October 2, 2015

Exercising trust

We pray for sanctification and then are afraid God will sanctify us by stripping us of our idols and feel distressed lest we can not have them and Him too. (Elizabeth Prentiss in letter her dearest friend, from The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss)

One day, I'm going to write a post about how calm and peaceful my life is. How we're just trolling along, enjoying a season of rest.

This isn't that day.

Once again, this has been a season (and year) of significant transitions: some complete, some happening how, and others yet to come. This has been a summer of challenges, of hardships, of blessings. It's been a summer of holding on to the important, letting go of the fleeting, and learning to recognize the difference.

It's been a season of trusting.

Trusting in God's timing when plans are unavoidably delayed.

Trusting in God's grace when burdens are heavy and I'm soul-weary.

Trusting in God's strength when I'm physically, emotionally, spiritually worn down.

Trusting in God's providence when I'm near the end of my resources, humanly speaking.

I wish that trust was my default mode. But perhaps that's why God has me exercising that muscle so much lately -- it needs strengthening, it needs to be more defined. The beauty of exercising one muscle, though, is that other muscles usually have to be involved, also. My trust muscle benefits from the strength of my belief, hope, faith, steadfastness muscles... or suffers from their weakness. And those muscles are further strengthened when my trust muscle is exerted.

...train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:7b-10 ESV)

When we think of our heroes of the faith, those who seem to have (or had) strong and stable trust intact, we might think of the Apostle Paul, Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Eric Liddell, Adoniram Judson, and so many others. How did they develop such steadfast trust? They weren't born with it, any more than you or I. Each of them share in common a life of hardship, of regularly being faced with opportunities to exercise trust, strengthening their trust more and more along the way.

A steadfast heart isn't a dead heart; it's a heart that's pulsating with a vibrant, dynamic faith, God-centered thought, and redeemed emotions that bring life and color to every experience. (Elyse Fitzpatrick, A Steadfast Heart, page 110)

Our family has just transitioned to Williamsburg, Virginia. It's been a bit of a long transition, with bumps along the way. We've left behind family (two of our children, Jeff's parents, and extended family) and many friends. As part of the process of this transition, we've done all we know to do to be good stewards and to walk in God's will. We've researched, discussed, planned, consulted, and we've prayed. We've done all of these things before each transition we've made... and frankly, we've not always experienced the outcome we hoped for. In fact, we've faced some really difficult, really ugly situations in spite of our due diligence. It was hard. Sometimes it's still hard. Yet God has been good to give us glimpses of His purposes -- some of them, anyway -- in the midst of the hard and the ugly. These glimpses help me to gaze upon Him, to be reminded of His character in ways that help me continue to trust.


He is all of this and so much more.


September 20, 2015

The Battle

There's a battle raging
Somewhere between the heavens and the depths.
It's a battle to the finish, to the death.
I'm fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
And when it seems that right and wrong,
Guilt and innocence,
Truth and lies,
Are muddled and bloodied in this cloud of war,
I'm still fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
Sometimes weakened by the blows,
Even those from friendly fire,
I'll carry you even on my knees,
Whatever it takes.
When you have no will to fight,
I will fight for you because
You matter.
You are beautiful.
You are by Design.
And you are infinitely, wholly loved.
So I will fight.
I'm fighting for you, always,
Always fighting.
Always fighting. For you.

Early this morning, with someone I deeply love on my heart, I wrote these words in hopes they would encourage.

[Photo:  Misty morning over Navajo Lake, Northern New Mexico, October 2014]

June 13, 2015

This and that 06|13|15

Jeff and I have enjoyed watching this in fits and spurts. I always ask him, "Is this one going to be sad?" And he always says yes. Full disclosure: Jeff chooses to watch documentaries during his downtime. I'm a bit less cerebral, with this being my current viewing choice (purely as inspiration and entertainment; I'm not inclined to tackle any major reno projects). Both of these have been available to stream via Netflix.

We're having this for dinner tonight. It's a favorite standby of mine, even in summer, and this time I had leftover grill pan chicken to speed it up even more. Tip: Don't skip the homemade chips. And I always add cubed avocado and a dollop of sour cream to my bowl. ( Note: I used some of the leftover grill pan chicken in these last night for another hit.) I love it when a meal plan comes together.

This post made me smile, nod, and share it with my husband. Summary: preachers, man up!

I've enjoyed photography ever since I took some classes during high school. I've never had an expensive camera; I've used this one for the last decade or so (and used it to take the photo above), but -- like most people -- I tend to depend on my iPhone since it's generally with me. Amateur that I am, I'm always up for improvement! I just downloaded the two free ebooks below and really like what they have to offer. "Guide to Photo Composition" offers some simple, easy-to-remember tips that can make a big difference. "Mastering Lightroom" is comprehensive and makes me want to play with Adobe... I downloaded in case that becomes possible in the future!

What are you taking pictures of this summer? And are you posting them on Instagram?

This post contains affiliate links.

June 10, 2015

A window, not a portrait.

I watched a video this morning. It challenged me, convicted me, comforted me, called out to me.

I watched a video this morning. And I read my Bible.

God Wrote a Book from Desiring God on Vimeo.

June 6, 2015

This and that 06|06|15

I finally finished this book (for me, a not-so-daily devotional), and I'm still working on this one and this one.  But when I need lighter reading, I find I'm enjoying this one quite a lot. I found it at my favorite local bookshop, which always has an interesting variety of preowned reads.

We wrapped up school about a week ago, but I'm already thinking about next year. I recently learned of Trello, a cool (and free!) visual organizational tool to help me file ideas and plan for these last two years (!) of homeschooling. (Try it out, then share it with your friends to earn free months of their premium service -- be sure to watch the short tutorials, it'll make much more sense.) I also started using Pocket on my phone and laptop in an effort to stop filling up my inbox with things I see on Twitter or other places but want to read later.

I'm thinking of leading my son through an informal writing workshop this summer (or fall), so many articles on writing have caught my eye. While I'm not sure my highschooler will really go for this, I'm all in.

This was pretty much my favorite response to the Jenner media lovefest:

Is it just me, or is summer laundry so much better than winter laundry? Laundry has never been my favorite job, but smaller laundry is better in my book. (True story: a friend who knew I disliked folding whites and towels offered to call my hubby with a deep doctrinal question on laundry day because he often unconsciously folds while talking on the phone. Now that's a real friend.)

Besides laundry, what are you up to this summer?

May 14, 2015

I've been salvaged

Image source: bossfight.co (text graphics mine)

Yet another gem from this book.

I've been salvaged. In fact, I'm salvaged and restored every day as I go through this continuing cycle of sin and repentance that we call life.

It's a wondrous thing that we are not left on the dung heap, that God sees us as we are yet condescends to make us more like His Son.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

April 25, 2015

Gazing at Christ

I mentioned on Instagram earlier this week that God seems to have me in the school of grace right now, which is a very good place to be.

In some of my recent reading (yes, I'm still savoring this book), I came across a couple of really good quotes (beyond the Piper quote above) that I wanted to share. Maybe they will challenge and encourage you as they did me.

Perspective is what makes the spirit soar like an eagle even when the body is raged by accident, disease and age. (Randy Alcorn)

I'm so aware of how quickly my perspective can become skewed. I shun suffering as much as the next person, yet it's been seemingly everpresent over the past six months. I have to remind myself to, as a young friend says, "shift my perspective -- off of myself and onto my Savior."

I want to stay in the habit of 'glancing' at my problems and 'gazing' at my Lord. (Joni Eareckson Tada)

What a clear description of a grace-filled focus. What am I glancing at, and what am I gazing at?

When my gaze is focused straight ahead at my gracious, merciful Savior, it's such much easier to limit my problems to just a glance. (Of course, the opposite is just as true.)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV, emphasis mine)

How do we maintain that focus, that perspective? For me, in the midst of these months of church issues, health issues, family issues, I have been so encouraged by the believers around me. This starts with my husband (my greatest encourager) and family, and extends to my heavenly family of believers. I'm thankful that Christianity is not an individual enterprise; I'd fade quickly without this band of brothers and sisters (Galatians 6:2, 9). While this is just one way I'm helped, it's truly a tangible way of feeling Christ's love and hearing His gospel when other believers pray for me, speak truth to me, and just love me. I'm very grateful for Christ's provision of His Church in difficult times.

(Some of my friends might recognize the area in the photograph above, taken a couple of years ago. I always enjoyed the view when we crossed the Ohio River from Indiana into Louisville, Kentucky, even on gloomy days.)