Category Archives: Things God is Showing Me

Lost Keys, Found Knees

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 2 Chronicles 7:14-16

Hubs and I had the blessing of being able to attend the Midwest Pastors’ Conference for the past 4 days.  It was an incredible blessing for our family to get away together in a retreat setting.  Beautiful leaves, lovely lake, sweet cabin near the woods, fellowship in the Lord and with the body of Christ…too many blessings to count!  Like all vacations and getaways, at the close of our time, everyone was a little tired, a little smelly, and a little irritable.  The Boy was the grumpiest of us all, so he and I skipped one of the morning sessions to pack the van.  We had every bag loaded, every pillow and towel stowed away, every leaf swept from the cabin and were preparing to move the van back to the parking lot when I realized I wasn’t sure where the van key was.  I checked all my pockets, my bag, the floor of the van, all through the empty cabin…no key.  Feeling a little panicky, I got down on my hands and knees and looked under each bed, under the couch…even under the fridge!  No key.  Now, I was really frustrated and irritated.  So, I prayed…something like this:  God, You have to help me find this key!  I’ve looked and looked and can’t find it.  Please show me where it is.  You see it and I don’t and I’m the one who has to drive this van.  So show me where the key is!!

Eventually, I unpacked every bag in the van, searched every inch of both the van and cabin, re-packed all our stuff and even got down on my hands and knees and started searching under all the leaves scattering the lawn and road in front of our cabin.  I was crying and angry, all the while praying, “God, You have to show me where this key is!!” 

Charlie came back to the cabin just as I was sitting down in the cabin to have an old-fashioned temper tantrum.  I was sure I had lost the key out in the leaves somewhere and we wouldn’t be able to get back home that afternoon.  I was frustrated with myself and couldn’t understand why God hadn’t heard my prayers.  I sobbed out the whole story to Hubs and he, being so patient and kind, suggested we pray about it.  I snapped back, “I HAVE been praying for the last hour.”  Nonetheless, I bowed my head as he asked God to help us find the lost key.  His prayer went something like this:  Lord, You know we’ve lost the key and Jen has been searching for it.  Please help us to find it.  We thank You for always taking care of us and we trust that You will take care of us now.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

He then proceeded to walk out to the van, look into my bag–the same bag I had already searched multiple times–and find the lost key.  He called out triumphantly, “I found it!  Praise the Lord!”  When he told me where he had found it, I was bewildered…I had checked that bag over and over again.  And I had prayed and prayed and prayed…with no answer.  But Hubs showed up, said one prayer and God showed him the lost key.

Now here’s a true confession:  I was pretty miffed with God in that moment.  And I told Hubs about it.  “I asked and asked God to show me that key and He didn’t.  But you asked him once and He showed it to you right away.  Why?!?!”  Hubs just grinned and hugged me.  I eventually got over my irritation, but I kept mulling over the incident in my mind.

It wasn’t until this morning that I began to see that perhaps my approach to the entire problem was faulty.  I did go to God for help…but my attitude was prideful, demanding, arrogant.  Instead of being grateful and acknowledging God as, well…GOD, I demanded that He give me the key.  I was even so bold as to tell Him that I had an agenda and losing the key was not on it.  I was using God like a genie in a bottle, asking Him to give me what I wanted and GIVE IT RIGHT NOW.

God is a patient Father…

Hubs’ prayer was different.  He thanked God for helping us, remembering that God is the source of all our help.  He was humble.

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Matthew 23:12

I had exalted my needs, myself… demanding that God give me what I wanted, in the time line that I wanted…like a two-year old.  Hubs had approached God humbly, giving God respect and reverence, in gratitude.  And God answered his prayer…because God loves humility.  Why?  Because a humble man or woman is not concerned for himself or herself.  A humble person is in awe of who God is and is willing to let the Creator of the universe, the Author and Finisher of our faith have His way.

So this morning, at the revelation of my own pride and the destructive properties it has…I found myself on my knees.  This time begging God for forgiveness and for a change of heart.  I know from the Word that without a humble and contrite spirit, spiritual fruit in my life is unlikely.  Not only that, but pride goes before a fall…and a stumble, and bruised knees, and all sorts of other injurious actions.  I want God to change my heart and teach me to be continually humble and unconcerned with myself….trusting God to take care of my every need.  I’d rather my knees be bruised from a posture of humble prayer, than bruised from prideful wipeouts.

Who knew that a lost key could truly bring me to me knees?  Who knew I would be grateful?

Oh, yeah…that patient, loving Father-God of ours!

Father-God, thank You.  Thank You for lovingly, patiently teaching me and instructing me.  Thank You for teaching me that I can trust You…always.  Forgive me of my pride.  Forgive me for having any other posture other than being bowed low in humble adoration, respect and gratitude.  You are awesome.  You are power.  You are wisdom.  You are my God!  Continue to love me, to teach me how to be truly humble, truly unconcerned with my own needs and desires.  Help me not to be afraid of this request, but to embrace You and all that You have for me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Knowing

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.  Philippians 3:10

Five weeks ago, I sat down on the couch to read my Bible…and couldn’t get back up.  I could feel my lower back tightening up the longer I sat there and when I tried to stand, pain began shooting through the bottom half of my body.  I admit a strong stubborn streak (not a godly character quality, I know), so I waited 5 days before seeing the doctor.  I could barely walk into his office and after a number of chiropractor visits, an MRI, ibuprofen, ice, heat, hot tubs, hot showers, and hot baths…I can still barely walk.  The official diagnosis is a herniated disc…basically, the little discs that cushion your vertebrae are fluid-filled.  One of mine has slipped out of its happy little spot, is leaking fluid and is pressing on a nerve (which is what is causing most of the pain, most of the time).

As I’ve been struggling to deal with the pain and continue doing all the things I need to do to keep our home running, I’ve been waiting for God to show me the purpose in all of this.  For 5 weeks, I’ve been certain that something good was going to come out of all of this…some special ministry, some special blessing…something good.  I have been getting through each day by clinging to the hope that God was going to show me something good in the middle of something bad.

This morning, I tried to join my family at church.  Halfway through worship, I could barely feel my feet and my pain was stealing my focus and attention.  As our pastor began to teach, my husband saw the tears rolling down my cheeks and told me he was going to take me home.  Sobbing as I hobbled out to the car, I felt cheated.  I wanted to be with my church family…was tired of being isolated …wanted to participate in my life.  Hubs got me comfortable at home and went back to church for the kids.  Desperate to understand, confused, angry, frustrated…I crawled out of bed and onto my face on the floor…begging God to have mercy on me, to help me understand.

I love how willing God is to speak to us.  I hate that I wait so long to talk to Him sometimes.  Not that I haven’t talked to him about my back pain and struggles…I have!  But, as I look back over these last few weeks, I realize that most of what I’ve been talking to Him about is what I think I need and what I think He might be doing.  My focus has been on seeing something good…

…not knowing Someone good.

And that’s what God gently showed me this morning.  That my heart’s desire has been to see something awesome, see something special, see something good coming out of a bad situation.  And sometimes He doesn’t let us see things that way.

I don’t feel chastised for what I’ve been longing for…just for wanting it more than God.  It isn’t wrong to look for silver linings and the blessing of ministry.  It isn’t wrong to look for evidence of God at work in our lives.

But those things are a distant second to seeking God Himself.

Here’s the challenge I’m left with (and so are you, friend):  is God enough for me?

If He never heals my back–if I continue this earthly life with chronic pain–is knowing God and that He is good…is that enough for me?  If I never see anything good come out of this suffering, can I come to know Him so intimately that I trust Him with it, knowing that His every thought toward me is of good?

You see, we can’t fully trust God if we aren’t seeking to fully know Him, too.  To know His character, to know His Word, to know His promises.  And while part of our knowledge is certainly based on what we see of God in the world around us, a greater intimacy comes from being enveloped in His presence.  If our relationship with God is based on one mountain top experience after another, one amazing worship service after another, one ministry opportunity after another…we become conditioned to expect these things more and more often.  And then we are disappointed and feel disconnected from Him when they are absent.  And that is where I found myself this morning–disappointed.  But, if our relationship is simply based on knowing Him, being in His presence, inviting Him to make Himself at home in our hearts…then we begin to have an honest, intimate relationship with Him.  And that’s where I want to be…intimately connected to Him.

So, I write this in a new posture.  I still seek healing.  I still desire goodness to come from the suffering.  I still want this to somehow bless someone else.  But more than that, I want to really, really know God in a different way.  To experience His presence in a deeper way.  To trust in His promises for me in a new, more faith-filled way.  To have greater intimacy with Him.

And I want that for you, too, friend.  I want you to know God in a more intimate way.  Whatever you are struggling with, whatever obstacles you are facing, seek God.  Seek to do more than just see God…seek to know Him, know His character and promises.  Seek to walk with Him and talk with Him through each day.  Surrender yourself to the intimacy of a life lived in knowing Him.

Lord, I want to know You…really, really know You.  I desire healing, I desire mercy…but more than that, I desire You.  Help me to trust in You and Your promises.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Sufficiency

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

It’s been building for months–the perfect storm of inconveniences.  Our girls are all in school this year, I started teaching part-time, Hubs’ job has had ultra-stressful days and weeks, and our Boy is smack dab in the middle of the terrible two tantrums.  Our predictable family routine has changed…dramatically.  We’ve gone from homeschooling to out-of-home schooling.  We no longer have an adult at home all day to take care of the details of our life.  Togetherness isn’t something we can take for granted and we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the values and belief system we feel called to.  It’s been…hard.

And I know that God has been building us, strengthening us, preparing us for this season.  All those sleepless nights with colicky babies, all the potty training, all the disciplining, all the juggling of temperaments and tempers…and we’re still learning.  We are not in this season completely unprepared.  We are stronger because of this decade of parenting.  I know that God is working in and through us and has so many more blessings for us as individuals and as a family.

But this season is still hard.

I cannot count the number of nights that I’ve begged God for help:  Help us, Lord.  Give us strength.  Give us Your peace.  Help us to love each other better.  Help me to understand…give me Wisdom.  Give me JESUS…  To be completely honest, I’ve also begged God to make things different:  Let me bring the girls back home.  Release me from my responsibilities at school.  Let me go back to focusing solely on my family.  Can I sleep in just one morning?! 

I feel so weak, so lacking, so impoverished in spirit.  I know how to mother as a stay-at-home, homeschooling, diapering, dish-washing, laundering, mopping mom.  I don’t know how to mother as a caravaning, hyper-scheduled, multi-tasking to the hilt mom.  This feels like a desert and sometimes I wonder if we would all be better off back in Egypt–though we certainly weren’t slaves:)

So back to the begging and pleading…  It’s probably come mostly in the form of a complaint.  Not a lot of gratitude, but a fair amount of attitude.  God is faithful to listen and remind me to be grateful for all that I do have.  He has also pressed this question into me:  Am I enough?

Is He?

Is He enough?  If I never really get comfortable with our new schedule and routine, can I be comfortable in Him?  If I never learn how to get the kids to school on time without losing my temper, can I continue to learn patience from the ultimate Long Sufferer?  If  my son throws five tantrums a day for the next year, can I use my lips (and this keyboard) to bless and praise the Lord?  Is He enough for me?

I love the verse above.  I love that God wanted us all to know that even amazing, teaching, preaching, missionary Paul struggled.  He felt weak.  He begged God to relieve him from a thorn in his side.  And what was God’s answer?  God is sufficient.

He is everything and anything I need or will ever need.  He. is. enough.

Paul came to praise God for His weaknesses because in the weakness of who he was, a failing human, God was made greater.  God’s strength becomes so obvious when our weaknesses are exposed.  Look at what Paul lists:  infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, distresses.  I can think of at least one thing for each of those categories in my own life!  Rather than complaining and dreading the “inconveniences” of my present circumstances, I should be rejoicing!  Why?  Because as Paul says, in my weaknesses, in my lacking, in my poverty of spirit–Christ is exalted.

So tomorrow will be another challenge.  I will most certainly fail in a variety of areas.  I won’t have enough energy, time, patience, talent,  or ability to get through the day.  But I know a wonderful Father-God who does.  I know He is enough.  For me, for my husband, for my children, for friends and family, for every situation I encounter. 

He is enough.


gps

Before I became a Christian, gave my heart fully, completely to Him, I never considered that I might be lost.  Wandering.  Searching.  I made plans, made decisions, made my own way.  If things didn’t work out, I looked to whatever frame of reference was comfortable–family morals, societal norms, peer influences–to help me find my way back to the path that I had decided was correct for me.  It was off my radar to consider that the very path I was on was really just a twisting, turning dead-end with interesting scenery.

But once I came to Christ, my eyes (and heart) were slowly opened to the fact that I was indeed very, very lost.  Over time, God led me to the path He had planned for me.  Not without some resistance on my part, of course– I am human and often have to be (firmly) reminded that this life is not always about being comfortable and never about being in control.  But God is so faithful and gentle…

Today, I was heading back home from Indy, meandering through downtown.  Halfway home, I enjoyed the fact that I had not once felt lost or panicked as we drove down one-ways and snaked through detours.  I never hesitated to turn down a new street, cut across an unfamiliar neighborhood or find myself on the “wrong” side of the tracks.  It used to frighten me to be lost while driving.  It was important to always have maps and an atlas in the glove compartment.  I had trained myself to be an excellent navigator so being lost was less probable. 

But I was driving in a foreign city, four kids giggling in the back seats, no maps, no atlas.  What made me so calm and relaxed?

GPS.  We affectionately call her “Garmina” and the kids love the British accent we chose for her.  Our GPS system helps us find street addresses, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and some pretty fun points of interest.  We never get lost.  Garmina has helped us navigate our way to some fairly tricky destinations.  Today, I let her guide me through the city to our multiple destinations and when we were done, I hit my favorite button…home.  45 minutes later, we were pulling into the driveway.

That is how God’s path differs from others.  He is the best GPS.  He always knows exactly where we are, what our surroundings are, what the best route is.  Any other path is just a twisting, turning road to destruction.  And His path may lead us down new streets of opportunity, new neighborhoods of need or what appears to be the “wrong” side of situations.  But we are never, ever lost with God.  We are never in the wrong situation, with the wrong people, under the wrong influences…when we allow Him to be our Navigator.

And He knows the way home.

Father, Thank You for guiding me, for leading me, for taking away my fears.  Help me to follow close after You, chasing after all You have planned for me.  And lead me home–to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


The Other Side of the Sign

Last Sunday, Hubs and I participated in a “cardboard testimony” skit during worship.  We also shared with a different crowd last Saturday at an outdoor Agape Praise Fest for our community.  If you’ve never seen a cardboard testimony, it is worth searching YouTube to see just one.  It’s a powerful way to share what sin, struggle, or circumstance you once battled and how God has rescued and redeemed your life.  When we were asked to participate, I knew almost immediately what I was supposed to share, though it took a few weeks for me to get comfortable with the idea of standing up in front of a crowd.  Normally, I work very hard to stay out of the spotlight–I’m just more comfortable behind the scenes, taking care of details.  But, we try to adhere to the rule of thumb that it’s important to share when someone asks us to tell our “God story.” 

The first side of my sign had one word on it and it’s a word that I heard over and over and over again growing up.  It’s a word that children and adults alike used to define me.  It’s a word that could have taken root in my belief system and effectively destroyed any chance of hope rising within.

That word is “ugly.”

It was an everyday word for me.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Someone called me ugly every day of my childhood.  Usually the mean kids on the bus or on the playground.  Occasionally, an adult would use that word to describe me, too.  It always hurt.  It always stung.  It always made me feel unloved and unwanted.  My high school Biology teacher told me in a private conference that I should make my peace with the idea that I would never marry or have children–who would find me attractive?  And, that I should instead pour myself into a career or cause to save myself the heartache of being rejected.  A guy I worked with at my first real job told me that I made such good tips waitressing because all my customers felt sorry for me, not because I was good at my job.  I wasn’t popular, I ate lunch alone fairly often, and had only a couple of real, true friends.

But I did have hope.  Even before I trusted my life to Christ and fell in love with the way He loves me, I had an understanding that pity was not the road for me.  My parents had some role in teaching me that, but I can see so clearly now that God was reaching for me, drawing me in, saving my life.  Once I accepted that Jesus was Lord, I found purpose and meaning and belonging.  He wanted me, cherished me, delighted in me.  The joy of that knowledge was overwhelming…

And it wasn’t just that I understood that He loves me.  He has made everything beautiful…and that includes me.  I may not be beautiful to anyone else, but I am beautiful to Him and that made me love Him all the more.

So, the other side of my sign simply says, “God says beautiful.”  And He does.  And I am…but, not because of who I am.  Because of who He is.

I’m so grateful for the other side of that sign!  For His love for me–for us all!  That He would rescue me from despair and redeem me, a sinner, for His purposes…truly amazing.

My husband held up a sign Sunday, too.  He only wrote on one side.  After I turned over my sign, “God says beautiful,” he stood next to me holding our son and a sign that simply said, “And so do we.”

We know that people wonder in their minds and hearts how our marriage works…how a man can not only love a woman who looks like I do, but desire her as well.  And the answer is probably confounding to someone outside of Christ because it is a work of Christ.  On the day we married, the love I saw in my husband’s eyes erased every hurtful, wounding, disrespectful lie anyone had ever said to me.  Not only does God love me, but He provided the perfect husband for me and is allowing me the privilege to serve as his wife.  And my husband feels privileged as well.  We believe that we have been created to serve Jesus together.  We believe that one of our highest callings is simply to love one another and our children.  God will do the rest.  So, while we know that on some level we are being used as a tool, as an example, as a witness—our greatest witness is to each other.

After we all held up our signs, one of the men from our skit shared for just a few minutes…about all of us being able to live on the other side of the sign.  We can do that, you know.  Though we may have the wounds and transgressions of our life before Christ, He has more for us.  Sin may have once defined us, but now the truth of God’s love for us is our definition.

As you read this, my prayer is that you are able to live fully as who God has intended for you to be….by His definition.  May we rejoice in the other side of our signs…in the power of His redemptive work and His grace.

Jesus, thank You for hope.  Thank You for grace.  Thank You for Your plan.  Thank You.  Amen.


Change

I listened for what seemed like the hundredth time to her biting comments.  She couched them in what appeared to be truth, but it was really only what truth looked like through her own myopic lens.  She had tunnel vision and only wanted to see what she wanted to see.  She had been hurt and it was understandable, this stubborn grip she maintained on the faults of others.  But, it was wearing to me.  And, it was damaging her witness.  I half-listened, half lifted her heaven-ward, waiting for the verbal storm to pass.  My thought-prayer went something like, “Lord, do you hear this?  Do you see this?  I’m tired of this ranting, tired of feeling offended for another and wanting to defend instead of love.  Why is she always like this?  Can’t you just release me from this situation?  She’s never going to let this go!  I’m never going to get through to her…”

And the conviction was swift and immediate:  Never going to change?  Never?  Are you giving up so easily?  Do you not believe that I, who made every good change in your heart, can also bring change to her?  Don’t you believe that My love through you can and will matter?

(Gulp–me, swallowing my pride)  I need to believe that everyone–no matter how hard-hearted–can change.  I need to believe that because it was (and still is) true for me.  I am not the same person I was before Christ.  I am different because He loves me.  He accepts me.  He wants me.  He has purpose for me.  He wants better for me.

People can change.

People have changed. 

People will change.

We, as believers, must cling to that truth.  It is possible to become a new creature, to develop good habits, to be better husbands, wives, friends, neighbors, co-workers.  It’s possible to be a better parent, to be a better pastor, to be a better Bible teacher, to serve God more devotedly.  It’s possible to overcome life-consuming sin.  It’s possible to stop being a gossip, a liar, a thief.  It’s possible to attain wisdom, to become gentle, to speak the truth–lovingly.  All things are possible…

…through Christ.

This is change we really, really CAN believe in.  In fact, we cannot believe this to be true of ourselves without also believing it to be true of others.  We cannot allow ourselves to categorize and compartmentalize others.  Our relationship with Christ is fluid–He never changes, but, we do.  We have this tremendous opportunity to be molded daily into a better representation of Christ, of agape love.

I’m so challenged by this.  Convicted.  And hopeful.  I can change the way I see others.  I can believe the best about them, while still knowing the worst.  Because Jesus knows the worst about me and still believes the best.

Father, thank You for believing the best about us all.  Thank You for correcting me.  Help me to see the good in others.  Help me to believe that we can all change, that we can all be more like You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


He Sees

People notice me.  I can’t blame them.  Who wouldn’t turn and look at someone…different.  Some days I feel

awkward
self-conscious
brave
intimidated
intimidating
holy
lowly
ugly
proud
ill-equipped
self-reliant
judgmental
inferior
blessed
confessed
like escaping
overwhelmed
underwhelmed
treasured
worthless
…exposed

I try to control what is seen. My mannerisms, my walk, my talk. Anything to draw attention away from the obvious. Humor is a good weapon. So is kindness. Anger and resentment are not, I’ve learned. They both feed the root of bitterness.

But He sees me.

All of me.  Past the humor or anger, past the way I talk and what I say, past the way I carry myself and promote myself.  (Past my pride.)

He sees me.

He sees the me that was…before Christ, before redeeming grace, before transformation.  He sees that ugliness, that unattractiveness.  He sees the me I am today…alive in Christ, redeemed, accepted, made new, made clean.  Washed in beautiful grace.  He also sees the me I will be…taking on the beauty of Christ.  Becoming more like Him will make me…beautiful.

He can make you beautiful, too.  No matter the scars or stains of sin.  No matter the physical wounds or marks, no matter the bruises of ego or experience.  He can make you beautiful.  Turn to Him.  Receive Him.  Today.  Now.  Let the grace wash over you and make you clean.  Confess your need for saving and begin again. 

I am praying, carrying you, dear Reader to the heart of Jesus.  Be made new as I have.  Be made truly beautiful…He sees you.

He sees you.

He sees you.


Why We Need The Light…

Taking a little bloggy break to vacation with my family.  Re-running some of my favorites from the past three years.  Enjoy!  Be back with memories and photos to share soon!

(Originally posted May 26, 2009)

Our power went out Sunday night. Word on the street was that a foil balloon got caught in some power lines a few streets over causing sparks to fly. But, that’s the word from a nine year old…the same nine year old who may or may not believe Spider Man is an actual career choice.

Anyway.

We had a house full of little people–a few extras tossed into our usual gang for an impromptu sleepover–and no power. So, we sent them out to the backyard to launch their latest, greatest imaginary play. If you live near me, I’m sure you could hear the ruckus several blocks away. Charlie took our Crab-Boy for a walk to try to soothe his aching gums and ears while I attempted to clean up from a very busy weekend. It was twilight so I knew the light was fading. I also knew that with extra people in the house, some degree of cleanliness was required.

First, I opened all the curtains and doors to capture as much light as possible and then decided to work from the darkest areas to the lightest, picking up and putting away as quickly as I could manage. Though I was interrupted here and there with requests for drinks and the need to steer the girls’ play-acting in a different direction (No, there are no vampire bats in the neighborhood and please stop including that as part of your story-line–you’re scaring your sisters!), I managed to get quite a bit done…or so I thought.

The power finally came back on just as I had lit all the candles and was calling the kids in to get ready for bed. We turned on lights and the result of my efforts was apparent. Though obvious things we in their proper places–toys in bins and baskets, laundry in the hamper, dishes in the dishwasher–the tables and counters I had wiped down were streaky and still dirty and I had missed several items lurking in once dark corners of the house. The house was only half clean and therefore appeared to still be all dirty.

It got me thinking about how important light is…it illuminates our surroundings. Not only that but it drives away the mystery of darkness. Basically, you can’t hide in the light.

And Jesus said He is the Light of the world…hmmm.

It’s a good example to think through. As believers, we probably all know folks who are living in darkness. Even if they don’t agree. It’s so important that we keep perspective. Just like my housekeeping efforts, God doesn’t want us to try to clean ourselves up in fading light, missing obvious filth and sin. He wants to illumine our souls–to show us the absolute ridiculousness of our situation. He wants us to understand that we, in our own efforts and under our own power, cannot possibly make ourselves clean. And then He gets to work cleansing us completely. There are no streaky counter tops or missed clutter. Our lives take on a shine and an orderliness that is impossible without Jesus Christ.

Since our powerless hours Sunday evening I’ve been thinking a lot about why Jesus calls Himself the Light of the world. And about how dark our world is becoming. It’s twilight, I think. The Light is fading in our culture and God is calling us to let Him shine brightly through us to a lost and hurting world. It’s challenging. Part of me wants to hunker down and stay blind to the world around me. It’s a scary place full of scary ideals and sinful behavior. It’s getting worse and worse each year. But, I think about how life changing it was to have the Light of God’s love shine into the darkness of my own soul and how grateful I am that others were willing to be used in such a way that I came to understand how valuable I am to God and what lengths He will go to rescue me. And I want to be in that Light, working to make a bright place for others.

Light of the world, shine through me and in me. Make me useful for Your kingdom. Be glorified in all I do and say today and everyday. In Your name, Amen.


Power Steering

Taking a little bloggy break to vacation with my family.  Re-running some of my favorites from the past three years.  Enjoy!  Be back with memories and photos to share soon!

(Originally posted February 11, 2009)

Today has been…challenging. I want to say “bad,” but I’m trying to work on that whole negative attitude thing.

Last night at Bible study, I asked my sisters to keep me accountable for my quiet time. I’ve been on auto-pilot for awhile and the effects of that are invading other areas of my life and affecting other people. As the alarm went off this morning, I (too) easily decided to turn it off and roll over to my pillow instead of getting up to pray and read my Bible as planned. Then I heard a crash from somewhere in the house. I jumped out of bed, thinking one of the girls had fallen out of bed or down the stairs. Fortunately, it was just the mirror over our bathroom sink that had fallen somehow. I got the message clearly though. “Okay, Lord, I’m coming. Let’s talk this morning.”

And, if you’ve ever found yourself in the dangerous position of coasting spiritually, you know the thoughts that come and go in your mind: I’m okay. I’m going to church and Bible study. I’m listening to praise music in the car. I’m praying with the kids at night. God understands that I’m a busy mom and I don’t really have the energy to get up early in the morning. Those are dangerous thoughts because they put you in a defensive position, trying to justify your inactivity. It’s far better to be on the offense–eagerly pressing into the Lord and all He has for you.

Anyway, I got my day started in the Word and prayer, though it wasn’t a particularly energetic or motivated heart that was participating. Still, I had faith that God would meet me where I was and change me. Emma and Ruthie had piano lessons this morning, so after dropping them off, the younger two and I did the dreaded monthly trip to Wal-Mart and headed back to pick up the big girls. Halfway there, I heard a thump and then lost the power steering. Then the temperature light came on and the dash started flashing all sorts of warning lights and dinging at me. I pulled onto the berm to be safe and turned the van off so it wouldn’t overheat. I knew we needed to get home, but I had to pick the girls up first. Olivia and I prayed that we would make it to the piano lesson teacher’s house and our home safely. And we did. I have the sore biceps to prove it! Have you ever driven a car without power steering? It could be an Olympic event, I tell you. It was scary not knowing if I had enough strength to turn corners safely. Or, to think that if I had to swerve to avoid another car, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.

And once we were home and I had time to think about it, I realized that coasting spiritually is a lot like trying to drive without power steering. You can still drive the car, but it’s hard. Really, really hard. And, if you drive your car very long without power steering, the battery doesn’t receive a charge and your car will eventually die. Same thing with God. If you spend too much time trying to accomplish your own will and way, eventually you won’t be in touch with the Ultimate Power Source. Too many days I’ve tried to steer my own ship, plot my own course, use the wisdom and mind God has given to me for my own selfish desires, instead of looking to Him and letting His power flow through me and navigate me safely through the day. It’s a tough lesson, but one I’m thankful to learn and hopeful that it won’t need repeating!

Thanks, Lord…for waking me up this morning. For Your Word. For safety on the road. For reminding me to let You guide and lead me. And for giving Charlie the wisdom to know how to easily repair the van for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


SAHM I Am

Taking a little bloggy break to vacation with my family.  Re-running some of my favorites from the past three years.  Enjoy!  Be back with memories and photos to share soon!

(Originally posted May 7, 2007)

My brother-in-law e-mailed me a news story last week from Reuters stating that a recent study guesses that a stay-at-home-mom (sahm for short) would earn $138,095 doing the same work outside the home.

$138, 095. Wow. I think I’d settle for even 10% of that!

When Emma was born, my ideas about returning to work began warring with the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. I did return to work briefly, but I remember standing in our bedroom one morning, knowing that I was on the precipice of a dangerous decision. I could continue working and we would have a little extra money each month, or I could stay at home and give our daughter a life here. I knew that ten years down the road I would look back on our decision and either rejoice in obedience or regret my disobedience. It really only took a few seconds to make the choice. Leaving her each morning was excruciating and as much as I enjoyed my job, it wasn’t my passion in life. It would be tight financially but we figured out ways to cut expenses.

At first, I felt sort of strange being home. Emma was an easy baby and we fell into a routine quickly. I started exploring cooking and home keeping and found that, despite the liberal teachings of many of my college professors, I truly enjoyed making a pleasant home for my husband and child. I had found one of God’s callings in my life. I became more comfortable with my new position and gave up trying to justify why I had a college degree and wasn’t pursuing a career. I loved being in step with God’s plan for me and my family.

Sixteen months after answering God’s call to stay home, little Ruthie was born. Money got a little…okay, a lot!…tighter. I remember wondering how we were going to afford a winter coat for Emma, praying about it and receiving not one but two winter coats for her on the same day. Another time, we had .89 to hold us until payday and had just run out of milk. Our good friend Carol happened to stop by to visit and brought us a gallon of milk because she thought we could use it. God was so faithful in meeting each and every need (and sometimes even our wants) at the exact moment we truly needed something. We never went hungry or cold or without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

And then, along came sweet Olivia 3 1/2 years after our decision for me to stay home. Somehow, the money keeps stretching and stretching. Somehow, we still make our mortgage payments and fill our pantry and put gas in the cars and clothes on our backs. Rather, I should say, the Lord does all those things for us. I have no idea how we will be able to save for college or pay for their weddings. How we will pay off our debts or even pay our bills next month. But what I know of the Lord is that He is so very faithful. I don’t have to know how those things are going to be paid for. He owns cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and has all our financial details worked out. To be certain, we must be obedient with our resources, but not slaves to them.

So, SAHM I am and I love it. I love knowing that my kids can sleep in or stay up late if we’re doing something fun. I have loved learning every little detail of their lives. I love knowing we can say “yes” when someone calls in the middle of the day with a need. I love that my girls’ friends can come over to play in the middle of the day. We can’t afford to take them on vacations or buy a brand new van. My kids wear hand-me-downs and eat spagetti-o’s once a week. We don’t buy them many birthday or Christmas gifts. But, we believe that we are giving them other intrinsic gifts. Maybe the best gift: parents who want to obey the Lord, no matter the cost.

Do I think what I do is worth $138, 095? Nah…sometimes I burn dinner or don’t make it at all. Charlie had to wash his own clothes today. The trash is overflowing and our showers need scrubbed. Some days I complain all day about my chores and my lack of “down time.” Some days we don’t read any books but watch 2-3 videos instead. I lose my temper, I can be grouchy, moody and temperamental. But, I also know no one else could do what I do. No one else could love this man and these children the way I do. God didn’t give anyone else the heart and compassion to do this job. I would give all I own for the continued privilege of knowing and loving and serving them all. Thank you, Lord!