick for themselves. He doesn't say to give handouts. He says to give a means to a less fortunate person. When I think of how I can apply this to today, it can be difficult to comprehend.

While I certain that there are people who take advantage of a generous nature, for the most part, those in need are eager to earn what they need, they're just having a hard time of it. I think of some friends of ours who occasionally have a rough patch. And while we could very easily just write them a check or go buy them groceries, it doesn't really help their very nature to want to provide for their family. In our case, Andy used to own a tree service, and every once in a while, he gets a call from someone who wants his expertise to do some work. So he'll call up our friend and ask him to assist in the work, and then they share the profits from the work. Our friend gets to earn a paycheck and a sense of pride for providing for his family and we get the benefit of helping him to do so. I can't tell you how many times God provided for us in the same manner. We would be staring at an empty fridge and an empty checkbook and a friend would call up asking for Andy's help with something. They would pay Andy or send him home with groceries or diapers, and Andy was able to provide for his family.

There are many verses in the Bible about helping the less fortunate. And while everyone is not in a position to provide a job or provide money, there are always opportunities. You go grocery shopping and cereal is on sale, so you add an extra couple of boxes to your shopping cart for the local food pantry, or you drop off a bag of gently used clothing at your community resource center. There are so many opportunities, and God has commanded us to take advantage of those opportunities. I think this is important to think on and pray on this time of year. People in need receive all sorts of assistance at the holiday time, and this is the time of year when they tend to get forgotten. It can be just as helpful to provide a need to them as it can be to pray for them. Is someone in your life struggling with a need? Just ask them if you can pray with them about it. That simple act will lift their spirits, and maybe give them the needed boost to go get that dream job or find work.

I'll leave today with another verse from Leviticus 25:

35 “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. 36 Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative. 37 Remember, do not charge interest on money you lend him or make a profit on food you sell him. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

None Can Imagine

Well, first off, let me just say that I know I wanted to wake earlier in the morning... but this... this is a little crazy God. Our normal wake-up time is 6:45 in the morning. The times I've tried getting up early, the alarm wakes Zander, and makes my early rising pointless. So this morning I was wide awake at 4:50 in the morning. Like I said... I know I wanted to wake up earlier, but I was thinking along the lines of 30 minutes earlier... not several HOURS. I guess there will be a hot breakfast for all this morning.

Anyway. My reading this morning began in 1 Corinthians. I read a few chapters, but the verse I am thinking about this morning is found in 1 Corinthians 2. Here is verse 9, a great verse indeed:

However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"

No mind has conceived... I love picking apart at details. Let's just roll that one around for a minute. No mind means to me that of all the speculating ever done by anyone here on earth as to what Heaven is going to be like, that not a single one has gotten it right. No one has even come close to imagining what Heaven will be like. That is mind-boggling. Of all the people who have ever lived, and who are living on earth today, there isn't a single one who has conceived in their brain the possibilities of Heaven. How cool is that! That says to me that the most awesome thing that I can imagine about Heaven isn't enough. It isn't good enough for God to call it Heaven. Doesn't that just make you a little excited to see just what it is? The exhiliration you experience before you go somewhere new, or tackle a new advneture... Heaven is going to be so much better than that.

And just who gets to experience that? This verse tells us very clearly. That God is preparing it for those who love him. That's it. Not those who love him AND do good works. Or those who love him AND (fill in the blank). Simply those who love him. If we love God, we get to go to Heaven. Simple enough. There are no conditions, no rules for membership, no annual fees necessary- all we need to do is Love God.

So this morning I am certainly loving God. As I am experiencing this strange morning sensation of being wide awake BEFORE I even have my coffee. God can do anything- even help someone who sleeps just a little to much to sleep a little less. I pray that I will continue to love him throughout my day today, and that I will love my family even more than I did yesterday.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Acts 20

This morning I was literally drawn to Acts 20. I think God wanted to tell me something this morning. Here is verse 20-24.

20" I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. 21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, 23 except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. 24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."

It's verses 22 and 23 specifically that are speaking to me this morning. Because what amazing faith Paul had in his God!! He never knew what was to come in his travels, except that with certainty, he would find himself in jail and continuous suffering. And he continued! He continued with carrying God's message to the ends of the Earth, and he was so passionate about it that there are several times in this chapter where we find Paul weeping- which I like to think is because he knew he didn't reach everyone. He also knows that his time is coming to a close, and I think that he is thinking on all those who still need to hear the message of salvation. What a humbling example of faith.

We are praying earnestly these days for God's provision. And we have had that questioned and tested several times over the last few days. Andy is still at home this week, and things are getting a little tighter every day financially speaking. Yet we know that God will provide as long as we continue to seek his will in everything. We have complete faith that God will provide for us during this time that Andy is off work. This week we asked others to pray with us for God's continued provision, and the question to us was "so you want Andy to start back to work again?" and our reply was that we wanted God's will. If God wanted Andy to go back to work, that would be wonderful. If not, we wanted him to continue to bless our finances and help us make wise decisions concerning our dwindling funds. Andy is not sitting around doing nothing expecting God to take care of him. He has spent the last four weeks refinishing the kitchen church, and this week will begin to tackle the last remaining space upstairs at our church that needs to be finished. In a way, he is so grateful for the time off that he can serve God by taking care of his building. I am grateful as well- he has been able to go do work like a normal work day, instead of doing the work after putting in a full day on the job. God provides in such mysterious ways sometimes.

What I love about Paul's example is that he persevered. He did not stop even though he knew hardship was coming. He kept on going with his mission, despite what others may have said to him. He knew, without a doubt, that God would take care of him right to the end of his travels. And most definitely there was more than one person who questioned him on his choices to continue- you know, that one person who said "don't you think that you've done enough for God and deserve a break?" There is one certainty there- we do not "deserve" anything. We are not entitled to anything, other than God's Love. Though we may stumble every day, we always get a chance to start over each morning- and it is God's Grace that gives us that second chance, and third chance, and so on. I certainly don't feel that we deserve to be provided for. We've made so many mistakes, but it's through Christ that we have the ability to be provided for. Because of what Jesus did for us, we can ask God for his provision, and know that he will see our family taken care of.

I thank God this morning for opening my eyes to his word. That I may continue to have my faith in him and his provision. It is so wonderful to know that just when I may be on the verge of doubting and trying to control the situation myself, that my faith can be confirmed and reinforced by turning to the Bible.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


"Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon's house. But Simon's wife's mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them." Luke 4:38-39

I am not feeling well today. I felt it coming down last night before crawling into bed, and it just kept rolling in. I slept poorly as I kept waking, feeling the lump in my throat get bigger and more sore each time, and dreading this morning. I hate not feeling well, and I hate being useless, so I was determined to sleep the best I could so I could till function a bit today. Then I woke and thought how horrible it was to be sick and that I really didn't want to do anything- let alone get Abigail ready for her school day. So I woke her up and headed downstairs to make coffee for Andy and put on some water for tea for me. And as I was walking down the stairs, it was almost as if a voice said, "look up, look around." And I took in the sight of my dining room and kitchen. And you know what? It's all clean. My home is in order and the laundry done, all because I was able to find some motivation yesterday. As a result, I am free to be sick. I can spend my day relaxing and healing and I can still function enough to spend time with Zander. With any luck, most of that time will be in front of the TV today though...

Even though I am feeling terrible, I have a wonderful calm and peace about me today. I am so grateful that God heard me yesterday and kept me going to get my house clean. Now today I can rest without that nagging feeling that I should be doing something. Being sick will also give me time to curl up with a book or two, that I haven't been able to really find time for the last few days. And of course, I get to be even more reflective than normal, so I'm sure God will have an item or two for me to ponder today. I am already thanking God for healing my body and helping me overcome this illness as quick as possible. I love him so much more every day, and being sick gives me a reminder of the wonderful healer he is to me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Back to School

"A poor, yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction." Ecclesiastes 4:13

Even though I've been out of college for going on 8 years now, sometimes I miss it. I really enjoy the process of learning, it's always exciting to learn something new or pick up a new skill. And in this day, where anyone can go back to school anytime they want to learn more, many, many people do. I can't help but wonder if God doesn't plant that desire to learn in us. That desire to do better and add knowledge. Life is a long process of learning, and there is soooo much to learn from the God's Word. It's exciting to think that in 20 years, I will still be learning things from this wonderful Book of Love. Every day I find something new in the Bible, and I thank God for the new wonder he has shown me.

Learning is a lifelong process, and it does well to continue learning. But why is that? Here is 2 Thessalonians 3:6

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

Learning keeps us from being idle. Proverbs 31:27 says, "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." We are not supposed to be idle, wasting our time on fruitless pursuits. This is a daily struggle for me. Daily. While I do think it is okay to curl up with a book for a while to relax a bit, or wind down with a little TV, it's the excess that is evil. Sitting down for a 6 hour marathon of your favorite show every day is wasting precious time. Especially when there are little ones involved. An example needs to be set to show children how to be productive and how to enjoy the fruits of ones labor. I like to think that my kids see that when we cook a meal together and then are able to all enjoy it. Or when they watch Andy busy building a bookshelf out of wood and then it is used to hold all their precious books. Yet it is so easy for me to just declare that today is going to be a lazy day, and I let the kids spend their time on computer games or movie watching.

Instead I want to concentrate on learning. I'm not talking about actually going to school, I'm talking about the learning process. First and foremost, learning from God's word every day, but secondly, also expanding my knowledge in other things. Showing my children that learning is not only fun, it's rewarding. That it is a wonderful thing to learn how to sew, because the ugliest cloth can become the most beautiful thing when it is created by a willing heart. O learning how to care for pet fish is valuable in teaching responsibility. Idleness is not welcome here. I pray that God will continue to give me the strength to fight it off. It's been so hard the last couple of days... just as I've gotten into a wonderful rhythm of keeping my house clean and company ready most times, all the sudden I feel tired and lazy. I have no doubt that this is the work of the devil, and he is NOT welcome here. May God strengthen my heart today and show me what he'd like me to learn.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Today I read Hebrews 11. The heading in my Bible says "Great Examples of Faith." And boy, is it ever. From Enoch and Abraham to Moses and Rahab, this is a very powerful chapter in the Bible. Today verse 6 jumped out at me. It says that whoever comes to God must believe. It's a simple concept to read, but is it so simple to put into practice. Essentially it is saying that when we go to God in prayer, we must believe that he will answer that prayer. We must believe that he is our God and will hear our prayer, see our hearts, and respond with an answer. But do I believe enough? How does God measure faith? Do I have to have enough for him to answer my prayers? Looking in the Bible, we see some guidance to help us when we pray and ask God to meet our needs. Here are 5 truths the Bible says about prayer.

1. We must come in faith, believing that there is a God who will hear us and reward us. (Hebrews 11:6)
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

2. We must willingly let God examine our heart, confess our sins, and repent. (Psalms 139:23-24, 1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

19"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,"

3. We can pray even if we feel that our faith is small. (Matthew 17:20)

"He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

4. We must consider if there are any relationships in our lives that need mending. Then we need to go and make them right. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

5. We must come to prayer by asking in Jesus' name and for his sake. Will the answer to this prayer glorify his name? (John 14:13)

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

The beauty of all of this advice is that the more we practice it, the better we get at it. Prayer is one of the many disciplines I mentioned the other day. By following these 5 guidelines we can have the life of faith so overwhelmingly displayed in Hebrews 11. And the end result of all of this? Check out Hebrews 11:39

"All of these people we have mentioned received God's approval because of their faith."

God's approval would certainly be a great reward.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Great Mood

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh." Ecclesiastes 3:4

I could not be in a better mood this morning. Last night we had our small group over, and it was simply wonderful. Friends of ours who had been travelling for the last month got home early and decided to join us, and the whole night was perfect. You don't realize how much you cherish those dearest to you until you are without for a while. God was also at our group last night. We started a new topic about marriage, and great things are going to come of our discussions, I think. Both within our marriages and without. And more than once last night we all were dissolved into bouts of laughter, hence the verse of the day. The more we spend with our group, the closer we all become, and every time our group gets together, I am amazed at the power and importance of fellowship.

It is also a wonderful morning as we woke to a beautiful blanket of snow. And while I'm not normally a snow person, one look at my daughters face when she looked out the window just put joy into my heart this morning. And to watch her walk out to the car just grinning and full of joy over the freshly falling and still falling snow is something special. God is great, and he provides even the simplest of pleasures in the new snow this morning.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Matter of Discipline

"Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son." Deuteronomy 8:5

"In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end." Deuteronomy 8:16

"It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" Hebrews 12:7

"But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? Hebrews 12:9-10

I think these verses all represent a bit of what I'm experiencing these days. I will confess that there have most definitely been days where I really want to just take a break from my daily quiet time. Usually I wake up, get my coffee and then head for the computer. Sitting at the computer I pull out my Bible or pull up a devotional website, depending on my mood, say a quick prayer to open my eyes this morning and get reading. After I have read, I reflect for a while personally on what I've read, and then I pray about it. After I've prayed I head here to share what I have discovered. This blog is what has kept me accountable every day. And some days I'm just tired, and I want to do nothing. And then I think about the people who check in here daily, and I know I need to muster it up and get going. I am always glad when I do, but man, some days it's sooo hard! I think this whole process has been a means of God disciplining me.

God wants me to have my time with him. He knows that my day goes much better if I start it in His Presence. And it really does, I can tell the difference. I am a much better wife and mother because of my daily time. And yet there are other aspects that I still need some discipline on. One is this computer actually. I spend my time blogging in the morning, and I have gotten better about not sitting in front of the computer all day, but there are still days where I will just sit and spend a couple of hours doing nothing. What a waste of time! Two hours that I've frittered away for what... instead I could have been playing a game with Zander, or curled up on the couch snuggling him, or getting dinner prepared ahead of time so it's not such a mad rush at the end. I have been cautiously asking God for help with this. Part of me is afraid that if I ask for too much, he'll take my computer away entirely... although realistically I know that's not true. I think that great things are happening here... daily when I check my statistics, I see people checking in here from all around the world. And with God's help, a few seeds have been planted.

Discipline. We all need it. Children need to be raised with some discipline, it's a fact. In the same way, we as children of God need our own discipline to help us grow and become good Christians and become closer to him.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not by Might

Why is it that I struggle everyday to overcome weaknesses, to stop habits that aren't sinful on their own but become sinful when they distract me from God? Why is it important that these things are removed from my life? If I am seeking to be intimate with God, ANYTHING that gets in the way and separate me from His fellowship and blessing. How thankful am I that God's love is never removed from me and is unconditional.

But how do I overcome these habits? "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." Guess where that is from...Zechariah 4:6. Yep, the OLD TESTAMENT. At this point, God's spirit had not been sent to inhabit His people yet; but that was the mode of strenght, etc.

Romans 6:19 says "...just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slave of righteousness for holiness." We must give up our struggles (I think daily) to God and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us away from our old habits.

Jerry Bridges, in The Pursuit of Holiness says:
"Though we are to deal with these habits of unholiness, we must not try to do it on our own strength. Breaking sinful habits must be done in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and in dependence upon Him...Therefore, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, we must systematically work at acquireing the habit of saying no to the sins that so easily entangle us."

Through dependence on the Holy Spirit and victory over our sins, we come closer to intimacy with our God!

No Condemnation

This morning, I want to talk about something that I fail in ALL THE TIME. I want to talk about pride and it's ugliness in relation to other people. First, lets start with the verse of the day, found in Romans 8:1.

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

So why is it that so often, I find myself criticizing other people's decisions and life choices? I don't criticize right to them, but about them. Mostly in my head, but sometimes it will come up in conversations with my husband or family members. And I think that I am not alone. Pride is an ugly thing, and so often I think that the choices we have made are the best choices, and that everyone should make the same ones. I criticize people who have kids close together in age, because we waited a few years in between, and our kids get along immensely. I criticize people with just one child or with more than two children, because we have two, and that's perfect for us. I criticize people who home school, because our public school here is really excellent, and our daughter is thriving. Yet I don't criticize all home schooled kids, because I do know a couple who it works very well for. Sometimes I criticize people who shop at Wal-Mart for everything, because a lot of their merchandise is poorly made, even though it's what some people can afford.

The Bible has lots to say about Pride. It's actually one of the infamous Seven Deadly Sins. Yet it's so easy to get caught up in it. Here is a verse from Deuteronomy 8:17-20,

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Obadiah 1:3 says this:

3 The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
'Who can bring me down to the ground?'

I pray that God can bring me back down to the ground and temper this criticism I have for other people. It's almost as if part of me thinks that I am in a competition. Competition for what? Who can say, but I know it's not healthy or good for relationships with other people. As Christians we should be supporting each other and lifting each other up- regardless of where we are in our lives. Yet I see it all the time, when we visit other churches in the area, there is almost an air of importance, the "you should come to this church and come to a real church" attitude. Why do we all think we are the best and that our choices are the best? Not only is it non-supportive of other Christians to think this way, it's detrimental to everyone. Especially to the unsaved, who maybe watch these things from afar. It scares them away from God and church. And that is a travesty for sure.

I am praying earnestly that God will remove this sense of pride from my heart. It's okay to be proud of some things (my children come to mind) but not when that pride leads to snobbery of others. I wonder how many people have come to visit our church and walked away because I didn't smile and say hello to them. I know I'm just one person... but one person can make a difference. Instead of looking at the back of some one's head and thinking their hair is not-quite perfect that day, I can pray for them, pray for any needs they have. I pray that God can bring me down a notch and give me the desire to be more open and friendly. Because me being quiet and reserved may appear to be pride and indifference. And that's the last thing I want.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Let's start off by looking at a few of the places in the Bible where it mentions a wife submitting to her husband.

First up is Ephesians 5:22-25

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Then there's Colossians 3:18,19

18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Then the verse we had yesterday, 1 Peter 3:1-2

1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

And then here's verse 7 for the men,

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Now, usually when there's a command in the Bible once, we pay attention to it. But, here we specifically see the words "Wives, submit to your husbands" three times. It's obviously important! I read these verses and I agree wholeheartedly, and I am filled with joy because I am trying my best to follow God's direction here, and I have to think that he is pleased with my attempts so far. See, the important thing to understand here is that we're not talking about being a slave. We're not saying that a wife should take orders from her husband and do everything he says, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. These verses are all about the head of the household spiritually. And in an ideal, God-filled marriage, this is much easier than a marriage of mixed faith.

There is more here than submission. Webster's dictionary defines submission as humble or compliant. In our marriage, and with our family, I recognize that my husband IS the head of our household, and that he does know what is best for all of us. And that comes from my trust that he has his own walk with God. That he talks to God daily and during times of decision, that God will show him the right path to take. It is the husband who sets the example. Do you pray before meals? Do you follow him to church every Sunday? For a while my husband was wondering whether or not he was meant to be a Pastor. And if God actually told him that was his path, I would have to lower my resistance and accept that that is the role our family is to take.

You also see in the verses above, that there aren't just commands to the wives. After the wives have their instructions, you see all three times for men to love and respect their wives. Ephesians tells the husbands to love their wives so much, that they should be prepared to give their lives for them! So often I hear the first part of these verses quoted but no mention of the second half. The second half is important. These two acts belong together and are what make a partnership. The wife will submit to her husband's authority and the husband will love his wife unconditionally. If these two acts are both in place in a marriage, they work together. If we look at the verse in 1 Peter, we also see instruction for the wife of a Godless man. That by utilizing the act of submission and humbling themselves before their husbands, those acts will be a witness and may very well lead a man to the Lord. I have no doubt that this verse is extremely enouraging to many women who are praying for their husbands to know Jesus.

There is another aspect to submitting to my husband's authority. And that is peace for me. True enough! I know that my husband is a man of faith and that he seeks God's direction in anything. This means that I don't have to to worry or stress or become upset by a potential change. It means that I put my trust in my husband and know that he will make the best decision for our family as a whole. That's not always easy to do, but each time it seems to get easier, and in return, I get to be a much calmer person and a much better example for our children. And on the occasion that I do disagree with my husband, I can always turn to the Lord. I can ask him for understanding or for his help to change my husbands mind, knowing fully that whatever my husband ultimately decides is direction from God, and I trust in that.

Now having said all this, does this mean that I just sit back and let Andy make all the decisions in our home? Heck no. We have a wonderful partnership, and we discuss just about everything together. Quite often he will relay something to me, asking for help to fix a situation or for my advice about something. Most often we do make decisions together, and I always at least let him know my opinion when he has a decision to make. Marriage is a partnership, and by submitting to my husband, he loves me even more, and it makes for a wonderful partnership as we go through life together. I thank God every day for giving me such a wonderful man to be my husband and the father of my children.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Be Beautiful

1 Peter 3 has caused many stirrings over time. It's that first line that has caused so much confusion and turmoil. "Wives, submit to your husbands." I cringe every time someone mentions a literal interpretation. I remember during the time I worked in a deli a new woman started working there, and she was talking about getting married soon, and that once she got married, she would become a Baptist, because that's the church her fiance belonged to, and his church believed in Wives submitting to their husbands. At the time I was in college and a little ignorant, but I like to think that as their marriage took place and moved forth, that she accepted her new faith with a whole heart and realized that her church wasn't talking about literal submission. I just remember how it weighed on her sometimes, something would come up and we would all just be chatting like co-workers do, and she would just sigh and say "I have to do what my husband wants." And for the longest time I had this misconception that strict Baptist churches adhered to that.

Of course, I don't have that in my head anymore, I understand more of what that verse is saying, and maybe someday it will become a topic for discussion here. What I actually wanted to talk about is further on in 1 Peter 3, verses 3-6 to be specific.

"3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."

This verse is written specifically to women. I like reading this verse. It's another way for me to avoid temptation actually. I think it's natural to want to look good, and there are times where I think to myself that I should splurge and go pick up some new jewelry, or a haircut, or go have a make-up consultation so I can learn to really dazzle. This verse is a wonderful reminder that those things are not important in the least. And in return, it is easier for me to save my husbands income for more important purposes. I get annoyed sometimes with my husband when he talks about how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. Because my physical self looks in the mirror and thinks about how I've changed since we first started dating. But then I stop and realize that what my husband sees and what he is in love with is not my shell. Not my outside appearance, but what's on the inside.

And right here in the Bible I have such wonderful confirmation of that. "It should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." I love that part. The unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit. When I think of that, I think of the old movies. I think of an exiting screen shot of a determined woman, standing alone, the wind whipping through her hair, her eyes gleaming with determination without saying a single word. The gentle spirit is not a pot-stirrer, rather a gentle spirit seeks to quietly resolve conflict. This doesn't mean the quiet spirit sits by and lets things happen around her- she speaks up when it is important and when it matters.

And then there's the last verse there. "Do not give way to fear." Boy is that easy to do. It is so easy to let imagination run wild and fear for something. That happens to me all the time. I'll be driving and Zander will be in the back seat singing away with his songs, and I'll just get this irrational fear about being hit by another vehicle. Or I'll hear fire trucks outside while Abigail is at school, and I become instantly afraid that something awful has happened at school. It's during those times that I find myself relying on prayer more and more. I'll pray that God take away that fear and continue to be a guardian over my little ones. It doesn't do any good to be irrational, it does me well to remember to be a gentle and quiet spirit, and turn to God first.

After reading these verses today, I can only pray that I continue to grow more and more beautiful everyday. It's a little strange to think of that in the spiritual sense, but it's there nonetheless. I can also pray that I remain humble, for the last thing I want is to become puffed up. And that will be a topic for another day I think.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Being Trustworthy

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?" Luke 6:10-12

I love those verses. They have been a constant reminder for me over the last year or so. I know I've mentioned it before, but once upon a time we were poor money managers. Our bills were always behind, we couldn't answer the phone, and our checking account was almost always negative. Then one day, we'd just had enough. I was tired of writing a check and hoping it wouldn't clear until payday, or calculating just how much I had to pay to keep the electric from being turned off. Yet we had closets full of clothes, plenty of toys and books for the kids, and food on the table. One day we decided to give our checkbook to God. Completely. Together we decided that first and foremost God would get his check first, and then the bills every week. And ever since the day we'd made that decision we've been turning around. All of our bills are caught up and have remained steadily payed, our checking account has always had a balance, and other than a few solicitors, we can answer the phone freely. It is great to put our trust completely in God!

Those verses above are such an encouragement to me. It is a daily reminder for me. I have become much more cautious about spending. I have also been out shopping far less, where temptation is sure to strike. I go shopping strictly when I have to- there's no such thing as window shopping for me anymore, because I don't trust myself to not spend. It is such an enouragement to me to know that my diligence with Andy's paychecks will be rewarded. We have been blessed by being able to meet our monthly expenses, and right now we feel we have been blessed immensely. Andy is smack dab in the middle of his third week of layoff. And do you know what he is doing? He is spending his time working on projects at church. While we miss his income terribly right now, God is providing for us, and it is actually a wonderful thing that he has the time to accomplish some of these projects. And while we are certain that he will head back to work soon, until that time comes, God will continue to bless us and that tiny unemployment check will continue to cover our expenses and we will be taken care of.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

God IS our great provider, and he gives us instructions on how to manage what he gives us. And we are most certainly an example of the stubborn and persistant. Andy and I both are of a "I can do it" mentality, so give up and give it to God is something. And it has been a continuous blessing for us to follow his direction. So today his praise will continually be in my mouth and in my head as I continue about my morning.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Nice Thought

7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:7-11

This was my passage that I read today. As soon as I finished reading it this morning, a warmth crept over me. It just made me smile. I don't know that I've ever really paid attention to the end before. I want to suffer with death, so that I might experience resurrection. Wow. I don't think of death as a particularly welcoming thing. Here we see there is a reason to welcome death. It still doesn't make me want to die or anything... but I can see this being a verse to cling to when being faced with death.

I also like the verse right before that. God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. Being with God depends on faith. If we lack faith, we are going nowhere. The best example of faith I am thinking of this morning is found in Matthew.

21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

This woman had faith in Jesus so much so that she knew that if she could just touch his robe, she would be healed of her affliction. He felt the faith within her immediately, and she was healed. Imagine the joy that she experienced, knowing that she had found her faith in the right thing, and furthermore, to be healed of a horrible disease because of that faith. We too can experience that joy through our faith. And while it may very well be someday the gift of healing. For now we can know that our faith is what is going to get us in the door to heaven.

The way to God is through our faith. There's no way around it. I pray that my faith may be strengthened as strong as it can.

Monday, January 08, 2007


When I'm thinking about intimacy with God, I think that the word timshel easily applies. Timshel is a word used by American author John Steinbeck in his awesome novel, East of Eden. I read that book recently and ever since, the word timshel has stuck with me. Very loosely translated, it means "thou mayest" and was found in Genesis 4:6-7, in the story of Cain. The idea of timshel is that we (as people) may defeat sin, but that we also may not. The idea that we may or may not all comes down to one thing- choice. Or free will. It is our choice as to whether or not we overcome sin. It is our choice whether we choose the path of sin. We make the conscious decision to choose to sin or not to sin, it is not (as some people believe) pre-determined what our path will be. We choose that path ourselves.

It is also our choice as to whether or not we become intimate with God. We may become intimate with God, we may not. Timshel. Our choice, our free will as to whether or not we become closer to God. Timshel is what gives us power over sin, power over evil and satan. By choosing God as our Lord and Master, and our ally against sin, we are triumphing over the devil and telling him that we have made our choice. The devil will still do his best to make us stumble, but it is that Timshel that builds resistance. The more we choose the side of good, the easier it becomes to resist evil. Think about eating. If you put a plate of carrot sticks next to a plate of brownies, and offer me a choice. I will always take the brownie. But if I want to change my eating habits and my diet, eventually I may choose a carrot stick. Then the next time it will be a little easier to resist the brownie and choose the carrots. Eventually, the brownies become nothing to me, and the carrot sticks are all I want.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why are you looking down? 7 Will not your face be happy if you do well? If you do not do well, sin is waiting to destroy you. Its desire is to rule over you, but you must rule over it."

Sin wants us. The devil wants us. It is our choice whether or not we give in to the desires of man, or whether we set those desires aside, and see what God desires for us instead. This is just an odd something that stuck in my mind the last couple of days, and I thought I'd share it. The concept of timshel, while it is from literature, and not from the Bible, is interesting to me, and easily applicable. When I think about timshel, it's what sets us apart from other creations. Our free will, our ability to choose our own path is what makes us human. And choosing the right path... that's what brings us closer to God.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A lesson in Matthew 15

You know how you know what you're looking for in the Bible, and it takes you a really long time to find what you're looking for? But you know it's in there somewhere? After tons of searching and reading, I think I found what I was looking for in Matthew 15- most specifically, verses 10-20. At the time the Pharisees and teachers were trying to provoke Jesus and prove that he wasn't a Godly man. They were so wrapped up in the traditions of old and the way things have always been to open their eyes and see a new day had dawned. Specifically, the issue of food was brought up.

In Moses and Abraham's time, God had dictated that certain foods were unclean to eat, and should be avoided as a religious law. I've heard many arguments over time as to why this was, but I like the reasoning most that God was simply trying to protect his people. This was well before the time of refrigeration. And while a side of beef will be fine for several days left out (actually improves with age) a side of pork will not be fine- it will fester and fill with disease.

Anyway (not the point at all today). Jesus made a point to say to his followers that what they eat is not what keeps them away from God. He was questioned on this by Peter, and so he explained: 6 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” Along the lines of what I was reading yesterday, our hearts need to be cleansed before we can be intimate with God.

Look at the list of things that Jesus mentions defiles us, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. When I think about the severity of those... God places a liar in the same place as a murderer. Think about that! If we want to be close to God, we need to keep these things out of our minds and lives. How easy it can be sometimes to tell a lie or two, or in the case of slander- to share a bit of gossip. But when we do that, we are no better than someone who takes a life or sleeps with someone else's wife.

Yesterday we found out that in order to be intimate with God, we need to take the first step and desire to draw closer to him. He will become closer to us, but we need to become closer to him first. Today we find that another step towards intimacy is to cleanse ourselves of unclean thoughts and actions. My Bible calls this step Inner Purity. We have to strive towards inner purity if we want to discover intimacy with God. This looks and sounds easy on paper. But I think to actually achieve inner purity it's going to take a bit of prayer and a bit of work. And a bit of help from God.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Drawing closer

Claire mentioned a few days ago that she's been getting a bit of a message lately about becoming intimate with God. And I've pretty much been thinking on that since. Intimacy is such a scary word. Think about it, when eomeone even mentions the word intimate I begin to withdraw. Intimacy is very private to me. It's the closeness I experience with my husband, and that's no one's business but our own. Our private matters are what I think of when I hear about intimacy. Intimacy with God is very much the same thing. It's opening up and sharing everything. Complete surrender to God is what I equate with intimacy. Here, James 4:8 can probably better explain what I am rambling about:

"Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

Intimacy involves giving over of every aspect of your life to God. Purify your hearts, you double minded. To me, that is saying that in order to be completely intimate with God, we must stop waving a double standard. It's like appearing to be a good Christian on the outside, but on the inside you are thinking horrible thoughts about other people around you. It's like sharing a great message with your Sunday School class, but then later on when you're with your friends, foul words come out of your mouth. To be intimate with God, you need to give all aspects of your life to God. Allow him to take your unclean thoughts and help purify them. Allow him to help you conquer your foul tongue. I think this even applies to the activities we do and the movies we watch. You can't live a pure life for God if you are absorbing "yuck". Liking scary movies isn't good enough. Would God really want you to be watching movies full of demonic influence? Watching soap operas is a fantastic example of yuck that goes in. I think it's safe to say that God doesn't find the unsavory pretend lives in soap operas good content.

There's a second part to this, more than just watching what you say, what you do. Look at the very first part of the verse in James 4:8. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. We have to go first. We have to take that first step and desire to draw closer to God. It is up to us to take that leap of faith and say "God, I want to be closer to you, I want to be intimate with you." Only then will he draw closer to you. He wants us to take the first step and make that decision. How close we become to God is up to us. One thing is certain though, this whoel verse works together. God wants us to draw closer to him, but he wants us to do with with clean hands and a clean mind. He wants us to be cleansed of the unsavory aspects of our lives, and THEN he will be a part of a deeper relationship with us.

I think that's enough to chew on today. Tomorrow I will have more on becoming intimate with God. I think it deserves a series all it's own.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

I love this time of year. It's so quiet for me. We don't have any big plans or places to go or shopping to get done. No big meals to prepare for or events to plan. It's just quiet. I think there's a very good reason the first of the year is the time for resolutions. People have time to think and reflect and change things if they want to. For me, I am trying really hard to maintain a more comfortable home. Usually I clean the house one or maybe two days a week, and then I let it go the rest of the week. By Saturday it's in full disarray, and we spend part of Saturday and Sunday cleaning up and getting the house ready for our small group to gather. It's just unpleasant, and most often I really enjoy the weeks we cancel our group. Or Andy will want to have the guys over for movies or football, and I will beg him not to because I don't want to clean the house. So I've been praying on this. And I'm beginning to see results.

I've asked God to help me be more efficient. There are days where I work so hard at something and am exhausted by early afternoon, and then I drag the rest of the day. Or there are also days where I have a hard time being motivated, and instead, I spend the day with Zander in front of the TV or computer while I spend time online or reading a book. So this past weekend I started moving things around in my house. I put all the Christmas decorations away, because as long as they were out, I had this looming sense of needing to do something. And then I proceeded to clean. I sparkled up my house and rearranged some furniture, and right now, a clean and organized kitchen and dining area is a lovely sight to behold. Every morning, after I spend time with God I do my blogging- usually this one first. Then I get to work on cleaning up, and because it's already had a deep cleaning, I'm finding that in just an hour or two, I can have my entire house sparkly, and company ready. This, in turn, is giving me extra time to get other things done, like baking bread or in the case of yesterday afternoon, I was able to sit and read a book for a while without a task looming over my shoulder. It was so nice! And as I realize today is Thursday, and our small group is gathering on Sunday for the first time in weeks, I look around and realize that my house is already clean, so all I need to worry about is food for Sunday. What a blessing seeking God's help is becoming!

Not only am I able to get everything done, I am able to enjoy my labor, and the fruits of my labor. Overall, I think I am also much more relaxed, and able to enjoy my family more. I pray that I can continue in this manner and that it will become habit. My quest to be more like the wife in Proverbs 31 is bearing fruit, and it is so encouraging to know that I have help from above. Thank God for his peace and for his help, I would be nothing without it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Today I read 1 Samuel, chapter 1. This is the story of Hannah, and it is a good lesson for everyone. Hannah had a serious problem with herself. She was married to a man called Elkanah who had a second wife, Penninnah. Penninnah had given Elkanah many children, while Hannah remained childless. Yet Elkanah loved Hannah deeply, and he really didn't care that she was childless. However, Penninnah was relentless with her teasing and taunting of Hannah for being barren. Many times Hannah would be reduced to tears and couldn't eat- despite the reassurances from her husband.

So what did Hannah do about this? First of all, she prayed. She went to the tabernacle and prayed to God and asked him for a son. She completely unloaded on God and shared herself with him. And then she made a promise. She promised that if God gave her a son, that son would have his life dedicated and devoted to God. God remembered her and her promise, and with time, she gave birth to Samuel. Now while Hannah could have disregarded her promise to God, after all, she had the son she wanted, yet her and her husband agreed and left their young son in the care of the priest. In chapter 2, Hannah says

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me."

That's a long way from the tears and weeping she had before isn't it! God rewarded her heart with joy and happiness. God provided a depressed and distraught woman with a never ending source of joy. All because Hannah turned to God in the first place. She went to him and asked him to ease her pain with a child, and he rewarded her faith with a son. That is an amazing reward. It is a great reminder to me that there may very well be rewards for my faith. I know I will be rewarded with an eternity in Heaven, And that right there is the best reward possible.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

God is God

In 1 Samuel 30, we find David a troubled man. Life was so horrible to him at the time, that his friends and comrades wanted to stone him for leading them into misery. During this time, David turned to God to help him get through the time of misery. In verse 6 we see that, "David found strength in the Lord his God." David brought to his own mind that God would take care of him and see him through, and he also discovered a couple of other things, that we find in Psalm 40.

1. David found that God has no equal here in Psalm 40:5.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

2. David found that God is a God of mercy, love, and faithfulness in verse 11:
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.

3. David knew that God was thinking of him, in verse 17.
Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

4. David also learned in verse 17 that God was his helper and his savior.

Psalm 40 is a beautiful chapter, full of encouragement and realities about God. To me it is very uplifting to read it and see that God really does care about me! He does! And he cares about you too! Not just on a general, he cares about people sort of way. God cares in a specific "you are the apple of his eye" sort of way. Quite amazing to think about that. And while David was a man after God's own heart, it's also encouraging to see that even he had rough times and sought out God for comfort and encouragement. It makes us no less human to be going through a rough patch. But what we do have is our God to get us through.

I'll leave off today with Psalm 40:3.

He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.

I have out my trust in my God. Have you?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

As the calendars flip and we wake this morning to find ourselves in the midst of 2007, I realize we have so much to be thankful for. It's a new year! A time to start over and a time to re-commit to something that may have fallen behind. This morning I am reflecting on a short and simple Bible verse.

"I love you, LORD, my strength." Psalm 18:1

That's it. :-) Because he most certainly is my strength. Without God, I would accomplish nothing. My home would be trashed, my children unruly, and my marriage a disaster. God is my strength and he gives me the strength I need to face each and every day. He has given me a glorious strength to wake up this morning with joy and be thankful for the new year. I'm not usually one for resolutions and new beginnings, but I just know that this year is going to be awesome! Wonderful things are going to happen for my families- both physical and spiritual. And it is God who gives me the strength to endure the bad that may come along- because we know that Satan doesn't like this happy place that I am in, and he will do what he can to try and mess that up. Fortunately, with God's strength, I will overcome those trials, and I will be all the better for them.

It's a beautiful morning, and a beautiful new year. Think about how many people you can talk to about Jesus this year! A fresh start to share the gospel while people are searching for answers. Again, it will be God's strength that will give me the words to say when the opportunity comes knocking. God is great! I thank him for his patience with me this past year, and I look forward to being his servant in the year to come.