I really do have WONDERFUL children.
Simeon will be one in less than 3 weeks. He is my toothless wonder. :) He eats absolutely everything that Eliya does, just by gumming things. He is walking around things while holding on and standing unassisted, but only when he doesn't realize he is doing so. His sweet chubby cheeks and curly red hair are just fantastic. He is SUCH a blessing to me. He is my hugger and seems to know when I really need one.
Eliya is almost 2 1/2. She is so big... no really! She literally grew an inch and a half in the past two months. She wears mostly 3T pants already! She constantly surprises me with her comprehension. I love comparing her linguistic abilities to my students who are learning English as a second language. They have similar problems :) The other day she said "Mama, Oh my goodness!" I LOVE it when she uses these little sayings we have... and most of the time correctly. She also said "Yee-Haw" yesterday very loudly in the car. Apparently, one of her Backyardagin videos has a western theme! I hear a little southern drawl in her sometimes too... unbelievable! Eliya is obsessed with the alphabet song and has it down perfectly. She also loves to point out every stop sign she sees and can spell S T O P. She tries to spell her name, but most adults can't spell it either so that will come :)
They both love music and love to dance. They also both love videos, which I carefully moderate. I so don't want them to get sucked in... which literally, if it is on, Simeon stares with his mouth hanging open. He is really drawn to the remote too... are the male genes THAT strong?!?
Eliya is asking about Daddy a little less these days. She told me the other day that she missed Daddy, she followed with Daddy's in heaven with Jesus. Even though she can produce that, I know the thought is SO abstract for her. She then asked me if we could go see Jesus that day. It's really hard to have any idea what to do with that. I have been asking God to give her dreams so that she could have a level of understanding that maybe I don't even have. Daily I ask for His presence as a Father and His peace to fill their room especially when they are sleeping.
It is very comforting that God' s heart is for the fatherless.
Psalms 68:5 NIV A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
In fact, the term fatherless or orphan appears at least 41 times in the Bible! I know that my family is in the palm of His hand. I honestly never thought empathetically about the fatherless or the "single mom". I keep thinking how unimaginable the additional burden hurt from divorce would be to the pain and responsibility that are already in these circumstances. I still know, and often dwell on the verses in Psalm 145:14-... The Lord sustains all who fall and raises all who are bowed down, He is near to those who cry out to Him in truth!
I also can't help but think about pain far greater than mine that others have suffered and are suffering. In 2008, UNICEF estimated that there were over 132 million orphans in the world. Those are truly orphans with no mother, father or permanent family. My pain seems so minimal compared to those little girls in Thailand (AND ATLANTA) who are in the sex trade. UNICEF also estimates that 1 Million children are brought into the sex industry every year. My pain is small in comparison to those who lost their entire families in the Rwandan massacres in 1994. GOD BREAK MY HEART FOR THE THINGS THAT BREAK YOURS! The pain and sorrows are too great and numerous for me to count, let alone bear. Jesus Christ DID bear all of these pains for us on the cross. Please do not let the commonness of His name in our culture or the simplicity of the message keep you from knowing the reality and depth of what He has done.
Isaiah 53: 3-5
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried;Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Jesus knows the depths of pain. He understands anything that you could possibly have ever walked through. He loves you and has already completed what was necessary for you to walk without the burden of pain (His death on the cross).
He wants us to lay our burdens at His feet. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Malachi 4:2 says The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings for you people who fear my name. You will go out and leap like calves let out of a stall. Not too long ago, I saw a farmer enter his field with a hay bale... I could not believe how fast those cows could run and even leap! When I read this verse and God reminded me of that visual, I was overwhelmed with joy. No matter what your burden is, HE IS ENOUGH. He alone satisfies the desires of all men. He alone can heal the heart. A friend told me how she grows so much in the trials of life that she almost welcomes them!
1 Peter 1:6,7 "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ". The proof of your faith is more precious than gold which is perishable. OF COURSE, I wish that it hadn't cost so much for me to be laid bare before Him without any other props or hopes or helps in this world. I can with full conviction say that He really is enough. This world has nothing for me. I understand the futility of life. It is so short. My sufferings are so insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us through either death or His returning.
My heart really is that if you know Jesus, that you would pursue Him harder, the Word is living and active. It is the greatest way He speaks to us. If you feel Him drawing you, drop everything and respond. We, who are His, are passing through this world. Our citizenship isn't here... let's not live like it is. Let's be a living example of who Jesus is! He wants a pure bride who is mature and complete. Our rewards from sitting at His feet are immeasurable on this earth much less in heaven. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy!
If you do not know Him... and this is how the Bible defines KNOWING (By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6) ...then please consider your own mortality. There is ONE guarantee for every man ever born. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. I am going to die. Most of us assume that will come late in life, and for the majority of people I know that is the case. Please seek Him out. Seek out His Word.
Acts 4:12 says there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Romans 10:9-11 says that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
I HONESTLY had no intent to go this direction with the post. I really was going to make it "all about the babies". I am trusting that this is where the Holy Spirit led it for a reason. If you hear His voice today... please do not harden your heart against Him. If you are having trouble understanding or believing... ask Him to open your eyes and heart so that you can trust. If you have any questions, I would have no greater honor on this earth than to help you in your spiritual journey. Many of the things God is doing in my life is a direct result from drawing near to Him in my pain from my husband's death. Scott's life was a testimony of God and to God, it is my prayer that his death will in part lead many to the foot of the cross.
Back to the kids... if you made it this far :) Here are a few pictures.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I recently saw this picture when I visited a friend’s house. He works in the timber industry and explained that every three years they burn the ground where the pines have been planted to burn anything that would compete with the pines. I didn’t think much else about it, but that it was a cool picture. While I was praying Saturday night at The Well, the worship leaders began singing “Fresh fire, burn the dross away” and this picture popped back into my mind. Dross is the impurity that needs to be separated from valuable metals when they go through the refining process. I have more than once felt God calling me to purge my life in pursuit of holiness and intercede that His bride, the church, would be purged and purified as well. As I thought of this picture/imagery the Lord was using, I thought about the pretty flowers that would also be consumed in the process and immediately I thought about 1 Corinthians 10:23 that says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” I really believe sometimes in this process of purification, we have to lay down things that in and of themselves are not wrong or sin, but that might hinder us in the Lord. He wants our heart posture to be willing to lay all at His feet, even those things which may be earthly "rights". We who are His, have traded in our citizenship and are only in transient! I love in Luke 10:42 that Jesus said of Mary only ONE thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her. Martha was actively serving the Lord and yet His praise was for the one who was willing to sit at His feet. The first few verses in the beginning of John 15 talk about this “pruning” principle; every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 1 Peter 1:6-7 talks about the pain and prize of this process. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious that gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. This morning I was reading in The Pursuit of God, by Tozer (p.103), about how by our mouths we speak of Him being exalted in our lives; but our actions say something different.
“Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true, and pay some token of respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life. “Be thou exalted” is the language of victorious spiritual experience.”
I want to know Him as I am known. I know, more in this season of life than ever, that what I do in the day to day matters not only in the ‘here and now’, but it greatly matters for eternity. My works will be tested and revealed with fire (1 Cor 3:13). I want to bring Him glory on this earth and hear well done good and faithful servant one day.
LORD! Would You give us the hearts to ask for and welcome the refining fire. Let us be willing to lay aside the things that hinder love, even those things that might not be wrong or sin. Prune our hearts so that we can abide in the vine and become more like you. Restore MY heart Lord to the greatest commandment. Let me let go of my will, my ambitions and my desires and have a heart that says Be Exalted!
It’s almost as though this love and surrender thing is a cycle. We know His love and are compelled to surrender more, then more of His love is revealed… so we surrender more etc. What a gift and prize we have in Him if we’d be willing to give Him all of ourselves as He did for us. 2 Peter 3:14b “Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless”. My favorite part is what I will end with. It is impossible that we could attain perfection this side of eternity, but Tozer addresses this so beautifully. “Now set over against this (those who willfully chose their own way), almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk. See how God winked at weakness and overlooked failures as He poured upon His servants grace and blessing untold…The man of God set his heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made the difference.”
Monday, March 9, 2009
In the end of January, I went to a leadership conference for those who are participating in the prayer movement. It was a good time of teaching. One of the speakers talked about really longing for Christ's return. He used the analogy of how his wife really longs for his return especially when he is gone from home too long. He said his sons might say nothing more than "Dad, when are you coming home? Hurry ok" but his wife's longing is more evident in her words and tone. Her words are marked with a persistent, earnest desire.
I am well acquainted with longing. So much of me longs for things to be the way they were. I long for that silent assurance that came with being Scott's wife. The idea that no matter what happened, I would never be alone in anything. I miss his friendship, I miss him fathering our children, I miss his humor. In so many ways, I am one that hates the mundane, but I would love for one mundane day with him. I've never thought much about longings. Most of my christian walk has been absent of longing for Jesus. In this season, He is revealing Himself more and more and showing me His love for me. Psalm 145:16 says He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.
I understand more that all of creation and even we ourselves groan and suffer the pains of childbirth, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and the redemption of our body (Romans 8: 23). 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, 8-9 says "For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. I say and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."
I am realizing that you can't long for that which you do not know. I haven't longed for His return because of my lack of knowing Him and experiencing His love. A song I've heard is so true, the more I seek You the more I find You, The more I find You, the more I love You. I know that there was a major transformation that took place in my life when I put my trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins 12 years ago. I also know that I have for years been wanting depth, but have lacked the discipline to be in the word and to really seek Him until I found Him. I am so thankful for His goodness and grace in saving me and keeping me. I also know that things can never go back to being the way they were. Jesus wants to be known. This is no sacrifice on our part. Letting go of the imitations of this passing world to gain Him and be made like Him is our prize, our reward. I wish that these lessons hadn't come at such a great cost, but I want the Lord to use them not just for me but others as well. For those of us in Christ Jesus, we have been bought with a price (His precious blood) and we are no longer our own. He is our Lord, and He lets us know Him as a husband. (Isa. 54:5) If we first restore the great commandment (Matt 22:37) to love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds. Then we will naturally be found watching, waiting and hastening the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12). My personal aim is to learn what it is to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him, for in losing my life I will find it. I am longing for more of Him in this life through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, but toward the end of being in His presence for eternity, whether eventually through death or in His returning. I don't want to stand before Him and not know Him. I am pleading with you (and myself) to not waste THIS life and THIS time on yourself and the passing pleasures of this world.
Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us". Philippians 3:20-21 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory."
I know that He alone can satisfy my longings. The longing in my heart for my husband and the longing to be in the presence of God, in this life/present age and the one to come! COME LORD!
John Piper has a sermon that shows how fasting and longing for His return work together.
Link to the song The More I Seek You
I really do so appreciate those of you who are still praying for me and my children. It has been a rough couple of days emotionally but even in it He is so near. Thank you so much.