Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 63

Thanking God this week for...
  • the handful of you who keep coming back to read my blog even though I've been pitifully lazy about posting
  • no injuries and very minor damage to the car when Steve got rear-ended this afternoon
  • the silly faces Elijah makes
  • Elijah's giggles
  • my new mentor
  • the privilege of voting
  • online shopping
  • a non-leaking roof over my head
  • His Word
  • journals
  • my amazing husband
  • telephones
  • the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper
  • coffee chocolate chip muffins (at Sara's request, the recipe is here! I use pecans instead and make half without nuts, as I don't like nuts in baked goods :)
  • opening my eyes to see His beauty and goodness
  • hearing me when I call to Him
  • forgiving my sin
  • loving me when I am unlovable

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Monday

Thought this face might brighten your Monday morning :) Have a good one, everybody!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 62

Thanking God for...
  • answers to prayers I've been praying for years
  • pink ink
  • fireplaces
  • homemade baked goods out of the freezer
  • the ability to ship a package without leaving my house, via
  • lunch with a new friend on Tuesday
  • the alone time I got to spend with Him last Saturday morning/afternoon
  • a husband who encourages me to get away by myself and happily watches Elijah so I can do so
  • the way Elijah greets me with big smiles every morning when he wakes up
  • Qdoba last Sunday
  • being the only one who can satisfy all my needs
  • reminders of His past faithfulness
  • grace for each moment
  • hope for the future
  • strengthening my faith in Him

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lord, Bless Me

It's probably the most common, generic prayer we hear: "Lord, please bless so-and-so..." It can mean any number of things, usually a vague plea to keep that person safe, give them happiness and make all their dreams come true (or something like that). But this morning I was reading in Acts and got a whole new perspective on that little word "bless."

"When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways" (Acts 3:26, NLT).

Now that's a different kind of bless. When I pray, or hear others pray, "Lord, bless so-and-so," I have never once been thinking, "Turn so-and-so back from his sinful ways" ! But perhaps that's a more profound blessing than the safety-happiness-and-success "blessing" we have in mind. It may be a disguised blessing; a course correction is often frustrating, perhaps discouraging, even painful--especially if it's a forced one.

But oh, what blessings will come when our sin is behind us and we are free--when we reject the offers of false saviors and pursue the risen Lord. How blessed we will be if we see our sin for what it is and turn back from it.

Lord, bless me today!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 61

Thanking God this week for...
  • bringing my fabulous sleeper baby back after a couple of rough weeks
  • old photographs
  • unexpected notes from friends
  • new recipes
  • my new Ergo carrier
  • books
  • my love of reading, handed down to me through my mom
  • the book she got me for Christmas
  • hot chocolate
  • fuzzy slippers
  • the incredible bleaching power of the sun
  • the certainty of His promises
  • the glorious inheritance His Son bought for me
  • the hope that one day I will see His face!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Special Visit

At the top of my Thankful Thursday list last week, had I made one, would have been this girl! Beautiful Sara showed up at our house for dinner on Thursday and stayed through Saturday morning. What a tremendous blessing it was to see her! Our friendship began through a Bible study I led when she was a freshman in college, and during her sophomore year, I mentored her. Since then, I think she's taught me far more than I ever invested in her.
Sara is a sort of "tentmaker missionary" in New Zealand. She got a regular job teaching music at a middle school in Auckland, and since last April, she's thrown all her time and talents into serving the students and teachers she interacts with daily, as well as ministry with a local church. I so admire her zeal and enthusiasm for serving the Lord!
I hadn't seen Sara since my wedding, so it was a real treat to have her drive down here for an extended visit. She's home on Christmas break and I was so glad she made the time to come see me and my family! You can read about Sara's New Zealand adventures here--I am sure you will be encouraged and challenged by what she writes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Still Here, and a Challenge

I hope you haven't given up on me. I guess I got a little burned out after November's posting frenzy, and then got sidetracked with the busyness of the holidays/recovering from the busyness of the holidays...and blogging has just fallen by the wayside. I miss it. Thanks to those of you who keep coming back only to see the same old post at the top.

For today, I only have a quick minute, so I'll pass along a quote and a challenge. First the challenge, by way of my dear blog-friend Zoanna: Call a friend and invite her over/out for lunch this week. Don't just add it to your to-do list; go pick up the phone and do it right now. If you don't, you won't get around to it (at least if you're anything like me). Make it a point to practice hospitality and cultivate a friendship this week! This is something that I am really wanting to work on, and the challenge from Zoanna was just the extra push I needed this week. So I figured maybe a few of you need that same kind of push. Leave a comment if you're joining in! (I've already put my money where my mouth is: I just now picked up the phone and invited someone over for lunch Thursday.)

Then, the quote. It's an inspiring bit of Scripture and encouragement I've been chewing on since Friday, from (who else?) John Piper:
"...has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19)

"God's promises are not in jeopardy, because God can foresee all circumstances. He knows that nothing will occur that will cause him to take back his promises. That is our soul's rest."
--John Piper, Taste and See

Have a blessed Monday!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Confidence for Change

Since we were still in Ohio with our families over New Year's Day, I haven't yet had a chance to really sit down and think through some goals for 2008. I hope to do so in the next week or so, and perhaps even blog about it. Meanwhile, I've been reading all sorts of helpful and encouraging thoughts about resolutions and change, on blogs and elsewhere:

The Girltalkers suggest whittling your resolution list down to just one.

The Metro Moms are considering the first button and reminding us of God's power for change. (I especially like this quote from them: "We're not making 'resolutions' this year. We're declaring that our God is at work in us and that He will help us as we trust and lean on Him for change!")

Finally, I read this powerful passage in Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, a new book I'm excited to dig into this year:

God is so confident in His awesome power that as He sovereignly rules and overrules in your life, He knows He will accomplish the inconceivable task of recreating you to be like Christ.

He wants you to share in His confidence. He wants you to grasp the truth that He will accomplish His purpose in you. This is important because you are involved in a battle between faith and unbelief. When I look at my own life, the way that I consistently struggle with sin, I wonder if I will ever really change. I wonder if I will ever, in the innermost essence of who I am, be changed into His image. If all I had to look at was my own weak struggle, I too would be filled with unbelief. How can it be that He will change me? But I have something more than my own life to look at. I have Him. I have His Word. He tells me that He is working to accomplish His goal in my life, and even though everything in my experience wants to laugh (like Sarah in the Old Testament did) at His promise, I flee to Him in faith and in His astonishing power to transform. God wants us to have confidence in Him because without it, we would just give up in despair and discouragement. You can trust His Word."

I feel like I need to reread that quote every day as I seek to trust God to change me in 2008!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Evidences of Grace and the Gospel

On our way back from a long Christmas vacation at home (hence the extreme posting hiatus), Steve and I had an interesting conversation about evidences of grace. (Why is it that generally "evidence" can be plural, but whenever people talk about "evidence of God's grace," they say "evidences" when they are talking about more than one example? Anyway, I digress...)

I asked him the familiar New Year's question about how he had seen evidence(s) of God's grace in his life over the last year, and one of his responses kind of surprised me. He mentioned how God has used parenthood to show him how much he doesn't have it all together--how much impatience and anger, etc., is still in his heart. I was surprised by this, partly because I have felt like having Elijah has brought out the worst in me but the best in Steve--apparently he just does a much better job of suppressing the impatience and anger than I do :)

Anyway, I was also surprised by his answer because my question was intended to evoke a positive response--you know, something like, "God has worked in my heart this year to help me overcome [fill in the blank]." Or "By His grace, I have really grown in my ability to do [blank]." It was a "look how far you've come" question, not a "look how far you still have to go" question. So I asked Steve about this, because to me, "look how far you've come" is a necessary encouragement in the midst of the discouragement and despair that can come from "look how far you still have to go."

He explained that he didn't find it discouraging at all. "Actually, when I look at the areas where I know I am really struggling, it helps to remember that I don't have it together even in the areas where I might sometimes think I do," he said. "It humbles me. And it reminds me that I will never have it all together; in fact, I don't have to. It brings me back to the gospel."

Steve then said something I'm still pondering. He proposed that the whole point of our lives on earth is to show us how desperately bad and full of sin we really are. "Look at guys like Luther, or even Paul," he pointed out. "Even at the end of their lives, they were still talking about how bad they were. The more you know, the more you just realize how sinful your heart is." So if we spend life here growing in our awareness of our sin, he suggested, it will make Heaven that much sweeter, when we finally are free from sin and conformed to Christ's image.

It's something to chew on as I reflect on 2007 and consider goals for the new year. I'll never measure up--but I don't need to. My standing before God as His redeemed and adopted daughter depends not on my performance, but on His mercy and grace--on the perfect performance and sacrifice of His Son.

Amen and amen. Here's to a gospel-centered 2008!

*ETA: See the comments for some helpful (I hope) discussion and clarification :)