The Danger in Comparisons

Yosemite at Day

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…

That song came to my mind this morning as I examined my own heart and found that some weeds have grown up in there.

Comparison, I have found, leads me to two places.  Either I am puffed up in pride when I compare myself and in some way measure myself superior to the person with whom I am comparing myself, or I see some area where someone else excels and I know I do not, which tends to lead to self-absorbed grief and discouragement as I stare at what I lack.

As I head down this road in my thinking, it also manifests itself in how I interact with and think about these people.  In the first case, I feel the need to “impart my wisdom” and enter those relationships with a sense of superiority.  My pride puffs up in this knowledge that I might have something to offer, and my words suddenly become very important, necessary even, for this person to hear and benefit from.

On the other hand, if I see an area I lack, I fail to rejoice with that person in their gift.  I do not look for ways to affirm and encourage them in this area where I see God has blessed them, or rejoice in the manifested fruits of His Spirit.  I am only consumed by my own inadequacy.

I have seen evidence of the first comparison trap in the way I parent as well.  I hear the way I am speaking to my son or daughter, and it seems to drip with pride and this sense that I have wisdom to impart, and you should hang on my every word.

And though these habits do not pervade every conversation or thought which passes through my mind, I have found myself increasingly hungry to have these habits eradicated from my life.

I know the truth.  My security rests in my identity in Christ.  Any wisdom that passes my lips finds its origin in Him.  I am deeply loved and accepted in my broken state.  And it is from that place of acceptance and peace with God that we can have healthy interactions with others.

“No wonder Bonhoeffer makes the startling and conterintuitive statement “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community.” Without solitude we are dangerous in the human community and in the Christian community, because we are at the mercy of our compulsions, compelled by our inner emptiness into a self-oriented, anxious search for fullness in the next round of activities, accomplishments or relationships. When we are not finding ourselves loved by God in solitude, in the company of others we are always on the prowl for ways they can fill our emptiness.”

Ruth Haley Barton  Invitation to Solitude and Silence

“The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me…The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine.”

Milton Vincent  A Gospel Primer for Christians

“The ironical fact is that the church described by Jesus was the confessing community, the community of sinners, the community where people could be themselves. Jesus was very much aware of the danger of becoming identified with ideal images.  He was speaking about our unconscious life when he told us in decisive terms that the one who is concerned with the speck in another’s eye is a fraud.  This is instruction in self-observation which is essential if we are to make real confession. As long as we attribute our discontent to circumstances or to the failure of others to respond as they “should,” we are in trouble, and there is little possibility of our finding the community we long for. The pilgrimage Jesus talks about begins with looking to our own lives and finding there what blocks growth in our selves, and, ultimately, blocks growth in others.”

Elizabeth O’Connor   Search for Silence

Two passages have found their way onto notecards since the first of this year, and I want to share them with you.  Only through the power of God’s truth can we hope to eradicate the lies that harbor in our own hearts, and these two verses embody my hope in Christ to continue the necessary work in me.

Isaiah 50:4-5, 7

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.  Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened by ear and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward…But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint,”

Psalm 141:3

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

O, Lord, thank you for walking with us on this journey.  I am amazed that you draw near to me, a sinner, and offer me the priceless gift of intimacy with you.  Your son made it possible for us to live at peace with you.  We can draw near the throne of grace with confidence, and find mercy and help in our time of need.  You don’t want me to stand far off ashamed of my own sinfulness, but neither do you want me to draw near based on my own merit.  This is your work from start to finish, and only when I rest in Christ’s righteousness can I truly love others deeply from the heart for I am moving out of a place of fullness.  I am fat from feasting on your Word.  And we know that our worth is not based on what gets accomplished today.  Our worth is already established through Christ our Lord.  Service becomes an act of loving obedience- an outpouring that is measured and intentional, not feverish or frantic.  Oh Lord, guide us.  Direct our steps.  Keep our eyes on you. When we stray into comparison, lead us back into that quiet, restful trust.  May we be content to simply walk the path you call us to walk, to do the work you have called us to do.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time.  For as many days as you grant us upon this earth Lord.  For your glory, until you call us home.  Amen.

 

 

For Those Who Are Grieving…

482 Hidden sunlight

My heart has been heavy in recent months as I have witnessed increasing division in our country. And this morning, as I prayed and sought the Lord, my heart broke all over again for our country. A song has been on my mind (song attached at the end), and as I read this passage it came to me again,

“Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.”

Psalm 85:4-13

Oh Lord, only you can heal the hurts within us, and within our country. Only in recognition of how much we need you- our healer, our sustainer, our vine- the one to whom we must be connected. You are necessary for life. In you we find the only abiding peace that this life offers. We long for your peace. We long for your presence. We long for your glory to dwell in our land. Redeem and restore us Lord. Thank you Lord for the reminder this morning, that the answer isn’t in looking at others and what they “should” be doing, but availing myself to the work that needs to be done in me. May your glory and righteousness dwell in our land, and Lord, may we be faithful to your very personal call to each of us, and be faithful in the work you have called us to do. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Love That Burns

combustible

Being refined and disciplined isn’t easy.

Facing the flawed parts of ourselves doesn’t give us warm fuzzies.

It takes courage to look deep into ourselves, and to be honest about our character flaws.  I love to hide and make excuses to myself for things that I don’t want to change.  And God is so gracious, he doesn’t force us.  That doesn’t mean that He protects us from the consequences of our sin, but He allows us to continue doing things our own way.

I am overcome by these glimpses into His character.  The one who created the universe, just by speaking into the emptiness.  His endless creativity and power are on continual display in nature.  We get to catch glimpses of Him daily if we take the time to look.  And yet, in our own selfishness we can pretend like He doesn’t exist…and He lets us.

The truth that I am finding is this- His love burns.

It hurts when he starts refining us- burning off those parts that need to go.

I don’t like the things He reveals to me about what’s hidden underneath my own rationalizations and excuses.  But I can observe the distance that I choose when I go my own way and allow other things to crowd Him out.

There are days when I feel close to Him, connected almost without interruption, and sometimes there are weeks that I get to the end of and I am astounded to realize that I have not stopped and truly talked with Him, sat with Him, walked with Him.  My quiet times in the morning were rushed through- and my own agenda ruled instead of that simple seeking- that humble kneeling that acknowledges His sacred presence.

This discipline of being intimately connected with the one who brooks no excuses about my sinfulness continues to challenge me.  His love makes me long for change; His conviction humbles me and reminds me of my own neediness.

And it is so simple, yet so hard.  The journey that requires me to keep letting go.  This voice that whispers a more excellent way and gently challenges me to walk in it.  This loving Father who disciplines me, gives me sorrow for my sin, and passion to love Him more completely- to surrender to His molding.

And always freedom.

A choice.

The roads diverge- the narrow way promises challenges and hardships- but claims our hearts as we bask in the light of love unending, and the promise that we will never walk alone.

O Lord, you know how these weeks have tested me.  Your love keeps calling, even in the midst of my weakness and failures.  I am so thankful that you never stop reaching out to me, your sweet voice whispers love and light- your truth pierces the darkness of deception.  I want more- more of you, less of me. I am helpless without you.  I hate the distance between us- I want you close always.  You keep my steps firm, your love strengthens me and prepares me for whatever I face.  I know you can stretch time, you can make each minute more meaningful.  You inject purpose and hope into my work, as I submit to your leading.  Thank you for your constant calling, and the way that you let me fall on my face, that I may remember how much I need you.  You are so gentle and kind, so pure in your love. So patient as you wait for me to remember how much I need you.  Gracious, precious Savior, you have my heart.  Lead me in your truth and teach me.  May your love never cease to overwhelm and silence me, to bend me low in wonder and praise.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

True Rest

Rest here

Psalm 127:2 “It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
 
This verse hit me so profoundly today. God longs to give us peace and rest. He promises to establish the work of our hands. It is easy to miss out on that rest because we think busyness=productive.
For so many years, I filled my schedule to bursting with so many “great” things. But I was a mess. No quiet time, exhausted, toiling from sun-up to sun-down and after. But honestly, I wasn’t checking in with God. I didn’t ask Him if He wanted me to be doing all those things.
This passage was a gift from the Lord today, because it confirmed a work He has been doing in me these past several years.
 
“Eating the bread of anxious toil.”
 
There is a frantic-ness to our work. I remember feeling a pushing and panic in my spirit. There was no peace resting in me- and I was pushed from one activity to another.
Dear friends, let us enter into the rest that God promises to provide.  Even in the midst of the work we are called to, there can be a peace in our spirit.  A centeredness that reflects His presence in the midst of all the events of our lives.
I have felt it, when I was reading to my children and holding them in my lap.
I have drawn near to Him- soap suds covering my hands, scrubbing dishes.
I have whispered prayers- while vacuuming and scrubbing dirty floors.
I have thanked Him- while listening to my daughter share about her newest, favorite story.
I have rejoiced in Him- watching my children play super-heroes with their Dad.
This invitation to the discipline of inviting Him in and accepting the gift of His rest can happen.  Day by day, little by little.
Ask, seek, knock.
Invite Him into all the events of your life, big and small.
And see how He makes all things holy, and time seems to swell as it fills with all the gifts He graciously pours.
O Lord, thank you for giving me a hunger to seek you in all things.  Thank you for drawing me to sisters and brothers in Christ who have also hungered to remain present with you.  Thank you for all the gifts you graciously pour into our lives every day.  Give us eyes to see today.  And as we see and slow down, may our lips praise you, and glorify your matchless Name.

When I Crave the Easy…

Dried mud.

The truth hurts sometimes.

But I have learned that searching my heart requires honesty about what’s going on inside, and then confessing that to God.

I am tired of hard.

I want to be able to spend money without worrying about it.

I want to be able to go visit my family for the holidays and buy them all gifts- to experience that joy of fellowship, seeing them unwrap gifts that I know they would love- to see that look of joy on their faces.

I want to go on running dates with my husband again, to talk and share and leave our children with someone we trust.

I want to have a garden- I want to experience the joy of watching things bloom.

I want to have a place where I can host parties, have people over for dinner, watch kids for other Moms and give them a break.

And if you have talked to me sometime in the past year or so, I have probably shared with you about all that I am sacrificing- all that has been taken from me- and how I don’t understand.

O LORD, forgive my eyes- for they have been causing me to sin.

I have been looking so hard at all that I have lost I still fail to see all that I have gained.

I lose that spirit of thankfulness each time my words take me down this road.

And the comparisons, oh how they steal joy!

I look at these houses and yards and say, “why do they get to have that and not I?”

And in those moments, my heart becomes dissatisfied and I lose sight of all that God has graciously given.

I am still home with my children.  God has provided all that we need so that I might enjoy this time with them.

We have found a church family that has blessed us and given us a place to plug in and serve.

We have several Bible studies nearby that we have been blessed to be a part of.

God has opened our eyes to see His beauty in nature, to slow down and enjoy Him.

We have seen God working in our lives and in the lives of others around us through our prayers and obedience.  He has given us the privilege of seeing how He is using us.  We have seen answers to prayer!  What a precious gift.

I have had the joy of seeing my children grow in their faith and develop a love for God and His Word.

Oh, there are so many gifts.  So many blessings.

And yes, there are hard things.  There are struggles.  There are tears.

But God has not left me alone in the midst of them.  He ever tenderly loves me and leads me.  He disciplines with a firm but kind hand, faithfully leading me further in.

And I have to be reminded of this over and over again.  Hold on.

Keep on fighting the good fight.

Run the race with perseverance.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Because we are in a battle.

The enemy does everything he can to trip us up, to discourage and distract us.

And I come with a grateful heart today that God continues to lovingly lead me in this season and show me the sweetness of losing control to Him.

Letting him lead.

Letting his timing stand.

No fixing; no maneuvering or manipulating.

Just obedience.  One step at a time.

Entrusting myself to the author and perfector of my faith- the one to whom every knee someday will bend and every tongue confess.  Praise be to God.

Lord, you are so patient with me as I struggle in this season.  I am so thankful that you are faithful, even when I am faithless.  You are unchanging, even as I fumble and lose my way- question why.  You are tender in your love.  You pour mercies new every morning.  Grace greater than all my sin.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness…help us walk in obedience today.  To have the courage to trust you with all we don’t understand and to continually look to you. Lord, I long to be transformed into someone who sees you more than my circumstances.  Someone who is quick to speak your praises, to encourage those around me, not regale them with tales about my difficulties.  Holy Spirit, guide me.  Remove self-centered talk from my lips and fill me with praises only for you- my God and king.  You pour an overflow of blessings – may my eyes continually see and dwell in gratitude.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Connecting: Sharing at a Women’s Retreat

I was asked to speak at the women’s retreat that our church had this past weekend.  It was the first time in a while that I sat down to write something that long and in depth.  I realized that I missed it.

I have been posting on Facebook, but I have not been here much.

I am hoping to turn over a new leaf and lay my thoughts and prayers- my testimonies out here once again.  Hope to chat with you soon.  :)

Tired Tree
Precious Savior, we glorify your Name. Thank you for this time of slowing. Thank you for this time of connection and fellowship. Lord, please guide my lips and their forming of words. You know these women. Each one, deep to their heart and the longings of their soul. You know their pain, their longings, their hurts. Help me to speak words that uplift and encourage them. Help me speak words that draw them nearer to you. Let your words spill over my lips- oh precious Savior- take over and make this a sacred space where we all might meet with you and be transformed. Set a fire in our hearts and a burning in our souls to be fully yours. To go where you send us; to obey whatever you might be calling us to do. In the sweet Name of Jesus our Savior, Amen.
Connection- what does it mean?
What is at the heart of our desire to be connected? What needs does connection satisfy?
God made us for relationship, which He perfectly models in His own mysterious union as the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Connectivity reminds us that we are not alone. It helps us process life experiences. We have ample evidence in Scripture of our need for comfort in affliction, prayer in seasons of suffering and strife, the need to share joys and answers to prayer to affirm and celebrate how God is working in our lives.
There is only one connection, however, that is NECESSARY. Life sustaining. The one necessary thing. One of the definitions of connect that I found online said, a “link to a power or water supply.” Living water. In John 6 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
That we might be filled with all the fullness of God.
Those who feed on the LORD Jesus Christ will never hunger or thirst again…
What does this mean for my life and for your life?
That when I truly surrender myself to the LORD I will no longer need to eat or drink to sustain my physical body?
No, I have come to believe there is something much deeper here, connected with the call of Christ when he said, those who wish to follow me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.
I am speaking of something else- this emptiness inside me that longs for fulfillment, that my life might have meaning, that I would be part of something greater than myself. This need for meaningful connection with others- that can’t be found in myself alone.
I know that I do not have, nor can I find in the temporal world, something that adequately fills this longing. Most of the things I tried to fit in there never truly satisfy…in the moment that feeling might be numbed, or I might be distracted for a time by this or that, but once that time has passed, the reality remains.
Milton Vincent says it well in A Gospel Primer:
“On my most basic of levels, I desire fullness, and fleshly lusts seduce me by attaching themselves to this basic desire. They exploit the empty spaces in me, and they promise that fullness will be mine if I give in to their demands….What happens to my appetites for sin when I am filled with the fullness of God in Christ?…Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all of His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal. Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free. Eyes do not rove, nor do fleshly lusts rule, when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus!”
I want to be full.
I have found that only God satisfies this longing. Feeding on his Word, fellowship with other believers- most of all- earnest, heart-felt prayer with others seeking after the LORD. I have literally left those times of fellowship feeling “spiritually fat and filled.”
This Scripture came to mind on one of those occasions, and now it continues to come to me:
Psalm 63:5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast…
There is a way fellowship with God truly slows me, calms me, fills me, and gives me rest that stops this churning inside of me. His truth settles me.
There is no replacement for this “God-shaped hole” except simply, God himself. That was his beautiful design, and I have found that only in surrender to this do I begin to find fullness and lasting peace. All other things fade in their beauty, the longer I linger in God’s presence.

Ruth Ann Barton warns us of the dangers of seeking community without this time with the Lord:
“Without solitude we are dangerous in the human community and in the Christian community, because we are at the mercy of our compulsions, compelled by our inner emptiness into a self-oriented, anxious search for fullness in the next round of activities, accomplishments or relationships. When we are not finding ourselves loved by God in solitude, in the company of others we are always on the prowl for ways they can fill our emptiness. We enter life in community trying to grab and grasp from others what only God can give.”

I remember very well the first time I read that quote and felt the truth of that reality for me. I struggle with it still. In my relationships, I crave validation- please tell me I’m ok, that what I do is meaningful and makes a difference, and I crave acceptance- please tell me that you like me and want to be around me.
When we are filled with God, we also rest in who He made us to be. Our validation comes through our identity in Him, and we are not seeking others for reassurance that only God can provide.
So, how does this look when we come together in community? How do we connect? We come together after refreshing ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Now what?
Hear the precious guidance God gives us through His Word in 1 Corinthians 12:
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
wise counsel
clear understanding
simple trust
healing the sick
miraculous acts
proclamation
distinguishing between spirits
tongues
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
Look to your left. Look to your right. See the women around you. We are the body of Christ. We are each a necessary part to the working whole. Our God is intentional. He made you for a purpose- and you have something to offer in service to our Lord and Savior. The body needs each part. We need you. This is the essence of community. All of us, working together in unity, seeking to glorify and serve our Lord.
But how do we respond? What do I change? How can I leave this weekend and go back home and make this part of my life? What next?
1. Accountability– find someone you trust and share with them about your desire for change. PRAY. Wait. Ask God to show you how to simplify your life and make room for Him. Look for opportunities to serve that use your unique gifts. Take time to pray before accepting any new commitments. REMEMBER: God never wants us to be too busy to be with Him- even if we feel we are doing things FOR Him- we are only effective if we are filled, not running on empty.
2. Dive into the Word daily. Ask God to speak to you. Read one Psalm every day. Read on Proverb every day. Start small. Remember that God cares about the condition of our hearts. If you heart feels cold toward Him, and you don’t feel the desire to open your Bible, ask God to change your heart. Ask for Him to light that fire within you and draw you to Himself. He is faithful.
3. Simplify. Busy is the mantra of our day. Eugene Peterson said that “Hurry is a form of violence practiced on time.” What do you need to change to say yes to what’s truly important and let go of some of those other things?

Let us Pray:
O Lord, I pray that we might we touch the lives of others as we seek to love and serve you, our Savior. That your love would pour out and spill over in our lives- saturating everyone around us. We need you Lord, as we fight the urgings of our flesh and the pressures of this world- we feel a tug of war going in inside of us. Give us strength to obey- when we long in our hearts to please and trust you. When we fail Lord, help us not to hide but to come to you, humbly seeking forgiveness and accepting your discipline. How can we grasp the heights or depths of your love for us, or your longing for us to be all that you have made us to be? To run unhampered by the burden of sin and see forward to eternity- O God our hearts hope for it- and our spirit prays for a deeper walk with you. That our roots would be held fast in you- trusting you for fruit in your righteous and perfect time. We lay this year at your feet- all other things may fail- but please O gracious and loving God, let your name be glorified through our lives- however you choose that to be- whatever may come- Be glorified over all the earth. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Science and Faith

Elegance in nature

I have to be honest.

As I entered this week of practicum with Classical Conversations, I experienced some trepidation- for I knew we were tackling the subject of science.

Science intimidates me.  I am always afraid that if I try to do a science experiment it won’t work.  I am able to throw some science terms around- but I feel like I know just enough to sound like I know what I am talking about, but I don’t fully understand it completely.  Not to the bare bones, at the most rudimentary level.

And instead of seeking to educate myself, I have practiced avoidance with this subject more than any other.

I probably wouldn’t have admitted it before now, but truthfully I just expected my hubby to take care of the “science talks” with our kids.  They could take all their hard questions to him, and I would take care of the rest.

Science has become a subject of much controversy in the media.  The conflict over global warming and/or climate change constantly assails me on social media and every news outlet.

And I fall into the habit of just repeating talking points, like what my husband tells me, instead of searching out for myself why I believe what I do.

It was so refreshing to be reminded at practicum that science is something that I enjoy.  God calls us to dominion over the earth.  He also calls us to search out a matter.  This was one of my favorite Scriptures from the practicum:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.  Proverbs 25:2

My children and I love staring at the clouds.  Here in TN they are truly breathtaking.  Somehow in every state the clouds seem different to me.  They change in how close they appear, their formation in the skies, how quickly they seem to move as a storm rolls in.  The glorious rolling hills of TN set a backdrop that only lends to prolong my interest in gazing at the sky.

At the park, we often stop to examine a worm or bird.  One day we took pictures of a crayfish we found on the path.  Another day we met up with a family playing in the creek.  They caught a snake and we got to observe its slithering as well as touch its skin through the net holding it.  WOW.

At the pool last week, we found a very friendly butterfly that loved perching on my daughter’s hand.  She spent over 30 minutes gently touching its wing and carrying it around.  We watched it fly and commented on all the colors on its wings.  The closer we looked, the more we saw.

At the practicum, the first day our speaker captured me by sharing one simple sentence, “science means simply to know.”

From the Latin, (scio) a verb- I can, know, understand, have knowledge

Socrates- “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

Science is motivated by curiosity!

I realized that as its base, science is simply being captivated by the world around us and exploring it all.  We seek to understand how things work as we become engrossed in the observation of the world around us.

“But history shows us that human beings are impelled to ask questions about the natural world and man’s place in it.  There is something unique about the nature of human beings that drives us to know and understand the natural world. Asking questions and seeking answers is the dialectical activity that breathes life into the facts accumulated through the grammar stage.

One does not need to go to the moon to dig into the character of the cosmos (cosmos is a word meaning “an orderly and harmonious system”). A child digging in the dirt and feeling the earth between his fingers, a child holding her hands under the faucet in fascination with the running water, and a child noticing how building blocks balance on top of each other and then fall when pushed over, are each engaged in the natural world. They are developing a grammar of nature that will continue to expand for their entire lives.”

Leigh Bortins  “The Question”

There is a portion of science that requires experimentation to test our ideas and their validity.  We also test others ideas and compare and contrast them with what scientists in the past have discovered.

Science thrives when we are given free reign to imagine.  Our thoughts go beyond the realm of what seems believable or even possible.

Science also requires work.  We must take responsibility for our beliefs and what they are founded on.  This does not negate the beauty and necessity of faith, it simply enhances its glory (see verse above).

Knowing what clouds are composed of and how air masses move and interact with each other does not diminish the beauty of a sunny day or a sudden spring storm, rather it enhances my appreciation of the one who created it all.

In searching out answers, that does not mean that we must know all the answers.  This has been my other fear.  I don’t want knowledge to become an end in itself, or a source of pride for me or my children.

How do we keep our humility in the midst of this journey?

I am comforted by how God has built that into the process for us.  We will never understand it all.  There are aspects of how our body works that still baffle scientists despite years and years of vigorous study.

And the deeper we plumb into this world’s complexities and magnificence, the more our hearts can respond in worship and give glory to the one who holds it all together.

When the edge of our understanding is exhausted, we can choose to stop and acknowledge the one who knows all things and holds the whole world in His hands.

All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.  John 1:3

Lord, may the study of science be an opportunity to worship you and the splendor of all you created.  Help me to be at peace in the knowing and in those spaces of mystery.  As I journey with my children on this road of exploration, give me the courage to admit the things I do not know and the humility to walk with them and search the matter out.  Thank you for all the ways you are stretching me and drawing me closer to you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

What it Means to be a Mom

Persevere

Someone asked me this question a few Sundays ago, and it left me speechless- and if you know me, you would be surprised by that response.

Being struck mute is a rare occurrence for me.

However, I think this question struck a chord in me- for this journey of motherhood has pruned and shaped me in ways I never imagined.

It has revealed to me character in myself that is embarrassing and very humbling.  It has shone a spotlight on areas of my life where I am selfish and immature- and my responses to people and situations reveal by own lack of love and mercy where others were concerned.

There are mornings when I am crying in disappointment for how I reacted to situations, and praying for God to change my heart, to transform me.

There are days when I have conversations with my children that fill my heart with so much joy I feel like it is going to burst.  Tears come in those moments too- tears of gratitude for the bliss of just being with them.

Motherhood is a labor of love.

It is hard work.

And I believe that it is work that honors God.

I have given up trying to be perfect- but I still have to work on forgiving myself when I fail to handle situations in the way I wish I could.

It is so hard to live with those moments when I let my kids down, when I know I said the wrong thing.  I know there are times when my face does not reflect the love I always feel for them, but my frustration and irritation in the moment.

When I pray I continually try to remind myself that God called me to this role.  I have children- therefore He has called me to Motherhood.  This role will shape me and my children forever.

He uses it all.  His word promises..

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

And- thanks be to God- I am delivered from ever living a moment thinking I can do this alone.  Being a Mom grounds me securely in the humility that I desperately need on this journey.  I see the evidence of my need for God daily. 

Failures, frustrations, sorrows…

Joy, bliss, laughter…

It all draws me to him.

So, being a Mom has shown me my desperate need for a Savior, and has helped me to live as a seeker and worshiper of my precious Savior who takes a broken vessel and miraculously uses it for His glory.

As one of my favorite songs says, “He makes beautiful things, he makes beautiful things out of dust.  He makes beautiful things, he makes beautiful things out of us.”

Praise be to God for his daily mercies that give me the courage to continue on, even when my strength is gone.  For I know I do not walk alone; He will sustain and uphold me.  I need not fear for my precious Savior and God who holds me also holds my children.  In the beauty of this mystery, I can entrust that which I hold dear to one who holds them dearer still.  O, thank you, my Savior and Lord.

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place…

between the rocks and a hard place

This came to me this morning, as I was reflecting on where we are right now.

And even as I write this, I hear my children in the background laughing and playing as if they have not a care in the world.

Why?

They are not worried about where we will live, how we will pay our bills, buy food, get from place to place….

They know that we will take care of them and provide for them.  We will keep them safe and love them with all that we have, with all that we are.

How much more does our heavenly Father love and care for us?

How He longs for us to trust Him like children- with hearts full of faith and confidence.

I don’t want to waste time worrying- or gazing at my problems as if staring at them will somehow make them go away.

It has never worked.  They still loom each time and threaten like an approaching storm- dark clouds full of menace, lightning streaking the sky, thunder rumbling ominously…

But my God calms storms.

My God gets out of the boat and walks on water.

My God is the maker and sustainer of all things.

My God is Jehovah Jireh.

I don’t know how.

I don’t know when.

All I know is WHO.

God will provide all my needs according to His riches in glory.

I have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances- trusting in the strength of my God and not my own.  Keeping my eyes fixed on HIM- every moment- HIM- and not my circumstances.

Psalm 43:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 So are we between a rock and a hard place…or in just the right place?  Nothing happens that God does not allow.  In all times, and all circumstances- I pray for faith that trusts not in what my eyes can see, but in the presence and provision of my God who will never leave me nor forsake me.

To Him be all the glory when the provision comes.

What You MIGHT be Thinking…

Gossiping

Sometimes I get preoccupied with how other people perceive me.

I think that all of our moves over the past several years have fed this fear I have of being misunderstood or judged for one careless word or action that could damage the relationship forming between me and another person.

As I was reading my Bible and journaling this morning, God spoke to me once again about his love for me on the journey.

I am aware that there are areas in my life where I need to grow.

I am not a completed work.

And God is so sweet and tender in how He reassures me of his love for me right where I am.

He loves me despite the fact that sometimes I talk too much and don’t listen enough.

He loves me even though sometimes I let my emotions dictate too much in my life instead of keeping my mind in steadfast trust in Him.

He has helped me learn to laugh more and be thankful for things that I used to take for granted- that I didn’t even see.

He has shown me the sweet blessing of sitting in His presence and lingering in His Word– of beginning to invite Him into my daily life and seeking His face, seeking His presence continually.

And I know I have to let go of this preoccupation with how others see me.

I am who I am.

I know whose I am.

I am not perfect.

I will make mistakes and say things I shouldn’t.

But He knows my heart.

I want to be sensitive to times when I may need to ask for forgiveness when I have hurt someone, but I also know there are times when I need to let go of speculation about what someone MIGHT be thinking about me and release it into the Lord’s hands.

As I was reading in “Ragamuffin Gospel” this morning, these two quotes stood out to me:

“Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect…”

“For most of us it takes a long time for the Spirit of freedom to cleanse us of the subtle urges to be admired for our studied goodness.  It requires a strong sense of our redeemed selves to pass up the opportunity to appear graceful and good to another person.”

“Strong sense of our redeemed selves” really stood out to me.

I don’t want to be enslaved by this pressure to please everyone.  I can’t.

And as I surrender all those things that I cannot control, I pray that I would simply choose to focus on one choice that I can make each day- with the words Joshua used to challenge the Israelites all those years ago.

Joshua 24:15-16

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I choose this day to serve you Lord, and to seek to please you first.  May no other love (including the applause of others) ever take your place.

Oh Lord, you know how I still struggle with this daily.  Just yesterday at that birthday party, and the thoughts that filled my head on my way home.  I want to be loved and accepted.  Please help me remember that I am!  You love me just as I am.  Your love never changes.  You are steadfast.  Lord, each time that I am overlooked, or left alone while all the other Moms pair up and talk, may I respond in those moments to you in simple faith and trust.  May I say in my heart- Savior, I remember that you were despised and rejected by men.  You were spit on and humiliated.  In this moment- what I experience cannot compare to what you went through for me.  May I be willing to endure hardships and struggles in this life, remembering all that you went through that I might be made clean and reconciled to God.  I trust you to provide all I need in your own perfect timing.  May my words and actions today be pleasing in your sight.  I rest in you, and the knowledge that I am fully known and fully loved today.  In Jesus I pray and give thanks, Amen.