A Perfect Heart

When I seek mercy and justice

When I offer mercy and justice

When I receive Your mercy and justice

My heart is renewed

My heart is cleansed

My heart is healed

When I seek Your way

When I offer Your love

When I receive Your Spirit

I behave as a woman following You

I love as a whole person

I give from a complete vessel

When you come to me, oh Lord

When you walk with me, oh Lord

When your Spirit fills me, oh Lord

I am set free

I am made alive

I will walk with a perfect heart

I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, oh Lord, I will sing praises. I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will you come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Psalm 101:1-2

It Is Finished

I seem to readily welcome the wrestling with my past sin and shame. I open the door to my thoughts and allow them to take up space in my mind. Those thoughts then dictate my attitude and behavior throughout the coming days.

This time of year when so much is focused on Jesus‘ birth, as it rightly should be, my heart is drawn to the cross and His sacrificial death. I can’t seem to focus on his birth without jumping to the end… And what His life resulted in.

As I allow shameful memories to cloud my freedom, I am living as if something more needs to be done. As if Jesus’ life and death were not enough. As if the Lord wants me to walk around weighed down in guilt and shame as an additional sacrifice to the price He paid on the cross.

Years ago, at Christmas time I asked my daughter to paint me a couple of pictures for my prayer closet. I said I would love one of Jesus’ birth and one of the empty cross. Each morning as I spend time in my prayer closet, my eyes and heart always turn to these paintings. I need this reminder each day. I need to remember multiple times a day that there is nothing, nothing I can add on to Jesus’ life or the sacrifice He paid for me.

It is finished.

Finished is the same as paid in full.

Jesus came to finish God’s work of salvation.

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ sacrificial death, you will find the words it is finished. As I read those words each time, I am struck by the finality of them. It is not open ended, segueing into a need for further sacrifice or work. No. I read it again. The words read, “It is finished.

Because of Jesus’ life and ultimate sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord sees me as righteous and I am secure.

Are you walking around with guilt and shame this Christmas season? Are you allowing your past to take up space in your heart and mind? Is yesterday weighing you down? Can you begin to consider that the word is true, it is finished. You can rest in knowing that Jesus’ work is complete. You and I can walk in freedom. We can rest in peace. We can count on the truth of his saving grace.

Psalm 7:9 O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

Christmas Peace?

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

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But, not at Christmastime, Lord. You understand that I have presents to buy and wrap, food to buy and prepare, children to corral in the craziness of a changing schedule this time of year, basketball practices to get to, dinner to make, oh, and don’t forget some self-care in there too: exercise, eat well, and stretch. Lord, you didn’t mean, you have given me peace even at Christmastime.

Not as the world gives do I give to you…

The world offers me peace in the Christian yoga YouTube videos I found. The world’s peace is in letting go. It’s found in circumstances going my way. I can experience it in discovering the perfect gift found on the clearance rack at the first store I step into. Ah…an empty parking spot nice and close to the front. Is this the peace I seek?

My peace I give to you…

Jesus doesn’t offer peace based on the circumstance. Jesus offers his peace based on who He is and what He has done for us. His peace doesn’t depend on me. His peace doesn’t depend on those around me. His peace doesn’t depend on my schedule or the season. His peace depends solely on him…His life, sacrifice and resurrection, and His Spirit dwelling inside of those who place their hope in him.

Let not your hearts be troubled…

Don’t run around in a frenzy. Don’t expect others to do what you want. Don’t search for peace in this world. Don’t make yourself God in your life.

Neither let them be afraid…

Keep your heart and mind set on the Lord. Trust in His love. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His power.

Yes, Christmas peace. 

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I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Who is Like You?

The following poem is really a compilation of “who is like you” questions I wrote each morning for the last few weeks during the beginning of my quiet time. I have really been encouraged to be in awe of the Lord God Almighty. My response to this awe is to ask the Lord, who is like you? The answer? None other than the Lord. 

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

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Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, waiting on me, listening with patience and kindness?

Who is like you, pouring out endless grace and mercy?

Who is like you, filling my days with purpose and focus?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, steady from beginning to end?

Who is like you, holding my past, present, and future?

Who is like you, full of power, strength, and sovereignty?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, Father to the fatherless?

Who is like you, protector of the weak?

Who is like you, guide to the blind?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you, a King in a manger?

Who is like you, humble and meek?

Who is like you, born to sacrifice?

Who is like you, Oh Lord?

Who is like you? Oh, who is like you?

 

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Hopeful Expectation

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But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

The Lord keeps whispering this phrase to me, hopeful expectation. He keeps lifting my eyes, my heart, my hope to Him with the promise that He hears, He cares, He protects. Everywhere I look, I see His promise of hopeful expectation.

In the promise of the changing seasons; the shorter days, colder temperatures, breathtaking color, all promising a change to come.

In the promise of sleep; the sun going down, the days activities ending, the weariness and quiet, all promising a time of rest.

In the promise of a rainbow; the sun amidst the gray rain cloud, a pause in the storm, beams of color radiating the sky, all promising a reminder of the Lord’s commitment and beauty.

In the promise of a Holy answer; the stillness of the room, the peace flooding my soul, the quiet whisper to my heart, all promising the Lord’s attention to my prayer.

In the promise of refining; the stirring of my habits, the Word rushing to my mind, the quieting of my mouth, all promising the Lord’s sanctification.

In the promise of growth; the new routines, the developing awareness, the repetition of positive behavior, all promising maturity in my children.

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Hopeful expectation. It’s everywhere. It’s in the look I can give my child in anticipation of her remembering the lesson and choosing what’s good. It’s in the tone when I pray with confidence, knowing the Creator hears. It’s in the conversation with my husband in anticipation of the Lord’s work in his life bringing him closer to Himself.

It’s the way the Lord looks at me. Sinful, selfish, stubborn me. Looking at me faultless. Righteous. Beautiful. Because of the redeeming love of Christ, He sees me with hopeful expectation. Through eyes of grace. Filled with compassion. Layering on the mercy. Hopeful expectation.

Dear one, what situation or person is the Lord stirring you on to look at with hopeful expectation? Have you made the choice to believe, to really believe the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him? Are you on the fence? Can you, this very day, go to Him and ask Him to reveal His hopeful expectation to you? Oh, I pray, you do. I pray WE do look to Him in hopeful expectation

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Sleep in Peace

I absolutely can not get enough of Psalms right now. The Lord is leading me through each one, verse by verse, revealing more of His heart with each line I dissect.

Here is the understanding the Holy Spirit revealed to me from my study this week from Psalm 4.

Hear me when I call, My Holy God. Deliver me from my trouble; be gracious to me as you hear my prayer.

How long, you people who oppose God, will you turn my honor from God into shame? How long will you love that which is hopeless?

Be assured of the truth that the Lord has chosen for Himself the ones who follow after His heart; when I pray, the Lord hears and delivers. 

Admit that you are angry but do not rebel. Calmly and deeply consider these things when you lie down and do not continue in your rage.

Offer God obedience and praise and place your confidence in Him.

Many are doubtful or are seeking earthly pleasures. But your Gracious Love is truly what we need, O Lord.

You have given me joy and deep contentment, which do not change with circumstances.

I will rest securely on your promises. You alone, O Lord, are sufficient to keep me safe.

In the Psalms I find trust, praise, rejoicing, and unfailing love.

When I lay awake at night with racing thoughts, I find I am in need of trust, praise, rejoicing, and unfailing love.

The soft whir of the fan. The neighbor’s light tinging wind chime. The cat’s footsteps out in the hall. The deep sound of slumber from my husband. None of the night noises were enough to explain my inability to sleep.

But the constant barrage of thoughts could explain my insomnia. Replaying situations. Thinking about upcoming events. Rehearsing necessary conversations.

God’s loving nudge tugged at my heart and my Psalm 4 study time flashed in my mind: I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4: 8. 

I sense the questions coming, “What have I called you to? What have I placed under your care?”

My response? Okay let’s see.

I have two beautiful daughters whom God blessed me with. Sleeping.

There’s the sweet husband the Lord has given me to encourage and help. Sleeping.

There are children in Sunday school and others at our co-op who God has so graciously called me to teach. Sleeping (at least for their parent’s sake, I hope they are!)

There are ministries in which the Lord has both called and equipped me. All currently at rest. 

The Bible clearly states that we each have a calling. And God wants our faith to be active not lazy or hidden. But, He also has appointed times and seasons for us.

Lying in bed at night, He has called me to do none other than rest. Rest in His safety. Rest in His love. Calmly consider Him and TRUST, PRAISE, REJOICE, and mediate on His UNFAILING LOVE.

Thank you, Lord, for rest, sweet rest. You have called me to no more and no less than my particular calling from You. Thank you that I can rest securely on your promises. Amen. 

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What I Learned in July

Psalm 25:4-5, Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.IMG_0018Beautiful July in the Pacific Northwest. Hikes, the beach, overnight camp, parks, swimming, reading in the backyard. Love, love, love!

Our Reading

Admittedly, we haven’t been reading as much as I’d like. Both of my girls are participating in a writing contest and it seems like any spare time we’ve had has been spent working on their writing. I am so excited, as they are both doing a fabulous job and will have really nice historical fiction masterpieces when finished.

We have two ocean beach trips planned this summer so we decided on a read aloud with a setting at the beach:

  • Pagoo by Holling C. Holling

And, we have continued our Old Testament reading through:

  • The Child’s Story by Catherine Vos

My Reading

I have continued my reading with our women’s group at church in the book titled:

  • Taming the Giants: Stripping the Power from Overwhelming Emotions by Cathy Dickinson

Audiobooks I thoroughly enjoyed this month are:

  • When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story
  • No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

My Learning

My learning this month originated with my children. How did I ever learn anything before they came along? The growing, refining, stripping away, changing, and learning that happens in parenthood is exhausting but, oh, so good.

Never Say Never

My youngest daughter went to overnight camp. 4 nights away at overnight camp. This doesn’t sound amazing, but let me tell you, it was. Years ago when we brought my oldest daughter to camp, Abby, our youngest looked at me and said, “I never want to do this.”

“You never want to do what?” I naively asked.

“This. I never want you to leave me here overnight,” she replied with a straight face, looking me in the eye.

“Okay. Camp isn’t something you have to do. If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to go. But, you may change your mind when you are older.”

“No. I will never change my mind.”

Okey dokey. Count her out!

But, about 6 months ago, out of the blue, Abby began talking about camp. “I want to go to camp this year.” This same statement or some variation was repeated weekly up until the day she finally got to go to camp.

She did suffer some homesickness while she was away at camp. But, she made friends, had fun, and learned to rely on God while away from the comforts of her home!

This process for my sweet Abby, reminded me of myself with God. “I will never have peace in situations like that, God.” “I will never speak in public, God.” “God, I will never make it through this trial.”

He says to me, “Today is not the day. But, one day, with my love, refinement and Spirit, YOU WILL!”

Interruptions are Ministry Moments

Our church, Calvary Chapel Marysville, has been going through a parenting video series by Paul Tripp on Wednesday nights. I have had so many take aways in the 4 episodes we have watched so far. But, the biggest, life changing take away so far has been viewing interruptions from our kids in a different light. 

Paul Tripp told about the importance of seeing our children’s interruptions as ministry moments rather than interruptions. When our plans are interrupted by our children, rather than being annoyed and angry, we can see it as a God appointed opportunity to listen to, possibly counsel, and love our children.

Immediately after learning this new thought process, I was put to the test. During my quiet time, no less! My sweet child knows not to interrupt my quiet time, but nonetheless, the knock came.

The words were on my lips to say, “Not right now. Just wait!” But, then the message from the night before flashed in my mind, and I asked, “What is it?”

She entered my prayer closet and told me of her need for which I couldn’t meet. Then she said the sweetest words, “That’s okay, mom. But, will you pray for me?”

Yes! Yes, sweet girl. Take your every need to Jesus. Let that be your first thought…pray for me.

Can you view changes in your plans today as “ministry moments”? Can you look for what God is doing in the interruptions? Can you open your heart and mind to the possibility that you are not to be annoyed but instead interested in what God is doing?

Lord, you are King and Creator. Help us today. Help us to have your eyes and heart during the interruptions. Soften our hearts and minds to look deeper at the people you place in our lives. Amen. 

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