Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mind Games

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Confession: I waste so much time and energy in wishing for different circumstances. When it’s frigid cold, I long for summer weather. When it’s blazing hot, I yearn for crisp autumn temperatures. I found recently that this is how my mind works so often-I reject today’s circumstances and daydream about how I would like things to be. I know this train of thinking is arrogant and foolish, but my mind so often claims this pattern as its default. I want more control over the thoughts that swish around in my head. I want my first reaction to the day’s challenges to be positive.

God worked through my 13-month-old to help me realize that I needed to change my thinking this week. We were playing at a park together one morning and Zane wanted to go down a big slide. So I set him in my lap and we whizzed down the metal slide until SPLASH! We slid right into a giant puddle of rain water at the end! My first reaction in my mind was, “Oh man! Now we’re all wet and we still have to walk back home! How did I not see the ‘lake’ on the slide?!” Zane’s reaction was quite the opposite. After we both stood up, he started splashing and giggling in the remaining water that hadn’t been mopped up by our cabooses. His abandonment and joy were contagious. I joined in with the laughing and splashing and what ensued was a priceless memory of pure happiness. We were still soaked. We were still a mess. But we chose joy instead of frustration.

After this simple illustration, I realized that I was taking life way too seriously and negatively. Daydreaming was leaving me empty and discontent. I was ready to discipline my rebellious mind and ask the Holy Spirit to counteract my weaknesses. I was ready to trust God more readily. I was finally ready to choose joy.

So now to help keep me accountable, I want to share my goals with you for Holy Spirit-controlled thinking for this fall:
~Each morning I am going to ask God to help me be available to accomplish His purposes for the day.
~Through the Holy Spirit’s power I am going to try to accept each day as a precious gift from Him, and thank God for it instead of wishing it away.
~Instead of wasting so much time and energy longing for what is not, I am going to invest that energy in trusting the Savior.
~Only God knows how much time and energy I will have each day, so I will ask Him to direct my thinking and decision making so that I can be the most available to others and to Him. ~When I find myself reacting to situations negatively, I will stop and review God’s truths and promises to get me back on the right track. 

May you and I claim the Holy Spirit’s power this week in our minds and hearts! May you and I cling to the hope that God gives us even in the toughest circumstances! May you and I choose joy!

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Royal

10299005_10154206752045153_9161918324278248115_nI walked into a coffeeshop this morning and a beautiful scene greeted my eyes. A little girl with golden curls was sitting at a table with her father, smiling at him while sharing breakfast. Gently tied around this pretty 5-year-old’s shoulders was a pink silk cape with a golden crown painted on it. She was her daddy’s princess-it was evident in the way he lovingly wiped crumbs off her cheek and in the way she gazed back at him with trust and admiration. She was royal.

This lovely moment reminded me of Psalm 45, “Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord…all glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.” I have always wanted to write a book about a courageous girl who catches the eye of the king of the land with her bravery, humility, and integrity instead of just her outer appearance. This is many a girl’s dream-to be treasured for inner beauty. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is found in 1 Peter 3, “…your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, is of great worth in God’s sight.” 

So if we are of great worth in God’s eyes and we are treasured as being royal, why are we still suffering? Why do we feel beaten down and poor? I have taken great hope in Randy Alcorn’s insights lately. On this subject he shares, “God is preparing his children for a job-ruling a redeemed Earth. We’ve all seen what happens to princes and princesses raised in palaces, handed everything they want, having everything their way. They become spoiled and uncaring, poisoned by a spirit of entitlement. They aren’t fit to be servant leaders but only tyrants. God is using our present school of adversity to prepare us to reign with Christ, the Servant King of servant kings. God uses suffering to achieve the glorious transformation of our characters to prepare us for service and joy in the next life.”

I love this! We are being molded and transformed in this short life on earth so that we can rule with Christ in the everlasting kingdom to come! This gives me hope. It gives me purpose. It gives me joy. It helps me trust the King.

To be royal means to be of kingly ancestry. We are the children of the King of Kings! We are royal. We are privileged. We are important. We are loved. May you and I live this week with a new look at the pain that presents itself to us. May we face the suffering and the disappointments and the heartaches with the knowledge that we are being transformed into servant leaders for the kingdom of Jesus through all of it and that we are beautiful in the King’s eyes. All glory be to the Servant King!

Good or Safe?

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If you have been following the news in the Middle East these last couple of weeks, your heart is probably breaking like mine. When I heard that ISIS has been murdering innocent children and women just for being Christians, I nearly lost my lunch. How can there be such evil unchecked on this earth?! I actually asked that same question to God while praying this last week. I raised my voice and my tear-stained face up to the King and begged him to protect his family members overseas. Why?! Why does such evil still happen each day, much of it hidden except to the One Who Sees? Why can’t God grant our wishes and wipe out evil entirely today to keep us safe?

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan the Lion is safe. “Who said anything about safe?” Mr. Beaver answers. “‘Course he isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Randy Alcorn states, “This is sound theology. God can be good without being safe; he can be loving without bowing to our very wish and desire.” Someday God will indeed remove all suffering and evil, but He will do this only when it accomplishes his greatest glory, which happens to also be our greatest good.

Alcorn suggests, “If we come to see the purpose of the universe as God’s long-term glory rather than our short-term happiness, then we will undergo a critical paradigm shift in tackling the problem of evil and suffering. The world has gone terribly wrong. God is going to fix it. First, for his eternal glory. Second, for our eternal good.” Think of it this way: God’s goodness encompasses much more than just whatever makes us feel safe and happy. He sees what we cannot. He acts where we cannot. He comforts when we cannot. He knows the plan inside and out and every once and a while may grant us the privilege of understanding a tiny part of it.

It’s easy to think that if God were just as good as we are, then suffering and evil wouldn’t exist. But Randy Alcorn argues, “On the contrary, evil and suffering wouldn’t exist if we were as good as God is.” So instead of asking God to remove all the pain and heartache from the world, we should instead be pleading for Him to grow us to be more and more like Him-good, kind, moral, loving, faithful, just, forgiving until the day when he chooses to come back to obliterate evil completely for his greatest glory.

So until that incredible day of redemption arrives, may you and I seek to be more like the Savior each day. May you and I trust the All Knowing One even when everything around us crumbles apart. May you and I comfort the hurting and forgive the hurters in this world. May you and I bring glory to Jesus Christ through his power!

“The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” (Isaiah 60:19)

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3)

“You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)

The Ugly Inside

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It happened on a scorchingly hot day. The pain is still seared into my mind. I was pushing my one-year-old in his stroller, dashing under shade trees for temporary relief from the blazing rays of the sun. I don’t remember exactly what triggered my brain to dive deeper into examination, but suddenly it was as if a scummy film had been scraped off my eyes and I could finally see the details and truth that had been in front of me all along. It was as if I was seeing a reflection of my actions and thoughts and they were staring back at me with ugly warts, rotting teeth, and unkempt hair. How had this happened? How had I let my thinking turn sour? I realized that I had been viewing the world through bitter, judgmental, prideful, and cynical lenses the last year. I stopped pushing the stroller, turned my warm face up toward the blazing sun, and wept. My son turned around and looked at me quizzically and I spoke out loud for the first time on our walk, “Mommy needs to ask God for forgiveness.”

Our pastor, Rick McKinley, recently stated: “The most courageous thing any of us may do is face the truth about ourselves. Grab the horns of the altar pleading for mercy for the darkness we find and raise our hands in praise for the light of His life in us, both can be equally terrifying.” God gave me the courage to face the truth and then the power to make the decision to change the destructive pattern I had drawn for myself carelessly. Praise the King for not giving up on His wayward children!

This last year has been the most difficult and challenging year that I can remember ever facing. Unforeseen circumstances, relationships, harsh words from others, fatigue, burn out-they beat me up inside and out and left me raw. I am ashamed to admit that I got tired of fighting and finally let them win. I didn’t realize this until months later though. Perhaps I was in denial or perhaps I was too worn out to put in the hard work of self-examination. Praise God that He allowed me to rest long enough this last week to wake me up from my sinful stupor to “grab the horns of the altar pleading for mercy for the darkness we find.”

I told my family recently that I haven’t felt like myself. I feel like the cheer and encouragement has escaped me like air out of a deflating balloon. I’m done letting the world beat me up and dictate how I feel and react. I have a choice. I can cling to the Creator’s promises and unfaltering character. I can focus on the positive aspects of situations. I can thank God in the midst of my weaknesses. I can ask others to keep me accountable. I can love people despite their failings because I fail too. I can examine my thoughts and actions daily through the Word and prayer so I never go long with poisonous behavior plaguing me. I can seek forgiveness from the King of Love for myself so that I can forgive others also. I can view myself as no better than any other person-we are all sinners in debt to our perfect Savior. I can live life cheerfully because God has gone before me to make this possible. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

May God give you and me the courage to face the ugly sin that creeps into our lives and the strength to put it behind us to embrace a righteous life that honors Him and encourages others. He is powerful! He has redeemed us! We can be beautiful again through His sacrifice! Thank you, Jesus.

“You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit of God living in you.” (Romans 8:9a)

“Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5b)

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)

 

 

Trusting and Obeying Despite Not Understanding

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It’s embarrassing. I just realized that the last time I posted on this blog was two whole months ago! Sigh. I’ve missed blogging. The truth is, I didn’t know what to write recently because I needed time to process and grow through the challenges that I found myself in the midst of these last couple months. Praise the King that He is patient and faithful to walk us through uncertainty with gentle love! Without Jesus as my anchor I would have surely been swept under life’s wild waves, breathless.

The purpose of this blog post today is not to complain, but rather to show how God has been stretching and teaching me to trust Him-trust who He is, what He does, when He takes action, and how He chooses to do so. I wish I could say I have totally and completely trusted God through the challenges of the last two months, but that wouldn’t be truthful. I have had doubts. I have been frustrated. I have cried. I have pounded pillows with my fists and shouted out, “Why?!” And the whole time, God has lovingly held my tear-stained face in his gentle hands and soothed me just by listening. I would often ask Him to speak to me and tell me what to do next, but He chose to just listen and hold me. I now know that this was best for me. I needed to be still and to stop striving to make the circumstances change.

In the last sixty days our family has changed churches, houses, job descriptions. We have remained in the same town, but most everything else has changed. God asked us to obey Him even when it didn’t always make sense to start attending a church in Portland and to resign from my children’s ministry director and secretary positions here to be home with our one-year-old son. Just a few week’s after giving my notice at church, our landlords asked us to find another rental as soon as possible so their relative could move into the house we were renting. We were shocked. We loved where we lived and thought we would be there many more years. We found another rental on the other side of town that was not nearly as nice for a lot more money a month-money we did not have since I had just resigned from my job. We proceeded to clean, pack, and move the next couple weeks. Then the three of us became quite ill. We are now just finally feeling better.

The world is not just, but God is. The world is not forgiving, but God is. The world is not kind, but God is. Corrie ten Boom once said, “The devil is strong, but his power is limited; Jesus’ power is unlimited.” This has been a great comfort to me. In May 2000, Pastor James Montgomery Boice addressed his congregation in Philadelphia and boldly stated, “God is in charge. When tough things come into our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by…. God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything He does is good…. If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you’d change it, you’d make it worse. It wouldn’t be as good.”

Do I understand why God allowed the last two months to be filled with crazy hard challenges? No. He may grant me the privilege of understanding this summer in the future, or He may not. I need to be ok with not understanding His ways. I need to trust the King of Kings anyway. I need to forgive those who have been unfair to our family. I need to love them too. I need to wake up each morning and ask God, “What do you want me to do today with the time you have so graciously given me?” I need to realize there are so many other people in the world that are suffering so much more than us. I need to pray that they find comfort in Christ’s love. I need to focus on the things God has given us, not the things He has taken away. I need to live each day looking for the best-in others and in circumstances.

To end this post, I wanted to share with you just a few of the many blessings God sent our way in the midst of these last two crazy months. Praise Him!
~My parents flew here at the perfect time to help us clean the rental we were moving into, aid us in packing, and even generously purchase household items to help get us started!
~My husband’s parents watched our son while we were moving, hemmed curtains, gave us a window air conditioner, and helped hook up some of our appliances.
~Several friends helped us move on one of the hottest days of the year, made us supper, gave us another air conditioner for our son’s room, and helped watch our boy when we were too sick to take care of him!
~Staying home the last month for the first time as a parent has been so encouraging and refreshing. It’s such a joy to be there for our son!
~Living closer to town has been nice. It’s been fun walking to stores and we have been saving gas money too!
~My husband and I have grown closer through these challenges and our faith is stronger!
~Our family is learning to appreciate the little things more and to not hold onto material items!
~God has been faithful!

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)