Thursday, January 26, 2012

Diligence Revisited

Have you ever had a time in your life when the same topic or idea keeps coming up over and over again and you finally clue in that God is trying to get your attention?

I can point back to numerous times in my life when that has been my experience.  It usually means that God wants my obedience in a certain area that is lacking.  I can specifically remember the way the idea of adoption kept falling in my lap out of nowhere, or so it seemed, until I finally got the message.  Keith was a part of that one, too, of course.  God worked on both of our hearts for some time before we finally submitted to His will for us.  Little did we know the countless lessons and blessings that would be ours through the awesome adventure that awaited us.

There have been other times as well.  I can be a little slow when it comes to seeing the obvious.

Yesterday I posted some verses that God had impressed upon my heart about the need for me to be diligent in teaching my kids and others about the goodness of God.  It was the idea of diligence that struck me.

Today, I was studying the beginning of Psalm 119 and this verse jumped out like it was in bold print.
"You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently."  ~ Psalm 119:4 
So, not only does God tell us to diligently teach His precepts to those following behind us, but He has commanded us to diligently keep those very precepts ourselves.

What exactly does it mean to be diligent?
"Diligence:  constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind."      ~ Dictionary.com 
Constant...really?  Earnest...really?  All the time and with real effort.  That's what it means.  Not a haphazard attempt to throw it in here and there as you go through your day with your kids, or at work, or wherever.  Not a life of obedience when it's convenient for us or when it's easy.  It is a purposed, concentrated, "persistent exertion of body or mind."  I would go so far as to say body and mind since we fight daily battles in both arenas.

The psalmist was obviously struck with this idea of diligence, too, as he followed that statement with this one.
"Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!"  ~Psalm 119:5
As I purpose to teach my kids each day, I must remember the importance, the necessity, of keeping God's statutes faithfully and living them out in front of others.  Otherwise, my words mean nothing.  My prayer is that those following after me will see someone that preaches what they practice.  That I may, in all honesty, tell them to follow me as I follow Christ.

As I've thought on this today, I've really been astounded at the depth of this one word that God has impressed upon my heart.  If one word of His can have so much impact, it is easy to see how we will be able to study and dwell on the Bible for all eternity without exhausting it's depths.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diligence

In my quiet time this morning I was reminded of the importance, actually the absolute necessity, of being diligent in passing on the ways of the Lord to our children and the generations that follow after us.  

Moses communicated God's message to His people in the book of Deuteronomy.  
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."  ~ Deut. 6: 5-7
Most of us are familiar with this passage in Deuteronomy but the thing that really spoke to me this morning came from a couple of follow on passages.
"Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the LORD which He had done for Israel."  ~ Joshua 24:31
Obviously the people were following God's command up to this point.  However, by the time Joshua died, someone--many actually--had dropped the ball.
"Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten...All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel."  ~ Judges 2:8 & 10
I would contend that they didn't know the LORD or what He had done because no one told them.  The really disturbing part is what immediately follows those verses in Judges.
"Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who where around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger."  ~ Judges 2:11-12
In one generation, the elders had failed to pass on their knowledge of God and the consequences were devastating.  The people did evil in God's sight, served the Baals, forsook the LORD, followed other gods, bowed down to them, ultimately provoking the LORD to anger.  We see this playing out all around us, and I have to wonder at what point God will say "enough".

Although our culture looks like the people of Israel who did not know the LORD, I don't want that to be said of my family.  My prayer this morning is that I will be diligent about sharing with them all that God has written on my heart and done in my life and that has to start with me knowing those things myself.
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."  ~ Ephesians 5: 15-16

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blessings

I started this blog to chronicle the blessings in my life. There are many more of them than what I am faithful to get into print on these pages. Often, I would rather spend the time enjoying my blessings than writing about them.

Lately I've heard a song referred to many times. I had never heard the song until recently and now I'm hearing it everywhere. Today, I took the time to really listen to the lyrics. All I can say is WOW!

Last year, Keith and I read through Randy Alcorn's book, If God is Good, together. It was one of the best books I have ever read. This song echoes the truths in Alcorn's book.

Sometimes the blessings in life most certainly do come through trials, pain, and tears. I am grateful for all of God's blessings and was moved to share this song today out of thankfulness for them...however they come.

I can, in all honesty, say that some of the sweetest blessings in my life have come through very difficult times. I am so thankful that God knows what I need and is faithful to carry me through the difficulties to see the blessings.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure


When I first started this blog I said that I was going to use it to chronicle the blessings in my life. I have been blessed beyond measure and I'm thankful to God for each and every one.

Today is my husband's birthday. God has given me a rich treasure in the man with whom I share my life. He is more than my husband, he is my best friend. He is a man of honor and integrity, a faithful provider for our family, a caring father to our children, a hard worker, a diligent teacher, and many other things.

The thing I am most thankful for is that he is a loyal follower of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a son of the Most High God. There is no one that I would rather spend time with doing something we both enjoy or doing nothing at all other than just being together.

He has led our family, he has taught me much, and I am better because of him. James 1:17 says "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." and while I know Keith is not perfect, he is perfect for me and he is indeed a good gift.

You may think this blog post over the top but too many people only say these things about their loved ones when it is too late for them to hear it and I want my husband to know what I think of him now. He is one of my greatest blessings on this earth and so, today, I say "Happy Birthday, Keith! I am blessed beyond measure to be your wife and I thank God for each new day! I love you!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Memories - Old and New

Last night I worked in the nursery at church. It was a fairly easy time since most of the children seemed a bit mellower than usual and the normal nursery time was shortened by a baptismal service that was planned for 7:45.

I was enjoying the time chatting with my friend, Stephanie, and as we watched the kids play, Stephanie got up to get something and her precious son, Hudson, went running across the room after her. Watching his little feet patter across the floor transported me back 21 years. The way his feet hit the ground as he hurried across the room looked just like my oldest son, Jeremy, when he was that age. It's weird, how the years can just melt away with the funniest things carrying you to another time and place.

Jeremy, 2 years old

We have a new memory to add to the bank from last evening. Our youngest child, Kara, was baptized last night. It was a sweet time. Kara asked Jesus to be her Savior last summer. We have had several baptisms at church since that time but because it meant putting her face under the water, she was hesitant to "take the plunge". When our pastor announced that there would be a baptism service in January, Kara decided she was ready...no prodding from us.

As we prepared for last night, she never mentioned anything about putting her face in the water, so neither did I. She went into the whole thing with such an excitement and joy and I was equally excited for her. She had to read her testimony in front of the church beforehand and my heart could have burst as I listened to her and marveled over the change that God has wrought in this little one's life over the last 5 years.

For those of you that don't know Kara, or haven't known her since we brought her home 5 1/2 years ago, let me explain what she was like in those early months and even years. When she was placed in my arms in China on July 6th, 2005, she immediately went into an emotional shutdown . For the first few days, I was a little concerned about her blank stares and lack of any definable emotion. I knew that this was a normal reaction under the circumstances but it was still disconcerting to be watching it lived out right in front of me.

Slowly, very slowly, over that first week, I believe she began to understand, as well as an 8 month old can, that I was not a bad person and that she could "trust" me to take care of her needs. She began to show me brief glimpses of the little soul behind the blank and distant stares. Oh, the memories of those early days still tug at my heart. Those bittersweet moments of loving her so deeply and wondering desperately what I could do to convey that to her and let her know that she was now safe and would be ours forever...that she would never have to be alone again.

When I brought Kara home, she was afraid of a lot of things, one of the most apparent was men. And I brought her home to a house full of them. She formed a fairly quick attachment to me and if I was in the room she was usually attached to my hip. She could function without me, if she couldn't see me, but there was no comfort in that for her. She was markedly detached whenever she was held by Keith or one of the boys in those early days.

If anyone at church tried to talk to her, she would bury her head in my shoulder and act as if she were thinking "I'm not really here, please just ignore me". As the months passed and she got a little older, as soon as the worship service was over on Sunday morning, she would immediately pick up my stuff and hand it me and say "Can we go home now?" Home was her favorite place...her comfort zone. Everything else was a walk on the wild side to her and it was obvious that she wasn't very fond of the wild side.

Kara never seemed to enjoy the nursery at church. I usually ended up staying with her, or she came with me to Adult Sunday School and worship. Just before her 3rd birthday she moved out of the nursery and started going to a program called Patch the Pirate on Wednesday evenings at church. She could go in with Emma so there was some comfort in that for her. After the first week of Patch she was eager to go back. After a few weeks, she would go on her own without me having to walk her to class. I don't really understand what caused the changes we were about to see in her, but I am confident that it was a work of the Lord.

Slowly, over the next 6 months, we watched the butterfly emerge from her crysallis. She found her wings and began to fly. Actually, I'm not sure that even describes the transformation we witnessed. It was like watching a flower bloom, each petal unfolding...one at a time...manifesting a thing of beauty with the sweetest aroma.

The first time I saw her crawl up into Keith's lap voluntarily, and then saw the look on his face, I could have wept for absolute joy. She was learning to trust in our love and it was such a beautiful thing. When he picks her up now and she wraps her whole body around him with a big old bear hug...well, I don't even have words for the thankfulness that wells up in my heart.

God has done a work in her. She is an amazing creature...created by a God that loves her and loves us. And we are blessed to call her our own.

I share all of this so that you can understand my amazement, joy, and utter gratefulness to God as I stood there last night and witnessed her read her testimony aloud to the whole church, climb into the pool, and conquer her fear of the water covering her face. She did look a little nervous as she clung to our pastor's arm because she couldn't touch the bottom of the pool; but, oh, the smile of sheer delight when she came up out of that water... buried in the likeness of Christ's death...raised to new life in Him. It doesn't get any better than that!

video

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Revisited

I spent some time last night thinking about Veteran's Day, especially with regard to my husband and my children. When our sons were all very young, they were not fond of the military because to them it meant endless goodbyes and having daddy gone for months at a time. They are much older now and understand better the necessity of what their father was doing but sometimes I wonder if they understand the sacrifices that he made to do it.

They know that they missed their daddy terribly when he was gone but, oh, how he missed them. His job required his missing some of their childhood "milestones". Those are things that can never be gotten back. That's hard for a dad.

Through those months, the boys had to watch their mother deal with things she wouldn't normally have had to. It is a hard thing for a dad/husband to have to hear about those things from the other side of the planet and not be able to rush home and fix whatever was broken or just to hold his wife if she was what was broken at the time.

Military wives know that major things seem to happen when their men are deployed. Many times, in our case, Tyler would have a major asthma attack or someone else would get really sick. Oh, what a challenge for a dad to be so far away when those he loves are really ill...when all he wants in the world is to hold them, comfort them, and be with them through it. To wait days for an update to know if they are better or worse...perhaps only those who have been far away from family for an extended period of time understand the depths of that ache.

These are just a few of the small sacrificies their daddy made because he loved them, because he loved his country, and because it is how God created him. But there were bigger ones as well. The kids and I are so grateful that Keith was not called to the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life but many close to him were. He was pulled off a plane in Germany, on his way home from yet another deployment, and handed a piece of paper with the words "F-16 crash, Aviano AB" written on it and instantly knew that his best friend had made that ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Just a year later, he got word of the death of another very dear friend just 2 days before Keith was to deploy making it impossible for him to even attend his friend's memorial service. Such burdens are difficult for most of us to fathom.

I do not write this blog entry as a chastisement to my children or to myself for not understanding. I write it as a reminder to us all that there are many sacrifices, large and small, being made by our military members and their families day in and day out. I know that my children missed out on some big things with their dad when they were young, but it was necessary. It's very easy to focus on ourselves and not think about the flipside. Without the sacrifices of these individuals, we would not enjoy the freedom that we do today.

I am married to an incredible man and I know that there are countless others out there like him who make these sacrifices daily without comment or complaint. They don't ask for our thanks. They do it because it is who they are, it is what they have been called to do.


I, for one, am so grateful for that. And so, to my husband, Keith, and to the rest...THANK YOU! Thank you for being who you are and for being willing to die... for me.


"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." ~John 15:13


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Encouragement

I saw this on our local home school loop this morning and was encouraged to remember why I do what I do and exactly what my goal should be in home schooling my kids. Sometimes I lose sight of the important things in the pursuit of the academic goal. I'm sharing it in hopes that it will be a gentle reminder to others as well.

1 Corinthians 13 for Home Schoolers

Though I teach my children how to multiply,
divide, and diagram a sentence,
but fail to show them love,
I have taught them nothing.

And though I take them on numerous field trips,
to swim practice and...flute lessons;
and though I involve them in every church activity,
but fail to give them love,
I profit nothing.

And though I scrub my house relentlessly,
run countless errands,
and serve three nutritious meals every day,
but fail to be an example of love,
I have done nothing.

Love is patient with misspelled words
and is kind to young interrupters.
Love does not envy high SAT scores
of other home school families.
Love does not claim to have
better teaching methods than anyone else,
It is not rude to the fourth telephone caller
during a science lesson,
does not seek perfectly behaved geniuses,
does not turn into a drill sergeant,
thinks no evil about friends' educational choices.

Love bears all my children's challenges,
believes all my children are God's precious gifts,
hopes all my children establish
permanent relationships with Christ,
and endures all things
to demonstrate God's love.
Love never fails.

Where there are college degrees, they will fail;
where there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we teach in part.
But when the trials of life come to our children,
the history, math, and science will be done away
and faith, hope and love will remain;
but the greatest of these is love.

~Arthur Unknown