Saturday, October 30, 2010

Praying the Psalms- Psalm 42

Jenny has begun a journey of praying her way through the Psalms that I have decided to join. Each weekend, we will pray through one psalm and post our prayer and/or meditations on that psalm as the Lord leads. Check out her journey and join us in Praying the Psalms.


Psalm 42

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? 
       Why so disturbed within me? 
       Put your hope in God, 
       for I will yet praise him, 
       my Savior and my God. 
       My soul is downcast within me; 
       therefore I will remember you 
       from the land of the Jordan, 
       the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar."  Psalm 42: 5-6

There is much I could add to these words, describing in detail the specific circumstances that have led to the current state of my soul- downcast and disturbed.  But how would that profit you or me?  No, instead, even as I exhort myself to offer this soul to Jesus, to remember Him, to put my hope in Him and to praise Him, I exhort you.  As I seek to blog in the Upside Down Kingdom, my prayer is that my words would make both you and me run to Jesus.

Heavenly Father,
You know the state of my soul and the circumstances of my life.  Help me to remember You.  Strengthen me to share in Your sufferings and to help my children do the same.  Thank You, God, for Your Word which never fails to remind me to put my hope in You, to be anxious for nothing, to call to mind Your great mercy and compassion.  As I turn back to You for answers, Lord, would You give me Your peace?
In Jesus name, amen.  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Snippets from Relevant

I'm a little disappointed because I feel like I went from Relevant to Real Life in 5 seconds flat.  I've not had much time to process what God taught me there as I returned home to full days of work and mothering.  I have so much I want to share with those of you who were not able make it!  I pray God will give me time to do that soon.  In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with some thoughts from the main speakers that were worthy of breaking out the highlighter :)  I promise to share more as God gives me opportunity.

These are the concepts I know God was speaking to me through these women:
From Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom: What are your First Things?  If they are not your relationship with the Lord, your relationship with your husband and teaching and nurturing your children, your priorities are out of order. 
I appreciate a hard word spoken in love from a sister who has been there and triumphed.  Crystal's message, which opened up the conference, was just that!  I hope to share some of her wonderful tips for managing your time so that your priorities fall into His order.

From Sally Clarkson of I Take Joy Are you being faithful in your home?  Are you obeying God?  Are you being gracious and loving?  Figure out what season of life you are in and let God set your priorities.
Are you seeing a pattern here?  Yes, God showed up at Relevant and His message there was the same at a Christian women's blogging conference as it is anywhere else.  Be faithful in the little things, my children...


From Angie Smith of Bring the RainBe careful of what you are reading.  Ask yourself does this blog make me want to run to Jesus or somewhere else?  Be careful of what you share.  Your readers are not always who they appear to be.
That one question about where a blog makes me want to run was monumental for me.  I will use it as I determine which blogs I will read regularly.

From Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience: Write for an Audience of One.  Speak God's Word and serve Him through your blog.  Be real and remember who might be reading- perhaps one who is one decision away from disaster.
I did not think it was possible for Ann to be as beautiful in person as she is through words on a screen.  But she is- even more so, if possible.  She is the real deal and her words always make me want to run to Jesus!  She is going to do a series on her blog based on her talk at Relevant called Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom.  Don't miss a post.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Cure for Blindness: Radical Read-Along Chapter 6

I'm linking up today with Marla's Radical Read-Along.  Won't you join us?
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

To start from the beginning of my Radical Read-Along posts, click here.


Chapter Six of Radical was another chapter I squirmed my way through.  But I must be getting used to the squirming because I'm glad for it!  I no longer want to stroll through this life, eyes covered with blinders.  I don't want others to look back on my life with the eyes of perspective, such as those we wear when we look back and examine the blind spot of slavery in the church, and be found blind, too.

I am thankful for the timing of this Read-Along as our family may be making some life changing decisions this year.  I am asking God for eyes to see His plan for us as we make these decisions.  I'll freely admit, I am still in the throes of fighting my flesh, which craves bigger and better.  I am trying to discern which of the gifts that God has given us are "intended for enjoyment" and which are to be used for "the spread of HIs glory." (p. 112)

I have always fancied myself a generous person who cares about the plight of the poor and the oppressed.  The kind of person who gives time, money and resources to causes which care for the poor.  But Chapter 6 forced me to examine whether I had really ever given sacrificially for the sake of the poor or if I have simply been "throwing our scraps to them while we  indulge in our pleasures here.  Kind of like an extra chicken for the slaves at Christmas."  (p. 115)  OUCH!  

I'm wrestling this thing out with Jesus.  Throughout this chapter, Platt identified some hard but important questions to consider when discerning God's will for your resources.  Here are but a few: "So, then, what if he told you and me to sell everything we have?  What if he told us to sell our houses for simpler living arrangements?  What if he told us to sell our cars for more modest ones- or for no cars at all?  What if he told us to give away all but a couple sets of clothes?  What if he told us to empty the savings accounts we have been building for years if not decades?  What if he told us to change our lives completely?" (p. 121)

Why does this sound like craziness?  Because it flies in the face of everything most of us have ever been taught about this life.  It rails against the American Dream.  It forces us to reorient our thinking from wealth is always a blessing to consider that it is sometimes a barrier.  (p. 125)

This can all be very overwhelming.  I know I have felt that way many times during the reading of this book.  So much so that it is tempting to walk back into denial and blindness, where it seems many in the church are comfortably living.  I appreciate the simple starting point Platt offers on p. 127 when he speaks about the luxuries we are surrounded by "...why not simply begin a process of limiting and eliminating some of them?"  I am committed to starting the process and asking the hard questions and "letting these questions drive us to Christ." (p. 137)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Multitude Monday

holy experience
Here are some of the things I was thankful for this week:
701.  Feeling hopeful and armed for a chronic challenge
702.  The gift of time to "get it all done" before going to Relevant




704.  Sarah Mae, Jessica and Dana for their vision and effort to make Relevant a reality


705.  Attending Relevant with my sweet friend, Andrea

706.  Meeting old bloggy friends: Michelle and Michelle
707.  Making new ones
708.  Meeting bloggy mentors: Kat, Bonita


709.  Meeting Ann Voskamp!  I cannot wait to tell you more about her!




710.  Gleaning wisdom and truth from Sally Clarkson and Angie Smith



711.  Being blessed by the heart, music and ministry of Todd Smith

712.  Learning from so many others in workshops and at meals
713.  Meeting GOD at Relevant
714.  Ending the conference by joining 200 of my sisters in worship!
715.  Safe travels to and from
716.  Returning to a healthy, happy husband and children
717.  Returning home with a full heart and excitement for processing what God spoke to me- I can't wait to share with you!
718.  Returning home with bags full of goodies I can't wait to share with you!
You can find my running list of 1,000 gifts in my sidebar and read why I got started here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Praying the Psalms- Psalm 41

Jenny has begun a journey of praying her way through the Psalms that I have decided to join. Each weekend, we will pray through one psalm and post our prayer and/or meditations on that psalm as the Lord leads. Check out her journey and join us in Praying the Psalms.


Psalm 41
As believers living this side of the precious cross, we do not always receive physical healing here on earth.  If we pursue Him, despite our suffering though, we will always receive healing for our heart sickness here on earth.  And the promise of full healing is but a breath away.  This is the beauty of the New Covenant.  The reward for our faith is not temporal things.  No, He is our very great reward


Lord, thank You for the psalms, which always stir me to seek You, understand You, cry out to You.  I thank You for the ways You have been showing me that You are my very great reward.  Help me to fix my eyes upon You, Jesus, in times of trouble and in times of great joy that I might receive the blessings of this New Covenant every dayI  In Jesus' name, amen.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caught

A fog descends.  It's hard to see where I am.  Harder to know how I got here.  To this chasm deep.  Heartbeat quickens and chest tightens.  I grope around for the way out.  Fear rises in my throat, tears blind.  Panicked hands try to climb the steep, slippery walls to escape but to no avail.  I collapse in a heap.  Alone.  Cold.  Tired.  Tears turned to sobs.

Has He forgotten His promises?   Of freedom, joy, peace, abundant life.  Or has He forgotten me?  Even in this place, I know He is able.  The wavering of faith comes with the next question.  Is He willing... for me?  I can feel my heart shattering.

I don't ask Him.  Another has answered the question for me already.  And though my head knows this one is a liar and the father of lies, I believe him.  I rehearse His lies and forget the words of Truth.

Faithful friends and husband rebuke his lies.  Speak Truth to me.  Promise to stand in the gap in prayer for me.  I listen- wanting to believe.  But confusion, discouragement and dismay continue.  The lies come fast and furious now and speak of my ineffectiveness, question my salvation, encourage walking away.

But now he's gone too far.  I know I could never walk away, I'm caught in His grace.  And slowly the fog begins to dissipate.   And I begin to speak to Him.  Pouring out my heart.  Asking the hard questions, the why questions.  And He begins to answer.. with His own questions.  Challenging me root out some more things from my heart.  And to move some obstacles from my path...unbelief, pride, idolatry, prayerlessness, legalism.

He calls me to bow low so He can lift me up.  So, I do.  And He does.  Slowly and tenderly.  Binding my wounds, opening my eyes, mending my broken heart with His promises which are all yes and amen.




Joining Emily in celebrating redemption and making a theology of the arts through my imperfect prose.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon, my IRL and online friend Andrea and I will embark on a road trip to Hershey, PA to attend The Relevant Conference!  I am so excited but also kind of nervous.  To use the analogy of Michelle from SomeGirlsWebsite, I am feeling like a 40 year old freshman right about now!  But it's too late to turn back now.  And I am looking forward to meeting some of my online friends and hearing from some of my very favorite bloggers!

Since I haven't packed a thing yet, I'd better not stay too long here :)  I have a post scheduled to publish tomorrow morning.  Outside of that I am not sure how much, if at all, I will be posting from the conference.  I'm sure I'll have lots to say about next week, though.  For those of you who are reading but will not be there, have a great weekend!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Multitude Monday

holy experience

Here are some of the things I was thankful for this week:
685.  Ending the sale with a lot less "stuff" and $441 to GIVE
686.  Making the decision to use the money to sponsor a little one in Guatemala (more to come on him!)
688.  Friends and family to lift me up- in prayer and in loving encouragement
689.  Wrestling with God 
692.  Small group time at Bible study to spur one another on to love and good works
693.  Thinking and talking and praying about how to present opportunities for the women in our church to develop authentic, discipleship relationships
694.  A vivid dream that left me knowing how much He loves me
695.  Watching as my pastor and his wife renewed their vows on their 20th wedding anniversary
696.  Hearing about how a godly man and woman do this thing called marriage- the good and the bad
697.  Pondering the endless, unfathomable mercy of God
698.  Getting excited for Relevant- just 3 days from now!
699.  The opportunity to see my cousin and her family again- we reunited on Facebook last year!
700.  The eyes to see 700 gifts!  The desire to see more- I know they are there!!!
You can find my running list of 1,000 gifts in my sidebar and read why I got started here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Praying the Psalms- Psalm 40

Jenny has begun a journey of praying her way through the Psalms that I have decided to join. Each weekend, we will pray through one psalm and post our prayer and/or meditations on that psalm as the Lord leads. Check out her journey and join us in Praying the Psalms.

"For troubles without number surround me;
       my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
       They are more than the hairs of my head,
       and my heart fails within me.

 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
       O LORD, come quickly to help me."  Psalm 40:12-13
"I desire to do your will, O my God;
       your law is within my heart."  Psalm 40: 8
"Yet I am poor and needy;
       may the Lord think of me.
       You are my help and my deliverer;
       O my God, do not delay."  Psalm 40: 17
Lord, Your Word gives word to my heart's cry.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baby Steps to Radical?

Edited to add that I've linked up to Shelli's great blog Hopefully Devoted.  On Fridays she posts about "the least of these" and encourage readers to join her.  Check out her wonderful blog! 



hopefully devoted



I'm not sure this would qualify as Radical with a big "R" but my husband and I decided to have a big ole yard sale to kick off our journey out of the American dream and into the eternal one.  God blessed us with a beautiful, sunny, mild fall weekend and we sold a whole bunch of "stuff."  We made about $350 and cashed in our loose change as well for a total of $440!  Praise the Lord!








We are still praying about exactly where and how to give this money.  My heart is being pulled toward sponsoring a child from our daughter's birth country, Guatemala.  $440 is almost enough to cover one year of sponsorship through Compassion International.  I'll keep you posted!

I'm looking forward to next step in this journey...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God's TIMES Table- Radical Read-Along Chapter 5


I'm linking up today with Marla's Radical Read-Along.  Won't you join us?
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

To start from the beginning of my Radical Read-Along posts, click here.

I really enjoyed this chapter.  For one, I agreed with most of Platt's points about how to make disciples, using the "megastrategy of Jesus."   I love how he described the process on page 90, "But according to Jesus, people are God's method for winning the world to Himself.  People who have been radically transformed by Jesus." 

I also really appreciated the practical ideas Platt shared for doing this thing!  The example of the outreach that took place on Bourbon Street helped me to see the concept of "making disciples through personal relationships" in action.  So did this wonderful post by a fellow read along participant!

The reminder that the process of "making disciples...is messy...slow, tedious, even painful at times...because it is relational" (p. 93) was important for me.  God has answered my prayers and given me some opportunities to minister to a family in need from our school.  Most of these opportunities have been a joy but some have been, well... messy and, um... complicated.  Some of the circumstances I have found myself and my children in as a result of this ministry could be perceived as polluting.  But that's ok.  I know God has called us to those places and now is not the time to be disinfected, isolated and ineffective Christians.  It's time to get our hands dirty and love this family through the pain and mess!  And I love how the "bar on my Christianity" is already being raised in the process!  (p. 100)

Platt's discussion on learning so that we can teach, not simply to apply the truth to our own lives, as important as that is, was great!  I'm excited to hear next Sunday's message at church and listen "as if God's Word is intended to spread through" me (p. 103)!

As much as I know I need to be shaken up in my faith, I am always discouraged when I am left shaken up but without tools and inspiration for moving forward.  So, I was glad to find those tools and inspiration here in Chapter 5 of Radical. I'm ready to go, baptize and teach and in the process use God's TIMES table to multiply the His kingdom and impact the nations for His glory!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Multitude Monday

holy experience

Here are some of the things I was thankful for this week:
683.  Restored Internet, TV and phone!
684.  Getting some unexpected free time and deciding to use it to read and blog instead of work and clean
685.  Lunch with two good friends filled with lots of laughter
686.  First grade family night at school
687.  What seems like a positive solution to a problem at school for my 9 year old
688.  Seasons of sadness and discouragement- if He is allowing it, it is for my good
689.  A husband's kind words of encouragement
690.  A friend's love and counsel
691.  Beautiful, sunny, mild fall weather all weekend
692.  A successful yard sale kicks off our plans to get more radical for Jesus
693.  Parents who came and helped us with the kids and the sale
694.  A 3 day weekend!
You can find my running list of 1,000 gifts in my sidebar and read why I got started here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Praying the Psalms- Psalm 39

Jenny has begun a journey of praying her way through the Psalms that I have decided to join. Each weekend, we will pray through one psalm and post our prayer and/or meditations on that psalm as the Lord leads. Check out her journey and join us in Praying the Psalms.


Psalm 39




"I said, 'I will watch my ways 

       and keep my tongue from sin; 
       I will put a muzzle on my mouth 
       as long as the wicked are in my presence.'

 But when I was silent and still, 

       not even saying anything good, 
       my anguish increased.

 My heart grew hot within me, 

       and as I meditated, the fire burned; 
       then I spoke with my tongue"  Ps 39: 1-3

Lord, each morning as the water rains down on my physical body in cleansing, I beg for Your spiritual cleansing.  For the strength to keep my tongue from sin and my heart from anguish and the heat of anger.  But by the morning meal's end, I've often slipped back into one or both of these pits.





"Show me, O LORD, my life's end 


       and the number of my days; 


       let me know how fleeting is my life.



 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; 


       the span of my years is as nothing before you. 


       Each man's life is but a breath. 

Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: 


       He bustles about, but only in vain; 


       he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

But now, Lord, what do I look for? 


       My hope is in you."  Ps 39: 4-7 

So, Lord, show me how to come to the end of mySELF.  I know this life is fleeting and but a breath.  When I come to the end of my days, I want to know that I long before, I came to an end of mySELF.  That I surrendered all to You and did so in pursuit of You so that You would increase and I would decrease.  My hope is in You, Lord.  In Jesus' name, amen.    

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Connecting the Dots: Radical Read-Along Chapter 4


I'm linking up today with Marla's Radical Read-Along.  Won't you join us?
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

God is using this book in our lives! 

Allow me a little digression before I go into how He is doing that.  David Platt reminds of Dave Ramsey.  Do you know him?  He is the Christian financial guru whose ministry is to help people get out of debt- for good.  His advice is simple: live like no one else (i.e., below your means, paying off all debt) so that you can live like no one else (i.e., completely debt free, free to give generously).  One of his tag lines goes something like this: we give you the same advice as God and grandma- but we just keep our teeth in!  This is how I see the message of Radical.  It’s not presenting any new information- the Bible has made all Platt’s points clear already.  He’s just keeping his teeth in- exhorting us to respond to this radical gospel without allowing it to be watered down by our culture.

Platt asserts, from Scripture, that while God is certainly a loving and gracious God, we must be careful because to “disconnect God’s blessing from God’s global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace.”  (p. 71)  We are blessed to be a blessing not to be afforded to opportunity to live out the American dream.  Platt goes on to remind us, “Jesus Himself has not merely called us to go to all the nations; He has created us and commanded us to go to all nations.  We have taken this command and reduced it to a calling- something only a few people receive.”  Ouch!

So, let me return to my initial statement.  God is using this book in our lives!  I accept Platt’s invitation, which is really from Jesus Himself, to allow my heart to be gripped “by the biblical prospect that God has designed a radically global purpose for” my life.  (p. 83) 

Lord, please help us to connect the dots between Your blessings and Your purpose for those blessings in our life.  Help us to be open to how You want use us to impact the world.  Bring us from a place of complacency about the state of the poor and spiritually lost in the world to one of compassion and willingness to follow You wherever You lead us.    As we seek to bring our lives into a more radical obedience to Your Word, speak clearly to us and direct our steps.  In Jesus’name, amen.

To start from the beginning of my Radical Read-Along posts, click here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Multitude Monday


holy experience

Here are some of the things I was thankful for this week:

673.  The gift of time to stay up to date with the homework
674.  God’s using that homework to instruct, counsel and convict me
676.  Knowing that God is faithful to use anything I offer Him to work in me
677.  The privilege to be His hands and feet to a hurting family at school
678.  The honor of ministering to them also through His Word
679.  The chance for a dear friend and I to share our hearts over great food
680.  A weekend full of family, friends and fun!
681.  Apple and pumpkin picking and making memories
682.  The joy of serving in Children’s Worship 
You can find my running list of 1,000 gifts in my sidebar and read why I got started here.

Praying the Psalms- Psalm 38

Jenny has begun a journey of praying her way through the Psalms that I have decided to join. Each weekend, we will pray through one psalm and post our prayer and/or meditations on that psalm as the Lord leads. Check out her journey and join us in Praying the Psalms.

“All my longings lie before You, O Lord;
My sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.”  Psalm 38: 8-10


Have you felt desperation like this?  Oppression so severe so as to cause longing, sighing, heart pounding, and strength sapping blindness?  I have.  I do.  David’s enemies were visible, physical.  Mine are invisible, spiritual. 

Too often I rebuke myself in anger.  In exasperation at my sin and folly, I tell myself I will never overcome.  I repeat the words of the Oppressor to myself and believe them.  I forget the Words of my King. 


Forgetfulness.  Desperation.  Oppression.  Blindness.

“I will wait for You, O Lord,
You will answer, O Lord my God.”  Psalm 38: 15

He does.  He answers through the kind words of a friend, through the wisdom of godly women I’ve never even met and most certainly through His Word.

“O Lord, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.”  Psalm 38: 21-22

Through His Word, He reminds me of His unfailing love and mercy.  Of His hand that is always stretched out toward me.  Always the offer of forgiveness and reconciliation.   My Savior.  I need only grope through the darkness and grab hold of it.  Confess.  Repent.  Begin again.

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