chalet

A Nice Place to Stop

With the changing of the leaves and the dropping temperatures, a new season was arriving.  I had a busy summer getting my children to work, soccer camp and the many other summer activities that our five teens and one ‘tween were involved in.  I had expected rest and enjoyment, but instead spent even more time in the car than I do during the academic year.

At the end of the summer, I began a new season of life, caring for my elderly father.  This was a change, which perhaps I should have been better prepared for, that caught me by almost complete surprise.  I have always planned to honor my parents by caring for them when they would need me to, but hoped that season would wait until our children were raised and living on their own.

As has happened so many times, my expectations have had to be revised in order to follow God’s will during the trying times of life.  Yesterday was filled with worry over my dad and hurt over words flung at me by one of my teens.  At the end of September,  I had to let go of an opportunity that would have been very fulfilling for me, in order to serve those in my life who need me to focus on them.

Truthfully, as fall set in I felt weary and tired of giving up my dreams to make everyone else’s life work better.  But it is truly my calling, and so I ask God to adjust my attitude once more and give me contentment enough to serve as He wills.

On my own I cannot do this: focus on others by putting my own desires second.  So, I began focusing on being content, by asking the Holy Spirit to help me.  Still in this extremely busy season, I was struggling with finding time to recharge my own batteries and discouragement seemed my closest friend.  I complained a lot!

My amazing husband, has learned well not to try to “fix” my problems, so he took another tack.  He asked me how I was taking care of myself in this time.  When I began to whine about not having time for this, he told me of a concept in one of C. S. Lewis’ books (If you know which one, please share it with me) about “pleasant inns.”  He explained that the idea is that even when you are short on time, you can take a stop at one of those lovely, relaxing inns even in the midst of a busy family.

It’s been two months since I asked God to really work in my heart and I recently realized that He is answering my prayer, daily.  Last week my fifteen year old and his friend put up our Christmas tree while singing carols.  As I looked around my living room, the laughter, the warmth of the fire, praise rising past our rooftop, I knew this was one of those inns.  And they’d been happening a lot lately, as the Spirit nudges me to look around myself.  At dinner one night, the laughter rises over the aroma of tacos and my I find myself pondering joy.

I pray that you can find one of those places, even in the midst of this very busy season, to stop for a joy break here and there to let your praise rise to the One who makes our hearts to sing.

Music

He Delights Over You With Singing

The thermometer must have reached 110 that Kansas day, but inside of the garage it felt even hotter.  I set my glass of iced tea down on the table, and began organizing my in-love’s (ok they are my in-laws-but it is more love that binds us all together than law) possessions for the garage sale that would take place the next day.  It was fun looking through old aprons that Grandma McCoy had worn, leftover fabric from Marcie’s sewing room, old straw hats, mason jars, crocks and some antique tools.  Taking a sip of tea, I reached for some plates and found one that had been obviously decoupaged with a napkin.  As I read the verse, “He will rejoice over you with singing” I was amazed!

I had been looking for this verse for over a year, even searching for it on http://www.blueletterbible.org and in various concordances and topical Bibles with no success.  I’d heard it first in a Beth Moore Bible Study I had done in Maryland, but after we moved to New York,  I couldn’t find the journal I was sure I’d written it down in.  Now, today, I’d found it.  I hadn’t imagined that this verse had been in my Bible: it was really there!  JOY!

Zephaniah, a prophet during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, descended from King Hezekiah (4 generations removed) and like his contemporary Jeremiah, preached of a coming judgment on the “Day of the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:7, 8, 10).  According to John MacArthur, Zephaniah would have prophesied from around 635 to 625 B.C (Introduction to” The Book of Zephaniah” The MacArthur Study Bible).  The book of the Law was discovered in the temple in 628 B.C. and Josiah’s reforms began.  You can read about that story in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35.   Jehoiachin becomes King of Judah and in 597, Judah is taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

The first chapter of Zephaniah records God’s coming judgement on his people for their many sins, but mainly idolatry (1:4).  Then God calls for repentance and tells of a remnant of Israel (3:12) that will be left as a “meek and humble people, [who] shall trust in the name of the LORD.”  Then God reminds them that if they will just repent (2:1-3) they will be part of the remnant whom He will save.

What has struck me about this passage, as well as the prophesies of Jeremiah, is the Lord’s mercy.  In His great mercy, and in His righteous anger, He waits for the Israelites’ repentance and then warns His people of the coming consequences for their unwavering sin.  He gives them time to do so and then acts.  But before He acts He gives them a “future and a hope” by telling them that their captivity would only last 70 years and that after that time they would live in their own home again in prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11).

So the lesson I’ve learned through all my struggles?  That God is Ever-Faithful, Long-Suffering and merciful.  To this sinner who doesn’t deserve His mercy or grace He whispers the words of Zephaniah 3:17 and reminds me of His deep love for His sinful daughter.  He tells me that like Israel, He delights over me with singing.  No matter what you’ve done or suffered through, He loves you like that too.

 

Bible

Habit Forming

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:13-16

Free from Condemnation

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

                                    Romans 8:1-2

All of my life I have struggled with self-inflicted condemnation.  I would see God, not as the Father who ran to His prodigal daughter, but as the father who was waiting for me to mess up, wagging his finger at me saying, “I knew you would fail.”

But as I have grown in Christ, especially over the last eight years since melding our two families and two cultures into one, I have realized that my Heavenly Father is not waiting to condemn, but with open arms.

And yet, the father of lies continues to taunt me.  Unfortunately, sometimes I choose to listen to him, and the thoughts in my head, and when my emotions spiral downwards I am unable to function as a child of the King.

I am really good at condemning myself, focusing on how much I fail.  But this in the end is selfishness.  If I am constantly focusing on myself, I cannot worship nor thank the God I love, because all I can hear are the words, “I am not a good enough,” mother, wife, employee, or friend.  When this happens, my focus is in the wrong place: I am looking inward instead of upward.

This is where the Word of the Lord comes in.  When I have put this word into my heart, I know that I am not condemned, because I am free from sin because of the blood of Christ.  I am no longer subject to judgement or the law, because I have been set free.

So, even when the devil tempts me to remain in my old patterns of thinking, I use this verse to remind me who I really am: free.

I Have Hymns You Haven’t Heard

“I have hymns you haven’t heard

 

There is an upward soaring

In which I bend close.

You can barely distinguish me

From the things that kneel before me.

 

They are like sheep, they are grazing.

I am the shepherd on the brow of the hill.

When evening draws them home

I follow after, the dark bridge thudding.

 

And the vapor rising from their backs

Hides my own homecoming.”

1, 40 (101 Barrows and Macy)

 

From ( Rainer Maria) Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

~translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

In high school I memorized several of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems for a German completion.  Recently, while sipping a latte and  browsing in a used bookstore, I came up on Rilke’s Book of Hours and was excited to find that Rilke wrote many of his poems as psalms to God.  I wasn’t a Christian in high school, but as I have reread some of Rilke’s poems and have searched for the ones I memorized all of those years ago, it is exciting to see the love offered to God in his words.  I am trying to find the ones I memorized, and when I do, I’ll share those too.

Change my Heart of Stone

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2Corninthians 10:5

Since beginning this journey in adoption, this verse has come to be my lifeline unto the Lord. Until I found myself at the bottom of a pit though, I never really understood how important this verse is to living the everyday Christian life.

Having been hit between the eyes this morning by my child’s really unkind words, I grasped for my lifeline once again. I dove into the Psalms, finding solace as I spoke David’s words aloud, giving voice to my hurt, anger and hopelessness. And slowly, God answers my prayer, directs my mind towards Him and His hope.

Today, I would really rather just walk away from the daily struggles; to quit would be so much easier. No matter how many times I have begged God to take this cup from me, the answer is always “NO.”

And even so, I am here to share with you that no matter how many times your child (or other person) flings hurtful words, disrespect and downright anger, God will not let you go, will not leave you and will lift you up and place your feet on the Rock (Psalm 91) of His Word.

If my thoughts remain stuck in the hurt, I cannot do as God asks me in obedience to do: love this child no matter how many times I have to subject myself to her hurtful words. But, if instead I simply offer God my willingness to take my thoughts captive, He takes those thoughts and does the work for me and changes my heart of stone into a heart of flesh ready to be molded in any way He chooses to.

Context of 2 Corinthians 10:5

Today, it is one of those days when I really have to take my thoughts captive.  Probably because I have changed this website’s purpose to share some of God’s healing tools!

Wednesdays are my crazy busy running around day: teaching an English class, picking up my high schoolers and driving them to their Bible study at our church, then taking our Middle schooler to his soccer practice, to picking up the kids dropped earlier at church, then taking my oldest to a college fair, and my husband will host Bible Study at our home (since I will be at the college fair tonight).

When I look at my to do list, panic and depression threatens to overcome, and the task of doing anything at all seems too overwhelming to consider.  But, press on I must, so I grab my anxiety journal.  I use this journal only to keep track of the scriptures I know will remind me of the truth so that I can refute the lies that I am listening to in my head.  I also record within its pages songs, poems that have spoken to me at various instances in my life, because music often has the power to soothe these.

The first thing I need to do is pray, and remind myself of the promise of God’s peace when I pray and let God do the work of instilling that into my heart.  Then I open my journal, and begin to read from the beginning until I find a verse that speaks to just what I need to focus on today.  I’m going to leave that verse open on the table and when I feel the fear rise, I will say the words out loud.

So I suggest getting a journal or just a simple notebook and as you read your bible, or listen to the radio or sermon on Sunday, record the verses that speak to whatever you are struggling with today.

The verse that is speaking to me today, is 2 Corinthians 10:5, written out for you below.  I need to set myself towards God, not against the knowledge of Him.  When I do this, I can go through my day, doing the things that I know are necessary and letting go of those that are not, and then allowing His joy to fill me as I walk in obedience to His calling just for today.

So, lets get started.  Here’s the verse:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2Corinthians 10:5

Journaling

Today, look at the context (the verses surrounding the scripture passage) and record any new insights you find in your journal. Try repeating the verse out loud 3 times or more until you feel it is being cemented in your memory.