Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “goodness of God”

Five Minute Friday: Here

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.

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

HERE

This tiny spot that you will only see on certain maps, the place with 3 churches and 2 markets, one restaurant and less than 1000 people, it’s our Mayberry.

We tried to leave here.  We looked over the mountain for a place closer to town, somewhere that didn’t require you to pack a lunch and have dinner planned before you went grocery shopping.  We were newlyweds and thought we’d start fresh somewhere else.  Somewhere better.

Turns out there’s no better place to be than right where God has you.

Three churches in this tiny town and in one we were married, in another we dedicated three of our children, and in the third we stretched for more grace, and we do leave here.  From this place here in smalltown, so many of us leave every year to go into so many nations.

And the nations have come here, too.  To our little country church along a windy stretch of highway, they come and share His works at Friday potlucks and Sunday service.  Brothers and sisters from countries who would never let them leave, with gospel good news they could never help but share, they stand in an old general store and worship with us.  All us country folk and this predominantly Caucasian community with a sprinkling of color and culture.

Right.  Here.

From here we launch missionaries.  And here, this weekend, we are missionaries in smalltown who make 150 peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and biscuits to feed an army,  who camp in tents and stay up late to explain gospel truths to the children of this community.

This weekend the mission field is here in a cow-pasture cleaned up for water games and Living Water.  Won’t you pray, pray, pray that these kids will drink deep and never thirst again?

Meeting One Person {Risk Part 2}

Friday, I said that risk was good and that we need to meet lots and lots of people.  Then I drove off to the big city, full of people, and ran into several that I already knew.  I gravitated towards them, the known and the safe, and walked by hundreds I didn’t know.  Hundreds I didn’t meet.

Dinner at The Horn of Africa {in Portland!}

Stopping for fuel

I suppose I took my turtle shell with me.

Saturday in the Goodwill, two men mocked Christians and laughed at one very dear, very devoted and well-known saint.  They bantered and built their conversation around lies, and I just looked at the clothes on the hanger.

A real risk-taker, I was.

I was a country mouse in the big city without my husband and I just felt little.  I felt sure that my husband would want me to keep to myself in that situation, but honestly, I was happy in my shell.  Happy and risk-free.

Then Sunday, back in familiar fellowship, there was a new family.  I swallowed hard and fought down the self-doubt and really, fought down the pride that worries about self.

I extended my hand and forgot names and had to ask again and I may have talked too long or too loud or too irrelevant, but I did it anyways.

I actually introduced myself to someone new.  And today we talked for 30 minutes on the phone.

I had thought that I had failed after the Goodwill incident.  I felt guilty for not standing up for the truth and for being timid.  I read about Stephen this morning,  his boldness and his risk, and thought again about my lack of both.

But another good friend put it this way.  What’s risk to you is not necessarily risk to me.  What’s hard for you may be natural to me, but there other things that scare me, and other places for me to take risk.

Introducing myself to new people really is hard, as silly as that may seem to some.  It really seems like risk to me.  That’s one of the reasons I write.

So I overcome, one baby step at a time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Giving Thanks for all this:

281.  Good friends

282.  A day with far-away friends

283.  Working on the dam with Jake

284. Being with my sister

285. Catching Fred {?I’ll be asking some questions ’bout this one?}

286. Jacob making soft pretzels, and taking bits of mom’s granola

287.  Bailey saying something not funny, and only her laughing

288.  Three people asking if we’re sisters : )

289.  driving 8 hours round trip  for a few good books,  a homeschool shot-in-the-arm,  and lots of good memories

290.  Good stories from the kids at home

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.

 


Five Minute Friday: Path

I love Fridays because Lisa Jo makes writing so fun.  Just five minutes and she even gives you the topic.

{In fact, come fall my children will be joining the fun…but don’t tell them yet.  Summer has just begun and we may lose pen and paper for a little while!  We are ready for a few lazy days, a few unpressed and spontaneous ones.}

But me?  I’m writing.

GO!

He actually found me.  Knocked on my door and said, “Remember me?”

I had never planned for marriage, never had the list of attributes or thought about churches or wedding dresses.  I had never seen a marriage that really looked like a blessing.

And my life had a way of just living itself out without my planning, anyways.

But he had the guts to knock on my door (well, my parents’ door anyways) and smile.  Just pop in and what next?

A difference in years and backgrounds and theology and none of it matters when God orchestrates something grand!  When God hacks away at the weeds on your path, and cuts out the poison oak and blackberry bushes that seem par for the course, when He does all that, who really needs plans?

All our planning or not planning just falls by the wayside.  We just follow the path.

So that was 19 years ago I guess.  And three years later we were married.  In a church.

And now 16 years after ‘we did’, after he quavered out Long as I Live and drove me away in that little white Toyota, I know I couldn’t have planned anything better than this.

Happy Anniversary, Baby.

STOP

I could go on and on, but the whole point is five short minutes of writing…

 

 

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

The Things I Miss

{This post was written a few weeks ago but left unpublished.  I didn’t figure anyone needed or wanted to read my selfish complaints and poor-me-isms.  It’s kinda gross, the stuff that comes out when your little world gets shaken, and I didn’t really want to share all that ugly.

But I read it this morning and realized that I needed this reminder, because we are moving towards order now and while that’s good, so good, I want to remember that there is only one Constant.  Life will get out-of-order again, and what will I do with Jesus in the chaos?}

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They are the two things I miss the most when life is upside down and busy.  When waking up is hard because sleep was fleeting, and there are kids on your kitchen table and living room couch.  Showering happens in line of 7 others and where in the world are my clothes, anyway?

We are in a time of transition, and I don’t mean to complain but I’m kinda freaking out.

I have so much to be thankful for.  And I am.  It’s just that I thrive on order and routine and I haven’t found those yet in this camp trailer.

That’s what I miss.  Order.  Routine.

I purpose to not complain, but then someone asks and the things I dwell on in my heart come oozing out of my mouth.  {So, dear friends, better to not ask!}

I can’t find our book of Giving Thanks, can’t read over all the blessings we’ve numbered so far this year and can’t write down more.  And so I stop being thankful?  This dust that breathes and lives because of grace, refusing to thank the Giver because of missing routines and lack of order?

And what burns me the most is my fragility.  My husband has this saying, that worship isn’t fragile.  It’s not about our surroundings or the music or the lights or the time, because it’s only worship if it’s about Jesus.

But I am fragile about important things, and faithful in the un-importants.

Three weeks out of order and routine, and the coffee pot has girgled every single day.  Is that my one constant, then?  Coffee?

There were days with no Words.  Days where pray was short and simple thank-You-for-this-food-amen.  But there have been no coffee-less days so far.  No days without a steaming blend of arabica, water and half-n-half.

Just days without Real Life.

Truly, then, what I miss the most because it is the most vital (vita, meaning life) is the Real Life of fellowship with Jesus.  What I think I miss is really just a habit.  Those quiet mornings in the Word and prayer…with coffee.

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality. ~ Oswald Chambers

Pretty much having my schedule upset right now.

I feel foolish to complain.  I am a spoiled child who disdains the smallest inconveniences.  I feel silly taking up space with my whining, but I know what writing it out does.

It makes me accountable.

And thankful, that a loving Father turns me upside down to shake out all the trinkets and fetishes I’ve carried around as habits, caught up in thinking they were necessary.  I still look forward to a quiet morning, to reading the Word and praying before the busy day.  I know I’ll go back to those things, but for now He just reminds that now  is a good time to seek Him.

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Thankfulness.  Can I just say that out of all the in-laws in the world, mine are the best?  For five weeks we upset their order and routine, interrupted their schedules, and they just blessed us again and again.

And when we invited them over last night, to be the first dinner guests in our new home…they brought the dinner.

Making Time

She sacrificed time yesterday.

Her house was in piles, the leftovers of a busy and fruitful weekend spilling over into midweek.  She had intended to tackle those mountains and get a fresh start on the remainder of the week, but I interrupted her.

I had questions and thoughts to sort out, and you know how sometimes you just need someone to hear?  Not to come up with answers or methodically cheer you on, but just listen.

And she would tell me if I was crazy.

She said the house would wait and that I was more important.

She bought me coffee and she listened.

I stammered and spoke in broken sentences and grasped to get thoughts out into coherent phrases.  Why is it that thoughts perfectly formed get all disfigured when they are spoken?

I twiddled fingers and I think I managed to get everything out, managed to convince at least myself that what I was thinking was right.

When I asked what she thought, she replied with her own question.  What does your husband think?

She sacrificed her opinion, really.

She gave wise counsel and different perspective, as always, but she was careful not to overstep the bounds of friendship and sisterhood.  Because so what if she thinks I should or shouldn’t do x, y or z?  I value her opinion but what if it’s the opposite of my husband’s? What does he think?  She knew how to be a sounding board for my anxious thoughts and how to allow room for God to shape things.

And she did encourage me, said we serve a big God and she called me by name.  Why does it mean so much when someone calls me by name?  Catches me and lifts me and she could have just spoken generic words, but she chose words for me, for Tresta.

I came away more confident, certain that she was praying and if I was crazy and she was too nice to tell me, she would pray that I’d hear it from Him.  Or my husband.

What a dear friend.

Today I took her example, left grammar and math and laundry behind for something more important. For someone who needed the sacrifice of my time.  I rush by my own children on the way to the next task, day in and day out, and though I hear it a thousand times, I stopped short and remembered again today.

The laundry will always be there, the house will always need cleaning, the phone will ring and emails will pile up.  “The tyranny of the urgent” my friend had called it yesterday, and I throw off the tyrant again and again.

I throw it off and call someone precious by name, try to listen well, pray hard, correct gently.

A Good Friday, Indeed

Light

The enemy thought he’d silenced our cries

And ended our Hope for all good.

Stuffed all the Light where the dead body lies,

But defeat Him that death never could.

They buried Him there and sealed Him up tight;

Hope, it went down in the tomb.

Brought Sunday morning back into light,

 And Life springing forth from the womb.

Love that would seal us, free us and teach,

Carried away in the shroud.

Look for Him, find Him there, just within reach,

And coming again in the cloud.

Light, it breaks forth, and no one can take

The hope that so safely resides

In breasts beating light and hearts that must make

Him Lord, and none other besides.

Sunrise service, New Delhi 2011

This started as a five-minute prompt from Lisa-Jo, but I confess to spending a little more time than that.  It’s Good Friday, after all.

And what makes this any better than last Friday, or next?  Why do Christians celebrate a gruesome death, an execution, really?

It’s not so much the Friday, but the Sunday that’s coming.  Sunday will be awesome.

I’m not big on celebrations or traditions.  We have a few, like our Christmas Eve slumber party and our birthday treasure hunts.  I guess that throwing the aluminum-foil balls at each other when we have baked potatoes is kind of a tradition.  But we will for sure be making these Saturday evening, and we may even eat them before breakfast because what better to wake up to than sweet, empty calories/tombs?

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. – Rom 8:34 NKJV

Good Shoes

He comes to steal peace.  To shake the foundations and stir-up doubts, discord, anything to deflect our gaze.  He comes all wily, all destructive and pretending to be all-knowing.

We know better.

And Paul warns us against his schemes, tells us to clothe ourselves and to stand.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Eph 6:11 NKJV

How many times have I fallen all limp-kneed and weak-fleshed, giving in to the thoughts and the juicy tidbits of fruit that leads to rot?  I determine to stand, but the whole spirit-flesh conflict is wearing me thin.

I paint my toenails blood red for this picture, because I want to remember what He said here.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— – Col 1:19-22 NKJV

What the enemy really wants is to take Christ’s work and nullify it, remove it from my mind, add it to the list of things I forget daily.  He wants to steal the peace I have with God.

The redemption that brings me peace and settles my anxious and guilt-ridden thoughts, it only comes from the blood of His cross.

And when Paul says that with all the armor we need good shoes, I think he must mean to remind us that the gospel of peace is reconciliation with God.  We are reconciled – holy, blameless, above the reproach of the accuser.  Great peace.

…having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; – Eph 6:15 NKJV

He changes my thinking this morning about this gospel of peace.

I have always read this verse as a call to be ready to share the gospel, shoes on and ready to go.  And surely we ought to be ready for that, but to stand, stand, stand as Paul repeats here…we need good footing.  We need the security and certainty and never-changing-no-matter-what peace with God.

The gospel of peace is His blood bringing us into security, never shaken or taken.

This thought process is not over for me, but I am in a good place when I stand reminded of the blood that brought the reconciliation that brings the peace that stands against the accusations.

Five Minute Friday: Loud

Loud.  No editing, no over-thinking, but five straight minutes of writing about loud…

GO

All I could think of is India.  India is loud.  Honking, beeping, shouting, mooing loud.  And my husband, when talking with someone who speaks little english – he talks loud.  Because surely that will help them understand.

Beyond that, nothing.  Can’t I write about quiet?  I like quiet.

I went to blueletterbible.org and searched “loud” in the NKJV.

Of the 72 or so times the word “loud” came up, the  huge majority (I didn’t count)  were found in the book of Revelations.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. – Rev 12:10 NKJV

Yes!  Something worth shouting, the kind of loud I can rejoice in.

I prefer quiet, but aren’t some things just necessary to be loud about?

The demons cast out, they were loud.  The threats from the Assyrians, they were shouted for all to hear.  The people crying out for deliverance and rescue were not quiet about it.

The accuser of the brethren, day and night pointing his finger at us before God, his voice is loud in our ears.  {Can we please be louder than that accusing voice, and encourage one another loud enough to silence him?}

And though He never raised His voice in the streets, my Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice when it was finished.  One day He and His angels will be heard with a loud voice (hallelujah!) and all my quietness will rejoice.

Trumpets and angels and the people of God, all loud for His coming.

STOP

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