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What is contentment anyway?

Contentment is a tricky thing. We say that we want it. We even pretend to have it. But, if we were honest, we would admit that we are IMG_0156content for the moment. If our current circumstances are okay with us, then we will remain content until a new desire is birthed in our heart. If, by chance, our current circumstances are less than stellar, then we are {possibly} content to wait {for just a little while, mind you} for God to remedy the situation.

Contentment – yeah, most of us don’t even really know what that means.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8

Three times, Paul pleaded {begged, entreated} with the Lord to remove the source of his pain and discomfort. And the Lord said, “No.” He didn’t say, “Not yet.” He didn’t say, “I’m working on it.” He said, “No, my grace is all you need.” Paul did not need deliverance from his trial. What he needed was God.

How many times have we prayed the same prayers? Do we continue because God has not answered or because we did not like the answer he gave? When you pray to be removed from a situation that is uncomfortable or, dare I say, downright painful – how do you respond when the days pass and you are still there? How do you feel when that heart wrenching situation just does not seem to ever. get. better? What is the state of your heart when you plead with the Lord and the answer is “no?”

What Paul discovered was that, because of Christ, he could be content in every situation.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. - 2 Corinthians 12:10

IMG_0140Weaknesses. Content in the midst of health issues, emotional struggles and temptations.

Insults. Content in the midst of the betrayal of friends, breaking of vows, misunderstandings and wrecked relationships.

Hardships. Content in the midst of job loss, financial struggles, medical concerns and broken dreams.

Persecutions. Content in the midst of judgement, false accusations and pointed fingers.

Calamities. Content in the midst of things you never saw coming.

Contentment. {To think it good, to choose, to do willingly, to be ready}

This, my friends, is where the cross gets heavy.  

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

God did not need us.

roses1I once read that, if you think you are leading and no one is following, then you’re really just taking a walk. In order to be a leader, there must be followers. God, however, does not need people in order to be God. He is God with or without us. That concept is one of the first lessons in Big Truths for Young Hearts. This is a devotional that we did with our children and, then, with our small group. Because, honestly, older hearts need to be reminded of big truths.

In the beginning God… – Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, there was God and it was good. He wasn’t bored. He wasn’t lonely. There was nothing in him that was lacking. People who believe that we were created because God had some holy need make me laugh. As if we {broken, fallible, struggling} could somehow complete an all knowing, all powerful, ever existing God. So, why create us? Because it pleased him to do so.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. – Genesis 1:31

God created you, not out of any sort of need, but for his pleasure. Your very presence pleases him.

I did not have my children because I needed them to do something for me. Am I hoping they will care for me when I’m old? Sure. Will I, if necessary, remind them of every diaper change and middle of the night vomiting episode? Absolutely. But, at the heart of it all, I chose to stretch my body and heart six times because it pleased me to do so. Their very presence is a gift.

I see my daughter come running into the house and, because I know her, I know what she has hidden behind her back. I see the smile on her face. I hurry, with joy, to put those sad looking weeds in a cup of water and I display them proudly on the window sill. It doesn’t matter that they are weeds and not flowers. I know that the desire of her heart was to bring me something of beauty that would put a smile on my face. It is the same with God.

He sees us come running to him and, because he knows us, he knows what we bring. And it pleases him when our heart’s desire is to bring him something of beauty. Yes, sometimes, all we have to offer are weeds. Our failures. Our mistakes. Our hurts. We offer them up to him and he is never ashamed. While the weeds on my window sill are not going to suddenly become flowers, our brokenness becomes beauty when we offer it up to God.

No, God did not need us. He wanted us. And that is even better.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Be Back Soon!

I haven’t forgotten about you, my sweet blog readers! I am taking a much needed break to rest, reflect and refresh.

I will be back May 1st with all new content.

Happy Easter!!

rise and shine

And, for those who have not heard, baby number 5 is a GIRL!

 

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Reclaiming Eve (An Excerpt)

Reclaiming Eve

I had the privilege of reading Reclaiming Eve:The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God. Below is an excerpt from that work. Visit HERE to get your copy, today! Also, you can read a Q&A with the authors tomorrow with Beth Bruno!

The Problem of Eve

For years, I nursed a secret grudge against Eve. I don’t remember talking about it openly, and I’m not sure I admitted it even to myself, but I had serious Eve issues. Some of them were almost comical; others were downright disastrous. Only in the last few years have I begun to realize where my thoughts on Eve went wrong.

As a single woman who longed for a godly husband, I suppose I first resented the fact that Eve didn’t have to use an online dating site to find Adam. I envied the absolute assuredness that they were made for each other. Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. Sigh. Simmering beneath the surface was also the ugly fear that as an unmarried woman I didn’t measure up to God’s ideal. Forget about having kids as my biological clock ticked on: since I couldn’t even find the right Adam, I often felt I hadn’t even passed Womanhood 101.

Then there was Eve’s obvious gullibility factor. All Satan had to do was ask her a question, “Did God really say?” and she was a goner. Never mind the fact that the account in Genesis 3 may have recorded the conversation when it was already halfway through. Or that Adam, too, willingly ate the fruit. I got the impression that Eve was easy prey, making her—and every woman after her—seem somehow inferior.

Finally, my grudge culminated in an outright anger over the effects of sin the first couple ushered in. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). At the time, the desire for a husband seemed like it would be an outright blessing, rather than a curse. But the “rule over you” part made me feel some- how subservient to every man with whom I came in contact.

I never really brought up my Eve issues in polite conversation. I didn’t exactly hear them covered in a Sunday sermon. And I never managed to bring the specifics to the surface in my counselor’s office.

Yet Eve and the issues she raised in my heart were there, following me wherever I went. These issues caused me to question God’s intentions toward me. 

They affected the way I owned (or didn’t own) my role and responsibility in relationships. And many times, they kept me stuck in patterns that resigned me to a self-image that screamed “second best.” Much like my eye doctor prescribes contact lenses to correct my nearsightedness, I would come to see that my Eve vision needed an adjustment to the truth. But at least I wasn’t alone.

A closer study, and even a stroll through Eve’s lengthy Wikipedia page, revealed a troublesome reality: throughout Christian history, Eve was often seen as a temptress. A sexual temptress. This led many church fathers to express the view that women couldn’t be trusted, that they were danger waiting to happen. They were “the devil’s gateway,” said Tertullian, the man who coined the word “Trinity.” Thomas Aquinas claimed that women were inferior to men. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

More troubling to me than the disparaging comments casting Eve as a bad girl was the complete lack of scriptural support to back them up. We’ve got Eve issues, all right, but it’s not the Bible’s fault. Mercifully, God’s Word says, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And so I eventually peeled back the pages of Scripture to uncover the truth about the real Eve of Eden.

Along the way, I realized that for many if not most of us, it is Eve’s sin that defines her. Those irrevocable moments when she sought wisdom apart from God. If only she hadn’t listened to the serpent. If only she hadn’t pursued her own self-importance. If only she hadn’t eaten the fruit. If only Adam had stopped her. If only.

Here’s the difficult truth: Eve’s disobedience colors the way we feel about ourselves as women, even when we don’t admit it. I’ll say it again another way. The way you feel about Eve reflects the way you feel about yourself. If Eve is dangerous, you are dangerous. If Eve is gullible, you may be gullible too. If Eve is inferior, then surely something about women in general is simply not up to par.

So, tell me, what’s a girl to do with the problem of Eve?

Excerpt from Reclaiming Eve Chapter 1
 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

When God Brings You Back Empty

Naomi had a husband. She had two sons. In her own words, she had a “full” life. There came a time, however, when there was a famine in their land and they felt led to go to Moab. While living in Moab, Naomi’s husband and her sons died and she was forced to return to her homeland.

And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” – Ruth 1:19

She was a shell of the woman she had been. She changed her name from Naomi (which meant pleasant) to Mara (which meant bitter) because she felt that the Lord had afflicted her greatly. No longer did she consider her life full as it once had been. Now, there was just emptiness.

I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.  - Ruth 1:21

rainy day

Not too long ago, our family made a trip to Moab, so to speak. We were in a good place and living a full life. Yet, there a came a point in time when we felt the Lord calling us to another place. In an act of obedience, we left everything to follow God. While in that place, however, we suffered great loss. We returned home just as shell-shocked as Naomi must have been. We had gone away full and the Lord brought us back empty. In many ways, we are still recovering emotionally, financially and spiritually from our time there. Much like the women’s response to Naomi, those who knew us were wondering what in the world had happened in that place.

I know so many of you are in empty places right now. I read your comments and emails. I hold your stories in my heart knowing the feeling of still remembering times of fullness and wondering how you got from where you were to where you are now. I know well the heartache of trying to understand what has happened and why God has allowed it.

What I would say to you is the same thing I say to myself when things are difficult. It’s the same thing I want to say to Naomi. This, my friends, is only chapter one. God was writing an amazing story of redemption in the life of Naomi and she couldn’t see it just yet. But there were four chapters to her story and she was only at the beginning. It doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it any less painful. But, if you could understand that there is more to the story, maybe it would give you the strength you need to hold on – to reach for the next chapter.

IMG_0156

Those women who, in chapter one, could hardly recognize her? Well, in the end, they were singing a different tune.

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer… – Ruth 4:14

Maybe, you stepped out in faith and it didn’t work out. Maybe, you did all of the right things and ended up suffering for it. Just maybe, you followed God into a foreign land and he brought you back empty. Have a good cry. Mourn your losses. But know this – it is only chapter one and the Lord has not left you.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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