I am not an optimistic person by nature. I am more of a ‘the glass is half empty and is most likely going to stay that way’ type of person. This is probably part of the reason this verse has resonated so much with me. I want to be the type of person who is constantly blessing God and thanking Him for all the blessings in my life. And there are so many blessings. But they are so hard for me to see at times, and I become overwhelmed with LIFE and when I open my mouth, it isn’t praises that come out. It’s complaints, it’s whining, it’s why oh why aren’t things easier?? And let’s just be honest, it isn’t a good model for the children, my husband, or even myself. After all, if we let ourselves dwell on the negative, what are we going to think about? If we take our focus off of God and all that He has blessed us with, we don’t see those blessings. We just see the negative in life. And my friends, there is a whole heap of negative. We see it everywhere. In the news, online, in magazines, EVERYWHERE there is Satan trying to bring us down. Trying to distance us from all the good in life. All the good that God has placed there. The laughter of a child, the sun shining through the trees, the colors of autumn, the smell of freshly cut grass. All of it, goes away as soon as you take your eyes off of it.
My husband is a wonderful reminder to me of all the good God has given us. Anytime I start to feel this way, he will so often, even without me sometimes saying anything, mention something good that God has blessed us with. And with that reminder, I am prompted to bring my focus back to God. It isn’t always a smooth process, honestly, it’s usually with me kicking and screaming. But I’m trying. I’m trying to let go and let God. I have heard this phrase so many times in my life. And I’m going to be honest, I never truly understood it. If you think about it, what does it actually mean? It means total and complete surrender. And as a child, when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I didn’t understand surrender. I still don’t completely get it, but I feel like as a thirty-something year old, I am beginning to understand. Even just a teeny tiny bit. Because after all, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to accept God’s gift to us. It’s never too late to change your life path. Even though it won’t be easy, it’s never too late to change your focus and behavior. You won’t get it right the first or second, or even the thirtieth time! But, we need to pick ourselves back up, recommit to following our God, and step out in faith. I am not an optimistic person, but taking this step of faith, is for me, a step towards optimism itself. If I can believe that God sent His only Son to die on the cross to forgive my stupid, repetitive sins, then I guess I can count myself as an optimistic pessimist who is learning to bless our God at all times, and to continually, no matter how difficult life may be, praise Him with my words and actions.
The other night when I was putting G and Baby Z to bed, I started praying. Now this is not an unusual occurrence for me. I have admitted before that my “serious” prayer time is usually at night. This is just how it works out for this season of our lives. I have great dreams of waking before the children and getting in some morning prayer time, but it’s just not our reality.
Anyways, as I was sitting there, actually spending some real, quality time with God, I heard Him speak. Now, we all experience God in our own ways and in different manners. Sometimes it is just a feeling, or an emotion, but other times, it’s actual words. I’m going to admit something else here that is a bit painful. It’s been a while since I have heard Him actually speak. It’s not because He hasn’t been talking, I’m afraid I just haven’t been listening closely enough. I have started reading my Bible again on a fairly regular basis. I try to read a quick chapter at night, again, after the kids are in bed and, mostly, asleep. Remember how I said I have outgrown my bonsai faith? Well, never has this been more evident to me than in the past week. I have been hearing His voice for the past couple of nights and after such a long period of not actually hearing, it has been like water to my parched soul. It has been such a wonderful thing. I missed hearing His voice. I missed hearing what He has to say to me. And boy, has He been talking now that I am actually listening!
So as I sat there, I was hit with this passage.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Now the significance of this passage for me was the fact that one word was changed. Just one word changed the whole, entire meaning for me. It no longer became just that passage in the Bible where God revealed Himself to His Son and told EVERYONE that He was pleased with His Son. Oh no, it became much more. It became about me. Me, personally. Instead of “This is my beloved Son” it became, “This is my beloved Child”. And God was talking about me. I am His beloved child. I may stumble, I may fall, over and over and over again, but I am still His beloved child in whom He is pleased.
When we search for God, we always, inevitably find Him. He always makes Himself known to us. If we search diligently, He will not fail us. For we are His beloved children. All of us. We are not perfect like Jesus, but God loves us just the same. God loves me as He loves His Son, because I am His child. Just as Jesus is His child, so am I and everyone in this world. We are all children of God and He loves EACH and EVERY single one of us. Such a simple concept, but so completely revolutionizing. Hold onto that knowledge, hold onto the fact that when we are doing God’s will, He is pleased with us, just as He was pleased with Jesus. He loves us, without fail and without wavering. Forever and ever.
So much hope in two little sentences. Two teeny tiny sentences that show so much. Firstly, He is not here. Jesus, who was crucified, and died, is no longer laying in the tomb. Secondly, for he is risen. I can just imagine the look on the women’s faces. What do you mean He is risen? He died. We all saw Him on the cross. Hanging there, bleeding and in pain. And then the last part of the first sentence, as he said. What a tremendous reminder that God keeps His promises. All of them, no matter how impossible they seem. He keeps them. And rising from the dead? Forgiving all of our sins by that rising? What a promise to keep!
And the second sentence, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Again, a fulfillment of a promise and reiteration that Jesus is no longer dead. He is alive! Halleluiah!!!
How amazing it would have been to be among those women who first went to the Lord’s tomb. To be filled with such sadness and despair, only to find that your worst nightmare has become your greatest joy! To be able to go and actually see the empty tomb. To speak to an angel and hear from his mouth that Jesus is no longer dead! Halleluiah!!!
May everyone have a Happy and Blessed Easter! I pray that we all feel that same joy as the women at the tomb and remember all the promises that God has fulfilled in our own lives.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice.
I admit to having a bit of a fascination with bonsai trees. There is just something about the minuteness of them that makes me happy. I love the idea of trimming them up the way you want and shaping them into something unique. Unfortunately, I don’t have any at the moment, but that is due to a lack of space in the windowsill more than anything else.
Bonsai trees, for any who may not be familiar, are trees that are grown in small pots. They are miniature trees that the grower may prune and use wire to train in the way he wants the branches to grow. The root systems are bound inside the small pots which keep the trees miniature. The practice originated in China and then migrated to Japan where the Japanese really took it and made it their own. I find the practice extremely fascinating and really wish we had lots and lots of room for lots and lots of miniature trees 🙂
12The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
Did you also know, that if you take a bonsai tree and plant it, that it will grow into a “regular” sized tree? Of course, you have to be sure to plant it in the correct soil and climate for the type of tree it actually is. Otherwise, it will perish just like any other tree that is planted in the wrong place.
4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
So where a seed, or a tree, is planted counts. If a tree is not planted in the right soil, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for that tree to grow and produce fruit. Just as if we are not firmly planted in the soil of God’s Word, we will wither and die. I admit, I am guilty of this one. I will do well for a while, I will read the Bible faithfully every day, and then life will happen. And I let it fall by the wayside. I don’t keep myself firmly planted, with my roots unbound and growing deeply, in God’s Word. It is a fault of mine that I am aiming to improve this year. It goes along with my whole focus for the year on contentment. How can I find contentment if I don’t actively search for it in God’s Word? How can I expect to grow and change into the woman God is calling me to be if I don’t let Him have more tree to prune and shape? If I am limiting myself to my tiny pot of knowledge in God’s Word, there is only so much growth and shaping that can be done. It will still be done, but not on the magnificent scale that it could be. Instead of staying a small, tiny, easy to overlook tree, shouldn’t I want to grow to become the massive, growing tree of faith I could be? The truth is, I do want to be that tree. I do want to be the pillar of faith and wisdom that I could be. I long to be her. I pray to be her. But I can’t be her, if I don’t let God help me grow. I can’t grow if I purposefully keep myself planted in a tiny pot. So I’m challenging myself. I’m challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone (my teeny, tiny pot) and let myself be planted in the wonderfully rich soil of God’s Word and to see how big I can let God grow my faith. Because I’ve outgrown my bonsai faith. I’m ready to move onto some heftier pruning and wire shaping. As long as I let God handle the growth, I’m ready to be on my way.
28Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down,
and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to
build and to plant,” declares the Lord.
How is your growth? What passages have you been reading lately?
I think that a lot of people can agree, that as a society, we have begun a downward spiral. Without even touching on the ridiculousness of today’s he/she/it debacle, I think the majority of people are just shaking their heads in bewilderment. When did we lose sight of God’s will in our country? There are probably a lot of factors that led to this, but I think one of the biggest happened when we stopped viewing children as blessings. The moment we made it OK to kill our unborn children, we pretty much said everything else is permissible. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me. People who will say that is over-reaching a bit. Well, I disagree, and so does the Bible.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are
wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when
I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the
earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were
written in your book before one of them came to be.
God formed us each, individually inside of our mothers’ wombs. He wrote out a plan for each and every one of us. We all have a purpose. God has a plan for all of us. Can you imagine the pain it causes Him when a child’s plan is ripped out of His book because of abortion? Can you imagine the tears He cries when one of His blessings is rejected?
I know how much I hurt when thinking about abortion, I can only imagine the pain of our Creator when one of His creations is destroyed.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
A child, no matter how conceived, is a gift from God. A child, no matter what his or her needs may be, is a good and perfect gift from our Father in Heaven. When did we make receiving a gift from God into something that can be thrown away? Something that can be destroyed simply because he or she doesn’t fit into our life plan? How incredibly selfish we have become. I feel as though this has contributed to the self-centeredness that permeates our society today. No wonder so many have a self-entitled attitude. It is what I want, when I want, no matter what.
But life is so much more than that. Life is so much more than ourselves. God calls us to love one another as we love ourselves. He calls us to love Him above all. And if we love Him above all, how could we reject a gift from Him?
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Life is about more than what we can get out of it. It is about more than ourselves. We are called to put our humanly wants and desires to the side and follow His leading. Ultimately, we will all be judged for what we did, or what we failed to do.
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil
But also remember that our God is a loving and forgiving God. If we seek to love Him with everything we have in us, if we seek to give Him our all, when we stumble and fall, He will forgive. He always does.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
That whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
If He sent His one, and only Son to us, to forgive us, to save us, to love us, then what right do have to reject His gifts? When a child is thrown to the side, it is like throwing Jesus to the side. We are saying God’s gifts, ALL of them, don’t matter to us. We reject them. And in rejecting them, we condemn ourselves to being cut off from our loving, forgiving Father, who like an earthly father, only wants what is best for His children. All His children. He created His children, He loves His children, and His heart bleeds for His children.
I shudder at the “women’s movement”. Their absurdity makes me sick to my stomach. Their violence disgusts me. Their hate saddens me. Anyone who truly has “women’s rights” as their main objective, would seek to protect the weakest of us. And the weakest, the most vulnerable, are the unborn. The beautiful, unborn babies who cannot speak for themselves. Think of all the women murdered because someone decided they didn’t want them. Think of all the innocent boys who will not have the chance to become men. All those lives thrown away like trash. All the blessings they could have become. All the change they could have made. All just rejected like garbage. Anyone who truly wants “equality” would fight against abortion.
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell
you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
There are some bright spots. There are some people out there who are fighting for these precious little gifts from heaven. People like Judie Brown, from American Life League, who fights daily for them. People, just like you and me, who have made a choice. A choice to protect those weaker than themselves. A choice to stand for what is right in the eyes of God, not what is right in the eyes of society. Society’s values change. No one can ever seem to constantly agree on what is right or wrong. If it is all fluid, then what is the point? If values can change, then are they actually values at all? We know God is never changing. What is right and wrong in His eyes is always constant. He is our rock to cling to in turbulent times. May we ever seek His will. No matter what society says.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
It’s the beginning of the fourth week of a brand new year. How are your resolutions looking? Are you still giving them a go or have you already dropped them? To be honest, I didn’t make all that many resolutions beyond the usual eat healthier and exercise more. But really, I only “made” resolutions because I was already thinking about it. Baby Z is nine months old and I’m feeling ready, mentally and physically, to get back to a better way of eating and exercising. So honestly, I’m not sure I can even call them resolutions! But that’s alright, because I have been contemplating something different for this year. Something that again, has been on my mind for a little while now.
I have noticed, as I have been reading other people’s blogs and whatnot, that a lot of people pick a word for the year. A word that they contemplate and think about and generally use as a focus for how they want to shape their year. I never really understood the concept and I honestly felt a little overwhelmed by the idea. How am I supposed to pick out one word to concentrate on for a whole, entire year? I mean, how can I find just one word to sum up a year? Well, it just so happens, I found one. A word that has been on my mind for several months now. A word that I am going to mull over and pray over and try to apply to my life in general. And that word, is contentment.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Contentment has always been a struggle for me. I think, to a certain extent, it is hard for everyone. Why else would there be so many wars throughout history? We always want what we don’t have. And then when we have, it is hard to not want the next thing. It is part of human nature. But we are called to be content with what God has given us. To be content with what He has blessed us with. And sometimes, it is so hard. Especially when things aren’t going your way. Especially when you are struggling. It is so easy to look at other people and their things and not be content. To wonder why they have and you are struggling.
This has not been a great year for us. Yes, I am aware it has only just started, but oh boy, has it been a heck of a year already. And I am trying to be content. I am trying to focus on all the blessings we do have. And there are many. I know this, but when times get tough, sometimes it is hard to see beyond the here and now. So I keep reminding myself that God has plans for us. Plans for our family that are specifically for us and for our future. Plans that are not to harm us. This is just a season. It will pass and in time, we will look back and see how far God has brought us. How far we have come and how far we have to go. God wants what is best for us. So we must try and find contentment in the bad. It is so easy to be content when things are going well. When there is extra money in the bank account, when the children are behaving, when everything is running smoothly. It is easy then to be content. But it is when things are not going your way, when the deck and the entire world seem stacked against you that true contentment is tested.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
So whatever our circumstances, I am focusing on being content. Content with where we are financially, content with this season in our lives, content with enough being enough. God will provide us with exactly what we need, when we need. All that is required of us is to be faithful and seek our God with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. He will take care of the rest.
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Tree set up? Decorations placed around the house? Presents wrapped? Yeah, not here. We don’t have our tree yet. There aren’t many decorations, besides the occasional cut-out snowflake, and I haven’t even started wrapping. This is unusual for us. We usually have the tree up and decorated a good two weeks or so before Christmas. The house usually has some decorations placed out and since I love wrapping presents, I have usually at least started. But not this year. This year has been different. It hasn’t been intentional, but for one reason and then another, things have been put off until later.
I have to admit, the kids are kind of freaking out…ok, it’s mostly A. But that’s really only because she likes to know when things are going to be done. She has been this way since she was little. If we told her one thing, and then plans changed, OH BOY, meltdowns ensued. But now that we are down to the wire, she is really anxious about when things are going to be done. On one hand it’s fine, I’m calling it a life lesson. We are trying to help her see that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. It doesn’t even always go the way we planned! But everything will work out in the end. Because one way or another, Christmas will get here. No matter what we do, or don’t do, Christmas will still come.
And I think maybe that is the whole point. No matter what we do, no matter what life throws at us, Jesus still comes. He is still born. He still saves us from eternal damnation. And we still get to live with Him and God in Heaven forever. And what an incredibly powerful message. No matter where we are in life, Jesus still comes. He still meets us wherever we are. And He still, always and forever, calls us home to Him.
Merry Christmas everyone!
May your Christmas be filled with the love and light of Jesus Christ, Our Savior!
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,