Friday, January 27, 2012

Priceless Simplicity

Side note: I just ran across this on another blog and loved the sense of humour... click the button... but please come back!

As you can see, I don't blog every day, or even every week. I do try to at least post once a month. Usually more often than that. But I don't want my blog to become a drudgery, I don't want to become a slave to it, and I definitely don't want it to become a tool the enemy uses to keep me from my responsibilities and ministries.

"Let all things be done decently and in order."~ I Corinthians 14:40


I love the sound of that word!

It's right up there with calm and peace!

I have a blue wipe-off board on my refrigerator. At times I write notes to family members, usually noting what leftovers are available in the fridge for them. Please eat the leftover pasta before it becomes a science project... Please and thank you!

Lately though, I've taken to putting up a Scripture or phrase of which I need to be reminded.

If you come into my kitchen, this is what you will see on the board:

The Simplicity that is in Christ

Some may consider that a strange "reminder" phrase. Let me explain. As most pink people in the world, I tend to be a complex, emotional woman! That's not all bad, because God made me pink for a reason! Just as he made my husband  blue for a reason.

(If you're wondering where all the pink vs. blue comes from, read Love & Respect  by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs... one of the best books on marriage! It helps you understand members of the opposite sex in general.)

Well, being pink, as I said, I can be quite emotional. And when I yield to those wobbling emotions over what Christ says, I can complicate life. This is what the enemy wants!

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. ~ II Corinthians 11:3

I'm a mess when I start telling myself a bunch of stories (about myself, about someone else, or about a situation). And things get complicated in a hurry.

Here's how this has worked at times in the past... Do you ever do this?

  1. Someone doesn't say hi to you at church, so you think they are mad at you.
  2. Then you wonder what you did.
  3. Then you start to mull it over and try to figure out what you did.
  4. When you can't come up with any offence, you become irritated. She always acts that way. I don't know what her problem is!
  5. Next thing you know, you have a story built up in your head about how much this woman hates you.
  6. Later you feel depressed for seemingly no reason.
  7. You start crying at the drop of a hat. You lash out at those you love, or withdraw from them.
  8. Your husband can't do anything right.
  9. YOU can't do anything right or accomplish anything.
  10. Your kids are a pain and inconvenience.
  11. And the hobbies you used to enjoy just aren't fun anymore.

Now, what happened?

You just got taken down in a round by the enemy!

We need to start recognising these things for what they are: attacks of the devil! He does not want us to have victory in Jesus! He wants us to be miserable. He can render us ineffective and steal our children as well in this way.

Life in Christ is simple. Christ is not complex. I do not mean disrespect here. It's true that His "ways are past finding out," and we will never know it all until we get to heaven. What I mean here is that we don't need to run around like chickens with our heads cut off in life! Settle down. Calm down. LET the peace of God rule in your heart!

Let's work back through our scenario and see how we could have let His peace rule.

  1. Someone doesn't say hi to you at church, and you may think they are mad at you.
  2. You may wonder what you did.
  3. You ask the Lord if you did offend this person, if you are imagining things, or if it's their issue.
  4. When the Lord does not reveal any offence, you pray for the person.
  5. You may go to her, privately, and ask in sincerity if she's okay (as appropriate to the person or situation).
  6. She may respond and ask you to pray for her, and realise that she has a true friend who really cares about her.
  7. Later you feel happy, free, and released because you have listened to the Lord's leading, not to your unstable emotions!
  8. You are free to love those you truly love, and draw closer to them, as well as to this fellow church member.
  9. You believe you have the best husband in the world! You are content and grateful for the blessings in your life.
  10. You believe you are right where God wants you, accomplishing all the things that He wants you to accomplish. This is fulfilling.
  11. Your kids are a joy, and you enjoy being with them and teaching them the principles of God, because you are truly seeking to practise these principles yourself.
  12. You enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.
  13. You have a greater sense of your God-given purpose in life.

See what a relief that is? Jesus is the answer. Yielding to HIM is the answer. Setting your affection on things ABOVE is the answer. Let's purpose to change our responses and not go down the wrong emotional track!

Next time we'll talk about an acrostic that has helped me: H.A.L.T.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nothing Changes... Yet Everything Changes...

Are you grateful for your life just as God has ordered it?

Sure, of course, I'm grateful. Right?

But am I really?

What if my family were taken away from me? Would I be grateful for the time I had with them?

What if my good health were removed? Would I be grateful for the relationships and tangible blessings still in my life?

You see, I've been thinking about gratefulness lately because I spent quite a few months this past year ungrateful and downright angry.

Yes, I'm not proud to say this, but I have to be honest. I was inwardly railing on God for things He allowed into my life this year. 

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! (Isa. 45:9)

I'll explain. I've never been a mom. For whatever reason, God never allowed me to give birth to my own baby. This, for years, was a source of pain to me. I would inwardly and later privately weep when I was caught in a group of women chatting merrily about childbirth and rearing children. I just could not understand why God had kept this from me when I desired children so much, having chosen names for three children when I was yet a very young adult. Actually as a teen, I had chosen one of these names, and it had never changed in my mind.

So, fast-forward to January 2011. One year ago. 

After a long road, I felt I finally worked through the emotions of never having my own baby, and actually began seeing some of the reasons why God had chosen not to give me a child of my own. I literally felt it leave my emotional plate, and I began to settle into married life, just enjoying the freedom of being a couple.

Then with one phone call, everything changed. Suddenly we had a little two-year-old full-time... in the middle of potty training! And I went from wife to full-time caregiver... actually parenting.

Well, I didn't appreciate it. After all, this isn't on my terms, God! 

This is a selfish statement, but I have heard it from other parents as well: 
I felt that all my freedom was taken. 

I once enjoyed hopping in the car and going to town whenever I liked. Now I have to work around morning and afternoon naps, and when I do go, I have to buckle-in-buckle-out a little tot at every stop. Every errand takes twice as long. I was not used to that.

And so, though I'm not proud of this, I admit I became angry and bitter.

This isn't fair!

Thankfully, God in mercy kept me from taking the anger out on this precious child, though I am not so naive to believe that she remained completely unaffected by my spirit of anger, and that saddens me!

Doest thou well to be angry? ~ God asked Jonah (Jonah 4:4)

After the dust settled from my ranting (when I actually became exhausted in my anger), God began to show me the blessing in the midst of the unpleasant. God, Who works all things together for good to those who love Him--for His purpose, not ours--began showing me the beautiful: His purpose.

Christ is the model upon which the Father is developing your life...   
(Henry Blackaby)

Every event that God allows into my life is for His purpose: conforming me to the image of His dear Son Jesus. That's what the verse after Romans 8:28 says. His purpose isn't some pie-in-the-sky idea that I can just back burner if I truly love Him. When you love someone, you want what they want. And God wants to make me like Jesus.

What does all this have to do with being grateful?

By God's patience and grace, I am learning that this is a mindset. I do not mean fake. I mean a choice. The Apostle Paul wrote to the  Colossians, "Set your affection on things above." (Col. 3:2)

On a side note: It saddens me also that with my affections set on getting my own way and reclaiming what I perceived to be my own freedom, I made things hard on my husband as well. We have all heard the phrase, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" We women do set the climate in our homes, like it or not. (Check out Courtney's convicting blog on being a porcupine wife!)

Choosing to be grateful for the good--embracing the good--causes the nasty somehow to become less so. God began to show me the beautiful in this situation when I chose gratefulness.

Once I chose to be grateful in this situation--to focus on the good, to embrace the beautiful, God-given opportunity--my emotions (eventually) no longer felt angry, resentful, bitter, and vindictive. I began to see that God, for an indefinite period, has given me a little girl to dress in frillies and do her hair, just as I dreamed. And I began to enjoy things again... things that I used to enjoy but I quit doing, because I thought I no longer enjoyed these activities. I began to actually enjoy the daily tasks of caring for a child, as well as daily household chores I thought I hated! Resentment is a horrible thief.

It's a daily choice: Gratefulness... Nothing changes... Yet everything changes!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Applying My Heart...

Thank God for new beginnings! We don't even have to wait for a new year to have a fresh start with God, but I'm glad He allowed us to have a calendar so we could have a greater sense of a new start. 

Many who have been in solitary confinement have sought to maintain sanity by keeping some sort of crude calendar, scratching notches into the wall, or whatever way they could find to keep track of their days. 

The lack of sunlight and having no schedule and nothing to do was enough to drive them crazy. Nowadays and in our culture we feel enslaved by the calendar at times, but when you consider the alternative, a calendar and schedule truly are blessings!

While a New Year causes people look forward to many things and make goals and resolutions, for others, it can be discouraging, as they allow themselves to think and dwell upon their painful or sinful past. 

God says: 

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert. ~ Isaiah 43:18-19

A friend on Facebook posted a reminder today that we not focus so much on our past that we miss what God is saying and doing in our present and what He wants to do this year.

God has new wisdom and knowledge for you and for me this year! I don't want to miss what He's saying.

Proverbs 1:5 says:
A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

Proverbs 2:2 says:
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;

Too many times I do not apply my heart (mind, will, and emotions) to understanding His ways. His ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts. I want my fleshly defaults to become less and less my default; I want HIS way of thinking to become my default. I am His lamb, and He loves me so tenderly. Thank You, Jesus, for pursuing me.

Jesus and the Lamb, Photo credit

My prayer today: "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth..." (I Samuel 3:9) I want to incline my ear to Your wisdom. I want to apply my heart (my mind, my will, and my emotions) to understanding You and Your ways--the way You would have me listen, speak, move, breathe, live my life, and relate to others in my life.

Raising Homemakers
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