Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Abundantly blessed

"Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more–a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.”

– George Herbert

92.  Five years of marriage, the ups and the downs, a life joined as one from two sinners resting in the grace of God. The covenant that starts in God who holds all things together and always keeps His covenant with us.  Marriage as a reflection of that covenant, the mystery of that union, the growth in amazing grace towards one another.

93.  The ability to celebrate five years of marriage in the place that we met, New Orleans.  We were able to revisit many places that we frequented while we dated and in our first year of marriage.

94.  Our annual tradition of a nice Bed & Breakfast on our anniversary night.  We stayed at Ashtons and think it may have been the best one yet.  Nice location and house and room, friendly service, and amazing breakfast.

95.  Visiting with close friends while in New Orleans.  There's not much like being with friends who know each other so well and love each other so deeply.

96.  Evidence of God's redemptive work in New Orleans.  God is doing much work through St Roch Community Church, Desire Street Fellowship church plant, and Redeemer Church .  I'm so grateful to know people involved in these ministries and to get a glimpse of God's work through them.

97.  A community that I love and look forward to going home to in Florida (of all places).  Guess God loves palm trees as well as oak trees.

98.  Food.  Really good New Orleans food.  A friend of mine jokes that he thinks heaven might be catered out of New Orleans.  I think he may be right.  I do feel closer to heaven when I taste such goodness!

99.  A mom who is a great Nana and kept my son so that my husband and I could enjoy New Orleans and visit friends as a couple.

100.  Hugs and kisses from my son upon our return after a weekend away.  There's not much better than that!

101.  My husband and his love and thoughtfulness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Effects of Sin

I have recently begun a study on the book of Isaiah with some friends at church.  We post about the things we read and learn here:  Dog-eared Mommies . I wanted to share my post with you:

My heart races as I think about the implications of sin that I've just read about in Isaiah.  One question from our study says:

"Sin has its effects: with what picture does Isaiah describe these effects on the people of Israel in 1:5-6?" 

"5 Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil."
Isaiah describes to us a body that cannot be beaten anymore, one that lies tattered from the sole of the foot to the top of the head.  One whose vital organs of the brain and the heart are failing.  I read it as he if he is saying, one more hit and you will be completely dead.

I imagine this as an invalid on life support.  The doctor has just come in and told the family there really is no more that he can do.  The heart is failing, the brain is failing, the whole body has lost function.  This body needs a miracle to survive.  The family grieves and prays and hopes, but prepares for the worst.

Sin has all but killed the people of Israel.  A miracle is needed for the life of God's people.

How powerful and depressing is this picture in showing the effects of sin against God!  I praise God that a Miracle does come and am thankful to know the rest of the story.

 "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered. 
  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long. 
  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him. 
  You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah"
Psalm 32: 1-11 

 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

Suggested Resources:

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die   The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Conditioned or Created?

Lately I have found myself being tempted to draw inward.  With so much stress all around me, my first reaction is usually to retreat.  It's quite strange though, because even though everything in me wants to go into hiding, I am compelled into action.  

I have been able to cling to a few verses to push me forward in this battle rather than retreat:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you  free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8: 1,2

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

As thoughts and feelings pop into my head, I ask myself, "Is this how I was created to be, or how I have been conditioned to be?"

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2: 15-17

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3: 1-3

I really think that so often the easiest thing to do is the one that I've always done.  However, I wonder if that is the best thing.  Am I following the way that the world has taught me to live or the way that God has set before me?  It's almost impossible to walk in faith when we have learned to figure out and plan every step of our life.  For me, control has become an automatic reflex.

Occasionally, seasons come where God clouds all illusions of control and puts faith to the test.  With my faith shaken up, I have become an emotional roller coaster.  This challenges me to not rely on my emotions, but on the Word of God.  It forces me to build trust in His plan rather than to fall into my usual pit of self pity.  I want to be available to be used by God and I know that if I get lost in myself, I won't see the opportunities He brings my way.

In the parable of the rich young ruler, I see not only someone that loved his possessions, but a man who had become accustomed to the way things always were for him.  He loved what he knew so much that he turned His back and walked away from Jesus.

"And a ruler asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'  And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother." And he said, 'All these I have kept from my youth.'  When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'  But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich."  Luke 18:18-23

While I might not have much problem giving away my possessions, I think that Christ would ask me to let go of something much more dear to my heart, something less tangible, but just as influential as the money that bound the young ruler to the world. "Lisa, one thing you still lack (though there is much more than one), tear down that inner fortress you like to hide in and all the fears, insecurities, hopelessness that it holds. Your home is in heaven, come, follow me. I am your security and your hope."

It's time to let go of the world as we have always known it and trust Christ with everything in us. His plan is far better and His ways are far higher than ours.

"Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
'Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.'"  Isaiah 43: 16-19

Monday, August 23, 2010

An easy day for thanks

85.  Great friends who pass down great toys for my boys.

86.  My son's joy as he peddles his tricycle for the first time and shouts, "I DID IT, MOMMY!"

87.  A kids water can that cost barely a quarter and the joy of my son as he helps water the flowers.

88.  The beginning of a new Bible study with friends.

89.  The anticipation of our upcoming anniversary trip to New Orleans.

90.   Movie night.

91.  That God works His will and occasionally I can see a glimpse of the great things He is doing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Thanks

81.  The stability offered in our unchanging God.
82. That we are "receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" Hebrews 12: 28
83.  All of my son's buddies that he can play with often.
84.  Playdates at the local library.
85.  That my house will be filled with the excitement of raising boys.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beauty in Contrast

The best times that grace my days often come mixed in with the most difficult.  Interestingly enough circumstances of lightness and joy of my heart never stand alone.  Always in the midst of great happiness, I find myself in great sorrow.  Just recently my husband, son and I were able to see our baby and learn that we will have another boy.  While at the same time we were anticipating and celebrating the blessing of this new life, we had begun (and still are) going through a season of mourning in our church body.  A great time of joy contrasts itself against a dark period of grief.

Sometimes I wish I could just have the joy and leave out the rest.

I know I'm not the only one.  In fact there's a similar circumstance for the disciples:
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,  and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.  And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi,  it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son;  listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only." Mark 9: 2-8

Amazed by the glory shown to him, Peter did not want it to end.  However the display of this radiance vanished as quickly as it had come and they were shadowed in a cloud.  What a contrast of intense brightness quickly followed by the shadow of a cloud!  And why?  Maybe to show the true glory of Christ, get the disciples attention, and deepen their commitment to him.  They had to leave the mountain, there was more work to be done in service with Christ and glory to the Father.

Following are a few pictures to help explain contrast and value.  First, here are the terms defined:

Contrast- To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences.

Value-(in artwork) Possibly the most important aspect of a piece of art is the quality called value. Here "value" means simply how light or dark something is. Many gifted artists have noted that of the three basic aspects of color – hue, value and chroma (intensity) – value is the most important.

In this photo, the contrast and values are set at appropriate levels.
 This shot shows the same photo, but with most of the contrast removed.  If I remove contrast completely the picture would be fully grey with no distinction of the water, bridge, and sky.
This is the same picture with the brightness turned up extremely high.  

Contrast and value of light and dark work together to create beauty.  When the balance of light and dark are off, beauty loses it's luster.  I believe this shows us some of the purpose behind the painful and dark times in our life.  The Master Artist truly designed the darkness and the light to dance together to paint beauty into His creation.  If not proportioned just right, life holds less beauty and shows less glory of God.

I think I'd prefer my life to be like the first picture rather than the last two.  Even though there is not much darkness to be shown in the last picture, there really is no beauty either, no glory to the art or to the artist. I praise God for the dark times as well as the bright ones, knowing that as they all work together He weaves a beautiful work of art called my life.  May our lives reflect the beauty of our Master Artist as He paints the darkness and the light to show more and more the fullness of His glory!

Monday, August 16, 2010

writer's block?

I've had little motivation to post here lately.  Is it possible to have writer's block even if you really just write on blogs?

So many ups and downs of life have zapped me emotionally and my words have become few. 

I do however have an urge to do some artwork.  So, when words fail, paint...

Maybe I'll have something to show for it in the coming days!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's a boy!

We saw our baby today and to our shock the baby is a boy!  We are excited about having another boy even though we were convinced we were having a girl.  I'll post more later and let you know his name if we ever can agree on one!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Giving thanks

74.  The anticipation of seeing my little one and finding out the gender.
75.  A group of friends to share life with and challenge one another in our walks with Christ.
76.  A husband with a servants heart to his family, church, and coworkers.
77.  Two nights out in one week with the ladies.
78.  God's knowledge and understanding of all things.  He cannot be surprised or caught off guard.  He knows best all that happens and how He will work His purposes in and through it.
79.  Dreaming about baby names and choosing the perfect one.
80.  The New Orleans Saints! Who Dat!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An amazing little find

Today is Ashlynn's due date.  Thanks for all of the prayers and words of encouragement.  God holds me close as I hope in Him and I am given peace and joy.

I just came across an amazing little book online.  
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God 
Piper poetically tells the story of Job.  Surrounding his poetry, beautiful photos compliment the story of suffering and mercy.  Check out this jewel!

"And now come broken to the cross,
Where Christ embraced all human loss,
And let us bow before the throne
Of God who gives and takes his own,
And promises--whatever toll
He takes--to satisfy our soul.
Come, learn the lesson of the rod:
The treasure we have in God.
He is not poor nor much enticed
Who loses everything but Christ."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Approaching Due Date

This week is Ashlynn's due date.  Though I have been blessed with another baby in my womb, an undercurrent of sadness overwhelms me as I would've been holding Ashlynn any day now.  Though I am sad, I also am full of hope that her little life shines brightly in the presence of our Father.  I hold on and dream of Home pressing on to live life in full until I get there.
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