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Archive for March, 2012

What Joy

It has been a spring breathed through runny noses and seen through crusty eyes. But oh my, it has been a lovely one, despite the blurry vision and hacking coughs.

The redbuds splashed the gray and scraggly woods with an early showing of stunning pinks. The nearby fields have been fertilized and they are lush from a cycle of sunlight, rain and the waste from a nearby chicken farm. The trees look more shapely and less ice storm broken with their new green soaking in rays, drinking, nourishing, unfurling. Dragonfly larvae have emerged, water nymphs skimming the pond, flecks of constantly moving colors.

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Changing, growing, stretching, rooting, flexing, learning, living, thanking…

Adjectives to describe the season…words that tell some of what pulses through me as I shift, merge and mature along with all of nature’s new growth.

Going through a season of quiet, less of the desire to seek, less of being fed than in previous months. Feeling a little withdrawn, also, sort of like I’m finding so much comfort in my home, my family, and this “new project” that has kidnapped much of my thoughts. But I am working still to be in His presence (“the fullness of joy,”) and I am not removing the blinders as I pursue, wait, listen, obey…

A season of weighing out choices, considering responsibilities and commitments. Aiming for a balance that makes my focus a crying out, “Abba, Father,” and wondering what weights I need to shed to bull’s-eye this target. Seeking to hear and conform; to “cleave steadfastly;” obedient to follow what is opened up next, and leave behind what might be closed. Asking for discernment as I navigate whether I need to give more of myself and refocus on a few existing responsibilities, or if some of them are the “weights I need to shed.”

I want my choices to have roots dug deep in His will; nourished with light from above, and blossoming in a manner pleasing to Him.

Follow the link for a lovely post, worth reading, and one that had just the right words for some of what I am considering: http://www.incourage.me/2012/03/hold-your-dream-loosely.html

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;


do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

 

 

 and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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I cherish his strong shoulders, carrying the heavy labor and weighted with responsibility.

His heart, generous, so that he gives both to serve and to love.

The friendship that makes him my closest, my deepest companion.

His hands that lift and build and give.

The courage that makes him a warrior; because he knows he can do all things…

His leadership that could rule a kingdom; always merciful, always just.

The arms that say nothing, but say everything when their strength becomes tender.

He is my husband. My imperfect, stubborn and sometimes frustrating soul-mate. A man of God. A servant of the Divine Kingdom.

All filled up, today, with thoughts about this man with the strength and fierceness of a lion; the same kind of amiable charm and calm self assurance that made Roy Rogers my childhood hero. He is neither a large feline nor a cowboy, but he is my one and only and I would just dangle without him beside me. As a pair, we are far from perfect. But mine is a grateful heart knowing that the grace of God matched our souls and is continuing a good work in us…in spite of us…together.

I am writing this today because I have been considering how we as wives may honor and love our husbands.

A little pre-apology if I appear presumptuous or anything other than sincere and humble in this post; also, for wondering if I might peak into your heart that so loves your own husband…

Here is this man beside you with so much good, yet a mile wide streak of fault. He was born of flesh and is not perfect. There is so much to love and so much to admire, but what of the rest of him that works at your patience, sometimes, everyday? The times that he doesn’t always listen to the things you are saying…moments when what he says isn’t what you needed to hear? He is a prince, just maybe not of the faultless, fairytale variety.

There are valleys that sometimes turn into Grand Canyons in a marriage. Times when all the negatives add up and begin to tip the scales; bending the spoon (reality,) so it’s hard to see all of the good and the foundation of why you love him. I wonder if the weight of negativity has ever become so heavy for you that it all slips off and crushes…do you even love him at all anymore? Is he worth all of the giving, all the disappointments?

I am going to take a leap across what might be a colossal gully or just a tiny crevice in a marital relationship and say:

He is.

Because…

He is God’s gift to you.

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

Consider whether this is your heart: The missionary and woman of faith, Elisabeth Elliot, wrote that, “Unhappiness (in a marriage) springs not from (a) husband’s failures and limitations, but from your failure to accept him as he is. Please don’t come at me with a mental pickaxe for those words. I’m just borrowing them for a minute and am pondering what truths they hold for me and my own marriage. I do realize that what Elisabeth had to say is difficult to accept. It irked me a little…okay… maybe even a lot when I first read it and I’m not even unhappy! What it means is that all those extremely annoying habits he has that keep splitting the two of you (or me and mine) apart are still annoying, yes. But it also means that now you are responsible for loving your man and serving him in spite of his failures. I’ve got to love my guy too, in the same way! Yikes! I feel as though I’m crushing a whole lot of women’s eggshells here, but taking a big gulp and continuing to tread just a little less lightly on this one. Let me ask this, is wearing yourself out, and him, because of his failures, even productive at all? Does the fact that he is hen-pecked bare to change a habit, or that you despair because he just won’t communicate, ever going to help improve the relationship you have? Is your agonizing over how he has disappointed you, really going to change him or benefit you? Is it? “Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong.(1 Corinthians 13:5 ) I’m wondering if you might be thinking, “Easy for you to say! You don’t know my husband. You don’t know how wrong he can be sometimes.” And you’re right…I don’t know, and I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who is a man of God and loves me with all his heart. You’re completely correct that I don’t know your situation. I just wonder if maybe you might prayerfully take into consideration that those problems of his…God knows a lot more about them than you do. Maybe it’s time (myself and mine included) to let go of all those negative emotions that do nothing other than make that relationship gap wider; instead accept that God is in control and knows the heart of your guy way better than you do. Let go of how “disappointing” he is and ask God to do a work in your heart first and then pray for earnestly and trust for a change in his!

Because…

 To love someone, you must sacrifice.

You know this is as well as I do, but for the sake of what I am saying I am slipping in this reminder. Take a mental fieldtrip back to your blissful wedding day. The diamond in your engagement ring still sparkled and you were both probably a few pounds lighter. Remember when you looked into his gorgeous eyes and promised to always love him, and love him forever? What a major life alteration. From that “seal it with a kiss” moment forward, in the eyes of Christ, you and your husband became “as one flesh.” The Father of Love meant for you to love each other with the same selfless, Ephesians 5 love that Christ has for His church.  He wants us to love each other just like He loves us…sinners all…in spite of our failures. In fact, Christ is the ultimate teacher of love and we need only look at His example of forgiveness and complete sacrifice to realize how we must forgive our husbands for their shortcomings.”This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16) To forgive is to sacrifice and to sacrifice is to love. It might also be said that to love is to sacrifice and to sacrifice is to forgive…it’s sort of a hand-in-hand deal. Mother Teresa said that, “True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask Him to give us the courage to love.”

So, shoot for the stars ladies and love your man courageously. Honor him, and realize  you were never promised that love wouldn’t come without some pain!

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I just have to share something a dear friend posted on Facebook the other day that inspired me to begin writing this post. She and her husband undoubtedly struggle as they have moved from state to state while he searches for a job. I appreciate so much her sweet way of honoring her guy with these words to him and about their children:

Thanks for working so hard so that I can stay home and we can build up such spiritual treasures together with our children!!!

I just had the most encouraging quiet time with (our son)! We read Acts 3 and then proverbs 1:18-33, and I was able to make it understandable to him…..he made his own little life connections and asked questions! (this was from my bible….not a kids one) Then we co-wrote a tune for psalm 62:1 for his guitar and he was rocking it while singing the words:) (we are working on memorizing it this week) I was elated! We had so much fun and he was learning and applying! Who says babies can’t understand basic bible/gospel principles!!!! What a happy morning!”

 

Lastly, I feel that I would be amiss if I neglected to include this nugget:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless.

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

The day finds me stumbling. Not just stumbling, but like I’ve suddenly run full-force into a wall. The obstacle is a wound. A hurt because of something said…because of something not said and at the very marrow of it is clenching sorrow for someone else’s pain.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

 The piercing doesn’t just cut through me, but is interwoven deeply with another; a dear one, it slices to them too. My heart just falls to the floor and my sorrow, my worry for them just spills out all over…messy. All those troubles, I try and scoop them back up. They are mine to bear, right? I try to shove them all back in, but everything is splattered and chopped up. The piecing back together doesn’t fit and there’s less room for it as it grows, so it all trickles, then gushes again.

Give us today our daily bread.

But I feel justified that I’m taking on this burden. It’s because I care so much. I’m justified because I love so much. I want to lift that boulder off the dear one’s chest and lay it over myself. It hurts to much to watch them crushed.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

I struggle with all the weight. I want to fight back. I rush to retort because I know the answers. I know what needs to be said and again I am justified. But every time my fingers fly to write it out, my mouth opens to spill it all out…the answer that will tear down the obstacle, piece back together the spilled out mess, lift the heavy boulder…I can’t. It’s because I hear a hush each time I try.

And lead us not into temptation,

It’s because even though I’m so distracted that I ricochet like a bullet, He’s still there seeing my troubles and He is still moving through me. It’s like I suddenly have the blindfold ripped off and I’m not facing the firing squad anymore. It’s that song, “Take it to the Lord in Prayer.” It starts playing on my stereo, but it reverberates through my spirit and becomes alive in me.

But deliver us from the evil one.

This problem and the grief I am trying to bear… my knees rest on the floor, my hands reach out to touch His garment… I offer it all up to Him. He’s the one who bears the weight of our transgressions. He bears IT ALL, even the loads to heavy for me to carry, even the ones that aren’t mine to carry, in spite of me trying. When I am finally listening, the real answer to it all trickles in and blows out the speakers in my mind. It is this…

Let IT be.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

The issue of blood dries up. My arguments, justifications and righteous anger can’t carry this, can’t stitch this wound, but He can. He wove this world together, He knit you and me, He already knows it all, His blood has already been poured out for ALL OF IT. All that is left for me is to seek Him first, to hunger after the righteousness, to take it to Him in prayer.

Amen.

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Happy Linking

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Sneaking in this morning during a busy week of preperation for taxes. I’ve just been itching to share some of my favorite websites with you. I hope you might find them as usefull and enjoyable as I do!

  • Home http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm. Oh my! I cannot say enough about this site. It is a one-stop-shop for nearly everything Biblical that you might need. You can read the Bible in nearly every translation here and every scripture and many words are linked with commentaries of all varieties, including audio and video. The site has ministry resources and links to devotionals and important commentators. My only complaint about The Blue Letter Bible is that it often keeps me from actually opening my  underlined and cherished, “real” Bible.

 

  • http://www.starfall.com/ Starfall!! We use this website just about every day here. It is an incredible teaching tool for both my little tikes. My three year old has learned to use the site by herself and can now navigate through the site’s lessons on ABCs, reading, numbers, music, phonics, nursery rhymes, and much more. Starfall keeps my children occupied for at least a half hour every time they log on, and most of the site is free! If you want full membership, it is a very worthwhile $35. I highly reccomend Starfall for anyone who has school age children.

 

  •   http://utmost.org/ If you follow my blog at all, you have probably realized that I can hardly go a day without reading some Oswald Chambers. This website has the entire text of My Utmost For His Highest. It also has daily quotes and a searchable index. Love!

 

  • http://www.aholyexperience.com/. The fairest of them all! Ann Voskamp’s blog strums my heart like David’s fingers on his harp. Dramatic description I realize, but she writes so beautifully and constantly reminds that “all is grace.” Do not forget to read her book. I promise it will be heart changing:CSC_1722

 

  • http://www.incourage.me/ I have an email subcription to this blogger’s home. There are daily contributions from female bloggers who share Godly encouragement that I love to read! Take the time to subscribe to this one.

 

  • http://revivingmotherhood.wordpress.com. “Reviving Motherhood” is a blog by a sweet mommy friend of mine. She humbly offers practical and excellent advice for raising children, leading a Godly lifestyle and keeping a happy home.

 

  • http://hearinghisthoughts.blogspot.com. “Stepping Deeper” is another blog by a precious friend, Krysten. She writes openly about her daily leanings on God and what she learns from both victories and mishaps as she raises her children and steps as deeply as she can into His Word and does all to bring Him glory.

Thanks for reading this quick post, friends! I’ve dashed through it, so I hope all is coherent. Love and blessings!

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A Saturday in Spring

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Tumbles out of beds and into clothes.

Sweet kisses to hurry us out the door.

Pile in for a quick Saturday morning drive.

Steaming pancakes and hot coffee…

laughter sprayed family conversation.

A short stop after short stacks for little ones to splash…

playing at the edge of a blossom edged pond.

Visits with working daddy and four small hands to help, to “work.”

Home again for the tiny bodies to rest.

Afternoon sunlight and crisp warmth trimmed with greening grass.

Outdoor play and planting…

trees with time to grow alongside toddlers…

bulbs to stretch from dirt to light and bloom.

Bursting in to soap away the play earned dirt.

Cheese piled pizza and after dinner chocolaty treats.

Kisses again and jammies for sweet bedtime stories.

Tumbles to bed and rest for sleepy little heads.

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Michiell

Many of you know I visited Haiti in January of this year. Post-return I am continually brought to my knees with gratitude that God allowed me, someone of such little value without Him, the opportunity to be changed, humbled; blessed by the journey. The work done in me and the heart change that took place, molded me, soul and spirit, anew by Holy hands.

I view the working of God during our visit in Haiti with such awe that the whole thing just stuns me. I have difficulty grasping the magnitude of grace that worked through the facets of the mission there. God enacted miracles and opened doors sealed shut by greed and a corrupt government. He paved a way where there was nothing but boulders to block our path. He did this for His purpose. He did this for souls that needed His life. He did this to show His glory, His strength, His plan. The work He did there was so mighty I feel almost as though I should turn my face from this awesome discovery of God’s glory; like a full view memory makes these emotions burst in me and I am just unable to grasp, contain, it all.

I have shared before that I have difficulty summarizing the trip there. Even highlighted moments are epic in my memory. Each story is so full that it is difficult abridge. So, instead of telling the whole story, I kind of have to break it down into pieces, moments.

This piece belongs to a woman name Michiell (I do not know the correct spelling of her name).

Michiell was our hostess while we visited the country. She never stopped working. Before it was even daylight she was making at least one trip to the mountain’s only water source. This was an extremely difficult one+ mile climb over rough terrain, and on the way back she carried a five gallon water bucket on her head. She humbly served us three meals a day, in spite of our protests that she should not work so hard. She was always gracious, with a sweet smile and a ready kiss to the cheek. I loved her. She showed me how to be a servant to others. She must have been so tired, but I watched her (sometimes in agony for her to stop) serving with a joyful heart. It was difficult for me to be served. I was flabbergasted with her eagerness to serve when she spent several hours “sweeping” the ground around our tent campsites. It was a hard task for me to allow her to help me in such a way. It was humbling. Her service and hospitality to our whole group had me searching for a way to repay her. Words were not enough. She couldn’t really understand my broken thank you’s, anyway. I tried hand gestures and facial expressions, but I probably just convinced her I was crazy and not at all grateful for her hard work. 🙂

One afternoon several young Haitian’s were gathered around while I was attempting to teach them some English words. They giggled and laughed at me as I brokenly asked one of the girls, in French, if she had a boyfriend; part of my (apparently) hilarious attempt to show them that I was eager to learn their languages as well. Michiell joined our little group and began to catch on to a few words. I was explaining the names for different body parts and taught them “foot.” Later in the lesson, we discussed the word “dirty.” Trying to use the new words, Michiell apologetically explained to me that her hair was dirty and her feet were very dirty. I just smiled, gestured and probably looked crazy again. 🙂 The thought of what I should have done instead of my gibbering response did occur to me, but action didn’t follow my thoughts.

It was several evenings later when the realization shook me like an earth tremor. I had been pondering and praying and what God showed me was convicting.

I had missed my opportunity.

I should have loved her. I should have been humble.

If my desire had been to truly serve Michiell instead of being served by her I would have knelt down with my knees in the dirt, taken off her broken shoes and washed the Haiti soil off her “very dirty feet”, even if it had just been with a baby wipe!

The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. ~ Oswald Chambers

After some soul excavation I understood the realization of the missed opportunity was not entirely about the physical act of me washing her feet. Although, I still wish I had expressed my gratitude to her in this way. I believe its purpose was more for jarring me awake to some heart lessons I needed to learn.

Lessons about willingness:

I must be willing to listen as He moves through me,

I must be willing to obey when I hear Him whisper,

and I must be joyfully willing to humble myself,

pouring out Christ love in whatever capacity I am called to.

He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

 

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.

 

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you

(John 13:4-5, 13-15)

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My favorite, sweet little heads

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Small head with a big body/big body with a small head.

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Contemplative

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Not afraid to dirty her pretty dress

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Because when you are this young, all God’s creatures are a delight.

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“Look how strong I am, mommy!”

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And big enough to help with the outside chores.

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And so very goofy.

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With grandpa in her “forest house.”

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A little boy who marvels at everything.

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Including what wondrous things might be found in the mud!

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Not to be out-goofed by older sister.

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Joyful, wobbly babies on bedposts.

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And a serious bout with pinkeye.

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A little sickness doesn’t put a stop to all the monkey business.

 

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Our pint size ball player

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So much fun tuckers you out

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It’s no wonder he falls asleep before his tired body hits the sack.

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