Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7
Trust: a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed
Sometimes that trust is tested. This past winter we put all our trust in God to get us through, and there were certainly times where I found that trust wavering. But we did get through, and for me it was the perfect example of what that trust can do. Now I find myself in a point of trust again. Two weeks ago I was cleaning the church and randomly thinking about this and that. Mostly I was thinking about how I was serving by cleaning, and trying to think about how I could use my talent of writing more for God. I do this blog every day, but certainly there could be more. So right there, vacuum in hand, I prayed that God would show me how to use my writing talent to his benefit. Well, in a really bizarre turn of events, and just a few days after praying that prayer, I may have an opportunity to use my writing talent for God.
I won't get into the details just yet because it's not set in stone, but I really feel that this is something that God placed in my path for a reason. There's no other excuse for it actually, and just thinking about it makes me a little nervous. I don't know if I'm up to the challenge, and that's when I remember to pray. God placed this before me for a reason, he will give me the strength and the endurance to meet the challenge placed before me. And it will be beneficial and will be used for his purpose. It's just a little scary to me think about being a mouthpiece for God. I am trusting in God completely that he has given me this opportunity and I trust that he will help me. Trust can be scary in itself, like I'm putting all my eggs in one basket, and I very well might be. But I trust that it is His Will and he will see me to the goal line.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Have you seen the movie Facing The Giants? Let me tell you, if you have not seen it, you need to. And then you need to show it to other people. People in your church, your community, your friends. It's really a powerful movie, and completely a lesson on faith. Finding faith for some, and keeping faith for others.
The passage above was used in the movie, and was my lesson from the movie. The time it was used, the football coach was at his end. Everything was going wrong, and he just felt like he was wasting his time. He'd spent seven years as coach at this school and didn't feel like he was making a difference in the lives of the kids he worked with. One man felt led by God to share the above verse with the coach and basically told him to stay the course, because God was about to do great things. It was a pivotal point in the movie, and the analogy used was that there were two farmers who were praying for rain. One farmer took the time to go out and prepare his fields for the rain that he was praying for, and the other did not. And of course, the one who got the rain from the Lord was the one who'd prepared his fields. The man left after that and the coach determined he was going to "prepare the fields for rain" and turned to God in prayer and scripture.
I won't spoil the movie, but that point really stuck with me, it was such an important message. How many times do we look around and feel like what we are doing is useless? How often do we serve at church week after week and think that we're not making a difference. I can tell you I feel like that a lot. I know I've mentioned here more than once that Andy and I have been struggling with whether we're in the right place for church, sometimes we just feel useless, like our hearts are not meshing with everyone else's. And this movie really spoke to me. Maybe we are meant to prepare the fields for rain. Maybe our church is on the verge of something, and it's our job to help get ready for it. I'm not saying that we're all that and change is dependant on us, but one thing is certain, we don't pray for our church near enough. I do think that as a church we are capable of so much more, and maybe Andy and I are capable of so much more as well. Maybe my frustration with some of the church things needs to be turned inward so I can see better what else I can be doing.
Definitely something to pray on and something to think on and seek God's Will on this. Regardless though, see the movie. Have a movie night, it's really good.
Friday, May 25, 2007
I had an issue earlier this week. I won't go into details, but it really made me angry. In fact, I was quite livid to be honest, and I was ready to take action and take matters into my own hands. I was all set to take care of the situation myself when I felt a prompting to not deal with it. I was angry. Attempting to fix it myself would only result in words of anger, and while I wanted the situation resolved, I didn't want to come across as an angry and nasty person. So instead I tabled my anger and frustration and gave it to my husband when he came home from work. He was able to listen to my issue and orchestrate a resolution that was peaceful and fixed the problem completely without angering or offending anyone. Thank God for my husband.
I can be a hot-head at times. I always say that's because of my Irish heritage, that I am feisty. But feisty and anger are not the same thing, and every single time I see this verse it speaks to me and I do feel a bit chastised. It is a real struggle for me sometimes to not allow myself to be angry. Thankfully, God has seen fit to give me two wonderful children to help me with my anger issue. :-)
It would be so easy to be the angry mommy. It really would. It would be simple to raise my voice to get my point across and be angry and stern with my children. It takes a whole lot more work to be patient and resolve situations with love and kind words, but it sure is effective. Just last night, I was sitting at the dinner table with the kids and Zander carelessly plunked down his very full cup of milk and of course, spilled it. Without saying a word, I very quickly threw a handful of napkins onto the milk and ran to get a towel. Zander had such a look of horror on his face and I think was on the verge of tears with his "sorry Mommy." He so wants to please Mommy these days. I simply picked up his cup, filled it back up, and when I gave it back to him I showed him the best place to put his milk cup. And of course, before I sat back down he got a kiss to show him there were no hard feelings.
You know, honey is really much more effective. When my children follow directions and behave, I want them to do it out of love, not out of fear of punishment. I want them to be the best kids they can be because they want to, and because they're proud of themselves for being such good kids. It's very much the same relationship we have with God. I choose to follow God's Word out of love, not out of fear. (Although healthy fear is good, and a subject for another post someday.) If I made decisions based out of fear, we'd never get anywhere. If I was afraid to offend people and didn't share Jesus with them because of that fear, no one would get saved. Love is what drives me, love is what moves me to share my heart with complete strangers. God is love. Can I not show the same love and mercy to my children?
I don't think I've taken a break here since I've started this blog. Have no worries, we're taking a short holiday, and I'll be back on Tuesday.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
So with that, something I wanted to talk about today for the 200th post is giving. Giving is near and dear to my heart- and it should be. Over the years I've taken a number of those tests that identify what some of your spiritual gifts are, and the two at the top have always been writing and giving. I am delighted that I've found blogging as a way to use my gift of writing. But giving is the one that really lights my fire, so to speak. I love giving to those in need, or even those not in need.
"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18
"But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us —see that you also excel in this grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7
There are so many people in need. I was just reading the other day about a congressman who tried to subsist on the food stamp allotment of 21 dollars a week and failed at it. He was hungry all the time, and proved in no time that 21 dollars does not go very far. There are people who live on that food stamp program, and would have nothing if it weren't for it, and to learn that they spend most of their time hungry is just awful. We have so much in this country, yet we have hunger. Why? I won't even get started on the poor nutrition that our nations poor have because this isn't the place for it. But I find myself so often adding extra food to my shopping cart to drop off in a bin somewhere. And several of our grocery stores here have mystery bags that you can buy and donate. So many times I want to do more though. I'm looking at my backyard garden, and my newly planted tomato plants, and one of my first thoughts was whether or not our local food pantry would take fresh produce. Why wouldn't they? So next week I'll likely be picking up a few more tomato plants because they take little effort to grow tomatoes, and imagine the family who usually comes home with boxed food from the food pantry, and gets to take home a bushel of fresh garden grown tomatoes!
We've slowly been reducing the amount of stuff we have in our house. I know I've posted before about reducing the clutter, but really more people should do it. Why on earth should we have a basement full of perfectly good children's clothes when we're not having any more children? Keeping it "just in case" is a horrible excuse, there are people who need clothing for their kids. Single moms who are just making ends meet and discover their child's shoes are too small would be thrilled with our basement. So we've been giving it all away. It's amazing how each time we hand over a box we hear "so you want something for it?" Crazy. There is such a thing as a free lunch, and I wish I could do more.
We do need to be careful with our giving though too.
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-5
We need to be careful to not be showy about what we are doing. It can be very easy to get caught up in the "look at me- I'm putting a big bag of groceries in this bin for the needy" attitude. This works for me in general because I like to do things behind the scenes anyway, but it is a good reminder for me to read that verse.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Every day I walk around our gardens and admire the life beginning to grow. I recall how just a few weeks ago, these plants were simply seeds, and how in a few short months, they will be fruits and vegetables. I cannot wait for the harvest, but I know that my patience will be rewarded. If I were to pull a radish now, there might be a bite there for me to try. But if I wait another couple of weeks, they will be plump and juicy and full of flavor. My patience will be well rewarded.
The flowers I planted in the front yard are already looking lovely this morning. They obviously enjoy being in the ground instead of in their confining pots. The view of our house from the street and driveway is important to me. I want it to be warm and inviting, so guests know they are welcome in our home. Our yard is simply that- an extension of our home.
"She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard." Proverbs 31:16
I may not be making a monetary profit off of my gardens, but I am making a profit all the same. The enjoyment I find from my gardens is a profit to me, and a true blessing.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
When children are so young, sometimes teaching them about God can be tricky. We live in a world of fantasy- Zander's favorite movie is about talking cars, so to talk about God- someone he can't see, can be a little difficult. But we do what we can. By being an example for children we speak volumes to them. The other night I was snuggling my son in the bathroom waiting for the shower vapors to clear his lungs up and of course, I was praying for him like you wouldn't believe. We rocked and snuggled and I prayed, and at one point, he kind of whimpered a little bit and gripped me tighter. And I just kissed him on the head and told him it would be okay, Mommy and Daddy were praying for him, and he relaxed almost immediately. We snuggled most of the rest of the night, but he knew that it wasn't just Mommy and Daddy looking out for him and helping him to breather better.
My children are such a blessing to me, and every chance I get I'm thanking God for them, and along with that is an earnest prayer to help me raise them the right way. I want them to want that relationship with Jesus- not just do it because that's what they are supposed to do. I think that if they see Mommy and Daddy doing that, it will make an impression. Much more so than telling them they have to pray or they have to go to Sunday School. By simply telling them that we go to church because we want to speaks volumes, rather than , we have to go because we have things to do. I think it's important to remember that, because it's so easy to get caught up in all the things that need to be done for Sunday morning, that we forget we want to be there. May the Holy Spirit be a constant reminder that we want to be a part of God.
Monday, May 21, 2007
"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." 1 Corinthians 1:10
Last night as part of our small group time, we got together with members from a different church in our town to pray for our community. It was quite the service let me tell you! It was great to come together with like minds to pray for some of the needs in our area, and I am certain something began last night that is only going to continue and get better. This verse is exactly what we are trying to overcome. We are both Bible-believing churches and it's time we started working together for our community- there is so much need... Anyway, it was a good night. And when we went to bed last night I was still buzzing a little bit from the wonderful experience we had.
On a non-Biblical note this morning, I just want to share that summer is on its way. I'm sure regular readers have noticed that on the weekends, my Saturday posting is getting sporadic. (Sunday is my day off from posting). And I apologize to anyone checking in needing a post. And with summer coming up, I expect there may be a day or two where I miss a few posts here and there. Have no worries, I will still be keeping up my personal devotional time, but I suspect there may be a few days where the kids and I have plans to be up and out the door for the day. So I will post as much as I can when I can. :-)
May God Bless you and your week ahead!
Friday, May 18, 2007
I love these two verses. I think the first verse here is actually saying several things. Think about how often you hear about the wealthy who are unhappy. They have everything money can buy, yet they still aren't happy. And then they find God, and because they are saved and fulfilled and have met their Jesus personally, they are able to enjoy the things they have worked hard for. I also think of the people who are struggling to make ends meet. They may not have much, but because they trust in God and believe that Jesus died for them, they can be as happy as the wealthy man, and feel as wealthy and fulfilled, even though they have little. Both men are blessed by a gift from God to enjoy what they have.
I also think there is something here that goes deeper. When God gives a man wealth and possessions... that is a key phrase I think. It says that the money that we work for is actually a gift from God. The jobs we have are God's way for us to be provided for. If you had your money and possessions due to fraudulent behavior, you probably wouldn't enjoy it as much. If you had a very nice expensive HDTV, but you stole it, you'd have a hard time enjoying that TV because of the means with which you received it. But by working hard and earning the money to purchase that HDTV, you can enjoy it even more.
Verse 20 is great to reflect on as well. He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God gives him gladness of heart. How cool is that! When I really think about that, it makes perfect sense. I don't look back and reflect on days gone by and talk about what a waste certain days have been. I don't look at a portion of my life with regret and wish that I could change things. Instead I am filled with gladness and joy for each day he brings me, and for the many blessings I have in my life. I am so busy enjoying what he has blessed me with, that I don't have time to mourn days gone by. That in itself can be a great gift to people who maybe have a spot in their life that wasn't very shiny. God is great, and even finds ways to fill our hearts with gladness so we don't waste time on the past, instead we can look forward to the days ahead.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
After yesterday's revelations to myself, I'm having a difficult time figuring out what to post this morning. I'm still in a state of "woo-hoo" after allowing God to have at it. So I liked today's verse of the day. I'm still involved in a conversation with a few people about proving God, and it's really gone very interestingly. I can't say any changes have been made to people's lives, but I will say that seeds have definitely been planted. Many of them, in fact. Part of the difficulty of this conversation has been the proof these people are after. Faith isn't having proof, so it has been a bit of a challenge.
I've really learned a lot about sharing my faith with others over the last few days. We recently spent some time on this subject as a congregation at church, and one of the things that we were asked to do was to write down our faith story, so we would have it for a reference. After really thinking it over, I decided that wasn't a good way to go about it. When the time comes for me to witness to someone and share Jesus, I want it to come from the heart. I want it to come from God, and have him right there with me putting words into my mouth. I don't want it to come from a piece of paper or sound like it's been rehearsed. It needs to come from within. And that's really how this conversation has been going. A group of us have gently been taking turns sharing God from the heart. I know for me, I stayed out of it for a while before I felt a nudging to jump in and share some of my feelings. It's really been an amazing experience. And I would not have had it if I had it all written down on paper and copied onto the screen.
The depths of God's knowledge is unfathomable, and someday, when we're all in heaven with him we can then ask him how he does things. Just imagine! Asking God how he created something, or why he created the stars and the planets. And hopefully through me, others will be able to ask him those same questions.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. I think that more and more, Andy and I are realizing that this past winter was the way it was for a reason. It was designed to prepare us for something. And I will tell you, part of me was thinking that maybe God was teaching us how to live on so little because that was one of the plans he had for us. Maybe to go be missionaries somewhere and live with very little. And by the end of Andy's lay-off I was in agreement with what I thought God's plan was. I surrendered. "Okay God, if you want us to go somewhere, that's okay by me. Tell us where to go, and we'll go."
Then during the end of his lay-off time, a different job opportunity came up for Andy. We had been insistent to everyone that Andy had a job, and it was God's timing when he would go back. But then this opportunity came up from an unexpected source and we began thinking that maybe THIS was going to be God's plan for us. So once again, we surrendered. "Okay God. If you want Andy to change jobs, you will make it happen and show him what to do. We're okay with that and will wait for your prompting."
Again during the lay-off time I had lots of time to look at finances. I had mentally mapped out a plan to get us to the point of buying a house. We're very close, but I had the time to sit and really figure out how things were going to work so we could buy my house. Then during the time with no income, my heart began changing about where we live. When we first moved in we wanted to buy our home, but over the two years we've lived here we managed to pick out all the little problems with the house. But of course, one of the things that has changed for me over the last few months is that I am perfectly content with where we live. I wouldn't mind in the least if this is the house God wants us to be in. Here I go again "Okay God, I love this house, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to live here. If it's your will, when the opportunity comes to purchase, the timing will be right for you."
And then. Just last week I posted how I was really having a dilemma over whether or not God wanted us to have more children. I really spent a lot of time thinking about this. So much that I didn't sleep much for a few days, it really was plaguing me. I really don't want to be pregnant again ever, but what if God had other plans for us, and we weren't allowing those plans to matriculate? It really, really bothered me. And after I thought about it a lot, and prayed on it as well. I came to the realization that I wanted God's Will for my life. If he wanted us to have more children, I was going to be open to the idea. "Okay God. You have blessed us with the two most beautiful children in the world, and I thank you for them so much more than words can describe. It would be a sin to me to turn down more blessings from you. Your Will will be done here. If you want more children in my life, I will follow you."
And the result here is that we were at a point where we needed to surrender just about everything in order to truly see what God has for us. As long as we are making our own plans and relying on ourselves, we are not truly trusting in God and willing to follow his path for us. After all this surrendering, God's will for us is plain as day to me. He DOES have a plan for us, and it's nothing that I expected. And I know for a fact that it's God's plan for us because it's something so obscure... I am not at a point where I feel comfortable sharing yet, but I do want to say that it's a thought that occurred to me about a year ago. It was a really bizarre thought, but it stayed with me, and I managed to look a few things up about it, but set the thought aside. This was not something that would occur to my husband in the least. Yet the other night the same exact thought came out of his mouth. The same exact thought. Without any mention by me, and without any mention by anyone else. It was a thought from God.
By surrendering to His Will completely, we have inadvertently discovered His Will. And every time I think about it I get shivers, and I get really, really excited. So much so that I want to get moving immediately on it. But we are going to trust in God's timing on this one. And oddly enough, some of my prior surrendering will play into it as well. He works in such mysterious ways! I will be excited to share how His Plan all unfolds for us when the timing is right to share. But for the first time in a very long time, I see a reason for being where we are. We are in this house for a reason, and everything that God has for us will happen at the right time in the right order.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The last few days I've been involved in an online discussion about God. It was spurred by a Nightline special involving a God Debate, and questions were asked about "proving God exists." Let me tell you, I thought I could provide a different perspective and provide some insight, and maybe help the person asking the question... not so. The questions that are being asked are well out of my area of expertise. It's an excellent reminder to me that I can't always have the answer. In this case, someone of a very scientific mind is searching for factual proof of God. What's so interesting about the discussion is that to me, God and religion is a matter of Faith. Believing in something that I haven't seen, and I wonder if someone searching for concrete evidence would accept it if they saw it? If a true miracle were to happen right in front of a person of science, would they admit it was a God thing, or try and explain it in a scientific manner?
Blind Faith. Today's verse of the day is very appropriate I think. I suspect were I to share today's verse with these people who are questioning, it would be dismissed. We are not to know all of God's mysteries. I think that's one of the many things that makes life great. We can see God's Works through the eyes of a child, because we will always see something that makes us believe that he is amazing. And so today instead of expanding further, I think I would just like to ask those who are reading this to remember these women in prayer over the next few days. They are searching for evidence, and I pray that those who are trying to answer are given words of wisdom from God to reach these people. May their hearts be softened to faith instead of science. And may he do great things through this discussion.
Monday, May 14, 2007
It may be a simple thing, but sometimes we need to be reminded of simplicity. God IS always there to help. No matter what the situation.
" For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through Christ...as a mom, I admit there are days where I am just not in the mood. There are days where everything seems to go wrong, both kids want my attention, dinner is burning and the washing machine is jammed up while a salesman is at the door selling junk and a rabbit is nibbling at my garden sprouts. Yes, even I have those days. What usually happens is my frazzled self runs from task to task getting everything taken care of as much as possible, but at the expense of my children and my nerves. It's in those moments that it is good to remember that I can ask God for help. I don't have to be specific, or take five to get in a good and deep prayer. All I have to do is call out, and he will hear me and offer a hand.
"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10
He is always with me. And while there are days where I feel like Super-woman and get everything done I want to get done, plus spend quality time with the family, I know that those days are because I had help. I did not do it all myself. It is God who directs my days and shows me the next steps to take.
" Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6
And more importantly, it is God who is always going to be with me. I can look to Andy to come home from work some days and rescue me from the household turmoil. And there are certainly those days where he walks in and can just sense what kind of day I've had, and he'll happily take the kids off to do something while Mommy collects herself. And while I am most grateful for such a wonderful husband, I also have a God who is always there to help me in those moments.
"I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you." Hebrews 13:5
And finally, on those days where I just don't think I can make it another ten minutes, I have a God that I can rely on to give me the strength I need to make it through. Mom doesn't get sick days. Most often I still have to function and take care of my beauties, no matter how near-death I am feeling that day. On those days, a simple call out to God can revive me, and give me the energy I need to feed my kids and get them ready for their day.
"Then Jesus said,
It was a delightful message to me. It was such a simple reminder, that I have help with even the most simple or mundane things. No matter how trivial the issue may be, I can ask God to help me be the best Mom I can be. When Abigail has a finger full of slivers I can pray that God will help me pull them out with as little pain as possible. When Zander misses the bathroom and we discover that he does indeed have a tummy-ache, I can pray for patience and a sound stomach to deal with the ensuing mess, and to love my little boy and comfort him.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Patience is better than pride." Ecclesiastes 7:8
I am notorious for not finishing something. I have sewing projects and cross-stitch projects that are about 80% done, but I have little desire to finish them. I went to college, and completed my education minus one class- so I never did get the degree that says I'm educated. I'll plant a garden and once it's planted I'll pick weeds a few times, but it isn't long before I let them have their way while I'm waiting for the garden to produce.
I've been getting better. I do want to set a better example for my kids. So often they'll start something and it will be too hard for them, so I encourage them as best as I can to finish whatever they've begun. And sometimes, that's where the patience comes in. Actually, patience comes in a lot with my kids. There are times where they really want to help me out with something. Making pizza would be a great example there. I could put the pizza together myself, and it would be tasty and look like it came from a pizzeria. But my kids almost always want to help with pizza, and that is a trial of patience for Mommy. I bite my tongue when all the cheese ends up on one side, or the sausage isn't evenly distributed. And I thank my kids and praise them for their work. The end result is that we all get pizza, and I swear it does taste better because they made it themselves. That is a fantastic reward for patience. If I were to be prideful and insist on doing it myself, they wouldn't have that sense of accomplishment that speaks volumes to their little minds.
God can be a wonderful source of encouragement when we don't want to finish something. There will be times where I am cleaning the church for the week and I will decide I've had enough for that week, and I'll let a few things slide for the next. Then I realize that I'm placing a priority on something other than God, and I'll ask him to help me finish my cleaning. Most often, then I tackle a project that's needed to be done for a while, and I have a song in my heart while doing it. I finish up my cleaning grateful for the opportunity to serve, instead of being grateful that it's over. I think learning to appreciate the finish line can be a gift from God. And I thank him today that he guided me to Ecclesiastes for this verse, because it fills me with the desire to go and finish something important today.
Happy weekend everyone!
Friday, May 11, 2007
So today's verse of the day actually happens to the very one I had in my mind to post about today.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
We need to be very careful as Christians some times in what we say. What God may have for us, he may not have for other people. While it's okay for us to be passionate about what we believe in, it's very important that we treat each other with kindness and the utmost respect. What will the world think of us "proclaimed Christians" fighting amongst each other? It's certainly not showing them a very good example. In this case of the "Public school only leads to death" this person is alienating millions of parents who do send their children to school. And not just in this country! In Germany, for example, homeschool is actually illegal, so this person has essentially just told every German parent that their child is going to go the way of the devil because they are going to public school. Imagine a new budding Christian being told that their children have no hope because of public school. I can't think of a quicker way to turn a new believer away from Christ.
I think it's important to be firm and challenge those around us sometimes- but in love. And it's also important to have the context correct. When someone is obviously sinning, they do need to be called out on it in a kind and loving manner from their Christian brothers and sisters. They do not need to be cursed and called stupid for one thing. And secondly, there are many things that some Christians may believe is right for them (homeschooling for example), but it is not right for everyone. In this specific case, for me, I know for a fact that my children have been called to the public school system. They are going to affect change somehow, and as long as I am diligent in praying for them, with them, and for their school, I know that God will keep his hand of protection on them, and they are going to do amazing things for God.
So remember to be careful when professing what you believe in. What you say could cause another person to question their faith- and not in a good way. And also remember that I am also just a person. What I say here is my opinion on what the scriptures are telling me today. My word is not gospel, and you are all free to form your own opinions and ideas. God is a wonderful God who has made each and every one of us different. Imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same and thought the same way. Thank you Lord for making us unique individuals.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.'" Genesis 45:5-11
I love reading this passage in the Bible. Imagine how Joseph felt, confronting his brothers after all those years. It would have been so easy for him to be angry, but he wasn't. And he let his brothers know that he didn't blame them for what they did to him. He explained to them that everything happens for a reason. That God allowed everything bad to happen to Joseph so that on this day, he would be able to save his family.
This is an excellent story in the Bible to cling to in times of uncertainty. When we are going through something, but we're not sure why, we can remember Joseph, and remember that sometimes we go through trials for the good at the end. In Joseph's case, it was to save his family. In our case, it could be to save someone spiritually, or there could be other reasons. Andy and I are finding that what we have experienced is becoming beneficial to other people. Other people have seen our example of faith and are trying really hard to apply that to their own lives. That is truly amazing! If Andy's time off is beneficial to anyone it would be us, but to have it reach further... that just shows how awesome God is! That he can use our trials to help other people is such a blessing. It makes me truly grateful for what we've been through. I pray wholeheartedly that we can continue to be an example for others and that we can stay on the right path.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
"4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!" Psalm 127:4-5
And then this one is on my mind too.
"5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil. "Proverbs 3:5-7
So my question to myself this week is am I confining God in my home and life? Are Andy and I confining God and limiting what he can do for us by choosing to have two children? This is a really big thought to put out there for me. We've talked many times about things that we want to do together after our children are grown and have families of their own. Andy was just discussing lately how he is certain God has plans for us to do his work in the future. That has me thinking too. When I think about what we could possibly do that would be considered "God's work" I can see us doing something like church planting or becoming missionaries to another area. But when I think about those... why wouldn't I want to do those WITH my children. The more I think on it, the more I don't see why we would wait until our children are grown to embark on a "mission for God."
I've really been having some bizarre thoughts this week. I of course wonder all the time what God has in store for us. But could he have something different for us than what we think? I am sure that is a strong possibility. Could he want us to expand our family? Since Zander was born I've felt our family has been complete, but since the minute Andy read that verse on Sunday about having a full quiver, I can't help but wonder if we are limiting God's blessings in our lives by choosing to stop at two blessings. God has proven to us 100% over the last five months that he will provide for us in all circumstances. Would he not continue to provide if he continued to bless us with a larger family? And is my husband a blessed man with a quiver full? Or is he missing some of his quivers because we want to control the children we have. This is a very complicated question.
And of course, as I'm thinking these thoughts this week, in the news is the Duggar family from Arkansas- a wonderful God-loving family with child number 17 due in July. Yeah- you read that right, child #17. They have chosen a life of allowing God to bless them as much as possible, and he continues to do so. That right there is frightening to me, yet it's not frightening to this family. And even more amazing to me about this family is that they are completely debt free. God has provided for their every need- every single need that a family with 17 children could possibly need. That is truly amazing, and at least to me this family is an example of putting faith and trust in God.
So am I trusting in the Lord with all my heart? I like to think so, but obviously not if the issue of having a "full quiver" is making me think hard this week. This is obviously an important matter and one to discuss further with Andy, but in the meantime... lots to think on and pray on and ask God about.
"So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50:21
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I can see the verse of the day is going to get me into trouble. :-) I popped in today and the first sentence just grabbed me. Ooh, that 's good. Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders. Outsiders in this case being the un-saved. How true is that. We want them to see us in a good light, we want our actions to speak for what we believe in. We want those who are not saved to look at us and go "huh, I want what they've got!" Right now we are living in a neighborhood that needs our example- but I wonder if we are making the best one we could? We literally are surrounded by people who are hurting- life just isn't good enough for them. And I do think that we've done pretty good at showing them what life is like for us...but still...perhaps it could be better. Maybe we are not making the most of every opportunity. Maybe when our elderly neighbor is out complaining about another ache or pain, we should be more open and let her know we'll be praying for that for her.
I do know that we have some challenges with some neighbors. We have children across the way who are, for lack of a better word, they are naughty kids. They really aren't very nice, yet they are still children. They don't know better- I know their home life isn't the best. And while I don't want my children playing with them much because I don't want their bad habits in my home, maybe my kids would rub off on them if they did play more often. I do know that sometimes when I am interacting with them, my conversation is not full of grace. I guess I need to work on that.
Make the most of every opportunity. How many opportunities are going to pass us by today? This is a good verse to keep in mind, and I am grateful that it has been brought to my attention today. May I make the most of EVERY opportunity today.
Monday, May 07, 2007
This past weekend I added a few things to the blog here. One being a series of subscription buttons. Maybe there's someone who could use that, so I thought it worth popping up there. The second thing I added was a Verse Of The Day widget from Bible Gateway. Every day that verse changes, so be sure to check it out. It may be just the thing you need to hear today.
That was the case for me this morning. I've been reading page after page in my Bible, and while it's all good stuff, nothing really jumped out at me to post about today. Then I popped on to read the verse of the day, and a post came to mind. Gotta love that. :-)
I've posted about this verse before. Be joyful always...Give thanks in all circumstances. Our small group was discussing this very thing a week or so ago. We were discussing debt, and how to best take care of it and why we have it and such. One person mentioned that we should perhaps be thankful for debt. Oh I was immediately in agreement with that. I am very thankful for the debt that we have. Because of our debt, I have a college education. Because of our debt, our daughter has a healthy smile. Because of our debt, we've been able to take care of some unexpected expenses the last few months. And because of debt, my husband is driving a safe vehicle to and from work everyday. All that debt obviously has to be repaid. And for that sometimes I am not so grateful. When I have to write that car payment check or pay a credit card bill, I am always mindful of how little is left. At the same time though, I am learning to be grateful for the ability to even write that check.
Be joyful always. This past Saturday we were at church doing some work when Andy discovered a burst pipe. This means that he has to spend his day off this coming week in the church basement doing some plumbing. Immediately I was angry, thinking about the waste of a perfectly good day. He could be spending that time playing with Zander, but instead he's going to be busy repairing some plumbing. Yet according to today's verse, I should be joyful about that instead. And I can find a reason to be joyful- it gives Andy an opportunity to work on God's House. And not only does he get to repair something that belongs to God, but he gets to fix it the right way. He gets to repair that pipe in the best way possible, and maybe along the way he'll make some improvements that will only make God's House better. I can be thankful that it wasn't an immediate need to repair it. He was able to wait until his day off instead of spending the weekend away from the kids doing an immediate repair.
Sometimes you do need to do some searching to find a reason to be joyful, and a reason to give thanks. But I promise that if you really pray on it, and ask God about it, he will help you to find joy in all situations. He will help you to be a Pollyanna and find the silver lining in every bad thing that comes along. That's how great a God we have- there is always a reason to be glad, and that is that we have a God who cares and loves us and wants us to be happy in him.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
"Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. "Romans 12:10
"Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." Ephesians 5:2
Today we will be taking delight in each other. Later Andy and I have a few things to do at church, and Abigail has asked that she be allowed to walk around outside of church with a plastic bag to pick up litter. Who can argue with that? Together as a family we will take care of God's House and get everything ready for our day of worship tomorrow. It brings me such joy to know that we are setting a wonderful example for our children, and that they also enjoy serving in whatever way they can. Last night we had dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. When it came time to set the table, both of my children were eager and asking to help. They love to help in any way they can. Yet I clearly remember growing up where setting the table was a daily chore and grumbling about it. May the Lord continue to bless my children and help them to delight in their service.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. Psalm 36:7-9
God provides. He provides everything we need. And for some, that can mean a miraculous provision. A bag of groceries magically appears. A box of clothing shows up on someone's doorstep- or a gift card for a clothing store arrives in the mailbox. Sometimes though, that provision is the result of labor and toil. Someone works 50 hours a week to earn enough to put food on the table. While technically, yes, the person doing the working is providing, it is God who provides the job in the first place. His provision is endless. He provides our needs, and many times he provides our wants, because he wants us to be happy and enjoy our life here.
Clutter for us has been the result of not trusting in God's provision. We'll tuck away old clothes or shoes "just in case" we need them again at some point. Our baby things are an excellent example. We've kept them and kept them for two reasons- one being that we didn't know if we were going to need them again. And secondly, we thought if it came down to it, we could always sell some of it in a time of need for a little extra cash. But through God's lesson for us of provision, we've slowly been able to rid ourselves of the clutter. All our old "just in case" stuff has been gone through and donated to people in need. Most of our baby things have been passed on to someone else who will treasure them and use them. All because God provides!! If we were to find ourselves in need of baby things again, God would provide the things we need- or the means to produce them. If we find ourselves in need of old clothing again, God will provide. Even food. Yes, I plan to do some preserving and freezing of food-stuff over the late summer and fall this year, but I have no intention of hoarding it. If I see someone who needs it, I will gladly share what God has blessed us with.
By ridding ourselves of the clutter we've taken a great statement of faith. God will always provide for us. Another thing we've done is opened ourselves up to be his tools. To be the tools of provision for someone else. The verse above states that he is the fountain of life. And it is our job to help bring that fountain to those in need. I just pray that God will keep us focused and in a state of non-clutter.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
"She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12 (KJV)
Who knows who my words could affect. What I do know, is that what I say can affect my children. The last thing I want them to hear is Mommy complaining about Daddy. That tells them it's okay. And it's not okay. Part of marriage is discovering intimacy, and it's that intimacy that allows me to tell Andy directly when he's doing something to annoy or anger me. By complaining to outside sources I was not allowing that intimacy to flourish. In effect, I was putting up a wall by voicing my complaints other than where they should go.
"Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage." Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)
My words can honor or dishonor my husband. When I speak to others, I want them to know what a wonderful husband he is! I want every man to know how great of a husband Andy is, and know that he is someone worth modeling after. I want my son to watch Andy as a husband and have a perfect example of what a husband should be. And I want my daughter to strive to find the very best man for her future husband- and what better example than her father. I also want them to see me lifting up my husband in kind and positive words to others. I want them to see that when I have a complaint about my husband I take it to him, not to the neighbors or our friends.
"So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NLT)
Respect for my husband has been a wonderful gift from God. It has brought us closer together in our marriage. We each know what the other person wants without even giving voice to the want. I now find myself eager to share with others all the good things that Andy does for me and for the kids. Instead of sharing the bad with other people, I want to share the good. And I think by me honoring my husband appropriately, others will respect him even more than they do already.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Just a week ago I was discussing this very verse. And I was discussing my everyday life and how God has changed my attitude towards each and every day. And I've come to realize over the last day or two that he hasn't just changed my attitude about daily life. I've also had a life-changing revelation about our money. This week Andy will get paid for the first time in several months. We've been looking forward to this- we have a day all planned to do some shopping and go out to dinner. I've been planning on going to the grocery store and literally filling my cart with anything and everything. And you know what? I don't want to do any of it.
I do want to go get my children some of the things that they need. But I don't want to wander through the mall, waiting for something to jump off the shelf into my cart, something we really don't need. This is a really strange feeling to me. I think that part of it is that I've asked God for some time to change my attitude about money and shopping, and I daresay that's been done for me. I am certain that I will still enjoy the occasional shopping trip as it comes up, but I don't have the desire to spend, spend, spend. Even though we will be able to. I am so excited about this! It means that we will be able to save accordingly! It means that our house is getting closer every day. It means that when a need comes up in our community, we will be able to help take care of it, and not just wish that we could.
I will still need to be mindful of the traps that will be laid out before me. But this right here is cold hard proof that God gives us what we ask for. I've desired so much to honor my husbands hard work by not spending all that he brings in, and I'm looking forward to the test. I thank God wholeheartedly for this new attitude, this new view. And I pray that I am able to maintain it indefinitely, and that I will be open to hearing when I am supposed to be generous. It would be very easy to become miserly, and that would be a terrible thing as well. May God keep me mindful of where our money is going and help me to manage it according to his purposes.