Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Other Words--Finding Answers

Photobucket

How did all the animals fit into the ark?
Was Job really patient?
What happened to Jonah after the wilting plant and his temper tantrum?
Why did God chose purple for lilacs? Why not make them rainbow striped?

Questions.
We all ask them. As a child I asked lots of them.
I remember as a child some 'wise' adult answered one of my questions with "when we get to heaven you can ask God that."
I accepted that answer.
So the next time I asked one of those impossible questions, I got a similar answer. Which I accepted.
Until the day that I didn't. I just didn't accept that answer any more.
Instead, I replied, "when I get to heaven I don't think I'll care about that anymore."

With that realization, I took one more step on the journey of faith. So many questions will fade away in the face of Jesus.


"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?"

~ C.S. Lewis ~

I know so many people who get hung up on the details of seemingly unanswered questions. Yet they are afraid to look into the face of the Answer to their questions. They miss the big picture for the details.

What questions keep you from looking at The Answer? Maybe they are important questions and maybe He will lead you to a tangible answer. But maybe, just maybe, their purpose is to get you to gaze on him. Praying you find The Answer today.

Our wonderful hostess this week is Jen at Ponderings of an Elect Exile. Come, visit and be blessed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Other Words--Don't Miss the Grace

Photobucket

"In the darkest of our times,
God is plotting for our glory.
If we would believe this and remember it,
we would not be blind when God reveals His grace."

~ by John Piper ~
A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God


I am blessed with a husband that has an extra gift of faith. There is rarely a moment in our discussions and plans that he is not firmly seeing God's hand in it. Good, bad, indifferent--God is a part of it. God's sovereignty is a core element in our lives.

Grace, on the other hand, is not as elemental. Often we are focused on, 'God is at work' that we miss 'God is showing his grace.' Because we accept his sovereignty we are able to cope with the difficult times. But, sometimes, we could do more than cope. We could rest in his grace and mercy.

God does not allow the difficult in our lives just because he can. He allows those times to develop our character into the ministers he desires us to be. That is not harsh. Even when it feels harsh, it is about more. It is about softening us to be molded into his image. And he does that with grace.

Have you ever seen someone work with a diamond saw? That is a saw that can cut through the hardest of materials. Most likely, you have seen the operator keeping a continual stream of water on the object being cut and the blade--because it works best that way and does not overheat. The focus is not on the water, but on the cutting. Yet the water is crucial to the process. In the same manner, we may be feeling the cut of harsh times as God is carving away parts of our life to make us more useful. The cut is the focus. It is the most important result. But his grace is the water, that keeps the blade working and us from 'overheating' in the process. The goal is not to destroy us, but to make us better. If we only focus on the harsh, we miss the joy of the grace offered during that time.

Feel like you are in a crucible? Know that God is working something new in you? It may feel harsh at the time. Remember that it is in his sovereignty that he is developing your character and ministry. But as you accept his sovereign right to change you, look for the moments of grace that he allows you that keep you from being destroyed.

Father God, as you mold my life and character to be a minister for you, help me to see your grace in the moment. Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marriage Monday--Beauty in the Home



It's Marriage Monday! No, you haven't gone into a time warp and we have not fast forwarded to April. Instead, MM is becoming bimonthly. I'm looking forward to having more prompts to write about one of my favourite subjects.

The theme this week is open but Chrysalis did suggest we might want to talk around the topic of beauty.  I am currently involved in a cross-stitch project called the Bride's Tree.  It is based on a German tradition that newlyweds need to have twelve specific themed ornaments on their tree to bring certain blessings into the home. The ornaments I have been stitching this month represent "beauty in the home." I find it intriguing that having beauty in the home was considered a blessing. I've been contemplating what that means.


Photobucket


I am pretty sure that it is not talking about having a designer house with all new and perfect things. Where that would be nice, it can also be a burden. But I do think that it calls me to consider what brings 'beauty' into our living space.

German is not terribly concerned with decorating. We have been in this house for six months and I still have very little on the walls--because it is not a priority to hang them. But there are a few items that are important to him that they are displayed, and I make certain that they are lovingly placed in whatever house we are living.  But the beauty in our home is not about decoration.

Beauty in our home is more about a feeling of contentment and familiarity.  We are both, to a greater or lesser extent, packrats. Part of my bringing beauty into the home is to keep the clutter to a manageable level. I also must work at keeping totally clutter free zones where we can relax.  We both love having fresh cut flowers in the house, so part of creating that beauty is to make certain that happens.  When we first moved to Europe, I was told to make flowers a part of the budget. It was that important! I've always been happy to comply.

Beauty in the home should encompass the senses. It is the sights of what one sees as they move through the house. But it is also the smells of fresh flowers or of a favourite meal greeting German as he comes through the door at the end of his workday. It is the sounds of the girls enjoying life. (Just last night when German and I were talking on the phone he commented how joyful it was to hear the girls giggling in the background.)  Creating beauty is a means of creating a comfortable retreat. German works hard and encounters stress all day, part of my role is to ensure that when he comes home he finds a place of refuge not another hotspot.

I do believe that the old German tradition is right. Beauty in the Home is a blessing that should be wished upon newlyweds--and should be cultivated throughout one's marriage.

Please join us at ChrysalisCafe for more wonderful thoughts on marriage. Hope your day is blessed with beauty!

(PS....Happy Birthday German!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sorry to be somewhat silent. Nothing wrong. Just treasuring some moments and not stopping to write. Will return soon.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Siesta Memory Verse

Photobucket


Verse Seven:

Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
Proverbs 17:19

Monday, March 14, 2011

Multitude of Gifts--Visit Two



Continuing from last week...

26.  a teaching/preaching team that is extraordinary
27. a fellowship to gather with and worship
28. a small group of support and Bible study

29. noisy children
30. quiet moments alone

31. a class to stimulate my mind and interest
32. a husband who supports my interests
33. sunny days to practice photography

34. a roof over my head
35. fresh water
36. food in the pantry
37. the knowledge my family and friends are all safe
38. the honour of lifting a devestated country in prayer
39. resources to help

40. promises finally kept
41. opportunities unfolding
42. email
43. skype
44. cheap international phone calls

45. a quiet neighbourhood
46. a safe refuge
47. HOME
48. Family
49. Church
50. Hope

Celebrating God's goodness in community with A Holy Experience.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

In Other Words--What Does My Walk Say?

Photobucket

“It is no use walking aywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
~Francis of Assisi~


We were on our way to church one Sunday morning and approached the large roundabout near our house that gets onto the main thoroughfare through town. The car that entered the roundabout just in front of us was tentative. Maybe it was the traffic or a new area or maybe he was just a tentative driver. I don't know, but I was about to make a comment to German about how unsure person seemed. At that moment a car weaved in between us and the slower car, the driver waving his arms and clearly irritated. The (now) middle car pulled into the inside lane, driver and passengers still waving their arms and yelling, then it immediately pulled in front of the slower car straight across that lane into the outside lane and made a turn. A turn into a church. All of this took place in about 1000 yard space of road. Yelling and waving arms at a slower vehicle in order to save 2 minutes to get into church--well before church time. *sigh*

It made me wonder what the poor nervous driver thought. I wondered what he would think if later in the week someone tried to tell him about Jesus or invited him to church. Would he remember the rudeness and impatience of that Sunday morning driver? Would it turn his thoughts away from anything church related? I hope that he had more positive experiences with Christians than that example.

We are always on-the-job-representatives of Christ. If we carry the name Christian, if we attend church, if we claim any part of his body we are representing him at all times. Our actions and attitudes (ouch) and behaviours are under scrutiny by those around us who want to know if we are 'for real.' If our life is not lived in integrity with what we plan to preach, there is little reason to start speaking.

That doesn't mean we won't make mistakes and that people won't see us in our humanity. But our response to our sinful actions and attitudes speaks much louder than our condemnation of theirs. If we are honest and repentant when we mess up others are more apt to listen to us. We need to be real. We need to live with integrity. Anything we say should just be explanation to the life that is already seen.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18


Father God convict me when my walk does not match what I profess. Show me the hypocricies which I allow into my life. Help me to acknowledge the truth of those inaccuracies and to change. Let my life be my witness and my words simply be explanations of what is already seen. Amen.

My friend Tami at The Next Step is our hostess this week. I know you will be blessed if you visit today.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Marriage Monday--Trusting our Spouse



The topic this month for Marriage Monday is trust.

Trust in marriage is a funny thing. I would not say that I am a trusting person. I have a strong innate hesitation that maybe all is not as it appears. I don't know how much of that was taught and how much of that is natural, but I tend to doubt and wade into new situations and friendships slowly.

But I have never been that way with German. I trusted him with secrets almost from our first time alone together. He, too, shared deep parts of himself quickly--back in the days when we were just friends and there was no romance on the horizon. We almost instantly trusted each other. And I truly believe that is God-given.

In our pre-marital counseling our pastor encouraged us that we needed to trust when in the presence of others because our jobs would require us to be alone with opposite gender. We looked at him as if he were crazy, 'why wouldn't we trust in that?' I remember early on talking to a friend about German at his work. The name of a certain female colleague came up multiple times. My friend cautioned me that I 'needed to keep an eye on that relationship' because they were working too closely together. I remember clearly not just thinking but absolutely believing in my deepest places that I had no cause to fear. I trusted him. I still do. And my trust gives him the freedom to do his job and to share his work and colleagues with me. Because I trust him he talks about all aspects of his work. In other words, he can trust me.

When after a few months of marriage he announced that we needed to accept a transfer and move across country, I trusted that it was not only right for his career but it was right for us. When the next move was across the Atlantic, I never hesitated because I knew he had our best interest at heart. As we contemplate what will happen next any hesitation I have is not about distrust. I sometimes grieve what the choices mean in terms of what we lose, but I trust that the benefits of what we gain will always be better. I trust my husband's heart when it comes to taking care of our family.

I know plenty of people who have never developed that level of trust. Circumstances or past experience have caused them to doubt. They have never felt the abandonment of worry that I feel with German. I am sorry for them. I am sorry that they face their relationship with an edge of caution. I am thankful that from the beginning God granted me the grace of trust. I'm thankful that he granted German the grace of trust. And together we feel a firm foundation to build decisions upon. Given past experiences, that was a miracle for both of us. We don't take it for granted, and we are grateful.

Did trust come naturally to your relationship? If not, how did you develop it? If you aren't sure at all about how to have trust in your marriage, visit around the Marriage Monday community this week. I'm sure you will find many godly pointers of how to create trust in your marriage. God bless you.

Multitude of Gifts--Visit One

Two (or was it three?) years ago, when Ann Voskamp first introduced on her blog counting to a 1000 gifts, I participated throughout the month of November. It was amazing how something that simple, writing down the things in gratitude, changed my perspective for that time period. Then life interfered, and I let it go.

At Christmas 2010, I challenged my step-mother and sisters to join me in being intentional about gratitude this year. Each of us received a journal and Ann's book. And for two months I have told myself I needed to also post my list here because here is my accountability. Here is where I bring the things hidden to a forefront so that I have to face them. This week, I have finally got my act together to post.

The beginnings of my (new) list of gratitude (unfortunately without photos, maybe I'll get that far next week):

1. new beginnings
2. warm home
3. opportunities
4. Flower's six years
5. Barbie cakes and smiles

6. time with family
7. watching my girls experience first sled ride
8. hard business completed
9. a movie with my husband
10. and dinner out too!
11. whilst granddaughters and grandparents made memories
12. skip-bo games with 3 generations
13. much needed time alone with dear aunt

14. family trees
15. revealing cousins lives
16. gaining understanding of immigrating
17. comparing their experience to ours

18. talkative taxi drivers giving insight into community
19. snatches of time in a school corridor with other parents
20. laughter of my children
21. mentors for my children

22. a little one who still likes to snuggle
23. a little one who is asserting independence

24. validation of home school endeavor

25. honour of praying for a friend

Joining in community

Friday, March 04, 2011

March Goals

Photobucket

In January my goals were:
1. Connect with home ed group in our new town--DONE
2. Get hair cut and coloured--DONE
3. Lose 5 pounds--Lost 7, went on holiday for 2 weeks, net loss 2 *sigh*
4. Finish entering one box of genealogy information--DONE
5. Finish one page on Name of God cross stitch--DONE
6. Memorize 2 verses--DONE
7. Read 2 books just for fun--Nope
8. Enjoy my holiday--DONE

In February my one and only goal was just to get through, knowing the emotional stuff that was tied to the month. I accomplished that goal.

Now, we are in March (already?!) so I guess I need goals:
1. Lose another 5 pounds
2. Empty another box of genealogy information
3. Finish another page of Name of God cross stitch
4. Write 4 real letters
5. Memorize 2 verses
6. Complete the photography class I am taking and put it to use
7. Plan and make happen a date night

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Siesta Scripture Memory - Verses 4&5

Photobucket

Verse Number 5:
  So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.
I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
and water will overflow your hiding place.
Isaiah 28:16-17

 
Seems that I forgot to post my last memory verse for Feb 15, so I will now just so I have them all online.
 
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Colossians 2:6-8

In Other Words--Meandering or Destination

Photobucket

If you don’t change the direction you are going,
then you are likely to end up where you are headed.”

~ John Maxwell ~

German and I occassionally set out for a drive with no destination in sight. We wake up, choose a direction (NESW), choose a road that goes that direction and set off. If the road comes to a cross road we have to make a decision of which one to take. And we follow the road as long as it is interesting and we desire to keep going. But the thing is, we have never reached "north" or "east" or "south" or "west" because somewhere along the way meandering stops being fun and we change our direction. We head toward a destination called "home" and that destination we always reach.
 
We are all headed somewhere. Whether we have deliberately chosen a path or just let ourselves be prodded towards a path of tradition or ease or expectation, we are going somewhere. Somewhere along the way, we need to define a destination of where we want to go. Then we must deliberately choose our path to get there. We must change direction to get where we want to go.
 
For years I have said that I want to learn more Scripture. I deeply believe that there will come a time in the not-so-far-off future where we are going to need to have Scripture memorized if we are going to have access to it (maybe not in my lifetime, but I'm not taking that chance). I've said it for years, but I've made little change to my life to accomplish it.  This year, I changed my direction and I'm making more of an effort. My Scripture cards are with me. I actually read them every now and then. Most importantly I'm making a heart change that says 'I need to do this.' I will not magically memorize Scripture unless I change the direction I'm going and move in the path of memorization. It was a change of direction I needed to make.
 
What about you? Is there a path change you need to take? Is there something in your life that you 'wish' you could accomplish? Praying that you find the path to take that leads you to the destination in mind. Meandering can be fun, but eventually a destination is needed.
 
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
~Psalm 16:11~
 
This week's hostess is Nina at Mama's Little Treasures. Come and be blessed.