Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All too often

So lately, I have been thinking of my life. I know that it should be an offering to God, as He has created us to glorify Him in everything! I also know that God desires our very best! He desires for us to give our "first fruits" and not just the leftovers or the things that aren't quality or worthy of human consumption, let alone, a gift to a holy, almighty God! As I have studied the last couple of weeks in 1 and 2 Samuel, I have been convicted that more often than not, my offerings are less than "first fruit-ish." David is a main character in these books and he did many things well! He loved God with his whole heart, but often, got distracted by his flesh. God, as always, received David's "broken and contrite heart" and restored him with each sincere apology. David yearned to be excellent in God's sight, and knew that of course, he would fall short, but a story in 2 Samuel 24 has kept coming up in my heart and in my mind and comes up over and over as I live life the last couple of weeks! You know, the daily grind, the mundane, the chores, the things that can be difficult to view as offerings, but cannot be discounted as "just things."

David had sinned against God and had taken matters into his own hands (as David often did. . . as WE often do), and feeling broken and convicted, decided to repent and though God disciplined David (God even gave David a menu to choose from for his punishments!) as well as those that David ruled, God had mercy and stopped His punishment just short of what He had planned, because of David's heart and willingness to absorb all the punishment and still worship and give thanks to His holy and forgiving God. Araunah, who owned the threshing floor where the Angel was commanded by God to cease his task of destruction, saw David coming and offered to give the king his floor where the altar where David would give his offerings to God would be built. But, David knew the blessing of giving God our best, and that doing so often comes at a cost. In 2 Samuel 24:24, King David says this, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

May I never sacrifice to the Lord offerings that cost me nothing! May I strive to be excellent in everything. May I repent and be restored and feel compelled to build altars to my holy and almighty God where I can bow at His feet, praising and rejoicing and bathing in the grace that God continues to offer me as I seek to glorify Him, but find myself all to often glorifying self! May we all refuse to take the easy way that means nothing to us and is not worthy of the God who breathed into us the breath of life!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sweetness in the Mailbox

So more proof that my "babies" aren't babies anymore arrived in the mail in sweet fashion yesterday. Jovey had her first school picture taken at her previous school, Lowe Elementary in Louisville, KY. Her teacher assured us she would send them to us via the mail. I had forgotten about it until we were greeted with a large envelope yesterday in the mail. Within it was my big girl's first school picture. It wasn't the best picture, but boy, did she look all grown up! I'm not sure when that happened, but if I didn't remember when she uses big words, is starting to have a little flair of culture pop up here and there and is losing teeth here and there, I now have it in photographs with that same gray background that I had some of my own school pics taken in front of!

Within that envelope, her sweet teacher also had included letters from her friends in her class at Lowe to express how much they missed her. One of the students even asked about how Jovey's mom was doing! ha! It made my heart smile and brought tears to my eyes to look at a few class pictures that Mrs. Thurman sent, as well as a picture of her own little family that she had shared with me in stories and in amazing things that God had done to make her family even more beautiful, in picture and in person!
I had prayed and prayed all last winter and summer that Jovey's first year at school would be most blessed and full of love as well as a teacher who loved Jesus and had no problem sharing that with Jovey and her friends. God blew my mind and made the whole "sending off my baby to school" process much easier. Even now, with a simple envelope full of memories, He reminds me of how well he cares for His children.

Thanks, God, for providing amazing and meaningful relationships in this life that remind us of how much you love us and how much you wish for us to see the many ways you share that with us, even on a regular day through the regular postal service, using regular people!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

I came, I saw. . .I have a long way to go!

A new year. . . as a "blogger", used loosely since I am not the greatest at always keeping this wonderful mode of communication and expression updated, I would be remiss to not include a look behind, reflecting upon lessons learned and then, to look forward, taking in where I stand now as a woman who is ever changing and where God wishes to take me along this journey of life that He has so intricately and amazingly crafted for us all to encourage, love and lift up one another, all in Christ's name and for God's glory!

2010 was full of moments, as each year is. Sad ones, happy ones, angry ones, silly ones, crazy ones, quiet ones. . . it was, as each moment is, a time to live. Each moment was a time to not live for what I desire, but for what God desires in me. Each moment, I chose. I chose to fall to my flesh and disobey and downright disregard God's will for my life. I chose to praise Him and seek Him in the smallest giggle of my children and in the biggest moments on my knees before Him, ever so grateful, even in my shame, for His infinite grace and unfailing mercy in forgiveness. I chose to be loud, too loud to hear myself think, let alone to hear God speak. I chose to be quiet before Him, closing out the distractions and focusing in on His face alone. I chose to raise my voice to my children and snap at them for no good reason. I chose to ask for forgiveness, from a holy God and from my beautiful girls, for unholy anger and hearts broken. I chose to laugh off the things of childhood and teach my children, directing them in the ways of the Lord outlined in His Word and prayerfully holding my tongue and training theirs. I ate way too many "bad" things for me and not near enough "good" things, defiling the temple a bit with each time of gluttony. I p90x'd, Insanity'd, tae bo'd and ran and pushed my body to the extreme and saw just how amazingly intricate and strong that God made the human form. I nagged my husband, although, I always find ways to justify it and a thesaurus full of words to name it something else. I asked forgiveness for not respecting him and having faith that he will do what he says he will do. I found new things out about my Godly husband as he grew in God's Word and in His desire to love Christ more, therefore, loving our family more! I forgot about God some moments and didn't consider Him in anything. I spent time with God, drinking in His Word and basking in His beauty.

Some friendships slowly passed away, or at least, evolved, and I mourned. I missed my sweet friends, the ladies I "did life" with and even now, I still miss them dearly, but praise God for computers, phones and even short visits and trips to catch up over breakfast. My friendship with my best friend continued to evolve, becoming stronger, more solid, and even more fun in the circumstances of life and a tool to learn and grow, sharpening each other, even from miles away. My truest friends came to my rescue more than once, with a skype, an email, a phone call, a text or a visit, reminding me that God always provides and many times, He does so through our closest and most wonderful, God fearing and God honoring friendships. I became excited for a move to a new town with new opportunities to love God and love people. I moved and felt lonely, sad and a bit, ok, WAY out of my element and I cried. I was reminded of God's new mercies every morning and I drank them in in bucketfuls, waiting for God to reveal Himself to me. I felt His arms wrap around me, over and over.

I look forward to what's ahead and I am thankful for what's behind. I dance, I sing, I mourn, I cry, I laugh, I whine, I lose, I gain, I rest, I wrestle. . . I am not THERE, but I am getting THERE. I will never be THERE, but I am moving forward and am so blessed for it all!

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14