Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This is the conclusion of the Bloggy Cliffhanger I left you with last time. I know, you've been checking hourly to see if I'd finished the cabinet cleaning story yet or not. Sorry about the suspense. : )
As I said last time, Saturday when I was scrubbing 40 years worth of nasty grime off my kitchen cabinets, I was pondering the spiritual significance of what I was doing. That is what I do when my hands are working and my brain isn't. (Which, notably, constitutes a large part of my days.) I was cleaning off some gunk that I had thought would never come off... which is why I had never really tried. When we moved into the house there was SO much else to do (like cleaning up after the guy who had been living here before we bought it) (which is why, I now understand, people buy NEW houses!) I scratched a bit at the cabinets and surface cleaned them, but didn't really work hard at the grimy stuff because I thought it wasn't possible to remove it w/o removing the finish coming off in the process.
So anyway, in preparation for our party Sunday, Lowell had asked me to clean the cabinets and like usual, I got carried away and started really working on them and realized it WAS possible to get the stuff off without destroying the finish. I had just never tried hard enough before. So the spiritual significance here??? Well, I was wondering how many things there are in my life that I've never really thought could be changed, so I never bothered trying or letting God work on it.
Unfortunately, I didn't come up with any good answers, but I was getting annoyed at myself for THINKING so much about it!!! When my brain gets going like that, it's hard to stop it and sometimes it seems pointless. I honestly get TIRED of hearing myself think and b/c much of my thinking lately takes the form of how I would write a blog post about it, I start wondering about whether or not anybody else is getting tired of hearing me think as well. (But, thankfully, if you are... you can just stop. Just click the little red X up there in the corner. J)
But here's the thing I ultimately decided/realized as I kept cleaning. GOD MADE ME THIS WAY. "Normal" people don't see spiritual significance in stuff like grimy kitchen cabinets. But I do. In this I AM study I'm doing, she was talking about Moses and how he was put where he was at just the right time and I realized that one of the reasons God had me born in 1972 was so that when I was 35 and thinking thoughts like this, I could have a blog and write about them. And it's not (for me) about how it impacts you. Having a place like this where I can learn to think and formulate my thoughts and not be afraid of what people think and let my family know more of the real me has been a very significant thing for me.
And as a bonus, here are some of the spiritual conclusions I came to yesterday as I was cleaning the refrigerator. J
The fridge and cabinets can't clean themselves! In the same way, I am not capable of cleaning myself. God has to do it. Just like HE saved me by his grace, He is the One who will complete the work HE has started in me. Yes, I have a part to play in cooperating with Him, but I am changed by His grace, not by my effort.
Once one area is cleaned up I notice other areas that need cleaning up. All of a sudden, they look bad next to the clean areas, whereas before I had never even noticed them. When God is at work in me, I start noticing worry and pride (or whatever) in my heart I had never noticed before, even though it's been there a long time. I'm thankful I don't see all the work there is to be done--it would be overwhelming!--and that God is also not content to leave it, but is always working on me.
Just like the fridge gets new smudges on it and the bookshelves gather new dust, my heart's purity needs to be maintained. God's job is to clean me... My job is to cooperate. And there will always be new things to work on as long as I'm alive and God and I will just keep working on them. And I'll probably keep on blogging about them, too. J
Thanks for thinking with me.
Monday, November 12, 2007
BUTLER CHURCH 50th ANNIVERSARY! Yesterday we got to go to our former church's 50th anniversary celebration. It was so very sweet to see so many people who we had worshipped and served with during the many years we were there. Most of the former pastors were there and we got to hear the Spanish choir and see the SE Asian dancers and hear the kids choir sing "Sing alleluia to the Lord" in 3 languages... I miss that so much! But it was also a clear reminder that we are where we are now b/c it is where God wants us to be. As much as I still love Butler, my heart is most definitely at the Grove.
CLEANING/PARTY! Well, in spite of the fact that I was (really, I'm not exagerrating here) mopping my kitchen floor 10 minutes before the first people arrived last night for our Game Night, we had a lot of fun. God brought just the right amount of people and we had a great time and the kids all had a lot of fun. Lowell isn't sure he's going to ever let me do this again (I did leave WAY too much to get done after we got home from the Butler lunch/celebration) but I'm glad we did it and now my house is cleaner than it has been since the social worker came for our home study.
BLOGGING IN MY HEAD. On Saturday I was scrubbing 40 years worth of nasty grime off my kitchen cabinets, pondering the spiritual significance of what I was doing. (Because what else do you expect me to think about when I'm scrubbing cabinets???) I started to write all of my thoughts out here, but it's going to be way too long, so I'm saving it for later. Just in case you have something else to do today. : ) And to leave you in some sort of suspense as to what great spiritual truth I learned. If you'd like to guess or tell me what scrubbing kitchen cabinets might mean to you and your spiritual journey, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
"It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father's house. Acts 7:20 NASB
"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV
"For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." Psalm 149:4
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Last week I discovered this online Bible Study written and hosted by Lisa who is a preacher's wife somewhere (I can't remember where at the moment!) and anyway I've decided to join the study. The way it works is you click on the button here and it takes you to the intro, FAQ etc page and you can start it at the beginning whenever you want to and can do it at your own pace. Then you post your answers to the questions on your blog and add your name to the link list at the particular study you were answering. And let's just say she explains it better than I do! In the future, when you see this little picture, you'll know it's about the study. But without further ado, here are my answers to the questions, which unless you've read the study won't mean quite as much as if you have.
1. Are there any circumstances or relationships in your life where you can see God has intentionally placed you? What do you perceive may be at stake if you do or do not speak out for Him? Is it too obvious to mention my family? I know God has put me in this place as my husband’s wife and Mikaela & Toby’s mom and “soon” mom to another one. I also know God has me/us at our young church because He has wanted to use us there. I’m sure there are more situations that I am less aware or unsure about. I know that at the least, people will miss out on blessings or encouragement if I am not obedient in speaking what God wants me to. And it could be much worse… that they miss out on the freedom God has for them through whatever He is wanting to speak to them at that time. 2. Can you honestly describe yourself as a woman with a 'yes' in her spirit? If not, what keeps you from this? I would say yes, but that God is dealing with the worry I can harbor even when I’ve surrendered to Him. It’s been a real revelation lately that I can be completely surrendered and still not completely trusting God. And I’m grateful He’s working on that! 3. Do you recognize any circumstances in your life which could be described as an 'unrecurring event'? Have you ever said 'no' to one and watched God use someone else instead? This was one of the big things I got out of this first part of the study. I’m realizing more and more that every single moment of every day is an unrecurring event and that I should appreciate that. I’ve been prone to worry about what I’m not doing right (for example, not spending enough time playing with my kids) and now I’m more and more just DOING something about it instead of feeling guilty for not having done it before. As for the second question, I’m not very good at remembering details, but think I have almost been more likely to say “yes” when I shouldn’t have and then ended up wishing I had said no. 4. Are you in an emotionally and spiritually healthy place? If yes, how are you using this freedom to minister to others? If no, what do you feel is holding you in your Egypt? I am in a strange place right now spiritually. I was journaling this morning about how God has brought me to a place that on the surface looks less healthy than places I’ve been in the past. I’m studying the Bible less, journaling less, having less consistent, shorter quiet times… and yet I realized this morning that God has brought me to this place very intentionally—to challenge me on where my confidence has been. I think I have been trusting more in my spiritual disciplines to maintain my right relationship with God than I’ve been trusting God. I have always been one to want to know exactly what’s expected and what the rules are so I can do everything right. I am very comfortable with clear boundaries. But God is pushing me past that and to a new place where it’s all about trusting Him and His truth and not what I am doing. And it feels just a little bit crazy! I hope to use this new freedom to minister to others as I continue to serve at church in prayer ministry and just by being real and honest with others. This is quite an adventure and God’s challenging me to not worry about what others will think about where I am and just to keep trusting Him. It was encouraging to me this afternoon when I realized the fruit I am already enjoying in my spirit… the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And that can only come from Him!
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Click on the pictures if you don't want to squint to read them.
Even though I have other things I would love to talk about, I don't have time to formulate my thoughts and type them up. But I do have just enough time to attempt to post here my favorite recipe (which I just wrote up for my sister-in-law) for the BEST lemon bars (which I just made to take to my her house.) Now, I know you don't all have lemon trees in your backyards so you're not all looking for something else to do with lemons, but this is still a never-fail really yummy recipe. AND I do it all (except for the baking, of course!) in my food processor, so there's no cutting butter into flour by hand and you don't even need to soften the butter first! And by the way, I always double the recipe and use my glass 9x13.
So anyway, hopefully it will come through and even if you never try them, I can now direct people to my blog if they ever want a copy of the recipe. : ) But maybe you'll feel ambitious someday soon and will try it when you're looking for something new (like to give to neighbors or co-workers for Christmas!)
Or you can just invite yourself over to my house and I'll quite happily make them for you myself. : ) Really!
Happy Saturday everyone!!!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
We're home off the road for a few days and I am once again faced with scaling the heights of the mounds of dirty clothes we have all unceremoniously dumped from our suitcases. After all the sorting and pre-treating we crank up the washer and dryer and wonder why our "large capacity" machines can't handle "more" of "Mount Washmore". I have been tempted to cram it full (I know, I know: the clothes don't get as clean when you overload…) until I hear that familiar "ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-THUNK," alerting me that something is out of balance and, if I don't go take care of it (pronto!), my washing machine may walk its unbalanced self into the next county.
I understand my washer because I feel unbalanced a lot of the time. This is not something that's easy for me to admit because I have spent a goodly portion of my adult life chasing this lofty and elusive concept called "balance". I have read books about it. I've listened to Bible studies about it. I have heard lots of talks at women's events concerning it. I have GIVEN talks at women's events outlining the "seven steps to achieving it". I even know a couple of women who seem to have mastered it.
But here's the absolute truth about it:
I'm giving up on it.
In fact, I'm not so sure that it was ever that great of a spiritual pursuit to begin with. There seems to be a lot of Scriptures you could interpret to be in support of it, but nothing that says, "Verily, verily, be ye balanced, sayeth the Lord." What we do find in God's word is a lot of Scripture concerning the subject of seasons. (planting, waiting, watering, working, weeding, harvesting, letting the ground rest ― then
starting the whole cycle over again). Some of those seasons require lots of work (planting, harvesting), some of them require less physical labor and more patience (weeding, watering, waiting), and some of them require periods of no visible activity at all (letting the ground rest so that it can be ready to plant again).
When you are in the middle of any one of those seasons it doesn't seem very "balanced." If you are in the week when you have to get the crops in or they will rot, you have to put in some strenuous days and nights because the window of opportunity is so small. If you took a snapshot of people feverishly working during that week, one might correctly say, "Well, that's not balanced at all!" Or if you look at a farmer resting by the fire in the dead of January you might think, "No balance there!" But it's a season.
Not all seasons carry the same work load or rest opportunities. They do all have their unique rhythms and it is up to us to recognize the beauty of each season and to know that it will, over the course of a lifetime, add up to something akin to "balance" – although we are unlikely to find it in a single day, or even a single week or month.
So I am praying for you, as I pray for my own self, the ability to recognize your season you are in and to stop beating yourself up because you can't quite get to the place of perfect balance every day. As the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, "To everything there is a season and a purpose for everything under Heaven."
Enjoying this season in my life,
Copyright 2007 Women of Faith. All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
First we have the kids showing off their new Lego. After a couple weeks of waiting since Daddy won them (uh, the Lego--not the kids!) on an ebay auction, the box of used, purchased by the pound Lego finally arrived today! This is only the new stuff-- and they are very excited about all the new cool pieces we were missing in our current collection and already building stuff!
Next is a picture of Toby taken last week. Can you see the scar forming on the bottom of his chin? He's actually healing very nicely. I'm so glad we didn't bother with a potentially traumatic trip to the Dr. that day.
And last but certainly not least, we have Mikaela's latest hair creation. She's even done this on me once. So far it hasn't caught on much elsewhere, perhaps because of the impaired visibility it causes, but you never know! If you see this on the fashion runways soon, you'll know where it all started! : )
Happy Thursday everyone!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Psalm 51 (Renew Me)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love
According to Your great compassion, cleanse me from my sin
Wash away my iniquity; against You only have I sinned
Create in me a pure and steadfast heart, O God
Renew me, Restore me
Transform me to Your image for Your glory, O God
Cleanse me and I will be clean; wash me whiter than snow
Don't take Your Holy Spirit from me
or send me away from You
Save me from my guilt, O God, the God who saves me
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways
And sinners will turn back to You
And we will
Praise You, Extol You
Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And grant me a willing spirit to sustain me
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise
~M. Ens, July 2007
David declared that he would teach transgressors (anyone who violates God's laws or commands) God's ways and that sinners would return to God. David knew that God was gracious and compassionate and forgiving and that as God restored him, David would be able to testify to God's kindness and encourage others to cry out to God for forgiveness as well.
I am so grateful that God will never turn away from a heart broken by its sin. When I am sorry and ask for His forgiveness, He will never deny me. He created each and every one of us for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7) and wants to continue to transform us into His image. God does the work of changing us and we get to tell others about it and extol (praise highly!) Jesus' mighty Name! Hallelujah!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose
Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love, my Lord I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee
These words were written by Frances Havergal in 1874. She was 36 and had just experienced God using her in an amazing way after having recently fully surrendered her all to Christ. I read them this morning (the song is on the Passion Hymns CD) and it was as if I'd really heard them for the first time. I'm not sure what else to say but that they truly express the desire of my heart... that God would use every part of me for His glory. And I know it's out of joy and love that He wants me to serve Him and others, not out of obligation or guilt or fear or duty. And that is perhaps one of the most freeing, glorious thoughts of all.
Take me Lord, and I will be, ever, only all for Thee!