Do You Really Want To Know God’s Will?

....and no not to heaven....unless your heaven in a forest

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As Christians, we say we want to know God’s will. 

We wonder why we don’t “hear” God’s voice, telling us what to do…

The question is, “Do we really want to hear God’s voice?”

Think about those times when you had a conviction to do something that scared you to pieces…

How about that time when you dismissed a potential calling because it sounded too absurd, too contrary to what you thought you could do?

Yeah.  That’s been me before — when I have questioned and hesitated because I wasn’t sure if I was hearing my own thoughts, listening to the pressures of others, or really hearing from God.

Waiting until you have clarity is wise. 

Yet, when you know God is speaking and you try to decide to obey based on your own comfort level with the command, then the question is, “Do you really want to know God’s will?”

I love what Priscilla Shirer says in her book, Discerning The Voice Of God:

...the determining factor for experiencing God is obedience.  We must learn to make obedience a habit regardless of our feelings.

God doesn’t just speak to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.

…this kind or response lays the groundwork for God to do incredible things [in our lives]. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

Obedience is not only the key that keeps the door of communication open between you and God but the only appropriate response when He speaks. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

Obedience to God yields supernatural results!

If we really want to “hear” God speak, then we must be willing to obey what He says.

“God doesn’t just speak to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.” (by Priscilla Shirer)

Revelation 2:17

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Matthew 11:15

15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Deuteronomy 31:12

12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:

Exodus 15:26

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Matthew 7:24

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

Matthew 13:15

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

(Graphics by Jessica Morris.)

Lessons From Ancient History

The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important site of the city. During Perikles' Golden Age, ancient Greek civilization was represented in an ideal way on the hill and some of the architect...

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I’ve been enjoying reading through a devotional book called, Men & Women Of The Bible.  In this devotional, it takes the lives of men and women from Biblical times and applies lessons from their lives to our lives today.  This book has been so insightful!

In the following paragraphs are quotes from this book that give insightful applications to our lives today:

Jehoida

Jehoida, the priest, helped to save the life of Joash, the only survivor of an attempt to wipe out the male descendants of King David.  He then became the child-king’s mentor.

Jehoida and Joash led a significant renewal of the nation.  The temple of Baal was destroyed, and God’s temple in Jerusalem was gradually renovated. …Jehoida provided Joash with helpful counsel, but he couldn’t compensate for the king’s lack of internal stability.  Joash was usually swayed by the latest counselor who had his ear.  Even the best advice must be received and followed if it is to be effective.

Jehoram of Judah

The reign of King Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, marked a low point in the history of Judah.  His reign was filled with sin and cruelty … The people of Judah willingly followed Jehoram’s evil ways.  But by the time he died, they were sick of him … The people had chafed under the consequences of Jehoram’s sin, but they blamed their suffering on him rather than accept their own responsibility...  Are you tolerating sin by blaming its presence on someone else? 

Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat knew better than to make the mistakes he made.  His troubles began when he joined forces with evil King Ahab … he mustered the nerve to cry out to God, who miraculously saved him [in a battle].

Unfortunately, few believers remember Jehoshaphat’s brazen request for God’s mercy when they fall into sin.  Instead of running to God for forgiveness and restoration, their guilt persuades them to run from him — a lingering instinct from the days in the garden. … turning to God is always the best recourse.  No matter how greatly you have sinned, God wants you to call on him for help.

Jehoshaphat

When the challenges were obvious, Jehoshaphat turned to God for guidance and made the right choices … Jehoshaphat, however, was not so reliant on God in his day-to-day affairs.  …We repeat Jehoshaphat’s error when we fail to seek God’s counsel in routine decisions.  Because we lack the patience or trust to consult with him, we find ourselves making foolish choices that hurt ourselves or others.

Jehosheba

Jehosheba made an impulsive decision that changed the course of a nation.  Ruthless Queen Athaliah, Jehosehba’s mother was planning to murder every prince in the royal family … Jehosheba decided to rescue at least one of the children … This crucial moment in Jehosheba’s life demonstrates an important lesson: Even when evil has the upper hand, we are still called to do good where we can.  We may not be able to change everything, but we ought to do whatever we can.  It’s impossible to know how great an effect a single act will have.

Jehu

Jehu had the basic qualities that could have made him a great success … He came close to being God’s kind of king, but he recklessly went beyond God’s commands and failed to continue the obedient actions that began his reign.  Within sight of victory, he settled for mediocrity … One thing to make sure this doesn’t happen is to ask God to place you under His control.  With His presence in your life, your natural strengths and abilities will be used to their greatest potential for the greatest good.

Jehu

Jehu was a man with big ideas but little spiritual resolve.  His kingdom moved with excitement, but its destination was unclear … He did not follow God with all of his heart.  He had become God’s instrument for carrying out justice, but he had not become God’s committed servantTo obey with all your heart means to give yourself fully to God — first in devotion to Him and then to His service.

So many lessons to learn from the past — lessons that very much apply to our present.

May we each be resolved today to change where we need to, to obey completely, to rest in God’s promises, and to seek God’s counsel before anything else.

The Message That Keeps Resonating With Me

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to ope...

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Surrender.

Submit.

Two words that keep resonating with me because this is a message that God has been impressing so soundly on my heart over the past few months.

Both words can sound offensive or frightening, depending on how they are interpreted or applied.

There have been so many misuses and abuses of the word “submit” that it can evoke a lot of unpleasant memories for some of us. 

How amazing it has been for me to relearn the true meanings and proper usages of these words and to find within them, not a place of weakness, inferiority, insecurity, or failure.  Instead, I have found these words (submit and surrender) to become synonymous for victory, strength, peace, protection, and guidance in my life.

In my Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God, I read the following quotes:

“What hinders me from hearing [God speak to my heart] is that I am taken up with other things.  It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place.  I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes, but I do not hear Him.  The child attitude is always, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth‘.” — Oswald Chambers

Most of us spend more time emphasizing our bodies and souls than our spirits.  We want to do what feels good, appeases our emotions, seems rational to our mind, and suits our will — with little thought to what the “control tower” is saying in us … How do we begin focusing on the control tower [His Spirit] within?  We begin our day surrendering ourselves to Him and asking Him to heighten our spiritual senses to see and hear Him throughout the day … You can cooperate with Him through obedience and spending intimate time with Him.

As you yield to and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, He conforms your soul to the image of Christ and uses your body as the instrument to carry out His purposes.

Paul didn’t say to experience victory in this area, you have to fight really hard.  He just said to present, yield, or surrender your body.  (Roma. 12:1-2.) Through Jesus, you have already been given victory as a gift (see I Cor. 15:57.)  You experience it by presenting your body to God as an instrument for Him to use.

The Holy Spirit is always busy making us like Jesus, but we must cooperate in this effort.  …every part of our body has been given to us not for our own gratification but as a “tool to do what is right for the glory of God” (Rom. 6:13).  Give your hands to Him for His work, your feet to walk His path, and your ears to hear Him speak.

Often the Spirit’s leading will contradict our logic and feelings; but when we submit, we will experience a deep-rooted peace about our decision.

The words, surrender and submit, have become precious to me now because I know how they apply in my relationship with the Lord.  Those two words are the key to walking in peace, righteousness, grace, obedience, joyfulness, and faith.  They are the answer to experiencing the peace and joy and life I’ve always wanted.

I have written numerous past blogs on this topic: of my Christian walk being so much of a struggle.  I know that I am not alone in these struggles.  I have heard so many Christians state or write almost the exact same thing.  Life for myself and for so many Christians is so much of a struggle to do God’s will.  God’s will often seems more synonymous with work, a struggle, difficulties.

Jesus though says:

Matthew 11:30

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Christian walk only becomes burdensome and a struggle when we attempt to do it in our own strength, in our own efforts.  If we sense a struggle, then we have a good indication that we are not resting or submitted to God’s will. 

The struggle is an indication that we are trusting in ourselves, in our own reasoning, our own faith, our own sense of timing or justice or whatever.

When we are submitted to God, we have surrendered ourselves — all of us — to God. 

Surrender means we are yielded to His purposes, to His timing, to His will.

The struggle indicates a battle.  It’s a battle between walking in our flesh, trusting in ourselves, and between trusting in God enough to submit and yield ourselves to Him.

If we are not fully submitted to God, I can guarantee you that there is a lack of trust.

The “root” to that lack of trust is a fear or lie you have believed that is keeping you back from being able to fully submit to God.

Submission to God is crucial in our walk with the Lord.  When I am at a place of complete surrender to God, I have found the greatest source of peace.  I cannot even begin to describe how amazingly beautiful this kind of serenity of soul is!

Being surrendered to God enables me to be fully “connected” to my Power Source, fully receptive to His leading, fully guided by His Spirit, fully at rest (peace) in Him, fully “engaged” to act as He directs, fully protected by being in the center of His will, fully filled with His Holy Spirit so His fruits are manifested in my life.

Surrender to God is where you find true and lasting victory.

Submission to God is where you find power to act decisively, guided by His Presence.

Are your actions, attitudes, words stemming from your own purposes and guidance, or do they come as a result of spending time with the Lord, waiting on Him, listening to Him, submitting to Him, resting and trusting in Who He is and in the infallibility of His good will?

When Waiting Seems To Be The Only Action Occuring…

Pete's a German shepherd-chow mix.  I took him for a walk one morning.

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Those minutes that drag into hours…  Those days that drag into weeks… Months… Years…  Prayers that seem to go unanswered…  Pain that seems to never release its hold…  Regrets…  Old habits…  Difficult people…   Painful wounds from the past…  Loved ones who still remain enchained to themselves…  So many dreams that seem to be fading, dying…  when the waiting seems eternal… and hope is fading…

Perhaps that’s you today.

When waiting seems to be the only action occurring, let’s look at the apparent action.  What’s happening while we are waiting?

Corrie ten Boom said the following regarding waiting:

If you want to hear God’s voice clearly and you are uncertain, then remain in His presence until He changes this uncertainty.  Often much can happen during this waiting for the Lord.  Sometimes, He changes pride into humility; doubt into faith and peace; sometimes lust into purity.  The Lord can and will do it.

Anne Graham Lotz says the following in regards to waiting before acting:

I never make a major decision, especially one that will affect another person, before I receive direction from God.”

Priscilla Shirer said this about her friend Anne Graham Lotz, “…she is resolved to wait on Him for guidance before coming to a final decision on a matter.”

Two verses concerning waiting from God’s Word:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Psalm 27:14

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

We also see the word “endure” in God’s Word — another word that speaks of a steadfastness in waiting.  It speaks of carrying a “load” while waiting.  It speaks of not getting “bogged down” in the waiting but the waiting actually accomplishing something within us.

John 6:27

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

2 Thessalonians 1:4

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

2 Timothy 2:3

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:15

15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

These verses indicate that something is being accomplished while we wait.  In my previous blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/whose-leading, it speaks of how God was doing something that was so wonderful that it couldn’t even be imagined.

 

While we wait, we need to believe that God is working.  It might be a work that needs to be accomplished in us while we wait so we are prepared to receive the manifestation of God’s answer.

Sometimes, the purpose for our waiting is to prepare us for God’s answer. 

It may be that we are not ready for the immediate outcome of God’s answer; thus, we must wait so that He can change us so we are prepared to properly receive and respond submissively to His answer.

I love what Priscilla Shirer says in her Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God:

The process of waiting for a message from God can be just as important as the message itself.  In waiting, my faith and intimacy with the Lord grow.  Often something I learn while waiting prepares me for the message so that I am not as surprised by it as I might have been otherwise; thus, I am more willing to obey.

Discerning the Voice of God goes on to say:

The value we place on an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait on them … we should be willing to wait patiently and not move until we have received it [the answer or direction from God].

Did you get that powerful challenge?  The value of an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait. 

Whom are we waiting on?  God!  How important is He really in your life?  That will determine how long you are willing to endure and to wait patiently.  That will determine how patient your waiting is.  That will determine the outcome of your waiting.

Perhaps, the action that needs to occur is ours — yours and mine.  Perhaps, there’s something that needs to change in our own hearts in relationship to God. 

Do you trust God enough to wait on Him — no matter how long the process takes?  God is Almighty and all-knowing.  He knows the perfect timing for the completion of His will in you and in the events of your life.  Perhaps, the problem with your waiting is with your trust.

What lies are you believing about God that are holding you back from fully submitting your will to Him and from resting in the perfection of His will?

I love what Discerning the Voice of God says in the following quote:
Habakkuk purposed to remove himself from the depression and anxiety of his ground-level circumstances and get above them.  He took his eyes off his circumstances and watched only for God.
What about us?  Are you and I still wallowing in the immediate ground-level circumstances in which we find ourselves, or are we keeping our eyes fixed on the “Author and Finisher of our Faith”?

I love what the following verses say in regards to waiting:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

These verses remind us that God’s plan will be accomplished in due season — in His season.

We wait on God while our waiting serves a purpose. 

Our waiting teaches us to rest on Him, which requires humility, submission, and trust.

The timing of God’s answer is just as important as the answer itself.

Discerning the Voice of God says the following:

While the righteous man trusts God will fulfill His Word, the proud man (self-reliant) depends on himself to bring things to pass.  When we seek God in faith, He promises us great reward.

Our waiting reveals whom it is upon which we rely.  It is either ourselves or God.

Upon whom do you rely?

 

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.

The Whole Gamut: The Past Two Months In Review

IMG_0458 (Large) IMG_0477 (Large)(Smiles From Baby and A Date With My Son)

It really has been almost two months since I last blogged.  I admit disappointment in that because I had made it a goal to blog at least once a month.  Considering the fact that I have five kids, ages 9 and under and that the youngest is 2.5 months old, well, I choose to give myself some slack (or is it more aptly stated as accept more grace).

You see my life is far from perfect, my husband is far from perfect, my kids are far from perfect, and yes, I am far from perfect — perhaps farther than a lot of you.  🙂  As much as I want to hurry my growing process along, I recognize that it all takes time.  A wise produce grower knows this.  He also knows when to prune, how to prune, and that pruning takes repetition.  It’s not a once-done deal.  I am like that.  I need repeated “prunings,” and I have a Master Gardener who knows just how to do that the very best way for my own personal growth.

My life is far from perfect, but it is full of grace.  Even when I don’t acknowledge or recognize the grace, it surrounds me every day and in so many ways — from the coos of a baby, to the warmth of my house on a cold January day, to the happiness on my daughter’s face as I make snow-castles with her, to the laughter shared with a son as we make silly faces together in a mirror, to the happiness of playing Checkers with another son…  My day is full of so many demonstrations of grace.  Sometimes, grace is also displayed when life isn’t all smiles, coos, and happiness.  Sometimes, it’s found when my daughter publicly humiliates me or a son tells my husband and I we need to go on a date so we have better attitudes.   (Those things really did happen: the good and the bad.)

So, here’s a look into my imperfect life that is “perfect” for me — being where God wants me to be and surrounded by His perfect love:

December arrived with cold germs spreading throughout our family.  I spent less than 1/2 an hour outside on a wet and snowy Saturday, decorating for Christmas and wound up with a sinus infection and bronchitis.  After battling almost a week’s worth of a fever, asthma, and a nasty cough for weeks afterwards, I finally improved.  (My lungs are still healing from my sickness.)

Stomach bug germs replaced the cold germs right before Christmas.  Being sick a week before Christmas meant my husband and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morn the week of Christmas, wrapping presents.  We made it fun by watching Christmas movies, sipping Sparkling Blueberry juice, and eating chocolate while wrapping presents.

We then spent the next week entertaining and being entertained by company for the holidays.  It was a busy but fun-filled time!

I disliked removing our Christmas decorations but finally admitted it was time when our tree had piles of needles beneath bare branches and was turning brown.  Nostalgia brought tears to my eyes, and I told my husband that I am going to really miss the sight of small coats hanging in our foyer in another decade.  I lovingly gave one more glance to my children’s handmade ornaments before stowing them away in the attic.  (Those ornaments have become some of my most-prized collections!)

January arrived blistery and with more snow days.  I have learned snow days mean extra work for me but many happy moments too.  I love to watch my kids playing in the snow!  I may enjoy staying inside in the warmth these days, but I am willing to stretch myself in order to bring happiness to a child.

This month, I have been enjoying having my turn at taking each of the kids individually on a “date” with Momma.  My kids love the undivided attention, and I love the opportunity to be undistracted and relaxed with my kids!  There are so many demands on a mother’s time and attention that it is challenging to find and make the time to get much one-on-one time with each child.  So far, I have gone on a date with each of my two oldest sons.  We have gone to the restaurant of their choice, bought a small keepsake, talked, laughed, and just enjoyed the fun times together.  During our talks, I was able to ask the boys all kinds of great questions.  It was a neat time to get to know them better and find out their goals, desires, sorrows, fears, frustrations, and joys! 

These have been a busy past two months.  The first month with our newborn I spent more closely at home and put a lot of things on hold.  As January approached, I decided it was time to get caught up on insurance shopping (getting new quotes for auto, home, and life and making the changes).  I was also finally able to get some of our health insurance issues resolved.  My husband also began to work longer hours at the office.  The added stress of caring for five children by myself, ill health, long hours at work for my husband was indeed lending itself to stress that could either make or break our marriage.  As my son noticed, we were starting to give in to wrong  attitudes, and it was time to make necessary changes to halt the negativity.  (I guess our son had noticed our temperaments improve when we are able to get some couple time.)

Last Sunday was also one of those times when grace can become very evident even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances.  I had left our baby and 2.5 year old with my husband while I finally found a minute to attend to personal needs.  🙂  When I returned to reclaim the baby, my husband informed me that I would also need to get our 2.5 year old, who was standing in front of the congregation, pretending to sing.  My husband was occupied at the time since he has responsibilities in the sound room.  To my discomfiture, I had to approach the front of the auditorium and reclaim our daughter.

As I approached her, I realized this was going to be even more embarrassing.  It was obvious this was going to be one of those occasions when our daughter was going to test her limits and the limits of our patience and pride.  As I motioned for her to come to me, she ran the other way.  Her escape route took her straight up the stairs and onto the platform.  I was in a conundrum.  I wasn’t going to chase her across the platform, but neither could I leave her there.  I quietly approached the stairs from the side and motioned to her again to come, displaying my stern “Mommy means business” face.  With a toss of her blond curls, she ran the opposite way, down the stairs on the opposite side of the platform.  What now?  My daughter was not going to obey, and I could not leave her to her own devices.  Somehow, I had to get ahold of her, but do it in such a way as to diminish the distraction for our audience.  It was at this point that my husband saved the day.  Before I could take a second look, he had quickly marched down the middle aisle, swept in and grabbed our daughter up in his arm while holding our baby in the other arm, and just as quickly exited the auditorium with a sobered daughter in tow.  (She was much more serious about obeying after that.)

May I share that watching my husband determinedly take his daughter in order and rescue an otherwise distressing situation was one of the most “romantic” things he could have done.  Romantic?  Yes!  I was so appreciative and admiring of his taking leadership and responsibility in protecting and guiding his family where needed.  My husband is a kind and patient man.  He normally speaks calm words.  When he speaks with firmness, we respect and take notice.

Afterwards, grace was even more evident when a number of people approached us and kindly shared their own stories of how their children had done the same thing or similar.  Their humility and compassion were greatly appreciated.  I had been humbled by it all — parenting has a way of doing that to us on a regular basis — but their graciousness had comforted me.  Oh, and my husband and I have decided we need to play some “obedience” training games with our daughter.

Life goes on…  Lessons are learned, and hopefully new growth is occurring on a regular basis.  In the midst of it all, may I cherish not just those precious times, spent like today (making snow-castles with my daughter), but also those times when I am given the opportunity to humbly extend forgiveness and grace to my children when they exert their own wills and sometimes do the opposite of what we desire for them.  God is so quick to forgive me!  May I be just as quick in forgiving my children who have “wronged” me far less!

Picking Popcorn

Tonight, I had the interesting task of picking popcorn from my son’s nose.  Earlier in the evening, he had mentioned about sticking a kernel up his nose, and I told firmly told him not to do it.  A while later, the same son came to me almost crying and exclaiming that his nose hurt because he had popcorn stuck up it.  I tried getting him to blow it out; instead he blew it further in.  I then got a toothpick, but that wasn’t working.  Finally, I used a tweezer, and that worked after quickly praying.  This son and I had a very serious discussion regarding obedience.  Afterwards, he apologized profusely.  I have been praying that the Lord would help their disobedience/sin to be caught quickly.  I want them to learn these lessons now while they are simpler than later when the consequences are much greater.

Bad … Good

A few days ago, Jonathan admonished Drew to behave so Drew could go on a special outing with just Daddy.  Drew started to get “carried away” at the dinner table, and Jonathan quickly reminded him of the agreement.  In reply, Drew said, “Maybe, I can be bad for dinner and be good at the store.”

Obey

Last night as Jonathan was helping prepare the boys for bed, he reminded them all to obey mommy.  He asked Luke if Luke would obey.  Luke said, “Obey mommy.  Obey Jesus.”

Drew said, “I will obey Mommy.  I will tell her when I go poopy.”  (That represented being very obedient to him.  I am always telling the boys to tell me so I can wipe them — rather than them wiping themselves.)

Our Littlest Son

I already typed this, but there was an error so it never got posted — error on internet connection, not me.  🙂

Here we go again:

Luke has been saying a lot lately:

“Help me, mommy!”

“I don’t think so.”  (in response to a friend asking me a question)

“The end” whenever I finished reading a book to him.

As we were riding down the road, he said, “a truck.”  He would then start to laugh.  He kept pointing to all the trucks and then saying “a truck” and then laughing.

I have been working with Luke on obedience training.  It has been so sweet to see him saying, “Yes, ma’am” and then come running to obey.  His rendition of “ma’am” is very funny to hear.

Luke also has the best manners.  He says “please” and “thank you” without prompting.  He also says “excuse me” whenever someone sneezes.

I have been thoroughly enjoying our little sweetheart as I watch him grow and change from baby to boy.