Thursday, November 19, 2009

My family

My family is messed up. Long story short (if you're really close to me, you probably know most of the story), my aunts and my mom had a big falling out 2 years ago and have been fighting ever since, putting both of my grandparent's in the middle of it. My Paw-Paw died 2 weeks ago, and now I found out my cousin committed suicide last weekend. This should be enough to bring a family back together to be there for one another, but it isn't. Please pray for my aunts and my mom and uncle so they can know how to fix the situation and be humble and courageous enough to do it. And pray for my cousins (I'm thinking my generation will be a little more calm-headed and able to work things out) so we can try to help in any way we can. And pray especially for my Nenny who's taking all of this kinda rough and for my aunt, since this means she's lost her husband, father, and one of her sons in the same year. I know we've had our differences, but I really hurt for her, especially in light of the losses I've suffered lately. Thanks for your prayer, just thought I'd explain my status a little bit.

Psalm 73

I highly recommend y'all check this one out. It was what I needed to hear today. The whole first half of the psalm talks about how we view the wicked/arrogant(verses 3-5, 12): "For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills........This is what the wicked are like--always carefree, they increase in wealth."
How true this is sometimes! We see the wicked of this world or people who aren't doing right and they seem to have no problems at all and seem to get what they want (and at times, what WE want). We start to think, "why am I doing what's right?" (verse 13: "Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.") We think, "If I would just do it like them, I would get the desires of my heart. They don't have troubles like I do. Their conscience is not as troubled as mine." It can really be discouraging! (verse 16: "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me...")
We have to come to God with our hurts and concerns. Our minds can do severe damage to our hearts if we let it. We have to let God speak truth into our souls. We can be so easily deceived.
Take courage in the path God has given you and really seek him to guide your steps. It will be hard. You will lose friends, family, loved ones. But the ones who are still with you on the other side, those are worth holding on to

James 1

Sometimes you read something really awesome and you just feel like you need to write about it.

Having just finished Psalms (it took me over 5 months!), I decided I need to read a shorter book, and I usually alternate OT-NT so I decided I'd read James and maybe go into I & II Peter and possible the Johns since they're little. I forgot how the little books seem to pack a punch and condense a lot of teaching into a little space! Anyways James 1 is awesome, read it sometime. Here's some things that jumped out at me.

Verse 2: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." At first I was like, "why wouldn't you consider it joy when you face all kinds of trials. Then, I got to thinking and realized that some trials don't come from God to test and strengthen our faith. Some trials come to us from our own doing, because we have sinned. Obviously, you wouldn't consider the fact that you had to go through those trials joy. But the verses go on to say that trials test your faith, developing perseverance to make us mature. I do believe that even trials that come as a result of our sin can be used to develop perseverance and maturity.

OK, that thought was a little elementary, but trust me, I get a lot deeper from here on out. ;)

A few verses down from that, in verses 6-8, it talks about asking God and not doubting God will answer him. It's talking about when you're asking for wisdom, but I think this applies to asking God for anything. You have to believe and not doubt. It says "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" and it calls that man a "double-minded man, unstable in all he does." So many times, we ask God for direction, or to provide something for us, whether it be a material need or a spiritual trait, but don't trust God completely to come through. In the back of our mind, we come up with a contingency plan in case God doesn't hold up his end of the bargain. This especially speaks to me right now, because I'm in the middle of a serious soul search with God, for answers to some questions. But I'm constantly arguing with myself and struggling to understand exactly how God will answer these questions. So, the flesh in me says to have a plan B, in case I don't get my answers by X time. I must trust God completely, and so, put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. That's what real faith and trust is.

In a similar note, it mentions a few times in James 1 about "being deceived," and "deceiving yourselves." Again, this scares me in light of what I'm seeking God for right now. I desperately want to make sure that my answers come from God, not myself or another source. But how can you really tell that it's from God? So many people I know have done things that, to me, scream "No!!" but said "God was leading them" to do it. Now, I can't say for sure God wasn't, I can only go on what I know of God and what I think He would think of such things, but a few of the things I have seen end badly and I'm pretty sure God wasn't really leading them to it. So how do you know when you're hearing from God or when you're deceiving yourself? Deceiving yourself is a scary, scary thought. How do you avoid deceiving yourself? That should be the one person you can trust! I guess the key lies in seeking counsel and really trusting that God's going to give you your answers through them.

I was talking with a dear friend the other day and we were exasperated that "God doesn't work in neon." He's not going to lay it all out for you (well, at least, He's not likely to). He's going to require a little faith and trust. But we have to trust that He will guide us if we seek Him wholly and completely.

So that's what I'm trying to do. Your prayers are welcomed.

Luke (the gospel, not the person)

Here's my first thoughts from Luke 1:
This was a long chapter, so I read it over a few days and re-read it. But one thing that stuck out to me what the fact that Gabriel didn't treat Zechariah and Mary the same. Gabriel goes to Zechariah and says "you're going to be a daddy," and Zechariah's response is "How can I be sure of this? i'm an old man and my wife is well along in years." And Gabriel punishes him for his doubt and Zechariah can't speak until John is born. Then, a few paragraphs later, Gabriel goes to Mary and tells her she's going to give birth to a son and He will be "the Son of the Most High." And Mary says, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And Gabriel doesn't punish her. I wonder why? She showed the same doubt, though her prophecy was a lot harder to swallow (I mean a couple of old folks getting pregnant vs. immaculate conception? haha), plus, I mean, she was going to be the mother of the Lord, Jesus. So maybe she got a little special treatment. :) I guess there's slightly different connotation in the two questions too (plus, we don't know how exactly they were asked, the meaning can be greatly changed by how it is spoken). Zechariah's seems more like, "prove it," and Mary's more like "explain how." I don't know, what do you guys think?

I was reading in Luke 2 today and the part near the middle (verse 40), puzzled me and got me thinking about something else too. It's talking about Jesus as a baby/child. It says "And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." Now, I'm not sure if this was Jesus as a baby or when He was ... Read Morebecoming a kid (I know it's before He was 12, cuz the next story starts with him being 12), but if it was when He was a little baby, I found it interesting to think of a little baby being filled with wisdom. That got me thinking, how much to babies really know/understand? I mean, they don't have the communication skills yet, so they can't really tell us what they are thinking, but maybe they really understand more than we think they do. Then, I wonder if Jesus BECAME filled with wisdom as He grew, or if He was just born with all the knowledge He had when He was with the Father. Can you imagine, being baby Jesus and knowing everything there was to know about the universe, but needing someone to change your diaper? That truly is humbling Himself, like it talks about in Philippians. Anyways, just something I was thinking about.

Luke 3:15-17~> "The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering IN THEIR HEARTS if John might possibly be the the Christ. John answered them all..." (emphasis mine)
Later in the gospels, they use similar wording to show that Jesus read people's minds and answered questions that were hidden deep in their hearts (Luke 5:17-26). So, my ... Read Morequestion is, do you think John the Baptist performed miracles and could see into people's hearts? Part of me wants to boil it down to John knowing what they were thinking because of their faces or just knowing what people would probably think in this situation. But since they use such similar wording, I feel it deserves ponderment (not a word, just made it up, haha), cuz obviously they were trying to convey a similar situation. Anyways, what do you guys think? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it numerates any miracles from John in the gospels, though I could be mistaken.

More Good Stuff

This is kind of a continuation of the previous note, but it's a different cool thing and it's more specific, so it needed it's own note.
I was trying to look up a verse I was going to share with a friend of mine who had a big conversation coming up. I was trying to find the verse about bringing a brother back when they've been sinning, and winning them over. The closest one I found (though I don't think it was the one I had in mind) was in Matthew 18:15.
So, like I said, this wasn't exactly the verse I was looking for, so I did a bible search for "bring" on As I was quickly perusing the results, one caught my eye from Psalm 68. Verse 11 says (in the NLT) "The Lord gives the word, and a great army brings the good news." The footnote says that for "army," you could translate "a host of women." This obviously puzzled and encouraged me, for why would one be able to translate "army" to "host of women." Apparently, in the Hebrew manuscripts the word is company which translates to "army," like a company in the army. In the Greek, the word "company," translates to a "host of women" as in the Nativity story when it talks about the archangel announcing to the shepherds where they can find Jesus and then a great company of angels appearing and singing glory and praises to Jesus. Basically, a company is a group of people who sing about awesome things that have been done, or just proclaim the word.
Here's why this is awesome (if you didn't pick up on it yet). God is giving His daughters, this army of women, the task of bringing the good news, spreading the gospel. He doesn't tell us to just hang out and support what the men are doing. We are an army!! We are to support what the men are doing, don't get me wrong, but we are given a purpose as well. It's an un-transferable mission that we were created to fulfill. That is awesome! So I challenge you ladies, to BE that army and proclaim the gospel with boldness! This is not a NT idea, this is straight up out the OT!! BE an army for God! Proclaim His good works and His glory!!

1 Thessalonians

I stumbled across a couple of really cool things last week in God's Word and felt I should share it with people. Like I do.
I was reading in 1 Thessalonians and came across a familiar verse about how we would not be "in passionate lust like the heathen." The full verse says "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." Here's where I break it down:
I noticed for the first time the footnote associated with the phrase "control his own body." In other manuscripts it translates "live with his own wife." In still other manuscripts it translates "acquire a wife." Using that last translation, the verse says that it is God's will we should "learn to acquire a wife in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust." This perplexed and encouraged me. It correlated nicely with what my small group was talking about on Wednesday about how we are to live apart from this world, we are to stand up and stand out from this world system. So what does it mean to seek a spouse in a holy and honorable way, not in passionate lust? The world tells us that when a person catches our eye, we start going out with them to see if we are compatible, giving our hearts away first, then seeing if they are worthy. Then, eventually, we ask God if we're supposed to marry them, or we see they are not right for us and we break it off, trying to reclaim as much of our heart as we can get back, and moving on to see who else is around that might be right for us. This constant trial and error leaves us tired, jaded, a wilted flower. It's not fun, it's not romantic, it's certainly not holy nor honorable. So why do we keep doing it? What drives us? I hurt for these hurt people. I'd give anything to save them the strife and pain.
That's what I've got. A social commentary that burdens me day in, day out. I don't have a magical solution, because the only real solution is for you to want to be different than the robots of this world. Know that there is a different way, but I can't force it down your throats (believe me, I've tried).
Just something that's really on my heart, feel free to comment or ask questions.

With all the love Christ lavishes on me,

Interesting thoughts from Haggai

I was reading in Haggai the other day (yes, Haggai) and came across this interesting illustration that Haggai gave to the people from God:
" 'If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other good, does it become consecrated?'
The priests answered, 'No.'
Then Haggai said, 'If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?'
'Yes,' the priests replied, 'it becomes defiled.' "

Here's what I found interesting about this. We can be good and do good and just radiate goodness, but it's not necessarily going to cause goodness in others. Sadly, the good just doesn't rub off quite like the bad does. It's very easy, however, for our sin to defile many and our bad attitudes and comments to effect a negative change in others. I wish it weren't so; I wish the good in us could just as easily stimulate good in others, but it just doesn't work that way. This, of course, does not mean we should not try to be filled with the Spirit and do God's Will, for it does, in some part, "rub off" on others. But that sin nature still dying inside us causes the good produced in us by the Holy Spirit (and only by the Holy Spirit) to be more readily faded than the bad that is naturally produced in us.

I don't know, it made sense in my head.

My God shall supply all my needs

It's funny how God tends to repeat Himself again and again, isn't it?

A good friend of mine was giving a sermon this past Sunday and was talking about (among other things) God's provision. How He answers our needs, but He does so because he wants us to concentrate on His mission. Erik referenced Matthew 8:24-33, here are the Cliff's Notes:
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other...
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

God knows that we cannot seek God's kingdom and our own kingdom at the same time! Our interests will be divided ("A man who chases 2 rabbits, catches neither."). So, why do we keep trying? We say, "I will seek God first and my own interests second." But that is a paradox because seeking God and His interests means we can't seek our own interests! We can't say, "I have faith that God will provide" and then continue to try to find our own way! We have to put our faith completely in His provision and live for His kingdom. Then and only then will He give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). I loved the example Erik gave about not building up his resume and just seeking to go God's work while he was in college and trust God to give him what he wanted. And God blessed Erik with exactly what he wanted and so much more. Erik also talked about a passage in Matthew 14 where Jesus is walking on water and He calls Peter out with Him on the water. Peter walks on water towards Jesus, then he sees the waves and starts to sink. Jesus scolds him saying, "You of little faith." I mean, on the one hand, why did Peter doubt when Jesus was there with him and was already keeping him safe? But on the other, Peter had enough faith to step out of the boat, while all the other disciples were still just staring in disbelief (oh, that my faith were that little!).
So, that was the jumping off point, here's where it starts getting repeated. Later that day, I was watching a TV show and in the show they were going to a Bible study (which is unusual, because this is not a Christian show by any stretch). At that Bible study, they were talking about that same passage about Peter walking on water. What are the odds?!
And then, that night in my quiet time, I was reading in Acts about the early church. They shared everything in common, relying on God to provide their physical needs, so they could devote themselves full time to the preaching of the Word. They did not toil or have savings accounts or fire insurance, they trusted in God to provide for their every need and to take care of them. Their sole focus and purpose was God's mission.
Finally, today at the lake, I was reading more in Acts and came across the account of assigning roles in the early church. They needed someone to take care of the daily distribution of food to the widows to free up their time for full time ministry. They trusted God to provide those people and focused on God's mission. And the other interesting point in this passage was that even just to serve in a seemingly small role, passing out food, they sought God for men who were full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. They knew how important even the "smaller" roles were and what character was required for the mission to succeed. Powerful stuff.


I was reading in Acts this morning and came across something that made me think (like I do). In Acts 19, Paul's doing his visiting thing and he comes to the people of Ephesus. He asks them "did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They tell him they had never heard of the Holy Spirit and they only received the baptism of John. Paul explains to them that they needed to be baptized in the name of Jesus and they did and then Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. My question is this, do we have to be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit? I know it's a sign of obedience and a proclamation of your life change, but is it a necessary part of being a powerful Christian as well? Also, Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit, but we just get the Holy Spirit, right? We don't need someone to lay hands on us? Just wondering...


I just finished a terrible movie which got me thinking again about some things a few women and I were talking about recently. Our discussion was about the battle for contentment while single and the horrible impact "chick flicks" and the media in general have on our psyche, our contentment and our thought life. Basically, we were discussing how the media shows us how we can do things incredibly wrong and everything works out for us. Now, I know these are movies, they are for entertainment, and, to some extent, they require/expect us to suspend our logical side for a bit (this is the very thing I get upset at people for NOT being able to do during movies, haha). BUT, if one truly sits back and analyzes the messages we are sent during a single 2 hour movie, and then extrapolate that to the number of movies we see in a year, even a lifetime, you can see how they have--albeit slyly, subtly, and over time--affected us to the very core. I challenge you, think about the past 4 or 5 movies you've watched, even if they are not romantic comedies or chick flicks. Almost every movie has some element of "romance" (if you can call it that) in them. And almost all of the time, the relationships they portray and dysfunctional, immoral and/or based on lies. But they always work out in the end, with a simple resolution, and swells of violins in the background. What does that do to the heart of an upright, moral woman who is trying to live for God and trust him for a husband?
I caught a glimpse of this first hand in the terrible movie I referred to. In the course of the movie, I saw the moviemakers endorsing same-sex couples, said couple adopting a baby, pre-marital sex (they almost seemed shocked at the possibility that the couple was NOT having sex before marriage), and a couple that, during one single night, ends up breaking up for each other's siblings (both couples are happily together with their new halves the next year)
Sisters (and brothers), please be mindful of what you let in your eyes, your minds and your hearts (you'd be surprised how the 3 are connected). If you see that you are struggling with having contentment where God has you, evaluate what you are letting influence you.

Letting Go

When do we, as Christians, let go? When do we give up? Ed spoke last Sunday about perseverance, so it's strange that this thought would arise now. But, in light of a passage in Titus I read, I have to wonder: when do we let people go? Chapter 3 verses 10-11 says "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." Strong words. "Have nothing to do with him"? We all know those people who create friction and drama and seem to always be causing a rift between people. Are some of us too quick to give up on those people? Are some of us too resistant to giving up on them? How do you know when (if ever) to let someone or something go? The easy answer is: God tells you. But it's hard to hear sometimes; or perhaps we don't want to hear. Is it really 2 strikes, you're out? Sometimes, I confess, I want to give as few opportunities as possible to be hurt (though I'm sure I don't live as though others only allow me one strike). I can sometimes hold a pretty hard line and see things as very black and white. It's hard for me to see someone continually messing up and not really face much by way of consequences, when I feel like I'm living pretty good. It makes me want to not press on. In all honesty, it makes me want to go somewhere where nobody knows I'm a Christian and do whatever I please. I mean, it works for everyone else, right? O, that God would give me wisdom and mercy and perseverance!
Anyways, just some current ramblings and thoughts.


Song of Solomon 1:4 ~> "...We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine."

These words are spoken by the friends of the two lovers in Song of Solomon. It is such a great testimony to what impact love or "love" can have on those around us. We are so selfish with our love, thinking it is just for us. How could, or better yet, WHY should, something so great be contained in just 2 people? Real, godly love can be an inspiration to those who are witness to it. Likewise, selfish, lustful "love" is a detriment to all who witness it. Here's a big news flash people: Your actions to not affect only you!! Let the truth of that statement sink in. Your actions do not affect only you. Who are you living for? How many times has "love" divided people, ruined friendships, severed ties with God, led to sin? Am I the only one who has seen a couple, either good or bad, and wanted some aspect of what they have? The couple in Song of Solomon are shown to be an example of a right romantic relationship. They inspire hope and uprightness in their friends, as evident in the repeated line: "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you, do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." This is pleading, "do not hurry love, trust in God's timing, don't make something happen that either isn't supposed to happen or isn't supposed to happen yet." I want this kind of love. I don't want to be selfish with my love. I don't want to live for myself. I charge you to do the same.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Goodbye to You

It's hard to believe she's really gone. It hurt so bad to hear about it, especially in light of recent past where I've been not-the-best about calling her more. I'm so thankful that I got to speak with her that one last time, to tell her I love her and I was thinking about her. I agree with others that it was a good way to go; not withering away in a hospital bed for weeks or months, not in pain. She had the people that loved her around her and she was asleep. I wish more people acted like family to her in those last years that were in her real family. How does a woman with 6 married children, almost 20 grandchildren and quite a few great-grandkids have so few visitors at the end? It's sad it had to transpire like it did. But, I did not write this to focus on the negative. I wish to remember and honor this woman who had such an impact on my life. I want you who will never know this woman to hear what she meant to me and how she shaped me.

My grandmother, Nanny (I always wrote it Nenny) was an inspiration to me. She labored so hard to raise a good family, working hard at her jobs and at home. She did her best to make each of her 6 children feel special and to have a close relationship with each and every one. She was so devoted to her family, her husband, her home. She was devoted to my grandfather and stayed with him well over 50 years, and went with him into the nursing home when he needed to be there. She made sure her home was open and welcoming to everyone. Special occasions such as holidays or birthdays always included family and extended family. When you were in her home, you were her family. It was the gathering place for so many from various, scattered places. It was what tied us all together; and she, the beautiful knot-maker. Even when we started to unravel and the knots frayed, she stood strong and neutral.

She always strove to provide so much, so well, for so many. She was so generous with her gifts and her time. Christmastime, all babies and toddlers got toys, all kids under 16 got $50, all over 16 got $100. You can see how with a family our size, that adds up. She also remembered all birthdays and graduations. She tended her home well and never had a cross word to say to or about anyone. I loved her quiet smile which was witnessed much more often than her laugh. I loved her laugh that made her eyes dance. Everyone who knew her, whether it be the neighbors who shared a street with her for over 40 years or
the numerous friends I would bring around to meet this amazing woman or the bingo buddies she would see 2, 3, sometimes 4 nights a week. Oh, how she loved her bingo. She loved the atmosphere and the sport of the game and the people and the environment.

She was an amazing cook and you can ask anyone. She planned her weekly meals well, and always wanted people to have their fill. I loved her cornbread, mac and cheese from scratch, salmon patties, spaghetti, tea with real lemon, stewed beef, cheesecake. I loved that she could never eat spaghetti without getting it on her shirt. I loved that Fridays was always Libby Hill day and Sunday lunch was always K&W. I love that when I had to stay at her house and drive to high school, she would never let me eat just a Nutri-grain bar for breakfast. It had to be heated. A warm meal, always. I would spend many days in the summer at her house and would love to watch "Price is Right" with her on her tiny kitchen TV while she made lunch. Nighttime was always "Wheel of Fortune" and then "Jeopardy." She would laugh at my Paw-Paw when he would yell at the contestants which letter to call. She always knew the puzzle early (she loved word puzzles) but wouldn't shout it out. She patiently waited for me to get it and would say "you're right," like she just got it, too (but I always knew she knew it first).

She loved doing the crossword puzzle, Jumble and Cryto-quote in the paper. She would let me "help" her. She's the reason I love word games. I loved her hand-writing. All caps, rounded and a little shaky from an unsteady hand. She had a birthmark over her right eye which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide with make-up. I loved her boldness to dye her stark white hair jet black until she was over 60. She wore bathing suits well into her 50s as well, even though her body never returned to normal after her 6th child. Her belly was still round, hollow, like a drum. She never minded when I would drum on it with my fingers.

Nenny, you may not have ever gone to church or prayed around me, but you definitely showed me Jesus. I loved you so much. My childhood is saturated with memories of you, which I will take with me wherever I go. You made me the woman I am today and I only aspire to be the mom, wife and Nenny you were. I will never be the same for having you in my life. I will miss you. I love you!