Thursday, May 31, 2007

The hard part of marriage

I had a neat conversation recently with a friend getting married. She said many people say marriage is so hard, etc... and asked me what was most difficult for me. I explained that I don't think marriage itself was my biggest struggle. It was more that being with someone else all the time showed me my own problems - and dealing with those were the hard part!

And then I thought about it - life itself is hard, no matter what stage of life you're in. Being married to someone who's on your side and FOR you is a bonus, not a burden.

And then I thought more about how whether we're single or married or what... God is FOR us, and ready to talk and help and guide and overall be on our side. The biggest super-power, all knowing, hero is FOR me. Wow. Now that's something to be thankful for!

Psalm 118:6 "The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Teach me!

I just read through Psalm 119 in one sitting, and I was blown away. I might pick this apart more later, which means you'll probably be hearing about it, but what struck me first was how many times the writer asks God to teach him His Word. And these don't include the other times the Word is mentioned that I didn't include because he's not specifically asking to be taught.

  • Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statues!
  • Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
  • Teach me Your statutes.
  • Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.
  • Do not hide Your commandments from me.
  • Revive me according to Your word.
  • Teach me Your statutes. Make me understand the ways of your precepts, so I will meditate on Your wonders.
  • Strengthen me according to Your word. Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Your law.
  • I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart.
  • Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statues, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You. Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your ordinances are good. Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me through Your righteousness.
  • And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I wait for Your ordinances.
  • Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope.
  • Teach me Your statutes.
  • Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.
  • You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.
  • Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
  • O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant. May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.
  • Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
  • Revive me, oh Lord, according to Your word.... and teach me Your ordinances.
  • Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
  • Deal with Your servant according to Your lovinkindness and teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.
  • Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep your precepts. Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
  • Your testimonies are righteous forever, give me understanding that I may live.
  • Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
  • Give me understanding according to Your word.Let my soul live that it may praise You, and let Your ordinances help me.

My first question to myself - am I asking that much/often for God to teach me from His word? Or am I instead spending more time asking for answers & help & giving God a plan for Him to follow that I've thought up?

My second question - am I teaching my children what matters most? (My unfortunate answer to this - no, not enough... Lord willing, that's going to change!) :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Will Lift My Eyes

I Will Lift My Eyes - Bebo Norman

God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt

Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You

God, my God, let Mercy sing
Her melody over me
God, right here all I bring
Is all of me

‘Cause You are and You were and You will be forever
The Lover I need to save me
‘Cause You fashioned the earth and You hold it together, God
So hold me now


A friend recently shared some thoughts with me on Radiance in the Bible.

When Moses went on the Mountain to talk to God, He spoke to him face to face (Numbers 12:3-8). After these encounters, "he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD" (Ex 34:29).

Other passages about Radiance include "The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes," "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame," and "Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy..." (Ps 19:8, 34:5, Isaiah 60:5).

Then in Ephesians 5:26 it says, "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

So we started talking - Moses didn't get radiant by just reading the pentatuch. He had face-time with God.

God wants the entire church to be radiant through time with Him! How much face time am I giving God to allow that? Good stuff to think about.... and then act on, don't you think?

Another thought - the moon has no light in and of itself, except what it reflects from the sun. Do I reflect the SON?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Day it Rained

There was a mouse who was not happy at home. His name was Renite. He had a roof over his head, family who loved him, and plenty to eat, but he wasn't happy, so one day he ran away, without even leaving a note. He was glad to be free! He knew he'd find happiness somewhere else, and he didn't really care about his parents and siblings or the friends he left behind.

Ren wasn't even a day into his journey when he fell into a big hole. The hole was deep and its smooth dirt walls surrounded him on all sides.

And there he stayed.

Day after day, Ren was stuck in the pit. At first he thought, "I'm a strong mouse! Quite possibly the strongest mouse that ever existed. I can climb my way out of this hole." He tried to scurry his way to the top, but his nails filled with dirt and his feet fell beneath him.

"Alright, I may not be the strongest mouse, but I am quite certainly the cleverest mouse that ever existed. I can come up with a plan to get out of here." He first created dust signals by running in circles, hoping someone above would notice. He then yelled very loudly in case someone might hear. Ren also used the occasional falling leaf to create a type of ladder. Nothing worked, and in fact, with every futile attempt the light at the top seemed to grow further and further away.

Ren thought to himself, "Well, I might be alone in this unscalable hole, but at least I'm with good company! I am the only friend I need. Isn't this what I wanted? Time away from the useless chatter that filled my head from morning to night?"

And there he sat, thinking his own thoughts, debating his own good points, and agreeing with himself.

The sun grew hotter, and the occasional seed or nut that fell into the pit began leaving him hungry and unsatisfied. "Surely I don't need all the excess food that we had back home," he reasoned. "All it did was make me fat. If I hadn't have eaten all that garbage, I'd probably be able to jump out of this pit!" So he proposed that in a few days, he'd be lean again with this new diet and he would jump out of the hole.

As the excess around his middle dwindled, however, so did his energy, and the idea of jumping at all, even over a twig, was completely unappealing.

Soon, he found his own thoughts boring, his food lacking, and his gumption diminishing.

He sat in the hole, as the sun set yet again, and hung his head in shame. All night he could not think a thought or say a word for the shame that had come over him like a heavy black cloud.

As the sun rose in the morning and light began to replace the darkness, Renite opened his eyes and spoke to his creator. "How stubborn I have been! How prideful! I'm repulsed by myself! How I want to go home and squabble with my uncle and eat my mom's strudel and swaddle my little sister in a nice warm blanket. I long to wave to a friend from far away and run to meet him, embracing in friendship. If only I could get out! I do not want to be left alone with me anymore!"

And then the thought hit him, and the weight of it was so heavy he thought he didn't think he could bare it. "If I think so poorly of myself, maybe they do too. Maybe they're glad I'm gone. Upon my return, they might sigh and groan and roll their eyes. Isn't that what I would do if someone so puffed up and obstinate came walking my way?"

The self pity flooded him and he spent hours and days and weeks wallowing in his own remorse. He worried about what the future held, what they might think, what might happen, what they would say... He tossed and turned, crumpled on the ground, restless and miserable.

At long last, Ren spoke to his Creator, "If only I had a second chance. Will you please forgive me and set me free? Get me out of this pit, let me go home, and I'll say I'm sorry and I'll be a new mouse. I'll appreciate what you've given me and I'll love and appreciate those you've put in my life!"

No sooner had he said the words than a single rain drop fell from the sun above. It came from such a height that Renite could watch it as it slowly descended to the dust. When it hit the dry earth, the splash wet his toes and he watched as the clay instantly absorbed the moisture like a sponge.

Then another, and another, and another... one at a time, they started to fall, but there were more and more until finally they were falling like a wet symphony. Renite cowered by the wall, covering his head with his arms and whimpering, "What is this? What is this?"

Ren's feet became covered in sloshy mud, and the walls were dripping with the slippery earth that was loosened by the pelting rain. There was no way to escape the shower of water that fell from the sky.

"Oh woe is me!" He shouted to the Heavens as the hole began to fill. "I asked for a miracle, an escape, a way out - and this is what you give me? More rain? What kind of joke is this? I'm cold and muddy and wet and more miserable than ever!"

As the rain continued to rise in his messy pit, he argued, "If I had been you, I would have sent something more like a ladder or a rope! But rain? You must enjoy watching me suffer. I said I was sorry. What more do you want? This is some sick game."

Ren's wailing continued as he rose with the water, until he glanced around and noticed that there no longer was any hole at all. The water had risen him out of his pit and washed him to the side. As the storm subsided and the sun melted away the excess, Ren found himself filthy and damp.... but free.

Once again, he hung his head in shame.

"I see now how prideful I still am. You know what you are doing, and I don't. Again, I'm sorry. I'm a stubborn, miserable mouse. You can do with me what you will. I don't deserve any blessings or forgiveness. I just deserve to live an unhappy life with my own retched self." And with this he curled into a ball under a leaf and closed his eyes, waiting for the rain to come again.

Ren doesn't remember how long he laid there, under his leaf, but he remembers clearly the first sound he heard that awoke him from his restless sleep. It was coming from far off and getting closer and closer. The voices were calling something, something familiar. "Renite! Renite!" He thought they surely couldn't be calling for him. But were they? "Ren! Renite!"

He jumped out from under his makeshift shelter and stood erect. "I'm here!" He cried out, waving his weary arms, ecstatic to hear someone's voice other than his own. "Here! Over here!"

The entire village ran to him, wrapping him in blankets, while his father explained, "When we found you were gone, we immediately began searching to the north, figuring that you were headed to the city to get some more food or drink for the family and got lost along the way. When you were nowhere to be found, we went further, from city to city looking for our lost boy. After the recent rain, we saw a rainbow to the south, and we immediately gathered everyone for one more search, hoping that the Creator had given us a sign to where our boy was. And He did, and here you are!"

Ren was ashamed, "I wasn't looking for food to help people. I was leaving because I wasn't happy. But I was wrong. I'm so sorry. I understand if you'll never forgive me. I'm so selfish and prideful and a horrible mouse to be around."

His family and friends hugged him all the more, assuring him of their forgiveness, and they carried him back to the village. As they approached the door to his home, he turned and looked up to the sky, where the sun was flooding the landscape. "Thank you."

Side Note: I created this story this morning at breakfast for my kids, only it was much shorter! When looking for a name, I found Renite, which means "Stubborn."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Even Now

I read a fun fiction book the other night, "Even Now" by Karen Kingsbury. I let myself get into things, so I had to finish it the night I started or it would consume me the next day. :) I cried, I laughed - I thought it was very well written. It's fun to escape into someone else's life every once in awhile.

The title comes from a man telling a woman in the book "Even Now, I'll love you." In other words, even now, in our dark time. Even now in your sickness. Even now when you're grumpy. Even now, after sadness or joy. Even now. I liked that. Catchy.

Speaking of catchy, I'm quite a catch right now - the girls did my hair tonight. Ooh la la. I didn't know this many hairclips could go into one head of hair at one time!

Good night!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Abby!

Abby just had her 6th birthday. I thought five was tough - sheesh! This is even harder. She's growing into such a little lady. I just love being a mom!