Thursday, December 30, 2010
I love Jesus. Which means I don't laugh. If you love Jesus too, you're not allowed to think anything is funny. My Heavenly mansion will be much sparklier than yours because I do not laugh.
Unfortunately, I have! And I can't say I agree. After all, He wove into us the longing to laugh, the ability to see things humorously. Not that all things that are considered funny are for us to take part in (obscenity and coarse joking are out of place for us as believers - Ephesians 5:4). But I grew up in a home full of laughter. Pure, joyous laughter! And to this day, it's dangerous for me to sit next to my best friend sometimes because we always tend to get the giggles. Shortly before I met my husband, I briefly dated someone with the "Laughter / Loving Jesus do not coincide" mentality, and in this absence of laughter I found how precious humor is to me. Thankfully, the man I ended up with definitely loves humor as well!
There are lots of things for which to be thankful--maybe things that seem to be more "spiritual" than laughter. But I think pure laughter is a delight in our Father's ears. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for the blessing of laughter!
Enjoy a little video clip that made me laugh this week. :)
Monday, December 27, 2010
Their simultaneous answers?
I think that if we only focus on "God loves me," we can forget that God so loved THE WORLD. That many of His children are suffering, hungry, or in need. That God loves the 23-year old dying of AIDS or the 9-year old starving child as much as the 38-year old pastor in Dallas. That He sent His son for the ones this world has discarded. That we are to have compassion for others because they are His beloved.
And I think that if we only focus on "God loves everybody," it's easy to forget that His love is so personal, so individual, so specific while being so broad and all-encompassing. That His love is so "for me." That He called me by name and went to the cross motivated by His love for me. It's personal. His love is mine.
God loves me/God loves everybody. All at the same time. :)
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The reminder that God is always at work around us, and that His opening our eyes to what He is up to is our invitation to join Him in His work. The fact that this invitation brings us to a crisis of faith--what do I believe about God? How will I readjust my life to His invitation? And last but not least, the fact that it all begins with His pursuit of a love relationship with us.
With the invitation to watch to see where God is working, my eyes have been far more open to His activity, the burdens He's placing in hearts, the way He is preparing, and the invitation He is extending to me.
And the list is growing longer of things I am understanding that He is revealing. Back in 1996 I spent an atrocious 6 weeks working away from my family for a ruthless boss, and the testing had me ON MY FACE before God. But oh, how much clarity resulted. I came home with certain elements of my future that were just crystal clear, things the Lord pressed into my heart that I am walking in today. And I feel like this is another season of some real clarity, real direction. Believe me, plenty of it is still vague. It seems He is unveiling the "what" but we'll have to wait for the "how" to unfold. But that list is growing of things the Lord has been unveiling--simply because of His invitation to look to see where He is already moving.
This study was the one I had planned to facilitate in the Spring, until it began to be more and more clear I was to take a season off. As that decision was being made, it seemed this was the time to reevaluate some things, and that this study was to be a part of that process. I had already purchased the book for my upcoming study, so I just pulled it off the shelf and jumped in. I really highly recommend this study if you haven't ever done it. I have heard of lots of ministries (and by ministries, I don't mean all big ones that you would know, but ministries on a smaller scale, though every bit of God-breathed and significant) that were birthed out of simply watching to see where God is working and joining Him there. Even Proverbs 31--the ministry that puts on the She Speaks Conference I've attended the last two years--came out of one woman going through this study and seeing very clearly what God was up to around her--and joining Him in it.
Rather than dreaming up all the things that we'd like to do for our God, what if we considered how He is moving and how He wants us to be in on it?
Who is seeking--asking questions? We don't seek the Lord on our own. He draws us to Himself. Might be a neighbor. Might be a co-worker. Might be our own sons and daughters.
Where is there a need?
Where does suffering need to be alleviated?
Where is there confusion that needs clarity from His Word?
What ministry needs to be established to meet the spiritual, physical, or mental needs of people?
Who needs us to just plain listen?
Has anyone seemed to need a moment of our undivided time and attention? Again, this could be our own family.
I've been mindful that, quite often, I'm seeing Him at work in my family. And why not? It's where He has strategically placed me, after all. It can be really easy to be ministry-minded and assume that it takes place somewhere outside my four walls. But there are times when the best way to love and serve is to put down my Bible study or close my computer and just go make breakfast for my family. And those aren't interruptions to the work of God--they are the work of God.
And it's all throughout His Word, too...
"Moses, I have seen the misery and suffering of my people, and I am going to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians. I want you to bring them out of Egypt." Exodus 3 & 4
"Noah, I am going to put an end to all people. Make yourself an ark and though all else will perish, I will establish My covenant with you and your family." Genesis 6 & 7
"Joshua, I have promised a land to my people. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit this very land." Joshua 1
God is up to something. He reveals His plan and uses His servants. He did it then. He does it now.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Recently I was out with a friend when we saw a mom with her three boys. My friend (whose only child is a sweet and docile non-boy) said wide-eyed to the lady, "Oh, wow--Your life must be just crazy!"
The lady replied, "No, my life is blessed." And she walked off with her three sons.
Now even though there was a teeny, tiny bit of "M.Y.O.B." in her reply, I loved what that woman said! Even more, I loved her perspective.
Because I am sure she does have crazy, chaotic moments. I'm sure the noise level in her house can get pretty high. I'm sure some days she reaches her limit.
Or at least I'm guessing, because this all describes my life with only two! :) But it's still such a blessing. I'm not saying I don't need to get a breather in from time to time. I'm not saying I don't feel defeated. But there are times I feel people look at what I have and think, "Wow. Craziness."
Perhaps a little crazy. But if we're going to reduce it to one word, I'd prefer blessed.
Lord, let me take full inventory of what You have given me--all of it--and have the perspective and gratitude to call it blessed.
Monday, December 13, 2010
So go on, little one. Live the life for which He made you. Go give Him all the glory.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thank you for praying for these little girls.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
1. Having my quiet times by the light of the Christmas tree. LOVE this so much I just may leave up the tree all year if only to be able to do this all the time!
2. Taking the Christmas cards each day and, during our dinner prayer, lifting up each family who sent cards that day. It's especially fun this year when both our kids can be in on this.
3. Driving around and seeing all the "Ho-Ho" (the Nelson family term for Christmas lights).
4. When the little kids sing in church this time of year. You're bound to see a child who doesn't sing a word but waves to Mom and Dad the whole time, one who is just waaay too into it, one with stage fright, and--let's be honest--a nose picker. But in all of that, these young ones are singing words of truth, and that is just awesome. And hilarious!
5. Seeing a nativity scene on a front lawn.
6. Advent calendars with something fun to do each day, like "Stay up late watching a Christmas movie." FUN!
7. Speaking of Christmas movies, "The Christmas Story." Fra-jeel-lay! Love it!
8. The fact that even though my kids have already encountered 3 different Santas so far--all who looked absolutely nothing like each other (except for the bright red suit)--by some miracle they still don't question the whole "Santa" deal yet.
9. Hot chocolate topped with whipped cream with crushed up candy canes stirred into it. Ohhhhh myyyyy...
10. Just knowing that even with the Christmas movies and the cocoa and even the Ho-Ho, our hope is in so much more even than our treasured memories and Christmas traditions. And that, by far, is my favorite thing.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
A few days later I gathered the box up with the other trash up to put out on the curb, but as I lifted it, it didn't feel quite empty--like something else might still be in there.
I looked into the box and saw one more present. I tore open the bright green paper and held one of the most treasured gifts I have ever received.
It was a scrapbook my grandmother had made for me.
It was full of photos--many I'd never seen before. It held letters I'd written to my grandparents when I was in Kindergarten and stick-figure drawings my tiny hands had scrawled.
To this day it's still so very precious to me. And I almost tossed it out with the crumpled up wrapping paper and empty boxes.
This time of year it is so easy to be so aware of everything that has to be purchased, baked, or accomplished during the month of December. We charge up our video cameras for our childrens' Christmas programs at school, we put stamps on Christmas cards, and we breathe a sigh of relief with the crossing off of each name on our shopping list.
But it's easy to forget the most tremendous gift that has ever been--or will ever be--given...
The God who became flesh and dwelt among us.
The King who submitted to a pauper's birth.
The sinless One who endured a criminal's death.
His name is Jesus.
When you take down the lights and the tree in a few weeks, will you have remembered Jesus?
Or will He be the Christmas gift you miss?
Saturday, December 4, 2010
So I kept reading. And a few verses later, my eyes rested on Psalm 20:7: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
And what's my memory verse in my "Experiencing God" Bible study this week? Psalm 20:7--"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." The Holy Spirit keeps drawing me to this truth!
And yet even though if someone asked me, "What's the reference for the 'Some trust in chariots" verse?"'-- I could tell them it's Psalm 20:7--but I wasn't even thinking of that verse as I opened up to chapter 20 today! And even as I prayed it, I still hadn't made the connection that this very verse was coming up in my reading. But there it was, and it just made me smile to see it there.
I love the Word of God! I love how it is yours and it's mine and it's real and it's personal, and is illuminated for us by the Holy Spirit who indwells us! I love how things line up like this. It's not the first time that has happened, either. And by His grace it won't be the last. I just believe He is hungry to communicate truth to us in His Word.
Oh, that we would show up for it!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Strange, huh? But it's like they just trust me to drive and end up somewhere.
I've been trying to live similarly--especially these days. It seems there are lots of question marks in lots of areas of life. Some seasons in life are more settled, some are brimming with potential change--seems like we're in the latter. And so we've been along for the ride--asking questions at times, but ultimately trusting our God to get us where we're going.
And at each stop, things are unfolding. It's like we've gotten a piece of the puzzle at each stop along the way. Do you know that one of your blog post comments was even one of the pieces? You just never know what God will use along the way to reveal where you're headed!
I won't say I never find myself hollering from the backseat, "Are we there yet?" or "Where are we going?"...I do! But over time there's grown more and more peace in just being still...
...and simply being along for the ride.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
In the best possible way.
Your love has ruined for me any pursuit apart from You. It's made less palatable the things I thought would make me happy. You've made going my own way unsatisfying. You've allowed me to be disappointed in the things I thought were sure. You've allowed me to come up short when I tried in my own strength.
Everything is ruined...
Everything but a life of abiding with You, and walking in Your ways. Your perfect, free, unconditional love Has ruined me for anything else but a life of seeking You. I used to be content with lesser things, but the more You reveal Your love for me, those things are ruined for me, and I can't be content with less any longer.
A gracious friend gave us the chance to go out to a fancy restaurant, and we were so excited. We had a lot of fun and ate fabulous food.
I'm not really a drinker so I just ordered a coke to drink. And throughout the dinner, two different men stopped by and casually asked if they could pour me some more soda. "Yes, please--thank you" I replied each time.
Now, they knew what I did not know--NO free refills. Aaaand the cokes were 6 dollars each (no price listed on the menu). We found this out when it was time to pay the bill. With tax and tip it came to over twenty dollars worth of coke.
Now, I am extraordinarily careful with our money. I weigh every purchase--even at the grocery store--really carefully. And because I coupon, I know I should never have to pay more than 79 cents for an entire 2-liter of coke. So the thought of shelling out twenty hard-earned dollars for soda really got to me.
The waiters never told me how much it was going to cost me, and I never thought to ask.
One of the waiters gave us his card at the end of the evening and said he would be happy to serve us again. Well, who wouldn't want to serve the crazy Coke girl?!? The guy made a couple bucks in tip just off my drink order!
Merciful Lord, let our eyes be wide open to perceive the one who seeks to trick us in this way. You are the One who gives freely and openly--when You give, it's not as the world gives, with ulterior motives. You give out of love, not out of desire to trick or ensnare us. Thank You Lord.