Monday, September 28, 2009

In Other Words--Trusting His Plans


“Believer . . .
banish your fears; cast out all doubts;
lift up the happy head; clap the exulting hands;
rejoice; give thanks.
Your heavenly Father cannot set you in wrong place.
Your loving Savior cannot lead you in wrong paths.
All is well.”

by Henry Law

There are many changes about to happen in our lives. Good changes. Desired changes. Changes that we are sure are from the hand of God.

But they are changes nonetheless. And change can easily bring doubt, anxiety and sometimes even fear.

We've sought the Father's face in all the decisions that have been made. Even when we were sure we knew "what" he would answer, we eagerly anticipated the "how." Then he surprised us with the "what." It is good. It may even be really good. But right now I'm just getting my head around that it was not what I anticipated.

So today these words are a comfort. I know that "All is Well," but it is nice to be reminded.

And, hopefully, in the next month I can stop speaking in riddles and share what God is doing. Until then, I will continue to trust that he does not set us in the wrong place.

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

On what, or in whom, are you waiting? Trust him. He will only set you in a place that is for your best.

I pray you have a blessed week. Our hostess this week is Jen at Scraps and Snippets. Please come, join us, and share with us.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stitching Post on Sunday--27 September


No pictures this week for the Stitchin' Post. There should be. I made great progress on my Texas block for my Neighbourhood Round Robin. But my thirteen year old scanner decided to be a mopey teenager and refused to work! Ugh! So, I can't get a scan of the section. I'll try to get it together before next weekend.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Other Words--Seeing as God Sees


“We deny Jesus every time we disregard His truth and put ourselves down.
That hurts us.
We deny Him every time we fail to see our value in Him.
That hurts us.
We deny Him every time we continue to hang on to our self-condemning thoughts and lies.
That hurts us too.
And then, it’s as if Jesus turns and looks straight at us with His eyes of love and compassion, and something dawns on us.
We have, in a sense, denied our Lord Jesus,
and I wonder if that hurts Him.”

by Marilyn Hontz
Shame Lifter

What a strange concept it is, to be made in the image of God. We find it almost impossible to attribute the value of that statement to our own lives. To our children's lives---no problem. We see in them the touch of God. We sit and marvel that these little people who carry our genes are so exquisite, and we know that it is the image of God peeking out of their lives. We attribute it to others when we recognize God-given talents and beauties. But we don't attribute it to ourselves. Why not? Doesn't the Psalmist extol:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18

How can we both quote the Psalm and discount our value to God? It should be impossible. When we say to ourselves that the image of God, the specialness of our creation, is actually only for others and not for us we are disputing what God has said as truth. In other words, we are calling him a liar! I know that is not our intention, but it is what we do.

We need to learn to see ourselves as God sees us--created for purpose and his delight. When we learn to accept his view and not to discount our value is when we are able to find contentment in who we are. I pray that today you see your value, instrinic in you from creation. I pray that you can accept that and not discount it. May you find joy in who you are because God created you. And may I do the same.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

Loni is our hostess this week at Writing Canvas. Please come and be blessed.

A quick addition: If you are struggling with speaking truth about you to your heart, may I recommend the study Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild. I'm just completing this study and have been amazed at how many times I catch myself using self-condemning thoughts and language. It is a a real life-changing study, but is quite accessible as well. Blessings my friends!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Stitchin' Post--Sunday 20 Sept 2009

I got out of bed yesterday with the full intentions of posting my first Stitchin' Post Saturday in six weeks (sorry about that). In fact I was downloading the picture when German stuck his head in the room and said "want to go on a road trip?" I absolutely never turn down that kind of opportunity. So we threw the travel bingo (thanks Uncle JJ!) in the car and headed out. Spent the day driving and dreaming and talking. My favorite kind of day. So, this week Stitchin' Post Saturday has become Stitchin' Post Sunday. Enjoy!

I've been working on my first Neighbourhood Round Robin. I have almost completed the England block. I think it still needs something between the daffodils and the path, but can't decide what. Think I'll move to another block for a while and then re-visit. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for looking. Kristin, thanks for being faithful to SPS even when I'm not. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Branson Holiday Part Three

Wow, talk about taking a month to finish a series of posts. Sorry about that. I managed to throw my back out in mid-August. Not so bad as to stop me from doing the things I needed to do, but enough to kick me off the computer. It seems the only chair in the house that really hurt to sit in was the computer chair. I guess God was trying to tell me something about priorities. Slowly over the last 2 weeks I've been able to tolerate computer stuff--but my priority was to get school stuff prepped for the coming school year. (more on that later) But for now, the almost-forgotten final post about our U.S. trip.

Here is the last installment of the Branson holiday. As I mentioned earlier my Dad, Dix and Amy joined us. Dad actually drove up a couple of days before Dix and Amy flew in (because work got in their way!). He came up so that German and I could travel to Birmingham on our own. We knew that it would be a crazy-hard drive to go Birmingham, take care of some needed business and drive back the next day. We did not really want to do that with the girls. So Dad came spent a day with us, then kept the girls while we traveled to B’ham. He and the girls drove to Tulsa to get Dix and Amy. We saw them late the next night. This was the first time we had ever gone away and left the girls with anyone. Moreover, it was the first time that he and Dix were able to just be grandparents without us around. The girls had a blast, and I think the grandparents did as well!

They spent the day at the Titantic Exhibit, playing at the playground and attending the Shanghai Circus.

After we took care of the things that needed done in Birmingham (most importantly renewing my driver’s license), we met up with friends to catch up and go out for dinner. Because we are total idiots, we forgot to take a picture!

The next morning, we got up early and made a side excursion before getting on the road. We went to the 45th Birthday Mustang Celebration!

We had so much fun. We spent hours looking at the Mustangs from all years. Although we were only able to see about half the lots of cars before we needed to get on the road, we were in heaven. Then we made the long trek back across Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and into Missouri. Here are a few of the lovely cars we saw.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

We could never have done that without your help. Thanks Guys!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Other Words--Looking In or Up?

I'm a day late, but I still wanted to participate in this week's In Other Words. I apologise for missing yesterday--we are taking our "summer" break from school this month and the busyness of life just encroached. Nothing to be worried about family!


"Affliction will either warm you up toward spiritual things or turn you cold."
Joni Eareckson Tada
A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You

Affliction, difficulty, hardship is a part of all of our lives. We cannot escape rough things happening to us. For some, those things are huge and near devastating. For others, they are smaller, but can still be near devastating. Our response to the hardship, large or small, is the key.

I illustrate it with a tale of two women. Both women are articulate, fun, generous people at the beginning of our tale. They have lots of friends, both are married and one has children. They both attend church, lead in groups at church and have seemingly strong quiet times and a very real personal relationship with Jesus.

Then tragedy struck. Ironically similar things happened to both although they had never and would never meet. What happened is not important, as each of us can identify with our own "tragedy" striking. It is here that our two leading ladies come to a fork in their common road. It is here that decisions must be made. And alongside these leading ladies, we too make our decisions at the fork in the road.

Our first leading lady, we'll call her Ann for the story's sake, choose the path that said "anger." Ann became angry at anyone and everyone that passed her way. Her mantra was "why me?" and she pinned blame everywhere she could. Ann's friends and family took a large dose of her anger, but God caught most of the blame. Over the years, Ann all but abandoned her once strong relationship with God. She said it was justified because "He didn't stop" the bad things from happening. Any of her friends who dared to speak to her about moving forward were met with dismissal from her life. Ann's anger led to self-justification which led to isolation which led to more anger and the cycle repeats itself. Today, Ann lives a devastated life that is bitter and alone. All because she chose path "anger."

Hardship + Looking Inward =
Bitterness and Devastation

Our second leading lady, we'll call her Betty, chose the path that said "trust." Betty wore her emotional ride looking to Jesus for some sort of sense. She did express anger at what was happening, but asked God to help her forgive. Betty cried buckets full of tears believing that God was holding those tears as precious. She was not afraid to admit that she did not understand, all the while expressing that she knew God did understand and that was good enough. Betty's season of tragedy has had long-lasting results. Some of her relationships changed because people could not understand that she would forgive. She chose to lean on God instead of people. Betty would be the first to tell you that the single most important thing that happened through these circumstances is that God showed Himself faithful, time and time again. Today, Betty lives a vibrant life, altered because of hardship, but still vibrant.

Hardship + Looking Upward =
Life of Abundance and Hope

(in spite of circumstances)

We each will stand at that fork in the road during our lifetimes. Some of us may find that place over and over again. Each time we have to choose. Do we take the path of anger? Do we look inward and become bitter? Or do we take the path of trust and allow God to change us in spite of the circumstances.

Are you at the crossroad? Are you looking In or Up? Praying that we all choose the correct path when we reach it.

Have a blessed week!

Debbie at Heart Choices is our lovely hostess. It's her first IOW party, so please make her feel welcome!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Other Words---Being a Disciple


I fear that I would make an excellent Pharisee. I like to know what it is that is expected of me, that way I have the best possible opportunity to succeed. If I know that three potlucks a year plus two in-my-home gatherings plus a casserole for someone who is sick is what is expected to be hospitable then I can do that. If you explain that forty-eight out of fifty-two Sunday meetings is what "not forsaking meeting together" means, then I've got that covered. What does it mean to "meditate day and night" on God's word? How far do I need to carry my cross? Give me some details! I want to be a disciple, but how do I do that?

See, the Pharisees were seeking to make things clearer for everyone. They were defining the more global commands. And, we do the same thing! We just deny that we are being Pharisees when we do it. We define spiritual acumen by the success of ministry or size of congregation. A thorough delving into a difficult passage must indicate that someone is a "better" disciple than someone who "just" knows a few verses. We set up criteria of what is a "good" "better" and "best" disciple--usually as a means of alleviating some of our guilt that we are not doing enough whilst at the same time showing that we are doing more than others.

But that is never what God intended. He intended for us to follow him. He intended for us to trust him. He intended for us to love him. He promised to do the growing of us---if we were just faithful to allow him access to our lives.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29

He just wants faithful access to my life. What a relief! I don't have to tick all the right boxes or be involved in all the right causes. I need to be faithful to follow him. He does the rest.

“What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness.”

Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel

Father God, today renew in me a spirit of faithfulness. Squelch the need for busyness in my heart. I want feet and eyes and a heart that is focused on following you. Because of Jesus' faithfulness....Amen.

Today my long-lost twinfriend, Tami at the Next Step, is our hostess for In Other Words. If you are not familiar with Tami's site, get thee over there and peruse. She says what I want to say, only with actual eloquence. And I know that you will be blessed by what she and the other amazing IOW ladies are saying today.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In Other Words--Sacrificing or Obeying?

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs his heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Proverbs 21:1-3

There is great comfort in these verses when a person feels that the decision makers pursue paths that are opposed to his or her beliefs. It is possible to at least take comfort in the fact that God indeed does direct the decisions, whether the king recognizes it or not. So it would be tempting to write today a reassuring "God wins in the end" type post.

But it is not that easy.

The passage does not end with verse one telling us the king is accountable to God. It moves on to verse two to tell us that we are all accountable to God--not just for our blatant actions but also for the motivations of our heart. Ouch. If that was not enough then verse three tells that it does not matter what we believe we are sacrificing, what God really wants is our total obedience. Double ouch.

Because total obedience is immediate, and with motivation to love God not motivation that "we have to do it." We cannot volunteer for one project in order to be "too busy" to participate in that ministry God is nudging us toward. We cannot just give a monetary offering to help with a project if God is telling us to be the hands and feet of the project. We cannot "give up" Sunday morning for worship and believe that is all we need to do when God is saying be in relationship with the people of God. What we deem as "sacrifice" is often an attempt to divert attention from the real call.

This weekend, one of the young men in our church gathering who is attending Bible College, came home to preach. He spoke on the passage of the sheep and the goats in Matthew and how that spoke to our purpose as "the church" of God. He reminded us that loving one another, and loving those in need, is also loving God explicitely. He expounded upon the point that we do not get to choose whether or not we want to love others--it is a command. If we want to love God then we will obey and love others. He gave an example of being in South Africa and meeting with "the church" Tuesday through Saturday as they went into homes to pray with the sick, took care of children orphaned by AIDS and providing other practical help. He said that by Sunday morning worship, he already knew 80% of the congregation--and if they had never met together for corporate worship they were still the church because they were working together in obedience to what God had led.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matthew 25:35-40

He ended with a provacative question that I will be pondering for some time to come:

"If we stopped having Sunday morning gatherings, would you still be called out (ecclesia) and what would you be called out to?"

In essence, if we were not meeting together in a large setting once a week, would anyone, including ourselves, have any idea that we were identified as "the church"? I believe our answer says much about whether we are depending on "sacrifice" of attendance or if we are seeking to "obey."

Are you sacrificing or are you obeying?

Nina is our hostess today at Mama's Little Treasures. Please come and visit the others who are writing on this verse. You are sure to be blessed.