Posted in Perspective, Thoughts, Thoughts from Life, Thoughts from Scripture

My Dwelling Place

Consciousness slowly began to invade my dreams as the morning dawned. Daytime was simply a reminder. A reminder of all of the uncertainty and chaos surrounding my family. But my first thought was not worry. It was not uncertainty. It was not even a list of all of the things I needed to do today, including adjusting my work schedule to compensate for being off schedule this week. No, the first thought that pounded my brain was this:

The LORD is my dwelling place.

You see, the biggest concern on my mind right now is where my family will live as of the first week of June.

For nearly five years, we’ve been blessed with an amazingly wonderful parsonage in a delightful rural town. We have planted fruit trees in the yard and grape vines along the back fence. We have room to spread out – and room to line the walls with bookshelves.

But God is moving us. He worked out every detail flawlessly, guiding us with perfect direction every step of the way. Even though the decision was exceedingly hard emotionally, it was very clear. And we’ve been incredibly supported both by our current church family and our brand new one.

The only thing that has not been clear is the housing solution. There are things we crave – permanence; moving only once; space for our children; a place for the cats (for the kids’ sake…).

But this morning, none of those things invaded my thoughts first. Instead, I was given a Scripture-based reminder.

I’ll confess, I can’t find that exact phrasing in the Bible, but I sure can find support for it. My first thoughts go to Psalm 91, a beautiful song of refuge.

But ultimately, two things occur to me related to this early-morning thought:

  • The Word of God is alive and powerful. Oh, my dear friend, never ever forget that! How we must immerse ourselves in it! How we must know it well! Even the passages not intentionally committed to memory must be viewed and reviewed over and over again until they are so familiar that the Spirit can bring them to mind. But the memorization doesn’t hurt either!

    Scripture is the number one way our Lord, Savior, Father, Master, Creator, Sustainer, Helper, Healer, Comforter…(I could go on and on) communicates with us. Everything we need is right there. And even in those moments when our consciousness is not active, His Word is. It speaks to us. It pours into us. And it gives us just what we need in that moment, if we will listen.

  • The Lord is all we need. Yes, yes, I know that my family still needs physical shelter just a couple of weeks from now. And, we are continually praying that God guides our search and our decision-making process, bringing us to a satisfactory conclusion very soon.

    Ultimately, though, whatever our need – whatever our search – the Lord is the answer. Period. Not a specific house or any other specific provision. Just Him. He is my shelter. My dwelling place. My provision.

Do I want an end to our current uncertainty? Yes. Without question. Do I have specific desires related to how the housing problem gets solved? Definitely! I know what I long to have for my family!

But can I trust the Lord even in the uncertainty? Without a doubt.

There will be hard days, just as there already have been. There will be more days when I cry out in frustration and discouragement because nothing seems to be working out. There will be days when I wonder if I’m just not listening well, thinking that’s why God seems to be silent.

But ultimately I can trust Him. And I will trust Him. And once He gives His answer, I can look back on this day and know that He awakened me this morning with His Word on my heart and His promises on my tongue.

The LORD is my dwelling place.

Posted in Wonderments

Wednesday Wonderment: What About Advent?

I am a lifelong Baptists, and as a Baptist I was not raised in a liturgical tradition. But there is something very powerful about the Advent approach to the Christmas season.

So, here’s my wonderment for today: How many of you take part in some sort of Advent approach to Christmas? I’m not talking about the countdown where you open a fun box every day, although that is a lot of fun, too. I’m talking about a daily or weekly devotional perspective during four weeks leading up to Christmas – and possibly even the subsequent twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany.

Our family loves lighting the candles on our Advent wreath every week. We pick a theme for the season (names of Jesus, people of the Christmas story, characteristics of God, etc) and discuss four aspects of that theme as they relate to the incarnation of Christ. Then we bring them all together when we light the final candle on Christmas.

Individually, we also read an Advent devotional. There are many to choose from, and you can easily find them by searching for them. So, I’m just going to give a plug for my personal favorite:

A Journey to the Manger: The Places of Advent (Kindle)

A Journey to the Manger: The Places of Advent (Print)

I might have to admit to bias since this was written by my husband, but this really is a beautiful, whole Scripture approach to Advent. I have read it, but I look forward to slowly pondering through it this Advent season.

It’s your turn now! Do you celebrate Advent? If so, how?

Posted in Wonderments

Wednesday Wonderment: Do You Know?

This week I finished up an article about discovering our strengths. As I wrote to try to encourage young women to discover and pursue their strengths, I couldn’t help but wonder something. How many adults truly know their strengths?

Even more importantly, if we know them do we utilize them?

Here are a couple of my thoughts:

1. We should encourage the children and youth of our society to actively seek to discover where God has gifted them. Now. Not when they’re “old enough.” Then we should help them find specific ways to utilize those gifts, talents, and strengths. Let’s raise the bar for these kids!

2. Even if you and I truly thought about our strengths when we were young, could it be that there are some that cannot be revealed without age and maturity? What are we doing to continuously explore the giftings God has laid upon us?

What are your thoughts?

Posted in Wonderments

Wednesday Wonderment: What’s Your Translation?

Ready for today’s wonderment?

What’s your favorite Bible translation and why?

This thought came to me earlier this week when I was reading in NLT rather than my standard NASB. A verse jumped off the page at me because of the way it was worded. It made me look at that verse in a way I had never seen it before.

I immediately pulled out my NASB to compare.

The meaning was relatively the same. It was just that the unfamiliar wording made me stop and think twice about the verse.

I love my NASB because it is so literal. I know that even the most literal translators have to make judgment calls, but more literal translations have fewer of those than some of the more reader-friendly translations.

Even so, it is always neat to switch translations for reading purposes. I find myself truly reading verses I might have otherwise skimmed over because of familiarity.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite? Do you switch around?

And do you remember to be thankful for the fact that you not only have a Bible in your own language, but have multiple versions, translations, and copies?

I am thankful for all of the above. The ability to explore God’s Word is such an incredible blessing and delight!

Posted in Wonderments

Wednesday Wonderments: Cold-Weather Recipes

I’m having a hard time with Wednesday blog posts.

I want to make a commitment to posting here three days a week. But, I do much better when I have a general theme for each day. Marriage on Mondays. Faith on Fridays. (Alliteration – isn’t it grand?)

The original idea was to make Wednesdays my “around the web” day. Yeah, that hasn’t worked so well.

So, here is the newest idea: Wednesday Wonderments. (I love that word – wonderment. I don’t know why. Can you tell I’m feeling a little random and scatterbrained right now?)

Anyway, I am going to try to post whatever my most recent wonderment is. It might be organizational. It could be homeschool or work related. Maybe it will be something from a Scripture reading that has not quite formulated enough to hash out in a blog post. Or, maybe I will share something I have thought through but want your ideas, too.

Here’s the catch. I need your input! Will you comment? I have no idea how many readers I have. I don’t know if I know you or if you are a stranger. But, I woudl love to interact with you. And, I would love for some of you to get to know each other. I have met some fantastic people through dialog in blog comments!

Let’s start with an easy one.

The weather is getting cooler, and I need new recipe ideas. So, what are your favorite cold weather recipes?

Here is one of ours: pasta e fagioli soup (Even better than Olive Garden, in my opinion!)

Your turn!

Posted in Perspective

God’s Sunday Reminders

As the thunder rolls with great power this morning, I think only these words truly describe what is running through my mind…

Oh Lord my God

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made

I see the stars

I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Posted in Perspective, Thoughts from Life

Standards

Last weekend I was working on a printing project. Part of it involved trimming some unwanted white edging from around the edges of pictures. So, I sat comfortably on the couch with the pictures in my lap, trimming away the excess.

I worked on the project off and on for a couple of days, including Sunday afternoon. I had changed out of my church dress into a cool white skirt. So, there I sat on the couch holding the pictures in my white lap, trimming off the white when the inevitable happened. I looked beside me at my stack of supposedly trimmed pictures only to notice that several of them still had white edges! I picked one of them up to trim it, but suddenly couldn’t see the white anymore. It disappeared against the white of my skirt, immediately clarifying how I’d missed the offensive edge in the first place. I changed tactics and held the pictures against the background of untrimmed pages and easily discarded the unwanted white.

It’s amazing what a change of perspective does. I thought my pictures were good, but when I held them against the colored background of the couch instead of my skirt, I immediately saw they were nowhere near good. They were still flawed. They still needed work.

The same is true of lives. It is so easy to hold ourselves up to the wrong standards. I do it frequently. I compare my spiritual growth to that of others. I compare my parenting, my actions as a wife in general and a pastor’s wife specifically, my housekeeping, my cooking, my schedule, my homeschooling, my writing, and so on and so forth.

It’s such a simple idea, really, that is brought again and again to my attention: it’s all about perspective. In fact, I now have a blog category devoted entirely to the idea of perspective. And yet, I so easily forget.

Who are you comparing yourself to today? Once you have that answer, ask yourself this one: Who should you be comparing yourself to today?

Holding my pictures up against the white background of my skirt hid an unacceptable flaw and made the pictures seem perfect. But, they weren’t. Holding our own actions up to the standards of one another can leave us feeling completely inadequate or beautifully successful. And both can be total lies.

When we hold ourselves up to the brilliant perfection of God, we will always fail to measure up. Always. But, when we are reminded that we are already made perfect in Christ, suddenly our whole perspective changes. We are once again reminded of the awesome price paid for our perfection, and we hunger to live out the righteousness that God already sees in us. Suddenly, our decisions are not made based on how someone else would do it. Suddenly, our adjustments of behavior aren’t brought on by guilt trips or the craving to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, every action taken is done in the delight of living Christ’s righteousness.

May we hold ourselves up against the standard of Christ and nothing else.