Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First grace, now pride

Quite a switch in meditative words, huh? We are studying Isaiah in my Bible study, and one comment from my teacher got me thinking (and of course, writing :) )

"God will NOT tolerate pride!!" she said.

Pride exalts US. When we are prideful, we are basically saying, "I did this. I am most important, and I am responsible for my victories." The ultimate slap in God's face!

Pride is the reason we sin constantly!! We are thinking of ourselves...alone! We are "looking out for #1," if you will!!

The root cause of the first sin was pride...and every sin since then, if we get to the heart of it!

I came up with an acronym.

Exaltation of ourselves

It is often desperate, isn't it? In the end, though, we will be humbled, and God will be exalted. SELAH

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Big Picture

the broken cup
the muddy water

the beautiful color purple
the thought that counts


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Amazing Grace...How confusing it seems to be for us

So I've been thinking...about grace.
"Unmerited favor"
"A gift"

So many words to describe the one simple, yet often unimaginable little word.

If we attempt to earn God's grace (which I think we are all guilty of), we are kind of making a silly gesture, right?! It' s like if someone gave you a birthday gift, wrapped, maybe even left it on your porch as a surprise.

What if you took that present, still wrapped, and jumped in your car and chased down your friend? "Wait!! I want to pay you for this!!"

Surely the friend would be a little confused, maybe even offended. "What? I gave you that for your birthday! You don't have to pay me for it!"

Every time the opportunity arose, you tried to "pay" that friend back with various gestures, serving in any and every way. "Well, let me buy you lunch, please? Here, I'll carry all of that for you. Ugh, I just need to pay you somehow for that present you gave me."

"Have you even opened it yet?" the friend might ask. "It was a GIFT!!"
(Fleshly me would probably be so annoyed if I was the gift-er, I would ask for the gift back at this point!!)

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. Don't we treat the gift of grace like that? I know I do the same thing as in my example of the birthday gift...it just looks a little different (or maybe a little bit the same at times!) "Please, Lord!! Just let me do xyz amount of service projects. I'll be good this week!" Then, maybe I'll feel worthy of His grace.

But that's just the irony of the whole thing. How can grace be a gift if we earn it? That's the whole point. There is nothing we have ever done, and nothing we can do to earn it. Maybe it's more simple than that to some of you. For me, it gets a little blurry in the midst of life. Especially when the world DOES make us work for our worth. We have to look good, do good, be good...and according to THEIR standards, or else it's just not good enough.

Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that is greater than all my sin!!

*I have no idea who this guy is...just found him on a youtube search for this song. He's good, though!!! :)

Some food for thought:

Philippians 4:19...Ever thought of that one as an example of his grace? How in the world do we deserve anything...our needs? Some could maybe make a case for that one...but everyone reading this right now has so much beyond needs met. Grace!!

Isaiah 40:11...one of my favorite, and a constant reminder of His grace. I need to be reminded often of His grace granted to me, so that I can openly grant grace to my own!!

Revelation 3:20...He IS on our porch!! He IS the gift. The grace has been laid out right in front of us, we just have to open the door!!

Mercy? Well, that's a head scratcher, too...Not only do we not deserve this grace, but we DO deserve eternal damnation for turning our eyes away from Him. He not only gives us this gift of undeserved favor and blessing, He spares us from what we really deserve...but we'll save that for another day :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A peak into our after-dinner fun

Our personal stones of remembrance

Above the fireplace, we have a mantle

and on that mantle, we have placed stones of remembrance

monumental events that have changed our lives forever

moments that remind us that God is there, has been there, will be there forevermore

a simple "Howdy" representing our move here to Texas when we first married...a move away from family, a move that demanded we be independent, yet dependent on the Lord's help

the first framed picture of me and my firstborn...the one who made me a mommy. I had NO idea how much that would incredibly change my life!!

a picture of a boy, taken the day after he was saved out of the water when he was just 2

a photograph taken of my husband kissing me on the day of his graduation...a new DOCTOR...Chiropractic would change our lives in so many ways, and God got us through those tough 3 years...4 tiny children, 3 long years of me being pregnant and breastfeeding, 3 years of not knowing what next??

Where does our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth...and while I might not live like that on a daily basis...while I often lean on my own understanding and my own strength to get through life's hassles and heartaches, these stones of remembrance stand to remind me of Who truly holds us. The One Who will never leave us nor forsake us. When our children, or guests in our home see these stones, they will serve as our testimony. GOD has brought us here, for a purpose. May He be glorified!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When God speaks

Just yesterday, I drew a line that I thought represented my walk with the Lord in my journal:

I was discouraged and sick of the peaks and valleys. I was feeling like I couldn't "do it all." How will I ever have a consistent quiet time?? How will I excel in all areas at once? Am I just lazy and not disciplined enough? God gave me these children, God blessed my husband with this job and his long hours, and God gave me the desire to homeschool/be a stay at home mom, and He knows how tired it all makes me. Are these excuses? My hunger and thirst is there...I long to be with Him and know Him more. How can I do it all???

Today, I read this in Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young:
"I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents. In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts...Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me...Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me...I have lovingly planned every inch of the way..."

God is good, isn't He?? He does speak to us. He encourages us, He will never leave us or forsake us. That is a promise.

Another promise is this: James 4:8, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."

I heard an analogy once about having a consistent quiet time. The speaker was comparing it to being a disciplined runner. Sometimes, a runner gets injured, sick, or falls off the wagon for one reason or another. It is extremely difficult, at times, for the runner to begin running again. Often, the road ahead seems too difficult to face. The runner might feel like they have so far to go just to get back to where they were when they fell off the wagon. The task before them is daunting.

That's how it can seem when we "fall off the wagon" of having a consistent quiet time. How will we ever get back there? Where do we begin again?? What do I read today? I feel like I'm starting from ground zero!!

Well, the point of the analogy was this: In order for a runner to begin again...to get back on the wagon, they simply have to put on their running shoes and run a little bit. The fire will be lit in them very quickly, and the passion will return.

It's just like that with our quiet time. As Sarah Young so eloquently puts it, "disruptions to your routine" happen often. The last part of that statement was the best. Those disruptions "highlight your dependence on Me." That's the coolest part. Not only do we all have disruptions, but it is for our good. We need to be reminded that we can't do this on our own. We can't earn our salvation. We need Him.

Amos 5:6 says, "Seek the LORD and live!!" Obviously, this word live doesn't just mean to have breath and a pulse. Plenty of people have that and aren't seeking the Lord. To live means so much more. "The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." (one of our favorite Seeds Family Worship songs, Ps. 34:10)

So if you are like me and have fallen off the quiet time wagon, just climb back in, start reading, and hear God speak to you. Your passion, your desire, and your NEED for this time will be evident and overwhelming. Give it time, be disciplined, and lean on Him.

If you've been around my blog for very long, you know I love Jesus Calling. God speaks to me (and so many others) through that book with amazing truths and promises from His Word. Start there and see where the Lord takes you. I also receive so much inspiration and encouragement from Catherine Martin. She has a ministry called "Quiet time ministries," and it's awesome.

Remember this: Philippians 3:14, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Verses 12 and 13 remind us that we are not perfect, but we can forget what is behind (because HE HAS!) and reach forward to the things ahead!!

Little and in love :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

When having a big(ger) family is really fun

It used to always get on my nerves when people with 3 or 4 kids would make some comment about their family being "big."When there are TV shows about people with 8 kids, 11 kids, 21 kids, etc., four looks nothin!

Once we had our third, I felt like there were kids everywhere. I couldn't keep up with them. I could only hold one on my hip and the other with my hand (and then had to keep kicking the other one back into line...no I'm not joking)...or I could always put one in a wrap and hold the other two by the hand (but that's when the feeling-like-a-circus-show began.) Then, all of a sudden, I knew what people felt like with more than 2 kids. Three kids was a lot. Our family was "big."

Well, then came along #4. "Oh, what's another one?!!" That never made sense to me either. (still doesn't on certain days - Four can be a LOT more than three) BUT here's the thing: while we DO have one more mouth to feed, another car seat in the van, another person to put to bed at night...the laundry pretty much stayed the same (one load a day is still one load a day.) The house isn't THAT much louder. Bath time is just a little more crowded, and it takes us maybe an extra 5 minutes to get out the door.

Anyway, on any given day, four can feel like a lot...or it can feel like eh, what's another one?! There are days and weeks when I realize how much fun this is. Having four boys, each a year and a half apart...while I'm still in my 20s????!!!

Let me give you some examples of how much fun it really is:

1. With four kids (six people in a family) you can have a pretty intense competition over the games on the road to the Superbowl. (and really, that's only with 5 of us actually participating) We will also be having a pretty wild and crazy Superbowl party...so stay tuned :)

2. When Derek came home for lunch today, I was in the kitchen and heard TWO kids absolutely cracking each other up in one room, ONE kid wrestling with his daddy and doing an all-out belly laugh in the next room, and ONE kid running in to me in the kitchen to hug my leg. Bliss, I tell you. A house full of love and joy.

3. We can play games and have more than enough players.

4. During family Bible time, we have listeners, participants, teachers, and many interesting discussions (including some theological debate between the 4 and 6 year old...often.) Today, they were arguing over who was the first person ever born. Titus insisted it was God, but Justus assured him God was never born...quite confusing for a four-year-old...or six-year-old...or me...

"Make me pure by sprinkling me with hyssop plant. Then I will be clean.
Wash me. Then I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7
(Our theme this month is SNOW.)

5. There is always someone to talk to, cuddle with, climb on, chase, race in just about anything your heart may desire (and if you're a boy, there are a lot of things that apparently must turn into a race.)

6. We all learn patience, endurance, the art of order, and the beauty of working together VERY quickly.

7. You have constant bunk mates, play mates, reading buddies...

8. When it's time to clean up, (and everyone decides to help out) it can happen in a ridiculously short amount of time.

9. The kids are used to being the leader, the follower, the taken-advantage-of-er :) (They are prepared for just about any role in life.)

SO, while four kids might seem like too many for me to handle some days...and then not that big of a deal on another day, it is nice to recognize the fun that could not occur if we did not have the specific family God has blessed us with. Having a big(ger) family certainly has its perks :)

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