Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning: His Strength in Our Weakness

2 Cor. 12:9-10
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

God has brought the word weak to mind early on in this trial.  I have felt weak in faith, weak to face temptation, weak when I've been anxious about money, weak in ideas to solve our "problem" - just not in a place of strength.  He brought my mind to the verse above.  This has often been a go-to and familiar Scripture, but like many of the other Scriptures that God has brought to life in a different way than ever before recently, these verses spoke to my soul in a new way. 

As I meditated on the truth of these words, I realized that His power is made perfect - without lack, complete, because I am weak - unable to do anything in my own power or strength.  When I am unable, He is able.  Looking at the flip side, when I am being self-sufficient, trying to "fix" things in my life on my own efforts and works, and I am so called "strong", I leave no room for my heart to need God.  I don't cry out to Him for help, more faith, strength to persevere.  I can't see Him at work because I think somehow I've done it, and that the glory belongs to myself.  But it is when I relinquish my "control" and go to Him fully dependent on Him, His power rests upon me, and He is glorified for showing Himself strong. 

The word weak brought me to another Scripture, as God brought the thought that being weak excludes the idea of being completely broken or unusable or laid to waste.  Weakness implies that there is still something there, hanging on.  Not strength to the fullest, but nevertheless there.   

2 Cor. 4:7-10 - "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."

The passage doesn't use the word weak, but describes those things that drive us to a weakened state - affliction, being perplexed, persecution, being struck down.  But notice God says, that we are afflicted, BUT NOT crushed; perplexed BUT NOT driven to despair; persecuted BUT NOT forsaken; struck down BUT NOW destroyed.  The treasure that Paul talks about here, if you look in the preceding passage, is the light of the gospel.

Jesus said in John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  Jesus Himself said that we would have tribulation in this world, but because He has overcome the world, we can have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).  Tribulation, yes, but NOT to the point of being crushed, in despair, forsaken, or destroyed because we have the light of the gospel.  We have the truth that the trials we face here on earth will come to an end one day when we are with our Savior face to face.  And that the trials that Jesus suffered Himself far surpass anything that we might face ourselves, so He is able to help us in our weakness. 

In my weakness, I am encouraged that though I feel helpless, anxious, fearful, His promise to me was that His strength will be manifest in my life and in my trial.  And I can testify that it has! I have felt His nearness as He has grown my faith, grown my prayer life, grown my hunger for His word and for Himself, and even my longing for Heaven.  I know we are not at all in the clear, but God has put my heart on a path to trust Him.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning: Our inheritance in Christ

Romans 8:15-16

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Reading this Scripture for me recently has brought new meaning for me.  As I'm striving for a life of simplicity, and can sometimes grumble and be discontented by the things I think I don't have, this verse encourages me to put my eyes and heart on what is unseen like in 2 Cor 4:18

- "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

God reminds me in Romans, that Jesus and his perfect obedience, and taking my sin upon the cross to bear the punishment of it, and then being raised from the dead, He has secured an inheritance for me.  This boggles my mind!  Me - once an enemy of God, now not only forgiven, but a "fellow heir with Christ"! Christ, who is the Son of God! This is not just any ordinary inheritance, but I have become an heir of God!  Anything I think I'm giving up in this world pales in comparison to what God has promised me in eternity because of His son.  The inheritance is being kept for me in heaven:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."  - 1 Peter 1:3-5

I can rejoice in the promise of our Faithful God!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning: If I have Christ, I have everything

As we have simplified our expenses over the past couple of years, but most in the recent months, and let go of those things that I thought were necessities, have really given me perspective.  I can get lost in the things of the world.  I can look around my at what God has blessed others with, and think that is the standard.  There have definitely been hard moments of "letting" go, don't get me wrong, especially when certain things have become more the norm.

But what I've come to see over the past couple of months, is that if I have Christ, I have everything!  It doesn't matter if I can't buy new clothes, a bigger house, the newest things.  In the end, everything in this world will pass away.  And at the end of my life, I can take nothing from this world with me.  But if I have Christ, I have all of God's promises to me in heaven and on earth.   

Matthew 6: 19-24
"“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

I want to lay up treasures in heaven, and not on earth.  God says very clearly, that I cannot serve both God and money.  So if I am loving money, then I am hating God, and if I love God, I must hate money.  God is helping our family to grow toward loving Him more than money.  More on this later, but it's been a journey teaching our children a life of simplicity as well. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lessons I'm Learning Through Financial Difficulties

I am just trying to get this down, so we can look back and thank God for His goodness and provision and steadfast love toward us.  I want my kids to remember how God provided for us during this time, and all that the Lord taught us about the God that He is.  So my next several posts are for me and my family, so we can remember and recount His goodness to us. 

We've been on a journey with our finances and God's provision for our family over the past couple of years. At more than one time in the almost 10 years we've been married, we been sustained through loss of employment for Peter (twice), changing to one income, trusting God through starting up His wedding business.

But more recently, He is testing our faith in this area more than before.  The wedding season has slowed, and Peter's business has not picked up as it typically does in the spring and summer.  I can say with surety, though, that this does not limit God, and it is NOT an indicator of how the Lord will provide for us. But it can be a source of temptation for us. Looking at the numbers or details of our bank accounts, it doesn't make sense, and one would fret (which we have done and still face at many a moment). But I know that God is bigger than numbers, and bigger than logic.

Some of the stories in the Bible that God has brought to my mind that are serving as faith-building reminders, that the same God of the Old Testament, is the same God who loves me with His steadfast love and faithfulness because of His son Jesus Christ:

- Manna from Exodus 16: It's so amazing how the Lord provided for the Israelites after they left Egypt. It wasn't lavish or extravagant (but then again they were in the dessert, weren't they), nor was it abundant. God provided exactly what they needed for each day. No more, and no less. Quail in the evening, and bread in the morning. When the Israelites got greedy, or like me, out of a lack of faith or fear for the future, collected more than they had need for, then the bread turned into worms and stank. God provided for His people for forty years. Manna, every day for 40 years! Can you imagine that?

What strikes me about this story is that when they collected the manna, each and every person had there fill. God not only knows what we need, but He knows how much we need. This may be very different from what our preferences are, but nonetheless, God knows how much for us to have our fill.

This brings me to another passage in the Bible, the Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6:5-14.
- "Give us this day our daily bread."

God says to ask for our "daily" bread. I am learning to see that His desire is for us to ask daily for His provision, and trust in his DAILY provision for today, and only today. He does promise that we will have what we need, just as the birds of the air and the lilies of the field are fed and clothed. Matt. 6:24 also says, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Just like manna. Just enough for today. No more, no less. What does this look like for in my daily life? This means that I pray in faith for the Lord to provide for my family today's needs. To then receive with gratefulness and faith what he has given me today.

Back in Jesus' time there were no direct deposits, and daresay salaried work. You were paid for the work that you did then. I've far too long believed the lie that my security is in our paycheck and in our bank account. It's not. My security is in the Lord alone.

Some other promises I'm trusting in from God's word and quotes to remember:
- Isaiah 42:16
"And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them."

- Isaiah 46:8-10
"Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’"

- Isaiah 26:3-4
" You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock."

-Lamentations 3:21-24
"But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

- Lamentations 3:37-38
"Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?"

These verses in Lamentations reminded me that even trials are an expression of His steadfast love for me.  From the Isaiah 46 verse, I'm reminded that He will accomplish His purpose.  This He will do through His sovereign will and especially through trials.  

From J.I. Packer on providence:
"The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory."

Charles Spurgeon:
"The main business is to be saved from the fear of trouble.  If you are quiet, calm, and assured, you are really saved from your trial's sting.  The trial is nothing if it does not sting your soul.  If your heart is not troubled, them there is not trouble.  All the poverty and all the pain the world would not prevail if the evil of it did not enter your soul." - from Beside Still Waters 

"The Greatest blessing God gives us is His presence...If God is with us, if His divine love surrounds us, them we carry our own atmosphere and residence wherever we travel."  
- from Beside Still Waters 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

T-Max's Prayer

Yesterday we had N's 6th Rainbow Adventure birthday party. At night during prayer, this is what T-Max prayed:

Dear God,

Please help me to turn 4. Please help my birthday to come fast. In Jesus name, Amen.


Too cute! I love that he prays from his heart. Gotta love that boy!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Tonight's Prayers

The kids pray each night before bed. Some nights we tell them what to pray for, but many nights we just ask them to pray what is on their hearts. It touches us to hear the prayers from their hearts which are so genuine, simple, and so meaningful. Just want to remember these prayers from tonight.


Dear God,

Help me to have wisdom, and help me to believe in you more.

In Jesus name,


Dear God,

Thank you for Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. And thank you for finding my black and green car.

In Jesus name we pray,

I need more wisdom, and I need help to believe in Him more. And I need God's help in finding my purple notebook that's been missing for a few months that has lots of notes important to me. Thanks kiddos for inspiring me with your prayers!

Field Trip to National Postal Museum 3/29

I'm on a roll here. It's makes it easy when Peter uploads to flickr. :)

At the end of March we went on a field trip to the National Postal Museum, and then hit the cherry blossoms after while we were downtown. It was a great day! We especially like the FDR Memorial. I definitely want to go back again. Pics on flickr.

Here are a few that capture our day:

As Zay was driving the truck, I said, "honk, honk!" and instead of using the horn, he squeezed his nose and said, "honk, honk!"

Learning about the different modes of mail delivery



20110329_kids_web_3118 20110329_kids_web_3119
N asked Peter to take each picture so that when you move the dial back and forth in the view mode, it would look like she's doing the stayin' alive move (that's not what she called it though). That girl is so funny!

Family Pic

Where's T-Max?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Zay 20 months

Just want to get down some of the things that Zay is saying these days:

Abba, ready, eat!
Translation: Abba. The food's ready. Come eat! - to call him down to eat with us.

Datter. Abba. Detch. = Faster. Abba. Catch.
Translation: Go faster. We need to catch Abba! - One day in the car with me behind dad, trying to catch up to his car.

I-wunnit. = I want it. (I think he thinks this may be one word.)

Wok. Outtide. = Crocs. Outside.
Translation: Put on my crocs, I want to go outside!
Anytime, he wants to go outside, the first thing he yells is "wok" for his crocs.

Wun some. = Want some.
Translation: I want some. - usually pointing to food.

He's definitely putting two or three words together, especially when it comes to a name and something that belongs to that person or a person and then an action word. It's exciting to see him communicate, and so fun to see his reaction when he's understood, especially after being misunderstood. But when I can't understand what he's saying, I just defer to N or T-Max, who seem to understand what he is saying better than I do.

He loves reading. Some of his favorite books, just to name a few so I can remember.
Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boyton
My Very First 100 Words from Priddy Books

10 Years Ago

Almost 10 years ago exactly, Peter proposed to me (on 4.27.2001) at Harper's Ferry. It was our 2 year anniversary of dating, and we had both taken the day off to celebrate together. Peter's plans fell through, so he ended up proposing at Harper's Ferry. His original plan was to propose up in a hot air balloon, but during our picnic, he received a phone call from the guy saying that it was too windy that that and that he would have to reschedule. I remember Peter making it sound like he was talking to his brother. Anyways...

Just this past week we went back as a family to Harper's Ferry for a spontaneous field trip since Peter was scheduled to go shoot an engagement proposal. You can see pics here. It was crazy as we were strolling and holding the hands of our 3 kiddos. We walked in unmarried and without children, and now ten years later, oh - how our lives have changed since then! Our lives are richer because of them, and we are SO enjoying each one of them so much these days.

We made the most of this homeschool opportunity to talk with them about the Civil War and the events around John Brown's raid, which we both didn't know about before teaching them. But they were so funny because we were waiting at the shuttle stop where the visitor center and the restrooms are running and playing with each other, and they said, "Oooh! This is so much fun! Can we come here again?" And we hadn't even entered the actual area. They are so easy to please! You can see all the pics on flickr of our trip to Harper's Ferry and a visit with our cousins from NC, but here are a few:

Can you guess why girlie is not in this pic? 4 letter word - gnat!


N insisted on posing in this way.