Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Other Words---Faith to Believe


If God said that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, then the whale swallowed Jonah, and we do not need a scientist to measure the gullet of a whale. ~ A. W. Tozer ~

My early theology was built in play dough, Sunday School Songs and building blocks. I cannot remember a time when I wasn't involved at church. That faith of a child came naturally to me. "Aunt" Josie taught it and I believed. Granny sang it to me, and I believed it. Noah took all those animals in the ark. Of course. Moses and the children of Israel crossed on dry land. Uh-huh. Jonah lived three days in the stomach of a big fish. Right. I didn't question. I had faith that the Bible was true and right.

And you want to know something? I still believe it. I never question those things. I believe the Bible to be an accurate picture of the movement of God through His people on the earth. And if He said it in His Word, then I can accept that.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-4

Honestly, the fact that I am able to respond in that kind of faith is a gift of God. I question everything else.
What does the red sunset mean? Why do children have ears when they have no use for them? Does a triangle always have 180 degrees? (aside, non-Euclidean geometry was a favorite, and this was my prof's favorite question to confound non-class members) Can any politician really represent "main street"? How does anyone survive in this world without faith in God? (Actually I ask that one alot!)

I love the quest of knowledge. Logic fascinates me. I want to understand how things work. And I can really drive you mad with my questions sometimes (hmmm...maybe those children come by it honestly). But I find no need to question my faith. That's what makes it faith. It is accepted as truth.
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
(according to www.dictionary.com)

I'm thankful that my personality has allowed me to accept God easily, without hours of debating the authenticity of the miracles. That is not the case for everyone. I have a friend who has probably the most brilliant mind that I will ever encounter in day-to-day life. Incredibly logical. Irritatingly logical at times. Yet a few years ago he had a life-changing encounter with Christ. Since he is the type that would know off the top of his head what a cubit is, or how much fish a whale can swallow at a time, or any number of "facts" that could call into question the miracles, I'm sure that reading Scripture is somewhat of an adventure for him. But he comes with the same faith. Whether he knows that a whale's gullet is big enough to swallow a man, so God used an available creature (made by God btw) to teach Jonah a lesson or he knows that there is no way the whale could have swallowed Jonah alive but somehow God made that happen, he still must accept that the story has truth and purpose. His being logical does not stop him from being faithful. Instead it leads him to a point where he has more facts than many of us and he still chooses to believe God! That may be more faith than I can bring because he is coming to a place where all logic says "no" and he still believes "yes."

Whether you come today with child-like faith that says, "you say it I believe it" or you come with faith that encounters your logical mind and still believes or you come as Tozer saying that there is no need to question, the faith you bring is all you need. God only ever asks us to bring our mustard seed of faith. He grows it into what we need to believe Him more and more. Are you bringing Him your faith today? What is stopping you?

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20b

Father God, thank you for giving me people in my young life that would channel that child-like innocence and teach me about you. Thank you for protecting my faith from science and logic teachers that could see it only as something to ridicule. Thank you for giving me friends that show me that the path to faith may be different, but you are always the same. Help me to teach my little ones of You so that their imaginations and hearts may be captured by a faith that will sustain them through life. Amen.

Deborah is our hostess today at Chocolate and Coffee. Please join us for other interpretations of this great quote.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Accidents Happen

I thought, I'd better warn you...accidents happen.

Especially when you have a migraine and are just trying to live until nap time. And then you sit in the room with the little Flower until she falls asleep, because you have a foreboding feeling that something could happen. But once she is sound asleep, you feel that all is safe, so you creep away seeking the darkness of a quiet room for your aching head.

Accidents can still happen.

Because she may wake up. And as she makes her way to her toy room, your large recliner may accidently jump in front of her, placing her in the little corner where you keep your cross stitch materials.

And while she is in the corner, that she is not allowed to be in but is now accidently there, the scissors may accidently jump into her hands. Not just any scissors, the extra-pointy-extra-sharp ginghers.

And while the extra-pointy-extra-sharp scissors are accidently in her hand, they may accidently jump up and cut some of her long, beautiful blond hair. Accidently. On both sides and in the fringe. And these remnants may accidently be left behind as evidence.

All of this will of course lead to a rushed visit to the hair dresser the next morning.

Where you may find yourself accidently smiling, because the new do is kind of cute as well.
Photobucket Photobucket

So consider yourself warned....accidents happen. Just ask Flower.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Other Words---Is Hospitality a Lost Art Form?


Hospitality is becoming an almost forgotten Christian virtue in our style of life today...In the New Testament, however, hospitality was a distinctive mark of Christians and Christian communities."
~Alexander Strauch
from The Hospitality Commands~

We were in Belfast for a long weekend. A youth pastor who had come to work with our kids in England several times lived near Belfast. We decided to visit his church while there. We didn't call, we didn't plan for it, the opportunity just arose and we took it. He greeted us warmly, lamenting that his wife was working and not there for us to meet. We took our seats and the worship was wonderful. After the service he caught German. "Follow me home," he insisted. "My wife wants to meet you; we'll have lunch at my house." She had just come off a shift at the hospital. She pulled frozen chicken patties and peas out of the freezer. It was simple. It was unplanned. It was perfect. In fact, it is the only meal I can remember from that trip and we ate in a Michelin-starred-top-chef restaurant as well!


I don't know the book of today's quote. I've not read it or anything by this author. So I cannot speak from where he is speaking. But I can speak from my own experience. And my experience says that hospitality is not a lost virtue. I've seen it time and time again in all kinds of places.

I see it in churches as someone befriends a new person.
I see it week after week when a believer opens their home for a Bible Study, house fellowship, youth group or other gathering.
I see it when someone takes a cup of tea to the homeless guy selling magazines outside the store on a cold day.
It's there on the play date as children begin sharing their things and their lives and are learning about what it means to be Christian.
It's a present virtue in so many blogs across the web, where believers are welcomed to come and learn and be themselves.

Hospitality is still there. Maybe it looks different than in Biblical times. But then our culture looks different as well. Anytime someone is reaching out to make someone welcome in Christian love, hospitality is present.

I pray that people find it when they wander into my little slice of webspace. I thank you for extending it to me when I come to yours.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:8-9

Lord, give me a hospitable heart. Give me eyes to see the person who needs a welcoming smile, a warm handshake and an offer of time and friendship. Thank you for allowing me to so often see your gift of hospitality offered through others. Amen.

Chelsey is this week's hostess for In Other Words. Please visit her at Joyfully Living to read her take on the quote, as well as some other wonderful, witty and hospitable bloggers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Other Words---You Want Me to Go Where?


“Still, accepting God’s existence is one thing; honoring his command is another matter entirely, especially if we’re required to go back when we’d rather go forward.”

~Liz Curtis Higgs
from Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible~

We all like to believe that God is using us; that He is commissioning us to do something in His kingdom. Some of us are quite happy for that commissioning to be in the work we are doing right this moment, close to home, reaching the people around us. Others would be totally ecstactic if God said, "Go..." somewhere new, somewhere with different challenges. The response would cry out "Just tell me where." Yet, others of us don't even worry about knowing the "where." We'd love to be Abram, setting out for the land God would show, and to have that much faith to go.

Yes, a Christian who is seeking to grow in their relationship with God wants to move on with Him. But, what if He were to say, "go back"?

Anyone who knows me for very long quickly understands that I love to move on. We have lived in England longer than anywhere else during the time of our marriage. I have itchy feet, I'm ready for God to take us elsewhere. I've been ready. For three years I've been ready. And time and time again God has clearly said, "stay." We have lived within the blessing because we stay. It doesn't keep me from reminding God that I'm willing to go. I'm sure He just smiles and whispers, "I know, not yet."

Just before I read this quote in Higgs' latest study, a friend and I were talking and praying. She, too, has been ready to go for a few years. We love each other because we can say, "I love you, but I'd love to tell you good-bye!" Anyway, she asked the question, "Could God ask anything more difficult for you than to stay?" I immediately answered, "He could say go back to the States." A week later I read this quote. And began to think, "Could I trust Him if He said go back?"

Could I?

If He said go back to Texas? (Dix, Amy, Adrienne, you guys know I love you, so don't take this personally!). I wasn't the greatest farm girl growing up. There aren't any jobs that would draw German to West Texas. I am not sure that Texas could ever be home again. But if God said go back, would we? We would because God doesn't call to where you aren't needed. But it would be a difficult step of faith.

But that isn't what God is calling us to do (sorry guys!).

What if it wasn't a physical place, but an emotional place that He commissioned me to go back? What if it was back into a discipling friendship that ended in broken hearts all around? What if He called me to face that battle again? *Deep breath*. I can almost feel the physical pain from that emotion even now. But I've known that this period of time might be only a respite before another round. My head would say, "I'm not ready," but my heart would hopefully trust Him enough to go back.

Again, that isn't what God is saying. Not yet.

In fact, what God is still saying is "Stay." But the last few weeks of meditating on this has taught me so much. Time and time again, God has brought a person, a situation, a place, a feeling to my mind and said, "Would you go back to this." I'd love to tell you that each and every time I've said "of course Lord." But it isn't that simple. Knowing that He is sovereign is easy. I know that He doesn't leave unfinished business---but I do hope that in some of those places He has appointed someone else to finish it! I have had to grapple with these truths, that if He sends me "back" to somewhere, then there is something to accomplish. In each situation I've had to struggle with what I didn't want to go back to and why. It's been hard, but it has also been freeing.

In the story, Hagar had run away from Sarai who was mistreating her. Sarai was jealous of the pregnancy. But God still had things for Hagar to do. He didn't promise her that Sarai would all of a sudden treat her well. He didn't tell her things would be easy. Instead He assured her that He was with her. And He sent her back. Ishmael was born. Abram had his son. Later, after the birth of Isaac, Hagar would be sent away again. Again, God would meet her in her need. That time, he would not send her back. She would have a new purpose. But in the early part of Hagar's story, God sent her back. She trusted and she went. How difficult that must have been! But she did it.

If God asks us to return to something that has been left behind, there is a purpose. The purpose may be for someone that is there. But more often than not, the purpose is to continue to refine us to be ready to "send forth."

Has God sent you back? Is God sending you forward? Is He asking you to stay? Can you trust Him no matter the direction He sends?

(Oh, and in total irony, my friend who sparked this whole train of thought has been called back...she and her family will be returning to Saudi Arabia in the new year after four years here. I'll miss her, but I know that God has called them back to a purpose and can't wait to hear what He does!)

Father God, help me to trust You in all places. If You say return, may my heart return without fear. If You say stay, may I be content in the place You place me. And if You say go, may I step out in faith. I seek to serve You whereever I am. Amen.

Thank you for being a part of In Other Words this week! Please write your own thoughts on the quote, and then leave your link below. Have a blessed day!

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's My Turn! (In Other Words)

It's my turn to host In Other Words on Tuesday! I'm excited to see what you all will do with the quote that I have chosen. However, I'm a little nervous about getting Mr. Linky to work the first time, so please be patient with me! The quote is in a discussion about Hagar in the book Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible. For your information ahead of time, a "slightly bad girl" is someone who loves God and often tries to follow, but still has trouble trusting at times. Isn't that just about all of us?! See you on Tuesday!

“Still, accepting God’s existence is one thing; honoring his command is another matter entirely, especially if we’re required to go back when we’d rather go forward.”

~Liz Curtis Higgs
from Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible~

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank you Jesus

They crowd into the little church building.

Twenty men and women, all who have seen their younger days. Their faces etched with years of eking out a living and a life in a land where plenty is missing.

Their clothes somber in color. The men remove their hats and take their place on the left side of the church. The women cover their heads with scarves and take their place on the right.

Prayer service begins. Each take a turn in voicing their prayer. The phrase reverberates through the little room.

Mulţumesc Iusus.
Thank you Jesus.

The world would think they lived in poverty. They know that they are wealthy beyond belief.

And I am humbled.

Father God give me discerning eyes and a thankful heart. Amen.

Come to Sting My Heart for more posts from Thankful women.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In Other Words--Lament


“For at least when we express our anger to God, our wrestling keeps our skin pressing into His. God is still present. When we honestly expose our inflammation, express our soreness, we are still staking our commitment to our relationship with Him.”

Ann Voscamp from her blog post,
Even if He doesn’t: Learn to Lament

The lament. It is an art that we have moved away from in our modern-we-can-do-it-ourselves world. We seem to see it as a weakness. As sacrilege to tell God how bad things feel while at the same time acknowledging He holds all things.

But God is BIGGER than that. Much BIGGER.

He shows us in Scripture it is okay to lament, to wrestle, to hold onto Him when there is nothing else and to demand to be heard. (He may not answer the way we hope, but He always remains with us when we show our desperation to Him.)

It is Jacob wrestling with the angel, demanding the blessing.
It is Moses telling God not to destroy the people because of His reputation.
It is Hannah pouring her heart out so deeply that Eli thought she was drunk.
It is the woman in the crowd, jostling to simply touch the hem of His garment.

And it is you and it is me saying "I hate how this feels but I'm still going to trust You."

When we say that, He always answers, "I'm here."

For other thoughts on this quote visit Loni at Writing Canvas.

Marriage Monday--Romance Matters

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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Today's (now yesterday's) MM topic is Romance. Here is what E-Mom has to say in the introduction:
You can approach today's topic, "Why Romance Matters" any way you want. Consider telling us about your favorite restaurant, your favorite song, or the little things you do for one another throughout the week. What tones down the tension, and tunes up the tenderness? How do you encourage your husband to open up and share his feelings? We want to know.

Essentially, tell us what you've discovered about the importance of romance and intimacy to your marriage.

When I asked German this weekend if romance matters, his answer was simply "yes." More clarification given? Not at all. Later he said, we probably haven't had too much romance lately. A sign that there is guilt there because our date nights have all but disappeared. But a night out is not what defines romance.

It's romantic that he still wants to hold doors open for me...even after almost thirteen years of marriage. It's romantic when he comes around the car to open my car door with flourish (and it teaches our girls about those little touches). It's romantic when one of us sends an email in the middle of the day that just says "I love you." Lighting candles, unexpected flowers (from either of us), notes in travel bags, slipping away with the girls to let the other person sleep, doing a task that is normally the other person's duty, remembering "off" anniversaries---first date, first kiss, found out we would be parents, reunited after a move---and doing something special to commemorate the moment are all romantic acts.

We are currently in a season where "dates" and big romantic gestures are difficult. Family is an ocean away and our most regular babysitter decided that something silly that following God's call to full-time ministry was more important than taking care of our kids (tongue planted firmly in cheek). But the fact is child care is difficult right now. Add that to incredibly busy work with travel and church schedules and organized romance is out the window. So the other things matter more. But, honestly, the little things have always mattered more. Romance is doing something to show your partner that they are important to you. Planned time to show that is great. But being unexpectedly reminded that you are special? Well that can keep a person going for a long time.

Romance matters! However it looks in a person's relationships, it matters! But don't be discouraged if you can't make big romantic gestures---the little ones are just important.

For more amazing women's thoughts on romance, please visit Chrysalis. Be blessed!

photo credit: ladyheart (Andrea) found at www.morguefile.com

Monday, September 08, 2008

Menus, Goals, and Updates....Oh My!

Hey everyone! I'm back! I can't wait to tell you all about the amazing trip to Romania, but little things like laundry, kids, house, laundry, and bills may take precedence. So please be patient. I also have to decide which of the 5000 pictures we took to show off. It may take some time. In the meantime, just let me thank you for your prayers for us as we traveled. It was truly a wonderful trip for all of us. But now back to routine....

So....Menu Planning Monday

Monday--Pork in Marscapone Sauce, green salads, steamed carrots
Tuesday--Shrimp Scampi (South Beach diet cookbook), green salad, steamed peas
Wednesday--"lasagna" casserole (layers of meat, mushrooms, sauce and cheese without noodles), green salads
Thursday--Grilled lamb steaks, corn on the cob, green salads
Friday--Chicken Curry, rice for kids, green beans, salad
Saturday--Grilled pork steaks, salads, vegetable to be determined
Sunday--Small Group Fellowship meeting; Build your own sub sandwiches, raw veggies, crisps

Goal updates


August Goal Review:
*order math curriculum--no
* Clear out one closet and donate unused clothes to charity--no
* Finish stripping paint off of old cabinet--didn't touch
* Finish 3 1/2 states plus Liberty stripe on Flag Sampler--finished the states and 1/2 the Liberty stripe
* Read Ministry of Motherhood--will be my travel book--YES!!! Why, oh why, did I wait so long? Amazing book!
* Prep for and then go to Romania for 2 weeks to help out in the churches and children's home--YES! More on this to come

September Goals
* Buy Math Curriculum and finalize preparations for first month of school
* Choose Fall Bible Study material and order
* Complete 1 1/2 stripes on Flag Sampler cross stitch
* Complete a Baby quilt
* Organize sewing room
* Finish stripping cabinet and prep to stain
* Find time for one date night with German

I'll be back later today with my Marriage Monday post! See you then!