Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fun Updates

So, here is the part of the letter where you get all the updates on all the fam. The purpose of the things I will share with you about each of our children is to 1.) make you laugh and 2.) let you in on the funny things that make them uniquely 'them'. I won't be sharing achievements because there weren't any. I'm kidding--just trying to make you laugh! (But we'll save the achievements for grandparents and resumes)

Since he is our newest member of the Grogan clan, Murray gets to start it off.




This is our dog Murray. We got Murray last year for Christmas. He was a perfectly timed gift from God. We needed some four-legged furry joy in our lives right about then. I also needed something to keep me busy. Wow, nobody told us how much work puppies can be! Actually, I take that back. They probably did tell us, but when you have puppies on the brain, you tend to tune out all that negative talk. But I am glad we tuned it out because he has been worth it.

Even though he is kind of dumb. He balked on the crate-training, he took ten months to potty train and he becomes 'fluff on speed' everytime we have visitors. He is also very co-dependent. He has to always be near us--always. He can't even go outside and do his business by himself. We have to walk down the deck steps and stand there and say 'Potty' twenty-five times and then jump up and down and do a cheer when he goes. If you have spent any time on the phone with me at all, you have witnessed me saying, 'stupid dog' on more than one occasion... So, I just re-read what I wrote. He actually sounds quite manipulative and in charge. Maybe it's his owner that's the dumb one?

Oh well, we all love him (well, one member of our family tolerates him--I'm not going to mention any names).
Before we leave the subject of Murray, I just have one more thing to say. Isn't his underbite endearing?
Who can we pick on next? How about Jeremiah?

Jeremiah is now five and started Kindergarten this year. School makes him feel extremely important. Jeremiah is a hard one to get mad at...especially because he is the best hugger in the world, has a sweet, squeaky voice and calls his pajamas 'jamamas'. (On a side note, Jeremiah drew my name at Christmas. I told him that 'yo mama needs some jamamas'. There must have been a miscommunication because I got pillows).


Jeremiah is the peace keeper of the family. He tends to be everyone's sidekick because of his easy-goingness. Owen is especially fond of him; wherever Jeremiah is, you can be sure Owen is close behind.



This is a year of firsts for Jeremiah: first time to play t-ball, first time to play basketball, first time to do school and first time to swim on his own. After going through these 'firsts' with three others already, I'd think it would get less exciting. But it hasn't. It seems to only get sweeter.


Next up to bat is Wes. I had to use this terminology because Wes is 100% a baseball fanatic. He lives it. He breathes it. He is serious. Wes is also a Lego fanatic and a drawing fanatic. Wes never does anything halfway. If he gets interested in something, watch out because he becomes a fanatic. Wes is also a straight shooter--to a fault. The other day when we were finishing up math, I had just explained something to him that he missed. Feeling confident that he understood the concept, I mentioned, 'I bet tomorrow you'll get this problem right.'

Wes immediately replied, dead-panned, 'If there is a tomorrow. There could not be a tomorrow, you know.'


Way to look at the bright side, Wes.


In general, Wes is kind of quiet. But it is a fisod. His wheels are always turning, and when he shares his thoughts, they can be quite complex. We like to call them 'Wes-isms'. Here is another one for ya: 'Mom, you know the first day when God created light? Well, was that January 1? Because it seems like the first day would be at the beginning of the year. But, the weird thing is, it would have been cold and Adam & Eve barely had any clothes on.'


Sophie, Sophers, Soph...what can I say? She adds a lot of diversity and interest to our lifes! And she thinks...BIG. Like a few weeks back when she dragged a bunch of extra lumber into our yard and tried to make a treehouse. She is a free spirit and I love that about her. Go here, if you want to read a 'fall-down laughing' story about Sophie from earlier this year. I will share this one last thing to give you a complete picture of Soph:


Our kids go to a school one day a week on Fridays and take various extra-curricular classes. This past fall I enrolled Sophie in knitting. I was so excited. I figured she would learn and teach me what she was learning...I envisioned she and I sitting together, sipping tea and knitting beautiful scarves...


Now, I will jump forward a couple months. Myself and my friend, Michelle, are helping Sophie organize her room one night. About every six months or so, I have to take a deep breath, brace myself and go in her room armed with trash bags. This is the second time in the past two years that I've had to call in reinforcement (hence, Michelle). Sophie is a superb 'stuffer' (things can look great on the surface, but everything is stuffed under the bed, behind the dresser, in the closet toy chest...) She is also a pack rat and hates to part with anything. Stuffer+Pack Rat=Deadly Combination. So, we are working away when I suddenly find a lone knitting needle (to knit you have to have two).


'Sophie, where is your other knitting needle?' (still hopeful that that earlier vision could still become a reality).


'Remember--didn't I tell you? Dad ran over it with the lawn mower.'


What? What? Why was your knitting needle outside??!! Oh, nevermind! Why am I even asking why? Did I happen to mention the term 'organizationally challenged'? I'm pretty sure she gets that from her dad...


Okay, moving right along (I get the feeling you're not buying that last statement).


...on to our oldest born, Joshua. Joshua is as far to the other side of the spectrum as you can get from his sister, Sophie. When I think of their extreme differences, I get this picture of them one day as adults: Sophie dressed in some get-up that she put little thought into (with a coffee stain running down the front), and Joshua dressed in a heavily starched button down and perfectly pressed pair of khakis. They have always been polar opposites. ALWAYS. Sophie does things super fast; Joshua is a slow, methodical turtle. Sophie makes rash decisions; Joshua weighs things carefully. When they were younger, their personalities clashed like oil and water. Thankfully, as they have matured, so has their relationship.


Joshua is 11 going on 40--not 11 going on 18, but 11 going on 40. Don't believe me? Here are some recent statements from him over the past couple of days:


As we are taking down our Christmas decorations, 'before we know it, we'll be putting these right back up again, you know it?'


As we are driving up to an intersection, 'That was smart of them to change the intersection light from a flashing red light to a yellow one. Now we won't have to sit at this intersection as long.'


Everytime someone comes to the door, 'Sorry things are a little bit messy around here. We've haven't had time yet to pick up.'


...Yep, 11 going on 40...


His dream would be if we handed all parental authority over to him because he is pretty sure he knows all the answers! First-borns--where would we be without them?


Last, but definitely not least (he would never allow 'least') is our little Owen, whom we lovingly refer to as 'the O Factor'. O is best known for his shenanigans earlier this year involving toothbrushes. All of our toothbrushes kept disappearing. Finally, after much investigating, we solved the case of the missing toothbrushes. Our O Factor had been throwing them into a small, one inch hole in our drywall. Yes, many a toothbrush now sits inside our wall, giving some mice something to munch on.


Actually, Owen has made significant progress this year. He has really grown up and the 'hard-core fit-throwing' is becoming more seldom these days. That's not to say he doesn't still have moments. Usually, these moments occur during transitions. He doesn't transition well into new surroundings. Like the time a couple of months ago when our church was still meeting at a hotel. We dropped him off at his classroom in the care of a young, newly engaged couple. This was their first time to work in Owen's age group. I guess Owen wanted to break them in. A few minutes after drop off, he busts through the child's gate and runs, shrieking through the hotel and does a nose plant right in front of the buffet table, startling two hotel workers. The sweet, unsuspecting, new teacher is running after him with a terrified look on her face. The two hotel workers are just staring down at him looking a little perplexed. Me? I'm pretending I don't know who that little guy belongs to. As Eric goes to retrieve him, I yell, 'can't you keep that kid under control?'


Yep, that's our O.


I hesitate to let you in on this last bit of info, but hey, why not? Owen is having personal issues of the worst kind this past month--issues of the #2 variety. Don't you use #2 terminology? Or maybe you are a little more blunt and call it poop (i can't believe i just said that). But that is what our Christmas vacation has been centered around--trying to get Owen to go #2 because he has a phobia about going and about getting changed after he goes. It's really brought Eric and I closer together. We've bonded as we've had to work as a team: 'now you hold the legs, while I wipe...' Too much information? Hey, just trying to keep it real.


Lastly, what's up with Eric and I? Well, the last paragraph gave you a pretty good picture...aside from that, well, we're probably doing a lot of the same kinds of things you are doing! Living life the best way we know how and hoping and praying somehow in the end we will have made a difference for Jesus.


That's it. That's all I've got. Hard-core fit-thrower is letting one loose. Hoping there will be a fourth and final part of this letter. We'll see.



Monday, December 28, 2009

THANKFUL (Christmas letter--part 2)

2008 was the hardest year yet in my life of 39 years and counting. At the end of it I felt ran over by a train (if you missed our Christmas blog-post last year, you can read it here). The one word that sticks out to me in 2008 is perseverance--it's what I feel like God was teaching me about as I stumbled through that year. And stumbled I did. I just felt like I was trying to keep my head above water and survive. During it all, God continued to remind me to persevere in His strength. I can look back now and know that is what took place. He got us through those times.



As I reflect back over 2009, it is a year of coming out of a tunnel and being restored. God can't change the things that happened in 2008 but He promised to walk with us through it. And that He did. It's true; time does heal things and God restored in us a spirit of joyfulness and happiness in 2009. The word that rings out to me when I think back over 2009 is 'thankful'.



Let me start out with the most recent event that occurred in our family that left us breathlessly thankful. My father-in-law, Jerry, unexpectedly had to have by-pass surgery. It was a very sudden thing. He had a few episodes of chest and arm pain and decided to pay a visit to his doctor. His EKG was basically normal; however, due to what seemed a minor abnormality, his doctor sent him on to a cardiologist (as a precaution). The cardiologist ordered a stress test. Just minutes into the stress test, Jerry began having chest pains. They then did a heart catharization. We were shocked to find that he had 80-100% blockage in three of his arteries. I mean, just days before this transpired he had been golfing and raking leaves! They immediately hospitalized him and prepared to do a triple by-pass.



During these couple of days, God kept showing up. As my mother in law (Sheila), Eric and his siblings made phone calls and tried to determine the best surgeon to use, every recommendation came back to the same name. As they made a phone call to a friend whose job takes him into stint surgeries, the friend just happened to be standing beside the recommended surgeon. He was able to ask the surgeon right then and there about the possibility of performing Jerry's surgery. Some might call this coincidence; we call it divine intervention.



The day Jerry went into surgery, it was hard to believe that he was going to have a triple by-pass. He looked like a very healthy, fit sixty-five year old. And his coloring looked so good. It seemed surreal that a team of doctors were getting ready to cut open his chest. It still amazes me that such a surgery was figured out and exists! It's amazing that they can saw through the chest, stop the heart, hook you up to a heart machine that does the heart's job, take a vein out of your leg and chest and make new arteries in the heart to circulate the blood, take you off the heart machine and restart your heart. WOW. UNBELIEVEABLE. It's beyond comprehension.



Shocked and still trying to absorb the fact that Jerry had to have a triple by-pass, you can imagine our reaction when the doctor came out after the surgery to inform us that he had performed SEVEN bypasses. Excuse me??? SEVEN? Is there even such a thing? Yes, come to find out, there is such a thing. It's rare, but it's done. We've decided this was just one more way God wanted to make Himself known to us and especially to Jerry that day. So He imprinted His number on him forever, a memorial stone that will remind us forever that He was there--the number SEVEN. A number to remind Jerry that God's not quite finished with him yet.




The surgery was about two and a half weeks ago. He is at home and is recovering remarkably. God gave Jerry a new heart for Christmas. We are so thankful and are rejoicing in that!



Secondly, we feel extremely thankful and blessed to be at our church--Fellowship Louisville. We had been meeting at the Holiday Inn since services first began a little over 2 1/2 years ago. But at the beginning of December we moved into a building and this has been so exciting. Our first service in the new building can only be described as 'one big smile'. That is what everyone was doing that day--smiling from ear to ear. It was such a joyful day and no one could contain it--it was just overflowing from everyone's faces! We are thankful to be a part of a body of believers that are earnestly seeking God, earnestly care about one another and earnestly care about those outside the walls of our church. We look forward to seeing God's plan unfold through Fellowship in 2010.



There are so many other things throughout this year for which we are thankful: celebrating Eric's 40th, our family vacation, our Community Group, running in our fourth annual Turkey Trot, watching our kids in their various sporting events, going on our church's first women's retreat, new friends, reconciled relationships, babies being born, our marriage retreat at Torch Lake with friends, best-friend Florida fun, Sophie's baptism, Wes' decision to follow Christ....these are just some of the highlights of our year!



Yes, 2009 had more ups in it than downs when compared to 2008. Or, maybe, after experiencing a year like 2008, we have learned how to appreciate and savor the 'ups' so much more? Whichever it is, we are trying to be thankful these days for the blessings, both big and small....and to remember that--no matter what--



THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH! (Nehemiah 8:10)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our 2009 CHRISTMAS LETTER (the first of a series)

Well, it is the morning of the eve of Christmas...I wish I could freeze frame this very moment of quiet stillness. Our kids are still sleeping (well, minus one--my early bird Jeremiah has come down to join me). This is always my very favorite time of the day. At this moment, all of the lights are off except the Christmas lights. How beautiful Christmas trees are when all is dark except for the glow of its lights. The darkness makes them illuminate all the more...

It kind of reminds me of Jesus. He was brought forth from his mother's womb to be a light for us in a dark world. He came so we could turn from the darkness of sin and death and all the yuck of this world and have an abundant life illuminating with His light. He doesn't always deliver us from the hardships and difficulties we'll all experience at some point in our life. But He always promises to deliver us through them in His way and in His time. The only part that we have to play in all of this is that we must choose to trust our Heavenly Father and lean on Him.


This is where Jesus comes in. We must choose to focus on Jesus who came into this world as a sin offering. He came into this world as a bright light that never sinned. He willingly died on the cross for my sin, your sin, and all of humanity's sin so that we could have an eternal relationship with God, the Father.


How thankful I am that God brought His son into this world! How thankful I am that we can have a relationship with God the Father of All through His son Jesus! How thankful I am for this little five year old sitting beside me who just interrupted the mood and the moment by asking, with no warning, 'can people be eaten by rats?' Excuse me while I explain to him the difference between the size of humans and rodents....


...Focus...Focus...I really am trying to focus. But my life is one big interruption. You moms out there know what I am talking about! Now all of the rest of our kids have gotten up, Eric just walked in and I have been asked a zillion more things like, 'what's for breakfast?'


I have to be honest, though, and say that Jeremiah and his siblings aren't the only culprits causing my lack of focus. I have had a hard time these last couple of weeks making Jesus the absolute focus amidst the last minute shopping, wrapping, etc., etc. Oh, we've had some moments here and there, but it just hasn't felt like enough. And I have been so frustrated because I feel like this happens every Christmas! UGGHHH!


So, with all of this whirling around in my head this morning, I opened up my very favorite devotional and read this:


'We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God. The world has become too much a part of us, and we are afflicted with the idea that we are not accomplishing anything unless we are always busily running back and forth. We no longer believe in the importance of a calm retreat where we sit silently in the shade. As the people of God, we have become entirely too practical. We believe in having "all our irons in the fire: and that ll the time we spend away from the anvil or fire is wasted time. Yet our time is never more profitably spent than when we set aside time for quiet meditation, talking with God and looking up to heaven.'


'we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God' ....Boy, I needed to hear that. We all need to hear that. God wants all of us to have a Sabbath this Christmas. He wants us to stay still and quiet. He wants our focus.


God gave me a gentle nudge this morning to stop writing. For now. Instead of cranking out a long Christmas letter, I think He wants me to do a series of small bite size portions over the next week between Christmas and New Year's (so, I guess it's going to be a Christmas series :) ). I am going to take the advice He gave me to attempt less and spend more time focused on Him and our family....and I will wait on Him to equip me to write His words in His time....


Until then, I am praying this for us: that we could 'Be still and know that He is God' (Psalm 46:10), and that 'we would ask that the LORD would help us to seek to dwell in His house all the days of our lives.' Psalm 27:4.


MAY YOU HAVE A RESTFUL MERRY CHRISTMAS FULL OF JESUS!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Favorite Blog of 2009

Today we built our whole devotional time around this story. This is my very favorite blog of 2009 (and maybe ever). You have to go and read about a girl who decided to trust God above all else. It will absolutely blow your mind and then you will be hooked--just like me.

http://www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009

My favorite daily devotional of 2009

I have to share with anyone reading--my very favorite daily devotional of 2009 was 'Streams in the Desert'. by L.B. Cowman. It never failed to bring a truth from God just when I was needing it!

2008 was a year of losses. It was a tough year and I felt pretty beat up by the end of it. A friend gave me this devotional last year at Christmas, right in the midst of this difficult season. She had no idea that God was going to use this devotional to help heal my heart of all the sorrow. Many days it seemed as if God was sitting right beside me speaking His truth into my life. I'm sure I have broken every copyright law imagineable quoting from it this year on my blog... if you are looking for a great Christmas present that will bless someone all year long, go and buy this for them!

Here are a few recent excerpts:

  • May we allow God to isolate us, but I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. It is in the experience of isolation that the Lord develops an independence of life and of faith so that the soul no longer depends on the continual help, prayers, faith, and care of others. The assistance and inspiration from others are necessary, and they have a place in a Christians development, but at times they can actually become a hindrance to a person's faith and welfare. God knows how to change our circumstances in order to isolate us. And once we yield to Him and He takes us through an experience of isolation, we are no longer dependent upon those around us, although we still love them as much as beofore. Then we realize that He has done a new work within us and that the wings of our soul have learned to soar in loftier air.
  • Every difficult task that comes across your path--every one that you would rather not do, that will take the most effort, cause the most pain, and be the greatest struggle--brings a blessing with it. And refusing to do it regardless of the personal cost is to miss the blessing. ~J.R. Miller
  • Life is a steep climb, and it is always encouraging to have those ahead of us "call back" and cheerfully summon us to higher ground. We all climb together, so we should help one another. The mountain climbing of life is serious, but glorious, business; it takes strength and steadiness to reach the summit. And as our view becomes better as we gain altitude, and as we discover things of importance, we should "call back" our encouragement to others.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 CHRISTMAS LETTER....

....um, well, it's not yet written...please check back in by the end of the week :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Interesting Facts From Our Nation's Heritage

This year we are studying American history. We have been enjoying it immensely! Here are some quotes and stories about/from George Washington that I wanted to pass along:

** Once, when aproached by the Chief of the Delaware Indians regarding instructing their Native children in the American schools, Washington assured him that the children would be as cared for as their own, saying "You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention."

** Not long after the Battle of the Monongahela in the French and Indian War, Washington wrote to his brother, Jack, "By the all-powerful dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, and escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me."

It would be fifteen years after this battle, that Washington would meet the Native chief that comanded the shooting upon him at the battle. While exploring in the wilderness with a friend, he came across a group of Indians, an interpreter, and their chief, who were purposefully in search of Washington that the chief might have words with him. A council fire was kindled, and the chief spoke: "I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path, that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest, that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, "Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe--he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do--himself alone is exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies." Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss...'Twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something that bids me speak in the voice of prophecy: Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies--he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as founder of a mighty empire."

** "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible." ~George Washington

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Matters of the Heart

Yesterday we found out my father in law has 80-100% blockage in three of his arteries. He will be having triple by-pass surgery tomorrow. We are praising God that this was found and that the medical profession literally works miracles daily when it comes to matters of the heart! We are thankful to God for how His hand has been on all the details of this situation, especially how He made it so very clear which doctor to pick for the surgery.

Please join me in praying these verses over my father-in-law over the next several days. They are all scriptures relating to the heart. God's Word is God-breathed and All Powerful; I am praying that God will literally breathe these verses into Jerry's heart and strengthen it through and through. I am praying that God's Word will be pumped through him and sustain him like never before physically and spiritually .

I was blown away by the amounts of scripture related to the heart. I guess it is because everything really does come down to the heart, doesn't it. Will you do me a favor? Over the next week, when you come across a verse pertaining to the heart will you stop and say a quick prayer over my father in law? Thanks in advance for praying!

Here are just some of the verses I found:

  • I pray also that the eyes of your HEART may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Eph. 1:18
  • Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your HEART to the Lord. Eph. 5:19
  • My purpose is that they may be encouraged in HEART and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Col. 2:2
  • My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in HEART. Psalms 7:10
  • But I trust in your unfailing love; my HEART rejoices in your salvation. Psalms 13:5
  • Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body will also rest secure. Psalm 16:9
  • The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the HEART. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Psalm 19:8
  • May he give you the desire of the HEART and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4
  • You have granted him the desire of his HEART and have not withheld the request of this lips. Psalms 21:2
  • My HEART says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek. Psalms 27:8
  • Wait for the Lord; be strong and take HEART and wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:14
  • The Lord is my strength and my shield; my HEART trusts in him and I am helped. My HEART leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalms 28:7
  • Be strong and take HEART, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalms 31:24
  • Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your HEART. Psalms 37:4
  • Create in me a pure HEART, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me. Psalms 51:10
  • My HEART is steadfast O God my HEART is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Psalms 57:7
  • Blessed are the pure in HEART for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
  • Trust in the Lord with all your HEART and lean not on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Jer. 10:23

I said, "Let me walk in the field";
God said, "No, walk in the town";
I said, "There are no flowers there";
He said, "No flowers, but a crown."

I said, "But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din";
But He wept as He sent me back,
"There is more," He said, "there is sin."

I said, "But the air is thick,
And smog is veiling the sun";
He answered, "Yet souls are sick,
And your work is yet undone."

I said, "I will miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say";
He answered me, "Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they."

I pleaded for time to be given;
He said, "Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide."

I cast one look at the field,
Then set my face to the town;
He said, "My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?

Then unto His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see.

~George MacDonald

Friday, December 4, 2009

Truths to Impress Upon Our Children

  • Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. It is not found in new jeans, a new iPod, a car, one's abilities, or exciting, heart-pounding experiences.
  • We need to walk in wisdom, submit to the goodness of God's way and turn away from our own agendas.
  • A life of prayer and godly counsel is our desire.
  • Choices that are principled rather than popular, foregoing immediate gratificaiton for the sake of eternal reward, are the goal.
  • God's authority structures are a blessing. For an eight-year-old this means I can trust Mom's decision that I need an eight o'clock bedtime. Demanding my own way when I still need parental guidance short-circuits God's training process.
  • Loving parents are a blessing from God. Loyalty to parental instruction is an expression of gratitude to God. The majority culture offers a fraudulent counterfeit by encouraging young people to be loyal to their peers rather than their parents.
  • The heart is the wellspring of life. The things children give their hearts to--the hopes, ambitions, desires, dreams, joys, and concerns--will set the course of life.
  • Our hearts cannot be trusted (Jer 17:9). Our hearts will lie to us. Children (and their parents) are easily entrapped and need to be accessible to others for counsel, instruction, and nurture.
  • Friendships are for the purpose of glorifying God, encouraging others, showing love and compassion, and gaining encouragement to do what is right.
  • There is a sowing and reaping principle in the Bible and we need to develop a harvest mentality. Children who trust and obey God find their heads crowned with wonderful blessings. Of course, this truth cuts both ways. The ten-year-old boy who is lazy about his chores will reap what he is sowing because God will not be mocked.

---taken from 'Instructing a Child's Heart' by Tedd and Margy Tripp---

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Conflicted Heart

As I shopped this weekend on Black Friday, I had two train of thoughts running through my head all day long. Two trains of thoughts that couldn't be more opposing to one another.

On the one hand, I was intensely focused on my shopping list--what to buy for whom, where are the best deals, etc. And I will be honest. I was enjoying myself immensely in the process. I enjoy buying the ones around me something that they really want. I enjoy the joy I see on their faces when they open their presents. I enjoy trying to find something for the best price. I enjoy the anticipation that comes with opening gifts at Christmas. I remember all of those feelings growing up. How exciting it was to receive something you really wanted.

On the other hand, a tinge of something--I am still trying to figure out if it is guilt or conviction or a bit of both--also clouded the enjoyment. As I filled my shopping cart with stupid toys, gadgets and computer technology, I would have thoughts like: I wonder how that little girl in Uganda that is fighting for her life is doing. Or, right now, at this very moment, there are children dying because there is no food or clean water available where they live. I would look down at the things I was buying and I would just feel sick to my stomach.

I have this struggle every Christmas. Every year I say, 'okay, we are going to do things radically different this year.' Yet, when push comes to shove, we do things exactly the same. And we don't even do many presents compared to the majority of parents. Our children each get three presents: one Santa gift, one gift from us and one from a sibling. Oh, and we do stocking stuffers. As I've discussed the 'gift giving' struggle with others around me, they often complain about the amount of gifts given by extended family--that it is just too much. I am very grateful that in our family, this is not a problem. They receive one to two presents from Eric's parents, a small gift from his grandparents and one from the 'cousin' drawing. So it is definitely not overdone. On my side of the family, it is even less: one gift from the 'family drawing'.

So, I have been pondering--are those questions that kept coming into my head while I shopped conviction from God or was it 'false' guilt that the enemy is constantly throwing at us to quench our joy? Or--is it a little bit of both?

As I have been praying and pondering over this conflict in my heart, here is what I feel the Lord is teaching me so far--

  • Yes, three presents for each of your children is a small amount comparatively to others in your country. Yet what your children receive comparatively to the children around the world is immensely more. Remember that. Don't forget it. AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT the children who are starving and dying.
  • Stop focusing so much on the number of presents and pray for My guidance in this matter. The number doesn't really matter--it's really a matter of the heart. For 'Where your heart is so will your treasure be.'
  • Are you seeing discontentment and ungratefulness in the heart of your children? Is your gift giving causing idols to form in their hearts?
  • Are your children tied to their possessions? Are you tied to your possessions? Would you be grouchy if you were stripped of all of the comforts you have been given? From where does your joy really and truly stem from?
  • Do your children ever have to sacrifice anything to help someone in need? Maybe you need to make that happen. Are you making them aware of the needs of those in poverty? Do they realize how blessed they are?
  • Is your joy at Christmas truly from the simplicity of the cross or is your joy in the Christmas decorations, the lights and all of the traditions. None of these former things are wrong in themselves. The question, sweet daughter, is not that you desire these things but do you desire them too much?

Youch. Oh, it's painful to look at what truly motivates my heart. So, what's the verdict? Is it conviction or false guilt? I think it's a bit of both. So, I am trying to throw off the false guilt, yet see my sin for what it is--utterly filthy, no good sin. The good thing is that God isn't finished with me or you or my children yet. It is a refining process. I'm right smack dab in the middle of this one, that is for sure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I made this video as a gift to Eric at his 40th birthday party. It is such a beautiful picture of God's grace and how He can change our lives and I wanted to share it with you! (make sure to pause my music on the bottom right side)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIC!!!

Well, it's here. It's official. The Big E is finally the Big 4-0 today! Eric, here are 40 things I LOVE about the you, the love of my life:


  1. Your love for the Lord. So there. So real. So noticeable. So contagious.
  2. Your steadiness, your calmness, your coolness amidst my yo-yo ness and flightiness.
  3. Your dedication to running and triathloning--it is a physical representation to those around you of persevering with the Lord through trials and tribulations. Don't ever give this up. Our children are learning so much from you!
  4. The fact that you could care less about what others think.
  5. You are a great listener.
  6. You take prayer seriously and I know you are praying for me and our kids.
  7. That you like the beach and the ocean as much as I do.
  8. Your theology is sound but you are not all 'theological'.
  9. You are the most loyal person I know.
  10. You make me coffee. You bring me coffee. You love coffee.
  11. You do the things behind the scenes at our house so that homeschooling will work for us.
  12. Watching you coach our kids makes me happy.
  13. You make a mean breakfast.
  14. You've always dressed up as whoever I want you to at our kid's birthday parties.
  15. You leave me notes
  16. Your dry wit and how unassuming it is.
  17. You look mighty fine in a cowboy hat
  18. The fact that you text me. It makes me feel special.
  19. You pray with me.
  20. You still date me.
  21. Your 'just wing it' mentality.
  22. You are very thoughtful and 'wordy' when you give cards to me or anyone else. You don't just sign your name. I love that.
  23. The special bond that you and Owen share makes me smile.
  24. You do laundry better than I do (ok, that is not saying much, but still)
  25. Your singing voice that i get to hear every Sunday beside me at church. Your voice is my favorite (well, maybe after Mac Powell....okay, your voice is my second favorite)
  26. Cheering you on at a race has been some of the best times of my life.
  27. You are one of the most giving people I know.
  28. Your burden for helping the poor, the downtrodden, the hungry, the orphaned.
  29. You never complain. EVER.
  30. How you bust out with something funny at the most unexpected times...like doing cheerleading moves with the girls at Wayside :)
  31. You have that 'cool' component that I have never had. And you still love me, even though I am uncool.
  32. You are not perfect and you don't try to act like it.
  33. That you lead our family by serving us. You are a true example of a Servant Leader.
  34. Our weekly date, watching 'The Office'. So glad you share this same kind of humor!
  35. You let me have time to myself whenever i need it.
  36. The fact that you are not materialistic in the least bit.
  37. You continue to organize our cabinets even though I keep messing them up.
  38. You are involved in our kid's lifes.
  39. You're hot.
  40. The fact that you still love me after all of these years, despite all of my hang ups

I LOVE YOU!!!

I hope you have felt extra special this week!!!!

Final Instructions -- 1 Thess. 5: 12-24

The thoughts in parenthesis are the thoughts the Lord gave me/asked me as I read through this scripture this morning...the thoughts that came to mind as I struggle through this life! I thought I would share them with you!

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. (Have you prayed for your pastor and your church leaders today? They need our prayers! They need our respect!)

Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
(Have you encouraged your pastor lately? If we remain silent, they will never know the encouragement that we were thinking. So often, the correspondence they receive is discouraging or critical. Take time today to thank your church leaders and to tell them they are doing a good job! They need encouragement!)

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (God does not give us discernment to be critical or judgmental of others but he gives it to us so we will intercede for them. Intercede this morning for a weaker brother in Christ with thanksgiving and joyfulness. Ask the Lord to help you be watchful today so that you can encourage the discouraged and speak the truth in love to someone who is needing it)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (When someone hurts you, what is your first response? Is it to get back at them? Christ calls us to be kind. No. matter. what. It's easy to be kind and love those who are easy to love. What about the ones who are mean? What about the ones who disappoint you? Christ calls us to love. No. matter. what. If you are only surrounding yourselves with those who are easy to have relationships with than you are missing out on so, so much!)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (Ask the Lord to help you do this throughout the day! Make a conscious effort to offer up little prayers throughout the day, especially those of thanksgiving!)

Do not put out the Spirit's fire;

do not treat prophecies with contempt. (maybe there are some who believe what the Bible says about Bible prophecies a little differently than you do. What makes you so sure you are right and they are wrong? Ask God for humility as you study the scripture and whatever you do, don't treat His Word with contempt! I cringe when I hear people making fun of others who take unfulfilled Bible prophecy literally...don't make fun, instead, do what the next verse says and 'test everything...'

Test everything. Hold on to the good.

Avoid every kind of evil. (Ask the Lord to help you to avoid it yet at the same time be 'in this world' as we are called to live here and exclaim the Gospel to others who don't know Him! Don't become a recluse, a Separatist....what good is that?)

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Pray for sanctification through and through! He answers Yes to this prayer every single time!)

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (Amen, Amen and Amen! HE IS SO FAITHFUL!!!!!!!)

1 Thess. 5:12-24

Monday, November 23, 2009

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY SOPHIE!!!


10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY SOPHIE GIRL:

  1. Your encouraging spirit. You have always expressed yourself through notes and letters. I love this about you! I love reading the emails that you send your friends and that you want to keep up with how they're doing.

  2. All of the maps that you draw--especially the ones of your 'room designs'.

  3. The way you look up to your older brother.

  4. The fact that you don't hold grudges and get over conflicts quickly.

  5. Your ability to get things done quickly.

  6. The fact that you are not a perfectionist.

  7. Your 'eagle eyes' -- you can spot something speedy quick

  8. That you love Snoopy and the Peanuts -- reminds me of my childhood

  9. Your new found love of running

  10. The fact that you've always got something new going--whether it's 'Sophie's Science Lab' or creating cartoon characters or redecorating your room. You are a mover and shaker--always moving on to the next 'great thing' that interests you.

There are so many other things that I love about you, but these are just a few things!


I love you, Soph!





Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are you experiencing sorrow? Prayer can make your time of affliction one of strength and sweetness. Are you experiencing happiness? Prayer can add a heavenly fragrance to your time of joy. Are you in grave danger from some outward or inward enemy? Prayer can place an angel by your side whose very touch could shatter a millstone into smaller grains of dust than the flour it grinds, and whose glance could destoy an entire army. What will prayer do for you? My answer is this: Everything that God can do for you. "Ask for whatever you want me to give you" (2 Chron. 1:7) ~Frederick William Farrar

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stillness

I ran across a great quote to think upon by Hannah Whitall Smith and wanted to share it:

"A quiet spirit is of priceless value when performing outward activities. Nothing so greatly hinders the work of God's unseen spiritual forces, upon which our success in everything truly depends, as the spirit of unrest and anxiety.

There is tremendous power in stillness. A great believer once said, "All things come to him who knows how to trust and to be silent." This fact is rich with meaning, and a true understanding of it would greatly change our ways of working. Instead of continuing our restless striving, we would "sit down" inwardly before the Lord, allowing the divine forces of His Spirit to silently work out the means to accomplish our goals and aspirations.

You may not see or feel the inner workings of His silent power, but rest assured it is always mightily at work. And it will work for you, if you will only quiet your spirit enought to be carried along by the current of its power."

Okay, so that was more like a dissertation than a quote...but nevertheless, good stuff!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Solitude

'He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.'
Matthew 14:23

I was reminded in my bible study time this morning of the importance of withdrawing and spending time with the Lord alone. I was reminded of how tiring and draining it can be if we are constantly interacting and spending time with others. We cannot hear the Lord if we do not spend time quietly seeking out what he is saying. This does not happen naturally. We have to be ever intentional about spending uninterrupted time before Him. While community with others is extremely important, it should not be of utmost importance. We must be careful to put our time with our Father first and then all other things will flow out of this relationship. I constantly have to be on guard against 'good' things in my life that can rob me of the time I need to spend with my Father. 'Good' things such as sleeping longer, serving others, spending time with friends, or homeschooling can replace my time in God's Word, if I am not careful. Even things I feel I need to do to be a good mom have to be monitored. I have to be ever mindful that I am to 'seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to me as well' (Matthew 6:33).

Not only do I need to guard my alone time with God, I also need to prioritize that that the Lord has entrusted me with--my husband and my children. This, too, is difficult in a world that is constantly pulling and pushing me in so many different directions. Too often, I put my own needs or the needs of others before these priorities. I am learning that I must pray and ask God about outside commitments and look to His will in how to spend my days. I'll admit, I have a hard time with this because I am a people pleaser. I don't like to say no to others. But I need to remember to fear God and not men and look to Him to schedule my days. He only gives me tasks to do that my days have room to fulfill. If I am trying to do more than He has called me to than I am full of pride and unbelief--prideful that I think it has to be 'me' to accomplish such and such, 'unbelief' because I am failing to trust that God's way is better.

Today I will focus on today, praying that He will give me His wisdom to do that which He has called me to. I will walk in the promise that His grace is sufficient when I fall down or get off the path I am to be on. I will stand on the the promise to 'not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself . Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love....

  • I love the smell of Fall, the cool breeze on my face when i am outside, the smell of leaves burning
  • I love pumpkin muffins, especially chocolate chip ones
  • I love that my five year old plays football outside with his brothers, sporting bright yellow rain boots with gym shorts that are too big for him. i also love that he can get tackled 125 times and not care.
  • I love the fact that i have 55 brand new coats collected from our sweet Fellowship sitting in my Dining Room to be delivered to Wayside Christian Mission.
  • I love that my kids love running! I love the encouragement of yelling and cheering each other on from the sidelines during the races.
  • I love my Romans bible study -- absolutely has been life changing. Maybe I love it so much because I love Romans; maybe I love Romans so much because I love God's Word; maybe I love His Word so much because I love my Jesus and my life is radically different with Him in my life...
  • I love when my two year old comes downstairs in the morning half asleep and all squinty-eyed
  • I love that my two year old follows my five year old around all day long and does everything that he does
  • I love that my 11 year old sat in the front seat of the van last night on the way home from our Community Group, trying to get pictures for his Photography class. I love that he was jerking the camera at the last minute, trying to blur the lights in the picture, saying it was a special technique.
  • I love my running time with my friend, Amy Jo. I cherish this time on Wednesdays.
  • I love our Fun Fridays of classes -- especially love that my 11, 9 and 7 year old are doing Public Speaking together. Practicing their speeches for one another has been hilariuosly fun and memorable
  • I love the Sunday night prayer time with our church
  • I love Mac Powell's voice --loved experiencing it up close and personal Saturday night with friends. I hope that in heaven we can experience a continous Third Day concert from front row seats.
  • I love that my daughter looks exactly like Laura Ingalls when she wears her prairie dress. I love the fact that she wants to dress up and play like she is from this period in history...
  • I love studying American History. I can't wait to travel with Eric to NY City and Boston in three weeks and study our heritage upclose and personal.
  • I love listening to Janet Parschall
  • I love the books I have just read The Hole in the Gospel, and Same Kind of Different as Me
  • I am loving the book 'Crazy Love' -- got a feeling it, too, is going to be one of those life changing books...
  • I love our church that God is growing and building up and adding to...love the sweet fellowship...love the expository preaching...love the worship...Love that it's big on Truth and Grace
  • I love that my 7 yo lives and breathes baseball.
  • I love how much my 2 yo loves his daddy
  • I love mornings, the dawn of a new day

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I needed to hear this this morning!

'We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises--human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God--but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets among ordinary people--and this is not learned in five minutes.' ~Oswald Chambers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Those who have been gripped by the power of the Holy Spirit and are used for God's glory are those who have been broken in their finances, broken in their self-will, broken in their ambitions, broken int heir lofty ideals, broken in their worldly reputation, broken in their desires, and often broken in their health. Yes, He uses those who are despised by the world and who seem totally hopeless and helpless, just as Isaiah said: "The lame will carry off plunder" Isa. 33:23

Justify Full ~Streams in the Desert

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In light of Romans 2....

These are the questions God is prompting me to ask myself this morning, in light of my study of Romans 2:

  • whom have you been judging? are you, in fact, guilty of those same things?
  • 'the kindness of God leads you to repentance' (verse 4) -- what does that mean exactly?
  • where is my heart being stubborn and unrepentant? what things am i being prideful over? where am i rationalizing my behavior?
  • 'selfish ambition' -- ugh, this term has come up over and over in my bible study lately! Is God trying to show me something, or what! where am I putting my own ambition over God's? where am I trying to succeed and get the credit?
  • in what areas of my life am I disobeying God?
  • where in my life am i being a hearer of the Word, but not a doer?
  • whatever i might be teaching those in my life, am i learning it myself? for example, if i am trying to teach my children to be unselfish am i in fact displaying unselfishness to them? if i am trying to teach my children to not react in anger, am i demonstrating this myself?
  • am i striving for praise from men or from God?

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Lord, Please fill me up with more of you and less of me! Strip me of me! strip me of selfish ambition! strip me of all that is not 100% of you! Fill me with your Spirit!

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not be the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:29

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sobering Scripture

Romans 2:

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.

And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

There will be tribulation and destress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

But glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,

for there is no partiality with God.

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

For not when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law are a law to themselves,

in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

But if you bear the name "Jew," and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,

and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

you therefore who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?

You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written.

For indeed circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

If therefore the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

And will not he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law, and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which if of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I am a man of prayer (Psalm 109:4)

All too often we are in a "holy" hurry in our devotional time. How much actual time do we spend in quiet devotion on a daily basis? Can it be easily measured in minutes? Can you think of even one person of great spiritual stature who did not spend much of this time in prayer? Has anyone ever exhibited much of the spirit of prayer who did not devote a great deal of time to prayer?

George Whitefield, the English preacher who was one of the leading figures in the eighteenth-century American revival known as the Great Awakening, once said, "I have spent entire days and weeks lying prostrate on the ground, engaged in silent or spoken prayer." And the words of another person, whose life confirmed his own assertion, were these: "fall to your knees and grow there."

It has been said that no great work of literature or sceince has ever been produced by someone who did not love solitude. It is also a fundamental principle of faith that no tremendous growth in holiness has ever been achieved by anyone who has not taken the time frequently, and for long periods, to be alone with God. ~from the Still Hour

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's All a matter of Prayer...

The greatest and the best talent that God gives to any man or woman in this world is the talent of prayer. And the best usury that any man or woman brings back to God when he comes to reckon with them at the end of this world is a life of prayer. And those servants best put their Lord's money 'to the exchangers' who rise early and sit late, as long as they are in this world, ever finding out and ever following after better and better methods of prayer, and ever forming more secret, more steadfast, and more spiritually fruitful habits of prayer, till they literally 'pray without ceasing,' and till they continually strike out into new enterprises in prayer and new achievement, and new enrichments. ~Alexander Whyte

Martin Luther, when once asked what his plans for the following day were, answered: "Work, work, from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."

Prayer is no laggard's work. When all the rich, spiced graces from the body of prayer have by labor and beating been blended and refined and intermixed, the fire is needed to unloose the incense and make its fragrance rise to the throne of God. The fire that consumes creates the spirit and life of the incense. Without fire prayer has no spirit; it is, like dead spices, for corruption and worms. The casual, intermittent prayer is never bathed in this divine fire. For the man who thus prays is lacking in the earnestness that lays hold of God, determined not to let him go until the blessing comes. "Pray without ceasing," counseled the great apostle. That is the habit that drives prayer right into the mortar that holds the building stones together. ~E.M. Bounds

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. ~Dr. A.J. Gordon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Great Reminder....

Seeing God in everything is the only thing that will make me loving and patient with people who annoy and trouble me. Then I will see others as the instruments God uses to accomplish His tender and wise purpose for me, and I will even find myself inwardly thanking them for the blessing they have become to me. Nothing but seeing God will completely put an end to all complaining and thoughts of rebellion.
~Hannah Whitall Smith

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When All Is Said and Done

When all is said and done, I want desperately for my children to speak of me as one who spent time with the Lord and in so doing that it flowed into every part of my life. One day when they look back upon their childhood, I want them to see a mother who prayed with them, taught them the holy scriptures and most importantly--LIVED IT OUT. Because if they remember me as one who led bible studies and prayer groups, who wrote and talked about the Christian life--but didn't see me live it out in the ordinary, mundane moments in life--then all the 'outer work' was in vain. You see, all the 'outer work' is really the easy part. The harder part is working it out moment by moment. The harder part is being Christ to your husband when he is doing the very thing that drives you nuts. The harder part is being Christ to your children when they are giving you a sour or defiant attitude. The harder part is daily dying to my own selfish desires in order to be the wife and mother that God has called me to be. It is sooooooooo hard. But it can be done if I rely on God's strength in all of my weaknesses.

Below, I am sharing with you a quote from a son about his mother. I read this in my devotional the other day--it was inspiring to me. It reminds me of what my purpose is. It reminds me that the season--right now--is to disciple these children with whom God has entrusted me. It reminds me to not get sidetracked with other things right now. My earnest prayer is that one day my children--too--would speak of me this way. Yes, I have a long way to go. I mess up a lot. One thing is for sure, though--His mercies are new every morning.

My mother made it a habit every day, immediately after breakfast, to spend an hour in her room, reading the Bible, meditating over it, and praying to the Lord. That hour was like a blessed fountain from which she drew the strength and sweetness that perpared her to complete all her tasks. It also enabled her to maintain a genuine peacefulness in spite of the normal trying worries and pettiness that so often accompany life in a crowded neighborhood. As I think of her life and all that she had to endure, I see the absolute triumph of the grace of God in the ideal Christian lady. She was susch a lovely person that I never saw her lose her temper or speak even one word in anger. I never heard her participate in idle gossip or make a disparaging remark about another person. In fact, I never saw in her even the hint of an emotion unbecoming to someone who had drunk from the 'the river of the water of life' (Rev. 22:1) and who had eaten of 'the living bread that came down from heaven' (John 6:51) ~Frederick William Farrar

Okay, I do have to make one last comment. I have to admit that it does sound a bit idealistic. Maybe, like me, you read this and immediately think--Yeah right. She never lost her temper? She never had an unbecoming emotion--NEVER? Yes, I had those same thoughts too. I think we can read that and immediately feel guilty, knowing that in our own lives this is not the case. And, truly, in this woman's life I am sure it wasn't the case either. Nobody is perfect. This mother wasn't perfect. The point is--this is what she was characterized by. And what we are characterized by is what we will be remembered by. I am sure she had some bad days, but the beauty of her meek and quiet spirit--enabled only through Christ--outshone every bit of it. The time she spent with the Lord enabled her to be what she could not be on her own.

Yes, I am an absolute mess. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. We all are. This mother must have understood that too. She allowed Him to be her Savior and be what she could not be. She
immersed herself in scripture and believed by faith that He could be all things that she could not. We too, can do that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So Thankful

I am so thankful for Jesus. I am so thankful that He came down to this earth in the form of a man and lived a holy, blameless life. I am so thankful that he died on the cross for my every sin. I am so thankful that he rose on the third day so that one day I too can have eternal life. I am so thankful for a loving, yet just, God. I am so thankful that He opened my eyes to the yuck in my life--that He showed me I am a sinner and there is not one thing I can do to save myself. That not one of us is righteous--not one. I am so thankful that 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life ~John 3:16.' I am so thankful that He sent us a Savior--someone to save us from drowning. I am so thankful that He calls us to Himself. I am so thankful to have a relationship with Him and to walk through this life with Him. I am thankful that through Him I can have peace and joy--even in great difficulties and hardship. I am thankful that this life here on earth is not all there is! I am thankful to belong to Him! I am thankful that Jesus' blood covers my sins--a cross word, a rash action, all my errors big and small--COMPLETELY. I am so thankful that this free gift from God took nothing from me except BELIEF. Belief in Jesus. Jesus--non political, non religious, not of this world. JESUS. LOVING, HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, FORGIVING, JUST, GOD INCARNATE. JESUS.

I love you, sweet Jesus. Thank you for giving me life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." Romans 1:16-17

Friday, August 28, 2009

Perseverance


A couple of months ago, Eric competed in a half iron man. This triathlon consists of swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and running 13.1 miles. Only one triathlon surpasses this one--the full Iron Man. Yes, that would be twice this distance--swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. A full iron man on average takes at least twelve hours to complete. Thus, Eric hoped to complete the half in six hours. This triathlon was the first one of such magnitude for him ever to attempt. He was ready, though. He had put in the hours and trained hard. Now it was time to perform.

As the race approached, it appeared that all the odds were stacked against him. First of all, he was out of town for work most of the week beforehand. Secondly, he caught a flu virus that had affected some of our children in the prior week. Traveling in and of itself can be exhausting, but traveling while you are sick is just plain miserable. As he left for Boston on Monday, he had chills and body aches. As the week progressed, his fever broke but he began coughing and hacking up phlegm. "At least the fever is gone," I thought optimistically. The fever came back, though, on Thursday night as he traveled home. On Friday, the day before the triathlon, Eric's temperature was 101. He had chills. He was hacking left and right. He was miserable.

Not only did Eric have the sickness to contend with, he also had to contend with the naysayers--his wife being one of them! Myself and a few other female family members :) , while having the best intentions, weren't encouraging. We threw questions and comments out there like: 'Are you sure this is a good idea?' 'You're going to go ahead and go through with this?' 'You're going to wind up in the hospital!' Mind you, our questions and comments came from concern and love for him--we didn't want him to suffer more and wind up even sicker. Looking back, though, I realize now that all it did was cast doubt and discouragement on the already grim situation.

By Friday evening, as I realized that this guy was going to compete in this race, come hell or high water, I wholeheartedly got behind him and determined that he was going to need our prayer support every step of the way. As I left him a note to read prior to running the next morning, I asked God for just the right words. God impressed upon me to remind him that it was going to be God's supernatural strength--not his own--that would get him through the race. Philippians 4:13 never seemed more tangible as I wrote the words on his card 'You CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!' and 'He is your strength in your weakness!'

The next day, the kids and I spent the day going to different spots along the race route to cheer Eric on. Once again, I was reminded of the excitement of watching a race of sheer endurance. There is nothing quite like cheering on people who have put in hours and hours of preparation. We yelled and cheered until our voices were hoarse. Watching Eric come across the finish line was exhilarating, to say the least. He finished in 5:52, beating his goal of six hours. I can't imagine the amount of satisfaction he must have felt.

Can you believe that Eric did not cough one single time throughout that race? No, not one time. God definitely was His strength and sustained him during that race. I thought about whether or not I would have stuck it out if I had been that sick. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have. I would have thrown in the towel and then missed out on what God wanted to do. My husband really etched a picture in my mind that day of what true perseverance looks like. True perseverance happens when all odds are stacked against you. True perseverance happens when you dig down deep and muster it up when it feels like you've got nothing left to give. True perseverance is staying the course no matter what is thrown your way. It's keeping the faith. It's standing strong until the end.

My husband's steadfastness conquered a triathlon that day. My prayer is that these lessons learned physically will transfer over into our spiritual lives. I yearn for us to live our lives intentionally for the Lord. I yearn to do the hard things--whatever those things might be. I yearn to not shrink back and bow out due to fear. I yearn to give it our all and never throw in the towel. I yearn to face suffering head on without complaint or whine. I yearn to rely on the Lord's strength through and through. I yearn...to keep writing, but my time's up. The dishes are calling my name.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Living it Out

The Lord is speaking directly into my life this morning. I would go as far as to say that He is shouting it. It is pretty elementary, really. He is telling me, basically, 'Don't just read about the Christian life, but DO IT! Don't just talk the talk, WALK THE WALK!'

This morning He spoke it through my devotional: 'The moment you forsake the matter of sanctification or neglect anything else on which God has given you His light, your spiritual life begins to disintegrate within you. Continually bring the truth out into your real life, working it out into every area, or else even the light that you possess will itself prove to be a curse....If you say you are sanctified, show it....your theology must work itself out, exhibiting itself in our most common everyday relationships. Our Lord, "...unless your righteousness exceeds the righteous ness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20).'

Am I living out God's Word practically? Is it coming out in the nitty grittiness of every day life? What comes out of me when I am squeezed--lemon or lemonade? Am I patient when my children push or try me? Do I speak out of anger or out of love? Such questions could go on and on and on and the answers wouldn't be adequate. ...Ugh...ugh...ouch...

Lord,
I groan in my the fullness of my humanity. I am sick in the pit of my stomach over my sin. My answers are inadequate but you Lord are more than adequate. I may fall and fail, but you never do. I rest in the fact that your love covers a multitude of sins. I rest in the fact that you cover me! That you pick me up and save me! Please, please, please--I beg you--sanctify me through and through.. I love you, sweet Jesus.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Repentance

I hurt somebody's feelings yesterday. Until I could resolve it, I spent two hours sick to my stomach and my thoughts going everywhere. The situation became huge in my head and I couldn't get it out of my mind until it got made right. It made me so sick to my stomach that I wanted to throw up. It was the worst feeling ever. I never want to go through that again. I am so thankful that it was resolved quickly; I couldn't have lived that way for very long!

This morning, my devotional hit me right between the eyes:
'Repentance does not cause a sense of sin--it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance.' Oswald Chambers

Even though I am so unworthy, I am thankful to serve a God who is completely worthy. And I am thankful to have family and friends who love me even when I say or do something stupid. Mostly, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for taking on my sins (and all of mankind's, for that matter) so that I never have to bear them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quotes this week that have got me thinking....

  • "Under conviction of worldliness, many well meaning persons have simply transferred their huge egos from the world to the church. BEWARE OF SPIRITUAL AMBITION. We are most useful to God when poured free of self and full of Christ." --Beth Moore
  • "The true character of the loveliness that speaks for God is always unnoticed by the one possessing that quality. Conscious influence is prideful and unchristian. If i wonder if I am being of any use to God, I instantly lose the beauty and the freshness of the touch of the Lord....in the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself. If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to thave the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus." "Blesses are the poor in Spirit..." Matthew 5:3 (prior quote--Oswald Chambers)
  • "Must life be considered a failure for someone compelled to stand still, forced into inaction and required to watch the great, roaring tides of life from shore? No--victory is then to be won by standing still and quietly waiting. Yet this is a thousand times harder to do than in the past, when you rushed headlong into the busyness of life. It requires much more courage to stand and wait and still not lose heart or lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others, and to be quiet, confident and rejoicing while the busy multitiude goes happily along their way. The greatest life is: "after you have done everything, to stand" " (Eph. 6:13) --J.R. Miller
  • "I am learning that if I am having trouble submitting to my husband, it actually comes down to the fact that I am having trouble submitting to my Lord." --my friend, Kathy Franklin
  • "For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved." --Richard E. Stearns version of Matthew 25:42-43

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NOW

Are you like me and put things off? Do you ever think, "I'm going to write that person a note!" and then never do it? Way too often I am telling people, "I wrote a note to you in my head!" This might be a funny thing to say. Sadly, though, those words in my head never encouraged or helped anyone. They just sat there. Idle. Dead. Lost forever. Words that could have been used to speak life into someone else's life.

I can be the world's worst procrastinator. Oh, I hate this about myself! I let the present moment tasks keep me from doing little things for other people. The momentary obligations seem so large before me that those thoughts I have of 'making that phone call' or 'writing that note' all too often get swallowed up and forgotten about.

Lately, my time of bible study has been on this very point. Several times in the passed couple of weeks I have read a devotional or heard a sermon about not putting off tomorrow what you can do today. This morning was no exception. It was once again about this very point. I am pretty sure the Lord is trying to tell me something. I am reminded of the Nike slogan: Just Do It. That is what I hear the Lord saying to me: "Just do it. Do it NOW." The words I read this morning in 'Streams in the Desert' spoke so powerfully to me that I thought I'd share them with you:

What shall I do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore any good work, kindness, or service I can render to any person or animal, let me do it now. Let me not neglcet or delay to do it, for I will not pass this way again. an Old Quaker saying

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you the bitter heartache
At the setting of the sun;
The tender word unspoken,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of your brother's way,
The bit of heartfelt counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
That you had no time or thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.

These little acts of kindness,
So easily out of mind,
These chances to be angels,
Which even mortals find--

They came in nights of silence,
To take away the grief,
When hope is faint and feeble,
And a drought has stopped belief.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great,
To allow our slow compassion
That tarries until too late.
And it's not the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you the bitter heartache,
At the setting of the sun.

Adelaide Proctor

Give what you have for you never know--to someone else it may be better than you can even dare to think. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm back!

Well, our computer crashed. Our hard drive was corrupted (whatever that means) and it took two weeks to fix. But now we are back in business. Hurray! It's been difficult being cut off from the computer world. I can't believe how much of my life relies on it. I especially missed Google. I couldn't anwer life's toughest questions such as, 'why is my dog throwing up?' or 'is itchy skin a sign of menopause?' Once, a close friend of mine had computer problems and frustratingly exclaimed, "My friends are in there!" Well, I have now felt her pain. I've missed you people!

New Title????

I am wrestling around with a new title and pic for this blog. I don't know if I'll stick with this one...just messing around with it...trying to come up with the best fit in my limited time of doing so! I just feel like I need a change. If you have any ideas, let me know. I have realized that out of my running is birthed so much of my writing. So I want to connect the two on here....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

Wow. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper is a challenging, inspiring, incredible read. It is so packed full of insights; reading it a second time through would be time well spent.

One thing that got my attention was the way we waste our life watching television. Here is an excerpt:

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. Neil Postman shows why:

What is happening in America is that television is transforming all serious public business into junk...Television disdains exposition, which is serious, sequential, rational, and complex. It offers instead a mode of discourse in chich everything is accessible simplistic, concrete, and above all, entertaining. As a result, America is the world's first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death. (taken from 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' by Neil Postman)

In regard to the saying that when someone is dying, they never say they wished they had spent more time at the office, John Piper said we should also had this:

'No one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much. I think the Lord will say, "That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. You should have done something besides provide for yourself and your family. And TV, as you should have known, was not a good way to nurture your family or your own soul."

He also said, instead of asking the questions: what's wrong with it? What's wrong with this movie? Or this music? Or this game? Or these companions? Or this way of relaxing? Or this investment? Or this restaurant? Or shopping at this store? what's wrong with going to the cabin every weekend? Or having a cabin? What's wrong with decorating? What's wrong with buying clothes?......This kind of question will rarely yield a lifestyle that commends Christ as all-satisfying and makes people glad in God. It simply results in a list of don'ts. The better questions to ask about possible behaviors is: How will this help me treasure Christ more? How will it help me know that I do treasure Christ? How will it help me know Christ or desplay Christ? The Bible says, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) So the question is mainly positive, not negative. How can I portray God as glorious in this action? How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?

....is that convicting or what?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Celebrating 20 Years!

Tomorrow I will, God willing :), be at the beach with my favorite, oldest girl friend of all time! I can't wait! Guess what we hope to do? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! You know your friendship is real when you can do absolutely nothing with someone and still have a blast!

This is our 20th year Anniversary trip, celebrating 20 years of being friends! Wow--we're kind of old!

Some Great Quotes

This quote was on LPM (Living Proof Ministries) blog and I wanted to share it:

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion."
- Mark Batterson

This was also one:
Feelings are attached to your beliefs. If you want to change the way you feel about something, first change what you believe about it. --Pastor Tony Evans

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our Worldview

There is something that has been really concerning me lately. A few posts back, in 'Sanctification', I touched upon it at the end of the post. I mentioned that where we spend our time and what we choose to put into our minds will shape who we are.


What is concerning to me is where we Christians are spending the majority of our time. Are we spending it on the books that we are reading? If so, what are we reading? Are we spending it watching television? If so, what are we watching? Are we spending it on the computer--facebook, reading blogs, email? So, in doing all of these things, do we spend nearly as much time immersed in scripture? If we don't, than what is shaping our worldview? What we fill our minds with is what will shape what we believe. Period.

Some of the books being read by the average Christian (and being 'loved', I might add) is worrisome. One of those would be 'The Shack'. I'll admit that when I first read this book, I got caught up in the hype. Like many, my rationale going on inside my head was: 'it's just fiction--what's the big deal?' and 'it is 'out of the box' and makes you see God's love in a new light'. I even put it on my book list on the side of this blog. However, the more I thought upon this book, the more something didn't sit right with me. I believe now it was one of those Spirit checks--you know the feeling you get deep inside when you know something is not lining up with God's truth. The more I thought upon how God the Father is depicted in The Shack and how VERY contrary it is to God the Father in the Bible, I started to feel sick. Honestly, if you get down to it, it is absolute heresy. In The Shack, God the Father is depicted as a woman. What in the world? Seriously? Filling our heads with 'theology' contrary to biblical theology, is extremely dangerous. How can we say we believe God's Word 100% and yet read something that is in complete opposition to God's Word and not be put off by it?

Then there are the fictional books by Dan Brown--Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code. Again, someone might want to argue that these are just fiction. However, Dan Brown will tell you that he believes the things in these books to be 'truth' (even though they are based on half truths, out right lies and very flimsy conspiracy theories). Again, if we are filling our minds with all of this, but not immersing ourselves in The Truth, our worldview is going to be affected.

Filling our heads with knowledge that is partially true, yet partially 'off' is like standing on a slippery slope. When you stand on a slippery slope your feet slowly slide down until you are standing on different ground. And it happens so gradually you don't know how you got there. That is what is going to happen to our minds. Gradually we will come to a place where we are believing something that is in complete opposition to what the Bible says to be true. And we will wonder how we got there. The bottom line is: are we going to be 'grounded' in scripture or 'man-made' views?

And what about Twilight? Harry Potter? Even though they are fiction are they opening us up to the dark side of evil...little by little making it seem 'okay' and 'no big deal'? Can we run these things by the verse: 'whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admireable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things?' Phil. 4:7 If these things don't pass the standards of this verse, should we be filling our minds with it? 'Come on!', you might say, 'it's Harry Potter! He is harmless!' I just don't see how opening up our minds and the minds of our children to witchcraft and sorcery could be a good thing. And the recent Harry Potter movie seems to be even darker than the previous ones. Again, it's the 'slippery slope concept'--slowly, little by little, the movies are getting a little more risky, a little darker. Little by little, so that the audience doesn't even realize it.

And then there are the television programs....adultery, casual sex, violent killings on detective/police dramas, reality after reality show...all portrayed as the norm. I heard recently, that the average person will waste twelve years of their life watching television. Twelve years. Can you believe that? And we want to argue that this stuff doesn't affect us?

Jerry Rankin in the book Spiritual Warfare, points out that every single thing we do in life either glorifies Christ or glorifies Satan. There is no neutral ground. He quotes C.S. Lewis in his introduction of 'The Screwtape Letters': there is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch and every split second are claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. Rankin also points out that so often we live in the neutral zone. We don't pointedly choose the things of Satan. We don't want to follow the ways of the world. But neither do we consciously choose and submit to God and following Him. When our minds are in neutral we are vulnerable. We have to fill them with God's thoughts, God's truth, and a conscious commitment to Him.

In close, I leave you with an excerpt from Jerry Rankin's book:

Scripture makes clear that renewing the mind is something we do. "You took off our former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new man, the one created according to God's likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth" (Eph. 4:-22-24). We are constantly putting aside that old nature, the flesh, rejecting it and denying it. We refuse to acknowledge it and give place to it. But how do we put on the new self that is in the likeness of God, that is, a Christlike life? We do that by renewing our minds, making the conscious decision to reject the old, sin nature and choosing to view our life as in Christ. We don't readily do this unless every day we are feeding on His Word and building up our faith in an awareness of God's truth. Only then can we discern and recognize when something is contrary to God's truth and Christlikeness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pressed

Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length;
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

We were under great pressure,... so that we despaired even of life...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sanctification

This year, our women in our church have divided into small discipleship groups and have been meeting every other week to discuss the theology upon which God Word stands. I have really loved these times--it has grounded me in Truth by discussing what all of those heady words like 'Justification', 'Regeneration' and 'Predestination' really mean. So often, I throw around all of these big words, but do I 'truly' know what they mean? Studying these things has helped me to truly know what I believe and believe what I believe so that I can stand for what I believe.

This week we are discussing 'Sanctification'. As I have been preparing for our time together, God has brought this word up often this week in my bible study (God always seems to work this way, doesn't he?). I thought I would share what I have learned so far:

Sanctification: that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.

Santification takes place over a believer's entire life. It is a process. It is Holy Spirit led as the Holy Spirit within you desires to learn more about the Lord through studying His Word and prayer. As you study His Word more, you become more aware of who He is, you become more aware of His holiness, and you become more aware of how utterly sinful you are.

Sanctification consists of two parts: the gradual removal of the pollution and corruption of human nature and the gradual development of the new life in consecration to God.

When I think of sanctification, I think of the words 'through and through'. As you read and study God's Word, He is working His Word through and through every joint and marrow of your being. He is changing you and conforming you into His image.

A portion of my devotion this morning touched upon sanctification: You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it. You must "work out your own salvation" which God has worked in you already (Phil. 2:12). Are your speech, your thinking, and your emotions evidence that you are working it "out"? If you are still the same miserable, grouchy person, set on having your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you. --My Utmost for His Highest

As I have been thinking about sanctification, I have been thinking about where and how I spend my time and what I allow into my mind. Because whatever we allow into our minds will shape us and make us. You may think you can read certain books and watch certain television programs and not be affected, but it simply isn't true. Your worldview is being shaped by how you spend your time.