Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you and your fam­ily from ours. May this year be filled with great joy, hope, grace, peace, and love. May the Sav­ior of your soul shower you with bless­ings rich in His mercy. May you know His con­stant pres­ence in your days.

Espe­cially in the tri­als. And heartaches. And fears that creep in.

Lean on Him. Rest in Him. Hope in Him. He never dis­ap­points. Never leaves you alone to your own devices and strength. He is Faith­ful and True. Always.

May you rejoice in His goodness.

Oh how great is Your good­ness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have pre­pared for those who trust in You in the pres­ence of the sons of men! Psalm 31:19

This year I hope to blog again. I have taken quite a long break from blog­ging. Mostly, my days have been filled with the busy-ness of life: Home­mak­ing, home­school­ing, run­ning a busi­ness, lov­ing my hus­band and chil­dren… The things this blog is about. And, I found myself liv­ing it more than writ­ing about it, although I did write count­less posts in my head. I also felt the great weight of putting my thoughts out there for pub­lic con­sump­tion. Words mat­ter. And I don’t want to take it lightly, although I also don’t want to take myself too seri­ously at the same time. 😉 It’s a strange mix­ture of thoughts swirling in my head.

But, I miss writ­ing. So, I want to write more. I have much to share, many thoughts to explore. We have embarked on some new adven­tures this past year, and have some more new things com­ing up in the new year. I hope to share those with you.

So, Happy New Year. Embrace it with joy. God is good.

Count it all Joy

Count it all Joy

Mike and I were talk­ing the other night as we drove home from some­where with the kids. We were talk­ing about joy, and how we feel so blessed that we see that joy abound­ing in our home with our chil­dren. We tried to fig­ure out what it is that brings that joy to such a level that we feel it most of the time in our home. It’s not like we have a rule that we have to be joy­ful or any­thing. We just feel it within our­selves, and we see it in our kids.

I mean, we know that Christ is the cen­ter of it all. We know that our joy comes from Him alone. We get that. But, we know other Chris­tians who love the Lord and have a faith­ful walk who seem to strug­gle in this area. We all have strug­gles, to be sure. But the joy seems like it should be cen­tral. We have been saved from death (in the eter­nal sense of the word)! That’s no small thing. How is it that we get bogged down by the insignif­i­cant daily events of life enough for it to steal joy from us? I sup­pose they daily events don’t seem insignif­i­cant at the time. Flood­ing bath­rooms (I should tell you that story some­time…), lay­offs, can­cer, dis­obe­di­ent chil­dren seem pretty insur­mount­able when you’re liv­ing in that moment. But, when we look at the big pic­ture, per­haps we can step back and look at Christ, at His amaz­ing gift to us in His per­fect sac­ri­fice on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins…then just maybe we can look past our fears and pains and headaches and see joy.

One of the things that came out in our con­ver­sa­tion is the con­cept of con­tent­ment. I sug­gested that maybe peo­ple are not con­tent with their lot in life. Moth­ers who stay home with their chil­dren to school them have signed up for a very dif­fi­cult and often thank­less task. We joke that I don’t get “employee of the month” or a spe­cial park­ing spot. I don’t get raises or bonuses or any other acco­lades to put on my resume. I get dirty dishes, piles of laun­dry, squab­bling sib­lings, and no-notice din­ner guests.

But I LOVE what I do. The Lord has been mer­ci­ful to open my eyes to the bless­ing that it is to be able to do what I do. I don’t always do it well. I have days that are real chal­lenges to me. I’ve sure you’ve heard the adage that the dirty dishes mean that you’ve had food to eat, the piles of laun­dry mean you have ample cloth­ing to wear, the squab­bling sib­lings mean that the Lord has seen fit to give you blessed chil­dren, and din­ner guests mean that you get to show the love of Christ to a stranger (and that you have a home to wel­come them into). So, what do we do with that understanding?

I remem­ber years ago when we had babies, I used to men­tally keep score over who changed more dia­pers than the other. I actu­ally said things like, “I changed 5 dia­pers in a row. It is *your* turn.” Or, when my hus­band came home from his very demand­ing job, I would hand him the baby and say that I was tired and tag, you’re it! I shud­der at that today! What was I think­ing? Who would want to come home to that? {He still came home faith­fully every­day and jumped right in to relieve me, in spite of my thank­less atti­tude.} I was not con­tent in my role as wife and mother. Don’t get me wrong. I loved being a wife and mother. But, I wanted the sto­ry­book edi­tion, not the real life, get your hands dirty edi­tion. When Emma was a baby, I decided that I was going to be the dia­per changer. Small thing, really, but to me at the time, it was pretty huge. From then on, I just took her and changed her. You know what? I ended up lov­ing that time with her. It became a very spe­cial time of bond­ing with her. I had joy in that task which I had kept score on  for 4 babies prior to her. I wish I had known this before I had my first child. I was miss­ing the gift! And the joy. I’m so thank­ful that the Lord opened my eyes.

Thank­ful­ness leads to con­tent­ment, which I believe leads to joy. When we strug­gle in this area, we ought to look around and remem­ber that God doesn’t have to give us any­thing. Christ Him­self most likely had way less mate­ri­ally when He walked the earth than most of us have. Yet, we think we need more: More time, more chil­dren, more help around the house, more clothes, more some­thing. We need to look around us at what God has given to us and count our bless­ings. Have you noticed how many stor­age units are out there? Peo­ple have so much junk that they have to pay a monthly fee to house it all some­where other than their house. The junk doesn’t bring con­tent­ment. It doesn’t feed the joy. It feeds more cov­et­ing and greed. It’s bondage.

I had the blessed priv­i­lege to chat with a friend today. We were dis­cussing the feel­ing of los­ing our joy. She is going through some pretty hard things, and she needed a friend to talk and pray with her. I gen­tly reminded her that God is not unaware of her heart’s desire for her future, her strug­gles of today, and her heartaches. God is sov­er­eign over her today and over her tomor­row. He is uniquely prepar­ing her for her future. The things she is bat­tling today are for her sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, to make her ready for what lies ahead. To teach con­tent­ment, to help her remem­ber that joy is from God alone. It’s one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. And I reminded her that she is loved. Not only by me, her fam­ily, and her church, but mostly by God. And so it is with all of us. We will be sifted, put through the Refiner’s fire, and sanc­ti­fied. Those are not easy processes. They hurt. They bring heartache for a time. But they pro­duce beauty. The dross is skimmed out. We are left more puri­fied, able to love more, serve more, radi­ate joy more.

We ought not be afraid of the tri­als that come to us. We need to walk in faith, not by sight. We can embrace what God has for us because He is per­fect, lov­ing, and all wise. He holds us in His gen­tle hand, those who call upon His name for sal­va­tion. Run to Him. Hold onto Him. He doesn’t judge you based on what you can do for Him. It isn’t about that. He judges us based on what His Son already did. We *do*because we love, not because we want to be loved. There is a huge dif­fer­ence in that. We can’t earn that love.

If you are read­ing this, and you have lost your joy, turn to Christ. I want to encour­age you to count your bless­ings, name them one by one, thank God for them (sounds oddly familiar…are you hum­ming along?). Be con­tent in what­ever state you are in. Pray that the Lord will restore your joy. Are you bur­dened by the very demand­ing job of rais­ing chil­dren? Tackle today. Don’t con­cern your­self with tomor­row or next week. Just do today the best you can. Light some sweet smelling can­dles, play some beau­ti­ful or fun music, smile at your chil­dren. And do today. Kiss your hus­band good­bye if he leaves for work, and greet him with another when he returns. Be thank­ful for this man you have covenanted with, even though he most likely isn’t per­fect. And mostly, pray that the Lord will get you through today with joy.

If you are read­ing this and you don’t know Christ, but are look­ing for joy and con­tent­ment and peace. I’d like to intro­duce you to the One who cre­ated all things, includ­ing you. He is the only place you will find peace, joy, con­tent­ment. For eternity.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

Feel free to email me or even leave a com­ment if you are strug­gling with any of this. I don’t believe any­one can force Chris­tian­ity on any­one. It’s a work of the Holy Spirit. But, I am happy to dis­cuss it with you, to show you where to find hope. As they say, “I’m a beg­gar show­ing another beg­gar where to find bread.”

I have a friend who is fight­ing a hor­ri­ble can­cer. The prog­no­sis doesn’t look good. It grieves me so incred­i­bly to watch her, mostly via Face­book, going through her bat­tle. But the thing that is so over­whelm­ing to me is see­ing how her faith has grown to such an incred­i­ble level. Her trust, her faith, her love for the Lord over­flows in her words. We are pray­ing for heal­ing, daily, not know­ing what the Lord is going to do with her life. But, we have com­plete con­fi­dence that her life is in His ever capa­ble hands. He is walk­ing with her in her val­ley. He is bol­ster­ing her faith. She is teach­ing so many impor­tant lessons to her chil­dren about faith and hope and trust. Mostly she’s teach­ing them about the faith­ful­ness of Jesus.

Let us there­fore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

He is giv­ing her mercy and grace in her time of need. I love this verse. We often won­der how we could go through a trial that some­one else is going through so well. “I could never go through that! She is such a great exam­ple! She has such strength!” Yes. Per­haps. But, we don’t need that strength and that par­tic­u­lar faith today to go through her trial. We receive that mercy in our time of need. But, we get our faith bol­stered by watch­ing the Lord work in the lives of those who are hav­ing grace rained down on them. He is real, liv­ing, com­pas­sion­ate, lov­ing. And He is personal.

May your day be filled with joy today. May you be con­tent wher­ever it is that God has you in this sea­son of your life. Let’s all learn to take the gift of today and be thank­ful. We have no promises of tomorrow.

Bless­ings to you!


The Hope That Never Disappoints

The Hope That Never Disappoints

Have you ever sat there and won­dered what on earth God is doing?

I mean, some things just don’t make sense.

Like long-necked giraffes and mos­qui­toes. At least the giraffes are cute, right?

Some days I just can’t make heads or tails of things.

Last week we got word from our friends from back when we were first hav­ing babies and liv­ing in Oki­nawa. Their 18 year old son died in a hor­ri­ble roll over acci­dent last week­end. His mom and brother were in the car with him, and they are fine. This young man was a fresh­man in col­lege, with great hopes for his future. And now he’s gone so sud­denly. We grieve with them, and just can’t seem to fig­ure out why. Other than the fact that we know that God is sov­er­eign and that He pre­or­dained the num­ber of his days before there was one of them, like He has done with all the rest of us, too.

And then, my mother called this week­end. To tell me that she has breast can­cer. They are going to be aggres­sive with her treat­ment. The words all ran together for me as she was shar­ing her med­ical terms and sit­u­a­tion. It was hard to digest every­thing that she was say­ing. But I did hear that it has spread to her lymph nodes. They are doing more tests, more scans, and plan to start chemo soon.

I know can­cer strikes so many peo­ple. It is an evil, wicked, curse from the fall. But, we have been mostly unscathed by can­cer in our fam­ily his­tory. And this seems to be a diag­no­sis that has come out of nowhere. We never saw this com­ing. But I sup­pose that nobody ever really sees it coming.

So we sit. And pray. And wait. And hope.

What else can we do? It’s at times like this that we real­ize how puny we are. How unable we are to ordain our days. How pow­er­less we are in the grand scheme of things. Life and death are not in our hands. Thank­fully, they are held care­fully by the One who cre­ated life.

I’m thank­ful that the Lord has opened our eyes and hearts to His truths and His love. We are able to cling to Him because we have the assur­ance that He hears us and loves us. It’s not an empty grasp­ing for some­thing, any­thing. I pic­ture Faith, in her sweet con­fi­dence run­ning to her daddy with open arms and a pucker on her lips for his cheek. That con­fi­dence she has that he loves her and will receive her with joy and com­plete accep­tance. That’s how we need to be with God. Hon­or­ing, yes. Respect­ful, yes. And com­pletely con­fi­dent of His ten­der care and love for us. He’s not some fig­ment of our imag­i­na­tion. He isn’t some great imper­sonal “intel­li­gent designer.” He is a liv­ing, per­sonal God.

Who is sov­er­eign over what­so­ever comes to pass.

We may never under­stand why God is allow­ing things to hap­pen as they are. We do know that tri­als pro­duce per­se­ver­ance; and per­se­ver­ance, char­ac­ter; and char­ac­ter, hope.

Now hope does not dis­ap­point, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3–5

And that’s just the thing. The love of God. Poured out in our hearts.

That grief, that sor­row of the tri­als and death and can­cer. It pro­duces hope, which doesn’t disappoint.

Sure, it’s a process. We won’t nec­es­sar­ily be there at the begin­ning of a trial. But, we can choose to cling to the promise, can’t we? We can choose to trust that the One who formed us so care­fully in our moth­ers’ wombs will be true to His Word, as He always has been. We can hold on with those white knuck­les, refus­ing to let go, let­ting the fear slip from our hands in favor of the hope that is ours. Remem­ber­ing that tears are not a sign of dis­be­lief, but rather, are an out­let that the Lord designed for our good. They are cleans­ing, refresh­ing, safe. We can cry and hope in the same breath.

I love my dear, beau­ti­ful mother. I’m not ready for her to go just yet. I don’t know that I will ever be ready. I know my friend wasn’t ready for her son to go. The thing is, we don’t know the num­ber of our days. We don’t know that we have tomor­row. Death sneaks up on most of us. That hor­ri­ble, wicked thief.

Remem­ber to love your chil­dren, love your hus­band, love your mother and father. Love those whom God has put in your life. Today. I think we all need these reminders because we take too much for granted.

But, much more impor­tantly, love God. Rest in Him. Stop striv­ing against Him if you are. He is faith­ful and true. And oh, so forgiving.

We may never quite under­stand why God allows can­cer, gave giraffes long necks, or made mos­qui­toes. But, I trust He has a pur­pose in it all. I pray that this trial will pro­duce such a beau­ti­ful hope in our fam­ily. For my mom, my dad, my broth­ers, and my chil­dren. I pray that we won’t waste this one. If you think of it, please pray for us. That we will per­se­vere in love. That I will know how to min­is­ter to my mom. She lives so far away. And that her hope will never waiver.

I’ve linked up here: Joy­ous Notions, Cor­ner­stone Con­fes­sions, Sim­ply Help­ing Him. Be sure to visit these sites for more blog posts that might inter­est you!

The Gift of Disappointment

The Gift of Disappointment

Did you ever receive a gift when you were a kid, and you just weren’t all that excited about it? You thought, “What on earth is this about?” I remem­ber ask­ing for a metal detec­tor as a kid. I didn’t get it. So dis­ap­pointed. I was SURE I was going to get it and find great trea­sure in my back yard. Nope. I got some­thing else instead. Some­thing much more prac­ti­cal that I could actu­ally use.

Oh, wait. No. I got a uni­cy­cle. I sup­pose my par­ents thought I should join the cir­cus or some­thing. But, no mat­ter how hard I tried, I could never mas­ter rid­ing the thing. But I spent hours out­side try­ing to learn. It was actu­ally some­what fun, and I got tons of sun­shine and some exer­cise in the attempts at mas­tery. My dis­ap­point­ment faded with time as I for­got my other desire and moved on to other things.

How do you cope with dis­ap­point­ment? I find myself strug­gling when things don’t go as I expected or hoped they would.

Are you tempted to blame the per­son through whose hands the dis­ap­point­ment arrives at your door? Is it their fault for not liv­ing up to your expectations?

What about when they had told you they would do some­thing, but then changed their mind after you embraced the idea or con­cept? Do we have a right to blame them and hold them respon­si­ble for our sink­ing heart and hurt?

The quick reac­tionary results are often shock, sad­ness, fear, hurt, and tears to some extent.

But, the more I have med­i­tated on this con­cept of dis­ap­point­ment, the more I have seen God’s hand in my life. Or, rather, the more I am look­ing for God’s hand.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

You see, I have a strong belief in God’s sov­er­eignty in all things. And I trust that He directs our steps, regard­less of the plans we have made.

And He does it for our good. Even when it doesn’t feel very good at the moment. Even when I don’t under­stand the why about it.

And while I still may have dis­ap­point­ment, I am not so weighed down by the other junk.

The Lord replaces it with Hope, Love, Joy. Because I know He is in it. And I can trust Him.

And my hope is that my heart will fol­low my head. That I won’t guard myself against future hurt. Because, you know, it will surely come. And God is faith­ful. I pray that He will con­tinue to con­form my think­ing to His Word. And His Will. And that I will walk in faith, trust­ing Him as I take each step. I pray that I will be care­ful with my words, with my promises, with my expectations.

Can we see dis­ap­point­ment as a gift? I mean, if it is true that God is sov­er­eign, and that He directs our steps, and that He does things for His glory and our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, then shouldn’t the changes that come in our life, even the ones that bring dis­ap­point­ment and hurt, be received with thanks­giv­ing? Shouldn’t we step out in faith, know­ing that He has worked out the details accord­ing to His per­fect will? And if so, then shouldn’t they be received with glad­ness and not pain and striv­ing and grudges? Who would we begrudge? God? May it never be!

I pray that the Lord will increase my faith. And my hope. And my love.

Mostly my love.

And that I won’t look to other peo­ple to ful­fill those needs that I have, but only to Him who alone can.

In the end most of these details of life really aren’t a big deal. In the big pic­ture any­way. They are minor hic­cups, small pota­toes. They seem big because we have them smashed right up to our eye­ball as we turn them over and over to exam­ine them from every angle. But, down the road we can’t even remem­ber what the big deal was. And I think that is because God has shown us what He was up to many times. Or, we have for­got­ten to even look to see what He was doing in the midst of it all because He DID it, and there we are.

I sup­pose we ought to embrace the gift. Even when it is hard. Even when it doesn’t feel like much of a gift.

And get out there and ride that uni­cy­cle! In spite of our expec­ta­tions. And while we are out there, let’s not for­get to wear our hel­mets! They keep us safe.

And take the hel­met of sal­va­tion,… Eph­esians 6:17

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When Did Love Stop Hoping All Things?

When Did Love Stop Hoping All Things?

We’ve all been there: The Fam­ily tak­ing a peace­ful drive some­where. All is going smoothly. Dad is at the wheel, with Mom sit­ting by his side in the front seat. Con­ver­sa­tions flow­ing, per­haps some music playing.

Then it hap­pens. “MOM!!! He’s touch­ing me!”

The crime of the century.

And you know what we do, right? We do the prover­bial eye roll and say, “Stop touch­ing her and get on your own side of the car.” Just like our moms always said to us.

We typ­i­cally don’t actu­ally deal with the issue at hand because 1. it’s eas­ier to just tell them to stop touch­ing each other, and 2. it’s how we were trained to han­dle this par­tic­u­lar conflict.

And so it goes into other areas of life. In the end, we just want Johnny to stop touch­ing us and get on his own side of the car. It’s less messy that way.

Or is it?

We see this in the church, too, I think. We are so eas­ily offended by each other for any and every infrac­tion. Even the imag­ined ones. “They” are obvi­ously out to touch us, so we are on the look­out for any hint of a hand near­ing our side of the car.  They sneak up when we aren’t pay­ing as close atten­tion. And we often ASSUME mal-intent, rather than love. This is espe­cially true if we have been hurt before.

The truth is, they usu­ally aren’t think­ing a thing about us, but in the flurry of liv­ing life, their hand swings glee­fully in our direc­tion. Not in mis­chie­vous­ness, but in the joy of life. And yet, we cry out to Mom again in anguish at our obvi­ous abuse.

Some­times we deal with the con­flict because it’s what we are sup­posed to be doing, but so often we con­fess, for­give, and then get back on our own sides of the car. Back to look­ing for him to touch us again so we can cry foul.

What hap­pened to hop­ing all things? What hap­pened to for­give­ness that actu­ally has teeth? You know. I for­give you and now let’s go play. Not, I for­give you, but that is just what I have to say because it is the right thing to say, but I don’t mean any­thing by it. I’m the big­ger per­son, and now go get back on your side of the car and don’t touch me again. I don’t really like you, or trust you, or want to be your friend (or brother or sis­ter). And I don’t love you.

Even though in Christ we are com­manded to love.

And love is not rude. And it hopes all things.

I’m exhausted from the grudges. I’m tired of feel­ing like we will never have peace. I’m tired of being sus­pi­cious, and hurt, and in the mid­dle. Why can’t we all just stop sin­ning so much? And when we do sin, embrace the cross and be washed by the beau­ti­ful and per­fect blood of the Lamb? Why must we keep score? And expect hurt and sor­row? And begrudge it?

Who says we have any right to hold onto hurt? Where in the Bible do you find that we don’t have to restore rela­tion­ships, that it is okay to hate each other?

We see inter­net fights amongst Chris­tians of dif­fer­ent fla­vors and the­o­log­i­cal bents. We see blog­gers going at each other “to warn the flock.” What on earth must the unsaved souls think of our Lord’s bride? Why aren’t we ashamed of ourselves?

Let’s sit closely together. And let’s hold hands. Roll down the win­dows, and sing at the top of our lungs. Let’s learn to love again. God has given us to each other for edi­fi­ca­tion, to exhort one another, for encour­age­ment. We are God’s gift to one another. Don’t despise your broth­ers and sisters.

Come on over and sit on my side of the car. And please for­give me if I acci­den­tally (or pur­pose­fully) touch you. It’s going to hap­pen. Some­times my hands just wave about aim­lessly in the liv­ing. We won’t always agree. We won’t always see eye to eye. Some­times I will be wrong on this doc­trine or that. And some­times you will be.

But Scrip­ture is clear: They will know we are Chris­tians by our love. (John 13:35)

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I’ve linked up here: A Wise Woman Builds Her HomeDeep Roots at Home,  Sim­ply Help­ing Him& Titus 2 Tues­days. Go check them out for more links to other blogs you might enjoy.


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