Saturday, June 26, 2010

Greener Grass

Can I just get a little time to myself? That's been the whine of my heart. So, John left me at the entrance to the beautiful Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, as he set out for the children's water play that they so thoughtfully included in their design. I meandered through the gift shop for a while, and then struck out for the Woodland Walk with my Bible in hand. I found a quiet spot in a serene shade garden, and sat down on a bench. Ah, so peaceful. This is what I've been waiting for! After only a few moments of thinking that very thought, it hit me. No, what you have been waiting for over twenty years is to be a mother, and now the Lord has granted your request, and you spend your hours pining for the peaceful days. "It is but one side of a Christian to endeavor to do what pleases God; you must as well endeavor to be pleased with what God does, and so you will come to be a complete Christian when you can do both, and that is the first thing in the excellence of this grace of contentment." Jeremiah Burroughs

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Image Idols

In the middle of the mall. Another meltdown. Screaming, kicking, wailing. Eyes upon us. My friend Becky volunteered to watch Jada and her daughter, Megan, while I took Jesse to the restroom. Then we left our play date early, and I cried most of the way home. I'm not the mother I thought I would be. Picture perfect days with polite and precious children. Me, ever patient and kind. People praising, "such wonderful parenting." Oh, I'd forgotten again about sin, mine and my daughters'. As another of my idols comes crashing down around me, I'm reminded again of just how far I am from being like Jesus and just how desperate I am for His grace.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

John took the girls to the War Memorial Ceremony this morning while I stayed home to scrub floors. He's resting, and I'm working, I thought. And my next thought was, Why, that's what Memorial Day is all about. Others' hard work has won our sweet rest. Men and women have fought for our freedom, so that we can enjoy sitting around sipping iced tea and firing up the grill for some good 'ole hot dogs and hamburgers. We must remember and give thanks. We must. And, of course, there is the One who fought the fiercest battle and bought for us an even better freedom. He did the work, and I now I rest in His great grace. We must remember and give thanks. We must.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Witnessed To

I met a man named Moses, and he ministered to me by asking me if I knew the Lord Jesus Christ. There's just something so encouraging about finding a friend in the faith through their reaching out in boldness to bring the Good News. I, in turn, invited him to visit our church since he shared that he currently didn't attend one, and this past Sunday we shared sweet fellowship together, singing songs of praise and worshiping through the Word. Thank you, Lord, for your people, placed throughout the world, preaching the Gospel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Witnessing Words

There are so many wonderful ways to witness to others about the love of Christ, but one of my favorites is through literature. A while back I ordered copies of a book called Ultimate Questions in lots of different languages from a company called Multi-Language Media. I put them in a box in the trunk of my car, so whenever I meet someone from another country, I can quickly have access to timeless truths in their heart language. A mom at the park from Germany. Two clerks in the African American haircare shop from Korea. International students that attend VCU with friends. What a joy to think that when you walk away from a brief encounter with an unbeliever that they, in turn, may come to encounter the Living God!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Clothes

Look at me, Daddy! Look at me! Jesse runs from the room to show her father her new dress. Or her new shoes. Or her new hairdo. Her longing for his approval seems to come naturally, having never been encouraged that I can recall. Beautiful, he exclaims! Beautiful! And a satisfied smile crosses her face. I clothe myself in the righteousness of Christ, and I run to my Father in Heaven. Look at me, Daddy! Look at me! My longing for His approval was fulfilled through Christ's blood on the cross. Beautiful, he exclaims! Beautiful! And a thankful smile crosses my face. So thankful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Personalized Plates

I've never been an advocate for spending money on specialty license plates and then adding to the cost by getting them personalized. Just think of all the things that we could buy with that cash that we really need. John's the same way, so we've never had one since we've been married. Well, until recently. When I first saw the bright yellow "Choose Life" plates that came out in Virginia, my eye was drawn to the first car flying by that had one. The next thing I knew I was making up messages in my mind that I could put on one. And now, my car is adorned with "Choose Life," and my personalized message below it is IN JC. So, I reasoned with John, "If I can't see that it's reaching anyone, then I won't keep them." Yesterday, a man that was visiting a neighboring house, came and knocked on our door. "I don't mean to be presumptuous he said, but I noticed your license plate and just wondered if it meant, "Choose life in Jesus Christ?" Why, yes it does! We had met a brother and made a friend. And after he left, I turned to John with a smile and said, "I'm keeping those plates."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Overlooking Gems

We've been bringing two young girls to church with us for over a year now, yet there's no indication that they've become Christians. Curiously, they continue to come, getting themselves up and ready in time all on their own. It is so easy to overlook these children in the sea of faces that fill up our facility. In the worldly way, they have nothing to offer us. There are no parents with time and talent for the edification of the saints and no tithe to contribute to the construction of the new building. No house to offer for hospitality, no knowledge to offer for leadership. Why, they're just like me before Jesus! Nothing at all to offer. But, my empty hands didn't stop my Lord from stooping down and picking me up in His arms. Oh, I pray to be like Him, seeking out the small and the weak that have nothing to offer and showering them with love.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Surrender All

One moment she was quietly playing, and the next, she was suddenly asserting, "I am God." I looked at John, and he looked at me. Where did that come from? I think we were wondering. But we didn't wonder for long. Hadn't our two-year-old hit at the reality of all of our hearts? Hadn't she said what we all struggle not to say with the way we live our lives? Oh, Lord, the battle for control begins so early. From the very beginning. By your grace, may we fully surrender and not deceive ourselves with the dangerous dream that we are God.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness

We've been watching basketball. Big men with big dreams for a big win. I have no allegiance to any of these schools, so you would think that I could watch without any concern for who comes out on top. But every single time, I sense a sadness for whichever team loses. I watch the sullen faces of the players as they slowly walk back to the locker room, sometimes even sinking to their knees in tears. I think a friend pinpointed my problem when she remarked that she prays for these young athletes, that they will find a greater passion than a passion for points. Yes, that's it. My sorrow comes from seeing such misplaced emotion. Would it not be wonderful if the players of a losing team could rejoice with those who have won, knowing that their hope is not in the outcome of a game, but in a Great God who satisfies way beyond the buzzer?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

God's Pursuits

I hadn't been to this particular park in quite a while. Maybe a year ago? And even though it's within walking distance, I decided to drive so as to avoid continually having to reel in the two walking wanderers. The girls and I were sitting in the sandbox playing when we saw a young man coming along the path with his two dogs and, yes, a cat. He greeted us with a friendly "hello," and a conversation began. "Oh, you bought the house at the top of the hill? Have you found a church yet? We go to a wonderful church right near here on Coalfield Road called Grace Bible Church." "No, we haven't found a church, but I think a man I met with recently also recommended that church to me." Now, in my mind, I'm doubting it's the same church, but then he asked, "Do you know Jack Dove?" Well, Jack is an elder at our church, so my next statement just jumped right out of me: "God is working on you!" He didn't seem surprised or offended by my assertion, but rather, curious. After all, what are the odds that he'd have two invitations to the same church in one week's time? Unlikely. Unless you know the way the Hound of Heaven works. Keep working on him, Lord. Keep working.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Song Child

Have I mentioned my melancholy side? Doing battle against discouragement is a daily endeavor. My main mode of defense is wielding the Word, but lately the Lord has been giving me an added weapon in this war: the sound of a two-year-old singing His praises. Upon waking, I often hear "My God is so big, so great and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do." And, just before going to bed at night, I'm encouraged by rigorous renditions of "This Little Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands." Every day her storehouse of songs continues to grow, and as it does, spontaneous bursts of beautiful melody spring from her tongue. Maybe, it's not so spontaneous, but comes at the prompting of the Lord who knows that every True Word spoken, in whatever method He may choose, builds us up in our most holy faith.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shadow Snow

In the shadow of a great log, the snow still lingered. The warm afternoon sun had all but melted the rest away. I stood at my window and stared at it, thinking of how my own heart so often resembles the remnants of these icy mounds. Staying in dark places, away from God's Word and God's people, I stay cold toward the things of the Lord. But, if I bring myself into the Light, into His warmth, my heart begins to thaw. After missing a few Sundays at church, I didn't realize how I had quietly slipped into the coolness of the shadows. But, as the music began, and I lifted my voice with my brothers and sisters, as the Word was read, as the pastor began to preach from Hosea, I sensed the snow melting; the warm afternoon sun had reached my soul.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Appliance Time

Sizzling bacon served up in six minutes. Ah, the microwave. Dazzling dishes ready to reuse in just under an hour. Ah, the dishwasher. Clean and comfy clothes washed and dried in only two hours' time. Ah, the washer and dryer. It is a rare day that I don't recognize with rejoicing the miracle of modern appliances. In many ways, they make my life much simpler than the moms of the past who did all these things by hand. But, so often, we use our new found free time to make life more complicated, filling the hours with a to-do list too long with temporal things. Lord, help us to make the most of the minutes we've gleaned from these great gadgets, focusing on eternal purposes, redeeming the time for You.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sweet Service

Lunchtime. I'm rushing around the room making mental checklists as I go. Salt and pepper on the table? Check. Sippy cups filled? Check. Mayo on John's sandwich? Check. Two-year-old Jesse suddenly asks, "Are you going to sit down with us, Momma?" Flashback forty years: From my earliest dining memories on up to my days of adulthood, I would get annoyed that my mom was not eating with us. In fact, it became an outright frustration to us three kids who felt that their mother never joined them at the table. I'm sorry, mom. I think I've finally figured it out: you weren't sitting because you were serving. "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, also, and he praises her." (Proverbs 31:27-28)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Worldly Sorrow

Sadness swallows me, and I sink down into its dark belly. There the silence surrounds me except for the thoughts of sin that swirl about in my mind. Why does he do that? Sinner. Why do I respond that way? Sinner. Will things ever change? Not completely; we'll always be sinners until the Lord brings us home. Why does it sadden me so? I'm afraid it is not so much because of the affront that sin is against a holy God, but because it brings suffering into my own life. Lord, as I meditate on this maddening cycle of sin, let my sorrow not be wordly sorrow, and let my goal not be my own gladness. No, let my goal be Your great glory. "Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me." (Micah 7:8)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remembering Him

Arms that cradle, calming fears. Hands that hold, wiping tears. Lips that kiss, voicing cheers. As I freely give love to my daughters, I realize that these days will be forgotten by them. They will not remember the constant care and concern from their mother and father in the early days of their lives. How much have I forgotten of the love that has been shown to me by my Father? He created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother's womb. Before He even formed me, He knew me. He has kept my heart beating and supplies every breath that I breathe. He saved me, opening my eyes and ears to His Truth. Oh, Lord, I have forgotten much. May I remember the wondrous works You have done and the whole way that You have led me. May I remember You, keeping Your commands, walking in Your ways, and fearing You, for You have brought me, Lord. You have brought me. (Deuteronomy 8)