Wednesday, March 31, 2010

blessed quietness

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength...'"  Isaiah 30:15

Ever have a hard time being quiet?  I sure do.  Silence is awkward.  I read some years back that a natural pause occurs about every 20 minutes in a conversation.  I think about that alot when in a room full of people visiting with one another and an overall pause occurs in the room.  People don't allow it to last long, but it happens.  Seems more so even today that we think we need noise around us at all in point: constantly seeing people with white cords extending from a pocket to their ears.  (I guess tthat is better than in the 80's when boom boxes were carried around on shoulders and the noise was shared to all who were in the vincinity...thanks to those who keep the noise to themselves nowadays!)  It takes effort to be quiet and be comfortable with it. 
I never really appreciated stillness until I became a mom.  Naptime was indeed a time to enjoy.  As soon as Alex was down for a nap, I went quickly and silently around the house and turned off all the ringers to the phones.  Alex was a light sleeper and I did everything I could to ensure us both a quiet moment to relax and rejuvenate.  Tim came a year later and if the planets aligned just right and they both fell asleep around the same time, you know I thanked God for that miraculous moment. :) 
"Noise" comes in a variety of, calls, texts, music, news, sports, internet, tv, work...the list can go on and on.  Why is there such a need for noise?   Quietness opens doors that sometimes we would rather have remain closed. When we have time to hear ourselves think, up surfaces things we need to do, work on, or at least start admitting to ourselves.  Is there any wonder in Psalms 46:10 we are instructed, ""Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Sometimes, in all of life's noise, what God is trying to share with us is drowned out.  Our hearts and minds are occupied to capacity, leaving little room for the still small voice to reach us.  Indeed, He will make His message clear one way or another in the end.  Life lesson #1055:  Seeking God's voice willingly and actively is better than having to be quieted by Him to hear it.
In my Bible study time yesterday, I read the verse at the beginning of this blog post.  I read it and knew it was an answer to a prayer of mine.  In following the Spirit's leading to become quiet in a certain area of my life, I know I am to continue being still at this time and trust God to speak for me.  He will be glorified more if I am quiet, even though it is a very hard thing for me to do.  Sowing the seed of quietness now will bring a harvest of joy later.  In this, my hope lies.  This quietness seems most awkward...goes against what I want to do, even...but, out of obedience to the One whose voice I desire to hear through all the other noise, willingly, I am still.  

"Joys are flowing like a river since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever, makes the trusting heart His home.
Blessed quietness, holy quietness, blest assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me, and the billows cease to roll!" 
~"Blessed Quietness" by Marie P. Ferguson          


Monday, March 29, 2010

amazing love...abundant life

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."  I John 4:11-19

In my opinion, nothing lives out love more boldly than Easter.  God's one and only Son loving us enough to die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins, only to rise again on the 3rd day and overcome death and the grave so that we can live with Him eternally. That's the greatest love story ever!   
His love is perfect.  His love never fails.  His love is complete.
1 John 4:15-16 speak volumes to me...when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, God came to live within me so that I can know and rely on His love.  The moments in life when things just do not make sense...when there's hurt...when asked to relinquish hopes and dreams...there is a promise of perfect love on which I can depend.  Victorious living happens in spite of circumstances because I know His amazing love for me. 
Every Christian knows, though, that it's not easy.  John 10:10 warns us, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy".  In everything God allows, Satan will try to interfere.  This shouldn't surprise us for it's his nature to do so.  Remember, however, we have a promise of a love that we can rely on when Satan is doing what he can to sway our hearts away from God and His plan for our lives.  
More great news is found in the second half of John 10:10, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  Jesus came not just to give us life, but an abundant life!  I do not believe this is a promise of materialistic prosperity, but rather of a life that is full of God's love, joy and peace no matter what we're going through on this earth.  I was talking with a friend just the other day and in the sound of her words and by the joy on her face, it was evident she was living an abundant life.  Was she doing anything out of the ordinary?  No, not really.  But in the everyday things that come about, she is looking for ways to share the Gospel, showing Christ's love to others, and finding peace in making decisions for the future realizing things don't always turn out the way she thought they would.  Abundant living is a result of living life as one on a journey to a better life that awaits us.  Yes, we are to be good stewards of the time we have on this earth and to do our best at the tasks appointed to us here, but they are not to become what we live for.  Colossians 3:2-4 says it best..."Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." 
This month, my journey has brought me to a greater understanding of who God is and who I am in Him.  Authenticity requires much testing, but God's love is there for me to rely on to see me through the long days.  Sometimes, I fail...but I serve a God who never does.  My prayer is that when others hear and see me they see a gal living in the abundance God offers to all of His children.  Looking for more out of this life?  You will find more than you can ask for or even imagine in a life that is hidden in Christ. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

to stand in awe

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."  James 4:10

Ever notice how daffodils bow their heads yet stand so tall?  To me this is a picture of how James 4:10 works...humbled yet lifted up.  How awesome is that?!!  
A song I heard last week spoke to my heart on this topic as well as did this photo of Alex's when I saw it.  All over the yard this year the daffodils are standing tall, but their beautiful heads are bowed takes nothing away from their beauty, however.  Humility in a Christian is a beautiful thing.  The awesome thing that I have realized, though, is the reason why God lifts us up.  
God lifts us up to stand in awe of Him.
So many times I realized that after a trying time, a moment of worship, or just a time of feeling refreshed in the Spirit when I know it was God who "got me through", I say a nice "Thank you, God." and move back to life as normal.  At that moment of being lifted up instead of looking to get things back to normal, my response could have been to stand in awe of a mighty God.  To dwell in His presence and to stand in awe of who He is...just imagine the thought!  What a perfect response to an amazing God!
For any going through a difficult time right now, hold fast to the promise that God will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronony 31:8).  His word also says in Job 23:10, " But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  I think God is trying to get this into my head and heart this week for every thing that I have studied and read and heard all fell into this theme. 
A trying time, a humbled state, a broken matter what it is, God is here.  He knows and He's not going anywhere.  When the testing is done, and we are refined as gold, He will lift us we can stand in awe.

Monday, March 15, 2010

everything tells a story

After all these years, I can finally agree that history is fun...just don't test me on it.  Being a mom of boys has given me a new outlook on alot of things like cars, racing, legos, and also history.  Touring a submarine and a battleship wouldn't have thrilled me much before, especially both on the same day, but with the boys things are just different.  They liked all the knobs, doors, and "secret" rooms to explore...I liked the panels that labled and explained all those things.  However, some things in and of themselves told a story. 
The "ship's office" inside the USS Drum submarine was smaller than a standard restroom stall we have held a built in desk, chair, a few shelves on the wall holding pictures, and a typewriter.  That room brought tears to my eyes...the stories those walls could tell of men typing letters of importance or leisure...all the while underwater or at least in the water, not knowing if they'd return to the ones they were writing.  
The cots they slept on left little to the imagination.  Some stacked 3 high with not much room to throw elbows around...and very litlle privacy for most crewmen. The kitchen/dining area was efficient, as it had to be. There couldn't be too many cooks in that kitchen to spoil the food...they simply wouldn't fit! Wonder if the mealtime talk revolved around work or family...maybe a little of both.  I would not make a good submarine crew person...the spaces are tight and passages are narrow.  The agility required to make it through the doorways and up and down ladders at a steady pace, let alone a rapid one, is beyond my capability.  The emergency exits are always up ladders and through little round holes...some things they do get right in the movies.  :)  Once on the USS Alabama, more stories unfolded before my eyes.  The seats that held the men that shot the missiles...the chairs that men sat in while strategizing and plotting the next move...the offices that were used to examine the health and heal the wounds of the crew...the common areas that provided a little of "home" just when they needed it most.  If those walls could talk, indeed!
Maybe this history awareness is something all moms of boys come to when our sons are looking for heroes.  The first glimpse of heroes for my boys has been from the Bible...Noah, Moses, Sampson, David, Daniel, Jesus...the list could go on and on.  They both have their favorites already.  But for an everyday hero, where does one turn their sons' attention to?  Many are in sports...some in politics...but what about the heroes who lived and possibly died in support of and loyalty to our country?  These heroes who lived in cramped quarters...these heroes whose boots and uniforms were of the brand "USA"...these heroes who saluted the American flag and fought for the freedom it stood for...these heroes who still today go where the action is so that the backyard remains a safe place for our children to play.  One such hero's story I read briefly about in the air museum.  Mike Christian, you can read about him at this web address...    To read the story that brought me to tears, click on the link and scoll down until you see the words "Our Flag-The Stars and Stripes 'Mike's Flag'".  An unsung hero among many, I'm sure.
It moves me to grow in my desire to show my boys the world, so that along the way we hear and read about, meet, and possibly even ourselves become everyday heroes. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

a long winter

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow." ~ Guinean Proverb

Winter has been a long row to came early and left late, sharing its beauty with us many a day.  I think that we've turned the corner, now, and have encountered SPRING in 2010!  The chilly nights lead the way to warmer days and the sunrise gets earlier each day.  With spring, however, arrives time change...we'll face that come Sunday morning.  That is a whole other subject for another day, though.
I have to admit there were a lot of good moments this winter...giddiness with the first snowflakes that fell (and the second...but the third, not so much...and definitely not the fourth), fires that kept me warm and toasty, fast flying sleds, hot cocoa with little marshmallows, and my favorite pink fuzzy slippers...
There are positives about winter...things that I absolutely love for a time.  I've been spoiled since moving to GA, though, and have become accustomed to enjoying an early spring.  I liked when the daffodils bloomed in late January a couple of years ago...and they've always been open by the end of February.  It was difficult to wait for them to bloom this year.  Worth the wait? much so!