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We have had a lot of fun recently. Of course there are always chores, shopping and cooking, kids appointments and activities.   I noticed I was spending less time reading the Bible and in prayer–not to mention writing in my journal.  I haven’t written in my journal in months!   I’ve felt awkward about it but not motivated enough to change my ways.  I still love God–I’m just spending less time with Him.  Hmmmm…that wouldn’t fly in a human to human relationship.

I had to make myself sit down and have time in the Bible–it was extra hard today since I have been so hit and miss with it.  Bad habits are so easy to keep and good habits so easy to lose.  I went outside and sat on the deck, keeping my eyes away from the flower pots that needed to be weeded.  This verse seemed to jump off of the page:

 

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.  Jeremiah 10:23

Well…I think I needed to hear that!

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The Mountaintop

I’m going to share a summary of the sermon I heard on Sunday.  The text used for the sermon was Luke 9:28-43

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.  They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.  Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here.  let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)…

We are created to be in relationship with God and our hearts long for Him.   We hunger to have a “mountaintop” experience with God.  This is so much the case that we are constantly trying to find substitutes for our deep need for God.

Yet the “mountaintop” is not the norm, it is a brief period of refreshment before our descent to the plain or the valley.  After Jesus descended from the mountain,  he faced the crowd, evil, suffering and the failure of His disciples.  A man in the crowd begged Jesus to heal his demon possessed son (verse 38).   Jesus healed the boy and many were amazed at God’s greatness!

We can’t stay on the mountaintop, though we deeply desire to.  We live in a world disfigured by sin; difficulties and needs are everywhere.  Let us be willing to come down from the mountaintop and faithfully serve wherever God has called us.

Faithfulness

As I was having my prayer and Bible reading time the other day, I paused as I read this passage in 2 Chronicles:

This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.  In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered.   2 Chronicles 31: 20-21

It really felt uncomfortable to read that.  Faithfulness… no I have not been faithful lately.  I have been taking shortcuts and rushing so that I could watch an unnamed series.  Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with taking a  break or watching a series–I’m not going there.  My issue is that I tend to want to gobble the series at the expense of my daily work or relationships.  Its like desert.  Fine after a meal but it shouldn’t be eaten in place of a meal.  Sigh.  I have always struggled with moderation and self control.

After I confessed my sin to God and repented–turned away from it, I decided to watch my series in moderation (what a concept), during my free time this evening.  My next prayer time, I will look up some verses on self control and pray for God to strengthen me in this obviously weak area of mine.

My food….

The second week in December, my brother called to tell me my father had been admitted to the hospital.  Since my Mom was no longer alive, I knew that I needed to fly to Illinois to help take care of him.  As I prepared for my trip, anxiety about leaving my kids, leaving their schoolwork and activities flooded my mind.  I wondered how I would prepare for Christmas.  Even my one way plane ticket bothered me, since I didn’t  know how long I would be needed.  After my mother’s death, my father’s health began to fail rapidly.  Always practical, he was planning on coming to live with us in the Spring.

After reaching the hospital,  I stayed with my father until the early hours of the morning.  A nurse suggested that I stay with him at night, since that would lessen his confusion when he awoke.   I decided to take her advice, and I am so glad I did.  The rest of the week passed in a blur.  I slept in the hospital on a chair  and timed my needed breaks for when other visitors were with my Dad.  As each day progressed, the nagging feeling that I should be doing something else seemed to fade and was replaced by a verse I had often read.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”  John 4:34

I learned through that long, hard, wonderful week that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do.  At the end of the week, my father died peacefully as he slept in the hospital bed, in the middle of the night.  Thanks to that nurses advice, I was right there.

Resisting Temptation

I haven’t been journaling much.  I haven’t had much to say.  It seems as if all I have been doing is going from one crisis to the next.  My prayers have been all about getting through my day, completing my tasks, and not sinning while I’m at it.  For as long as I can remember, when I am stressed I tend to lash out in anger (crankiness, meanness, etc.) at those closest to me.   It doesn’t really make sense, and I hate that I have that tendency.  I don’t think I was motivated to seriously deal with this sin until I noticed my kids doing the same thing.  Can you imagine a home filled with mean, crabby children lead by a mean crabby mom?  That was us–until I got serious about my own sin.  Seeing my children following in my poor example was sobering, forcing me to take a closer look at myself.  I began to confess my failures in this area during our family worship time and my private prayer time.  My children took note of this and seemed more willing to confess their own failings.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

Together we have been asking God to show us the “way out” of temptation; praying for one another to resist the urge to lash out in anger at family members or those closest to us.  I’m thankful we are growing–together.

The past few days have been regular days for me, much to my relief.  I found myself doing the things I usually do without having to force myself, without having to fight back tears. There were meals to prepare, rooms to clean and laundry to be washed and folded.   I lingered on my favorite blog this afternoon.  Life goes on.

Laundry is always an issue in our house, so I am particularly sensitive when I see clothing I just washed on the floor, or back in the laundry the same day I washed it.  As I passed my youngest daughter’s room, I spied a jacket on the floor that had just come out of the laundry.

“Come and hang up this jacket,” I called to her.   My daughter reluctantly picked the jacket up off of the floor, turning it from inside out to right side in, centering it on the hanger.  This exercise seemed to absorb all of her attention.  After she had hung her jacket in the closet, I turned to her and said with a laugh, “So you do know how to hang up a jacket properly.”  With a sigh she acknowledged that yes, she did know, but that it took to long to hang clothes correctly.

“Well,” I said, “Remember our lesson about being faithful in the little things?  The Gospel of John tells us that when Jesus was resurrected, He folded the burial cloth that covered his head.  He didn’t just wad it up and throw it on the floor of the tomb.

“Why did he do that?” she asked with a surprised expression.

“I think He was being faithful in the little things,” I replied.

Sad News

I had a miscarriage on Sunday.  I was looking forward to posting my first appointment.  Yesterday I was scheduled to have an ultrasound to help pin-point the delivery date.  I still had the ultrasound, but instead it was used to determine if further medical intervention was needed following the miscarriage.  I saw the baby on the screen–so tiny, once alive; and I cried.  I’m crying now as I type this.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  I’m thankful for my husband, 4 living children and friends who have prayed for me and hoped with me.  I am sad, yet grateful.  God is good.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.   1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14

I am very thankful I am a Christian–not because of anything good I ever did but because of God’s grace.  His presence is very real, especially during times of grief.  I lived a long time without God when I wasn’t a Christian–so I know the difference.  I’ve grieved as a non-believer and of course, as a Christian.  There is a difference.  God is good.