Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pages I Love

My sweet son, after reading his Bible the other morning, came into my room and flopped on my bed with it so he could chat with me about what he had been reading. While I was at the mirror putting on my make-up, he read a couple of verses that he had found interesting and we discussed how we each might apply their principle in our lives. I asked him to read me the next section, so he read aloud for a few minutes. Finally he paused, looked down at his Bible, gave a sweeping glance to the page, sighed and said, "Man, I just love this page!" When I asked him why, he said, "Because, all the words are red. Jesus said them." Well, that's a great reason to love that page, to be sure!

Since that morning, as I've been reading through my Bible I have been reminded of pages I have loved. Each of the Bibles I have used over the years have certain pages to which they practically fall open... pages of notes, different colored highlighter, smudges and tear-smears. (Lest I paint too "holy" a picture, each Bible still has pages in it that are still new and stuck together, too!) But, in different seasons certain pages have been my lifeline. Oh, how I have needed those same words, over and over and over. Because God said them.

Right now I'm hanging out in John 5. Maybe someday I'll blog about why. It's definitely a "page I love."

What page(s) do you love?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Works-for-Me Wednesday

One thing that works for me is having a small checklist posted in each room (out-of-sight, usually inside a cabinet door)which says "This Room is Clean When You Have..." and then a list of what constitutes "clean" for that particular room. (Emptied trash, dusted, vacuumed, straightened books, etc.)It's really helped my kids stay on track with their chores. No more wondering if they're "done" or saying, "But Mo-o-om, I did clean it!" If you've done everything on the list (thoroughly, that is...) you're done!

For more ideas, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

If you're reading this right now...

…that’s the beauty of blogging. A window didn’t pop up on your screen with a stranger asking you if you wanted to “chat” or “IM.” This wasn’t unsolicited spam in your email inbox or one of a long string of messages on an internet message board. You clicked, you came. Maybe you're one of our dear friends or family members to whom I've sent this link as a way to keep in touch or get travel updates. Possibly you followed a link on someone else’s blog, the internet equivalent of a friend introducing you to another friend. “I’d like you to meet my friend, so-and-so. Just click here…” Saving it to your “favorites” is like saying, “I’d like to get together again sometime.”

By reading blogs I’ve experienced new insights into Scripture, walked beside other families on their homeschool journeys, caught glimpses of the world through the eyes of missionaries in the field, grappled with controversial topics I might not have tackled otherwise, laughed at others’ humorously recounted mishaps (whew! – those things happen to other people too!) and have cried along with those who have lost loved ones. We’ve blogged from across the world to update beloved friends and family and, in very real way, take them along with us.

God has used words from the beginning. God spoke all that is into being. Words are so powerful that when something is extremely intense, we say that “there are no words” for it. Created in His image, we have words. We think them, say them, sign them, read them, listen to them, write them… and some of us blog them.

I have gained such wisdom and insight from blogs, even those that have been offensive to me. (It’s harder to fire back a comment, so I’m more accountable for my words. There’s beauty in that, for sure!) So many times I have closed my laptop to go on with my day, taking someone’s words with me, words I wouldn’t have received in an email, would’ve ignored in an IM, might’ve missed on a message board, and probably will never be published in a book, but words I needed. That’s the beauty of blogging!

The theme for this week's "Carnival of Beauty" is "The Beauty of Blogging" and is being sponsored by my sweet friend Mary at relevantblog. Come check out "Beautiful Blogging with Buddies" for links to some great blogs!

Monday, July 24, 2006

African Gecko Greeting

I almost started this post by saying, "I swear, I'm not making this up," but I won't. I had another sparrow-moment, but this time with a lizard.

A little background...

Last summer when we were in Ghana, our family enjoyed traveling to and working in the Volta Region . The four of us not only shared a room with each other, but with some wonderful striped bugs, and some house geckos. I got pretty good at simply flicking the bugs off of myself, especially in my sleep, and really felt as though I was growing in the Lord for doing so without shrieking and carrying on. But, I could not, could NOT get used to the lizards. I would go NUTS. Finally, one morning at breakfast I asked one of our Ghanaian pastor friends, Frances, what he would do if he, say... saw a gecko in the shower (an encounter I had experienced that morning, from which I was still recovering). I decided I wanted to know how a normal person and native of the area would've handled it, so I could try to model my behavior accordingly and, of course, continue growing as a person. He said with a smile and a flourish (with his wonderful accent) "Why, I woot say to heem, 'Good MOHning, leezahd!' " Well. He didn't say that he would wildly flail a flip flop at it, so I figured I should change my approach. I decided to try his "gecko greeting" the next time I saw one. Alas, just when I resolved to live at peace with our gecko friends, it was time to leave.

Flash forward to this morning. We have a team in Ghana this week, so my heart is very much there with them, excited about the week's work ahead and lifting them up in prayer. I was doing my usual dance-around-like-a-dork-with-my-ipod-while-the-kids-are-still-asleep routine earlier, listening to my praise music, and I naturally gravitated to my favorite Selah African songs. I "Yesu Azali Awa" 'd my way out the front door to water the plants on the porch, and there on the wall staring at me, was... a gecko! The song in my ears reminded me of the place where I had learned to properly greet a gecko, so I gave him (I decided it was a boy!) my best Pastor Frances "Good MOHning, leezahd!" We eyed one another as I gingerly watered the plants, trying not to scare him off. I thought about how much I missed his cousin in Ghana and how I wish I were there, trying not to freak out in the shower. As we both scooted off to find a place to stay out of the heat, I thanked God for all of our dear friends in Ghana. How I miss them, lizards included.

I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Star Crossed

Last night, our teaching pastor delivered a message entitled, "Stars." The focus scripture was Psalm 19:

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge." (verses 1 & 2)

If, he pointed out, "day after day they pour forth speech," what are the stars saying?
1. He is God. (verse 1)
2. That we are not. (Isaiah 40 :25-26)
3. We are loved. (Psalm 8: 3-4)

It was an excellent, excellent message (and very timely for us as we are studying astronomy!)

As I listened, I was reminded of a similar message I heard a few months ago by Louis Giglio at a Chris Tomlin concert. There was a certain photo he showed that absolutely took my breath away, so I stayed up late last night searching the internet for it. I found it at the Hubble Site:

This image of the core of the nearby Whirlpool Galaxy, was taken with the camera on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It shows a striking , dark "X" silhouetted across the galaxy's nucleus. The "X" is due to absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole which may have a mass equivalent to one-million stars like the sun.

What this looks like to me, is a reminder that "we are loved." (NASA can call it an "X" if they want... the Greek letter "chi" is a common abbreviation for "Cristos" in some New Testament manuscripts.) I love that it's due to "absorption by dust" and marks a massive black hole. My punishment was absorbed on the cross, and my sin may as well have disappeared into a black hole. What a glorious thought!

Our pastor quoted from the book, The Privileged Planet , that "Earth is located in the prime place for life, but also observation." From that he highlighted the fact that "God gave us the best platform to observe and know Him." According to the NASA website, "the [Whirlpool] galaxy is spectacular because it is tilted nearly face-on to Earth, allowing for an unobstructed view of its bright core."


Unobstructed view.

The best platform to observe and know Him.

This morning I am reminded afresh that the cross of Christ is a "face-on, unobstructed view" of the Father's love for us. It is the "platform by which we may observe and know Him." The cross is there, for those who will find it. And it is there to be found.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Self- ish

Recently I was having a conversation with someone regarding another person that we both care deeply about. The person I was talking with said, "She just needs to get to know herself better." At the time, I agreed. I've been thinking about that for the past several weeks, though. The idea that we need to "get to know ourselves" is very popular. So, I'm probably going to sound like a big 'ole meanie when I say that, in my opinion, "getting to know oneself better" is not necessarily the best use of one's time. A few weeks ago, I googled the word "self" and jotted down the following "buzz" words:

self-actualization, self esteem, self-improvement, self-starting, self-help, self-realization, self-reliance, self-employed, self-efficacy, self-determination, self-knowledge, self-serving, self-defense, self-assessment

I've heard these words and have used many of them myself. The words and their meanings have worked their way not only into psychology and education classes, but into our vocabularies and thinking. There's even a "Self" magazine!

Anyway, what if people got to know themselves really, really well? What possible good would that do anyone (including that person, him/herself)? If I were sitting here at this moment, knowing every single thing there is to know about Cyndi, would that help you at all? In the time it would take to do all of that "research," other important things would go undone, like caring for my family, carrying out my ministries, schooling my kids, praying for others, laundry, etc. Can you imagine someone saying, "Wow, that Mother Teresa... she really knew herself." Or, "You know, Hitler should've really gotten to know himself better." How about, "Hmm. With all of this unrest in the Middle East as well as the war on terror, the President should spend some time at the ranch getting to know himself." Doesn't that sound ridiculous?

Stormie Omartian, in her book, Greater Health God's Way , says "It is very unhealthy to be thinking of ourselves all the time. Focusing inward too much leads to mental problems. Mental hospitals are full of people who do just that. Constantly looking at yourself and asking, 'How am I doing? How am I measuring up?' does not bring health. The 'me generation' came out with wonderful bodies and very disturbed minds and emotions."

Since worship is focus, it stands to reason that focusing on self would lead to worship of self. Yeah, that's someone you want to be around! On the other hand, no one wants to be around someone who leads a completely unexamined life, either. I don't mean that we shouldn't know our basic tastes or preferences like mango tea vs. raspberry tea, or "I-don't-look-good-in-orange." I'm also not saying that we shouldn't take the time to study our learning/leadership style or spiritual gifts( although I'm aware that some might take those inventories too seriously and limit themselves unnecessarily). Everyone has a "besetting sin" as my pastor calls it- a particular sin or area of struggle. No doubt we can each name a few! We must know ourselves as far at that's concerned, so we give ourselves the best opportunity to avoid stumbling. So, "knowing ourselves" in those terms is, of course, advantageous. As with everything else, it's the level of emphasis.

I was talking to a minister's wife this week who said something to me that has added to my perspective on this subject. We were actually discussing their very young son who feels he's ready to be baptized, but she's wondering if he's really "ready." She said her husband has always said that salvation is "giving all you know of yourself to all you know of God." That's it! A reason to "know yourself!" Giving it to Him! Throughout our lives we naturally know more about ourselves. If what we learn is positive, yield it to Him for His use. (All our gifts are from Him anyway!) If it's negative, invite Him and allow His power to remove it and replace it with a strength that you can then offer back to Him. It's neat how that works!

I've seen the word "ish" in the blogosphere used as a shortened form of the word "issues." I think it's kind of cute! Ish. I have so many ish, and I'm sure you do, too. (Unless denial is your main ish.) I have ish that I've been working on for years. If "self" is your "ish", then what do you have? "Selfish."

How well I know myself need not be my ish. The ish is how well God knows me. Psalm 139 says, "O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." Whew! I don't have to "get to know myself" by making self a subject of study. He'll do that part for me, too. "Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps. 139: 1-4, 23,24) We could say, "Search me, O God, and know my ish..."

For those who feel they need to "get to know themselves better," I would suggest getting to know God better instead. To get to know God better, look at His Son. Know the Son, then you will know the Father. "I and the Father are One." (John 10:30) He knows all your ish anyway, and looks on you with love. That's Someone worth taking the time to know!

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, My Lord..." (Philippians 3:8)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Roadtrip Tally

Well, after a fun morning singing at the Senior Center, we headed home. Here's what we saw this afternoon:

Dead animals: 10
Shredded tires: 10
Grass fires: 2
Whirlwinds: 1
Buzzards: 28

Just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Deep in the "Hot" of Texas

Growing up, I always spent at least a week or two every summer in west Texas at my grandparents house in the small town where my father grew up. My brother and I have lots of fun memories of eating the "monogrammed" pancakes my grandad would make, getting ice cream cones at Dairy Queen, riding our bikes to the park, singing along with Grandmother as she played her guitar ("How Much is that Doggie in the Window," "Red, Red, Robin" and "Chocolate Ice Cream Cone" were our favorites). And of course, sleeping late. My last few summers of high school, as well as the summers I was in college I was too friend-focused or summerschool-driven to make time to come, but since I've been married I've been able to spend a few days there in June or July.

This past Sunday morning the kids and I packed some bags, I pointed the van west, and we travelled the familiar path to Grandmother's house. I love the trip, because the towns get smaller, the ground gets flatter, the mesquite trees become more numerous... and time gets s-l-o-w-e-r. I'm not sure how many seconds are in a minute here, or how many minutes are in an hour, but it must be more than 60! According to my calculation, the time change must start pretty soon after we leave the Dallas metro area. Even as a child I thought it took forever to get here. We have enjoyed this week of laziness where time stands still. Even on Sunday mornings it seems like you've got hours to get ready for church. I love it!

The clock may move slowly, but the thermometer has moved quickly each morning. (When it gets really, really hot, Luke sometimes says, "It is Africa hot!" Well, someone in west Africa can officially say, "It is Texas hot!") Today I believe it reached 110 degrees. It was 109 yesterday, and the forecast for tomorrow is 112. Hot.

When it's this hot, I feel so lethargic. That must be the case for the animals we saw on the roads on the way that obviously hadn't moved quickly enough. It was unreal! I don't think I've seen that many before. I'm thinking that on the way home we could switch from playing the "license plate game" or the "alphabet game" and make up a new game called the "roadkill game." Extra points for buzzards!

This week during our visit we have played Skip-Bo and Boggle, eaten wonderful food, and laughed at funny stories. We have played the fiddle and guitar and have sung hymns together. We shopped at our favorite (and the only) "boutique" in town. We joined Grandmother in her volunteer work at the local nursing homes, which was a treat! Tomorrow morning we are going to join her and her 3 friends who play and sing at the local senior citizens center. (Bethany and I are going to make our singing debut! Kyle will work "media," meaning he'll video us...) Despite the heat, it's been a refreshing week so far.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Buttprints in the Sand

This afternoon I read the book The Purse-Driven Life by Anita Renfroe. (SO funny! Short, and perfect for a quick, summer-afternoon read, when it's too hot to think too deeply...) In it, she quotes this poem, written by an unknown author and an obvious take-off on the much loved "Footprints" poem. Although I hadn't see it yet, I Googled it and found it all over the internet!

Buttprints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream
One set of footprints there was seen
The footprints of my precious Lord
But mine were not along the shore

But then some stranger prints appeared
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat
But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones
"For miles I carried you alone
I challenged you to walk in faith
But you refused and made Me wait

"You disobeyed, you would not grow
The walk of faith you would not know
So I got tired and got fed up
And there I dropped you on your butt

"Because in life there comes a time
When one must fight and one must climb
When one must rise and take a stand
Or leave their buttprints in the sand."

Now, while it cracks me up (no pun intended- oh, who am I kidding, all my puns are intended) somehow it just doesn't sit well with me (ahem) . So I added to the end:

"As you sat upon the beach
You were never beyond My reach.
Your knee prints that I see beside
Remain untouched by the approaching tide

"They show you knew to call to Me
And I heard your heartfelt plea
Let Me help you to your feet
And your joy I'll make complete.

Remember, draw your strength from Me
As you battle the enemy.
You may leave buttprints in the sand
But no one can snatch you from My right hand."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

" the proper time."

We have two dogs who have what is called, in canine terms, a "strong food drive." Strong. Food is IT to them. I can be taking the plastic off of a magazine that came in the mail, and they'll run into the room thinking I've got a snack. Even as I type this, Zacchaeus the weenie dog is barking at me because I've got an Oreo on the table next to me. (Well, now you know... I've got a "strong food drive" too. But this isn't about me.) Every evening after we have our evening meal, after the kitchen is cleaned up and we're all in the family room or elsewhere in the house doing our thing, it's FINALLY dinner time for the dogs. Every night, like clockwork, Luke gets the metal doggie bowls and goes into the garage. You can hear the now-familiar sound of dry dog food being poured into metal bowls, at which point Zac begins jumping at the back door and Haley begins running laps around the island in the kitchen. From the moment that Luke begins to walk toward the back door toward the garage at night, the dogs jump up and follow him. They know. They can't wait. "It's time! It's time!"

Those poor, starving dogs.

This morning Luke took the van to get the tires rotated. It was a lazy Saturday morning for the rest of us, dogs included. I was sitting on the couch reading and the dogs were both stretched out on the living room floor when Luke came in the back door from the garage. At that moment both dogs sprang up, realizing it was him and immediately switched into "it-must-be-food-time" mode. He put his keys down and a few moments later he walked toward the back door to go to the garage for, well, whatever guys go to the garage for on a Saturday. The dogs went NUTS. He commented, "I'm going to have to get these dogs a watch." They continued following him around. They watched him. They were so excited! They hopped and ran laps. They didn't take their eyes off of him. They dogged him. (Sorry, I just had to say that!) They continued looking at him so.... expectantly. And guess what he did? He fed them. (Did I mention it was morning?)

He fed them a bit of food because they asked. He'll feed them a little less this evening, of course, but they'll be satisfied just like they were this morning. They asked expectantly and believingly, and they received. A few times today they've run to the back door and they haven't gotten food. Nevertheless, they know that anytime he wants to he can go to through that door and emerge with food! (By the way, they never do this to me or the kids. Luke is The Food Provider.)

I remember learning in a Bible study a couple of years ago that believing God doesn't necessarily mean believing that He will, but absolutely believing that He CAN. We want His will for our lives because that is for our best. Just like I posted a few days ago, He sometimes refuses or delays our requests because they are from wrong motives, misplaced desires, or are the wrong timing. Sometimes things are not for our best now, but will be for our best another time. How I need to keep praying expectantly, though. Praying boldly. Trusting that God can do anything and will give me what I need at the proper time, and sometimes just because I was bold enough to ask. This was running through my mind today when I read this on JR's blog.

"The eyes of all look to You,

and You give them their food

at the proper time."

Psalm 145:15

Can't Argue With That!

I started reading this blog because of its name, "Coffee Swirls". But it's posts like this that keep me coming back. She makes a good point!

Friday, July 14, 2006


Ten years ago this summer, I had 2 month old baby boy. His sister was puzzled, because I had told her she would have a baby brother to play with and when she met him it was clear he couldn't play with anyone! A week ago today, that 10-years-and-almost-2-months-old boy ran all over a water park playing, celebrating his belated birthday (as well as his newfound love of water slides) with his buddies. His actual birthday was the weekend his sister left for China, so that week we had a family get-together that was a combination "Bon Voyage/ Happy Birthday" party. We don't do the birthday party thing every year, but he knew when he turned the big 1-0 he'd have a party, so he patiently waited the additional 7 weeks after his birthday for his sister to get home and his mom to get her head back on straight. (Actually, the former has happened, and we're still waiting on the latter!) Besides, we all know that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25. It's okay to celebrate your birthday on another day! Thank you for your patience, my precious son, evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in you.

Happy belated birthday!

Five years ago, this summer, we had a 7 year old little girl beginning her walk with the Lord. We lived in a tiny apartment while our current house was being built. I can still picture Luke and I sitting on that green and white striped couch with our little Bethany, talking and praying with her as her young mind was grappling with the issue of sin and the price Jesus paid for her on the cross. ("I'll never know... how much it cost... to see my sin... upon that cross...") That summer, I prayed that she would follow Jesus anywhere, everywhere, with total abandon. I asked Him to take her, set her apart, and to mold her into a young woman after His own heart. As I type this 5 years later, I'm looking across the room at a girl-turning-young-lady, quietly reading a book (who has no idea that her mother is staring at her and blogging about her!) I am reminded that she has followed Him to distant lands and has prayed with others that same prayer that her Daddy and I prayed with her. How she shares the Father's heart for the nations! Looking at her at this moment, her hair still wet from her shower, I am reminded of how precious she looked to me 5 years ago this very night, her hair wet from her baptism. What a special, God-given memory! When she was little, she asked me why her name was "Bethany." I told her I loved that name because Jesus went to the town of Bethany to spend time with some of His best friends. Bethany was a special place to Jesus. The first time I told her that, a big grin spread across her face! Oh, sweet girl, Jesus still loves to go to Bethany. And I pray that Bethany will always abide in Him.

Happy spiritual birthday!

Oh, Ancient of Days, thank You that ever since "there was morning and evening, the first day" You have ordained that each day would be distinct, and some would be special. During Your time here on earth You celebrated alongside others, entering into their joy. How we want You in the midst of our celebrations! May the special days on our calendars always point to You, Who makes each new day for our rejoicing and gladness, and for Your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


We went to movie camp again today. It's my favorite kind of "camp." It's free, and it's a movie~ therefore, it is air conditioned! (It also involves popcorn and Junior Mints. Bonus.) So far this summer we have seen "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "March of the Penguins," and today it was "Dreamer." We own "Charlie," but it's in Chinese. (We can make it play in English, but since I don't read Chinese it's hard to read the menu!) We'd not seen the penguin movie until last week, but we enjoyed it very much (except for the kids in who sat in front of Bethany and her friend and kept throwing popcorn on them...) It was a perfect movie for a hot Texas summer day. Today was our first time to see "Dreamer." What an excellent movie! I know we could've rented it, but then we would've missed out on being in a huge theater full of people cheering loudly and clapping during the final race. It was so exciting! Even those who had seen it were really into it. It makes me want to go to Lonestar Park and watch a horse race!

There is a Bethany Dillon song at the end of the movie which has great lyrics:

Imagine a beautiful castle
And a beautiful king
He left the comfort of his throne
To fight for victory.

I am a dreamer
Take me higher
Open the sky up
Start a fire
I believe
Even if it's just a dream.

Love woke me up this morning
And I ran to see
The king in the winners' circle
On the horse he won for me.

Only a king would do anything
To protect the kingdom.

Someday we are going to hear a horse's hooves. And it won't be a dream! We'll see a white horse, "whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns." (Rev. 19:11-12) The victories for which we have cheered loudly in this life are nothing compared to the victory we will witness that day! Moreover, the defeats we've witnessed and experienced on this earth will disappear into the dust those pounding hooves will kick up. I love thinking about it! (An interesting aside~ I noticed during the credits; the horse that played Dreamer in the movie was named "Sacrifice.")

Until we hear those hooves approaching,

"...since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."
Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, July 10, 2006

Softly and Tenderly (But Not Too Softly!)

The kids are with their cousins for the day, so I've enjoyed having the morning to myself, doing housework and listening to music. I missed the phone awhile ago because I had my headphones on. It was Luke. I called him back and told him how ironic it was that the hymn I was listening to (a bit too loudly, apparently) was "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is Calling." He responded, "Well, He'd better not call too softly or you'll miss it!"

His Eye is On the Sparrow

This morning found me once again with my ipod, singing my hymns. I was listening to one of my favorites, "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" as I made my semiweekly trash day journey to the end of the driveway awhile ago. As I walked back up to come in through the garage, I noticed a tiny sparrow perched on the roof above the garage door. I stopped and stood there looking at her (I decided it was a girl!) and she sat with her head cocked to one side, looking at me. The song in my ears reminded me that at that very moment, while we were were watching each other in the cool of the morning, our Creator was holding both of us in His watchful gaze.

We both flitted off to continue feathering our nests and I thanked God for giving me moments like that. He is so faithful!

"I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow...
and I know He watches me."

Sanctified Affliction

This was in my Valley of Vision prayer book this morning. Very powerful.

"I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused--
I have asked amiss and do not have,
I have prayed from lusts and been rejected,
I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness.
Go on with Thy patient work,
answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to
accept it.
Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration,
everything contrary to Thy rule.
I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love,
for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject,
for sometimes putting me into the furnace
to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin.
If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins,
or to have them burnt away with trial,
give me sanctified affliction.
Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins,
everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me,
everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee.
Then I shall bless Thee, God of Jeshurun, for helping me to be upright."

In the "Daniel" study, Beth Moore discusses how God periodically allows fiery trials in order to "burn the fake out of us."
Lord, help me to see any trial, large or small, as "sanctified affliction," purging me of "every false desire, every base aspiration, and everything contrary to Your rule," from glory to glory, ever conforming me to the image of your Son. Amen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, America!

It's been a great day so far! Bethany's friend Hayden came over to join us as we cooked out hamburgers. Then, we all went to our club pool and visited with some friends. After a couple of hours of swimming, a nice storm blew in from across the lake, sending us all home where we lit the (not quite 230) candles on the birthday cake the kids had decorated. Hopefully the rain will clear so we can go watch fireworks later. If not, the welcomed sight of those big rain "splats" we saw on the pavement earlier will do!

Monday, July 03, 2006

An Interesting Study

This summer I am enjoying Beth Moore's new Bible study on Daniel. It has been a thought-provoking look not only at the life of Daniel, but an interesting comparison between the culture we are living in here in America and the ancient culture of Babylon. The quote that cracked me up today was, "In our own Babylon, some of us are wrapped up in such luxury, we think a chemical peel is a fiery trial."

There have been times in my life when I've been so caught up in the abundance that surrounds me and the luxuries that I enjoy, I have allowed myself to be cheated out of true prosperity. Oh, may that never be so for my children! A few weeks ago, I stopped praying that Bethany wouldn't get homesick. Not out of some selfish desire for her to miss us (for I know she did) but so that if she did, she would have the experience of letting Jesus fill that void for her. I remember when the thought first occurred to me as I was praying for her that day. It was a ground-breaking thought for me. It was as if I was setting God free to allow in her life whatever would draw her closer to Him. (As if He really needs my permission!) I really don't want anyone I love to have difficulties, fears, insecurities or illnesses. But it has been during those very moments in my own life that I have learned how to draw close to Jesus and have experienced an abundance of His presence in a way that an abundance of ease, health, courage and security would not have afforded. I wouldn't trade for those times! I want everyone that I love to experience the fullness of His presence. To feel the "strength God provides." (I Peter 4:11)

Another quote I read this morning has been on my mind all day. "You and I naturally want the best for our loved ones. We pray for them to excel, to win, to succeed, to prosper, to be kept from difficulty and certainly pain. Yet, if God answered our every prayer for their ease, could they handle it?" Can I?

Something to thing about.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Time for a Change

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were discussing church. We were sharing honestly with each other that we were feeling "blah" about it lately, and wondering aloud what might be the cause of it. I was very glad for that discussion and for her wise insight, and went home and prayed about it. No, things aren't perfect. (At any church!) I decided that I couldn't change the things we disussed, however valid our observations may be. Moreover, I know without a doubt that we are called to worship and serve exactly where we are. God has affirmed to me over and over again that this is the church where He would have our family, and I am thankful in countless ways for that precious body of believers. So, I began working on the only thing I could change... my own attitude. I invited the only One Who can make true and lasting changes in my heart to begin to do so. For the past two weeks I have prayed before the services, asking God to prepare me for the pastor's message and open my heart to what His Word would say to me. (As Os Guiness would pray at our conference in May, "Lord, open Your Word to our hearts and our hearts to Your Word.") During worship I have not only sung about Him but to Him. I have even momentarily stopped singing (rare for me!) and bowed my head, silently praying the words to Him, because I felt it and meant it so deeply. I have taken copious notes in my newly-organized church notebook. I have reviewed the scripture references during my quiet times and have made changes in my life based on the principles they contained. You know what? These have been the best two weeks of church for me in a long time.

I think I see a connection...