Friday, December 30, 2011

So many shiny new little time!

Thanks to my own book addiction and the encouragement of many friends and family members of said addiction, I've acquired many, many new books to read this Christmas.  In lieu of a list of resolutions for the New Year, here's the list of my newly acquired books...which will all hopefully be read in 2012!

-The Power of a Praying Wife (I also got the devotional version...thanks Mom! Should be good Wifey Wednesday material! It's already convicting me and helping me see the importance of prayer in the marriage relationship. )

-The Power of a Praying Parent

-Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women

-Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

-So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us

-Crunchy Betty's Food on Your Face For Acne and Oily Skin (I actually read this all in one night and tried some of her ideas and recipes.  I'm already seeing results!)

-When I Don't Desire God

-Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love (This a really cute book so far...I've teared up a few times while reading it.)

-The Dog Who Couldn't Stop Loving: How Dogs have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years

-One Nation Under Dog: America's Love Affair with Our Dogs

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Come, Lord Jesus!

"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men."
-lyrics from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This is a line from my favorite Christmas hymn.  I always seem to forget how most Christmas hymns are so theologically rich.  I can't help but worship God when I sing lines like these.

During this Christmas season I've found myself longing for the coming of Jesus...not as a baby in a manger, but as Lord and King of the earth.  I've been enjoying these daily advent videos from the 24-7 prayer movement  that focus on the phrase "Oh Lord, Come."  

I feel this phrase ties in so well with the above lyric because the writer is longing for peace on earth.  In the verse before this phrase, he is despairing that peace is not here, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men."  In the midst of such a gloomy statement is hidden the desire for the Lord to come and bring peace.  The writer sees how this earth is not what God intended for His people.

Thankfully, the writer hears the response of God in the midst of the Christmas bells.  "The wrong shall fail, the right prevail."  God is going to set things right.  That all began with sending His son, Jesus, to be born, to live a sinless life, to die on the cross and be separated from God for us and to rise again triumphantly three days later.  Ever since then, Jesus has been working to bring peace on earth through His Holy Spirit and His church.  And someday....someday He will come again as Lord and King of the earth.

So as you celebrate Jesus' first coming as a baby in a manger this weekend, I invite you to remember that He is coming again.  No matter what your life circumstances or situations, know that He is going to bring "peace on earth, good will to men" once again through that baby in the manger coming as the King of Kings.  If we have chosen to put our faith and hope in him, He will "wipe away every tear from our eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

Oh Lord, Come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Me a Saint...One Plate at a Time

"Lord of all pots and pans and things...
make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!"
-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

I keep at least one book in the bathroom.

I know that was probably too much information for some people, but as a mother of an active toddler, I'll take any chance to pick up a book that doesn't involve animal sounds whenever I can!

I found The Practice of the Presence of God through a youth pastor when I was a teenager.  I haven't read it since then, but someone gave me a copy of it last year for Christmas.  It's a great, practical little book to help you focus on God through everyday tasks.  

Right now I am preparing for guests coming these next couple weekends.  I am doing a lot of detailed cleaning a la The FlyLady in 15 minute spurts and I find my mind wandering (often humming the tune to this video, which Hubs and I have watched waay too many times).  I picked up Practicing the Presence to replace my bathroom reading material and flipped to the preface to find the above prayer.

I had to laugh because I feel like every mother I know spends an inordinate amount of time at the sink "washing up the plates!"

I've taken that prayer to heart during these days.  I've become more intentional about praying for others, singing my favorite Christmas hymns or just telling Jesus how grateful I am for His grace in my life while I go about my tasks.  And you know what?  My days are so much sweeter.  I don't feel guilty for the things I don't get done.  I am more patient with my daughter and my dog.  I am thankful and content with what I have been given.  I've even received some direction about a ministry opportunity that came to mind.  Prayer changes us.  We "become a saint" by knowing Jesus...and we can come to know Him in whatever we are doing.

Why don't you give it a try?  Next time you're at the sink the bathroom, take that little moment to talk to God.  You never know where that small conversation may take you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Grace for the Future

"The world is ours.  Life is ours.  Death is ours.  God reigns so supremely on behalf of His elect that everything which faces us in a lifetime of obedience and ministry will be subdued by the mighty hand of God and made the servant of our holiness and our everlasting joy in God."
-John Piper, Future Grace

I love this book.  A friend lent it to me after I confessed a recent struggle with anxiety and depression.  Both states of mind have always been lurking in my life-some seasons more than others.  I am a classic worrier and one who can get way off track in the midst of overwhelming circumstances or thrown-off plans.  The future always looms darkly in the back of my mind.

Case in point:  My 16 month old daughter is not walking yet.  She is not even remotely interested.  In my worst moments of anxiety about the future, she will be diagnosed with some condition where she is wheelchair bound for the rest of her life, we have to sell our house to get a one-story ranch and somehow this will be all my fault.

That looks really funny now that I type it out.

This book is really helping me stop that train of thought.  I've never, ever thought of grace as something that will sustain my future.  I guess my real struggle is with unbelief, mostly with thinking that God won't take care of me, so I have to take care of myself.  Piper has blown that idea out of the water with this book.  He does a great job of taking the promises of God and showing me how they can help me be confident in the character of God and in His hand in my life.  Even if the circumstances I described above actually happen, I can rest securely in knowing that God has a purpose for it all and that He is infinitely kind and good towards His creation in ways that we won't understand on this side of life.   I loved the above quote so much that I wrote it in my journal so I could refer to it in my most anxiety-driven moments. I should probably just have it tattooed on my forehead!

It's so comforting to remember that God is leading all of life AND death.  For Christians, as Piper said, Death is even ours.  It opens up the door into our true Home, where all the overwhelming circumstances of life will finally make sense.  Our "momentary troubles" will pass away and we will see how they worked for the glory of God when we trusted Him with them.  I am looking forward to that moment and in the meantime learning to trust the Lord for His future provision and grace in my life and the lives of those I love.