Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “Bible”

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

 It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

BEYOND

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

 

GO

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or even could think in my feeble, flitting mind.  And it must be true because I ask so little and receive so much.

I don’t believe the lie that everything I need is just beyond what I have now, but I do believe the truth that He is beyond all my imagination and dreamings, and that He wants me to live beyond where I am now.

I ask for so little because my faith is just.  that. small.

Forget-Me-Not

He shows up Big anyway, and befuddles my thinking and my small prayers.

Sometimes doesn’t He put Himself just out of reach, so that my faith stretches like last year’s jeans and once again, I can grasp just the hem of His garment?

I can barely catch up and never truly arrive, yet He promises arrival someday.  He is my pace-setter and it’s always got to be a little beyond where I’m comfortable.

That must be the ticket to prayer.  Yearning for what’s just out of reach, stretching my tight faith and making room for more, all because I know, I know, there is always room for more of Him.

STOP

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When Sin Leads to Thanksgiving

Parenting is tough.

Parenting is day and night, 24/7, clinging-to-grace and praying-in-faith.  It’s discipleship of our children and it’s discipleship for us, because who can teach and not learn?

It’s rewarding and it’s exhausting and it makes you question your sanity, like I imagine a marathon would be.

My crazy husband and I ran a half-marathon.  I paid money to expend every ounce of energy I could muster over 13.1 miles, to get blistered and chaffed, to fight off the urge to quit at mile 10 and the need for a potty at miles 5 through 12.  For about the last 7 miles all I could think was, “I’m paying to do this?”.

At the end we got oranges and bananas, some gatorade, and a t-shirt.  Actually, we didn’t even get the shirt because that was more money.

So parenting is tough like running, but the rewards are greater.  Boxes full of drawings, paintings, macaroni necklaces, precious notes and baby teeth in sandwich bags.  Morning-breath kisses, sticky faces, Dr. Seuss by heart, billions of questions, thousands of I love you’s.  

The rewards of parenting aren’t always warm and fuzzy.  A house full of sinners brings tension, lots of correction and training, and really the greatest reward is seeing the gospel work itself out in your children.

Sometimes I stop nagging long enough to allow grace to lead to repentance.

Oh happy day, when my children confess sin without being guilted into confession.  When the Holy Spirit is unhindered and quietness brings conviction.

I have just an ounce of understanding of the joy of this verse:

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” – {Luke 15:7 NKJV}

Yes, we want to raise godly children.  We want them to love Jesus and love their neighbor and overcome evil by doing good.  But if we teach them the truths of scripture, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that Jesus came as a friend of sinners to seek and save the lost,

then every sin-moment is the perfect time and place for grace to pour in and for sinners to bring joy to their Savior.

And I give thanks for the repentance, not the sin.  But without the realization of the one, the other is never needed.

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Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

{Psa 103:1-5 NKJV}

Blessing the Lord for all this:

305. siblings that miss each other

306. my hard-working, sensitive and giving children

307. making my tired husband smile

308. The wonderful burning ball of warmth in the sky!

309. Shelby’s Super Nanny impression (crack. me. up!)

310. dancing wild in the living room to Sharri’s piano playing

311. inside jokes 😉

312. forgiveness

313. talented friends making beautiful music on our piano

314. long-lost friends

315. big words with Shyla!

316. standing in the rain with the boys, watching the lightning

317. barbecuing again

318. guitar music from the bedroom

319. swim lessons

320. repentant hearts

Linking up with

A Holy Experience

The Better Mom

Titus 2sdays

Scribing the Journey

For the Ones Who Can’t Hear “Beautiful”

You shun it as though it were a four-letter word.  When it comes you refuse to hear, refuse to let it attach to you because, surely, you ought to resist that flattery.
Be humble and all that.
Sincere.
You secretly hope that the words are sincere, and inside you desire to wear them gracefully, to be them and believe them.
But your enemy tells you otherwise and you listen to him instead.  To the father of lies?
You have to choose what you wear.

Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness ~ Gen. 1:26

Your Father has said beautiful since you were born.  He’s made beauty in the world, wonder that you capture with camera or imagination or just sheer enjoyment.
Yet you,
created in His image,
won’t listen.
You have eyes to see it all around, but you wonder if it’s ok to see it in you.  As if vanity came from simple appreciation.

Is it ok to think that I look nice?

You ask me one Sunday before church, and I’m remembering the time of no jeans and no mirrors because I was so weak and so consumed.

Imago Dei.  All of us, the image of God.

Yes.  It is good.

Take a little  time in that mirror and gaze at the image of God.  Be blessed by His beauty and comfortable with your skin, your hair, the color of your eyes and the marks of distinction on your face.
Praise Him for infinite imagination, thank Him for hairspray and mascara and jeans if you must.
And then move on from that mirror and see beautiful  all around you, in others.  Go tell someone they’re beautiful and tell them why.  If you don’t see beauty then tell them why Jesus is Beautiful.  Talk about Him.

Attach yourself to Beautiful when you can’t believe He’s attached to you.

When you hear beautiful, wear it.  Be it.

Put it on with your cross and remember the ugly beautiful, the One Story so dangerously beautiful that it saved you from being forever ugly.

Someday, when your husband tells you you are beautiful, believe him.  Believe him because refusing to hear beautiful is calling him a liar.
There will be unlovely days and sweat-pant days and days of acne and bloating and extra pounds.  There will be days when no one says beautiful to you, but won’t you still hear it?
Won’t you listen to the One Who is inside, who created you imago dei and ever lives to display Himself through all His creation?  Through you?

Believe Him because refusing to hear beautiful is calling Him a liar.

Because, really, beauty-full is what you are.  Don’t cover that up.

{And by the way, beautiful is for boys, too.}

The Lost Art of Presentation {It’s Better Than it Looks}

I’ve read The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  I know all about fresh flowers and art work and candles and lovely music.

And I think that’s all great.

But if I had a dollar for every meal that I’ve prefaced with, “It will taste better than it looks,” I could redecorate the whole house.

Somehow, I just miss the whole presentation of it.

My family has gotten good at naming these mystery meals:

  • almost chicken sandwiches
  • What Is It?  AKA, Manna.
  • Oh-No Casserole
  • Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday on Thursday

I make lopsided cakes, not-so-round pizzas, green “Orange Julius”, and I’ve served soup in strawed cereal bowls.  To guests.

But it all tastes good, really.

Suffice it to say, I need to work on my presentation skills.  I need to work on presentation because what I’ve made actually is good, it’s just cut short by the appearance of things.

Who wants to dig in to a meal with questionable results?

I thought about this the other day as I mixed several different leftovers into a meal.  Shelby asked what it was and I said, “It’s kinda like…”.  Not very reassuring.  I need to at least have a name for what I’m serving up.

I thought about the importance of presenting things in a way that was not only appealing, but also true and indicative of the contents.

I wouldn’t put whipped cream on the veggies just to make them look good, and I wouldn’t put the pie in a blender just to make it easier and faster to consume.  Both of those things are good just simply because their ingredients are good.

 But sometimes good things are disguised in bad packaging.

Eventually I was thinking about the gospel.  About all the ways we try to package it up nice and tidy, the ways we manipulate situations to make sure the gospel gets inserted, the way we live like presenting the gospel is uncomfortable.

And I thought about how our presentation, be it style or attitude or just sour character, can turn people off.

We are the presentation of the gospel to the world.  Through nature and logic and miracles and the risen Christ, He reveals His goodness.  And also through dirt-made-image-bearer.  Mankind.  

It’s the grace of God that brings salvation, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).

Because those things aren’t appealing to everyone, should I therefore tweak the presentation a little, make it more palatable?  Or should I be in-your-face with it and forget tact and respect and love for my neighbor, all in the name of getting the gospel out?

We are the presentation of the gospel.  The aroma of Christ is the stench of death to some, and to others the hope of life (2 Cor. 2:16).

Can I say to someone that it’s better than it looks?  Because it is, of course, but how does it look on me?

Please join in the comments and share your thoughts on presenting the gospel with our lives.

{We are hosting 18 people for dinner Sunday, by the way, and I have no clue what to make.  Something that looks and tastes lovely?}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Staged Life

I don’t always give my best.

Sometimes ‘my best’ is too much work and I settle for doing ‘just enough’ or even ‘maybe later’.  I’ll go to bed with that sink-full of dishes and toppling pile of laundry, with no idea what’s for breakfast and with a lovely, crumb-crusted floor.

Once or twice, I’ve even fallen into bed fully clothed and with un-brushed teeth.  Sorry, honey.

I just thought a little confession would be good.

Someone called and told how guilty she felt for going back to bed that morning.  She thought about all the things  I had probably already accomplished that day, and what a loser she was for snuggling back in.
Funny thing is, I often have the same thoughts about her.
So many times in my day I think she could have done this faster or better.  She probably always knows where things are, and how embarrassed I ‘d be if she opened this cupboard or looked in this shower.
And it’s not just one person, it’s every other woman out there.
I am forever comparing myself.  But I always seem to compare my worst  with their best.  
If only I could take the best of everyone and combine them into one, like some Suzy Homemaker on steroids.

As though someone really does have it all  together, all the time.

You know that those pictures are staged, right?
We take pictures because we want to remember that one time, we did make a beautiful meal for our family and everyone liked it.  Or we want to remember that we do sometimes have fun together and everyone laughs.
Someone said jokingly, “It’s not about having fun.  It’s about the pictures!”.

But having it all together in real life is more illusive, more of a special occasion.

There are those days where everything clicks along, every meal is planned, the house is clean and I even see the bottom of the laundry baskets.  School happens peacefully and the kids play a game together.  My husband walks in to the smell of his favorite dinner, sits down to eat it with his favorite people, and we all have a lovely discussion that is relevant and fruitful.

The trouble is that I expect  the days to always be that way.  And what do expectations get me?

More often, those events don’t all line up on the same day.  Monday I might have all our meals planned.  Tuesday school might go peacefully and the kids might play a game.  Wednesday may be a marathon laundry day, and Thursday we might have a really good discussion at dinner with no bathroom noises, no 5th grade humor, and no fighting over who-sits-where.

But rarely does it all happen in one day.  That would either be exhausting, or a waste of time, or The Cleavers.  Surely there are better things to do than live in a photo shoot.  Is a picture really worth a thousand words?
We live in the real world with real mess-ups and do-overs every morning, and I’m so thankful for that.
My heart’s desire is to honor God and my husband, and that needs to be the driving force behind all I do or don’t do in a day.  They both know my weaknesses and love me anyway.
… walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; – {Col 1:10 NKJV}

Are you stuck comparing yourself with others?  How do you guage your accomplishments – what makes you feel like you’ve done enough for the day?
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Counting all the gifts this week, some of them numbered here:
298. The full moon
299. The fog clearing away in the morning
300. Motivation!
301.  Bailey, thanking me for making her do hard things
302. Bible discussions
303. good friends at the river
304. 3 things that were broken or lost, that are now found or fixed

The Value of You, Right Where You Are

Already, there is this desire to choose.
Are we born with that?  Do we come from the womb defiant at the choices made for us?
Why did God put me here?  Why am I different?  Maybe I am not supposed to be in this family, in this place.
He’s seven and where did he get these questions?
The not-belonging and the longing for something else, something we know nothing about, all those thoughts started in the garden.
Adoption is not all warm-fuzzy and we never thought it would be.  Sometimes, it is such a clear picture of our life in Christ, of God choosing us and giving us family.
But truly, we have to choose that adoption for ourselves.  It’s the one case where we do choose our Parent, but do we ever really get to choose our place?
He’s seven and he is upset about some discipline handed out, and isn’t that when we all question our place?
So he thinks he belongs somewhere else but he doesn’t see the big picture.
Like the children of Israel longing for Egypt.
I tell Ethan that we couldn’t hold him and love him and laugh with him while he was in India. That we’re all different, with different gifts and personalities and talents, different colored skin and eyes and hair, but God has put us together and our family is perfect this way.
I give him a hug and tell him I love him, because that’s what he really wants.
Do you ever question your place?
Do you possibly mistrust the God Who holds your breath, the One Who preappointed your times and the boundaries of your dwelling? (Acts 17:26)
Do you long to be somewhere bigger, better, more important or more satisfying?
Wherever you are, God is sovereign.  Whatever your struggle, rest in His handling of it.  He sees the biggest picture.
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Counting all the gifts this week, some of them numbered here:
291.  Jacob enjoying the outdoors, and waking up thankful for his bedroom – the deer, the turkeys, the yellow birds at the feeder outside his window
292. our first 7-miler in 7 months
293. hot water and epsom salts, the morning after 7 miles
294. Ethan, the first child up this morning, monopolizing the one-on-one time
295. this verse:
And by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
~ Acts 13:39
296. children with eyes to see His goodness and to delight in His creation (Jacob calling me upstairs this morning to see the bird in the window, because he knows I love birds!)
297. Sisters making a picnic

Forgetting Grace

It’s been one of those days and I’m scrambling for a solution.  Isn’t there a book I can read with a formula I can use to fix this?
I steam inside.
How did we become this?  What did I do/not do/forget to do that allowed all this to be?
I always seem to think that more information will solve the problems.
But life is not lived out in formulas and equations, and in real life there are more recipes that fail because I am always trying to fix heart issues with ‘just the right ingredients’.
Add a little of this, use less of that, try this new miracle formula…and voila!
Same problems, different flavor.
There is nothing on the internet today that will fix the problems in my heart.
There is no earthly book, no potion, no method or manipulation that will solve this lack of grace.
I just need Jesus.
And what more do they  need?  More law, because that really worked for me?
Not so much.
They need a mom who’s been washed, washed, and washed again and once and for all, because sin is a daily battle and grace covers it.
The one encouragement that we can always give our children (and one another) is that God is more powerful than our sin, and He’s strong enough to make us want to do the right thing.”
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace
We are all people with problems, living with people with problems.  There is so much room for grace here, so much gospel to be lived out.
But when we forget grace and use methods instead, we sleep with elephants on our chest because we fail, I fail.
I have this Hero and He won me with grace.  He’ll win their hearts, too.

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.

 


Choosing Rightly {Overwhelmed by Your Options?}

How do you  make choices in this world of infinite options?  And are some decisions just too small to fuss over, or do you think He cares about them all?  I’m curious.

Sometimes the problem is not that you don’t have enough options.

It’s not that you have a big decision to make and your choices are just too few, and you feel forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

The problem  sometimes is that there are just so many good choices.

Whether it’s which charity to support, which cause to throw your voice behind, which restaurant to eat at, which outfit to wear, or what books to read.  Being in the Land of the Free can be such a huge burden.

A friend asks for homeschool advice, which curriculum to use, what do I love the most?  Do I open up the myriad of catalogs-websites-books-opinions out there and boggle her with the next 12 years of planning her child’s life?  Do I tell her all the pros and cons and finish with, “But whatever works for your family!”?

I need toothpaste.

Whitening, natural, sensitive, mint, cool mint, peppermint, or spearmint?

Bible?  KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB…

And do I expose my kids to this smorgasbord?  Do I give them so many choices for breakfast that they feel entitled to always have it their way? 

It used to be nothing but oatmeal.  Why did I waffle?  What have I done to the simple life I wanted for us?

I like having choices, don’t get me wrong.  I like what I like and sometimes I like to change what I like.

But I get easily overwhelmed.  When it seems like the decisions are huge and there can only be one choice that’s right, I feel like that man at the fair, juggling knives.

You’d better get this right.

But there are a few things I’ve learned about making decisions, mostly from my husband.

1. God knows your heart.

This brings me peace in the swirling.  He’s not waiting to pounce if I choose A instead of B, not crossing His fingers hoping I make the right decision.  If my heart is right with the Lord and I am not purposely ignoring Him, I can trust His guiding.  I can rest in His grace.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you.  But to do justly, To love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – {Mic 6:8 NKJV}

Doesn’t He make it simple for me?

Yes.  Because I need that.

And I need to know that He sees me as His child, trying to please Him but getting sticky jam-fingers all over the kitchen.  Would He scold me for the jam and tell me that He wanted eggs, not toast?

2.  Once you make the decision, go with it.

I had to choose a sink recently.  I stressed over it, really.  Stainless, I knew for certain.  One-hole, definitely.  Deep enough for a big pot.  But in order to have a row of drawers to the left of the sink, I had to order one narrower than my current sink.

Would I like it?  Would it work for our family?  Should I choose a bigger sink instead of the drawers?

Because now  is the time to decide…this isn’t something we can just change later if it doesn’t work out.

I ordered the smaller one and decided  I would like it.  It would be perfect and I’d be happy and it all would be great.  And guess what?

It is.

That’s not to say that we need a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.  Not to close ourselves off from other opinions or suggestions or, especially, clear direction from the Lord that we are wrong.

But just that convincing yourself is sometimes the biggest obstacle and once you’ve narrowed down the choices, prayed, sought counsel, and have peace, go for it.

And I know, it was just a sink.

But if you’re choosing something a little more life changing than a sink,  pray, read, ask, pray again, check your heart, and go for it.  Move forward until God tells you otherwise.

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. – {Pro 14:26 NKJV}

3. Deal with your mistakes.

You will choose the wrong thing sometimes.

Some mistakes only require a little paint to fix, or a phone call or a letter or some elbow-grease.

Some mistakes really can’t be fixed, but you can start doing things right from this point on.  You can own up to the mistake and endure patiently, you can trust God through the consequences, and you’ll have gained wisdom when it’s all said and done.

We’ll know more when it’s over,  my husbands says.

Maybe you chose the wrong job or the wrong neighborhood or the wrong way to spend your time.  Maybe it was the wrong ‘parenting technique’ and now you feel like it’s too late.

It’s not.  Start doing the right thing now.  

Maybe you feel like you chose the wrong spouse, in which case I would refer you to #2 above and pray that you pour yourself into  being the right spouse.

Whatever the mistake, there is grace sufficient for a repentant heart, and times of refreshing will come (Acts 3:19). That’s always the best choice.

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Choosing thanks….

250. starting over, again, because Mercy is new every morning

251. friends and family that stop by

252. my ‘new-to-me’ computer hutch, given by a friend

253. unprompted apologies

254. Jan : )

255. Academy for Character Education

256. odd jobs

257. two red-winged blackbirds out the window

258. sunshine and fresh air in the morning

259. 5 flat acres, a creek, good neighbors, and no oak trees  : )

260. crazy kids in the creek

261. 6 minuscule fish that become 22 whoppers in Ethan’s retelling of it

Raising Ebenezer {When Worry Steals Your Moment}

I smile and enjoy the moment.  Everything is right with the world and I am happy as a clam.  The day was perfect, the conversations edifying,  a little work happened and a little play and rest.  Now the children are tucked in and it’s just me and the man of my dreams.

Some days everything just lays out perfectly.

But what if…

What if something happens to one of us under this roof and our bliss is taken?  What if there comes a day when my husband gets up and there is no job for him to go to?  What about fires, earthquakes, floods, and cancer?

But what if…

What if I reach 80 and have bitter regrets?  Or I realize that I chased the wrong dream, loved the wrong things, and sacrificed for what perishes?

They flood into my moment and steal my joy.  Those thoughts play on the unknown and they mock me because truly, everything could change in the blink of an eye.

But what if I just always enjoy this moment, because it’s the only one outside of eternity that I’m sure of?  Can’t I be happy with this?

 Thus far the LORD has helped us. (1 Samuel 7:12)

I have no reason to doubt His goodness, and if all else fails, then my default is eternity.  If all else fails then this life was just a blip on the screen and the good and bad all wrap up in Forever, where there is no ‘what if’.

 Worry can take a hike.

So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. (1 Samuel 7:13)

 Have you had moments stolen by the ‘what ifs’ this week?  Maybe you, like me, need to remember that thus far the LORD has helped us and we have no need to fear that He would suddenly stop.  His faithfulness is to all generations.

So the reminder for us is in everything give thanksThe only thing to come, the only future we need to dwell on, is the certain one bought for us by our Redeemer. 

Be thankful for, and live in, the now.

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Some things I’m thankful for now, added to the slow-growing list:

250.  starting over again, with new mercy for every morning

251.  friends and family that stop by

252. my handy-dandy, new-to-me computer hutch, given by a friend

253.  un-prompted apologies

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