Posted tagged ‘God’

We Laughed Too

August 21, 2013

. . . I remember the moms of one or two kids, eyes like saucers as we passed them in the grocery store, asking one of two questions: 1 Are they all yours? 2 How do you do it? And Mom laughed. . . .

Phylicia’s post sounded some echos from my own past, so go have a read!

I remember those days, when my own mother would be shopping in the grocery store or the mall, five little munchkins trailing behind.  “Are they all yours” was a common question, at least until people were more distracted by “are they twins?”  The answer to both questions was yes, so at least that was easy…

My siblings and I span ten years from oldest (me) to youngest.  I know that helped a little, since some of us were able to be a significant amount of help when the last two came along.  I know I can’t fully appreciate all the work that went into raising five children, at least not yet, but I know that it was worth it!

We laughed too.  Some days it was little more than a smile, but we laughed.  We sang, we played games, we read books, and we laughed.

Phylicia is right, there is a joy and a peace that transcend circumstances, whether there are five kids, six kids, two kids, or none.  We can encourage it, or we can smother it, so look for the ways that God is blessing your family and point them out.  Rejoice in the family you’ve been given.

And build for the future.  Your future home, your children’s future homes, your future home in heaven.  Rejoice, for the Lord is come.

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Sharing

October 27, 2012

Yes, that skill taught to most toddlers (which few of them would master otherwise), sharing.  It seems you never stop learning to do it.

I’ve come in for some recent lessons on sharing.  Not that I have any trouble sharing my toys, my books, or my family.  I have learned to do that pretty well.  I even share my thoughts, probably more often than people care to hear them.  But in the last few months, God has been teaching me to share His music.

I have not made much mention of my music on this blog, and I don’t intend to make a big deal of it now.  The bare fact is that I sometimes write songs, both lyrics and melodies.  As to the quality, I can’t say much, although about half of my songs never make it past the first or second listener, while others don’t make it out of my notebook.  I have a quality control check for my music – if I play it for one of my siblings and they don’t “get” it or I don’t feel like my message was communicated, then either the song needs major work or it’s not worth pursuing.

Sometimes I have a good topic and I just go about writing it the wrong way.  Sometimes, though, a song will speak to me and to those preliminary sound boards (pun semi-intentional), and I give it some time to work out the kinks.  At that point, I have been willing to play some of my work for larger audiences, such as a coffeehouse kind of setting.  But God has been showing me lately that there’s more to it than just playing my songs for people.

Because they aren’t my songs at all.

The music I write is not mine, but His, and I am beginning to understand that as such, it has to be shared with His people.  This month, we attended the Bible Conference that I’ve written about in previous years.  Now two years ago, I wrote a song that, for me, embodied everything I love about the fellowship we share at the Conference.   A couple of months ago, I realized that it was time to share the song with everyone else there.  So I emailed the conference coordinator and asked if I could sing the song at some point during the weekend.  He was very gracious in allowing me to do so.

Now, I get nervous about singing solos, and that only gets worse when I’m singing an original song.  But when I stood up to sing, I wasn’t nervous.  I can’t say I was particularly calm either, but the song came out all right anyway!   I’m  glad now that I was able to share, because although I doubt I’ll ever write anything that would hit a Top-40 list, even of Christian music, what God gives me is meant for more than just myself.

I have the privilege of living with the music, playing it over and over as I hunt for the exact wording and melody that it should have, and gaining new insights into Him with each song I write.  The least I can do is share the end result with other people, and let them glean what they may from that.

So, what is it that God has given you to do?  Perhaps you also write music, or maybe you paint, stitch, write, speak, or carve.  Maybe your talent comes in caring for people.  Probably your gift is completely different from mine, but the principle remains similar.  He means you to share Himself with others, in whatever He has given you to do.

Waiting for … Eleazer?

July 27, 2012

I’ve been struck lately by the whole “prince charming” phenomenon.  Disney probably hasn’t helped girls in their preparation for young womanhood by giving them a plethora of pictures where the prince comes along, meets a girl, falls in love, and marries the princess or the beauty (nor is Disney the only culprit, lest you think I’m anti-Disney or something).  I know, I know, there’s usually a catch, like a dragon or a wicked witch, or some such obstacle, but fairy tales resolve themselves in short order.  In real life there is more to it than that.

~*~

So let’s think about some old love stories.  One of the first recorded love stories is of a girl who went to a well.  This was something she did every night, and she probably had no warning that tonight was going to be any different.  Tonight she met a traveler.  Perhaps she saw the caravan first, and looked to see if this rich train was led by a handsome young man.  When she saw that he was middle-aged or more, definitely no dashing young prince charming, she was not deterred, and she offered to give him drink, and then to water his camels.  Her servant’s heart was evident, and she thought of no reward.  Imagine her wonder when the man gives her gold bracelets and asks her questions about her family, and whether he can lodge with them!

We usually read Rebekah’s story from Eleazar’s standpoint, of how he prayed for guidance and then met her at the well.  But think, girls, she was there doing her daily chores.  She wasn’t off on some mission’s trip, nor was she flirting at youth group.  She was living in the light God had given and doing good to others!  And apparently she wasn’t afraid to work, either, because watering ten thirsty camels until they’ve finished drinking is a lot of work.  And she was hospitable; she invited Eleazar and his camels home before she knew that he was of her great-uncle’s household.

Then, Eleazar asks her to travel with him to become the bride of his master’s son, Isaac.  I’m guessing he told her about Isaac, probably in fairly general terms, and about what kind of inheritance Isaac would have.  The last part was probably for her family’s benefit, because if I know a woman, she could have cared less if his father had had only a few sheep instead of many flocks.  The adventure probably sparked her interest all by itself, but it would also have been cause for some deep thought and prayer.  Whether she had misgivings or no, she could not help but see God’s hand in leading Eleazar to her, and when her brother and father would have kept them there some weeks in preparation, she told them simply “I will go.”  And she went with Eleazar to meet a bridegroom she did not know.

~*~

Okay, here’s another old story with another well.  This time the girl was a shepherd.  She kept her father’s sheep.  Every day she had to bring her sheep to a well which had a stone covering it.  That stone took many men to lift, so she probably did not hurry to get there early.  But one day, as she came to the well, a stranger was standing there talking to some of the other shepherds.  Surely she was mistaken, but it seemed as if he was only waiting until he saw her coming, and then he rolled the stone away singlehandedly.  If he was going for the impressive factor, he succeeded!  This stranger proceeded to water her flocks, and then he told her that he was her father’s nephew, and she ran home to bring her father out to greet Jacob.

Yep, we generally read this one from Jacob’s perspective.  It’s very easy to get tangled up in the Laban vs. Jacob bargaining and the daughter swap that lands Jacob with two wives, but the beginning of this romance was that Jacob saw Rachel about her father’s business.  And he helped her water her flock.  Later he would take over her job of caring for Laban’s flock.  Come to think of it, Laban apparently had sons too, because later on, they get worried about how Jacob is making off with the lion’s share of Laban’s flocks (fairly worked for, of course).  Makes me wonder what they were up to while Rachel watched the flocks, but I will resist the temptation to digress here.

~*~

So, two love stories.  Two plot lines.  And which will your romance look more like?  We tend to imagine something more along the lines of Jacob, rolling the stone off the well.  I’ll admit, he made a big first impression.  But girls, don’t take it for granted that you’re looking for a Jacob and therefore miss Eleazar when he rides into town.  A train of ten camels is not to be sneezed at, so don’t !

What do we do in the meantime?  What were Rachel and Rebekah doing?  Living in their fathers’ houses, doing the work laid out for them.  Whether you have a job outside the home or in, you can be pursuing God’s plan for your life as part of the family He has placed you within right now.  Don’t fret about the future, but prepare yourself for it.  When your future comes knocking, don’t be caught saying “wait, I’m not ready for this.”   I wouldn’t even worry about the hows, wherefores and whys.  What is important is to live as God leads you, whether the guy at the well is Jacob or Eleazar.

Do you trust God to bring you your Jacob? Remember girls, when he met Laban’s daughters, he was nowhere near the man who became called Israel. Can you wait for His timing for Eleazar to bring you to your Isaac? We don’t know what Rebekah thought when she watered those camels, but she probably wasn’t thinking “oh, here’s someone who can introduce me to a nice young man, I’ll water his camels too.”  Don’t be shocked if your story takes some faith-deepening twists.

And how did each of these love stories end?  Each man loved his wife, and they went about their Father’s will together, for both couples were links in the chain that would eventually set the world free.

What kind of shoe are you?

June 5, 2012

Okay, you can say it.  This girl is weird.

Who on earth would want to be a shoe?

Actually, this post is about putting our purpose into shoe leather.  So those of you who read the title and immediately started picturing what cute kind of shoe you’d like to be, focus.  I’m talking serious big-kid stuff here.

I was considering that age-old question the other day: What is my purpose?

Answers to this abound, many of them lies.  I won’t go into most of those.  Most of them completely miss the point, or are simplistic, like the Sunday School answer – to do good.  Or the spiritualistic answer – to glorify God.  If you give these answers to a true seeker, however, he’ll be disappointed.  And so am I.  These answers lack direction.  I want to know what good to do, how to glorify my God.

So, I had to dig deeper and ask what does glorifying God look like in shoe leather?  How on earth do we get that rubber to meet the road?  Can we draw a blueprint or a road map for how to get to that position?

Here are the answers I’ve been working on.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact blueprint.  Because every person is different, because He made us each with different talents, every person will glorify Him differently.  Because every person will glorify Him differently, there is and can be no detailed blueprint for us to follow as we build the houses (temples – 1 Cor. 3:16) He delights to dwell in.

Instead, He has given us The Way.

In following the footsteps of Jesus, who is the Way (the Truth, and the Life), and the leading of the Spirit, we find our path lit by His Word, and we are blessed in glorifying our Father.  Yeah, I know, I’m still not being concrete.  Let me tell you, being concrete is pretty easy for me to do in reality, but not an easy thing for me to describe in words (Sister is the writer, remember!).  But let me keep trying, and we’ll see if by the end of the discussion I can’t give you something concrete to work with.  (Granted, I don’t know who would want to wear concrete shoes, but . . . )

Okay, let’s try the shoe on for size.  Suppose we are like the leather in a shoe (or boot, if you like).  We start out as limp, helpless leather, unable to fathom how on earth we’re going to get in the right shape.  God, as the master cobbler, cuts out the 2D shape that he wants (and that can be a painful process as He gets rid of baggage that we don’t need which would only mar the shoe in the end).   Then He uses His tools to shape us, and to sew all the pieces in the right positions to create a beautiful shoe.

Don’t you love it when a project comes together?  And when we start putting the pieces together that make up the different parts of our lives, realizing that we can’t compartmentalize Jesus because He belongs in all parts, I think God is pleased in seeing His “project” come together.

Still want to know what it will look like?  Well, since He doesn’t ever make two identical shoes (although He does make them in pairs sometimes), we won’t know until He finishes with us what we’re going to look like.  Still, we have many saints/shoes to look to for ideas on the kinds of shoes He has made before.

I’m probably not getting any warmer in my search for a concrete image for you.  But there seems to be a reason for that.  As I see it, the key concept to this process is Faith.  Everything keeps coming back to faith in Jesus.  And since faith is an abstract kind of concept, we should not be surprised that the concrete is difficult to come by.

We must believe that although we do not know our shoe type, He does, and we know He can turn out a good shoe.  Of course, we also have to stay out of his way.  Our part is to listen while He works in us.  At some point, somewhere along The Way, we will probably become aware of the kind of shoe we are becoming.  But probably not until we have learned lessons about not rushing ahead when we aren’t ready yet.  You know how ready we are to jump to conclusions when we think we know how a story is going to end, so I’m not surprised that God doesn’t show us more than a few steps of the path lest we be tempted to take shortcuts.  Imagine trying to walk in a shoe that hadn’t been stitched together yet!  Or trying to run in one that didn’t have any laces yet!  We run into problems when we impatiently push forward instead of waiting till He leads us in The Way.

When we look to Him in faith and hope, I think that’s when He can show us what is next.  Not that He is unable to show us before that, but more that we are too distracted to see it.  I think sometimes we get too focused on where we are, instead of looking at Him and who He is.  If we look to Him, and do the next thing He hands us to do, then we won’t have to worry about our futures, and we won’t get bogged down in figuring out where we are going.

Maybe you’re one of those who’d like to have a long-range goal to work toward.  Sometimes God will give us a dream that we can work for, but other times we have to work a little harder.  If you don’t have a dream, you can always ask Him for one, but then try looking at the little things He has given you to do lately, and see if there isn’t a pattern.  Do you like to share His story?  Do you enjoy spending time with little ones?  Maybe you’re a writer and He has used you to brighten people’s day with a poem.  Perhaps He has given you a green thumb and you can bless people with the flowers He made.  I don’t think you’ll have a hard time once you start looking for the vision He has for your life in Him.

Like I said, I’m better at living this concept than writing about it, although I sometimes have trouble with that aspect as well.  I am one to whom He gave a dream very early on, but who has sometimes struggled to see the next step along The Way.  But our God is faithful; He knew all along just where the next step was in my climb.  And He knows yours too.

Dear Tim

January 7, 2012

I don’t follow all of the hype, but I understand that a whole controversy is brewing over Tim Tebow’s habit of wearing his faith on his sleeve.  I don’t mean to add to the cacophony of opinions, but I wanted to extend a round of applause to Tim, and since I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, where sending him a high-five would be relatively easy, I’ve chosen to write a post for him.  Football fan or not, I hope you will agree with me that Tim has been faithful to walk the talk despite opposition.  Would that more of us would learn to do this, whether we are in the public eye or not.

Dear Tim,

Thanks for being such a strong example to our nation of what a Christian looks like.  I can only imagine how hard it is to deal with everyone who is questioning the way you live out your faith.  Personally, I am thrilled to see someone of my generation (or any generation for that matter)  standing up for Christ and living as if he means what he says.  Stand strong, brother!

While I have to be honest that the Broncos aren’t my first favorite team (yeah, I’m one of those people who roots for several teams – gives me an advantage when it comes to the post season because one of them usually makes it!), I’ve always been a Denver fan because I have family living there (and my dad is a fan).  Now with you as the quarterback, I’ve been pulling extra hard for you guys!

My encouragement to you, Tim, is to keep walking in The Way you’ve begun.  Stay humble, and let the hype and controversy, whether it’s over your throwing motion or your praying, roll off your back like water off a duck.  You know whom you serve, and you know that His approval is all you need to go forward.  As your sister in Christ, I feel privileged to watch Him work in you, and I rejoice in the opportunity to stand with you through prayer.  I can’t wait to see what God will do with you as you focus on being God’s man first, last, and all the time!

Congratulations on making the playoffs!

Oh, and by the way, I love your closing salutation.  I’d use it here, except that I’ve not figured out how to coax superscript out of my editor yet.

God Bless,
and
Go Broncos!

~Homeschool Graduate

Another Day, Another Year

December 31, 2011

Well, so this is it.  The end of another year.  The beginning of a new one.  Another year to live, move, and have our being in God.  Another year to learn of His fullness and faithfulness.  Another year to learn how feeble our own efforts are.

What is it about a new year that makes everyone want to come up with resolutions, plans, etc, more than any other time?  Well, I guess it’s understandable.  I tend to choose my birthday as a point for review, but if you want to use the new year that’s fine.  I think people may use the new year as a time to turn a fresh page, so to speak, in their copy book (there’s an old allusion for you).  The hope is that we can make each new year better than the last, meaning less mistakes, less blots on the page, less heartache, and more good memories, good deeds, and joy.

Personally, I think the New Year’s resolutions are a faulty method to achieve the goal.  Resolutions focus on what we are doing or not doing.  But we are not the point of this life.  Instead of focusing on ourselves, what if we all made this New Year’s about a closer look at GodHe is the point of each new year, each new day, each hour, each minute.

And I think if we truly focused on Him in whom we find our life, breath, and being, we would find those mistakes lessening, heartaches easing, good memories abounding, good deeds flowing naturally, and joy springing up like a fountain from the depths!  What we could never achieve through our own efforts suddenly becomes effortless when God is doing it in us.

So that is my challenge to you this New Year’s Eve.

Forget the resolutions.

Focus on the Father, trusting Him to work all good things within you.

Have a Faith filled New Year!

Blessings

November 7, 2011

This video doesn’t need a lot of introduction, so I’ll try to keep it short.  A woman in my church sang this song as a special yesterday, and I was singing along because I like the song so much.   I read in a book that life is like a cross stitch design.  We see the back side, where threads go every-which-way and make no sense.  Someday we’ll see what God sees, which is the complete design.  We cannot understand why we need all the trials of this life, but He knows, and that is enough for me.  I think sometimes He tips a little of the design so we can see it now, but it’s going to be pretty amazing when we finally understand that all the crisscrossed stitching on the backside was necessary to make the picture so beautiful.


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