30 April 2009

Beth Moore

BETH MOORE LINKS:
Beth Moore's Hairbrush story-- real tear jerker and a good look at her personality

Beth Moore's Bible Studies and Books -- I would recommend anything she has written, even if I haven't read it!

Living Proof's Website & Living Proof Blog

Beth Moore is a Texan, lives in Houston, and I have been learning from her since 2001. When we were in the Air Force and away from Texas, I used to watch her on DVD in Bible Study. She talks Texan, she looks Texan... when the camera would pan the audience, it would be full of big-haired, red-lipsticked older Texan ladies. It made me feel so homesick. She is hilarious, and she so loves the Lord.

Strongholds

So I was thinking that I was just exhausted, but I am coming to the conclusion that I'm really prisoner to a stronghold. And feeling tired makes me worry about being able to conquer. Not that I do any conquering, but that I'm too weak to hang onto God, that I'm too tired to chase after him. How can I utilize the Holy Spirit if I'm in bed? How can I be a conduit for power if I don't flip the switch of prayer? I can't.

I returned to a dog-eared, loved-over, beaten-up book by Beth Moore. It's called Praying God's Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds. The first pages are already amazing. She's breaking down 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, which is: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

She explains what a stronghold is: "anything that exalts itself in our minds, "pretending" to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered... it is something that consumes so much of our *emotional and mental energy* that abundant life is strangled-- our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy's precise goals."

She explains that the word for 'power' in 'divine power' from 2 Cor. 10:4 comes from the same word root that we use when we say 'dynamite' in English. Then she says (in exactly the Beth Moore style that I love, when she presses both her hands on the sides of her Texas hair and says "Can I get an Amen? Is anybody hearing me? I mean, are you listening people?"): "Virtually nothing we come up against in our individual lives is more formidable than a stronghold. The very nature of the term tells us that whatever it is, it has a "strong hold" on us. Strongholds can't be swept away with a spiritual broom. We can't fuss at them and make them flee. We can't ignore them until they disappear. Strongholds are broken one way only: they have to be demolished."

She illustrates that we can't yell and throw stones to demolish a building, we need dynamite. And we can't use "carnal weapons like pure determination, secular psychology, and denial" to get rid of our strongholds. We need God's dynamite: Spirit-empowered prayer matched with the Word of God, hence the title of her book, Praying God's Word. So here's where I feel tired. I have a formidable enemy, Satan, who wants to destroy my marriage and crush my husband and shame me and create a bad pattern in my children. I know that I must rise each morning, and pray over my family; my husband, my children, and my parents and siblings. I must pray for strength and patience and a closed mouth. I need kindness, perseverance, gentleness and silence. I must pray over my husband- his work, his mind, his habits, his health, his mouth, his manhood, his fathering. I must do it! Who else will? There is no one else for the task.

Back to Beth: "Without a doubt, prayerless lives are powerless lives, and prayerful lives are powerful lives; but, believe it or not, the ultimate goal God has for us is not power but personal intimacy with Him. Yes, God wants to bring us healing, but more than anything, He wants us to know our Healer."

Beth Moore loves her some coffee. (I know, poor grammar, but how else to emphasize?) And man, I love me some cream with coffee in it. Today I announced that I'm switching to tea. Why? because I am tired of warming up my coffee. I like it so hot that you have to juggle it in your mouth before swallowing... I got that from my mother. All my aunts do it too. I hate to warm up coffee, I hate the nasty skin it gets on top, I hate the flavor deteriorating, I hate finding my old coffee in the microwave when I'm putting in a new cup to warm up. But its so busy around here, that I just don't sit and enjoy my coffee. But if I get up in the morning, like so many scriptures tell me to, I could be still enough to enjoy it. Let's see. I have to remember to pray for vitality- for the power to stay awake all day. Surely God will give me that if I get up to hang with him?

28 April 2009

Referral to Excellence


April 20 - 24, 2009. Those are the dates that you should read at the Girl Talk blog if you are a discouraged mom, or the parent of a wayward teen. This is a blog written by a mom and her 3 grown daughters. The mom is the wife of the former pastor of our church which we attended in Maryland, called Covenant Life Church. It is a church-planting, spirit-led church . If you don't have a home church you should check the link and see if one is near you. The pastor of Covenant Life now is Joshua Harris, author of four (excellent) books.

My 'first born,' our dog, Eli, is having a serious allergy attack and some sort of ear infection. He is about 11-12 years old already. I can't think too hard about the day we might lose him. I gave him a bath and rubbed him dry, and rubbed his ear till he made sad/happy dog noises, like I want to make when I really itch at a mosquito bite. He's asleep, snoring on one couch, and James is asleep, snoring on the other. My poor old man. Eli, not James.

26 April 2009

Concession

I spent a portion of church today trying to not be offended. I think I had to give it back to the Lord at least 4 or 5 times. We continued in our series, "Leap of Doubt" which you can listen to by clicking HERE. Today's lesson was "If Suffering exists, God cannot." Directly before the sermon began, we sang my song, "Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me (which I wrote out the lyrics of last week). Then the speaker, who was not our regular pastor, but a leader who really reminds me alot of my brother, began to speak by saying something along the lines of "Yikes, what a hard song to sing. Bring the rain. Whatever." He meant, and I knew he meant, Like I'm really going to ask for Jesus to bring trials. I had been basking in the end of the song still and then it was like, crash! 'Whatever!' Then I had to start forgiving him for the perceived insult- making light of my suffering by my perception that he discarded "my" theme song.

Then I was home, still mulling, and polishing my piano. I was loving my piano. I learned from my mom to polish furniture to take care of it, to enjoy it, to show that I valued it. James got me a $50 piano last fall and this was the first time I got some furniture oil and really wiped it down, got my hands all greasy-- and a splinter, and wiped away all the grime and (food) and dust from years. I was polishing it, and wondering if I was doing a good job here at this blog polishing the monuments to God. I don't want to seem like a complainer, looking for someone to say 'oh what a hard life you lead, what an example you are.' I want to create shiny, bold, beautiful, huge monuments to tell the world what I'm learning on this road.

And that's when I had my revelation about the song... its not an invitation for God to please send some trials and tribulations [rain], but it's a concession to the Lord, that if the trials are going to come, IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES TO PRAISE HIM, then bring it on. No one wants any of it- sickness, death, divorce, child gone astray, addiction, foreclosure, starvation, genocide--- none of it is something we'd welcome. BUT IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES FOR US TO LEARN TO GLORIFY HIM, then we should count it as His mercy and kindness (John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life). Better divorce and death here on earth than eternal separation from Him. If this is what it takes for me to praise Him, if when its all sunny and happy I ignore Him and his blessings, if suffering brings me to the Lord, then Jesus, bring the rain!

24 April 2009

What I'm Devouring



I am completely enthralled with this book, again. I have read it at least two other times, and reread the two chapters entitled "Magnifying Christ Through Pain and Death" (lovely!) and "Living to Prove He is More Precious Than Life" so much that they are completely marked up and folded over for emphasis. Here is a little morsel:

"We Boast Best in the Cross When we Bear It"
"Bearing the cross is the means by which we are increasingly liberated to boast in the cross. Suffering is God's design in this sin-soaked world (Romans 8:20). It portrays sin's horror for the world to see. It punishes sin's guilt for those who do not believe in Christ. It breaks sin's power for those who take up their cross and follow Jesus. And because sin is the belittling of the all-satisfying glory of God, the suffering that breaks its power is a severe mercy. Whatever makes us more and more able to enjoy making much of God is a mercy. For there is no greater joy than joy in the greatness of God. And if we must suffer to see this and savor it most deeply, then suffering is a mercy."

Still Here!

For those of you (gasp) not from TEXAS, meet the Hill family R-L: Ladybird, Bobby, Luann, Peggy (aka Hank's Wife), Hank. From pretty-true-to-Texan-life tv show, King of the Hill.


My dear, dear Aunt left the most encouraging message for me under my April 18th post, "Poured Out." Any mothers out there will find it just wonderful. I don't know where I've been all week- but today was a most productive day- finished wallpaper, moved furniture, rearranged closets, sold two cards on Etsy. Phew!

James has been in New Braunfels all week with his father, who is in the hospital recovering from surgery to remove a tumor from his stomach... they ended taking his entire stomach and part of his liver! Prayers welcome! I call Jack "Eeyore" and he calls me "James' wife" (ref. to King of the Hill) or "Yankee." In jest.

So I have been brainstorming and plotting and planning for days and when James comes home he will surely wonder if he's in the right house. (But then he'll see the sink overflowing with dishes and he'll know he's home!) I've been so proud of him. He's been supporting his dad and stepmom and working from the hospital on his laptop and his cell. But he did manage to check out the local garden center.

Jackson got stung on the ear by a wasp and has a big cauliflower ear. Nathan is saying 'water' and 'uh-huh' and he stepped on something and said 'hot!' but it turned out to be a caution/danger word, not heat. Lily may have an ear infection. She wanted cold chocolate soymilk with marshmallows in it. And my Claire said she missed praying and doing Bible in school and reading The Christian Girl's Guide to Your Mom with me. So she sat on the couch with me after everyone was in bed and wrote her favorites on big index cards (like I do). I told her to start at Psalm 23 but she liked parts of 26 & 27 also. So we sat on the couch and she dubbed it the "bible feeling good club."

20 April 2009

This is sin- the easy road

As Christians we are called to follow a different
path than the world would have us take. We are not to take the route of least resistance, or the easiest, or the most beautiful, or the most comfortable. The Calvary Road was none of these. If we want to be like Christ, we have to imitate him. And part of that imitation must be to take the sometimes uncomfortable path that has been laid out for us. I told you that many Christian songs have spoken to me in the past few years. Since early in my pregnancy with Nathan, now 16 months old, pretty much one song has had exclusive rights to my tear ducts. That song is Bring the Rain by Mercy Me. Here are the lyrics:

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that
I've gone through…
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray...

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory! And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.

I am yours regardless of the clouds that may
loom above because you are much greater than
my pain. You who made a way for me suffering
your destiny so tell me, whats a little rain?

So I pray…
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory! And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You Jesus, bring the rain…

Holy, holy, holy…
Holy, holy, holy…
is the Lord God almighty
is the Lord God almighty
I forever sing
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty
is the Lord God almighty
everybody singing
Holy holy holy…
is the Lord God almighty
is the Lord God almighty!
you are holy (holy, holy, holy)
you are holy(is the Lord God almighty)
Is the Lord our God, is the Lord our God
Everybody sing it!
Holy holy holy
You are holy
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty...
Is the Lord God almighty!
Holy, holy, holy...
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty...
Is the Lord God almighty!

I put all those 'Holy' s in there because they are what speaks to me now. God is so awesomely holy, so pristine, he can have none of our sin near him. He made a way for us through Christ, so that we could come to his side. But we always want the easy road. Sometimes to me divorce looks so easy! It appeals to me as an easy path compared to the one I am on. It is so much easier to just not interact with someone, it is easier to not forgive, to not try again. Of course in my sinful daydreams I am paid child support enough to cover my house and my car. Surely I could figure out the food and such! How easy it would be if I could only: not be ashamed of my husband's behavior (my pride); not have to clean up after his messes and tantrums (my laziness); not have to be a witness to him (my sin of omission); not deal with his immaturity (my fear); not have to trust him or respect him (my disobedience). Oh, what a life of ease and comfort I would lead, free of growth and free of discomfort.

God doesn't want us to be afraid of the hard road, because he will be right there beside us. The task seems impossible, but '"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.' (2 Corinthians 12:9) If we took only the easy path then we would enjoy the scenery here on earth, but we would not learn to "rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." (2 Corinthians 1:9) Even before the Earth was created, God was acting in relationship with the Holy Spirit and Jesus pre-incarnate. He spent the time that the earth was sinless in relationship with Adam and Eve. He invites us into a personal and real relationship with Jesus. He is a god of relationships. For me to want to flee my marriage for a different life is sinful. All those "holy, holy, holy! is the LORD God ALLmighty!s" make me remember how different he is from me, how "His thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are his ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than my ways and his thoughts my thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Ps. 31:14-15

"I trust in you, O Lord, I say "You are my God!" My times are in your hands."

Not quite a chariot

Today for some reason I feel like my entire day is hinged on whether the recycling truck comes or not. Psalm 20:7 says "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." So I know its nuts. But if they don't come today I may lose it!
I paid my bill 6 weeks ago with the wrong checkbook. So they didn't pick up my recycling for 2 weeks... I had been put on the bad customer list. Then I paid online but they still didn't come. Every Monday they drove by my growing pile of recycling. So I am a little tired of hauling the pile in and out. Such a tiny thing has me so on edge... I keep looking out the window at the pile peeking out from behind the back of the car.

19 April 2009

Just a few words- not mine

Cary Grant: "We encounter the truth so seldom that it shocks and embarrasses us, and we run from it."

Dorothy Parker: "Most good women are hidden treasures who are safe because nobody looks for them."

Shakespeare: "If it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul."

Lincoln: "The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."

Harry Truman: "You know what makes leadership? It is the ability to get men to do what they don't want to do, and like it."

Karl Marx (last words): "Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."

18 April 2009

Poured Out


I fell asleep with the kids again and now I'm up. Just put Nathan down for the second time since he woke at midnight, he has such an internal clock. I was sitting on the edge of Jackson's bed, looking at Nathan in his crib, telling him that he was fine, that I was right there, that he could sleep, that I was right there. Of course I was feeling trapped and totally planned on sneaking out as soon as I could hear his deep-sleep breathing. But as I was sitting there I saw the similarity between Nathan and me, and me and God. I know God is there. I know he's watching me. I know that in the ways that matter, I am safe from harm. But I really want him to actually touch me, not just reassure me. I want him to talk me to sleep, every night. I want to wake up and begin to fuss, and know that he's already headed down the hall to save me from the darkness, even though I've been calling to him for help at the same time of day, in the same circumstance, for 16 months.

I'm really tired of getting up with Nathan at night. I'm tired of his demanding ways when he's sleepy and doesn't want to change the status quo. I think he's way too old to need me in the middle of the night, every night, and the whole 'last baby' indulgence I feel towards him is wearing thin. I know that God doesn't feel grumpy at me for struggling so long. But I want to feel God's comfort without reaching out to him. I want him to just come to me and minister to me, without me having to share with him (he knows it anyway, right?) or running to him. I feel like, I've been coming for the same thing, in the same circumstance for so long, that he should just get up and come comfort me. He knows I need it, right, so why do I need to cry out still? Why do I need to keep calling him?

I don't have any answers. I'm just so tired of the struggle. I want someone to serve me for change. When I see that on the screen, it looks demanding and petulant. But as I typed it, I began to cry-- I am just so tired of being poured out for the kids and the house and school; I am so tired of trying to be joyful in hope, and so tired of trying to be patient in affliction, there is no faithfulness in prayer because I am so battle weary (Romans 12:12). I know that if I filled my needs through Christ each morning that I would be prepared for what the day brings. I know if I have no words to say in prayer that the Holy Spirit provides them. But I can't stay awake in the early morning, I fall asleep at the kids' bedtime, and there isn't a quiet, not demanded-on time in the day. It's all I can do to keep track of everyone and work on the laundry and the dishes and school. I dunno. Here are a few of my flashcards of faith...

2 Corinthians 1:8-9
We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Psalm 23:3
He restores my soul, he guides me in paths of righteousness for HIS names' sake.

Lamentations 3:21-26
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him, it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Psalm 138:6, 8
Though the Lord is on high, he looks down on the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me-- your love, O Lord, endures forever-- do not abandon the works of your hands!

Psalm 51:10, 12
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore me to the JOY of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity.

Jeremiah 33:3
This is what the Lord says, he who made the Earth, the Lord who formed it and established it-- the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

*
Isaiah 43:1-5, 7
This is what the Lord says (he who created you, who formed you): "Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. I will be with you for I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, do not be afraid, for I am with you-- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

17 April 2009

Zdrazvuitse!


Just wanted to say zdrazvuitse! to someone reading from Russia! Hey there from Texas!

Look what I found...

Isn't this an interesting photo. I wonder who didn't buy a home on this street because of these signs. And I wonder if this intersection was in the Pro column of someone's Pro/Con list for buying a house nearby.

Saturday I am going to be in a craft show for cards and baby blankets and doll blankets, so I may be busy. But I'll keep in touch this weekend for sure.

15 April 2009

Creation Reveals the Creator

The weather, per Claire's scientific investigation, has been 82' here the past few mornings. I sit on my driveway on safety patrol while the kids play. Easter Sunday they played in the garage and not on the driveway, and I had a chance to stare out uninterrupted at the yard and around our curve of the street. The sunlight dappled through the trees, shadowing the grass into at least 4 or 5 shades of green. The wind slurred through, making the tops of the live oaks shushle around, but it was still where I sat. A few of the plants in the front had color blooming. I thought of the deer that frequent the rose at the end of the driveway, tiptoeing through in the early morning. A quick movement catches my eye but all I see when I turn is a feathery tail of a squirrel leaping from the tree to the roof... I have heard his feet bounding from right to left over my bedroom ceiling. The black mulch is darker where everything was watered last. The decorative grasses swish and I tell Claire to take the ponytail holder out of it. I can see tall offshoots on the olive tree... I remember the auburn and yellow of the snapdragons. This sounds like a landscaping course, but as I sat there I was in awe of God's creation. It was so beautiful, and it was just a suburban street. But I could envision the ants trundling back and forth, the worms under the St. Augustine grass, the hawk soaring through the bits of sky looking for an unaware little snack. It was just gorgeous and it was a gift to me, for me to enjoy; a gift that should send me to the creator to give him thanks and praise for it. He did such a good job! It all could've been gray. Plants could pollinate some way other than flowers. There could've been only one kind of tree to make O2. But he did it so well, for our enjoyment and his glory.

14 April 2009

eeek! the internet WORKS?!


You may have noticed that I made a link on this blog to my etsy shop. It was a few days ago that I began to stock it, and whaddaya know, I sold something today!

So I sent my customer an extra card to say thanks for being my first sale! Customer service you know! OK, I know, too many exclamation points...!!

And have you noticed I have been read in --not only more than half the states, but quite a few countries?
Check out my map!

12 April 2009

Ashamed, I Hear my Mocking Voice


How deep the Father's love for us,
how vast beyond all measure
that He should give his only son
to make a wretch his treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss
the Father turns his face away
as wounds which mar the chosen one
bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross
my sin upon his shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held him there
until it was accomplished!
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in any thing
no gifts, no power, no wisdom;
but I will boast in Jesus Christ
his death and resurrection!

Why should I gain from his reward?!
I cannot give an answer,
but this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom!

by Sarah Sadler, with beautiful piano and violin

How I Feel Today

Find me in the river
find me on my knees.
I've walked against the water
and now I'm waiting if you please
We've longed to see the roses
but never felt the thorns
we've bought our pretty crowns
and never paid the price.

Find me in the river
find me there--
find me on my knees with my soul laid bare
even though you're gone and
I'm cracked and dry
find me in the river
I'm waiting here.

Find me in the river...
find me on my knees.
I've walked against the water
now I'm waiting if you please.
We didn't count on suffering,
we didn't count on pain;
but if your blessing is in the valley
then in the river I will wait.

Find me in the river
find me there
find me on my knees with my soul
even thought you're gone and I'm cracked and dry
find me in the river--
I'm waiting here.

Come find me here!
Find me in the river, find me here!
O wash over me!

by Martin Smith

11 April 2009

Jesus Paid Much Too High a Price

Do you know why God sent his Son to die a criminal's death on the cross? To carry the sin of the world... your sin and my sin. I used to think, I'm not a bad person, I never killed anybody. But we can't compare ourselves to each other, we have to compare ourselves only to Christ; the only man to live a sinless life and die on behalf of our sins.

A dear friend many years ago explained it to me like this: "When we get to heaven we will see all the things we have ever done or not done. We will be quaking before the just and holy God, creator of all things, and he will say in a voice like thunder, "how will you pay for this debt?" and from the side, Christ will walk in, with his hands and feet and side pierced on our behalf, and he will say "I have paid this debt on her behalf." God's countenance will change and he will no longer see our sin, because we will have been covered, camouflaged by the blood of Christ. And that is his mercy and his grace to us who have believed.

If you do not feel secure in your salvation, check out this link.

PLEASE don't wait till it is too late-- but realize: being saved is not just 'fire insurance.' Once you are a believer, you are given the power of the Holy Spirit to help you-- to help you overcome an addiction, to help you become a better parent, a more kind spouse; the Holy Spirit makes you more into the image of Christ who saved you. Sometimes this life is pretty tough and miserable-- having a supernatural power uplifts and encourages you to keep on trying.

When I first became a Christian in 1997 I kept wearing my crucifix (I grew up Catholic). Then I started noticing that none of my Christian friends wore crucifixes, just crosses. Later I realized that the Christian really believes, internalizes, that Christ rose from the dead! The cross is empty! He hangs there no longer! He is Risen! He has conquered the grave!

Today is still Saturday. Yesterday a few thousand years ago, Jesus was hurriedly laid in a borrowed tomb. His followers were crushed- scared- devastated- disappointed- hopeless- shocked- grieving. I look at the picture I chose for this post, and I feel on some level like I should change it to something more easter-y... not bunnies and lilies, but maybe sun rays or an empty tomb. But I am feeling this week a little more like the disciples who were so sure that Jesus was going to keep going in the conquering hero/triumphant entrance into Jerusalem vein. When he never called down hordes of angels to take him off the cross, to strike down the Romans and Pharisees, they were so confused. They spent Saturday in hiding, in mourning, in disbelief. Tomorrow they would find the empty tomb, they would learn that he had risen, they would be bouyed up, but tonight they were lost.

I feel for some reason like I am just barely holding back the tide. I have heard heart-wrenching, awful sobs come from my mouth and I hear them in my head this evening. I feel like I have wasted the cross this month. To partially quote the song by Casting Crowns, "Jesus paid much too high a price" for me to live this way. I am such an awful, impatient, terrible mom sometimes. Do you know what I actually thought this afternoon? "When we get those replacement windows the neighbors won't be able to hear me yell." What?! You know what else? I was livid to hear my children laughing and giggling, playing together so beautifully. Why? Because I had a cloud over me, and I was sinfully grumpy and I wanted them to jump up and salute me and run around doing my bidding. I have quenched the Holy Spirit, I have squandered the cross of Christ.

I am glad I don't have to wait till New Year's to try again. What better holiday that Easter -- new birth, resurrection, conquering death-- to start again. I thought this week "hey, I have four kids and one husband. There are five days in the schoolweek. Four plus one is five. I could pray for each of them, one each morning." I need to get up earlier than my kids and have time alone with the Lord. I miss him. And you know what, I know for a fact that he misses me.

08 April 2009

What are we in control of Really?

The book, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, changed my life. It taught me so much about myself and how I interact with the people in my life. It taught me to see the patterns of behavior that I did. It gave me permission, tools, and encouragement to change what I didn't like in my relationships.. And it told me that if I didn't hate something enough to change what I could, that I should stop complaining about it. It helped me to OWN my problems.

One of the powerful things I came away with was the idea of a dance done with partners. If I don't like our dance, then I could complain about it. I could say witty or convincing or demanding things to try to make my dance partner change our dance. Or, I could just keep dancing in step with my partner and complain and cry about hating our dance moves. Alternatively, it was a possibility that I could -- wonder of wonders-- just stop dancing the way I disliked. I could dance the way I wanted. Then there are a few things that could happen: my partner could start dancing like me. We could do an abridged kind of new compromise-dance. Or, my partner could still dance one way and I could dance another way, each of us doing our own dance. No one could force me to dance a way I didn't want to!! I didn't have to try to find a clever way to trick my partner into dancing the way I wanted!!

The only change you can make is changing your own moves. If you don't like something --anything-- you can change the things that YOU YOURSELF are in control of. Sometimes, the only thing you are in control of is your reaction. You should weigh the options, try to figure out the possible reactions to your new moves, and decide if you can deal with them. If you can, then go ahead and change. But if you don't like the possible outcomes, stop complaining!

This smoothed out so many areas of my life.
I can't control my income-- I choose what to do with what I have.
I can't control if my husband calls or not. I could turn off the phone so I don't listen for it.
I can't control if my child throws a tantrum. I can put her out of earshot.
I can't change my body shape. I can wear flattering clothes and colors.
I can't make my children obey. I can make it uncomfortable to disobey.
I can't force my husband to give me gifts. I can buy flowers for my table.

I can't do so many things. But I can learn to control my reactions to things in my life.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Lifeis a great book about what a boundary is and how you relate. I learned later that there was also Boundaries ...with Kids; ...with Teens; ...in Marriage; ...in Dating; ...with your Adult Children. My first thought was, well they sure milked that one! Then I read Boundaries with Kids and Boundaries in Marriage and I was completely shocked that each of the three books I were completely different. They all used the same words and definitions and theory, but they were not simply repackaged for a different focus group... they were independently excellent books. I would very highly recommend them. One thing I haven't mentioned that is very important, is that they are written by evangelical Christians and that they utilize the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit-- they are not pop-psychology how-to books.

06 April 2009

To Perseverance!









"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12:1


Persevere: verb; to persist in a state or undertaking in spite of opposition or discouragement. Synonyms: to carry on, persist, hang on, follow through. Antonyms: quit, yield, falter, hesitate, give up.

"One of the most disastrous tendencies, that seems to be gaining strength year by year, is giving up too soon when life gets tough. What is happening to perseverance? Well, homes can't be homes at all if they are dissolved when problems come. If they are to endure, it means sticking to homemaking when it all seems bleak. Everybody feels unhappy at times... We all admire and enjoy those who have accepted life's boundaries, built within the framework, and become rich and wise, full of love." (From For the Family's Sake: The Value of Home in Everyone's Life by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.)

When James and I were separated, and the months stretched on and on, only two women of all the women who played a part in supporting me through that time-- only two counseled me to stick with it, be true to my vows, trust in the Lord, suffer for a time, be faithful... persevere. The women in my life had a lot of ways to love me- silence, an ear; angry on my behalf, vengeful; confused, questioning; weeping with me... one of my dear friends at long last said something like 'divorce him and never date again until your children are grown!' in such a voice of conviction and certainty that I was silent and shocked. Well, when you ask for advice, you get it!
Both of these dear women who counseled perseverance had known both James and I for at least a half dozen years. Knew us in the AF, before we moved to Texas. Maybe that had a part in it. But they each started their counsel with phrasing along the lines of 'This is so painful and awful, and isn't God's will for you or James or your marriage. But in the Bible I read, it says to stay. It says to love. It says to wait and trust.' The pain in their voices on my behalf, yet their faith in God and his Word-- it put sandbags against my faltering resolve. It bolstered my ability to wait and trust. It gave me strength to continue the race that had been marked out for me.

Is there someone in your life that needs bolstering? Is it an uphill race for someone you know? Please comfort them with a Godly comfort. What does this person seem overwhelmed by? Is there a way you can step in for a moment with relief?

"He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Prov. 11:25

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison an you came to visit me... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:35-36, 40

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief... will arise from another place... and who knows but that you have come... for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

04 April 2009

Life-Changing Book


I have to brag on an excellent, life-changing, God-honoring and practical book. My church offered guidance classes led by lay-counselors the fall that things were so crummy (2006). They had one on life after divorce (not divorced). They had one on grief (no body-yet). They had one on marriage (no husband to bring). They had one on parenting (couldn't focus). Then they had a vague-sounding one on "Boundaries," whatever that was. Since I canceled all of our marriage counseling, I was still floundering, and was told that the Boundaries class would be helpful for me.
The class is the typical book/workbook/video segment/talk kind of class. The first class had a video of a mom who did her son's homework, didn't disagree with her husband and got stuck staying late at work, etc., etc. I said, "I don't think this class will be about me." HA! Little did I know what was in store for me.

01 April 2009

Christian Radio

The first time I realized that I had to stop listening to regular radio altogether was after Thanksgiving of 2005. I was racing from the hospital where Lily was to my parent's house, to put the other two kids to bed. (On a side note, thank God for wonderful NICU nurses who reassure scared mothers that they can actually leave the hospital for an hour or two.) On the country music station someone was singing, "I'm dying inside, and nobody knows it but me." Anyway, I was in my mother's little car, crossing an overpass, and just choking from that crying-in-your-throat feeling. I stopped -that night- listening to regular radio. For the next 18 months the Holy Spirit reached me, spoke to me and comforted me through music on K-LOVE radio. It began when Lily was two months old and I was ferrying things north to my parent's house in Round Rock. I almost had to pull off the highway the first time I heard "Praise You In the Storm" by Casting Crowns (LifesongCD):

"I was sure by now, God you would have reached down, and wiped our tears away-- stepped in and saved the day. But once again, I say 'amen,' and it's still raining. As the thunder rolls, I barely hear you whisper through the rain "I am with you." And as your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives-- and takes away. And I'll praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands, cause you are who you are, no matter where I am. AND EVERY TEAR I CRY, YOU HOLD IN YOUR HAND. You've never left my side. AND THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN... I will praise you in this storm."

At this time, settling the kids in Round Rock, mourning the possible loss of my marriage (not to mention being a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling), I was a wellspring for tears. The thought that the suppressed, hidden, nighttime or wiped-away tears were known to God comforted me.

Psalm 56:8 (NIV) says "Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?" The KJV says "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?"

Matthew Henry commentary (Ps. 56:8-13): "David comforts himself, in his distress and fear, that God noticed all his grievances and all his griefs. God has a bottle and a book for his people's tears, both the tears for their sins, and those for their afflictions. He observes them with tender concern... And vows of thankfulness properly accompany prayers for mercy....We should aim in all our desires and expectations of deliverance... that we may do the better service to the Lord; that we may serve him without fear."

One of the first Christian songs I ever heard was Jars of Clay (who my mother calls Dirt Pots) "Love Song for a Savior" (Jars of Clay CD). That was in 1996! The next one was "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" (Where Angels Fear to Tread CD) by Matt Redman, in 2004. There have been many more in the past 3 years, each one for the season that I needed it. It's so remarkable how the Lord speaks to us! I was constantly amazed when I would hear a song which previously, not just 'spoke to me' but tore my heart apart-- and it no longer had that affect on me. Or a song which had been on the radio forever suddenly spoke to me, when before it was just background music.

Concordance search for 'tears' comes up with these jewels: Psalms 6:6; Psalms 126:5; Revelation 21:4; Psalms 42:3; Hebrews 5:7; Job 16: 19-21. But watch out: there is also the stinger (O truth!) of Proverbs 14:1!