Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Full Heart

Tonight I am restless. It may have something to do with the Mocha Chip Blizzard which I ate after my OB appointment ;-) Or maybe my heart won't let me rest until I express it's fullness!

How thankful I am to be here right now, unencumbered by the negative emotions which sometimes plague me. My heart has only one desire: to be pleasing to my Lord. How undeserving I am to be a partaker of His marvelous inheritance in light! And to think that He chose to die for me while I was yet dead in my sins. It is truly mind-boggling.

O, Lord, may I walk worthy of You unto all pleasing! Let me be fruitful unto every good work, and increase in the knowledge of You. Lord, you strengthen us with all might according to Your glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering - with joyfulness! I pray this prayer right now for the faces which rise out of my heart in earnestness. O, God I groan for them who need to be strengthened right now. Lord, please do whatever it is that you do within hearts to make them grow into the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Your beautiful Son Jesus Christ. How I long to be more fully in Your presence.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ramblings On Sweetness...

It seems that my life is in a constant state of flux lately. My motto: be flexible or die.

I alternate between excitement that it I have the organizational skills to keep my house well and children occupied, and disappointment that I am suppposed to "take it easy" because of continued bleeding in the pregnancy. A verse comes to mind... "Godliness with contentment is great gain". Is that You Lord?

I guess it never occurred to me that being driven to keep everyone on task could be robbing my contentment; though my dear husband will tell you that it has occurred to him:-) So, when my 4-year-old has received consistent smiles and hugs combined with proper chastisement at times and continues to give me angry looks, I know something is not right.

A few days ago I focused with my girls on sweetness. I talked to them often of the way Jesus wants us to behave. Of the sweetness found in His daughters. As the day progressed, it became obvious that their lack of sweetness was rooted in something else.

That night I asked my husband if I was sweet. As I suspected, that wasn't the first word to come to mind. He said I was "practical". For me, the word "brusk" somehow leapt out of his appraisal and stuck there in my mind. I looked it up in the dictionary.

Brusk: Abrupt and curt in manner or speech; discourteously blunt.

I have heard it said that the rod makes a child sweet. That you should not cease a period of chastisement until you have reached the child's heart and sweetness is the result. This has been on my heart a lot lately. But I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot more to it. I must become what I want my daughters to be. If I am lacking in a certain area, then expecting a child to become that is like expecting them to look in the mirror and see something that isn't there.

Just like it is preposterous for a man to look at his face in the mirror and immediately forget what he looks like, as James states in regard to disobeying the Word, it is just as strange (without the fulness of the Holy Spirit bearing fruit) to see a child acting in a way that his parents have not emulated for him.

An online dictionary defines sweetness as having a pleasing disposition; lovable.

I believe that sweetness is the result of the Spirit of God bearing fruit in our lives. I thought I was sweet because I was living on the memory of a bountiful harvest of fruit in my life a while back. Now I realize that the sweetness I crave is rooted in my own fruit (or lack thereof). I must meekly accept the ingrafted Word, and then await the sweet results. My children will then know true sweetness, directly from the source Himself.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ???s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:22-26

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Longing to Do God's Will

I remember when I was part of BSF as a young woman, just 2 years married, and we studied the minor prophets. Through the study, I became convicted of my own preoccupation with my house. I was spending time trying to decide what furniture to buy, and spending too much time cleaning. (If I'd known then what I know now, I would have spent that time learning! How to sew...how to garden...how to cook...the list is longer than I'd like :-))

When I really sought God about how I could be joining His work instead of being so caught up in my own world, the only thing that continued to surface in my mind was this: mentoring a young person. It made sense to me that God would use me in this way because I had gone through such hard times myself as a youngster.

So, I prayed for an opportunity to do just that. And, feeling emboldened, I even prayed that I would have an opportunity - within the week! I was on the lookout wherever I went.

However, I was still very surprized when I went to work three days later. At the time I was the secretary for Hawkeye Area Youth For Christ, and the Executive Director, John Sellers, was often giving me updates on what was happening with the ministry. On this particular day he shared with me something that surprized him greatly. He said that parents of youth would sometimes request a mentor for their son or daughter. But never had a youth approached him wanting to be mentored, and John was not only surprized, but beside himself because he currently had no female volunteers who were available in this capacity.

I immediately began to weep with joy and excitement. I was so thrilled because I had never had more direct communication with God. Sure I had felt that God was speaking to me before (mostly through the Word), but the directness of the communication made me feel so close to Him. It was like this in my mind:

Me: God, what do you want me to do?
God: Here, do this.
Me: Yes, Lord!

So, I embarked upon a relationship with a sweet girl named Amanda. We worked out together, had Bible study together, prayed together. I know that I probably made quite a few mistakes. I was too bold at times. I probably talked when I should have listened at times and vice versa.

But for me, the entire experience was glorious because there was not a shadow of doubt in my mind that I was doing EXACTLY what God wanted me to do.

Now I am in the trenches of motherhood and longing for such glory. In my mind I am aware that what I am doing is worthy. That He is pleased with my choice to stay home with my kids and homeschool them. But I am lacking that intimate communion with the Lord which makes what I am doing truly glorious!

Four years ago I had a four-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl and a 15-month-old girl and my house was in chaos. The children were very much out of control and my psyche was in a shambles. I remember falling on my face before God, asking Him what I could do to restore some semblance of order in the home.

The Lord brought me to some wonderful ladies online who shared beautiful testimony about their home lives. The common link these ladies shared was a wonderfully sweet communion with God. There was much listening and obeying between the mother and God. And these ladies also shared some great resources which had impacted their parenting. I feel that God redirected the course of my parenting through their precious testimony and shared resources.

And so I come to the conclusion that maybe I am listening lately for some grandiose directive from God, when I should be listening for small directions throughout the day...perhaps having conversations like this:

Me: God, what is the problem with me and my daughter?
God: Love her with your time.... "Each of your should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."


Me: God, give me wisdom!
God: LISTEN. To your children. Then to Me. "My sheep hear my voice and obey it."

This can be a hard thing for a mother in the trenches; especially for a mother with multiple young children. Yet I long to be stronger in the Lord. I long to be more attentive to His voice.

And to be obedient.

I want to be the man who laid his foundation on the rock in Luke 6:46-49:

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Elizabeth Elliot writes in a recent devotional:

"What agonies I suffered as a young woman, straining my ears to catch the voice, full of fear that I would miss it, yet longing to hear it, longing to be told what to do, in order that I might do it. That desire is a pure one. Most of our desires are tainted at least a little, but the desire to do the will of God surely is our highest. Is it reasonable to think that God would not finally reveal his will to us?"

She is speaking of the big picture, I the little. But the principle remains the same. The Lord will honor the one whose true longing is to do His will.

So I pray for myself and other moms in the trenches...

Lord, still my soul from the business which is such a part of my life. Facilitate for me the clarity of mind needed to listen attentively to your voice. I want to hear you. I want to obey You. I need to hear and obey your voice. I need to be able to hear inside of each moment and pause for your everpresent whispers. O, be still my soul....

Note: If you'd like to subscibe to Elizabeth Elliot's daily devotional, click here. And follow the links. It has been wonderful encouragement to me!

Monday, January 2, 2006