peace of my mind

peace I leave you; my peace I give you… Jn.14:27


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Yes! to a song

11:31 days of Yes!
Just this today…a song that I can’t get out of my head and heart.

I cannot choose anything but Him. My heart is restless until it is found fully resting in Him. It’s what I was made for…looking for Him.

I’ll be waiting
Anticipating
All that I aim for
What I was made for
With every heartbeat
All of my blood bleeds
Running inside me
Looking for you

Appreciating Sally Clarkson’s similar thoughts here. She says it so well!

PS Anyone else think he looks like Dana Carvey?

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day.  Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Yes!…to being a sound instrument

10:31 days of Yes!
I read a biography about C.H. Spurgeon over the summer and then began reading his Morning and Evening devotional on my phone. I love it!
Some days the words speak precisely to my struggles or questions. He expands and articulates thoughts so concisely and poetically. Like the Bishop, Spurgeon is another great preacher from history who should still be read today. There is so much to be learned in terms of perspective and enduring truths from the Word of God.
I was struck by the morning reading on Oct 8 about the necessity of human agency.  God works by means…it is his way.  He could easily speak change into the air and have his saints be sanctified.  Instead he refines with fire and trial to smelt out the dross. It is over the course of our lives, not the instant of our salvation that we are being made holy.  And he uses other people, circumstances, and even us to do his work: “He Himself hath selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth…God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Here is the reading in it’s entirety below:

Luke 5:4

Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

We learn from this narrative, the necessity of human agency. The draught of fishes was miraculous, yet neither the fisherman nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle were ignored; but all were used to take the fishes. So in the saving of souls, God worketh by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. When God worketh without instruments, doubtless He is glorified; but He hath Himself selected the plan of instrumentality as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth. Means of themselves are utterly unavailing. “Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing.” What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special calling? Verily, they were no raw hands; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No. Had they lacked industry? No, they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No, they had toiled all the night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals. What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves apart from the presence of Jesus? “Without Him we can do nothing.” But with Christ we can do all things. Christ’s presence confers success. Jesus sat in Peter’s boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the Church’s power-the shout of a king is in the midst of her. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Let us go out this morning on our work of soul fishing, looking up in faith, and around us in solemn anxiety. Let us toil till night comes, and we shall not labour in vain, for He who bids us let down the net, will fill it with fishes.

Amazingly, we are able–like the fishermen, to toil and persevere through hardships. Our hands are skilled at what they have learned.  We work and work and work in scenarios that ought to bring great gain. But in the end it is all for naught unless Christ is at the heart of it.  Our labor is like chasing after the wind–in vain…not to be gathered, but scattered.  Only through Christ do we reap a harvest.  When we labor in obedience to him, our work has purpose, meaning and fruit. Whether telling others about Christ or putting a hand to the plough in the work of a day, I am challenged to serve as an instrument of righteousness to Him!

Romans 6:13
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day.  Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.

 


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Yes! to humble pie

3:31 days of Yes!

Since our children were little we taught them to say they were sorry. The question to follow was–and still is, “will you forgive me?”  The other party is then to say “Yes”. Some might say it is heavy handed and forced to make your children apologize and ask forgiveness.  But I disagree.  I think it trains their hearts and minds while they are young to be in the habit of confessing and repenting.  It trains their tongues to be humbled and to seek forgiveness.  And the other party must forgive. Just as we who are forgiven much by Christ, must also forgive others.

This week with our tween/teenagers, I was struggling to speak without being a resounding gong and a clanging symbol.  I could hardly stand the tone of my own voice, so I knew the shrillness was bothering them.  Though rooted in care and concern, my warnings were coming out like sharp daggers.

In sharing this with a friend, she challenged me to disarm the battle and re-circle the wagons.  She was on to something.  And I was reminded that I too need to ask forgiveness when I am in the wrong. So not unlike what I expect of them, I too had to say, “I’m sorry…will you please forgive me?”

Being real with these teens (with discernment) has it’s own rewards. They stopped dead in their tracks that afternoon and heard every word I said. As if to say, Mom it’s nice for us to see that you know you aren’t perfect. We’re all slugging through the muck some days. We can get a little on us at points. It’s then, that rather than go deeper in, I need to call it out as my sin and wash in the blood of Christ and then seek forgiveness from those I have hurt.

This Yes! does a world of good to keeping our hearts tender to each other and to Him.

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day.  Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Seven years of my husband owning his own business has been a tutor to me. These years have schooled me in what it means to have plenty and to be in (slight) want. They have taken me to task for my selfish desires and sometimes sinful stewardship. They have taught me from where my provisions truly come.

I thank God for promises from his word which have guided my learning.   My learning is not finished, but Ecclesiastes 11 has instructed time and again:

Cast your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes to eight,
for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain upon the earth.

Whatever I have, do I have it to hoard or to give? Do I hold it tightly or do I give it away?  God says to cast your bread upon the waters.  Your precious bread which feeds and nourishes you and yours!  Hold it lightly (not tightly) in your hand and let it go.  For when you do, it will return to you.  You will find it again!

Last fall we knew of a nearby family going through some struggles, though we weren’t certain they were financial ones too.  We had a sizable gift card we had purchased for another purpose, but hadn’t used yet.

At that same time were planning several gatherings, one for our seventh child’s baptism.  We wanted to celebrate these good gifts with friends and family.  That gift card would have been so helpful as it was a lean time for us financially.  I asked Kevin what  I could spend and his answer was “very little”.  I suggested the gift card.

As we discussed it, we felt compelled to give the card to this family in crisis and trust that just using what we had and making  minimal purchases would cover our needs.

I tell testimony of this, not because I fancy myself set apart to receive God’s special gifts, but because this is the kind of God we serve:  a God who delights to give his children good gifts if we will only trust him.

I mailed the gift card with a note early in the week.  Her return thank you weeks later proved her need was real and she had gratefully accepted the gift. We thankfully praised God who helped us to give from our place of need.

I went to my own mailbox the day after I sent out the card. I was confounded.  Inside our box was a card of equal value, to a different store, which someone had anonymously given to us.  My head shook in amazement and my lips uttered thank you.

We could have kept that first card and used it ourselves.  No foul, no harm….No faith, no blessing!  In God’s leading us to give it away, this family was blessed and we were able to do it in the name of Jesus.  We were able to trust him to supply all of our needs as we cast our precious bread on the waters.  But in his fashion, he brought it back to us with full hearts and firmer faith.  We found it again!

Psalm 50:10 reminds us,

for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.

Do we believe He owns the cattle on a thousand hills?  The earth is his and all that is in it belongs to him.  He does not need our currency or our possessions.  He wants our faith and our whole hearts.

I thank Jehovah Jireh that he has shown us his provision time and again.  From specific items of clothing the kids have requested to bikes and toys that have been generously shared with us.  Just this weekend, we gave from our need.  When we returned home Sunday evening we were met with a  box packed full with pantry and personal items anonymously given to us.  Toothbrushes for all of the kids…on my list of things to get soon.  Noodles…the same kind we used days earlier to feed a crowd.  Treats and useful things.  My lips utter thank you again.

They came from someone giving to us…perhaps from their own need.  And we pass the blessings around in the name of Christ.

Though sometimes things look bleak, we must know our God whom we serve.  He is no man’s beggar and he is our Father.  He shall supply all of our needs.  He is good indeed!

Psalm 37:25
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.


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Hungry Prayers

My friend Wendy has introduced me to a treasure in J.C. Ryle.  He pastored an English church in the mid-1800s, and though that was ages ago now, his words are no less poignant today.

In finishing “A Call to Prayer” this week,  Ryle instructs on the vitalness of prayer to the believer. At one point, he contrasts the lives of two saints: the “good ole’ glory days” Christian with the filled-with-glory Christian as quoted below:

There are some of the Lord’s people who seem never able to get on from the time of their conversion.  They are born again, but they remain babes all their lives.  You hear from them the same old experience.  You remark in them the same want of spiritual appetite, the same want of interest in anything beyond their own little circle, which you remarked ten years ago.  They are pilgrims, indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites of old; their bread is always dry and mouldy, their shoes always old, their garments always rent and torn.  I say this with sorrow and grief; but I ask any real Christian, Is it not true?

There are others of the Lord’s people who seem to be always advancing.  They grow like the grass after rain; they increase like Israel in Egypt; they press on like Gideon, though sometimes faint, yet always pursuing.  They are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to faith, and strength to strength.  Every time you meet them their hearts seem larger, and their spiritual stature taller and stronger.  Every year they appear to see more, and know more and believe more, and feel more in their religion.  They not only have good works to prove the reality of their faith, but they are zealous of them.  They not only do well, but they are unwearied in well-doing.  They attempt great things, and they do great things.  When they fail they try again, and when they fall they are soon up again.  And all this time they think themselves poor, unprofitable servants, and fancy they do nothing at all.  These are those who make religion lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all.  They wrest praise even from the unconverted, and win golden opinions even from the selfish men of the world.  It does one good to see, to be with, and to hear them.  When you meet them, you could believe that like Moses, they had just come out from the presence of God.  When you part with them you feel warmed by their company, as if your soul had been near a fire.  I know such people are rare  I only ask, Are there not many such?

Now how can we account for the difference which I have just described?  What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others?  I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer.  I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little and those who are eminently holy pray much….I believe that spiritual as well as natural greatness depends in a high degree on the faithful use of means within everybody’s reach….And I assert confidently that the principal means by which most believers have become great in the Church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.

This calls to mind:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for his righteousness, for they will be filled.  Matthew 5:6

To be hungry.  To be thirsty.  Not for the crusty molded bread cast off by the world, but to be full-up with manna and living water that quenches a soul.  And this promise says, they will be filled.  We seek it through disciplined, spirit-filled, private prayer.  Longer than a sentence on the way into the grocery store and more needy than a few wandering requests as I drift off to sleep.

But to hunger and to go hungry in prayer.  To be driven to my knees because I know where my needs are met.  Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.

We seek it not for our own glory–not for the favor of man, but to know God’s glory.  Because He is the essence of a life, and he sustains eternally.


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The Joy of the Lord

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is the most stirring book I’ve read in some time. It is pure glory and poetry plumbing deep the wells of God.

I started reading the first chapter on Ann’s blog one night and ordered the book right then.  Her writing is exquisite, and though some people may be put off by her lyricism, her command of language, history, and scripture combined are a treasure.  And her theology is every bit in place to undergird her poetry.  It is clear from the pages that she has wrestled with God on many matters and He has been victorious in her.

I recently asked for prayer from dear sisters that God would restore joy to me.  All I do can be for glory or vainity on account of one little word…joy.  Without joy, I am a clanging gong in my home, a resounding cymbal.  With joy, the hardest pressures a day can dish out shine their refining value and worth.  Abiding joy comes from Him, but soon departs when my selfish ambitions and vain conceits muscle Him aside. He is long suffering and abounding in love.

Ann weaves fine threads of understanding into what is true communion, or as she defines it, eucharisteo: receiving all He gives as grace, giving thanks in every situation, and then giving His gifts away to others.  The effect of eucharisteo (grace, thanks, giving) is joy.  Who can contain anything but joy when one sees all that comes from the Father to his children as his loving, refining grace.

So in chronicling  one thousand thanks, she finds God is met through gratitude and service which all brings joy.  This sounds textbook-easy, but it is in the actual living and walking out obedience that its true effects are found.

Ann’s gifts are abundant, and she excels in many ways.  I have followed her blog for some time now and thought, how does she do that?! on many occasions.  She is careful to give God all of the glory and praise.  And this too is commendable.

It is important to remember that  God is a giver of gifts to all who surrender their lives to Him.  His love song is to you and me just as much as it is to the most gifted of men.  He endows as he sees fit.  But in so much as it depends on us, I am challenged to find thanks in the details of my life and to praise him through the hard, refining thanks as much as the cup-to-overflowing thanks.  It spurs me on to “live my one life well”, fully surrendered to him.

This book was an answer to prayers.  Thank you God, for restoring joy!


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Easter

The Fam
Here is our crew on Easter this year. Taking a family photo is like rounding up ants these days, but I think this is a pretty respectable shot.

My Girls

And here are my girls and I. I’ve always wanted to sew Easter clothes and I’m happy and remarkably surprised that happened this year.

Thanks Easter Bunny...Bawk! Bawk!

Here are the kids at the village Egg Hunt with the Easter Bunny. They’ve never been overly excited about stuffed people.

Easter Basket Line Up
Baskets all in a row–sans the goodies.

JC's Egg
JC’s favorite.

Eggs dressings
Ready for a dip.

Eggs and Lollies
Lollie Topiary for our wonderful Maundy Thursday celebration at church and eggs awaiting.

Our theme verse (and one we are going to work on memorizing, because it is very applicable to what is needed in our home) is Hebrews 13:15,16:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Christ the Lord is Risen today.  Made Like Him, like Him we rise, Christ has opened paradise, Hallelujah!