Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “the Word”

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
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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

What’s More Important Than Being Right?

He leaned over and whispered it in my ear during church.  The  man sitting next to me, the one I had argued with that morning about who-knows-what.

It took me a minute to realize what it was he was saying.  I had been waiting for the apology, waiting for him to take back words and agree with me.  So when he leaned over and whispered,

“Will you accept my forgiveness?”

I thought he had apologized.

For a moment I reveled in the rightness of whatever my argument had been.  Reveled in the fact that he had given in to his error and my correctness.

Then I realized what he was saying.

I elbowed him and I laughed silly and knew that we were alright.  Will you accept my forgiveness, he says.  He knows I can’t resist and what was the argument about, anyway?

The slate is quickly cleaned and we try to keep a short account, to ward off bitterness and long bouts of silence.  Some things take more than light-hearted jesting, but we do the hard work and love is stronger, more important than being right.

 

Yesterday we heard about forgiveness from Luke 6.  About being forgiven by God with the same measure of forgiveness that we have offered to others.

I’ve always considered myself to be a forgiving person, mostly because I’m too forgetful to truly hold a grudge.  Also because nothing too terrible has ever happened to me.

But sometimes things trigger a memory and, though love keeps no record of wrongs, I sometimes find that I do.  That my memory is better than I thought and my forgiveness is less than I imagined it to be.

So when our pastor cupped his hands and said this is your forgiveness to others, and this is God’s forgiveness to you, I had to evaluate things.  The way I mete out forgiveness to others is the same measure God will use with me.

The Word, it stops me in my tracks sometimes.

There is infinite forgiveness for my blunders, and I want all of it.  Do I want to extend it to others?   Do I want to bless those who curse me, to pray for them, turn the other cheek?

What about those who just disagree with me or annoy me?  What about those whom I don’t love as much as I do my husband or children?  Is it worth the hard work with them?

Because Christ is in me and when I don’t feel like forgiving I am still called to it, me – being forgiven so much.  It ought to read like this: forgiven=forgiving.

I realized yesterday that unforgiveness doesn’t have to be this glaring obstacle, something so obvious that anyone can see it.  It can be just a greasy film across your life.  A thin, blurry film that covers the way you respond and think and react.

That kind of unforgiveness needs uprooted.

How do we best keep the list short?  Those annoyances and our reactions, aren’t they really unforgiveness?  What are your thoughts?

There is so much to be thankful for.  Here is our list – two weeks’ worth since last Monday was full of the blessing of work.

209.  poetry

210. warm tea when it’s snowing on spring break

211. waking up to frozen, delicate, perfectly formed snowflakes *and there are beautiful pictures of these, on the broken computer* (was that thankful?!)

212.  daffodils in a mason jar on the first day of spring

213.  little boys hunting for flowers in their rain gear

214.  sunshine after the rain

215.  finding the perfect pedestal sink at the thrift store

216.  the little white tea pot I wanted to buy at Freddies, but didn’t?  It’s at the thrift store, too!

217.  coffee with “old” friends

218.  a house-ful of good friends for lunch and lively discussion

219.  working with Dad…and blistered hands

220.  pie with last summer’s blackberries

221.  driving lessons with daddy

222.  some of the most important files on the computer…found!

223.  another break from the rain

224.  chocolate on my nightstand (thank you, dear!)

Finding Out

…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.

Amen.

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 judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.   Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. – Psa 19:7-11 NKJV

And I know what rebellion is, even if it’s quiet rebellion.  I have bristled and balked under the yoke sometimes.  Temper tantrums happen in 35 year-olds who sit in church every Sunday, not just the two year-olds in the nursery.

I am sympathetic, then, to the scowl of the rebel.

He always wins me back with love.  It’s His kindness that leads any of us to repentance.  The thing I ‘find out’ again and again is that God is too tough to be swayed by my tantrum, and too gentle to turn me away. 

So we who know we are loved, we spend our time finding out.

Finding God out?  Yes.  Testing the boundaries?  Sometimes.

And finding ourselves out in the pages of scripture.  Seeing our own hearts revealed by the living Word that never changes, but always applies.  Always gently divides the soul and spirit, joints and marrow.

 Losing our minds and putting on His.

How valuable is a life spent pursuing goodness, righteousness and truth?(Eph. 5:9)  Let’s find out.

 

Launch Out to the Deep

On Sunday I take my class of 4th-6th graders downstairs to sit in service.  We are blessed by a visit from Amy, on leave from her mission in Asia, and I think the kids should listen in.  They sit with Bibles and paper, drawing what they hear and chatting a little with their neighbor.

Amy tells us in her second-tongue what the question always is…

“Aren’t you afraid?”

Aren’t you afraid to live alone?  Don’t you get scared at night?  Aren’t you afraid, being a single-woman in a strange country, where alcoholism is rampant and women are often subjected to violence?

She can answer a resounding, emphatic, faith-filled, “No.  I am never afraid because I’m never alone.  God is with me, always.”

God has called her to The Deep.

After Amy comes our pastor, sharing verse-by-verse from Luke 5.

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” ~ Luke 5:4

Verse-by-verse we hear how Jesus called them to do the thing that was illogical.  To fish during the day on the Sea of Galilee, after a night of toiling to bring in empty nets.  To go out in front of everyone, everyone who knows better than to try to coax fish into the net in daytime.

Nervertheless at Your word I will let down the net. ~ Luke 5:5

Give Jesus an inch, just a smidge of grudging, this-is-ridiculous-but-if-you-say-so obedience, and watch Him work.  Watch how big your God is.  See how He blows all your logic out of the water.

Then call for your friends to come out to the The Deep and help bring in the catch.

“Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.”  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. ~ Luke 5:10b-11

Two boat-loads of fish, enough for maybe a whole years’ wages.  They forsook all?  To follow Someone Who wants to catch men, the way Peter and all who were with him had been caught – astonished.  Mouths agape and common sense shredded.

The Deep is calling because that’s where Jesus is.  That’s where your logic drowns, where your livelihood is magnified, where your knees buckle and your boats sink and Jesus says do not be afraid.

I’m looking for The Deep, warily looking and cautious.  As much as I can talk about launching out, the doing is another thing altogether.  It looks nice on paper, sounds nice when it’s someone else’s boat sinking, but me?  I have this comfort-zone-thing and I need those fish to feed my family and can’t I just surrender…some?

The Deep is calling us all out of that, in every little and big way.  Read Luke 5 and see how radical this calling is, how in-the-face of religion it flies.

Amy is not afraid, because she has gone out into The Deep and never found herself alone there.  Even when the emails don’t come and the language falters and the food is not comforting.  Even if it seems everyone else forgets, God never does, never leaves nor forsakes.

Will He do any less for me?  Even if my ‘deep’ is somewhat shallow?

I’ll never know unless I launch out.

{This “do not be afraid’ comes up to me again, in Matthew chapter 1.  I’m reading with the kids this morning and I hear the angel telling Joseph to not be afraid, this thing is of the Lord.  I hope I’m getting this.  Launch out.  Do not be afraid.  For those of you that I am blessed to fellowship with on Sundays, do you remember those words from a month or so ago?  About going out in the deep, over your head?  Without fear?}

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I write and remember all He’s done.  Giving thanks, counting to 1000.

That’s not true, actually.  These are just the things that I noticed and took the time to write down.  He does so much more!  My family writes them down with me and we attempt to notice more, and I love it.

188. a dad who stays home with a sick kiddo

189. ice cream – Shelby’s treat

190. getting my baby-holding fix

191. sun shining in on sick Ethan

192. transle googlate : )

193. Friends in Mexico

194. Picture blogs

195. email

196. 6 yrs. with Ethan Shashwat

197. quiet morning in the hot tub with my husband

198. working with an end in sight

199. thick slices of Uncle Troy bread for breakfast

200. the repeated “do not be afraid”

Click on the picture below to visit Ann and be blessed with a wonderful gift today…

Why I Need to Lose My Mind

Sometimes I think I already have.  If being forgetful means I’ve lost my mind, then I am so there.  Sometimes I forget if I’ve forgot something…you know, that feeling that you have when you think you’ve forgotten something important but aren’t sure if it really was important, or if you really did forget it in the first place.  Whatever ‘it’ is?

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one who can’t remember when child #3 learned to walk, or how much each child weighed at birth, or who it was that said that cute thing about such-and-such?

Am I the only one who has to ask her kids questions like who was it that used to say “hot lemons” because they thought that’s what we said when something was ‘off limits’?  Who got stung by the bald face hornets?  Who had their tooth pulled, and have any of you had chicken pox?

I’m not the only one, am I?

Alas, I’ve let it go.  My mind, that is.  I have just given in to the gaps in memory, and I always carry paper with me.  If it’s not written down, it probably doesn’t happen.  I have pictures, and now I blog, so it’s there till everything crashes, right?

Of course, there are things I can’t forget, hard as I try.  Why is that?  Why do I remember all the ungodly things I’ve seen, heard, read or said, but can’t remember important things like the name of the sweet lady I met at church last Sunday?

My kids used a phrase the other day that was completely harmless, yet reminded me of a phrase that was not so harmless, from a movie I’d watched probably 20 years ago.  I asked them not to use the phrase and told them why…told them how what we choose to put in our minds can stay with us and affect us for years.

Maybe all they got from that talk was that mom used to watch bad movies.  And now she’s a little hyper-sensitive.

But God is a Redeemer, even of minds.  

He actually wants me to lose my mind.  And He offers a brand new one in its place.

…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Eph 4:23-24 

Because my old man was growing corrupt, rotting, wasting away.  My thoughts were futile.  Like “the rest of the Gentiles” (vs. 17), I used to live by those futile thoughts and vain imaginings, justifying my actions with an “it will all balance out in the end” attitude.

Why do I still have futile thoughts sometimes?  Putting off and putting on, continually being sanctified, and living out this righteousness and holiness He’s given.  It’s a process till the end, and His grace is sufficient.

Chapter 4 of Ephesians has some good mind-cleansing remedies.  If you are doing x, stop and do y instead.  Put off this, put on this.  Not just dos and don’ts, but life-giving, life-saving clothing to wear everyday.

I won’t quote the whole chapter here, in hopes you’ll open it up for yourself.

I am renewing my mind with scripture.  Writing, speaking, thinking, reading, and typing it here.  I am on and off with this, but I need it.  This week it’s Ephesians 4:23-24.

I believe He’ll even redeem my memory (or lack thereof) and generate new brain cells, because that’s what it is to be re-newed.  Like new again.

Would you like to hold me accountable?  And do you have suggestions, ways that you renew your mind and crowd out the old and rotting with the new He gives?  I’d love help along the way.

Humbling

When Naaman is told to go wash, it’s too easy for him.  Too little.  No pomp?  No ceremony or ritual ?  Elisha did not even bother to come out himself and deliver the remedy.

But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out [to me], and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.‘ ~ 2 Kings 5:11

Ego is a fragile thing.  Surely there is some grand thing that we must do to earn our healing.  Some benevolent act or courageous sacrifice made to acquire the desired outcome.  Can our wholeness come with so little effort?

Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.  

And what the messenger says is repeated by the servants.  Go.  Wash.  Be clean. Why not do the simplest things?  What have you to lose?

So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. ~ 2 Kings 5: 14

And he was clean!  Like a little child, clean.  When we respond to the simplest of God’s desires, isn’t our faith strengthened and our intellect over-ruled?  Yes, Naaman still wanted to give a gift – a thanks, or maybe a payment?  But God had broken through and made His point:

Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…

Now I know.  In my ugliness and disease I think that I have to do something. Something more than just surrender and be humble and wash.  God doesn’t require deep, theological responses; just faith and obedience, faith and obedience.

Go.  Wash.  Be clean.

This is the lesson for me.  That God had a way for Naaman that was simple.  Do I reject the simple way?

Oh, that I would walk in humility.  Washed in the blood and brought near.  Because really, who am I, who was Naaman, to argue with the way God wants to do things?

I’m still working this one out.  Sometimes it’s the simplest lessons that take me the longest.

What about you?  Is there something simple God wants from you, but you’ve pulled back from obedience?

{all these beautiful pictures are from Bailey.  She’d be so blessed if you stopped by her new blog and offered encouragement!}

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One of the simplest things we can do – offering a sacrifice of praise.  Giving thanks to the Giver of all good gifts, because we remember that all this is His grace to us.

178. a four-wheeler ride with little brother (oh there’s a funny store here, if the kids will let me tell it sometime!)

179. peanut-butter balls, mixed up and served by Jake

180. Dr. Seuss

181. encouraging words

182. a husband who doesn’t ask, just tells me that he’s bringing home dinner – because he knows!

183. little girl turning 11

184. 3 kids downstairs, giggling, though they’re supposed to be reading (because our schedule is flexible, remember?!)

185. a sick boy who is extra snuggly

186. soup on Sundays

187. Shelby reading to Ethan and catering to him sweetly

Where we all write it down

The Dirt

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die. ~ Plato

Some of the best dirt takes years to develop.  Yards of compost, manure, lawn clippings.  All the yuck combined and rolled and seasoned into fertile ground.  Adam had this humus available right away in the garden.  The Landscaper left him in charge of something already living and thriving.  Like a heavenly roll-a-lawn.

But for us, after the fall, after the yuck has come in…we sometimes wait years for produce.  Sometimes all we can see is the leftovers thrown at us and the rotting, stinking mess of it all.  Sometimes we look for nourishment in others and find only disappointment.  Others might look for it in us, too.  The food they need, are we filled so we can be empty?

The pastor reminds us on Sunday that we can give words that have power.

And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. – Luke 4:32 NKJV

The living, active, powerful, piercing Word is ours for the wielding.  Do we leave others with the dust-and-vapor words?  Do we comfort with scraps of our compost pile?  We have Words of life at our fingertips – words that can astonish.  What people need is not our wisdom or stunted-view, but nourishment.  Daily bread, living water.

We are also reminded that the most powerful time is time spent in prayer.  Jesus rose early to get connected.  Do we need anything less?  Do those in our lives need anything less (or more) than our prayers?

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.  – 1Jo 5:14-16 NKJV

So I commit to spend more time praying and listening.  And as I pray for my friends and family, I also ask that my words would be nourishing.  That time spent with me would feed them and not stunt their growth.  I repent of my idle words, the ones that don’t break down in the soil of good fellowship to feed souls.  Plastic words, they’re no good.

I have good-dirt people in my life.  I’m so thankful for them, for God’s mercy to me through them, and for the common compost of all our combined years, feeding us all.

Still counting to 1000…

155.  My brother and how he blessed us

156.  Sisters who pray for me

157. Pictures of Ethan on his first solo bike ride

158. $25 gift

159. Mommy making cheesy noodles, finally

160. a little sister who thinks big sister doing her hair is cool

161. Brookie’s bday!

162. Bravo’s for lunch

163. cinnamon rolls

164. four-wheeler rides

165. siblings playing board games together

166. Jacob, creating his own board game

167. sleeping til 7:30

168. sunny day with possibility of photography

169. getting my Nascar game

170. a house protected from the storm

171. little girls on four-wheeler

172. homemade playdough in bright colors

173. chocolate mousse cheesecake (finally)

174. sheetrock, after almost 6 years of bare framing

175. early morning Bible discussions

176. easy Mondays

177. impromptu visits

What I Want to Preach

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 himself.  But to call it a grace, a gift?

I was given grace, too.  Do I risk anything to share the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all see the Fellowship of the Mystery?  Do I consider it a gift of grace to do the hard things day in and day out – bringing a sacrifice of praise through all the mundane and extraordinary and beautiful messes of each day?

What do my children know of this mystery?  Because the riches are unsearchable, does that mean we are without searching?  Without wonder?  When everything is explained, mystery becomes just science, just facts, just ho-hum-everyday-life.

There should be awe in everyday.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God; 
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We visit the science museum on a Thursday, surprised to see what we didn’t really expect.  Bodies.  Human bodies.  Is there awe in that?   Oh boy.  Amazing handiwork.  Created, every part of it, for a purpose.  And while it is a little overwhelming, and can-we-just-rush-through-mom?, and we turn a little red a few times, the place was crammed with heaven.  Can you view all that and really believe in coincidence, or accident?

We could walk away disgusted or disturbed.  Or we can take off our shoes and explore the holy ground, explore the wonder and mystery.  God is amazing.  Did you see it?  Did you see how He made everything fit so perfectly?

Life can be mundane.  I can go days, weeks, without seeing wonder or being amazed.  Feeling unimportant, unnoticed, unnecessary.  My days can be:

  1. drag out of bed
  2. read Bible
  3. make meals
  4. clean-up meals
  5. repeat

Somewhere in between, I throw in a load of laundry and force some school along.  Check.  When is bedtime, so we can start all over tomorrow?

Round and round life goes, and if I don’t deliberately choose to see, I just trample over holy ground.  I trample over holy people.

This is what I’m thinking about when the dentist asks me, “So what do you do for a living?”.   This is generally that question that causes me to fumble over my tongue.  What do I do?

What do I do?  For a ‘living’, I die daily.  I would like to respond that way – like for it to be true.

“I teach my four children at home,”  I say.

Wow.  No fumbling this time.  No apologies, no feeling-less-than-important.  People are always amazed (or concerned)… but this time, so am I.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among my children the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Everyday.  Searching for the treasures, looking for the pearls hidden in the Word and in His world.  Hidden in the hearts of others.  Praying big prayers in front of and with my children, because a big God can answer and we can be amazed.

From Leigh Bortins, Echo in Celebration, pg. 3 ~

I feel compelled to “ride horses up the White House stairs” as Teddy Roosevelt did with his children, and I want to share with them the deep sorrow rather than the self-righteousness that comes from the ugliness of sin.  I want them to work so hard and to have fun so physical that they can’t wait to climb into bed.  I want them to know that everyone they encounter can be their teacher and that they are to inspire each person they meet to draw a little closer to our Father in heaven.  Life is but a vapor, but it’s also a divine journey –  a journey that can result in unspeakable joy and heart-satisfying peace that passes all understanding.

I love that quote, and I want to live like that.  I want my words to be less lecture, more wonder.  Less why-did-you-do-that, and more did-you-see-that?

Treasure Seekers

If I only speak a hundred words to my children today, Lord, let them be all grace, all wonder, all magnifying the riches of Christ and buckle-your-seat-belt adventure.

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