Monday, January 30, 2012

When I'm weak...

I'm really trying my hardest to "unlearn" how to do things lately. It seems like I am hard wired to do things on my own. And that's just not how I want to live anymore.
I've learned (the hard way) that doing things with my own strength is usually just simply overwhelming. And that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" is really the way to go. But how do I do that??? It seems easy, right? Just let go!!!
So, why is it then, that I have a hard time doing it??? Why can't I let go and let God? I KNOW it's the best way!!! Am I over thinking? Or am I not thinking enough?
I think I have found a solution. For now anyway. And if you see me doing may laugh at me. Because it actually requires me talking to myself...out loud. That's right! I said it. I talk to myself. Because it works.
Give it a try! Next time you feel overwhelmed...say out loud..."Give me YOUR strength Lord". Or maybe just recite your favorite verse out loud. Your life will change! I promise!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Jerusalem

In the last few weeks, I've been introduced to a song that I cannot get out of my head.  The song is by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and it's called New Jerusalem.  You can see the words below:

If words could describe 
The longing in my heart 
For the place prepared for me 
When I think of Heaven's glory 
Awaiting the redeemed 
All within me rises up 
At the thought of what will be 

How I long for the new Jerusalem 
Just to see my Savior's face 
All my heart is in Jerusalem 
My home my resting place 

I've heard that the streets are paved with gold 
And the light there never fades 
I've heard of treasures to behold 
That words could not explain 
And the praise of the saints like an ocean 
Holy is the Lamb that was slain 

No more crying no more pain 
Every tear will be wiped away 
All suffering on earth will cease 
Forevermore at peace 
Jerusalem Jerusalem

As I've pondered these words, I've at the same time been studying Thessalonians, and 1 Thessalonians in particular has a theme of "Jesus is coming back!".  On top of that, we have been going through the book of Revelation at church on Sunday mornings, which is obviously about the end times and Christ's return.  So, 3 different things--all pointing to the end times and Jesus' return....

Whenever God decides to show me a message in more than one way, I know that it's usually time to pay attention.  In this instance, it has reminded me that this is not my home.  Though I know that, it is so easy to get caught up in the temporal rather than the eternal.  This world is hard, but there are still a lot of things I love about it--family, friends, my church, social media, TV shows, music, books, vacation spots....I could go on.  The point is, this world can get rather comfortable.  It becomes almost easy for me to hope for a long life rather than thinking about my eternal life--and the eternal lives of others.  I lose my focus.

Instead of thinking about if my neighbor knows Jesus, I think about the party I'm attending.  Instead of focusing on my eternal home with Jesus, I focus on what needs improved on my home on Earth.  I think sometimes it's hard to find a balance.  We're supposed to be in the world but not of the world.  Yet, the world is what we see and hear all day every day.  If we're not careful, we lose sight (or at least I do!) of our purpose.

You see, Jesus IS coming back.  He wins, and all those who believe in Him get to spend eternity with Him.  So, shouldn't I be focusing on that?  Shouldn't I want to reach those who don't know Him?  I might be the only chance they get to see Jesus.  And when I read the words above about seeing my Savior's face, no more crying, no more pain, I do long for the New Jerusalem.  I long to see my Jesus....but before I do, I want to make sure that my friends are going to see Him, too.

Do you know Him?  If you do, I can't wait to spend eternity praising Him with you!  If you aren't sure, I would love to talk with you about my Lord and Savior, Jesus.  He is the reason for everything.  He can fill that empty longing inside.  He can dry your tears.  And He is the only one who will never let you down.

How I long for the New Jerusalem....And how I long to be there with every one of you....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who are you serving?

There are many people out there that we share our lives with.  Some are those we know well - friends that we call on when we need something or need help with our kids or when we are sick or when we are heartbroken or when we have joyful news or when we want to celebrate. 
Others are those that we see often and talk to, but they would not be our first phone call when we need to talk - people at church, other parents at school, teachers, neighbors, even church staff members. 
Then there are those that you know in passing - grocery clerks, crossing guards, bank tellers, people at church, neighbors.  The lists go on and on.
It is easy to serve those we love and are invested in.  We are always ready and willing to jump in and help at a moments notice.  It is easy to love on them, care for them, do nice things for them.  But what about all those other people in your life?  How are you serving them?  How are you encouraging them?

Paul had a love for people that is beyond comprehension.  He had a deep love for people he had never met.  He loved and longed to see people he had only met once.  He served all of them with all of his being and he encourages us to do the same.  He wanted them to know His Lord and Savior and that was his motivating factor.
I Thessalonians 2:9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

I need to learn more from Paul.  I want to love others the way he did.  I want to be able to encourage others the way he did.  God has given me many people to love and nurture.  I love to serve and love on those I know, but I want to serve those other people in my life too.

As I strive to serve others, I challenge you to do that same thing.  I am searching for ways to encourage and serve others.  It could be as simple as writing a note to express your appreciation for what they do.  It could be a kind word when it seems to be a hard day.  It could be that you make yourself available to change your plans to do something for another person - run an errand, buy them lunch, take them for coffee and be a listening ear. Be listening for God's direction this week.

I John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love His brother also.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sacrifice ... Such a Scary Word!

Confession. God has been calling me to do something. Calling. Moving. Prompting. And I’m excited about what He wants me to do. Seriously excited! What a blessing to know God wants you to do something for Him and to see the path He set before you!

But … in order to follow that path, I have to pay a price. I have to walk away from something else that has meant so much to me.

I struggled with this for several weeks. Is it really necessary? Does that really impact my ability to do this work? Can’t I do both? Please, God? And His answer came as clear as ever, “I never accomplish great things without sacrifice.”

And I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

Oh, that scary word! Sacrifice. Do you know that “sacrifice” is mentioned in the Bible around 300 times? A word central to God’s story of love and redemption. Sacrifice. defines sacrifice as, “the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.” Sounds easy enough. Give up something for something better.

Some sacrifices are easy, or at least don’t require much thought. Sacrificing sleep to care for a child. Sacrificing time to help a friend. Sacrificing eating out to save money.

But what about when it is NOT easy? What about when God starts calling, moving, prompting? God asked Noah to build a boat that would take over 100 years to build. God asked Abram to walk away from his home, his comfort, and later He asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. God asked Moses to confront a powerful Pharaoh. The Bible is full of stories of sacrifice, all leading to the ultimate moment when God offered His Son as the Sacrificial Lamb to pay the price for our sins and provide redemption for all who will believe and accept. God doesn’t accomplish GREAT things without SACRIFICE.

Consider this. “Sacrifice” comes from the Latin word sacrificium, meaning “to make holy.” That is my desire, to grow in Christ, to follow and obey, and to be set apart as a precious child of God.

Holy Father, please show me the things that I need to sacrifice. Help me make the sacrifice. Make my sole desire to obey Your call. In Jesus’ Precious Name. Amen.

Hebrews 13:16
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (ESV)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Women's Coffee House

I think this sounds like just the thing to chase away those post Christmas blues. You can visit the churches website to register online. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Don't Come Down

I am writing this post because I am the perfect mother, home-keeper, wife, and Christian.
I am the epitome of the Proverbs 31 Woman.
My children are all able to recite the entire bible and were all saved by the time they were one-year-olds.
The toilets in my house are always clean.
I wear a size 2 jeans and just can't seem to gain weight.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah.... no. Not so much.

I am REALLY writing this post because recently I went through this crazy pity party because I wasn't all those things. Ludicrous that any woman should ever fault herself for not living up to some impossible standard, butttttt we do. We do fault ourselves so often for not being this perfect woman that we have built up in our mind.

I mentioned it to my husband one of those nasty rainy days recently when it felt like simply nothing was right with the world and I guess he could tell. Here's a snippet of our conversation:

Hubby: How are you doing?

Me: I just don't know... am I doing a good job at this whole staying home thing? I mean I feel like I'm a decent mother and a decent wife, but Lordy, I'm a horrendous homemaker. And... and... well... and I'm just not used to not being good at something.

Hubby: Well, what do you think is keeping you from being a good homemaker?

Me: Hmmmmmmmm. I just don't feel like I have enough time. And when the crunch time comes down to it and I have to choose... I choose to spend time with our boys. Or sometimes I choose to spend some time for just me. And when I choose those "other" things then the house seems to fall apart.

(My husband then walked over to me and put his hands on my cheeks, got tears in his eyes, and looked deep into my soul)

Hubby: January. You are doing a good work. Do not come down. Every moment of you with our boys is irreplaceable. You are irreplaceable. You are doing a good work. Do not come down.

Needless to say, I think he said more than that but I pretty much turned into a blubbering mess after the first few words.

He is pulling that phrase from Nehemiah 6. Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem and his enemies want to meet with him and keep sending him messages to come down to some valley so that they can talk to him... they want him to quit building the wall. Nehemiah's response?

"I'm doing a great work; I cannot come down."

Our Enemy so desperately wants us to not spend time with our children. He wants us to ignore our husbands. He wants us to work our hands to the bone and forget to read The Word of God. He wants us to slave away in vain at becoming The Impossible Woman.

The Enemy wants you to stop doing your great work. He wants you to come down.

But I am here to tell you...

"You are doing a great work; do not come down."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

His Voice

Last night my phone rang with a number that I didn't recognize.  It listed my town and the number, so I assumed it was someone I knew and answered it.  The person immediately started in with, "Hey!  You have a minute?"  And I immediately went into figure out who I'm talking to because obviously I'm supposed to know mode.

Within a sentence or two, I realized it was a dear friend of mine who was evidently calling from a different phone number than I have in my phone for her.  At one point in the conversation I finally said, "Is this your home phone?" and I told her that I hadn't known who it was right away.  She answered with, "Oh, sorry.  It's me!"  For some reason it was funny to me because it was someone whose voice I clearly should recognize--as indicated even in her answer of "It's me!"

As I thought back on it this morning, I thought about when God calls.  He doesn't call me up on the phone (at least He never has!), but He certainly calls me.  He calls me to obedience, and He speaks clearly if only I'd listen. But, do I know His voice well enough to hear Him?  Do I have to think through all the possibilities of who it might be before I realize it's Him, or am I walking closely enough to Him that I can recognize His voice within the first sentence or two?

In John 10:4, it says ...his sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  I want to live in such a way that such a thing could be said of me.  I want to know His voice.

Lord, I pray that I would take the time to hear Your voice, that I would attune my heart, my mind, my everything to You and that I would hear You when You speak.  I want to know Your voice, and I want to follow You with all I say and do.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

His Time

His time is not my time. It's not a fact that I like to submit to on most days, but nevertheless, it is a truth I am learning to accept. Reluctantly.

Most days, in stubborn independence, I try to conquer my challenges in my own strength. For a time. Only to fail. In my striving, I find myself discouraged and bewildered. It is then that I must stop and remember that God is never early or late. And, this part bothers me most of all...I simply do not know His timing.

The truth is, I have had more than one temper tantrum with God about the timing of His plans. Sometimes He seems late. Other times, I feel as though He is early. But the truth is His timing is perfect. So, I surrender to several truths and I cling to them in my seasons of waiting.

I cannot control God, for He alone is sovereign.
I cannot put Him in a box, for He is not limited by my human perspective.
I cannot put limits on His power, for His greatness is beyond my ability to imagine.

All I can do is give my circumstances to Him and believe that He "will make everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It's a promise that endures even when the events around us seem anything but beautiful.

Right here.
Right now.
In my doubts.
And despite my fears.
God is at work, though my eyes do not always see Him moving. Instead,I am called to trust. Believe. Endure. After all, there is only room for one God in my life, and it is not me.

I consider the road ahead. Unknown twists and turns are before me. There will be days of joy and days of pain. Days of triumph, but also devastation. And in both, I am reminded, that I remain in the center of God's will. Rather than doubt His goodness, I must know my LORD so well that I am not shaken during seasons of shaping. Of molding. Of waiting.

Truly, there is much I shall never understand as He weaves my life into His beautiful plan. And it IS beautiful. It shall all beautiful. In His time.

Sovereign King,
You are ruler of all. Lord of Lords. All-knowing. All-powerful. You are God. Help us to accept your timing and to trust you in all things. When you appear late, help us to remember that we only see part of your picture. In those moments, Father, draw us nearer to your heart and closer to your presence, so that we might lean on you while we wait. We praise you for you are making all things beautiful in your perfect timing.


Reflection: What are you waiting for? Do you trust God's timing?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!! Wishing you lots of...brokenness for 2012!?!?!?

Did that title get your attention?  Let me explain...
2011 (and 2010 if we are keeping track) hasn't been an easy year for us.  It has been trying...and overwhelming...and down right hard more often than I would have liked.  And to be honest...I really hope that your 2012 can look a lot like that.
Have I lost it???  Am I wishing bad things on you and yours?  Of course not!!!  I hope that you can get out of 2012 what we got out of 2011 as painlessly as possible.  But, I do hope that you can gain an understanding of what we learned and obtained through these times.
Because when I say that this past year has been rough...I have to follow that up with saying that it has BY FAR been the most amazing, beautiful, blessed year of my life.  My husband agrees...and (depending on the day you ask), I'm pretty sure my kids would too.  I think that this new way of understanding living started when we traveled to Uganda to adopt our son (October 2010).
It continued as we started the transition to becoming a family of 4.  It has continued as we have walked through my almost 5 year old's juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and treatment.  Then when my husband fell through a church's ceiling while working (as a firefighter) on a structure fire.  Through his surgery and 8 months of rehab - and working a desk position.  Through the financial burden that put on us.  When we realized that our transition to "normal" life with our son would last far longer than we anticipated due to the things he went through before we got to him.  Lots of things have happened...and we have just sort of sailed through.  Put our heads down and trudged forward.  Didn't always do it right, but for the most part...we have been thankful for it all.  With every hard time...there is triumph to celebrate.  And we have (again, for the most part...nobody is perfect) chosen to focus on the triumph.
And there have been these incredible moments...that I really can't explain...the kind of moments that make me tear up with joy to think about them.  The moments where my son looks up at me (despite his history) and says that he loves me.  When my daughter sits in my lap, takes a deep breath, takes her shot like a champ, and shows this pure, brave, proud smile...cause she knows that she. is.  amazing.  The moment I found out that my husband caught himself with his shoulder and was dangling above church pews...then pulled himself up with ligaments and tendons that were shredded.  The moment our friends came together to bless us and help us make ends meet.
I am sharing this with you for a reason.  I want you to understand that this life we live isn't easy (who can argue with that???).  There are people I know who are going through things right now that I can't imagine going through.  They make my year look like a walk in the park...yet they have peace.  Sure, they hurt and cry, BUT they know that as long as you KNOW JESUS, everything is going to be OK.  In fact, it will be so much better than OK.  It will be perfection.
So, what I am really saying is that I hope your hear is filled with HIS peace, HIS joy, and HIS understanding.  Not your own.  Because HIS love isn't circumstantial.  And HE will carry us through every moment of every day of 2012.  We need only to be still.