Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

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As I read the news and question and marvel at the evil, this first person account reminds me of something very important :
God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

A Tenacious Joy

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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When You Want to be Free

Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. – {Gal 4:7 NKJV}

We always struggle for freedom.  We fight to get out from under the law, and when we find Christ sometimes we still fight.

Fight to be better, do better, live and love better.

We struggle to make fewer mistakes so that our family will be happier.

We live as though the goal in life is to make God love us more, or make our spouse, friends, or children love us more.

What more do we want from Christ’s atonement?

A pitiful, sickly, and self-centered kind of prayer and a determined effort and selfish desire to be right with God are never found in the New Testament. The fact that I am trying to be right with God is actually a sign that I am rebelling against the atonement by the Cross of Christ. I pray, “Lord, I will purify my heart if You will answer my prayer— I will walk rightly before You if You will help me.” But I cannotmake myself right with God; I cannot make my life perfect. I can only be right with God if I accept the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ as an absolute gift. Am I humble enough to accept it? I have to surrender all my rights and demands, and cease from every self-effort. I must leave myself completely alone in His hands ~ Oswald Chambers

I cannot make myself right with God anymore than I can free myself from the bondage of sin.  Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe.

I’m reminding myself of this constantly, and praying to show this to my kids – that we are not good but God is.  We are not good and we can’t try harder or work more to become good.  There is so much tension in trying to be good.  

I just want to be His.


Sharp Paynes

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; – Eph 3:8-9 NKJV

To me, Paul says.  Grace was given to me.  Grace that led to prison, to isolation, to a life of hardships and rejection from his own.  Paul considers it a gift of grace to be chosen for this dirty work, this preaching of an open invitation to the ‘least of the least’.

And he considers himself less than the least?  The pharisee of pharisees.  He puts himself lower than those who remained, by law, in the outer courts, the court of the Gentiles.  A servant always lowers…

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Re-posting for the first time today, so we can focus on packing and cleaning and… trying to stay focused.

Sharp Paynes

…finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  ~ Ephesians 5:10

Pretty much anything goes these days.  People can find a way or a personality to justify anything they might dream up to do or say or wear.  “Restricting” they say.  Following God is restricting to my personality, my freedom.


Restricting, like the walls of my home.  Like the rail on the bunkbed and the rules of the road laid down by the law.  Confining and smothering like the skin I wear and the helmet Ethan wears and the seatbelt we all wear.

 Terribly protective, our God is.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The…

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Tending Sheep

“When God speaks, many of us are like people in a fog, and we give no answer. Moses’ reply to God revealed that he knew where he was and that he was ready. Readiness means having a right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. Yet the man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who receives the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea that some great opportunity or something sensational will be coming our way, and when it does come we are quick to cry out, “Here I am.” Whenever we sense that Jesus Christ is rising up to take authority over some great task, we are there, but we are not ready for some obscure duty.” ~ Oswald Chambers

I get lost in the fog of small, obscure tasks.

Today I want to do them for His glory, with the awareness that He is in every detail.  To do them without  the anxious longing for the next thing, the big thing, the thing that surely pleases God more than this menial task.

I have laundry, meals, packing, and more packing to tackle today.  This threatens to fog me, but not if I do it with ears open.

Moses was just tending sheep in the desert and I don’t think it gets much more mundane than that.

So if he can hear over the bleating of sheep and mind-numbing solitude, surely I can hear over the hum of the washer and the sound of Babe the pig entertaining my ‘helpers’.

Are you doing the obscure and the mundane today?  Watch for the burning bush.



The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.  

Isaiah 32:17

Back-Ups and To-do Lists

This is the final week of Project Simplify.  I like that this project was simple and short, reminding me that being organized doesn’t happen all at once but rather it’s an ongoing process.  A compilation of small steps, really.

I’m happy to report that the 3 projects from previous weeks are still intact and organized.  The boys know where their clothes go, the kitchen cupboards don’t cause anxiety, and my paper files and office supplies downstairs are still in the correct places.

But this week was different.

This week, I planned on organizing my computer a little.

I did manage to unsubscribe from several emails and weed out a few files.  Tuesday evening, though, all my other plans came to a halt.  Tuesday evening, all my most important computer files went AWOL.  Pictures, Quicken, business documents, and who knows what else.

Since I’m just one step above computer-illiterate, I can’t really explain adequately what happened.  They just went “poof”.  I panicked.

The kids met dad at the door and gave him the news and the warning.

See, whenever something happens with any technology that I’ve come to depend on, I kind of blow my top.  I just want these things to work, always, and I despise spending any time trying to fix them.

Praise the Lord, I managed to recover the Quicken files and several documents after some digging and I-don’t-really-know-what-I’m-doing computer finagling.  Coaxing, pleading, praying.

The ‘funny’ thing is that I’ve had on my to-do list for 2 months:

Back-up computer

There are reasons why I put it off – a dvd drive that quit working and an external hard drive that was too full.  But truly, I just procrastinate sometimes.

I like things simple and if they’re not, sometimes I just don’t play along.  Bad move.

Do you think God is talking to me about something?  That He actually cares about my computer?  Or is it my character?

My Project Simplify this week was to take my computer in to someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who will find all my missing stuff (praying!) and someone who will probably scold me for not taking better care of it and keeping things backed-up.  I am using the minuscule Acer netbook now and am thankful for it, but it’s just not the same.

So in light of my ignorance, Project Simplify will continue even though March is over and Tsh at is finished with it.

Anyone have tips on:

  1. saving and organizing digital pictures
  2. a simple way to organize pictures for blog posts (flickr?)
  3. backing-up efficiently – online or disk or external hard drive or…
  4. using “The Cloud” or not

Kind suggestions in simple words welcomed.  Thanks, friends!



Dutch Babies for breakfast


Play date with friends

Washing windows on the house-in-progress

And tonight, The Salzburg Chamber Soloists with my girls

Enjoy your weekend, my friends.  Open your eyes to all the wonder.


Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. ~ Eph. 1:3-6

It’s only 2 days into my study of Ephesians with the Good Morning Girls and already I am blown away.  How slowing down gives time to hear.  Time to savor and appreciate.  My tendency is to want to read big chunks of scripture, to move on and do more and check off another chapter.  How spiritually unproductive.

The verses this morning struck a chord in my heart.  One of my sisters shared this from Ephesians 1:5-6 ~

He knows the baggage that we bring with us and it is for His pleasure that he accepts and welcomes us, the broken, fearful, hopeless orphans of the world.

He knows our baggage, and chooses us anyway.

Last week my 7 year old poured out his heart to me after a time of discipline.  Sometimes the sting of discipline opens us up to spill out the deep things.  Even 7 year olds have deep things, and I am always thankful when a tough lesson brings sweetness and tenderness between mother and child.

“Mom, why did you and dad even get me if I do so many bad things?”

Gasp.  Could words hurt anymore than those?  Hurt for my son, and how long has he been thinking these things, and what else is in that tender heart?  And what have I conveyed?

“Son, mommy and daddy didn’t get you…we loved you before we ever saw your face and we worked hard to bring you home.  We chose to adopt you, honey.  And mommy and daddy do bad things, too, but that doesn’t stop our  heavenly Father from loving us.  He knew we would sin.  We knew you would sin, just like your brothers and sisters and even Pastor Travis and everyone else in this world.  But we will never stop loving you and neither will Jesus.”

Even Pastor Travis?!”

“Yes Ethan.”

End of conversation.  Hugs and kisses, apology and forgiveness…onto legos.

But the lesson is still in my heart, and this morning’s Word only served to deepen it.  I’m so thankful to be loved despite all the bad things I do, to be chosen before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blame before Him.  Amazing love!

This is one of those ‘toodays’ (as Ethan spells it).  Too much to comprehend.  Too much not to notice His goodness.

Saturday mornings…

Coffee and bible

Quiet house

Frost outside, fire inside

Adventures in Odyssey for the kids


And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. – Psa 90:17 NKJV


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