Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More muddled efforts

Still trying to recover from the little sleep and deluge of teaching and preaching and worship this weekend.

In trying to describe what it is that I learned or "took with me" from this conference, the thing that I keep coming back to is the big picture of God that was painted throughout the whole weekend. It was beautiful. To see deeply how He has been working to reveal himself to us in deeper and clearer ways from the beginning of time and then be presented with a picture of the worship and revelation of God from Revelation 21-22 is overwhelming. It is also comforting and encouraging. His goodness and sovereignty are evident and real. He is trustworthy and loving, forgiving and drawing us close through Christ.

More then anything I have come away with a desire to know Him more. The breakout sessions I took were on memorizing Scripture and studying the Word in more depth. The books I bought were about prayer and fighting fear with the Word. I chose these because I want more of Him. I am not sure how else to describe it. I want less of the world and I want more to be part of the continual worship of God on the throne.

I am also a little confused and frustrated. I want these things and long for them for me and for my kids but I am tired and I am quickly falling into old patterns. I am fighting though, not by trying harder but by pleading with the Lord in prayer and choosing little moments throughout the day to do what is harder and take the better option. Engage the children when I would rather send them away. Read the Word while the dinner is cooking, instead of hop on Facebook. Talk with Tommy even when it is difficult to explain what I am thinking. Trusting the Lord to use these choices in this long process of sanctification and knowing that I can trust Him. He has called me and He will keep me. This vision of a great and faithful God who has been working to complete His ultimate plan throughout history has solidified in me:  "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tired and joyfully overwhelmed

I returned at 1:30 in the morning from The Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference. I am still very tired and filled with the Word. It is difficult to express what I learned and how God worked...partly because there was so much that He did and partly because it is still so fresh I am not sure what was excitement and what was lasting change.

As I mentioned before, one of the blessings was being able to see my mom, sister and friend from California. That was sweet time of fellowship and worship with them.

Another blessing was the relationships that were started with the women I drove down to Orlando with. I am always amazed at the strong and deep connection that God gives to the body...even when they have only first met. I count these women as dear sisters that I care about, have been praying for all day today and long to spend more time with in the future. It is sweet, the tie that quickly binds.

The teaching was incredible. The theme of the conference was: Here is Our God. It was beautiful to hear the speakers walk us through the Bible, starting in Exodus and moving through to Revelation, and show us a BIG view of God. It sure puts everything else in life in perspective when you are consumed with a vision of God that is that big.

As I process I know I will have so much more to share. Thanks be to God that He saw fit to bless me in such an amazing way...especially when just one week ago I was raging at His ruthless idol crushing in my life. He is good.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Big Surprises and The Gospel Coalition

Yes, it is very late and yes, I have been avoiding my blog...but not for reasons that you may think!

At approximately 7pm on Tuesday night I received a phone call from a friend telling me there was an open spot to join them in Florida at The Gospel Coalition National Women's Conference. I was thrilled. God was blessing and showing His goodness in so many ways! 

There had been debate as early as Christmas about me going to the conference for the obvious benefits of sitting under great Biblical teaching and learning how to minister to other women through the Word. After consideration it was decided that this was not the right time for me to go. It was more disappointing because my mother and sister who live in California were going to the conference. They would be so close and yet I was not going to be able to see them. We had gone to the True Woman conference in Chicago a few years together and were sad to miss out on this time of fellowship. 

Fast forward to Tuesday night. Not only did I want to go to the conference because it was going to be a great conference, I also wanted to get to know these women I would be travelling and staying with but I would also be able to surprise my mom and sister. It was more then I could hope for or imagine.

Tommy of course agreed that this was important and God was providing...I needed to go. Wednesday I suffered through a long conversation with my mom, fighting the urge to tell her I was coming and Thursday morning we left bright and early.

*A small spiritual side note here that I hope to explore more in the future: When I was done with that phone call on Tuesday my first and reactive response was to worship the good Creator and Provider God who was blessing me in such an amazing way. It was encouraging and an answer to prayer to see that work in me. I have been praying that God would enable me to respond appropriately to situations He put me in (emotionally joyful in huge blessing or sad and sorrowful in loss). I struggle with shutting off and not "feeling" until later. So this was evidence of God answering that prayer.

On Friday morning I walked to my mother's hotel and enlisted the help of my step-dad Mark in California to get her hotel room. Then, standing outside her door, I sent her a text: Did you make it? No response. Another one: God is good Mommy. Go open the door. I stood there heart pounding waiting. I could hear her talking on the phone inside. I sent another text to Mark asking him to get off the phone so she would respond to her texts. The conversation ended but still the door wasn't opened. I sent one more: Did you open the door?

Screams! Tears! Hugs! It was priceless! 
My sister was just as surprised though it was a little less dramatic tracking her down.

Now we are together again at a wonderful conference. I will have more to share as I process through the teaching of God's Word this weekend but I encourage you to listen as you can on the website as the plenary sessions are streaming for you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Idol crushing

Oh man! This weekend was so painful and so good! Those two often go together in the Christian life. It was really amazing actually because God's work, His goodness, and His sovereignty were so evident in my life. I am still amazed.

Friday night was not so good. I had an idol. God put Tommy in the way of my idol. The scene that followed was ugly. The anger, fury and filth that came out of my heart because he was getting in the way of what I wanted, my desire is embarrassing and shameful. I watch my kids throw fits when I get in the way of their idols and I am shocked or annoyed or offended at the reaction. The tantrum of hot tears and throwing themselves on the floor or little hands balled up in fists and I have so little compassion...because they are not my idols. There I was throwing a tantrum that would rival the best.

The next morning as I wrestled with God, begging Him for help to see clearly (because at this point I did not realize the root of my problem) the tears kept coming. I sought wise counsel. I talked and talked with Tommy trying to work it out then this thought formulated in my mind: I feel like I sacrifice so much, my life is all about serving and giving and I want one thing, just one thing and that is the one thing God says, "you can't have that."  As the words were coming out of my mouth I began deflating. This was my problem God was saying no and I was not happy about it.

It was a relief and the rest of the afternoon and evening went smoothly despite the puffy eyes and fatigue. For all my repentance and everything being back to normal there still was something missing. I couldn't put my finger on it until the next day, Sunday, when God blessed me with what was missing...purpose in the sacrifice.

Anna woke with a fever Sunday morning and we stayed home. With everyone gone and Anna sleeping I pulled up a sermon I had begun and never finished, "The Underestimated God." I began cleaning the living room and dining room while I re-listened to the first half. Then my work slowed as I realized God was doing with me the same thing he had done with Elijah. He was taking that thing that I wanted (good or bad), that idol and He was ruthlessly crushing it for my good and His glory. How can this be for my good? Because when all my idols are crushed then I will have nothing else but Him.

10 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.

12 Lord of hosts,
     blessed is the one who trusts in you! Psalm 84:10-12

I sat and wept with joy. This ruthless idol crushing was good! There was and is a purpose. God loves me and because of His love He cannot allow me to give my heart to anything or anyone else. I cannot say it better then Ligon Duncan and I urge you to listen to this message. If you have ever been disappointed or discouraged or had to make a sacrifice there is something here for you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Daily examples of God's love

I find it very interesting the times that morning devotions are "forgotten" or set aside until later, it changes the day. This morning family devotions were just forgotten and that can't be a good sign when you don't even think about worshiping God together as a family first thing. It was reflected in the moods and attitudes of both the kids and myself. We were selfish, argumentative and indulgent. I was snacking all day, pacing, and doing things I wanted to do that were not on "the list." (they weren't bad things but a means to avoid what I was responsible for doing) I didn't want to deal with the kids and they all wanted their hearts delight and fought about it all day. It was ugly.

On the flip side, when I finally sat down and opened the Word for personal worship the physical tension in my shoulders and face relaxed. I can't explain it but just the act of showing repentance and need began the transition to peace and joyful service. It was good and I am thankful to God for another example of how He provides and loves and gives grace.

I then went and spent the evening with my prayer group and was encouraged by them. One of the ladies just had her first baby two weeks ago so it was a blessing to hear her experience and joy and be able to love on that precious baby girl too! God continues to be good to me. I don't deserve it but that is part of the point. He graces those who are not worthy of grace because of the only One who is righteous and deserving. Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

By faith

I have moved a lot in my lifetime. 12 different houses by the time I was 12 years old, then a big move from city to rural mountains, across state lines. God rescued me during a time of stability. In reality this was only three years but to me it was a very long time and since my mother still lives in the same house, the same town, it feels permanent.

I moved to a new and bigger city in a new and different state for college and within a year was getting married and moving to yet another state. This began 10 more years of moving every couple of years. I have lots of things that I could say about this journey. I have many things I could complain about and people I could blame. I won't though and here is the reason why:

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tentswith Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations,whose designer and builder is God.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamedto be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

I seek this same homeland. I strive to embrace this life as a stranger, an exile as it follows me everywhere I go. No country, state or city is satisfying because the fight between restlessness and disappointment everywhere I go and my desire for stability both point to a promise that is a city whose foundation is built by God. 

I don't know if you can identify with that struggle. I long to be comfortable, settled and yet I know that I will never be comfortable (because nowhere here on earth is truly satisfying) and I know if I am settled it is only an illusion and only for a short time because God has provided something better: Jesus Christ. 

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for usthat apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The first time I saw a firefly I was 26 years old and I was driving from Georgia to Kansas. It was July in the south and they were flashing all along the wooded side of the road. I have to admit that I cried. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like it before. Their little green flashes distracted me as we went racing down the highway.

I remember talking about them for the next two weeks. I was enthralled but not just by them...I was awed by their Creator. Miracle of miracles these insects caused me to worship in a spontaneous and uncontainable way. It is a miracle because I hate all other insects. In fact our pastor said it well when he observed that they (insects) represent the fall to me. It's true...they are horrid. Fireflies are in an entirely different category. They represent the wonder and creativity of an all powerful God who delighted in making these creatures that have purpose in the life cycle of this world but whose greatest purpose is to do what they do in my heart: glorify the Creator.

I still love to watch them. Nearly five years later I still can't get enough of them. Even tonight I noticed them out the back window and had to pause just to admire and point them out to Tommy and worship...again.

Genesis 1
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday Morning

We were late again. This time when I walked into the youth Sunday School class opening prayer was already finished and Tommy had begun his lesson. I don't like to be late but I smiled and sat down and jumped right in...guilt free and excited to worship through learning God's history.

This is a victory.

I don't know what Sunday mornings are like for you but for the Petersons, it has traditionally been chaotic. There are many reasons why...Tommy leaves before we are generally even dressed to finish up last minute details for the morning. A friend who grew up in a pastor's family was agreeing that it is just different when Sundays are "go-time". Then there is the usually spiritual attacks that happen in so many small things: I notice as I look out the window (just getting out of the shower) that the three year old is walking along the retaining wall outside, or one child has opened the bag of rice krispies and now they are all over the table and know the little things that test your patience. That is another addition to our chaotic morning, needing to get five young children and myself neat and presentable, ready to worship and at the church by 9:15 am. It is tiring just thinking about it.

Here is where the victory is won. It is not worth it to be angry. Brilliant, I know but it has taken me 10 years to realize that being angry on Sunday morning is not worth it. It is better to be late than angry. It is better to leave the house a mess, than be angry. It is better that the kids are in "casual" clothes, than be angry. Being more concerned about my agenda on Sunday morning, my desires or my expectations only leads to my being angry...preparing my heart and the heart of my children is far more important and valuable than all those other petty concerns.

So yes, I am often late, my kids sometimes are not dressed well and my house is usually a disaster when we leave...I even drive to church sometimes BUT for the first time in 10 years we are consistently joyful when we arrive and we are ready to worship.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Inconsistency is growth

Tommy just asked me if I was done with my blog. Ha! No! I did take two days off but this is actually growth people. I have decided that it is a goal and a desire to blog everyday but Sunday BUT here is the growth part: it's not a rule. That may not seem like a big deal to any of you, but it's huge to me.

I am the kind of person who has big ideas and big rules all the time. I commit to grand changes and reforms then, I fail quickly and get frustrated and give up. It is a destructive cycle that has painful consequences, especially in my spiritual life, but God is good and he has been working on me. 

All that was just a way to say that Tommy has been out of town and returned late on Wednesday night, then I had a birthday party for a very special friend (Love you Danielle) on Thursday night and it was just too much to write this blog with everything else going on. It is a gift of wisdom from the Lord to persevere and yet see when it's better to not blog. 

I have been keeping up with reading in the Word, which is good. The Lord has blessed with a significant schedule change that allows me to have some quiet peaceful time in the morning, when the house is still and I am refreshed. It is lovely. I am hoping that as our new schedule becomes routine I will have more time to pray. That is the conviction that has been growing in my lately. I really don't pray as much or as diligently as I would like to.

That's all for me tonight. In this life of ups and downs today has been very pleasant. Thank you Lord! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Losing the fight

Yesterday was a victory in Jesus and in many ways today was too.

Nowhere to be and no one calling this morning. I woke to a quiet house at a decent hour. Opening the curtain an inch to let in the sunlight I enjoyed reading the Word for a good half hour. Slowly, digesting God's heart to His people through Paul. It was sweet and peaceful.

The kids started stirring and I got up thankful there was no headache...and motivated to accomplish a lot! Motivated to make up for yesterday!

I hit breakfast with gusto and started snapping and yelling at the kids immediately. My jeans were wet because one of them didn't make sure the clothes were dry before they brought them upstairs from the dryer. They all wanted second helpings before I could even eat my first bite. Slow. Playing. Distracted. They did not get the memo that today was a work day...a make up day...they didn't get my agenda.

The victory is the immediate repentance that came. As quickly as the words were out Grace enabled me to repent. Verbally. Genuinely. Continually. Until I gave up on my agenda and accepted the Lord's agenda. I fought my flesh and desires for almost two hours, repenting every 10 minutes or so until He won my heart again. The struggle is painful but the peace when He wins is beautiful.

We spent the majority of our day at the park with other mommies and kids from church, enjoying creation and fellowship and relationships. That may not sound like much of a victory to you but it is. I would rather hide in my house, protecting myself from the potential hurt that comes with getting to know people on a deeper level. I like to keep it safe. This too was a fight my flesh was having all go or not to go. So, this was a victory on two levels.

He continues to prove His goodness to me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

You don't "do" faith

Another migraine today. Of course this had to happen on a day that Tommy was on the other side of the country. I don't mean that sarcastically either. I have been praying for God to allow me to see everything as a blessing from Him. This was another opportunity for that. To trust Him at His Word, that this was working for my good and His glory. It was very much a process.

Anger: why today Lord? Nothing is going to get done, in fact the house will be destroyed all while I lie in on the couch in the fetal position trying not to vomit.

Guilt: I am a failure of a mother today. I am allowing my kids to indulge on electronic entertainment and unkind, selfish behavior.

Fear: What should I do? How do I demonstrate trust in Christ through this? Do I get up and push through it? Carrying a trash can to throw up into and crying as I keep on keeping on? What do I do?

Defeat: Who cares? It doesn't matter anyway. I am a failure, a sinner and Christ's blood covers this just as much as it covers all the other crap I doesn't really matter what I do.

All these thoughts and more kept going through my head as I tried to relieve my pain with sleep, medication, chiropractic care, mind over matter, more water, less sugar...whatever I could think of. I admit that when I couldn't sleep because of the pain I picked up the Bible because I didn't know what else to do and I wanted to "do" something that would make God see that I trusted Him and then He would help me.

That is where the cycle ended. It wasn't magic or instant relief but I was reminded of the truth about is not something to "do". It is not a question of whether I trust God enough and prove to Him that I am working really hard at my faith during this time of suffering. The question was will I take Him at His Word or not? By God's grace the answer had to be yes.

No more did the dirty floor bother me. No more did I worry that I was scarring my children by letting them watch another show. I didn't fret about making it to the meeting I had. I even gave up trying to pretend it didn't hurt and that I could make it. I cried out (literally) for relief and then in faith, knowing God would do what was best, I fell asleep for 20 minutes.

When I woke I was operational. Not healed but operational but more importantly I was not overwhelmed with guilt, fear, anger or defeat. God is so good! It is amazing that something so simple can be so hard. It is a wonder that I fight so hard against what God has already given me. I am in awe of the wonder and peace that His Gospel brings. It is a mystery and a gift that I never want to stop being thankful for or lose my awe of. It was a hard day but God makes it good and full of His glory.

Friday, June 1, 2012


There have been a lot of things going on today and this week. Choices about the future. A death (Tommy's grandfather). A birth (a friend's first). More soul searching questions: how do I express my anger and "punish" those around me? How does the Gospel and Christ's sacrifice apply to the offenses of other people, my anger, and my response? Interesting stuff that I could go into BUT I'm not going to because tomorrow is my babies birthday and I want to talk about her!

Two years ago I was in the hospital in labor with Anna. Her birth was the best and worst all at the same time. Medically I was freaked out because of the drugs they used for inducing, my sugar level problems and the fact that during the entire pregnancy I was very depressed and had a difficult time taking care of my body. There was great blessing in this though. I knew that this baby, my Anna, was in God's hands and God's care. I knew that for all of my children but I understood this in a new and real way because of my lack of ability to do more for us.

Anna has continued to be a delight to all of us. When she arrived perfect, healthy and we brought her home she was content. She still is. Content to be with the crowd, watch the crowd, enjoy the crowd. Never in a hurry and not one for extremes she is sweet and happy.

Yes, there is always the knowledge and awareness that she has a sinful nature but you couldn't ask for a better "#5." A snuggler. Curly hair. Chubby cheeks. A love. Who really is just happy to be with us.

Thank you Lord for Anna. I pray that she will grow to be a woman who, like her namesake, will serve you with prayers and fasting and when she sees Jesus she too will begin "giving thanks to God, and continue to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." Grant her faith!