So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If Jesus Did It, So Can I

I love summer! More time to sleep, and to think, and to blog.

Yesterday I was reading in Luke. Back in January, I decided to pursue depth rather than breadth in my Bible reading. So, I've read through John, Ephesians, much of Psalms, and am a couple of chapters into the book of Luke. Taking my time instead of rushing through, I have noticed details that I have missed before.

Luke 4:16 states (about Jesus): "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read." I had never thought about whether Jesus "went to church", or to synagogue, as observant Jews did (and do). Now I know. It was His habit to go to the synagogue. He was a regular church attender.

I attend church almost every Sunday, and have for almost my entire life.* In recent years, I have struggled with maintaining my focus during the worship service. I've heard the Bible stories multiple times by now. I played piano on a worship team for over fifteen years. I have opinions about the music, about the message, about the bulletin. If there is a typo or a missing apostrophe on the screen up front, I see it. If something is done differently that I think it should be, I often comment about it, if only to my husband. Because, you see, I know all about the best way it should be done, or at the least, a much better way. If only they listened to me, church would run smoother and impart more meaning.

"As was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. . . " Jesus, the perfect son of God and member of the Trinity, went to church. Up until this day, when He was in his thirties, He was not, as far as I know, a teacher in the synagogue, or part of the service, but a participant. For years and years, Jesus sat in the synagogue while human beings did church. I imagine that there were mistakes made. Songs or psalms sung in weird keys or even off-key and at varying tempos. Misinterpretation of His Father's words. He could have been thinking of all the things that were imperfect 100% of the time.

Ouch. So sometimes the songs aren't sung the way I want them to be. Or the message doesn't appeal to me. Or there's confusion about "your" and "you're". Who is supposed to be the focus of church, anyhow? If the One Who is the reason for church could make it His custom to go, then so can I. If the only One Who could authoritatively know how it all SHOULD be done could, in humility, worship and learn in the synagogue, then I think I can manage to worship and learn at my local church. In fact, I'm sure of it.

*Opinions are my own and apply to all churches and no specific churches.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Please Double Check Before Pressing "Send"

One week. Two blog posts. Must be summer! This morning I was praying. I journal my prayers because it helps me to stay focused. I was asking God for something, and I noticed that I amended my first request to make it more specific, to be sure that God knew exactly what I meant. For example, if I had been praying for a new job, I might have changed the simple prayer of "Please, Lord, help me to find a new job" to "Please, Lord, help me to find a new job closer to home that is more what I like and would give us a better income."

Why do I think I need to be so detailed with God? He already knows what I need. Besides, He's under no obligation to follow my directions, informative as they may be. As I pondered this, I realized that my prayers revealed two false beliefs about God. First, I am praying as if God is waiting to trip me up: "Aha, she didn't specify what kind of job she wanted, so I'll give her a terrible one to teach her to be more honest about what she wants." Second, I am not trusting that the Lord sovereignly gives me what I need.

Last night I was in a group discussing Matthew 7:7-11:
 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give hima stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
Much of the discussion centered around the last verses, which compare God to a father. As my heavenly father, God has my best interests at heart. He loves me and already knows what I need. Whether I ask for it or not, and whether I specify just exactly what I want, He will give me precisely what I need in His best timing. 

The rub? What God knows I need and what I think I need may not be the same. Some answers to prayer requests are "No." Negative answers hurt and send me back to the Lord for comfort and peace. The Bible tells us to ask God for what we want and what we need. However, the asking is not an Amazon order, sent within two days with free shipping as long as I select the desired product, fill in the right credit card numbers, and check the correct box. The Christian walk always comes back to relationship. I come to God, tell Him my desires and what I need, and then I wait to see what will happen.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy Joy. . . Where?

I got married. I moved to Ohio. I moved houses. I lost my blog. Then I found it again. I've been busy. But I'm back, at least for today!

I enjoy reading Ann Voskamp's blog (A Holy Experience). One recent post hit me right in the heart. In that post (found here: When You Want to Thrive Instead of Just Barely Survive ) Ann talks about joy:

What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?  You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.  The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.

You learn a lot in the first year of marriage. I'm 11 months in, and I have discovered much more clearly that I often find joy in the wrong things. Many external circumstances bring me peace and joy: A clean house. Crumb-free counters. Squeaky, shiny dishes. A neatly made bed. Dirt-free floors. A sparkling, whisker-free sink basin. Notice a pattern? My husband has. I have apologized about 287 times for being naggy, picky, and bossy.  While cleanliness is a admirable goal, I have often pursued it at the expense of my husband's feelings.

I don't want to die and have people remember me by saying that I found joy in a clean house or shiny dishes. I want to find joy in my husband, in laughter, in having friends over, in cooking together and being sloppy as we create. I want my heart to be happy and at peace no matter what the state of my sink or floor.

As a Christian, I should be overflowing with joy in the Lord all the time. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am free. Just that should provide peace to my heart. Sometimes, though, LOTS of times, it doesn't. Instead of being grateful and thankful, I let myself focus on things that don't really matter. In my case, I think it's due to familiar twins: Anxiety and Control.

Anxiety haunts me sometimes. What if something happens to my husband? What if the basement floods (as it rains and rains and rains)? What if the car crashes? What if . . . I could make a never-ending list. In my human heart, my answer is control. If I control everything I can control, then the anxiety recedes. For just a little while, just a little bit.

The "joy" that I feel from vacuumed floors and a tidy bed fades. The control of the environment masquerading as peacefulness is a never-ending battle. The carpet gets dirty. The bed needs made again. The price of messing up the clean is calculated in a discouraged husband and a frustrated wife. The only real and lasting joy comes from God. Where do I get it?  Psalm 16:11 says that ". . .in your presence there is fullness of joy.  . "  To get joy, I need to spend time with God. Sigh. Always and forever it comes back to my relationship with Jesus, and going to Him to meet my needs.

Some of you may remember this song from Vacation Bible School, church camp or Sunday school:

I want the joy (joy, joy, joy) in my heart to come from Jesus, not my housekeeping.