Thursday, January 29, 2015

So much taken for granted...

(I might miss working downtown. Just a little. )

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." - Abraham Lincoln

This has been the week of reminders. Every time I turn around it seems, I am reminded how much I have- and how much I take for granted. Not only the material comforts, but even the simple things like breathing and a healthy, beating heart.

I go to work, I am reminded of those who have had tragic accidents or born with deformities that now require complete lifestyle modifications and constant pain and medical care. Just the ability to walk is a gift.

I look out the window and can enjoy the colors of a sunrise and the flag of my country flying freely. Just the feeling of safety is a gift.

I see my husband and can talk with him or argue with him or laugh with him. Just the fact that he is here and I can love him is a gift.

I watch my grown up kids living life and taking everything for granted like most young, suburbanite people do. Just the privilege of being born American is a gift.

Yes. I watched the movie American Sniper and this started from what I saw. It was one of the saddest and best movies I have ever seen. The evil and the honor- the sacrifice of not just one man, but the sacrifice of a family, of a team...of an entire nation.

I love America. I love being an American. But more than anything, the patriotism I saw reminded me of the study I just finished in Hebrews. Throughout the book I kept seeing Jesus- the Patriot of Heaven, in a way. The sacrifice of all time- giving everything to fix EVERYTHING. Pick up your bible and just cruise the pages of Hebrews. The path he cleared. The door he opened. For every single person, from every tribe and nation- not just mine.

"...He has appeared once for do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." Hebrews 9:26-28

Oh, Lord. What words, what a promise. Bless America. But not only that. Bless this WORLD with wisdom and understanding. Give them the Good News, Father. And let me not continue to take it for granted. The sacrifice. The undeserved grace and blessing.

"Now may the God of peace...equip you with everything good for doing His whom be glory for ever and ever....Grace be with you all." Hebrews 13: 20-25

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Heart change for a "Might Man of Valor"?

(Bee finally found her "window friend". Oh, what childhood would be with out Anne of  Green Gables.)
There is an end in sight! I have a date for my telecommuting to begin and I can't wait to finally be working from home. I loved home health for the flexible schedule, so the last few months in the city have been difficult. Being a grown up with a regular day job...who does that?

This week I have been thinking about what makes one person so different from another in the way they respond to things. Steve and I made a decision a long time ago to try and believe the best of people. My skeptical heart needs that. If I didn't consciously DECIDE to trust people and believe their motives were good, I would have to go live in a convent somewhere. But I am still shocked at how broad the range of emotions can be.

(She loves playing dress up with her dog.)
We had the opportunity to listen to the stories of complete strangers last week after they did a weekend seminar called "Heart Change". (Very cool 4 day long program, click here and check it out.) I was surprised at what I heard, and so thankful for the way God works. Dozens of people going through the same program, with SO MANY different responses.

What has been replaying most in my head though was the story they re-told, Gideon's calling in Judges 6. Having just come off of Christmas and spending so much time with the Advent story, I had been struggling with the way God handled Zechariah and the coming of the John the Baptist. Basically, Zechariah is at work, in the temple of God, and He has a visit from an angel saying "Woot woot! Baby on the way!" But Zechariah doubted, he said his wife is an old could this possibly be true?

(Bee loves her cuddly furball!)
Well, the response was pretty drastic:
"The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time".  Luke 1:19-20

Ummm...that stinks. All December I just kept feeling like it wasn't quite right. Why, God? With all the times I have questioned you, doubted Your words... is it wrong to doubt? Wrong to be scared when the things I thought were suppose to happen seems like they are a big fat mess? I know. God is good. God is love. God is just. But my heart went out to what I saw as "poor Zechariah". I can relate to folks who get some of God's discipline.

NOW, back to Mr. Gideon. Here's this little chicken dude who is sneaking around to do his farm work because he knows if the "Big Dogs", aka Midianites, see his harvest, he's going hungry. And the angel of the Lord comes to Him...and calls him "Mighty Man of Valor".

"Who, me?"

The story literally makes me laugh. God says all sorts of awesome stuff, "Mighty Man of Valor....Go in STRENGTH....I will be WITH you... blah blah" and Gideon just keeps saying "Pardon me, Lord???"

So good, go read it- Judges 6 and 7. The link is above, or crack open your bible. It's hilarious. Gideon becomes SO tough. Not perfect, but truly a mighty man of valor. And his land had peace for 40 years.

Long story short, I keep comparing Zechariah and Gideon. Their questioning, their concerns, and God's response. What was the difference? One man got a reprimand, and another got sign after sign of what God would do for him and those he loved...if he would obey.

(Our favorite hiding place, behind the couch. )
Could it simply have been a matter of the heart? I don't really know, but I can't help but picture Zechariah- a Super Priest. Religious and zealous. Looked up to by his neighbors and peers, chosen to go directly to the HOUSE of God Almighty. Then I picture Gideon- sweaty farmer, muscles and dirt, just trying to get food for his family and stay alive as an oppressed people in the midst of a hostile country.

I wonder if Zechariah had pride in his heart when he questioned God's words. Or even scoffed a little. I wonder if Gideon was just plain scared. Willing, but terrified he misunderstood something.

Let me know if you have an answer. For now, I am just so thankful that God is slow to anger with me. That He loves me in spite of me, and has demonstrated unfailing patience when I doubt the things I know our true. That He speaks to me, repeatedly, the Truth I need.

Thank you, Papa. For the grace and openness of our relationship to You. Thank you that you hear us, love us, and always give us extra chances. Change my heart, Lord. Make it a fire that burns brightly for you, make me a "Mighty" woman who takes you at your word.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year in Review- 2014

December always has me thinking over the year and all that God has done. I don't set New Year's Resolutions because they don't make sense to me. But I do love finding verses each month that speak to who God is or what He desires from us. I looked at the last few years that I have done a review in January, and it was amazing to see how much has happened, how much has changed. It was also awesome to see how many of the verses would fit this year, how Scripture never gets old and is always relevant. If I take the time to look.

So, here's to 2014- a year of learning and change. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

"The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." -Deuteronomy 6:4b-5
(January brought so many changes in our little Bee as she began to walk and see the world in a whole new way.)

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." -Deuteronomy 6:6-7
(February is a hard month for me because of the weather, but it is a great time to spend indoors reading and learning. This was the time I learned all about the aquarium hobby and set up three tanks. So fun!)

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He HEARS us." -1 John 5: 14
(March felt like a miracle month for me. These ladies and I had the privilege over the years of praying for a dear friend to conceive- and this month we got to finally throw the best baby shower ever as God prepared our sister to deliver her first baby. Oh, it still gives me chills to think of what a promise this is- that He HEARS us. )

" Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths... Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens." 
-Psalm 148:7, 13
(April brought our annual beach trip and new experiences for all of us as we worked out the changing relationships between parents and adult kids and grand kids and in-laws. All good things to grow through and love bigger in.)

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. " - Romans 1:20
(May brought back the sunshine, PRAISE GOD. There is no place on this side of heaven that I would rather be then surround by fields and horses. I love the creativity of God's world. )

"...teach the older women to be reverent in the way they teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind..." - Titus 2: 3-5
(June gave me the chance to be grateful for the way time passing can grow us. To make us patient.  Every time I watch Bee with my mom, I realize the woman I knew as a mother, that Jasmine knew as a grandmother...has changed in so many ways. And I am changing too. Make us wise woman, Lord- woman of patience and love and grace.) 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
(July brought so many adventures for all of us, just the way summer should. Working my first rodeo, directing traffic on horseback, vacation trip for Jordan to see Mt. Rushmore, and so much more. It's amazing to think about how little my plans were in comparison to where God has brought us.)

"In the beginning was the Word...through Him all things were made...In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  - John 1:1-5
(August was sunshine, sunscreen and water. Summer is the best and makes remembering God's goodness to us a little easier. He brings lightness and freedom to my life in so many ways. From the people He surrounds me with, the fun He fills me up with and the promise that He HAS won the battle....what a comfort.)

"As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD's word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him." -Psalm 18:30
(September is a special month for my girl, with her birthday and anniversary all wrapped into one. This month often finds me praying for her...and now more than anything, that God would make her marriage a testimony to His faithfulness and love.)

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
(Autumn brought a huge change for us, with the future we had envisioned disappearing so abruptly. But October was also a chance to trust God's plans and to keep working for what we know matters, even when it was hard. I know it will be worth it.)

 "A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17a
(Full swing into a new job for me and a new perspective for our boy, November brought back dear friendships that we never should have neglected. This month was a reminder that loyalty matters and believing the best in people is what makes them even better. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, November is JOY at our house, no matter what.)

"This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look...ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

(Even without the warmth and sunshine that I crave, December was by far my favorite month of 2014. SOOO many wonderful things to see through my grandie girl's eyes...lights, and trees and traditions. But my favorite thing was seeing a young little friend post her verse for the year...Jeremiah 6:16. How great is it to see a little girl you once knew, now a woman after God's own heart...and have her "take you to school"? Makes me smile just thinking about it.)

Lord, I stand at the crossroads and look. I ask you to show me the "ancient paths". Show me where the "good way" is, that I might find rest for my soul.
Happy New Year, my friend.