Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Desperation: It's Not Just for Housewives

 This a, scratch that. This a plea!

 Where are you women who have been built on the sure and steady foundation of Jesus? Where are you women who have cast aside the false exterior of perfection and show how grace and truth are applied to the real? Where are you ladies who are handling Truth with a steadfast love and using it to show others the next step on the narrow path? 

 Where are YOU?

 The young mother with three small children needs you. The older woman who just lost her husband needs you. The single woman inching toward 30 needs you. I need you.
   What impact are you making on those around you?
 Do I sound desperate? It's because I am. The desire to find women friends who teach, exhort, rebuke, reprove biblically because they are being taught, exhorted, rebuked, reproved is frustrating. If you express this desire to other women, usually you get a chorus of agreement complete with enthusiastic head bobbing but when you separate, everyone gets back in their personal bubble.

 Do not even mention confessing sin to each other. My goodness, do we really need to beat ourselves up??? Let's read a few verses, agree, and smile.

 Then everyone goes home and struggles with sin. Or, we err in the other direction, turning dirty laundry into a party to amuse ourselves, exchanging complaints, and telling each other that we are not so bad because God loves us no matter what. Then on the drive home, each woman turns into a pharisee, thanking God that she is not like those other women.

 In reality, we are all alike - sinners and besides, their burdens are our burdens...if we are in the Body of Christ. Let's face it most of our sins do not fall far from pride, coveting, or not loving. Who hasn't thought the grass was greener? Or that life was not fair? Or wanted their way? Yet, we pretend and the women around us wonder how come their life isn't perfect, how come they are the only ones struggling. The only thing they end up learning is how to cover up their struggles and sin, too. Fig leaf, anyone? 

 How about we drop the fig leaf cover-up and stand in the blood of Christ together?

  Am I talking about just vomiting out everything? No, we do not want to glorify sin but at the same time we do not want to miss glorifying what God has done or will do when we kill the flesh. God laid out a plan for how we are to interact, just check out the "one another" verses in the New Testament. Here are just 5 reasons to start living the "one anothers":
  1. Women will grow because they will not continue to be held down by the same sin
  2. Women will learn and share in the right way with other women
  3. Women will pray more for themselves and especially others
  4. Women will desire more of God and His Word
  5. God said so
(John 13:34-35, John 15:12, Roman 12:10, 12:16, 14:13, 15:5, 15:7, 15:14, 16:16, 1 Corinthians 11:33, 12:25, 2 Corinthians 13:11-12, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:2, 4:32, 5:19, 5:21, Colossians 3:13, 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, 5:15, Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25, James 5:16, 1 Peter 4:8-10, 5:5, 1 John 1:7) *this list of "one another" verses is not exhaustive

 My old pastor used to say that we are not to sit, soak, and sour. We need to teach and practice what we learn. Do we not think we will be held accountable for what we do with what we know? Get desperate. Make it your desperate desire to spread the Gospel and how to live in light of it, to see women working through their struggles with the Spirit and the Word, to encourage women to grow closer to God and to start teaching other women. What a glorious desperation that would be. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Inside Out and Better

 Friday morning was dark and as the day eased in, it was veiled in a sheet of  clouds so that it was as bleary-eyed as I. Hesitantly, I started the morning cycle. Dogs outside, release the chickens, prepare daughter's medicine, mop laundry room, usher out the pig, toss her food around while letting dogs in, feed dogs, feed fish.

 The fogginess of my eyes did not stop the words. Lots of words swirling around in my brain with nothing to latch on to or give them meaning but they wanted to be free as much as the animals. Some days my brain wants to write. Maybe it is the days of incapacitation  these past 2 weeks. I am grateful those days are coming to an end. It has been many years since I have been in this place. It is not something I have a name for but I know it and when I was younger it happened often.

 First, it starts with encroaching fatigue and something under my skin feels wrong. By day 2 or 3, it exposes itself with small patches of itchy eczema and in a few days it feels like it is consuming me. Strict diet, sleep, lotion, antihistamines, loads of supplements.

 Any glimpse in the mirror exposes a person unrecognizable externally. Groping around in my head I recognize my soul is the same and, when awake, so is my mind. It is me.  My thoughts are mine, the memory is mine, and I recognize the familiar sins. The shell is different but the inside is still what it was before.

 The problem is that I struggle during these times. It is tough to sleep, fatigue never lets up, and the pain and itchiness are enough to drive you insane but that it is only part of my battle. The other part is pride. I hide not wanting anyone to see me, not wanting to be stared at, not wanting to be repulsive.

 How foolish am I.

 The outside is a small, temporary part of who God created us to be. Oh, but how we like to dress that part up, decorate it, and show it off as if it makes up for what we lack inside. If the outside looks like what is brewing on the inside, we are exposed. Trapped in our skin and our sin. That is what these times feel like. What is amazing is that Jesus is still here. He is not put off by the outside and He already knows the worse inside. He knows that this is just a short season of who I really am with or without a swollen rashy face. There is more to come for me in eternity. 

 But...for today...
I will be grateful that I feel better. The outside is looking better and the inside is being improved, too. It is a great God who does not leave His people in the state He finds them.
- Zechariah 13:9 "And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All Quacked Up

 Adding to our little "farm" this year has been an exercise in failure. Gone are the bees and now gone are the ducks. We bounced from 3 to a pair to one lonely male duck. Then we went to the country flea market and purchased two females.

 Right at the one month mark of buying the females, one of them disappeared. No feathers, no sign of foul play (or is it fowl play?). Two days after that we have no ducks. This time my husband found feathers in the back of the pond and some remains of the male duck. We are guessing a turtle is the suspect, a very big, very hungry alligator snapping turtle.

 Living in the country is not always what it is cracked up to be. It takes work and perseverance and for me, it takes not bargaining with God. Country living was a dream of mine for a long time. I had grandiose ideas of raising all our own fruits and vegetables in a quaint garden and spending days canning our bountiful harvests while chickens pecked around outside my window. 

 Then the dream became real with more than I had asked and it also came with a "but." 

 But, life as I knew it was being turned upside-down and as it was crumbling, I bargained with God. "Take back the house and the land and restore what I had before." A lot of praying, studying, and seeking Godly advice revealed the truth and stopped my foolish thinking. We cannot pave our futures on what we see but only on the solid rock of Christ.

 Our move was not some rogue bargain where I traded the real "good life" for a fake. God is not a game show host on the sideline wringing his hands, hoping that I pick the right curtain and not the whammy. He is holy, infinitely wise, always just, and always sovereign. He moved us here in His time for His purpose which I do not know. I know one thing.

 He is using it ALL for His glory.

 And so, this lesson I learned, times will come that will shake you to the core and you can either be cracked to pieces or be freed of all that you latched onto that was unnecessary in a life following Christ. And unlike country living, rest assured, in Christ, there is no failing.
- Psalm 73:25-26  "Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."