Saturday, December 31, 2011

Remembering His Words {2011}

The Last Day of the Year.  You can usually find me stuck in the Bible on this day, begging for a Word that will go before me for the next year, but God has already whispered that word over me.

2011 was Joy.  It was a better year, with further healing and laughter.  But, it was also a year of new grief.  Silent ache.  The joy that I discovered was that in praising Him immediately, I avoided a detour of anger and despair.  The sorrow is real, but I trust easier, knowing that my definition of good doesn't always match up to the Master Gardener's definition.

It was a year where God's promise came true:  He promised to manifest Himself to me...the trade off was that He asked that I share what I learned with you...I hope His words of truth blessed you as well. 

As I reread some posts from 2011, I found that God was so good to allow me to know Him just a bit deeper.  And to fall in love with Him again.  Trust is such a day by day experience.  Faith is just a lifelong journey of learning to trust the Sovereign One.  Moment by moment.  Heartache by heartache.  Joy after joy.

I wouldn't expect you to sit and read all of these older posts...but I wanted to repost our God's faithfulness.  If any of the titles speak to your heart, maybe you can read and praise Him alongside of me as well.

How Joy is Found in the Progressing. {Satan knows that when we are stuck, we can't move forward into a new song.}

The Counterfeit {How Satan can't come up with his own ideas for glory, so he steals and tweaks the Glorious One's ideas.}

The Unlearning of Self Conceit {Will I ever be at a place of pure unadulterated humility?}

Dust to Dust {My rendition of my great-grandfather's last day of life...he left us a beautiful legacy.}

Her Tale of Two Cities  {How my view of sinful cities has changed thanks to a merciful God.}

When the Wilderness Ends  {We are in a fight.  Are we claiming our inheritance or letting the enemy keep it?}

The Gates  {The old Temple gates and their significance on new testament believers.}

Going Outside the Gates {My shock at how Jesus suffered outside the city gates and even more shocked at how he tells us to come where he is...outside the city...outside the comfort.}

The Day Mercy Triumphed Over Judgment  (A birthday post in honor of my late sister, a realization that all is mercy.  All is grace.}

Praying for Rain {Perhaps my favorite post.  My favorite new way to pray over myself and others.}

Courting Her Soul {Jesus is a Romantic.}

Allowing the Wheat to Fall  {My second new fave way to pray.}

You Are Safe Here {Why it is OK for you to be here.}

How Does One Feed? {A renewed realization of my calling and yet wondering what this calling is going to look like.}

Eyes To See! {Another favorite way to pray.  If we simply had eyes to see, then we would receive and everything would fall into place.}

The Double Portion of Sacrifice {After ache even though I was anticipating joy, the Holy Spirit laid this idea on my heart.}

Thank you sharing life with me in 2011.  Thank you for letting me share Jesus with you.  He is all we need in 2012.  He is simply all we need.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Gift

I love my Kindle and my 11 bottles of lotion.  I am excited about my favorite perfume and winter boots.  But this gift from my middle child is my favorite.  "I can't think of anything to do for you but love you." 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inked in Mercy

She uncovers her wrist and I see it there, staring back at me.  Eleos.  Mercy.  Greek word/Strong's #1656.  When mercy triumphs over judgment, it is this word, eleos.

I stare at her blue eyes adorned with the longest lashes and beg to know why she chose this word to be inked forever on her wrist.  "I needed a visible reminder to choose mercy.  When I hand out food to hateful people in the drivethru, I can see now and choose a different response."

Below eleos is 1 Peter 4:8.  "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."  Christlike-true love for other makes us merciful and patient and kind towards their many imperfections.  I need a dose of that.  My imperfections are many.

She unwraps her favorite definition of mercy and I read.  Kindness and goodwill towards the afflicted and miserable must always be joined with a desire to do something about it.  Mercy is action.  I then see that her taped up definition of mercy is in the shape of a cross.
 I have only met with her for a few minutes, but I have discerned that she is a courageous one.  Hopping on planes to go to Mexican orphanages all by herself might have been my first clue.  The tattoo might have been my second.

Hating pain, I ask what it felt like, to have mercy stamped on her.  She smiled and said, "You know what it feels like to give blood?"  "You know that initial prick?"  "Well, it felt like the initial prick over and over again."

So, mercy is like giving blood.  Mercy is painful.

What can wash away our sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The double portion of sacrifice

I read it in the first lines of First Samuel.  Elkanah loved his wife, Hannah, so much, that he gave her a double portion to offer as a sacrifice.  He made sure his other wife, Peninnah and all his children had portions to offer, but such love he had for Hannah, that he gave her an especially generous helping to sacrifice at the temple.

I am reminded of God's words "Your joy has been doubled"  and my heart wrestles in confusion.  I know He isn't a God of confusion, so I pray for eyes to see.  And I think He is once again stripping the veil that leads to His holiness and beauty.

Is it this?  To those God His very SON, is it his mercy that allows us a double portion to bring as a sacrifice to his throne?  Is it possible that the more ache He allows us to bring straight back to him in praise, the more joy we will receive?

Such a dichotomy.  Not a single preacher on television will tell you that.  They wouldn't receive a single dime in support!  Who wants to hear that you pick up your cross and endure for the sake of joy?

And yet, wasn't this the way of Christ?  "...but for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:2
joy--chara "delight/cheerfulness"
endured--hupomeno "to stay under and bear"
cross--stauros "a post or stake/exposure to death"

Is staying under the exposure of death the means to bringing about soul delight?

Have you ever heard of such a paradox?

Jesus put up with anything and everything along the way because he never lost sight of where he was going.  Joy of being back in God's tangible presence was always before him.  Joy of conquering death was always before him.  Joy of restoration of fellowship with his creation was always before him.

There is no fruit without sacrifice.  I am wondering if there is no joy without sacrifice.  Joy is a fruit.

Is this the mark of spiritual maturity, to accept that even the bitter things in life become sweet when the sacrifice brings joy?  Proverbs 27:7 "One who is full loathes honey, but to the one who is hungry, everything bitter is sweet."

Does the one who is starving for God hold his hands out openly, willing to receive anything God gives, simply because the receiving means getting a piece of living Bread?

Do joy and sacrifice make the best dance partners? 

When you live a life poured out, blood poured out, when your whole frame becomes a living sacrifice, I have to believe that joy is on its way.  Mother Teresa says that "for a sacrifice to be real, it must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves."  I know of this emptying.

"When you get to the point where you totally abandon yourself to the will of God to be pleasing in His sight, nothing is dark, nothing is forbidding, light is shed on everything and ultimate sacrifice leads to ultimate joy."  John MacArthur

Will I consider it all joy to bring yet another sacrifice of praise into His temple? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


New life sprouts through the dirt.  It ignores the fact that it is winter or that its gardening card says it only blooms in June.  I fear for it.  I tremble, knowing that just as quickly as it appeared, it can be gone.  One hard freeze and I won't even have the chance to kiss it goodbye.  I stare hard and will it to hold on.  I know now that not all daisies make it.

Christmas Parties

The boys had their parties at school...let the season of candy begin!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Baking

Years ago, when Eric's Grandmother lived in the house we now live in, I would come over around Christmas and help her make candy and treats.  She had baked with her dear friend for years and her friend had since gone home so I gladly helped fill the void.  We made everything from fudge to trash (chex mix) and certainly made a mess!

Yesterday, the baking party grew exponentially.  Grandmother's son and his wife (Eric's Uncle Jeff and Aunt Brenda) have gotten to move back to Conway recently!  Also, one of Barbara's best friends, Sheila, has recently moved to town as well.  So, we had a little baking party. It is amazing what can get done with that many hands helping.  (Well, after everyone corrected my horrible math skills when I tried to quadruple a recipe.)  English major, people.  Work with me.  Hopefully, they'll keep inviting me back.

Grandmother had her a little stool out this year.  But, it didn't stop her from testing fudge for the right consistency or telling us to stir her fudge.  Who knew stirring fudge gives you a killer arm workout?

We came up with fudge, peanut butter fudge, oyster crackers, poppyseed bread, and puppy chow.  Brenda massaged that powdered sugar into the chocolate chex mix mixture with such patience...I've never seen such perfect puppy chow in all my life.

We thought it would be cute to get pics of us in aprons...I chose to wear the one Barbara made when she just had Lee and Eric.  It has their sweet little handprints on the front...I think all my kids have bigger hands than theirs were at the time.  I just love things that are carried down through the years. 

What kinds of goodies are you cooking up this year?  I still want to make some of those chow mein noodle treats...what are those called?  My Mom makes some awesome salty pretzels...what are those called, Mom?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Billboard

The billboard stops me in my tracks.  God became one of us.

It seems profane and obscene and I want to take back thousands of years and tell Jesus not to do it...don't take on this frail flesh that becomes a hindrance to the freedom of your soul.  Don't wrap yourself in skin that will pierce and bruise.  Don't infuse yourself with blood that will bleed.  Don't allow yourself to have bones that when combined with nails, will be strong enough to hold up your whole frame on the cross.

Think about this first!

To your holy standards of decency...of normalcy, what were you thinking, saying yes to the Father's plan?

Why did you choose to land in this enemy infested land in the disguise of mere man?

When Joseph held up you, his earth-son for Mary to see, did the angels gasp in horror to see their object of adoration stripped down to an infant?  The Self Sufficient Creator was now the dependent.  You needed a mother for sustenance.  You couldn't even control your bodily excretions.  As you grew, did you beg the Father to make the years go quickly so that you could return Home?

Am I the only one that thinks this is a crazy and absurd plan?

CS Lewis says "The eternal being who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man, but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman's body.  If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab."

There is nothing in me that desires to be a slug.  Was Jesus thinking the same thing...But, God, there is nothing in me that desires to be a human.  And yet, love prevailed.

God with us.  God one of us.  It was the only way for God to be in us.

{in utter shock over His ways}

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Gifts

I look at these three
and see the grace of God
pure gift
I did nothing to deserve them

If they were the only Christmas gifts I received every year,
my heart would still overflow
with gratitude

Each heart unique
each talent different
each bent towards God's heart
it makes me so proud to just sit back and watch
the story of them
unfold day by day

They are some of my most prized gifts ever
three boys
God is good
always good.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It was my word for the year.  God laid the word joy on my heart last December and I knew he was going to bring some restoration of it.  I did Biblical research of it, I studied what scholars had to say about it, and I prayed for it.  At the end of the year, I think I rediscovered what I knew all along:  True joy is found in God's presence. 

I am the most content and most fulfilled when I am sitting in my big overstuffed chair surrounded by different translations of the Bible, a notebook, and the Holy Spirit.  In His presence is my true joy.  Some days it is my only joy, but that joy manages to bleed over into everything else.

I recorded the simple things, all gifts from God.  Recording creates a thankful heart.  The mere act of gratitude cultivates a joyful heart.  A whole notebook is filled with grace, doubling my joy when I choose to reread the list.

A measure of laughter has returned.  Sucked bone dry by the years of mourning, I was almost shocked to rediscover what a house of laughter sounds like.  It is pure musical joy.  It saddens to me think that my soul went without it for so long.

Joy is found in giving.  Being generous can take so many forms and they all bring equal amounts of joy.  Packing shoeboxes, allowing children to pick out Samaritan's Purse gifts, taking meals to friends, washing the feet of the weary and downtrodden, they all dared to fill me up and slosh out excess.  Jesus was right when He said the giver is more blessed than the receiver.  I wonder what tremendous joy Jesus experienced when He laid down His life for us.

Joy has been found as Jesus has spoken words over me all year long that are just for me.  I dare not even blog about them for writing them down for all to see might in some way damage the intimacy that we share.  It brings such delight to know that He didn't just save me but that he pursues and woos me on a regular basis.  He simply knows how to love.

I have found that joy lies hidden in the recesses of hope.  As I wait in hope for God's promises, my heart can't help but be satisfied and content.

I praise you for a restoration of JOY, sweet Lord.

"Thou wilt show me the path of life:  in thy presence is fulness of joy;
 at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."  Psalms 16:11

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eyes to SEE!

It is everywhere and I am just now seeing.  {Perhaps seeing leads to receiving.}

We see it in God's instructions for building the tabernacle.  He insists that there be constant light inside.  It is to be fueled with the finest olive oil, the finest was from olives that had been bruised.  The finest oil simply dripped out after the bruising.  "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light to cause the lamp to burn always." Ex. 27:20

God wants light in His house so we could see.  The seeing would enable generations to hope for the one Good Olive, the one who would be beaten in that Garden of Gethsamene (garden of oil press), in order to bring true light.

We see it in Elisha's cry of desperation.  He has begged his protege', Elijah, for a double portion of his spirit.  He isn't as courageous or bold and he needs to know that God's mighty acts won't stop on account of his own frail self.  Elijah simply tells him that if he sees him when he is taken away, then it will be done for him.  Imagine the joy of Elisha when his eyes fell on a chariot and horsemen that whisked his mentor into the Kingdom.  He takes Elijah's mantle (possibly a prayer shawl) and receives what he asked for.  Miracle count for Elijah=7.  Miracle count for Elisha=14.  Double portion for sure.  Elisha saw.  Elisha received.

We see it when Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is.  Out of gumption or faith or wanting to beat everyone to the punch or simply being the only one who truly believed at this point, we see Peter wasting no time.  "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Mt. 16:16  Jesus immediately speaks a word of eulogia/blessing over Peter and tells him that he will build the church on Peter.  Peter, the rock.  Peter saw that Jesus was the One True God.  Peter received.  But, Jesus makes it clear that even the seeing is a gift that has been revealed from the Father.

We see it when the disciples see Jesus ascend into heaven.  After the sight, they go forth and preach with great power.  One gospel says that after seeing that sight, they were in a constant state of praising and blessing God.  Jesus had told them that they would do even greater things than He, because he would send them a Helper. They were in for the ride of their lives.  They saw.  They received the grace to preach and to praise.

So I wonder what it is I am in so desperate need of.  Direction?  Blessing?  A double portion?  Grace to praise when all things shout otherwise?  Jesus Himself?  Ability to preach or simply speak with power?  Perhaps all things will come into focus if I will simply pray one prayer:  "Give me eyes to SEE!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pondering the Season

I walked the aisles trying not to cry.  The cart was mounting up with many meaningful things and a few not.  I wanted so desperately to choose the right gift for each person instead of just grabbing the first thing I saw.  It took so much patience when I was hot and my feet were pounding and I was invisible to others with carts and my time was limited. 
 I distinctly remember the evening, not too long ago, when the boys each picked out a gift to give from the Samaritan's Purse catalog.  We read through each possible gift, hoping that those under our tutelage would start to grasp how blessed we are.

{To simply have clean water.}
 One chose the gift of hot meals.  Another selected sheep.  A third, but not the third, chose life saving food.  Eric made a selection and then I.  It was one of the most joyous moments all year.  Giving.  Perhaps not to the poor, perhaps calling them poor demeans them somehow.  Giving instead to beautiful caricatures of a Holy God.
 We fed another.  We fed Christ.  (Mt. 25:35a)  But, we were the ones truly fed.
 And, so as I walked the aisles, I tried not to cry.  Because now I knew that my CD purchase for another was the exact cost of allowing someone to have emergency shelter.  Now I knew that my shirt purchase for another was the exact cost of helping to provide clean water for a thirsty community.  Now I knew that my chick-fil-a lunch would feed a child milk for a full week.

I was angry and bitter at our culture and I didn't even know how to proceed in joy while I shopped for those I love.
Perhaps I don't have all the answers, but I think there has to be balance.  Jesus whispered that it is ok to be generous with those you love.  Whether it is at Christmas or another time, it is alright to show others you love them by selecting gifts for them that you know they will cherish or enjoy.

Buying a sheep for the impoverished or buying a scarf for a friend.

I think it is ok to be generous to all those stamped with the Maker's image.