January 29, 2013

Resting in the Storms of Life

I remember once, several years ago, my daughter asked me, "Don't you wish God would just show you what the next ten years will be like?"

"No!" I blurted out, shocking her. "I'd be frozen in fear, resisting His will. I'd try to walk a different way. I don't think I even want to know about the next ten days!"

I'm still right there. Yet even in a dark season, God is preparing me for the next unknown step. He's giving me grace upon grace to walk through it. And when I feel helpless, He can use me -- probably at those times most of all.

Just twelve days ago, when I wrote this last post , I really had no idea of the winter storm that was approaching.

Last week was a wretched week from my perspective. I watched people I love hurt, and some I love hurt each other. And it ended with a bang. But even in all of that, I was encouraged and blessed. Women who did not even know of my struggle spoke truth to my soul. It was God's truth, a healing balm. I'd prayed for peace for those I love, and it came in a most unexpected way.

Over the weekend, which brought the greatest climax and the greatest exhaustion, I found myself humming an old hymn. God's truth in found there spoke volumes to my soul.
Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
  Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For, by Thy transforming power,
  Thou hast made me whole.
Taking my eyes off of the ugliness of the world and sin, focusing them instead on the greatness of Christ's loving heart, on His beauty, on His transforming power by which I'm made whole -- this allows me to rest and even have joy in the midst of the storms.
Ever lift Thy face upon me,
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
  Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
  Fill me with Thy grace.
Yes, Lord. Keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus! I am Resting, Resting lyrics by Jean Sophia Pigott; source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/579#ixzz2JPnxYrot
Storm photo taken by Jared Jackson, 2012.

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Growing Home

January 17, 2013

Faith's Bleak Midwinter

I've recognized for ever so long now that life is made up of seasons, seasons of joy and of pain, seasons of stress and of rest, seasons long and short. But this woman, selfishly perhaps, desires the joyful seasons to last long and the painful seasons to be blessedly short. I'd rather do without the seasons of stress, even though I know they make the seasons of rest that much sweeter.

I... I... I...

But my Heavenly Father, who knows me better than myself, who has a better plan than I could ever have, who longs for me to glorify Him far beyond what sometimes seems possible to me... my Heavenly Father has ordained this bleak midwinter season for me.

I can remember another season, years ago, that seemed an unending springtime. It was a season of great growth, of painful weeds being pulled, of pruning and watering and stretching. I relished that season; I was content.

"Now is the winter of our discontent..."

Discontent? I don't know that I'm really discontent. Well, maybe. Sometimes I feel like the bare trees of winter, left standing with no leaves to help shield them (and me) from the wind and cold, waiting and longing for spring again.

During this season, I long for an extra measure of grace. I long for a loved one to have peace, another to have health, and for myself to have more faith and more discipline and more contentment in this season. But just as the trees of winter have built up strength during previous seasons and, even now, hold life within, I know that God has already given me exactly the measure of grace that I need to weather this season. No, not weather, but thrive, even now.

And I have the hope of spring, the spring that only my Lord can bring. A spring that brings forth fruit from these once winter-weary branches as I blossom in a way that the world can see, a way that will bring glory to His name. And I can praise Him for that.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  Galatians 1:9

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Growing Home

January 3, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

 If you know our family (or have ever helped us move), you know we have book issues. We read a lot. We own even more. We rescue books, new and old, from bookstores where they might lie ignored and unappreciated. Sort of like puppies, but without the food and vet bills (although we've done that, too).

 We have a lot of books. A lot.

Because of unusual living situations over the past few years, many of our books have been in hibernation, carefully packed up until the day they could be shelved, displayed, loved, and read again. so when we made a recent move and were reunited with our book friends, it was like a family reunion of sorts. We greeted some with, "Hello, old friend!" and others with, "Wow, I forgot I owned this but I'm so glad I do!"

So when I saw Deliberate Reader's 2013 Reading Challenge, it seemed like a perfect fit for me: over twelve months, read twenty-four books from my own bookshelves. No purchasing books for the challenge, and books read on a e-reader don't count (which should make my girly very happy).

I don't have a specific book list yet, as it may evolve through the year, but I do have a Pinterest board started (yes, I know: pinning is not the same as doing). I'll probably pile books onto my Pinterest board like I add books to my Amazon wish list -- once they are there, I'll pick and choose what I'll actually read. It'll be a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but I'm hoping this will help me increase my non-fiction reading. And I'll try to do better about updating my lists on Goodreads, too, so feel free to check in on me there, as well.

I suspect that many of the books I read will be books I have read before, but I'll be reading them differently this time. Those books were previously read at a-chapter-a-week rate for our church's mid-week study, and I think that reading larger chunks at a time will be beneficial. Besides, I'm in a different season of life than I was then, so I think I'll be affected differently.

Each month, I'll let you know how it's going and give you a few highlights of my reading. And I'd love for you to join the fun, too. What do you plan to read in 2013?


Growing Home

January 2, 2013

I am being unmade for this earth...

May I be daily more and more conformed to thee,
with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul,
and with a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven,
where I long to join angels free from inperfections,
where in me the image of my adored savior will be completely restored,
so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.
I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face,
for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.
Until then let me continually glow and burn out for thee,
and when the last great change shall come let me awake in thy likeness,
leaving behind me an example that will glorify thee,
while my spirit rejoices in heaven,
and my memory is blessed upon earth,
with those who follow praising thee for my life.

from "Retrospect and Prospect," Valley of Vision