life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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God Blesses Our Obedience

I had a girls’ night in with a dear friend of mine this past Friday, and she told me all about the decision God was asking her to make in one of her most important relationships. Evidenced by the amount of tissues we went through, this was not an emotionally easy or pleasant decision. In fact, it was a pretty rough decision given that she was going to have to trust God – not to give her what she wanted, but to give her what He knows is best for her in the end. In fact, that is having to trust God’s character more than anything else – that He is good and that He has our best interests, and the world’s best interests for that matter, at heart.

It wasn’t easy to watch my friend go through all the hurt that goes along with obeying what God was calling her to do, and part of me wanted to “fix it” for her, which in my limited human view would have been NOT making the decision and keeping the potentially destructive yet quite comfortable patterns going.

However, both of us had full confidence when she left that night (despite strong, selfish emotions) that God is sovereign and that disobeying Him leads to deep heartache…

Saturday morning, my husband and I got up early to go to marriage counseling. (Yes, we go to marriage counseling. It is awesome. I fully recommend it.) Anyway, in retrospect of the last few weeks, I realized that I had obeyed the Lord and grown in faith. I know because I never would have done anything like this naturally. I took a difficult situation that I felt VERY strongly about, and I surrendered my feelings about it to God and to Dayne and waited. I gave Dayne weeks to ponder the decision we had to make together without inserting my two cents everyday. I prayed through it and prayed for Dayne’s wisdom in making the decision. I talked about the situation with others in an honest way without putting Dayne down for having a different viewpoint (showing respect for my husband). And when it came time to make the decision, I gave Dayne a few days’ notice that we were going to have to talk soon so he could wrap up his thoughts and bring it up when he felt comfortable. And it came out in marriage counseling that he really appreciated the way I handled the situation. We were able to make a decision together quickly after our counseling session and now we are on the same page as a team with a beautiful compromise that I couldn’t have envisioned for us…

Last night, I was feeling really discouraged and anxious around the time I was going to have to go to youth group (I’m volunteering as a leader with my church). I didn’t feel well yesterday, and a lot of thoughts were running through my head about my health situation, my job, my friends, etc. I talked with Dayne about how I was feeling and how I wasn’t sure if it was worth it for me to be at youth group anyway, since I haven’t gotten to know the girls very well yet and it didn’t feel like we were getting the chance to connect. Dayne reminded me that it’s only the third week (see how my emotions run away with me?) and that I have to keep trying. I almost turned around twice on my way there. In fact, I warned Dayne that I might be coming home. And I had to pull over at one point to gather my thoughts and calm down. BUT I felt an extra push to go the second time I tried to turn around, and I went. And wouldn’t you know – I got to have some good conversations for the first time with four girls last night, and I finally learned ALL of their names. I love ministry and encouraging younger girls in their lives and walks with Jesus, and I know God has gifted me for it. I just have to learn to step forward in faith (with a little push from my husband) when my selfish emotions tell me to walk away. I really felt like God clearly rewarded me for obeying Him last night…

I got to catch up with my good friend from Friday night on my drive home from youth group. She told me all about how well things went when she went forward with that difficult decision. Beyond her wildest expectations. And I can clearly see God working in her life and in that relationship, and it is thrilling…

Whatever God’s calling you to do in your life, keep walking with Him. He won’t leave you when things get tough.

I’ve almost finished the Old Testament in my Daily Walk Bible (I’m in the book of Zechariah). Even in some of the most trying of times for the Jewish people (God’s temple being destroyed and the exile in Babylon – the consequences for all of Israel’s idol worship and sins), God kept promising them that He would establish a remnant in Jerusalem, and He would be with them, and He was going to send the Messiah to take care of their sins once and for all. On the other side of Jesus’ sacrifice, I can see just how faithful God has always been to His people. All He desires is for us to fix our eyes on Him and to walk in obedience with Him.

“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. … Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 11:16, 18-19 (NIV)

“But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge…” – Psalm 141:8 (NIV)

“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” – Isaiah 46:8-10 (NIV)

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

“Becoming a Christian has been likened to taking a step into the unknown… and landing on a Rock.” – today’s Daily Walk Bible devotional


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To Further Emphasize the Point

After reading my last blog post, my mom pointed me to this video of Stephen Curtis Chapman explaining the meaning behind his song, “Do Everything”, which basically points to the fact that everything in our lives, even to the most mundane little details, is filled with God’s presence and power and meant for His glory.

I definitely thought it was worth a share:

I thought it was great when he alluded to our frequent struggle as Christians to avoid putting life into two categories: the meaningful God stuff vs. the meaningless life stuff. We tend to feel that if we aren’t constantly moving mountains for God, our lives don’t matter and that God isn’t really using us. Or that if we aren’t living in poverty, we’ve got it all wrong. God may call us to those “mountaintop experiences” or to serving Him in poor communities, but most of us will live most of our lives in the valleys, faithfully serving Him in the daily “muck”.

He mentions toward the end of that video that even trying to housebreak the family’s puppies was a lesson in patience. Life’s all about continually seeking out what God can teach you in the present moment, no matter where you are or how insignificant you may feel.

 

Here are the verses he mentions in the video:

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Peter 4:10 – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Colossians 3:23-24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


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Christmas 2011 in Words & Images.

If I had to come up with one word to describe Christmas 2011, our first Christmas as a married couple, it would be blur. It wouldn’t be romantic, refreshing, exciting, intimate, touching, profound, relaxing, or even fun — it would be blur.

Halfway through our Christmas Day Relay, we realized what was happening: in the midst of trying to see everybody and get the gifts where they’re supposed to go and sticking to our scheduled timeslots, we completely lost Christmas and any quality time with anybody at all.

That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy Christmas or the time we did have with our families, but… we did it wrong. Now we know it, and next year we’re going to try to do it differently.

Plus, as I also learned from Thanksgiving 2011, too many holiday meals=a very sick Lisa. I can’t handle all the food multiple times a day.

So, now that my summary/disclaimer is out of the way, here are a few pictures we took to commemorate Christmas 2011, with a special bonus section at the end:

Our Christmas morning mimosas. This was something we did very, very right.

Our Christmas Morning Cinnamon Buns baking in the oven. This is a tradition Dayne carried over from his family... and also something we did very, very right.

The ornament I made (out of oven-bake clay) and gave to Dayne. (Thanks, Dana, for the inspiration!)

The star on the left of our 1st Christmas ornament is the ornament Dayne gave to me.

Some of our wrapped gifts under our tree.

I really loved this ornament from Aunt Carol & Uncle Eric. Just what I was looking for!

Some of our Christmas gifts for each other: Dayne got me the candle and a subscription to Real Simple. I got him Couples TableTopics for fun conversations 🙂

We got very generous gifts from our family and friends this year. One thing that I’m ultra excited about in our kitchen is our new Griddler from Dayne’s parents:

It’s a panini press, indoor grill, and griddle all in one! You can even buy waffle inserts. We grilled burgers on it the other night, and I can’t wait to make tomato & cheese paninis and big breakfasts with it!

We are also loving this awesome gift from my parents:

SO much fun and it’s great to have a new game to play together on our Wii!

Now, as I promised, a special bonus section:

A few weeks ago, Deb and Ed (Dayne’s parents) came over and brought lunch to eat with us at our apartment. In the midst of preparing the food, we needed a stirring/serving spoon. All I could find were slotted spoons, and we needed a solid spoon. I swore up and down that we at one point had a solid nylon spoon.

Fast forward to December 28, 2011 — me hanging out on the couch browsing Pinterest after a long winters’ nap (since I got out of work early), and Dayne coming in the door around 4:30. He tells me the apartment smells funny. I had noticed a funny smell in the kitchen a little earlier, but thought nothing of it. As I got up and walked around, I noticed the smell was stronger all over the apartment – and it wasn’t the trash. I thought it might be an animal in our heating ducts. Turns out, it was this:

Completely melted through and burning in the bottom of our dishwasher. How did it get there? Nobody knows. I had started the dishwasher before my nap and it had just completed its post-cleaning heating cycle. So not only did we lose the only solid spoon we had, but our apartment smelled totally rank and we thought we broke our dishwasher.

Today, this is what our kitchen looked like, solid spoon and all:

The Countertop Catastrophe was only temporary so that the repair guy from our apartment complex could come in and fix an empty dishwasher, but it so symbolized how my life feels right now. The counter is just so cluttered with stuff, and our Christmas was so jumbled with everything, and we both worked most of last week and this week, and I would just like to get to a place where I can focus and enjoy all the aspects of this time in my life. I don’t want everything to fly by unnoticed and unappreciated; I want to embrace life and live it out.

I want to take more pictures, go more places, live more generously, give more recklessly, laugh harder, love better, take on more new adventures, and have fuller relationships. Which starts with the little things, like cleaning the kitchen counter of our apartment/my soul.

I hope 2012 is a good year for some of that stuff. I think reading the Bible in its entirety will definitely change my life, and hopefully embracing God and His Word will be the first step towards embracing everyone and everything around me.

For now, here’s to lessons learned and God loving us in the midst of & in spite of our messes.