Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Character of God




I know one thing is FOR SURE. God is good. He is infinitely more good than any of us can even fathom. He loves us with more love than each of us inhabits put together. He loves us more than we love even our own children. Because he doesn't just love us, he IS love. And because of that, He wants good for us.

This is the first thing anyone seeking the character of God learns about Him. He is good. He is love. And no matter what different theologies throw your way, always know: God is GOOD. God is LOVE.

For many people it is difficult to wrap their minds around how tragedies like terminal diseases, tsunamis, earthquakes, wild fires, war, or death could exist with such a good and loving God. The best thing one can do is go straight to the Word of God - the Bible - to explore God's character. But also remember, God's ways are unfathomable and unscrutible. We won't know EVERYTHING in this life. But if we submit to God, in eternity, we will know the answers to all of our questions.

God will reveal things to us when we seek Him. In His perfect timing, we will hear or read something and the meaning of it will be revealed to our hearts in a whole new way. This is a journey. It is a relationship. Just seek. Always seek.

Don't become overwhelmed or frustrated with questions. That is a pitfall Satan is loving. Stand firm against spiritual warfare, gird yourself with the armor of God, and battle with the best weapon He gives us - His Word. Read, and pray for God to reveal the Truth to you. He will. Every time.

This is a journey I've been walking through hard lately. I've been cutting down heavy brush with my Sword. At points I've felt so confused, frustrated, and tired. But God brought me sparks of encouragement in different ways and every time it all made me into a different person. Refined.

I would love to talk with anyone who has questions or needs encouragement. I'd love to explain why I believe what I do. We're all on this journey together. Nothing in this world is better, or more important.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

1 Peter 4:12-19

Monday, March 21, 2011

Babysitting!



I just met a wonderful mommy who is hiring me to watch her sweet 7 month old son a couple days a week. I'm very excited to serve her in this way and get experience caring for babies! I can tell it will be a great connection between she and I and her son. Thank you Lord for this opportunity! It's so amazing and restful to know that God knows the desires of my heart perhaps even more intimately than I do! He sees it, knows it, feels it, even before I do and has a plan in motion! I know I will grow to love this family quickly.

Transitioning from being a desk girl, to a stay at home wife, to part stay at home wife part babysitter, is exactly what I hoped for! I'd learned all I felt I could from my office job and desired something else that would be part ministry part experience for the direction I want my future to go in. She may not even realize how awesome this is for me!

Very excited once again, for the way God orchestrates things!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Money Talk




Why does it seem as though all too often our hopes and dreams are all tied up in dollar signs? Because of fear. Worry. Control. Misplaced idol.

Why does money cause fights in marriages, seemingly no matter what tax bracket the household represents? Insecurity. Mistrust. Miscommunication.

I've tried so hard to loosen my heart's ties with money. Sometimes it feels easy, no problem at all! Other times I feel like I'm getting choked out by the basic fact that money is necessary to live. Sometimes the hippie in me really does wish we could live on love alone. But God uses money to teach us something. It's not just some monster of a thing and that isn't how we should treat it. It can be beautiful. When we're learning a hard lesson we should not fear or worry. We should allow God to take the steering wheel because He has a big plan for us. Something better than we could ever design for ourselves. We should place our security and trust in God. We should also trust our spouses and make 100% efforts to communicate thoroughly with them.

When we can be trusted with little, only then can we be trusted with much.

So times get hard. We dig ourselves into holes. We wake up one day and realize that we've given into too many worldy pleasures and lost sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes this causes us anger and strife but we can't give in to those feelings! We must resist that. We must act. We must surrender our actions and behaviors that have gotten us into this place we're in and ask God to guide us because we want to change it! Who wants to live in a vicious money cycle their whole lives?

I find that money problems, no matter how severe, easily bring us to our knees. They force us to choose. What will we be dependent on? Who will we rely on? Ourselves? Our parents? Our spouses? Our jobs? Our investments? Or will we choose the harder choice, the right choice? To use this situation to allow ourselves to be more dependent on God, therefore closer to Him? Will we allow ourselves to listen for His voice? Will we surrender to His will? We will choose to rely on Him as our Provider?

How we use our money is one of the best, if not the very best, way to determine what order of importance people hold things in their lives. What are we spending our money on? What SHOULD we be spending our money on? How do we want to represent ourselves? How do we want to represent God?

I want to represent God, and myself as a daughter of God, well. I want to suffer well through financial difficulty, I want to learn well, I want to teach well. I'm not asking for perfect financial times. But I believe we set the bar too low for ourselves. Sacrifice and self-control aren't easy and they shouldn't be. How else are we going to learn if not by forcing ourselves to make tough choices?

Admittedly, my default behavior is to give in to what I want when I want it. This is a behavior that I must train out of myself with a series of hard decisions that will become a new habit. That can only happen by submitting to my Lord, remembering the bigger picture, and putting other things before myself. This could be a long journey, but I hope I'm a fast learner. A Kingdom mindset is the only thing that will continually inspire me to make the harder and better choices.

I refuse to fear, worry, mistrust, or lash out in anger. I'm choosing faith, love, forgiveness, trust, grace, and steps forward.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How God Beautifully Orchestrates Things



Let me tell you about a story that happened yesterday; a real life testimony that displays how God uses all things for the good and how His love doesn't want to leave us how we are, but rather desires take us to places we've never been. (I have permission to tell this story.) :)

Sunday morning while I was still rolling around in bed, I received a text from my friend asking me to pray for her broken heart; she'd been crying all morning. I texted back that I'd be praying for her, and that I'd check in with her later to see how she's feeling.

I went about the next few minutes normally. I got up, went to the bathroom and started getting ready for church. All the sudden it hit me; an impression on my heart: Invite her to come to church with you.

She's a church-going gal herself. She and her husband and 3 kids. But as soon as I "heard" what God was telling me, I stopped what I was doing cold and ran to my phone. I texted her, "Will you come to church with us? 10:30. We'll pick you up." It was probably 10:00 when I texted her that message and I wasn't sure what she would respond. But she agreed to go!

I got to her house and she had thrown herself and her 3 kids together so quickly! (I was impressed.) They were ready to go! She said she'd actually just planned on watching church online because her husband was working and she didn't feel like going anywhere. But then when I invited her to church with us, she felt she should come.

We got the kids set up in kids church and then took our seats during worship. After the message, two women from our church took the mic and told us about a word God had given them during intercessory prayer that morning. God wanted to heal someone. Not just anyone and not in just any way. Not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. Specifically: a late 20s/early 30s age woman who was deeply hurt by a friend two years ago and still held bitterness and pain over the situation. My friend was listening to this word and broke down into tears. I went to her and hugged her while she cried, and then brought her to a woman on the prayer team to receive prayer for this.

Mind you, I had no idea what my friend had been upset about that morning. But as soon as I heard that word being said to the church, I felt in my heart it was for her. Then I noticed Bryan looking at her, I turn, and see her crying. Praise the Lord He had a big plan for her that day! He had created such a beautiful series of events, heart impressions, whispers to the soul, and gentle nudges to get her right where she was!

That prayer was so powerful. My friend told us that word was for her. We prayed for her healing, for forgivness, and for the cycle of this relational pain to be broken. That morning, my friend was freed!

Oh, how beautifully God orchestrates things! OH how He loves us! He doesn't want us to live in bitterness and pain but desires to set us free from everything! I am in such awe over the whole thing!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Simple



I want to be a simple girl. I don't want to care about expensive clothes or always being trendy. I don't want to care about what make up I may or may not be wearing. I don't want to care if my hair is perfect all the time. I don't want to care about whether my house has the prettiest lawn or if everything inside is matchy matchy or trendy trendy. I don't want to care about those things!

I want to make the most out of what I already have. Because no matter what I add to my life, none of it will bring me happiness. I may get a little momentary high from having purchased a new something that I think will make life better or make me feel prettier, but that fades so fast! I find myself often regretting purchases I've made! I have so much right now. I don't need to add more of the things that aren't necessary!

This is not a legalistic stance I have about my life. I'm totally great with adding things like Netflix and a computer and a shelf to my life. EVEN clothes or jewelry or whatever! But only if I can truly afford it. That is the bottom line. ONLY if I can truly afford something, do I want to allow myself to make this additions to my life. If I cannot, why am I squandering money that could be so much better used elsewhere?? It's selfish!

I love giving. I love buying gifts for people. I love surprising people with something they've mentioned they wanted in passing. I love lifting people's spirits with little tokens that I care. I love being able to respond to people's real needs! I love having the freedom to give when something unexpected arises in life.

We don't have much debt left, but I value the importance of that getting finished off. I value the importance of getting necessary things done around our house in preparation for the day God says it's time to start a family. I value the importance of paying all of our bills, and on time. I value the lessons God gives us on being good stewards of the things He has given us.

I need to be a good steward of the home He's given us. I need to be a good steward of the wardrobe He's provided me. I need to be a good steward of the technology I have. I need to be a good steward of having this little puppy life in my care. I need to be a good steward of the reliable gas-efficient car I've been given. I need to be a good steward of my relationships first and foremost! Especially with God! If I have a sudden "craving" to add such and such thing to my life that I don't need or can't afford, it's probably safe to say that I don't have my priorities in check and that my perspective on life needs to be realigned with God's wishes and purpose.

I'm a giver and I value generosity. I don't desire to charge people (especially friends and family) for things that I can afford to give away. This to me, is integrity too. I want to be a helper. I want to be a blesser. And I want to be a simple girl who doesn't need things to be happy.

As a woman, I enjoy everything being in it's place, and nice smells, and cleanliness, and pretty things, and environments that make me sigh contently, and being able to look in the mirror and wink at myself in my heart because I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image; therefore, I am beautiful. I want to clothe myself in righteousness! Not trendiness. I am a lot more beautiful wearing thrift store clothes or hand-me-downs, with God radiating out of my heart, eyes, pores, and lips, than I am wearing my brand new blouse and shoes and lipstick, fussing with my hair and over my appearance and speaking and thinking about who knows what - that is totally unimportant and unimpactful.

I don't knock how big this struggle is. For women especially, it's a biggy. But these cheap substitutes for joy in God I know, are not the things I want to chase after in life, or the things I want to influence future generations with in my legacy.

I want to be simple. I want to love God foremost. I want to exude His joy no matter what.