Monday, January 23, 2017

How are you using your oil?

"You always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could...." Mark 14:7-8a

You are probably familiar with the setting in which Jesus spoke these words. While Jesus was reclining at the table of the home of Simon, Mary (the sister of Martha and Lazarus) came and poured out a bottle of expensive oil on Jesus's head. Some of those around were not so pleased that she had "wasted" a really expensive bottle of oil on Jesus when the bottle could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus rebukes the crowd and commends Mary, calling her noble. Then, he reminds them with the above verse. There is good you will always be able to do and then there is good that you can do only so long as the people are there. It really is the principle of good, better, best, isn't it?!

And it got me am I using my "oil"? Who are the people I am investing my time in and giving my attention to for the glory of God? What are things that are always there, that I can seek out anytime, and who are people that I may only have been entrusted with for a short time that need the oil of my sacrifice the most?

As far as I know, I'll always have good, godly books available to read. Facebook, and the ability to stay caught up with friends around the globe, will still be at my fingertips. Blogs will not go too far...both the reading of them and the writing of posts, as well. The walls will still stand even if they don't have that extra pretty coat of paint and the stores will still stock racks of clothes or cute decorations to adorn my body and home with. Even areas of service and ministry in the church, that I would love to devote more time to, will continue to be available.

But there are those moments, those people that will not always be with me. My kids will one day leave the nest and my time with them will be but a fraction of what it is now. I can stop what I am doing and look them in their beautiful eyes now but, in the future, I might just be staring into a phone.  My opportunity to pray with a gal in the midst of pain and struggle will be a small window that I must jump through before the conversation comes to a close. The blessing of serving the mama who is sick and has little ones in need of care is limited to the days she is sick and in need of the most help. The time to encourage the fainthearted and weary is best served during their moments of  faintheartedness.

We may plan our days but the Lord is the one who directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). So much of my days are filled with things that, in many ways, are always with me....from cleaning, to laundry, to meal prep, to errands. But it doesn't take much observation to realize that there are many steps I take that are not steps that will always be with me. They are the steps the Lord has ordained for a season and those people or circumstances won't be with me for "always".  Am I anointing those things with the oil of sacrifice and joyful service as I seek to honor the Lord? Are you?

May we seek the Lord and ask Him for wisdom to know not only what is good and better but what is best in each step we take!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

19 Reasons

19 years ago, today, an 18 and 21 year old pledged their lives to each other before God and their families and friends and, that afternoon, became Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Pichura.

Some have said, and written about, how the chief goal of marriage isn't to make us happy, but holy. And because we all know how much sanctification takes place in a's easy to concur that that is a true statement. I remembering sharing this with Bryan several years ago...and he kindly disagreed. He graciously reminded me that God instituted marriage BEFORE there was sin...or the need to be holy and sanctified. Therefore, the original purpose of marriage actually had nothing to do with making spouses holy and everything to do with glorifying God by delighting in each other.

I think sometime it's easy to forget that. Easy to lose sight of the delight in the midst of all the duties. Easy to forgo a complement and reach for a criticism. Easy to allow hours and even days to go by without giggling together, saying "I love you", reaching for a kiss, a hand to hold, a body to hug...moments to foster and fuel delight and refuse to allow sin, self, and circumstances to rob the precious gift that marriage is.

So, today, here are 19 reasons why I can't help but delight in Bryan:

1) He loves Jesus more than he loves me

2) He loves sports as much as I do...especially college football

3) He is patient

4) He makes really good coffee...every morning

5) He loves to laugh

6) He thinks through what he says and does and doesn't rush into things

7) He bears with me for not thinking enough and rushing into things because of it

8) He likes chocolate peanut butter cup ice I feel a little less selfish buying it just for myself

9) He takes care of all things "tech" in our house and with our kids...which saves me from a daily nervous breakdown

10) He lives steadfastly on God's promises and it's a rare day that he shows any fear or worry

11) He is merciful... overlooking a thousand of my faults, though I can, sadly, be quick to bring up his

12) Family devotions isn't something we pray we'll get around to, it's a priority

13) Our kids have a wonderful example of what it looks like to love Jesus and walk in His a pastor, a husband, and a well as what it means to truly belly laugh over a funny Youtube.

14) He doesn't complain when I keep the light on to read though he'd love nothing more than a dark room to fall asleep in.

15) And he still cuddles me close even after I've kept that same light on way too long

16) He loves seafood and promises me we'll eat more of it when the kids have all left the house :)

17) He'll clean the bathroom...toilet, shower and all....if he knows it will help ease my workload

18) He doesn't hit the ball as hard as he could when we play tennis....and is still willing to play another game of chess, though his losing streak continues

19) His heart is set on eternity...and the choices he makes for himself, for me, and for our kids, flows out of that eternal perspective...and, therefore, there is much peace in our home as we trust him, knowing he's following and treasuring Christ above all.

I'm so thankful to the Lord for the gift of marriage! The delights, the sanctification, the laughter, the trials, the sweetness. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things"...and that certainly includes marriage! It's a gift from Him that endures through the strength that He provides in the midst of our weakness, and it's all for His glory...which helps us keep our eyes off of self and even off of each other and onto Christ, our hope and our portion forever!

Happy Anniversary to the "one whom my soul loves". I pray the Lord sees fit to give us many more years together...but, for today, I'm so very thankful for 19.