I am about to finish up an entire year of reading the Old Testament Scriptures...and it has left me wanting.
I have been reading of God's discipline daily for almost four months now and it has been emotionally and spiritually exhausting. Yet, throughout the heavy chapters of God's chastisement of Israel's disobedience, God has so beautifully interwoven glimpses of Hope amid the heavy mounds of hardship. Moments of life-giving relief. Moments that affirm His love and care for His people. Moments of His Divine Promise. These blessed passages in Scripture pour forth glorious rays of Light into such a dark time of history. As I pore over these words, my spirit is overwhelmed by refreshing waves of peace - His peace...because I know to whom they are referring; I know Who is coming! But, the Israelites didn't know that...yet.
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them...for a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government of peace..." Isaiah 9:2,6-7
"Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him...with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth...and His resting place will be glorious." Isaiah 11:1-2,4,10
"[The Lord] will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth...and it will be said in that day, 'Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." Isaiah 25:8-9
"Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy..." Isaiah 35:4-6
As I am nearing the end of the Old Testament Scriptures, walking through it with the eyes of a weary person in that time, my heart cries out, "Hurry! Hurry, O Lord, and send this Savior! We need Him! I need Him!"
That is where I'm at right now in my reading - turning the last pages of the Old Testament Scriptures. Eagerly awaiting the promised Savior; the Perfect Gift from above. Paralleling the Israelites' longing, yet mine not being for His coming...but for His returning! Anxiously desiring and anticipating His arrival. Looking toward the future Hope that is found in Him alone with an intense and deep longing for Jesus.
The perfect preparation for Christmas!
Meet Catelyn's friends.
Catelyn loves our neighborhood kids. She invites them to our house, and they laugh and play for hours. The kids love to be around her. She is generous in heart and action as she shares her toys (often times giving them away!) and food. My daughter is choosing to place her Light on a lamp stand ..and it is beautiful.
The girls calling for Catelyn to come play!
They all love LOVE to ride bikes!
Lots of laughter is heard on our street in the afternoons!
Catelyn's Indonesian is growing so quickly!
They love to hear her speak English too!
Thanksgiving. There are so many memories that come flooding back as I anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Memories from childhood. Memories from adulthood without kids. Memories with my husband and children. Memories from America. And now, memories from Indonesia.
I am thankful for Thanksgiving. I truly enjoy this holiday. Not because of all the delicious food, yet, at the same time, because of all the delicious food.
With each step taken in preparing the mouth-watering meal (does anyone else find it funny that at the mere thought of the food on this holiday your mouth begins to water?), a memory springs happily forth...or is being created. And a smile warms my heart.
The heat from the oven reminds me of hours of talking and laughing side-by-side with my mom in the kitchen as I learn how to cook. Beating the hot potatoes into creamy goodness reminds me of the countless years of hilariously finding splattered blotches of potato on the walls days later. Deviled eggs will forever remind me of my dad teaching me how to successfully steal the already carefully-made eggs from the fridge without being caught! Learning from Corey's mom that a turkey can, in fact, be cooked to perfection inside of a brown paper bag! And the smell of the turkey, that so beautifully permeates the entire house as it deliciously transforms into golden brown, is an unspoken, yet unmistakable, "Welcome!" to all who enter the home. All beautiful and treasured memories and traditions.
Then, it's time...sitting down to the carefully decorated table, with all the hours of hard work displayed before me, I look around the table into the full eyes of each of the blessings in my life. We laugh over a delicious meal together. We are building upon our long-standing relationship, or perhaps creating a beautiful foundation for a newly-developing one. Whether a beloved family member or a dear friend; whether I've known them my entire life or I just met them today - they are here and they are a gift. From this point on, they now will be a part of my Thanksgiving memories. I have shared a little piece of my life with them, and they in return. They are another reason that I give thanks to God. For He has been good to me throughout my life. And because of Him, I am satisfied.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things..." Psalm 103:1-5
Happy Thanksgiving! May your celebration be full of thanks to God and enjoyment of the blessings that He has given you today...and the ones you remember from years past!
The sunset last night was breathtaking. I was speechless as I watched the canvas sky come alive with color. Amazing.
"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy." Psalm 65:8
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1
We live in a world of "perfection." Everything must appear flawless. Our appearance, our cars, our newest handheld devices, our homes. Otherwise it's somehow considered less-than-desirable, or worse yet - we have failed.
Have you found yourself feeling this from time to time? The feeling of inadequacy if what you have or do just "isn't enough." When you don't quite measure up (to whatever scale). I know I have. And it is foolish."...but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." 2 Corinthians 10:12
For me, it's not the cars, nor the newest and shiniest toys, nor a new hairstyle, make-up and such. For me, the way this lie creeps in is often times through the perception of my home: my family, my marriage, my children, and (most often) my ministry to the Lord. I can find myself buying into the lie that just because my husband and I don't ______ like they do; or because my children just ______ AGAIN; or my impact on my neighborhood/workplace/whatever isn't as big as hers/his (or even as big as I would like it to be!), then I have somehow come up short and have disappointed myself, others, or worse yet, God!
But God tells us what it is that He looks at; how He measures success and greatness: "...man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7. He isn't impressed by shiny things, big productions, or deceptive illusions. He looks at the heart. He looks to the one who is faithful.
"You chose Abraham...You found his heart faithful before You." Nehemiah 9:7,8.
"No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. My eyes will be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me." Psalm 101:5,6.
Faithfulness is what God esteems. And that is what we ought to be striving for. Faithfulness. Not outward appearances.
God has created each of His children with a specific work to do and in a specific place (Eph. 2:10, Acts 17:26). He has equipped and given each of us the grace needed to do the exact work that He has chosen and apportioned for us. "But to each of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." Ephesians 4:7. Christ sets the measure, not us. It's Him. Let us simply give thanks from a grateful heart for the measure that He chooses to give to us, and not doubt His perfect judgement. Whether the measure is great or small, there is no telling what amazing and great things He can do through a faithful heart!
"'There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people'...Jesus took the loaves and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated [5,000]; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled...they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten." John 6:9,11-13.
This little boy had little to offer, but chose to faithfully use what He had and leave the results to Jesus. Let us do the same. Let us set our hearts to faithfulness. To being faithful with whatever tasks or responsibilities He has placed in our lives - whether big or small - and then trust Him with the results. Remembering to give thanks to Him, for it is through His Spirit and power that any good comes from our lives (John 15:5).
So, let us humbly, yet confidently, bring our bread to Jesus and allow others to be fed by Him!
So, let us humbly, yet confidently, bring our bread to Jesus and allow others to be fed by Him!
She wasn't even listening to what her mother was trying to explain. It didn't matter at that point. Her desires and thoughts had already been established and weren't about to be moved. She didn't have the ears to hear. She didn't display the wisdom of being "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1:19.
Frustration began to arise in my heart. I am her mother, she needs to simply obey when I tell her something! This isn't a discussion! Frustration mounting more as the
battle discussion continued. This is just ridiculous! She needs to stop right this minute and just do what I told her! She is not to be arguing with me - I am the parent! Inside I was teetering upon a tightrope of sinful anger.
Then it dawned on me.
There are times that I am this child! This little girl who is so stubbornly blinded by her desires that she doesn't even want to listen to wisdom. When I want something so badly that I can't even hear my Father's kind voice telling me His thoughts on the matter. Nor recognize His gentle leading toward the direction that He desires me to go. Sometimes I'm so consumed with what I want, that rather than being "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," I am more slow to listen and quick to talk and quick to become angry. At that point, my thoughts become more focused on the how to get what I want, rather than the seeking God as to His thoughts on it. This is all backwards!
Being the planner that I am, my mind likes to quickly jump at a fun idea and "run with it" in my mind. So, I need to train my mind and heart to be quicker - quicker to listen and slower to react. Quicker to seek God's leading and slower to infuse mine. I must first seek His thoughts on the matter, and then, if appropriate, continue on to the how.
Once again, I'm thankful for God's gift of allowing me to be a parent, as He continually uses my dear little ones as instruments of grace and refinement in my own life. Now, together, my daughter and I can learn how to become quicker...to the glory of God.