Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!


"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beauty to Ashes

Friday evening…sweet, sweet evening with women at church.  Delicious food, even better conversation, with one woman in particular, and awesome missionary stories of the work of our magnificent God!

Sunday morning…attack from the enemy.  But, oh beauty from ashes, beauty from ashes!  The ashen grey of my heart – burned from husband hurt, burned from my heart’s wondering around the sanctuary and comparing to other women…women who serve the church, women who serve better than me; women my same age, with one or two more children than I have, who have even more responsibility than I do as their time demands the homeschooling of those children.  Song sung (Lead Me, by Sanctus Real); tears roll and a visit to the bathroom cleanses, especially when a deacon’s wife pursues me and listens and speaks words of mercy…beauty from ashes.   Later than evening more beauty from ashes …Husband shares that the song ministered to him as well.  A brokenness that leads to a break-through in our seven year marriage…beauty from ashes, beauty from ashes!

Monday morning…what does serving the church really look like in Scripture?  I fall into the temptation of comparing myself to other women who are serving the church when in actuality – rather in faith – I should look to Scripture as my model and the LORD as my Guide. 
Even when we read Scripture we could easily get a warped perspective because at first read it appears that the followers of Christ are always preaching, teaching, and performing signs and wonders in His name.  But chronologically (as I was reading through Acts), all this ministry was done by several different disciples over an extended period of time.  And fittingly, God had recorded in His scriptures mainly His works.  We don’t get a lot of other details about what the lives of the followers of Jesus entailed.  Simple realization, but realizing that gave me a freedom that my ministry did not have to be a continual overt word and deed proclaiming the glory of God.  A confirmation that my day in and day out words and deeds ARE my ministry, not just the overt “God talks” and “God works”.  There is no recording of each disciple having a continual act of serving the Church, thus scripture does not call me to have a continual hands on service to the church.  Some are called to more service and some are called to more teaching and some don’t have either call, so why do I compare myself to something the LORD is not calling me to?  I am not called to “be like her;” I am called to “be like Him” like Him in character and do as God Guides me to do, not as God (may or may not have) guided her to do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Surrender Productivity, Refreshed!

Surrender Productivity, Refreshed!

See Here for Part 1

As I noted in part one I have "surrendered productivity" in the past (more than once).  Yesterday and today the LORD gave me a refreshed perspective.  Part 1 explains mainly yesterday's insight.  Today I started by wondering what Peter intended the difference to be between Holiness and Godliness.

I didn't do much cross referencing, but what I've landed on temporarily is that the context in 2 Peter 3 is that God is patient that none should perish, but all should come to repentance (a position of holiness before God) and that our conduct should be holy (godliness before others!?!)  He exhorts his readers to "be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." (2 Pet. 1:10, our relationship with God, internal assurance) and that if the qualities of godliness are yours and are increasing they will keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:3-8, our relationship with God displayed to others).  So, with that calling a little more settled, I am brought back to our calling in Genesis 1 to rule, subdue, and produce...

That's a catchy little phrase, but what exactly is The Calling of Genesis 1!?!

Found in Genesis 1:28, the ESV reads:

"And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"

First of all, I notice that "God blessed them."  This calling is a blessing; I should not feel burdened, burdened by producing.  I see the word "subdue"; OK, we are called to subdue.  "Have dominion" - that is probably where the "rule" word comes from.  Now, how about that "produce" word; the one that seems to especially trip me up?  I don't see it.  I do see "be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth".  Fruitful, multiply, and fill - those are words of producing.  BUT, what is their context?  God made people in His image...MAKE more PEOPLE (be fruitful, multiply) to FILL the earth with MORE of MY IMAGE.  Be used BY ME to PRODUCE more OF ME in this world!  PRODUCE GODLINESS!!!!!  NOT produce cleaner homes, smaller paperwork piles, and less laundry, clutter, fill in the blank!!!!  My heart and mind have been confused.  Once again, the crafty serpent has deceived a woman by twisting the words of God! 

To her credit, I know that author of the bible study that gave me the catchy phrase that enemy has used to corrupt my thinking would be sad to know that.  I believe she desires to correctly handle the word of truth.  The way I learned it does not mean she taught it out of that context.  I also know that in her bible study sought to be sensitive to women who were not married or could not have children and therefore could not "be fruitful and multiply" as was intended by God in that context.  I do agree with her that you are still able to multiply God's image and fill the earth with it through women you disciple and through how you live and encourage others to live a life of holiness (purity before God) and godliness (purity before others - bearing HIS IMAGE!)  So, I think it can be a BOTH/AND.

I also want to put a disclaimer that I don't think that means we should let our homes go to chaos.  God is a God of order and I believe it honors Him and our families when we are making progress toward order.  Because of The Fall our "order" is always going to be unraveling (as the Order of Creation has been unraveling since The Fall).  I believe it is part of faithful homemaking to fight for the order that the chaos pushes to hinder; I am just expressing that I am thankful that I feel a little more released from that idol that threatens to consume me.  

May I live out the freedom of our calling to holiness and godliness!!!

Surrender Productivity Refreshed (and some Selahs, too!)

40 Days of Surrender - Day 100 - Surrender Productivity
Year of Selah - *Holiness, Godliness*

Ironically, today is 100 days after I committed to a 40 day fast of surrendering sinful habits in my life (arguing, depression, self-sufficiency, perfectionism, harsh tongue, etc, etc.)

Today, actually it was yesterday, (see other post for "Today's Lesson") the LORD opened a door for a refreshed surrender of productivity in my heart (and hopefully it will become a habit in my life!)  Productivity is an idol that I have had identified for a few years now.  And as the battle of the flesh and spirit works (my spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak - Mt. 26:41; cf. Gal. 5:16,17), I've taken two steps forward, one step back for a lot of those years.  And yesterday was a new chiseling in my heart and breaking away of a thought process that has been justifying my bending the knee to the temptation of productivity so many times.

You see, I learned in a (respectable) bible study back in 2002 that God calls us to "Rule, subdue, and produce".   I was in 2 Peter 3:11-13 yesterday when I was struck - "we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells".  And Peter exhorts his readers: "...what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness...."  Righteousness, holiness, godliness...this is so much the message of Peter in both his letters as well as an apparent goal THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE!!!  Why then does my mind/heart so quickly seek to "rule (have the authority/have "The Say"), subdue (have control), and produce (be productive, accomplish)"!?!  Are we really called to that; how does holiness and godliness fit into the goals of ruling, subduing, and producing that often lead to my sinful expressions of pride, control, and "fulfillment" through "doing"?

This is what I was able to articulate yesterday:

Rule, Subdue, Produce --> God's instructional goals in Genesis 1 PRIOR TO THE FALL

Now living POST FALL, we need to FIGHT FOR that COMMUNION WITH GOD we automatically had with Him in The Garden, PRIOR to THE FALL.

It seems accurate to say "Rule, Subdue, Produce" is now trumped by (not having replaced, but is more of a priority): Submit (to God's Authority as our fleshly nature now strives for self-sufficiency), Surrender (Giving up the striving to be in control, the striving to be God (Eve's ultimate sin!)), Be Sanctified (Add to Faith, Virtue (2 Peter 1:5); Be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16); allow God to make you look more like Him (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:22-24).

So, thankfully, the LORD brought to mind a few times yesterday the goal of "holiness and godliness" over my current innate goal for productivity (especially during this time that I am overwhelmed by downsizing to prepare for my father-in-law to move in).  Not a perfect day, but I think a successful one - One in which God might say, "Well done, my faithful daughter.  I'm proud of you for remembering that your heart attitude and your tone with your children and husband and staying communed with Me and them is more important than getting irritated that the laundry is not put away in a week, the paperwork pile is still full, and the dust on the tops and the crumbs on the floor are painfully obvious."

And that is a faithfulness to my Year of Selah as well!  Pausing and reflecting on things above; not being swept away my the overwhelmingness of the things on earth.

Thank you, LORD Jesus, Thank YOU.

Conclusion of Part 1
See Here for Part 2

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Year of Selah - *Joy*

I haven't been pausing much in the last few days.  I haven't been reflecting throughout the day very much these last few days.  Busy. Busy. Busy.  Getting the house ready for the workman to come to get the house ready for Father-In-Law moving in.

But, oh, is my heart the House of God?  What about that dwelling place?  Am I preparing it with the decorating He desires - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control, Humility, Compassion, Grace, Gratitude...Lots of decorating to be done there.

And there's that JOY again.  The LORD keeps bringing me back there.  I keep going to the LORD - I want it, LORD, and oh, it eludes me so.

It won't come naturally; the enemy has caused his damage; I have to fight for a new habit and then that new habit will become the habit...building the habit of joy!

Really, God, can it really happen like that; can it happen to me in this heart that seems to have this bend toward disappointment?

Ann Voskamp talks of this habit replacing habit and challenges us to join her in The Joy Dare - Counting 1,000 gifts in 2012.

She gives us 3 a day to count, but I want to count my own personal gifts God is bestowing in my life.  How about 2012 gifts in 2012!?!?  I up to 61 on day 8 of the month.  May these expressions of thankfulness not just be lip service, not just an intellectual acknowledgment of something sweet that happened...may my heart experience them as gifts from the loving hands of God and may my heart respond in genuine joy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Year of Selah - *Gratitude*

It was a full morning as DS turned 4!  French Toast, new watch, train track set up, get ready to go to the Children's Museum, play in the farm, in the pizza parlor, in the doctor's office, in the tunnels...and then to lunch next door at Noodles and Company.  It was after noon before I had my first Selah of the day - hmmm - how I'd like to grow in this habit so it happens more often than THAT...but thankful it happened nonetheless.

As I sat there at a slowed paced with a kid on each side, I was overwhelmed by GRATITUDE - I could afford the $16 for us to eat lunch in a restaurant where I didn't have to prepare the food or clean up afterward and could sit and enjoy my kids!  It was the Gift of Selah and the Gift of Gratitude in one!  And as I write this I realize the Gift of Joy is still elusive; I think because of the weight of all I have to get done before Father-In-Law moves in. it always the weight, the feeling of being overwhelmed that threatens to and downright does steal my joy?  And that's what it is - it is a feeling - as DH gently reminded me the other day..."Don't let the "Feeling Caboose" drive the train."  Why do I carry around such weights; do I really get overwhelmed regularly?

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 and my burden is light.” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Yes, Rest, Pause, soul cries out...LORD, please, Let Me Learn what this means!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Year of Selah

Two years ago (2010), I sat in North Carolina at the turn of the year and prayed for my two themes of the year: Peace and Joy.

Two year later, the prayer and pursuing of Peace has been answered and that is a state of heart I experience regularly.

2011, "Joy" or rather the desire for, was a theme and it feels like it's still something that eludes me.  In God's faithfulness He has taught me and brought that theme up often in the learning process.  Ann Voskamp's website and her emphasis on giving thanks in order to live in the presence of joy has been something I've been trying to grow in.  Another author I had read previously in the year also hit on this truth that I have been implementing...I would say it's in the seedling stages.

Upon reading Ann Voskamp's site I have also learned that for the last handful of years, she has named her years.  That's kind of what I have been doing the last two years, but I thought I might formalize this year...The year of ...

The Year of Joy seemed to make sense.  But as I was making the bed, a phrase came to me and it's stuck...

The Year of Selah...

Selah is a Hebrew word, often found in Psalms.  The closest meaning they can ascribe to it is "Pause, Reflect."  I think this correlates well will some of Ann's other premises that have resonated with me; her emphasis on living in the moment, to be "here" in order to live life fully, to not rush through life, but be with the Giver of Life (& Joy).

"For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.” (Psalms 21:6)

If I begin the develop the habit...especially in those times where I am frustrated, rushed, impatient, irritable...SelahPause, Reflect - Am I in the presence of The Almighty?  Do I have my mind set on things above, not on earthly things? (Colossians 3:2)  Am I allowing the joy of the LORD to be my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), or I am striving to be self-sufficient?...maybe, just maybe, this pausing and reflecting will keep me from getting distracted from The Giver of Joy for so long...maybe, just maybe experiencing Joy will be a regular habit that overflows from me to share the Gift of Joy with others more freely!

May The Year of Selah bring the Gift of Pause, Reflect, Experiencing Joy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012