We have launched the beginning of our Diadem Planners Line! We are currently on Facebook and soon will be setting up our etsy shop.
We have launched the beginning of our Diadem Planners Line! We are currently on Facebook and soon will be setting up our etsy shop.
I love being a mom! But there is a very real frustration of the daily to-dos (laundry, etc) and then also all those demanding urgents stealing the day from me.
And many nights, as I put my littles to bed, I realize that what was MOST important – really loving on them, training them, teaching them, showing them the greatness of their Savior, just spending loads of time with them – all those things of most value to me and my children – felt as if they were just sqeezed into the day instead of being what my day was all about.
I absolutely hate that feeling.
Awhile ago I made a commitment to figure out what it would take – and then do it – to change things. I wanted to take control of my time – own it instead of being owned by it. I prayed A LOT. Thought A LOT. My husband and I discussed this A LOT. I needed a whole new way of doing life so that I could be the mom I so desired to be… focused on what’s most important and actually accomplishing it… more peaceful (instead of frustrated) because I am doing what’s of greatest significance to me… while proclaiming God’s truth to my children (Psalm 78:4… “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”)
I finally organized a schedule that actually works for me. Not the one someone else says works. But the one that works for me. And I also started hunting for a planner that was designed to help me, as a mom, stay focused on my values and priorities…
And there were no planners like this. Not a one.
There are some that work well for people in 9-5 jobs with scheduled appointments (but mommyhood is 24-7 and most stay-at-home mommies don’t wear suit jackets and fill their day with meetings – this just didn’t need to be the greatest focus of my planner). And I looked at Christian ones… but they still had so much that just didn’t apply and were also lacking so much that I wanted in a planner.
Also, I wanted to make dwelling in my identity in Christ, and remembering God’s character, the foundation of my day. I didn’t see planners incorporating that as I desired.
So how it finally turned out…. my friend and I, with our families’ business backgrounds, decided to just make our own planner system and start
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3
We realize there are a lot of moms in our same boat. Frustrated. Discouraged. Hopeless at times. Being controlled by our days instead of owning our days.
Our genuine prayer is that the Lord will work through this new business to encourage other moms (and all women) as we all walk each day with the goal of investing their time in what matters most.
We are very excited about these planners! Our business is set to launch in a few weeks. The website will be www.diademplanners.com. Check back soon for more info! Finishing the website and final details now!
Spring has come to Texas! (Actually I think it has been here since about November when summer officially ended… does it ever actually get cold here?) Nicky and Lizzylou decided it was a good day to play at the park so I agreed to take them. (Well actually this mommy decided it was time for new photographs and playtime just worked our afterward… Nicky doesn’t normally run around wearing a sport coat at a park!)
November 17, 2013 at 10:20pm
I didn’t get to go to church this morning. Nicky is sick again so another Sunday without church. But I told Nicholas I wanted to go to the coffee shop for a bit. It is my thinking place and especially comes in happy when I miss church because I can just sit in the quietness and read or write and take important time to reflect on the Lord’s goodness.
The past few days have been interesting. We have this very real “threat”… our doctor (who seems normally quite conservative) feels that there could be a serious problem with Lizzy. He wants us to go to Texas Children’s Hospital. We are giving it the weekend to see if it might just be rooting from breastmilk jaundice… so this “if at all possible do everything natural when it comes to childbirth and infants” momma is trying formula. Part of me feels it is silly to even worry. Breastmilk jaundice probably is all that it is. Yet the doctor’s words and concern haunt me. He feels it is a higher percent chance it is a serious problem than just breastmilk jaundice. Relatives this weekend keep saying they think her color has improved. “She is looking better I am sure of it.” So then I’m peaceful. But then Nicholas and I look at her again, in different lighting, five minutes later, and we wonder if we are just telling ourselves she is better.
The other day I looked up one of the diseases she might have. Bad choice. Right now God has not given me the grace for that issue. Nicholas and I both feel strongly that we can’t worry about outcomes that are not ours to carry yet or ever. So our official view these days is that we aren’t even mentally “going there” unless that’s what the tests show. In the past we have walked the road of panicky medical diagnoses. None of this is foreign to me. I have learned through this never to take on tomorrow’s concern because it could be nothing at all or it could be something entirely different and, either way, I don’t have grace for it today. But it is one thing when it is me the doctors are talking at. It is another when its about my little (big little) baby. So I’m fighting to stay away from the fear that wants to draw me in.
In the past I’ve told Nicholas that one of the things that would be so hard for me would be for our children not to be able to mentally enjoy the Classics and philosophy and theology. We have worked so hard to weave a wonderful educational plan for Nicky and Lizzy and, although we don’t have strong feelings on what Nicky’s vocation should be (although right now we guess its engineering based on how many child locks he has triumphed over) what is really important to us is for him and Elizabeth to be equipped to think wisely and logically and engage society with Christ’s truth. What happens if our plans on that have to change for Lizzy?
Or what happens if also or instead she has a short life expectancy. And she dies not able to breath because her lungs don’t work. And its scary and sudden even though we have lived years knowing she could die at any time. And maybe she leaves behind a young husband and baby. Or maybe she never marries and never gets to know the wonder of marriage and the wonder of being a mommy. What if we find ourselves burying our child instead of vice versa. That’s worse.
Or maybe its diabetes. And maybe that seems better in some ways. But I don’t want her to walk that hard road.
In my mind I’m trying to decide which disease is worse… as if somehow it is up to me to decide this.
What if it is one of these things?
If it is… Then it changes everything and nothing.
If it is
we will continue trusting – hoping – finding joy – praying – rejoicing – knowing God is faithful – reading “Will Gets a Haircut” to Nicky for the 80th time.
I still will still hope Nana will buy Nicky a trapeze for Christmas.
I still am going to buy Elizabeth felt mice for Christmas.
I still will sing Elizabeth her special song I made up for her.
I will still sing Nicky his.
I will still read Nicky his fire engine book again and again and again.
Nicholas will still deal with water purification.
I will still struggle along with how to cook well and healthy.
A goal this year will still be to learn to run.
I still want to paint the beat-up nightstand I bargained down to 3 dollars at that one garage sale – which I see character to and Nicholas see as a wacky example of the oddness of why women love garage sales.
I will still know so much as just the same.
And a lot will change.
I will see the profound reality that when we are at the end of ourselves God will show us Himself in such a powerful way.
We will become more eternity minded.
We will be given a new ministry world of moms of children with special needs – they will minister to us and we will minister to them.
We will learn deeply and early about really really genuinely trusting God to care for our children.
I will know the awesome reality of God’s grace. I have seen that grace. I’ve watched my own parents bury a daughter. I know what it means to look back in my wheelchair as my dad stands alone at the grave as her body is lowered. And I have seen him and my mom continue on. They are marked by it but have not allowed it to destroy them.
A lot will be very hard change.
Loss. Sorrow. Exhaustion. Fear. Unknowns. A
nd I wonder about Nicky’s reaction and how it will affect him.
And my world becomes the hospital again. But I’ve done that before. Both Nicholas and I both have faced very hard before. But not with our children and I know that facing the very hard when it deals with a child is different and I’m not prepared for that. But at the same time I actually am indeed prepared for that because, as my mom says, the way you “prepare” for hardship is by daily spending time in the Word, daily growing in the Lord and knowing the reality of His attributes because it is only those to which you can cling when you face the dark valleys. That’s what prepared her for my sister’s shocking death. That’s what prepares me for every day of my own life.
So this weekend as I help Nicky with his catechisms, at the same time in the back of my mind I’m wondering “what if or what if or what if” and in the process I’m risking missing the silly beauty of Nicky’s smile as he yells “mo mo” (more) as we practice head stands while reciting what the chief end of man is. And, you see, the answer to that question happens to be, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” which I think is actually the answer to “what if”… if what if happens we will still seek to glorify God and will enjoy Him forever.
So today I’m not going to dwell on percents. And I’m not going to dwell on this as a threat.
This threat… although it is an earthly threat, is not a spiritual threat.
It does not threaten that Lizzy will be separated from God’s love. It does not threaten that His faithfulness will not be there for her. I, her own mother, know what it is like to lie in the dark in the trauma hospital in pain and with the unanswered questions of if I will walk again, etc. I have felt God’s powerful presence during my own personal “what if” moments about my own physical life. There was no threat to me then that God was not near and sovereign and good. And there is no threat of that for my little daughter, either.
Tonight before he went to night night, I held Nicky upside down one more time – partially for his sake and partially for mine – as he laughed and said “mo mo!” while walking across the floor with his hands. “What is our chief end in life? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”
Since writing this article, Elizabeth’s tests have shown that she is doing well and that, at this time, no further testing is needed as there is no longer concern that she has a serious medical condition. The Lord has been very gentle toward us! We are so grateful!
Thanksgiving & Being Single.
October 30, 2013 at 5:19pm
Well it turns out I re-wrote the devotional because it was supposed to apply to be specifically for single women (oops! and my examples in that were about wanting to go see what was on sale at Brooks Brothers and about diaper poop. oops!) Since I was near 30 when I got married my friend thought I might have some thoughts. Here is what I sent her…
There is something almost haunting about the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. Almost haunting because it beckons to a picture perfect earthly ideal that seems written into so many of our hearts. The happy family all together. Generations of couples and children all celebrating God’s goodness as, from the kitchen, floats the scent of warm pumpkin pies.
And that’s wonderful and beautiful and great. But for those of us who have known, or are currently walking, life’s road alone, it can fill us with a twinge of emptiness, of not fitting-in-ed-ness, of sadness, of loss, of loneliness.
I think we’d all say that, in many ways, we have accepted and even embraced God’s choosing in allowing singleness. Often we handle it quite well. But at times, particularly at holidays, there can be moments where the loneliness is deafening. We see the couples walking hand in hand at the mall, the man with his arm around his wife as they sit at the Messiah together, and the TV commercials of the family all together. But when we walk through the mall there is no man holding our hand and we don’t get to buy a man a special Christmas gift (be honest with me, haven’t you wondered what it would be like to be the woman shopping for a new shirt for her guy instead of the woman just walking through the men’s section to get to your car?) And even if we sit with our girl friends at the Messiah, at the end of the night we get into our cars alone and drive to our homes where we are alone. And we have no one to laugh with at a good TV show or a hilarious commercial because we are sitting on our sofa alone. Yes, sometimes the silent loneliness is indeed deafening.
And at Thanksgiving we are often invited into other families’ homes or maybe we host our own Thanksgiving for other women. But at times its just not the same. Its just lonely and it hurts. And so that picture haunts us.
I could go a lot of places with this devotional at this point. I could tie in how we are in the family of God and so all of us at that Thanksgiving table are family no matter what our marital status. Or I could say to be grateful for your circumstances – afterall, there are children in China that are hungry right now. But that’s not for today. Today I just want to be honest that sometimes being single is very, very hard. And very lonely even though we know and have embraced the fact that the Lord is our spiritual husband. We indeed are physical beings and its hard not to have a physical husband fighting for us, opening the door for us, buying us a beautiful something from Kays jewelers that’s wrapped in a little golden box and placed under the Christmas tree. And its OK to acknowledge that its lonely at times and Thanksgiving won’t be quite everything that part of your heart wishes it could be. Its OK, and its good, to be honest with the Lord about this.
And with being honest to the Lord, we find a freedom to picture sitting at His feet or being held in His arms, asking Him for His grace to help us, in a special way this year, grasp hold of the reality of His lovingkindness and of all that it means for a daughter of the King and specifically someone single.
In asking God to help me understand His lovingkindness, I am realizing a key is looking farther than the good things He has placed in our lives. So many people tell single women to concentrate on the good things God has given them. But I think that’s missing so much. Don’t end your focus on the good gifts! That’s dangerous (what happens when you lose a good gift or you see everyone else having something “good” that you aren’t given at all and it just doesn’t seem fair?) And, more importantly, if you make that your end focus, it actually cheats you from a deeply rooted joy. You see, if you focus only on what God has done for you, you miss taking joy in discovering the depths and riches of who He is. And especially as a single woman there is such power and such a grand victory in glorying in your Redeemer and the wonder of His character. There is a tremendous testimony and confidence we can have in knowing Him to be our Keeper, in Him being our Provider, and in Him being our Worth. Delight in His who He is! You and I may not always understand His acts and the way He gives or does not give certain gifts, but we can have such security in knowing His ways – His attributes, His character.
This Thanksgiving I am asking God for the gift of a genuinely grateful heart focused on His attributes, particularly His lovingkindness toward me. I’m asking Him to remind me of my tremendous worth to Him. I’m asking Him for hope and joy and peacefulness. I’m asking Him for this knowing I don’t have it in me but God can pour it into my heart as I cling to Him.
And so, I pray…
Lord, this Thanksgiving may I take hold of the grace and victory you have given me to find great delight in knowing my worth to You, plumbing the depths of Your character, and seeking to glorify You forever. This Thanksgiving help me to particularly be mindful of the attribute of Your unfailing love toward me. And as I do this, the times then when loneliness does comes creeping in threatening to undue my joy, may You uphold me, whispering your love deep into my soul. May my life continually reflect all You are to me as I glory in You, My Redeemer and the Song of my heart.
As Thanksgiving Approaches….
October 28, 2013 at 9:23pm
A devotional I wrote the other day on request from a friend for something she is putting together.
I told my husband that being in labor gives me a sliver of insight into why a prisoner of war might finally crack and tell the secrets. Just those few hours of labor about did me in. I can’t imagine being in excruciating pain with no end in sight!
After my daughter was born I just held her there in the birthing tub and thanked God out loud for His goodness – in getting me through a natural labor, in giving me this child, in the incredible lovingkindness He had poured into my life, so undeserving as I am.
After great trials are over it can feel quite natural to thank God – confidently, out loud, no matter who can hear. We praise God because the trial is so fresh in our mind and we so vividly saw God fight for us, carry us, be our Helper, and be our triumphant victory.
But then things slowly shift back to normal. A little while ago my son had the largest diaper explosion I have ever witnessed – probably the largest ever known to mankind. That happened the same time my daughter was wailing. My brother-in-law by mistake shredded my credit card (long story of how that happened… and it takes 10 days to get in a new one). Last night my husband and I had been planning a date night and, as we were walking out the door, there was a work emergency that took so long it caused us to miss going to Brooks Brothers before it closed.
Its not always the large things that so subtly steal our joy, putting our once praising hearts back into the captivity ungratefulness. Its often the small things… hardly even worth mentioning to another, yet significant time zapping frustrations about which I’m going throughout the day fretting. I really don’t want to be an ungrateful woman, but at times that characterizes my heart. Didn’t Paul talk about this… oh dreadful soul I am, doing the things I don’t want to do, not doing the things I do want to do?
There seems to be two major reasons my heart loses its gratefulness. First, when I turn my eyes onto my circumstances instead of God. That’s when the dirty diapers seem so out of control. That’s when missing going to Brooks Brothers seems so irritating (even though that meant we went to the mall instead and now I’m typing while wearing a pretty new pearl ring). But we all have heard that many times… don’t focus on the circumstances… and we all try to catch ourselves from dwelling too long on that negative road.
Here is the second reason and it’s this that we so often miss. Don’t end your focus on the good gifts! That’s dangerous (what happens when you lose a good gift or you see everyone else having something good that you aren’t given at all?) and causes you to miss out on deep joy as a Christian. Don’t get so caught up in the new pearl rings in your life that you miss glorying in your Redeemer. Don’t focus only on what God has done for you, missing taking joy in who He is. You may not always understand His acts, but you can take joy and security in knowing His ways – His attributes, His character. Train your mind and heart to delight in who God is – His faithfulness, His lovingkindness, His goodness, His justice. Meditate on these things and watch how God will mold your heart to live in gratefulness.
This Thanksgiving I am asking God for the gift of a genuine grateful heart focused on His attributes, particularly His lovingkindness. I’m asking Him for this knowing I don’t have it in me. In my own strength I waver away so quickly – seemingly ever so godly and grateful as I held my newborn a few weeks ago, and then sliding right back into normal ungrateful mode.
And so, I pray… Lord, this Thanksgiving may I take hold of the grace and victory you’ve given me to be able to delight in You, particularly being mindful of the attribute of Your unfailing love. As I do this may You fill my heart with joy. May my heart continually sing Your praises as I glory in You, My Redeemer, My Everything.
And a bit of homework for us…
Perhaps make a list, posting it on the refrigerator, on a mirror, or in your Bible. Daily write out several things for which you are grateful… the people in your life, physical abilities (being able to hear, talk, see), items (just think what life would be like without light bulbs, cement, and refrigerators?) Or, as you are driving, rehearse out loud the material and physical gifts God has given you. But most of all thank God for who He is. It is as we focus on the Creator that we gain a heart of thanksgiving. And it is then, as we turn our eyes to creation – to what He has given His people – our hearts can find joy in praising Him for these gifts as well.
SEEING GOD DIFFERENTLY… contemplations in the middle of the night as baby Nicholas sees how long he can keep his daddy, mommy, and traumatized chihuahua awake with his loud singing abilities…
My friend’s sister died today. And parts of so many family member’s and friends’ hearts have died, too. Right now there is a lot of shock and grief happening. A lot of struggling with the terrible reality of death. It isn’t OK with us. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We weren’t made for death but for life. And with the curse of sin those thousands of years ago, even though we now have the promise of everlasting life, we now have to face the darkness of death first.
An acute asthma attack was what stole her away. And now she has left behind parents, siblings, an adoring husband, and so many friends. And life will never ever be the same for them. They’ll get through it. But they will never exactly get over it. When you lose someone like that, someone so young – just ripped from you like that… you will always see life differently. You will see reality differently. Earth differently. Heaven differently. God differently.
You’ll see reality differently because your life goes through the blender and tumbles out in a jumble that takes time to put together again. Earth differently in that possessions, time, and being alive all of a sudden seem so fleeting. Heaven because it is just more “for real” than ever before since, in a sense, you have one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven now because someone who was just walking beside you on earth is now really for real there. Really for real with Jesus.
And, you’ll see God differently in that you will come to know Him in a way you never knew Him before and never knew you could know Him. You’ll experience a profound depth of His grace as He carries you on His pillow of strength. A depth of His love and gentleness. A depth of His faithfulness that holds you as you weep.
Or you will come to see Him as an uncaring incapable God, one who has cheated you and failed you.
Almost a decade ago I sat at my church in DC at the funeral of a young woman – 22 or 23 years old – who had been preparing to be married that same month. Her kidneys had suddenly stopped working. But then she seemed to be getting better and we had all been praising God and breathing normally again. She ordered a hamburger at the hospital and was smiling. But then suddenly again she wasn’t OK and, before we could believe it, she was stepping on Heaven’s shores, breathing air celestial. And now in the front of the church spoke her father in the tuxedo he was going to wear to his daughter’s wedding. I cried throughout the funeral as most everyone did. What most struck me was the sister sitting there. I guess because I could relate to her. I knew what it was like to lose a sister suddenly. A sister I thought would always be there and one I thought I needed. I knew the anguish of my sister being killed, her body broken on a muddy sidewalk. So I wept for this sister and now I weep for my friend. Because, although her story is different, I know the anguish and loss.
I question sometimes what God’s up to. Why does He allow excruciating losses? And what is His reasoning? Why does He sometimes give and sometimes not. Sometimes heal and sometimes not. Why did He choose not to heal my friend’s sister. I mean He can do anything. So why didn’t He touch her brain and bring it back to life? He does that sometimes. Why not now? Or why did he choose to give me a child – the child I longed for and pled for and kept dying to my own hopes for – who now rests peacefully in my arms? He answered my tears and prayers and gave me this treasure. But He doesn’t to everyone. And sometimes He gives a pregnancy and then ends it. Why?
It is tempting to try to think of it in human terms, how one might naturally reason something out. But if I do that I come up with woefully inadequate – and sometimes angering or hopeless – answers. Such as, if God does everything for His glory and because He wants to make me more like Himself, was I a particularly bad or dumb girl and that’s why He had to go to extreme measures in order for me to grow to be more like Him? And then the next conclusion would be that He used my sister as a pawn in His plan to finally make me good and so if I hadn’t been a bad one she wouldn’t have had to die. Or maybe God just doesn’t like me or is too weak or doesn’t care. Stupid answers like that are what come to mind if I try to reason God’s ways as if He were a human working only in the natural realm. I can’t do that. What I must do is trust what God’s Word says and also be willing to embrace the mystery of God’s ways. What I mean by this is that, at the end of the day, although I can find a lot of answers in Scripture where I come to understand God’s character and set up my tent stakes deep into the foundation of that reality, I can’t always understand His actions. And that’s when I have to wrestle to rest in God’s character and wrestle to rest in the mystery of His greatness that reigns outside of human thinking and earthly time and earthly consequence. I’m a reasoner. Analytical. Think it througher. And that’s a great strength of studying the discipline of theology. But ultimately even the greatest systematic theology book cannot bring my heart to total rest until I embrace that I cannot understand God’s actions always, but I can – I must or I will die spiritually and emotionally the next time I face sorrow – embrace His character (His goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty, love, etc.) that I know does not change.
God clearly tells us in Scripture that He is all about His glory. And, as He brings glory to Himself it results in our joy as we look to Him. I’m totally on board with that when it comes to moments like when my son was laid on my chest for the first time three weeks ago. I struggle to be on board with that strand of thinking, though, when His glory doesn’t seem to bring about my joy – such as when someone dies.
In pondering this I have to ask what joy is. And I have to ask what God’s goodness is. Joy isn’t the same as happiness. Joy comes from the awesome peace and hope we gain in refocusing into the depths of God’s faithfulness. It is a security profound. An eternal insight in the God of all grandeur who has covenanted His lovingkindness toward His people. It really has nothing to do with our circumstances and actually can be strongest in the midst of sorrow or suffering because those experiences tend to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we run to God in a way that we don’t always do with normal everyday happenings.
And God’s goodness. The Lord of Hosts who rides upon the highest heavens has a good system way larger than my “goodness” equation of happy/ease/comfort = good. He has woven a beautiful tale of redemption for His people starting before the earth began, brought to its height at the cross, will be brought to completeness at the eternal wedding feast. And every second between these events our God is actively engaged in bringing about His grand plan. If we could see all of reality as God sees it we would understand and embrace God’s workings. We would understand how all of His actions result in good. But we can’t obviously. And that’s part of what it means to walk in faith as we place our hope in the Author of Hope, in the trustworthiness of His character that can’t turn against goodness because that’s an essence of who He is.
As He works His goodness in this world broken under the curse of sin, I know that, when He allows experiences of sorrow He is working on multiple levels. God is most concerned in each person’s life with proclaiming His glory and, one way He does that is through sanctifiying them – making them more like Him. This being so, He is working for His good eternal purpose in each person’s life affected by sorrow. No one is a pawn that something bad happens to just to teach another a lesson. Everyone involved has been placed in their exact situation because our loving God has a special plan for what He wants to do in each life.
Another aspect of God’s goodness I must mention… we need to come face to face with the rather non-politically correct statement that God doesn’t exactly owe us anything. He owes us the promise He made to His Son – that we would be joint heirs of Christ and be eternally with Him. But the Proverbs and the many Scriptures (about general life happiness) recorded in Scripture are only the general direction of God’s benevolence toward His children. And, if turning upside down a particular general good (like keeping a sister alive) would bring about greater glory to the Father, and greater eternal joy to His people, then God is going to do that. We may not understand this. That’s when we have to embrace the mystery of God’s greatness and sovereignty in weaving His eternal beautiful plan.
And so when I understand that it frees me a lot. It frees me from trying to put the idea of joy into my happiness stencil, and goodness into my ease/comfort stencil, which ultimately seems like I am not being true to logic, trying to paste on a fakey acceptance of God’s ways when I know deep down that doesn’t add up.
In closing I bring myself to the decision point of whether I accept these truths I have just written. Do I believe God is good? Do I believe He works all things for His glory and, through that, brings about my joy? If I do not, I am ultimately saying God is lying since this is what He has promised to us in Scripture. Choosing not to believe this – to not embrace it intellectually and then, with God’s help, yield my heart and emotions to this reality – would be to deny the whole foundation on which I have based my life while yet still trying to say I’m a Christian. And that would be illogical.
I once heard someone say “God has entrusted you with a very great sorrow.” I like that phrase now, although at first I wasn’t sure about it. It sounded like they were saying it is a gift to have been given that suffering. To see it that way isn’t something we can sum up at all in our own ability. But that’s where God comes in. Again that mystery. The way that, as we fall broken before Him, He upholds. He sustains. He even restores – maybe not with the person, but with Himself in glorious fullness. Indeed it is a profound mystery.
So, yes, suffering causes you to see God differently. And when you say, “God, OK, I’m not OK with this. I am hurting beyond belief right now. But I ask you to help me wrestle through this. Help me see Your ways in this even though I don’t understand Your actions”….that’s when you will come to know Him in a way you never knew Him before and never knew you could know Him. You’ll experience a profound depth of His grace as He carries you on His pillow of strength. A depth of His love and gentleness. A depth of His faithfulness that holds you as you weep.
with a shocking joy.
HE will provide for a
baby in HIS way and I needed to give it up to Him.
From my posts over the years, I know my writing tends to focus on suffering/trust/sorrow/joy/etc. but that’s my thing. That’s where I have seen God meet me. That’s where God continually meets me. Perhaps that’s my special life song – to see the joy in sorrow, God’s love in suffering. So here I am talking on this same thing yet again.
In the basement of my heart, at its foundational structure, there are some fragile concrete panels (lest thou wonder if made up “concrete panels”, I didn’t. I googled: “how is a basement made” and learned that concrete panels can used – supposed to expensive but the best insulation method. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about since otherwise I probably would have said, “there are some fragile liquid nails.”). Fragile in that they are so very sweet – almost sacred – that I hardly dare touch them at risk that they may lose some of the holy fragrance of what God taught through them. It is beautiful fragility that is actually more rock solid than anything. They are the concrete panels that turned my walk with Christ into everything it is today.
These panels weren’t just easily padded into my life. God took His knife and cut me to the core, wounding me to give me more of Himself. I know you can point to these places in your life, too.
On the tough journey-race- mountain climb of life, although I’m often tempted to tell God that all I need is Gatorade in my backpack, He has other plans. In giving us the treasure of Himself, He has a special set of tools He uses for each one of us. They look a bit different in each of our lives, but they are have names like “pain”, “violation”, “loss”, “loneliness”, to name a few. And these tools are used to break us, to wound us, and to mar us so that we can run the race, climb the mountain, and plumb the depths of who God is , grow in our walk of sanctification in Him, and bring Him glory.
More times than I can count I have asked God why He allows pain. If I could put my heart into words it would be saying something such as: “I know I know I know, Lord, that you have allowed our pain to draw me close to you. But certain pain still seems so mean, so pointless. I don’t understand. Could You not have rescued me from that one certain thing? That one was just too much! Of course I can pull up a great godly sounding intellectual answer about how You use pain to draw glory to Yourself. But, seriously, did You really have to do THAT?”
But then I discover again and again, that the “one certain thing” whatever that may be, is the specific pathway, the specific thorn, that can bring your and my life into all its radiance. It is suffering that brings His sweet aroma to our spirit. (True sweetness is not weakness, but the aroma of being crushed and finding God as our everything). And, in those thorns, we can find the insights into His Kingdom that we would never otherwise know.
These become the moments and seasons when the theology I have carried intellectually becomes the theology of my heart because I truly have gone from just hearing of God’s greatness to knowing it and dwelling in it.
So I look at those panels of marring in my life. And another way I see them is as little fragile packages. Again, they aren’t fragile like easily broken as if I’m insecure about them or they are filled with too much trauma. But fragile because inside these packages are whispers of God’s grace, the reminder of tears shed and my heart and will finally laid down, monumental moments. The moments that forever changed my life, when the bubble of earthly secure was popped and I eventually found the Author of Security. Sometimes, in the quietness of the night, I take one out and look at it, unwrapping very carefully because inside is the most precious treasure. Or it pours forth out of my soul as I sing Great is Thy Faithfulness in church. It is important to open these treasures up every so often because they remind me that my life is God’s, I can rest in His faithful and sovereign hand, my worth in Him is true, and I must seek passionately to live to know Him more. Remembering what God has done for me in the past also gives me direction for moving forward and living with my eyes on things of eternal worth.
And, although I speak often of these things, and love to share these stories at conferences, I am also very careful with the contents because not everyone understands these. Not everyone understands the all consuming heartbreak and delight of seeing God’s hand turn a life upside down in the blender and then pour out His sweet goodness. To life’s pain, many are apt to give answers that Band-Aid when no Band-Aids are needed. Or they think if a child of God speaks of a past sorrow that means she has never healed from it. But we know that, although certain memories are fraught with marring, we can embrace these memories in all their ugliness and beauty.
God brought me through those deep waters and out of it I found the wells of refreshment, the balm of His character. And that makes me want to sing (my dog has gotten used to my little ditties… poor guy… he hears them all day) and to proclaim His Kingliness over all reality. This is my song. The song God gave me to proclaim so that many shall see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3). You have a song, too.
And we all have these secret places… these places where we saw God so powerfully be our fighter and hope and life and every breath. I don’t know your sorrow. But I encourage you to take out those little fragile packages in your heart, those concrete basement panels, and do some good looking at them.
Jesus, may we embrace the burdens. The marrings. The deserts and rocky cliffs. The icy rain and the storms when we can’t even imagine the next step in such a tempest path. Yes, may our affections and our mind be turned on You as You lead us to Your radiance, as You continue weaving Your tapestry of gold for our lives. Amen.
Another Facebook post slow to be pasted onto my website…
READING THE BIBLE – Part 1
3 December 2010
Recently a friend wrote and asked me about why it is important to read God’s Word. Not that she doubts it is important. But she wants to really own its importance – not just doing something because she always heard in Sunday school that it was the right thing to do – but because she really wants to know that she knows reasons for why it is important for her personally. She knows that’s the real way to become a passionate Bible reader. I’m all about that. Never do anything just because “you always heard it’s the thing to do.” That’s not going to hold you to it during the rough, tough, or just plain “there is something more fun to do” times. In all disciplines in our life we’ve got to wrestle through the reasons we do them and passionately embrace the discipline. She is a wise woman to be thinking on this.
For this post I would love your comments. I’m going to post some reasons for the importance of Bible reading that initially pop into my brain, but I know there are a ton more. Let’s get a great list together!
(Actually, I just read what I wrote below. This post deals with What it’s All About, Developing Your Style, and What to Read. I felt it was important to start with that foundation before moving to her actual question. I’ll have to include the How to Read and the Why to Read next time since I have to go make dinner – one of those boring things about growing up – I am going to ask Nicholas for a fairy godmother for Christmas so that she can do her bippity boppity boo dance and dinner will magically appear every night). But in the meantime, do send along your input. We’ll make a great posting as we collect thoughts.)
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
I want to dwell on something for a minute. Reading the Bible is all about a relationship. It’s important to remember that. When we love someone we want to develop that relationship with him. If I love Nicholas I am going to talk with him and get to know Him better. If there was a book he wrote to me, I would read it because I want to know him. Not that an earthly relationship compares to our relationship with our God, but it gives a general idea. When you read the Bible you are personal getting to know the Holy, Awesome, All-Powerful, Author of Love, God of the Universe who chose you as His girl. Never forget that. Reading the Bible is not just a duty one does becomes it makes her look like a good Christian. It is about furthering a relationship with the One who live is all about.
When I was growing up (in the 80s and 90s) I remember hearing godly women talking about their “quiet times.” They’d open up their floral Bible covers and have their quiet times every morning. They just loved getting up at 3am to spend 55 hours reading Ezekiel and then spending some time crying because they loved Jesus so much and He made them cry as they sat there wearing their bathrobe and their foam pink curlers in their hair.
Well… actually I don’t think I ever heard a woman exactly say that. But that’s what I pictured for some weird reason (my mom didn’t do that so it isn’t as if I saw an example – I actually think that I got the idea from the cartoon Duck Tales where a mother duck looked like that… yeah, I know, way weird). And, honestly, it made me feel all uncomfortable and embarrassed. So when I was 12 and decided to try reading the Bible (my pastor had passed out Bible reading plans to all the church members), I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing. I actually hid downstairs and would read it in the basement!
I still get the shivers when I see too much floral. Just the other day Nicholas and I were picking out a Franklin Covey planner for me for next year and floral pages were an option. I about died as I stood there at Office Dept: “NICHOLAS, I CAN’T GET THOSE!!!!!!!!! I DON’T WEAR FOAM CURLERS!” But I also wouldn’t get the “green” pages because the inconvenient truth is that I am rather anti being green. We finally found a style that worked and Nicholas left the store that day knowing to be sure never to broach the subject of foam curlers.
All that to say (sorry about my wacko tangent), realize that reading the Bible is a relationship. And its cool. And you don’t have to try to mold into something or someone you are not. You gotta let this spiritual discipline kinda roll with who you are. You have to make it yours.
Some people find it important to have a specific place where they read their Bible. In bed, in a cozy chair (like my AMAZING craigslist deal! Seriously you must come visit me and meet my green recliner), at Starbucks, in a place where you won’t be distracted by other things to do or people talking, etc. That really isn’t as big a deal for me. But it might be for you. If so, figure out where you will read your Bible.
Find a time that works with you. A lot of godly people say: “Read your Bible early in the morning.” That works grandly for some people. But other people are not morning people and reading the Bible in the morning is hard because we just want to curl up and go back to sleep. I like to cling to the idea that, since in the Hebrew mind the day starts the night before, I am reading my Bible early in the day since I read it at night :). Actually I think it helps me sleep better since it is the last thing on my mind at night.
If you aren’t a morning person, or your mornings are so chaotic and you just aren’t finding success reading your Bible in the morning, don’t feel bad! Try reading it at night. The important thing is that you are reading it, not that you are reading at “the most godly time.”
When I was in DC I used to like to go down to the Longworth House Office Building Cafeteria and read my Bible over lunch. In Florida I would read my Bible late into the night because I had adequate time – I could always stay up later and read more (vs. in the morning I had to be at work at a specific time so had to cut it shorter). Now because of Nicholas’ schedule I read a little at night and most in the morning.
What to Read/How to Read/Getting Your Reading Plan Planned. OK, so obviously don’t just randomly flip open your Bible and read whatever. Seriously big no no. That just isn’t developing a good study habit. Plus, how do you get to know how the whole Bible works together? And, you’ll be cheated out of knowing the rest of God’s thoughts! You’d be shocked at what percentage of believers have not read the whole Bible and do this kind of thing. It’s like if I said to Nicholas, “I’m glad I’m in a covenant relationship with you, but I only want to hear you talk about Federal government earmarks again and again. How about you tape everything you want to tell me about them and I’ll just fast forward randomly to a place in the recording and listen to a few sentences every day. We’ll get to know each other great that way!” (NOT)
So, you need to have a plan and you need one that works for you.
How about reading: 1 Proverb a day (there are 31 so you can read the one that corresponds to the day of the month). Or a Psalm a day. Or committing to reading 5 minutes a day. Some people do things like read something such as the same little Pauline epistle (the little New Testament books Paul wrote – Philippians, Colossians, etc.) every day for a month. That way they get to really know a certain book. That can be really cool, too. (Just don’t only read Philippians for the rest of your life lol).
Your commitment to Bible reading doesn’t have to be 12 chapters a day. Just read what works for you. If you want to read the Bible through in a year, you will need to read 3 or 4 chapters a day. There are good Bible reading plans where you can mark off and keep track. Robert Murray McCheyne has a good one (I just googled and found this – http://www.bibleplan.org/). I have a little pamphlet with this plan and it fits neatly into my Bible. I use that one but kindof modify. Some books are harder for me to get excited about or harder to understand (such as Leviticus and Ezekiel) and I know by now which books have longer chapters (which means slower reading) I modify. And I know which ones I LOVE and zip through (so I want to read only a little at a time of those while also reading a harder section). I always read Leviticus first, because I get it done first. I just get bogged down in it otherwise. Sometimes I read a few Old Testament chapters and a chapter of one of the Gospels. You’ll find what works for you.
Try to stick to your commitment. Even skipping it for one day can get you off long-term (because then it is easier the next day to justify not reading…). Try to stay as committed to reading your Bible as you are to brushing your teeth.
You’ll find a balance of how much to read – you don’t want your goals to be too small (a challenge is always great) but you don’t want them too big (it is so discouraging to fail in taking on a challenge – it is better to accomplish something smaller and press on to do more, than always feel behind).
You also don’t want to be trying to read so much that you are just reading to mark it off your to-do list. You want to be reading an amount that allows you to meditate on it – to really think about the words (What does it say about God? What does it say about you?). If you are just flying through your reading (read a chapter and then ask yourself if you know what you just read) you need to slow down. And, sometimes you will run into a chapter that is just so amazing and you’ll want to throw out the normal plan and just read 2 verses for the whole day because it is so rich and you want to not miss thinking on such wonderfulness.
Maybe a Bible study book works for you. Maybe this will help you stay in the Word. They didn’t really work for me because I felt it was so canned looking up the verses the writer told me to look up and filling in the blanks. I’m just not into filling in blanks. But everyone is different. Now I like doing Bible studies as a facet of my Bible reading (but it doesn’t replace it) but I still tend toward ones without “fill in the blanks.” Lol.
If you do work from a Bible study, do not let this take the place of being in the Word. Maybe do a Bible study plus read a Psalm a day. There are a lot of “good” Bible studying helps out there but we can’t let the good keep us from the great. Just like I don’t want to only hear Nicholas’ mom’s interpretation of Nicholas (although I do find out the BEST info about his childhood escapades), I want to hear from Nicholas Himself. The same with reading the Bible – I want to not just hear someone else’s interpretation of God. I want to read it myself from the Word.
More to follow…