24Oct

To Him who is able…

exceedingly above

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” -Ephesians 3:20

There is so much encouragement to pull from this verse, but it is especially comforting to me in times of disappointments. Sometimes, I have a plan, a dream, or a wish. A way that I think would be the best for myself and/or my family. Something I really want. And sometimes what we get seems to be the opposite. Have you ever experienced times like that?

In those times of disappointments, I am reminded of this. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

God’s best is beyond my wildest imaginations. And sometimes God steps in to protect us from ourselves, from our limited view of this life, and from settling for second best. 

If you’ve been around this blog for a bit, you know about our deep longing to live in the country, and that we can’t purchase a place for 3 yearsSo, renting it is. In our small tiny town, there is not a large selection of homes for rent, and even less that are in the country. We’ve only seen 1 come available in the entire 2 years we’ve lived here!

Well, last night my husband came home to tell me that there is a place in the country for rent. Similar rent (actually $25 less), 6 miles out of town, about 1/4 mile down a gravel road, so not right on the highway, and has a garage, etc. Only 2 bedrooms, but our boys happily share a bedroom now, so that would be fine. It seemed perfect. I called and set up an appointment to see it, and went to bed last night excitedly thinking about how great of a birthday present it would be for us to love this house and be able to rent it.

This morning I woke up and the woman called to let me know that she had second thoughts and no longer wants to rent to a family with children.

Bummer! I will be honest and say that I was (and am) terribly disappointed.

She ended up calling back and we are going to meet with her and look at the place, so the door is still open that it could possibly happen.

But, regardless of what happens with this or other situations in which things don’t go my way, I know that I can trust that God knows best. Always. And His ways are best. Even if it may not feel like it to us, with our limited perspective, I trust Him and His sovereignty.

Truly, so much pressure is removed when we come to accept and rest in the sovereignty of God!

My prayer for you today is that if things don’t seem to be going your way, that you would lean into Him. Trust in Him, and know that He is able to do far above our expectations or plans.

His way is always best.

02Oct

All Christians Should Be Missionaries

Missionary man holds his bible with interlocked fingers to pray.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting every Christian should move to Africa, or some other far away place. Sometimes, we make things too complicated.

We see missionaries who are sent out into the far reaches of the world, those who are risking their lives, and even those who are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people both in our nation and abroad.

Missionaries must be great. And we don’t feel great

I recently had a conversation with my 5 year-old about this. We were discussing how daddy missed the Independence Day celebration with us last year because he was on a mission trip.

My 5 year old said, “Only missionaries can go on a mission trip.”

Sometimes, in their innocence, little kids just get so real. Because I think that’s what a lot of Christians think. That only “special people” can go on mission trips or serve.

  1. That only those called to the mission field or ministry have the ability to spread the gospel message; and
  2. That only those called to the ministry or to be missionaries have the responsibility to spread the gospel message.

The truth is that we all have both the ability, and the responsibility to spread the good news of Christ.

At dictionary.com, a missionary is defined as:

1. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.
2. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.

3. a person who is sent on a mission.

The first part of that definition is the one that typically comes to mind when we think of a missionary. However, the second and third parts are equally valid and important. As Christians, we have the most important information ever in the world, and it needs to be shared.

More importantly, we have all been sent on a vital mission. Jesus said,  

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
-Matthew 28:19-20

We may not all be called to foreign missions or to full time ministry, but we are called and equipped to spread the good news of ChristWe owe it to people around us to share the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15)

In that conversation with my son I mentioned earlier, a few minutes later he said that there was a little boy he spoke with one day who said that God isn’t powerful.

I asked him, “Did you tell him that God is powerful?”
He replied, “Yes, but he didn’t believe me.”
I said, “See, Logan, you were kind of being a missionary right then–you were telling somebody the truth about God.
He shook his head, “But that was before I even knew about missionaries.”

Again, the child gets to the heart of it. It was before he even knew about missionaries. Sometimes we Christians can get bogged down with Christianese. We have a special vocabulary for everything. And if we don’t know the right terms it must not count.

If I’m talking to God, I must not be doing it right, unless I call it prayer.

If I’m praying for others, I must not really be doing it if I don’t know about “intercessory prayer.”

And if I’m witnessing, it must not really matter unless I know about missionaries and ministry terms.

But the truth is, a lot of our Christianese doesn’t come from the Bible at all, they are just man-made terms to describe and define things we do.

So, I want to say…whether you know about missionaries or not, whether you are called to go to Africa, or into the ministry…or not, we all have a responsibility to our neighbors to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.

Please know that I am not in any way trying to undermine the amazing efforts of those who we typically think of as missionaries. Those extraordinary people who are dying to self daily, and who are risking their lives to share truth with a dying world. I am not trying to undervalue their efforts. Maybe they deserve to have a special title that is all their own.

But maybe, sometimes we use that special title as an excuse to sit in our comfy homes and leave the serving and witnessing to others. Because “it’s their calling and not ours.” But that’s where we are wrong. The fact is that we are all called to die to self, follow Him and serve others. We all have a responsibility to share the friend and savior we have with a world that is dying without Him. Every single one of us.

23Sep

Do the Hard things

Hard things

I remember a time when I was about 11. It was in the summer and one of the rare times we ever went to a pool. I couldn’t swim well, and was very scared of the water. I’d never really been around it except 1-2 times of going to a creek and 1-2 times of going to the public pool for an end of the summer pool party with a local day camp.

This was at one of those parties. I don’t know how I got talked up onto the diving board, but I did. I was terrified. My knees were shaking so badly I thought I might just go ahead and fall in. Once I was out there, there was a line of kids waiting on the step, so there was no turning back. If a person could wish herself out of existence, I would have done it right then.

I should go ahead and tell you that my uncle was there waiting for me, promising to catch me when I jumped. But I was still scared. I stood there for what felt like an eternity with tears streaming down my cheeks. Finally, I took what must have been the smallest step ever.

But I did it.

True to his word, my uncle caught me. And I felt a thrill, that exhilaration, that only happens when you do something you didn’t think you could do.

I immediately ran to an adult who was very close to me. Someone whose approval I desperately craved but never could seem to get. I said, with all of the enthusiasm of an 11 year old girl, “Are you proud of me? I did it!”

This person looked at me with hard eyes and said, “No. It took you a long time and you cried. Why would I be proud of that?”

Those words deflated me, and had a lasting effect.

I learned to be safe.

I learned not to do anything hard because I could fail. It might be too hard. It might take too long. And I might cry a little in the process.

Basically I learned never to try. I spent the following years doing only things that were comfortable. Things that were easy. Things that were sure. I suffered a lot of pain and missed opportunity because of fear. Fear of falling short. Fear of disappointing. Fear of failure.

But I have learned that this person was wrong. So very wrong. Because it’s the hard things that matter most. 

I wish I could go back and look my 11 year old self in the eyes and tell that broken-hearted girl that she didn’t fail.

Failure is when you give up. When you hide away and don’t even try.

Sometimes, failure can even look like success. All those years that I succeeded because I didn’t let myself try anything hard. I never failed because I never tried and that is the biggest failure of all. 

I wish I could go back and tell my child self that those hard-won battles are the ones that matter. Those moments of pushing through even when we have no idea of the outcome and are scared to death. Those are the moments that define us.

And I am tired of being defined by fear.

This week, I am jumping off that diving board again.

All my life, I have dreamed of being a traditionally published author. It took me nearly 30 years to even admit that out loud, because I was so scared of how big that was.  And so scared of the failure that could come from admitting a too-big dream. Still yet, I have allowed fear to hold me in a vice. I haven’t taken the steps needed to fully pursue the dream–writing, editing, submitting. I have avoided those things, because that would mean trying. And trying could mean failing.

But, I am done with that. This week I will be in St. Louis, joining with hundreds of fellow writers and industry professionals at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. A very expensive, real push toward pursuing that dream. I’m going by myself without really knowing anyone, and it is so far out of my comfort zone, it’s not even funny.

It’s hard. It’s scary. And there is a good chance that I could fail.

But it won’t be because I’m hiding.

11Sep

A Picture of Serving Joyfully

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

What does it look like to serve our families with a joyful spirit?

I started this blog 2 years ago, and titled it “Serving Joyfully” because that is the longing of my heart. I believe the Lord called me to be a keeper of the home. And I want to serve my family–not begrudgingly, but joyfully. 

I still have that desire, but I have to be honest and tell you that I haven’t mastered this just yet. Some days, things remain undone that need to be done. Some days, things are done, but with a poor attitude. I am a work in progress.

I have shared here before that I long for a simpler lifestyle. I feel a constant tension between the longing of my heart, and this modern world I am living in. I have been reading this book, Amish Values for Your FamilyIt is a fantastic book and one that I strongly recommend. I have no connection to this particular book, except that I purchased it and have really enjoyed it.

Amish Values

 

Anyway, when reading it a few nights ago, I read a particular story about laundry day for this Amish family. Everything was done by hand, and the process took hours, and was done in all different kinds of weather–the hottest of days, and the coldest of days. The author even mentioned that in some winter days the water would freeze up between loads. Overall, the process seemed like such an awful chore.

After years and years of this hard work, the district decided to allow gas-powered washing machines. The man of the house offered to buy one for Christmas.

My response would have been “Yes!” I would probably be elated, and ready to throw a party.

But not the mother in this story. She said no. Her husband reminded her that the machine would cut the job in half.

Her response: “As I wash those clothes, I use the time to pray for each one of my children. That’s not time I want cut in half.”

Wow. Just wow.

So humbling to see that response, and compare it to what I know mine would have been. And it reminded me of how far I have to go.

This woman and her response are the epitome of serving joyfully. She had an awful, inconvenient, tiresome chore. She could have dreaded it, begrudged it, and focused on the negative. She would have had a crabby attitude that would rub off on her children, her husband, and her home.

But instead, she chose to serve her family, and her God, with a joyful and loving spirit. Such an inspiration.

The words from Colossians 3:23 are always so convicting to me, And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

The Lord is always there, and every single thing I do for my family, I should do joyfully, and heartily, as if I am doing it for Him…because I am.

Lord, I pray that you will give me a heart of love, selflessness, and service for my family. When I am in the midst of the mundane tasks of homemaking and parenting, I pray that the fruits of the Spirit would reign in my heart. I pray that I wouldn’t see chores as burdensome, but would instead have a heart of thanksgiving, and joy as I serve my family, and serve you through them. Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy that is new each morning. Amen.

Sharing my quiet time thoughts today with Good Morning Girls :)

Blogging-through-bible-with-GMG-button-300x300

 

 

04Sep

When All Else Fails…He Won’t

Perfect Peace

The word of God is powerful. It is convicting, encouraging, comforting, and alive. God’s word can meet us where we are in any moment to provide exactly what we need. If we will only come to Him through His word.

Last week, I shared the above image (minus the verse which I added later), on my facebook page and asked the community to share one word that comes to mind. The responses were so inspiring and fun to read!

This image kept coming back to me throughout the week.

I can just see an elderly women with this well-worn Bible in her hands.

It is well-worn because she has turned to God’s word in many times of need, and it has carried her through many trials. Times of grief and sorrow, fear and uncertainty. Death, despair, financial problems. Regardless of what you are going through…there is a verse for it. 

I have been visiting a new church over the past few weeks where the pastor has been talking about trials and hardships and how we need those times, for so many reasons. But we can only get the full benefit from them as we draw nearer to Him. I am not saying that we should only turn to God and His word in times of hardship. Absolutely not.

We should be in His word daily, for so many different reasons. But, what I am saying is that when those times of sorrow and despair come, His word is there to sustain us. God should be the very first place we turn to in such times–through prayer and reading His word.

When I saw this image, my word was “peace.”

Peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:6-7). I love the verse, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.” (Isaiah 26:3). It is so true. If our mind is kept on Him, focused on Him…we can’t have anything else but peace. 

Paul calls us to set our minds on things above, and not on earthly things. That is the only guaranteed way to have peace in this life. Because the trials of this world are so small compared to the greatness and glory of God. When we focus on Him and His glory, and trust in His sovereignty, and know that we are held firmly in the palm of His hands, no matter what hardships and trials come our way…then we are kept in His perfect peace.

Because no matter the trial, He is there. He is still on His throne, and “it is well with my soul.”

When all else fails, He never will. And we can rest in that. 

 

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