July 16, 2010

Just Do Something

I just finished reading Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. by Kevin DeYoung (I posted the entire title because I think it's rather humorous!).  I cannot recommend this book enough. DeYoung challenged me to quit making excuses, step out of my comfort zone, and finally realize that following God is much more simple than I was making it out to be. Note, I said simple and not easy.

...don't assume that the relative ease or difficulty of a new situation is God's way of telling you to do one thing or the other. Remember, God's will for your life is your sanctification, and God tends to use discomfort and trials more than comfort and ease to make us holy. (pp.78-79)

Which is probably why I agreed to teach the 3-year old class at our upcoming Vacation Bible School. For those who know me even a little, this prospect has most likely reduced you to tears from laughing so hard. This is not my preferred area of ministry AT.ALL. In fact I'd been dodging the idea of helping at VBS, even though I'd taken the week off from work. I was going to enjoy being in the adult class for a change. Then our sweet VBS director called in desperation (obviously, if she asked me!)  I agreed to check with R and see if he would be willing to help. I knew I couldn't do this alone, and I wasn't going to volunteer him without asking him first. He, being a kid at heart, thought it was a wonderful idea. How could I argue? Instead of cowering behind my usual excuse of "I'll pray about it" (translation: "I'll pray that someone else will do it."), I'm taking the opportunity to meet a need and obey my husband. I'm praying they'll become habits.

The most important decision we face is the daily decision to live for Christ and die to self. (p. 63)

Which, strange as it may seem, is why I'm stepping back from teaching the girls next year. R is wisely taking a break from teaching the boys so that he can concentrate on his studies. He's still serving in several other areas of ministry, but making this change will allow us to be in Sunday School together. We haven't been in a class together full-time in 15 years, so this will be a fantastic treat. I'm going to teach the girls once a month because I adore them and want to be a part of their lives. But I must take my focus off what I want to do. My first priority must be to support and encourage my husband in every way possible, to be his helpmeet. He wants to get connected and serve in an adult Sunday School class, and I want to serve alongside him. It's not about where I'm serving, just that I am.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 3:12-14(ESV)

July 14, 2010

Worth Reading

From Kevin DeYoung's message at the Next 2010 Conference, a list of suggestions for how to be a difference maker in the local church:

• Find a good local church.
• Get involved.
• Become a member.
• Stay there as long as you can.
• Put away thoughts of a revolution for a while.
• Join the plodding visionaries.
• Go to church this Sunday and worship in Spirit and truth.
• Be patient with your leaders.
• Rejoice when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed.
• Bear with those who hurt you.
• Give people the benefit of the doubt.
• Say “hi” to the teenager that no one notices.
• Welcome the old ladies with the blue hair and the young men with tattoos.
• Volunteer for the nursery.
• Attend the congregational meeting.
• Bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everybody else.
• Invite a friend.
• Take a new couple out for coffee.
• Give to the Christmas offering.
• Sing like you mean it.
• Be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet for you.
• Enjoy the Sundays that “click.”
• Pray extra hard on the Sundays that don’t.
• And in all of this, do not despise the days and weeks and years of
small things (Zechariah 4:8–10).
                                                                 (HT: C.J. Mahaney)

July 13, 2010

In This Season

The sun beats down in constant assault. Lack of rain has caused crops to wither and fade. Summer has been brutal. And yet my family is flourishing.

CJ returned from her first mission trip, saddened to leave the experience behind and eager to share it with us. My ears listened to her words tumbling over each other in her excitement. My heart raced as she described the blessing of helping those less fortunate. My skin tingled when she said she wants to go back. I swallowed past the lump in my throat when I realized that for the first time, my girl has witnessed the Lord in a giant, tangible way that I have no part of. My eyes moistened as they peered at this young woman, searching for the little girl she used to be.

In this season, my girl is growing.

In a few weeks, R will be a full-time student.  This path of his youth, long forgotten and now considerably different, is intimidating. The buildings full of classrooms, textbooks that cost a fortune, and classmates two decades younger all loom large. Yet he returns, full of determination to complete the journey and confident of the prize that awaits.

In this season, my man is stretching.

The setting sun casts a pink glow over the kitchen. It's been a long day. I survey the work and rub my aching hands. Tomatoes from our garden have been frozen, along with corn and blueberries grown by someone else. Bread has been punched and formed and baked.  Other treats for the week have been prepared. I smile, drink in the happiness that blessing my family brings.

In this season, I am learning.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
~Psalm 25:4-5 (ESV)

July 7, 2010


The benefit of removing hindrances and distractions is a clearer, sharper focus. Peering keenly toward God, I begin to see glimpses of what the future might be. My heart flutters at the possibilities. Nervous, excited, a little scared. The jumble of emotions is tied in the knots of my stomach, straining against the confines of my skin and begging to burst forth.

With our girl safe on her first mission trip, my man and I take a trip to his college campus. We hold hands not like the college sweethearts we never were, but exactly like the fiery ones we are. Behind the veil of my sunglasses, I steal a glance at him. I see him walking this campus, roaming the halls of giant buildings, navigating library stacks. I see beyond the coming months of hard work. I see the man he will be after he's withstood this test, standing tall to proclaim God's work.

I see a young girl watching in admiration as her daddy presses on.

I see a family changed in the shadow of our Lord's glory.

I read RadicalJust Do Something and Prayers Of An Excellent Wife and I am challenged. I see a woman not content with substitutesOh! how I want to be her!

I begin to eat Real Food and my body begins to change. I see a woman no longer craving the manufactured goodness of this world, but hungering deeply for the Lord's goodness and sweetness. Oh! how I want to be her!

These momentary glimpses mark my days, spur me on, and take my breath away.

July 2, 2010

The Slow Start

I turn the page on the calendar, from a parched canyon to a luscious waterfall. A new month has begun. The old one covered, gone with the things thrown aside.

Extra pounds. Unnoticed by others, yet they are absent. The scale creeps down and my heart floats up in happiness at the small success. I continue along the steady, healthy course in spite of the effort and my impatience, the desire for a quick fix.  This slow start, I know, is best. It leads to a change that will last.

Extra commitments. Giving myself and my family room to breathe. Saying no to even good things. Delighting in outdoor games and the cracking sound of a sturdy book's spine. Watermelon, a young girl's giggles, and my husband's smile bright from his suntanned face. I drink them in, remembering the difference a year makes and knowing that these days cannot be recaptured.

Extra spending. Our first month without the security of R's paycheck. Without a doubt God has been creative with our finances. I marvel at His ability to stretch pennies farther than I could stretch dollars. I sink deep into the abundance of His provision. Just last week, CJ lamented that we would soon have to start living on less. "Start? We have been living on less for more than a month!" I exclaimed joyfully. Her eyes opened wide, and my girl saw Him in all of His glory.

In throwing aside the extra, the unnecessary, we are able to fix our eyes on what is of true worth. What is real. What is good. What is important. Casting my thoughts on these things, I don't fret that the pace is too slow. I forget to worry about the uncertain future. I look only at today and His incredible goodness.

And it is well with my soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
~Philippians 4:8 (ESV)