I’m taking a little break from the computer for about a week.
Lord willing, I’ll be back next week!
I’m taking a little break from the computer for about a week.
Lord willing, I’ll be back next week!
I am trying something new. I have been wanting to add a feature on the blog that takes the Sunday Sermon (He said) and think through one application that is unique to women (she said). I want to do it for my own benefit primarily, but I obviously hope it will bless you ladies as well. So here goes:
The handsomest guy to enter a pulpit (my husband, of course ) gave an excellent teaching on Philippians 1:12-18 entitled Advancing the Good News. It is the third teaching in our series on Philippians entitled: Good News For Real Life. To listen to it go here. Also, you can subscribe to the “cog”cast by clicking the red button on our website here.
Paul could see the gospel opportunity in everything. He was in a cell chained to a prison guard whose shift rotated every four hours. With each different guard came a new opportunity to share the gospel until Paul could say, the whole guard has heard… He was excited that many had become even more bold in the Lord to declare the gospel. He was even able to give thanks that people who were preaching the gospel for wrong motives were still being used by God to advance His purposes. Paul was captivated by one cause: the gospel of Jesus Christ and it affected how he viewed EVERYTHING.
So, what does that have to do with me, a full-time homemaker from Wadsworth, Ohio? My opportunities to preach the gospel seem few and far between. I can go days without even stepping outside of my home. But if I know that God’s mission is to see the glory of the gospel go forth, than I have to believe I am a part of this plan. Am I seeing the gospel opportunity in my life? I want to step back and let the gospel transform how I view things like:
picking up the hundredth cheerio off of the floor
dealing with toddler melt-down
teaching a less-than-enthusiastic fifth grader how to write a good topic sentence
greeting my husband with warmth and love not the attitude of a tag-team wrestler
bringing correction for the many fights and arguments that take place in our home
mountains of laundry
These things that can often feel like inconveniences, interruptions, delays, even obstacles are actually God-ordained gospel opportunities. So often I just move through my life not considering the fact that the gospel truly is the most important thing. Not peace and quiet. Not order. Not obedient children. Not good sleep or pain free living. God has orchestrated all of these seemingly mundane aspects of life in a way that would provide the best opportunities for the gospel to go forth in and through my life. A gospel perspective means that when a normally selfish mom picks up her hundredth cheerio joyfully, without complaining, the effect of the gospel is on brilliant display. It means that when my toddler is melting down, I see that this little sinner needs a Savior and this is an opportunity to sow the hope of the gospel into his or her heart. A gospel perspective means that I see my son’s lack of enthusiasm for school as an opportunity for him to experience how the gospel relates to real life. He can do all things…even write paragraphs…even work hard on things he dislikes…through Christ who strengthens him.
Even though my sphere of influence is small right now, I want to have eyes that see beyond my circumstances to how God is using them to advance His glorious gospel. How I need His help to have this perspective! My prayer is that I would be a wife, mother, woman who loves the gospel and views all of life as a mission to see it advanced both in demonstrating its transforming affects, and proclaiming it’s glorious truth…for now that means getting dinner on the table right after I correct my un-named child for not responding to my request to set the table. Sweet gospel opportunities!
It happens all day, everyday. Who would have thought “first one to the car” could become a competitive sport? (or a contact sport for that matter). With three boys all about the same age, competition is a way of life in this house. I’m not just talking about soccer, football, wrestling, and wiffle ball – which, by the way, get played all year round, inside and out (I gave up on “no balls in the house” as a lost cause). I’m talking from the first thump to the ground off the top bunk to finishing Math first, to building the best lego robot (which becomes competitive in battle when the robots accumulate various powers to defeat the other robots – forcefields really complicate the matter), to plastic army guys battling it out in the hallway, to brushing teeth fastest (which has more than once become a toothpaste battle) to counting punch buggies on the highway, to racing up the steps, racing down the steps, who can make their candy last the longest, and the list truly could go on and on. I mean, they have taken “step on a crack, break your mama’s back” to a whole new level. They have nearly been hit by cars in the parking lot trying to avoid cracks in the pavement.
Without unnecessarily exposing my children’s shortcomings, I will simply say that along with such competition, there is much opportunity to shepherd hearts as they deal with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat a hundred times a day. One thing I am learning in the process is that boys are different from girls (me), and that is how God intended it. I call my boys my “little men”. My mom started it when I decided to name Joshua and Caleb after the men of the Bible. She used to call them her “little men of a different spirit”, because that’s what the Bible calls Joshua and Caleb. Eventually, we shortened it and included Izzy in the bunch. Now, I say it to build my faith and theirs: they are going to be men someday. They are going to be leaders. I want them to be bold, godly leaders who take risks and fight for what is right, and protect others, and subdue the earth as is their God-given mandate. What I am seeing in the competitions is the pursuit of manhood, but corrupted by sinful little hearts. My job is to have faith for the future man in each of them, and point out the foolishness that is bound in their hearts now.
I am learning. I don’t gasp every time somebody gets tackled. I know which bumps and cuts mean a trip to the E.R. and which don’t. I know all of the signs for a concussion (pupils dilated unevenly, nausea, acting disoriented). I know which yells are anger, and which are pain. I know that it is possible to wrestle, and not be angry…but not for very long. And I know that these boys are a precious gift from God, and I see His glory when I behold the stunning difference between them and me. Viva la difference!
*originally posted February ’05
I was listening to a teaching while making dinner the other day when one comment from the pastor caught my attention. He said he used to take his old Bible from highschool (he’s now in his fifties) down off of the bookshelf and just smell it to remind himself of grace. The Holy Spirit quickened to my mind my own Bible from highschool. It is a small, burgundy New American Standard Bible given to me by my parents for Easter my senior year. My eyes filled with tears at the thought of this Bible because, indeed it represents such grace to me.
The next day, one of my sons wanted to take the burgundy Bible to Sunday school. I told him no, because it was a special Bible and I didn’t want to risk it getting lost at church. He asked me why it was special so I explained to him that when I was a teenager, the Bible seemed boring to me. I didn’t understand it very well, and I had a hard time reading it everyday. But one year on New Year’s Eve, I was getting ready to make yet another doomed commitment to read the Bible each day, when I decided to just pray ,”God, please help me to want to read your Word.” I woke up the next morning and began reading. To make a long story short, I explained to my son that God, being so kind and gracious, had answered my prayer. It wasn’t everyday at first, but eventually, as God spoke to me through scripture, and I saw my life changing, I was compelled to read daily.
I love the smell of grace on that Bible. It was in that book that I fell in love with the Word of God. It was there that I had experienced for the first time divine illumination. I learned in that Bible how true communion with God really happens. I learned that those words were life to me.
Psalm 19:7-10 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than the honeycomb.
I use a different Bible these days, but the same grace is there in its pages.
I’d love to hear about when and how you fell in love with God’s Word.
*I am going to re-post some of my earlier articles for my new friends at COG to read. Welcome to you, new gals! I apologize to those of you who are well acquainted with my hermit crab saga. This was originally written in 2005, but still represents a little slice of life for me.
It was my mom’s idea to buy the children hermit crabs. At first I thought, “Should I really take on caring for any other living creatures? Maybe when my kids are getting baths on a somewhat regular basis, and not eating a pop tart as one of their three meals a day.”Well, ready or not, the hermit crabs arrived…all four of them.
My initial disapproval soon gave way to pity for these crabs. In fact, I took each one individually and whispered to it, “I’m sorry you live here.” Why, you may ask would I say such a thing? These hermit crabs get played with every single day of their lives. Every day they are removed from their “hermie huts” to be run through an obstacle course of legos, live in a lincoln log cabin, take a bath in a bowl of water, ride (faster than you think) in the back of a little tykes fire truck, and most recently (devised by my daughter), take a spin through twinkle twirl’s dance studio complete with rotating disc, flashing lights, and music.
Don’t get me wrong; these hermit crabs are well protected. My mom told the boys that if the hermit crabs were held upside down, they would die. So now, if someone (usually Maggie) holds one even the slightest bit cock-eyed, no matter where they are in the house, the boys sense it and come running, shouting, “You’re killing it!!!!!!” “It’s dying!” And then there is an inevitable dive in slow motion across the floor to “rescue” the endangered hermit crab.
Speaking of upside-down hermit crabs, the strangest thing happened last week. I went to check on the crabs (they had gone un-played with for two days or so – I figured they were disoriented) so I lifted up the hermie hut to discover Pinkie laying on her back with all of her legs and pinchers laying around her, and Hulk looking guilty beside her. (like some crazy Hermit Crab Silence of the Lambs) I picked her up and looked inside for any possible signs of life. Usually a body plops out of the shell because a dead crab can’t hold the shell on. No sign of a dead body…but surely she was dead. How was I to explain to my daughter that I suspected Hulk had turned Pinkie onto her back and proceeded to pinch all of her legs off. I couldn’t do it, so I left Pinkie in there for a couple of days thinking just maybe she had survived her tragedy. One morning I decided that it was time to get rid of Pinkie. Just to be sure she was dead, I put her in water because all hermit crabs (living ones, that is) will come out in water. Guess what?! She came out with four new white legs. Pinkie was alive!!!! We celebrated with a round in Twinkle Twirls dance studio, followed by a much needed nap in the Little People play house.
Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but have there ever been times in your life when you felt like one of our hermit crabs? You know, one day you’re in the comfort of a pet store, being left alone, the next day, you’re whizzing across a hard wood floor in a G.I. Joe jeep. For us it’s more like, one day we are sleeping in until 9 am when we get up to take a hot shower and begin the day; the next day we are breastfeeding a newborn while our half-clad toddler smells suspiciously like Mr. Clean.
There have been a few seasons that felt like I got flipped upside-down in the hermie hut. In those times, particularly in the earlier years of mothering, God taught me the only way to have peace and a proper perspective in the midst of these circumstances: time in His presence, which meant time in His Word. While I would never want to make an already frazzled mommy feel guilt over not having a “quiet time” with the Lord, I would say that if you want to know the key to surviving those hermit crab days, it is truly in making reading God’s word and encountering His presence there a priority. Lifting our eyes to Him, and off of the flashing, twirling circumstances of life is where your soul will find its greatest joy, and satisfaction.
Psalms 63:1-8 (ESV) 1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Warning: shameless gush-fest ahead.
My husband made a very gutsy decision this year. He decided to take the risk of leading his family away from our extended relatives, beloved church, and all things familiar in the state of Maryland to serve in a church in Akron, Ohio as their senior pastor. Brave man. It’s not just courageous to lead a church, it’s courageous at times to lead me, his sometimes crazy wife. Jason is doing an amazing job on both fronts.
I am a very blessed woman. If ever there is pain from leaving my family and church in Maryland, it is softened by the love of and for this man. How gently he is leading me through this transition. This year I have experienced a depth of emotion unparalleled in any other season of life. Along with excitement and a sense of adventure, are deep seated fears and anxiety. Along with the joy and honor of seeing my husband thrive in his ministry, is the sorrow of what we have sacrificed and lost in being here. My husband has led me well along the roller coaster ride of my emotions.
Jason leads with insight, compassion and truth. Insightful, because Jason hasn’t led me with canned responses, but with true knowledge of who I am and what I will respond. Sometimes that means getting me out of the house to spend time with God and get some perspective. Sometimes it means drawing me out on a date night. Compassionate, because Jason hasn’t been harsh, but very patient even when I don’t respond right away. Truth, because Jason leads me through bringing loving correction, godly perspective, and reminding me of why we are doing this. This is huge because, and I’ve said it before, elsewhere, I am a very spoiled wife. He likes to spoil me. So for him to confront or rebuke me is difficult. He could easily shrink back under the guise of feeling responsible for putting me through this. But that wouldn’t be truly loving me or leading me. I told you he was brave .
Jason and I have known each other since we were teenagers. One thing I love about this is that I have seen the evolution of a man as over the years he has grown in character, humility, wisdom, and this year very distinctly: godly leadership.
I haven’t done it perfectly. at all. But still, because Jason is so easy to follow I can say with faith and genuine joy, “Where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
Happy Valentine’s Day, my handsome, well-dressed, charming, hunk of a man!!!
I love you!
I bought Maggie a Tiny Treats “cook book” for Christmas and we finally made one of the recipes. These are supposed to resemble cakes the perfect size for an American Girl doll. Basically you take two oreo-type cookies and glue them together with butter cream icing. then ice the cookie cake, smooth it, and decorate with sprinkles. Maggie was really able to ice and decorate these herself. If you leave the cookie cakes over night, the cookies will soften and taste more cakey. We couldn’t wait that long and enjoyed them crunchy (warning to moms…these are verrrrrry sweet!) . Maggs brought them to her friends’ house and the girls loved them.
I remember the first time I heard C.J. Mahaney preach about the cross. Anyone who has had the privilege of hearing C.J. preach about the cross does not soon forget the experience. When I first heard him there were many times he could hardly speak from being simply undone emotionally. It was evident that God had revealed something to him that was beyond words, articulate though he be, and his sincere emotion preached the sermon almost as much as the text. I just sat there. uncomfortable actually. I didn’t feel this way about the cross on which my Savior died. I identified more with the cross in the sense of “taking up our own cross daily…” or when “God’s will crosses my will”. But this description of the cross I heard from C.J. Mahaney, this declaration that the cross was something done for me but also something done by me was frustrating. It was frustrating because I knew that technically these things were true, but no genuine emotion accompanied the truth. I couldn’t muster any feelings about what I was beginning to understand as the center of all Christianity, not just the starting point. I see now how that frustration was a catalyst to pray that God would give me an ever increasing love for the cross. I wanted to experience “mournful joy” when I considered my Savior’s death. The Holy Spirit planted a deep desire to love the cross more.
The answer to this prayer was not a super-mystical sudden revelation of Calvary. God used His Word, various teachings, and many books or articles to help me understand the cross better. But there was one expositor in particular that helped transfer the written word to my heart. This divinely appointed means of moving the truth of the cross deep into my affections was motherhood. Let me explain.
Having been raised in the faith from age 9, I had mostly committed the sins of a righteous man. In general, I was submitted to my parents when I lived at home. I loved the church and was very active in ministry. I had no detectable rebellious phase. I married a godly Christian man and we enjoyed an easy marriage, free from the usual first year shock of reality. I committed garden variety good girl sins like not praying enough, internal frustration with students at school, laziness on the weekends, etc.
Before I had children I fantasized about being some combination of Elisabeth Elliot, June Cleaver, and Martha Stewart (now what in my average-at-best history compelled me to even consider such an image for myself I do not know, but I suppose we’ll save that for another post). But reality has proved to be much different. I am confronted daily with a huge responsibility in raising children and my inadequacy to do so. I am also confronted with the truth that I am angrier than I thought I could be. I am more selfish than I ever dreamed. I am more inconsistent than I want to be. I pray less than I should. I love comfort more than I should. And the list goes on. It seems a classic case of Romans 7:15 “For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do.” Motherhood keeps me exposed for who I really am, a sinner in need of a Savior.
And here in the daily challenges of motherhood my prayers for more love for the cross are answered. In His mercy, God reveals that indeed it was my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. If I don’t understand this dark truth, I cannot love and appreciate the bright beauty of grace. And this grace flows from the cross abundantly providing pardon for my sins, access to the Father, and power to live for His glory. I am happy to say that even as I consider what God has done, tears fill my eyes.
Thank You, God for answering the prayers you prompted me to pray. Please continue to help me grow in my love for the Savior and His work on cross. Thank you for motherhood, not just that I get to be used by you to further their love for the cross, but that they are ever being used by You to further my love for the cross.