Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 59

Praise the Lord that I survived a lock in. My body is not able to handle these things very well anymore. We talked about plans for reading the Bible over the next year. I am considering continuing my slow study through the Old Testament and adding a run through of the entire Bible in a year. More reading in a day and a little less mediation...haven't decided yet. I guess I should make up my mind by tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 57

There is a family that I would like to share with you about. I do not know them personally but they are believers and they are in need. The town that I am from is rather small and the children of this family are students at the school where my mother teaches, so there is a small connection.

On Tuesday December 20 this family of 8 (1 grandmother, 2 parents, and 5 children) were sleeping when a fire started in their manufactured home. By the time they woke up the house was engulfed in flames. Curtis who is 19 and the eldest of the children helped to get mom, dad, and 3 siblings out of the house but kept going back into the house to try and find his grandmother. The second, Jeremy who is 17 helped his sister Makiah (9) escape from a backdraft, she is in the worse condition. All but one of the children is in the hospital with burns, mostly on theirs hands, feet, and their hair (Curtis lost all of his) Makiah will be hospitalized for around 6 months. The grandmother did not make it out of the house.

Please pray for this family. They lost everything. Curtis did not have a bank account, the money he earned from his job he saved, hidden in his room. They have concerns about losing jobs due to recovery and where they will live and how they will rebuild once they are well enough to take those steps. As I said before, they are believers and they trust the Lord. Their faith is evident to all who visit them and talk with them. There are many people who care for them that do not know the Lord so please pray that God will be glorified through this severe suffering.

Pray also that they will heal both physically and emotionally. I am brought to tears often when I think about the trauma that they all experienced when fighting for their lives, literally. Thank you for praying!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 56

Here we are again and it is way too late to be doing this. God still blesses though and I read a little more of God's faithfulness to His people in 1 Samuel. It is very encouraging for me to see the horrible sinfulness and seeming hopelessness of the priests Hophni and Phinehas because of God's quiet redemption going on in the background. A boy, Samuel. He came from a barren womb (here is a pattern that I would like to talk more about later) and is quietly serving and growing up, dedicated to God. Nothing else mattered to his mother but that he belong to the Lord. I say this is encouraging because the everyday craziness and sometimes hopelessness and often unrecognized hardships that happen on a regular basis have meaning and purpose because of God's plan for me and my children. He is quietly working through me to bring about His glory, starting with those 5 that I have the most influence over. Even in the most tired and bleak moments of parenting and life in general God has already purposed His plan of redemption. Ultimately in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ but also in types and Samuel.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 55

Family has left and my house is almost back to normal. God is good and even through the craziness I was able to get a little personal worship time everyday. I am excited to share how God blessed while there were 13 people and 2 animals staying in my house for a week.

I hope that you Jesus celebration was blessed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Days 47 & 48

I really don't like this doubling up on days but with the craziness of family in town, it just can't be helped.

Look for more thoughts a nuggets from 1 Samuel coming up in the next few weeks. My Dear Husband brought home a great commentary on 1 Samuel and I am enjoying it greatly. God is so amazing and His word is full of meaning.

I have been able to keep up reading....barely but I am persevering thanks to the grace of God.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Days 45 & 46

Yes, I did spend time in the Word yesterday. It wasn't much but it was sweet. I am loving Psalm 107. I especially like verses 10-16. It is such a beautiful picture of redemption. Some, like me, sat in darkness because of their rebellion, therefore God afflicted them. Why? So they would cry to the Lord and then He delivered them. (this is the purpose of suffering!) He shatters the prison that sin traps us in. A great picture. A great reminder.

I am also on a new quest. As I have talked about earlier I am reading through 1 Samuel. I just read chapter 6. What in the world?!!? Go read it. They seriously made gold images of their tumors as an offering to God? Why? Why is that in the Bible? There is a reason for everything that is in Scripture. I get the part about God sending the tumors...I don't get the gold-tumors-and-mice-as-an-offering part. I hope that I have time, this week, to seek out some answers to these questions which may sound very silly but are completely genuine. I am not going to skip over this. I will keep seeking...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 44

I really need to get back to reading earlier in the day because I just read Psalm 107 and I am loving it. I will be reading it again tomorrow. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so...and then example after example of how He has proven His faithful steadfast love. SO GOOD! I want to meditate on it more.

Please be in prayer for me starting tomorrow. Another test of my resolve and God's faithfulness is here as family starts to arrive. A wonderful addition to our Christmas celebration but also an added distraction that makes alone time, even more difficult. Even more reason to make sure the God and His Word, remain the main thing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 43

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

It is true the Lord is good. He has answered a huge prayer for us here in the decision that we needed to make. I am so excited about how the Lord will show Himself good and loving in and through this decision. I am also blessed that God is teaching me through migraines how not to respond and how to trust is usually through how not to act but at least I am really asking the question: How do I honor and glorify the Lord and find joy in this acute suffering? It is honestly a question I have never seriously asked before.

I also praise Him because even with a day out, not getting anything done, everything is still moving along very well. Praise Him! Praise Him! He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. Psalm 119:2

Day 42

Read Psalm 105 and 1 Samuel 5 today. The Psalm was a good reminder of God's greatness and faithfulness during a particularly bad migraine. More blessings today as I woke without a headache and much energy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 41

Tonight God provided two great reminders about His purpose and His priorities. One is an excellent post from Desiring God about Christmas and small children. Please take the time to go and read it and be encouraged to live this season with joy!

The second was a difficult and good gospel conversation with Christian. It was painful for both of us. By the end of the conversation I could do nothing else but pray with him and cry. After he prayed we talked about what was going on inside him and he said, "It felt like there was a knife cutting my heart open." I empathized, greatly and then we talked about the joy and freedom of forgiveness. He sat close to me as I crocheted and we snuggled enjoying forgiveness until it was time to go to bed. He prayed again...twice on his own, because he wanted to.

Thank you Lord for loving Christian more then I do.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 40

I read Psalm 104 tonight and now I cannot get Fernando Ortega's "Creation Song" out of my head. I am going to post a link for you to hear it. I wish that I could just play the song for you but I am not gifted enough to make that happen. This video is the best that I can do. 

I am feeling the panic of all that needs to be done creeping up again. It seems to always be there, crouching like a lion ready to pounce as soon as my guard is down. I want to give in so badly and quite literally FREAK OUT! I want to stay up all night so that I can work on my projects. I want to forget everything else in the house: laundry, dishes, meals, school etc and just put one movie after another on for the kids and work on my stuff BUT God is good and He has allowed me not to give into those urges. He has been so gracious to keep me calm, trusting in Him and in my husband to know when too much work has been done and it is time to go to bed. He has been good to keep me in His word and therefore meditating on it and praying as I crochet. I do not think that it would honor Him to forget everything else to try to impress someone who is buying my work and that is from God because my fear of man can be crippling at times. 

Please pray that God will sustain me and keep me peacefully trusting Him. Please pray also that He would be honored to bless me with the ability to accomplish the projects that I have taken on and that I will do them well, to His glory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 39

It is very interesting to me that I can read a part of Scripture and have no memory of ever reading it before. I have not read through the entire Bible as many times as I would like but I know I have done it more then once. There are also certain books within the Bible that I have read over and over and yet I think that one way Hebrews 4:12 proves to be true is that God allows certain portions of Scripture to convict or encourage us while letting other parts slip from our minds quickly after they are read. God knows when a part of another is more appropriate and applicable then another. I am not saying that sometimes Scripture is not appropriate or that it is not profitable at times but that God in His infinite wisdom knows when and what to emphasis depending on our situation, suffering, joy or maturity. 

I am not sure what all that has to do with what I read tonight but I am telling you I know I have read Acts before. I also am very aware that Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome. I did not know there was such a detailed account in Scripture. It is captivating, reading more like a suspense novel then instruction. Suspenseful yet also not since God's sovereignty is clearly evident throughout Paul's life and this journey in particular.

Being reminded of God's graceful guidance of Paul through this time is encouraging to me and also a little frustrating. I know that God has my steps planned and that He is guiding me. Sometimes though when there is a decision that needs to be made, I wish His guidance was a little more clear. I praise Him that I have a God-fearing husband to make these decisions with and will continue to act in faith.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 38

I love our fellowship group. I am so encouraged by the fellowship of believers and the connection that is created by grace. This group is able to counsel, encourage, carry each others burdens. It was a good evening.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 37

I am growing in my love for God as He is revealed in Scripture. His Word is coming alive to me in new and exciting ways. Therefore it was a delight to watch these videos tonight. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

To see more check out this link.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 36

I am very busy with all my wonderful crochet orders so writing is taking a little bit of a hit. However, let me encourage you that I am loving soaking up the Word. I read my chapters from 1 Samuel, Psalms, and or Acts and then I sit and crochet and meditate.  I have never really enjoyed the benefits of meditation before, at least not on such a regular basis. It is wonderful to be constantly pondering and remembering God's Word, not memorizing always but thinking about it. My struggles and fights for joy have been different, in a good way, because of it. I still need to fight for it, but I am more hopeful in the battle, less likely to accept defeat, even though the stress is higher. Keep praying!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 35

Too tired to write. Read Hannah's prayer. Distracted by the sinfulness of Eli's sons. Need more sleep for brain power to process and hear and see God in His Word. Good night all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 34

Well, a little better planning today, I have ten minutes. I have been meditating on 1 Samuel 1 all day. It is just amazing. Hannah has no children and in her culture that is shameful (something we don't understand in our culture). It is so upsetting/depressing to her that when she pleads with the Lord to open her womb Eli thinks she is drunk. She was fully fixed on the Lord because she knew He was the only one who could rescue her from her shame. I am just in awe of her worship/faith/desperation in Him. When Eli realizes his mistake he essentially grants her request and immediately Hannah is no longer depressed...she has complete faith. If this was not beautiful enough the story continues. God grants her request for a son and Hannah with determination weans Samuel for service to the Lord. I always think that this is a horribly sad and unfortunate sacrifice that Hannah has to make, to take Samuel to serve in the temple. This was the first time that I noticed that not only was Hannah not sad but she WORSHIPED God when she brought Samuel to the temple. She worshiped Him because in giving her Samuel He had saved her, SAVED her from her shame. It was a joy to give back to Him the gift He had give her. I want faith and perspective like that! I can't wait for Hannah's prayer tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 33

In an effort to help fight for joy my husband is sending me to bed. Poor planning on my part as I will have to read there and won't be able to share my thoughts with you tonight. Until tomorrow then....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 32

I love Sundays. We don't watch tv or listen to secular music on Sunday mornings. We eat cereal because it is a treat that the kids love and we want to make Sundays special, a time to look forward to, different, set apart, for the kids also. Then the rest of the morning is spent with the body, sitting under the proclaiming of God's Word. It makes for a less stressful afternoon, even when menus need to be planned and other children come to join our party. It also makes for a heart ready to hear more of God's Word.

This morning Pastor Martin described a beautiful picture of Jesus from Revelation 1:9-20. I wish the sermon was posted already because Pastor Martin did a masterful job of showing how this passage paints a picture of Jesus Christ as powerful, awesome, fearful, sovereign, and trustworthy. Then Jesus Christ reminds John that He is the One who has crushed death AND grants life. His victory is the power for a life of faith. It is the power for my life of faith. His death crushing sacrifice and resurrection is the power for loving, persevering, parenting, serving, giving, exhorting, living a set apart life...Jesus Christ's victory over death is the reason for life and hope.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 31

I read 1 Samuel 1 today and could only get through verse 8. Hannah was a woman who knew suffering. At the same time she was blessed to have a husband who loved her and took care of her. There were, probably many reasons for her to be thankful and yet she was unable to eat because of her suffering. I am looking forward to meditating more deeply on this because I often feel like I should be thankful and what God has given me should be enough but I am still sad even depressed because of my suffering. It is amazing how God's providence provides for what we need exactly when we need it. Truth about how God loved and worked in and through Ruth and Hannah. I am excited to dig deeper.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 30

I thought I would be ok after a little Truth reminding last night. I thought I would go to sleep and then in the morning it would be a new day and we could move on...but here we go again, drudging up deep pains and habitual wrong thinking. I am struggling with unbelief, mainly about God's specific love for me. I know what all the right answers are but there is still something I haven't given up yet. I'm not sure what it is or how this is all going to turn out. More prayer and Truth and counsel is needed. In all honesty more tears and pain are probably needed too.

My God is big enough though and I know He is not content to leave me where I am.

Here is a little encouragement from John Piper and some direction in what to pray for...for you and me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 29

I read earlier today, while the kids were napping. It was better for my sleep schedule but for some reason the extra time to meditate did not help in the terrible mood I was in this evening. Anger. It seeped out of me in what I said, how I looked, what I did. I was mad. The kids were noisy and messy, rude and demanding. I felt very entitled to have them and my house be different. JUST ONCE can I please have my house the way I want it and my kids act the way they should????? No, because what I have is better then what I deserve. My life goes far better then it should. Things go my way much more then they ought. Grace abounds in my life. Of course an hour ago those thoughts just made me even more angry and I write them now to remind myself of their truth.

Tommy sent me a blog today and I want to encourage you to read it. I usually love when he does that and I loved it this morning and this afternoon but as the evening wore on the thought of having to be diligent and persevere seemed more like a trap then an encouragement. A trap because I cannot do it. I kept failing moment after moment after moment. Mumbling under my breath about how much I hated dishes and the fact that my floor is always dirty. Impatiently shoving my kids under the shower and washing their hair, indifferent to their screams of protest. I even went out into the hall, stamping my feet, gritting my teeth and repeating, "help me, help me, help me" because, that is the point after all....I can't do it, I need Jesus. It made me think of this little story about needing 1,000 points to enter heaven. As the man rattles off the numerous good works he has accomplished over his lifetime Peter brings the grand total to 1 point. In frustration he blurts out, "Good Lord, have mercy" and immediately Peter opens wide the gates.

It really is more simple then I make it out to be. It is not "do more, try harder" but believe.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned..." John 3:18

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 28

I really need to get back to doing this earlier in the day. I am a huge procrastinator but even tonight when I had determined in my head that the best thing to do would be to just go to bed (after all I am a Mommy with many demands on my time and I practically wasted my evening, I should get some sleep) I couldn't go a day without pursuing God in His Word. That is a gift, a miracle of God. I feel like it doesn't really count because I know that I would have felt guilty and wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't read the Word and that was my motivation, not love. On the other hand, Praise God that I couldn't go a day without reading His Word even after I spent an hour under my husbands teaching. That is a supernatural change in me.

I am reading Ruth now. This is another grace from Judges. Ruth begins with, "In the days when the judges ruled..." Then follows an amazing story of grace and redemption. A hero who comes in and rescues a damsel in distress. So beautiful and so stirring because it is a shadow of Christ. I am the damsel hanging over the pit of Hell and He is my hero, rescuer who gives His life to redeem me. No wonder I love a self sacrificing, happy ending story like Ruth, it points to a love story more true then any man can make up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 27

Today was difficult. I made my poor daughter feel very low about herself. As I was fussing about her messy room and making some comment about how she was having a hard time remembering what she was supposed to do she said, "It's okay Mommy, some day your life will be better and you won't have to pick up after me, because I will be a grown-up." I stopped in my tracks and repented, asking for her forgiveness. As always she forgave me very willingly, too willingly. It is another reminder of how God forgives. It cost Him everything yet if we only repent, He gives it. Quickly. Willingly.

With Christmas approaching I thought I would share this powerful and sweet and wonderful video as a reminder of why we celebrate...and why Tobie can forgive me so quickly and why God can forgive me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 26

My head hurts and I am going to bed but before I do I will share a thought. While I was reading Psalm 102 and Acts 22 Tommy was listening to a lecture in the background. This is a professor at Yale who teaches a class on Hebrew Bible Literature. It is fascinating, glorious and infuriating all at the same time. She said something tonight that particularly caught my attention because of how true it is. In reference to the seeming inconsistencies of the Old Testament she said, "this is a record of a civil war between Israel and herself." How true is that? Paul brings this up specifically in the New Testament. A life of faith, pursuit of God and trust in Christ IS a lifelong civil war with oneself. Praise God that the outcome is secure!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 25

More Judges today. I read chapters 20 and 21 and I listened to a sermon on chapters 19-21. Conversations with Tommy and the sermon have pointed out some very interesting connections and fueled some more study. I will attempt to sort out my thoughts as I go here and I hope they make sense. Perhaps by the end I will have come to some conclusion but perhaps not.

Depravity and justice. These are two themes that are very present in Judges 19-21. It also points to another very similar situation in Genesis (chapter 19 of all places) where the men of Sodom and Gomorrah come after the angels who are staying with Lot. This is an example of a city that was so evil God literally wiped it off the face of the earth. Depravity not only in the men of Sodom but also in Lot. He offered his virgin daughters to these men. They were spared by the grace of God but still were offered. Here is where this hits home for me both in Judges and in Genesis: I am depraved also. There is no one who is righteous. The concubine is easily seen as a victim and we all feel sorry for her, however she had left her husband to be a harlot in her fathers home. This is not a righteous woman. I am not upholding the sin of these men or of her Levite husband but the fact remains that her sins against God earn her His eternal wrath. Who am I to despise God's right justice? This has been for me a reorienting to God's way of seeing man, He sees man as totally depraved...there is no good in them and even more difficult His right and ability to execute justice on them however and whenever He sees fit. WOW! That is a hard pill for me to swallow.

I squirm in my seat even as I write this.

How to get to Grace from here. Please try and follow with me. This is the part where analogia fidei comes into play. This is that since the Bible has one author, God, then Scripture should be read in light of other Scripture, not in a isolation. Judges is not meant to be taken alone, without the rest of the Word otherwise we would be left without hope, without grace. In the grand scheme of God's plan these remind us of the need for redemption but in a more specific correlation take notice of those who lived in Gibeah. The men who wanted to rape the Levite and ultimately rapped and abused his concubine were from the tribe of Benjamin. In the next few chapters these Benjaminites were almost completely wiped out because there women and children were killed. Only 600 men remained (wait, there is grace right there) and they found wives by kidnapping women from nearby towns. Still need more grace? 10 tribes of Israel are later virtually obliterated but 2 are sent into exile in Babylon: Judah and Benjamin. Decades later they return and after time we have the birth of Jesus and Grace is given to the world. As if that is not enough grace there came a man who was chosen to be God's herald of grace versus works. He was transformed by the AMAZING power of Christ's sacrifice and empowered by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament, explaining and exulting over GRACE. That's right, Paul and guess what he says in Philippians 3:3-5 "...put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;"  INCREDIBLE! That is not an accident or a coincidence, there is no such thing!

Conclusion? My view is so small, myopic and limited and God's view is infinite, with His glory and grace always in play. He is purposeful and deep and wise in all He does. It is also so critical to read Scripture as a part of the whole and the whole is the BIBLE not just the specific book. I need to also remember that when one characteristic of God seems to overwhelm a situation it does not preclude His other characteristics (ie when judgment is overwhelming it does not take away from His goodness) Whew! That was intense.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 24

I am still working through this Judges stuff. I love it but it is hard. There are times when I think, "why am I working through this? Why does this matter? No one is going to know or care if you just keep going and don't search out your answers." These thoughts then lead to lies about how unimportant I am, or how unimportant Scripture, like this is to me and my life. Or thoughts like, it is not applicable therefore I don't need to figure it out. Or the idea that I am an uneducated stay-at-home mom and can get by without knowing any deep truths from Judges 19. These are tactics of the Enemy that I need to fight. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 The question again is, do I believe what God has said? Do I believe ALL SCRIPTURE is God breathed? YES! What about profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness? ...yes. I guess I need to keep pursuing the answers to my questions in Judges.

Don't worry, God is answering. I have had some great conversation today, helping to process through what this passage says about God and man. I also found a sermon series from a group that I trust, through the book of Judges. I am excited to dig deeper. I'll keep you informed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 23

I think I am going to have to pause in my reading. Of course by pause I mean, read the same passage again and do a little digging because I am plagued with questions. Why Judges 19? Where is the Gospel here? Quick answers are not satisfying. I need to meditate, pray and search. If you have any good resources please feel free to point me in a good direction.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 22

Growing up we always had big Thanksgiving day feasts. When I say big, I mean big. 25 people was a small group for Thanksgiving. So when this year we found ourselves celebrating just the 7 of us, I found it a little sad. I loved cooking...I LOVE cooking...and enjoyed the shopping and chopping and two days of mixing and baking that led up to today. I loved the low stress of playing games with the kids, not having to wait on anyone when the turkey was early and being able to take a nap in the afternoon. It was a lovely day and I have been very thankful.

It did get me thinking though. Why was it so hard up to now, thinking of being "just us"? Tommy nailed it for me. It is the same reason why good-byes are so difficult. It is the same reason why nature is beautiful and unsatisfying all at the same time. There is another world that I long for. I yearn for home, my true and real home. The one that has a place, special, for me, being prepared right now. There is a feast that will be full of thanksgiving and food and family that I desire in the deepest part of me to enjoy. I long for Heaven and to be with Christ and I want it so badly that I try to create it here on earth and Jesus is so good and kind that sometimes He gives us pieces of it, types of it, shadows of reality and they are so good that I lose sight of the truth that what I seek is the Giver of these sweet gifts. The One who purchased me with His blood.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 21

I have a lot to say but am still not sure how to say it. No, what it is, is that God is working. I can feel the stirrings of something big. There are questions that keep coming up in my head and heart about myself that I don't want to ask God because I am not sure that I want to know the answer. That is why my posts are so brief.

I am thankful though and these questions that are creeping into my thoughts give me the opportunity to practice what I teach my children: Be thankful for what you do have, what God has given you and be faithful to Him. Do not focus on what you don't have.

I am thankful for my family. We are a crowd and I am blessed to spend tomorrow praising God and mediating with them on all the ways He has blessed us!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 20

It is amazing to me how much the Old Testament is full of grace. Abraham...a nobody from nowhere, called out by God, why? Because God called him. Jacob, a deceiver. Moses, a murderer. Israel in general as a people who could not go longer then one generation without rebelling against God. I am reading about Samson right now and I have to be honest, it is hard to see why God picked him. I guess that is where my problem comes from. I am focusing on Samson and not on God and not seeing that it is because of the New Testament...because of Christ that God can show such grace. AND He continues to do so, toward so many, but so abundantly, to me.

I am so grateful for grace. When I am sick. When I am healthy. When I feel it. When I don't. When I am sad. When I am joyful. When I am thankful. When I am sinful. God is good to me and you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 19

I am sick today. I did manage to squeeze some time in to read about Samson and God's plan for him from before he was born. Fascinating. I plan to ponder it more as I attempt to sleep off this cold. Praising God for His grace to see and fight the sin that wants to overtake me since I feel so awful.

A HUGE thank you to my sweet, wonderful, serving husband. He did the dishes and took the kids to the Y so I could have above quiet time. Cleaned up dinner and has given lots of hugs and encouragement. I am blessed.

Day 18

Spent the day with the church family being reminded of God's faithfulness through this past year. He has been good to bless us with this body. I am also thankful for Ziacam. No fun when the mommy is sick.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 17

We have been listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's new album re:creation all day. The first song, Do Everything, I linked to in an earlier blog. It has been such a blessing to me. It helps to remind me that there are no tasks in my day or words that I say that are meaningless. It helps to remind me of 1 Corinthians 10:31, that whatever I am doing it is to be done for the glory of God.

I'm not exactly sure how this all works but listening to that song and the others on the album that are along those same thoughts kept my mind focused. Keeping focused on Who I am serving helps to make work light and joyful. We cleaned house today and it was very pleasant, no it was even fun. The baby girls were taking a nap and the rest of us worked together on the same projects: scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, cleaning windows, and walls, vacuuming and sweeping. Side by side, singing and talking and sometimes even laughing. In the interest of full discloser there were some tears and reminders about attitudes and being thankful for what we have as opposed to mad at what we don't have BUT as a whole it was a joyful time. Praise the Lord!

God is transforming my heart and attitude little by little to see life more and more His way. Now, to remember when I start to freak out again!

Check out SCC new album. It is so good!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 16

Tonight two of the children disobeyed. After much weeping we (Tommy, the children and myself) had a conversation about the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. One leads to feeling terrible, the other leads to repentance. A little more conversation about repentance and they both confessed their wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness. I freely and joyfully gave it and before I finished the word one of them yells out, "look, that's a dog park."

My first reaction was to take back the forgiveness and go over everything again, because how could it be genuine? I wanted to make them understand and feel the weight and relief of sin and forgiveness. Then it hit me: they had felt the weight and the IMMEDIATE relief of forgiveness. The tears were over and the offense was no longer held against them. I stopped before I started. This is how God forgives. Completely. Immediately. Without demanding payment after repentance. Sin has already been paid for! True, there are still consequences to sin but the debt is paid. Why is it so difficult to remember this?

Lord, thank you so much for teaching me through your word (I am in Judges and the Israelites were constantly sinning and repenting and God still forgives) and through my children about your forgiveness!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 15

Success. Another day of the main thing being the main thing. Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 14

Psalm 96:2 "Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day."

I have been surrounded to day with articles, blogs, songs, videos, even bumper stickers that encourage me to take every moment and every action captive. Redeem it for God's glory in order to tell of his salvation with my actions, attitude and life choices because whatever I do...matters.

We are going into a crazy time of year and I can feel the anxiousness creeping in again. Today was almost my first "fail". I got in the car this afternoon to leave for the rest of the evening and realized there had been no time in the word yet and little time or opportunity for it later. I had to decide to leave the anxiety causing "things" until tomorrow and spend my evening with the Lord even though the anxiety increased at first. This is precious quiet productive time but there is nothing else I could do that would be more productive then to seek the Lord.

I am always amazed at how often I have to counsel myself into right thinking and it is going to get more difficult over the next two months. Many, many deadlines and late nights. I could really use your prayers during this time. I want to "be" and not "do" and celebrate Christ's birth even though there is much that needs to be done. Lord, give me the discernment to know what is a true need.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 13

I read this blog today and it echoes the desire of my heart. My feelings sometimes betray the twisted ideas I have of what is important. The kids are still have colds and so they are very cranky. The part that makes me happy is that they don't have a lot of energy to trash the house and so the dishes have not piled up in a few days and the laundry is getting done in record time. The part that makes me sad is the feeling of guilt I get when I sit and do nothing but cuddle for a half an hour with my three youngest children.

1 Corinthians 10:31 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

This is the cry of my heart!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 12

God is good. More small victories throughout the day. As I make the most important thing first it is more regular that I am able to see and chose what is more important in other areas. It is not easy but it is a little easier.

Praying that the kids heal quickly from this cold but thankful for the blessing in disguise: this forces us as a family to slow down a little, not "do" so much and there is more time at home to work but also to enjoy being together. I love this family God has blessed me with.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 11

Corporate worship today. A Sermon from Revelation 1 on a Picture of God in Three Frames. Personal worship, back to Psalm 86, that started me off on this journey, "Incline your ear O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy..." Evening service, prayer for the persecuted Church and an invitation to serve them.

God is amazing in how He works all things together for His glory. I am joyful to know that He chose me to redeem and purposed me with a work to further His kingdom.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
 And through eternity, I’ll sing on. -Alexander Means

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 10

Today I read Judges 4 and 5. Unfortunately it was rushed, not very quiet or focused but I did it. That in itself got me to thinking, pondering what I am doing again. On the one hand it is very good to persevere and keep going even when it is hard and less then ideal. I am building habits, forming a routine that is very important. There is nothing else that should be more regular, even vital to my day then time with God. On the other hand a routine is not the only reason why I should be doing this. My motivation needs to be love, adoration, worship...a desire to know God more intimately every time I open His word. This is something that I cannot fabricate or conjure up by trying hard. It is my prayer that God will change my heart to be a Mary and not a Martha. I am afraid that even in my efforts to be more like Mary I am going about it in a Martha way. Crazy huh?

Lord, help me to know you, see you and rejoice in you every time I open your word.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 9

This morning I woke up full of selfishness. I was weepy and had no motivation to do anything. I wanted to play my computer games which I have not played since this journey began...not because they are wrong but because something has to go and they are last on the priority list. I didn't want to finish school with the kids. I wanted to take the kids to play at Chik-fil-a or find some spontaneous field trip. Some friends borrowed movies from us today and while I was looking for them I ran across all my other favorite movies and was overcome with the desire to let the kids run wild and watch a marathon of...whatever. I am not saying that those things are in themselves wrong but what I realized was the motivation for them, what was in my heart was very wrong.

I wanted to run away. I wanted to run away from my responsibilities, from God's calling on my life, from God Himself. Yes, the simple lack of motivation for daily activities was a rebellion of my heart against God. It is strange and awful at the same time how such a seemingly small thing, a little self indulgence, is rooted in rebellion. By the grace of God though, He granted me victory. I resisted the urge to clean (a distraction or band-aid I often use to make me feel better about myself and my choices, especially when I am running from God and His word) and resisted the urge to play and instead sat down and opened my Bible. Victory in Jesus!

I wish that I could say it was overflowing with encouragement and practical applications to what I was going through right then and I finished with joy and peace and bouquets of flowers in my heart but that would not be true. I am still working hard at training myself to look for Christ when I read the Scriptures and to see grace and to ask questions and seek the answers. I am working at training myself to study the Word. I can say however that God gave me time to journal my prayers, to clearly and specifically ask for wisdom on a decision that is very distracting to my soul. I can also say that somehow school was finished, the basement was partially picked up, I got to "run away" and let the kids play at the mall, watched a movie with my husband tonight and was not weepy or anxious all afternoon. I don't know how God makes the day more productive but I am grateful that He blesses when we put Him first.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 8

I am off to my "accountability" group. I love these women and their honesty. We deal with true and raw sin and suffering and joys and grace and our responses to each. These women protect my privacy and love me through my sin as well as remind me of God's amazing grace. We don't really like the term "accountability group" we like to say we are a group that reminds each other to stop the tyranny of do more try harder and to return to grace, grace, God's grace.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 7

After the very taxing blog yesterday, I am exhausted. The day was spent reminding myself of what conclusions I had come to just last night. It is amazing how quickly sin comes to steal away the truth. The temptations were many to gossip, to indulge my anger again and to be prideful for the solution I had figured out. Praise be to Him who bought me and whose grace continually flows.

I am also very thankful for this blog as it helps me to solidify what God is doing in my heart. Being the mommy of five it is very easy to only think and ponder on subjects, ideas, convictions, God's word and to never actually form an opinion or take action. I read another blog today that helped me see how and why this exercise of writing every day is so beneficial.
  • I find that there are three levels of clarity. When I only think about something, my thoughts are embryonic and muddled. When I speak about it, my thoughts become clearer, though not always. When I write about it, I jump to a new level of clarity. -Ed Welch
Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 6

I have got to be honest. There are a few...ok there are a lot of people who have hurt me deeply, but there are a few that seem more difficult to forgive then others. Somehow there keep coming up situations or interactions reminding me of that pain. I would like to reconcile with them but for whatever reason they don't know they have hurt me or they are not in a position spiritually/emotionally to reconcile or we are not in contact anymore for unrelated reasons and the hurt just comes up in my heart and head from time to time, regardless the fact is it hurts and somehow I have to leave it at the cross.

These last few days I have been wondering how to tell you how I have solved this problem but the truth is, I haven't solved it. Let me clarify, I haven't solved it in a way that makes it all go away. I haven't figured out how to learn this lesson one time and never have to deal with this struggle again. I have been reading my Bible and searching for the "magic verse" that changes my heart, makes the pain go away and then I could share with you if you just read it and believe it will do the same for you. I haven't found that verse....because it doesn't exist. There is good news though! There is something better: judgment! That sin that so deeply hurt me, will be paid for! God promises that in Romans 6:23 when he says, "For the wages of sin is death..." That sin that so deeply hurt me, also hurt God and it was an offense so great to Him that someone will die. Whose death will pay for that sin? Either the persons, or Jesus Christs.

Now I could leave it there and this truth would be comforting for awhile but Romans 6:23 continues "...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Sometimes, the people who hurt me, who sin against me, are believers who have been given forgiveness from Christ. Here is where the vile confession comes: I want to rip that gift from them! I want to punish them and so say, "Jesus' death was enough for my sins, but should not be enough for yours."

Let that sink in for a moment.

It humbles me. That desire to take Christ's gift from them and instead cause them more pain reminds me that I am still a wretched sinner in need of grace. I am guilty too. My sin's wage is death too. I am not righteous, Christ is. I have been forgiven so much more then is being asked of me to forgive. Only when I am overwhelmed by the grace shown to me can I show grace to others.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 5

Forgiveness is such a painful thing. I am so grateful that Christ took my punishment and forgave me so that I can say, "That person hurt me and I am angry but I have been forgiven, so I will plead with Christ to give me the ability to forgive them." More on forgiveness tomorrow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 4

Today has been an emotional day. God is bringing up a lot of things in my heart that are painful to deal with. I am thankful though for the Word preached faithfully this morning, my personal reading this afternoon, and the reminder of Christ's work of redemption on the cross tonight. He sealed forgiveness with His blood and remains faithful even when I see waves and not Him.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 3

Impatience is my name and disorder is my game. Well, that is how I feel when I consider all the things that I can and would like to share with you about what God is doing through this commitment. It is difficult for me to recognize that I am going to be doing this for 365 days and so I do not have to expel every thought and idea and concern that goes through my head to you in this blog. That would be annoying and extremely confusing neither of which glorify God. So, I need to remember I can take this one day, one subject at a time. There will be another day to talk about that other subject, Lord willing.

When I sit down to worship God on my own I am often overwhelmed with everything that I have to do during the rest of the day. Today for example, I had to force myself to stop in the middle of a project, knowing that it and the next project (dishes) would not be finished until late in the afternoon, in order to take advantage of the quiet due to fewer children. My window of opportunity was slim but I reminded myself that the most important thing needs to be MOST IMPORTANT. Sitting down I pulled out my Bible, journal, and a small pad of paper and a pen. The pad of paper was for those tasks that I would suddenly remember as I began to read the first few words of Joshua 19. I start with writing "Pick up living room, do dishes" then I set the paper aside to wait for the next task to threaten to steal my allegiance. This is critical for me. It is my way of saying, "you are not my master!" If I don't write them down though I will fret the rest of my time over whether or not I will remember to add conditioner to my grocery list. Who can worship God when they are fretting about conditioner? I know it sounds silly but the simplest things will lure me from the precious Words of God that reveal Himself to me.

What distracts you from personal worship of God? Do you already know? How have you solved past problems of distraction? If you don't know why personal worship is difficult ask God to show you what distracts you. It is a difficult question to ask. Difficult because He will answer it and you may not want to know that answer.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 2

Today was fairly easy. With the added pressure of knowing the "world" was watching I was able to chose to wait until nap time to sit down and read and pray today. I say chose because I debated in my head all last night and this morning if I should try and get this done first thing in the morning or wait until nap time when I knew that I would be feeling the need for renewal. Being at home with four kids 7 and under brings out selfishness, impatience, and harsh words and today was no exception. By nap time I had already corrected the children many times and corrected myself by asking for forgiveness. Renewal and grace sounded beautiful, however I think that from now on I will attempt to "seek first His Kingdom." (perhaps I will find the need and desire to seek him more then once in a day)

In January I started reading through the Bible in a year...on someone else's ambitious plan. I don't have to tell you that I am not on track to finish December 31 BUT I have continued on a similar format on a much slower pace and am loving it. Today I read Joshua 18, Psalm 87, and Acts 8. It has been exciting and fascinating to see the connections throughout the entirety of Scripture. To sum up, it all points to Jesus and when reading the New Testament with the Old Testament it becomes all that more clear. I love the Word and how He gives illumination!

On a convicting note, Simon the magician is a huge warning to my heart. Lord, may I never forget how deep and sinful sin is and how a depraved heart can twist even the desire for good things.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 1

There is nothing very special about today. It is not the beginning of anything but a change of my heart. I am tired. I am tired of feeling afraid, stressed, worried, name it! There is only one answer to those feelings that too often lead to sinful actions: Jesus Christ. I need to recognize that I do not know Him like I should. I also need to recognize that I am sinful and need help to spend time in the Word, getting to know my Savior. I have far too many reasons and excuses to find other things to lead me astray. I do not want to do that anymore. If I say that I believe the Bible and it says in Deuteronomy 8:3 "And he humbled you and let you hunger...that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." then I should live as though I believe this, hungering for the Word and feeding myself, everyday!

If you haven't guessed yet, I am making a commitment to spend time in the Word everyday for the next year and to blog about it. I am fearful even as I write this.
  • What if I can't do this? It is hard enough to write this first blog.
  • What if you see my commitment and feel burdened and then it becomes some legalistic law you become bound to? or that I become bound to?
  • What if I become proud because people like what I write?
  • What if God isn't impressed by my devotion and doesn't change my life into perfection?
NO MORE! I want to know Christ! I do not want to be enslaved any longer to fears and doubt and worry. No more excuses. If I can feed my kids food-I can make time to feed myself the Bread of Life. If I can check Facebook-then I have time to read a chapter of the Living and Active Word of God. If I have time to put clothes on-I have time to be transformed by the renewal of my mind.

My point is that even if I don't have time to even get dressed, that's ok if my priorities are where they should be, with my heart and my mind focused on the Giver and Sustainer of Life. If we all have to pick laundry out of a crumpled pile on the couch, my family may overlook it if I my mouth overflows with wisdom and kindness. I know that I will fail and so I am sharing with this small world my desire and commitment to seek first His kingdom. If you don't see a blog...ask me why. I am sure I will have a reason...and it will be a pathetic excuse of putting something else before the worship and adoration of my King and then I will fall on grace again.

Lord hear my prayer:
Psalm 86
A Prayer of David.
1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.

 8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.