Saturday, December 1, 2012

Choosing Fruit

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
~Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)~

This is tough for me to write about. For one thing, I don't have my thoughts well organized. I'm still mucking through my brain to get to that place. For another, this is intensely personal. It's hard to speak of things that weigh on our hearts. I'm going to do my best. Bear with me. 

Some months back, I began a trek to get my weight in a healthy range. Some of the intended side effects of that would be making me feel better, getting off prescription medications, and preparing my body to grow the family we hope to have in coming years. Of course, there's all the vanity of being smaller, having clothes fit and look better on me, and feeling better about myself. I'm sure that plays a large part in my mind, though I don't really want to admit it. Primarily, I tried to focus on my health. 

In just over 3 months, I shed 25 pounds, and was starting to feel better. My doctor cut my prescription medications in half to compensate for the major changes in my body's functioning. I was starting to feel better about who I was and how I looked. Then I hit a plateau. Without changing my intake or exercise, I just stopped. losing. weight. I got frustrated. 

Then, on a weekend trip with my husband, we decided to sit in this nice area of the hotel, listen to the live band play, and have a glass of wine. I hadn't had any alcohol in 4 months, at this point. My husband put his arm around me and told me that he had missed this. It broke me a little. I had stopped doing something that built my relationship with my husband (a glass of wine, while relaxing and talking, of an evening), and hadn't even thought about that consequence. I mislaid my moderation, somewhere along the way. 

My husband had been so kind, through the big push. He had been so supportive. I repaid that with making eating out an impossibility or at least an exercise in frustration, denying him some nice evenings by the fire, and focusing all my energy on food and exercise. Admittedly, the motives were mostly good. It's good to be healthy, to be good stewards of our bodies and our lives. I just lost sight of some other important things along the way, and that was decidedly not good for me or my marriage. 

Something with which I have struggled all my life is self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit. Part of that is due to my bent toward independence: as we would refer to it in the Ezer curriculum, the core sin of autonomy. Part of it is due to my frustration with the results of attempting to practice self-control. Part of it is due to sheer laziness. Discipline isn't easy. (Contrary to how my mother makes it look. Smile. Grimace.) 

As a result, I swing back and forth on a pendulum between tightly controlling things (to my detriment and that of my relationships), and completely abandoning self-control as futile (to the detriment of myself, my health, and my relationships).

As that weekend hit me, my pendulum abruptly swung back away from self-control, and I abandoned the diet process. What I should have done was lock my weight in where it was by following the consolidation phase of the diet, adding the full variety of foods back into my life gradually and in a healthy way. I didn't. Now I'm paying for it. I've gained back a significant portion of what I had lost. My health reflects it. My self-esteem reflects it. My clothing reflects it. My relationships reflect it. It hurts. 

Two days ago, I started back at square one. Part-way through the day I got a phone call from my dad. While I won't detail everything he said to me, as I sat and wept, listening, I will tell you the gist. He has become my intercessor on the matter of my weight and health. He has stepped in to pray for me in a way that I couldn't begin to pray for myself. As he put it, he has locked arms with me and we're going to face this thing together, letting God fight the battle and watching as victory takes the place of disappointment and defeat.

He's called several times since then, to reiterate mostly. He hasn't once asked me how I'm doing with dieting, or what I've eaten. He just tells me he loves me and he's going to prayer for me, that he's on my side. 

He painted this image in my mind. The God of the universe, who created it all, who runs it all, who could wipe it all away with a word, a breath, a thought-- THAT God is on my side. When a bully is on my playground, kicking my tushy around, and I run to my bigger, stronger, more faithful and loving God, He sees it and shows up to make things right. The bully's fight is with God, not with me, at that point.

My bully could be called a lot of things right now: unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, disappointment, defeat, burgeoning depression. That bully has been kicking my tushy for so long, that I've lost sight of being the victor. 

My dad said that I am a warrior, that I'm strong. I looked in the mirror and wept, because all I could see was weakness, defeat, disappointment. He said that he and mom had watched God beat up their bully recently, and that they were with me to see Him beat up mine. In his positive outlook, he put just the tiniest glimmer of hope in my heart. Maybe I don't have to be kicked around anymore. Maybe the bully is going to get taught a lesson, after all. Maybe I can really desire to do what's right and healthy, and not be disappointed by my own efforts. Maybe God can live in me, helping me do the things that are beyond my power and control and guiding me into a season of health that will glorify Him.

One of the things that mystifies me to no end is the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to live life in us and through us, to let Him have complete control. One of the things that tells me that I'm growing spiritually, is the realization of how much I have yet to learn. I want to have Him live in me and through me. I want Him to guide my footsteps, lead me through the minefield, and make me holy. I want my body and my life to be an emblem of God's glory, something that points to Him for all to see-- something that makes people not even see me at all. Only Him. 

To that end, daddy said there was only one thing I need to focus on. He said not to pray about losing weight, or even getting healthy, not to pray that the scale would show my efforts, not to allow that demon called disappointment to speak into my soul. He said to focus all my heart on one thing. That God would give me the desire to live a holy life, a desire to do as He said in His Word to take care of my body as His temple. God doesn't give us desires unless he also provides the fulfillment. 

So my prayer is that God would give me the desire to be so completely His and for His glory, that I can't help but live that out in all I do, including the things I eat or don't eat, the things I drink or don't drink, the clothes I wear, the relationships I have. I want Him to be my motivation for every little piece of my life. If my sole, whole purpose is to glorify God, and I let the Holy Spirit guide me in all my appetites and desires, then it ceases to be about hitting the right number on the scale or fitting into the right size skirt. 

It's a whole new way of looking at this whole thing, and one that I just completely missed, until now. As I said, I'm still mucking through my brain, discarding thought processes that don't serve the King, re-learning to look at what I put in my body as an act of service and worship, and letting the Holy Spirit produce fruit in my life. I'm learning to desire that one particular fruit that has always confounded me: self-control. 

Much love,

Thursday, August 9, 2012


It seems that lately, when God brings things to my mind for me to dwell on, He provides me resources to reiterate what He's sharing with me. After I wrote today's post (Choosing Holiness When It's Hard), I saw a post on (in)courage about small talk and getting to the heart of the issue, called "What Are You Longing For?

It just struck me, as I read it, that God created me to be just who I am, in all my introversion, and He approves of me, because I'm made in His image. This post affirmed in me the longing for depth in relationships, as well as the awareness that sometimes you have to wade through a lot of shallow waters to get to those deep pools. 

Thank you, Papa, for guiding me in all my ways, even in my web browsing. 

Much love,

Choosing Holiness When It's Hard

I'm a bit peopled-out. This week has been unusual for me, but I'm aware that God has brought me this week in preparation for a lot of weeks to come that will be similar to this one. Let me explain.
He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed. ~Proverbs 13:20, NKJV~
I am an introvert. Introversion or extroversion is the way in which the brain actually functions, not a personality trait, contrary to popular belief. It's not something you train yourself not to be, something wrong that must be fixed. Introversion is a series of pathways in the brain that function differently than the pathways in the brains of the other 75-ish% of the population. Being shy is a personality trait, and it can be changed. Being anti-social is a personality trait, or a habit, and can be changed. Being an introvert is not changeable. Being an introvert isn't an inability to interact with others, but introversion is characterized (in some, more than others) by introspection.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established. ~Proverbs 4:23-26, NKJV~
Most introverts don't care much about small-talk, preferring real conversation, and most introverts are observers. Introverts can rapidly observe what's going on and come to conclusions about it, which doesn't necessitate prolonged exposure to certain situations. We already have them figured out. Most introverts draw strength and energy from solitude, and being around people can have a draining effect, to some degree or another. For me, this is particularly evident when I'm around unbridled, immature extroverts. I weary of the incessant chatter that goes nowhere, precisely because it's about nothing and accomplishes nothing.
In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty. ~Proverbs 14:23, NKJV~
Not all extroverts weary me. My husband is an extrovert, but he's a very thoughtful one. I draw strength from his presence, not his absence. My best girlfriend can be very extroverted, but she is very willing to go deep in conversation, and she strengthens me in ways I can't even explain. It's not the extroverts themselves, but it is certain actions that tend to come naturally to extroverts, as part of their brain functions, that weary me.
He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. 
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive. ~Proverbs 17: 27-28, NJKV~
I say all this to explain what I mean by being "peopled-out." In an effort to not breech the confidentiality that I've been privileged to share, I won't give details or names.

A week ago, a situation in a family we know came to a head, and tempers were lost. As a result, a member of the family left the home for a few days, and I was drawn into that circumstance. A group of supporters came together to help the family move past the immediate crisis, and again, I was drawn into that. It has become apparent that my minor role in this family's healing process will be ongoing. While I have no wisdom of my own to offer, my husband and I have both been praying for wisdom, and God is gracious to provide it.
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you. ~Proverbs 1:23, NKJV~
Another family we know is going through some upheaval, and the young lady of the home has been spending time with me, as a result. Apparently, I am an acceptable influence for her, and she is in need of some godly adult encouragement. She has such incredible potential, and I long to help her understand the value of godly womanhood. I pray that God provides me opportunity to guide and help her.
The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:23-24, NKJV~
My darling husband and I have begun building a business as an additional stream of income, beyond employment. Part of that requires me to work with customers and other businesses to procure that income. The business world requires an amount of superficiality that is a bit of a stretch for me. I'd forgotten that, over the past few years of telecommuting/living like a hermit. God has given us the opportunity to work with some people who know the Lord and are more interested in giving their lives in service to others than in being comfortable. We are learning to follow in their footsteps, slowly but surely.
By humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches and honor and life. ~Proverbs 22:4, NKJV~
In the last week, I have had something every day that is out of the ordinary for me. I have had interactions with many people, which is very unusual for this hermit. I have attended 5 meetings (one of which was more than 4 hours long) and 3 appointments. I had company for a full day, and have had various people drop by the house at least once, every day, for a week, for various reasons. (Ours is not a home where dropping-by happens, nor will it become one. Fortunately, each drop-by included a preliminary call, which is what we expect.) I enjoy my solitude, my study, my continuous conversation with  my Savior, and it's something I miss when I'm required to go out and be among other people.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. ~Proverbs 25:2, NKJV~
Here's the thing, though. God has given me grace this week. He has used this time to help me grow and adjust. He has caused me to seek Him more, for wisdom, for guidance, as I deal with others in ways that aren't common for me. He has allowed me to be fully present in each situation, not wishing I were elsewhere, not distracted by my own internal chatter, not so busy thinking of what I'd say next that I didn't hear what others were saying. He's allowed me to accomplish much, even in the midst of all these distractions and situations. He's given me His spirit of self-control, and His insight to rightly interpret and understand.
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls. ~Proverbs 25:28, NKJV~
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~Galatians 5:22-24, NKJV~
I couldn't have done this week without Him. I'll admit, I'm exhausted. I haven't had a lot of solitude in which to recharge. What time I've been alone, I've been in conversations, via phone, text, or computer, and have been preparing for the next meeting, interaction, or communication. I feel physically drained.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV~
In my weakness, in my hermit-ness, in my introversion, God has been strong. This week, I've heard Him speak to me, moment by moment, that He's preparing  my people muscles for something great. He's pointed out to me that when He gives us children, this majority of my current life that I spend in solitude will evaporate into a thin mist. I won't have that luxury. He is using it now to prepare me, but this is a phase of life that is coming to an end. He has told me that if I am going to serve others, it will require my presence. If I'm going to be His hands and feet to people who desperately need Him, people He loves enough to die for them, that I'm going to need to spend time with them. I'm going to have to leave my comfort zone and be with people.
[Wisdom] takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet. ~Proverbs 8:2, NKJV~
I've never been shy. I've never had difficulty talking to people, and I enjoy public speaking. I've known for some years that He would be putting that to use, though in what way I don't yet know. But, it's much easier for me to be alone than it is for me to put myself in the presence of others. Serving God is a simple thing, until you have to deal with people. However, choosing holiness requires us to get messy, to be involved in the lives of others. It would be so much easier to assume that God will provide some extrovert to serve others and leave me to my introspection.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; ~Proverbs 2:6, NKJV~
But, God. God expects me to use what He has taught me in hours of introspection for the benefit of others. He has taught me to seek wisdom. He has taught me discretion. He has taught me understanding. He has taught me to listen, and to actively hear what others say. He has taught me to know His voice, quiet though it often is, and He has given me the ability to respond. Each of these lessons, hard-earned, are required for me to serve Him, else He wouldn't have taught them.

Lord, give me the ability to choose holiness, when it's hard. Help me to see where You're working and move to join You there. 

How is God asking you to choose holiness? Has He moved you into some hard territory lately? Where is He calling you to glorify Him?

Much love,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Post from Large Family Mothering

One of the blogs I follow, Large Families On Purpose, has recently linked with Large Family Mothering in answering some questions posed by readers. That was my introduction to this insightful blog, and subsequently, to this excellent post.

Redirected to the Higher Things

I know she's talking about decorum and manners rather than holiness per se, but that's a part of holiness, too. Some people are very quick to decry the "goodness" of the "good ol' days" and bring up various social issues that were common place in times gone by. She's not (nor am I) making a statement that everything was fine, way back when, but rather there were some things that were socially expected that match what the scripture says about how we should live. Those are the things on which we focus. Please read the whole post. It's quite good. I have her permission to link to the permanent post page from here.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32~

Much love,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Power to Become

10 He {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:10-13, NKJV)
I was lying in bed last night, and this verse was ringing in my ears. "But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God..." (Yes, I memorized it in KJV, so that's the wording in my head.) Jesus gives those who receive Him the power to become children of God. It doesn't automatically make us children of God. He gives us the power to make the choice. I've never thought of it that way before: the power to become.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the SpiritFor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the SpiritFor those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peaceBecause the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:1-11, NKJV)

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about Romans 8, as I'm memorizing that chapter. One of the things that has hit me, time and time again, is that "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." The implication there is that walking in the Spirit, and NOT walking in the flesh, is a major determining factor in the no condemnation piece.

One of the major splits among Christians is between the "once saved, always saved" camp and the "you can lose your salvation" camp. It all boils down to semantics. One camp says that you can't lose your salvation but that you may have never been saved to begin with if you go away from God. The other says that you may make a genuine profession of faith, then turn from it and go away from God, abandoning your salvation and all that goes with it. Semantics. A foolish, divisive argument. The focus shouldn't be on the loss of salvation, but on the pursuit of righteousness and holiness. It's pretty safe to say, in either camp, that a person who makes a profession of faith, or "gets saved" and then pursues a life of holiness, righteousness, and nearness to God-- that person is saved.

Instead of trying to draw the line at how far you can get from God and still be "saved," the focus should be on how close we can get to God and His heart and will for us.What I keep seeing in Scripture, because God keeps drawing these verses to my attention, is that God wants us to choose Him, not just once, but in every moment. He wants us to draw close to Him, to be more like Him, to bask in the glory of His holiness, to be perfect as HE is perfect, to live in the power of His Spirit instead of the weakness of sin and death, to love Him and serve Him and draw close to Him so that we can understand Him better. We're made in His image, and we do a pretty poor job of reflecting that image when we don't know or understand Him or it. We can't bring Him the glory and the honor that is due Him without knowing Him.

Don't be mistaken. He will be honored and glorified. We are not so powerful as to deny Him that. We simply are not the "good and faithful servants" that get rewarded when we don't bother to do as we should.
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life23 For the wages of sinis death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When we were sinners, not in relationship with the God of the universe, we gave ourselves fully to sin. We lived it up in every way, not caring about a standard that didn't apply to us. As "Christians," we should live just as fully in righteousness and holiness as we did in sin and death. What it comes down to are shades of luke-warm-ness. How shallow, and luke-warm are you willing to be in your righteousness? Do you really want to fight over how sad and pathetic you can be and just barely squeak into eternity? Really? WHY??

To those who receive Jesus, He has given the power to become children of God. He has given us the authority to choose to be adopted and carry His righteous name. He has given us the rights that come with sonship, if only we will take them. What does that entail? Well, throughout the Bible, we see people who choose to draw close to God. We see Abraham, whose faith was imputed to him as righteousness. We see powerful people and weaklings alike stepping close to the heart of God, and righteousness, holiness is the beacon that shines out about these stories. That seems to be clearly the powerful-becoming.

Romans 8:8 says that those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Have you thought about that? Are you able to please God? What does it take to please Him? Do you even want to?

Jesus gives us the power to become children of God. The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside us to empower us to become holy, righteous, and blameless in the sight of God through the blood of Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that our HOLY, righteous God will not tolerate sin, and sin cannot be in His presence, so our empowered righteousness, accomplished through God's power alone, would be the only way we can please Him. Anyone who claims His name, should be seeking constantly to please God.

We've been given the power to become. So, what are you becoming?

Much love,

Monday, July 16, 2012


Marriage is not a partnership where each gives his/her 50%, provided that their spouse does the same. It is a covenant where each gives his/her all, and more, expecting nothing in return.

This seems to be the season for marital discord. We seem to be surrounded. Many couples are going through an embattled period, some with infidelity, some with lack of communication, and some with bitterness and disloyalty. Some of these are dear friends. Some are acquaintances.

I was speaking with someone the other day who said that the pastor at their church had all the spouses turn to each other and tell the other, "You are not my enemy."

What's sad is that a lot of couples really do treat each other like enemies. They're so busy worrying about their own interests that they can't be bothered to see the needs of the one they've pledged to love the rest of their lives. The ironic part is that if each spouse looked to the other's interests, their own would be covered.

Ladies, submit yourselves to God, and trusting your husband gets much easier. Submission is basically trust, lived out. Men, be men. Not boys. Love your wives sacrificially, and you won't have to do more to earn her respect. Put your spouse first, and watch how God moves to meet your needs, as well as theirs.

Marriage is permanent, people. Just because we live in a society that says it's not, doesn't mean that you can or should leave. It's not about your happiness. Marriage is about your holiness. Be holy, as God is holy.

Much love,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Choosing Family

My husband and I were blessed to share the last couple of weeks with our family. We're pretty sequestered from blood, out here in SC, and have adopted our community group from church as our family. I made the long drive to O'Fallon, Illinois two weeks ago to attend our eldest grandson's 8th grade graduation. I had the pleasure of spending time with both our daughters and their children, as well as my husband's parents and godmother. When I returned, I brought my mom home with me, and my dad and his brother followed about a week later. They left yesterday.

We've talked a lot, since before our marriage, about having a family together. We plan to have biological children, adopt, and foster, Lord permitting any/all of that. In the mean time, we pray for the family we have. We long to draw them close to the Eternal Arms that hold us so gently. Neither of our daughters know our God. None of our grandchildren do. As simple as it might be to surrender them to the paths they're on and start over with "our own" family, it's really not simple at all. How do you just count out the ones you love and not pursue them for eternity?

We're both blessed to have parents who call Jesus their Lord and Savior. My parents (Mumsy and Daddy) have lived out this faith all my life, and I have no doubt. I don't know his parents (Mom and Dad) as well, but have had conversations with them each about their relationships with God. Mom attends a Baptist church, and Dad attends a Catholic one. Their faiths seem to be quieter, less obtrusive, than the ones I was raised around. I wonder if our kids and grandkids see those faiths in action (they all live in the same area), if they're drawn to God because of the examples before them. I honestly don't know, and I trust that they are at least aware that Mom and Dad have chosen relationships with the Almighty. Neither of my husband's siblings profess a relationship with our God, so I wonder.

I read a blog post today on Raising Homemakers about getting our kids to Jesus. It's all about how Jesus is in the business of restoring children to their parents, making broken things whole. I love that picture of Him. Redeemer. Kinsman redeemer. As the pastor at the church we attend describes Grace, anything that can be restored or redeemed should be.

Even while we weep over poor decisions, difficult paths, and darkened hearts, we know that God is all about making things whole. We can trust Him with our children. We must. He's the only one who CAN do what's needed, and He already has.

Lord of our lives, be Lord of our family. Restore our lost ones to Yourself, and to us. Draw them to You  with Your everlasting love and grace. Make us conduits of that grace and peace. Help us to be examples of Your love. Open their eyes and hearts to You. 

Much love.