Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday is for Thanksgiving (221+)

(photo © kari mcgrath photography 2009)

"As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning-now: wherever, meaning-here." (Anne Voskamp)

221. my new book, a gift from my friend, H., because she wants me to be whole, too. Thank you.

222. 3 bags of household cleaning supplies from my friend, J.L., last week. When I did not ask for them or even pray for them. Just because she thought of me at Wal-Mart. And, that same night, I ran out of a few things she got me...even before I knew I needed them. Thank you, God, that you knew.

223. my friend, J.H., who listens when I pour my heart out. Who lets me cry and be real, and doesn't make me feel like I have to hide. God knew I needed you.

224. mom, who also lets me be real and cry on her shoulder, who gives me compassion and words of comfort, and Godly advice; who makes you feel better just because she lets you 'get it all out' and she's okay to keep on loving you

225. for daily provision, enough for today

226. to be able to know God has tomorrow, He has it all planned out, and it's good

227. free clothes for the kids; hand-me-downs are God's blessings

228. for little feet

229. for my beloved, who so faithfully follows God and keeps on, even when he doesn't understand, even when he doubts for a moment...he keeps on

230. that I don't have to dwell on the past, because God is doing a new thing. I see!

231. for old friends, Kentucky friends, who reached out to me and my children last week, and loved us and cared for our tummies and our souls. I am so thankful for the time I had with you. I see clearly now how God had each one of you in my life.

232. for my daughter, who is so excited that she gets to help her friend going to "Guacamala" :) next week, by making bracelets to give to 'the least of these'

233. giggles...girl giggles

234. that the testing of our faith is not for produces patience. and patience will have it's perfect work.

235. coffee with honey and cinnamon

236. sunshine

237. body parts that are at least working, if not perfect to my standards

238. that He gave the doc wisdom, just like I asked

239. strawberries

240. peace for today

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday is for being Thankful (196+)

On this, my 35th birthday, I realize God has given me so many gifts...and this blog post (link above) reminded me how thankful I am to have my children. Some days are hard, some days seem long, but as she said in that post.."I get to do this!" What a blessing I have been given. And, today, I am so thankful for my sweet family, my amazing husband, my sweet children. I am blessed!

196. rainy days
197. snuggle time in the mornings with my kids
198. homemade birthday cards
199. milky way lattes (thanks, honey!)
200. carbs on my birthday :)
201. 4 more pounds gone!
202. sweet birthday messages on my phone
203. crazy chipmunk birthday songs that make me laugh (thanks, Cari!)
204. movie time with my kiddos
205. laughter
206. friends who "spur me on"
207. answers
208. knowing we're not alone in this race
209. five days away with my husband
210. peace in the midst of a storm
211. fresh, clean "baby" (4 year old) smell after a bath and lotion
212. hope
213. a faithful husband
214. a 4 year old boy who loves "my beautiful lips" and wants to marry me-I will enjoy it while it lasts :)
215. authenticity
216. humility being lived out before me
217. red barns and snow in Wisconson
218. spring in the air
219. grace, unending grace
220. a God who never changes, He is ever faithful

Friday, March 11, 2011

Free from this world

"...As sinful and mortal human beings, we are so attached to this world and its temporary pleasures. Even as believers, we are deeply entrenched in worldly ways of thinking and living. Unless God lovingly loosens our grip on the things of the world, we will never be as likely to long for Him; we will never learn to desire eternity in heaven with Him, where our lives will finally be free from the burdens of this world. Part of the reality of struggle and the need to trust God in it is the reality that we are being fitted and prepared for a heavenly kingdom of beauty, perfect love, and eternal pleasures and purposes. We are also being freed, day-by-day, from this present world." (Sally Clarkson)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Are we living with a wartime mentality?

"We have money to use it in such a way that we show that money is not our god, but God is our God. That's why we have money. Money is given to us to use it in a way to show the world that money is not our treasure, but Christ is our treasure."

I was so convicted and challenged by this short video, that it brought tears to my eyes. I like my comfort, though we have never had swarms of money. I realize I do not live in a "wartime" mentality. I have struggled lately with our house not selling in KY, and wondered why. I felt like God opened up my heart today to realize it is more important what I do with God's name through this season than whether our house sells or not. He led me to 2 Corinthians 6, where Paul gives testimony to his apostolic ministry. He says, " great poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet possessing everything." They way we respond to suffering and trials can cause the glory of the gospel to shine forth, or defame God's name. And, then it all came to be a little more clear in my mind.

God is giving us this season of life, which is a hardship for us (though I must add that He has been FAITHFUL to provide everything we have needed in his kindness), to make His name great. We get an opportunity to trust Him, to look to Him, to point to His goodness in providing our needs, to let patience have it's perfect work in our lives, to make His name great! I want to live in comfort, I admit. I want to live as a civilian, because being a soldier is hard. Yet, that is not what God has called us to. He is showing me this, and this is a work in progress. I get it, but I don't get it. I understand, but am I living it? Will you help me? Will you spur me on when I forget and get lured by the pretty things of this world? I don't know if I can do this alone. Can I spur you on or does this hurt too much? It hurts me just thinking about it. It hurts because I haven't always lived this way. It hurts because I know it will hurt. But, I want more than this life has to offer. I want to keep an eternal perspective. This world is not my home.

The following was copied from Desiring God. You can click on the link in the question below to find the original post and the audio for it.

"What's the difference between living for the Kingdom and living for the American dream?

The essential difference is, What are you trying to make much of? Do you want to make much of Christ in the world, or do you want to make much of yourself, your business, or your family? What are you passionate about seeing exalted, praised and enjoyed?

I want to put that central because if we don't ask the question day by day–What am I going to make much of today?–then we will gravitate towards making much of the same things that everybody around us is making much of, like sports teams, food, or a new computer program. None of these things are sin unless they become the thing that we're driven by.

The difference between a Kingdom mindset and a worldly mindset is the King. What place does the King have? Is he central in our affections, our vocabulary, and in what we want to see happen at work, church, and in our leisure?

Does the "wartime lifestyle" come easily to you?

No, and I don't think it comes easy for anybody. If it starts coming easily then it may result in pride. That may not always be the case, because the things we work hard at are sometimes the things we boast in the most. Pride is a very insidious and subtle thing.

When I say "wartime lifestyle" I mean something very complex. That's why I say "wartime" and not "simple" lifestyle because of this complexity. In wartime you may need to build a B-52 bomber, which costs millions and millions of dollars, in order to win the war. In a simple lifestyle, however, you wouldn't fiddle around with bombers. Instead you would just move out to Idaho, plant potatoes, and be irrelevant.

In a wartime lifestyle you always ask yourself, How can my life count to advance the cause of Christ? And if it means buying a computer to keep in touch with your missionaries through email, then you're going to invest several thousand dollars into a computer and software. That's a wartime lifestyle. But you might not eat out as often, or you might buy a used car so that you can buy that computer. That's what I mean by wartime lifestyle. The alternative is to just go with the flow. Everybody gets his toys: bigger house and car, more clothing, more fine food, etc., without even thinking about how the war effort is advancing.

Personally, I must battle everyday against drifting. It isn't about making choices so much. The battle is primarily against becoming comfortable with things that aren't essential to the war effort. So you have to check yourself. Sit down with your wife and ask, How are we doing with our spending? How are we doing with the use of our discretionary money for leisure?, etc.

I admit that this is difficult. I don't have any laws to lay down about what specific things you should be doing either once a week or never or whatever. It's just tough, which is why it is tough for me.

How does what you're saying accord with the prosperity gospel–the belief that external signs of wealth are a key testimony to the world of God's blessing?

It doesn't accord. We must reject the prosperity gospel. It's just dead wrong. The world is not impressed by the prosperity of Christians. What the prosperity of Christians says to the world is nothing redemptive.

I'm not saying that all prosperity is necessarily wrong. I'm just making the point that the prosperity of a Christian says absolutely zero about Christ to the world. Christians who simply follow the American trend of "moving up" financially and materially causes the world to simply say, "They're just like us! They love the same things we love and do the same things we do." This has zero witness to the world.

The person who follows the prosperity track must find other ways to testify to the world about Jesus, because their wealth, health, and prosperity are not saying anything redemptive.

My way of remedying this lack of witness is to identify that the prosperity gospel is wrong. Don't go that direction! Don't believe that prosperity is our evidence to the world that we belong to the King. It doesn't work that way. In fact, if you look in the New Testament you'll see that the things that bear the clearest witness to our faith are the occasions when we're willing to suffer for him.

A little child can understand that. Something is valuable to you to the degree that you're willing to suffer in order to have it, not to the degree that it gives you other things that you really like. God is not shown to be valuable because he gives us other things that we like more than God. God is shown to be valuable when we're willing, for God's sake, to let certain things go which we wouldn't let go if he wasn't so precious to us.

Our testimony to the world works precisely opposite to what the prosperity gospel says. When Christians are willing to suffer for the cause of the unborn, for racial justice, and for spreading the gospel, then the world is going to say–just like it does in 1 Peter 3:15–"Where is your hope?"

Our answer will not be, "In houses, cars, and lands." Rather, we will say, "My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to take me to himself. To live is Christ and to die is gain. I'm here on earth to spread the gospel. I'm going to keep my life as wartime as I can in order to maximize my effect for showing Jesus as valuable, not things as valuable."

Everday is Halloween..the masks we wear

"..Low self-esteem usually means that I think too highly of myself. I'm too self-involved, I feel I deserve better than what I have. The reason I feel bad about myself is that I aspire to something more. I want just a few minutes of greatness. I am a peasant who wants to be a king. When you are in the grips of low self-esteem, it's painful, and it certainly doesn't feel like pride. But, I believe that this is the dark, quieter side of pride-thwarted pride.

Our hearts are certainly busy while we hide and spy.

Have you wondered why certain TV shows or magazines are so popular? Don't they offer us a brief opportunity to spy on others from behind our walls of shame? They let us see the disgrace of others, and it normalizes our own. Or they let us identify with our heroes, so we can briefly feel better about ourselves.

Is is as if the modern person is a peeping Tom. While the peeping Tom is looking at someone through a keyhole, he is also being watched by another voyeur, who is being watched by another, who is being watched by another....

..Everyday is Halloween. Putting on our masks is a regular part of our morning ritual, just like brushing our teeth and eating breakfast. The masquerade, however, is anything but festive. Underneath the masks are people who are terrified that there will be an unveiling. And, indeed, the masks and other coverings will one day be removed. There will be an eternal unveiling. But it is not so much the eyes of other people we ought to fear. After all, other people are no different from ourselves...If the gaze of man awakens fear in us, how much more so the gaze of God. If we feel exposed by people, we will feel devastated before God.

To even think such things is too overwhelming. Our hearts tremble at the thought, and we do everything we can to avoid it. One way to avoid God's eyes is to live as if fear of other people is our deepest problem-they are big, not God. This, of course, is not the case. Fear of people is often a more conscious version of being afraid of God. That is, we are more conscious of our fear of others than our fear of God. Granted, fear of others is a real phenomenon. We really are afraid of the thoughts, opinons, and actions of other people. But, under that we hide as best as we can the more desperate fear of God...When Christ returns, those who are naked will prefer being covered by the boulders of Jerusalem's mountains to being exposed before the holy gaze of God." (Ed Welch, When People Are Big, and God is small)