Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It starts with the little choices

Lysa Terkeurst has a post today that reminds us why the little choices matter. I don't need to reach the world for Jesus today. I just need to be obedient in the next choice I make.

Finding Thanks

Do you struggle with gratitude? Grumbling comes so naturally for me. I'm always working on learning how to be thankful. (In)courage has a must read today. If we could just live like these people who really truly do have something to be depressed about... that's how we thank God with their lives. That is how we honor Him. It's time to do the same.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jesus is all that matters

For the past couple of days, I have read Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. The daily devotionals have been about forgiveness and the death of Jesus Christ. The thought that forgiveness comes only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact that we should not take that lightly.

This morning I read this piece over at (in)courage. It left me deep in thought. Although it's difficult to wrap your mind around, it's true... Jesus is all that matters.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living with Less (HAH November Blog Hop)

It's the Hearts at Home Blog Hop today! For November: Share 5 “things” you’ve given up or are living without as a family so that you can have more.

Living without two incomes is a choice we have made. I quit my job while I was pregnant with our first daughter because I was so sick at the beginning of the pregnancy. At the same time, we knew that we wanted me to be able to be home with our children. I consider it a privilege to be able to witness all their firsts, help with classroom parties, chaperone field trips and be here when they get home from school every day. Sure, there are days I wonder if working outside the home might help my sanity but ultimately, I know these days are a gift God has given me that I’ll never get back.

A couple of years ago, we eliminated cable television. It wasn’t an easy decision in that we all had our channels we really enjoyed watching. Due to finances, it was a decision we needed to make. Honestly, I think it was a bit of prompting from God as well. While there is some good stuff that we miss out on, TV is a lot lower on the priority list in our household these days.

I would love to have an iphone (or a Windows phone – I have no loyalty to either company). A plan with texting and internet access would be a lot of fun to have. The monthly bill to accompany that phone, however, is unaffordable for our family. Our current plan is prepaid on an out-of-date phone. We utilize our cell phone only when necessary. It’s another choice we’ve made to cut costs as well as make more time for family. If I had a phone of high caliber, I believe I would have a hard time limiting my time. Without it, the temptation is eliminated.

We limit our children on the activities they can participate in. All of those outside activities add up in monetary commitments as well as time commitments. Even just the weekly commitment of AWANA which I chose for them years ago eats up one evening a week. The benefits of this program with hiding God’s Word in the hearts of my girls keep this commitment on our calendar. However, I refuse to fill up every evening with a commitment. My girls would love to be in dance but dance classes are limited in our home to the small programs offered in the summer time. It requires intentional planning to keep our lives from spinning out-of-control. I don’t want us to live hurried lives and even with these boundaries in place, I feel as if it’s a constant battle.

Our family does not even attempt to keep up with the Joneses. We have a beautiful living room thanks to friends and family who were willing to give us their old entertainment center, television, sofas and coffee table they were parting with (each item from a different family). It’s a place where our family is enjoying reading together, watching family films together, and playing games. And despite the fact that my husband is a technical guy, we don’t have the latest and greatest technical items. We don’t even have a flat screen television. It’s my hope that we learn a need v. a want as we limit the material items we bring into our homes.

It can be a struggle to live with less in today’s world. When I see people in “poverty” utilizing a phone that I barely dream of having, I question our priorities. I find myself desiring the life of comfort so many seem to live but the fact is that it is only an appearance. Many people are living in debt and those that do truly live comfortably have usually worked hard and made sacrifices to get to where they are. If I attempt to keep up with the rest of the world, I will only find myself frustrated. I simply cannot responsibly afford the next best thing. Our household may live with outdated items, but we are a family that can stay together and spend quality time together and that benefit tops anything else. When I find myself struggling with desires for more, I remember that God has ALWAYS provided for every one of our needs and some. While I’d love to save up money for vacations and our future, this verse keeps me giving thanks to God and remembering that He is the one who provides.

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.” – Proverbs 30: 7-9

How do you live with less so your family can have more? Check out the ideas other Hearts at Home bloggers have, too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imperfect Perfection

Dad on a Sunday morning with his Bible and my brother
(not the way I picture him - but a cool picture anyway)

The other day, a friend of mine asked me to suggest some hymns because her grandmother had passed away. I spent a morning thumbing through our hymnal recalling one song after the other. Peace overwhelmed as I the tunes played through my mind and words lifted from my tongue. At times, tears won out at the mixture of sadness and joy as thoughts of Dad crept in.

For a time, Dad was the song leader at our church. I remember him sitting in the pew, hymnal in hand, marking the songs he wanted the congregation to sing together. The picture of him standing at the pulpit, dressed in his suit, directing us with his hands, reminds me how worship was more enjoyable because my daddy was leading us.

I began writing this morning to talk about the way my friend’s request reminded me how much I crave time alone with my God. Singing hymns reminded me of the fact that I need to do more than just spend time consistently reading the Bible and lifting my requests to my Lord in prayer. I need to continually spend time worshipping and acknowledging the Almighty for who He is.

In mentioning my dad, I am struck with the fact that he left me this example. Dad was not a perfect man. At times, I struggle with pain that was left behind because it cannot be remedied with a face-to-face conversation. And then God gives me the gift of a memory; a memory that floods my heart and wells up tears and breaks through my pain. No, dad wasn’t perfect; but in his imperfection, he led by example. When I think of someone who had awe and respect and reverence for God, I see my dad’s emotion-filled face in my mind.
What kind of example will I unknowingly leave behind for my kids? I know they will remember those moments where I screw up. Sadly, the faults blind us and make it nearly impossible to recall the positive. I’m thankful that God continues to heal my soul with memories that impacted who I am today. Dad led songs because there was a need; not because he wanted to be center stage. He was just a man who loved God and wanted others to share in that love. When he talked about God and the gratefulness welled up in his throat, causing his chin to quiver, I’m certain he had no idea the impact he was making on his youngest daughter. And yet today, God uses it as a balm for my wounded heart. My daddy was an imperfect man who loved God and desired to please Him. (On a side note: I love to imagine him in his perfected stated with Jesus.)

I’m glad my dad wasn’t perfect. It gives me hope for myself. Maybe my girls will catch me in a vulnerable moment and hold onto that memory to bring their hearts comfort some day. Today, I choose to look at God’s creation and stand in awe because my daddy did. I will laugh and thank God for my children because my dad thoroughly enjoyed them, too. As we enter into the holidays, the pain in my heart will draw me to lean on the Truth we are celebrating because of his example. I will remember that he was a gift to draw me to The Father of us all. And I will stand in grateful awe with my eyes on the hope of Heaven and the day we will all be rid of our impurities with Jesus.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday's Mullings: You are a Masterpiece

This song by Sandi Patty entitled “Masterpiece” was one that I sung with my brother at my niece’s baby dedication. I was 15 when she was born. This song impacted my heart in a way that I’ve sung it to all three of my girls as I rocked them to sleep as babies. I believe they are God’s special design. It boggles my mind how anyone can look at a little baby and believe they are anything less than God’s creation. I used Psalm 139 on their birth announcements.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”

I think of the way I watched my mom or grandma knit. The thought of their delicate care in their work overwhelms my heart. This is the word picture God gives when he refers to His creation of us. Certainly, I believe that we, as human beings, created in God’s image, are His masterpiece.

My mind wandered yesterday from rocking my baby girls to standing in front of my bathroom mirror alone. “Every time you look into the mirror, you look at a work of art,” my pastor emphasized from the platform. Do I really believe I am a work of art? I know God created me and I believe He did a wonderful job with my girls and even other people in this world… but me… a work of art? I tend to question his handiwork when it comes to the reflection staring back at me. The list of imperfections in my mind are long. I nod my head in agreement, however. I do believe I am a work of art created by the God of the Universe. It’s time I remind myself of this and praise Him for His work rather than criticize.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10

Currently, my intentions are to write this verse along my girls’ bathroom mirror. More importantly, I need to write it on my heart. I am God’s masterpiece. If I truly believe this and live it, my girls will learn to do the same by example.

Pastor Dennis then ended directing our thoughts to an auction. Many pieces of art go for a lot of money. He stressed that “No piece of art has ever cost more than you.” We are God’s artwork paid for by the blood of Christ.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

The challenge: Live up to the price that’s been paid for you.