Friday, August 31, 2012

Technological Tools


I am thankful for the ability to use technology to get things done.  By “technological tools,” I don’t mean technology itself, I am referring more to what we can use it to accomplish. For instance, Word and Excel, or Pages and Numbers, or email programs, or  CD duplicators, or iPhone apps - the list would be endless in this day and age.

Technological tools save you loads of time - Word or Pages for example, since you can (in most cases, I venture) type faster than you can write.  Excel and Numbers makes data entry and statistics take far less time and become more automated.  CD duplicators make things far faster than one CD at a time.  iPhone apps often make tools available to you on the go, which can also speed things along - or at least make things more convenient.

I admit that it promotes the temptation to be in a faster, busier mode, but the tool isn’t what chooses to make you busier.  It’s there to free more time up for you.  What you do with that time is your choice.  And so - as with all tools - when used with wisdom, technological tools are invaluable.  (Hopefully this reminds us to keep our priorities straight.)

I am thankful that God made a way for us to have technological tools, with which I can increase my efficiency, so that I can attend to more of the things that I enjoy doing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Decision-Makers


Ezra 10:4
“Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act.”

(Disclaimer:  This verse is taken a little out of context, but I don’t think I’m abusing it, since I’m not commenting on what it means, just what it says.  This verse was said on behalf of the people of Israel to Ezra the prophet about a particular issue.  You can read more here.)

I am really thankful for those on whom the responsibility lies to make decisions.  I, personally, despise making decisions.  I don’t like the weight of the responsibility, and I don’t usually trust my own judgment enough to feel confident in making decisions.  I will sometimes even stress out over small decisions.  At times, I have to realize that it isn't my decision to make.  (Whew!)  Most of the time, I like to take the tack that seems to be portrayed in this verse.

If you have to make a decision, I will be behind you all the way, and try to help gather information or whatever you may need in order to make your decision.  I may enlist the help of others or inform you that you may want to do a little more research, since research isn’t my forte, but I will still do whatever I can to help.  Just so long as I don’t have to make the final decision.

My distaste for decisions is almost assuredly based on fear, and I haven’t fully determined what the root fear is.  I can rationalize bits and pieces of it biblically, but I think it’s just that:  rationalization rather than truth.  

However, God does, at times, make allowances for those of us who are weaker.  “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)  I am that weaker person, and the one I am putting the decision on is the person that is willing to take on my weakness in their strength in Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for sending someone to meet me at my own level who can pick up the slack.  Give me the wisdom, power, and diligence to grow in You, and eventually be able to pick up the slack for others.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Requests

Philippians 4:6
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

“Request of the Called”

Lord I praise Thee in the rain,
For You have made me dance.
My aching bones find comfort in Your peace.

Your love is everlasting,
Your salvation grips me true.
I find rest within the shelter of Your wings.

Your patience is unending
With Your precious little child;
I seek forgiveness in Your open arms.

Lord help me be Your servant.
Keep me low within my mind.
May Your grace flow through me to the others here. 


I am thankful that God made it so that we can make requests of Him.  I pray that our requests are asked from a heart longing to do His will.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

God's Presence


Psalm 16:11a
“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy...”

Do you ever talk a problem out to yourself?  I do this rather often.  It helps me to “get things on the table” so to speak.  I find that I think a little more rationally if I say my thoughts aloud.  (I don’t mind being called crazy - I think it might be a bit true...)  

This can, however, be a problem sometimes.  Have you ever found yourself talking to a friend about your problem, and instead of being able to let off steam and calm down, it winds you tighter and you get more worked up?  This is what happens when I have intense feelings about a problem that I am trying to talk out to myself.

I was struggling with this tonight, and asked God what I needed to do.  It was like He said, “I’m glad you asked.  Would you like to talk to Me about it now?”

I realized that I had been talking to myself about it, but not talking to God about it.  I wasn’t praying or asking for His input.  When I talk to God about my problem, I talk differently.  I check my attitude - to a point, at least - and I check the validity of what I’m saying.  This rather struck me.

If I am to take my thoughts captive, then I need to constantly practice being in the presence of God.  I can use His presence to compare what I am saying to what He has said.  I am so thankful that He has made His presence available to me.  His presence, though it can seem stern, is also compassionate.  And I need His compassion.  His compassion is part of why I am able to partake in His joy. 

God is always there to talk to.  He isn’t going to take nonsense; He’s going to make sure that you see the truth, even if it’s hard to take.  But He will always do it out of love for you.  “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).  

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Bible


Romans 15:4
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Have you ever heard the acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth?”  I find it rather fitting for the Bible.  (Though in some things it doesn’t seem so basic.)  I am thankful for God’s instruction.

The Bible isn’t an indexed manual.  It isn’t something that you can look up a specific topic and see what it says about that topic.  There are too many different situations, both in life and the Bible, to be able to do it by topic.  You can look up a word - but what if the Bible used a different word that’s similar?  I have often run into this while looking for a verse to pair with one of my thankful things.  I use an online concordance, but it has its limits.

This is why it is so important to read our Bibles.  We need to know them inside and out, to study them, so that we can at least have an idea of where to look (or what wording is used) to find our answer.  It’s amazing how often someone who knows their Bible well can find the portion of it that applies to a situation.  Sometimes our minds just don’t connect what we’re going through with something in the Bible, and it takes another person to point it out to us.  

I won’t say that I’ve found a portion of the Bible for every situation I’ve been in, but I do believe God has given us all of the tools we need to deal with our situations and circumstances.  The Bible ranks rather high on that list of tools - and many more tools are found within its pages.  The Bible itself is one of the basic tools of following God.

With recent changes in my life it has been easy to let my Bible study fall a bit to the wayside.  I have finally noticed God’s loving and gracious nudges.  Reading my Bible is meant to be an encouragement, not a burden.  When I shift my focus from myself to God, His Word is a huge encouragement.  He has shown me that I need to re-prioritize my Bible reading a bit.  

How well do you know your Bible?  Is it time to make that a higher priority?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekly Impressions - God-Centered


Psalm 104:34
“Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.”

I keep writing about my son.  It might be because babies require your world to revolve around them for a little while.  Or because he’s just so darn cute.  I don’t know, I’m torn.  Either way, God has been showing me through raising my son just how selfish I am.

My previous awareness of this trait was obtuse at best.  Most people don’t think of me as selfish.  Not to beat a dead horse into the ground, but I am confronted once again with where I place my focus.  I wonder sometimes at God’s infinite patience with me as He has to remind me over and over again... and then again.  My focus is naturally on myself (as it is with all of us).  It didn’t seem that way at first, but as God is taking me deeper into a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit is opening my eyes wider and wider... literally, at times.  

I don’t particularly care to be shown my faults.  I’m not usually the type to retaliate, but any human being feels at least a little lesser when confronted with their ugly side (unless they’re proud of it, in which case they’re a fool).  Which, to be frank, is the point.  I am lesser because of my sins, and I cannot be more without my Savior, Jesus Christ.  

For the sake of my own comprehension, I am having to see myself as unchanged with Jesus Christ, and only made more once in Jesus Christ.  I am not a co-pilot.  I am not equal with God.  I only have strength and worth when I am in God’s will - and that, not of myself.

This is why God has been pushing me toward Meditation, to use as a tool to take my focus off of myself and to center it on God.  I am having to constantly check my focus, which often flings my faults into my face, which means I have to fight my selfish response, which means I’m often fighting a poor attitude... until I can wrest my focus from myself and center it on God (through His power).

How awesome is it that He grants us the strength to live in Him and thereby do His will?  To live in Christ is Victory.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Meditation

Psalm 19:14
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Admit it - the image of a monk sitting in the lotus position with eyes closed and middle fingers pressed to thumbs chanting, “Ooohhmmmmm...” just flashed through your mind.  This stereotypical scene is not what I’m referring to.  (Although I won’t deny the possibility of tailoring it to meditate upon God.)  I am referring more to centering my thoughts upon God and His Word, tied in a bit with memorization.

God has been prodding me a little in this area.  There are several places where meditation is mentioned in God’s Word.  I, too, think of the stereotypical monk when I think of meditation, and often dismiss it as a result.  I think of meditation more as trying to achieve “alpha” state, where you are aware, but not focused on any one thing.  However, the meditation that God talks about in the Bible is centered on something in particular - like His Word, or His attributes.  It’s more like what your thought life is focused on.

God has shown me that this is something that I need to practice and be aware of in my everyday life.  As with all things, practice makes “perfect.”  If I use some of my quiet time to practice meditating upon God and His Word - to focus my thoughts on a single idea - then I will be better at meditating while I’m not able to focus solely on it.  While I’m at work, for instance, or doing chores.  If I memorize a verse, I can recall it at any time to think on it and what God is trying to tell me through it - which can change as we go through various stages of life.  I am seeing meditation as a handy tool in being able to live in the constant knowledge of God’s presence.  And in His presence is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:10)

I am thankful for the useful tool of meditation.  It is a very simple thing, which makes it easy to do.  (We all know that we’re more likely to do something if it’s easy.)  It also gives me a way to add variety to my quiet time.  If I do the same thing every time, it gets harder for my mind not to wander.

What have you been centered on lately? 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Laughter


Proverbs 24:14
Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

I am thankful for my baby’s laughter.  It comes easily, is uncontrollable,  and is based off of the simplest things.  It’s adorable and contagious.  His little world seems so full of joy.

God is showing me that this isn’t due so much to his circumstances as it is to his attitude.  (A nine and a half month old can have an attitude?  Oh yes - just ask the nearest mama.)  His outlook on life is very innocent.  He hasn’t seen most of the things that you and I have.  

But that doesn’t mean that I should forget the things that I’ve seen.  There is a fine line and a severe consequence between the simplicity of the naive and the simplicity of the wise.  (Proverbs mentions this a few times.)  Which is, perhaps, why I am no longer “innocent” like a child.  But having lost my naiveté, I should “do away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11), and press on toward wisdom - His wisdom.

My attitude should be based on my hope in the Lord.  In Him is freedom of laughter and overwhelming joy once again.  When my attitude is based off of my circumstances, my focus blurs and fear enters the equation.  It is hard to explain why I sometimes fear to laugh.  Perhaps I am fearing man rather than God.  If I lift up my eyes to Christ, He will grant me the freedom to “smile at the future,” like the Proverbs 31 woman.  

So I strive to lift up my eyes unto the Lord, and laugh uncontrollably in His joy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grins


Proverbs 15:30
“Bright eyes gladden the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.”

I have officially received my first heart-melting welcome home smile from my nine-and-a-half month old son.  It’s really quite amazing how much joy those little faces can convey.  I can’t believe how special I felt when he gave me that adorable little grin with a touch of laughter.  I just had to go snuggle my little man.  I am so thankful for his little grin.  It might not “make it all worth it,” but I would say it comes pretty close.

I think I will always treasure that moment - but I know that there will be more.  I can’t quite wrap my mind around being able to come home to that little grin so often as once a day; it almost feels sinful to feel that special.  You know, like really good chocolate... or cookiedough, in my case.

What I can’t wait for is the day that I will be able to give Jesus that grin.  He will be the one welcoming me home, but there’s no way I’ll be able to keep a grin off my face when I finally get to see Him face-to-face.  (Once I get over the awe, I’m sure.)

Jesus’ death for me on the cross was a lot more to go through than what I do in bringing up my son.  I can’t make all of that worth it to Him in any way - it was worth it to Him for His good pleasure.  But I do hope that in some small way, my little grin might be able to “make it all worth it.”

What are some things that make it all worth it for you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God Keeping My Soul


Psalm 121
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”

This is probably my most favorite chapter in the entire Bible.  When I was younger, a lot of emphasis was placed on the first four lines, but it’s the rest of it that truly grips my heart.  The Lord is my keeper.

There’s a footnote on the word “protect” in the seventh verse (“The Lord will protect you from all evil...”).  Another word that can replace “protect” is “keep.”  The same is true for verse eight where it says, “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in[.]”  Guard can be replaced with keep, too.  This notion of being kept by God is a deep comfort to my soul.

It is hard sometimes in life to see the things that we and others have been through, and to look back up at God and wonder why.  I see three things in doing that:  1) our focus is down here rather than on God, 2) God uses everything for our good, and 3) what is your definition of protection?

God will protect me from all evil.  What is our battle in Christ against?  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Our battle isn’t with the people of this world, it’s against evil - against Satan and his demons - against sin.

I have heard it said that evil is the absence of God.  I like that explanation.  When we sin, we are apart from God; we separate ourselves from God when we sin.  And in God’s “absence,” we commit evil.  So does God protect us from ourselves?

Yes.  As God’s child, having accepted Christ as my savior, He rescues me from my sins.  He keeps my soul, and never lets go.  He never slumbers nor sleeps.  He will not allow my foot to slip.

How can that be?  I “slip” all the time.  Yes, because I choose to.  Christ died to set me free from the bondage of sin.  In my pride, I take matters into my own hands and step away from God.  It is only then that I stumble.  

The amazing thing to me is that no matter how many times I step away from Him, He always forgives me and keeps my soul.  (My flesh may be subject to the things of this world, but not my soul.)  I am part of the church - the bride of Christ.  Every time I step away from Him it’s like committing adultery.  How many times would you forgive your spouse for cheating on you?  He forgives me every time - and still protects me.  This blows my mind every time I think on it.

How can I not be thankful for God keeping my soul?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Arcade Games


Philippians 3:14
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Question:  How do you win an arcade game?  (Trick question; you can’t.)  

Fact:  I have a fear of failure.  This is not from God, nor is it a godly attitude.  It is, however, something that I bring to my relationship with Christ, and He guides me through my struggle.  

You would think that I would hate arcade games, seeing as there’s no way to actually win, or “succeed.”  However, “success” in an arcade game is making it farther than you did before.  

Life in Christ seems a little like an arcade game to me in that sense.  Success isn’t about getting to the end.  God will bring that about in His good time.  It’s about getting farther than you were before.  Farther meaning becoming more like Christ.  

I am thankful for arcade games because God used them to show me a different angle from which to see my walk with Him.  If you have ever played arcade games over the course of several days (or longer), you know that you don’t achieve your best every time.  You have your “good days” and your “bad days.”  You do, however, get better overall.

I rely heavily on God’s promise that “...He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)  This is not a license to simply sit back and “let God do His thing.”  That isn’t what Paul is talking about.  It’s a promise that Christ will grow us despite our sin.  Despite my failures.  

To live is Victory in Christ.  (And you don’t even have to start from scratch like you do in an arcade game.)  Do you need to change your definition of success?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Distraction


Matthew 6:1
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”

Finding something to be thankful for has become more about having something to say than about seeking God and being thankful to Him.  God revealed this heart issue to me just before I wrote Prayer.  I need to focus on my relationship with Him, not yours.  So I wrote what I would have written were I simply journaling.

It is God’s decision whether to use what I have written or not, and how He wants to use it.  Sometimes it helps me to write out my prayers.  When I’m in a place where I can’t seem to bring my focus around to Him, I can place that at His feet in prayer and let Him pick up the reins.  That’s what I should have been doing in the first place.

I’m sure I will still post blogs that have “something to say.”  God often teaches us through us teaching others.  But teaching others shouldn’t be my goal.  I find that journaling helps bring my focus to bear on God.  As a result, my blog format will likely vary a little in the future.  I may very well write poems, prayers, or do something a little different as the Lord leads me in this journey.  I hope that it blesses you, but my main aim will be improving my relationship with God.

What is distracting you from God?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rest


Psalm 37:5,7a
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him...”

I have grown to appreciate rest in all its forms.  I may not always want to rest when I need to, but God is bringing me around to realize how good rest is.  

I am a night person.  I get my second wind around 9:30-10:00 p.m.  Nothing has ever been able to consistently overcome my second wind at night.  To go to sleep at that time is a fight.  

I am amazed at how well the exhaustion from raising a child has been able to mask that.  If you’ve ever raised a child, you know how tired you are - all the time.  So I take rest when I can get it - in any form that I can get it.  

Being exhausted has made following God a little more mandatory in one sense.  I have no energy, which means I can’t get nearly as many things done as I would like to.  This forces me to rest in God.  I am thankful for His rest.

It’s okay that the house isn’t clean, the clothes aren’t washed, and my car will get gas in it tomorrow.  If, in following God, I am unable to get it done today - or this moment - then I have to rest in God that His will doesn’t include me completing that task at the moment.  

And if it isn’t His will, then do I really want to do it anyway?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prayer


Hebrews 4:16
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Dear God,

Thank you that You are always there - and there to pray to.  Thank you for providing the Way for us to approach your throne with confidence.  Overcome my selfish desires.  Align my will with Yours; teach me Your ways.  Thank you for washing me clean from my sins in Your righteous blood, and help me to daily repent and follow You.  Show me the world through Your eyes.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

God is always there to pray to.  I get caught up in daily life and forget that He is there.  That gets me into trouble.  If I can keep my mind on His will and on His presence, He will guide me through the day.  Prayer is our means of communication with God. 

I am so thankful that Jesus made a way for us to approach Him.  I think that’s why my relationship with Him feels so personal.  I can take my struggles to Him.  Sometimes, I struggle with the level of respect I give God, and approach puffed up in my own flesh.  Fortunately for me, He allowed me access to the throne of grace, and while He may discipline me (“...for whom the Lord loves, He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” -Proverbs 3:12), He will still forgive me.

Are you forgiven?  Would you like to be?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Friends


Proverbs 27:10
“Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.”

My son is 9 months old, so it has been 18 months since I’ve had that “monthly womanly thing.”  Yes, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy not having them.  I have begun again, and not quite like I had left off, which took me a bit by surprise.

I thought to myself, “I did this for years, I know how to deal with this.”  So I wore white.  Do I hear a sigh?  Yes, that was definitely a sigh... or perhaps a face palm.

The inevitable occurred while I was at work 45 minutes from home with no extra pair of pants.  I could have called my husband, who was 25 minutes away and asked him to bring a pair of my mother-in-law’s pants.  I did, actually.  Then I remembered this verse.  

This may not have been a “calamity,” but it was certainly embarrassing.  I remembered that a friend of mine lived just a few minutes away.  It might have been a bit more embarrassing, but it truly was better than making my husband take just shy of an hour out of his day.  

And she didn’t mind a bit.  She completely understood and dropped everything to come right away, even though she had to leave her family for just a bit.  I am so thankful for my friend and the sacrifice of her time to help me out.

God is like that friend.  Except that He’s even better, because He’s always doing this for us.  I don’t mean always as in it happens all the time.  I mean always as in constantly.  He never ceases in His care for us.

What does God’s care look like in your life at the moment?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Job


Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding.”

I am so thankful for where the Lord has put me.  Almost two years ago, God decided to make me the secretary at my church.  I couldn’t have chosen a better fit with my coworkers, talents, passions, and desires.  While my church isn’t particularly small, it isn’t very large, either, which gives me a certain amount of freedom and flexibility.  It has also been perfect for my home life, as my church family has been very understanding and supportive of my husband and me taking care of a baby.  I’m pretty sure that I cried somewhere in the first month or so, because I could see what a blessing the Lord had given me.

My previous job was the worst I had ever had on so many different levels.  Not to be graphic, but to give you an idea, I had diarrhea my entire first month because I was so stressed.  God got me through nine months of sleeplessness, anxiety, stress, impossible expectations, depression, and nano-micromanagement, among other things.

I tell you this not to give you the idea that God rewarded my faithfulness with my current job.  I don’t believe that was His intention.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)  

I didn’t see or understand it then, but God was using that experience to Teach me on a number of levels.  I learned several groundbreaking things about myself and about Him during that time.  He taught me how better to rely on Him, and how to deal with difficult people.  He taught me my own limitations and how important the sabbath was.  He taught me how to create good boundaries for myself.  He also taught me more job skills.  All of these things have been useful for my current position and for my life in general.  While I wouldn’t want to do it again, I am thankful that He chose to put that job in my life - and that He brought me through it.

God caused all things to work for good for me, His child. That has been blindingly apparent to me in my current job.  I am so thankful for my job, and for God’s working in my life.

Are you in one of those times when it doesn’t seem like God is really with you?  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do no lean on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5)  I know it doesn’t make sense right now - and there’s the possibility that it may never make sense here on earth - but don’t lean on your own understanding.  God is working all things for the good of His children.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Robes


Matthew 6:28-29
“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.”

I am thankful for robes.  The soft plushy ones that almost make you feel like you’re lying in the sun on a warm drowsy day.  It’s relaxing just to put one on.  When I need to get up in the middle of the night with my baby, a plush robe helps keep me sleepy.  

A new mother is usually exhausted, but my husband has been able to take the load at night for awhile.  This has afforded me the chance to catch up on a bit of needed sleep.  However, I used to have a little trouble getting back to sleep, and with the lack of exhaustion, the habit has returned to a small degree.  This makes me appreciate anything that helps to keep me sleepy if and when I do need to get up at night.

That plush cozy robe is just a little touch of heaven as I amble through the dim light to pick up my crying boy.  It gives me a pleasant feeling to keep my mind somewhat unfocused - or focused - on sleep.  In that dreamlike state, it’s easy to think of God’s loving arms around me, soft and cozy.  It’s a lot harder to worry in God’s loving arms.

Now I just have to remember that I’m always in His arms.  Are you casting your cares upon Him?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Submission


1 Peter 3:1a
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands...”

This journey of thankfulness has taught me that, to be thankful, my focus must be on God.  As I have put more focus on Him, He has shown me more of what it means to be in His will.  

One mission I have had from childhood is to be a great helper.  I am often looking for an opportunity to come alongside a person to make a task more efficient - whether that’s getting them organized, handing them tools, or taking on tasks for them.  I would say that I do a decent job of it.  However, as a wife, I am finding that the dynamic is a little different.  God has shown me that I am not as submissive as I thought I was.

In today’s society, I know that we women tend to cringe at that word:  submission.  “I’m not a doormat!” you shout.

That’s right.  You’re not.  God never intended you to be.  If He had wanted a doormat for your husband... he would have given your husband a doormat - not a flesh and blood woman to come alongside him.

My understanding of submission was that I was to follow my husband in whatever final decision he made.  That isn’t wrong - but God has shown me that there is so much more to it than that.  

An example would be chores around the house.  In my own mind, I want to be able to have all the chores on the house done, and I’m better at doing them than my husband (and at multi-tasking), so it makes sense to me that I do most of them.  It’s just easier that way.  So I create a plan and a schedule to accomplish my goal.  The problem is that, at this point, I haven’t consulted my husband about my plan or goal.  I don’t know what his plans, goals, or expectations are, because I haven’t asked yet.  

Submission for the wife in marriage, is for the wife to submit to the husband’s goals and plans so that he can lead the family.  If my plans or goals get in the way of his, I am no longer submitting to his leadership - I am claiming leadership myself.  If I haven’t consulted him about my plans, we can’t work together toward them because I never give him the opportunity to.  I end up trying to lead him toward my schedule.

The key switch in my thinking thus far has been that all aspects of our home and household are ultimately his responsibility.  For instance, it is his responsibility that the chores get done.  I like how that sounds.  However, that also means, that it is his responsibility to choose priorities, etc.  (“Cleaning the shower is not as important as [fill in the blank].”)  

A husband’s priorities will inevitably differ from a wife’s.  Here is where I can allow him to be a servant leader.  I inform him of what my priorities are so that he can take them into consideration.  No doormat policy.  I can’t say “Whatever you want, Honey.”  That does a disservice to both of us.  At this point, he can choose to serve me by prioritizing what I prioritize.  However, if I don’t give him that chance, I am simply leading and not submitting.  That, of course, takes trust.

But where is my trust ultimately?  In God.  God is the one who planned this all out for husbands and wives.  So even if my husband decides not to prioritize the things that I do, I am still to trust God and submit to my husband’s plans.  Without bitterness.

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  (Colossians 3:17)

Taking on the martyr attitude doesn’t help anyone.  Complaining about it doesn’t help anyone.  I am to give thanks to God.  This isn’t always easy, but “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  I love that God is always there to help us do what He asks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Handwriting


2 Thessalonians 3:17
“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.”

There’s something nice about receiving a handwritten letter in the mail.  It’s rather endearing to read the handwritten lines of someone you love; a person’s handwriting gives their composition the unique touch of their character.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to be able to type letters.  I type much faster than I write - and it’s far more legible.  Handwriting, however, is recognizable.  I can know that you wrote it, because I recognize your handwriting.    

I’m not sure if Paul was talking about his handwriting or his letter as a whole in the quote above, but I am thankful for handwriting.  I find that for certain occasions - especially in the case of revision - I think better with a pen and paper.  Slash this, arrow that over there, make a note to check that, insert a portion of the slashed phrase here.  It’s almost like I need to be able to draw my thoughts, which is something you can’t do on a keyboard.  It just seems to work better.

Perhaps for you, a keyboard and mouse work better.  It’s certainly cleaner.  However, God knew what I needed - and while He didn’t create handwriting just for me, He did create it as a tool.  A tool that is unique to each person.

When was the last time you wrote something substantial for someone by hand?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Music


Romans 8:26
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words...”

Music is, after a fashion, a universal language all peoples can understand.  Even if music isn’t your forte, you can still appreciate it.  I think it must be heavily related to mood.

That’s why composers score music for movies to enhance or set the mood of a scene.  Upbeat music can sometimes bring us out of a funk, just as sad music can bring us to mourn.  We can sing our hearts out in praise to God, relax to a melody, march in unity, honor the memory of someone dear to us, or just fill the silence.

I sometimes wonder if the Holy Spirit uses music as His “groanings too deep for words.”  The feelings we can express with music are, at times, too deep for words.  Sometimes I “groan” to Him through my music, because I just don’t have the words to express what I’m feeling.  As Paul said, “we do not know how to pray as we should.” I am thankful for music, and the freedom He has given me to be able to use it to communicate those feelings with Him.  He understands.

How best do you communicate with God?  Have you been communicating to Him lately?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kleenex


Mark 10:15
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  It’s like seeing the world from the point of view of a young child.

It seems to me that a childlike faith is to have faith that what God says is true, but to continually seek out their favorite question:  “Why?”  If they don’t receive the answer, it doesn’t really bother them, because they know that it must be.  However, they will often attack the same problem from a different angle, still seeking the why.

My 9-month-old son can’t talk, but he got his hands on a kleenex box and promptly walked down the hall with a contented smile as he pulled one out after another.  It was as if he were saying, “Oh my gosh, look at this!  It’s so cool!  I pull it out and it comes right back!”  I don’t think I’ve ever truly appreciated the ingenuity engineered into a kleenex box before... I am thankful for the opportunity kleenex gave me to see one of God’s miracles.

When we see the world around us, what do we see?  Are we looking for the signs of God and His kingdom?  When we see them, what is our reaction?  Is it like that of a child?  Or has it become old hat?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Small Steps

Matthew 6:34
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I have a lot of chores that have been piling up.  I’m sure you couldn’t possibly relate.  Looking at the “big picture” of my house, the amount of things to do simply seems insurmountable.  The old adage “one step at a time” comes to mind.  And it’s true.

However, people often think that in order to exercise that adage, they only have to narrow their focus on what step needs to be done next.  I would disagree in part.  The verse before this one is “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  

When looking at the big picture of your house, narrowing your focus brings you to a particular chore, or prepping for it.  Does that really ease your stress?  Certainly it’s more manageable, which may lessen your stress, but if you really take a step back and look at the true big picture... you see Jesus and eternity.  

Your priorities might look a little different at that point.  Or perhaps your small steps will.  Either way, now that you are in God’s will, you have His promises behind you.  That should relieve some stress.  

Here are just a couple more examples of your promises in God:
  • “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)
  • “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Is the next step you’re about to take within God’s will?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Songs

1 Corinthians 14:26b
“When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
We use songs for a vast variety of things.  We use them in movies to emote certain feelings, in worship to sing our hearts out in praise to God, in a march to walk in unity.  To express our thoughts and feelings to others.  To honor the memory of someone.  A myriad of different ways.

In the passage above, Paul is talking about the body of believers.  I take Paul’s message to mean that God has taught each of us something to be shared with the rest, and that we each have our ways of expressing those.  I often relate deeply to those expressed through songs (or psalms, as he calls them).  I am thankful that God gave us songs to be able to relate the things He has taught us.

However, I am to listen to the other ways, too.  God doesn’t only use one way to tell us something.  This passage reminds me that I am to listen to each of God’s children around me for what God will teach me through them.  Whose experience is God using to teach you right now?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weekly Impressions - Focus


Matthew 6:33
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I struggled more this week with finding something each day to be thankful for.  I came up with all kinds of things, but there wasn’t any substance to them.  I had no way to point them back to God.  I went back over my previous thankful things looking for inspiration.  It helped to some degree, but something was missing.  I could thank Him that He put me in a place to be able to enjoy those things, but that only barely brought my focus off of myself.  I finally realized that I was having trouble because I wasn’t looking for God anymore.  I was just looking for something to be thankful for.  
Yet the purpose of being thankful is to place my focus on God.  I was so busy trying not to have expectations - or at least not to be bothered when they weren’t met - that I lost track of the big picture.  Besides, expectations aren’t bad.  Hope is a form of expectation.  Expectations become bad when they are apart from God’s will.  If I can keep my focus on God - if my hope is in the Lord - my expectations will follow.  
So I am back to searching for God in the world around me, instead of looking at the things of the world and trying to be thankful for them.  Once again, it’s all about my focus.
What is your focus right now?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Celebrations


Esther 9:28
“So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants.”
I write this on my birthday.  I came into the day not expecting very much, as I didn’t have a party planned until more than a week later, and it should be a quiet dinner tonight.  
However, when I came in for work at the office, flowers and cards decorated my desk, and there was even a piece of cake.  It’s amazing how much those things can affect a person.  As the day has continued, I have received more flowers and well-wishes.  As you can guess, I was pretty happy that my coworkers cared.  I look forward to a small dinner of home-cooked 1/2 lb hamburgers - to be prepared by my husband.  
I didn’t think it would mean a whole lot to me - it’s just another birthday.  Yet, as my day progresses, I realize that it’s been a little while since I celebrated.  I am truly glad that those around me care enough to put a little effort into making my day a little brighter.  
God knew what He was doing when He told His people to celebrate.  In fact, there were quite a few things that He commanded them to celebrate.  A large part of the reason is so that they would remember the things that He has done for them.  But He didn’t have to choose celebration as the action.  I think He chose celebration because we need to celebrate.
When was the last time you celebrated?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Air Conditioning


1 Corinthians 8:6
“...yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
It’s been hot here in California, and I am thankful for air conditioning!  My car doesn’t have it, but my office does.  It’s nice to be able to retreat into its cool confines rather than roast and sweat in the heat.  (Which brings me to a shout-out for the military over in Iraq and Afghanistan who have to wear all their gear in hotter weather than this.)
Once again, I can see God’s provision in my life.  All things are the Lord’s.  As a recipient of His grace, His unmerited favor, God has chosen to meet another of my desires (see Small Desires Met).  Refuge from the heat may not be as small a desire as the precise number of paperclips I need, but I could certainly survive without it.  I am glad that He bestows His things on His children.
What things has God given you today?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Generosity


2 Corinthians 9:7
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I am thankful to have been and to have received generosity.  Generosity is just fun for everyone involved.  It brings joy to the giver to see the joy of the recipient.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  
If we are conformed to His will, then His will is our desire, and He will show us what He wants us to do.  Just as it says, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart,” we must purpose to give. It is not a passive thing.  We need to set aside specific resources to that end.  
God will bless you.