Jealous of You

Psalm 19:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I have been jealous of you- my fellow bloggers. Not because you post much more frequently than I do. Not because you are actually writers (I’m just a girl with a pen, journal and laptop who talks with her fingertips). I’ve been jealous of the approval and affirmation you’ve received from others.

I know. It’s disgusting. It’s foolish. But its been lurking in my heart.

IMG_4389I’ve been blogging for more than a decade. Scratch that. I’ve been “blogging” since I was a kid. In the 80’s I just didn’t share my thoughts with the world. They remained locked up in my diary. In the early 90’s they were kept on printed paper, courtesy of my cool typewriter. In the 21st century they ‘got mail’ as I began sending paragraphs of my life lessons to family and friends electronically. I don’t remember when or how I was introduced to this online journal called a blog. But for whatever reason, I decided to join the community. I created a homeschool blog and wrote about…you guessed it, homeschooling! In 2010 I shut that site down and launched a marriage blog in conjunction with our ministry founded that same year…posting about, yep- marriage. That blog was also shut down and replaced with this one. Now I’m just a blogger who shares a journey of trusting God in life, marriage, parenting, homeschooling and ministry. Morning after morning I sit in our comfy office chair with a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar), bible and composition book. Some days the pages remain blank. Other days the words flow from my heart faster than the pen can release its ink on the paper.

God has given me the ability to read His Word with understanding.

God has given me the ability to share how Truth has radically changed my life.

God has given me the ability to arrange words into grammatically correct sentences in order to communicate the Good News to others.

But sometimes I forget all that…

I forget that I blog to please God. I forget that He called me to share my story with others. I forget that the praises of men will pass away, but “well done, good and faithful servant” will be eternal.

I may never have a multitude of people follow/subscribe to my blog.

I may never have a multitude of people like/share/comment on Facebook.

I may never have a multitude of people like/re-tweet on Twitter.

Jesus had a multitude of followers, but only a handful of friends. Only 12 became His disciples. He wasn’t concerned with being popular. He wasn’t concerned with receiving praise from men. He was about His Father’s business. Everything He did was to glorify His Father in heaven.

When I compare my blog feedback with others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I become jealous of others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I think I’m a failure based on opinions, I’m not like Jesus.

When I seek praise from others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I expect affirmation for my obedience, I’m not like Jesus.

Lord,

Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my blogs
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen

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The Way

Proverbs 22:6 New Life Version (NLV)

Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.

fullsizeoutput_4d9fRecently, a child of ours (who shall remain nameless in order to protect his/her identity!) was dutifully completing their morning chores and independent homeschool work for the day. Halfway through our lesson together however, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that all the required subjects had not been completed. I stopped what we were doing and instructed the child to retrieve their school schedule. I asked about the first assignment,

“What did you read about in the Bible today?”

“Bible?”

“Yes, Bible. What did you read about?”

“Um….I forgot about the Bible, but I’m gonna do it!”

Lie.

Cover up.

I continued down the list, asking specific questions regarding the subjects and activities that were supposedly completed. Tears began to emerge from the child’s eyes but the lips continued to mutter dishonest responses in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.

“Child,” I said “you didn’t forget. You deliberately chose NOT to do your schoolwork, because you wanted to hurry up and go play with your friends.”

Tears and sobs.

“Why are you crying, child?”

“Because, I’m ….in….TROUBLE!!!!”

“Why are you in trouble?”

“Because, you….are…..mad….at ME!”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because, I…didn’t….do….my schoolwork!”

“No. I’m mad because you disobeyed. I’m mad because you lied. I’m mad because you tried to cover it up.”

More tears. Louder sobbing.

“Why are you so upset?

“Because, I’m… in…. TROUBLE!!!”

“Child, you’re not in trouble, you’re guilty.”

Truth.

“You’re upset because you got caught – not because you were convicted of sin. So, in order to train you in the way you should go (obedient & truthful), I’m going to discipline you. I discipline you because I love you.”

Hebrews 12:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

“You are confined to your bedroom and our yard. You may not play with your friends today. And, you will go back and complete ALL your subjects.”

Then the principal (aka, my husband!) re-enforced the training. He read Ephesians 6:1, prayed over and exhorted our child to confess and repent. An hour or so later, that young student humbly came to the teacher (me) and whispered “mommy, I’m sorry I disobeyed…would you please forgive me?”

“Yes, child, I forgive you.”

Big hug.

Like the child I am now training, I have disobeyed, lied and tried to cover up my sin. But I’ve learned to put away childlike things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and humble myself before the Father.

Over and over again, He’s forgiven me.

Over and over again He’s hugged me.

Over and over again He’s shown mercy.

Over and over again He’s disciplined me – because He loves me.

Over and over again He’s delivered me from evil.

Over and over again He’s restored my soul.

As a parent, I’ve discovered that I can only train our children in the way that they should go if I know the way.  Jesus is the waythe truth and the life.

Do you know the way?

Are you going the wrong way?

Are you upset because you keep getting caught?

Dear child, allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin. Humble yourself before the Father. Confess. Repent. Be forgiven. Be delivered from evil. Then discipline your flesh, obey the way, and train your children.

Sick of IT!

Numbers 11:18-20

18 “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. 19 And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 20 You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

I’m really good at whining. And when I am “sick of it” (whatever IT is) I can cry and cry and cry some more to the Lord- and others.

The current IT has kept me in the desert for several years. The scorching heat and lack of water began when my husband started working for a pharmaceutical company that required frequent travel. Having been through a year of unemployment 5 years ago, we are extremely grateful to have a steady income flowing into our bank account, but the adjustment of being separated has been excruciating at times. And time hasn’t made it easier. It’s just become an uncomfortable routine.

You’d think after a few years of this lifestyle I’d quit whining. Yeah, not so much. My mouth continues to pour out blessings and curses. This is not right.

James 3:10

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Thank you Lord for this job.

Thank you for a husband that works long, hard hours to provide for our family.

Thank you God for giving me the strength to train & teach our 4 children.

Thank you Father for the travel rewards our entire family benefits from as we explore Your world.

 

GOD. How much longer are we going to have to live like this?!

Why can’t my husband work close to home like other husbands?!

Why do I have to manage the house and kids by myself?!

Oh for some meat. We were better off in Egypt.

 

Uh….no we weren’t.

The truth is: God brought us out of Egypt. Not only did He deliver us financially- He removed us from the bonds of slavery in many areas of our life during that season of unemployment. He proved Himself to be our El-Shaddai, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Shamah.

Still, my flesh cries out for more. He’s sending manna & quail (enough to make me gag), but I’m anxious to reach the Promised Land. I’m such a stubborn Israelite.

Yet even in my rebellion, He still loves me.

IMG_4461This morning, as I sat down in the tent of meeting I turned to the bookmarked page in our chronological bible and stared at the page. Silently I whined “I’m soooooo sick of reading about Moses and the Israelites.” As the words from Numbers 11 filled my head, my eyes filled with tears and my soul felt the pang of conviction. I didn’t need to ask, but I did anyway, “Lord, I’ve been whining, haven’t, I?”

Without rejection, without condemnation, my Jehovah- Rohi gently rebuked me and called me back into the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91), beckoning me to trust Him, again..….to trust Him in the midst of the scorching heat of the desert.

So with new mercy today, I will.

Isaiah 41:18

18 I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus.
 I will give them fountains of water in the valleys.
 I will fill the desert with pools of water.
 Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

Only Fools Insist

Last night, as our 9 year old son was preparing for bed, he nonchalantly asked “is it ok that I told my teacher at church that there was….a… “situation” this weekend…ya know…that you and dad had a fight….about the mulch?”

Proverbs 20:3

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
 only fools insist on quarreling.

Shock. Embarrassment. Realization that a room full of kids and their teachers now know with certainty that my husband and I acted like fools!

IMG_0879Then I chuckled and promptly relayed the story to my groom.

This morning, during another “situation” with our son (ya know…when you tell him to practice his spelling words on Friday and the test on Monday proves that he didn’t study….at all?!?) God gave me the opportunity to turn my foolishness into a blessing.

As I talked (ok- lectured) about his rebellion; not completing the assigned work, even though it wasn’t fun and he didn’t want to, I compared his lack of integrity to my lack of integrity that he witnessed two days before. A few moments later, as I looked into our son’s weepy blue eyes, I realized he only knew and “shared” (gossiped) half the story. What he didn’t see was his father and I taking a “time out” from each other to confess and repent to our Father for the stubborn pride that compelled us to insist on quarreling over mulch. Yes, mulch. Completely stupid, I know. But, stay with me!!! He didn’t know that a little while later, we came back together to apologize and forgive each other. He didn’t realize that each day both of us need God’s mercy so that we will make the choice to submit to Him- and one another. He didn’t understand that submission isn’t fun and we don’t always want to (even in our 40’s).

But submission is always the right thing to do. It’s right because we say we love God and each other. It’s right because actually loving God means obeying His commands- all of them, whether it’s fun or we feel like it. It’s right because our marriage is designed to reflect the love Jesus (the Bridegroom) gave for the church (His Bride). And when we choose to do what is right, an amazing thing happens; the Holy Spirit enables us to walk with integrity in our lives- and in our marriage…. and our children are blessed as they follow.

Proverbs 20:7

The godly walk with integrity;
  blessed are their children who follow them.

 

Freedom

Galatians 5:13

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature…..

1 Peter 2:16

16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.

IMG_4310After an excruciatingly long and demanding homeschool year, I began looking forward, with great anticipation, to some free time in our kids and my schedule. With that in mind, I updated our children’s chore charts, added extra time each day for them to engage in their privileges (TV, Wii, iPad, computer games, etc.) and pushed back their bed times to be more conducive with our new summer hours. I was somewhat surprised however, when my act of generosity was met with “uhgggh….grrrr……we STILL have to do chores?!? We can’t watch TV ALL day??? We can’t stay up ALL night!?!” You would have thought I was a harsh taskmaster, refusing to feed them, and demanding they work 10 hours days in 100% humidity cropping tobacco- for no pay.

Later in the week, as I was chatting with one of our children, she admitted she was still mad at me for taking away “her freedom.” She had expected that during the summer she could do whatever she wanted- whenever she wanted. Was it too much to ask after working hard on her chores and school all year? On the surface, no. But I explained to her that true freedom isn’t the absence of rules or laws, for without any parameters, there would be chaos. I then gave a short lesson about the Israelites constantly sinning against God and His reason for sending the 10 commandments through Moses. It wasn’t because He was being a harsh taskmaster. No! God gave His children laws to provide safe, healthy parameters to live life to the full! He knew that if they lived according to His design, they would experience true freedom, in Him.

And so, as you may have guessed, my parameters for the summer still stand. Sure, I am open to negations, if respectful arguments are brought forward for consideration. But, I refuse to allow our children to live their lives as slaves to sin. Instead, while they are still within our care, I want to train them to become God’s slaves, because I know true freedom is only found by living a life submitted to Him- and His parameters.

Wait

Isaiah 30:18-21

18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help.

19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
  you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
    He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.

20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
  and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
    You will see your teacher with your own eyes.

21 Your own ears will hear him.
  Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
    whether to the right or to the left.

I will be the first to admit; I am not a very patient person. Time is often my enemy. I hate to waste it and I hate not knowing if what I’m doing with it is advantageous – or not.

Therefore, I am certain that my current wait time is another opportunity for the Lord to teach me His ways. Some days I’m an honor student, eager to hear His instruction and complete my assignments. Other days I’m a rebellious schoolgirl who would prefer to skip class and do what I want to do!

IMG_6013I, like many, have a dream. Mine is of a home, large enough for our family, our school and our ministry, with lots of land and moving water.

When Doug was laid off in 2010, I assumed the dream was dead. When he started contract work the next year, I began to hope again. When a permanent job offer came along the following year I began daydreaming about all the ways I, like Disney, could make all my dreams come true! After I devised a plan, I tried to convince Doug to buy into it- and when he didn’t immediately comply I began talking with our children about it! Control Freak? Ehem….. yes. Looking back over that season, I now realize that I was looking at my circumstances for the answer, instead of to the One who holds all the answers.

I’ve since repented for not coming to God for help, for being impatient regarding my wait time and for not trusting that HE will make my dream come true in HIS time, if this dream is HIS dream for me. I also apologized to my husband and our children for dragging them into my rebellion.

And so, in this current season, I continue to come to Him

And wait….

And feel His love and compassion

And wait…

And know that He is faithful

And wait…

And cry out for an answer

And wait….

And listen to His teachings

And wait…..

And one day, when it is time, He will say: “this is the way you should go…” And I will obey Him, whether its my dream- or not, because I love Him and I know that He will bless me when I surrender my life- and my dreams to Him.

Isaiah 30:22-26

22 Then you will destroy all your silver idols
  and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags,
    saying to them, “Good riddance!”

23 Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. 24 The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. 25 In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. 26 The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.