Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Faith of Greater Worth Than Gold

This scripture has been rolling around in the back of my head since I posted my last blog.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 1 Peter 1:6-8 (NIV)

True joy is not the absence of grief or suffering. It's more the result of a faith that has been tested and tried by grief and suffering, resulting in the praise, glory and honor in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Even though we may not be able to see that end result, we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy! And that is my unswerving hope!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Turning 50

I turned 50 yesterday. I wasn’t sure how I’d take this milestone, but so far 50’s not so bad!

The last big birthday party I had was ten years ago when I turned 40. Life is so different now from what it was then, but I don’t feel terribly different. The one way I have changed is that I’m more realistic about life. Circumstances have forced my head out of the sand and I can no longer swim in the river of denial. I still try every now and then, but the voice of experience tells me that it’s not worth it! Better to deal with life head on.

Now even though I am more realistic, and sometimes even a little cynical, I am not without hope! In fact, my faith runs much deeper than it did ten years ago. During that time, I have faced bigger challenges than I ever dreamed survivable. We went from being a busy family of four to abruptly becoming empty nesters, then back to the life of raising a young child! These major changes involved lots of grief and sorrow. And they changed me. My faith has been challenged again and again. Each test went a little bit deeper, and this faith that God has put in my heart has become stronger. Ten years ago, we were just getting a taste of real life, and I was trying to “live on the surface,” never believing that God would allow anything bad to happen to me and my family.

Now I know that life on planet earth involves suffering, but not without hope! I heard an elderly lady laughing in McDonald’s yesterday. Her laughter rang through the whole restaurant again and again. Now I’m pretty sure she hasn’t lived to the ripe old age of 70-something without living through times of grief. Yet she can produce laughter that is absolutely contagious! I want to be that lady some day. Laughter that has survived trials is the best kind of laughter. It comes from a deeper place than laughter that has lived on the surface of life. It is a healing kind of laughter—one that says, “I won’t let this life get me down! I have hope for the future! Hope that runs deeper and longer than life on planet earth. Hope that knows that, even when things aren’t fine, there is a reason to have joy… a reason to laugh!” And that is my Unswerving Hope—even more so at age 50!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Noticer

I love to be noticed. I talk loudly, I laugh loudly, I even sneeze loudly. Why do I have this innate desire to be noticed?

I like to wear bright colors. I love to joke around and be the life of the party. I like high heels, even though I’m tall. Why? Because I want to be noticed!

Sometimes I’m driven to succeed. I often trample over friends and people I love to do so. God help anyone who gets in my way when I have a goal in mind. All because I want to be noticed!

I write a blog partly because I want someone to notice me. I want to be important. I want to do something that matters. I want to make a difference. I want to be noticed.

And yet, God sits quietly in the background, waiting-- waiting for me to run crying into His arms. He knows that no matter how loud I am, or how brightly dressed, no matter how funny I am, and no matter how many loved ones I trample to achieve success, either I will fail to get noticed or the attention I receive won’t fill me the way I thought it would. He sits there quietly… noticing.

God notices when I sit all alone in my chair, pouring out my heart, my grief and my joy to Him. He notices when I stand in a crowd of hundreds of people worshiping Him. He notices when I stand in a group of women, feeling invisible or inadequate. He notices when I’m serving after everyone else has gone home. He notices when I gently, lovingly care for my little girl. He notices when I defer to and give my husband the respect he longs for and deserves.

Why do I crave the attention of people when I already have the attention of All Mighty God? Why would I ever want anything more than that?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Choice By Choice Part 2

Is God speaking to me today? I believe He is! Not two hours after I wrote my previous post, I sat down for a rare moment to read. Here's what I read in Lysa Terkheurst's book, ""Made to Crave", "Virtually everyone who overcomes will tell you their victory is the sum total of a whole lot of wise decisions, sacrificial decisions, that they made choice by choice, day by day.

C.S. Lewis wrote about the importance of individual choices and so did Lysa Terkeurst. There's a huge difference in these two authors, but they write for the same God, and they're speaking to me today. Are they speaking to you too?

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19

Choice by Choice

For the past few weeks, I’ve had lots of internal wrestling with God, myself and my attitudes. I’ve been feeling extra defensive and pouty and I knew that some of those feelings were based more on my insecurities, sin and selfishness than anything. I’ve been making lots of trips to the woodshed with Jesus as I try to distinguish whether I’m feeling conflicted because of my sin or someone else’s. It’s a messy combination of the two.

But I am the only one I have any control over, so in a sense, it doesn’t matter. I am the only one I can change. I’m trying so hard not to be defensive and pouty all the time, but I can’t deny what I feel. My transformation must come from the inside out. Changing from the outside doesn’t last. As soon as I think I have a handle on it, one little comment or sideways glance can unleash my fury. Not a pretty sight. Not a healthy or godly way to live.

So this week, I’ve had some tough conversations with a friend, my husband and with Jesus. I love the people in my life who refuse to feed into my rage. Instead of saying, “Yeah, you’re right to feel slighted, you shouldn’t take that anymore!” They’ve forced me to look at the big picture. They’ve forced me to look inside at my own deep-seated insecurities. They’ve reminded me that instead of giving something up for Lent, I chose to give grace to those around me. Oh, the refining process can be painful. Having those rough edges knocked off hurts!

But it’s so important that we embrace the process. In my devotional this morning, C.S. Lewis says, “…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.”

Yikes! Choice by choice, I’m either becoming more heavenly or more hellish. Choice by choice I either become a creature more in harmony with God, others and myself, or more in a state of war and hatred with God, others and myself. Choice by choice, I’m either becoming more like Jesus or more like Satan. Every single choice is that important. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

So, today, I choose to continue making those trips to the woodshed, having those hard conversations, and pleading with God not to allow me to miss this opportunity for transformation—from the inside out—even though it hurts!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pray for the People of Japan

We've all been horrified by the videos and news we are receiving from Japan. Today, I hope to help, even if it's a minuscule amount.

I've added a "Hello Bar" from World Vision to my blog in hopes that someone will see it and use it to send aid to Japan. I know I don't have a huge audience, but if you happen to be reading this, please consider clicking on the link above that says, "Donate now to help." World Vision is a very reputable organization and you can know that your donation will be used with good stewardship. If you're not comfortable clicking a link, I completely understand! Just go to to give your gift or get more information.

If you would like to find out how to add a link to World Vision to your blog or Facebook page, send me a message and I'll forward the information on to you. Or "like" World Vision's Facebook page and you can find more information there.

Let's be the hands and feet of Jesus and share our Unswerving Hope with the people of Japan during their time of need!