Maybe it’s the holidays. Maybe it’s knowing a new year is peering around the next corner. Maybe it’s watching my girls grow. Maybe it’s simply the goodness of the Lord. Or maybe it’s the Christmas letter I’m trying to finish for my Christmas cards.
For whatever reason, my heart has been overflowing the past few days with gratitude for things the Lord has done in my life the past year. May I share some of them with you?
I’m grateful for the gospel…
Because without it, I would be lost, lonely, and miserable.
I’m grateful I need the gospel today…
Because the gospel doesn’t end with salvation. The gospel is what changes me into Christ’s likeness and gives me purpose for each day.
I’m grateful for my husband…
Because without him, life would have little laughter and even less sanity.
I’m grateful for my little home…
Because if I lived somewhere else, I wouldn’t trust in God nearly as much, nor would I understand contentment and the simpleness life can hold.
I’m grateful that God’s ways are not my ways….
Because if life were in my hands, I would not have had another little blessing 15 months after my first. And I wouldn’t have sweet Aubrey to hold. And I would miss the giggles that come from sisters who are best friends.
I’m grateful for health struggles…
Because without them, my husband and I wouldn’t be drawn so close – especially on our knees before the Lord.
I’m grateful for God’s provision…
From family, from anonymous people, from a friend with an encouraging word.
I’m grateful for kisses, hugs, and smiles in the morning…
Because I love my girls.
I’m grateful for ministry…
Because serving others grows me so much!
I’m grateful for friends…
Because life would be boring without them.
I’m grateful for struggles…
Because without them, I would forget my need for the Lord.
I’m grateful for my parents…
Because every day I realize the decisions and sacrifices they made for me to grow into a woman of character. They swam upstream even among Christians.
I’m grateful for those who’ve gone before…
Because dozens of people planted, watered, fertilized, and tended to seeds in my husband’s and my lives. This was hard at times, but I’m grateful for their diligence.
I’m grateful for you…
Because you read this blog!
I know my list could continue for pages. But, I only had a little time this morning to jot down a few things. Take some time today to make a list of things you’re grateful for. You’ll be amazed at how it changes your perspective on life!
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Are you in a rush to get into the Christmas Spirit? Before we start decorating our trees, let’s not forget to take time to be thankful and celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday first. For the next week, I will be posting some ideas to help you remember to stop and take time to be grateful to God and others! This is a repost of a blog I wrote last November. I have started my Thanksgiving notes. Why don’t you take some time today or this weekend to do the same?
On a stormy June day in 2006 I sat with several hundred people at the unexpected funeral of my uncle, Bob Case. At one point during the moving service, my cousin’s husband rose to read several letters written by my cousins to their step father. Each letter shared memories and love to this incredible man. As I sat listening, I thought of my own memories of my uncle and how I never would be able to tell him “thank you” for spending time with me, for taking me fishing, for letting me drive his golf cart, and for many more happy times spent together.
At this moment I decided that I did not want to sit at another funeral for a family member or friend having refused an opportunity to tell that individual what they meant to me. And the Thanksgiving Thank You idea was born.
Each year I try to choose one or more people who have influenced my life and write them a handwritten note expressing my gratefulness. My goal is to share specific examples of how this person encouraged me in some way. Sometimes these letters are quite lengthy as I try to express gratefulness. I usually try to choose someone that I normally might overlook during a holiday or birthday. Meaning, it’s normal for me to communicate with my grandparents to share love and thankfulness, but I rarely pick up the phone to tell my youth pastor from eighth grade how grateful I am that he taught me the Word of God without wavering.
I challenge you to do the same! Pray and ask the Lord to share with you someone who has influenced you to be the person you are today. Write them a personal note, address it, and mail it before Thanksgiving. Sit down with your kids, and ask them who they would like to color a picture for or write a letter to as well. Perhaps choose someone as a family.
Here are some ideas:
Remember, our lives are influenced constantly by those around us. Take the time to give back to someone who has molded you into the person you are today. You never know when it will be too late to say “thank you.”Read More
The past week I’ve been extra busy doing all kinds of things including (but not limited to)….
“Cooking” on the living room floor,
Reading more books,
Splashing in the tub,
Lining up rocks,
Finding a new baby cow,
Reading the same book again,
Eating cookies right before dinner in the secret spot in the corner (just once!)
Watching a movie in the middle of the night,
Pushing a laughing girl around the house in an empty laundry basket,
Playing in the clean sheets,
Putting as many bows on the head as possible,
Singing really loud,
Pulling stickers out of feet (because who wants to wear shoes outside?),
& more kisses,
and Reading just one more book.
What have you been doing? Get off the internet and play with your kids.
Or call them just to say “hi.”
Or call your parents.
Or run outside barefoot.
Or sing in the shower.
Just for fun!Read More
NINETEEN DAYS! Yep, that’s how long it’s been since I last blogged. I would apologize, but I’m really not sorry! You see as the month of August progressed, I became more and more focused on my blog. Whether I was sitting in church, chatting with a friend, interacting with my family, cooking, cleaning, or playing with my girls, I was CONSTANTLY thinking about how to take what I was doing/learning/hearing/reading into a fantastic blog post. I felt pressure to post everyday. I craved for my ratings to grow and to increase my “likes” on Facebook. These desires consumed me!
One day I was scanning other’s blogs to find ideas and leave comments for people to find my blog when I came across this post titled “Has Your Blog Become an Idol?” My first time visiting this particular blog, and it stopped me COLD. (If you only have a few minutes, forget my post, and click here to read this one!)
The first few paragraphs are a list of questions. And I answered “Yes” to nearly every single one. Yes, I do rush through my times with Jesus to get to the computer. Sometimes I even spend an hour on there before even picking up my Bible! Yes, I do often tell my children to ‘go play’ so I can check my comments. Yes, I do look forward to the girls’ nap time, just so I can play online. Yes, my housework often suffers because I’m trying to write the most perfect post ever!
I stopped at that moment and confessed my sin to the Lord! I had broken the second commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” No, I didn’t build a gold statue and bow to it, but I was putting something (my blog) before God and the priorities He had given me! No, having and writing a blog is not a sin, but when I allow my thoughts, desires, and time to be obsessed with blogging, it DOES become a sin.
We may not even leave our house (as in, refrain from stepping outside the door), but modern inventions have made it possible for a women to stay at home and still not be a keeper at home. We can sit at home in body and be elsewhere in spirit, especially via the Internet. “Keeping the home,” means more than just staying at home; it means having a heart that is fixated there too.
How I long to be captivated more by Jesus than how many people look at this post. How I desire to be a Keeper in my home, and not just a woman who lives here.
What about you? Maybe you don’t have a blog, but are you distracted from God and His priorities in your life by something else? Facebook? Online games? Exercising? Eating? Television? Confess it to Jesus, then run to Him! Maybe you need to take a break from your idol for a while and replace that time with something more important (although, if it’s eating, don’t break for too long!!).
I decided to wait to blog until I felt my priorities were better. Yes, I will continue to post – but it won’t be every day. And if my little girls want to play with blocks or read a book, well, readers, you’re just going to have to be patient. My priorities are calling.
If you asked what my daily sin struggle was, being dissatisfied would be at the top of the list (tied with a few other things, but we’ll leave those nasty confessions for another day…). The opposite of being unhappy with my possessions, situations, relationships, etc. is to be content with what God has given me, where He has placed me, and who He has placed in my life.
Oh, contentment! How I’ve tried to master you! I’ve prayed for contentment. I’ve made lists of the “positive” things to certain situations. I’ve meditated on verses dealing with contentment. I’ve asked others to hold me accountable with this issue. I’ve read books on contentment, gleaned from the wisdom of others, sat at their feet, cherished their words and ideas, and yes, even preached sermons to myself!
Yes, all of those things are good – even wonderful things to do on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how each and every day this nasty, pesky sin creeps back into my heart.
It never fails that God ties “random” sermons, conversations, and readings together in my life to teach me lessons. If you follow this blog, you know this month I am reading Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. What a powerful book! Because of this, my mind has been thinking and focusing on Jesus much more than normal. Today, as I was spending time with my Savior, these verses from Hebrews 13 leaped off of the page and slapped my discontented face between the eyes:
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever… 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Jesus is the answer. We are commanded here to be content BECAUSE we have Jesus!! (verses 5-6)
When I’m feeling discontent, – focus on Jesus. He will never leave me.
When I wish I had more “stuff” or lived in a different place – Jesus. He will never change.
When discouragement overwhelms me – Jesus. He deserves my praise.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
So simple – yet we make it so hard.
Yes, I’ll still pray, still meditate on verses, still ask others to hold me accountable and encourage me with their wisdom, still read books, and certainly still need to preach to myself. But, as I move through life seeking to be content, I pray my mind and heart will be focused on Jesus – the sweetest name I know!
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This month I’m reviewing the book Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland. Come back each week for a look at what God teaches me through this excellent read. During the first week of September I will be giving away a signed copy of the book! Stay tuned!!
Last week we learned that Jesus Christ the Son IS eternal life, IS our mediator, and IS the way to KNOW God. This week we will see how this practically looks in our personal life
Have you ever wanted God to show Himself to you the way those in the Old Testament saw Him? You know, pillars of clouds? Parting seas? Hearing God’s voice? Even though Moses lived during this time of amazing miracles, he still longed (and asked!) to see God’s glory. God responded to this request by saying, “I will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’.” Ex. 33:19 Later, in First Samuel God chooses to speak to Samuel repeatedly in order to teach this young man about His God.
God wants, longs, and desires for us to know Him. He chose to reveal Himself to us by Communicating to us with the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 This Word is Jesus! “In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” Hebrews 1:2. Interestingly, the Greek phrase at the end of this verse actually says ‘spoken to us in Son.‘ God’s language is Jesus.
Do you speak Son? The incarnation is God’s best, clearest, most perfect language. Have you, singly and totally, comprehensively and exclusively, received that Communication? Have you, like Moses, and Samuel, ceased pursuing some fleeting experience and instead begun to build you life upon His revelation. pg. 74
God also chose to give us the Word in a book. We can use our imaginations to explore the Scriptures and feel like we are in the story. To understand and see Jesus in the pages of the Bible, we need to first, know the Savior. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us the Scripture. We also need to meditate on this Word. As we read a few verses, we should stop and ponder the story or truth. What would it be like to sit listening to Jesus preach His famous Sermon on the Mount? How would it feel to sit on the ark for several months straight?
Once we meditate on these scriptures, we must learn and apply God’s way in order to see the Son. Because knowing the Bible is knowing Jesus! And one glorious day, we will see the Word face to face!
Are you willing to look for Jesus in the Scriptures? Because he’s willing to be found there. You will only make the effort to uneclipse Jesus if you are convinced that the Son behind the eclispse is worth the effort. And friends, only the Bible will convince you of that. pg. 80
Unfortunately, just reading the Bible isn’t enough. Things get in the way. And by “things”, I mean ourselves….and our sin. Do you ever feel frustrated that you cannot see the Son as you want? That is a good sign! You are ready to fight this battle against your own flesh and sin.
One step we must do to fight our sin is to recognize where we are weak. I have numerous sins that I struggle with, but one in particular is pride in thinking I need to control situations that God has given others jurisdiction over. You may not struggle with this, but with something that I have no problem with. The point? Know where you’re weak so that you can be on guard against Satan’s attacks in that area.
While Satan can tempt us, the real temptations come from within our own soul.
This eclipse that’s blocking the Son comes from within you. Satan knows what your temptations are. These associates in your heart make you inclined to certain sins, and just understanding these entrenched realities is tremendously important if you move toward the perfect light of the Son. pg. 87
It’s often hard for those in our society (maybe even for you) to not blame others for your problems. Your problem, my problem, is sin. God killed His Son for how bad YOU are.
“Anything you indulge in that contradicts the obedient worship of Christ is a wrongful worship. You’ve made yourself an idol, a substitute that shades you from Christ’s glory.” pg. 88
How do we stop sinning?
Think about Him. Learn about Him. Spend time with Him. Worship Him.
Yes, it’s that simple. We have to make Jesus more beautiful, satisfying, and precious that what’s between us and Him. Then we can sing along with the old hymn, “My Jesus I love Thee. I know Thou art mine, for Thee all the follies of sin I resign.”
Despite the myths that Jesus had relations with earthly women, we know from Scripture that He never had a girlfriend, wife, or mistress. However, Jesus does have a bride in those who are saved – the Church. Unfortunately, the Church as a whole has forgotten that we exist for the Son, not for ourselves. Church isn’t solely about me, community, and how to deal with others and the world. No, we exist to give glory to the Father! “Perhaps many who are discontent with the church simply haven’t found contentment in Jesus.” (pg. 99)
First, understand that as a Christian you need to be in church. You need help from friends who are also focusing on our Lord. Second, remember that the church belongs to Jesus. The first time the church is mentioned in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus states, “I will build My church.” This is also the same passage that affirms Christ as the Messiah. He has saved us. We are His. Third, Christ builds the Church for Himself. We grow, learn, worship, reach out, etc. for HIM! Fourth, we attend Church to learn. “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13. Fifth, we can worship Jesus by serving and caring for others. “Caring is essential to worship; worship always involves caring.” pg. 108
We should minister to other’s within the church (love, serve, bear burdens, etc. ‘one to another’). But, “if we are not filled with His Spirit and worshiping Him through His Word, the ‘one anothers’ are fruitless.” (pg. 105) In regards to non-Christians, we must remember that the Church is not designed for them. Of course, we should rejoice when unbelievers come to know Jesus in Church, but the primary purpose of the Church is for believers to be equipped to go into the world and preach the gospel.
The goal of gathering is to come to maturity in Christ. The goal of our relationships is to encourage and spur one another on to maturity in Christ. The church exists for Jesus, for maturity in Jesus, for knowledge in Jesus, for growth in Jesus, growth to Jesus. pg. 103
Thanks for reading this lengthy post. Stay tuned next week for the last installment of this series, as well as an opportunity to win the book to read for yourself!
From The Valley of Vision…
O LORD OF THE OCEANS,
My little bark sails on a restless sea, safely.
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me course;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward ;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals
Bring me to harbor with flying pennants,
hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things, expect great things, shall receive great things.
I venture on thee wholly, fully, my wind, sunshine, anchor, defense.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitile but my helm is held steady,
thy Word secures safe passage,
thy grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home.
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly, with skill to convert every care to prayer.
Halo my path with gentleness and love, smooth every asperity of temper;
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
may I strive to bind up every wound, and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain of his side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.
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