July 29, 2012

Don't Worry, Seek Instead!

Good Sunday morning to you, friends!

Yesterday morning was NOT a good morning in the heart and home of this writer.  I was frustrated with my circumstances and my inability to control them.  (Another working Saturday for the husband, too many things coming up in August, a very, too mess house ... cry me a river!)  I wanted everyone to GO AWAY or to go away myself for a few days.  (Because escaping your troubles is always healthy.  Ha!)

I knew the gospel just as much as the day before, but I didn't really want to do anything about it.  I felt I had a right to stay grumpy, even though I knew full well engaging with the day, my children, and my God was the wise choice that would bring joy.

While I was working on that, my sister called and the kids and I met up with her at the park.  Sister to the rescue!  Shaken out of the navel gazing, the rest of the day was better.  Not great, I'm still a pretty big, selfish sinner ... God gets the credit for anything redemptive about yesterday.

Here's part of my problem.  I worry about tomorrow.  I work myself up into a tizzy about things that are not happening yet, fretting about how the might happen.  For example: next week we're taking a long weekend with my in-laws, and from what I've heard of the cottage, we may all be sleeping in the same room.  So naturally, I'm imagining only how awful the vacation will be because we'll all be up at 5:30am every day because some child has woken everyone.  We shouldn't even go.

Hello Eeyore!

I know, we can take naps, we desperately need to get away, we will have four adults to three children, and that my in-laws are so helpful.  But, Mrs. Doomsday (me) would rather quit because I imagine my comfort will be compromised.

I imagine.

Isn't that really what worry is?  We are imagining what may be, given our limited view of the circumstances, rather than trusting it all, day by day, to the all-knowing, everywhere-present, mighty God we call Father.  That good-gift Giver.  Oh my worries are so silly ... and so insulting to Him.

But it's not really enough to tell someone "just don't worry about it."  We all know how annoying that is, don't we?!  Here's what Jesus had to say:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:33-34

He does tell us not to worry about tomorrow and how our needs will be met.  But He also invites us to fill that "worry space" by seeking God's kingdom and righteousness.

I should have been doing that yesterday. Asking myself, Things are not going my way, but how can I seek God's kingdom and righteousness right now to get my head out of my navel and on to the things of God?
This is my reminder for today!
Would anyone like to join me in practicing this with more regularity?  This selfish, little worry wart would love your accountability.  May God bless you on this day of worship, showing you how you can see His kingdom and righteousness more intentionally each day!

July 27, 2012

Just for Fun!

I've noticed that this summer my blosting has been a little sparse.
This cartoon sums up why:

If you have little tykes running around, enjoy them.
All joking aside, I have been trying to put priorities over the urgent...
and be content with it.
For example, after a week of sickness, we needed to get out for some fun;
the kitchen is a mess and I still need to put away my laundry from Tuesday,
but we had a great time at the pool!

Have a great weekend!
(Now I gotta get off of this thing and get those clothes put away and the kitchen picked up.)   :)

July 25, 2012

He Has Made Everything Beautiful In Its Time

I had to think for a minute to remember what day it is today.


I'm confused because there's been a cold virus working its way through our house and we have spent several days doing nothing, staying inside trying to avoid sharing our illness and attempting to get well faster with rest.  But today I did schlep the kids out to run a few errands: getting homeschooling papers notarized, picking up Brian's pictures at Target, and (later in the day) shopping for groceries.  That last item really needed to be done on Monday.  We managed just fine, but really, it needed to happen today.  So today it was ... but we didn't get to it until 4:30 in the afternoon.

If you are a homemaker or simply astute (or both!) you realize what this means for the evening routine.  Shopping at 4:30 = getting home after 5:30.  At which time your baby will want to eat, the groceries will need to be put away, and dinner will need to be on the table.  All at the same time.

You'll be happy to know I made it happen.

But certainly not all at once and not with much grace, either!  While I got dinner heated up (and it was awesome: grocery store rotisserie chicken, canned green beans, and slices of bread - want the recipe?!) and put away only the perishable groceries, Katherine had to cry a little in her crib.  She'd woken up at some point while I was bringing in groceries.  (Colin was working from home; I did not leave her at home while we went shopping!)  The children were watching a TV show, because the activities of the day had wiped them out.  Sickness can make even short outings so much more exhausting, can't they?

Colin came up from his office at some point mid (gourmet) dinner prep and got Katherine from her crib.  The kids finished up their show and came to the table.  I quickly mixed up a little rice cereal for the baby child, grabbed her fruit and veggies, and sat down to pray at a table that Brian had moved into an odd angle at some point earlier in the afternoon.  We ate dinner crooked, the floor half covered in bags of non-perishable, to-be-put-away-later groceries.  It was, as I mentioned, awesome.  We do family style for realz around here!

Elizabeth spent half the meal groaning about how her ears and throat hurt and finally made her way to the couch to wait for applesauce to come her direction, once I'd gotten Katherine fed.  Feeding takes so much longer when it includes nursing and spoon food!  At some point I spilled my glass of water all over the table while Katherine was nursing.  Colin wiped it up.  Brian got in some jokes and comments that included bodily function and parts vocabulary (a nightly tradition), but ate well.  As it was getting close to seven, Colin took him up to bed.  He went without argument; he loves when it's dad's night to put him to bed.  (He and I take turns.)

The rest of the evening was really uneventful, (Brian and dad did their thing while Elizabeth, Katherine,* and I listened to A Wrinkle in Time.), but I found the 5:30-7 window quite hilarious.

Finally, at 10pm the trash is on the curb, the rest of those groceries have been tucked into cupboards, the surface of the kitchen table is cleared for breakfast, and I've gotten to sit and write.

I was writing to a friend earlier in the week about my recent thoughts on these years with young children, especially having a baby in the house:
"Right now, in life with your little ones and new ones (and, dude, your babies are still REALLY new!!!) you are in just the beautiful place you should be, getting "nothing" done because you've got other responsibilities.  I have one 5 month old, and I feel like you feel a lot of the time.  I've been comforted by the fact that my kids won't remember exactly what we did this summer, but they might be impacted if I'm constantly stressed out and complaining, rather than taking each day for what it is ... like today, when I was supposed to have a day "off."  :)  I want to give them a mommy who's trusting in the Lord and His care, not a mope who's always walking around with her head hanging because her expectations are not being met!  I guess God thinks I need to learn a lot, because it has been quite a summer of practicing this!!!"
What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.   Eccl. 3:9-13

I think tonight in our house was kind of crazy-beautiful.
Did you have any crazy-beautiful in your day today?!

*If you want to know what Katherine is up to, click here.  This was from two days ago, and similar to what she was doing during our time with the audio book this evening.

July 21, 2012

Friends Came Through Town!

Some friends of ours from Boston stopped in on their way down to Kerrville, TX, where they are moving to plant a church.  This dear family went out of their way to swing through Pittsburgh.  Boo-ya!  We had two sweet hours together, and I was tempted to contact the people waiting for them in Texas with this message:  If you want them, you're gonna have to come up here and get them!

Here they are!
Would you say a prayer for them as they set out on this new God-given adventure?
(pretty stellar photo of a photo, eh?!)

It was their second son's birthday the day before they arrived,
so we prepared for him ... even had some cake.
(I really should have taken more pictures!)

The boys enjoyed a little Wii after a Primati's lunch!
(Yup, we "Pittsburghed" them, despite the brevity of the visit.)

Dear Father in heaven, why couldn't they church plant in Pittsburgh?!
Seriously, though, we are very excited about what God will do with, in, and through you in TX!

Clay enjoyed some great birthday smiles and giggles from Katherine before they left.

While those boys were busy doing their thing,
these two little ladies played dolls and doll house up in the kids' room.

I really treasure these two hours we had with our friends.
When I think of it, I am so very happy and so very sad, all at the same time!

We love you, Standridges!
God speed you on to Kerrville.

July 20, 2012

What Prayer Does to Me

In prayer time I believe most fully.  When my heart and mind are centered on God in the quiet moments of the morning, I believe He can and will make the Gospel go forth in new places and in new ways in the world, heal the sick, bring my children to faith, change lives in our neighborhood, give me boldness to share the good news, grant me wisdom for the day's parenting, ... that He even forgives my sins.

Perhaps that is why Paul said this in his letter to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Throughout the rest of the day, I'm not prone to go first to prayer.  Worry, fear, doubt, and self-reliance come more naturally and are followed quickly by despair, disappointment, and discouragement.  But according to Paul, it is God's will for me in Christ Jesus to talk with Him, a lot!  Knowing how my faith is strengthened when I sit to talk with the Lord each morning (or at least the ones that I'm up early enough!), I feel so encouraged by Paul's words here.

Pray continually.

Doing so would change me.

I'd pray bigger and believe deeper ALL DAY.

How about you?

July 17, 2012

He Took Jesus at His Word and Departed

For those of you who follow along on Facebook, you know I spent time last week preparing to give a devotional talk at a women's gathering at the church I went to as a teenager.  For those who do not follow along on Facebook, that is why I've been MIA.  Any blogging time was spent reading, writing, and practicing that talk.  (If you are on FB and don't follow along there, feel free to 'like' my page and you'll receive notice of new posts in your news feed!)

With that shameless plug out of the way, I'll move on to sharing with you what I shared with the ladies of Hebron Church in Penn Hills.

The short version:
The passage is John 4:45-53.
The story is that of an official coming to Jesus to seek His healing for his dying son.
The take home point is taking Jesus at His word and departing.

The longer version:

When [Jesus] arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him.  They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
Once more He visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine.  And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.  When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal His son who was close to death.

Jesus is pretty popular.  The people of Galilee know him, and even this non-Jew official is aware that if his son has any chance of living, Jesus is the man for the job!

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus replied, “GO! Your son will live.”

This man is so desperate, that he virtually ignores what Jesus says and begs again that Jesus will come and heal his son.  And what do we see?  The man asks and Jesus acts!  He doesn't do as the man expects or wants, but he responds to his request by issuing a command, "GO!", and making a promise, "your son will live."

Then the Scriptures say this:

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

HERE we see the man's faith.  Earlier, he was just coming to Jesus to have his son healed.  Now, he's trusting him - without seeing a miracle - obeying the command and believing the promise.

He took Jesus at his word and departed.

You know what?  I don't do this particularly well, this business of taking Jesus at His word and departing.   For example, I'll sit for a quiet time or a sermon or a chat with a friend, read or hear a truth I really need to hear, and then I depart from the experience and ... keep worrying, keep fearing, keep doubting, keep feeling guilty about a forgiven sin, whatever that day’s issue is!  Do you know what I mean?  Faith is really a battleground isn't it?!

But Jesus' powerful word is just as true today as it was when He walked as a man on the earth.  And I have a feeling that part of why the official took Jesus at His word and departed was the WAY in which Jesus spoke to him.  Mark often mentions how amazed the people were by the authority with which Jesus spoke.  Jesus spoke truth to the man and he believed Him.

How about you?  When you read the word of God, do you believe Jesus?  When you read that He won't leave you or forsake you, you needn't worry because God is taking care of you, or  you can take heart because He has overcome the world, do you take Him at His word?  Do you depart from hearing from the Lord in confidence that he has and will meet you in your loneliness, need, or trouble?  We need to know Jesus' words to take Him at them!  Speaking of, let's finish up the story:

While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.  When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.”
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.

The boy was healed at the exact time Jesus said he would be well!  Amazing!!  The man asked Jesus and Jesus proved himself faithful.  He did not act as the man wanted him to, but He did respond to the request.  The man sought Jesus for a healing, and got a whole new way of life!  Jesus has a way of taking things to the next level, doesn't He?

Here's a summary to wrap it all up:
  1. When we come to Jesus and ask, we can and should expect him to act …  He may not the way we expect, but He will act.  (The official asked Jesus, Jesus responded.)
  2. When we hear the words of Jesus, read them, or the Spirit brings them to mind, we can take Him at them and depart with confidence IN HIM.  (The official heard Jesus, and believed Him.)
  3. After we’ve departed, we should look for Jesus to strengthen our faith as we carry on.  (The official learned that Jesus had healed his boy immediately with his Word!)

And the take-away tidbit?

This little sentence, He took Jesus at His word and departed. This is a reminder for you of how you can interact with the Lord.  Take Jesus at His word.  Jesus said in John 6:29, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”

That is the path of faith, the path of life, and the path of hope.

Take Jesus at His word, even today!

*If you appreciate what you're reading here and in other posts, would you consider sharing this with someone else or suggesting to your women's ministry that I speak for your group sometime?  I'd be ever so grateful for the opportunity to encourage more women to take Jesus at His word; I know His word has changed my life and can change others.  Thank you!

July 8, 2012

Do Right, Right Now!

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, God is looking for and pleased with Kings whose hearts worship Him and who point His people to worship Him.  Many of the Kings did not do that, or did it half way by getting idols out of the temple but not tearing down the high places of idol worship.  I'm reading 2 Chronicles and have come again to the story of Hezekiah, (he appears in 2 Kings, as well.)  Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  He enters the scene as King of Judah following his very unrighteous father, Ahaz.

But Hezekiah, well, he was getting it right: he had the temple repaired; he called the Levites to consecrate the temple and get ready for sacrifices and worship; he directed the people to celebrate the Passover for the first time in a LONG time.

What made him do this?

His father had worshiped the Baals, built idols to other gods, and even sacrificed some of his own sons to them!  But Hezekiah does not follow in his footsteps.  Second Kings 18 says this about him:  Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.  He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

What moved Hezekiah to do right?  Hezekiah knew God's Word.

All of Scripture is an invitation to worship the one true God.

At some point in his life, Hezekiah had heard the Word of the Lord given to Moses and he thought to himself something like, Hey, we ought to be doing things that way, not my dad's way!

What strikes me as so wonderful about Hezekiah's story is that when he hears that invitation and  does something about it, God responds favorably - He receives the worship of the people and hears their prayers, despite previous decades of unfaithfulness.  They sacrifice many animals to atone for their sins and to honor the Lord their God, and then there's lots of singing and praising and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord!

Here's the take-away I want to share with you today.  No matter what has happened in the last day, week, month, or year.  No matter how far you have wandered away from God and (essentially) worshiped idols.  Turn and


Today is a perfect day, in fact.  Sunday morning worship is just around the corner (at least in the American time zones!)  You might be tempted to stay away, because you feel the need to atone for your sin on your own, or that you need to at least grovel for a while before you can enter worship.  The Bible tells us otherwise.  God desires that we worship Him NOW.

We don't need to fix the past, we need to come to God in the present.

Hezekiah knew, of course, that many of his predecessors had not done right by the Lord.  They had not followed him whole-heartedly, or at all, really.  But what he, Hezekiah, needed to do was respond to the Word of the Lord that he'd heard right then.

I know, of course, that many days this week, I have not done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.  I have not followed God whole-heartedly; in fact, sometimes I even consciously choose to disobey the Lord's nudging toward righteousness!

How about you?

As the song says, Come, now is the time to worship!  Like Israel and Judah, our worship will include repentance for sin (through the bloodshed of Christ rather than animals.)  And then how we can celebrate and rejoice int the presence of the Lord with His people!  It is the Lord who fixes, redeems and heals.  We need to come in response to His word.      Right.      Now.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; 
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts. 
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” 
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, 
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy 
and be led forth in peace; 
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. 
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown, 
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.”
Isaiah 55:6-13

July 5, 2012

7.4.12 in photos

The day began my favorite way, with food!

Patriotic Pops after lunch!

I got some photos with the kids.

Grammy and Grampy came to spend the afternoon and evening with us.
Wow, it was so relaxing.
Then they gave us (or at least me!) the biggest treat ever ...

... staying with sleeping Katherine so we could go downtown to see the fireworks!

I haven't gone to the Pittsburgh fireworks in years, and as a child we went every year.
Now we live close enough to the city that we were able to try using this mode of transportation;
it was a success.

Watching the fireworks and putting in earplugs! 
 Thanks Pittsburgh, you never disappoint!

Happy Independence Day!
 I hope you were able to enjoy yours, too!

Is anyone else super tired this morning and have kids that woke up at the same time,
despite the late bedtime?  There will be some napping around here today!
Napping, and lots of coffee.