Thursday, September 29, 2011

At Home With My Own Heart

"Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied." Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Selfishness of Unforgiveness

Another distinct characterization of unforgiveness that I have had to deal with in my own life is to open my eyes to the realization that unforgiveness is just down right selfish. I can just hear the little Vege Tales character saying, "You are sooooooooo selfish!" Yep, that's me. Selfish!
My natural sinful state makes me prone to prideful self arrogance that is easily angered and certainly does not want to forgive. "How could anyone offend such a great person such as I?" But, that isn't where we as Believers in Jesus have to live is it?
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:30-32
Oh for the faith and courage to live in this world taking on a spirit of humility and self sacrifice. Then, when the offenses come, they go in one ear and out the other...hardly significant enough to think about.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Scarecrow For Betty

September in the Hill Country has been beautiful. Along with cooler temps, some rain, soccer, changing leaves, and the exotic aroma of pumpkin bars wafting through the house it is also my mother in laws birthday. Every year I work hard to find her something that will truly surprise her. This year it is a scarecrow. She lives in Minnesota where the air is crisp and delicious in September. Hopefully, "Scarecrow Joe" will find a happy place to sit out the autumn at her house. Happy Birthday Betty!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Choosing to Forgive

A biblical doctrine of forgiveness begins with the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Exodus 20:13. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Embracing solid doctrine can be harsh. It often separates me from the world. Sometimes it separates me from my peers or family. Even more important though, it changes my life, and it brings me closer to the One who loves me beyond my wildest imagination.
"Thou shalt not kill" means of course we are not to murder. We are also not to entertain any of the thoughts that partner up with murderous thoughts. Things such as: "She makes me so angry!" "I was happy until she showed up!" "I hate her!" etc. Though we might say something like that, most of us would never think they were murderous thoughts would we? They are. Given enough time and sin these thoughts would brew into a poisonous concoction of hate, evil, and murder.
The good news is that we don't have to give in! Thank-you Lord for your Holy Spirit who tells me how to think about others who've wronged me or even wronged my loved ones. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourself. So, what does that look like?
I think one particularly helpful thing for me to focus on is to see the offender as made in the image of God. I can love her/him for the precious creation they are. Obviously, a believer bears the holiness of God imparted to them at salvation. But, even the unbeliever bears something of the image of God. The God of all creation designed her, created her, and has a purpose for her life. I can respect that in the offender and love her.
Lastly, I have a hard time believing someone else couldn't forgive me don't I? I mean I respect myself, don't harbor grudges against myself, love myself, and desire God's best for myself. I seek to see the image of God in myself. Therefore, I can do the same for others. I choose to respect them, not harbor grudges, love them, and desire God's best for them.
What freedom! Thank-you Lord!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Country House

"Every man, though he were born
In the very belfry of Bow
And spent his infancy climbing among the chimneys,
He has waiting for him somewhere a country house
Which he has never seen,
But which was built for him
In the shape of his soul.
It stands patiently waiting to be found;
And when the man sees it he remembers it,
Though he has never seen it before.

"The Surrender of a Cockney" an essay by G.K. Chesterton (1974-1936)
Thank-you Lord for bringing me to the house in the shape of my soul.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Am I a Pistol Packin' Mama?

A few years ago, I took a concealed weapons class with my husband. We had fun taking the class together. The first day was all lecture and the second day was at a shooting range. I wasn't comfortable with the shooting range. I had to wield the pistol for about 6 hours and follow every command I was given.
I passed the course and received my permit. But in the days ahead, I realized something important. In order to be proficient with that pistol, I needed to practice. Daily practice handling a handgun was just not on my list of "to-doe's". I soon came to the realization that I was more of a menace to myself and everyone else than I was helpful. It isn't a good feeling knowing how to use that pistol, but not really being very good at it.
It's kind of like dealing with others when they have wronged me. Taking it upon myself to bring "justice" when I have decided injustice has reigned. There is a better way.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:14, 19 to "Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not. Never take revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay says the Lord."
When I don't forgive, when I harbor anger, hostility and bitterness, I am presuming to take the Lord's sword of divine judgement into my feeble hands. On second thought, I don't want that sword.
He isn't indifferent or slow to act. He has a plan to work all things out for my good (Romans 8:28-29). Isn't it a true fact that God is far better able to deal with the offender than I am? He is far better able to deal with consequences to sin than I am. After all, he sees the bigger picture...I am limited. He is the highest authority...I have no authority. He is impartial and just...I am partially selfish. He is eternal...I am focused on today.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is my responsibility to choose forgiveness when another has offended me. I can leave vengeance in the hands of Lord.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How's My Heart?

Thomas Watson: "We need not climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven. Let us look into our hearts and see if we can forgive others. If we can, we need not doubt that God has forgiven us."
This thing of forgiving is difficult for us women. It didn't take long for me as a mother to see the difference between my sons and daughters when they were in the midst of a spat. The girls were challenged with deep hurt, bitterness, and grudges. the boys usually whopped the provoker once and then declared themselves best friends. Oh, for the grace to forgive like my boys do!
So girls, we must admit how hard forgiveness is for us. We remember, re-live, and play the drama over and over. All to our shame. Let us learn to extend Jesus' sweet grace and forgiveness toward those who have wronged us. Let us not be concerned at all with "the deed", but be concerned with our sweet response. God's glory is all that matters here and in eternity.
We can forgive because we are forgiven! Hallelujah!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Texas Drought

Survivors of the hottest dryest summer on record in Texas.
These brave children are fighting most temptations to complain.
Here they are pictured attempting to play outside!
l to r: Elsa Rose (2), Gabe (4), Mikey (6), and Nate (9).
Way to go Texans!

Thursday, September 1, 2011