Thursday, August 26, 2010

~Our Source of JOY~

“It is a source of joy to the Christian, that the Crucified is now the glorified—that He rose triumphant from the grave, and ascended into glory—that he is seated at God’s right hand, to wield the scepter of the universe, and to appear as the High Priest and Intercessor of His people.
Oh! this thought has been a well-spring of joy to the believer. It has nerved his faith in many a hard fight—it has imparted sweetness to many a bitter draught.
Jesus within the veil—the changeless Friend—the sympathizing Brother—the undying, ever-living Head—who has promised to His people, all-sufficient grace now, and certain, endless glory hereafter.”
~J. MacDuff, The Throne of Grace

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A "Jeremiah Moment"

(I considered labeling this a "Lamentations moment", but I didn't want to give people the idea that this is a season of lamenting, of weeping and wailing and groaning. By no means... However, I would like to consider this a "Jeremiah moment" since he was the one who possibly authored the book from whence the reference comes.)

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him.
~Lamentations 3:24-25
This third chapter of Lamentations has become my food the past two weeks, as I have continually come back to the precious reminder of how good it is to wait on the Lord. One might wonder how in the world waiting can be a good thing, how our tendency towards impatience and anxiety can be a good thing, but that's just it: we are brought into seasons of waiting in order that we might draw closer and wait upon Him.
The Lord has also been good to remind me of the sweet fellowship my husband and I are in at our church, of the sweet friends He has provided as a means of His grace. Upon arriving at work one morning last week, I read an email from one such dear friend. She wrote to me that morning for the simple purpose of letting me know that she is praying for me and my husband, and had read a devotional that brought us to mind:
"Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hudges around His people - when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment - hard for him to 'brighten the corner' where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. 'The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord'" reads Psalm 37:23.

When we learn to wait for our Lord's lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead - this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while and happy, busy multitude go on and away. It is the grandest life 'having done all, to stand.'" (Author Unknown)
After this sweet expression of encouragement, I was drawn yet again to Jeremiah's words in Lamentations, and actually thanked the Lord that He has us in a season of waiting:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (3:22-23)
If you are in a season of waiting, take heart and reflect on things for which you have much reason to praise. You may not be able to see over the hedge surrounding you, but He sees and knows, is leading and has His plan in mind for your future. (And I say this not just to anyone who might be reading, but over and over again to myself!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thoughts for Thursday ~ "I've Come to Realize..."

I was originally a little annoyed that this post was taking me so long to complete (roughly five days), but upon finishing I am glad I took my time. This was a good exercise for me personally, as each element challenged me and to pause and examine my heart. Thanks to PandaMom for passing it along~


I've come to realize that my body is...a purposeful design by a wonderful Creator. On my worst days, I see the flaws that diet, exercise and makeup can’t fix. I see the flaws that would cost thousands of dollars to fix, and even then the fix wouldn’t be a guarantee. On my good days, I walk into the bathroom and meditate on the passage my husband taped to the mirror as a reminder of the truth:
For you formed my inward parts;you knitted me together in my mother's womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;my soul knows it very well.My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,intricately woven in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,the days that were formed for me,when as yet there was none of them. ~Psalm 139:13-16

I've come to realize that my job is...a greater provision than I could have anticipated five years ago. Not only am I thankful for the company I work for, but the stability of my job has been sufficient for my husband and I to finish seminary and support us during this season of church searching and waiting. I’ve also personally grown in ways that were needed but definitely unexpected!

I've come to realize that I need nothing more in life than...Christ’s death and resurrection!
I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom

I've come to realize that I've lost my mind...when I walk around the grocery store only seeing the things that truly matter – chocolate, donuts, candy, cookies, etc. (and then go home crying because I didn’t buy anything that constitutes an actual meal), when I stop myself just before pouring coffee into my cereal bowl, when I wear mismatched shoes to work (thankfully this one hasn’t happened in awhile), when I grab a spoon to eat a salad with…it all sounds at least slightly off kilter, right? Well, these things seem to only occur within the timeframe of a particular week each month, so I just blame my lost mind on Eve...

I've come to realize I hate...opinions voiced with a total lack of perspective. I myself am guilty of this at times, and it can be so hurtful and uncharitable. Even when people aren’t necessarily meaning to hurt another person, we could all from time to time do well to stop, take a step back, and think of a particular issue within the framework of a larger lens. I’ve come to realize that oftentimes when I am complaining, or I overhear someone else griping, it comes down to a lack of perspective on the circumstances at hand (and by extension, a lack of grace and humility)~

I've come to realize that money is...not an evil in and of itself. As a post-seminary wife, it has taken many hard lessons for me to realize that money is not my enemy. God is always providing in the ways He deems best for us, and I am responsible for my personal stewardship of what He has given. Money is not the issue; my heart is the issue. I am thankful the Lord has been at work on me in this area, and I know that what matters most is that my husband and I are being as wise as we can with what we have been given~

I've come to realize that I'll always husband and I driving around our college town in his Ford Mustang with the windows rolled down listening to music during our first year dating - the day I looked into the cardboard box in a W@lm@rt parking lot to find the cutest puppy ever created - my dad and I dancing around the house and singing at the top of our lungs to classic rock when I was a kid - my brother and I dancing around the house and singing at the top of our lungs to Disney music when I was a kid - embarrassing my friends in public as often as the occasion allowed - being introduced to the world of scrapbooking by PandaMom and Funderstorm - the day I found out I was going to be an aunt - my mom and I reading books together before going to bed - going to Israel at the age of 15 - going to East Asia my junior year of college (and falling in the middle of a classroom full of students during that trip!) - going to Istanbul my senior year of college - receiving those first emails from then-boyfriend-now-husband during the Istanbul trip - taking part in all of my dearest friends’ wedding celebrations - being at the airport the day the Panda Family came home with Panda Girl - the day I packed up and moved to Louisville - picking up the most precious Sheltie puppy I’ve ever seen from the airport - the car accident that ruined my trusty ‘Jack Black’ - receiving the phone call confirming the diagnosis of Tuberous Sclerosis after finding a small tuber on my brain - sitting in my first livingroom in Louisville with then-boyfriend-now-husband and crying at the weight of what Tuberous Sclerosis meant for our future - the first time he said ‘I love you’ - reading the letter he had handwritten to me the night he asked me to be his wife - the doors of the sanctuary opening and walking down the aisle toward my groom as the tune of ‘Amazing Grace’ filled the air - our very first home together as husband and wife~

I've come to realize that my sibling...has come a long way. We are all so proud of all the progress he’s made this past year, and both eager and somewhat nervous to see how things go come December. For now, we pray, hope, and continue to encourage!

I've come to realize my a wonderful friend. We had some pretty rocky years while I was growing up, but by God’s grace that is no longer how our relationship is defined. We are veeeery different from one another in some ways, but I have grown to appreciate who she is as a person, and the wisdom and motherly advice she provides. My mom is also my favorite person to relax with – just me and her sitting on the back porch drinking coffee~

I've come to realize my sacrificial and always seeking the well-being of others. I didn’t appreciate that as much as I should have until my seminary years and getting married, but both my husband and I see the incredible source of support he is and we’re both so thankful! (I also love it when he comes to visit us, and every night he’s with us I leave him and my husband downstairs while they have conversations into the wee hours of the night – that just makes my heart happy.)

I've come to realize my cell a wealth of tools and quick access to FB and maps and information galore! I really do try not obsessing over it, reacting every time I hear the chime of an incoming email or text, but my husband has informed me that I respond to the chimes even in my sleep!

I've come to realize when I woke up this morning...I should have woken up sooner, but that’s the story of my life during the work week. I tell myself I’m going to get up at a certain time, but consistently stay in bed for another 30 minutes, and then I feel that much more rushed getting out the door! You’d think I would learn by now…

I've come to realize last night...(night before last now) was a sweet reminder of how thankful I am for our friends here in Louisville. We had an extremely relaxing and enjoyable evening just hanging out with our Tuesday night crew, watching a movie, eating desserts, drinking coffee, and some of us ladies crocheting. Yes, I’m truly thankful for them, and even moreso during this particular season of our lives~

I've come to realize right now I'm thinking about...the blanket I’m attempting to crochet, my very first crocheting project! It definitely doesn’t come as naturally to me as scrapbooking did, but I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it! I think certain crafts and hobbies are dying arts which deserve to be revived~

I've come to realize today...came a tad too quickly for my sleepy head, but I’m enjoying it for what it is, and am SO thankful for the lack of humidity outside! I really do try to enjoy long as it’s warm and breezy outside~

I've come to realize tonight...will likely be an evening of either reading or crocheting (or both!). I have thoroughly enjoyed evenings spent with my husband and I both working at our hobbies of choice side by side. Now the only question remains is whether or not I’m going to be motivated to cook (I’m definitely a work in progress when it comes to being in the kitchen)~

I've come to realize tomorrow...will take care of itself, and that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for today. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” ~Matthew 6:25ff

I've come to realize I really want to...serve alongside my husband in a local church as soon as the Lord ordains (so the lesson in the meantime is patience and trust!). I also desire to be a mother, to experience my husband being a father - for us to parent a child together! - whether the Lord blesses us through adoption or having children of our own~

I've come to realize my children...are not deserved, but will be undeserved gifts if the Lord chooses to provide in that way~

I've come to realize the best music to listen to when I'm instrumental, praise and worship, or hymns. There are often moments when I cannot seem to articulate my feelings or thoughts, so I just naturally turn to music. Instrumental often brings images to mind, brings rest to the soul, and praise and worship or hymns are so often sweet and necessary reminders of the Truth~

I've come to realize that my friends...are instruments of grace and truth. Each person in my life to whom I refer as a dear friend has had a very specific place in my life, whether due to the particular season or the ways in which the Lord has gifted them to minister grace. And whether near or far, I am forever grateful~

I've come to realize that this a mystery past, present, and future. Growth in trust and patience has become a daily process for me like never before~

I've come to realize my a gift above and beyond all I could have ever hoped for or imagined! God in His providence and grace knew the exact time to bring this man into my life, and I wouldn’t take back a second of our years together thus far for anything in the world. There is no one on the face of the earth I would rather walk this journey with, and no one reflects Christ’s love for the Church the way he does. He’s the first person I want to share my thoughts with, the first person I want to share exciting news with, and the person I can’t wait to see when I get home from work each day. I am continually encouraged, convicted, cherished, and loved. My husband always has my ultimate good in mind, even when my heart wants to reject the truth. I am a better person because of him. And all because of God lavishing His grace on us~

I've come to realize maybe I more thankful for what I have. Thankful that I have a home when I’m washing dirty dishes, thankful for my job when I’m working on a monotonous project, thankful that my medical condition is not worse when I’m complaining about my skin, etc. My husband’s so much better at genuine gratitude, and I am thankful that he is so good to remind me!

I've come to realize I really don't I don’t get it, it makes me want to fall asleep, and just hearing people converse about it makes me want to drop my head on a desk and start snoring at an obnoxious level…

I've come to realize my included in the greater testimony of God’s work in my life. As much as I would want to ignore or wish I could have done things differently, I know now that everything has been part of His greater plan. Even the painful events, and the times when I responded selfishly in my own sin, were orchestrated as part of His saving work in my life. I couldn’t always say this, but the Lord has truly freed me from past guilt and regret, and one of my deepest desires is to encourage others who come from a painful past with the same beautiful reality – that anyone who is a follower of Christ is a testimony of His glorious grace~

I've come to realize parties...have an appropriate time and place depending on my mood. I went from being an off the walls girl in high school and college, a social butterfly who wondered what was wrong with me if I was alone at home on a Friday, to a woman who carefully chooses when to and not to be social. I have learned to value rest and relaxation when given the opportunity, and rather than feel depressed when I don’t have an event planned, I savor the quiet time I am given~

I've come to realize my a gift that should not be taken for granted. I have realized over time just how much of my life is wasted worrying and complaining rather than praising the One who gave me this life. I have SO many things to be thankful for, and I want my life to be characterized by a grateful and satisfied heart!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things to Ponder as a Not-Really-Newlywed

As we have now well surpassed the two-year anniversary of our glorious and perfect wedding day, we can see the three-year mark closer on the horizon. When I look ahead to that upcoming day, less than six months away now, things feel...different. Did you feel different when you turned 18? 21? 25? (Or another "milestone" for my older friends?) Certain birthdays have just felt unique to me thus far - the feeling of finally reaching adulthood, of finally really really reaching adulthood, and then hitting the mid-20s and realizing that I might feel at least a hint of relief when the weirdness of the 20s is over. What I am pondering now is the idea that my husband and I are sort of coming out of this season when we are considered "the newlyweds." Sure, when we hit the three-year mark this coming January we will still be young and naive in the eyes of many (including our own!), but it still feels very different than the newness of those first and second years. I am sensing more now the reality of permanance, the reality that we are committed to one another and this life together for the rest of our days. With that sense of permanence comes a deeper conviction of my daily need of grace, as well as increased excitement for however many years the Lord affords us in this life. On the most quiet, mundane of evenings, I find myself glancing over at my husband next to me on the couch, and thinking, "Wow... He is my best friend, my husband, and I get to spend the rest of my life with him!" While a simple statement , the reality of it all is incredibly profound.
Thanks to a few friends posting a link on the Book that is Face, I came across an encouraging blog entry, one that I hope brings encouragement and conviction to wives of any age and at varying stages of their own marriages. The post comes from the Mars Hill Church blog, and is entitled "18 Lessons from 18 Years of Marriage." Having been so encouraged, I printed a copy of the post to keep in my journal. Only by God's daily grace can we live with another sinner saved by the same grace, putting their needs ahead of our own and do so gladly with their good in mind. Here are Grace Driscoll's 18 lessons from her perspective as a wife:

  1. Make time with Jesus your first priority, husband second priority.
  2. Be intimate often.
  3. Be willing to have hard and honest conversations, and pray for Jesus to make them fruitful.
  4. Pray for wisdom often.
  5. The enemy is always ready to divide you during trials. Don’t let him; cling to Jesus and each other.
  6. Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive …
  7. Don’t enable his sin, but pray for wisdom in timing and words, and be respectful when addressing it.
  8. Be a woman of inner and outer beauty.
  9. Make your home a place of retreat and rest.
  10. Study your husband, appreciate, value and respect him, especially when you don’t “feel” like it.
  11. HAVE FUN.
  12. Pray against lies. Memorize the truth of Scripture.
  13. Spend regular, meaningful time together. Invest in the relationship.
  14. Don’t let bitterness set in if you are hurt or frustrated; dig up the root and pray it through.
  15. Be an attentive and available listener.
  16. Be teachable and willing to submit.
  17. Set your heart and body toward your husband and don’t let either wander.
  18. Repent often and allow trustworthy people to speak into your lives.