What You Have Hidden For Us

endless journey...

There is a song that always reminds me of the homeschooling journey.  The title of this post is part of the lyrics.  Here is the entire song:

Verse 1

Further seems forever
Until you’ve seen, until you get there
Until you feel a promise land beneath your feet

But there’s a reason for the journey
There is purpose in the learning
That not everything in life comes naturally
No, not everything in life comes easily

Chorus

We’re getting there
We’re determined to discover
All that You have hidden for us
Along the way

We’re getting there
And Your presence is the promise
There is nothing that can stop us
We’re on our way

Verse 2

We’ve tasted of Your goodness
We know that You are for us
We can hear the sound of Heaven cheer us on

Every day begins with mercy
Every moment filled with beauty
Knowing You have gone before us
We press on
Knowing You believe in us
With confidence we run

Bridge

We will see You in the land of the living
We will find You in the mystery
Your presence is the joy set before us
For now and all eternity

Outro

We won’t stop running, running
We won’t stop coming after You

This has been a journey that requires perseverance.  The days are long, but they go by so fast.  Further seems forever, but before we know it, our oldest child is 9.  Halfway to 18; to flying free, and I want to wrestle with the hard questions.  Am I making the most of these moments?

One day they will be grown, Lord willing.  Who will they become?  What role do I play?  How will I spend my days?

They are in God’s hands; they are his.  But he has given them to us to raise for a reason.  To feel this heavy and heady thing, and to not run from my role in it settles deep in me. I have work that I am called to do, and this is a sacred and holy calling.  Training a child.

There is a reason we are here.  Yes, thanks be to God.  This time is weighty with purpose.  We are image-bearers, meant to shine the light of Christ in a dark world.  We are called to serve, called to give ourselves away, called to be a living sacrifice.

There is purpose in the learning.  To know God and to make Him known.  To share Christ and His love with a world hungry for it.  To live generously with kindness.

Some things in life take work.  It does not all come easily.  Do we live the example of courageously attempting hard things?

We are getting there.  Yes, we are moving forward in this journey.  We are filled with wonder, seeking out the treasures God has hidden for us to find in nature, in His people, in His Word.  We are seekers of truth, beauty, and virtue.

Mercy is here for us.  Oh and how we need it!  There is no denying that this journey of homeschooling brings us face to face with the fault lines in our own character.  We can hardly avoid the burning fire of refinement.  I have found myself more and more eager to place myself in the potter’s hands.  Mold me, and make me, after thy will.  While I am waiting, yielded and still…

We recognize the necessity of God’s help.  We rejoice in the miracle of how He is changing us, how He is molding our children, how He makes all things beautiful in His time.  He fills our eyes with the delight of a kind word, a thoughtful act, a bird in flight, buds on the trees, the scent of wildflowers, a sunrise- and we are captivated by the one who opens our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

He has gone before us.  With Christ, we have freedom from fear.  Fear that we are not enough, fear that we will mess this up, fear that it will all go wrong.  He keeps us in perfect peace, as we keep our gaze on His steadfast love and faithfulness.  The one who is the anchor of our souls.  Our strong tower.  He will not be moved, and those who trust in Him will not be ashamed.

He has called me on this journey, and so I trust Him with today.  I do not have faith in my adequacy, or my abilities- but my hope is in Him.  For I know that He is the redeemer, the sustainer, the strengthener of my soul.  He who works in me also works in my children.  I can trust in Him, for He loves them more than I.

We will see You in the land of the living
We will find You in the mystery
Your presence is the joy set before us
For now and all eternity

This is my favorite part of the song.  It always makes me tear up a little.  For we have seen Him, and we rejoice in the mystery and wonder of our Lord and Savior.  The one who draws near to us.  His presence IS the joy set before us.  I am never alone, for He walks beside me.  He is the one who keeps my feet from slipping, who sustains and gives rest to those who are weary.  I can entrust myself to His care.

This song also reminds me of what is truly important.  In the day to day, it can be easy to forget that holy, sacred work is happening here- in the monotony, in the piles of dirty laundry and dishes, in the tears and laughter- God is shaping souls.  And there is nowhere I would rather be.  In the joys, in the struggles, in the pain, and in the laughter.  It is all worth it.

The Tongue of Those Who Are Taught

Sunrise

This year, the Lord has given me a passage that has been a theme for 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 my 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 flint,”

I stumbled into homeschooling four years ago.  It was not in the plan.  I had never considered it.  I had always assumed I would go back to work when my kids where school-age.

But as the time grew near for us to place our oldest child in school, I felt a disquiet in my heart.  I was not at peace with letting her go.  It took some time, and some prayer, and some searching- and at the end of it my husband and I found ourselves feeling peace about pursuing homeschooling.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

The story of how I stumbled into Classical Conversations is one I have repeated many times.  I was reading one of the blogs I followed written by a Mom, and she mentioned CC.  I had never heard of it, so I followed the link to their website.  “To know God and make Him known,” was their mission statement.  I wondered how this applied to education?  I decided to ask for someone to contact me.

Fast forward to lunch time a few weeks later.  I am sitting across the table from Kim.  She is sharing with me about CC, and I am on information overload.  But a few things stick with me.  God is at the center of education, not the student.  The purpose of education is to know God- for all things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-5).  And one final piece, community is essential.  We need the body of Christ, the support and love of like-minded families to encourage and strengthen us in this task.

I signed up with her group shortly after.  My first year I stumbled through CC, not fully understanding the program, but knowing that my child was memorizing amazing amounts of information, and so was I.  I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed at times, not sure what I was doing, if I was doing enough, if I was doing it right.

Our family relocated to another state for the next school year.  We found another CC community easily and enrolled.  Some lights finally started coming on.  I was beginning to understand some aspects of CC, but the classical model was still a mystery to me.  It seemed too simple.  Could I really do this through high school?

Over Christmas 2015, our CC director mentioned the need for more directors in our local area.  Would I be interested?

And that’s when the transformation truly began in earnest.  I look back to that moment, and see now that God was giving me a gift.  I wanted to understand the classical model, to capture the vision of CC, in a way I never had up till now, because I knew I needed to cast that vision for others.  I wanted to understand what I was so excited about- to be able to answer questions.  Sometimes, I just couldn’t put into words what was happening to me, and to my children.  I just knew it my heart it was good, and holy, and beautiful.

We were being changed.  Up until this point, much of my spare time had been spent in idle entertainment.  I wasn’t really reading a whole lot that fed my mind, and I spent quite a bit of time watching shows on TV.  Not that these things are bad, but they were not feeding my mind.

I began to  see the rewards of curiosity, of mulling over hard questions, of reading things that stretched me and called forth greater effort- a conscious choice on my part to reconsider the purpose of my life and the way I spent my time.

It is important to share that I was also in the middle of a spiritual awakening.  The Lord was stirring up a desperate thirst for Him in my heart.  I was spending more time reading Scripture than I ever had, and it was coming alive to me!  It was exciting to meet the Lord in His Word-to feel that personal touch- knowing that He led me to a certain passage pertaining to a very specific circumstance I was facing.

With each year, I have learned from my mistakes.  I have sometimes emphasized the minutia and missed out on the larger picture.  Sometimes I forget that more than any other thing, I long for my children to walk with the Lord their whole life.  I want a personal, vibrant, loving relationship to exist between them and God, and I want to do all that I can to cooperate with God’s will and purposes for their lives.  This is not about me, and my hopes and dreams for them.

I started to realize that the end goal that I cared about revolved more around their character, not their grades.  I was more concerned about raising compassionate, diligent people of integrity than I was worried about whether they would get a good job.  I wanted to know that they were equipped with what they needed to get through hard times, for they will come.  I wanted to know that they were confident in their identity in Christ, and that there was work that He called them to do here (Eph. 2:10).

And this year, for the first time, I started to rest.  I believe that God has called me to be right here.  There is nothing extraordinary about homeschooling parents, except when you couple that with a heart bent low to the purposes of our God.  When we see this time with our children as His, to do in them and in us what He wills, to purposely form us for the years ahead- it becomes sacred work.

I see the fruit in me, in them.  I am filled with wonder and gratitude.  I can see clearly many things our family has given up- and all those things pale in comparison to the all-surpassing joy of knowing Christ my Lord and learning alongside my children.  We are tackling hard things together– rejoicing in our successes and learning from our failures.  I have become a more humble learner.  One of the only things I am certain of these days is that I don’t have all the answers.  Thank you, God.  That’s been true for a long time, and it is one of those truths that becomes clearer the longer I live.  I see how necessary- yes, the one and only thing necessary- is time at my Savior’s feet.  Someday, when this life is over, and I am in the presence of my Savior, I don’t want to meet a stranger.

I pray more.  I pray to remember what’s truly important. I pray to release my checklist and embrace God’s priorities for my day.  I pray for grace and strength when my kids are arguing, and the day seems derailed.  I pray for wisdom when I am not sure what to say, how to handle the challenges before me.  I pray to remember to call a friend, to write a card, to send an e-mail- and God has faithfully aided me as I have submitted to His priorities for my days and not my own.  I trust that He will help me remember what’s necessary, and allow me to let go of the rest.

There is greater freedom here, freedom from fear.  I know that God is with me.  And my heart longs to surrender deeper and more fully to His purposes, to slow my pace to match His.  To take the detours, to slow down and savor monotony, to see the sacred in everything- yes, God is everywhere.  He is calling us, inviting us on this adventure, and reassuring us with His promise- “surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

 

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.

A Season of Interruptions

Interruption

There is something God has been showing me lately.

Motherhood is a season of interruptions. 

And many times, the most important things are NOT the ones on my to-do list.

It is in those unplanned, beautiful moments.

And every day it is different.

And that’s what makes this daily monotony an adventure.

When I see the list looming on the board in the kitchen, and the kiddos ask me to play Hide and Seek, I can say yes to that one moment.

And how we best see the “Yes” moments in our life is through our connection to Christ.  For we hear his resounding “YES” in our spirit too- and when I ignore the pull of all the responsibilities of today and just say yes to this moment- it is pure blessing.

These interruptions are different every day.  Sometimes it requires throwing the whole plan for the day in the trash and starting from scratch.

Sometimes it means 2 hours at the park or library that I never planned on.

Sometimes it means reading for 30 minutes with my son and then reading for 30 more minutes with my daughter, relinquishing the pressure of those to-dos into my Savior’s hands.

Sometimes it means helping someone else or having a neighbor over for an unplanned dinner.

My house was not cleaned the way I like it to be.  I had other things that I wanted to get done that day, but I feel God beckoning me to hold loosely to “my list.”

Sometimes potty training or some other major “right of passage” grinds all other progress to a halt.  We sit for hours waiting for the possibility of #2 in the toilet, and then dance in the bathroom for joy when the moment comes.

And we fight the war of time.

How will we spend it?

For once it is gone, no amount of money will buy it back.

And I have found myself asking hard questions about those things that take up my minutes.

Pleading with God to give me the courage to not even settle for good, but press on toward best.

And part of that best for me comes in a simple yet profound plea in Deuteronomy, as Moses talks to the Israelites in a final series of sermons before he dies.  You hear the passion, the fervent plea of this humble man who saw God face to face.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

There are some things that remain constant, but oh Lord please let them never lose their power.  May your Word always pierce our soul and soften those places where our hearts have hardened and draw us to your throne once again.

Let us humbly kneel and give way as you lead us.  Open our eyes to see clearly the best way to spend our days.  Choices that honor you and point to you as the meaning, the purpose that animates us.  In you, we move and have our being.

And today is an opportunity to do more than talk to my children.  It is a chance to live out the freedom Christ has granted me.  To not be chained by my “to do list,” but to walk in confidence and freedom.  As I seek my Savior, he will guide me to those things that need my attention and in obedience I release my hold on the rest and entrust it to his caring hands.

Lord, open our eyes to see how interruptions in our day may be moments ordained by you.  Precious Savior, so many times I make mountains out of mole hills.  Renew my mind, transform me.  Free me from this tight grip I have on the things “I think” need to be done, and help me walk in tune with your spirit today- embracing each interruption as an opportunity.  Give me discernment that I might have confidence in the choices I make about how to spend my time. We need you, in each moment, to guide our steps.  And when we fall, oh sweet Savior, may we call you in those moments and in humility confess our failure and seek to walk beside you once more.  Your presence Lord- that’s what I want.  To know you are near.  Our sinfulness does not surprise you.  That’s why you came, and why you died.  You do not wish condemnation and guilt, but conviction that acknowledges your right place in our lives.  You are the faithful one.  Thank you God, for being all-sufficient- the one who animates all things and holds all things together.  My soul praises you.  Blessed be your Name.  Amen.

 

 

Lessons in Humility

Quiz

It all started with flashcards this week.

Ok, truthfully, flashcards have been a problem longer than that.  But this week God spoke to me through flashcards.

Sometimes, I get frustrated when teaching my daughter.

My frustration primarily lies in my inability to teach things in a way she can understand.  There is a break down in communication.  I see the confusion in her face.

And in this emotion I act out wrongly.  I get snippy and short with her.  I say things that I shouldn’t.  Words that hurt, words that criticize.

Not too long after, I felt deeply convicted for my poor attitude.

I apologized to my daughter and asked forgiveness, but as the day wore on, I felt God continuing to speak to me about this interaction.

The fact is, I want to be an example to my children.  I want to model a Godly life for them, for them to see Christ in me.

When I fail, it is so devastating.

I love them more than I ever dreamed I could love someone.  It’s painful sometimes, how it overwhelms and floods me.

But the reality that God was showing me is that I cannot be God to my children.

I will not love them perfectly.

I will let them down.

I will say the wrong thing.

My words will hurt them.

But I can direct them towards someone who will NEVER fail them.

Someone who will ALWAYS be there.

God.

God will ALWAYS give wise counsel.

God is the faithful one, their ever present help in trouble.

So, as my daughter and I headed to church on Wednesday night, the Holy Spirit guided me into a wonderful conversation with her.

The summary:  I will fail you and say words that hurt you, even though I love you so much.  But God will never fail you.  He will love you perfectly and always be there for you.  Remember that when you feel sad and alone- when I disappoint you.  God is there and he loves you with a (Jesus Storybook Bible) “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”

It is hard as a parent to confess and acknowledge that we will daily fail in what we long to do.  But we can choose how to respond when we sin, when our sin hurts our children. 

I am praying for greater humility, patience, and love- and for God to have his way in me more today than yesterday.  By the power of His Spirit working in me, I hope that despite my faults my children will see glimpses of Christ in me and most of all know that I do love them.

Lord, thank you for walking daily with me.  You faithfully teach me and guide me on this journey.  Thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me.  Thank you for the promise that you will always be with my children- and that your love for them is perfect and never-ending.  Blessed be your Name.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

Why Celebrate Advent?

Merry christmas!

It all started with a question today.

“Why do we have the Advent wreath and put ornaments on the Jesse tree?”

I had just read in Mark this morning.  And instead of launching into a lot of words, God graciously led me to ask a question instead.

“Why do you think we do these things?”

My daughter thought for a while, tried to talk her way through it.  We have been learning about yearly festivals that the Jewish people were called to observe in Exodus.  I asked her why God asked them to do that every year.

She was getting closer, I could tell.

Then I asked, “Why do we celebrate your birthday?”

I could tell this question helped her.  We have talked about the day of her birth often- the anticipation that her Dad and I felt all those weeks leading up to it, and how our families joined in that joy and anticipation.

So we finally arrived at an answer.

To celebrate and remember.

To slow down and rest held and treasured as we remember love that came for us on that first Christmas night.

Emmanuel- God with us.

What sets us apart from all other religions, and as far back as Exodus, God was revealing this character trait to His people.

We serve a God who wants to be with us.

He does not expect us to live life apart from him, aimlessly wandering and blindly hoping that we “get it right.”

He wants to walk beside us.

To talk to us as with a friend.

To share intimately and deeply,  that we may be known fully and loved without reservation.

This is what we celebrate in the birth of Christ.

His sacrifice that forever made the way of intimacy possible for us.

Our sin was no longer a hindrance for Christ’s blood covers us.

And somehow, though this wondrous mystery of abiding life in Christ- this is all new again.

God makes it new.

And words that I have heard so many times before flood my soul with unspeakable joy.

I treasure these precious words of hope and joy eternal.

My spirit soars and tears spring to my eyes.

He makes all things new.

And in remembrance now- somehow- these truths are more precious to me than ever before.

I cling to them and rest in them.  I sing in joyous rapture exclaiming their truth.

I have sung them for years, and yet- this truth penetrates my spirit in a new and deeper way.

And I exult- for I know this is the work of God.  Not something that I could do or create or inspire- but a gift through His Holy Spirit.

He restores and revitalizes my spirit.

I worship.

And as I listen to my daughter read and sing through the Advent prayer booklet that my parents used to read to me; my heart overflows with thanks.

For today.

Just being here.

Thank you God for reasons, in any season, to celebrate.

Lord, O precious and beautiful Savior.  Lover of my soul.  I stop and take a deep breath, my heart swells and I wonder how to tell you how thankful I am for you.  I am so glad that you know even when I don’t have words.  Your Holy Spirit speaks for me, shares in this overwhelming surge of joy that floods me.  I can’t keep quiet.  You are so good to us.  And each day I am overwhelmed by your faithfulness.  You see me, my family- I feel seen and loved by you.  And saying those words fails to grasp how awesome this reality is- you are here with me.  You are here with my children.  You are with my husband as he works.  You are with us.  Thank you.  Your presence brings joy and peace that I never imagined, and I am so grateful.  Blessed be your Name.  May your Name be praised in all the earth.  Glory to our God and King.  All honor and glory and praise is yours, precious Savior and friend.  You call me friend.  Emmanuel, thank you for the cross.  In your precious Name I praise, Amen.

 

He Reproves Those He Loves…

If I've Told You Once....

On our way back from the park today, my daughter closed the door on her brother when he was trying to grab something from under the seat.  He immediately began crying, but my attention was elsewhere.

My vantage point was such that I had seen the look on her face when she shut that door. It was evident she knew exactly what she was doing.  She knew her brother wanted something out of the car and she shut the door on him to intentionally keep him from getting it.

I spoke very sharply to her and reproved her for her conscious effort to keep her brother from getting the book out of the car that he wanted.  She began to cry.  My daughter is very tender-hearted, and I wanted to take advantage of this teachable moment.

As I reflected on the best way to approach this situation on our walk upstairs to the apartment, the Lord graciously brought to mind the Scripture passage that I had opened the morning before.

Proverbs 3:11-12

My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.

And I opened that passage to her and read it to her several times out loud.  I discipline her because I love her.  I want to help lead and guide her to make choices that honor God and convey her love for others.

It was convicting to this Mom’s heart as well.  The Lord reproves those he loves.  I am so thankful that the Lord loves me enough to convict me through his Holy Spirit when I am settling for less than His best in my life.

I may have not always made that face my daughter made this morning, but I have hardened my heart toward God when I have wanted to go my own way, when I have doubted that His way is best.

I hope and pray, through God’s abiding presence, that I will live this truth and not just parrot it to my children.  That they won’t be empty words but words that pierce me and humble me and drive me to my knees praying that I don’t miss it- that I make the most of every opportunity and let nothing come between me and my precious Savior.

O Lord, drive out those false loves from our lives.  Those things that distract us from wholeheartedly and joyfully serving you and loving those around us.  Keep our hearts tender to your reproof.  Father, open our eyes to see you using all things including discipline to guide us toward the plan and purpose you have for us in this life.  Help us not to miss the tasks you have called us to- those that you have planned uniquely for us (Eph. 2:10).  Precious Savior, I need you daily- that I might be an example to my children of daily walking and living in obedience- not just paying lip service.  Help us to not just be hearers but doers- bringing honor and glory to your Name.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

The Beauty in Monotony

megan running down bergis road - DSC00065

As I was running today, I was thinking about the many miles that I have logged running over the course of my life.  I have run in over a dozen different states, with many different people, through many different seasons.

And no matter how many miles I travel, there is something so peaceful when my body hits that stride.  Feeling the wind blow my hair, listening to my breathing, feeling the muscles in my body flex and tense and do their job…

But it is easy to forget the simple pleasure in running sometimes.  To take for granted the ability to run daily.

And then my mind wandered to the hummingbirds out our front windows.  I have confessed before and will gladly tell again- I NEVER get tired of seeing them.  I could watch them for hours.  Their beauty and uniqueness fascinates me- I love to watch them interact- (sometimes we have up to four at our feeder at a time).

Being an at home Mom, there is much monotony in my life.  Many things that I do over and over again- say over and over again- teach over and over again.

There are things that I see so often, it would be easy to miss the profound joy that could be found in them.

Watching my children play and pretend.

Races through the living room.

Singing and dancing to music.

Putting my children to bed.

Meal times (making those favorite foods dozens of times each year)

Hugs and snuggles shared- my daughter leaning her head onto my shoulder as I read to her.

Sometimes, when we have been a Christian for a long time, we forget the profound gift of salvation.  The newness wears away, and our hearts don’t exult like they used to.  When we sing, “Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves”- we forget what it was like to be so utterly lost- so desperately in need of redemption through his blood.

Walking with Jesus can seem monotonous.  Or just become habitual.

Where we mindlessly go to church on Sunday because I have been going to church on Sunday every day for years and years…

Or, there can be beauty in the monotony.

The rhythm of life wrapped up in Jesus.

Times each day when we seek him and quiet ourselves before him.  Fellowship at church that grows sweeter as we draw closer to one another in love, and share with vulnerability the joys and trials of walking in faith.

Abiding in him, because we can’t imagine any other way.  Scripture or spiritual songs (hymns)  come to mind naturally because we treasure him above earthly things.

Then our heart and soul sings.

We see beauty in the sameness of life.

Some things will change- “but the word of God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

He will be there to catch us when we fall (Is. 41:10, Ps. 37:23-24).

To wrap up, I want to share a quote from a book that has challenged me deeply- to return to meditating on the gospel, what God has done for us through Jesus Christ His Son.

“The gospel 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. On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine.”

A Gospel Primer for Christians   by Milton Vincent

The definition of monotony according to a google search was:

lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine.
synonyms: tedium, tediousness, lack of variety, dullness, boredom, repetitiveness, uniformity, routineness, wearisomeness, tiresomeness;

lack of excitement, uneventfulness, dreariness, colorlessness, featurelessness;
informaldeadliness
“the monotony of everyday life”

The last part really stuck out to me.  The monotony of everyday life.  It can easily become the monotony of the gospel- and with it- all these things can be true- dullness, dreariness, lack of excitement- or we can find joy in monotony.

We can exult in the repetition and routine- and let it revitalize us as we meditate on our Savior and the cross.  As we review again and again the character of our God and rejoice in thankful praise for all the beauty of His holiness.

We never outgrow our need– nor do we ever surpass the depths of his love, nor the reach of his forgiveness.

Praise God.

Lord, revive us.  As we continue to seek you, to meditate on who you are and what you have done for us- I pray for a fire of passion to grow inside of us.  May your Holy Spirit guide us deeper into truth- and help us to see areas of unrepentant sin.  O precious Savior, as we consider the cross where you died for us- I pray that thanksgiving and praise will well up inside of us- and in light of your sacrifice we will be willing to follow you into hard obedience- into the loss of some things that might be uncomfortable.  O LORD, for your glory alone, may our lives wear the mark of your Name.  May other people see you through us- the unveiled beauty of your presence living in us- that lives may be transformed through the power of your love.  In Jesus Name we pray and in whom we endeavor to abide, Amen.