Thursday, April 21, 2011
God has been so good! I just have to share this story and brag on Him.
The last week before my surgery I was feeling very down and depressed. I found myself crying daily. I was exhausted from the constant pain and was crabby. I was surrounded by so many things at home that needed to be done, but absolutely no energy or strength OR ability to do anything. For 5 weeks I would come home from school everyday and go straight to the recliner. I would sit there with ice packs on my knee and back. You see, my back and hip were out of whack due to the limping and favoring of my knee. The day before my surgery was very difficult. I had to prepare for 2 1/2 days for a substitute. The kids have been on high speed since we finished Terra Nova testing. I was going to miss the Easter egg hunt with my 'kinders' so I was trying to inform the room mom of everything she would possibly need to know. I had to teach Learning Zone after school. And I have really been feeling a special tug on my heart for my class lately. Anyway, Monday was a difficult day! I leave school and all the way home I am bumming about my situation and feeling sorry for myself. When I turn the corner onto my street I see a bunch of cars parked on the street in front of my house. I am thinking, "What is going on? Did someone in the neighborhood die?" As I pull into my driveway I see a friend with her weedeater in my yard. I see another friend's 18 year old son sweeping my front porch. I see my flowerbed has been weeded and I can now see the beautiful hostas and hydrangea bush. I see some more friends stick their heads out of the house and tell me I can't come in. Then Levi (my son) comes out and says, "Come on, we are going to dinner". He takes me to Pad Thai for dinner and then to Lix Custard for ice cream. When I get home, my house smells so good!! Everything is clean!!! Even the windows were washed - the carport was swept - the deck was straightened - new mulch was in my back flowerbed - dishes are done - all bathrooms are cleaned - floors have been vacuumed & swept - and there are flowers waiting for me and my favorite muffins!
I am so blessed with the most fabulous friends!!!
Since then two friends have brought me dinner and one of them made home made chocolate chip cookies here and cleaned up my kitchen again. Let me tell you - There is no better medicine that warm cookies straight out of the oven!!!
Needless to say, my whining pity party had to stop!!! I have had a smile on my face since Monday evening - even through the surgery and pain that followed I am happy and blessed.
My God is good!!!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Today I went with my SisterChicks to see the movie, "The Grace Card".
"The Grace Card" is about racism. It is about pain and forgiveness. It is about sorrow, grief, and love. It is about a promise to pray for others everyday, to ask their forgiveness, to grant forgiveness, and to be a friend. It is about grace.
"The Grace Card" is a wonderful movie! It made me think.
Tonight I finished reading the next chapter in Crazy Love. It was some hard stuff.
Now I am trying to process this hard stuff.
I don't think any Believer would want to be considered 'lukewarm'! Scripture tells us in Revelation 3:16 that God will spit us out of his mouth if we are lukewarm. In the past I am sorry to say that I have been through some lukewarm seasons. But I have not considered myself to be in that state for quite some time. . . . now I am not so sure.
Frances Chan gives various profiles of lukewarm Christians in chapter 4 of Crazy Love. As I read these I was convicted of my laziness - my selfishness - my greediness - my superior attitude - my shallowness. Isaiah's words are on my heart, "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips."
Our study guide for this chapter challenges us to pick one of Frances' lukewarm characteristics to focus on for this week. I do not believe it is a coincidence that one of these characteristics was the main theme of the movie, "The Grace Card", that I saw today. ( Excellent movie, by the way!!!!) The profile for this particular lukewarm Christian is that they love others but not as much as they love themselves. They love those that are easy to love - not those that are difficult, cruel, the 'hard to love', those that are different, those that create jealously in the heart. It is easy to love our friends, our family, those that are like us. But it is not so easy to love those that are different or inconvenience us in some way.
God is speaking to me. I am broken over my selfishness. I have felt inconvenienced and frustrated that I have to give of myself to others. Woe is me! I am a woman with an unclean heart. My heart needs a good housecleaning!
Selfishness and love are complete opposites! Selfishness focuses on satisfying our own flesh and love focuses on pleasing others. Selfishness and pride go hand in hand. They are both self-centered and they produce disharmony in the heart. It is sin.
"If you display selfish behavior with God or your neighbor, God will not put up with you for very long. Because God is a righteous God, He cannot be in the presence of the proud. The proud place more honor on themselves than God. God counts this type of person as wicked and He will not know him. Neither will God put up with a proud person that slanders his neighbor. God will not suffer anyone that has a proud heart against God or his fellowman". Psalms 101:3-4
I need God's Grace.
Lord, I am so undeserving. I have been selfish. I have felt inconvenienced. I am sorry. Please forgive me, Please fill me up with You. May my eyes see what You see. May my heart feel what You feel. May my life reflect You.
I love You for providing for me - I love You for forgiving me - I love You for dieing for me, for rising for me, for saving me. I know that there is nothing I can do or say that is deserving of any of these things. It is Your Grace that makes it possible for me to sit at Your feet. Thank You for loving me. Help me to love others. May I learn to extend 'The Grace Card' to them.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
What does the word love mean? I automatically go back, WAY back to "Love means never having to say your sorry" - That is really a stupid statement!!! Then I think "Love hurts" - YES! It does!!! Webster defines love as "a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties" - That sounds like a good thing!
What about fear - what does it mean? I think of things I am afraid of - mice (YIKES!!); losing someone near and dear to me; physical pain. What does Webster have to say about fear - "frighten" and "to have a reverential awe of (God)".
Love and Fear - do they fit together?
Frances Chan talks about having a fear of God and not grasping the love of God when he was growing up. He points out that his own relationship with his father played a big part in how he perceived God.
The Love of God! I have met many people who struggle with accepting God's love. That is one thing I have never had trouble doing. I have always held tight to the love of God!! Perhaps it is because of my Baptist upbringing or because I felt loved and accepted by my dad long before I came to know God. For whatever reason, I have always felt like God loved me and known that he would always love me.
The Fear of God! That is something I have felt in the past. If I am honest it has been during my rebellious seasons of life. Times when I was living for me and only me. The fear I felt then was connected to shame. I remember thinking, "I sure don't want Jesus to return now and catch me doing this." How stupid of me!! Jesus knew exactly what I was doing! But when I have been living for Jesus I do not think of fear.
I always felt like these 2 things - Love of God & Fear of God were total opposites.
After reading this chapter I see how they go together. Francis uses the term 'reverent intimacy' and he talks about being 'In Love With the One I Fear'. As I think about those 2 phrases I also think about Webster's definition of fear - to have a reverential awe; and the definition of love - a strong affection arising out of personal ties. Putting those together for 'reverent intimacy' is something like - "having a reverential awe and strong affection arising out of personal ties." I have that! I am amazed at my God - He is the Great I Am and He loves me. He made me and loves me enough to discipline me when I need it (which is quite often); He knows the number of hairs on my head and He calls the stars by name. He deserves my reverential awe and strong affection!
Now, for the final part of Chapter 3:
"Do you love this God who is everything or do you just love everything He gives you?"
Ouch! Love hurts! That reminds me of a question I heard in a sermon a while back - If there were no rewards in heaven, no promises of happiness and peace, would just knowing Jesus here on earth as we know Him now, would that be enough?
Hmmm - I have some things to think about.Abba - I love you. I confess that I have not feared you with reverant awe. Like the song says, "What do I know of holy?" I want to fear you - I want to know you - I want to have more of you. Help me! Help me to value You and focus on You - not the many blessings from You. I am grateful for everything you give me, but I just want to be content with You! I want to be in love with the one I fear - You.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Francis Chan titled chapter two of his Crazy Love book, 'You Might Not Finish this Chapter'. Me, in my ignorance, thought he was referring to the fact that I might not like what I am reading and not finish it. That is not what he meant! He boldly pointed out that I could die at any second and that is why I would not finish the chapter. OH NO! That is not what I wanted to think about!
I like to be stroked - who doesn't?
I like to be encouraged and uplifted - don't you?
I like to feel good about me - isn't that what we are always being told by the media?
But I have been brought before the throne of God in my humility and I am reminded that:
* My life is not about me. I am but a speck.
* I am not the star of my life movie.
* My plans are nothing compared to the plans He has.
"Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13-14
This chapter took me back to a lesson I heard from Beth Moore when I saw her in Chicago with a great group of girlfriends. Beth was talking about how we act like it is soooo hard to live for Christ. We have this to do . . . Somebody did this to us . . . We don't have time to help with that . . . on and on about how big our life is. In reality and when looking at the BIG picture of beginning to end (not of our life but God's) we are here for such a short time. Why can't we do the hard thing for a short time in comparison to all of eternity?
You are the source of every good thing in my life. I want to keep my eyes focused on you and live this day and every day for you. I want to remember that my life is not about me, but it is about you. May everything I do bring glory to you, not shame or disappointment, but praise and honor.
Thank you for changing my life! I am forever blessed by falling in love with you.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I am beginning a journey. A journey with a relentless God. I want to be overwhelmed by Him! I want passion! I want to experience some crazy love! I am sick of myself; sick of being selfish; sick of going through the motions!!!
I have lost the AWE of God and I WANT IT BACK!!!
So I am reading and studying a book by Francis Chan. The title is Crazy Love. It starts out with a quote from The Seeking Heart by Francois Fenelon: 'To just read the Bible, attend church, and avoid "big" sins - is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?'
Think about it . . . reading the Bible, attending church and avoiding big sins - that sounds just plain boring!!
The God who created the universe: stars, moons, planets, galaxies; - the God who creates life of every form: plants, insects, animals, organisms, and babies - that is the same God who knows every single detail about every single person who ever lived, who is living, and who will ever live! That blows my mind!!! There is NO way that can possibly be boring! This God deserves SOOO much more from me than complacency and selfishness! He deserves my passion!
He is my:
Adonai - Master
Beginning and End
El Shaddai - All sufficient
Inhabitor of Praises
Jehovah-Jireh - Provider
Kadosh - Holy One
Lamb that was slain
Magen - Shield
Name above every name
Palet - Deliverer
Rose of Sharon
Soter - Savior
Tsaddiq - Righteous one
Upholder of all things
I am on a journey to fall crazy in love with my Savior. It is going to be a great experience. One I want to be on for the rest of my days.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I haven't written anything in a while and my soul is longing to put pen to paper (or in today's modern age maybe I should say - fingers to keys). Oh well, hopefully, you know what I mean. I have had this yearning to get some thoughts down for several weeks but, for whatever reason, just have not been intentional enough to sit down and start typing. This morning I decided to be intentional about several things - spend time with my Beloved Savior in His word and deep prayer; work on my budget; read The Missing by Beverly Lewis on my new kindle (thanks to a lifelong bestie); and journal some thoughts! I did get sidetracked a bit when Kate called and asked if I wanted to go have a peek at their first home they are purchasing.
Now here I sit at my computer pondering my time with Jesus this morning. The devotion I read this morning was about facing fears and putting ourselves out there - not being embarrassed or ashamed to seek help. I have faced many fears and shame in my life and I have learned a HUGE lesson from these feelings.
Lesson #1: Shame is not from God!!! Shame is from the enemy. He bogs us down with negative feelings and thoughts of not being worthy - losing friends - not being accepted. The TRUTH is: We are unworthy without the shed blood of our Savior! When we live under the forgiveness of Jesus we are accepted and loved!!!
This is what the Lord says: Forget what happened in the past, and do not dwell on events from long ago. I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don't you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land. Isiah 43: 18-19
Lesson learned: Face the lie with the truth!!!
Lesson #2: Embarrassment and humiliation keeps us from reaching out to others. Once again, the enemy thrills at our embarrassment - he reinforces our fear of humiliation. I have heard him whisper in my ear, "you can't let that be known or every time someone looks at you they will think . . .". The TRUTH is: There is power in the light of Jesus.
All day long my disgrace is in front of me. Shame covers my face because of the words of those who insult and slander us, because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 44: 15-16
Lesson learned: Flee from the enemy into the arms of Jesus.
Lesson #3: Satan works hard to dull our spiritual connections. During my younger days of living under shame, embarrassment and humiliation I listened to the enemy. I now realize I was listening to the enemy. I even listened to him when he said "you don't need to voice your concerns, God know whats in your heart - there is no need to put those requests on the table, you have already told God about them." The TRUTH is: There is power in prayer!!!
So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed. Prayers offered by those who have God's approval are effective. James 5:15
Lesson learned: Seek prayer from others. Stay connected to the One who has the power - not the deceiver.
Blessed is the person who does not
follow the advice of wicked people,
take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers.
Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD
and reflects on his teachings day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams -
a tree that produces fruit in season
and whose leaves to not wither.
He succeeds in everything he does.
Wicked people are not like that.
Instead, they are like husks that the wind blows away.
That is why wicked people will not be able to stand in the judgment
and sinners will not be able to stand where righteous people gather.
The LORD knows the way of righteous people,
but the way of wicked people will end.
May I only seek advice and direction from fellow believers.
I want to be deep in You! I want to begin my day with You and Your Word and end my day with You and Your Word!
Bless my efforts - may my life show Your fruit!
I pray that you know my ways - that I always stay in Your shadow and that my life will be a reflection of You always