Thursday, January 27, 2011

A No Good School Week!


So, here I have been seeking to meditate on all that it means to be "Before the face of God" and, all the while, I have been battling my flesh, losing the fight too often, and blaming (in my heart) so many of my actions and reactions on the kids! That is, till God gave me a "heart spanking" today.

As I talked to God today, while folding laundry,I tried to blame hormones, tried to blame hard work assignments and difficult material, and even tried to blame my kids for their complaining, whining spirit this week...but the truth is, hormones don't make me sin, hard work assignments are not the cause of my impatience and lack of compassion, and my kids, in many ways, have been nothing more than a reflection of my own grumbling heart!

The Lord brought to mind Colossians 3:12-17...a passage I have been reading to the kids this past week:

"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Some of the above description did not describe me. Ouch! My sin truly had nothing to do with hormones, home school, or my kids. It had to do with my own heart. God just used those things to reveal what was in my heart so that I could repent and be refined.

I sat down with the kids, read them the passage in Colossians, and then let them know that mommy was not living out those verses and I was not setting an example for each of them to follow. I apologized to each of my kids individually and then I read from Proverbs 31:26:

"She opens her mouth with wisdom,and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."


I asked that they would pray for me as I pray for them...that they would pray that I would give them wise words and teach with kindness. It was tearful and it was humbling but it was also beautiful...and it was life. A sinner raising sinners...that means I know that what took place at our table will happen again (as it has happened before), I know that we will continue to sin against God and each other. But I also know that we will keep forgiving, loving, and pursuing God and each other...how can we not when we have been forgive, loved, and pursued by God Himself!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting for A Visa


We are awaiting Bryan's new work visa in the mail. His old work visa expires on January 31st. And that little piece of paper is pretty important! Without it, we can't go to the US (to get our mail, go grocery shopping, get gas, visit family, Bryan go to the Shepherd's Conference) because once we leave Canada, they won't let us back in!:)

Would you join us in praying that God would graciously allow it to make it's way to our mailbox in the next few days?!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gazing on God


As I have been meditating on the beauty of "Coram Deo" and the "gaze of God" upon my life as R.C. Sproul put it, I am reminded that just as His gaze is on me, my gaze should be steadfastly upon HIM!

"One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4


I read about several women from the 1500's (who were burned at the stake) in "Girls Gone Wise In A World Gone Wild" (highly recommend it!) who's gazes were steadfastly on the Lord and who's dying words are ones that I can only pray would be the cry of my heart in life and death. Here is an excerpt from the book:

"When the sheriff put the rope around Ann Audeber, she called it the wedding-sash wherewith she would be married to Christ. With joy on her face she exclaimed, "Upon a Saturday I was first married, and upon a Saturday I shall be married again." Or Elizabeth Pepper and Agnes George, who kissed and embraced the stake before they were burned. Or Elizabeth Folkes, who shouted, "Farewell all the world! Farewell faith! Farewell hope!" and taking the stake in her arms joyfully exclaimed, "Welcome love!" With fire licking her consuming flesh, she clapped her hands for joy and raised her arms in exuberant praise."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coram Deo


Coram Deo...two Latin words that I have heard before and read before...but, after being reminded about them by Pastor Fred in Sunday School the last couple of weeks, I am actually meditating on them now.

Coram Deo...these two words put together mean "before the face of God". R.C. Sproul says the following about this duo:

"This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze."


These two words hold all the precious promises of Psalm 139:1-6:

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it."

....and all the weight of Hebrews 4:13:

"And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account".

Coram Deo...they are words that I pray echo through my soul and that the reality of the "gaze of God" upon each thought, word, and action of mine would drive me toward a deeper pursuit of Christlikeness a little more each day till glory.

I think I have words for a new wall hanging in my house, how about you?!:)

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's not all about Jonah!!!



One thing I love about reading through the Old Testament each year is seeing the beauty of God at work on each page and in each story...and seeing how all of the Bible points to Him and to His Son, Jesus. His holiness, wrath, hatred of sin, compassion, mercy, and love for sinners is just amazing, beautiful, and fearful all at the same time!

But I have come to realize how often so many of the children's Bible story books that you and I pick up to read to our kids do not magnify God the same way His Word does. Sure, the stories may "come from the Bible" but they often make man the center of the story instead of God.

Here is an example. Bryan just finished reading the book of Jonah to us in our after-dinner family devos and we got talking about how, so often, we make Jonah the main character of the story (as we do in so many other Bible stories: Abraham and Isaac, Adam and Eve, Noah, Joseph, David, and Goliath) but he was simply a messenger for the leading character...GOD! And the true theme of the story isn't about a big whale (and, for the record, the whole "whale" thing is a guess...the Bible just says Jonah was swallowed by a big fish), it's about God's AMAZING mercy and grace to a very pagan city! It's estimated that the city of Nineveh was possibly as large as 600,000 people when Jonah went and preached a message of repentance to them. God's Word says that "the people of Nineveh believed God" (Jonah 3:5). Can you imagine God saving the whole city of Boston?!!! That is what it would have been like! It's incredible...God's incredible!

So, as you read Bible stories to your kids or talk about the truths in Scripture, would you join me in making sure we make God big...that He would be the theme of each story! And, just in case you want some help, "The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name" is a great place to start!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Whoo-Hoo!!!!


I am not a very technologically advanced gal. I know how to do a few things on my computer and I am typically content with that. One thing that I have wanted for my blog, though, is to have a way to search for certain posts that I have written in the past. With over 500 posts in the last 2 years it's just been too daunting to look through them all in hopes of finding a specific one.

I have also had inquiries about our adoption process and "life" when the boys first came home and it would have been so much easier to point them to blog posts of mine on those specific subjects...but they were so scattered throughout other posts that I knew it wouldn't be helpful to refer them to the blog!

In comes Superman...I mean, my husband!:) Within 5 minutes he had found a "gadget" that I could add to my blog to do exactly what I was desirous of!!! WHOO-HOO!!! Shift your gaze to the right...do you see it?!!! Now, punch in any word and all the posts with that word in it will come up at the top of the screen!

This technologically challenged girl is very impressed!:)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SEX!!!


I knew that title would make you stop and read.:) My prayer is that you will keep reading because the link at the end of this post is one of the best articles/booklets I have read on sex from a Christian woman's perspective. It's written by Aileen Challies, Tim Challies wife.

Sex, we are told, is a gift from God. But, often, especially for us women, it can seem more like a chore on our "to-do list". Aileen Challies says it this way:

"In my discussions with other married women I’ve seen clearly that sex, for many couples, is the one thing they fight about most (It’s not just us!). At least from the wife’s perspective, it usually comes down to a pretty simple fact: she simply doesn’t understand why sex is so important to her husband. Because she doesn’t understand, she continues to see it from her perspective and dismisses sex as unimportant, an annoyance, a chore, perhaps an occasional indulgence. She gives herself to him every now and again, hoping it will get hubby off her case for a couple of days, but she does so out of obligation or duty, not delight. Can you identify with this? I think most women can, at least at times."

I hope that one paragraph has caused you to want to read more (only 12 pages more!)...and to gain a new perspective of your husband and see, afresh, the beauty and mystery of God's design for sex! Reading this (and then implementing it) is the best gift you could give to your husband this year and, as a wife who just read the article, I do believe it's going to be one of my most favorite gifts this year, too!:)

Waste no time...click HERE for her (free) short e-book titled "False Messages"!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What am I managing?


Today was one of those days that did not go how I planned. Not that I had big plans, I just didn't plan on spending a couple of hours looking for a car title that, it appears, may actually be in the hands of our Canadian car insurance, after all (thanks to my husbands careful reading when he got home!).

My filing cabinet looks much tidier than it did when I woke up this morning but that was not how I planned to spend my time! And it was as I was fighting to take my thoughts captive and not give way to frustration and sinning in my own heart that I found this quote amidst the papers (in fact, I am pretty sure I have shared it before in a post):

"I have had to learn to manage my purpose for each day and not my time."

How fitting, huh?! And what a sweet comfort to be reminded that the goal of my day, the priority above all priorities, and my ultimate purpose never changes no matter how my time ends up being "spent"...it's to glorify God. It's to honor Him in my actions (I Cor. 10:31), my words, and the meditations of my heart (Psalm 19:14)!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Faith!



Friday we celebrated Faith's 8th birthday! In some ways it's hard to believe she is already 8 and, in other ways, she is already so "grown up"!:) I think it's all the big words she uses from all the reading she does!:)

I don't think I am alone in saying that when I think of Faith I can't help but smile! She makes us laugh...not so much because she's super "funny" but because she is just plain fun! She's passionate about certain things and everything else...well...she is pretty easy going about!:)

She loves to try new foods and has very particular tastes when it comes to the foods she does like. Don't try feeding her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She would rather go hungry!:) And she will eat salad till she turns into a rabbit but only if you have the kind of dressing she likes. She is more than likely to pick the cheese off of just about anything she eats (including pizza) but send an avocado and salt her way and she is as happy as a clam!

She LOVES to read and loves to do arts and crafts. She enjoys playing the piano and loves to "play act". She loves keeping her room messy...only problem is, it's not just "her" room...and her sister isn't too fond of her taste!:) She loves doing her schoolwork much to the chagrin of the rest of her siblings and the delight of mom! She is sensitive to the needs of others...especially orphans...and has blessed my heart so many times with her broken heart over the lost and needy!

Faith loves much and she is loved so very much!!! Happy Birthday Love Bug!!!



My dear Faith,

You bring so much laughter and giggles to our family! And those giggles started from just about the moment you were born! I couldn't believe all the rolls you had on your short, little legs! I have picture after picture of you as a baby and toddler doing funny things, making funny faces, or wearing something that just made us all laugh! You light up the rooms of our house, sweet girl!

You love life and it is so clear in the way you see things, in the words you say, and in the way that you live! And you love those around you so much....often finding ways to let them know just that! My prayer for you, Love Bug, is that you would love the Giver of life, Jesus, with every part of your heart! That you would be able to continue to love others in beautiful and sacrificial ways because you are loving them with God's love and in the strength He provides. And that, of all the books you read, you would love God's Word most of all and spend time in it each and every day!

My eyes fill with tears of thanksgiving for the gift that you are to your dad and I and your brothers and sister! What a joy it has been to celebrate your life this weekend!

Love you!!!

Mom

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Even if we never know....


In light of my conversation with my cousin (in-law) yesterday and an unrelated email I got this morning, I started thinking about Romans 8:28. God promises that, for those who love God, all things work together for good. It's a precious promise and one that should warm the heart of the believer through and through in any and every circumstance. My problem is that I often take that promise and "add" to it without even realizing that I am doing it. In my mind, I often quote the verse as being, "And God causes all things to work together for good to those who loves God and are called according to His purposes...and I will see how they work together for good really soon."

It doesn't say that, though. In fact, nowhere in Scripture does God give us the promise that we will understand and know all the good that God accomplishes through the often painful and difficult circumstances He allows us to go through. Often, He graciously allows us to see some of the fruit and have a front row seat to the masterpiece He is painting...but not always.

J.I. Packer says it this way in "Knowing God" in regards to our desire to know why God is doing what He is doing:

"...we feel that, for the honour of God (and also, though we do not say this, for the sake of our own reputation as spiritual Christians), it is necessary for us to claim that we are, already...here and now enjoying inside information as to the why and wherefore of God's doings. This comforting pretence becomes a part of us: we feel sure that God has enabled us to understand all His ways with us and our circle thus far, and we take it for granted that we shall be able to see at once the reason for anything that may happen to us in the future. And then something very painful and quite inexplicable comes along, and our cheerful illusion of being in God's secret councils is shattered....For the truth is that God in His wisdom, to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which He is working out in the churches and in our own lives....As we have seen, it is not a sharing in all of His knowledge, but a disposition to confess that He is wise, and to cleave to Him and live for Him in the light of His Word through thick and thin."

That is the beauty of life and a relationship with God. It's not about always understanding our circumstances...it's about knowing the God who holds those circumstances in His hands. And that makes all the difference in the world!

Monday, January 10, 2011

From the theater to the classroom


"The world is God's theater and our classroom."

Marvin Olasky said those words in an issue of WORLD Magazine and I thought it was such a cool way to think about life. Every day, all we have to do is look around us and we can see the glory of God on display...yesterday,from church, the mountains were just magnificent and they shouted forth the glory of God just by being there . Today, the snow started falling lightly and we delighted in our great God who created seasons. His theater doesn't stop, though, with the things He has made...it continues in the lives of those He has saved. Yesterday, during baptisms, we listened to the testimonies of men and women who were saved by His amazing grace and the tears flowed freely down my face. I could watch and listen, all day long, to the transforming power of God in the lives of His people. Today I spoke to my cousin-in-law, who is my age, and has just been given a diagnoses that her eyesight is and will continue to fail and she will go blind. Her desire and prayer in this: to glorify God and be a testimony through the pain and uncertainty.

That is God's theater. That is Him on display.

And it is our delight and duty to watch, to enjoy, to look for, to know, to proclaim, to study, to rejoice in all that He is! This life is like a classroom. We are to be students of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords (Psalm 119).

"Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them." Psalm 111:2

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Discipline

"Punishment is something done to a person. Discipline is something done for a person."

Pastor Fred spoke those words during Sunday School today and I keep chewing on them and praying that the Lord will help me to be a mom who consistently disciplines (not punishes) her kids, in obedience to God and for their good, just as the Lord is so faithful to discipline me for my good.

"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:5-11


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking Forward...


I read an article yesterday on the "True Women Blog" that beautifully shared what my own prayer and desire for this year (and every year) is. It's a beautiful picture of what the words of John the Baptist should look like in our lives.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30


The floor plans of my heart needs some modifications and some structures already built are in need of demolition or reconstruction....I know that it will bring pain and I know that it will not always be easy...but I so deeply want the cry of my heart to be that of David in Psalm 34:

"I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes it's boast in the Lord, let the humble hear and rejoice. Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together."

Here is how Carrie Gaul shares her "Lessons From a Mountain Home":

My anticipation increased as I ascended the winding Georgia road. I was en route to a mountain home that, by all accounts, was marked by great southern hospitality and indescribable beauty.

The reality exceeded anything I could ever have imagined! I was not only embraced with a warm welcome and made to feel like royalty with the little kindnesses lavished upon me, but the magnitude and magnificence of the mountain that seemed to engulf me was breath-taking.

Yet neither of these are what stands out as I recall my time on the mountain. What has lingered in my mind is the design of the house—it was specifically and uniquely designed for one primary purpose: to showcase the mountain. And it did so brilliantly! Simply stepping through the front door provided an incredible panoramic view of the mountain’s grandeur. From the living room to the kitchen to the bedroom, every window had been strategically placed to magnify yet another aspect of the glorious mountain!

The result? The house itself faded quickly from my memory, but the mountain it so masterfully framed remains forever engraved on my mind.

The Lord’s been reminding me that our lives were created for the same purpose. We are each uniquely designed to magnify only one thing . . . Jesus, and His glory, power, love, and grace. Everything we say and do is to serve only as a frame through which others see a clear picture of Him.

So I’ve been asking myself, “When people encounter my life what do they see? What will they remember?” Does my life display more about me–my circumstances, trials, accomplishments or defeats—than it does about Jesus and His redeeming, transforming power? What’s the lingering thought in the minds of those I rub shoulders with each day?

As I’ve reflected on the lessons from that mountain home, I’m realizing a number of areas that need some major remodeling in my own life. Remodeling can be messy and often takes longer than planned, but the Master Carpenter knows exactly what is needed. Will you join me as I ask Him to do whatever it takes so that my life magnifies only one thing . . . Jesus!

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:3)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking Back....


I can't remember the last time I was so behind on blogging about life and the goodness of God in it!?! Praise the Lord that He is always right on time with every detail, of every minute of each day of our lives! Great is His faithfulness!!!!

It has been a wonderful week with my family....though, as I write, the flu bug has found it's way into a couple of our stomachs and it has not been fun!

This past week was full of old traditions like our gingerbread man contest, stockings and big breakfasts, scones and Chex mix, and lots of games. And, to our delight and in answer to more than a few of our prayers, it snowed almost the whole time we opened presents! Our week also included a really special dinner. We had been given a gift certificate for MAINE LOBSTERS before we moved to Canada and we had so much fun using it on our (in our head) Christmas Day! The kids have also had fun painting, making snowflakes, playing pool on their mini-pool table from their Nanny and Gramps, getting lots of special time with their aunt, uncles, Grandma, and Papa and going ice skating in Portland today with Papa.

Here is a glimpse back at this past week as we start to look forward to 2011! (and if you want a bigger "glimpse" at the pictures just click on them and they should pop up nice and big!)



















Happy 13th Anniversary, My Beloved!