Category Archives: Living for Christ

Thankful – In Spirit and In Truth

Over a week of the thankfulness challenge (and also November!) has gone by, and I have struggled at times to enter into praise before my Lord – my thanks seem trivial, and my heart lacks animation. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I am thankful for them, but though my lips move uttering my thanks… my heart does not grasp the God who has given them. I do not know Him better, or find myself at all humbled by these contemplations. Who am I thankful to? What Greatness has bestowed these things? Where is my motivation for thankfulness coming from?

Oh loved ones in the Lord, may we not be satisfied with mere words, but continue seeking our Lord’s face until our knees buckle and we must bow down before His Majesty! In this month leading up to Thanksgiving day, may our thanks be a necessary overflow from a heart that knows it’s Maker and it’s Lover! May our thanks be a prayer, an offering, a sweet-smelling savor for God’s sake alone, a response to our own frailty… may they mingle with our tears of unworthiness and yet acceptance before the great throne of our King on high. Offer your thanks in spirit and in truth, and be thankful unto HIM, whose name is forever, whose holiness cannot be described, whose love is everlasting, whose judgments search the heart and are true and right. May His name be praised!

The Psalms are filled with exhortations to praise the name of the Lord. And that is where my heart is today.

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” (Psalm 115:1)

…my Savior, I thank You for Your work of salvation, and grace, and mercy poured upon me freely! I thank you for being the champion of my soul…

…Lover of my soul, I thank you for seeking ME out personally, for so loving me with an Your everlasting love that You will not let me go…

…my Creator, I thank you for Your faithfulness to Your creation! I am always in awe at the thought that Your work as Creator did not end on the 6th day of time, but rather continues even now as You hold everything together and sustain us through each moment! All for the manifestation of Your glory and for the love of Your people!…

…Father of the fatherless, I thank You for upholding us when others fail and bringing comfort to hurting souls, for putting adoption into the hearts of Your people and being the Might for those who have no might…

…our Holy Judge, I thank You that Your ways are just and right, that no man can change Your mind, that in Your judgement You are not capricious or changeable to sway from one view to another, but righteous through all generations…

…my King and my God, I thank You for Your sovereign control! What comfort and peace, what humble reverence and trust is mine! You rule over Your people in mercy and wisdom, for their good and their salvation. My heart rests secure in You…

…O Strength of my life, I thank You for being the defense of my soul, for protecting me from the enemy’s mortal blows. You make me confident, You take away all my fears, and I thank You for the great Bulwark You are in my heart…

May my thanks ever flow before the Lord’s throne as an offering poured out in love and praise, from a heart that is wholly fixed on pleasing Him and no one else – not myself, and not you. More of You, dear Jesus, and so much less of me!

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Humble Thanks For A Sweet Weekend

We are home from the Worship of God conference this weekend, and we have been unimaginably blessed. The humbleness and Christ-centeredness of the speakers and their messages has been a beautiful thing and my heart has been convicted of my own pride and selfishness. It hurts to see it in myself, in the ones I love, and in those who pass by all around me. My heart is often broken in sorrow over it.

We heard a prayer offered for the next speaker that he would “disappear,” and another speaker started by asking that no one would applause him but rather say amen, alleluia or praise the Lord. True worship can only happen when man is abased and the Lord is exalted. All glory be to God!

I have also been moved to prayer often over the last few days, and have realized my faithlessness in the past. I have been exhorted to joyfulness in the Lord, and I will praise Him for His wonderful goodness and humbly trust the rest to His merciful care.

My loving Father, I praise Your name and thank You…

…for godly men who teach and exhort with humility and conviction
…for the fellowship of the saints
…for the instruction of Thy Word to all of life
…for the great delight and satisfaction You give us in worshipping you
…for Your work of transformation (Rom 12:2), and of conforming (Rom 8:29, Phil 2:5 and 2:13) in the lives of so many beautiful families, small and large, new and established
…for the access You grant us unto You in prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit to pray according to Your will
…for the confidence and contentment and joy that You have more firmly fixed within my heart

…for the conception of beauty that You created in us
…for the beauty of many sincere and loving voices lifted in worship
…for the expressions of our hearts found in the Psalms
…for convicting my heart, for convicting my mama’s heart, and for convicting the hearts of others I have talked to – I pray that we do not lose this tenderness!
…for new acquaintances
…for gathering so many people together from all around the country with the unifying desire to know You and obey Your Word
…for the blessing of simply being around each other, and the support and encouragement we can give each other – Oh Lord, work in our hearts that it may be so!

…for joyful smiles that come from the inside and lift the spirit!
…for examples of biblical discipline in families, and children that respect and love their parents for it
…for content babies in church
…for fathers who command their children after them (Gen 18:19)
…for the great mercy of Your ways, especially in forgiving our lack of understanding and the revelation of Your will as we continue seeking Your face to learn and please You more
…for the exhortation to fellowship and unity around a meal on Lord’s day afternoons – particularly in the church, but also in the home – for the purpose of continuing to worship and please You!
…for the order and wisdom You gave in Your worship this morning and the peace and sweetness that it contributed
…for a safe trip home

2013 Give Thanks x7 Challenge

If we are talking about things we are thankful for, one of the first things on my list is this challenge, hosted by The King’s Blooming Rose Ministries. As I have participated over the past three years, I have seen my heart grow warm and content in the realization of the great mercies of God, and I am always sorry to see the end of November come! I do, of course, continue praising my Lord, but the accountability and sweet fellowship, encouraging me in an ever upward motion, is precious.

So what exactly is it? For the whole month of November you record 7 things a day that you are thankful for, and optionally, post them on a private group to share with the other ladies participating. The praises and biblical application spilling forth is a blessed thing.

Psalm 145:7 says, “They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.” This is talking about literally “gushing forth” the great and sobering goodness of the Lord, and as I meditated on it last year, I was encouraged and challenged.

I hope you’ll join me and my sisters, and so many other sweet ladies, as we praise the Lord for all that He has done.

A Heart for the Difficult Days

(written this morning)

It’s one of those days. The wet dripping outside reflecting the (now clean…) wet spots throughout the house in the aftermath of a bad night of kitty indigestion (those of you with cats prone to such will chuckle in sympathy at this). Grey clouds casting their shadows over all the little corners normally bright with the newness of a breaking day. Muddy spots making our yard and garden look like a mess meant to match certain areas of the house left to themselves over the weekend. The heaviness of the humidity settling over your lungs like the reluctance to face a new school week already behind from the previous one.

It’s one of those days where you don’t feel like going to too much trouble, yet it’s precisely days like this that require more of us than the “normal” ones… days like this that demand a servant’s heart, full of joy and diligence in what the Lord has given. And today, I am smiling and crying and bursting with the desire to laugh out loud as I am poignantly aware of the reality of my Lord’s great salvation.

Through the gloom, my Savior has called to me. He has rescued me from the restless wanderings of my own heart and given me everything in Himself. It is a theme of my life that has repeated again today – the Lord bringing me to the end of myself, and showing Himself to be so much greater than I ever believed Him to be. And every single time it happens, my previous idea of who my Lord and Savior is falls apart, and I learn to know Him deeper. I learn to know myself to be so much less. I learn to love the Lord more, and to delight in whatever He delights in. Even, and especially, if that means joyfully working hard through a dreary day.

How can I help rejoicing when the Lord is with me? How can I not be thankful for a day that has turned my heart back to the Lord? How can I refuse to do a hard task when it is a royal privilege that honors and pleases my King? How can I use these same lips that praise the Lord to grumble moodily about the day ahead? Oh no, the Lord has created me, redeemed me, set me on high with Him, put a new song in my heart… and I will rejoice in Him!

This day is a blessing in disguise. Deep disguise, but with an even deeper blessing.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Encourage Your Siblings Challenge

{click on the image to go to the challenge page!}

We’re very excited to be taking part in another challenge from the King’s Blooming Rose! 😀 We never fail to be encouraged by their challenges, articles, and the hearts of the young ladies involved in the KBR ministry.

This time, the challenge is about cultivating a deeper relationship with our siblings, and investing in their lives – especially encouraging them in their relationship with the Lord. Though I believe the challenge was designed for sisters with much younger siblings, I see how I need to be encouraging Lady L more, and how our relationship could really grow if we were more purposeful in centering it around God, in talking about spiritual things, in holding each other accountable in our use of time, and in myself setting a better example as a daughter of the King of Kings and as a daughter of our parents.

Click HERE to read more about the challenge! I hope those who are able will join in!

Most Important Part of My Life

The days, weeks, and now a month has flown by since the beginning of the new year. I’ve wanted to post many times, but been unsure of what exactly I wanted to say. Of what exactly you should hear. After all, I think interesting and useful things happen around here every day, but you might not agree. You might get tired of reading post after post of boring incidents and emotions lost in translation. I’ve also wanted to make an end of the year/beginning of the year post that really portrays the heart of God’s working in our lives. And the space between posts has stretched, until… now it’s hard to break. But there is a triumphant anthem in my heart, a joy and confidence that has so arrested me, and now is breaking the bondage to self that once I felt. It is the most important part of my life, and yet I have not shared it! Please know, these following thoughts and Scripture passages are the very support and confidence of my heart in this season of my life.

Last spring, Jeremiah 9:23-24 touched my heart like never before:

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
neither let the mighty man glory in his might,
let not the rich man glory in his riches:
But let him that glorieth glory in this,
that he understandeth and knoweth me,
that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

My glory is in knowing God. As I have considered and mediated upon this passage over the past year, the Lord has taught me so much! In reading His Word, more and more verses jump out that reinforce and develop this truth. I am amazed and humbled that God has given to man the glory of actually, truly, knowing Him! He desires that we seek AND find Him! And in heaven one day, we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2), with no imperfections in our understanding (1 Cor 13:12) – we will clearly behold His beauty (Psalm 27:4). This is eternal life (John 17:3). And God, in mercy and love for us, has given us a foretaste of eternity here and now… in knowing Him as our God. Weak vessels though we be, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” shines within us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)!

He has shown me how this deep understanding in my heart instructs how I live my life. Most obvious and basic is how it directs the use of God’s gifts to me – time, energy, my hands and feet, eyes and mouth and ears… and relationships. I’ve always thought that the great pursuit of the human heart is to know and be known, and this confirms that thought and also elevates it! It’s not just a human pursuit, it’s the pursuit God has placed in man’s heart from the beginning of time, meant to be perfectly fulfilled in knowing Him! This transforms relationships with others – after all, those relationships (to know and be known) are a working out of that desire within us.

To know God, and I mean truly know Him for who He is – in all that he is! – is to have confidence. “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:1-2) All the names and attributes of God, when deeply considered and used in prayer, imbue the heart with awe and trust and hope! How can I doubt His will or ways when I know Him like this?!

“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able…” (2 Timothy 1:12)

A dear friend expressed to me that sometimes she has to remind herself that He IS the Lord, the Creator and Ruler of men, and that she prefers to think of Him as a comforting friend. I didn’t know how to say it at the time, but I wanted to tell her that knowing God in that Sovereign role doesn’t have to take away any shred of her comfort, rather it can add confidence to it! He IS Creator – He lovingly and purposely formed each of us in our mother’s wombs. He IS Ruler – He directs the affairs of men to His perfect glory and our ultimate good. By Him all things consist! (Colossians 1:16-18)

Tears sting my eyes when I think of this great privilege of knowing the eternal God. He created us for this! He made us in His image with this in mind – that we might have communion with Him! Gratefulness. Love. Those two words carry the fulness of my heart in them. They overflow in my tears and burst joyously into a desire for more of Him in my life. I would say with David, “one thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) As this one thing… this spiritual desire… consumes me, self seems less interesting. My fleshly desires grow pale and less satisfactory. The urgency of the world even becomes laughable. Don’t get me wrong – there are weak moments, moments when the Lord’s nearness isn’t discernible to my harried soul. But as soon as I return my eyes to Christ, I see Him and know Him. The anthem doesn’t end, and the song only gains in momentum for each of these victories.

A Devotion on Laziness

A devotion from Mountain Trailways for Youth, by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman:

“…the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)

There were no shirkers or lazy workmen in Nehemiah’s group. Every man could be depended upon to do his work well and with all his heart. Laziness paralyzes the soul and the body and is a type of slow suicide.

{also, consider Proverbs 21:25-26 here, “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”}

“I refuse to be lazy,” wrote a noted university professor. “I refuse to be the slave of ease. I will so command my body that I shall, even at a great sacrifice, complete my plans. I cannot afford an hour of lassitude. I will study most carefully how to rest and refresh myself, but I arise to declare that I am not a slave. ‘Father, teach me the power of self-mastery. Help me to train my body to serve perfectly Thy high purposes!'”

God never called a lazy man
To do a task for Him –
He’s looking for the men who work
With energy and vim.
For men like that are sure to win
A cause they undertake.
He doesn’t want the lazy kind,
He wants men wide awake.
So if you’re called to do a task,
To help Him right some wrong,
You just be glad that you are called
To help His cause along.
(Edward H. Kessler)

“In the morning when thou findest thyself unwilling to rise, consider thyself presently, if it is to go abut a man’s work, that I am stirred up; or was I made for this, to lay me down and make much of myself in a warm bed.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Sunshine and sleep have no inter-fitness. Moonlight and ploughing are badly matched.

The youth of the world who have reached the mountain summit were not pushed into their place of triumph; they worked their way there.

A New “Adventure”

Happy 2013! How special that we can enter a new year trusting in the Lord and looking forward to the goodness of His will and ways, even if we don’t understand them or wouldn’t choose them.

In this new year, we have another battle to wage with bunny illness. Another possibly sad one. And as much as I don’t really want to have to share these things here, spreading the sadness to you, I believe it’s important because this is life… the life God has given us. Just as much as the joys and triumphs, the beauties and the smiles, are part of God’s marvelous work, so are the trials and difficulties, the pain and death. My goal is not to write about the sweetest and best things that happen to us, but rather the grace and power of God in a submitted life, and the vast and amazing ways this is worked out in a practical way.

I want you to know – it’s not about going to amazing Christian events, having the dearest friends, taking stunning pictures with expensive cameras, composing a breath-taking sentence, cooking healthy and delicious and beautiful food, or anything else that is fun and exciting in life. It’s about our hearts before God, serving Him in those things… and in the simple life in between those things. Blessing others. Returning good for evil. Smiling and trusting the Lord through difficulties. Surrendering pain and finding comfort in God’s fullness. Not seeking the limelight for our own sakes. It’s doing, or not doing, everything solely for Christ’s sake.

…what you are about to read is our life, and our “adventure” in between the outwardly “beautiful”…

Ebony has an abscess on her jaw, and her teeth are in bad shape (which we knew, considering her teeth have been maloccluded for the past year). She was officially diagnosed on Christmas Eve, and we’ve been praying what to do about it since. Surgery isn’t an option for various reasons, but I’ve been reading about an alternative treatment online using penicillin injections. The bad news is that our vet hasn’t had much success with this and doesn’t think it will work. The “good news” is that he doesn’t have any alternative and is willing to prescribe it if that’s what we want to do.

So today I started my search for a good supplier of penicillin G procaine/benzathine, syringes, and the needles… tomorrow the adventure continues…

Christmas Is Coming!

Christmas is only a few short days away! There are a few things to share, and I will try to get through them all in an orderly and succinct fashion.

What Christmas Is Looking Like Around Here

Gifts are being completed, packages are arriving, and wrapping is planned for today. {“Brown paper packages tied up with string…” *smile*}
We have one more cookie to make today… Ginger Cookies! And a bunch of food for Sunday-Tuesday.
Sunday morning the three of us girls and another lady will be singing Angels We Have Heard on High in 3-part acappella harmony for the church. Yikes… please pray.
Our plans for Christmas Eve include our traditional Lasagna dinner (Italian style!), candlelight, lots of singing and Bible reading, and… a visit to the vet with a sick bunny. *sigh*
There’s no snow yet!
And a little confession… we only decorated the living room this year…

Christmas Preparations…in Celebration of What?

Praying before dinner just a few night ago, my dad said something like this, “be with us as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Your Son…” Immediately there was a little uneasiness in my heart. Yes, I sure am busy preparing! Yes, for a celebration. But… am I really preparing to celebrate this amazing act of God’s love, to be born on earth and live among sin… to then go to the cross and suffer a cruel death at the hands of rebellious men… for my sins. For me. Because He loves me with a perfect love! And I have no such love to return. I complain of difficulties and sorrows at this time of year, I dwell on my selfish wants instead of His fulness to meet my needs, and I’m concerned about what people will think of me and the gifts I give. I pray the Lord that He will give us all hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year, and to worship Him with a fulness and wholeness, without distraction and in simplicity, offering ourselves!

A Few Thoughts Of Mary and Joseph (and various other characters!)

As Christmas day has fast approached, I’ve been wondering a bit, “why Mary… why Joseph…?” What made them God’s chosen vessels in His great work? I only wonder because it must have been something beautiful, it must have been a heart that was right in a particular way before God, it must have been something that God was pleased with… the angel greeted Mary, “Hail , thou that art highly favored…” I only wonder because it must be something that I can learn from.

There is one thought that has come to mind. Both Mary and Joseph knew the voice of the Lord when it came to them and obeyed Him, contrary to their culture. And further, they had peace and joy in doing His will. No matter what faults they might have had, they knew their God, and were tender and submitted to His commands. How else would they have accepted a child being conceived out of marriage? How else would they have borne the reproach of strangers… of family and friends? Then there is Elizabeth, also chosen and obedient. No angel appeared to her, yet she knew God come to earth, even as a tiny baby in Mary’s womb! And she believed. No reproach came from her, for she knew God in His fulness and trusted in His ways, though they seemed strange compared to what was culturally accepted.

I could continue my micro character study with Zacharias, who questioned God’s ability to perform His word, and learned a very valuable lesson about how able God really is! And more, with Hannah and Simeon at the temple, who knew God’s hand at work and His Person in a little child, these two people who had waited on God all their lives and trusted in His promises… these two people who were rewarded in an unimaginably beautiful way. Yes, I am convinced – if not THE reason God chose them, Mary and Joseph’s hearts for hearing, obeying, and knowing Him was certainly a key part. And what a challenge this is to us! Many more thoughts follow in my mind and heart, but time runs out…

I apologize for the lack of pictures today. I hope to remedy that with updates in the next few weeks! Merry Christmas everyone! I’ve been telling everyone I meet “Merry Christmas” and their varied reactions, many times stumbling for something to say in return, have been an interesting study, of sorts. 😉

Have a blessed and beautiful few days!

Give Thanks Challenge

Amanda, Lady L and I will be participating in the Give Thanks x7 challenge hosted by Sarah Bryant from the King’s Blooming Rose. I did it last year and was so blessed! During the month of November, you write down 7 things a day that you’re thankful for, then you have the option of sharing it with other young ladies who are also taking the challenge. The fellowship, and the encouragement to constantly remember the goodness of the Lord was precious and unforgettable. Not to mention, I learned a lot about the little things that we take for granted, and the simple problems that I often let blind me to the great blessings God has given.

You can read more about the challenge HERE. I hope you’ll consider joining us and many other young ladies as we seek to glorify and honor our Lord! It starts tomorrow!