Friday, February 25, 2011

A Year with God-book review

A Year with God is a devotional walking you through the Old Testament scriptures.  It first features a passage from scripture and follows with a short and simple writing about the passage and what we can learn from it. I like the flow of the book and the insight offered on each page.  Different Bible translations are used, but the devotional is focused on the context of the passage, not the exact wording so it works. The book is arranged by topics such as; Hope and fear, love and hate, perseverance and quitting.

I think this would be a good devotional for one who is just beginning to read the Bible  & is not looking for deep theological concepts.  A Year with God is straight forward, not fluffing up the scripture or tickling ears, remaining simple and easy to understand.




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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trusting God's Ways

A question was posed to me on Facebook recently by a friend.  Here is what she posted.

This is going to sound like a huge whine bag but....when you and your husband know in your soul that you are supposed to leave your fertility to God. Then, you have 5 miscarriages (3 1st trimester and 2 2nd tri losses)....nobody knows why.  I know that true submission...doesn't mean you are going to "get your way"...and I did/do see beauty from my losses, totally. But, what are we supposed to do now? Two of my ob's will no longer help us because "it will happen again". I desire more children and so does my husband. But, it seems kinda irresponsible to be creating lives that have a good chance of dying before they are even born. (I guess not for the babies...a short trip to paradise would be amazing.) But, the aftermath that baby loss brings is crushing for the whole family.  Everything in our souls say "try again" but, I'm scared we *think* it is God saying that.....but, it is really our desire saying that.   Don't get me wrong...baby loss devastated me all 5 times. BUT, I would not trade my journey...what that devastation did for my relationship w/ Christ...was amazing. It seems weird that thru the death of these babies....I really connected w/ the preciousness of God's heart. I don't wanna sound like a whine bag...I am thankful God took care of us during our sad time. I just need to know what to do now.

Oh the sadness and desperation I hear in this sweet mother’s message.  Her desire for more children and yet the fear of losing another baby is overwhelming.  My heart hurts for her.

The first thing I want to say is that the desire for more children is not wrong.  It is never wrong unless you desire children out of the wrong motive.  Something I am learning is that God often gives us desires to show us area’s in our life that we are not truly depending on him.  It isn’t that he has no intention of satisfying that desire, but often the way he chooses to satisfy is not the way we would have chosen.

We need to be careful that we are not trying to satisfy a legitimate desire with illegitimate sources of satisfaction.
For instance, if someone has the desire to be accepted by others they may try to satisfy that desire in ways that are not part of God’s plan.  She may try to woo those she wants to be accepted by with invitations to dinner or buying gifts. She may try to change the way she dresses or what she does in her free time to impress the other crowd.  Instead of allowing the Lord to satisfy that desire to be accepted in his way and his time which will leave her completely satisfied.  Her way will never bring complete satisfaction.
 it seems kinda irresponsible to be creating lives that have a good chance of dying before they are even born
Well, we know that God is the creator of life, not us.  And I won’t begin to understand why he allows conception only to take it away.  God’s ways are not my ways.  I think often our view of God is not accurate.  We want him to be a God who only brings good to our lives and never responsible for difficult things to happen.  
Job had an accurate view of God.   
He said. “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away…” (Job 1:21)   
Job didn’t blame his loss on anyone; he knew that God is the one who allows things to be given and to be taken away.  And because he knew this he could say, 
“Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Sometimes things happen that we just can’t understand, but we shouldn’t exhaust our self in trying to understand, but rather exhaust our self in the truth that God is in control even when things feel out of control.
Something else to realize about Job is that his losing everything was not a result of his sin.  God called him righteous.  I think God wanted to prove a point, he knows us better than we know our selves.  He knows what we can handle when we turn to him for strength. He used this trial in Job’s life to show Job how faithful he really was to God.  

Now back to my friend.  She asked what they should do now.  Do they keep trying to have kids?  My question to her is, 
“How much do you trust God?”  
 If he called you to trust him with your fertility, then are you ok with how he works that out?  The pain is deep.  I understand that.  And it is hard to understand why he would bring you into submission on this if it seems that he will not give you the desire of your heart.  This hope for another child is painful but God is not calling you to be content with your pain, but to hope in Him and his way.  I think he wants us to know if we can be satisfied with Him even if the desires of our heart are never satisfied on this side of Heaven.
“True contentment and hope are characterized by a willingness to always hope for what it good without demanding that it be fulfilled our own way or in our own time.  True contentment trusts and hopes in an all-wise, all-powerful, all loving God who is sovereign in our lives as well as in human history.  So we can continue to hope with passion and compassion in the midst of a disappointing world.  Pain and disappointment can coexist with a vibrant hope.” Gwynne Johnson (Developing a Discerning Heart)
God understands your pain and your tears.  They are nothing to be ashamed of and they are not sinful as long as we don’t sit and nest in them.  We are to take our fears and disappointment to God, lay them at his feet and seek his face.  He knows our heart, he knows our desires…he placed them there.  But, he wants us to see through all the pain and fear, his deep love for us and wants us to trust him with the next step…whatever that is.

I love how my friend shares that she is thankful for the sweet relationship with Jesus this painful season has brought about.  It seems to make all the pain worth it, when we realize how personal and intimate we have become with our Lord. 

I can’t tell my friend what they should do next.  I can’t tell her if they should keep trying to have more kids.  I can only encourage her to go before her Heavenly Father, sit at his feet and be still.  Let him minister to her hurting heart.  Let him comfort her as only He can.  Let him whisper into her soul complete satisfaction to all her desires.  

I can’t help but think of the amazing welcome party this mom will have when she gets to heaven.  All of those sweet babies, there to welcome their mother home!

Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
Maybe you have some encouragement for my friend.  I would love for you to share your thoughts as a comment.


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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit is JOY!

I remember singing a song in church when I was little called “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength”.  I didn’t totally understand what it meant, but I sang it with all my might.
Then I grew up and I realized I still didn’t understand this joy that scripture talked about.  I thought it was based on my circumstances.  I got it confused with happiness.  The scriptures didn’t make sense to me.  How can someone consider trials joy as Paul said we should?  How can joy be our strength?  Then I did a study on joy and I got it and just in time too.

I have been told that most people are not interested in the Greek or Hebrew translations of scripture.  But I think it is fascinating because I learn so much more than I would have if I just took the word at face value.  Digging into the Greek & Hebrew has brought me into a deeper understanding & love for the Bible.
So, joy is one of those words that came alive for me when I dug into the Greek meaning. In Greek, the most common word used for joy in the Bible is chara.   This word means “joy, rejoicing, gladness-enjoyment, bliss” In John MacArthur’s ESV Study Bible (which I got for my birthday and love it!), joy is defined as 
“the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord.”
I don’t have joy because my life is easy (it’s not, but let’s just say it is).  I don’t have joy because I’m married to the most perfect husband ever or have almost perfect kids.  My joy is found in the truth that I belong to Jesus!  My joy is a result of knowing that my name is written in the Lambs Book of Life.
Ok, so that isn’t all that I found that was cool.  There is another word, very similar to chara.  It is charis, which is the Greek word for grace!   
As Beth Moore said, 
“Joy is literally written into grace!”   
It all makes sense now how Paul could have such joy in the midst of persecution.  It explains how Corrie ten Boom could experience joy while in the Nazi Concentration camps.  They knew that their salvation was unmerited.  They didn’t deserve it, but they had it.  Knowing they were covered by God’s gift of grace strengthened them to endure whatever came their way.
Grace is not about us…it is all about Him!  When we realize that, we can grasp, accept and cling to grace.  We experience joy when we know that our lives are not about us. When we decrease and he increases, joy is the result.  Whatever we have to endure can be done in a way that brings glory and honor to our Lord.  We can also relate to others in a whole different way. 
There is a reason why love is listed before joy in Galatians 5:22.  Without love you cannot experience or exhibit joy. It is the foundation for all the fruit of the Spirit.  Joy isn’t about keeping a smile on your face all the time.  You can have joy in the midst of tears.  But you can’t sit in your sadness or disappointment, because you know the joy of the Lord and the happiness that it does bring.

When the job is taken away, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength”
When the husband decides he doesn’t want to be married to you anymore, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
When the medical tests do not come back with good news, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
When that child is trying your patience again, you can say “The joy of the Lord is my strength”

We may lose our joy….

1.       When our outpour exceeds our intake.  Are you serving more than you are seeking?  I have been guilty of this.  This is very easy for mothers.  I find myself pouring myself into my children but not refueling with a quiet time.  Before long I am tired, exhausted & empty of joy.
2.       When our talk exceeds our walk. Once again, this happens when we are not in a daily time with the Lord.  We begin talking way too much and not walking out what we talk about.  It is exhausting and can only last a short while before you just can’t stand your self anymore.
3.       When we are exhausted.  God created our bodies and he knows that we cannot function when we don’t take care of ourselves.  It is hard for a mom, especially one with a new baby, to get the rest needed. I know in the past, when I was super tired I just didn’t want to be a mom anymore.  I’ve said it too! I was exhausted, I had no joy in being a mother.
4.       When we feel alone.  Motherhood can be a very lonely time of life believe it or not.  No one understands you.  No one has a child like you.  No one has a husband like yours.  Before you know it you are feeling quite alone.  But in all reality you are not alone.  Beside the Lord himself, you do have others out there who will understand and who will care.  It just takes reaching out.

The fruit of the Spirit is joy because when you are walking in step with the Spirit you will experience and exhibit his joy and it will be wonderful!  Praise God for the grace that covers you and enables you to live in His joy!

Read my other posts on the Fruit of the Spirit here.


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Guest Posting


My new friend Susan has this wonderful website & blog that reaches out to moms, encouraging them in their mighty roles as a godly mom. She asked me to join her team of guest columnist & today my first post is published on her blog.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to her site, she always has great things posted.

Here is my post; I'm Just a Mom.


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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love-Part 2


In my first post, I shared with you about my first true love.  It was a fleeting romance and I’m thankful that God has brought it back to my memory.  It is a fun memory, but also reminds me of how unlike my “love” for Kyle was compared to God’s love for me.  

So, who are we called to love? I picked the top 3.

God
God must be our true love.  We are commanded to love him with all our heart, soul and strength. (Matthew 22:37-38)  When you are deeply in love with someone they are on your mind always, night and day.  What or who fills your thoughts during the day?



Husband
There are two big “S” words when it comes to loving our husbands’. 
Serve him in love. 
I have a funny story that I like to tell about my parents.  When I was growing up we always ate dinner together as a family.  If my dad’s tea glass got low, he would shake his glass and my mom would get up and get him some more tea.  Finally, years later(and I mean many years later), my dad asked my mom why she poured him more tea so much.  She said that she thought when he shook his glass that meant that he wanted more tea.  My dad laughed and told her that he was shaking his ice so that when he took the last sips of his tea the ice wouldn’t fall on his face.  It didn’t mean he wanted more tea.  WE all had a good laugh and that night my dad started pouring my mom more tea when her glass got low.
I love that story, because my mom gladly served my dad.  She never grumbled about getting him more tea.  She did it because she loved her husband and wanted to do things for him.
I’m sure we can all agree that our husbands have bad habits, and I’m sure that our husbands could name a few of our bad habits also.  Love gets over the bad habits!  Agape love for our husband’s can’t dwell on his bad habits or annoying tendencies.  It loves in spite of…  Love asks. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Submit to your husband’s leadership in the home.  The woman who is walking with the Spirit will want to submit to your husband.  I’m talking about a marriage where the husband and wife love each other as God has called us to love.  I’m not talking about an abusive marriage.
I find great satisfaction when I submit to my husband’s leadership.  We work together, we make decisions together, but I let him be the final say.  I didn’t always feel this way.  The change came when my love for the Lord deepened.  My submission to my husband is a natural outflow from my submission to God.  Christ set the example of submission for us in that it is an act of worship when it is a chosen, deliberate, voluntary response to our husband.  If you find it hard to submit to your husband, evaluate your relationship with the Lord.  Once again, I am not speaking to the woman who is in an abusive relationship, married to a man who does not love his wife.
We must pray for our husbands’ daily even if your husband is abusive or not a believer.  I love Stormie Omartians’ book, The Power of a Praying Wife.” Years ago I blogged my way through that book.  Here are my posts on that series.  Great things can happen in a marriage when we are praying for our husbands.  A very powerful prayer for your husband can be, “Lord, how can I bless to my husband today?”  Remember the annoying habits I mentioned earlier?  Take it from me, don’t pray that God will change those habits, instead pray that your husband will seek the Lord and love him deeply.  God has great things to do in your husband, your prayers for him are vital!
To the wife whose husband is not a believer, may I suggest that you take your husband to God, not take God to your husband?  Don’t preach to your husband, just live your life for the Lord.  In the Lord’s timing he will draw your husband to himself.  He can use you in your husband’s life when you live out the love of God for God, not for your husband.

Children

We love our children.  I don’t think that is a profound statement!
I think one of the greatest ways a mother can love her children is by loving their father first. Let your children see you love their dad through serving & submitting to him.  Be careful to not grumble about your husband in front of your children.  Praise your husband in front of your children.  Your children build an opinion of their father from how you speak to him and about him.
Show your children your love by letting them see your eyeballs when you speak to them.  I’m so guilty of doing something else while my children are trying to talk to me.  It doesn’t take much time to stop what I am doing, look my child in the eyes and listen to them.
Let your children see you in your quiet place.  Let them “catch” you during your quiet time. Some  of my sweetest childhood memories are finding my mom sitting either in the big chair in the Living Room or on her swing in the backyard early in the morning with her Bible.  I knew it was important to her, I knew that because I saw her do it.  If your children interrupt your quiet time, don’t get angry or impatient with them.  Instead pull them in and include them.  Read scripture together.  Or let them ask their question and move on.  It is important to let your children know that it is important to you that you have time to pray before you start your day.  Your children will learn to respect that time & allow you to keep that time, especially if they see that it makes for a more patient mommy.
We are called to love the unlovely.    God loves us in spite our sins and his love is perfected in us so that we can love those that are really difficult to love.  I didn’t say you have to like them or be best friends.  But you can love them.
If you feel that you cannot love a person, they have hurt you too deeply then remember 1 John 4:8,
“Anyone who does not love does not know God.”   
Anyone who is filled with jealousy and hate cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21) It is evidence that to the root of their soul they do not know God.  Take those unlovable ones in your life to God and let him show you how to love them the way he loves them. 

So, who is your first love?  Who would you give your life for?  Who consumes your thoughts during the day?

I found this prayer, prayed by an unknown saint.
“Oh God, I hereby give myself to You.  I give my family, I give my business.  I give all I possess.  Take all of it, Lord-and take me!   I give myself in such measure that if it is necessary that I lose everything for your sake, let me lost it.  I will not ask what the price is.  I will ask only that I may be all that I ought to be as a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.”
Powerful stuff!
Agape love starts and ends with God and he includes you in the middle of it!

The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE!


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tech-Free Snow Day

We are expecting snow again tomorrow & ridiculously bitter cold weather.  I can already sense the panic rising in moms on Facebook  & Twitter today.  People are stocking up on food and Redbox video's.  Since we homeschool, we will still do our school lessons & then go play.  Hopefully it won't stay on the ground as long as it did last time.  I still have snow in the shady corners of our yard from last week!

So, what do we do if we are stuck inside again with our kids (oh perish the thought!)?  I have a few idea's.

  1. Read a good book. 
  2. Act out the book you just read.
  3. Make up your own story. Draw pictures to illustrate it.  Act it out.
  4. Bake a cake and eat it instead of eating lunch!
  5. Make homemade play-dough.
  6. Play dress up!  Let your kids use your clothes!
  7. Play store. If you have a printer that is also a copier, make copies of your paper money.  Let the kids "shop" in the pantry.  So much fun!  My kids learned how to make change like this.
  8. Decorate t-shirts.  You can buy t-shirts super cheap at craft stores & the fabric markers.  Make a shirt that says,"I survived the winter of 2011!"
  9. Play hide & go seek in the house.  Kids hide while you take a nap. (kidding)
  10. If all that is done & there is still time left, pop popcorn, make hot cocoa & snuggle in together to watch a movie.
I encourage you to grab every opportunity to make memories with your children, enjoy your time with them.  Tomorrow they will be making plans to leave your home...cherish today!

Moms of Faith had 101 Idea's that I thought were great to pass on.


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Friday, February 4, 2011

Are You Wasting the Gift of Rest

Our street with a solid 2" sheet of ice on it.
This has been a crazy week for us! If you live in Texas, you already know what I'm talking about. Monday they forecast temps for the week would be freezing & we may get some ice. Instead, Tuesday morning we woke up to 2 inches of ice & today is Friday & the ice is still there, now with 6 inches of snow on top of it. We are not used to this kind of weather here. Ice for a day or so, but not for 4 days!
Needless to say, we are a bit tired of this. Roads are too dangerous to drive on, all activities were canceled and we are running out of toilet paper!

For the first few days we tried to keep things normal around here. School was still on. I tried to keep things normal anyway. But just knowing that we can't go anywhere seem to add an edge of panic in everyone. Finally by yesterday I surrendered & just let them play.


The older kids play Xbox or Wii while the younger ones try to make the best of it on the ice outside, but it proved to not be so much fun. Sam's nose is proof of how hard that ice is when you hit it!  Gracie has a bump on her head from falling & Ben bruised his hand, so the ice is not forgiving at all.
I would like to tell you that we snuggled in with good books & hot cocoa and made the most of it, but we didn't.  Kids played video games, wore the same clothes everyday and we ate when we wanted, whatever we wanted.  Dinner last night was cereal for some & chicken strips for others.

Facebook has been full of updates from friends who are struggling with this winter weather too.  So many are complaining of the cold weather, boredom, missing friends, etc...
What is it about this weather that makes us act like this?
I was reading on Priscilla Shirer's blog this morning & she nailed it I think.  She wrote;

Are we so addicted to constant movement (and even stress) that we don't even know how to relax anymore? Isn't there anything that remains attractive about stillness, simple fun and family time?

We like the thought of not having to do anything, but when we are forced into it, we complain, fidget, and can't wait to get back to normal busyness.

Be still & know that I am God Psalm 46:10

Just reading that calms us down at times, but in reality, we really don't like being still.  It forces us to face our weaknesses.  This week, we have had to stay home.  We can't go anywhere.  When the pantry was getting empty we felt like we would never get food again.  When the electricity went out because of rolling blackouts we panicked thinking we would never get power back on.  Ridiculous!  We are so spoiled!
Paul really ministered to my heart this morning in light of the abnormal week we have had.

Philippians 2:14, Do all things without grumbling or questioning.
We have done our fair share of grumbling week. Rolling black outs. Super cold temperatures.  Constant pile of wet gloves, coats & hats by the front door. Bored children.

Philippians 4:11, I have learned in whatever situation am to be content.
Really, how many times does it snow & ice in Texas?  Not many, but when it does I want it to be warm again.  When it is 102 degrees, I want it to be cold.  Can I ever be content?

Philippians 4:19, And my God shall supply every need of your according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
The pantry is getting low of food.  Scott can't get to work. Did I mention my kids are bored?  Yet, we have electricity, food, healthy people & running water.  Many have not had it as well & have had frozen pipes, no electricity & have sick family.

So here I am at the end of a week of a God induced Sabbath rest.  He has provided us with a week to be still, dig into His words, enjoy our family, and rest and I spent most of it complaining & waiting for the temps to get above freezing.
I'm so thankful he gives us a new minute...hour...day to start all over and do it right!  After all, I hear that we are to get more snow next week!

Here are a few pictures my husband took this morning on the way to the store.




 Thank you Lord for your gifts and help me to see them as just that...gifts!


Wouldn't ya know it!  It's snowing again!


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