Faith… I Am Finally Getting It!

Leap of faith

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This year, the prevailing theme God has been teaching me is that of faith.  I often see how understanding (“sight”) seems to come in “layers.”  God shows me something; then, He shows me another “layer” to the truth of that thing.

God had showed me some profound truths in regards to faith a few months ago.  I wrote about it in these blog posts: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/what-we-view-as-faith-in-god-is-often-not-about-god-at-all/ and https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/.

Each of those blog posts was another “layer” to what God was showing me concerning faith.  He was showing me that faith was resting in God.  He was also showing me that God doesn’t quantify our faith; because it’s not about how much faith we have but that we have faith, period.

In my devotionals, I was reading that faith is confidence. In fact, I recently heard that the root for confidence is confideo, which means in faith.  They are directly related to each other.  Makes perfect sense when we think about the usages of both.

Yet, this amazing and profound truth just “nailed” me this morning!  It is this:

Faith is confidence in God.

So simple, right?  Yet so profound and life-changing!

I used to view faith as something that I had to do or stir up in myself.  I always wondered if I would have enough faith to get me through certain types of trials.

Now that I am finally getting it, the profound truth about faith is completely “revolutionary” to me!

Faith is confidence in God!

It’s not about me.  It’s about Him — the Object of my faith.  It’s because of Who He is that I can have complete confidence in Him — no matter my circumstances.

Wow!  Doesn’t that take the pressure off!

God has been leading me into a much deeper walk with Him, and as He does, my love for Him and personal understanding of Him has grown.  That is also why at the same time, my faith is also growing.

Faith grows parallel with a personal and accurate understanding of God.

As I am growing in my love and an accurate understanding of God personally, my faith is also growing.

How incredibly encouraging it is to know that I don’t have to worry about my ability to trust in God.  I need to look at my God and why He is so worthy of all my confidence/trust!

I just need to have confidence in Him.

That, I can do, because I know my God!

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Lessons From Gardening

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Flowers are truly one of my favorites!  I love the variety of colors, textures, shapes, fragrances, and sizes in which they come.

My style of learning is visual so it’s no wonder that I love flowers.  I never tire of looking at the flowers in my garden.  In fact, I have been known to walk outside several times a day just to gaze upon the beauty of the flowers around my house.

When we moved to our current house of six months, the only greenery we could call our own was the grass in our back-yard, and just four shrubs in the front of our house.

This is our fourth house, and every time we have moved to a house, I have always enjoyed cleaning out old over-grown gardens of vines and weeds and then transforming them into something beautiful by adding flowers.

This house would be no exception.  Once I had the funds available, I set to work, adding a variety of beautiful and fragrant blooms to my gardens.  I mostly invested in perennials so I could enjoy their beauty for years to come, reserving my porch pots for a few cheaper annuals.

Then, my dear mother-in-law, who loves flowers as much as me brought quite a few potted flowers from her gardens.  Before she had departed that weekend, I had already added all the plants to my flower-beds, in spite of high heat indexes.

Not only do I love gazing at my flowers, but I enjoy taking care of them.  I water them regularly and am careful to prune, weed, and do all the many things plant-lovers do.

One recent day as I was snapping off the heads of the dead petunias, I couldn’t help but think of the many lessons we can learn from gardening.

I’ll try to keep it short and sweet this time, but here they are:

1. Some flowers require old growth to be removed so that energy isn’t wasted and new growth can occur.

How about us?  God wants to remove the old sin patterns and old wounds from our lives and pasts so that our energy isn’t wasted on what was but now shouldn’t be so that new life and growth can occur in our lives.  Sometimes, the process is painful and can seem unnecessary or tiresome.  Yet, all growth requires investment and change.

2. When seeking to help others to grow are we careful how we “remove” or point out old growth so that we don’t damage new, tender blooms in the process?

As I was snapping off the dead blooms from my Petunias, I managed to snap off one or two fresh blooms in the process.  I couldn’t help but think how sometimes we do this to fellow believers and to our own children.  We are so eager to point out the areas in which they need to grow, but sometimes in our eagerness or zealousness, we forget that gentleness is necessary in order to not bruise or harm the tender buds that are unfurling.

3. Consistent watering is required for most flowers to maintain a healthy life.

How about us?  Are we consistent in spending time in the Word of God, in prayer, and in fellowship with Him?  We need the consistency of His Holy Spirit, His presence, and His Word to give us direction, health in our spiritual lives, and to keep us refreshed spiritually.

4. Light is a necessary requirement for plants to live.

Light provides growth.  It protects against dangers to plants, such as molds.  It gives guidance to the little plants below the surface so they know in which direction to grow.  It encourages blooms to unfurl, and blooms instinctively know to open in the direction of the sun.  Light also reveals and gives definition.  I believe the best analogy to light is that of God’s Word and His Presence as revealed in His Word.

  • God’s Word protects against dangers.
  • God’s Word gives guidance and shows us how we are to grow.
  • God’s Word reveals truth.
  • God’s Word defines what our new natures and its attributes should look like as His children.
  • God’s Word encourages spiritual growth in our lives.
  • God’s Word encourages us to grow in the “direction” of our Heavenly Father, as revealed in His Word.

5. Weeding is another necessary but arduous task in the life of a gardener and for the protection of the plants.  Otherwise, flowers can be “choked out.”

Weeding is definitely my least favorite task when it comes to caring for my plants.  It is probably just as equally challenging to allow the “weeds” in my own life and in the lives of my children to be dealt with.  We all want to enjoy the blooms, but the weeding…?  It’s work, plain and simple work.  There isn’t an obvious, immediate reward for it, but it’s necessary for the plant’s survival.

  • When weeds are left to grow, unchecked, they very soon can block out the light of the sun from the plant.
  • Weeds can also distract others from the seeing the beauty of the flowers.
  • Weeds can also soak up the soil’s nutrients and water that is meant for the flower.

“Weeding” out the “weeds” in our own lives is necessary for the abundant life we were meant to live to continue.

6.  Weeds often look a lot like flowers.

Not necessary a deep statement, but oh, is it true.  How many times do we see weeds growing closely to a flower that has a similar leaf structure?  For those not as expert in their knowledge of the varieties of flowers and of their individual characteristics, it can be easy to be fooled.  Before long, the weeds have taken over the garden.  The lessons to be learned are:

  • The weeds or lies often closely resemble the truth or real flower — that’s why they are easily accepted.
  • Study to understand the characteristics of flowers so you can distinguish the difference between the real flower and the weed.  (Know what the truth is, what real spiritual fruit looks like so you can recognize the false counterpart.)

7.  Weed frequently because young weeds and a few weeds are easier to pull than an overgrowth.

Don’t overlook the little compromises in your life.  Those little sins can soon produce an entire harvest of shame and destruction in your own life and in the lives of others.  As the Bible says, “… the little foxes spoil the grapes.”

 

Who’s In Control?

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Two days ago, I went to the Christian bookstore and eagerly purchased three different Bible study books.  I couldn’t wait to begin a new chapter of growth in my relationship with the Lord and walk with Him!

My study yesterday led me to Habakkuk 1.  It drew my attention to verses 2-4:

Habakkuk 1:2-4

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Habakkuk assumes that God hears and will answer.  Yet, Habakkuk is questioning and doubtful as to when and why not now?

Sounds familiar!

How many times do we doubt if God is personally involved or cares about each minute detail of our lives?  How many times do we question whether God is speaking because we doubt our own ability to hear Him properly?

Sure, we all technically know that God cares, but we live as if He isn’t concerned with every detail.  We live as though we need to take charge of certain details, “just in case God doesn’t bother to communicate His will or give us His strength for the specific situation.”  So, we “charge ahead”, forcing our own will on ourselves and others.  Then, we wonder why things begin to turn rather “ugly” and why people are hurt or offended.

What if instead, we stopped.  We waited.  We rested.  We prayed.  We “fed” ourselves with “manna” from being in God’s presence?

Doubting our own ability to hear God correctly has some definite truth and wisdom.  The Bible warns about deception, and our souls are still affected by our sinful nature.  (Which nature, I might add, God is transforming.)  We can and are easily deceived.

Yet, we have to be careful that our fear of our ability or inability to hear God is not based on our own abilities to hear Him.  This fear might indicate that we are relying on our own abilities to hear.  For example, we might think, “If I am such and such a way, I will ‘hear’ God or understand what He is saying.”  Again, there is some definite truth to this.  Yet, truth/God’s Word is not dependent upon our ability to perceive it. 

Don’t rely on your ability to hear Him.  Rely on His ability to speak truth and on His desire to speak it to you.

He speaks to us through His Word:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

He speaks to us through creation:

Luke 19:40

40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Romans 1:20

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Psalm 19:1-3

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

He speaks to us through His people:

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

2 Timothy 3:10

10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

1 Corinthians 10:11

11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

James 5:10

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

He speaks through His Holy Spirit dwelling within us:

1 Corinthians 2:13

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Ephesians 3:5

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

1 Corinthians 2:10

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Habakkuk questioned God, wondering and doubting when God was going to answer.  God answers Habakkuk with the following:

Habakkuk 1:5

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

God is saying to Habakkuk that God is doing a work so marvelous that Habakkuk wouldn’t even be able to believe it because it’s that marvelous.

God gives specific instructions to Habakkuk:

  • Look
  • Observe
  • Be astonished!
  • Wonder!

I love what Discerning The Voice Of God, by Priscilla Shirer says:

“While Habakkuk waited on God to answer, God was already answering!  God wanted to restore Habakkuk’s confidence by showing him that He was not idle and uninterested in the demise of Judah.  Even though the prophet wasn’t seeing God respond in the way and timing he expected, God was speaking and moving.  He always is — even in His silence.”

Notice the change in Habakkuk’s attitude, belief, and response after this word from God:

Habakkuk 1:12-13

12 Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

This prayer is a prayer of praise to the One Who is mighty.

This prayer is full of recognition of Who God truly is.

This prayer is full of eager expectation of what God will do.

This prayer is full of personal trust in the Lord.

“Could your level of expectancy be a factor in how clearly and frequently you hear God’s voice?” (Discerning the Voice of God)

Psalm 5:3

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Ecclesiastes 5:20

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Psalm 139:17

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

John 8:47

47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

John 10:27

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

How good are we at listening? 

Do we “listen” for what God wants to say to us, or are we too busy telling God what we think the passage means?

Are our prayer times more about us telling God what we want, what we think, or do we spend the time also listening to Him, quieting our hearts before Him and ready to receive what He wants to show us?

I believe one of the greatest “marks” of godliness in a believer is a heart “position” of complete “resting” in the Lord and surrender to Him.  It is an attitude of utter reliance upon God and expectant readiness to obey His promptings.

If we aren’t waiting on the Lord’s leading before proceeding ahead, the questions to be asked are: “Who is leading?  Who is in control of our lives?”

The answer really is our self.

God is certainly Sovereign, and He will bring His will to pass no matter what.  Yet, God gives free will.  Love always allows for a choice.  When we disobey God, this is not His will.  When we hold onto our unbelief, this is not His will.

Every day, we are given multiple opportunities to submit our wills to God — to choose His grace and power to walk in the new “life” He has given us as His children over our own old sin natures.

We though. must. make. the choice. to surrender.

Do you want your own fallible, mortal, limited self as the one to whom you “bow before” — the one you serve?

Or…

Will you acknowledge that there is a God who is good, loving, powerful, holy, and therefore utterly trustworthy?  He is doing a work that far surpasses your wildest imagination.

Oh, dear one, trust Him.  Wait on Him.  Look.  Observe. Be astonished!  He will bring it to pass, in the perfection of His will.

Seasons Changing

 

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My mornings are quieter these days, following the mad rush of getting three children up, dressed, fed, and lunch boxes in their backpacks for the start of another school day.  Today’s our boys’ third day of school.  So far, they are enjoying it and doing well.

Me?  I have mixed feelings.  I am glad they are doing well and learning a lot.  I am also enjoying more one-on-one time with Olivia.  Yet, I do miss my boys and miss those earlier years when school wasn’t a current concern and each day was about just playing and learning together.  Growing sometimes also means letting go.  That’s hard to do!

I am still amazed that our summer is really over — at least our summer schedule!  No more days spent playing for hours outside, collecting bugs.  No more mornings spent at parks or days of swimming.  And no more thinking of more fun events that have ended with summer, or I will be bringing out the tissues.

I do love fall — the weather that forces us to get cozy.  The colorful foliage, the apple cider, the blue skies, and crisp jacket days — so much to love about fall.  I don’t miss summer’s humidity, which is still with us.  I do though miss those care-free days of summer, when the kids can spend hours outside, doing nothing except imaginative child play. 

Seasons.  This life is about seasons.  Weather changes.  Children grow.  More gray hairs and wrinkles appear.  We feel the changes in our bodies, hinting that this “season” of life too shall change.  Suddenly, the advice to live in the present because these days of demanding little ones will soon pass seems very true. 

Little arms that used to beg to be held and little mouths with generous kisses soon will pass.  In another decade, more or less, we will soon be fighting the tears that threaten to spill as we wave good bye to college-bound youth.  There is beauty in each season, but the seasons of life, unlike the weather, don’t repeat themselves.  

A few lines from the song, “Cherish the Moment” come to mind.  We truly need to cherish these moments.  There is no rewind button to life.  

As I contemplate the closing of another season, may today bring no regrets.  May you and I live each day in the present, fully engaged with our little ones. 

Where Have the Past Nine Months Gone?

I can hardly believe that my little girl is now nine months old!  I wish I could pin these days down.  My little girl won’t be a baby for much longer.  The months that I can still call her a baby I savor yet.  I try to kiss her cheeks a few extra times.  I enjoy each time I get to nurse her, even though her little teeth are making the experience not so pleasant these days. 

These moments of holding her close in my arms and of her sweet innocence are so fleeting.  In my heart, I freeze these moments.  I love each part of my little baby — chubby sweetness, baby giggles, slobbery kisses, and hearing her say “Mum.” 

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My baby is growing so fast, and it is fun to see how she is growing in comparison with the rest of the family.  The following are our stats.:

9 Months Old:

Olivia: 28 3/4 inches long; 19 pounds, 11.5 ounces; 18 inches head circumference

Luke: 28 1/2 inches long; 22 pounds; 19 inches head circumference

Drew: 29 inches long; 20 pounds, 4-5 ounces; 18 1/2 inches head circumference

Will: 29 inches long (at 10 months); 21.5 pounds; 18 3/4 inches head circumference

Amy: 28 inches long; 16 pounds, 10.5 ounces

Jonathan: 29 3/4 inches long: 19 pounds 12 ounces; between 18 1/4 to 18 3/4 inches head circumference (8th and 10th month measurements for head)

So much love this Mommy holds in her heart for her little girl!  Precious, Olivia, I love you so much!

Stat. Queen

I guess I must be a bit of a statistic fanatic because I like keeping tract of everyone’s heights and weights.  Here are the latest comparisons:

Four Year Statistics:

Luke — Height: 42 inches; Weight: 39.4 pounds

Drew — Height: 39 1/2 inches; Weight: 37.3 pounds (This is when Drew started to really fall behind in measurements.  Up to this point, he was always above average in size.)

Will — Height: 44 inches; Weight: 43 pounds (Definitely the largest as always!)

Daddy — Height: 39 3/4 inches; Weight: 33 1/2 pounds (My guess is Luke will be Daddy’s height or taller when grown.  Will is supposed to be a bit taller.  My guess is Drew will be a little shorter.)

Olivia Is Growing!

Today was Olivia’s 4-month checkup.  She is doing well other than getting over a nasty head cold.  She grew 2 inches since her 2-month checkup and almost 3 pounds.  She is definitely not growing at the same rate as the boys but remains in the 70th percentile for most measurements.  Her head circumference also grew by more than an inch.

Here’s how she compares with the rest of us:

Olivia:  weight: 15 pounds 6.5 ozs.; height: 25 inches; head circumference: 16 3/4 inches

Luke: weight: 16 pounds; height: 25 inches; head circumference: 17 inches

Drew: weight: 16 pounds,12 ozs.; height: 25 1/2 inches; head circumference: 17.25 inches

Will: weight: 16 pounds 14 ozs.; height: 25 inches: head circumference: (no record)

Mommy: no record ’til a weight of 15 pounds at 5 months old

Daddy: weight: 13 pounds, 10 ozs.; height: 24 1/2 inches; head circumference: 17 inches

They Keep Growing and Growing and Growing!

This is probably only interesting to me and grandparents, but I had to record these facts…

Will is now 52 inches tall and all calculations continue to guess he’ll be about 6 foot 3 inches as a grown man.

Drew is 44 inches tall.

Luke is 4o inches tall and quickly gaining on his brother.

Olivia weighed 14 pounds 11 ounces at 3 months old and is now wearing a lot of 6-9 mos. clothing.

Luke’s 3-Year Checkup

Here are Luke’s measurements for his 3-year checkup:

The doctor said that he will probably be somewhere around 5 ft. 10-11 inches in manhood — very similar to daddy.  🙂

Luke weighed 34.7 pounds

Luke was 37 3/4 inches tall.  He actually appeared to be 38 inches to me, but that’s what the nurse wrote down.

This is how he compares to everyone else at the same age:

Daddy: 37 1/2 inches; 32 pounds

Will: 40 inches; 40 pounds

Drew: 38 1/2 inches; 34 pounds

They Are Growing Boys

Jonathan and I measured the boys last night so we could see how tall they were.  Here are their current heights:

Will is 47 inches tall.

Drew is 40 1/2 inches tall — taller than Daddy was at age 4.

Luke is either 35 3/8 inches tall or 36 3/8 inches tall.  The nurse said the higher measurement, but I think she forgot to subtract an inch (She started from the 1 inch mark.).

Either way, the boys are all really growing — taller than their daddy was at their respective ages and definitely taller than mommy was.