Coffeegrounds: I can do all thru prayer and coffee

{November 17, 2012}   Long-suffering

I just finished Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book entitled “Grace-Based Parenting” and if I’ve learned anything from it, I’ve learned I need to show more grace in my life.  Grace-based parenting, in short, is parenting our children in the same way God parents us.  That is lots and lots of grace.  God allows us to be individual, to make mistakes, to be honest with Him even if He’s the one we are angry with.  He corrects out of love, addressing the heart rather than disciplining out of anger with our behavior.

If I am to parent as God parents me, I need to be so much more like Him.

What I need most is patience.  I think that attribute really takes care of the other flaws in myself I would consider: quick to anger/irritation and selfishness.  My favorite translations use the word “long-suffering” which I feel is more appropriate.  That is part of the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Being patient with others is to love them.  Long-suffering makes sense to me in that to be patient with someone else is to sacrifice something you want, and I would say that causes a bit of suffering, although a self-centered kind.  For me, being patient can mean two things.

1. Not finishing something I’ve started so I can listen to my son or address a need or correction.  I really hate starting something and not being able to work it through to the finish.  Interruptions kinda drive me nuts.

2. Not fighting to prove my point in effort to salvage my pride.  I tend to be a very bad listener when I do this.  James 1:19 would be a great verse to remember.

Doing something about my  lack of patience scares me.  It seems insurmountable because I have probably been self-centered my whole life.  And there is so much at stake…

But living in Christ I will not fall, although I stumble.  Walking along side Him, I will become more like Him, although never perfect.  And it is because His grace is sufficient.


{November 5, 2012}  

We will be married 9 years this December.  I often wonder at God’s grace and patience for two teens who knew no truth, carried on as they saw fit, and embraced the world.  I remember the kind of people we were in our early twenties and how we treated each other, the fears we each had, and the confusion that was life although we thought we had all the right answers.
Then the Light of World became the Light of our lives and since then I am amazed how God has poured His love on us and how He renewed us through Jesus Christ.

Now, almost 5 years later I sit in our new country home watching my husband give our 2 year old son a ride on the tractor in the field.  Our newest little one kicks and somersaults inside me and my heart overflows with thankfulness to Jesus.  I deserve none of this, none of His sacrifice.  And yet, He pours His grace, His love, His mercy.
He amazes me.

{April 7, 2011}   Changing Me

Life is beautiful in its changes.  That’s what makes it exciting I guess.  Dynamic.  Some changes are hard, some we can’t wait for, some bring unexpected challenges, and all add their share of photographs to our memory.

This Starbucks isn’t the same.  It’s not where my best friends gather.  It’s not the one where I spoke with homeless Dave.  This place is not where most of my life was spent studying, building my most meaningful friendships, or discussing God with those who asked what I was reading.  It’s not the starbucks that gave me a place to feel like I existed  when I felt so lonely waiting for Tony to come home from yet another deployment.

But every one I enter makes me smile.  This one is not The One, but it smells the same, sounds the same, and feels the same.  The setting sun looks the same filtering through the windows and, as always, there’s the wonderful view of everyday traffic.  Any minute, one of the girls will show up for coffee.

Change.  It’s a wonderful thing, but a bittersweet thing.  Those days were much easier, much simpler, and I only had to worry about me.  When I wanted to go, I went.  When I wanted to stay up late, I did.  When I wanted to do anything that I wanted, I just did it.  Hanging out with friends was a near daily occurrence.

Today, my life hardly resembles that anymore.  I am at a starbucks for the first time on my own to do what I want  since having my son 11 months ago.  I thank my husband for that.

These days, I’m tired physically and mentally, constantly working at home caring for Max, breaks are short and few, my friends are all far away, and I am way to easily irritated at the end of the day.

But, God is teaching this girl.  I am learning so much about my character, its flaws, its weaknesses.  So is my husband, haha.  I am so lucky to have him.  He is my rock and stability when it all overwhelms me.  I  need him so much more than he knows and he means so much more to me than I take the time to verbalise.  I should work on that.

My son is my sweet, innocent blessing.  Patience?  Ah, am I getting a crash course!  But, thank you Lord, there is so much sweetness attached to that little baby boy!

You know, somewhere the bible says that God never leaves us, that “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (der, I have internet to look up bible verses!  This is Philipians 1:6).  The day I finally got it, got Jesus, my life changed rapidly.  He rescued me from the place I was in my heart, in my life, and in my marriage.  He tranformed my heart and made me new.  He pulled me through rough heartaches that, had they occured before I had Him, would have left me drowning.

Even so, I’m not done.  He’s not done.  I still have growing to do.  The entrance of my son into the world has given my life a new capacity of love and joy.  It has made me view my husband in an even greater light of admiration, dependence, and gratitude (although I spend too much time pondering these in my heart rather than expressing them) But, I am still flawed.  God has called my attention on my ease to anger, that short-fused irritibility I have by the end of the day…everyday I hate to admit.  Currently, He’s working on that.

I just love that He loves me enough not to leave me as I am!

Change is a beautiful thing.  Got found me, taught me, and grew me in Texas but has now sent me out away from my beloved fellowship to grow here in ways that matter today and to do the good He’s appointed me to do.  Ugh, I feel like a hypocrite writing those words because who am I that He would do that?  I screw up every day, much to my chagrin.

How amazing.  The God who created all things, the God of nations, of the world, is concerned with the things of me and my little family.

Thank you, Lord, for change and the memories they leave behind.  I know these days with my husband as my young husband and my son and my sweet boy at home with us is short and that these too will soon be just photographs in my memory.

{January 5, 2011}   Almost a religious basket-case

Loving God.  I’m trying to figure that one out.

I am a planner.  I refused to admit that until just recently.  I did not like being labeled a planner by others.  I correlated it as being someone who was high-strung, no fun, and incapable of spontaneity.  But, for all my purposeful denial of the fact, I am a planner and extremely task oriented.

And I’m ok with that.  I enjoy a list and watching a plan come together or a goal achieved.

However, it does have me a little stuck at the moment.

It is my heart’s desire to please God, to show love to Him, and to bring Him glory through what I do.

The problem is, besides having a sinful nature, I need a plan!  I need a check list!  But, a check list checked off is not what God wants.  He wants my heart and my actions to be driven by that heart, not a compulsory lust to see some task completed.  I can easily get suckered into a religiosity here and totally lose the heart of why I do any good at all.

So, there’s that.

Then, there’s part two.  To do the most or best I can for God, it has to be BIG!  Well, in my mind anyway.  He’s got to be able to see it, right?  And it has to be obvious to other people so that I can have a influence for Christ, right?  I’m talking going out among a multitude and speaking boldly, martyrdom, and the like.  A real loud, sold-out-for-Jesus-and-everyone-knows-it BANG!  God will see that for sure, and surely He’ll be pleased by my desire to go out and tell the world about Him.

But, I need to come to grips with the fact that God sees the small things too and maybe, just maybe, it’s the small things He’s given me to work with for His glory.

A great friend reminded me of this little fact today.  I can please God by being a loving mother and being good to the husband He gave me.  She reminded me about 1 Corinthians 10:31  which says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.  So, the small stuff please Him too.  It also shows my love for Him.  I can be just as close to God doing the laundry as I am reading His word.  I can give His name glory by modeling patience instead of wrath.  I can glorify Him just as well in my quiet and small capacity as I could if given a huge ministry.

And how hypocritical would it be if I did all this “big” stuff in the name of God but neglected my God-given family or failed to extend them the same grace I would to the strangers I’d be involved with?

I’ve just started re-reading the book “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas.  His theme is that perhaps marriage is more for our holiness rather than our happiness.  He talks about marriage being a ministry in and of itself.  What other life context is there that challenges our selfish desires so acutely?  Where else is the practice of forgiveness such a necessity? Where else is all the Jesus spoke about so clearly challenged or demonstrated than in the picture of what a godly marriage is?  His opinion is that enduring hardship, overcoming temptation, loving the at-times unlovely in marriage may be the most spiritual thing you’ll ever do.

It’s ok that I’m not part of some big, organized outreach that meets 7 days a week or that I don’t venture out by myself at 6 am every morning to do ministry elsewhere, or that I don’t read my bible 3 times a year, or that sometimes I actually do miss church.

And I’m just going to have to accept that.

Thanks, Salome.  I’d have fallen into the trap of religion had it not been for you today, friend  ^_^

{December 16, 2010}   He Spoke Plainly

I love my God.  You know, sometimes it seems He’s far or silent (I think perhaps we are just far and deaf), but during those times that I’m praying I KNOW He’s still hearing me, and I tell Him so.

Today was like that, and has been for a while I’ll admit.  Oh…today I was going through some negative and familiar territory in my thoughts, memories, pains.  I hate that.  They just come up, unwelcome.  I’ve prayed about these things before and my Father has always come to my rescue and settled my soul, but today I was hit again by the past anew.

This time I spoke all that was bothering me, growing angry, hopeless, frusterated, saying things I probably shouldn’t say to God like “what the hell” and such.  At the end of it I was tired and still sad.

“I wish you would just speak plainly”, I said.

I finished what I had been doing all along: putting Max down, showering, cleaning the kitchen, and sat down with a bowl of cereal to chill since I no longer felt like accomplishing the other tasks I had.  I always check my email first, so that’s what I did.  I had a couple forwards from my Grandpa.  I NEVER look at forwards.  I find them annoying and usually rather dumb and a waste of space.  But I love my Grandpa, I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, and I’ll be seeing him very soon.  We’ve recently become better at calling each other and staying in touch, so in the spirit of loving my Huggablest, I opened them.

The first one was a long animated Christmas card.

The second is where God spoke plainly.  I was covered in His love as He spoke through this silly email, made calm, greatly encouraged, and full of the knowledge that God is really there and He is for me.  I love Him.  What a silly way to communicate such needed things to this often lost and hopeless girl.

{October 28, 2010}   Sowing Generously

I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning and chapter 9: 6-15 said much to me about generosity and it’s benefits.  Paul begins there by saying that “whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctanty or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”

Here, the benefit is ours as believers.  As someone who Christ pulled from darkness to light, my hearts desire is to please Him as much as I can with the life given me.  In the simple act of giving to others what they need, whatever it is, we are further strengthened to give more, to “abound in every good work”.  It my heart this said, “The more you give, the more opportunity and resources you will receive to give more for the purpose of pleasing God”.  That makes me excited because He makes it so easy!  And it also makes it clear to me that pleasing God does not have to be (and biblically rarely is) something extravagant.  It just has to be from the abundance of your heart.

Verses 10-11 confirm this as well:  “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

And the rest of the chapter is just amazing: “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

So, not only do we benefit by giving to others, others obviously benefit. Not just in what our generosity physically supplies them with, but they may see Christ in it as well and praise God!  “Men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ” .  Wow.  How wonderful is that?  It also shows that people need to be able to see by my life that I truly believe in Christ and what he did.  What good is it for me to say with my mouth that Christ saved me from death and an earthly life of darkness if I live like the world?  If I do nothing that shows my love for Christ?  If my focus has not changed to being a focus on Christ and His ways?

So, just in generosity alone, we benefit by being built up to do more, others benefit through seeing Christ in what we do (and therefore may come to know Him as well), and ultimately God is praised for what we do!  Totally sweet.

{September 5, 2010}   Not Destroyed

I sleep in the most wonderful place in the world.  I have my good-hearted husband asleep with his arms around me on one side, and our sweet baby Max cuddled up against me on the other.  I call this my love sammich and I get it all the time.

The last 2, almost 3, years of my life have been so wonderfully amazing, dreadfully hard, and the best of my life.  I used to be in a place where I only knew lonliness, desperation, fear, worry, self-inflicted torment, and an overall sense of lostness and unusedness (I just made that a new word).  Not only that but I was VERY selfish…secretly.

I wish I had found Christ earlier in life, understood what the cross was in my heart rather than just in my head.  But, we all have our time I suppose, if we ever really want to know God.

God took me from misery to joy and peace.  He’s amazing.  Not only does He desire us to be reunited with Him, to save us from the place we are all originally destined, that is Hell, but he doesn’t stop there.  I mean, salvation from Hell would be enough wouldn’t it?  I mean, I know I will NEVER in this life really comprehend what exactly the Hell is that I’m saved from, but I DO know that if God chose to simply keep me from that and do nothing else for me in this life, that would be enough.

But Christ also said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV) or, for you NKJV fans, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10

He brought me from death, my condemnation by sin to Hell, to life and THEN he gives me a life on earth of ABUNDANCE!  Not to say that I don’t suffer bad things or that evil never touches me (we live in an evil world, it touches us all) but He has indeed blessed my heart and soul.  He puts me in awe, He captivates me, astounds me, and lately He just overwhelms me by His goodness toward me.  Me.  What Joy.

I suffer evil, I suffer hurt, I suffer some of my past…but there is peace.  And when the devil or my flesh is working against me, shoving the past in my face and twisting the knife in my chest I cry out to my Father, the one to loves me, and He saves me again.  My suffering is washed away in one fell sweep and I have abounding joy in the truth that I see…life has changed and Jesus is my safety.

Gratitude.  That’s all that has been in my heart for God these days.  I can’t help it.  It pours out of my heart in prayer before other things.

There’s another part to John 10:10, the first part:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (NKJV)

Even in my previous life of misery I thought I was happy.  I was fooled, stuck in the world and in my flesh.  The devil had me fooled. But then, Jesus changed it all and poured out true love and goodness in my life.  Shortly after, the devil came after me hardcore.  He challenged my loyalty and obedience to God in the worst way, attacking my most vulnerable place.  He tore me to shreds, tempted me to destroy something sacred, ripped me up, and left me bleeding.  I had resisted him, but I have scars.

But God, my Father, Christ is ever faithful.  The devil hasn’t been able to touch me, but he does like to remind me of my scars when he can.

The thief comes to destroy, but Christ came to give life.  I was broken, Christ lifted me, bandaged me, and spoke peace over my scars.  I am far from destroyed.

Why do I say all this, and throw it out to the interwebs?  I’m not sure really.  I just know where I came from and I like to write my heart.  So, there’s a piece of it.  enjoy.

{July 12, 2010}   Not Thankful Enough

Ah, ya’ll, it is a beautiful rainy day outside, the air smells fresh and wet, and our apartment is filled with a blueish hue and the drowsy hum of the dishwasher.  Max is slowly dozing off to “fireflies” by Owl City.

It’s moment like this at home that I really see all the goodness that I have.  I have a husband who does everything for me and it is only because of him that I can stay home with our sweet little son.  Yesterday I was in a funk and really wanted some chocolate ice cream to get out of it (it works!) and he went and got some for me.  I didn’t ask him to, he just did.  AND he knows I hate staying inside too long.  Even if he doesn’t really feel like it, he will take on the outdoors with me.  Last night we put Max in the stroller and went rollerblading for like an hour.  Yes, I survived unscathed.  I’m getting better at it!

Those are just a couple things in the last days.  He does so much more for me than I realize most of the time and I love him for it.

I have an apartment that is always filled with light, and herb garden that is actually still living, the ability to pursue hobbies, godly friends who make me happy, a best friend who I love dearly, and a lifetime still left to live for what God has for me and to walk in His ways.

And that is something else to be thankful for!  Salvation, forgiveness, and the constant molding process God puts us through to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to Him, and change our dark into light!

My latest lesson…I hate to admit it, but God is showing me that I do indeed have a short fuse.  Some of you might be surprised at that but unfortunately it is true.  The worst part is that I am short with family, those that are the very closest to me.  Isn’t that awful?  I am nicer and more patient with strangers than I am family sometimes.

But, this is just one of those times where God is showing me something I don’t want to see because it needs to change.  Change is hard, but I am trying…again…and will probably screw up and try again again.  That is where God’s Word being in my heart will be important.

But how wonderful is it that God shows us such things so we can grow!

There’s more I could say, but now I’m hungry so…

et cetera