Thursday, March 8, 2012

A New Name

Continuing my reading in Matthew during the season of Lent...

"Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?" (Matthew 9:5)

In this passage, the "teachers of the law" were NOT happy with what Jesus was doing. This was not their idea of how "religion" was supposed to look. They weren't excited about the idea of this man having a new life-they were too busy being angry about new life not looking like what they thought it should.

When Jesus asked, "Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?" What He was saying is that when we encounter Jesus and invite Him in to our lives, we can't help but be changed! Him forgiving our sins also marks Him breaking the chains that we were once bound by. Him forgiving our sins is the same thing as giving us a brand new start and outlook on life, because when we truly accept Jesus into our hearts, we are inviting him to change us and to set us free.

Lucy was asking me this week why her Nonnie and Opie have the same last name as we do, but why Gi-Gi has a different last name. I explained to her that before Mommy got married, she had the same name as Gi-Gi, but when Daddy asked Mommy to marry him, I changed my name to share his name. I explained to her that when she grows up and a man asks her to marry him, she will get a different name, too.

Isn't it similar with our relationship with Christ? He INVITES us to be his, but we have to ACCEPT him. And when we do, we are changed.

Pleading or Praising?

During this season of Lent, I'm reading through the Gospels. I wanted to get a good sense of Jesus' entire life and how it led him ultimately to the cross, as a way to prepare my heart for the celebration of his resurrection. I'm not moving as quickly as I need to be to get in all four books, but the Lord is certainly using this time in His Word to teach me, so if that means I don't get through all of them, so be it. But, I'm going to try.

At any rate, I wanted to blog about something the Lord really impressed upon my heart today. It starts with a question: Am I pleading with God, or am I praising Him?

(After hearing that Jesus cast out demons) "Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region." (Matthew 8:34)

"When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." (Matthew 9:8)

I realize these were two different groups of people in these two passages, but isn't that really the same for our world today? We're really divided by two different groups: those who accept Jesus and those who reject Him. We either angrily plead with Him to leave, or we eagerly praise Him for coming. Which one of these categories do I fall in? Do I find myself pleading with Him to do something else when I don't like the way things are going and I don't understand why He's working in the way that He is, or do I find myself praising Him for being present, trusting in the way He is working?

"Lord, help me to welcome your ways so that my life can bring glory to your name."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hope does NOT disappoint...

Hope has become kind of a scary thing to me...

When you hope, you allow yourself to "eagerly anticipate" something...which can set you up for some pretty big disappointment when things don't turn out quite like you had "hoped" that they would. I've experienced a lot of pretty big let downs, and I think I've allowed myself to come to a point where I just don't even want to have any expectations any more. It's better to just not have any dreams at all to save yourself a horrible crash of disappointment, right? No. Wrong. Very wrong. Even if you say you're not hoping for something, it just makes you a bitter wait-er, rather than a hopeful anticpator. I don't want to be bitter and negative, but I also don't know how much more disappointment my heart can handle. Do you ever get to that point, too?

So, today, I found myself thinking about all of this (I've had a lot of time to think about things lately since I've been recovering from my laparoscopy) and I felt God speak so clearly to my heart:

"Don't be afraid to hope, Paula-Beth."

I had to sit and chew on those words for a moment, and then I realized that I've been basing my definition of hope on the outcome I desire for my circumstances. But I've had it all wrong-the outcome of my circumstances does not define hope. You see, I have to come to a place where I am willing to give my hopes and dreams FULLY to God. I can't just say, "God, here are my hopes and dreams. Give me the patience to wait on you for them." No, I have to come to a point where I surrender those hopes and dreams to Him and allow HIM to do with them as HE pleases, not as I desire. I have to learn to trust that His path is truly perfect and if things don't end up looking like I had "hoped" that they would, it doesn't mean my hopes have come crashing down. It just means that my hopes don't always look the same way through His perfect vision.

One of my favorite passages has become Romans 5:1-5. In that passage we read that "Hope does NOT disappoint us..." And that is what God is teaching me right now. He is reminding me that when my hopes are placed in His hands, He will never disappoint, because His plans for me are so much greater and bigger than I could ever dream up. He is teaching me to praise Him through the storms, because these aren't my hopes and dreams anymore--they are HIS, and when I place them in His hands, I can "eagerly anticipate" the outcome my loving Heavenly Father has in store for me.

So, I'm learning to rejoice in the hope I can have in my Lord, and I'm eagerly anticipating all He has in store for me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Enjoy the Ride...

We just recently got back from an AMAZING vacation to California! We went out for a dear friend's wedding and then spent several days just having fun as a family. There are so many memories I could share, but one in particular is on my mind today, and, as you probably guessed, it has to do with our precious little Lucy:-)

I'm constantly learning things from my daughter and about my daughter, and this particular story involves BOTH... I've learned my daughter is pretty much a thrill-seeker/has no fear of things you might think the typical 3 year old would be afraid of. There are the typical fear-induced things in her life, such as people dressed up in large costumes (the Chick-fil-a chicken terrifies her...I realized this when he came into the play area and I literally had to crawl up into it in my dress...not a pretty sight, let me tell ya!), but for the most part, she goes at life full-force. Take swimming lessons for example. She wanted to go out in the deep end by herself and jump off the diving board by her self (can we say she's learning independence or what?!) and then there's our family vacation...where we she rode the roller coaster not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR TIMES!!

Now, you're probably thinking a roller coaster for a three year old is not really all that thrilling, but from one six flags texas giant fan to another, let me tell you that this was not your ordinary kiddie-ride. Sure, it was a much smaller scaled roller coaster, but it definitely went fast, jerked you around, and had plenty of hills, twists, and turns...and she LOVED it! She referred to it as the "screaming dragon," because "it looks like a dragon and I can scream on it." LOL:-) And she showed NO fear on each ride--in fact, she had her hands up in abandon the ENTIRE time while she rode it (whereas mommy and daddy held on tightly with one hand on the bar in front of us, and one hand on our daughter!) She showed such a child-like faith and confidence that she was eventually going to end up exactly where she needed to be back to, safely firm on the ground after it was all over.

It all made me think of our spiritual lives. We often go through all of the unexpected "drops" (disappointments) and turns kicking and screaming, but why can't we just have faith that this journey, no matter where and how it made lead us, that we are going to end up exactly where we need to be, safe and sound. Why can't we just enjoy the ride?

So, once again, I see how the Lord teaches me through this precious little girl He has given DH and me, and I'm inspired by her...

I'm inspired to live life JOYFULLY, no matter how hard the climb is, how devastating the fall, or how unexpected the twists and turns.

I'm inspired to live with abandon, with my hands in the air, willing to joyfully accept it all as I have FAITH that God will never bring harm my way without protecting me.

I'm inspired to live life with great expectancy for what God has in store for me, knowing that He has promised good things for His children.

I'm inspried to live life confidently, haivng the assurance that no matter how we get there, He is going to get me to exactly where I need to be, safe and securely.

May we all be inspired to enjoy this ride of life God has us on...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Train up a child...

My daughter has gone through many attachments in the past almost-three years...just not necessarily the typical ones. Sure, I tried to get her attached to a blanket, a doll, a stuffed animal, etc. but that's never really worked. Instead of needing a teddy bear at night time, my daughter chose her belly button (and she would stop at nothing to gain access to said belly button--even if I put her in a onesie, she would stick her hand down the neck of it to reach her belly button!) And, instead of cuddling with a blanket at night, many times I've found her with arms wrapped around a hardback book. I've never really given too much thought to her attachments though until yesterday when she latched on to something new...

When Lucy was dedicated in the church, she received a small pink Bible that I've kept on a shelf in her room. She's maybe looked at it a few times, but never shown much interest in it until yesterday when she proudly began parading around the house with it. I tried to take it from her before church, thinking she might lose it, but she was INSISTENT upon bringing it with her. (Then I realized how silly it was for me to discourage my child from bringing her Bible with her to church! LOL:) She keeps saying, "This is my special special Bible. Don't ever touch it!" I have to keep telling her, "Yes Lucy, we have to be careful with special things, but that doesn't mean you can't touch it." And then, this morning, after she had prayed for her breakfast, she looked at me and said, "Oh no! We didn't thank Jesus for my Bible!" So we bowed our heads again as Lucy said, "Thank you, Jesus for my Bible. A-MEN!"

Out of the mouths of babes, right? I mean, I literally just had to stop and think of what she was really saying and take a good look at myself and what I've been teaching her. I don't ever want to discourage her from using her Bible! Sure, her dedication Bible is a special keepsake, but what good is a Bible that just sits up on a shelf?! I had to stop and ask myself--do I consider my Bible a prized possession that I proudly want to take with me everywhere I go, just like Lucy does right now (Not just physically, but by hiding it in my heart, too)? Am I truly thankful for the Word of God that I have such easy access to, or do I take it for granted?

My daughter may not realize the weight of her words, but as her mother, I have the opportunity to teach her exactly what they mean. What a privilege we are given as parents to train our children up to know and to love Jesus! It's so easy to lose sight of that in the busyness of our day to day activities. Yes, laundry has to get done and meals have to be cooked, but in everything we do we can maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and love to our Lord. Is that what Lucy sees in her mama, or does she see a frazzled and short-fused mommy racing from one activity to the next? My prayer is I can be focused on this task the Lord has set before me and embrace this stage in life, for what could be more rewarding than the opportunity to stay home with this precious gift God has blessed us with and train her up in God's love and truth? I can't think of anything else I'd rather do!

Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

cookie time!

I have a confession: I have a MAJOR sweet tooth.

Ok, maybe that's not that big of a surprise, but still--I love me some dessert, ESPECIALLY if it has chocolate in it! And what goes better with chocolate than some peanut butter? Combine those two ingredients, and you have the starts of one of my fave, SUPER easy cookie recipes: No Bake Cookies! I'm sure most of you have had these amazing dollops of goodness, but just in case, I'll share my fave no bake cookie recipe...

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk (I use skim)
1 stick margarine
4 c. quick oatmeal (I usually measure out heaping cups)
1 tsp. vanilla shopping list
6 tbsp. cocoa (the better quality the cocoa, the bitter the taste)
1/2 C peanut butter (I use reduced fat and usually add a little more than that)
*Some ppl add nuts, but I use creamy pb and no nuts in mine

Heat sugar, milk and butter to boil in a saucepan.
Once boiling, let boil 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until blended well/peanut butter melted

I usually let them sit in the pan for about 5 minutes so they can thicken up a bit, then drop them by spoonfuls ontop wax paper and let them cool (or just go ahead and start eating them while they're warm and gooey!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The human bobble-head...

it's quite possible I could win an award for best car sleeper. It's been a running joke with my family whenever we go on road trips that I will fall asleep and my head will swing lifelessly back and forth like a human bobble head. In fact, I'm pretty sure the site of my bouncing head has provided much amusement on long car trips! At any rate, I really like to sleep in the car. However, in recent months, sleep isn't something that has come very easily to me, even in the car, so on our last road trip, I offered to drive a bit so DH could rest since it was so late when we were heading home.

I love surfing the radio for a good Christian station when I'm driving, and that night was no different. I found myself singing along with the radio as my DH and my lucybug slept soundly in the car. (Only I was nice and didn't play the human bobble-head game with them!:-) I was singing happily along when all of a sudden my eyes started filling with tears as I was struck with a crazy dose of dejavu when I realized what song I was singing along to...

"Unchangeable, unshakable, unstoppable, that's what You are..."

I was instantly brought back to a cold winter's day in Illinois, where I found myself driving in the car in a very familiar setting with DH sleeping soundly next to me. He had just recently had emergency surgery, and we were on our way to the dr appointment where we ultimately would find out he had cancer. There were so many thoughts, so many emotions, racing through my head that day. Not only was the weather bitter that winter day, but my heart was a bit, too. Why God? didn't even begin to cover all the thoughts in my head, but it was about all I could muster up during that crazy whirlwind season in our lives. It was so timely that I would hear that song-it was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me, saying, "Do you trust me? Do you really believe I am Who you've been proclaiming that I am?" At the point, I had to answer yes, for if I truly believed that He was "God alone, in the good times and bad..." even when I didn't understand all that was happening to us, then I was compelled to believe that yes, no matter what, I believed in God and would trust His perfect will and would be confident He would see us through.

Fast-forward to this past weekend, three and a half years later, to where I found myself listening to that same song in the same car...only this time, my husband wasn't sleeping next to me because of pain medicine-he was sleeping next to me because he was so tired from having ran his first 5k that morning. And only this time, our backseat wasn't empty, but rather it was filled with a precious 3 year old miracle God has blessed us with despite the difficulties the doctors thought we would encounter in getting pregnant. I realized I had come full circle. This time, I got to sing that song from the standpoint of the "good times." And you know what I realized? I realized how much sweeter it was for me to get to see things from both sides...

Maybe life is kind of like a bobble-head...sometimes we're moving up, and sometimes we're moving down, but sometimes we get the blessing to stop and be still and see where all those roads have taken us...if we're willing to stay awake to catch a glimpse of it!;-)