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Monthly Archives: August 2010

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True Vigilants

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!I’ve been thinking lately about the word vigilant.
It means taking matters into your own hands.
I guess that doesn’t really fit.  Because the truth of the matter is, the only way my marriage can not only survive but flourish is by the very grace of God.

That’s why I write about prayer so much on Mondays.

And it’s why I’m praying for you.  And for your marriages.

This week, I would love to renew my commitment to pray for you.  So go ahead and leave a comment and I will go ahead and pray for you by name (or by some other distingishing detail if you don’t feel comfy leaving your name).

Have a truly blessed week.

New Songs and Slimy Pits

It’s been slimy here the past several weeks.  The pit, I mean.  So slimy that I can’t get my footing to lift myself out.  Like the spin cycle on Wipeout. 

I fell in.

But I found the way out.  God’s strong hands.  He grabbed me by the armpits and pulled me out with His superGod arms.  He did it a few days ago as I mourned the end of summer break and the start of a new season of my life.  The one where both of my children go to school all day and I learn how to be a different kind of mom.  He showed me that my youngest starting kindergarten is really not about me.  He reminded me that it’s been His plan all along.  This growing up thing. 

And He started teaching me a new song. 

I like new songs.

“I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.”
Psalm 40:1-3
That’s why I’m linking up today with Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped.  Because they’re singing all kinds of beautiful songs over there.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Beauty That Inspires Praise

Anytime I see something beautiful
even if it’s just a glimpse of real beauty
I praise the Creator.
The One Who thought it all up.
I’m pretty sure that’s what the Apostle Peter was talking about when he wrote to wives . . .
That’s the kind of vigilant wife I want to be.  The kind that points my husband to Creator God.  The kind of “holy beauty” that captivates him.  True beauty.  Because, although my man is definitely not “indifferent to any words about God,” I want him to be inspired to worship his Creator. My Creator.  By the way that I live.

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Join us today, won’t you?

Just Like Jesus

“Is it long enough yet, Mommy?”
I measure her hair, and I think it is. So I make the appointment and we go.
When the hairstylist looks at me from behind the hair, where she’s measuring again for accuracy, she shoots me a look of warning. Wanting to preserve as much of my beautiful daughter’s lovely long hair as I can, I jump out of my seat and choke out a long diatribe of how I measured at home and it came down to here. And how fifteen months ago, when my oldest daughter did it, they put it all into one braid in the back and it turned out so cute. So why did she have to put it into six different ponytails and measure each one ten inches. That wouldn’t leave much hair! She trains me in the process and says they’ll throw it away if it’s not long enough.

I want to ask her to just pretend for my daughter’s sake. Only it’s really for my own.

But instead I ask my six-year-old. “It’s going to be shorter than we thought it would be. Do you want to keep growing it and come back another time? Or just get it cut and not give it to Wigs for Kids?” She does not hesitate. She immediately says, “No. I want to give it to them.”

So Linda Sue gets out the little rubber bands and puts six little ponytails all over her head. Then, with razor-sharp clippers, she cuts each one. My heartstrings feel damaged as well. Tears welling as I look away, I get a grip. Then I look at my daughter. She is beaming radiant.

And she looks just like Jesus.

Because that’s Who He is. The Jesus Who gives to those who don’t have from the deep wells of what He has. The One Who gave it all when He gave up His perfect beauty and took instead my ugly nasty sin. Rising even more beautiful.

So I leave humbled by my six-year-old. Who exposes true beauty.

Dear Barbie,

You might know me as the mom.  Or maybe you remember me from way back when my sister and I used to argue over you.  Remember that awesomely huge Barbie house one of our friends had? Yeah, I totally wanted to get that for you.  Sorry it never happened.

Anyway, I guess you probably get a lot of hate mail seeing as you so dutifully represent the world’s view of beauty.  But, hey, I get it.  I mean it’s who you are, right?  It’s how you were created.  And you personally have no power to change it.  Just clay in the potter’s hands, right?  Yeah, I totally get that.  I, too, am clay in my Maker’s hands.  Sometimes I find it hard to be content with that, though.   I don’t know if you get that or not.  I guess there’s a chance.  I mean, for all I know, you might wish you had brown curly hair and a body the shape of a pear.  The grass is always greener, eh?

I just wanted to write to let you know something that I appreciate you.  It might get me in trouble if I actually post this, because, as you know, there are a lot of people who, well, who can’t stand you or what you stand for.  And, I do feel the need to mention that I am not crazy about most of your clothing or the fact that so many little girls dream of having an impossibly perfect body like yours, often to their lifelong dismay.  But, I guess I just wanted you to know that there are a few things that I appreciate about you. 

Like the fact that you just go wherever your master takes you.  No arguing.  No complaining.  You’re always up for the adventure.  Even when your master turns your head all the way around and makes you look like the girl on the Exorcist.  And that one time when she actually popped your head right off!  Amazing that you weren’t even afraid to go back into her hands after that! I applaud your courage.  Some people might call that stupidity.  Well, not me! 

And when your master decides to play with someone else, you’re totally okay with it.  Content whether it’s your turn or not.  Like what Angela Thomas was saying at that conference I went to.  She was talking about how sometimes it’s not our turn yet.  Then she pointed out that we need to become women who are ready when our Master says “now!”  And how we need to cheer for each other when it’s someone else turn.  Barbie, I have no idea whether or not you celebrate the successes of other toys, but I can tell you that is something some of us humans really struggle with.  So, you might imagine that bit by Angela Thomas really resonated with me.

Anyway, thanks.  Your contentment is just something I was thinking about and wanted to let you know that I noticed.  You’re not all bad.  Thanks for reminding me that I am totally at the mercy of my Maker and Master.  Just like you are.

Oh, one last thing, I’m sorry for kicking you across the floor earlier today. Believe it or not, I had intended that to be a friendly little nudge toward your pool and my children who were watching you swim. It’s nice, by the way, your new pool. Just kind of wishing it didn’t have to stay in the middle of my kitchen. I hope I didn’t hurt you when I kicked you. I just really dislike stepping on your hard plastic hands because, well, that hurts. I imagine you don’t experience much pain being a toy and all. Well, believe you me, stepping on plastic is painful. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Sincerely,
Brianna

p.s. Just wanted you to know that I did decide to post this letter, and I’m linking up with Emily today at http://www.chattingatthesky.com/ for Tuesdays Unwrapped.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Spirit-Quiet and the Great Remodel

Quiet does not come naturally for me.  And, although at times I can be rather loud, I am not talking about volume.  I’m talking about spirit-quiet.  The kind of quiet that takes whatever it’s given and chooses to react with the strength that only Creator God can initiate.  It’s the quiet that Peter defined as unfading beauty when he wrote to wives . . .

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 
1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV
I wrote last week about how God used that passage of Scripture to revolutionize my dating life during my college years.  Today, I’d like to tell you how God has used it during this past month to remodel my marriage and my role as a wife.
There are areas of my home that I often almost always allow clutter to consume.  Quiet, unfading beauty notices that it bothers her husband and starts doing something about it.  Thus, God is helping me get rid of clutter collection spots in my home.  Or at least genuinely try.

We have this peninsula in our kitchen.  This is what it usually looks like, give or take a few dozen items.  (And by “items” I mean “clutter”.

This week, God and I have been working on rearranging it to look more like this…
Minus the fly in the bottom right corner, of course.  Perhaps God and I should invest in a fly swatter?
We had a big birthday bash for our youngest daughter the other day.  An unfadingly beautiful spirit appreciates everything her husband does to help prepare for the party.  Even if he doesn’t clean the tables exactly as she would have done it.  I wish I could say I succeeded here, ladies.  The truth of the matter is, I did not.  I used jokes to let him know I didn’t like his method.  After which I was immediately convicted by the truth of God’s Word that reminded me that true beauty behaves in a way that could make followers of Jesus Christ out of unfollowers.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

See, there was a tiny little piece of my spirit that wouldn’t let go of my selfish need to have it done my way. A small little bitter root that motivated the joking and elevated it from funny and light teasing to coarse joking.  But, according to 1 Peter 3, I am called as a wife to let it go.  I am called to react from a place of quiet and gentleness that puts my husband before myself.  I am called to live in such a way that would attract my husband to Jesus Christ.  And coarse joking that is spawned from a bitter root does not fit that job description.
I’m afraid God might still be in the demolition stage of this part of the remodel, ladies.
And then there’s the whole issue of the body that belongs to this truly beautiful woman that Peter describes.  Spirit-quiet sees that body filtered through the truth of the God’s Word and does not verbally tear it apart. Especially in front of her husband.  This is a tough one, I must admit.  Spirit-quiet lets her husband tell her she’s beautiful and hears it, listens to it, even believes it.  Because spirit-quiet is beautiful.  Unfadingly so.  That is a biblical fact. 
Although we’re a little beyond the demolition for this part of the remodel, there is still much work to be done here.
There are other areas of my home that I know God is working on.  Taking the sledge-hammer to the loud in my spirit and replacing it with His quiet.  It’s kind of hard sometimes.  But, despite the difficulty, I am realizing that, above all else, the spirit-quiet woman humbly trusts God’s way of life.
With vigilance.  And that, my dear friends does a beautiful woman make.
Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!Link up with us or leave a comment and let us know about your choice to be a vigilant wife…

Included!

If there is anything in life that I can not stand, it is feeling left out.  Don’t like it.  Never have.  I could probably safely say that most people don’t.  The only difference might be a person’s level of tolerance for it.  I’m guessing there are some people for whom little is required in order for them to feel left out, while others would think nothing of it unless great measures were taken on the part of the leaver-outer.  And only then would they feel it.  Either way, I would venture to say that nobody likes to feel left out.

I got a lot of experience with this as a child.  A strong desire to be well-liked did not fare well for a little girl in my neighborhood  (i.e. me).  Maybe you know the neighborhood of which I speak — There was one girl, a year older than me and gorgeous in every sense of the word who had an older brother (who was, by the way, equally gorgeous).  They pretty much ruled the neighborhoood.  So the goal each afternoon while we played was always to be included in whatever it was that they might be doing.  Which was not always, um, productive or beneficial.  Also having a strong desire to please my parents’, I was, as you might imagine, left out on more than one occasion.

And it hurt.

Because rejection hurts.  In any form.

That’s why I love, love, LOVE Ephesians 1.  Because it says right there in the Bible that I am included.  Look at this…

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Ephesians 1:13 NIV
Because Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life, I am His chosen and adopted child.  I am included!!!  And not only that, but He gave me a special seal that marks my inclusion!! And it’s the Holy Spirit. Uh-huh! THE Holy.Spirit.of.God.
v14 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
I’m just soaking it in.  The realization that, if God’s picking teams, He will pick me every.single.time.
Soak with me, won’t you? 
**Not sure you can soak there?  Well, God’s Word says that if we trust Him to clean us up (because, truly, who doesn’t need cleaned up in her heart of hearts?), He will.  In fact, that’s the whole reason Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, came to earth — to take the inevitable punishment for our yuck.  So we wouldn’t have to die.  (The kind of dying that means being separated from God forever.)  So when we believe in Him to clean us up and ask Him to, He does.  That’s where He becomes the Lord of your life and He starts leading the way.  Now YOU are included too!  Because you too have heard the truth.  Want to know more?  Here’s a great link.  Or shoot me an e-mail or leave me a comment.**

He Speaks, She Speaks, I Speak

It was among the most sacrificial birthday gifts my husband has ever given me.  A registration to the She Speaks! conference in Charlotte, NC the last weekend of July.  It’s a conference for women who want to pursue Christian ministry in the areas of leading, writing, and/or speaking.

My husband and I had never even heard of the conference until this past February when I was surfing one of my very most favorite blogs, Chatting at the Sky.  I think I was avoiding some monumental task like cleaning up after dinner, when I came across Emily’s story of how she was offered a book-writing contract at last year’s She Speaks! conference.  Reading her story made my heart really super excited (you know, like beating really fast, can’t click fast enough kind of excited).  Because I recognized my dream as I read about hers.  (BTW, I so greatly admire this woman — for her heart, for the way that she writes, for the way that she makes me think about mundane life stuff from an adoring-God kind of perspective.)  So I took a risk and said it out loud to my husband.  I told him I wanted to go to this conference.  I reminded him of my dream.  The one about being a published writer. 

It’s a dream I’ve not talked about much until recently.  Because somehow saying it out loud makes failure accessible.  What if I never do it?  Or worse yet, what if I give it my every ounce of the best I’ve got and then fail?  It’s also a dream that my awesome husband has never, ever let me forget about.  Like the birthday eight years ago when he rallied my parents, his parents and my sister to pay the registration fee for me to attend a Christian writer’s conference the following summer.  Even though I learned a lot at that conference, I never did anything with what I had learned.  And I have always felt guilty about that, even though I was four months from birthing my first child and entering a season of life during which my only ministry focus would be feeding babies and wiping their stinky adorable little butts.  It was that guilt that made me a little more than trepidacious to ask my husband what he though about me attending She Speaks!  Well actually, it was the false guilt mixed with the fear about what might happen if I actually did get to go.

That night, I started praying that God would get me to the conference if that was what He wanted for me.  So when I applied for the scholarship the next month, I expected God to saturate my entry with the same dew that He used to soak Gideon’s fleece.

I didn’t get the scholarship.

You might imagine that I was dissapointed.  But, believing I had seen the fleece in all of its dryness, I asked God if He could maybe soak it for me next year.

Then my husband decided to surprise me for my birthday.  He’d prayed about it and believed that God was leading us to send me to the conference! 

I spent the next few months wondering if I’d finagled my way to getting what I wanted.  I can be manipulative, you know.  Then God nudged me one day as I sat upon my lawn mower praying.  And with clarity, He reminded me that it was He Himself that planted this dream inside of me.  That day, my question changed from “Will I succeed?” to “Am I willing to pursue it for no other reason than that He asked me to?”

Very first night, very first session.  Lysa Terkeurst asked the same.exact.question.

Do you see what I wrote in my notes as she spoke that night?!?  “Will you go just b/c He asked you to?”  Yeah. I know!

While I was at the conference, I partook of immeasurable wisdom.  Those Proverbs 31 ladies are anointed by God!!! Seriously!  (And so many of them are southern that I was seriously beginning to wonder if God could annoint a northern girl like me to bring it.  Then He put Karen Ehman on the stage, and, well, she definitely brought it!  So — thanks, Karen, for representing us northerners so well. :-P)  And, again, He brought me to a point in my spirit where I had to deal with more questions…

  • What am I afraid of — if God is with me? (um, He promised.  So He is!)
  • Do I believe that He called me to this?  Even if I don’t “succeed” by the world’s definition of that word?  
  • Am I willing to stand right smack inside of what God has called me to, not comparing my calling with anyone else’s?  AND Am I excited for other people when it is their turn and not mine?
  • Why do I want this?  Is my purpose to make God famous?  Or is it to make myself famous?
  • Am I really on the same team as these amazing women of God or are they just somehow especially annointed, extraordinarily called?

So here’s what I learned : How to answer each and every one of those questions with heart that wants nothing more than to make God famous.  I have nothing to be afraid of — God Himself is with me.  Yes, I believe He called me to this.  No matter what.  Yes, I will stand inside of what God has called me to and cheer on everyone else who does the same.  I want to make God famous.  Yes!  We are on the same team.

I am still processing.  Thankfully, I had all of last week to begin the process of the processing while on vacation at the beach with my family.  But, in all honesty, most of that time was spent, well, swimming.  So I am certain that you will be reading more bits as I soak in more truths from my weekend at She Speaks!

Oh, and I even got to meet Emily!  We’re friends now. đŸ˜‰  Just sayin’.

Unfaded Attraction

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!I was working as the high ropes course instructor at Camp Carl, sharing Jesus’ love and grace with the campers in whatever way I could find.  It was the summer I surrendered the area of dating to the One Who is Three in One.  The One Who gave me the desire for intimate relationship in the first place.  As a result of that surrender, I broke up with my boyfriend, despite my ever-increasing longing for a husband, and the engagement ring we had gone to look at so I could try it on.  It was one sunny afternoon that very same summer that I heard it for the first time . . . 
“Your beauty should . . . be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  (I Peter 3:3-4, NIV)
I had read that passage of Scripture before.  But this was the first time I really heard it.  “Unfading beauty.”  “Great worth in God’s sight.”  My heart found a new longing that day.
That passage of Scripture in first Peter 3 talks about how to be a wife.  More specifically, verses 1 and 2 say that this kind of inner beauty would be so attractive that it could very possibly win a husband to Christ, if he were not already a believer
“There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.” (I Peter 3:1-2, msg)
Clearly, I was hooked.  Hello, unfading beauty?!?  I mean, here I had God’s secret for not only attracting an amazing man of God but, even more than that, for keeping him attracted. 
And that, my dear friends is when I decided to unwaveringly entrust the rest of my life’s dating relationships to God Himself.
It’s also when I began praying for my future husband, the very same year that my husband (of now almost 14 years) surrendered his life to Jesus Christ!
Over the next few weeks, I plan to study this Scripture more in depth.  I expect that God has pretty pointed things to say about our vigilance as wives.  So I hope you’ll join me.
In fact, I hope you’ll join me today in thinking through what it means to be a vigilant wife.  Link up here.  Or leave a comment.  Please?

He Gets Me

He gets me.

We’ve been married for almost 14 years, but there is still stuff in the deep down me that I am somehow afraid to show him.  It comes out anyway because, um, I am not one who can easily hide what’s inside for long.  And that’s when his very nature lives out the unconditional faithfulness.  The vow he made on that day when I got all pretty and kissed him up in front of the church.  Before we fed each other cake and kissed for 200 forks clinking water glasses.

And he remains unshaken when I finally disclose what he’s known all along.  I’m flawed.  Imperfect.  Yet, naked-souled, I show him the deep down.  And he gets me.

Not just because he promised that he always would.  But because he loves me.  He.loves.me.

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!Biblical marriage provides a beautiful picture, flawed as it may be, of Almighty God’s love for us, His bride.  Just like my husband gets me.  God gets us.  Because Love Himself loves.  It’s Who He is.
And that All-knowing, Almighty God promised He would never, ever leave us.  Because He loves us.  Love Himself Loves me!  Vigilantly.  Without exception.

I hope you’ll link up and let us know what it means for you to be a vigilant wife.  I am looking forward to reading your entries. . .