Monday, January 30, 2012

how to change what your heart loves

one of our family's goals is memorizing the Word.

we decided to start with the psalms and work our way through the longest book of the Bible and the easiest to memorize (in my opinion because of the poetry).

last year asher read heavenly man, the autobiography of brother yun. asher was 6 years old when he read this book.  i have not yet read this book.

asher came away from reading this book so convicted and challenged to memorize Scripture because brother yun has most the books of the Bible memorized.  memorizing more of the Word has always been a desire of mine, but my son was the one who really gave me the kick in the pants i needed to refocus my efforts on it. 

as a family, we have the 1st 3 psalms memorized... even david my 3 year old.  i wish we were going faster through it, but i am honestly content that we are working at it at our slow pace and at least doing it!

one great incentive for our kids is my mom offered to pay them $1 for each chapter of the Bible they memorized.  her grandma paid her to memorize chapters, so she wanted to pay her grandkids.  what a great way to earn money, right?

while i started in on psalm 4 i found so much truth and encouragement to hide in my heart.
o sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? how long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? selah.

as i was meditating on this passage and praying through the psalm, this section just kept standing out to me.  

there is just so so much i can give my time and attention to... so much that can consume me and worry me and steal my affections.  while i wish this passage was speaking just to other people and not me, i know it also speaks to me.  as much as i long to be fully His, i still have worthless things that steal my affections.

and when it is all said and done and i am standing before Him, face to face and eye to eye, like each one of us will... well, when i am there, what am i going to wish i would have loved?  am i going to be happy with what took my affections?  am i going to be proud of how i used my time?  will i wish i made choices a bit differently?

i am asking the Holy Spirit to help me love what He loves and give myself to those things.  with His help, you and i will both grow in righteousness and keep pursuing a walk with Him that will prove us blameless in the end.

let's hide His Words in our heart... He promises that when we do this it will strengthen us to not sin against Him.

still counting gifts to 1000...

431 - 449:

431. beautiful weather.

432. a day sledding in the snow with the family on saturday.

433. my sweet uriah turning 6!  can't believe how fast time flies by.

434. warm weather forecast for this upcoming weekend meaning we will have the boys' birthday party outside!

435. God's faithfulness to fill in the gaps in our finances.

436. a warm comfy bed to fall into at night.

437. God's faithfulness even in hard circumstances and even when it is hard to understand.

438. time by myself with God and my Bible when i am really needing it.

439. the offense in the book of matthew that keeps me from my comfort zone in life and keeps pointing me towards the narrow path of walking with Him.

440. a reminder yesterday of what has been on my heart... "he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord."

441. that God knows the unfulfilled desires of my heart and is trustworthy.

442. lately i have really liked ice.

443. the small organic fancy dark chocolate my husband brought home for me on saturday... just because he knows how much i enjoy fancy dark chocolates.

444. so much encouragement while reading the Word of God.

445.  the Holy Spirit's activity in my life.

446. broccoli in this upcoming week's csa box!

447. much needed green juice from my juicer - this time it is ginger, lemon, beet, pomegranate, celery, mixed greens juice.

448. the rare times all 4 kids go down for a nap at the same time and the house is quiet in the afternoon.

449. learning how to be a christian mom who raises her kids to know the Lord.

i am linked up at a holy experience. i would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

the best two minutes of your day



today is a very special day.  my sweet boy uriah jaden turns 6!  this short video of him and his cousin singing in their talent show last week only shows a small glimpse of his sweetness - take time to watch it... it will be the best 2 minutes of your day.  trust me.

side note - an american tail was one of my favorite movies when i was little... the first movie that i cried in.  hearing these two sing just like the little mice brings back so many memories and a few tears.

i love you uriah and happy happy birthday!  mama thinks you are amazing!

if you want to read more about uriah, a whole handful is a post i wrote last year for him.


Monday, January 23, 2012

still waters

in whirlwind days like today, i am reminded to slow down!  it doesn't mean i can necessarily stop the activity before me and all around me, but i do want to choose thankfulness instead of dread and stress about what lies ahead. 

this river, the river i live by, always seems to remind me of peace and stillness.

be still and know i am God. psalm 46:10

some translations say cease striving.  wow, is that ever talking to me when things get busy.  have you found yourself striving lately with all that must be done like me?

somehow there is a way to be still while still being active... while still moving and going somewhere, but keeping the peace that is a fruit of a life anchored in trusting God.

so i am asking tonight,

Lord, You be my Good Shepherd.

                            make me lacking in nothing.

                                                         teach me to rest in green pastures.

                                                                            lead me beside the still waters.

restore my weary soul.

                  guide me in Your paths of righteous for the sake of Your name.

    and when i walk through a valley that has the threat of death
                                                                               help me not be afraid.
                                                                                           Lord, be with me.

guide me with Your discipline.

                comfort me with Your leadership.

                       prepare a feast for me in the presence of those who hate me.

anoint me with Your oil.

                           make my cup overflowing.

             may Your goodness,
                        may Your lovingkindness,
                                     Your faithfulness,
                                             follow me for all the days You have set before me

      so i may dwell with You forever in the place where You dwell.


still counting gifts to 1000...

410 - 430:

410. Jesus' words, "so do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows."

411. that with God, all things are possible.

412. warmth on a cold day.

413. unexpected provision... yet again, at exactly the right timing.

414. that the glucose test is now behind me... hoping for a good report.

415. reignited love for favorite old hymns.

416. the hope in the old hymns anchored in when we finally see Jesus face to face and not in the present time we live in.

417. a helpful husband when i have had so much to do and so little energy to do it.

418. a meal in the freezer to pull out for a no hassle dinner.

419. much needed rain that is falling.

420. teething tablets for the little guy who has been cutting 8 teeth nonstop for about a month now.

421. newman's peppermints.

422. sunshine break in the middle of rainy days.

423. grace to do what needs to be done.

424. a good report on my glucose tolerance test.

425. the upcoming blitz of birthdays in our family.

426. meal planning and the headache of "what's for dinner" that it eases.

427. the hope of His return and wrong things being made right.

428. naptime.

429. my flax seed heatable wrap to ease back pain.

430. my cute uriah who is going to sing "somewhere out there" with his cousin in his school talent show... mouse ears and all.

i am linked up at a holy experience. i would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

missing the point

while jesus was in the house eating, many tax-collectors and sinners came and joined Him and Him disciples at the meal.  when the pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "why does your rabbi eat with tax-collectors and sinners?"  but Jesus heard the question and answered, "the ones who need a doctor aren't the healthy but the sick.  as for you, go and learn what this means: 'I want compassion rather than sacrifice.' (hosea 6:6)  for I didn't come to call the 'righteous,' but sinners!  matthew 9:10-13

so i am going to make the short, sweet, and hopefully simple.

as i read the words of Jesus to the pharisees i think about how often we skim past His words, missing the point, because we have demonized the pharisees in our modern church circles to the point that we can't (or maybe won't) relate to them because... gosh, they were so dense they should have got the point from the start, right?

why did Jesus allow those who were sinners to eat with Him for dinner?  why did He allow them to be around His inner circle of followers?  why was Jesus not surrounding Himself with those who had their lives on track?

didn't Jesus know what they had done?  was He unaware of the gravity of their sins?

i imagine the pharisees were upset because they were probably personally affected and offended by the sins of these people who suddenly had the privilege of eating a meal with Jesus.  in the small cities Jesus ministered in, it is no wonder that people knew and had experienced the aftermath of the sins of others.  and now Jesus, the one who was supposedly the Righteous One, the Messiah, was eating with these jerks who had hurt so many in the community with their sinful lives.

and if we can get the "pharisee" picture out of our minds that preachers have shoved in there with rhetoric and actually think of real life senarios involving real people, i imagine we will have the same questions that they had.

why Jesus?  why them when they for sure do not deserve it?

sometimes Jesus offends me just as much as He offended them.  how about you?

for the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. (matt 18:11)


linking up with barbie this week for fresh brewed sundays.

Friday, January 20, 2012

when it is just too much

it has been a rough couple days.  i don't know if it is just in the air, so to speak, but there is so much going on all around me and pretty much all of it involves pain deep in the heart.  the pressure seems unbearable at moments when i cry out to the Lord and say, it is too much... all of this is just too much. 

tonight i was reminded of a song:
turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His Glory and Grace

it isn't as if the problems are magically solved and everything is fine and dandy.  but it feels so different to approach the same things that life has to offer when i lock my gaze onto Jesus, search for the hope and encouragement that is in His eyes, and let the anxiety go.  He really can be trusted.  we can trust Him with whatever it is that is weighing so heavy upon our hearts. 

He knows, He understands, and He can be trusted. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

some of the random thoughts in my head

a list of thoughts on my mind (in no particular order)...

1. we have been enjoying amazing sunny weather here, in the mid to high 60's, and i have heard several people voice their concern that we will get no rain.  then i look at the 10 day forecast and see 7 of the next 10 days predicting rain.  no worries people.  i have lived here my whole life, besides a few years for college, and we are not a place that rains all winter long, but it does rain.  we will get plenty of rain and then be ready for the sun.  i, for one, am enjoying the sun and the opportunity to get outside without being soaked while it is here.

2. this pregnancy is the 1st time i have to take the second test for glucose sensitivity.  let me tell you, i am not thrilled about this.  it isn't that i detest needles like so many people do.  instead, i detest that drink and how icky it makes me feel and the thought of fasting while pregnant and nursing still just makes me not feel well thinking about it.  hopefully all goes well and i am fine and tolerating sugars fine, but either way... i have to take that test again and that is no bueno.

3. i am by myself for a little bit sitting in "my" starbucks and getting to write a bit on my blog.  that is amazing and wonderful.  i love to be with my kids and love to be a stay at home mom.  i also love getting an hour or two a week at starbucks where my thoughts actually aren't interrupted every 10 seconds and i am not staring at all the stuff around the house that needs to be done.

4. i am in a group that orders from azure standard (among ordering other real natural foods stuff) and we have a group message on facebook that is ongoing.  as people are talking about splitting a bulk order of almond flour, i am reminded that i have been allergic to almonds for about a year and sometimes that makes me sad.  i like almonds.  not sure what happened.  i have been advised to do a thorough cleanse someday when i am not breastfeeding or pregnant (or how about breastfeeding and pregnant???!)... oh, someday.

5. i love to juice at home.  i am so unmotivated to do it sometimes though, especially when i want to include in my juice fresh pomegranate seeds.  the problem is i hate to open up pomegranates.  however, my wise husband taught me a new way that isn't as messy.  i think i may be juicing pomegranate seeds more often now.

6. have you ever made homemade yogurt?  oh my goodness... it is so yummy and really so easy.  i study and researched it for weeks before i tried doing it about 9 mos ago for the first time.  i made some again last night.  katie has great detailed, easy to follow, instructions on how you can make your own yogurt at home.  go check it out and make your own... you will thank me.  one of my good food money saving tips for sure!  we use it as a sub for milk in soups and sour cream on mexican food, besides the kids wanting it for a snack topped with only fresh fruit.  get those probiotics and get it for cheap.

7. due to the recent good weather, we have been able to almost completely clean up the leaves from fall in the front of our house (important to note the "front" as the back has a tree even more giant... if we had cleaned up both it really would be a miracle that could be classified as a sign and a wonder).  one year, actually the first year we owned our house, for reasons beyond our control we did not even attempt to rake or clean up 1 leaf until spring.  i walked through the front yard, where there was supposed to be a lawn, and i had leaves up to my mid thigh... almost my waist.  we have massive trees and a ton of leaves every year.  amazing to think we are almost leafless in front at it is only january.  amazing indeed.

8. purple sparkle nail polish is just fun.  you should all try it (well, if you are a female that is).

9. life is not easy... even a christian life, or maybe i should say especially a christian life.  bad things happen and Jesus Himself assured us of this fact.  what we do in the middle of these bad things is the most important testimony of our life really being devoted to following Him.   c.s. lewis said it best when he said,  
i didn't go to religion to make me happy.  i always knew a bottle of port would do that.  if you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, i certainly don't recommend christianity.
you can refer to my post yesterday on why is is definitely not comfortable to be a follower of Jesus.

10. i have a dear friend who is having a baby on thursday. a baby girl.  she has 3 boys and finally is having a girl.  i am so excited for her i could burst.  someday i hope to be as lucky as she is.  can't wait to go visit her and that little one.  i just can't wait.

still counting gifts to 1000...

396 - 409:

396. a day off from school with the kids home (even though it has been a bit of a bickering morning).

397. the way a hug can change two grouchy arguing kids into two smiling giggling ones.

398. cup of hot tea on a cold day.

399. a fire in the fireplace.

400. a relaxing lunch and connecting time with new friends.

401. free coffee at starbucks with the mug my husband got as a gift for christmas.  so fun!

402. beautiful sunny days (crisp, but not too cold) as well as rain in the forecast.

403. that God stays the same even when i have my ups and downs.

404. the money to get my minivan worked on... we have been praying for it and God has been so faithful to provide.

405. provision to go to kansas city in the summer - we will be traveling with 5 kids, we will see how crazy we are then.

406. the grace He gives to forgive when we ask for His help.

407. the abundant mercy He showed when He forgave us.  makes forgiveness a bit easier when we realize we didn't deserve it either.

408. new way to open pomegranates.

409. my juicer that was an amazing gift from my husband 4 years ago... still on the counter and still being used.

i am linked up at a holy experience. i would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

even them? you have got to be kidding me.

 my view as i am writing this blog post... quiet in the house right now.

you have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  but I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.  you have heard that it was said, 'you shall love your neighbor' and hate your enemy.  but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  for if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? do not even the tax collectors do the same?  if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? do not even the gentiles do the same?
therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.   matthew 5:38-48

i have always thought the words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount (matthew 5-7) were particularly challenging.  these challenge me to the core if i take them literally.

do not resist an evil person.  if they hit you, abuse you, mistreat you, just let them do it again.  He couldn't be serious, right?  He wouldn't really be telling us to allow someone to cause us pain.

i have heard so many many people, unfortunately including those from pulpits, argue how this couldn't really be literal.  i have heard so many people say how it is okay, even godly, to defend ourselves and our rights.

the only problem with this is that Jesus didn't defend Himself or His rights.  He wasn't asking anything of His followers that He wasn't willing to live fully Himself.

just as challenging is the exhortation to love your enemies.  did you know that there is no where in the old testament that it says to hate your enemies?  it is almost humorous how many times i have heard it said that Jesus was correcting the old testament here.  no, it did say to love your neighbor and to treat them right, (He wasn't just adding the love your neighbor as yourself stuff to the 1st commandment... it was a commonly understood command of the Lord all through the law), but it never said to hate or mistreat an enemy.

yet, how many times do we just turn a blind eye to this exhortation of Jesus and justify our anger at our enemies?  we even call it righteous anger at times, trying to make it godly.

Jesus is right.  it is so easy for me to be kind to those who treat me well.  it is easy to give to those who appreciate what i give them.  it is easy to pray for a friend who has done so much to positively impact my life.

but the person who treats me like dirt and doesn't understand me, appreciate me, or sometimes even wounds me?  pray for them?  love them?

you mean the one who betrayed me?  the one who at my weakest moment rubbed salt in my wounds and didn't seem to care that my heart was broken and devastated... even them?  love them?  pray for them?

there is a reason there is a reward for this completely counter culture request.  many times throughout the different gospels Jesus says that if we receive our reward here, we forfeit it later.  if we fail to get the reward here, He will make sure of it we do get it on the Day of the Lord and then it will be forever.

we rarely get any rewards for allowing someone to hurt us again.  we rarely get any advice to lay down our lives for those who betray us, even from our friends who are believers.  our first instinct is definitely not to love those who cause us pain.  i know it isn't mine.

Jesus' teachings are so challenging and honestly most of us, even those of us who say we desire to follow Him, hate what He asks us to do.

but He never asked anything that He didn't do Himself.

when we spit on Him, He turned the other cheek.

when we told Him that He owed us something, He was gracious and gave freely and not begrudgingly.

when we hated Him for who He was and is and how much He made us realize our own darkness, He loved us anyways.

when we crucified Him, (because each one of us would have been in that crowd yelling 'crucify Him!' if we are really honest) He prayed to the Father asking Him to forgive us because we didn't really know what we were doing.

He could have called down fire from heaven and would have been fully justified, but He didn't.  our entire hope and salvation and life depends on the fact that He turned the other cheek, and we defend daily, sometimes every moment, why we are justified in our unforgiveness towards those who have done true wrong towards us.

if Jesus's words are literal and true, there is so much i must change about how i live and so much in my paradigm, in the paradigm of the entire Christian church, that needs to change.

seems so huge sometimes it is hard to know where to begin, huh.  well, when you stop reading this blog and someone mistreats you, the simple prayer for help to respond the way Jesus asks us to is a great start.

He gives us plenty of opportunities to practice this in our lives, over and over again.  i challenge you to ask for the grace to take what He said as true and then to walk it out.  we will mess up over and over again, but as i said, we will get so many opportunities to practice this with mistreatment... over and over again.

go, and be like your Father.


linking up with barbie this week for fresh brewed sundays.

Monday, January 9, 2012

how will you use your time?

does it seem to anyone else besides me that the days are just flying by?  i don't know if it is a result of getting older, but it feels as if time is just speeding up faster and faster. 

it makes me think of all the things i want to get done, some important and some only seem important, and how i really do have to choose what i will spend my time on.  time is our most precious commodity to spend.  time is more valuable than money.  i have heard countless people talk about the war between the important and the urgent and, even though i understand the concept well in theory, i find myself in this very struggle all the time.

i took the time to reflect on my 2011 using the questions once again from simple mom.   she has 20 question prompts for looking back over the year and i found them very helpful the past two years.  both times, i must admit, i shed quite a few tears (in starbucks! haha!), but i am not one to be very introspective so it was a very needed time of reflection for me.

i still have yet to sit down and pray through and write out some simple goals for this upcoming year.  i want to have a direction i am going so that i can be intentional with my time.  i have always marveled at the verse in psalm 90:
so teach us to number our days
that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
how we use our time, and our awareness of the finite nature of time, actually causes us to grow in wisdom.  amazing.

last year i felt the Lord urging me to be more intentional, especially with my children and family life, and i have definitely grown in this over the past 12 months.  just like you i am sure (unless you have the drive and focus of a super human), there are times when i was less than present and purposeful in my time and energy with my family.  but, i can honestly look back and see growth.  i am thankful for the small strategies the Lord would give me in how to use my time to connect to my children and husband and ideas of how to serve them joyfully and pour into this family He has entrusted to me.

as i look ahead i wonder what He is asking of my time in 2012.  where do i most need to make growth?  what are areas that i can bring Him glory that i may have never focused on as much in the past?  i have some good ideas, but i want to steal away to get His perspective on my focus so that i am not running in 12 directions at one time with all my good ideas.

what have you discovered in reflecting back on your past year?  do you use any specific ways to reflect?  what do you feel the Lord is highlighting for 2012 for you personally?  how do you go about making goals for the year or refining your focus?  i would love your feedback in the comments and feel free to link to any posts you find helpful in having a focus for using our time wisely in the comments as well.  i love what you all add to the conversation.

still counting gifts to 1000...

380 - 395:

380. using our new freezer to prepare easy future meals.

381. our new baby boy coming in april.

382. two and a half wonderful weeks of the kids home on christmas break.

383. many many unexpected blessings lately.

384. hubby cleaning out the garage.

385. lots of different soups for cooler days.

386. christmas decor down and away - enjoying the extra space in our living room again.

387. the beautiful sunny january days we have been enjoying.

388. slow but steady progress on getting our bedroom back in order and cleaned out.

389. getting some much needed exercise.

390. seeing old friends and still feeling connected.

391. answered prayers.

392. persimmons in the freezer ready to make persimmon spice cake all winter long.

393. a much needed talk on the phone with a friend i have missed so much that i dreamed about talking to her on the phone.

394. reading the book of isaiah and realizing more and more that Jesus being both the Messiah and God is the real deal - getting anchored in the Word.

395. the gift of time.

i am linked up at a holy experience. i would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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