Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Other Words--Intimacy or "Good Enough"?

Last week in my ladies Bible study we were discussing whether we really wanted a life that was intimately entwined with God. We all stated that we knew that the correct answer, the Sunday School answer if you will, was yes. But reality is that maybe we don't really want it. We don't really pursue it because it would mean changing what we are doing, changing our attitudes, altering how we spend our time and who we spend it with. Choosing to be intimate with God means dying to self. And it is easy to say that we want it, but much harder to pursue.

So instead, we settle for "good enough." It is "good enough" to go to church on Sunday morning so I don't need to go other times in the week. It is "good enough" to read my Bible to prepare for a specific study, so I don't need a deep meaningful quiet time everyday. It is "good enough" to pray for a sick friend, so I don't have to get on my knees and plead for that situation that God is clearly putting on my heart. My spiritual life becomes defined by my "good enough".

The problem is my "good enough" is never "good enough" for God. It still misses the mark, by a huge margin. It is not holy. And it is not changing me. It allows me to overlook the things that God wants to develop in my life. And that is not "good enough."

They will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm."
Proverbs 1:31-33

"I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits for long, so very long, in vain."

Father God, I don't want to settle for good enough! Help me to pursue you with all of me. Help me to not hold back and hesitate when you lead me places that are out of my comfort zone. Don't let me become comfortable or complacent around sin in my life, but give me the courage to confess it and allow you to change me. I desire to follow you. By Jesus' enabling power....Amen.

The hostess for this week's In Other Words is Deborah at Chocolate and Coffee. Please join us there for other looks at Tozer's quote.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Princess is Three

Flower celebrated her third birthday yesterday. How can that be?


We actually had her party Saturday night. We invited the six families from our church who live in the neighbourhood over for a buffet dinner and birthday cake. A great time was had by all.

Then yesterday after church she was allowed to open her presents. She loves the dress up clothes from Grandad and D! Although the Cinderella balloon is also getting a lot of play.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Heard at Our House--the Funny Edition

A few more snippets of what you can hear at our house:

Flower: "I'm a Yogurt!" (playing with her talking Shrek toy from McDonalds)

Mom: You have to wear long trousers today.
Jewel: I want to wear shorts.
Mom: Long trousers.
Jewel: But I want to be beautiful!
Mom: You will be beautiful no matter what you wear, but it will not be shorts. It's 4 degrees (C) outside.
Jewel: Then I won't wear anything!
(Like Mom is going to think naked is preferable to shorts on a cold day. *shrug*)


Dad: We're having pita bread tonight.
Flower: Pita is in the Bible.
Dad: No, Peter is in the Bible.
Flower: That's what I said, pita is in the Bible.
Dad: I think we need to work on her rrr's
Mom: I think that it is weird so many of her food conversations include the Bible.
Dad: Or maybe we are doing something right? (pause) It says we obviously feed them and teach them of the Bible. Must be right.

coming soon...said at our house, the profound edition

Monday, January 07, 2008

Marriage Monday--3 Things Daughters Need to Know

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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I have good intentions each month to participate in Marriage Mondays hosted by Chrysalis, but I always seem to fall short. But this month's topic, "Three Things Your Daughters Must Know About Her Marital Needs" finally got me to write.

My daughters are only five and almost three, so marriage is a long ways off. But this topic has been on my mind. Recently, at the Bridal Tea for a friend, guests were asked to help fill a book with advice. Much of what I'll write here is taken from what I told her. And most of it is fueled by the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. In fact, the first advice I gave my friend was read the book. Dr. Eggerichs gives good advice in an honest, funny and straight-forward manner with enough examples from his own marriage that you don't feel "he has it all together and no one else ever can." I know that by the time my little girls are allowed to date, fall in love and plan a wedding there will be a myriad of new books out there, but this one speaks to me right now.

The first thing I will tell them, is that the first year of marriage is HARD! I think so many people enter marriage believing that "we are so in love, this will be easy" and are shocked when it is most decidedly not easy. That first year, you are really learning each other's habits and routines. You are are learning how to fit two personalities and expectations under the same roof. You are learning how to dance the give and take that will feature throughout your marriage. And all of this is difficult and takes work. Don't be surprised by it, but be prepared to work hard at it. I told my friend they needed to "be gentle with each other" during this year. Be gentle with feelings--they are easily hurt and may not even understand why they are hurt. Be gentle with expectations and keep them realistic. And be gentle with words--while you need to communicate often and honestly, know that those words, especially at the beginning, do set the tone for the future.

The second thing I hope to impart to them is that their love for their husband will not be enough to solve all the problems they may face in their marriage--but their love for God and their desire to follow God in their marriage will be enough. It is imperative to keep our relationship with God in priority in our lives and for it to be an active and intimate relationship. Only then, can we lean on that relationship when we don't have the answers to solve the problems--big life changing problems as well as small irritations--that are sure to arise in our marriages. Prayer changes people, and I find that often I am the one God changes not my husband. :-) Early in our marriage, German had a persistent habit that not only irritated me, but scared me in that it could have led to danger. I nagged, I complained, I sighed heavily, I rolled my eyes--you know all the things that wives do to show our displeasure. Nothing changed. Finally, I started praying about it, telling God how scared I was and asking Him to change German's attitude toward this one thing. Almost immediately I stopped noticing it as much. God gave me a peace about it as I let it go to Him. But he did not immediately change the behavior. In fact, it took eight years and the birth of our first child for there to be a noticeable difference. I'd love to say I was the model of waiting, but I was not always. But as God worked in my life and I learned to trust Him more and more, I became less of a part of the problem. Then God was able to work in German's life. All that to say, trust the relationship with God. Sometimes only He can affect change. And in the bigger things that attack your marriage, He is the only chance you have. The more each of you depend on God for the little things, the easier it is to trust God with the big things in your marriage.

My final piece of advice actually stems from the last. It is that your husband will NOT meet all of your needs (especially spiritually and emotionally) and just as importantly you will NOT meet all of his needs (especially spiritually and physically). God did not design us to meet all the needs of our spouse. He has always intended that He is to be the One on Whom we depend for all of our needs to be met. He did, however, give us our spouses as a help meet. Our spouse helps to meet our needs. But just as our husband is human, he cannot fill the parts of us that are designed to be God-filled. We cannot fill the parts of them that are designed to be God-filled. Oft times when I am struggling that my needs (especially emotional since that is how women are wired) are not being met, God quietly reminds me that I have not asked Him and I have expectations that German cannot meet. This does not mean that we can check out and say "well since I can't meet his needs I won't try" but instead it is to remind us that when we have done our part and it seems like it is simply not enough, we need to trust them to God to satisfy the rest. And when we feel we are empty, to not immediately blame our husbands, but to seek God and ask for His satisfaction.

Marriage is the best thing that God has blessed me with. But it is also the hardest. I find that true even more right now, with young children that need and rightfully demand attention and energy. But I'm learning that this relationship is still the most important, outside my relationship with God. I pray that my little ones grow up seeing parents who are in tune with one another, who seek God together and who enjoy being together. That would be the best heritage I could hope to give them!

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Stitching Post

This week's SBQ is:

Are you starting something new to celebrate the New Year or participating in "Guilt Free January?" If so, what are you planning on starting?

The permalink to this post is:

I'm not starting anything new in January. I am finishing up a Neighbourhood RR that is to be mailed soon, and then working on my biggest WIP for the rest of the month.
Stitching (and other) goals for January:
1. Finish Kathye's NRR2 and post to V.
2. Finish 5 state blocks in the flag sampler
3. Stitch 10 hours during SAT week and complete 5000 stitches
4. Catch up Homeschooling with MiPa site
5. Update MiPa's 101 site
6. Finish binding pinwheel quilt
7. Cut out Flower's next quilt

And finally, here is the last stitching finish for 2007! It is the ornament I stitched for Flower, and it was completed just in time for her to hang it on the tree Christmas Eve.

The Holidays are Over

The holidays are over. Everyone has returned back to the States, the decorations are down, and the routine is being reestablished. But before things become a memory, I thought I'd share a few highlights of our Christmas week.

Dad and his wife arrived Christmas Eve morning

That night, the girls opened their Christmas Eve gift...new pjs

The tree was filled with presents. Whatever happened to only 3 gifts each? Oh, that's right, the grandparents arrived with their "we didn't bring much" suitcase filled.

Christmas morning...dressed for church


Table set for the meal

Jesus' Birthday cake...completed with song

This was Dad's first visit in 4 years, and his wife's first visit, so we tried to show them as much of England as possible.

Walls of Chester
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York's Clifford Tower

York Minster
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(Note the shadow of the huge advent wreath)

Skipton Castle

Dairy and Cheese Factory

Cinderella Circus Pantomine

Liverpool and the Beatles Story
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But mostly, they just got time to be grandparents....
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...and watch the girls enjoy some of the presents they brought.
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Miss you already guys! Thanks for coming!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years Meditations, Take 2


Last December into January, Laurel Wreath challenged us to write our New Year Meditations. It was an amazing exercise for me, and one that I have revisited over and over throughout the year. It challenged me, and really helped to set the bar for what I would focus on during the year. The meditations were more than resolutions, they were hopes and dreams of what I expected God to do in me and through me during 2007.

I came into 2008 expecting to write a "here's how I did and what God did" article and then write new meditations for 2008. But, I find that is a plan that is not working. Because 2007 meditations were dreams--and God so often takes my dreams and challenges them, reworks them and answers them in a variety of ways. I find myself not wanting to just report and revamp, but to see how the dream is growing, and refocus. So, following (in red) are the mediations from 2007. In the blue type, are my 2008 dreams and thoughts. I now see this as a living document that God will continue to grow in this year and the coming years (until He decides it is time for a new dream!)

In 2007 I want to grow more Christ-like in my speech with my children. I want to break the stronghold that my mother taught me that a raised voice brings calm. It doesn’t. It adds to the chaos. I want to not be the cause of chaos in my home. I want to embody Ephesians 4:29 and Ephesians 6:4. I pray that our time of school is teaching Jewel and Flower, not only basic education but basics of living in a family and getting along with one another. I pray that our play time is making memories and setting an example of loving life and loving God.

This continues to be my prayer. I am finding that breaking strongholds is three steps forward and two steps back. I am a long way from where I want to be, but by the grace of God I am much further down this path than I dreamed I could be. Loud still embodies my home at times, but it is not totality. And in the facial expressions of my children I see reflections of an ungodly attitude and I know exactly where they learned it. I want to change that. I continue to seek to be Christ-like examples for them. We are so loving home-education, and the intellectual pursuits are going so well. I pray the life-building will be the memory making moments for them in 2008.

In 2007 I want to display the gentle quiet spirit that German needs me to be in our home. I want to show him the respect that he deserves as my husband and the head of this home. I pray taht God will mold me more and more into that wife that He knew German needed and that if asked to describe his wife, adjectives like "Godly" "supportive" "loving" and "giving" would be the first things that come to German's mind.

In this area all I can say is GOD IS SO GOOD! He has answered this abundantly. Mid-way through the year, German said something about how much I changed. But it wasn't me, it was God working. And where we have always had a good marriage, now it is even greater. I am so blessed, and I want to continue to see God blessing my marriage in 2008.

In 2007, I pray that the Ladies Bible Study will grow in numbers and depth. I pray that those dear ladies who are coming each week, believing that being churched is the same as being saved, will see Jesus for Who He is and submit their lives to Him. I prayt that I can be an instrument of truth. I pray that I will be careful in my speech and my answers. I want to grow in knowledge and impart that with honesty, sincerity and integrity. As we study the Patriarchs (study by Beth Moore) may I grow in an understanding of what blessing and covenant and being a chosen people is all about.

This is an area that God has so richly blessed me! The study may not have changed in terms of numbers, per se, but the depth of discussion is amazing. The Patriarchs study was fantastic. We are currently studying Mary and Martha and I am finally becoming only a facilitator as the ladies come prepared and hungry to discuss what God is teaching them. I pray that continues in the new year. I began Believing God (by Beth Moore) later in the year and it is stopping me in my tracks and encouraging me on so many levels. I am finding that God stops my words more and more often (or rather I recognize His guidance and stop talking). I am listening more and the relationships around me are blossoming because of it. I pray that this area grows deeper and richer this year. Also in 2008 I will be leading a Bible Study on a message board I frequent. I pray that the participants will grow in their faith. More importantly, I pray that those who just lurk and read will see a picture of a Jesus they might be interested in knowing.

In 2007 I pray that my quiet time will be rich, deep and taking me to new levels. I pray that I will be more consistent and not allow the struggles of the day to intervene. I pray that I will have successfully memorized at least one verse a month that is directly applicable to what God is teaching me. I pray that my accountability and prayer time with a friend is consistent and honest and that she and I will enter into 2008 changed women because of how God has sharpened us with one another.

Here again, all I can do is thank God at what He is doing in my personal time with you. My quiet time is so much more consistent than this time last year. It is still not as consistent as I dream, and I believe that 2008 will be a year for developing that more and more, but the blessings of more regular time with Him has been life-changing. I am learning to have "living room intimacy" with Jesus (to borrow a phrase from Joanna Weaver's Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World) and the relationship demonstrates that intimacy. I pray that 2008 will find me continuing on the journey that Jesus called me to at the beginning of 2007 and has blessed me with this past year. He has proven over and over that He will meet me whenever and whereever I choose. I dream that I will never lose this growing desire to meet Him daily, and frequently. In 2008, my dream for personal study is that Scripture memory will become alive and real for me. I have played at memorizing Scripture for a long time. This year I want to be serious about it. For 2008, I hope that the accountability friendship will strengthen. When we were diligent about meeting, our daily and emotional lives as well as our prayer lives were definitely flourishing. I found myself faltering and falling into old habits more quickly without that regular contact. I don't know if it was the same for her, but I suspect it was, so I pray we are able to be more regular in our prayer time.

In 2007 I pray that this blog touches someone’s life. I pray that it is not just useless words put out there, but that I am cautious and responsible with my words. I pray that it never become a source of pride of what I can do, but that it remains a means for me to relay what God is doing. I pray that I will be a Biblical friend to those I meet in blogsphere, pointing them to Jesus in every word and action.

This continues to be my prayer. I don't think that I will ever know this side of heaven how much God has answered this. I get glimpses in the lives of the people that I have come to know (thanks Danielle and others for telling me). I pray that in 2008 this blog continues to touch lives. I never want to be just words in the wind.

I do not believe in making resolutions on New Year’s Day because I believe that resolutions are made in our own strength depending upon ourselves to break the habits that we are resolving to break. I cannot break the habits in my life on my own. But I pray that 2007 is the year that I allow God to have victory in my life in my diet and physical well-being. I would like to look back on 2007 at a healthier weight and an even greater relationship with God as I allow Him to be my comfort instead of food.

Again, a long way to go, but so much progress. I am 20 pounds toward a healthier weight. But more importantly, I am developing a healthier relationship with food. I am finding ways to allow God to comfort, not go to food. I pray that 2008 finds me continuing this path. I would love to see 20 more pounds disappear. And I want to see more exercise enter into my life (starting with walking around the lake every day). But most of all, I want to turn to God instead of to food when I am lonely or stressed.

A new dream that God is giving me in 2008 is to be a mentor to someone on a regular and consistent basis. I have benefitted from the ladies who have walked with Jesus longer than me, imparting their experience to me. I want to be that as well. I am praying about how, when, who. He is revealing Himself, and as He draws back the curtain to show me how this desire in my heart fits into His plan, I pray I have the courage and consistency to follow through.

Books I want to read in 2007 to help me on the journey:
1. Prayer by Philip Yancy--
did not finish, too much to take in quickly
2. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs The single most important book I have ever read besides the Bible to enhance my marriage!
3. Forever in Love with Jesus by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli--did not start
4. Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp--Good book with interesting perspective
5. The Joy of Eating Right by Dee Brestin and Peggy Johnston--This study was not what I was needing in terms of diet, but I found resources elsewhere
6. Believing God by Beth Moore--still in the process
7. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes--still reading
8. What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkewst--just started

Other books read for the journey: Taking Care of the Me in Mommy and Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel, For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, and Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

Books added for 2008:
1. Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Terri Maxwell
2. A Woman's Journey to the Heart of God by Cynthia Heald