Thursday, December 31, 2015

Devotions On the Eve of a New Year

My morning devotions are rather simple and routine. I read a passage (usually just one chapter), slowly working my way through the Bible. After I read, I copy down a single verse that jumps out at me and then turn to my journal. There, I write my way through a prayer-conversation about that passage.

I'm always touched by the way certain words leap to the forefront at just the right time, as though God knows just what I need. Because, of course, He does. Furthermore, His Word is "living and active," which means it will always hold a rich cupful of truth for me to linger over and receive.

Today's reading was no different, although the words, interestingly, came from the less-than-stellar King Ahab:

One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.
1 Kings 20:11

A fitting proverb, poised as we are to enter a New Year. 2015 has come to a close. We take off the armor of 2015, boasting only in what the Lord has done. But we cannot enter 2016 on the strength of 2015's victories. We cannot boast of what's to come, "This will be the most victorious year ever!"

Rather, we must put on our armor anew, moving forward in the strength of His promises.

As Spurgeon wrote, "Under the most happy circumstances you cannot give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace is given you." Neither can we remain faithful and strong in our armor for another hour (let alone another year) without the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

"Great is Thy Faithfulness" quietly streamed nearby as I read from 1 Kings this morning. I can surely attest to and boast in my Lord's faithful love and care throughout 2015.

This coming year holds new adventures, some expected (my oldest son's graduation among them!), but most of them unknown. And so we prepare ourselves as warriors who are sure of victory . . . but also as warriors who know that opposition and attack are a part of this earthly work.

(I'm reminded of a powerful poem a dear friend once wrote: The Epic.)

We faithfully put on our armor with confidence until that final, triumphant day when we will lay our swords and shields at our Savior's feet for the last time, reveling in our worthy King's glorious victory. That, my friends, will be the best "New Year" ever.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Please Pass the Gourditude

We sat around the table, gabbing rather mindlessly about nothing in particular. There were occasional lapses in etiquette, selfish tendencies cropped up unexpectedly from time to time, and eventually a general spirit of unrest had me squirming with dissatisfaction and frustration.

My kids aren't so little anymore. I used to enjoy the quaint November projects that reminded us to be thankful, projects such as writing notes on colorful sticky notes, rubbing leaf patterns onto cards, or adding verses of gratitude to construction paper artwork.

But they've outgrown the turkey hand-tracing phase. No longer would it be appropriate to invite my teen to stand on a chair and quote, "How Doth the Little Busy Bee." (Although if he did volunteer, it would probably be pretty entertaining. I'll have to keep that one in mind . . . . )

Still, no matter our age, our hearts must practice gratitude in order to grow, in order to truly live. With or without construction paper and marking pens, we must continue to train our hearts to "praise God from whom all blessings flow." (If you have ten minutes, I strongly encourage you to listen to Ann Voskamp's talk on the subject of gratitude.)

Elisabeth Elliot, whose radio program "Gateway to Joy" I've been listening to quite a bit lately, said:

When we learn to give thanks, we are being obedient to God, we are delivered from a mean and complaining spirit, and we maintain unbroken fellowship with the Lord. 

This is what I want for my family: unbroken fellowship with the Lord. So as we sat there around the table, I suddenly grabbed an especially odd-shaped gourd from the centerpiece. I figured it was worth a try. Clearing my throat I sat up straight and announced in sonorous tones, "This is the gourd of gratitude."

Jamie was quick to catch on. "The gourditude."

"Yes, the gourditude. We will now pass the gourditude around the table (you must hold it by the handle, like so) and share something kind about the person on your right."

The giggling and snickering commenced. We passed the gourd (holding the handle like so), and the tension was lifted. Kind words began to come from our lips, words that gave birth to more words of generosity and appreciation.

The passing of "gourditude" continued the next time we gathered, and I silently praised God for such a simple act that spoke to the teen and pre-teen hearts in our home.

This action reminded me once again of how crucial it is to be developing gratitude in my own heart. I'd allowed certain disciplines to slip -- disciplines such as Scripture memory and gratitude journaling -- that were instrumental in keeping my heart and mind focused on that which is "right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy." And my family suffered as a result.

A wise woman in my church once shared a key to motherhood that was both succinct and convicting: "It's my life or theirs." So simple, yet so difficult. My life . . . or my child's life?

Photo by Peter Bartausky

Yet in order to be able to sacrifice, in order to be able to give and give to my family again and again (and with joy, no less!) I must be filled. I cannot fill my life in my own strength, but I can ask the Lord to fill me. And He delights to do so.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure 
and sense in which he has attained liberation from self.

And so up went the Scripture passage above the kitchen sink (I'm working on a section of John 15) and out came the gratitude journal. And you know what? A funny thing happened. The atmosphere in our home shifted. My daughter, who has been prompting me on my memory cards, decided to write out some verses that she now wants to memorize. The words in our home are more inclined toward kindness, and a general feeling of peace and calm is not so out of the ordinary.

It's my life or theirs. Jesus was faced with the same decision . . . and He chose us. He chose me, He chose you. Such love prompts my heart to choose Him, to choose my husband, to choose my children . . . above myself.

Christ's love compels us.
(2 Cor. 5:14)

Sometimes it takes a little push to remind us, and sometimes it takes an oddly-shaped gourd. How thankful I am that my Lord has both a generous, patient heart . . . and a great sense of humor. 

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

{Murmur and Glisten}

A little something new . . . . Come for a walk with me?

(With the correct link this time!)

The Suburban Diary of an Autumnal Lady

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Friday, September 4, 2015

{Best I Love September's Yellow}

I couldn't get away from the yellow today. And I didn't mind one bit.

Best I love September's yellow,
Morns of dew-strung gossamer,
Thoughtful days without a stir,
Rooky clamours, brazen leaves,
Stubble dotten o'er with sheaves -- 
More than spring's bright uncontrol
Suit the autumn of my soul.

~Alexander Smith

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015


She's been grabbing pieces of paper for a year now. Scribbling out ideas, making lists, weighing the pros and cons. She's a planner. Kinda like her mama.

Her cousin would spend the night. There would be friends and cousins and games . . . and a hedgehog cake. The colors would be purple and green and everyone would play charades.

There would be doughnuts and bacon and fondue and strawberries on her "actual birthday." This girl knows what she wants in life. She's a visionary. Kinda like her daddy.

Her ears would be pierced and the celebration would last for the whole weekend.

There would be giggling and dancing and decorating. The theme would be: Small Animals. Especially Owls.

And she would be ten. This baby of mine, ten.

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