Monday, January 31, 2011

God Is Our Refuge

Psalm 46:1-7

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I love this psalm. In the midst of chaos and looming disaster, the psalmist chooses to fix his eyes on the presence of God and the promise that there is more. This world is not all there is. There is a city of God we can look towards where there is peace and gladness. Yet the contrast here is real. God's people must feel weak, or they would not need His strength. They must have real fears as they witness the events surrounding them. They must be tempted to feel powerless. Yet their hope is in God. In His real presence. In His protection. And this is their peace and hope.

Is it mine? Do I trust God like this in the chaos and storms of my life? Do I fix my eyes on Jesus, remembering His promises and protection? Or do I get swept up in the storm? In my fear? In my feeble efforts? Is Jesus my real refuge and fortress? Is Jesus my hope?

A storm is brewing here at home. A mean, nasty, blizzardy storm full of snow and ice. Lots of snow and lots of ice. But my thoughts are on the storms brewing in Egypt this week. Political storms that are stirring up chaos and confusion and catastrophe. I can't pretend to understand all that is really going on, for I'm not there. But my dear friend's family is there. So this storm seems more real and relevant to me, even thousands of miles away as I sit and wait and watch. And I pray that God would be their refuge and strength during these turbulent days.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's In the Bible?

I've been pretty excited lately about helping my children see how all the stories of the Bible fit together. We try to do that each Christmas with our Jesse Tree, a small Christmas tree with special ornaments representing people in the Bible leading up to the birth of Jesus. It's a kind of family tree for Jesus, if you will. But more about that later...

I was super thrilled when I recently heard about this new project of the makers of Veggie Tales. They have stepped it up a notch and are completing what I think is their most creative and significant project yet--a series of 13 DVDs that walk children through the Bible. Check out What's In the Bible for a preview of what's to come. Or watch this YouTube video and hear Phil Vischer himself.

I'm hoping my kids will not only be entertained, but more importantly start to see how God's plan of creation, fall, redemption and restoration fits together and has been woven through the history and lives of people from the beginning of time. I'm hoping it will make their unabridged Bibles that they have graduated to a little less intimidating to read. Maybe they'll even be motivated to read Leviticus?! Okay, so I'm also hoping to learn a little myself, too. Or at least finally remember what I've learned.

P.S. Did you happen to see this 11 year old boy rattle off his version of how the Bible fits together? Quite impressive.

Monday, January 24, 2011


DON'T read a verse in the Bible. Interesting command. Unless you mean, don't read just one verse of the Bible. Read it in context of several verses, several chapters, several books, the whole story of what God has done, is doing, and will do.

Collin Hansen of the Gospel Coalition has some interesting thoughts on that. Check them out here.

And it made me wonder...If I were Tim Tebow, what verse might I write on my eye black? What about you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Old House

I'm feeling melancholy today. This week our renters moved out of our city home. Our cute, gingerbread home where we welcomed a baby girl into our family. Where we made memories. Where we ate and slept and played and prayed and laughed and cried and grew. Grew right out of this house, even though I still say I could have lived there forever. But God had other plans for us. If I could have written our story, I would have had the place sold as soon as we left it. It would have been easier in so many ways. But God's plans are not always our plans.

There are parts of His story I like a lot better. Like I love having a big backyard for my children to play in now. I love the church He has led us to. And I love living in a home with more bathrooms, more closets. But I don't like the part of the story where, because of the slow economy, we are now living in an empty neighborhood and renting this sweet home to strangers. Strangers who are now sleeping in the room where my babies slept. Sitting on my front steps. Cooking in my 'lil lime green kitchen and enjoying the view from our living room's stained glass windows.

So this week as we are preparing it for new renters, I'm taking a walk down memory lane. And trying to remember that while His ways are not my ways, that He has a time and season for everything, and His story is ultimately better than mine. I'm praying for the next someone who will be blessed by this little shelter. I'm praying that they will take care of it, and that God will take care of me and my family, too. And I'm singing Sara Groves', "This House", and remembering my childhood home, and hoping my children will remember this childhood home of theirs with as much fondness as I do.

This House by Sara Groves

it took me by surprise
this old house and these old feelings
walked round and looked inside
familiar walls and halls and ceilings

where I'd dream and plan
every moment of sunshine
this was my whole world
it was all I knew
like the hull of a seed
this old house cracked wide open
as I grew

hadn't given it much thought
hadn't been back here for a while
everything looks so small
seen through the memories of a child

who would dream and stare
from that second story window
that was my whole world
it was all I knew
like the hull the of a seed
this old house cracked wide open
and I flew

sad fruitful broken true
sad fruitful broken true

memories for miles and miles
summers falls winters and springs
Ruby you take it in
see he's withheld no good thing

Friday, January 14, 2011

Small World

This week I watched YouTube videos from our boys' piano teacher who is visiting friends in Hungary, I read blog posts from an Iowa classmate who is in Georgia (as in the country, not the state), and I talked to a pilot friend who is anticipating flying to South America soon to develop training on new aircraft. Tonight my husband made a trip to the airport to pick up his childhood friend who now lives in Miami and is married to his Venezuelan sweetheart, and I am home anticipating when our city renters will move out. Oh, and they are moving to Singapore.

Times, they are a changing. I didn't go on my first airplane ride until high school, and my children have already flown numerous times. The world wide web has connected our world like never before. Texting, emailing, blogging, skyping...What's next? I wonder, I dream, I hope for the future. My world already looks so different than the one I grew up in. What will it look like for my grandchildren? I love that they will know more of the world than I ever knew, and hopefully have opportunities to love people from all around the world living even in their own backyards. I love that times have changed and are changing. It really is a small world after all.

And in the meantime...I'm thinking I need a passport.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Do you talk to yourself? I do it all the time. Maybe it's the introvert in me. I talk to myself before I talk to others. But lately I've been noticing that I don't always tell myself the truth. I exaggerate. I minimize. I overlook. I pretend. I flat out tell lies. I forget the truth.

This problem is not just mine, but if we are all wired the same way, and I believe we are, we all experience problems with hearing and discerning truth in our lives. Once again, it goes all the way back to Adam & Eve who listened, but never really heard, never really believed, and unfortunately followed another's words, another's promises, another's....lies.

And that's our problem. That's my problem. Like Eve, sometimes I listen to the Father of Lies, who tantalizes me with temporary treasures that spoil and fade, while my true Heavenly Father offers me a taste of something better. Something rich. Something pure. Something satisfying and life-giving. Something that will truly quench my thirst and satisfy the hunger I experience while living in this sometimes disappointing world.

So, am I listening to the life-giving truth of my Heavenly Father, or am I listening to the lies of another father, a father who doesn't really love me and can never really satisfy my soul?

What about you...who are you listening to for truth?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Remembering Immanuel

This past week I wrote a post for my friend's blog. Christan is a dear friend who has a valuable ministry to coach's wives. She has been an incredible influence on me and an inspiration to daily love my husband and support his calling in life. Check out her blog at Heart of A Coach's Wife.

In my post I share how God has used a sort of wilderness experience in my life to remind me of his daily presence and how this relates to being a coach's wife. It's a calling I wasn't prepared for, but am learning to love more and more with each passing season. I could share with you all what I thought my life was going to look like, but that's another story to tell.

Gospel Melodies

I first heard the song, Though the World, last year while attending a Gospel Transformation Bible Study. It is written by two talented ladies who love Jesus and love music. It captures the heart of the sinner's struggle but more importantly the believer's hope. I love it. I hope you will, too.

Though the World
(you can listen to MP3 on link)

Though the world and many idols
All demand my loyalty
Clamor for my heart's allegiance
Mock my faithless piety
God, my Father, my Creator,
Sought to ransom back His own
Paid the price for my rebellion
Made me His by grace alone.

Though the devil wields temptation
Like a dagger to my faith
And he whispers accusations
Of my grim, unlovely state
Christ, my Lover, my Redeemer,
While I strayed, for me He died
And His truth holds firm forever
Righteousness to me applied.

Though my sin, my self absorption
Wages battle in my breast
I do not the good I want to
I live not what I confess
Yet my Savior transforms me
Heart of flesh for heart of stone
His own spirit guides and comforts
Pleased to make in me His home.

On that day of Christ's returning
I shall see Him as He is
No more tears or death or sorrow
All creation back to bliss
I will worship Him unhindered
And behold His loving smile
I call Him my Abba, Father
He calls me His precious child.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Great Quote

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” -Bach

What kind of music is refreshment to your soul? Me---Bach! : )

Remembering Truth

Sometimes it takes my kids to remind me of truth. At least this morning I had a good reminder while doing a new Bible study with my boys. We haven't always done well in this subject. I've just kind of randomly started the day with a verse or prayer or short devotion...or more often we've just jumped into math while I've breathed a silent prayer that God would order our day. But lately I've felt convicted that I'd like to spend more time actually opening up the Bible with my kiddos. So this January we have started a new inductive Bible study just for children. It's a study on the book of James, and it's entitled "Boy, Have I Got Problems!" I thought this would be a great first formal study to do with the kids because, well, we've got lots of our own problems--so we can relate. It also has cute cartoons, fun applications, and most importantly life-giving truth from God's word, so I was hoping they would enjoy it. So far, after Day 3, they have.

Today, they learned about cross-referencing. As we read from Isaiah 14:24, I was once again reminded of how God has a meaning for everything in our lives. As someone wise once said, "Nothing is wasted." God takes everything and redeems it for His plans and purposes. NOTHING is wasted.

Isaiah 14: 24 reads, "I have planned so it has happened, and just as I have purposed so it will stand."

How comforting to be reminded once again that God created everything, is in control of everything, and has purpose for EVERYTHING that happens in my life and in your life. How often I forget this and faithlessly wonder what went wrong when I can't imagine that this part of my life could really be God's plan for me. But it's not only a plan, it is also a purpose, which give all of my life experiences meaning and value.

So today, I will "consider it all joy" again as I remember the truth of God's word. Thanks, kids!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Prayer for New Mercies

Scotty Smith, pastor at Christ Community Church in Nashville, is one of my all-time favorites. I love his prayers that he posts on Facebook each day, and here's one that I could pray every morning.

A Prayer for Wandering Hearts in Need of Jesus Today

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." Lamentations 3:19-24

Heavenly Father, I know I’m not alone in beginning this day hungry and grateful for your promised mercies. I already feel scattered and fragmented, and the sun has yet to rise. My thoughts are racing and my heart is divided. Yet you greet us today, like every day, not with a list of things to do, but with reminders of who you are.

You, our God, are filled with great love for your children, including me. You are faithful and your compassions will never fail. Like Jeremiah, I choose to remember and think about your loving-kindness as this day begins. Nothing else has the power to center and settle my heart like your grace.

And as convinced as Jeremiah was of your great love, Father, I should be even more so. For he lived in anticipation of the coming of Jesus and the wonderful promises of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). But I live on this side of the these life-changing grace-filled events.

Indeed, Jesus, you did come and you accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. You are reason I don’t despair this morning. You are the reason I run to God and not from him. You are the reason I’m not consumed with guilt and paralyzed with fear. You offered your obedience as mine and you took the judgment I deserved on the cross. Because of you, God has forgiven my all my wickedness and will never remember my sins against me, (Jer. 31:34). You became sin for me, Jesus, and, in you, I have received the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

It’s only because of you I freely join Jeremiah in lamenting my wanderings without falling into shame and self-contempt. Your grace not only frees me to rest in your love, but also to recognize and repent of my unbelief and waywardness. O, for the Day I will never sing again…“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

Jesus, don’t let me wander far from this good news. I need the gospel every day and every hour. When I lose sight of you, make the gall more galling… make the bitterness more bitter… make downcast feel even more downcast. I don’t want to ever get used to feeling disconnected from you.

In view of your steadfast love and never-failing compassions, I proclaim, “The LORD is my portion.” I will wait for you, my God. So very Amen, I pray, in your powerful and tender name.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why Blog?

I've been asking myself some important questions. Why blog? Should I blog? Why should I blog?

I've had some thoughts about blogging in the past.

1-Blogging seems narcissistic. I mean really--many write about themselves and their accomplishments and their kids accomplishments, and on and on and on. Things I can't imagine I'd have time doing, much less also take pictures and record in a blog while I'm doing them. Am I just joining the crowd? Will I be different?

2-Blogging seems weird. I know more than I even thought to ask about people in my social circle just by reading their facebook or blog posts. And that seems weird to me when I haven't yet spent time with them face to face to find out that information. I'd rather get to know you by sitting down and having a cup of tea (or great coffee) together and chatting for hours....but what if we live miles apart and only have a few minutes to share? Is it okay to connect through blogging?

3-What really are my motivations? I mean r-e-a-l-l-y. Hmmmm.....

Well, it seems I've come to at least a few conclusions.

1-I need a creative outlet. In days past I used to love to scrapbook. Well, this was in grade school before scrapbooking was really in, so by now all of my scrapbooks have fallen apart. But I do feel the desire to record and share and communicate, and right now blogging seems like a great way. Perhaps I will send this to the printer someday and blogging will be my way of passing down a little bit of me to my family. At least it's easier (and cheaper) than writing a book.

2-I have a need to communicate. As much as I love Facebook, it leaves me say more, to connect more, to share, to encourage and be encouraged. Maybe that can happen through blogging.

3-The introvert in me has something to say and writing helps me to process. I also have developed a love for writing. Did I just say that? Okay, maybe I'm hoping to develop as a writer. I, at least, have a love for words. I do feel, some days, that the words that spill out of my mouth make no sense and don't really communicate what is going on in my heart, and writing seems to help me process that. Of course, I am sure to still put my foot in my mouth--or would that now be keyboard in my mouth?

4-I have some future hopes, dreams, projects and prayers for this blog....stay tuned!

I really do believe that God is the Author of our stories and He is working in everyone's lives for His own purpose and glory. We recently started going to an Acts 29 church. When we first learned about this network of church planting churches, I was curious to know why they chose the name Acts 29. What does Acts 29 say? (Ha! Good thing I paid a lot of money to go to a Bible college...because when I recently opened up to my Bible I suddenly realized there were only 28 chapters of Acts!) I soon found out that they use this name to communicate that God is still working, still building His church and His kingdom. We are the figurative 29th chapter. And I love this name, because it reminds me that the God who was once at work in history, is still at work today, and will continue His story until the day He returns. And the amazing thing is that I am now a part of the story that goes back to Bible time days. It's HIS story, and now it is my story to tell, too. And the name for my blog.