Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Surrender {Link up}



In Oswald Chambers', My Utmost for His Highest, he writes:

"Beware of 'the cares of this world,' because they are the things that produce a wrong temper of soul. It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life."

And it's easy to shout a loud amen to that but so much harder to live it out. Especially when there are so many cares abounding. What are we supposed to do with death of loved ones, sickness and disease, financial and relational woes, piles of dishes and clutter, and cranky people all around us?

Wrong temper of soul. Indeed


Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all who are weary [who work to exhaustion] and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy [pleasant, comfortable] and My burden is light," (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB).


It all comes down to this—to whom, or what, do we surrender?  Flying the white flag and giving in, we either fall off the cliff and into a miserable abyss (if we choose the cares of this world); or we fall into the loving and capable arms of the God who knows us better than we know ourselves and has a good plan for our lives. 

The choice is easy to make but hard to walk out. Preach it to yourself. Put that scripture over your sink in your kitchen and bathrooms, so you read it every time you're there.




Linking up with others at Kate Motaung's  for a fun, five-minute free writing party. Click here to learn more.

Five Minute Friday :: Enjoy {link up}



It is so easy to focus on what we enjoy—or what brings us joy, or what we want in order to feel joy and  to enjoy our life—and so hard to yield to God. 

I had just written Psalm 25:4-5 and Matthew 26:41 in my journal this morning, and then read this quote:


“The change must go deeper than the surface … And if you want your life to yield, there has to be a yielding in the soul.”  —Ann Voskamp, “The Broken Way,” p 78.


Those two scriptures talk of being taught God’s Truth and being led in His ways, and of keeping our focus and praying because even though our spirit is willing it is hard to do what is right and good (which is why we need Jesus so desperately).

Enjoy is a verb. When we enjoy something, we are taking action.  It means “to take delight or pleasure in [something].”

I don’t say this to trivialize the trials in life. Life is hard. Doing life well is harder. Even knowing what “well” or “good” means and how to do that is hard.

Enjoy can also mean “to possess and benefit from” something. No matter what your life is like, you can enjoy it and grow.  

No matter what is going on, there is always going to be something unpleasant, something that needs refining. To enjoy it in the midst is all a matter of focus.

Joining others for a fun, 5-minute free-writing time, writing for the enjoyment of it. Sound fun? Check out Kate Motaung's site here.







Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Some Election Day Thoughts






“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” (2 Chronicles 17:13-14 NASB).


My house is a mess right now because of some remodeling projects we have going on, which have displaced the normal order of things.

Our world is a mess right now because some things are going on—things that have displaced the normal order—and it requires more than just a good President to lead us out of the darkness. 

We need God. We need Jesus. Without the guidance of our heavenly Father, without the rescue of Jesus Christ, we are lost. Period

When I got up this morning, it was hard to face the mess. Added to the chaos is the leftover nonperishable groceries that I left out on the table and counters in the kitchen, waiting to put them away today because my back was hurting.

Running a country is a task that most of us can’t begin to comprehend. Even those who are vying for the job can’t comprehend the enormity of what lies before them, left for them to "put away" and fix.

How can we do anything without Jesus? Without holding tightly to the One who knows the future? The One who is outside of all time and its events?

On a much grander scale than mine, the new President – whomever it may be – will start their first day looking at a big mess. Our Country needs help. We need God to show us how to go forward. We are made for relationship, and we need each other. We thrive when we cooperate. We grow when we put each other first and go the extra mile.

Regardless of your political leanings and strongly held opinions about both candidates, one thing is true:  God knows the outcome of today’s election. He’s already there at the end of today, and at the end of all days. Nothing surprises Him.

And regardless of your opinion about the outcome of our election, as Christians – those who believe in and follow the Christ – we are required to respect, and to pray, for our President, and all of our leaders.


“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God,” (Romans 13:1 NASB).

 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time ... Therefore I want [you] to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension,” (1 Timothy 2:1-8, NASB).


 May God give you wisdom as you cast your vote. And may God have mercy on the United States of America. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mess in the Midst

I am sick with a cold. So is my son. He brought it home to me from school and we shared it. Only I am sicker than he, which I won't say I'm upset about (since it is possible for me to crash and psuedo-nap if I can't go on, but he has to tough it out all day and through football practice).

Nonetheless, I hate being sick. I sort-of slept on the loveseat last night, after I unscrewed the cover on the fan that I use for white noise and took out the thing wrapped around the motor that was making an annoying slapping noise. Actually, it was a few hours after that. Around two this morning.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So, I'm sick, and I still miss my son terribly when he goes away in the mornings (especially knowing he's not well), and my house is a certified mess because everything from my school library is now...






strewn about my home...







See. I wasn't kidding. What a load of stuff...

It's spread out because my husband didn't want the whole load in one room, to make it easier on the floor joists. The library room is at the back of the house and two walls are supported with the foundation block, so no worries there.

Now the room is gutted and the former shelving and counters are in a pile in our garage.


And the room has a new sub-floor and walls painted with Dove Gray.



The boxes on the floor are 3/4" hand-scraped oak hardwood flooring that we are going to put down when my husband has vacation again at the end of the month. The flooring has to sit in its environment for at least a week, but preferably two or more, to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room, before it's installed. It's a pecan stain, which matches our trim almost exactly.



God is definitely teaching me during this season.

Teaching me all sorts of things, like trust -- in Him, and in my husband's love for me and our family.


And patience. Ugh. I like for things to be the way I want them to be. And I hate change. I try to embrace it, but it seems like, lately, God sees me hanging on to something for comfort in the midst of the mess, something other than Him,  and He nudges me just a bit more until I have nothing left to grab hold of.

It hasn't been pretty. But God promises to bring beauty from ashes.

He is teaching me to trust His Word, to know that it is true. And to realize that believing His Word takes more than just a head acknowledgement that I believe it. I have to apply it to my life.

I have to cry out to Him instead of a sympathetic ear. Because all venting to someone does is relieve the pressure that God allowed to build so it would drive me to my knees to seek His face. I rant, I cry, and I go about my business. No wonder I, like the Israelites, go around the same dumb mountain so many times!

It's the reason that I can encourage others with passages from the Bible, but I don't automatically reach for them when I'm hurting. (Or if I do, it's been with a rabbit's-foot mentality.) It's the reason I try, for the umpteenth time, to tackle something from my own perspective, rather than seeking His wisdom to know what to do. And it's why I feel powerless when I pray, because I'm mostly telling God what I'd like to see happen and asking Him to bless my requests.

I feel laid bare. Gutted, like my library. I know that our library will look great when it is finished and all is made new and fresh. And God has a vision for how He wants to fill me up. I just need to let Him have His way with my mess in the midst of His fix.



Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why Is Forgiving So Hard?

Have you ever heard of Laos? The United States heavily bombed them during the Vietnam War.

The news had a story of a young man who was just sixteen when a bomb-- small and round, like a toy ball--went off in his hands. He lost his sight, both of his hands, and parts of his forearms. In spite of this tragic event, he seems full of joy and said that he forgives the United States, and he forgives everyone.

When something painful happens in your life, it can feel like a bomb going off.

I keep thinking about that young man, how he kept smiling and seemed almost giddy with happiness. And he annoys me. Why? Because I am nursing anger about this big change in my life. Everything that was my life is altered by my son no longer being home educated. And my freedom is gone, since my calendar needs to revolve around school and practices for him. I'm angry about that.

The news story keeps sticking with me, because God is telling me to let this thing go. I have to surrender it to Him, if I don't want to stay stuck in this ugly place indefinitely. I have to forgive, and it is hard. Instead, I want to fight and yell and rationalize and plead my case!

I'm sure that young man was tempted to do the same. Or at least he should have been. I know I'd be resentful if something another country did caused me to lose parts of my body. He has a right to be very angry.

But he gave up that right, in favor of good things. He said, "...I forgive everyone, because angry [sic], it doesn't give you any good thing." 

 Indeed. (See James 1:20)

How's it working for me, this holding on to my anger, my indignation over the events that have unfolded since my son started going to Fairmont Catholic?

It isn't. I am miserable, and I end up snapping at everyone, even my precious son whom I don't get to see much now.

It feels powerful to be angry, doesn't it? Like you are controlling an uncontrollable situation. But that's a lie the devil uses to keep us stuck, because he knows that Jesus said if we are going to hold onto offenses and not forgive, then we can't partake in the forgiveness that He offers (Matthew 6:14-15).

I don't want to stand on my rights on earth and lose my rights in heaven. I want to be with Jesus for eternity, to fellowship with Almighty God and to know what it is like to lose this weariness of earth. So I won't let anger take good things from me. I won't throw away tomorrow by being angry over yesterday.

I will do the hard thing. I will forgive.


Linking with others at I Choose Joy!
The Deliberate Mom
Joyful Homemaking

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Path {link up}


I didn't choose this path.

It may not seem like a big deal to some, but the path I chose was very different. And my heart is broken.

God allows us to plan things, but He ultimately directs our path. This is truth and we read it in the Word and say, "Amen!"

But when He applies it to our lives and our path diverts from the goal we had, it hurts.

Even though pain can be good -- and God is good, this I know! -- it is not easy. I am tempted to look down the path I've been forced to leave; longing for things to be as they were, angry that they are not.

But that will destroy the new goal that I have, to be utterly surrendered to whatever my God calls me to do, and to go forward in faith, fearless of what lies ahead because I know I can trust the path that He calls me down.

He will never lead me astray.

All that is left to do is to keep my eyes fixed on Him and continue down the path. Forward motion, with my surrendered action willing my feelings to follow suit.



Writing with others for Five Minute Friday


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Definitions


 It is so easy to get caught up in life.

Jesus knew it would be a struggle for us, one that could blot out the Son in our lives. That is why He gave us the parable of the sower and told us to watch getting caught up in the cares of this world.

Sometimes we are driven by cares and the things of this world because we've allowed them to define us--such as being a homeschooling mama. And letting go of that definition of who we are is a paradigm shift -- "an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way."

God likes to shift our paradigms.

Especially when they start being set in stone and we define ourselves with them. And when change occurs, it is easy to panic. Especially when it is not a change you want or expect. But the amazing thing about our God is how He uses these changes to mold us into the image of His Son.

When something defines us, and that something can be taken away from us, we are left feeling like we're hanging off a cliff with no rescue in sight. And that's what satan would have us think--that we're hopeless.

But that's a lie.

Jeremiah 29:11 says:


" For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope," (NASB).

Remember, faith build on the solid rock of Jesus is the only thing that will stand firm no matter what. If your life feels shaky, thank God for that! He is not in the business of ruining our lives, so He has a good plan for allowing the shaking to happen. You don't have to know what that plan is, or the final outcome, to trust Him (Isaiah 55:8).

You just have to know Him.







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